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Which freshwater fish tanks are best? 

Having a fish tank is a great way to bring some light and energy into your space, but fishkeeping may seem like a daunting task to some. As any seasoned aquarist will tell you, keeping an aquarium at home isn’t all that hard if you take the necessary precautions when preparing your tank. 

Of course, the biggest step you have to take before venturing into the world of fishkeeping is buying the actual fish tank. Our top pick, the Fluval SPEC Freshwater Aquarium Kit, is a stylish nano-aquarium from the trusted brand Fluval that comes with a lot of the essentials you’ll need to get your tank up and running. 

What to know before you buy a freshwater fish tank 

Freshwater tanks vs. saltwater tanks 

If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve been considering which type of fish tank is best for you. Freshwater tanks can sometimes feel limiting, since most of the colorful fish and plants that we dream about keeping are all marine fish. However, rest assured that there are still plenty of options out there when it comes to colorful and elegant freshwater fish. 

Freshwater tanks, too, are much easier to keep than saltwater tanks. They are easier to cycle, stock and clean since you won’t have to worry about the water chemistry all that much. Their relative ease makes freshwater tanks perfect for budding aquarists. 

Tank size 

Tank size is one of the most important things to consider before buying any tank, as it will influence everything that you can do with it, from the fish that you stock it with to the decorations and plants that you can use. 

If you have the space for it, larger tanks (50 gallons or more) are great for families with multiple kids and can also make for a stunning centerpiece in a larger room. Larger tanks aren’t necessarily more difficult to care for once they are cycled, but they can be a hassle to clean. Larger tanks can house a few big fish alongside a community of smaller fish. 

Medium-sized tanks (10 to 15 gallons) are a great option for beginners, especially those that are interested in heavily aquascaping their aquarium with live plants and hardware. Medium-sized tanks are great for keeping a larger community of small fish. 

Smaller-sized tanks, often referred to as nano-tanks (3 to 5 gallons), are definitely the best option for novice fishkeepers. They are easy to maintain and can bring just as much beauty and movement to a space as a larger fish tank. Nano-tanks are the perfect size for keeping a betta fish or goldfish alongside a few other freshwater critters, like snails and shrimp. 


Aquascaping refers to the art of fish-tank design. At the end of the day, you’re definitely going to want to use either live plants or decorations in your tank, so consider planning your aquascape before buying a tank. 

What to look for in a quality freshwater fish tank 

Fish tank kits 

Most fish tanks that you can buy online are sold as part of a kit, which contains a lot of the essentials you will need to help you cycle your tank. Some kits even come with accessories for fishkeeping. 

Hood with feeding door 

Look for a fish tank that has a hood with a built-in feeding door. This will save time during feeding as well as cut down on water evaporation. 

Quality filtration and lighting systems 

The key features to look out for in any fish tank are the filtration system and lighting system. It’s best to go with a reputable brand that specializes in aquariums. As far as lighting goes, look for an aquarium that has built-in LED lights. 

How much you can expect to spend on freshwater fish tanks 

Freshwater fish tanks can range from $40-$150, depending on the size. 

Freshwater fish tank FAQ

Do I need to buy a heater for my fish tank? 

A. This ultimately depends on the type of fish that you are keeping. Betta fish, for example, will need to be in a heated tank as they are tropical, whereas goldfish are more hardy and will be fine without a heater. 

What fish could I stock a 3-gallon nano-tank with? 

A. Consider stocking your nano-tank with a betta and a few snails or shrimp. Live plants are also a great option. 

What’s the best freshwater fish tank to buy?

Top freshwater fish tank 

Fluval SPEC Freshwater Aquarium Kit

Fluval SPEC Freshwater Aquarium Kit

What you need to know: This 5-gallon aquarium kit from trusted brand Fluval is perfect for beginners to fishkeeping.

What you’ll love: The tank comes with Fluval’s signature powerful three-stage filtration system. 

What you should consider: The kit does not come with a heater. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top freshwater fish tank for the money

Tetra LED Cube Shaped 3 Gallon Aquarium with Pedestal Base

Tetra LED Cube Shaped 3 Gallon Aquarium with Pedestal Base 

What you need to know: This stylish 3-gallon aquarium is great for those who don’t have much space for a fish tank. 

What you’ll love: The compact, cube-shaped design is great for tighter spaces and still manages to stun aesthetically. The LED lighting on this tank really accentuates the fish. 

What you should consider: Some users have complained that the filter is not powerful enough. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit 

What you need to know: This is a great freshwater fish tank kit for those that are looking for a large fish tank. 

What you’ll love: The kit comes with all of the necessities plus a few fishkeeping accessories. 

What you should consider: Some users have complained about the quality of the filter. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 


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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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