It's easy to assume that just because hamsters do well in aquariums that guinea pigs would too. That isn't the case. Because of the guinea pig's larger size, there are a number of issues that can arise. Not only is air circulation poor in aquariums, but the size needed for a guinea pig can make aquariums difficult to clean. If you've been considering an aquarium for your guinea pig, you may want to consider another option.
Air circulation is important for rodents, and rodents as large as guinea pigs cannot get enough ventilation in an aquarium. When there isn't enough ventilation, upper respiratory infections can occur, the temperature is harder to regulate, and the odor of the habitat will be much worse than if you kept the pet in a cage.
A fully grown guinea pig measures 8 to 12 inches in length. Because of this large size, you would need a habitat that is at least 30 by 36 inches. If you choose to house two guinea pigs, the size would need to be 30 by 50 inches. In terms of aquariums, that's roughly a 50 to 75 gallon tank. This large size makes it nearly impossible to thoroughly clean the habitat.
A 50-gallon aquarium weighs at least 50 pounds. The larger the tank, the heavier it will be. This makes it nearly impossible to drag the aquarium to the bathroom for a thorough cleaning. You have the option to wash down the walls with a mixture of water and vinegar, but this will not thoroughly clean the aquarium. A cage is superior in that you can easily disassemble it and clean every nook and cranny in the bathtub. Best of all, a large guinea pig cage will weigh a fraction of what aquariums do, around 10 pounds.
A proper guinea pig habitat is either a cage or hutch. Cages and hutches let in enough ventilation, but must be properly closed to keep your pet from escaping. Note that most cages that are labeled as guinea pig habitats are not large enough to give your pet enough room. Always purchase a case based on the size, not the labels. When shopping for a cage, make sure it has a well-fitting bottom and is hard to open. If you're buying a hutch, remember that guinea pigs cannot be kept outside or in the garage.
- Two Guinea Pigs image by OneToRemember from Fotolia.com