Perfecting Your Apartment Fish Tank: Size, Species, Filtration, and Maintenance

If you’re looking to add a splash of color and life to your home, an apartment fish tank is a great option. Fish are relatively low-maintenance pets, and they can brighten up any space.

Transforming a corner of your apartment into a captivating underwater world with a fish tank is a delightful endeavor.

However, achieving a thriving and harmonious ecosystem requires careful consideration of various factors.

We’ll delve into the crucial aspects of tank size, fish species selection, filtration systems, and maintenance tips that will guide you toward creating a successful and enjoyable apartment fish tank experience.

Check with your landlord or apartment management about any specific rules or guidelines related to keeping fish tanks in your apartment.

Choosing the Right Tank: Selecting the appropriate tank size is crucial. For apartments, space might be limited, so opt for a compact yet sizable tank that fits seamlessly into your decor. A tank with a capacity of 10-20 gallons is usually ideal for beginners.

Choosing Suitable Fish Species: Careful consideration of fish species is vital to ensure compatibility and well-being. Opt for fish that are well-suited to apartment-sized tanks. Betta fish, guppies, neon tetras, and Corydoras catfish are popular choices due to their adaptability and small size. Research the behavior, water preferences, and social compatibility of each species.

Filtration Systems: An efficient filtration system is the heart of a healthy fish tank ecosystem. There are three main types of filtration: mechanical, biological, and chemical. Choose a filter that suits your tank size and the bio-load of your fish. A combination of these filtration methods helps maintain optimal water quality by removing debris, promoting beneficial bacteria growth, and eliminating harmful substances.

Innovative Filtration Solutions: Limited space demands innovative solutions. I installed a compact hang-on-back filter that efficiently manages waste and maintains water quality without intruding on the room’s ambiance. This choice saved space and proved to be highly effective.

Smart Filtration: Enter the world of app-controlled filters that allow you to monitor and adjust filtration levels remotely, ensuring optimal water quality at all times.

Lighting Considerations: Choose low to medium light-intensity LED fixtures. This will provide enough illumination for your plants without encouraging excessive algae growth. Aim for 8-10 hours of light per day and consider using a timer to establish a consistent lighting schedule.

Placement: Find a suitable location that’s away from direct sunlight, drafts, and high-traffic areas. Make sure you have access to power outlets for equipment.

Leak Prevention: Be cautious about water spills. Consider using a protective mat or tray under the tank to prevent any water damage to your apartment.

Automated Lighting Timers: Integrate smart lighting timers that simulate sunrise, sunset, and moonlight phases, giving your fish a more natural environment.

Maintenance Made Easy: Regular maintenance is key to the longevity of your apartment fish tank. Follow these maintenance tips to keep your aquatic ecosystem thriving:

  • Water Testing: Regularly test water parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. This helps you catch and address potential issues early.
  • Partial Water Changes: Replace 10-20% of the water every 1-2 weeks. This helps dilute accumulated waste and replenishes essential minerals.
  • Digital Water Testers: Wave goodbye to color-matching test kits. Digital testers provide accurate readings for ammonia, nitrate, pH, and more, sending data directly to your phone.
  • Gravel Cleaning: Use a siphon to clean the substrate during water changes, removing debris and preventing the buildup of harmful substances.
  • Algae Management: Algae growth is natural, but excessive amounts can be unsightly. Control lighting duration, avoid overfeeding, and consider adding algae-eating fish or snails.
  • Temperature Control Perfection: Use Wi-Fi-enabled heaters that sync with your smartphone, allowing you to monitor and adjust water temperature effortlessly.
  • Automated Feeders: Going on a weekend getaway? Set up automated feeders that dispense food at scheduled times, keeping your fish well-fed even in your absence.
  • Observation: Spend time observing your fish daily. This helps you detect any signs of illness, stress, or abnormal behavior early on.

Add Plants: Carefully plant live aquatic plants in the substrate, providing hiding spots and a natural environment for your fish. Plant some aquatic greenery like Java moss and anubias. Add a touch of drama with smooth stones or driftwood. Remember, it’s your corner’s red carpet moment, so make it pop!

CO2 Injection Systems: For lush plant growth, consider a CO2 injection system. Modern setups offer precise control and real-time monitoring of CO2 levels.

Lessons in Patience and Observation: Caring for a fish tank in a limited space taught me valuable life lessons. Patience is essential as the ecosystem settles and adapts. Regular observation became a ritual, allowing me to detect even the subtlest changes in behavior and water parameters.

Apartment Fish Tank


Can You Keep a Fish Tank in an Apartment?

You can most certainly keep a fish tank in an apartment, and many people do! There are a few things to consider before setting up your tank, such as the size of your aquarium and the number of fish you’d like to keep. It’s also important to make sure that your landlord is okay with you keeping a fish tank in your apartment.

If you’re set on keeping fish, but are limited on space, there are plenty of small tanks available that will fit nicely in an apartment. A smaller tank is also easier to maintain than a large one, so it’s perfect for beginner fishkeepers. When choosing fish for a smaller aquarium, be sure to select species that don’t grow too large or require lots of swimming room.

Some good options include bettas, goldfish, guppies and tetras.As long as you do your research and take care of your fish properly, keeping an aquarium in an apartment can be a fun and rewarding experience!

Where Should I Put My Fish Tank in My Apartment?

Choosing the right location for your fish tank in your apartment is essential for creating a visually appealing and functional setup. Here are some considerations to help you decide where to place your fish tank:

  1. Avoid Direct Sunlight: Place your fish tank away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause temperature fluctuations, promote algae growth, and lead to unwanted temperature changes in the tank.
  2. Stability: Choose a stable and level surface to place your tank. Uneven surfaces can lead to stress on the tank’s glass or acrylic, potentially causing leaks.
  3. Visibility: Opt for a location where you can enjoy your fish tank frequently. A common living area, like the living room or dining room, is often a great choice.
  4. Traffic: Avoid placing the tank in high-traffic areas where people might accidentally bump into it or where it might obstruct pathways.
  5. Access to Outlets: Make sure the chosen location has access to power outlets for equipment like filters, heaters, and lights.
  6. Proximity to Water Source: If you’re using a hose for water changes, consider placing the tank near a sink or water source for easy maintenance.
  7. Sturdy Support: Ensure that the furniture or stand where you place the tank is sturdy and capable of supporting the tank’s weight.
  8. Noise: Keep in mind that some aquarium equipment, such as filters or air pumps, might produce a gentle hum. Choose a location where any noise won’t be bothersome.
  9. Interior Aesthetics: Consider how the fish tank will fit within your apartment’s interior design. A well-placed tank can be a beautiful focal point.
  10. Safety: If you have curious pets or young children, consider a location where the tank is less accessible to them. Also, ensure that any cords or equipment are safely managed.
  11. Flooring: Keep in mind that accidents can happen, and water spills are possible. Consider placing a protective mat or tray under the tank to prevent any water damage to your flooring.
  12. Heating and Cooling: Avoid placing the tank near radiators, air conditioning vents, or drafts, as these can lead to temperature fluctuations.

Remember that the choice of location should align with your preferences and the specific conditions in your apartment. Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot, you can begin the exciting process of setting up your fish tank and creating a stunning aquatic display.

How Do I Clean My Fish Tank in My Apartment?

Assuming you have a small freshwater fish tank in your apartment, here are some tips on how to clean it:

1. Every two weeks, do a 25% water change. This means removing 25% of the water in the tank and replacing it with fresh, clean water. To remove the old water, use a siphon hose or bucket. Be sure to rinse out the siphon hose or bucket with hot water before using it in your fish tank so that you don’t contaminate the water.

2. Clean the filter according to manufacturer’s instructions. This usually involves taking it apart and rinsing it out with hot water (again, being careful not to contaminate the filter). Some filters may also need to be replaced every few months.

3. Vacuum the gravel at the bottom of the tank using a gravel vacuum or turkey baster. You can also remove all of the gravel and rinse it in a colander with hot water; just be sure to put it back in the fish tank before adding fresh water so that your fish don’t get shocked by sudden changes in temperature or pH levels.

4. Wipe down the sides of the tank with a sponge or soft cloth dipped in hot water (no soap!). You may also want to use an algae scraper if there is algae build-up on the glass.

Can You Have a Betta Fish in an Apartment?

Yes, you can definitely have a betta fish in an apartment! Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are popular choices for apartment dwellers due to their vibrant colors, unique personalities, and relatively low space and maintenance requirements. However, there are several important factors to consider when keeping a betta fish in your apartment:

  1. Tank Size: Betta fish are often kept in smaller tanks or bowls, but it’s important to provide them with a proper habitat. A tank size of at least 5 gallons is recommended for a single betta fish. Larger tanks provide more stable water conditions and allow for better filtration.
  2. Water Temperature: Betta fish are tropical fish and require a stable water temperature between 78°F to 80°F (25.5°C to 26.5°C). A heater may be necessary to maintain the appropriate temperature, especially in air-conditioned apartments.
  3. Filtration: While bettas can tolerate still water, a gentle filter can help maintain water quality by removing waste and maintaining oxygen levels. Choose a filter with a slow flow to prevent betta fins from being damaged by strong currents.
  4. Tank Decor: Bettas appreciate places to hide and rest near the water’s surface. Include plants (live or silk), caves, and decorations that provide hiding spots and resting places. Be mindful of decorations with sharp edges that might tear their delicate fins.
  5. Tank Maintenance: Regular water changes are essential to keep the tank clean and maintain water quality. Perform partial water changes of about 20-30% weekly to remove accumulated waste and replenish minerals.
  6. Diet: Feed your betta fish a balanced diet of high-quality betta pellets, supplemented with occasional treats like freeze-dried or frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp. Avoid overfeeding to prevent health issues and water quality problems.
  7. Water Conditioning: Treat tap water with a water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines, which can be harmful to fish.
  8. Tank Lid: Bettas are known to jump, so having a tank lid is important to prevent them from leaping out of the water. A mesh or tight-fitting lid will keep them safe.
  9. Compatibility: Betta fish are territorial and aggressive toward other bettas, especially males. It’s best to keep them alone or in tanks with non-aggressive tankmates like snails or small shrimp.
  10. Observation: Spend time observing your betta’s behavior to ensure they are healthy and content. Look for signs of stress, illness, or fin damage.

Overall, with proper care and attention to their needs, betta fish can thrive in an apartment setting and provide you with a stunning and captivating aquatic companion.

AMAZING Nano Aquascape Fish Room in an Apartment [Tour]

Cheap Fish Tanks

When looking for budget-friendly fish tanks, there are a variety of options available that can help you set up an aquarium without breaking the bank. Here are some options to consider for cheap fish tanks:

  1. Glass Aquarium Kits: Basic glass aquarium kits are often affordable and come with essential equipment like a filter, lighting, and sometimes a heater. These kits are available in various sizes, making it easy to find one that fits your budget.
  2. Plastic or Acrylic Tanks: Plastic or acrylic tanks are usually more affordable than glass tanks. They are lightweight and can come in various shapes and sizes, making them a good option for smaller spaces.
  3. Secondhand Tanks: Check local classified ads, online marketplaces, or local fishkeeping clubs for secondhand tanks. Many people upgrade their tanks over time, so you might find a gently used tank at a lower cost.
  4. DIY Tanks: If you’re handy, consider building your own aquarium using materials like glass panes, silicone, and plywood. DIY tanks can be a cost-effective option if you’re willing to put in the effort.
  5. Fish Tank Bundles: Some retailers offer starter bundles that include not only the tank but also essential equipment like a filter, heater, and decorations. These bundles can offer good value for your money.
  6. Pet Store Sales: Keep an eye out for sales, promotions, or clearance events at pet stores. You might find discounted aquarium kits during special occasions.
  7. Online Retailers: Online retailers often offer a wide range of aquarium options at competitive prices. Compare prices and read reviews before making a purchase.
  8. Storage Containers: Large plastic storage containers can be repurposed as fish tanks for smaller fish or temporary setups. Just make sure the container is safe for aquatic use and can be properly cleaned.

Remember that while it’s important to find an affordable option, you should prioritize the well-being of your fish. Ensure that the tank you choose provides adequate space, filtration, and proper conditions for the fish you plan to keep. Additionally, investing in essential equipment like a filter, heater, and water conditioner is crucial to maintaining a healthy aquarium environment.

Apartment Fish Tank Policy

Apartment complexes and landlords might have specific policies or guidelines regarding keeping fish tanks in apartments. These policies can vary depending on the building, management, and local regulations. It’s important to check with your apartment management or landlord to understand their specific apartment fish tank policy. Here are some common aspects that might be covered:

  1. Tank Size and Quantity: Some policies might specify the maximum tank size allowed or the number of tanks that can be kept in an apartment. This is often to ensure that the structural integrity of the building is maintained and that the tanks don’t pose a safety risk.
  2. Weight Limitations: There might be weight limitations for aquariums to ensure that the floor and structure can safely support the weight of the tank, water, and equipment.
  3. Water Damage Prevention: Policies may include guidelines for preventing water damage to the apartment. This could involve using protective mats or trays under the tank and ensuring that water spills are promptly cleaned up.
  4. Noise Considerations: If aquarium equipment like filters or air pumps can generate noise, policies might address noise levels and quiet hours to ensure that the equipment doesn’t disturb neighbors.
  5. Insurance and Liability: Some apartment buildings might require tenants to have renters’ insurance that covers potential water damage from aquariums.
  6. Security Deposits: Policies might outline whether or not a security deposit is required for keeping a fish tank in the apartment, in case any damage occurs.
  7. Approval Process: In some cases, you might need to seek approval from the apartment management or landlord before setting up a fish tank. This could involve providing details about the tank’s size, equipment, and placement.
  8. Maintenance and Cleanliness: Policies may include guidelines for regular tank maintenance and cleanliness to ensure that the tank doesn’t become a source of pests or odors.
  9. Special Equipment: Some apartments might have rules about specific aquarium equipment, such as heaters or filters, to ensure safety and proper operation.

It’s essential to communicate openly with your apartment management or landlord to understand their policies and ensure that you’re in compliance. If there are no specific policies in place, it’s still a good idea to keep your fish tank well-maintained, considerate of neighbors, and in a safe location.

Will Landlord Evict Over Fish Tanks?

Whether a landlord will evict a tenant over fish tanks depends on various factors, including the terms of the lease agreement, local laws, the size of the fish tanks, and the impact of the tanks on the property and other tenants. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Lease Agreement: Review your lease agreement carefully. Some leases might have clauses that prohibit certain types of pets or require approval for specific additions like fish tanks.
  2. Communication: If you’re interested in setting up a fish tank, it’s advisable to communicate with your landlord or property management. Seek their permission or clarification about their policies regarding aquariums.
  3. Tank Size and Number: Larger or multiple fish tanks might raise concerns about water damage, weight, and potential disruption to other tenants. Smaller tanks, like betta fish bowls, are less likely to cause issues.
  4. Structural Impact: Some landlords might worry about the structural impact of larger tanks and whether the building can support the weight.
  5. Water Damage: A key concern is preventing water damage to the property. Using protective mats and trays can help mitigate this risk.
  6. Noise and Disturbance: Noisy aquarium equipment might disturb neighbors. Noise considerations can impact the decision.
  7. Local Laws: Check local ordinances and housing regulations. Some areas might have specific rules regarding pets, which could include fish tanks.
  8. Negotiation: If your lease prohibits fish tanks but you’re interested in having one, you could try negotiating with your landlord. You might propose guidelines for preventing damage and maintaining cleanliness.
  9. Prioritize Open Communication: It’s generally best to be transparent and communicate your intentions with your landlord. They might appreciate your consideration and proactive approach.
  10. Respect Others: Consider the impact of your fish tanks on other tenants. If your tanks are causing disruptions or discomfort, it might lead to conflicts with neighbors and management.

Eviction is a serious step that landlords usually take as a last resort when lease violations are severe or continuous. Most landlords would prefer to find amicable solutions rather than resorting to eviction. However, it’s essential to respect the property, follow lease agreements, and maintain open communication to ensure a positive landlord-tenant relationship.

How to Hide a Fish Tank from Landlord?

It’s not recommended to hide things from your landlord, but if you decide to proceed with caution, consider these methods to minimize the tank’s visibility:

  • Choose a discreet location that’s less likely to be noticed, such as a less-visible corner or an area obscured by furniture.
  • Use decorative screens, room dividers, or tall plants to partially conceal the tank while maintaining airflow.
  • Place the tank near existing furniture or items that can help block it from view.

Keep in mind that hiding a fish tank could lead to conflicts with your landlord, potential eviction, or damage to your rental history.

If your landlord does not allow fish tanks, consider finding other ways to enjoy aquatic life, such as smaller aquariums, fish bowls, or aquatic-themed decorations.

Building and maintaining a positive and honest relationship with your landlord is generally in your best interest.

While these suggestions might help minimize the visibility of a fish tank, remember that it’s always better to engage in open communication with your landlord to avoid potential problems and conflicts. It’s important to respect the terms of your lease agreement and prioritize honesty in your interactions.


Creating an apartment fish tank that thrives and enchants requires a balance of careful planning and consistent maintenance.

By choosing an appropriate tank size, selecting suitable fish species, implementing effective filtration, and following maintenance best practices, you can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of an aquatic world right in your living space.

Remember, the journey of fishkeeping is not just about creating a picturesque environment, but also about nurturing and caring for the vibrant lives within it.