Best 55 Gallon Aquarium: Freshwater, Saltwater, And Equipment Guide

If you have the space, a 55 gallon aquarium is the perfect size for a range of fish. So check out our guide and let’s find the best 55 gallon aquarium for you!

By Andy Birks
Last updated on

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best 55 gallon aquarium

50 to 55 gallon aquariums are a great size if you have the space. They are large tanks but can still fit in your home, and they allow you to stock a much wider range of fish. In fact, as a first saltwater tank they are a perfect size.

Finding the best 55 gallon aquarium can be challenging though, as it depends on what you want from a 50 to 55 gallon tank. We’ve spent many hours researching and validating the tanks below and chose the SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set as our overall top pick.

But if you are looking for a saltwater aquarium around this size we recommend the Starfire Aquariums 50 Gallon Tank. We’ve also included tank-only, and complete kits too.

So whatever your needs, let’s take a look at the top 50 to 55 gallon aquariums available today!

A glass 55 gallon aquarium can weigh around 600 lbs when filled. For this reason, always use a dedicated 55 gallon aquarium stand to correctly distribute the weight.

  1. Best Overall: SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set
  2. Best Complete Kit: Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit
  3. Best Saltwater Tank: Starfire Aquariums 50 Gallon With Center Overflow
  4. Best For Tank Only: Landen Rimless Low Iron Aquarium

Best 55 Gallon Aquarium Picks Reviewed

We’ve assessed a range of 50 to 55 gallon fish tanks against key criteria including material, build-quality, and filtration and heating requirements. All to bring you the best 55 gallon aquarium picks along with alternative 50 gallon options too.

1. SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

Photo: Amazon.com

  • Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 50 US gallons
  • Dimensions and Weight: 36.0 (l) x 15.0 (d) x 20.0 (h) inches, 20 pounds
  • Material: Acrylic
  • Equipment Included: Hood with 24 inch fluorescent light fixture (bulb not included), aquarium reflector, choice of clear, black, or cobalt blue rear panel
  • Best for: Overall

Whilst this is actually a 50 gallon aquarium, the SeaClear Aquarium Combo is fantastic value for money for an acrylic tank. The near invisible seams make a real difference when viewing your fish from any angle as you don’t get the slightly obscured edges you can get with glass tanks.

It’s suitable for freshwater or saltwater use, although some owners report that the smaller openings in the sealed top can make it slightly more difficult to access for saltwater equipment.

As well as being ultra-clear and durable to withstand any knocks from kids or pets, the acrylic also retains the water temperature incredibly well so you should find your heater doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain it.

Accessories with the tank are basic, and I would recommend replacing the fluorescent fixture with programmable LEDs. But overall you are really paying for the tank itself here which is clear, lightweight, and of high quality, reflected by the lifetime warranty.

2. Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Photo: Amazon.com

  • Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 55 US gallons
  • Dimensions and Weight: 48.0 (l) x 13.0 (d) x  20.0 (h) inches, 79 pounds
  • Material: Glass
  • Equipment Included: EasyBalance Plus water stabilizer, TetraMin fish food, 6 inch fish net, 200 watt heater, 3 stage Whisper Power Filter (WPF) 60, stick on digital thermometer, two 24 inch hinged hoods, two plant multipacks, boxwood plant, TetraCare brochure
  • Best for: Complete Kit

Tetra’s 55 Gallon Aquarium is a great all-in-one kit that’s perfect if you’re a beginner and have the room for a substantial tank. At 48.0 x 13.0 x 20.0 inches you’ll need a decent length of wall to put it against, but the 48.0 x 20.0 inch viewing pane gives a magnificent view of your fish!

Unlike many 55 gallon aquariums, you get a truly complete kit here providing everything from fish food to a 200 watt heater which is right in the range for a tank of this size. The LEDs are reasonably bright; enough to support low level plants, although you may want to upgrade later.

The hang-on-back (HOB) WPF Filter is rated to handle a 60 gallon water volume, and has a 330 gallon per hour flow rate, which is in the range needed for a tank this size. Coupled with the 3 stage filter and easy-to-change Bio-bags it does a good job of keeping the water clean.

Some owners report that the filter can be a little noisy but reducing the flow can help. Overall this is a perfect option for anyone looking to start a larger aquarium with a complete kit.

3. Starfire Aquariums 50 Gallon With Center Overflow

Photo: Amazon.com

  • Shape and Capacity: Cube, 50 US gallons
  • Dimensions and Weight: 24.0 (l) x 24.0 (d) x 20.0 (h) inches, 92 pounds
  • Material: Glass
  • Equipment Included: Integrated overflow box with pre-drilled drain and return holes,  1 inch drain bulkhead and ½ inch return bulkhead, dual return T pipe and durso standpipe
  • Best for: Saltwater Tank

The low-iron glass of this Starfire 50 Gallon Aquarium makes it crystal clear despite it being ⅖ inch thick. So you get a highly durable glass tank but a fantastic view of your fish. And as it has a base of 24 x 24 inches the cube shape makes it a big tank that you can fit in a smaller space.

Whilst the central overflow eats up a little of the 50 gallon capacity it’s really the stand out feature of this tank, making it great for a saltwater aquarium. You can customize the filter media you use in the chamber and it comes with all the plumbing you need.

For example, the durso standpipe means you hardly get any water fall or splashing in the return chamber making it virtually silent. And the bulkheads make maintenance and water changes easy. Overall, this is a high-quality, functional tank that’s also modern and stylish.

4. Landen Rimless Low Iron Aquarium

Photo: Amazon.com

  • Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 55 US gallons
  • Dimensions and Weight: 35.4 (l) x 19.7 (d) x 19.7 (h) inches, 98.6 pounds
  • Material: Glass
  • Equipment Included: EVA material fish tank cushioning pad
  • Best for: Tank Only

Landen’s 55 gallon aquarium is an exceptionally high-quality glass tank that has 91% transparency due to the low-iron glass. Coupled with the handcrafted, ultra-thin silicone seams you get a perfect view of your fish from any angle.

With a base size of 35.4 x 19.7 inches, it’s a substantial capacity but with a footprint you could still fit into a large bay. And while you only get the tank with this option, it does come with an EVA leveling mat to stop any slips and help distribute the weight.

Overall if you want an ultra-clear looking tank that you can completely customize with your own equipment and accessories the Landen should definitely be your top choice!

How To Choose The Best 55 Gallon Aquarium

Whether you want a freshwater or saltwater tank, a 50 to 55 gallon aquarium is a great place to start. But before you decide on the best 55 gallon aquarium let’s look at the key considerations.

freshwater angelfish in dark aquarium

Why Do You Need A 55 Gallon Aquarium?

A 50 to 55 gallon aquarium is a great size if you have the space and budget. You can set up a freshwater or saltwater aquarium with a lot more stocking options than smaller tanks. It’s also much easier to maintain the correct water parameters in a larger volume of water.

The other benefit with a 50 to 55 gallon is they are very easy to customize. Larger tanks like this are often sold stand-alone, meaning you can add your own customized filtration and heating. So it makes it very flexible whether you want to set up a display or breeder tank.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Aquarium

If you are new to fish keeping we’d always recommend starting with a freshwater aquarium, as they need less equipment and are easier to maintain. You should start by deciding whether you want to keep a peaceful community or an aggressive tank.

You can keep a variety of fish in a 55 gallon community aquarium, and you’ll often have several slightly smaller schooling species. An aggressive tank means you can stock fish with exciting behaviors and constant movement, but less of them as they’ll need more space.

50 to 55 gallons is also a really good size to start a saltwater aquarium if you have some experience. Saltwater fish are generally more territorial and so need the space. The larger volume of water also makes keeping salinity, and other parameters at the correct levels easier.

Shape And Dimensions

Size and shape become more important in larger aquariums as you’ll need enough space in your home. A 55 gallon rectangular fish tank can be around 49 x 13 x 20 inches. You also need to allow about 10 to 12 inches around the aquarium so you can get at it for maintenance.

A rectangular aquarium is great if you have plenty of horizontal wall space, but not for corners or awkward spaces. Fortunately, you can get 50 to 55 gallon aquariums in a range of shapes. A cube shaped 55 gallon tank of 24 x 24 x 22 inches would fit much better into this space.

Material: Glass vs Acrylic

Whether you choose a glass or acrylic aquarium is down to personal preference.  Both materials make equally good tanks, and they both have their pros and cons. But if you are considering a larger tank like a 50 to 55 gallon aquarium, some of these factors become more important.

For example, glass is much heavier than acrylic. A 55 gallon aquarium made of glass can weigh at least 80 lbs, whereas the equivalent in acrylic may be closer to 20 lbs. Acrylic tanks are often more expensive than glass, but less prone to cracking so may be safer if you have kids or pets.

Equipment For Your 55 Gallon Aquarium

Larger tanks of 50 to 55 gallons rarely include all the equipment you need in a kit. Here’s what to look for when considering your own custom equipment.

Tank Stand For A 55 Gallon Aquarium

A glass 55 gallon aquarium can weigh a total of around 600 lbs once you include the weight of the tank (around 80 lbs), weight of the water (459 lbs [1]), and account for equipment and decor. So you must use a dedicated 55 gallon fish tank stand.

But it’s not just about the total weight, it’s also about distribution of the weight. A proper tank stand or cabinet is designed to evenly distribute the load so there’s no undue pressure put onto the glass or seals that could cause cracks.

Hood For A 55 Gallon Fish Tank

Having a hood over your aquarium not only prevents your fish from jumping, but it also helps reduce evaporation and water loss. As with other tank sizes, 55 gallon aquarium kits tend to come with hoods.

But as many fish tanks of this size are stand-alone, you may need to find your own. Many brands supply lids as separate items, particularly for rectangular tanks, but do ensure you check the measurements for your specific fish tank.

Filtration System

A 50 to 55 gallon freshwater aquarium needs a suitably powerful filter to remove ammonia, nitrites, and nitrate from your water and keep it clean. The best filter types for this size of freshwater fish tank are either hang on back (HOB) or canister filters.

An alternative is to use two filters, one at either end of the tank, which also helps water flow and to oxygenate the water. Whichever you choose, you’ll need a filter with a flow rate of around 300 gallons per hour (GPH). This will allow all the water to be cycled just under 6 times every hour.

FIltration requirements are higher in a saltwater tank. In this setup you’ll need to be able to cycle your water around 6 to 10 times an hour. So a filter with a flow rate of between 330 to 550 GPH is advised.

Heating And Lighting

Most tropical freshwater fish will need to be kept in the temperature range of about 72-80° F, and for saltwater tanks it’s closer to the higher end of that scale. Optimum temperatures do vary though depending on species so be sure to do your research first.

Regardless of the species though, or whether freshwater or saltwater, the key when it comes to temperature is maintaining consistency. We’d therefore recommend using an adjustable rather than preset heater, and for a 55 gallon tank you’ll need it to be in the range of 190 to 275 watts.

Many tanks still come with T5 or T8 fluorescent lights, but nowadays LEDs are more common and convenient. They give you the flexibility to set on and off times, dim them, and to choose multiple colors.

colorful discus in fish tank

Best Fish For A 50 To 55 Gallon Aquarium

A 50 to 55 gallon aquarium is a great size to allow you to stock a range of fish. Start by researching each species and making sure they are compatible. You don’t want to accidentally house peaceful community fish with aggressive predators for obvious reasons!

Freshwater Stocking

In a freshwater aquarium great options are 1 or 2 gouramis, around 15 zebra danios, 5 or 6 rainbowfish, 1 or 2 cichlids, or around 4 angelfish. Exact numbers do depend on the species though. 

And overall you should stick to the rule of 1 inch of fish per gallon – so don’t stock all of these suggestions together! An alternative for this tank would be 4 to 6 fancy goldfish, or 5 or 6 discus

Saltwater Stocking

50 to 55 gallons is a perfect size to start a saltwater tank too. But stocking needs to be much lighter. It very much depends on the species, their temperament and territorial behavior, and the bioload they produce. But as a very rough guide you may have around 6 fish in this size tank.

Hawkfish, dwarf lionfish, dwarf angelfish, damselfish, dartfish, or clownfish are all good options for a 55 to 55 gallon aquarium. But you do need to research individual compatibility and be careful not to overstock.

Our Verdict

If you plan on starting your first marine tank, the Starfire 50 Gallon Aquarium is an excellent choice and gives you all the basic plumbing you need. But if you want the durability and clarity that an acrylic tank offers, the SeaClear Combo Set is our top pick.

Whether freshwater or saltwater, whichever tank you choose above, a 50 to 55 gallon aquarium is a fantastic size if you want to keep a range of fish and have the space!

FAQs

Let’s take a look at the answers to some common questions regarding 50 to 55 gallon aquariums.

How Much Does A 55 Gallon Aquarium Weigh?

55 gallon aquariums in glass can weigh around 80 lbs, and about 20 lbs if made of acrylic. The total weight once you include the water and accessories can be around 580 to 600 lbs.

How Many Fish Can I Keep In A 55 Gallon Aquarium?

For freshwater fish follow the rule of 1 inch of fish per gallon, so around 25 to 27 medium fish could be kept. For saltwater it’s very species dependent but likely to be around 6 fish.

How Often Should I Maintain A 55 Gallon Aquarium?

You should do a general clean of the glass weekly, but depending on your water parameters you should be able to do a water change of around 25 to 30% every 1 to 2 weeks.

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AUTHOR
Andy Birks
Andy is the owner of Simply Aquarium and manages the team of experienced writers on the site. He loves helping fellow aquarists and introducing new people to the hobby!

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