Not all bow front aquariums are created equal.
Bow Front aquariums come in a wide variety of sizes, just like flat fronts do, and because an aquarium is not just your fish’s world, it’s part of your world as well.
We decided to take a closer look at some of the best bow front aquariums available to find the best models out there.
Of the many models we’ve seen, these are the best bow front aquariums to buy in 2021:
- Best Small Bow Front Aquarium: Marineland Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit
- Best Mid Size Bow Front Aquarium: Aqueon Bow Front Aquarium Kit 26 Gallon
- Most Large Bow Front Aquarium: SeaClear System II Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium 46 Gallon
|Marineland Portrait Glass LED aquarium Kit, 5 Gallons, Hidden Filtration
|Check Price On Amazon
|Aq LED Kit 26 Bow Blk
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|SeaClear 46 gal System II Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium, 36 by 161/4 by 20", Cobalt Blue
|Check Price On Amazon
Best Bow Front Aquariums [All Sizes]
When shopping for a bow front fish tank, there are many styles to consider, including those made with glass, acrylic or that come with all the equipment you need. Each comes with a set of unique pros and cons to consider before buying.
We’ve picked three perfect bow fronts for you in each typical size-category, so no matter if you have a lone ranger that needs a place of its own or a thriving fish community you want to put in a good home, you can find your fit.
1. Best Small Bow Front Aquarium
Small aquariums can be a perfect fit for beginner aquarists or people that don’t have enough room to house a giant fish tank. They are easier to handle, the water changes are blissfully quick, and since they usually sustain a small population or a single fish, the care is more comfortable.
The Marineland Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit, 5 Gallons, Hidden Filtration
This kit is our top pick for the small Bow Front category, even though it’s not an actual/conventional bow front. Bow front aquariums typically have a significant curve in the front panel (not unlike a very uniform portly belly), but this one doesn’t. It does have rounded edges, though, and it’s one of the best-rated and beloved 5 gallons out there, so it takes the spot.
There are quite a few reasons this might be a perfect little aquarium for you. It’s well made with sturdy material (especially the thick glass walls with beveled edges). It comes with hidden filtration, so it’s both aesthetically appealing, and you don’t have to compromise on any back panel real estate.
It’s tall; unlike most bow fronts, you’d find which are broader. And since it’s a kit, it comes with all the necessary equipment, including the base, which allows it perfect stability, even if it’s on a relatively rough surface so that the glass doesn’t wear and crack under the weight of water over time.
The light has a timer and comes with two modes. The filtration is cartridge system-based, which might require you to take your wallet out of the pocket more times over its lifetime for maintenance, but it’s also very convenient. You can slide out the whole cartridge tray, and even the clumsiest of our aquarist friends would find it difficult to make a mess when servicing filtration media.
To sum it up, the best reason to consider this fish tank is that it offers excellent value for your money. If you need more information check out our full review on the Marineland ml90609 portrait glass led aquarium kit.
- Ideal for Betta fish and other fish prone to jump out of the tank, thanks to the perfectly fitting lid.
- The back chamber (where the filter is hidden) has enough room for a CO2 diffuser and heater.
- A nozzle allows you to adjust the pressure in the water quite quickly.
- It looks gorgeous and offers great ornamental and aesthetic value.
- The tall, portrait orientation allows you to keep tall plants/driftwood, which is unusual for a typical 5 gallon.
- The perfect lid has an Achilles heel (whether or not you have Achilles in the tank), and it’s that the cover is difficult to remove for feeding.
- The light is not powerful enough to grow many plants (though low-light requiring plants like Anubis or Moss ball would flourish).
- Filter intake slots are too big for dwarf shrimp and can suck them into untimely death.
Two tips that might help you get the best out of this little aquarium:
- About every six months (or when your pump starts making weird noises), remove the pump, take off its front cover and clean up the impeller. Many things can get sucked into it, making the motor turn slow and get hot (and ultimately, damaged).
- You can use the extra space in the back chamber and put sponge pads in place of the cartridge. They would ensure that small critters or fish don’t get sucked through the filter holes and make maintenance even more manageable.
More great options:
- 16-gallon bow front aquarium
- 20-gallon bow front aquarium
2. Best Medium Size Bow Front Aquarium
Medium size Bow front aquariums allow you to give more room to your fish to swim and grow. They also give you more options when it comes to selecting your fishy friends.
Aqueon 06439 Bow Front Aquarium Kit 26
This is another starter kit with all the necessary equipment and a real bow front body. This 26 gallon comes with a beautifully curved front. From a flat-shape perspective, the aquarium is not too tall, wide, nor even deep. It’s adequately proportioned and makes good use of its 26-gallon volume.
The body is all glass, and unlike the tank above it, this one comes with a plastic lid. One LED light is fitted (daylight mode only), and there is a slot that you can use to put another one in. The kit comes complete with a filter (and media), a 50 W submersible heater and thermometer, and a fishnet.
The filter is Aqeuon’s QuietFlow 20, rated for 125 GPH, which will most likely handle messy fish. The tank comes with a five-year warranty.
All in all, it’s a decent product. It’s as basic as tanks can get, but the bow front adds more aesthetic value to the mix and lets you see your fish through a slightly more “magnified” lens.
- The bow front body and the minimal black design of the lid and the base make it quite beautiful.
- The filter is decent enough to support an adequately stocked aquarium.
- The optional heater affords you more tropical fish options.
- Ideal for beginners since it’s effortless to put together.
- The pump isn’t powerful enough to create much movement.
- The bow front requires special cleaning equipment if you have an algae problem (since blades and typical magnet cleaners don’t work well).
- Place a small sponge filter around the inlet to prevent fish from getting sucked in.
- If you are into fish photography, make sure you know how to get around the magnification that the bow front presents (either with the right equipment or angle of photography).
More great options:
- 26-gallon bow front aquarium
- 28-gallon bow front aquarium
- 29-gallon bow front aquarium
- 30-gallon bow front aquarium
- 36-gallon bow front aquarium
3. Best Large Bow Front Aquarium
Serious hobbyists with enough room can look into larger tanks. This allows them to have more stocking options and is especially helpful if they create a community tank.
SeaClear 46 gal System II Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium
This one is different from others on this list (apart from the size) for two reasons: It’s acrylic and quite expensive. But some benefits accompany the higher price tag (other than the boasting rights).
It’s lightweight. It’s over 20 pounds lighter than the 26 gallons we’ve discussed. And with acrylic comes more strength and stability. The body of the tank is fantastic, both from an aesthetic point of view and durability aspect.
The tank also comes with hidden filtration and enough space for a heater and a protein skimmer. It also has a four-way skimmer gate that prevents your fish from getting sucked into the filter and towards an early demise. The pump is rated at 350 GPH, which is more than enough for a 46 gallon.
- Lightweight (when it’s empty) and sleek product allows you to save space despite its volume.
- A high quality wet/dry filtration system.
- Excellent acrylic quality.
- Beautiful product.
- Default filter media, especially bio-balls, are high quality.
- Irregular back panel design makes customization very difficult.
- Quite costly.
- The pre-filter clogs up quite quickly.
- Maintenance is difficult, especially if you have to change all the filter media.
- Some users complained about the pump quality.
- If you are setting up a saltwater tank, it’s recommended to buy the protein skimmer explicitly designed for this unit.
- Attach a small air pump to the bio-filter tube to aid the colonization of beneficial bacteria.
More great options:
- 40-gallon bow front aquarium
- 55-gallon bow front aquarium
- 72-gallon bow front aquarium
- 75-gallon bow front aquarium
- 90-gallon bow front aquarium
- 100-gallon bow front aquarium
Bowed Front vs. Flat Aquariums:
Some of us are old enough to remember old TVs that came with a large body protruding to the back to accommodate the picture/CRT tube. But now, TVs have evolved to flat screens.
For aquariums, we have gone the other way around. Flat aquariums have been and even still are the norm, whereas bowed front aquariums are a novelty. So whether you are buying your first tank, second tank, or upgrading, you need to know your options to make an informed choice.
And suppose you are considering a bow front aquarium. In that case, you have to understand how it stacks up against the established flat aquarium hierarchy and what other positives and negatives it’s hiding behind the unconventional, curvy look.
What Is The Point Of A Bow Fronted Fish Tank?
The point of a Bow Front aquarium is aesthetics and having something different from the norm that’s what it all boils down to. Aquariums are more than just about fish, and a bow fronted fish tank has more aesthetic appeal than typical flat ones.
From the perspective of the fish, there isn’t a difference. If there is enough room for them to swim about happily, you vacuum and regularly change the water. The filtration system handles the messy business; they don’t care whether they are in a bow fronted tank a regular one.
So buying a bow fronted fish tank would purely be an aesthetic choice that coincidently affects the utility aspect.
What Are The Main Differences Between A Bow Front And A Flat Aquarium?
There are a few significant differences when it comes to bow front and flat aquariums.
Viewing: A Fresh Perspective
The curved glass or acrylic makes the fish look relatively magnified, especially when you are standing right in front of your tank, which would be the proverbial “viewing panel” of the tank. Now, this magnified and somewhat distorted view of your underwater friends is a fresh perspective to some aquarists, while others prefer the accurate viewing that the flat aquariums offer.
Photography: Your “Models” Might Look Fat
Most aquarists like to photograph their beautiful fish friends, and one issue they have with a bow front is that it doesn’t allow for good pictures, not from the front. And there is not much room on the sides unless you have a massive tank.
Since the curve distorts the viewing, it also makes some not-so-great photos, especially if you are using a mobile camera. With a decent professional camera, however, there might be a way around the problem.
There is a trick photographer’s use when taking pictures of fish in curved public aquariums: buy a generic rubber lens hood. Place it on the surface of your tank (it won’t damage the glass/acrylic) and take pictures. The hood counters the reflection/refractions distorting the image, allowing you to take great photos through a bow front. And the hoods are typically inexpensive.
It would still be a smart idea to test it out on a friend’s or a pet store’s bow front before racing to the Amazon website (because few people race to the store nowadays anyway).
What Do Your Fish See In A Bow Front Aquarium
Everything you put in the tank, other fish, and you, especially if you are always around. But if you are worried that the fish might have a distorted view of you or might be afraid of you just because they see you through a curved surface, you are in the clear.
Fish eyes have evolved over millennia to see underwater – a medium that already has refractive properties. It’s doubtful that they would even perceive or be affected by the difference in viewing you through a curved or a flat aquarium.
Maintenance: The “Whale” In The Bow-Front Aquarium
Maintaining a bow front can be a bit trickier than keeping a flat aquarium. The curve makes it nearly impossible to use typical magnet cleaners, and you might have to use tall ones and clean at a different angle. You also can’t scrape off algae buildup using blades.
Cleaning sponges and preventing buildup by regular clean-ups is your best bet.
What You Need To Know About Bow Front Fish Tanks
There are a few more things you need to know about bow front aquariums:
How Many Gallons: Calculating The Volume Of A Bow Front Aquarium
If you are adamant about not using an online calculator and hell-bent on solving this math problem on your own, you will need to measure four different lengths:
The picture shows three sizes used to calculate the bow front’s surface area, and the fourth piece of the puzzle would be the height.
To calculate the area, you would divide the total area into two shapes: A rectangle (made up of length and width) and the remaining elliptical area.
- Rectangular Area = length x width
- Elliptical Area = π × (length ÷ 2) × (full width – width) ÷ 2
Once you have these areas, add them and multiply by height to get the volume.
Or, just use the table below, I know what I would do ?
Bow Front Aquarium Sizes: Chart & Calculator
|20 x 13 x 21
|51 x 33 x 53
|24 x 15 x 21
|61 x 38 x 53
|24 x 16 x 18
|61 x 41 x 46
|30 x 15 x 21
|76 x 38 x 53
|36 x 15 x 20
|91 x 38 x 51
|48 x 18 x 22
|122 x 46 x 56
|48 x 18 x 29
|122 x 46 x 74
|72 x 24 x 24
|183 x 61 x 61
|72 x 24 x 29
|183 x 61 x 74
Extra Equipment You’ll Need:
A custom-made stand explicitly made for the bow front would be ideal. Small bow fronts might come with a stand to put them on. You can also use a larger stand designed for flat aquariums (large enough to accommodate the curve), but it might look unsightly.
Lighting would depend upon the fish and the plants you want to grow in the tank, and the shape of the tank won’t matter.
Make sure the filter is strong enough for the volume of the tank. It might be useful for small tanks on their own for the water movement, but you may need an additional pump for larger tanks.
The size/power of the heater depends upon the volume of the water inside. So for a bow front, you’d use the same rule of thumb, i.e., between 2.5 to 5 watts per gallon. If you have a very temperature-sensitive fish, make sure you have a powerful heater and thermostat to keep the tank’s temperature within a specific window.
This is one area where having a bow front instead of a flat would make a difference. Thanks to a larger surface area, you might need more substrate than you’d need for a flat aquarium of a similar volume. Though ultimately, the gravel amount would depend upon how thick you want the gravel layer to be.
Our Top Pick For Best Bow Front Aquarium
Based on where you want to put the aquarium and whether you have an adequate amount of space, choosing a bow front over a flat aquarium can be a smart aesthetic choice. Apart from some maintenance hurdles and the fact that you can’t photograph your fish as well as you can in a float tank, there is little difference. Though you might need to pay a little extra for a bow front, it might be worth it for the value it adds to your space.
- Nikon USA