Having an aquarium in your space can evoke a sense of tranquility and calm, especially after a long day of work. After keeping aquariums for over 20 years and owning countless fish, I know the best aquariums out there. For me, the Fluval Flex takes the cake! It’s got the best equipment and it’s gorgeous. Fluval is one of the biggest names in the aquarium industry and so it’s no surprise the Fluval Flex takes the title of the best aquarium.
If you’re just getting into fish keeping – it’s important to remember two things: bigger is better and you get what you pay for.
Larger aquariums maintain a steady nitrogen cycle much easier. Smaller aquariums rapidly accumulate ammonia from fish waste. Having an appropriate mechanical and (more importantly) biological system to handle everything between water changes is important.
With that said, I’m going to give you a list of the best aquariums to fit your needs and level of experience. You’ve got a question and I’m here with an answer. So, what are the best aquariums?
For experienced keepers the Fluval Flex is the best option out there.
Although it’s not the biggest tank, it’s better sized than most tanks available online. Plus, it’s got most of the right equipment. It comes in two options – 9-gallon and 15-gallon options, as well as white and black.
There’s no lack of style with any Fluval tank but something about the Fluval Flex stands out.
It has a curved tank that is reminiscent of an old-style TV. It’s got a rear compartment that houses a built-in filter and a compartment for the heater, which isn’t included. The blackout background is perfect for displaying brightly colored fish and live plants.
The LED lights are energy efficient and remote controlled, with a multitude of color options. Included is the ability to simulate thunderstorms and dim lights. These lights are also powerful enough to promote plant growth in planted aquariums, allowing your watery world to flourish for a lush natural escape.
Design and Features
Buying lights of a similar quality separately would cost you almost as much as this entire setup. However, it should be noted that the one drawback to the lighting is that the hood doesn’t have a manual on/off switch. The remote is the only way to control the settings, which may be an issue for some people. A timer can also be used, but only in the traditional white light setting.
The hood is tight fitting. This is to contain water and reduce evaporation in your aquarium. This also reduces the need for water top offs that open tanks often require. It’s also a great first defense against the prying paws of cats or the small fingers of children. A small opening in the hood for feedings give you quick access and reduces the interruption to your fish and their serenity.
Be aware though that the lack of open space at the top can put a damper on the keeper who enjoys having plants climbing out of their tank. The small opening may give certain snails a chance to escape if you’re not careful.
Filtration is quiet and efficient, so it won’t disturb you or your fish. Although this tank is a little on the small side, it can comfortably hold a Nano community. However, this isn’t a suitable tank for large fish like goldfish. It is a perfect betta tank though!
The gorgeous design and superior equipment make this an aquarium that can be thoroughly enjoyed by the beginner as well as the seasoned hobbyist. It certainly gives you the best equipment in the most beautiful package. Its beautiful compact design makes this the perfect tank for a small any area.
Fluval Flex 15 Gallon Features:
Dimensions: 16″ W x 15″ D x 15″ H
Weight: 30.5 lbs
Filter: 3 Stage Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Media
Lights: Adjustable 7500K LED
Colors: Black, White
Built in compartments for a filter and heater
Powerful lights with fun special features
Compact yet elegant shape
Multiple color options
Under 20 Gallons
Bigger is better, therefore the Aqueon Aquarium kit must be mentioned.
This 20-gallon kit comes with just about everything you need, heater included. While this isn’t a big deal to the seasoned fish keeper, it’s still a nice perk.
Features and Display Options
This kit offers you a little more bang for your buck by coming with a water conditioner and fish food. It also comes with a fish net and a couple other useful goodies, like a beginner’s guide. It’s a fantastic option for beginner hobbyists.
The lighting is basic and non-adjustable. The LED is, however enough to keep most plants alive and thriving. The back of the hood has optional cutouts that enable you to remove however much space you need to comfortably fit your equipment. This option also allows you to have plants growing out of your tank to suck up extra nitrates and add flair to your aquarium.
The drawback to these types of cutouts is that it gives fish and invertebrates more than enough room to attempt an escape. Another potential problem could be evaporation if you choose to cut out more of the back than you really need. To reduce this problem, start with the smallest cutout and work your way up, only using what your equipment requires.
The hood is hinged for easy access to your fish and lets you perform water changes without taking off your entire lid. Filtration is made of a standard Aqueon Hang-on-back (HOB) Filter, which can be a little powerful for some fish. The included heater is pre-set at 78 degrees, an average temperature for most tropical fish.
Fit and Perks
It for sure has its perks. It’s a standard shape that will prove easier to fit on a traditional aquarium stand. It’s also considerably cheaper than a Fluval tank of a similar size. Also, Aqueon is a trusted name in the aquatic industry. Their products are backed by fantastic customer support.
Since this tank doesn’t have a hidden compartment, hiding the equipment is up to you. You’ll be staring at a wall and wires behind your tank if you don’t plan to add plants and a background.
A 20-gallon Aqueon aquarium would be enough to house a single fancy goldfish or a small community. The large space allows you more freedom in stocking your tank and more leniency on your water changes. While you can still be expecting to change your water partially once a week, waste in a lightly stocked aquarium won’t accumulate too quickly.
This tank is definitely worth looking into, especially if you’re starting from scratch. It’s a fantastic option for someone looking to just dip their toe into fishkeeping. It’s also an awesome option if you’re looking to accumulate some extra equipment for hospital tanks. This aquarium kit is also available with a 10-gallon option.
Aqueon 20 Gallon Features:
Dimensions: 27.2” W x 12.5” D x 21” H
Weight: 32 lbs
Filter: 5 Stage Filtration, Quiet-Flow LED Prow Power Filter, and Cartridge
Lights: LED with Low Profile Hood
Extras: 100w pre-set heater, fish food, water conditioner, fishnet, thermometer, beginners guide
If you’re into nano aquariums, this is the tank for you. The Fluval Spec V is a big thing in a tiny package.
With its long, shallow design, this tank is a better option for active fish. Its design makes it especially comfortable for betta fish who like to hang out around the surface of their territory.
It’s the perfect aquarium for a small Nano Aquascape. The 37 LED lights will keep any plants happy and thriving as well as illuminating the lives of your finned friends!
The Fluval Spec V has a powerful 3 stage adjustable filter and a compartment for a heater, so there won’t be any hassle hiding cords. It comes in black and white, making it easy to match it seamlessly to your décor in any room.
Space and Size
Its small size makes it ideal for offices, kitchen counters, and bathrooms or anywhere you could use another tank. Realistically – where couldn’t you put this awesome little aquarium?
The tank does lack a traditional hood and instead features an overhanging light and an open tank. The light hangs low enough and the opening small enough that it’ll effectively stop fish from jumping. It won’t do much for evaporation, meaning you’ll likely be topping up your aquarium often.
The open top also gives snails and other invertebrates the chance for escape. It may not be the right choice if you’re keeping anything more than a single betta or a nano species.
The Fluval name and small footprint make the Fluval Spec V an obvious choice, especially if you’re looking for something small and contained to put in your office. It’s quiet and won’t disturb your concentration. It will surely delight you every time you look at it.
The small size means you should ideally be partially changing the water in this tank twice a week. It’s important to remember that while this isn’t the tank for everyone, it could be perfect for you!
Fluval Spec V 5 Gallon Features:
Dimensions: 6.3” W x 17.2” D x 10.6 H
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Filter: 3 Stage with Adjustable Nozzle
Lights: 37 LED Overhanging Light
Colors: Black / White
Hidden compartments for heater and filter
Under 20 gallons
If you’re looking for a smaller aquarium while on a budget, this might be a good option for you.
Know that sometimes small aquariums have problems with ammonia building up. This could burn your fish. But if you’re prepared to do twice weekly partial water changes, this could be the aquarium for you!
The Marineland 5 Gallon Portrait Aquarium is a beautiful little tank with a lot of personality. It comes equipped with a hidden 3-stage built-in filter and heater compartment. The filter does tend to be a little strong for some fish, especially heavily finned bettas. The compartment does take some usable water space away from your fish and so it is – technically – shy of 5 gallons.
The black background makes your fish and plants stand out and dazzle. The LED lights can be switched between white light and blue to simulate day and night. That is enough to keep plants alive. Instead of a traditional hood and light, this tank features a glass canopy and hinged light, adding to the seamless feel of the overall aquarium. This will affect your ability to grow plants out the back of your tank. The style of the hood may also promote more evaporation. This will make frequent water top-ups part of your regular job. Smaller tanks also force you to do more water changes to maintain healthy water parameters and quality.
The depth in comparison to the length of the tank makes it problematic for more active, horizontally swimming fish. Active fish like tetras may become stressed and sick if they’re not able to display their natural behaviors. Additionally, the small size makes this aquarium suitable for only a few shrimp or a handful of Nano species. The height of the tank does, however, afford you the ability to grow taller plants than many other smaller tanks would allow.
Although it’s not the best shape for fish, it could be a gorgeous shrimp or snail tank! The little critters can be just as visually stunning as brightly colored fish and come in many varieties! Shrimp produce less waste than fish and have a small bio-load. They won’t dirty up your tank quite so quickly. They also don’t mind having vertical space as opposed to horizontal. If you add in some climbing areas and caves, your shrimp could be happy as clams in this aquarium!
Ease of Use
Its small footprint means you can easily fit this aquarium just about everywhere. Feeling more like a work of art than an aquarium, this could be the perfect display piece for your office desk or nightstand.
Marineland 5 Gallon Portrait Features:
Dimensions: 9.625” W x 9.625” D x 17.2” H
Weight: 12 lbs
Filter: 3 Stage Filter
Lights: LED hinged
Hidden compartment for heater and filter
Under 20 gallons
It’s up to you to decide which aquarium is best for you. Start by considering the type of fish you plan to keep. With many small tanks under 10 gallons, it’s easy to be misled. Make sure you meet the minimum requirements for the species you’re interested in keeping. It’s vital to their health and will make fishkeeping a more rewarding experience.
One thing’s for sure, once you’re done here you might be wondering how much a year you spend on your pet. Having a pet is a worthy investment though, so don’t fret too much.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do you look for in an aquarium?
A: The things you’re looking for in an aquarium differ from person to person. There’s no one size fits all. The most important thing is to consider the comfort and health of the fish you plan on keeping. While bettas would be well suited for any of these tanks, goldfish would not.
Q: How often do you have to change your water?
A: Keeping an aquarium is less about keeping fish than it is about keeping water. Having healthy water for your finned friends is essential to their wellbeing. Change your water at least once a week in aquariums that are 10 gallons or more. Plan on twice a week if your aquarium is below 10 gallons.
Q: Do I really need all the equipment that comes with these kits?
A: Yes! While you don’t need this specific equipment, it’s a great idea to have a variation of it. Heater, filters, hoods, and lights all play an essential role in keeping your aquarium clean and healthy.
Q: How do I know which Aquarium is right for me?
A: Research! There’s nothing more powerful than knowledge. Knowing the basic care requirements of any animal you want to keep is essential to keeping them well. Know the minimum gallon requirements for the species you plan on keeping and go from there.
Q: Would a Betta be okay?
A: Absolutely! Bettas are amazing fish that thrive in large tanks and would do well in any of these. They prefer wide shallow spaces as opposed to tall narrow ones. They can also make great additions to community tanks, with the right tempered fish though.