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How to Go Green When Keeping a Fish Tank at Home

One aspect of keeping an aquarium which many people don’t think about is the impact on the environment, for example, from the increased energy usage for lights, heaters and filters, as well as the impact of removing fish from the natural environment for domestic use.

But it is possible to be green while running a home fish tank if you look for energy saving and green products, and do some research before you start.

Reduce the size of your fish tank

There is no doubt that setting up an aquarium at home will add to your energy use and subsequently, your bills, but it there are things you can do to help reduce the impact. One of the easiest ways is to keep your aquarium as small as is practical for your fish and your home. You can find a range of sizes available online at places like

A small freshwater aquarium only uses about as much energy as a coffee machine, on average, whereas a much larger tank, particularly with heaters for plants, will require a large amount of energy potentially.

Look for energy-reducing and green products

As well as the size of the tank, you can also look at energy-saving products, for example, buying LED lights. These can really save you money, but make sure they are the right lights to suit the plants and fish in your aquarium first. Not having plants in the tank at all can reduce the need for lighting meaning you save even more energy.  Other options include buying an energy efficient power strip.

You can also look at other items including making sure the filter systems and heating systems all contain environmentally friendly elements to them.

Only use natural or recycled decorations

When planning to decorate your tank, only use natural materials like rocks or driftwood, or recycle older but water-appropriate items like plastic toys, rather than buying new plastic-made items for the aquarium.

Use fish-friendly paints to redecorate old plastic toy soldiers for example, to use as aquarium decorations, rather than buying them from the shop brand new. Always make sure anything you put in the tank is suitable and doesn’t contain chemicals which could then leech into the water and potentially harm your fish.

Check the source of your fish with the pet shop

There are all sorts of practices to capture fish around the world which can harm the fish and the environment, and in some places overfishing for the aquarium industry has caused some species to become endangered, so always check with your pet shop, how your fish were caught and where they came from, before committing to buy.

Generally freshwater fish are farm-bred and raised rather than captured in the wild, so it’s not such an issue as it is for saltwater fish. So always check the source of your chosen fish before you take them home, to make sure your purchase isn’t adding to an ecological problem.

Don’t overdo it with the plants

One of the elements of an aquarium which people don’t realise adds greatly to your energy bill, is including lots of live plants into the aquascape. While they do look nice and make your aquarium come to life, they also require a lot of energy to survive, including heating and specialist lighting potentially.

Using a smaller mixture of plants with other natural elements, such as rocks and driftwood, can create an equally nice appearance, without maxing out your energy bills.

Avoid disposing live fish into the eco-system

If you buy fish which get too big for your tank – don’t try to put them in a pond, or flush them, as they might well survive and establish themselves in a new colony, which can then have a potential impact on the eco-system around them as they are not native to the area.

If you find you have fish which no longer fit your tank, then ask your pet shop or nearest fish centre, to help you to rehome them. Alternatively, advertise them in an aquarist enthusiast magazine or website to find new owners for them.

However, the easiest thing to do is carry out some research first to make sure you don’t buy fish that will outgrow your tank. Make sure you do your research and then buy the right size of tank to accommodate the potential growth of your fish.

As you can see, while having an aquarium will undoubtedly increase your energy use, there are things you can do to minimise the impact and to make sure that your desire to have a beautiful underwater world in your own home, doesn’t have a negative effect on the real world outside your door.

By keeping the tank as small as possible, checking out the origins of the fish and creatures you are planning to buy, and looking for energy-saving aquarium products, you can easily retain your green credentials while running a fish tank at home.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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