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How to Pick a Safe Location for Your Aquarium

Jana worked in animal welfare with abused and unwanted pets. She loves sharing her hands-on experience regarding domestic and wild critters.

A kitten eyeballing an aquarium...yikes!

A kitten eyeballing an aquarium...yikes!

Why a Safe Location for Your Aquarium Is Necessary

Responsible aquarium keeping means adhering to certain basic rules. One of the most often ignored is to pick a safe location for the tank. It's not that the rule is being sideswiped on purpose . . . who wants to spend money on expensive equipment, fish, and a tank, only to have them destroyed in a glass-shattering moment?

Most times, new owners don't grasp the dangers of housing an animal in a glass tank or simply forget about placement safety. After all, it's pretty exciting to purchase a new aquarium and fish. When bringing the little goobers home, the last thing on one's mind is that the house might not be safe.


An aquarium near a door is a hazardous move. Imagine somebody swinging it open in a hurry, a visitor not knowing about the tank or a child too excited to remember. When contact is made at the right angle, the door can shove the aquarium off its stand or shatter it. The latter is a real possibility when the door's handle is level with the aquarium.

Don't forget about the front and back doors of the house. They may be nowhere near your precious platies, but some open doors invite drafts that are capable of giving fish a bad chill.


Unlike doors, windows aren't likely to get physically violent with your pets. However, a bad window situation can cause death within hours. More correctly, the thing they let in: direct sunlight. Water temperature differs for each species and must be maintained accordingly. The sun doesn't really care about that. It just shines.

Even when blocked by thin drapes or closed blinds, a nearby shoal can quickly heat up. The problem is not that the fish will boil. The water starts losing oxygen at a rapid pace and death usually happens through asphyxiation. Cold air sneaking in through windows is not desirable, either.

Although not as serious, sunlight also encourages an algae problem. The kind of problem that makes visitors think your aquarium is a rectangular box stuffed with swamp grass. Anyone who's ever battled this green blight can vouch for the fact that the algae monster is a tough cookie that sticks and rebounds, no matter the effort made to remove it.

Fish Bowls Are Vulnerable

Larger aquariums have their weaknesses, but small fishbowls are particularly vulnerable. They are lightweight and can easily be knocked over or off their perch.

Larger aquariums have their weaknesses, but small fishbowls are particularly vulnerable. They are lightweight and can easily be knocked over or off their perch.

House Temperature

Every room tends to have its own temperature fluctuations. Pick one that will provide the most stable temperature for the aquarium. Always remember that a water heater is not the solution for a cold room. Sure, they do their job—to a degree. But if a room is cold to start with, drastic temperature drops caused by drafts and winter can lower fish immunity against diseases. The best is to find a “Goldilocks” room—one that is neither too hot nor too cold.

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Oh, those wondrous little beings. They invent ballgames on the spot, run through the house, and like to splash toys in water—especially when there's real fish in it! That's right; kids are a whole danger unto themselves when it comes to keeping your aquarium safe.

This is not to say that children are being mean on purpose. Most need to be taught that fish require gentle handling that excludes too much noise and movement.

A Natural Curiosity

Children have a natural fascination with fish. This should be channeled in a good way, like helping a parent with aquarium chores.

Children have a natural fascination with fish. This should be channeled in a good way, like helping a parent with aquarium chores.

  • Don't place the tank in a high-traffic area.
  • Teach kids that fish need privacy and gentle admiration.
  • Should a child show a keen interest, allow them to help you with caretaking duties while under supervision.
  • Kids can get hurt too; pack away all aquarium-related equipment and chemicals that could cause harm.
  • If necessary, place the aquarium in a locked room that children cannot access.
  • The tank's stand must be solid and able to withstand a knock.
  • Choose a location that allows you to keep an eye on both the fish and the kids.
  • No ballgames or throw games allowed in that area.

High Traffic Zones

Alright, by now the kids know that fish are not dogs. They understand that this type of pet doesn't like humans who make a fuss. This rule counts for grownups too. Aquariums may look stunning at the entrance of a classy restaurant, but those fish experience extreme stress. There's way too much sound and movement going on. Similarly, one might want to use a tank to beautify a certain area in the home, but too often these are high-traffic areas.

There's a very simple rhythm with fish. When stress levels reach a certain point, even those famously tough guppies will clock out. This doesn't mean that you must never go near them. When they call a quiet corner home, like in a study or their own room, then the occasional feeding and viewing won't cause too much stress.

Making Things Easier

Hands down, the best way to avoid any effort is to pick the right place before setting up an aquarium! However, not all is lost should one realize that the kitchen is not the best place for that fifty-gallon tank with its 2000-member shoal of tetras. Just lessen the water to reduce the weight and carefully transport it to the new site. The water change shouldn't be too drastic as this could have a negative impact on your fish, especially if there's still chlorine in it.

The location of an aquarium is not all about safety. A good site can also make fish-keeping chores a little bit easier.

  • It shouldn't be so close to the wall or furniture that you struggle to access the back (or any side, for that matter) while cleaning.
  • An aquarium located near a water source makes quick work of those weekly water changes.
  • A nearby electrical outlet eliminates extension cords people can trip over and let's face it, a jumble of electrical cords just looks messy.
  • Ideally, there should be a shelf or closet to keep all the fish food and equipment within reach.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jana Louise Smit

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