Everything A Beginner Needs To Set Up A 55 Gallon Aquarium. Kits, Equipment, Reviews & Set Up

Estimated read time 12 min read

When I first started out in the hobby I wish I had enough to purchase a nice 55-gallon fish tank.

As you might know, one of the biggest issues most beginner fish keepers have is with their water quality. This is where a larger tank comes in handy.

More on that later.

Long story short, a larger tank will prevent the water in the tank from becoming toxic too quickly.

That’s why the minimum size tank I recommend for a beginner would be a 55-gallon tank. It’s big enough to keep almost any fish, lots of room to scape and of course, it helps minimize any potential water quality issues.

In this post we’ll go through everything you need to know about purchasing, setting up and stocking a brand new 55-gallon tank. And if you don’t own one yet.

Don’t worry!

We have a few great reviews and recommendations for some of the best 55-gallon tanks.

Let’s start with the tank specs.


Everything A Beginner Needs To Set Up A 55 Gallon Aquarium

Tank Specifications

The size of a 55-gallon fish tank depends on the style of tank you select. The measurements of a rectangular tank will be much different from a tall, long or hexagon fish tanks.

How Big Is A 55-gallon tank?

To give you an idea of the size of a 55-gallon fish tank here are a few examples;


Rectangular: Length 48 inches Width 13 inches Height 20 inches
Corner: Length 40 inches Width 39 inches Height 54 inches
Hexagon: Length 25 inches Width 29 inches Height 24 inches

As you can see the size of the tank varies quite a bit so be sure you confirm the dimensions of the exact fish tank you intend to buy. And always be sure that you have enough space for your tank in the room you are going to set up the aquarium.

How Much Does A 55-Gallon Fish Tank Weigh? 

To keep things simple a standard rectangular 55-gallon fish tank will weigh about 625lbs.

However, as mentioned above 55 gallons come in many shapes and sizes which can affect water volume and weight.

Equipment: What Do You Need For A 55-Gallon Fish Tank?

Tank Overview

Setting up a tank this size won’t be cheap and you’ll need a few things to ensure your success. Below we’ve provided the essentials that you can’t live without.

The Tank: Which 55-Gallon Tank Do I Need?

One of the first things you should do is select the style of fish tank you want. There are many different styles and kits available for a 55-gallon fish tank.

Some thought should also be given to the type of aquarium environment you want.

As an example;

Freshwater or saltwater, goldfish or cichlids, planted or artificial.

Why is this important?

Well, the requirements for a 55-gallon goldfish tank would be much different from a 55-gallon freshwater community tank. The lighting, filter and even the tank shape is affected by this one decision.

Here are just a few of the different styles available for a 55-gallon tank;

55-Gallon Fish Tank Stand & Plans

Once you decide on the style of tank you will use, you’ll need an aquarium stand.

Most aquariums can be purchased alone or as a kit which could include the tank, the stand, and even the lights, filter, and pumps.

One thing to keep in mind is the size and shape of your 55-gallon tank, the stand will need to be compatible with the shape of your tank.

Below are a few examples of tank stands for 55-gallon tanks;

Sometimes depending on what you are looking for you might want to build your own stand.

Below you can find a great video of 55-gallon fish tank build.

Watch: How to build a DIY 55-gallon fish tank stand

55-Gallon Aquarium Hood

The hood, lid or canopy is also something you need to think about. There are many hoods and lids available and for the most part, it comes down to preference. I love the glass lids as it makes my aquarium feel more open.

What size hood for a 55-gallon fish tank

When selecting your hood be sure that it is compatible with your lighting.

As an example;

If you are using a glass lid with a LED lighting set up you’ll want to ensure your lights can be mounted to the tank frame as the glass lid won’t hold your lighting.

Below are some examples of hoods and lids for a 55-gallon tank;

55-Gallon Lighting

Now it’s time to select your lighting.

As I mentioned before the type of fish you plan on keeping can impact the type of lighting you want. Should you go with LED Lighting or Fluorescent?

As an example;

For a Cichlid tank… There are two routes available here for lighting — to inhibit the growth of algae or to promote it. In my opinion, you should promote algae growth. Not only is it essential for species like the ‘Mbunas’, but most African Cichlids enjoy scraping the algae off the rocks, or picking around in the algae, as algae growth is one of their natural sources of nutrition in their native Lakes.
Below are a few examples of lighting available for a 55-gallon aquarium;

55-Gallon Fish Tank Filter

The filtration system for your tank is one of the most important parts of your aquarium. This is the one piece of equipment you’ll want to spend a little extra on.

What Size Of Filter Do I Need For A 55-Gallon Fish Tank? 

For a 55 gallon tank, you’ll want a filter that has a flow rate of at least 220 gallons per hour (gph), but I recommend to always over-filter your tank.  

If you are keeping goldfish or cichlids please be aware they are typically very dirty fish so selecting a filter with higher flow rate around 300 gph or higher would be recommended.

To see some of the best filters available on the market today check our fish tank filter selection guide.

Or, check out the examples below;

55-Gallon Fish Tank Heater

Selecting a heater for your 55-gallon tank is pretty straightforward. You’ll need something with at least 200-250 Watts.

Here are some popular fish tank heaters for a 55-gallon tank;

Air Pumps For A 55 Gallon Fish Tank

First off you don’t need a pump in an aquarium as long as the surface area is large enough and the water is sufficiently disturbed.

However, if you’re using sponge filters or under gravel filters then a pump will be needed to create the suction force.

Air & water pumps are also a great way to create a current (Cichlids love this) that your fish can swim against. It also prevents dead spots occurring where toxins can build.

Pumps can also add a dramatic effect to your aquarium with bubbles and other pneumatic decorations.

Here are a few pumps that would be suited for use in a 55-gallon aquarium;

Accessories For A 55 Gallon Fish Tank

And of course, it’s always fun to add a little “flair” to your tank, just make sure you have at least 37 pieces of flair!

Here are some awesome decorations and backgrounds;

Stocking Your 55 Gallon Tank

When it comes to stocking a tank most people will follow the 1” of fish per 1 gallon of water.

The problem with rules like this is they don’t take into account extremes.

For example:

If you had a 12” long fish you likely wouldn’t want to keep 5 of them in one 55 gallon tank, it simply wouldn’t be comfortable for your fish.

That said, as a beginner, you are likely going to keep some small to medium size fish and the rule above will help guide you at first.

The trick is to add your fish slowly and monitor your water parameters. As long as your water parameters remain in check you can continue to slowly add fish.

How Many Fish In A 55 Gallon Tank?

Since this really depends on the type of fish you plan on keeping. Below we’ve provided a few stocking examples.

When thinking of which fish to keep, start from the bottom up and try to look for fish with similar temperaments and requirements.

Bottom Dwellers

Cory Catfish: These are great bottom feeders that will help keep your tank clean eating up any leftover food. Try to keep at least 5-10 of them in a school.

Bristlenose Pleco: Plecos are great algae eaters and will keep your tank, glass, and decor clean.

Kuhli Loaches: Kuhli Loaches are perfect for a 55 gallon just make sure they have some places to hide.

Mid Level Community Fish

Male tiger Barb

Angelfish:These guys can grow up to 12” so they really shouldn’t be kept in anything smaller than a 55-gallon tank.

Tetras: There are so many different types of tetras to pick from like; black skirts, red eye, rummy nose, cardinals, black neons and bleeding heart tetra. A large tank with a few schools of various Tetras is very exciting to watch.

Barbs: There are just as many barbs as tetras, but you can’t keep them all together. Most barbs like Tiger Barbs have a bit of aggression. But again a large tank full of various barbs is just awesome. Look for Tiger Barbs, Rosy, Tin Foil, Dension, and Cherry Barbs.

Gourami: These beautiful fish are brightly colored, have longer fins and great personalities. Gourami typically hide around plants and can grow up to 6”. They can be aggressive at times so try not to keep smaller tetras like the neon with them. and bleeding hearts. Most grow larger than neons and may be more appropriate with larger fish.

Top Level Community Fish


Guppies: These are some of the most popular fish because of their bright color and variations. You could have so much fun with a 55 gallon stocked fully with guppies.

Mollies & Platies: These make for great looking tanks with their full bodies of colour in orange, black and reds and many other hybrids.

Danios: A large school of Danios zipping across the top of our tank will provide hours of viewing pleasure. Look for Zebra, Pear, Giant or the smaller celestial.

Are you looking for the perfect addition to your 55-gallon tank? Discover the mesmerizing beauty of a well-coordinated school of fish swimming gracefully in your aquarium. Learn about the best schooling fish for 55-gallon tank and enhance your underwater world with vibrant colors and harmonious movement. Don’t miss this essential guide to selecting the right species for your aquatic habitat.

What Are The Best Fish For A 55-Gallon Tank

yellow calvus front

Personally, I have had great success with most African cichlids, they are very hardy fish, brightly colored and you can stock a nice amount in a 55-gallon tank.

Further Reading:

55-Gallon Kits & Reviews

To help you make the best decision, we’ve listed some the best 55-gallon fish tank kits available. When looking at each of the options below here are a few things you should consider before you buy.

  • Do you have enough room for a tank this size?
  • It will weigh almost 625 pounds, is your floor strong enough?
  • Do you have a stand or will you make it?
  • Get a kit that has as much of the equipment as possible – equipment is expensive.

#1 Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

The Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit is a great kit that comes with all the equipment you need (mostly) to get started in the fish keeping hobby. This kit comes with LED Lights which help mimic natural lighting and weights about 521 pounds.

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish Net, Fish Food, Filter, Heater and Water Conditioners

Get The Tetra 55 Gallon Kit

Here is what the kit includes:

What it doesn’t include:

#2 Aqua Culture Aquarium Starter Kit 55 Gallon

The Aqua Culture aquarium starter kit (55 gallons) is another great kit.  It comes with almost everything making it perfect for beginners who want to set up their first large aquarium.

Aqua Culture Aquarium Starter Kit, 55 Gallon

Get The Aqua Culture 55 Gallon Kit

Here is what the kit includes:

  • 55 gal Fish Aquarium Kit Low-profile hood
  • LED lighting
  • Hood
  • Tetra internal filter 
  • Hood cutouts for easy filter cartridge changes and feeding without removing the hood

What it doesn’t include:

  • Stand
  • Heater
  • Thermometer
  • Gravel & Decor

#3 Aqueon 55 Gallon Kit

The Aqueon LED 55 Gallon Aquarium kit is one of my favorites coming with almost everything you need to get started, you just need to add water, fish, and decorations.

This kit also comes with a pretty cool filter QuietFlow hang on back power filter and a pretty decent heater and LED Light.

Here is what the kit includes:

  • Glass Aquarium with Black Trim.
  • QuietFlow Power Filter, Filter Cartridge.
  • Slimline LED Hood.
  • 200w Submersible Heater.
  • Aquarium Set-up and Care Guide.
  • Water Conditioner.
  • Thermometer.
  • Fish Net.

What it doesn’t include:

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