Apartment Aquariums

by Tom Lang

An apartment aquarium is a great pet for busy people who just don’t have time for a dog or a cat. Most apartment managers are fine with a small aquarium in rental units, but don’t assume small means mini. A good apartment aquarium size to start with is a 20 gallon (24”long x 13”wide x 17”tall). This size can accommodate a nice selection of freshwater tropical fish and even live plants.

20 gallon aquarium with large plantWhether you buy your set-up from a local fish store or through Aquarius Aquarium, Inc., our professional aquarists will help you get it going and then maintain it for you on a monthly basis.

We generally recommend many small, colorful community fish for a 20 gallon aquarium such as tetras, rasboras, danios, gouramis and maybe even


one angelfish (don’t try two angelfish or you are likely to have one ending up being dominant, causing the other one to die). Some of our clients have gotten away with six or more angelfish for months, but compatibility issues usually develop as these not-so-angelic fish mature.

Popular bottom fish for a

20 gallon aquarium are corydoras catfish that come in a variety of colors and patterns. These catfish do a nice job keeping the bottom clean of extra food the other fish may miss. We do not recommend a plecostomus or other potentially large bottom fish as these take up too much tank space very quickly and produce copious amounts of waste.

Easy-to-grow live plants such as an Amazon sword, Anubias or Java fern will do well in a 20 gallon aquarium with about 8 hours of light a day. We have been impressed with the growth of these varieties under the white LED lights that come with even the most budget-friendly options combination kits. Some other aquatic or semi-aquatic plant species offered for sale do not fare as well in aquariums without specialty lighting, regular fertilizer additions or CO2 supplementation. Of course, if you’re interested in a high-end planted aquarium with more challenging species, we’d be happy to discuss the options available.

With all the choices out there, we understand that putting an apartment aquarium together can seem daunting, but that’s what we’re here for! Contact us today and we’ll walk you through the process so you can enjoy the beauty of this slice of nature.