Fish are one of the most interesting pets to have at home. Both adults and children love the movement of colorful fish as they swim around in their tanks. In addition to providing a serene, relaxing view, a fish tank or aquarium acts as an excellent decoration and gives an elegant, sophisticated look to the room. That brings us to the million-dollar question. Which are the best starter fish tanks and aquarium kits to get for your home?
In this article, we will look at some of the best fish tanks and aquarium kits available in the market. We will primarily look at two categories of fish tanks – those with a capacity of 5 gallons or less and those with a capacity of over 5 gallons. The small tanks make an excellent desktop decoration you’re your office, bedroom or dorm, while the larger models are perfect for your living room. Moreover, the options we list are suitable for all social fish breeds, though the low capacity models would work well for loners such as betta fish as well.
Based on the space available and preference, you can then pick the most suitable option for your need. So snorkel up, and read on!
If cleaning the fish tank is something you hate, then you should look at getting yourself a self-cleaning fish tank.
And if you do not have enough space for a full blown fish tank, why not consider getting a wall-mounted fish tank?
If you want to get a Betta fish as a pet, do read out post on the best betta fish tanks.
Best fish tanks list under 5 gallonSome of the best fish tanks and aquariums with a size of 5 gallons or less are listed below:
|Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit||5 gallon||- Popular rectangular tall-boy glass aquarium with LED lights.|
- Two LED types that can be toggled through a switch - white daylight LEDs and blue moonlight glow LEDs.
- Comes with a three-stage hidden filtration system and a super-quiet pump with adjustable flow.
- Also comes with a stable base and sliding glass canopy for easy feeding and water care.
- Backed by a two-year limited warranty.
|Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit||5 gallon||- A contemporary-looking, rectangular etched-glass aquarium with aluminum trims.|
- Features a set of 37 single-color LED lamps to provide a clear, bright light to the aquarium.
- Comes with a 3-stage filtration system supported by an adjustable circulation pump. The pump and filtration system are located in a separate chamber for easy maintenance.
- Can be shipped to selected countries outside the US.
- Backed by a two-year limited warranty.
|Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit||3 gallon|
|- Uniquely designed aquarium starter kit with a curved acrylic tank. Curvature produces a wide viewing surface.|
- Comes with 16 "hidden" LED lights that produce a bright, shimmer light for fish.
- Features the popular Tetra Whisper multi-stage filtration system that also helps in preventing discoloration of tank.
- Backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty (1 year for LED lights)
|Penn Plax Curved Corner Glass Aquarium Kit||3.4 gallon|
|- Smart glass aquarium with a unique, frameless bent glass design.|
- Comes with a cascade internal filter and a hinged plastic lid for feeding.
- Features an externally fitted LED lamp for illumination.
- Backed by a six-month manufacturer warranty.
|Tetra 29095 Cube Aquarium Kit||3 gallon||- A budget desktop aquarium with a high-quality, scratch-resistant plastic tank and a stable base.|
- Comes with an external LED light fixture for illumination
- Features a standard carbon activated filtration system and a quiet air-circulation pump.
Best fish tanks list over 5 gallonsSome of the best fish tanks and aquarium kits over 5 gallons available in the market are listed below:
|Marina LED Aquarium Kit||5 gallon|
|- A popular, all-inclusive aquarium kit with an all-glass tank and standard mode LED light.|
- The aquarium comes with a long-lasting white LED lamp fitted in the canopy to produce a daylight effect for the fish.
- Also includes a Fluval Aqua plus water conditioner and Marina Slim clip-on filter for filtration.
- Also includes a bottle of Fluval Max fish food and biological supplement, a fish net and an aquarium caring guide.
- Backed by a two-year limited manufacturer warranty.
|Aqueon Fish Aquarium Starter Kit with NeoGlow||5.5 gallon|
|- Visually dynamic, all-glass aquarium starter kit which features a glass tank with a fluorescent silicone coating that creates a glow in blue LED Lighting.|
- Features a low profile hood with blue LED lighting. Also has a LED life indicator that flashes when it is time to replace.
- Comes flow power 5-stage water filtration system: mechanical, biological, chemical and filtration pad.
- Also includes gravel, plants, fish food and starter guide.
- Backed by a limited lifetime manufacturer warranty.
|Tetra Half Moon Aquarium Kit||10 gallon||- Uniquely shaped aquarium kit with a curved, tall-boy glass tank with a clear-view acrylic lid. Frameless top edge.|
- Comes with the popular Tetra Whisper multi-stage cartridge-based filtration system.
- Also includes an external LED panel 50-watt heater with a standard temperature setting.
- Other accessories are not included.
- Backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty (1 year for LED lights)
|Fluval Edge Aquarium with LED Light||6 gallon|
|- Smart 3D water cube aquarium with a sealed all-glass tank. The tank provides a 360-degree view and the sealed top reduces evaporation.|
- Comes with 18 white and 3 blue LED lights which can be turned on together or separately.
- Features an elegant pedestal to provide a stable base for the aquarium.
- Comes with a multi-stage Fluval power filter with an ultra-quiet pump.
- Backed by a two-year limited manufacturer warranty.
|KollerCraft API Semi-Hex Aquarium Kit||6.5 gallon||- Inexpensive yet elegant, semi-hex freshwater aquarium kit with a seamless acrylic tank.|
- Features a unique LED lighting combination that supports 7 dazzling colors.
- Comes with an API Superclean bio-chem filter that filters water and also prevents discoloration and odors.
- Also comes with a 1-month starter program.
- Backed by a 90-day warranty.
How to pick the best fish tank or aquarium?
With so many options available in the market, picking the best aquarium starter kit can often be a challenging task. After all, a fish tank is more than just a container for your pet fish.
The first thing you need to consider before picking an aquarium is the overall size range you are looking at. In our opinion, any fish-tank with a capacity of less than 3 gallons would not be a great choice, unless you are looking something for a corner on your table. Fish tanks with a capacity of 3 to 5 gallon are excellent options for desktops, corner tables, offices and dorm rooms, while bigger tanks are most suitable for their dedicated tables or stands.
Once you have finalized the size range, you can consider the following additional factors before deciding on the most suitable option:
- Construction material of the tank
- Shape and Size of the tank
- Pump and Filtration system of the aquarium
- LED Lighting in the tank
- Additional accessories and considerations
Construction Material of the tank
The construction material of the tank is probably the most important criteria to consider. Modern day fish tanks are made of one of the three materials – glass, acrylic and plastic.
- Glass Tanks: Among tanks with a capacity of up to 20 gallons, glass is the most popular building material. Glass tanks are generally heavier, relatively rigid and less expensive than acrylic tanks. Glass also retain the clarity over time and are more scratch-proof when compared to acrylic or plastic tanks.
- Acrylic Tanks: Acrylic tanks have become increasingly popular in past few years. Acrylic is lighter and more moldable, so you can have uniquely shaped tanks. And because acrylic has almost same refraction index as water, you tend to get a better view in the tank. Acrylic is, however, more scratchable and has a tendency of yellowing over a period of time so would require more care.
- Plastic Tanks: Plastic tanks are the cheapest of the three. Plastic is also moldable and lightweight but is not scratch resistant and as durable as glass or acrylic tanks. You should generally avoid plastic tanks.
If you do not have a weight of the tank as a factor (or if you are looking for a 100+ gallon tank!), you should consider opting for glass tanks. While acrylic tanks provide the best non-rectangular shapes, modern aquariums with glass tanks also come in nice, curved shapes.
Shape and Size of the tank
As discussed above, the shape and size of the tank is another important factor to consider. You should pick a shape and size for which you can provide a stable base and do not have to move the tank frequently.
Rectangular flat and tall-boy shapes are perfect for countertops and tabletops. Smart curved shapes make an excellent addition to the corner tables and restricted viewing angles. 3D tanks such as Fluval Edge Aquarium with LED Light are most suitable for stable 360-degree locations within your living or bed room.
Keep these things in mind while picking the best shape and size for your aquarium.
Pump and Filtration system of the aquarium
In order to ensure that your tank is clean and your fish have access to fresh water, you need an aquarium with an excellent filtration system. While you can always get an alternative filter for your tank, it is generally more suitable to get a tank which comes with a filtration system with a quiet air circulation pump incorporated.
In addition to checking the presence of a filtration system, check it efficacy by looking at the number of stages it supports. Most high-end aquariums come with multi-stage filtration systems (mechanical, chemical and biological filtration) that combine conditioning and filtering to create a fresh water source.
Moreover, check how easy it is to access the filter for cleaning. Smart fish tanks such as the Marina LED Aquarium Kit provide easily removable clip-on filters that can be replaced without much fuss. Some other models even have their filters in a separate unit as the tank for easy accessibility and maintenance.
LED Lighting in the tank
The variety and efficiency of LED lighting system in the tank is another factor to consider. Most tanks provide either an inbuilt or canopy-type single-light LED lighting system which can be turned on and off through a switch.
Some fish tanks such as the Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit provide a combination of lighting – white LEDs to simulate sunlight and blue LEDs to simulate moonlight glow. Such aquariums are our favorites, though even in single lighting tanks, you can always opt for external lighting plates and surfaces as per your needs.
Additional factors and considerations
In addition to the four factors discussed above, there are a couple of other factors that can make a purchase more attractive than others.
One such factor is the accessories that come with the aquarium kit. Small aquariums generally do not come with additional items, but Most 5+ gallon starter kits come with items that can get you started on building your aquarium in no time. This may include artificial decoration plants, feed supply and caring guide. Check out the accessories that come with the aquarium before picking the best option. Off-course, depending upon the type of the fish, you may have to adjust the accessories that you are going to use. As an example, you may not want to use artificial plants with a betta fish, as they may harm its fins.
Another important factor to check out is the warranty and service support provided by the manufacturer. Most top brands such as Hagen (Fluval, Marina) and Tetra provide multi-year warranties with their products. Aqueon even provides a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. On the other hand, cheaper brands such as KollerCraft only provide a 90-day warranty. A word of advice: to avail the full warranty support, always look for an authorized seller and register your aquarium kit with the manufacturer.
Keep these other small considerations in mind while picking the best options for your needs.
Which are the best fish tanks and what our picks are?
Marineland ML90609 Portrait Aquarium Kit – Editor’s pick for the best low capacity fish tank
TetraCare is a world-wide leader in aquatic pet products and the MarineLand ML90609 Portrait Aquarium is one of their flagship products when it comes to low capacity aquariums.
The MarineLand Portrait aquarium features a rectangular, tall-boy (hence the term Portrait) glass tank with a 3-sided view. The glass is curved to give you a clear unobstructed view.
The MarineLand Portrait aquarium has a surface area of 11.8″ X 11.6″ and a height of 17 inches. It weighs around 12 pounds and comes with a stable base and a sliding glass canopy (it slides to the back of the tank) for easy feeding and water care.
The MarineLand series was one of the first aquariums to provide multi-colored LEDs out of the box. This aquarium provides a set of white and blue LEDs that can provide a shimmering sunlight or moonlight glow ambiance just by flipping a 3-way switch. The lights are pretty bright and create a vibrant environment.
TetraCare has one of the best lines of aquarium filtration systems and MarineLand is no exception. The aquarium features a 3-stage “hidden” filtration system which provides chemical as well as biological filtration of water. The aquarium has a super-silent adjustable water pump to manage the flow.
The MarineLand aquarium kit is backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty.
Marina LED Aquarium Kit – Editor’s pick for the best high capacity fish tank
If you are looking for a 10 or 20-gallon aquarium kit that can get you started on keeping fish, then look no further than the Marina LED Aquarium Kit. This aquarium starter kit by Hagen (Fluval and Nutrafin fame) includes almost all the items that can get you started on building your own elegant fish tank.
The Marina Aquarium Kit comes with a capacity of 5, 10 and 20 gallons and consists of an all-glass fish tank and standard mode LED light. The LED lamp is fitted to the canopy of the aquarium and provides an efficient, long-lasting natural daylight effect. The aquarium has a standard contemporary aquarium look.
One of the best features of this aquarium is the hassle-free filtration system. The aquarium features a multi-stage S10 or S20 clip-on filter that you can easily mount on the aquarium. Changing filter is easy as you can conveniently remove the specific slot without disturbing the filtration system.
The aquarium kit comes with a Fluval Aqua Plus water conditioner and biological supplement to create an excellent biological ecosystem for your fish. A super-fine mesh fish net is also included as is an Aquarium care guide to get you started.
The only complaint that you might have with this kit is that it does not come with gravel and plant decorations. Still, this is not a major limitation considering you can get these items for cheap as per your preference.
Each Marina LED Aquarium Starter Kit it is backed by a two-year manufacturer warranty, so you can use it with confidence.
Aquarium and fish tank decoration items
In addition to the standard items such as gravel, you may want to add additional decorations in the tank. Listing all the best options may be an article in itself, however, some of the most popular options to consider are listed below:
- uxcell Artificial Plants
- Aquatic Arts Aquarium Driftwood
- Underwater Galleries Cichild Stones
- Marimo Natural Moss Balls
Final thoughts on the best fish tanks and aquarium kits
Aquariums and fish tanks provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment to keep a collection of fish as pets. These tanks not only provide a shelter for the fish but also act as excellent decoration for your living or bed room.
In this article, we looked at some of the best aquarium starter kits available in the market. We primarily looked at two broad capacities – aquariums with a capacity of 3 to 5 gallons and aquarium with capacities of more than 5 gallons. We also looked at the factors to consider while picking the best option for your home and also shared our top picks.
We hope that this article would help you in picking the most suitable aquarium as per your requirements and preference. Do let us know your feedback and questions by commenting below. Meanwhile, until next time, happy pet time!