Wall mounted fish tanks provide unique and interactive home decor; however, be aware of some of the constraints the thinner, picture frame models pose.

Wall mounted aquariums are becoming more and more popular, for good reason. Wall mounted fish tanks take up no floor space, make very interesting and unusual home décor, and come in various sizes to accommodate virtually any sized home or office.

Although they differ in shape, the thinner portrait-shaped models impose some very important limitations on what type of fish can be housed and how the aquarium is maintained. The following considerations become more and more important, the more the tank resembles a picture (i.e., flat and thin) rather than a traditional aquarium.

Wall Mounted Fish Tanks May Need Supplemental Aeration

Wall mounted fish tanks that are very thin provide precious little surface area for the water to come in contact with the air and allow for oxygen diffusion. As such, without sufficient aeration, the oxygen levels in a such a wall mounted fish tank can drop dramatically, and easily stress or kill your fish, particularly if the tank is well-stocked. One indication of low oxygen concentrations are fish gasping and/or hovering listlessly at the surface.

Fortunately, this can be easily remedied by placing an airstone, airstrip or an oxygenating ornament toward the bottom of the tank, which is connected to an appropriately-sized aquarium air pump. The column of fine rising bubbles produced increases air/water contact and also generates a beneficial current that draws oxygen-depleted water up from the lower levels of the tank to the surface. If your filtration system already incorporates these features (e.g., a simple sponge filter) or otherwise provides good surface water agitation, supplemental aeration may not be needed.

Wall Mounted Fish Tanks Are Not Appropriate For All Fish

Again, given their dimensions, the thinner wall aquariums also limit the type of fish that can be properly housed. In general, fish prefer horizontal over vertical space – think of a shoebox as opposed to a vase. As a result, fewer, smaller fish should be chosen for 10-gallon picture-frame styled wall tank, as compared to a standard 10-gallon rectangular tank. Tropical fish such as tetras, rasboras and danios are an excellent choice for most wall tanks, as they are small, colorful and provide lots of activity. Bettas and freshwater aquarium shrimp are the best occupants for the smallest wall aquariums.

Maintaining Temperature in a Wall Mounted Aquarium

Because of their long, thin shape, wall mounted tanks tend to have less thermal inertia, and therefore gain and lose heat more quickly compared to a standard tank of the same volume. This should be considered when situating and setting up the tank. For example, if your home office experiences temperatures exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit, you will likely have trouble keeping a smaller wall tank from quickly spiking to potentially lethal temperatures for fish or shrimp. Conversely, if the tank location often gets cold you, will need a good aquarium heater that is slightly over-sized (e.g., for a 5 gallon wall tank, choose a heater sized for a 10 gallon tank) to compensate for the faster rate of heat loss associated with thinner wall mounted fish tanks.

Avoid Too Much Décor

Be sensible with furnishings and accessories. Because there is relatively little horizontal space already, any ornaments that effectively divide and/or compartmentalize much of the tank will not be appreciated by many fish species, especially ones that like to school in open areas.

Make Sure Your Wall Aquarium is Properly Mounted

Water is heavy. Because a gallon of water weighs roughly 8.34 pounds, your cute little 10 gallon wall tank will weigh approximately 83 pounds, not including the additional weight of the substrate – that is one heavy picture frame! Be sure that your wall tank is installed by a professional or someone with enough wood-working experience – or risk watery-disaster.