Tanks can hold 1" of fish per gallon of water, so a tank that is 60 gallons would have room for 60" of fish. Realistically those who own a tropical tank would never want to have that many fish. Fish that are large will shift more water and have more waste than a fish with a smaller body. In addition to this, a healthy tank will have gravel, equipment, plants and decoration. This will also reduce the amount of fish that is safe to add into a new tank.
A 30-gallon saltwater aquarium is probably the smallest tank you should consider. A fish tank of this size will provide sufficient surface area to allow adequate exchange of oxygen into the water and to provide a comfortable swimming environment for your fish. The oxygen supply in the water together with the water temperature will determine the success or otherwise of your fish keeping hobby. Tropical saltwater fish require a water temperature of about 75 degrees F. The warmer water in the saltwater aquarium will tend to deplete the oxygen in the water which means that the surface area becomes important. The addition of aeration equipment is usually desirable to increase the oxygen concentration. Aeration can usually be provided in conjunction with your filtration equipment.
New tank owners will want to consider whether they want to add adult fish or fry. If an adult is being purchased, then the fish will need to be measured from the head to the end of its tail. Those who are buying young fish will want to inquire about the full size of the fish when it matures. Stores often have information listed on the tank that can help new owners decide on the type of fish they wish to buy. This information includes the full size of a fish, temperament and eating habits.
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