June 3, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Best aquarium option available on Amazon?

My sister and I would like to get my dad an aquarium setup for Father's Day. We know he would welcome this, and he's had fish in the past. The issue is that we don't know anything about aquariums, and we want to be able to give him everything he needs save for water and a fish - either an all-in-one kit or a list of things that would be necessary are fine.

As for type of fish: it would almost certainly be a red tailed black shark or similar shark-y critter. What can I say? The man loves sharks.

Budget: about $150 (I have a gift card, which is why I'd like to keep it from Amazon if possible).
posted by troika to Shopping (4 answers total)
Best answer: RT sharks need a bigger tank, they grow to 6" long and being aggressive, need buffer space from each other. 40-50 gal at least. There's no all-in-one big enough for a rts.

For that size tank, you're better off getting one locally. At your budget, consider either used on Craigslist or wait for Petco's Dollar per Gallon tank sale. Rumor is the next one is in June but they announce it on Twitter/FB if you follow their feeds.

Speaking as an avid aquarium hobbyist, I'd rather pick out my own tank not the least because tanks need stands and stands need to fit into the space/decor I have available.

Your Amazon card could buy him a fine canister filter.
posted by jamaro at 11:18 AM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a pretty avid aquarium hobbyist, and I would have to recommend against this unless he already has things picked out.

Even though you know what kind of a fish he would like, there are still a lot of variables. Do you know if he wants to plant real plants or just wants plastic? If he wants plants, that will be outside of your budget as lights are expensive (and CO2 alone on a 55 gallon tank can be more than your budget).

If he does not want plants, you'll need to at minimum get the tank, stand, heater, and filter. And maybe some substrate (e.g., gravel). But I do feel like a lot of that is personal preference. People tend to be particular about filters. Some people swear by HOBs, but others will only use canisters. Some people think undergravel is the devil but others love it. If you get a whole new set, it will be over $150. On the other hand, if he knows what he wants, he can order exactly that. Or he can even get it for cheap on Craigslist or something (lots of people go in and out of the hobby).

Also, they say that the tank is the cheapest part of the hobby.

What I would do instead, is encourage him to get his own tank, and get him all the associated supplies (since you mention he's kept fish in the past but doesn't have any now). Get the freshwater test kit and the GH/KH test kit. Then get a fish net, some water treatment, siphone for cleaning the tank, and a couple of fully-submersible heaters. (On the heaters, you have to determine the right wattage based on the lowest ambient room temperature and tank size. Then split that into 2 heaters, so that you lower the risk of catastrophic failure. Get fully submersible ones because they're just better.)

And I think that you reach about $150.
posted by ethidda at 12:16 PM on June 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, both of you. As I said, I don't know anything about aquariums, so this is incredibly helpful advice. There's a lot more to aquariums than I had expected! I think we'd best do this in person, at a good pet store.
posted by troika at 12:44 PM on June 3, 2014

Get him a gift card for the fish store, then go with him to pick it out. Sounds like fun.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:41 PM on June 3, 2014

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