Why keep small tanks?

Aqueon 33g long glass aquarium. Photo by the author.

Back in 2015, I posted about the benefits of keeping dwarf cichlids. Of course, one of those benefits is that dwarves don’t require large tanks. So I thought I would post about why you should consider smaller aquariums. 

In no particular order, below are some advantages of smaller tanks.

  • Lower cost – As a rule small tanks cost less. Sure, you can get some really expensive small tanks but it is a fact that a 30g tank is less expensive than a similarly constructed 75g, for example.
  • Less maintenance – Small tanks require less effort and time to clean than large tanks. This is usually true with any object. It takes less time to clean a bus than it does a 2-door hatchback.
  • Less potential leak damage – If you’re not at home and a seal breaks on your 150g tank, the unpleasant result is usually way worse than coming home to a 20g long that’s leaked. It goes without saying that the more water there is in the tank, the more water than can end up on your floor.
  • Less cost to equip – Heaters, pumps, filters and all of the filter supplies are priced by size, just like the tanks. Big canister filters cost much less than small HOBs. Same as 300 watt heaters cost more than 50w heaters. Lighting a big 6′ tank costs a lot more than lighting that 30″ tank with the exact same brand of light. If you use substrate, compare the cost of a 3″ sand bed for a 125g tank to the same size sand bed in a 48″ 33g long.
  • Less required space – Large tanks take up more floor space. Floor space for multiple tanks is a premium for most aquarists. So unless you have a tank built in to the wall, you’re going to need more floor space for that big tank.
  • Less weight per tank – At roughly 10 lbs per gallon of freshwater, you do the math on the weight of 150g compared to a 30g. If you’re in an older home or an apartment and plan to keep a tank upstairs, being cognizant of the total weight of that tank is a good idea unless the tank is small. Remember, larger tanks (especially glass) are also much heavier by themselves WITHOUT water, substrate, rocks, decorations, etc. 

These are just a few of benefits of keeping smaller tanks. The advantage becomes exponential when you keep multiple tanks. 

If there are additional benefits that I omitted, drop me a note and I’ll happily add them to the list in a follow-up post. 

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