What Kind of Fish Tank is Easiest to Maintain

Written by Randy Martin

When you are looking to setup a brand new aquarium you should consider how much time and energy you will have to put into it. Most of the time people simply want a nice set up, keep their pets happy and enjoy their tank without too much worry.  Here we will look at some of the easiest setups you can go for.

Two guppy fish swimming in a tank

“Guppy Pair” by Mihnea Stanciu | CC by 2.0

First it’s important to be clear up front that there is no pet that is really all that easy. When you have a little creature that is counting on you for it’s survival, you kind of have to put some time into it. That is probably even more so with fish.

When it comes to fish you are recreating an entire world and environment for them to live in that is different than ours. That comes with some challenges, but it’s not really all that difficult, especially when you get the hang of it.

First off, what isn’t easy….

Fish bowls got to be the easiest, right?

You might think that a fish bowl, a simple glass jar with some water in it and a couple of fish would be really easy right?

Actually a well maintained fish bowl takes quite a bit of consideration. It really all depends on what kind of fish you have in the bowl, the quantity and how often you are feeding them.

Because of the typical lack of filtration system you have to put in a lot more care with cleaning the water. And you would likely be looking at doing water changes twice a week, maybe even more. Also a frequent gravel cleanse getting all the waste off the bottom.

This makes for a lot of upkeep to maintain your fish healthy and happy. Although I don’t know how happy they can be in a little fish bowl anyhow. The space is tiny.

Not to mention they are pretty uninteresting and boring, they hardly capture the attention of anyone.

On top of that, because of the curvature in the glass you will often get a distorted unclear view of the fish, which makes it hard for viewing anyhow.

So are fish bowls really all that hard? I guess not exactly hard, but they take more effort than you would think. I will never recommend fish bowls on this site simply because I don’t believe in them.

What about saltwater tanks?

First off I don’t really think that saltwater aquariums are all that difficult. Yes they are more involved and there is a little bit more that goes into it.

But saltwater tanks I think are okay even for beginner fish keepers as long as the fish keeper does their research and prepares properly.

The required monitoring and maintenance is pretty involved. You can’t just neglect your saltwater tank. You shouldn’t neglect any of your pet fish, but marine fish are more delicate, and there is a narrower field of water levels you must maintain to keep your fish healthy.

So while I think saltwater aquariums are not all that difficult contrary to common belief, it does take someone who is really going to nerd out on the hobby to keep the tank thriving and healthy.

Being that saltwater set-ups are more pricey, you will be investing more into this hobby to begin with. But the pay off is you get to have the vibrant, colorful, breath taking display of marine fish life.

Tropical freshwater aquariums

This is where things begin to get easier and maintainable. In some ways a lot of the same maintenance that is required for your saltwater tanks are also necessary for freshwater tanks.

However fish from freshwater rivers, lakes and streams are more used to changes in the water and climate. Hence they are more adapted to changes that might go on in your tank. Which means you have a wider margin of where your water levels are and even a wider margin for errors compared to saltwater mistakes.

So with tropical freshwater aquariums you can really get into an easy routine with them. And you also have the option to select the types of fish which are hardier making your tank even less needy so to speak.

In freshwater tanks (as well as saltwater tanks) you also have a wide variety of species that you can choose from that will help keep your aquarium clean for you, bottom feeders and algae eaters. Like catfish, plecos, snails, and my personal favorite; shrimp.

For example the snails could help control the algae growth, while the shrimp could scavenge on the bottom and eat up any bile fill.

Aquaponics fish tank

Something else interesting to consider is aquaponics. When you want to combine fish keeping with gardening.

In aquaponics you pump the water from out of the bottom of your fish tank up into a garden bed usually sitting above the tank.

The water and fish waste will feed your plants. The plants absorb the nitrates as plant food removing it from the water. Then you send that freshly cleaned water back into the tank.

This is essentially a self maintaining tank and some home fish keepers have claimed they haven’t done any water changes in several months and have tested almost perfectly in ammonia, nitrates and pH levels.

This is going to take more research and usually more of a DIY aspect to set up an aquaponics fish tank. But there are some pretty cool packages out there you can buy that are on the market that come already designed to grow your plants and circulate the water for your fish.


Fish keeping is a hobby that takes time and resources. But it’s really a joy to have an underwater world with a little fish family to get to observe in your own home.

I feel like the easiest to maintain fish tank is a tropical freshwater aquarium.

They are easy to set up and get going. The fish to stock your tank are widely available and cheap.

I would recommend a 30 gallon to 55 gallon tank. Anything lower and you will have to do even more regular water changes because the smaller the tank the quicker the water can become contaminated.

But with a 30 gallon tank or bigger you are typically looking at changing the water every 2 weeks to no less than once a month.

Then stock that tank with some hardy fish, have a species or two that will do some of the cleaning for you.

And then following best practices will help keep your required maintenance down as well. Like do not overstock your tank for the size you have. And do not over feed, so that way there isn’t as much food wasted away in your tank to dirty things up.

This type of set up should serve you very well and isn’t going to be too demanding. So you can spend your time enjoying the aquarium and watching your fish thrive.

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