Last update: November 12, 2022

Best Starter Fish Tanks 2023 : Best Aquarium For Beginners

Are you considering getting a new pet or perhaps keeping a fish as a pet?

Then you’ll likely have a lot of questions. If you love animals but don’t have the time or space to keep a cat or dog, then fish can make the perfect pets. 

They are affordable, low maintenance, and their tranquil environment and bright colors can brighten up your home. If you experience allergies or have small kids learning how to care for a pet, then fish make ideal first-time pets.

So if you are keeping fish as pets, you’re going to need an aquarium tank. The following article will help you choose the best fish aquarium for yourself but ultimately you need to keep a few things in mind before you start. 

So let’s take a closer look at all of the factors to consider before buying an aquarium fish tank for your fish.

Best Starter Fish Tanks – Reviews For 2023

MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit

MarineLand LED Aquarium Kit

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

FREESEA Betta Aquarium Fish Tank

FREESEA Betta Aquarium Fish Tank

biOrb Flow Aquarium

biOrb Flow Aquarium

biOrb Classic Aquarium

biOrb Classic Aquarium


Overall Winner: MarineLand LED Aquarium Kit

MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit

The MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit is a great feature piece for any home. Not only does it have a hidden filtration system but also an LED lighting system that brightens up your tank and makes it come to life with natural daylight and moonlight settings. 

The excellent filtration and rounded corners give you a beautiful view of your fish from every angle.

The hinged LED lighting and sliding glass canopy make for easy access when you need to clean your tank, and the 5-gallon aquarium fits many right size Z-filter cartridges. Although it contains a three-stage filtration system, it remains out of sight and enhances the view of the aquarium.


  • Sleek design
  • Easy access
  • Hidden 3 stage filtration system


  • Tank has a tendency to leak

Product specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.81 x 11.62 x 17.05 inches
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Material: Glass

Runner Up: Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit

The Fluval Spec V Aquarium Kit is a 5-gallon glass tank with aluminum trim. It contains a powerful three-stage filtration system for excellent water quality and a trendy honeycomb wrap to conceal rear filtration compartments. 

The high output of 7000K LED with all aluminum waterproof casing for enhanced plant growth and fish colors, as well as glass from the outside, makes for quite an attractive aquarium fish tank. 

It also comes with a safe low-voltage transformer, circulation pump, and output nozzle, as well as a foam filter block with handle and activated carbon insert.


  • High-output 7000L LED lights
  • 3 stage filtration system
  • Includes tank cover


  • Not suitable for Betta fish

Product specifications

  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 11.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs
  • Material: Glass

Best Starter For Betta Fish: FREESEA Betta Aquarium Fish Tank

FREESEA Betta Aquarium Fish Tank

This 1.4-gallon desktop fish tank is small and, therefore, suitable for Betta, Guppies, and Angelfish, including other ornamental fish. It’s equipped with two decorative plastic plants and LED lights, but you can also buy other decorations and add it in. 

Since it comes with a complete starter kit, you can expect to find a complete filtration system hidden well behind the fish tank.

The filtration system can also be removed to make the space look larger. According to experienced Betta fish owners, these fish actually do better without a filtration system. 

The computer terminal or power bank is available for charge supply as it is a 5V USB power.

If you find that the pump is not working after you install the fish tank, then it’s probably due to the voltage not being enough. Therefore you can use a power bank or phone power plug to boost the power source. 

This also makes an excellent gift for the holidays for those looking to add a centerpiece or illuminate any space inside the home during the day or night.


  • Complete starter kit
  • A great centerpiece for desks
  • Perfect for Betta fish


  • Tiny size

Product specification

  • Dimensions: 7.91 x 5.51 x 8.31 inches
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Material: Glass

Best Beginner Compact Fish Tank: biOrb Flow Aquarium

biOrb Flow Aquarium

The biOrb Flow Aquarium contains an air-driven filtration system that creates a vigorous water flow and a constantly changing water surface. Ultimately, this helps to maintain oxygen saturation. 

Consequently, the circular flow of water collects any fish waste on its way down. It also draws the waste through the ceramic media where the natural biological filtration absorbs toxins.

The specially oxygenated water then feeds the bacteria. Any remaining waste is then trapped in the sponge cartridge. 

The water passes through natural stabilizers and resin particles to keep the pH levels constant and remove toxic particles. The clean water is then oxygenated as it flows back up to the bubble to repeat the cycle.


  • Acrylic construction
  • 5 stage filtration
  • Low voltage


  • Poor construction

Product specifications

  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 10.25 x 14.75 inches
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Material: Acrylic

Best Starter Bowl Fish Tank: biOrb Classic Aquarium

biOrb Classic Aquarium

The biOrb Classic Aquarium is designed with both you and your fish in mind. It’s built from clear acrylic, which is strong and sleek and contains LED lights with a sturdy filtration system. 

The low-voltage LED lights plug directly into the transformer on your air pump lead, and this allows for only one power outlet to be utilized for the aquarium setup. The intelligent LED light is unique and contains a built-in timer that phases the light through a 24-hour period. 

So it has the ability to transition from sunrise, daylight, sunset to moonlight, and then back again. 

Since it’s made from acrylic, digital construction which is 10 times stronger than glass. It’s also noticeably clearer and has a transparency rate of 92%, making it excellent for light to pass through.

Another fact is that while glass only allows 70% of light to pass, acrylic allows 93% of light to pass through the tank.


  • Acrylic construction
  • 5 stage filtration
  • LED lighting


  • Tank scratches easily

Product specifications

  • Dimensions: 12.76 x 12.87 x 13.27 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs
  • Material: Acrylic

Starter Fish Tanks FAQ

Since the possibilities for creating a beautiful and harmonious aquatic ecosystem in your home or office area is nearly endless, you can see how setting up a new fish tank can be an exciting and exhilarating experience.

While there is an overwhelming number of options and products available to choose from, that shouldn’t discourage you.

However, it can be confusing, but the whole process is much simpler once you know the basics. Let’s take a look at some of the basic equipment that you will need to set up your fish tank.

What do you need for a starter fish tank?

What do you need for a starter fish tank?

Water conditioner for fish

It is crucial that you have the right bacteria in the aquarium. So the water conditioner will help inoculate your tank with the exact kinds of bacteria required to break down and digest the ammonia secreted by the fish tank inhabitants. 

Ammonia is toxic, and a build-up of it in the tank can kill your freshwater fish. Ammonia is toxic and a build-up is lethal to fish. 

Therefore using a water conditioner helps to begin the process of bacterial colonization, thereby preventing the toxic build-up from taking place.

Aquarium heater

If you’re considering getting tropical fish, then the water inside the tank must be warm, consistently. This is even if the thermostat on your air-conditioning is set to 72°F, it will not be able to keep the tank warm enough.

Although your fish will survive, it’s important to keep them comfortable as they will be less stressed and overall healthier.

Idea water temperature will vary depending on species, but the general range for tropical fish is anywhere between 75 and 80°F. So keep your freshwater fish tank at this temperature ideally by using an aquarium heater.

Fish filter

The basic function of the fish filter is to generate essential water movement. However, it does serve three other important purposes which are filtration in both the mechanical, chemical and biological sense.

Mechanical filtration takes place when the water passes through a fish tank filter pad designed to trap debris. When water flows through the activated carbon and removes toxins, this is the chemical filtration process at play.

The biological filtration process takes place as the water comes into contact with a medium that is colonized by nitrifying and healthy bacteria. Ultimately, it breaks down ammonia and makes the tank safe for your fish.

Air pump

Because it promotes gas exchange between the water and the air, water flow is crucial. By using an air pump, it keeps the water oxygenated and therefore, easier for fish to breathe in.

It also helps in making sure that the water is heated evenly instead of there just being pockets of stagnant warm water around the heating element.


When it comes to eliminating your fish tank, you’ll find that there are loads of options out there. They do vary extensively in price, size and appearance as well.

LED lights are a larger initial investment; however, it would last much longer than traditional fluorescent bulbs. LEDs also generate almost no heat and use a minimum amount of energy. So from a cost-effective point of view, this is the ideal option in the long run.


A fish tank substrate does assist with aesthetics. However, it does also serve a functional role. The substrate in the bottom of the fish tank filters doubles as an extra surface upon which good bacteria are able to go.

However, if you plan on growing plants that require covered roots, then you need to purchase the applicable substrate. There are a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of substrate out there, so you will need to choose the right one for your tank.

So having a vision of the finished aquarium will help you decide on the best substrate option for your system. A good option for many freshwater aquariums is polished gravel. Substrates are also a great way to initiate plant growth if you plan to keep live plants in your tank.

Test strips

It’s a good idea to test the water for ammonia as you wait for your fish tank to cycle before adding a freshwater fish. You can also use test strips to check for nitrate and nitrite. They also enable you to measure the pH of the water, the hardness, and alkalinity as well. 

The strips will give you a good overall picture of what is happening in your freshwater fish tank in approximately 60 seconds. If you want to maintain a healthy system, then this information is crucial

The most important things to pay attention to on the strips, especially with a new fish tank, are nitrate, nitrite, and pH. In the ideal situation, nitrite should be undetectable, nitrate, on the other hand, should be as low as possible, and a neutral pH is generally

preferred and, of course, safe. That said, freshwater fish are able to thrive in pH levels from 5.5 to 7.5 and this depends on the species. So the system requirements will naturally fall into place once you decide what kind of finned friends you are planning on keeping. 

So it’s also important to research the types of fish that you want. You’ll need to learn what they are indigenous to, what they eat, what water parameters they need, how they get along with other fish as well as how much space they need. 

All of this information will make it easier to create a comfortable and healthy habitat for your fishy friends.

How much does a starter fish tank cost?

How much does a starter fish tank cost?

When it comes to putting a price tag on a starter aquarium, it’s kind of difficult to do.

This is because aquarium costs vary depending on the type of setup you are aiming for. While tranquil saltwater tanks can start from as little as $100, they go up in the ranges of thousands of dollars. 

So ultimately, it all depends on the type of set-up you are going for as well as the contents of the tank and all of the necessary equipment needed to keep it running smoothly and keep the fish healthy.

How many fish should you introduce to a 5 gallon new tank?

Among the most popular tank sizes are 5-gallon aquariums. This fact is not surprising as they are quite small and can easily fit one into pretty much any room in the home. However, is a 5-gallon tank a good decision? 

A 5-gallon tank is also referred to as a cube and is the smallest size tank that you can keep fish in. Any smaller than this, and you are going to have problems such as not providing enough room for your fish to swim. 

This is because even the smallest fish require adequate space to move and explore. While the 5-gallon tank may be a great addition to your home, it does limit your choice of fish.

The good news, however, is that even though there are not many different species of fish that will thrive in a 5-gallon tank, you can still set up an entertainment tank.

The first rule is knowing what fish to avoid. So when stocking your aquarium, avoid fish that are too active, grow too large, or are unable to handle unstable water quality.

Fish to avoid in a 5-gallon tank include fancy goldfish, White cloud mountain minnow, Dwarf pufferfish, and Guppies, among others.

Alternatively, there are lots of suitable species for a 5-gallon tank, such as Bettas, Least killifish, Cherry shrimp, and Nerite snail.

When it comes to how many of these fish to stock, it will vary based on the species; for example, you should only keep a single Betta fish, 2 Least killifish, 10 Cherry shrimp, and 2 Nerite snails. 

Why do you have to wait 24 hours to put fish in the tank?

Why do you have to wait 24 hours to put fish in the tank?

The reason for the 24-hour rule is to basically cause as little stress on the fish as possible when changing environments. This is because stressed-out fish are ultimately unhealthy fish, and improper pH, chlorine levels, or nitrogen levels can actually be lethal to them.

The good news is that knowing how to introduce your fish in the tank will make this a seamless experience for them. 

So here are some steps to take before introducing a new fish to your aquarium: 

  • The water that your new fish are brought from probably had a controlled pH level. So take note of the species you’re dealing with and learn how to acclimate your fish. 
  • The water should be tested prior to adding the fish and you can do this with a conventional water tester. When it comes to testing the nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, and chlorine, they should be as close to zero as possible. The pH levels of the water should match the water from where your fish was brought.  
  • You should give your tank approximately 24 hours to start building up bacteria before adding fish. However, some things you can do to speed up that process includes adding a small amount of fish flake food, small chunks of raw shrimp, or using gravel and filter media from another tank that is established. However, even with these steps, you still need to allow the tank at least 24 hours before adding your fish.
  • Once you’ve tested the water temperature and consistency with regards to ammonia, chlorine, nitrate, and nitrite levels as well as pH, you are ready to start introducing your fish.
  • You need to lower the plastic bag your fish came home with and place the bag into the tank water for approximately 15 to 30 minutes. This is also a good time to test the pH levels inside the plastic bag that you fish are in and inside the fish tank.
  • Also, take note that if the pH of the water is different, the shock could kill your fish. So if the numbers don’t add up, then take a small amount of the tank water and add it into the plastic bag and wait for at least 15 minutes. 
  • Test the pH levels again to see if they are closer. If the difference is less than 0.1, start to introduce your fish. 
  • You can do this carefully by lifting your fish with a small net out of the plastic bag and transferring them one at a time into the tank.


When it comes to setting up an aquarium at home, there are so many options when it comes to choosing pet fish. Tropical fish, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish are readily available in pet stores, and certain species can be very easy to care for.

However, as always, it is up to you to do your research when it comes to the size of tank you’re choosing, the species of fish you intend on keeping, and how to properly take care of them. So if you can follow the simple rules, then being a beginner fish pet owner will be a wonderful experience.

Ian Sterling

I've been keeping fish for over 30 years and currently have 4 different aquariums – it's an addiction. I'm here to teach you everything there is to know about fishkeeping.

I also use this site as an excuse to spend lots of money on testing and reviewing different aquarium products! You can find my reviews here.

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