If you’re trying to choose your first fish tank, or even if you’re a seasoned aquarist, finding the best fish tank for your fish can be a huge challenge. Are you looking to keep freshwater or saltwater fish? Do you want a small nano aquarium or a large fish tank?
The team and I have used our combined years of fish keeping, along with many hours of testing and validation, to bring you the definitive list of the best fish tank options for any scenario.
Whether you are after your first saltwater tank, an affordable nano tank for your dorm, or a stylish designer tank for your desk you’ll find them all here.
So let’s get straight into it and discover the best fish tank picks available!
- Best 5 Gallon Tank: Fluval Spec V
- Best Nano Tank: Tetra LED Cube Shaped 3 Gallon Aquarium
- Best For Value: Marineland Portrait Aquarium Kit
- Best Budget Betta Tank: Koller PanaView 5 Gallon Aquarium Kit
- Best For Saltwater: Fluval Sea Evo 13.5
- Best Designer Tank: Fluval Edge
- Best 20 Gallon: Marina 20G LED Aquarium Kit
- Best For GloFish: GloFish 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit
- Best Fishbowl: biOrb Classic Aquarium
Best Fish Tank Picks Reviewed
Our team spent hundreds of combined hours testing and reviewing the aquariums below against a range of criteria. This included build-quality, filtration, lighting, and equipment.
We looked at designer tanks as well as high-quality affordable options. All to bring you the best fish tank picks on today’s market.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 20.5 (l) x 7.5 (d) x 11.6 (h) inches, 11.02 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: 37 LED lighting system, hidden 3 stage adjustable filter (55 to 80 GPH), aquarium canopy with access slot
- Best for: 5 Gallon Tank
Fluval’s Spec V is a perfect starter tank for those that want to keep a desktop nano aquarium with a small number of fish. With a base of 20.5 x 7.5 inches it will fit on a desk, cabinet, or even a sturdy bookshelf. And with it’s 5 gallon capacity it’s great for a single betta fish.
The 3 stage filter has a foam block for mechanical filtration, activated carbon for the chemical element, and BioMax Bio rings for biological fliltration. Combined with a flow rate of 55 to 80 GPH it can cycle all your water up to 16 times an hour, keeping it crystal clear.
And the 7000k 37 LED lighting strip running almost the length of the tank is bright enough for many plant species. Like many tank kits you will need to purchase a separate heater, but overall this is a sleek, stylish tank that receives high praise from owners for it’s design and build-quality.
- Shape and Capacity: Cube, 3 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 10.32 (w) x 11.95 (d) x 17.5 (h) inches, 4.4 pounds
- Material: Acrylic
- Equipment Included: Tetra 3i Whisper Power filter, pedestal base, LED light
- Best for: Nano Tank
If you’re looking for a small nano aquarium for one or two fish, the Tetra LED cube is the perfect choice. It came top of our picks for the best 3 gallon fish tank, and it’s 10.32 x 11.95 inch base gives a great area for oxygen exchange in the water whilst fitting neatly on your desk.
The seamless construction gives a great view of your fish, and we found the pedestal base lifted it into the perfect viewing position. The 9 LED light illuminates the tank well, though some owners recommend adding a timer plug to easily set a day/ night cycle for your fish.
Tetra includes the 3 stage Whisper 3i Power filter which has a flow rate of 20 GPH and can cycle your water almost 7 times an hour. As this is above the required 6 times an hour it will keep your water clean and clear. Overall, a perfect tank for one or two nano fish or shrimp.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular (portrait), 5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 11.81 (w) x 11.62 (d) x 17.05 (h) inches, 12.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Hidden filter and pump, LED lighting with white day and blue moonlight settings
- Best for: Value
Marineland’s ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit is one of the cheapest tanks listed here, but is fantastic value for money considering the build-quality. The 11.81 x 11.62 inch footprint makes it compact for your desk yet the 17.05 inch portrait style gives plenty of swimming space.
The 9 white LEDs are very bright and give a shimmering sunlight effect underwater that will sustain a variety of plants well. And the blue moonlight setting, made up from 6 blue LEDs, gives a cool moonlight glow which looks awesome and helps your fish’s night time rhythm.
It’s hidden 3 stage filter is adjustable down to 35 GPH, which can still cycle your water 7 times an hour. And the included BioMax Cartridge, Bio-Balls, and Rite Size Z cartridge also help keep your water exceptionally clean. Overall a stylish and high-quality tank at a great value price.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular bow front, 5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 14.2 (l) x 10.0 (d) x 11.5 (h) inches, 4.8 pounds
- Material: Acrylic
- Equipment Included: Internal power filter (45 gallons per hour), energy-efficient LED lighting with daylight and 6 other colors
- Best for: Budget Betta Tank
If you’re looking for a new home for your betta on a budget, or maybe a first tank for your dorm or bedroom, the Koller Panaview is an excellent choice. With a base of 14.2 x 10 inches it will fit neatly on your desk while giving your betta the 5 gallon swimming space he needs.
It has a well-made lid which feels sturdy and hinges right back for easy cleaning and feeding – so there’s no need to worry about him jumping out of the tank! The 7 color LED lights are a nice touch to customize your tank, and the white LEDs are bright enough for live plants.
The 45 GPH internal filter can cycle your tank up to 9 times per hour. Whilst this is plenty to keep your water clean and toxin free, we recommend covering the nozzle to reduce the flow for betta fish. Overall this is a great value and compact tank which is perfect for a small space.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 13.5 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 23.4 (w) x 13.5 (d) x 15.6 (h) inches, 28.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Hidden filter and 132 GPH pump with multi-directional dual outputs, 31 LED 14,000k day and night lighting, aluminum hood with filter and easy feed access
- Best for: Saltwater
The Fluval Evo 13.5 is an awesome saltwater fish tank that has many of the features you would usually get in a much larger aquarium. But with a footprint of 23.5 x 13.5 inches it will fit onto almost any large desk or counter top.
It has a 3 stage filter hidden at the side of the tank with a split aluminum hood giving easy access to the chamber. There’s also room for a protein skimmer and heater (sold separately).
The powerful 132 GPH pump can cycle the water around 10 times an hour, keeping your water incredibly clear. The tank also has multi-directional twin return nozzles so you can direct the return flow away from your fish or corals.
Finally, the lighting in this tank is awesome. With 31 LEDs giving 14,000k output it’s fully reef capable and will support a range of corals and live rock. If you are after your first saltwater tank and want everything you need in a compact, stylish kit then this tank is for you!
6. Fluval Edge
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 6 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 16.8 (l) x 10.25 (d) x 14.0 (h) inches, 19.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: 6 sided sealed glass aquarium, rear column and base with ventilated hood, 6500k integrated LED day and night illumination, 3-stage adjustable hang-on-back (HOB) filter with media, water conditioner, and biological enhancer
- Best for: Designer Tank
The Fluval Edge is made up of 6 sides of sealed glass giving it an incredibly stylish and modern look. It also gives near 360 degree visibility meaning your fish will look amazing from any angle. Designed for freshwater or saltwater, it comes in a 6 gallon or 12 gallon version.
One of the things that makes this tank so stylish, is Fluval has cleverly hidden all the filtration, cabling and lighting in the central column. Access to the 3 stage 100 GPH HOB filter is easy via the hood, which also has a quick access door for feeding. Whilst the filter is powerful it’s adjustable and many betta owners praise this feature as making it safe for their fish.
The 21 LEDs are very bright at 6500k, but are also adjustable with day and moonlight settings so you can easily mimic day and night time periods for your fish. Overall, this tank receives high praise from owners for it’s attractive design, quiet running, and ease of use.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 20 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 24.0 (l) x 12.5 (d) x 16.5 (h) inches, 35.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Slim S20 HOB power filter with cartridges, hood with integrated daylight effect LED lighting, LCD thermometer, 4 inch fish net, Fluval Max fish food, Fluval Aqua Plus water conditioner, Fluval Cycle biological supplement, Aquarium care guide
- Best for: 20 Gallon Tank
Marina’s LED Aquarium is a fantastic starter kit for anyone new to fish keeping. Aside from a heater you get all the other essential equipment needed straight out of the box. And the Marina LED comes in 5 gallon, 10 gallon, and 20 gallon versions.
The slim S20 HOB filter has a flow rate of 92 GPH turning over your water just under 5 times an hour. And Marina’s four easy to change Ceramitek filter cartridges, which have porous ceramic media to encourage growth of beneficial bacteria, will keep your water clean and clear.
And although it’s an external hang-on-back filter it is only 3.8 inches deep, so you can get your tank right back to the wall. The daylight LEDs are bright and powerful enough to support low light plants too. Overall, this is an awesome tank if you want to start a small community.
- Shape and Capacity: Rectangular, 10 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 23.69 (l) x 13.44 (d) x 19.88 (h) inches, 16.0 pounds
- Material: Glass
- Equipment Included: Tetra Whisper power filter with cartridge, 50-watt aquarium heater and thermometer, low profile hood with blue and white LEDs, fish food and water conditioner sample, aquarium set-up guide, GloFish fluorescent plants
- Best for: GloFish
If you plan on keeping GloFish a Tetra GloFish tank is the perfect choice. The integrated blue LEDs are designed to emit slightly more UV light to emphasize the colors of your fish. Tetra produces GloFish tanks in a range of sizes but the 10 gallon is great for starting a community.
The 3 stage Tetra Whisper Filter is quiet, and with a flow rate of 90 GPH can cycle your water up to 9 times per hour. Combine this with the easy to change Bio-bag cartridges and your water will stay clear and toxin free.
This kit is packed with extras and even comes with a 50 watt heater which is just right to maintain the right temperature range for many tropical species (around 75 to 80°F). Overall this is a really comprehensive starter kit perfect for any new GloFish owner!
- Shape and Capacity: Fishbowl/ sphere, 4 US gallons
- Dimensions and Weight: 12.87 (diameter) x 13.27 (height) inches, 6.28 pounds
- Material: Acrylic
- Equipment Included: 5-stage filtration system, lid with integrated long life LED light
- Best for: Fishbowl Tank
If you want a modern, stylish fish tank that looks a bit different then the BiOrb Classic is definitely worth considering. The fishbowl design comes in a range of sizes (4, 8, 16, and 28 gallons) and with a diameter of just under 13 inches, the 4 gallon is perfect for your desk.
BiOrb includes a 5 stage filter in the base of this tank which includes oxygenation, water stabilization, mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. BiOrb ceramic media is provided which you need to use as the substrate. And all this combined keeps the water very clear.
As well as the gorgeous design many betta owners praise this tank as the filter flow is very gentle due to the position under the substrate. So if you are looking for a stunning tank for your bedroom or office this could be it!
How To Choose The Best Fish Tank
The amount of different aquariums on the market today can be overwhelming. So how do you choose the best fish tank for you? Let’s start by considering some of the fundamentals.
Type Of Tank And Fish
New fishkeepers often start with a freshwater tank as they are easier to maintain and keep water parameters in check, such as keeping ammonia levels at around 0 ppm. You can usually keep more fish too, and there are lots of cool freshwater fish to choose from.
Saltwater aquariums are awesome tanks, with their colorful fish, corals, and live rock. But we would recommend you have experience first as the fish are more expensive, you often need more equipment, and it’s harder maintaining the right water conditions.
Tank Size And Weight
There are two key things to think about when deciding how big a tank to buy. Firstly, think about the type of fish you want to keep. Some fish need more space, but the general rule is to allow one gallon per inch of fish. And remember to consider what their fully grown adult size will be!
You also need to think about how active your fish are, and how much waste they produce. This leads on to the second point. A larger tank is actually easier to keep than a smaller nano aquarium as it is easier to keep your water conditions stable given the bigger volume.
Think about the weight of your tank too. For example, a 20 gallon tank can weigh 220+ lbs when filled, so we always recommend you use a 20 gallon tank stand for this size.
Material: Glass vs Acrylic Aquariums
Aquariums are generally made of either glass or acrylic. Each material has its own pros and cons, and in the end which you choose comes down to what’s important to you.
- Glass tanks are often cheaper in price, less likely to scratch, and they maintain their clarity over time. But they are usually at least twice the weight of acrylic.
- Acrylic tanks are lighter and can also be up to 17 times stronger than glass, making them a good choice around children or pets. But they are usually more expensive.
At the end of the day, what’s most important is checking the quality of the specific tank you are looking to buy. You can do this by checking reviews on sites such as Amazon, and looking to see that there are no issues with seams or seals for example.
Price: Kits vs Stand-Alone Tanks
If you’re looking for a smaller nano aquarium, it’s usually more cost effective to buy a complete kit. As smaller tanks have more space constraints it means if you buy a kit with a filter and other equipment you know it’s going to fit properly and be the right capacity.
Complete kits are harder to find with larger tanks. If you want a 30 gallon or 40 gallon aquarium for example, it is often better to buy a stand-alone tank. This means you can also buy high quality customized equipment such as heaters with auto-shut off functions.
Features And Equipment
As well as finding the best fish tank itself, you’ll also need to find the right equipment to support it. Here are some key tips regarding the most essential equipment you’ll need.
Smaller aquariums, such as a 3 or 5 gallon nano tank, can be kept on a sturdy desk or cabinet without the need for a stand. Similarly, 10 gallon tanks can often be kept in this way. Just make sure you check the weight your furniture can handle.
But for larger tanks, a dedicated stand is one of the most important pieces of equipment. A 30 gallon tank can weigh over 350 lbs when filled, for example. And this can go up to 450 lbs for a 40 gallon. Standard furniture can’t support or distribute the weight correctly.
The best fish tank filters are those that are powerful enough to cycle your tank’s water to remove waste matter and toxins, but are adjustable so you can control the flow rate for your fish. As a general rule, your filter should cycle all your water 4 to 6 times an hour.
So in a 20 gallon tank, for example, you’ll want a filter with a flow rate of 80 to 120 gallons per hour (GPH). This means the maximum amount it can cycle is 120 GPH ÷ 20 gallons = 6 times.
Most all-in-one kits come with filters that are more powerful than required but can be adjusted down. This is in fact very useful as it’s always better to slightly over-filter your aquarium, yet you can turn down the flow for fish with delicate fins.
Most (although not all) tropical fish need water that is warmer than the general room temperature of 72°F . Many species fall into the range of around 74 to 80°F. Having a heater is key to maintaining this type of temperature at a consistent level.
Heaters are the one essential piece of equipment often not included in even the best fish tank kits. We always recommend you find an adjustable heater as it gives more scope to keep fish with different temperature needs, and generally gives you greater control.
Many aquarium set-ups still come with fluorescent lighting, but most modern tanks today use LEDs. The best fish tanks tend to include either LED or MCR (multi-color remote) LED lights that have features such as programmable timers, dimmers, and daylight and moonlight modes.
All these features help you mimic the natural day and night time rhythm of your fish . But the other key factor is the power output of your lights. Many low light plants in freshwater tanks, for example, need lights with an output of at least 6500k.
For marine aquariums with corals or live rock it’s higher. These organisms have high energy requirements and lighting of at least 11500k is usually needed. Many specialized saltwater tanks come with this as standard.
The Best Fish Tank Decor
There are many ways you can enhance your aquarium with the best fish tank decor. Rocks, driftwood, ornaments, and substrate can all be tailored to suit your tastes and bring life to your tank. Take a look at some of the main considerations below.
Before going ahead and buying decorations it can be a good idea to think about the overall theme for your tank. Even the best fish tank decorations look better and will fit the style of your room if you think about the theme first.
You could go for a pirates theme, ancient Egypt, Japanese architecture, castles, or even themes from film and TV. Lord Of The Rings, Spongebob Squarepants, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are all very popular themes and you can find ornaments for all of these!
Plants: Live vs Artificial
No matter what size of aquarium, adding live plants is always a great idea. Not only do they add beauty and interest to your tank, but they also have practical benefits. They help disguise filters and equipment, provide hiding places for your fish, and remove nitrate and oxygenate the water.
When choosing live plants, make sure they are the right size for the tank and think about texture and compatibility with your fish. For example, java ferns or guppy grass are good choices for betta fish as they are soft and have no sharp edges for delicate fins to tear on.
Artificial plants are a good option if you don’t want live ones. Silk plants can be a safe bet in many circumstances as they are incredibly realistic. And unlike plastic they are very soft with no sharp edges, so much safer for your fish.
Sand or gravel are the most common types of substrate used in aquariums. But before you go with one of them, make sure they are compatible with your fish. Many fish are fine with either. But guppies, for example, do better with sand as it doesn’t cause issues if swallowed.
Multi-colored gravel has long been a favorite of aquarium owners, but you can get brightly colored sand too. However, if you do have bright ornaments a neutral substrate can contrast with them better and generally be a safer bet!
Benefits Of A Home Aquarium
Having a fish tank in your home or home office can provide several benefits. Here are some of the tops ones:
- Enhances your decor: Whether large or small, a stylish aquarium with beautiful, vibrant fish can be a real addition to the overall decor of your room.
- Reduces stress: There have been several studies in recent years showing that watching fish in your aquarium can improve mood, relaxation, and reduce stress .
- Increases productivity: With many of us owning home offices, as well as reducing stress, a fish tank can help calm us and improve productivity.
If you’re looking for your very first aquarium, finding the best fish tank can be quite an undertaking. Our reviews and top picks are designed to cut the hard work out for you!
So if you are after an affordable nano aquarium the Tetra LED Cube is a fantastic option. Or if you want a modern, stylish design the Fluval Edge or BiOrb Classic are both awesome. And for saltwater, the Fluval Sea Evo 13.5 is a compact, feature-packed tank.
Whichever you choose, think about what type of aquarium you want to start, research your fish first, and then use our guide to help find the best fish tank for you!
We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to choosing the best fish tank. So let’s take a look below!
What Is The Best Fish Tank Size For A Beginner?
A larger rather than smaller tank is better for a beginner as it’s easier to maintain stable water parameters. 20 gallons is a good starting size for a community tank.
Are Glass Or Acrylic Fish Tanks Better?
Both are great materials but they have their pros and cons, so it really comes down to your own preference. Acrylic is lighter but more expensive, whereas glass retains clarity better over time.
How Many Fish Can I Keep In My Aquarium?
It depends on several factors such as whether you keep freshwater or saltwater fish, or whether they are aggressive or peaceful. In general you should allow 1 gallon for each inch of fish.
How Often Should I Clean My Fish Tank?
Smaller tanks usually need more maintenance, but in general you should clean your tank weekly, and do weekly water changes depending on your water parameters.