Learn online, study aquarium maintenance and fish keeping, learn about fish species and more, with self paced online courses in aquarium maintenance.

Course Code: BEN105
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Design and Maintain an Aquarium

  • Inside or out
  • Commercial or private
  • Small or large
  • Freshwater or salt water
  • Fish, water plants and other species

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Aquarium Management
  2. The Water Ecosystem
  3. Water Quality and Management
  4. Equipment and System Design
  5. What Species of Fish to Keep
  6. Fish Health
  7. Freshwater Tanks
  8. Simple Saltwater Tanks
  9. Aquarium Maintenance
  10. Breeding Fish


  • Select, establish and manage both freshwater and salt water aquaria of varying sizes with different species of plants and animals.
  • Discuss the scope and nature of aquarium use and management.
  • Describe the Water Ecosystem.
  • Explain Water Quality and Management.
  • Determine appropriate equipment and systems for different applications in the provision of aquaria.
  • Determine appropriate species of animal and plant life to introduce into an aquarium.
  • Identify common health problems with fish, other animals and plants in an aquarium.
  • Determine appropriate treatments in response to health issues.
  • Explain the establishment of a freshwater aquarium.
  • Explain the establishment of a saltwater aquarium.
  • Explain the maintenance of an aquarium.
  • Explain how to breed a range of different fish.

Learn to Keep Fish - as Pets or in a Commercial Aquarium

Fish can be readily kept as pets both indoors and outdoors in temperate climates, or indoors in cooler regions. The types kept will depend on such things as their availability, cost, climate (if kept outdoors), equipment available, and local laws (e.g. the keeping of certain fish may be prohibited in some areas).

How To Choose What to Keep
If you are considering purchasing fish for pets there are some important considerations to be made:

  • Inside/Outside – some climates and fish species are not ideal for outside fish ponds.  If you have a large bird population a fish in a pond may become their food source.  This may also be a problem if you have a number of cats in your immediate area.  In many localities there are strict fencing regulations even for shallow ponds, to prevent accidental drowning of small children.

  • Hot/Cold water – different species will have different temperature requirements.  Most tropical fish will require a heated tank, while other fish need cold water and will not survive in heated environments.  There is a cost issue for heating and your tank must have a lid to prevent the heater burning out.

  • Number of fish – you will need to ensure your tank is large enough for the number of fish you want, and aerating and heating larger tanks will be more difficult and more expensive

  • Types of fish – not all fish are compatible, some will prey on smaller fish, some are aggressive (Angelfish) and some, like Siamese fighting fish must be kept solitary.

  • Time/Cost – initially you will need to purchase a tank, gravel for the bottom, possibly some plants or something for the fish to hide/play in and for some fish heaters and/or aerators.  You will also need food and water balancers for each time you change the tank water.  A gravity vacuum device is useful for draining tank water.  Then there is the cost of each fish and the time you need to feed them each day and change their tank water each week.

  • Size – many fish that are purchased young still have growing to do.  Ensure you are aware of the average size to which your fish will grow.

The types of fish suitable for pets can be categorised as follows:

  1. Cold Water
  2. Tropical 
  3. Marine

Cold Water
There are lots of different fish that may be kept in ponds or tanks without heating the water; though goldfish are by far the most popular. Goldfish prefer a water temperature around 22oC, and pH close to neutral, or slightly alkaline, but will tolerate lower temperatures
For every 2 litres of water, you can keep up to 1cm in length of fish.  The most commonly kept freshwater fish are Goldfish. Goldfish come in various types, including: Comets, Fan Tails, Black Moors, Calico and Shubunkin.

These are generally kept at around 25oC. The water pH should be 6.8 to 7, and you should avoid using hard water.
For every 1 litres of water, you can keep up to 1cm in length of fish.
Common Tropical Fish include:

  • Live Bearers - Guppies, Mollies, Swords, Platys
  • Tetras - Neons, Harlequins, Head Lights, Tail Lights, Glow Lights
  • Catfish - Corydoras, Plecostomus
  • Rasboras - Harlequins, Scissor Tails
  • Barbs - Tiger Barbs, Cherry Barbs, Rosy Barbs 
  • Cichlids - Angel Fish, Discus, Firemouths
  • Gouramis - Blue Gouramis, Gold Gouramis, Three Spot, Dwarf, Pearl, Moonlight

Marine fish can be more complicated to keep, and may require more expensive equipment.


Why do this course?

  • Learn about caring for a range of fresh and salt water fish.
  • Understand Cold Water, Tropical and Marine species habitat and requirements.
  • Develop the knowledge and skills to set up and establish aquariums large and small.
  • Identify different species of fish.
  • Work in the Aquarium industry, or start your own business.

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

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