Many of us started out in the hobby with a 10-gallon aquarium. But it’s common for aquarists to discover they want a larger aquarium so they can keep more fish, plants, and other aquatic life.
Nothing shows off your fish, corals, and live plants like a big aquarium.
Wondering what’s the right size aquarium for an upgrade? Maybe you want to enter the hobby with a big tank.
One of the most popular aquariums is the 50 to 55-gallon tank. This size provides significantly more room for fish, plants, and invertebrates and still fits within most living spaces at home or the office.
In this article
Benefits of a larger aquarium
A larger aquarium allows you to keep a wide variety of freshwater community fish.
The extra room gives schools of cardinal tetras plenty of space to school and swim. You’ll be able to use all kinds of interesting driftwood, live plants, and rocks to create a beautiful aquascape.
If big freshwater fish like Oscars are your thing, you’ll need a 55-gallon aquarium to give them room to grow and move around.
The greater water capacity also helps keep a stable environment because big fish are heavy polluters.
Reef aquarists really like the extra space to arrange live rock and place their coral frags at the tank’s optimal locations.
Add some sleek LED reef lights, and you’ll have a beautiful reef right in your own home.
Don’t forget the aquarium stand
Some aquariums come with a stand. If yours doesn’t, you can purchase one separately.
The important thing to remember is that water is heavy. Each gallon weighs about nine pounds.
Your 55-gallon aquarium weighs over 500 pounds once it’s filled with gravel and water.
Ordinary furniture can’t support this load. You must use a purpose-built aquarium stand designed and built to safely support hundreds of pounds and be moisture resistant.
There are many attractive stand designs and finishes, so there is no reason to risk water damage and shattered glass using a flimsy piece of DIY furniture.
The top 50-55-gallon aquariums
Need help figuring out which tank is for you? Here’s our list of Top Tanks in this size range.
Check out the features and benefits. Some aquariums are designed for reef-keeping. Others can be adapted for freshwater or saltwater. Others are just basic tanks for keeping fish. It all depends on what kind of aquarium you want to have.
1. Red Sea REEFER 54-gallon aquarium
This aquarium comes with an aquarium stand and a filter sump. It’s pre-drilled and ready to set up.
The aquarium is a rimless style that is constructed from thick, beveled-edge glass.
The low-iron glass is crystal clear without the blue cast found on low-grade aquariums.
The built-in overflow box skims the surface from all sides. In case of accidental clogging, an emergency overflow system prevents water back-up and spills.
From the overflow, water is sent down to the filter sump. As water enters the sump, it passes through 200-micron filter bags, removing fine particles that cloud the water.
The sump also has a dedicated protein skimmer chamber that maintains a constant water height.
The automatic top-off system is built into the sump. No gluing or complicated plumbing is required.
You will have to add your own lighting system and return pump.
- Sleek rimless glass aquarium
- Attractive cabinet design in black or white
- Silent overflow box system with emergency down-pipe
- Sump has a built-in ATO system with reservoir
2. Reef Octopus LUX T-90
The LUX T-90 is a 48-gallon reef-ready aquarium system.
The aquarium features 3/8″ low iron glass that allows the full beauty of your corals to shine through.
The back of the tank is colored black for an attractive background.
Top-quality Japanese-made Shin-Etsu black adhesive seals the tank for long-term strength and durability.
The aquarium has a Reef Octopus Slim-Flow System that skims the water surface across the entire aquarium’s rear. The thin skimmer design gives you more room for live rock, LPS or SPS corals, and fish.
The aquarium cabinet is made of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) with water-resistant laminated surface finishes. All the hoses can be routed within the cabinet.
Reef Octopus says the back panel of the cabinet is designed to reduce unwanted noise from the pump, skimmer, and overflow.
This aquarium system does not include a light fixture.
- Stainless steel door hinges
- Includes a Reef Octopus Classic 150 Protein Skimmer
- The sump comes with a return pump and filter sock system
- Built-in automatic top off
3. IM NUVO 50-gallon aquarium
Innovative Marine’s cube-style aquarium can be used for freshwater or reef-keeping.
The 10-mm low-iron glass allows you to see the natural coloration of fish, plants, and corals.
The “coast-to-coast” overflow uses a Bean Animal drain system for silent operation, even at high flow rates.
The emergency standpipes prevent spills due to clogging.
The line-lock return system is built into the overflow and makes it easy to control the flow anywhere in the aquarium.
The APS Cabinet Stand is made of lightweight aluminum for strength and corrosion resistance. It’s finished in matte black.
The stand and rimless aquarium design have a modern look that fits into any decor.
You’ll add a protein skimmer, return pump, and other gear depending on the type of tank you’re setting up.
This aquarium is easy to build out for freshwater or marine use. Just add LED lighting, and you’ll be growing live plants or raising corals.
- Versatile design for fresh or saltwater use
- Silent overflow system
- Line-lock return built into the overflow
- Strong, water-proof aluminum stand
4. Clear-For-Life acrylic aquarium
Acrylic is clear as glass, light-weight, and more resistant to impact than glass tanks.
The Clear-For-Life 55-gallon aquarium is a basic tank constructed of cell-cast acrylic with a lifetime warranty against leaks.
Acrylic aquariums are popular in earthquake-prone areas since they aren’t held together by silicone.
Instead, the plastic is chemically bonded and won’t pull apart. The clear lid is part of the aquarium and does not come off.
A large open area on the top allows for working inside the tank. Smaller cut-outs are provided for a filter and heater power cords.
This aquarium is better suited for freshwater and fish-only aquariums.
The aquarium comes with a plastic cover but does not include a light fixture. Chose the appropriate style of light for the aquatic life you’re keeping.
You’ll also need to match the tank to an aquarium stand. The Clear-For-Life is also available in a 60-gallon size.
- Lighter than glass
- Crystal-clear transparency
- Made in the USA
- Lifetime warranty
5. SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set
Built from impact-resistant acrylic, this 55-gallon aquarium has a classic rectangular shape.
Suitable for freshwater or saltwater fish, this aquarium is clear as glass and more resistant to chipping.
The combo kit includes a fluorescent light fixture. You’ll add the bulb of choice depending on the type of aquarium you set up.
The kit does not include a filter or stand. This provides flexibility when selecting a canister or HOB power filter.
If you prefer, you can swap out the light for a modern LED light with a built-in time or remote control.
- Lightweight and easy to position onto an aquarium stand
- Crystal clear viewing of fish and plants
- No silicone on the edges
- Lifetime warranty
6. Aqua Culture 55-Gallon Starter Kit
This classic-style 55-gallon aquarium kit is best suited for freshwater tropicals and goldfish.
Construction is basic butt-jointed glass with silicone seals. It does not use low-iron glass or beveled-edge construction.
The plastic lid includes hinged doors for access to the fish and feeding.
The kit includes a Tetra internal power filter that uses filter cartridges.
The low-profile light fixture uses energy-efficient LEDs that run cool and won’t overheat the water. Speaking of temperature, you’ll need an aquarium heater, especially if you’re keeping tropical fish.
The starter kit comes with a trial size container of fish food and water conditioner.
- Inexpensive aquarium kit
- Time-proven thick-glass construction
- Energy-efficient lighting
- Perfect for freshwater fish-keeping
If your goal is to set up a reef tank, then the Red Sea Reefer or Reef Octopus are favorites.
The LUX T-90 is great for reefs or a freshwater planted tank because it does not come with saltwater gear like a protein skimmer.
Plus, you can add freshwater LED lighting on your own.
For a simple freshwater aquarium, the Aqua Culture 55-gallon aquarium kit is a logical choice.
Fans of acrylic aquariums will like the Clear-For-Life 55-gallon aquarium because of its excellent construction and warranty.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.