When my partner was diagnosed with hypertension triggered by chronic stress, the physician made a very surprising suggestion: he asked me to get an aquarium home because it helps in reducing blood pressure, is a stress reliever and it also improves mood.
To be honest, I was quite taken aback. How can a bunch of fish swimming in water help with hypertension? I am sure that’s how most of us would react to a suggestion like that.
But after digging deeper, I discovered that the science also has a name to it. It’s called ‘Aquarium Therapy’. Peering into the undulating waters and watching the fish go about its slow life habits can do a whole lot of good to us humans. One of the most important benefits is reducing stress and high blood pressure. And all this while I was under the impression that Nemo in a tank was nothing more than an eye-pleaser.
Well, if an aquarium could help, I had to get the best one home. I spent the next few days speaking to people who have aquariums at their home, as well as with professional aquarium maintenance companies.
I came across tanks in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some of them were very beautiful but impractical for home use. Others were too expensive.
After hours that translated into days, here are the top five best fish tanks and aquariums that I have found.
(Table goes here)
#1 – Coralife Biocube, Size 29
Despite being a newbie to aquariums, I decided to go with the Coralife Biocube that is typically used for saltwater fish and rock. And despite a lot of people making it sound like I’d make a mess of things, I do not regret the decision one bit.
The tank looks stunning and is easier to maintain than I imagined. It is a cube shaped tank made of glass and is approximately 22 inches long and 24 inches deep. For a while, I contemplated getting matching brackets for the tank wondering if the desk that I had placed it on would give away under the weight. But it’s held up fine so far.
It is an all-inclusive model that contains a filtration system, three separate types of lighting that includes daylight LED, actinic and moonlight, a submersible pump and a new updated cooling system that keeps the temperature in control.
After speaking to some experts, I made a few modifications of my own to the setup. But you can use it out of the box without making any changes. It will work just fine. You can even use it for fresh water fish but you have cheaper options in the market. Everything from the lighting to the pumps are designed for saltwater use and corals.
I currently have 20 pounds of live rock and 4 percula clowns in there. As per some of the suggestions made by users who own saltwater aquariums, I have added seachem purigen, matrix media and some carbon to the mix. Works like a charm!
Irrespective of whether you are a newbie to aquariums or an experienced hobbyist, you’ll love the ease of use, the aesthetics and the functionality of the Coralife Biocube 29. Highly recommended!
#2 – biOrb CLASSIC Aquarium with LED Light
I was so much in awe of the biOrb classic aquarium with LED lights that I bought one for my RV. It’s been six months and I have only cleaned it once. Still looks as good as new. This is a spherical shaped acrylic aquarium that includes a five stage filtration unit (a mix of zeolite and activated carbon surrounded by a foam ring), an air pump, ceramic media and an intelligent lighting system that changes according to a 24 hour cycle.
You can have the entire unit set up in less than an hour and it looks stunning.
The name of the model comes from the shape which is like an orb and it has a very similar orb like effect when you peer into it. At times you cannot see the fish, while at times you see double the number of fish. Very interesting!
The only thing that you’d want to ensure is that you do not overcrowd it with fishes. The dimensions of the tank make it ideal for three to four very small fish. If you intend to house Bettas, then do not add more than one.
Also, get an air filter guard because small fishes tend to swim into the air filter at times and it can become messy.
Overall, the biOrb aquarium is a beginner’s delight. It is low maintenance, easy to clean and a visual treat.
#3 – SeaClear 36 gal Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set
The only reason why I didn’t buy the SeaClear 36 gallon Bowfront aquarium is because it is not an all-inclusive model. It does not include a filtration unit and comes partially covered with a hood that does not do justice to the design. Otherwise, this is one of the most durable and beautifully designed aquariums in the market.
It is made from tough and crystal clear, scratch-resistant acrylic in a convex shaped tank. Think of it like a magnifying glass that will make your fish and the content of the tank pop out.
The tank can be used for both fresh water as well as sea water fish and comes with 24 inches of lighting fixtures (not intelligent lights like the biOrb).
If you like the design and the quality of the SeaClear 36, which are top notch, then there are a few simple workarounds that you can try to make life simpler for you. The first thing to do would be to get rid of the hood and opt for a better quality LED light stand. Also, keep in mind that you only have about 5 inches of space to access the interiors of the tank due to the partial covering.
You can also switch the existing lighting which comes with the hood for intelligent lights that change according to the time of the day.
So, do not order decorative items or accessories without checking if they will fit in.
All in all, this is a very sturdy and attractive tank for the price with a few inherent flaws. Whether you consider them to be deal breakers is up to you.
#4 – ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit w/ Dual T5 Grow Light
The very concept that you can grow your own veggies in an aquarium seems too interesting to ignore. That’s how I first discovered the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics kit. Upon a closer look, I was very impressed by the innovative design that puts to use something as simple as the nitrogen cycle in nature to good effect.
Aquaponics is the science of using plants to filter the water in which the fishes live and using fish waste to provide the nutrients that the plants need to grow.
So, the tank has two separate levels. The upper reservoir which houses the grow beds for your leafy greens functions as the filter and houses the electrical components of the tank. The lower level is the actual tank where you house the fish.
Setting it up is ridiculously simple. You should be done in minutes and you will really enjoy the sight of leafy veggies growing in there. It is almost like a plug and play unit inclusive of lights.
All that you have to do is add your greens and change the water occasionally. You may just have to check occasionally for any signs of algae growing. Otherwise, this is one of the lowest-maintenance tanks in the market.
Some of the veggies that you can grow in these include basil, shiso, lettuce, pak choi, kale, swiss chard and mint.
If you have kids at home, this is a great way to introduce them to the principles of sustainable agriculture and water conservation. Oh, they love to eat the greens they grow. So that’s another added advantage.
#5 – SeaClear 50 gal Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set
After pondering for hours and analyzing many different aquarium models, I found myself coming back to this 50 gallon acrylic aquarium combo set from SeaClear.
This is an upgraded and larger version of my #3 pick, the 36 gallon tank from SeaClear. Only this one has most of the crevices ironed out.
It comes with a 24 inch lighting fixture that keeps the tank lit up. If you wish to grow plants or corals, then you will have to swap this one out with a better option. The tank itself has a very pleasing design with rounded corners.
At 50 gallon capacity, this is a very roomy tank too. If you are planning to house bettas, then this is a much better choice than some of the earlier models that we have picked.
It does not include a filtration system though. The removable hood has an option for a hang-on filter, an air pump and a heater which eliminates the need to drill the tank or make expensive modifications.
Overall, it does come with a little bit of effort in the setup. But once you are done, it will quickly turn into an interesting conversation piece in your home that people will love. Pretty low on maintenance too.
If you are a first time aquarium owner then this list will help you immensely in picking one for your home. Think about it like days of research tailor made for you. In addition to the list, I have also compiled a list of factors that you need to consider while deciding on what model to buy. Some of these factors include the size, maintenance, cost and of course the fish that you want to house in the tank.
Picking the right aquarium
The size of the aquarium
One of the first things that most people consider is the size of the aquarium and rightly so. You would want to pick a model that fits into your living room or any other room where you intend to place the aquarium. The size of the aquarium that you pick will also depend on the number of fish that you can successfully house. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aquarium, the better it is for the fish because it cycles faster and will dilute the toxins released in the water giving you more time to clean it. The tradeoff is that the bigger it is, the heavier it will be. It is estimated that one gallon of water will equate to 10 pounds. So, if you have a 10 gallon aquarium, that’s 100 pounds. A 30 gallon aquarium will be 300 pounds and you will most likely need to install it near a weight bearing wall. All the more reason for you to be choosy about what you buy and where you install it!
My purpose of bringing home an aquarium was to help relieve stress-induced hypertension for my partner. So, I installed it in a place where we spend a lot of our time, the study room. This was one of the best decisions that I made because along with being in constant view, the study room is also one of the biggest rooms in our home which gives us ample space for maintenance. Even if you are planning to buy an aquarium purely for the aesthetics, always install it in a room that you will be spending a lot of your time in. Also, ensure that there’s ample space around the aquarium. This brings me to the next most important factor.
The space around it
While installing an aquarium in any room, be aware that you will need to have space around it so that you can access the supplementary accessories like the filtration system, the lighting systems and the top of the unit during cleaning. Experts call this the space bubble. If the aquarium is placed in an enclosed area, ensure that the ventilation is taken care of because moisture and trapped air can be a thriving environment for mold and other cultures that can be harmful for the fish and you.
Most people don’t attribute too much importance to electrical outlets because they can use extension cords anyway. But I personally feel that having an electrical outlet close to the aquarium is crucial because cords look messy and can be a hazard when you are performing maintenance. So, if possible, place the aquarium three to four feet away from an electrical outlet. Having a water supply close at hand will also make your life easier during cleaning.
Like most aquarium owners, my aim was to find an aquarium that looks good, is easy to maintain and fits into my home without the need for making major changes to the existing décor. But there’s a factor that I feel overlooked almost every single time, which are the fishes. The marine world is enormous and loaded with a bounty of colors. You’d obviously want a blend of colorful fishes in your tank. However, not every species of fish will be able to survive in a limited space environment. Some species cannot be kept with others for different reasons. Some need a lot more space than others. There are seven types of fishes that are mainly found in aquarium tanks. These are:
- Crypniforms like goldfish, danios and sharks
- Rainbow fish
- Labyrinth fish like gouramis and guppy
That may sound too technical right now. But it’s simple to understand if you do some homework. You can pick any one of these species and house them in your tank or you can choose multiple species for your home. If your idea of a tank is to house multiple types of fishes, then you need a community aquarium.
A community aquarium or tank is one where multiple types of fish can be housed together. It is a great concept that takes a tremendous amount of attention to detail. For example, some types of fishes thrive only in shoals or schools. These may number to 10, 15 or more. Others like Siamese fighters are loners.
There are some species like Oscars which will devour smaller fish at the first given chance. Cichlids are fiercely territorial and aggressive when it comes to guarding their turf. To create a community of different fishes that leave peacefully and in harmony is pretty difficult but not impossible.
Community aquariums can be planned at home with some research and some help from your aquarium specialist.
The idea is to have a compatible community of fishes that complement each other. According to experts, it is a good idea to have some surface feeding fish like the Endler’s guppy, a shoal of mid-level feeders like neons and discuss babies and some bottom feeders. This keeps them away from each other and your community aquarium clean and peaceful. This is only an example though. There are many different types of fishes that can be housed together in an aquarium.
The furniture that you pick for the aquarium will depend on whether it is a single species aquarium or a community aquarium. Naturally, the latter is trickier because you’d want to ensure that you pick something for all the species in the tank. Some common options are caves, plants and compartments which can help the fishes retreat into it if needs to be. If it’s a tropical tank then corals will make for an amazing display piece.
You have two choices when it comes to selecting the material for the aquarium: glass and acrylic. Glass is inexpensive but can be prone to breakage and leaks especially if moved frequently. Apart from regular glass, you can also choose Starphire glass which is a clearer variety of glass colored in different hues. Acrylic can be more expensive than glass but can last forever and is very lightweight making it ideal if you move. Another advantage of acrylic is that you can find aquariums in a variety of shapes due to the pliability of the material. The only disadvantage with some types of acrylic is that it can yellow with age. You’d be glad to know that all of the aquariums in this list are made of non-yellowing acrylic though.
All inclusive models vs. buying separate accessories
Some aquarium models are all inclusive and feature an integrated filter, lights and décor accessories while others are barebones models where you only get the tank. You will have to shop for individual accessories later. It boils down to personal preferences. An all-inclusive fish tank is a convenient option that you can buy and forget about. On the other hand, some people like to customize their fish tanks by selecting every single design feature.
There are some lesser known factors too that play a very crucial role in the health of the fishes in the aquarium. One of these is water temperature. If you place the tank close to an AC vent for example or in direct sunlight, it can alter the water temperature constantly and this can be detrimental to the health of your fishes. Not to mention that algae will thrive in the high temperatures and even if your bottom feeders work overtime, you will find it very difficult to control it.
That’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed reading through my recommendations for the best aquariums and tanks in the market currently. If you have your own favorites or have some tips to share with me, feel free to add them to the comments section. Until then, enjoy with Nemo. Adios!