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Some of the best fish tanks for beginners are also ones that experienced aquarium keepers look to as reliable standbys. This should come as no surprise considering some freshwater fish have lifespans spanning several decades.
Having said that…
Most people I talk to about the information found in a beginner fish tank review want to keep several species of fish in the same aquarium.
1. Aqueon Aquarium Kit with LED Lighting – Best Overall
Not every species of fish likes to swim in the central region of the tank. Some prefer to be closer to the surface, while others rarely leave the substrate area.
When you set up a community tank, the best way to give each fish enough room involves choosing ones that live in different depth zones.
This is very hard to do when the tank doesn’t hold enough water or isn’t tall enough to create bigger zones.
One of the nicest things about the Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit is that it comes with a high-profile tank. Since it’s already taller than other tanks in the same size range, you can easily accommodate a wider range of fish species.
Even though many beginners start with a 10-gallon tank, they often run into problems as the fish mature and need more room. A 20-gallon tank is the best starter aquarium if you don’t want to upgrade later.
Taller than average, making it ideal for tall-finned fish and community tanks.
HOB filter has quite a bit of room, so you can use DIY media and adapt as you learn.
The hood is tight-fitting and has plenty of room for adding new devices.
There isn’t a way to adjust the included heater.
LED light arrays may be exposed to condensation from inside the tank.
Starting an aquarium can easily be a commitment that spans several decades. The 20-Gallon Aqueon Aquarium Starter Kit is perfect for beginners that want to get the best fish tank on the first purchase.
You can also use this tank as a quarantine tank. As you become accustomed to different fish species, you may want to add new ones to a community tank.
Since stress can easily lead to illness outbreaks, it is always best to isolate new fish for at least 45 days. This aquarium can help ensure your main tank stays free of illness while giving you the flexibility to explore different aquatic species.
Best starter fish tank for emergencies
Filter is robust and you can customize the media to accommodate emergencies
Adjustable intensity light array is useful for plants with different lighting needs
Hood has a big opening that small fish can jump out of
Light array’s overall design is flimsy
If you plan to keep just a few guppies or other small livebearers in an office or small apartment setting, this kit will suit your needs.
It is also ideal as a secondary emergency tank when you encounter aggressive fish or others that need to be isolated.
3. Koller Products Panaview 5-Gallon – Best Budget Buy
If you are looking for an inexpensive 5-gallon setup, the Koller Products Panaview aquarium will suit your needs perfectly. It comes with a filter, lighting, and hood right off the shelf.
I like this tank because it’s made from a single piece of acrylic. This reduces the risk of leakage and other problems commonly seen in glass aquariums.
Before the advent of LEDs, it was easy to get hoods with a suitable moisture barrier between the light source and the water. These days, I often wonder why there is less emphasis on safety just because the light array requires less voltage.
Fortunately, the hood for the Koller Panaview has a barrier between the LED array and the water.
If this tank came in a 20 or 10-gallon size, it would be my number one choice because of the lighting and hood arrangement.
Made of one single piece of acrylic, which reduces the chance of leakage.
The light array is fully isolated from water and moisture.
You can also change the lighting color in the tank.
Small feeding hole can clog up with food and moisture.
The filter is undersized and not well suited for custom media.
The Koller Products Panaview aquarium is an excellent choice for beginners on a budget. You can use it for Siamese fighting fish or smaller schools of peaceful fish while you learn more about aquarium keeping.
There’s also plenty of room in the mid-range area for other deep-bodied fish that prefer this region. For example, a school combining White tetras and black skirt tetras will get along fine in a 20-gallon setup with 4 – 6 fantails.
This particular kit also has a filter you can adapt to custom media.
You can fill the Biobag with proprietary media or experiment with other materials. All you have to do is fill the bag and fit it into the clip.
Since the bag itself is made of fiber, it serves as vital housing for nitrifying bacteria.
Biobag filter cartridges can be used with custom media.
Best starter aquarium for deep-bodied fish that might develop swim bladder problems in taller tanks
Feeding hole on the hood is large enough to avoid clogging
Heater may not be reliable
Different color LED lights may be pretty, but may not provide quality lighting for plants
5. Aqua Culture 10 Gallon Aquarium – Best For Limited Space
Very early on, I was surprised to find out there is little difference in the dimensions between a 5-gallon aquarium and one that holds 10 gallons of water.
Nevertheless, the doubling in tank capacity makes an enormous difference to the fish living in the tank.
This particular kit offers a well-dimensioned tank that is just big enough for a school of related species of fish. It easily accommodates schools of smaller barbs such as the Rosy, Tiger, and Albinos.
I’ve also found that the Aqua Culture 10 Gallon Aquariumis the best starter fish tank for Buenos Aires tetras and other narrow-bodied fish. Since the hood is tight-fitting, it is also a good choice for jumpers.
Just be careful about cutting the hood to accommodate custom filters or other equipment.
The cuts for the equipment that comes with the tank are tight enough to prevent fish loss from jumping.
Dimensions are ideal for small rooms or other cramped settings.
The filter is easy to maintain without having to get into the tank.
A comfortably sized tank makes it easy to manage algae and water changes.
Unusually high rate of tank leakage.
LED Light strips may not provide strong enough light for live plants.