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The Pros and Cons of Having a Fish Tank

As much as I enjoy sitting back and watching my beautiful fish tanks, I also get tired of the maintenance some days. I was just thinking about that the other night and thought this would be a helpful topic for someone who’s considering getting into the hobby. Like with anything in life, there are always pros and cons and I know as I’ve been in the fishkeeping hobby for over 30 years so I can offer both.

The pros are that it’s relaxing and soothing to watch an aquarium; adds to a home’s charm; a satisfying hobby; fun for children; teaches children how to care for a pet; going to the pet store for supplies is fun. The cons are it’s sad when fish die; the fish keeping hobby can be expensive; tank maintenance is required and time consuming; fish tanks can crack; a long-term commitment; moving an aquarium is a lot of work.

Those are most of the pros and cons of having a fish tank however, I have a few more to share with you. In this article, I’ll dive a bit deeper into each pro and con with the ultimate goal of helping you decide if the fish keeping hobby is something you want to pursue. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting started and buying a tank and initiating the process before we find out if an aquarium is right for us or not. Let’s get right into the pros and cons of owning a fish tank.

Pros of Having a Fish Tank

These are in no specific order.


  • The experience and knowledge you gain from owning different types of fish species, heaters, filters, lighting, live plants, corals, invertebrates and so on is incredible. Whether you start-up freshwater or saltwater fish tanks, there’s a mountain of learning ahead of you. As a matter of fact, it never ends. I have been in this hobby since 1989 and am still learning. Once you gain enough knowledge that you can problem solve and troubleshoot any issues that might arise in your tank, there’s no better feeling.


  • The relaxing and soothing effect of watching your fish tank is hard to beat. Humans by nature are all drawn to water. On vacations, we seek enjoyment where there is water. At home, we install pools, ponds, and water features. Watching an aquarium gives me that same feeling of relaxation. I could watch fish in an aquarium for hours. I have read that watching aquariums can lower blood pressure. I’m not a doctor and wouldn’t know that myself however, I can see why someone might think that.


  • An aquarium can be a beautiful addition to any home decor. In fact, if you get a large fish tank with a stand, you now have a huge piece of furniture that you’ll get endless amounts of joy from. Some fish tanks are built into walls and some can be viewed by two opposing rooms. I have never seen one that didn’t look incredible.

goldfish in fishbowl

  • One of the feelings I get after cleaning the tank, sitting back, and enjoying the fish swimming about is satisfaction. It’s satisfying watching fish grow and sometimes have baby fry that also grow into adulthood. Having a thriving healthy tank just feels good, or should I say satisfying.


  • Fish tanks are tons of fun for children to watch. I catch my son sometimes staring at the fish and that alone is worth it to me. I know you have experienced this as well when you are out somewhere and there’s a fish tank, almost always children will be standing and staring at the fish.


  • To emphasize my point of children enjoying watching fish tanks, they also learn how to care for the fish even if they are not 100% directly involved in the maintenance of the tank. Children hear and see almost everything at home and by osmosis, they’ll learn to care for the tanks as well. It’s a great idea if they want to earn allowance money to get them involved in something to do with the care of the tank.


  • Going to the local fish or pet store with the family is a fun outing. You get to see all the different types of fish that are available in your area. You also get to see all kinds of other pets. There are new tank decorations to explore and it’s always nice to see others interested in the same hobby.


  • Fish are much easier to care for than all other pets in my opinion. The difference between having a fish tank or a fury pet is with the aquarium, everything is contained and stays put. Fish don’t bark, meow or scratch on furniture. Fish go about their business in the fish tank and to me, it’s just easier to care for them than other pets.

Cons of Having a Fish Tank

Again, in no specific order, here are the cons of owning a fish tank.


  • As great as learning new things is, sometimes the learning curve for having a successful fish tank can be somewhat overwhelming. There are hundreds of different fish species available and learning which ones can live happily together can be a nightmare.


    • There’s nothing worse than putting new fish in the tank then checking on them the next day and either they’re dead, or they’ve attacked and killed other fish. It’s a terrible feeling knowing you did that to your pet fish, unintentionally of course. Then there are water parameters to contend with as well as proper filtration and lighting. The learning curve never ends in this hobby.


  • Fish will die unexpectedly. Sometimes fish die and we have no clue as to why. It could be that they were older fish and it was their time. It could be that the water parameters aren’t right or you just haven’t figured it out yet. It happens and even though they’re small creatures, they’re my pets and I don’t like it when they pass.


  • The aquarium hobby can become expensive. You must purchase a tank and supplies before you even get your pet fish. Then, the type of fish you get could be expensive, especially if you’re into larger fish or have a saltwater tank.


    • You must replace older equipment when it breaks down. You can also expect that having just one fish tank won’t last long. Most hobbyists own more than one tank at a time. So be prepared to spend some money.


  • If you like the idea of owning a fish tank because you think it’ll be easy to maintain and not take much time, think again. Especially when you are first starting out. Regular maintenance is a must if you don’t want your fish dying all the time. When you’re on vacation you’ll need to have the fish be fed somehow and possibly the water topped up. You don’t get away with doing nothing when owning aquariums.


  • It hasn’t happened to me, but fish tanks do crack. When a fish tank cracks, it can be a nightmare. When buying a new tank, consider brand new instead of used until you have enough experience in the hobby to know how to take care for or even reseal old tanks.


  • Having a fish tank is a time commitment. When you get other pets like dogs, you know you’re going to have to care for that puppy for years to come. The same applies to buying and caring for fish. When considering what fish to have as a pet, maybe learning how long they’ll potentially live is a great idea.


  • Sometimes tanks smell. If you’re not providing regular maintenance or using activated charcoal, your fish tank might be stinky. It could even be because of the type of water you use to top the tank up. If you use well water and find your aquarium water smells bad, then you should consider using RO water, depending on whether you have a freshwater or saltwater fish tank.

girl watching a discus aquarium

  • Lastly, whenever you need to move an aquarium, it’s a major undertaking. You obviously risk killing some or all fish when they have their tank moved. Unless, of course, you have a quarantine tank already set-up that you could use while the fish’s home tank is being moved. Regardless, moving aquariums are a lot of work.


    • Another danger of moving a fish tank is the chance of it cracking. Always make sure the spot you choose is going to be good for a long time.


I would never tell anyone to not get into keeping an aquarium and on the other hand, would never advocate someone stay away at all costs. We are all different therefore, we all must individually decide whether having fish as pets is right for us or not.

I obviously enjoy having aquariums and have so for the past 30 plus years. They’ve been a joy to own and care for and I can honestly say that whenever a fish passes away, it bothers me each and every time. I care for my fish just as I do my cat. Yes, I have a cat as well.

I truly hope I was able to help you decide whether you want a fish tank or not. Good luck either way.