Setting up a Home Aquarium – Where to Put it?

I get asked most often during the fall about setting up a home aquarium.

Unlike getting a dog or a cat, or even a bird, setting up a home aquarium is creating a complete ecosystem. There is no real short answer to the question. I tell them that before deciding what to get and what to put in it, they should decide where they want to put it, and that there is more to consider than most people realize until it is too late.

Where will the aquarium be enjoyed?

An aquarium is as much a piece of living artwork as it is a collection of pets. The family enjoys it every day, and visitors almost always want to see the aquarium. So putting it somewhere where you entertain and where everyone sees it every day will help you get more out of your tank.

This is often in a living room or entertainment room. Sometimes it is placed next to the main focal point of the room, such as a tv, or it is treated as a second focal point off to the side, possibly on an adjoining wall.

Setting up a home aquarium to be part of the decor

Aquariums can be placed on a selection of aquarium stands, or one can be custom made, which can get expensive. It can also go inside a wall and be viewed from one side, or customized to be seen from both sides.

With planning, setting up a home aquarium can make it look like a natural part of the decor, or to match the furniture in a room.

The aquarium stands on the market are functional, they don’t always match or blend in well with one’s home’s look. A contractor or furniture builder can either modify the stand or build another to make the aquarium fit into the room more seamlessly.

Aquarium weight

A 75 gallon tank will easily weigh 1,000 pounds. When one starts getting into 120 gallon aquariums, the weight goes up dramatically. Place these larger aquariums by a load-bearing wall. Many floors can handle the weight, but make sure beforehand. When setting up a home aquarium, hiring a contractor to make sure that the floor can hold the planned aquarium can be a very wise move, especially in the case of larger aquariums (one gallon of water weighs over eight pounds).

Electric needs

Place the aquarium above an electrical outlet and one or two power strips are run from it inside the stand. Provide space to mount the power strips off of the floor and to avoid getting them wet. Hiring an electrician to test and run wire could save you a lot of hassles and safety hazards. They can make sure that the tank has enough power and keep unsightly extension cords from having to be used.

Get a second set of eyes

When setting up a home home aquarium, consider hiring an aquarium professional for a consultation. Having an outside set of trained eyes inside the home or business will help more than someone in a store who has never seen where the aquarium is going. A professional’s experience with other aquariums will help avoid mistakes and to make sure that one’s tank will have everything it is going to need. This is also a good opportunity to pick their brain and to get advice.

Beware of “free consultations.” They are often sales pitches in disguise. A professional consultation answers your questions, makes recommendations, and provides you with a list of everything you need, whether you choose to hire them for future work, or someone else.

Cleaning and maintenance

Considering maintenance, leave 6-12 inches of space on the sides and in back, and at least 18 inches above the top for cleaning and access. This allows for arms and hands to get to where they need to go in order to keep the aquarium clean.

Aquariums splash water, and the walls and floor should be prepared to repel water rather than absorb it. It can be as simple as getting the right paint or floor covering to be used during a cleaning or maintenance.


The room should be kept at a consistent temperature that is not too hot. Aquariums average 76-80 degrees (I like 78 degrees). While most aquariums have a heater to help keep the right temperature, room temperature determines how hard they have to work and the stability in the tank. Avoid putting the aquarium in direct sunlight. It will help avoid and reduce nuisance algae and uncontrolled heating of the tank.

With some planning, setting up a home aquarium can be a real joy and bring something wonderful into your home. There are several details to consider, but in my experience, they are well worth the attention given to them.

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