Aquarium Fish

Keeping Monster Fish

Online Aquarium Fish Magazine | Keeping Monster Fish


The aim of this article is to discuss the basic setup and maintenance of Monster fish, those that get over a foot in length (often, much more than two feet) and usually have a high protein diet, requiring more filtration and care than a normal freshwater tank setup.

First and foremost, it should be said that monster fish are not for the normal hobbyist. They require huge aquariums, if not indoor or outdoor ponds and, unless you can afford the space for 500 gallons or more for one tank, other fish should be considered.

Because of the high amounts of protein in monster fish diets, simple tanks are often the best bet, but if you are willing to put a lot of time, effort and of course money into the project, you can always have a natural looking tank. First off we will discuss the basic setup of a tank for these beasts, and as the months go on we'll have basic care profiles, because the possibilities are endless.


Monster Fish Tank When considering a tank for a future monster fish, you must take into consideration three important things:

1) What is the natural habitat of the fish that I want to keep?

Where is your fish found in the wild? Is it a bottom dweller? Top swimmer? Or does it swim all over the place? This will determine how you setup your tank. If it's a catfish, you're going to want to make sure that there is lots of swimming space on the bottom, with either driftwood or pvc piping for them to hide under/in during the day. If it's a top swimmer you want, like an arowana for example, make sure that they've got lots of room to swim!

2) What is the best footprint for the fish that I want?

For most monster fish, you don't need the height that some aquariums have. It's much better to fork out the extra cash and get a custom built tank (or, if you're good with your hands, build your own) with dimensions that will work for your fish either for life or for a good amount of time until you can get it in the pond. For a lot of monster fish, a depth of only 2 or 3 feet is sufficient, but you'll want to have a length of over 2 times the body length and a width of at least the body length. Two of the best options for monster grow out tanks would be either 6x2x2 or 8x3x3 footprints.

3) Can I really afford this?

Not only are monster fish more expensive initially in terms of the fish themselves, but in the long run you need to consider how much money it will cost for larger tanks or ponds and the amount of food these guys will eat over a potential 20+ years. For initial setup of a bare tank (that is, the tank, some pvc or driftwood, heaters and filtration) be prepared to spend well over $1500. That's before the fish.


If one thing can be said about monster fish keeping, that is filtration, filtration, filtration! In order for your fish to grow, it must have perfect water conditions, lots of water movement and frequent water changes. I, for example, do a 30 percent water change 2 times a week on both my 150 and my 240 gallon tanks. That's a lot of water. But I also have 2 to 3 times the filtration normal tanks would need. Lets look at a small grow out tank of 120 gallons. Yep, small. I like to place two filters at opposite ends of the tank, both with ratings that, on a normal freshwater tank, would be fine by themselves. For example, a Rena xp4 is rated at a high enough gph that it'd be fine, by itself, on a 120. I've got 3 setup on my 150. This not only gives you a lot of water movement, but keeps the water clear as glass.

Heating the tank is fairly simple. The only difference between a monster tank and a normal tank is that you'll need more heaters of higher wattages. Temperatures are fairly consistent with smaller tropical fish, but be sure to research your fish before you buy as some (channel cats for example) do better in cooler waters.

In terms of the actual setup of the tank itself, it's the same as setting up a smaller tank, only with more water! When placing your tank remember that water weighs roughly 10 pounds per gallon, so it's best to have tanks of this size in the basement on an outside wall. Be sure to cycle your tank and wait for the readings to get to where they should be before adding anything, you're going to want to make sure that 100 dollar fish does well in your tank.

Keep your eyes open in future magazines for basic care of the most popular monster fish and if you have any questions or are interested in possibly setting up a monster tank of your own, drop me a pm and I'll be glad to help!

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