Ultimate 55 Gallon Aquarium Setup Guide

Looking to Setup a 55 Gallon Fish Tank?

But Feeling Lost and Confused?

Planning and setting up 55 Gal Fish Tank is tougher task than actually keeping the fish. One wrong step and its too late by the time we realise our mistakes.

In this post we will share with you our Step by Step method we follow whenever we are setting up any 55 Gallon Fish Tank.

but First, Lets Finalise a 55 Gallon Tank

Best 55 Gallon Aquariums

There are lots of 55 gallon tanks in the market

After testing and getting frustrated with multiple tanks, only a few have stood the test of time and are now our "Go To" 55 Gal Tanks.

We have further curated the list to tanks which are very easy to setup and manage. Some of them also have many interesting features

AquaCulture 55 Gallon Freshwater Aquarium Kit – Best for Beginners 

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It is one of the easiest fish tanks to setup and manage. People who are novice fish-keepers can go for this purchase. It is available at affordable prices on Amazon.

The aquarium has built-in LED lights for better lighting which will be essential if you are planning on setting up a freshwater aquarium.

Since these lights give off a great amount of heat, they are suitable for a 55 gallon tanks. The aquarium also features a low-profile hood that creates a natural daylight shimmer, using energy-efficient LED lighting that mimics natural sunlight.

The tank is equipped with a powerful, yet silent internal filtration system to give you peace of mind, as you know that no matter what happens, your aquarium will not get drained. 

It also keeps your fish healthy and the water crystal-clear, which takes the maintenance work load off you.

Another added advantage with an in-built filtration system is that they usually come with an airline to suck in air from above, to infuse into the water, so you do not need to buy an air pump separately.

The AquaCulture tank usually comes with a kit for better experience. It also contains a pack of AquaSafe water cleaner and a trial-sized container of TetraMin Tropical Flakes and enrolment in TetraCare for added support during the setup process.

It also comes with an integrated cutouts that allow for easy filter cartridge changes and feeding without removing the hood.

Its dimensions are 50.62*14.87*23.12 and the best thing about this aquarium is that it is made from quality-glass and can be positioned as a desktop display or supported on a stand.

This aquarium kit is a great way to add a touch of nature to your living space. It is perfect for beginners who are planning on setting up a freshwater aquarium, as it has all the necessary stuff that will reduce your workload.

Tetra 55-Gallon Starter Aquarium Kit – Best Overall Kit

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish Net, Fish Food, Filter, Heater and Water Conditioners
  • LARGE ENVIRONMENT: Larger environments can house more fish or a greater variety of fish. Maintains water temperature. Essential for tropical fishkeeping
  • KIT INCLUDES: one 55 gallon tank, EasyBalance Plus, TetraMin, AquaSafe, 6” fish net, 200W heater, WPF 60 Filter, Stick on digital thermometer, 24” Tetra hinged hood x 2, 2 plant multipacks and a boxwood plant, TetraCare brochure and instruction sheet
  • LED LIGHTING: Included lighting adds the natural daylight effect to your aquarium, giving you illuminated viewing of the entire space
  • ACTUAL TANK DIMENSIONS: 48.25"" L x 12.80"" W x 20.90"" H
  • WEIGHT: This aquarium tank weighs approximately 79 lb by itself. With water, total tank weight can reach 521 lb.

Last update on 2024-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tetra 55-gallon aquarium has a sleek and modern design. The glass is scratch-resistant and it adds a pleasing touch to your home.

The kit includes a tank, an EasyBalance Plus, TetraMin, AquaSafe, 6 inches FishNet, 200W heater, WPF 60 filter, Stickon Digital Thermometer, 24 inches Tetra Hinged Hood*2, 2 Plant Multipacks and a Boxwood Plant, TetraCare Brochure and an Instruction Sheet.

The tank is also equipped with LED fitting for daylight glow. All the glass sides of the tank give 360-degree view in all directions, making it easier for you to keep a check on your pets. 

Its dimensions of the fish tank are 9*16.4*24.4. The best part of this fish tank is its hidden filtration system which filters the water in 3 stages. 

Moreover, its glass is scratch-resistant which makes it more convenient to manage. It is one of the best starter kits as it includes everything that a beginner would need, from instruction sheet to the tank.

Clear-for-life Acrylic Rectangular Aquarium – Best Looking Design

Clear-For-Life 75R Rectangle Aquarium - Clear Back
  • Dimensions - 48"(L)x15"(W)x24"(H)
  • Clear Back Panel - Round Front Corners
  • Made in the USA
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty Against Leakage
  • Safer & Stronger than Glass

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Just like all acrylic aquariums, this one too is brighter, lighter, and stronger than glass tanks. It is made from a high-grade acrylic with seamless design and the body is sturdy with contemporary designs. 

This fish tank is pre-installed with filter slots, heater holes, light hood, etc. It can house both freshwater and saltwater fishes. 

Even though it holds upto 55-gallons of water, the seamless design is very impressive. Moreover, it has less weight than other models. 


  • Dimensions: 13*48*20
  • Strong, high-quality built
  • Seamless design
  • Acrylic body
  • Better lighting system
  • Weighs less

The most interesting feature of this fish tank is the acrylic body which produces 35% more illumination than the regular ones, discarding the need for a stronger lighting system. In addition to that, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Aqueon 55-gallon Aquarium Kit – Noiseless & Beautiful

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It is a comprehensive fish tank and is a perfect choice for beginners. The only thing that needs to be done is to add the fish and water.

The beautiful design consists of a black trim and a vibrant LED lighting system built into a slim-lined hood. 


  • Dimensions: 48.25*12.75*23.75
  • Bright LED lighting
  • LED filter and cartridge
  • 200w Submersible heater
  • Thermometer
  • Water conditioner
  • Premium fish food
  • Fishnet
  • Water conditioner

Thanks to its Quiet-Flow Pro filter, the tank does not make any noise while working. It has a red LED flashing light which indicates the time to change the cartridges at regular intervals. 

Full Acrylic 55-gallon 360 Cylinder Aquarium Tank with Stainless Steel

Vepotek Vapotek 360 Stainless Steel Trim Acrylicand Plastic Cylinder Fish Tank 69x20
  • 55-Gallon Capacity
  • Constructed of high-strength acrylic which is 8 times stronger and 50% lighter than glass - it can withstand pressure at a higher magnitude and is easier to transport. What's more, this material is not as reflective as glass and the colors of your aquatic life are more visible
  • Cylindrical Design: This streamlined design affords an unobstructed visual which allows you to observe your aquatic life in an fascinating 360-degree view — all while not taking up much space
  • Features a complete water filtration system that delivers outstanding water quality and keeps your tank clean. Filtration box, air pump, water pump and bio balls all included
  • Brushed Stainless Steel Finish

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a brand new aquarium with innovative design and acrylic tank body. The high-quality, robust acrylic makes it extremely durable and the unique cylindrical design allows you to place it anywhere. The canopy is made from stainless steel and the tank offers a great 360 degree view. 

The additional kit with it consists of LED lighting system attached to the brushed, stainless-steel canopy and illuminates the aquarium perfectly. 

There is a hidden filter system in the tank itself. The best part is that it comes with an air pump and bio-ball to ensure a clean and healthy environment for your fish. 


  • Dimensions: 20*20*69
  • Stainless steel stand and canopy
  • Acrylic outer body
  • Filter and pump
  • Air-pump and bio-ball
  • LED lighting 

It comes at an affordable price compared to other high-quality acrylic fish tanks. The aquarium is pre-installed with a feeding tube which helps in smooth working without removing the canopy again and again. The best feature is its 360 view and great lighting system.

Planning 55 Gallon Fish Tank Setup

55 gallon fish tanks are a great choice for those who like getting creative with their stuff, as there is plenty of space available.

Today I will walk you through everything you need to know from setting up and starting a 55 gallon aquarium to the type of fish it is best-suited for.

Step 1: Decide the use

First decide if the tank would be used as freshwater or saltwater tank.

Step 2: Which Fish to Keep

The decision of stocking the right number of fish in a 55 gallon aquarium depends on the type you are planning to keep.

55 gallon aquariums provide plenty of space for the fish to swim and thrive well. They are suitable for both saltwater and freshwater setups, each offering a different selection of fish.

Are you thinking of keeping a specific fish with tank mates or a school or fish or having a community tank. All of it is possible in a 55 Gallon Aquarium.

The best way is to find the fish which you find attractive and want to keep in the tank and then look at setups which have those fish to get more ideas.

55 Gallon Aquarium Fish Ideas

Here are some Fish Ideas which can keeping a 55 Gal Tank.


  • Cory Catfish are bottom dwellers and they thus help in keeping the fish tank clean by eating the leftover food. I would advise you to keep 5-10 of them.
  • Bristlenose Pleco are algae eaters, and so they help in reducing your maintenance work (which could be a lot in a 55 gallon tank)by cleaning the glass and decor.
  • Kuhli Loaches love hiding and so they will be a perfect fit for a 55-gallon-sized aquarium, as there will be plenty of space.


  • Angelfish can grow up to 12 inches, so a 55 gallon tank would be the perfect place for them to live in.
  • Tetras are another species than can be kept in this size tank. But they should be kept in schools.
  • Barbs are another species that love living in schools. However, some Barbs species like Tiger Barbs are a bit aggressive so if you are planning on keeping them, go for a big-sized aquarium like 55 gallon.
  • Gourami love hiding around plants, so it would be best if you keep live plants along with them. They grow up to 6 inches and can get a bit aggressive at times, so try not to keep them with smaller species like neon tetras.


  • You can keep many school of Guppies in a 55 gallon tank.
  • Danios species like Zebra, Pear, Giant or the Smaller Celestial are a treat to the eyes when zipping across the fish tank. So it would be best for them if the tank is big in size.
  • Mollies and Platies are another species that are a perfect fit for a 55 gallon aquarium.

Out of all, the best species that you can have in a 55 gallon aquarium is the African Cichlids. They mostly live in schools so you can stock a nice amount of them in your 55 gallon sized aquarium.

Step 3: Equipment

Next you need to finalise and procure equipment for the tank. Many tanks come as a KIT so requirement of equipment is less in such cases. For more details read our reviews above.

Equipment Checklist

  • Aquarium Tank
  • Aquarium Stand
  • Hood / Cover / Canopy
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Replacement Filter Media
  • Lights
  • Air Pump
  • Fish Net
  • Substrate or Gravel
  • Decorations like Plants, Rocks, Driftwood
  • Master Aquarium Test Kit
  • Aquarium Vacuum
  • Fish Food

Fish Tank 55 Gallon

When deciding on the equipment required to set up an aquarium, the first one that comes to our mind is the tank itself.

There are many styles of tanks and kits available for a 55 gallon aquarium. You just have to pick the right one.

The decision of selecting the right fish tank is also influenced by the type of environment you want in your aquarium ie. saltwater, tropical or freshwater.

It is also affected by the type of fish you want ie. the requirements of a 55 gallon goldfish tank would be much different from a 55 gallon freshwater community tank.

Whether you want your aquarium planted or artificial, also influences this decision. The filter, lighting, and even the shape of the tank is affected by this decision.

55 Gallon Fish Tank Stand

After deciding on the style of tank you want, you will need a stand.

Most 55 gallon aquariums can be purchased alone while some are available with a kit which includes the stand and other important materials. 

While buying the right stand for your aquarium, keep its shape and weight in mind. The stand needs to be compatible with the shape of your fish tank.

Some of the best stands for a 55 gallon aquariums are:

You can find more suitable tank stands on our website.

Some people like creating their own stand for their aquarium. You can find a DIY article on building your own stand for a 55 gallon aquarium, on our website.

Hood For the Tank

The next equipment required is a hood, canopy or lid. There are many of them available in the market, so the decision usually comes down to preference.

When selecting the right hood for a 55 gallon aquarium, make sure that it is suitable with the lighting. For example, if your tank has a glass lid with LED lighting, you will want that the lights are mounted to the tank frame as the glass lid won’t be able to hold them.

Some hoods and lids for a 55 gallon aquarium are:

You can find more about the right hood, lid or canopy for your 55 gallon aquarium on our website.

Suitable Filter

The size of the filter depends on the size of your tank. For a 55 gallon aquarium, you will need a filter that has a flow rate of at least 220 gallons per hour (gph).

Another point to be noted while selecting a filter is, if you want to keep goldfish or cichlids, select a filter with a flow rate of around 300 gph or higher, as they are typically dirty species.

To know more about some of the best filters for 55 gallon aquariums, check our selection guide on the website.


The right heater for a 55 gallon aquarium should be of at least 200-250 Watts. The most popular heater for a 55 gallon tank is:

Read more about Aquarium Heaters here.

Lighting Suitable for 55 Gal

When deciding on the right lighting for your aquarium, the decision is also influenced by the type of fish you are planning on keeping. Some lighting inhibit algae growth while some promote it.

In my opinion, you should promote algae growth if you are planning on keeping species like Mbunas in your aquarium. 

African Cichlids also enjoy scraping the algae off the rocks as it is one of their natural sources of nutrition.

Some good quality lighting for 55 gallon aquariums are:

Air Pump

As long as the water is sufficiently disturbed the whole time and the surface area is large enough, you don’t need an air pump.

However, if you are using sponge filters or under gravel filters, a pump will be required to create suction force. 

They also create current that your fish can swim against and enjoy. They also prevent dead spots, where toxins can build up, from occurring.

Some that would suit a 55 gallon aquarium are:

Step 4: Setting Up a 55 Gallon Aquarium?

Now, you got your equipment, what next. Lets start setting up the aquarium

1. Laying Out the tank

  • Start from bottom to top which means that the first task is to add the substrate. The substrate contains gravel and sand which has a lot of dust particles. You need to get rid of it by rinsing them with water until it is clean. 
  • Now add the first layer to the bottom of the tank (0.5-1 inches) and some decorating items above it. Make sure to rinse them before placing. 
  • The tap water contains chlorine so it is necessary to dechlorinate it with a solution.
  • You can also turn it into a marine aquarium. All you have to do is to fill the tank with pure water and add sea salt to it. The amount depends on how much salinity you want. Leave it for a day so that the salt dissolves in it easily. 
  • The last step in the setting up process is adding the equipment. There are instructions given describing how to install them. 

Note: Wash carefully all the devices and internal media of the filter before placing them in the tank.

2. Cycling the tank

Cycling is an important step in setting-up the fish tank. It helps detoxify the water in the tank, making it easy for the fish to survive. It takes up to 2 to 8 weeks to cycle the whole 55-gallon tank. 

The main reason behind the intrusion of toxins in the water is fish waste. It releases toxic ammonia which is further broken down into harmful substances. 

To get rid of the bacteria, you need to culture the bacterial populations through cycling and then add the fish. 

Add 2-4 ppm of ammonia in the beginning followed by 1 ppm every few days. Check ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly. 

The nitrite levels will rise after 2 weeks. Once ammonia and nitrite  levels reaches 0 ppm, you can start introducing the fishes in the tank. This is called fishless cycling. 

Note: Never implement cycling with fish in the tank. It exposes the fish to harmful chemicals thus putting their lives in danger. 

3. Adding fish

Do not add too many fish at once in the initial step. It will trigger formation of harmful chemicals due to large amounts of fish waste, making it difficult for the bacteria to break it down.

  • The first step is to acclimate the fish to the new surroundings and temperature. Turn off the aquarium lights, and let the plastic bag float on the water surface for at least 15 minutes. 
  • Now open the bag and add half a cup of your tank’s water to the bag every 15 minutes for 1 hour.
  • Release the fish in the fish tank through the net. Be careful not to let the bag’s water enter the aquarium so as to avoid introducing pollutants and diseases into it.

Leave the lights off for a few hours so that the fish adapts easily to the new environment.

Maintaining your 55 Gallon Tank

Great Job! Setup is done and the fishes are swimming happily in the tank.

But Wait.

The work has just started, how healthy, happy and long your fish live depends on how well you maintain the tank.

We have created a Step By Step Maintenance Guide to help you keep you fish happy & healthy.

So, which Fish you decided to go for? What setup you finalised? Still have any questions or problems regarding the setup, installation, and aquarium maintenance?

drop your comments in the comment section below.


What is the Size / Dimensions of a 55 Gallon Aquarium?

The size of a 55 gallon fish aquarium depends on the shape of the tank you select. Fish tanks are available in various shapes like rectangular, hexagonal, round, etc.

So, the size of a rectangular-shaped aquarium will be different from the one in hexagonal shape.

Generally, the dimensions of a 55 gallon aquarium are as follows:

  • Rectangular: 48(length)*13(width)*20(height)
  • Hexagonal: 25(length)*29(width)*24(height)
  • Corner: 40(length)*39(width)*54(height)

As you can see, the size of a fish tank depends on its shape. So be sure to confirm the dimensions of the fish tank you intend to buy.

How much a 55 Gallon Fish Tank Weigh?

A standard rectangular 55 gallon fish tank weighs around 625 lbs. But, as we have already mentioned, it comes in many shapes and sizes which might affect its weight and volume.


[Revised and Updated for July, 2019]
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Written by Debra Hutchinson, founder of FishXperts

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  1. Thank you so much with all the information you have given! I have a 30 gallon, thought I new it all, old dogs do learn new info. Look forward to watching you site for info and deals. Thank you again

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