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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Location for Your Desktop Aquarium

By Jim May

Desktop aquariums look great, don’t they? The small form factor makes it very portable and flexible that it becomes a great conversation piece in the home or the office. You can fit them in locations that a medium or large tank just can’t. Flip through the pages of any interior design magazine and more often than not you’ll see a desktop aquarium with a wonderful feature fish in it. But this also might give you unrealistic expectations about where you can place your desktop aquarium.

Sturdy base

Wherever you put your mini fish tank, you’ll need to make sure it has a sturdy base. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, but you’ll also be adding gravel and decorations to your tank so even a 10 gallon mini fish tank will weigh about 100 pounds. If you place it on a table with skinny legs that moves if someone accidentally bumps into it, then you’ll have a big mess of glass, water, fish, gravel, and more. A good idea is to place it on a sturdy table or desk that is against a wall. People are less likely to bump into it, and power sockets are more likely to be found there to power your filters, light, pump, and heater. In fact, how about considering a coffee table aquarium?

Noise and vibration

A stressed-out fish is not going to look or act their best, so you want to make sure they get a nice, quiet, and private spot away from excessive noise and vibration. Keep them away from television, speakers (especially subwoofers!), washing machines, alarm clocks, etc. High traffic areas like the office where a lot of people pass by can generate vibrations that might be felt by the fish but not by us. In reality we want to proudly display our fish in places that everyone can see, but it’s worth it to find a nice and quiet corner of the room so people can admire your fish without causing undue stress.

Kids and pets

A desktop aquarium can provide endless entertainment and learning value for kids under proper adult supervision. The desktop aquarium can provide a fascinating insight into the lives of underwater animals, plants, and ecology for your children. But the tank shouldn’t be left alone with a toddler unsupervised, so make sure it is out of reach.

Some people wonder why the water evaporates so quickly in their fish tanks that they didn’t realize that their cat has been drinking from it. If you have pets such as cats or dogs, you’ll need to place the aquarium away from their reach. Cats are slightly more troublesome as they can climb as high as you put your tank. In this case you’ll need to make sure your desktop aquarium has a lid.

Water + Electricity + Human Flesh = Bad

An aquarium, mini or otherwise, contains a lot of water. The filtration and light system is designed to be safe for use with aquarium but it is powered by electricity from your wall or extension socket. Maximize the distance between the tank and power source so that any accidental spill does not reaches the socket. You’ll also want to keep the fish tank away from electrical devices such as your tv not only because of the noise, but potential water spill. Some fish has been known to splash water around by jumping so it is better to maximize the distance between the tank and any electrical sockets or devices.

Direct sunlight

Direct sunlight can heat up the temperature of the water in a fish tank. Fish are very sensitive to water temperature so wild heat fluctuations can kill them. When placing your desktop aquarium, it is best if you can ensure minimum sunlight reaches your tank. Another reason is algae. Algae are single-celled suspended plants that causes the water in your tank to turn green and cloudy. A presence of direct sunlight will result in algae bloom, which is a hassle to get rid of.

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