What is The Best Size Tank for Your Home Aquarium
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
A good starting tank size for a home aquarium is a 4-feet long, 55, 75, or 90-gallon in volume tank. The tank can house a variety of fish, including cichlids, like angelfish, and is easier to work with than smaller or larger aquariums. Equipment and accessories for this size tank are also easy to find without breaking the bank.
The 55-gallon option (48“ L by 12“ wide by 21“ Tall) is the optimal choice (in my opinion) for a regular living room aquarium, but a 20 to 40 (breeder) gallon tank is perfect for your bedroom.
A 75 to 90-gallon, 4-feet long tank offers the same length as a 55-gallon and can fit in a reasonably sized house, with more front-to-back depth (4“ to 6“), offering more options for decoration and footprint for fish.
So, go bigger if your space and budget allow it!
You can choose any of the three 4-foot-long tank options (I’ve mentioned), considering the space you have for the tank, your budget, and the fish you want. If you also want to have plants and scapes (rocks, driftwood), 70 to 90 gallons are better than the 55-gallon.
Why should you choose a 4 feet long fish tank as your home aquarium or other sizes?
— You will get a rimless, high-clarity glass 55 to 90-gallon fish tank in your local pet store or online, with most of your favorite brands available.
— Your 4 feet long fish tank will hold most of the fish you want (and find regularly), including large fish like angels, perhaps a pair of discus, African cichlids, plus a school of smaller tetras, rasboras, and danios.
— Most average-sized plants will grow in a 55 to 90-gallon, and you can fit beautiful scapes (rocks, driftwood) for contrast and better aesthetics.
— A 4 feet long 55, 75, or 90-gallon tank takes less time to clean and perform water changes than a large aquarium and requires less frequent maintenance than a smaller tank.
— 55, 75, and 90-gallon tanks are well proportioned for the average home, with an attractive size and enough water volume for your fish while not taking up too much space. They create a perfect focal point for a living room without dominating your space.
See more insight below.
Note that the points and recommendations are not set in stone, but rather what I would do as a beginner if I knew what I know now.
Tweak the details to fit your situation because our homes are not the same design. Some readers live in small apartments, while others have bigger homes with more space for a display aquarium(s).
How To Choose an Aquarium for Your Home
When you need to decide what size tank you want for your home, you will need to consider the space you have, the fish you want, your budget, and whether or not you desire plants and scapes in your aquarium.
For the tank size, note that large tanks are easier to care for because more water volume is less prone to fluctuations and poor water quality.
The largest-size tank you can afford and fit in your space is ideal. It allows you more room for error when it comes to water parameters.
However, too large fish tanks can take several hours to clean and perform water changes, hence the reason for recommending a fish tank of 55 to 90 gallons to homeowners.
Go for more horizontal (long) than vertical (tall, high) tanks because they allow your fish more space to swim. They are also easier to clean (reach the substrate and glass), and more light will reach the bottom of your aquarium, which is best for plant growth.
Below is a table of the tank sizes I recommend for your home aquarium, whether you want it for your living room, home office, bedroom, or lounging area.
|Why This Tank|
|Living Room Aquarium|
|Home Office Aquarium|
|Kids’ Bedroom Fish Tank|
|Lounging Area Aquarium|
|Corner Tank in Aisles, Corridors|
What to Consider When Choosing Your Home Aquarium
That out of the way, here are all the things I consider when looking for a new aquarium for my home:
1— How Much Space Do You Have for The Fish Tank
When deciding the aquarium size you want for your home, consider the space you have for it. You will need a wall space about 2 times the length of your aquarium for the best aesthetics.
The standard 55, 75, and 90-gallon tanks I recommend for your home aquarium should be about 4 feet (48 inches) in length. The width varies with the 70’ gallon and 90 gallons 4“ wider than the 55-gallon tank.
The stand for your 4 feet (48“) long tank will be 50“ and 52“ wide (long) and 13 to 29 inches deep (wide), meaning you will need a wall area at least 8 feet long (96“ wall to wall) that to create a proportionate focal point with your fish tank.
You will also need your furniture several feet from the fish tank for the best viewing.
The height of your fish tank stand can vary depending on how you want to place your aquarium.
If you want it under a mounted TV, get a low-build fish tank stand, and leave a few inches (12 to 14“) between them to protect your TV from spills and splashes from your aquarium.
A 4 feet long fish tank goes best with a mounted 65-inch TV (about 58“ wide), with the 48“ tank centered below the TV with 10-inch displacement on each side for a cascading display.
2— Decide The Fish You Want
There are a million types of fish to choose from in the hobby, and it can be overwhelming to pick some for your home aquarium. However, the fish you end up with will determine the tank size you want.
If you are a beginner, I suggest looking for beginner-friendly fish. You will want fish hardy enough to survive rookie mistakes in your new tank.
Get insight from expert blogs, like Aquariawise, and forums, such as fishlore. Subreddits, like r/aquariums, are also great resources if you need guidance on fish to keep in your home aquarium.
Visiting your local fish store might also help.
The fish available and talking to the people at the store will present inspiration and narrow your list to only a handful of fishes to choose from.
If you opt to go with my recommendation of a 55, 75, or 90-gallon tank, this post has a list of best fish and stocking ideas, and this post, the best options for a 20 to 40 (breeder) gallon tank for beginners and the perfect aquarium for your bedroom.
A mixed stock of Dwarf Gouramis, Ram cichlids, Kribensis, Angelfish, Yoyo loach, Bristlenose plecos, Malawi cichlids, Upside down catfish (synodontis), Electric Blue Acara, South and Central American cichlids, Rainbowfish, Cory cats, Killifish, schools of Tetras, Endlers, Rasboras, Danios, Pencilfish, Minnows and Guppies, and livebearers, like Mollies, Platys and Swordtails are all perfect options for a 4 feet long, 55/70/90 gallon tank for you home.
3— Decide The Plants and Scapes (Rocks, Driftwood) You Want
If you want plants in your home aquarium, you will need a larger tank than when you have a fish-only aquarium. Fortunately, a 4 feet (48“) fish tank is perfect for most aquarium plants and a decent amount of rocks and wood.
70 to 90-gallon tanks are better than 55-gallon because they are 4 to 5 inches wider (deeper), allowing you more room to layer your plants from the front to the back.
The tank will have more space for foreground, middle, and background plants with the extra width and more substrate space for rooted plant species.
A 90-gallon, 48“ long fish tank will also have up to four extra inches high (than a 55 or 70-gallon) for tall background plants, like Amazon sword and water wisteria and floating aquatic plants..
The larger 55 to 90-gallon fish tank will allow for more distributed weight footprint, so you can fit large rocks and driftwood. This allows more room for aquatic plants that attach to aquascapes.
If you go the planted tank way, you can decide by picking the plants and then sizing your aquarium to the species. There are several plants to consider for your home aquarium, some green, others red, floating, rooted, or even others that attach to rocks and driftwood.
If this is your first fish tank, I suggest you start with easy plants, like Jave fern and Java moss. These plants will grow on decorations and feed from the water column, and you will not need specialty substrates, CO2, fertilizers (micros, macros), or expensive high-light fixtures.
A low-tech 40-gallon breeder is perfect for these plants, but 55 to 90 gallons tanks are better and have more space, even if you decide to move to more demanding, high-light plants.
4— What’s Your Budget: Fish Tank, Equipment Cost
The amount of money you are willing to spend is another factor to consider when looking for a home aquarium. A 4 feet long, 55/70/90 gallon fish tank plus equipment can top 2500 dollars, and only doing enough research (before you start the purchase) will ensure you get everything you need and stay within your budget.
You’ll need to budget for all of these items:
—Miscellaneous (see list at the end)
Fish Tank and Stand
A new, fully equipped 4-foot 55 to 100-gallon aquarium with all the basic starter stuff will cost you between 200 and 300 dollars. The tank alone costs between 70 to 100 dollars, but you can always get a bargain for a glass aquarium with plastic frames for a dollar per gallon from Petco or Petsmart.
E-bay, Craigslist, and Facebook marketplace are also good places to look for a bargain but ensure the tank you purchase is in good condition (not leaking and with no old, broken seals).
For the fish stand,,,
You can buy a ready-made stand or go the DIY route if you have the time and skills to build one. Remember that aquariums are extremely heavy and require a sturdy aquarium stand.
A 55-gallon long weights 650 lbs (give or take), 850 Lbs for a 70-gallon, and a 90-gallon tank more than 1000 Lbs.
An already made 4 foot (50“) fish tank stand will cost anywhere from 10 dollars to 250 dollar depending on the design and materials used to build it, while a DIY stand should not go beyond 70 dollars.
Canister filters are best suited for 55+ gallon fish tanks
You cannot run your home aquarium without a filter. Purchase one that is efficient for your fish tank size, between a sponge, HOB, or canister filter.
Canister filters are the best for tanks with more than 30 gallons, but if you are only starting out or working on a budget, a HOB filter will also work in your home aquarium.
If your HOB or canister filter is not adequate for your fish tank, add a sponge filter to boost your filtration. You can also use two canisters simultaneously in an overstocked aquarium.
A 55 to 90-gallon home aquarium filter costs anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars for a canister unit, 50 to 80 dollars for a HOB filter, and 20 dollars for a Hyggerdouble sponge filter.
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel, 350 GPH or a Tetra whisper EX filter are my top choice for a 55 to 75-gallon HOB filter fish tank.
Fluval FX 4 high performance or 407 performance canister filters, with up to 700 GPH rating, are perfect for a home aquarium upto 100 gallons large.
However, Fluval filters are expensive, so I recommend Penn-plax cascade 1000 for budget buyers. It delivers decent 250 GPH filtration at 2.5 times less the cost of a Fluval FX 4 canister filter.
T5 aquarium light bulbs are still perfect for home aquariums, but for better aesthetics, colors, full-spectrum, and effective PAR, LED lights are better, especially in planted fish tanks.
Budget lights, like Finnex stringray, Nicrew, Hygger, and Beamworks, are decent enough for a 4-feet, 55 to 90-gallon low-teach fish tank, but if you want to grow red and other high-light plants in your setup, better quality fixtures are advised.
I go with Twinstar or Chihiros aquarium lights for my high-tech planted fish tank in my home, with C02 and Fertilizer anywhere from one to 2 times a week.
Fluval 3.0 planted aquarium lights are my choice for moderate-light plants. They have arguably better output than budget Nicrew and Finnex lights, although the price can be hefty, costing almost as much as Twinstar or Chihiros fixtures.
Fluval aquarium lights also come preset and customized with the Fluval smart app, which allows you to seamlessly control the light from your mobile phone.
You will want to put your aquarium lights on a timer because too much light for too long will cause algae. Low light for too long will stunt you plants.
You can use sand or gravel in your home aquarium. Sand is best if you plan on adding plants to your tank. It is also best with bottom feeders (plecos, catfish, loaches) or fish that love to dig, such as goldfish and many cichlids.
Black or off-white pool filter sand is the best, but you can also use specialty sands, such as Carib Sea Sand Eco Complete. Black Diamond blasting Sand (BDBS), Tahitian moonlight sand, Crushed Coral Sand, and Play sand are other great options.
I use coarse or fine Fairmount Santrol-50 pool filter sand with grains between 0.1 and 0.3 mm. I can plant on it, it has brilliant aesthetics, and the substrate is easy on my catfish barbels and cichlids mouths.
Please note that substrates with trace silicate, like pool filter sand, will increase diatom bloom, especially in newer home tanks, while crushed coral sand might buffer your fish tank pH.
One downside of using sand in your fish tank is it blows and makes your tank cloudy. It can also get in your filter intakes, clogging your unit or damaging the impeller.
Gravel substrates are heav and do not blow, but dirt often sink and get trapped in gaps and spaces between pebbles resulting in poor water quality and toxic air pockets.
Scapes: Rocks, Driftwood
Rocks and driftwood for your home aquarium are not too challenging to source. If you have enough time, you can even use found scapes in your fish tank. Driftwood and rocks from river beds are your best bet.
However, purchasing them from your local pet shop is convenient, and you will not spend countless hours boiling and drying your wood and rocks.
Please note that driftwood and rocks from pet shop can be quite costly, depending on the size and shape.
Here is my buget for a new home aquarium. The tank I would purchase and the equipment I would consider for it. A budget and premium option.
|Equipment or Accesory||Budget Option||Price||Premium Option||Price|
|55 Gallon Fish Tank||Pre-loved tank from E-Bay, Facebook, Craiglist marketplace—Click to See sample||$100||New glass, plastic frame tank from Petco or Petsmart (look out for the dollar per gallon sale)—click to see sample||$200|
|Filter||Penn-Plax Cascade||$150||Fluval FX 4||$310|
|Lights||Fluval 3.0 LED 48“ to 60“||$190||Chihiros WRGB 2 Pro 30—120 Gallons||$270|
|Substrate||FairmountSantrol Aquaqartz 50 pool filter sand||$35||FairmountSantrol Aquaqartz 50 pool filter sand||$35|
|Aquarium Stand||DIY or Pre-Owned Stand||$100||New Aquarium stand from Petco, Petsmart, Amazon e.t.c||&300|
|Fish||Schooling fish||Starting from $25 for a group of 8 to 12||Large centerpiece fish, like Angels, Gouramis, Rainbow fish, Electric Blue Acara, Ram Cichlids, Malawi Cichlids, Kribensis||Starting at $20 per fish|