Best Small Aquarium – 10 Fish Tanks Reviewed, Guide, FAQs & More

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A small aquarium can do wonders for your home but you’ll agree with us when we say that finding the most suitable one can be confusing. 

Looking at this, we decided to put the most popular small aquariums available in the market to the test and see which ones are truly the best. 

In today’s post, we will look into what the differences are between a good aquarium and bad aquarium and the things to look out for when buying one.

Top Pick

This stylish aquarium kit is perfect for both beginners and advanced fishkeepers. It’s easy to set up and provides an elegant, illuminated display of your fish.

Runner Up

This aquarium kit features a frameless design which makes for unobstructed viewing of your fish. It’s perfect to keep on a desktop and it facilitates easy cleaning.

Also Great

This attractive aquarium kit features a curved glass front which gives it a unique look. It has a built-in pump that helps keeps the water inside it well-aerated.

After rigorous testing with all kinds of conditions and fish, we’ve concluded these three to be the best of the best.

Now, let’s get into the reviews for the 10 best small aquariums. 

Best Small Aquarium - Best 10 Reviews

1. Overall Best Small Aquarium - MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit with Rail Light Review

You’ll find this elegant aquarium to be a great addition to your home. It comes in two sizes: 3 gallons and 5 gallons. Its vertical-heavy appearance gives it a unique look and will certainly be a great conversation-starter among your friends. 

The built-in rail light works great for illumination of your fish. We were very impressed with the colors it brought out in our Bettas and Guppies. The LED light has built-in settings that mimic natural night and day. 

Features of MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit with Rail Light – Best Small Aquarium

  1. 3-gallon and 5-gallon versions
  2. Built-in filter
  3. Daylight and Moonlight LED settings
  4. Rite-Size Z filter cartridge
  5. Adjustable filter flow pump
  • Silent filter
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Small footprint on a table
  • All wires, cords and the filter is hidden in a separate compartment
  • The base is made of plastic and seems slightly flimsy

If you’re looking for a beautiful-looking aquarium that is easy to set up, this is the product for you. Its built-in rail light provides perfect illumination and the lid removes easily for worry-free cleaning.

2. Best Small Desktop Aquarium - Penn Plax Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit Review

We were very impressed by how sturdy this aquarium is even though it features a completely frameless design. The fact that it’s durable while having no frames is a big deal since this makes for pleasurable, unobstructed viewing of your fish when you place it on a table or desktop. 

It’s a glass aquarium and features an easy lid that keeps your fish safe from jumping out and from your other house pets such as cats. It can also be easily removed for feeding and cleaning. We were impressed by how effective the hang-on filter was and also, how quiet it was. It kept the water crystal clear throughout our testing process.

Features of Penn Plax Vertex Desktop Aquarium Kit

  1. 2.7 gallons in size
  2. Bent glass, frameless design
  3. Comes with hang-on filter
  4. Comes with thermometer and fish net
  5. Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet filter
  • Removable lid makes for easy feeding and cleaning
  • Affordable
  • Plastic lid feels flimsy and can scratch easily

If you’re looking for an elegant aquarium to enhance the look of your desktop, this product is ideal for you. It’s easy to set up and also easy to take care of.

3. Best Curved Glass Small Aquarium - Hygger Horizon Glass Aquarium Kit Review

This curved glass aquarium is really impressive because of the amount of features it comes packing with. The curved glass front makes the inside of the aquarium seem huge. The fish look a lot bigger than they are and you can view them in all their glory in this aquarium’s bright illumination. 

The built-in LED lights are highly customizable and come with a digital control that you can use to program them. The built-in filter seems super durable and works very silently.

Features of Hygger Horizon Glass Aquarium Kit

  1. 8 gallons in size
  2. Built-in LED lighting
  3. Comes with a power filter
  4. Comes with 3D background decor
  5. Shipped with 3 separate layers of packaging
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • LED lights are highly customizable
  • Quiet filter
  • 2-year warranty
  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t come with a lid

If you want a high level of control among the lights in your aquarium, this is definitely the product for you. It features an external controller that you can use to program the lights in a way best suited for your fish.

4. Best Small Aquarium with Heater - Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit Review

The Aqueon LED Aquarium kit looks very barebones and simplistic but it’s actually packing a lot more features than your average aquarium kit available in the market. 

We found the low-profile hood with the built-in LED lighting to be a clever design of the aquarium which takes up less space and cuts down on the margin for failure as there are a lot less moving parts.

It even comes with a heater that keeps the water temperature stable at a consistent 78 degrees which is completely suitable for most tropical fish. 

It comes with a complete setup guide but you’ll find that you’ll rarely even need it as this aquarium is so easy to set up.

Features of Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit 

  1. 20 gallons in size
  2. Hood has LED lights built into it
  3. Comes with a heater
  4. Comes with a power filter
  5. Weight: 33 pounds
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Filter is silent
  • Durable
  • Customizable hood
  • Lights can get hot
  • Slightly heavy and bulky

If you have tropical fish and are looking for an aquarium that can keep a stable temperature in the water, this product is ideal for you. The hood makes it easy to feed your fish and has cut-outs to fit different external equipment.

5. Best Multi-Color Small Aquarium - GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank Review

This aquarium comes in a number of different sizes and is the first entry on this list that is made of acrylic material. We found it to be extremely lightweight and easy to handle. 

It features a clear plastic lid which keeps your fish safe from nosy pets and the front is curved which makes for optimal viewing of your fish.

If you’re looking to make this aquarium aesthetically pleasing, we recommend getting other GloFish products in combination with this aquarium kit in order to get the full experience and to really bring out the colors of your room.

Features of GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank 

  1. Comes in different sizes ranging from 3 gallons to 20 gallons
  2. 15 Blue built-in LEDs
  3. Built-in filter
  4. Weight: 1 pound
  5. Seamless Acrylic Aquarium
  • Affordable
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Filter is extremely quiet
  • Lights are bright but not overbearing
  • Acrylic material makes the walls extra clear for viewing
  • May scratch easily

If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing tank that’s also easy to handle, this is the product for you. You’ll be astonished by how light it is and it has a reasonable price even though it’s made from acrylic.

6. Best Budget Small Aquarium - Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Starter Kit Review

The Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Starter Kit is great for beginners and veterans alike. It features an elevated base and a sleek, modern design which will make it the center of attention in any room you put it in. 

You’ll find its built-in filter to be extremely quiet, and the convenient feeding hole in the top hood makes it super easy to feed your fish. The hood also features built-in lights that illuminate the tank up brilliantly.

Features of Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Starter Kit

  1. Comes in four different sizes: 1 gallon, 1.6 gallons, 2.5 gallons, and 5 gallons.
  2. Weight: 5.25 pounds
  3. Built-in filter
  4. Built-in lights
  5. Ships in its own container to prevent scratches
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up
  • Makes for easy feeding
  • Easy to clean
  • Silent filter
  • Filter may make currents that are too strong for smaller fish

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend but still want a high-quality aquarium for your fish, we highly recommend this product. Its sleek design coupled with how easy it is to set up makes it a great addition to any home.

7. Best Aluminum-Laced Small Aquarium - Fluval Spec III Aquarium Kit Review

This product’s sleek, minimal design is something we were highly impressed by. Fluval has really worked on this design to bring together something that is truly innovative. The aluminum trim gives it a very modern touch that really sets it apart from its competitors. 

It comes with activated carbon which helps aid in biological filtration. The built-in filter also makes sure that complete 3-stage filtration occurs effectively within the aquarium. 

With its highly efficient and powerful 31 LED lighting system, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase. Not only does it look extremely elegant, it does its job effectively too.

Features of Fluval Spec III Aquarium Kit

  1. 2.6 gallons in size
  2. Weight: 10.2 pounds
  3. Built-in powerful filter
  4. 31 LED lights
  5. Cat-proof lid
  • Separate compartment that hides all cords and the filter
  • Filter is easy to clean
  • Filter is quiet
  • Tank is easy to set up
  • Tank is easy to clean
  • Quite heavy for its size
  • Expensive

If you want a minimal, sleek look to your aquarium, look no further than this product. Its built-in filter is super effective and the built-in lights illuminate it wonderfully.

8. Best Stylish Small Aquarium - MarineLand Silhouette Glass 3 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit Review

This unique-looking aquarium features a curved back that gives it a very sleek and contemporary look. We liked this aquarium so much that it’s become a permanent part of our office. 

The built-in filter is strong but not too strong to where it could disturb the fish inside. It has built-in LEDs which are made to mimic natural sunlight and moonlight that will give your fish a lot of comfort.

The glass canopy is actually quite sturdy unlike most lids and makes for easy feeding of your fish. The aquarium comes in two versions, one that has a sliding canopy and one that has a hinged canopy.

Features of MarineLand Silhouette Glass 3 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit

  1. 3 gallons in size
  2. Stylish curved back
  3. Built-in LEDs
  4. Built-in filter
  5. Rite-size Z filter cartridge
  • Hidden compartment to hide filtration equipment and wires
  • Durable
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean 
  • Low energy consumption
  • Bulky and heavy

If you want your small aquarium to look unique and eye-catching, this is the product you’re looking for. It’s very sturdy despite its unique design and is very easy to get started with.

9. Best Cubic Small Aquarium - JBJ Nano Cube DX Aquarium Review

The JBJ Nano Cube DX Aquarium is a great option for your home that is probably the most eco-friendly out of all the aquariums on this list. 

It features aquarium LED lighting and a powerful filter that both make use of power-saving technology in order to use as little electricity as possible. Indeed, we noticed a drop in our electricity consumption when we switched to testing this aquarium out for this review. 

The cover is quite lightweight so you can easily clean the aquarium and feed your fish with no hassle.

Features of JBJ Nano Cube DX Aquarium

  1. Comes in three sizes: 6 gallons, 12 gallons and 24 gallons
  2. Weight: 50 pounds
  3. Built-in filter and lighting
  4. Power-saving design
  5. Built-in cooling fans
  • Quiet filter
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Very low power consumption
  • Convenient feeding cover
  • Quite heavy 
  • The cooling fans may disturb the fish

If you’re looking for a small aquarium that will save you money in the long run, this product is ideal for you. The filter and lights work very effectively even though they consume less power.

10. Best Customizable Small Aquarium - Seapora 52198 Rimless Cube Aquarium Review

If you’re a veteran or advanced fish-keeper looking for a barebones option that gives room for customizability, this is a great option. Since it does not come with any external equipment, you can pick and choose yourself so that you end up with an aquarium that is perfectly suited to your needs and the needs of your fish. 

It comes with a nice, black stabilizing mat that you can place underneath it so it doesn’t slip or shift from its place. It also prevents it from becoming scratched.

Features of Seapora 52198 Rimless Cube Aquarium

  1. 4 gallons in size
  2. Weight: 10 pounds
  3. Dimensions: 10 by 10 by 10 inches
  4. Comes with a stabilizing mat
  5. Developed and manufactured in the US
  • Sturdy
  • Nicely packed to prevent cracking
  • Stabilizing mat provides good stability
  • Built to accommodate all kinds of aquarium equipment
  • Lightweight for a glass tank
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for beginners

If you want complete control over what equipment you want in your tank, this product is perfect for you. It’s designed to have all kinds of different equipment mounted onto it and is very durable.

best small aquarium

Buyers’ Guide

What are some things to keep in mind when buying a small aquarium? 

There are a number of considerations which you need to keep in mind when buying a small aquarium. It’s important that you get one that is suitable for you according to the resources you have so that your fish are comfortable and can live happy lives. These considerations are: 

  • Aquarium Size

The things to think about when determining what size of aquarium will be suitable for you is the amount of space you have in your home and the amount of fish that you plan on keeping within the aquarium. As a rule of thumb, you usually need to have at least 1 gallon of water for every 1 inch of fish.

  • Glass vs Acrylic

Aquariums are constructed from either glass or acrylic material. Both of them have their pros and cons and you can do some detailed research into which material would be more suitable for your home environment. Glass tanks are usually heavier and bulkier but they are also cheaper and do not wither over time. Acrylic tanks are usually very lightweight and can be shaped into a variety of attractive shapes for aquariums. However, acrylic aquariums can be relatively expensive and can scratch easily.

  • The Features it Comes With 

Most small aquariums are sold as aquarium kits. If you’re a beginner, you may want to get an aquarium that has most of the essential equipment needed to run an aquarium built into it. This type of equipment can include things like a filter, a heater and/or lighting. 

If you’re an advanced fishkeeper and want to customize your aquarium by adding equipment later, you might want to invest in an empty small aquarium that is barebones and does not come with any built-in equipment. This gives you the liberty to pick and choose and build the aquarium from scratch so that it is perfect for your needs.

Is it a good idea to buy a small aquarium if I’m a beginner? 

This is a common misconception not only for beginners but also among a lot of veteran fishkeepers. We strongly recommend that if you are just starting your hobby with fish-keeping, you should try to get a larger aquarium as opposed to a smaller one. It may seem like a smaller aquarium would be easier to maintain and manage but this could not be farther from the truth. It actually takes a lot more work to maintain a small aquarium. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it: a small aquarium’s water conditions can change drastically just by small removal or addition of any external material. It’s much harder to maintain a small aquarium’s pH level and temperature than a larger aquarium as in a larger aquarium, changes happen very gradually and you have time to detect them. 

How do I set up my small aquarium? 

  • Start by choosing a suitable location for your small aquarium. A small aquarium usually looks quite attractive on a desk or table top. Make sure it’s kept away from direct sunlight and that it’s not in a room whose temperature changes drastically too often. 
  • Add gravel to the bottom of your small aquarium. 
  • Set up all of the external equipment on your aquarium. This includes heaters, filters, lighting and air pumps. 
  • Add dechlorinated water into the aquarium. 
  • Turn on all of your equipment and let it run for 6-8 weeks without fish. 
  • Introduce your fish to their new home.

What is some essential equipment that my small aquarium needs to have? 

Your equipment needs to have a filter and some form of lighting, at the bare minimum. You should also think of investing in an air pump which will keep the water oxygenated, allowing your fish to breathe easily. If you have tropical fish that require the water to be maintained at a certain temperature, you’ll need a heater. 

There’s a common misconception that small aquariums don’t require filters. That’s all this is, a misconception. No matter how small your aquarium is or how few fish you have, they are still going to produce waste. A filter is an important piece of equipment in every aquarium and we strongly urge you not to skip buying it for your small aquarium in any case.

Why do I need to grow nitrifying bacteria inside my small aquarium before adding my fish?

The process of growing nitrifying bacteria in fish tanks is known as “Cycling”. Nitrifying bacteria are small organisms which help in a process known as biological filtration. They help remove and neutralize dangerous toxins that are present inside a fish tank. Thus, they help keep your fish healthy and your live aquatic plants safe. We strongly recommend that when you get a new fish tank, fill it up with water, set up all your external equipment and then let this equipment run for 6-8 weeks without any fish inside your tank. This will help grow the nitrifying bacteria and then, you can introduce your fish to a toxin-free and healthy environment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use tap water to fill my small aquarium?

Yes. Tap water is what people normally use to fill up their aquarium. However, you have to treat it properly first before you can add it to your aquarium and introduce fish. We recommend that you invest in a dechlorinating agent and a water conditioning agent. Use both of them to treat your water before adding it to your aquarium. Chlorine is present in tap water and while it is not harmful to humans and is used to kill bacteria in water, it can be toxic to fish and needs to be removed from water before it can be added to a fish tank.

My fish are swimming erratically in my small aquarium. Why is this? 

A reason for erratic swimming in your fish may be that your filter or air pump is too strong. If you have too strong of a filter or air pump in a relatively small aquarium, this can result in very strong water currents inside it. We strongly recommend that you monitor your aquarium and get a filter and air pump that is of appropriate power for your small aquarium. Having a filter or air pump that creates too strong currents will cause your fish to be stressed out.

How do I maintain a reasonable pH in my small aquarium? 

There are three main sources in your small aquarium that could cause changes in pH: 

  • Something in the water source
  • Something in your small aquarium 
  • Something else you are adding to the tank (e.g., fish food)

Some measures you can take to fix pH problems and also, prevent them from occurring are given below: 

Start off by checking your aquarium for any deposits of material that is known to alter pH levels of the water. This includes things like sea shells, wood, peat, coral skeletons, dead plants (including just dead leaves), dead fish, etc. If you anything obvious like this, remove it immediately and keep testing the water for the next few hours and see if the pH returns to normal. 

If this doesn’t end up fixing your water’s pH, look for less obvious sources such as your aquarium gravel and decorations. Some aquarium gravel and substances such as crushed coral are intended for saltwater aquariums and if you have a smaller, freshwater aquarium, you might end up raising the pH by using these substances. So, make sure all the gravel and other decorative objects you’re using are not intended for saltwater environments. 

Are large water changes in my small aquarium stressful to my fish? 

Yes. Large water changes can be quite stressful for fish, especially if they are small. Fish require a large amount of room to swim in and when you’re performing a water change, you will first have to remove a whole lot of water so you can add in fresh water to your small aquarium. During this time, your fish will be swimming in a very low amount of water which could be quite upsetting to them. 

More importantly, pouring a large amount of water into your small aquarium will cause strong currents to occur within the small aquarium which could also cause stress in your fish.

How do I check my small aquarium for leaks?

Checking a small aquarium for leaks takes some patience. 

Place your aquarium on a hard, flat surface. If you have a garage with a concrete surface, that will work just fine. Start by filling ¼ of the aquarium with water. Keep in mind that you’re just using this water to test for leaks and it doesn’t need to be treated or anything. Once ¼ of the tank is filled with water, let it sit for 24 hours. Come back after a day and see if the water has leaked from anywhere. If you see a leak, proceed to fix it. 

If you don’t see a leak, add more water until half of the tank is full. Let this sit for 24 hours and then come back and repeat the procedure.

If you still don’t see a leak, fill the tank completely and then let it sit for 24 hours, then come back and check for leaks. If it still hasn’t leaked from anywhere, that means that the aquarium is fine and you can use it to house your fish.

Final Verdict

It’s not hard to see why small aquariums are so popular among such a variety of people. They’re fun to take care of, they look great on a desktop and they provide a unique ambience to any room they’re placed in. 

At the end of the day, we have to go with the MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit with Rail Light. Not only does it look impeccably great, it has a built-in rail light that illuminates you fish wonderfully. 

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our post for the 10 best small aquariums. 

Let us know in the comments what aquarium you’re using to keep your aquatic pets.

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