Aquarium Fish and Plants in Apartments

Betta fishSmall fish aquariums are great for apartment-dwellers – while we may love dogs and cats, pet deposits and pet rent can add up. Usually apartment managers will allow small aquariums in apartments with no deposit or monthly rent. For apartment-dwellers on a budget who still want a pet and want to grow plants, a small aquarium really does the trick!


If you are a beginner with fish, here’s a cheap and simple setup that’s easy to maintain and move to a new apartment if needed. Here are 7 steps to your first fish aquarium with aquatic plants:

Buy an aquarium. In a small apartment, a planted aquarium that is 10 gallons or less will be a space-saver and easier to move when necessary. A regular square aquarium that has space for a grow light to be set on top or attached to it is best. Oddly shaped aquariums are more difficult to clean, so make it easy on yourself and get a rectangular aquarium. Also buy other supplies for the aquarium, including dark gravel (some plants need specific gravel that promotes plant growth), a heater and filter (optional if you get a betta fish), and a lid and light made for growing plants.

Choose the fish. The easiest fish to keep is a betta fish because it doesn’t need an aquarium filter to live. Other fish need a filter or bubbler to introduce oxygen into the water. Bettas can benefit from a heater, but they don’t absolutely need one unless it gets very cold in your apartment. If you choose another type of fish to keep, make sure to research the species. You’ll need to know how much space it needs, whether it should be kept alone or with others of its kind, what other fish it’s compatible with, its temperature and food requirements, etc. Make sure to keep fish that won’t grow too large for the aquarium and those that won’t eat the other fish in the tank. Most fish will be too large for a 10-gallon aquarium, so choose wisely.

Choose the plants. Now here’s the greatest part. If you’re new to aquarium plants and fish, try an easy plant to grow, such as Java fern, Java moss, Amazon swordplants or water sprite. These three plants can be grown with regular gravel (not plant substrate) in the aquarium. Lucky bamboo can also be grown in the aquarium, but it is not an aquatic plant, so make sure that its leaves are above water. Make sure that whatever plant you purchase is actually an aquatic plant. Some “aquarium” plants sold in pet stores won’t survive under water, and many pet store employees won’t know which are actually terrestrial plants and which aren’t. Do your research ahead of time!

Read about 7 aquarium plants>>

If you want a more elaborate setup, read how you can grow vegetables and other plants in a hydroponic growing aquarium with or without fish>>

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