I Want a Desktop Aquarium

09 March 2021

pets decor

This idea has been on my mind for a while, so let’s take a deep dive in this post. I want a cute little aquarium to display on my desk or bookshelf, but I have not taken the plunge just yet.


Some factors keeping me from doing it are:

  1. Additional responsibility - can I handle it? Unfortunately HB has NO interest in fish, so the maintenance would be all up to me
  2. I already have a gazillion houseplants that take up a huuuge chunk of my time. Will I have to get rid of some so that I have time to take care of my aquarium?
  3. Will I get bored with it after 2 weeks?
  4. How are we going to feed the fish when we go on vacation?

So let’s address each concern one by one.

  1. Additional responsibility - yes, this is definitely going to all land on me. We already have a chore chart that splits our household responsibilities between the two of us. And since this is my hobby/interest, it only makes sense that I do it
  2. But additional responsibility means more time! Since I already spend SO MUCH TIME with houseplant maintenance, I think this is an area that’s going to have to give. It will be EXTREMELY hard choosing and parting with my plant babies :cry: But I do think my collection is getting a bit out of hand. Some plants aren’t bringing me joy any more.
  3. Am I easily entertained and bored? I definitely do think I have a short attention span. Things that are no longer brand-new eventually get forgotten. My fear here is that I am going to forget to feed my fish! It’ll be fine while I’m working from home and can see the fish on my desk every day, but will it become a problem once I go back to work? GOD I HOPE NOT!
  4. Gonna have to figure this one out…how do y’all keep your fish fed when you’re out on vacation? Do you hire a fish-sitter? Automatic food feeder?

Why I want a desktop aquarium

Ok enough doom and gloom, let’s talk about the fun stuff!

Of course my number one reason for wanting one of these bad boys is aesthetics! I am in love with the look of Biorb aquariums.

The price, though, is just so god-awful. Like, is it really worth $200+ for an acrylic box? It comes with “everything you need” which highly appeals to my lazy ass. I want to be able to set up my aquarium easily since I have zero real experience with fish-keeping. The fish tank of my childhood was maintained and cleaned by my dad! So Biorb’s simplicity + beauty really appeals to me.

However, the downside is that they cannot have live plants in them. The roots of the plants interfere with the bottom filter or something. This is not a huge deal to me right now since I don’t think I really want to go as far as aquascaping (I have enough houseplants to maintain). But if I choose this kind of tank, then I pretty much can’t have live aquatic plants in the future.

The alternative is to get a tank with a more traditional top filter like the Fluval Chi.

Fluval chi

It is MUCH cheaper than the Biorb, but I KNOW my picky eyes are not going to like looking at that black box on the top.

So as crazy as it sounds, aesthetics win out for me. The main reason I want a desktop aquarium is for its beauty and slice of nature indoors. I thought about alternatives such as having live plants only (no fish) or a fake jellyfish lava lamp. But having live fish inside an aquarium just appeals so much more to me in terms of beauty and reward.

What fish to get

Since desktop aquariums are pretty small (usually < 5 gal), I can only keep small fish. My favorite aesthetic small fish are: single betta, guppies, neon tetra, and zebra danio.

Of course, all fish have their pros and cons. I am looking for a pretty sturdy fish that has a long lifespan. I think in the end, I still prefer betta because they’re such dramatic, beautiful QUEENS! If aesthetics is what I’m going for, then nothing compares to them. I also kind of want to redeem myself after shocking my college fish to death during a water change. At the time I did NO research, went out to Petsmart, and bought a fish and tank starter kit. Worst idea ever; that fish had to live in such a TINY tank then eventually froze to death. I’m hoping to be a better fish parent this time around!

What tank I want

After waffling back and forth between several 5 gal tanks, I think my final choice will be the Biorb LIFE 4 gal or 8 gal tank.


I got out a tape measure and made sure that those sizes will take up the least amount of space on my desk. I was also considering the Cube, but its dimensions mean it also takes up more desk space.

Biorb cube Biorb cube

I will continue to think about this idea as I wait for these tanks I want to come back in stock! It is certainly not a cheap hobby, and I want to make sure I will not get tired of it. If you have your own desktop aquarium setup, I’d love to see! Any advice appreciated :)

UPDATE: I got one :smirk:

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