55 Gallon Fish Tank (Dimensions, Weight, Stand, Lid, Filter, Fish & More)

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If you are thinking about setting up your first Cichlid aquarium, or you’ve already made the decision to move to a larger tank to pursue the hobby for years, then a 55-gallon fish tank is your best bet.

55 gallons fish tanks are perhaps the most popular aquarium size for first-time Cichlid owners. Compared to other standard aquarium sizes, these tanks are economical and offer endless possibilities of stocking ideas.

But before you head to the nearest pet store, there are many things that you need to take into account. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to make everything easy.

In it, we will go over the 55-gallon fish tank dimensions, weight, filter, stocking ideas, and many other factors you need to consider before making a purchase.

We hope you enjoy it!

Fish Tank Facts

There are many good reasons why 55 gallons fish tanks are so popular among hobbyists. Let’s start with the standard information sheet.

Tank Size:55 Gallons
Dimensions:48″ (L) x 13″ (W) x 21″(H)
Empty Weight:78 lbs.
Filled Weight:625 lbs.

Author note: You can skip this part if you have already learned on the path from a newbie.

If this is your first time setting up an aquarium, you might be thinking that why should not go for smaller fish tanks (aquariums up to 15 gallons) that will cut down the cost and are much easier to maintain. What’s more, they don’t take up that much space in your home, right?

Well, there is some truth to it. A large aquarium (50 gallons or larger) can be expensive and needs a spot that can safely hold it, but large tanks are easier to maintain and are far more forgiving. That is simply because they have a large water volume to support the stable water chemistry. The less water, the more easily the parameters fluctuate, resulting in much more regular maintenance work.

I think you’ll agree with me. Then how about these medium aquariums that range from 20 gallons to 40 gallons? They have a sufficient volume that can maintain stability and yet are still easy to move around.

On the negative side, these tanks are excellent options for beginners due to their manageable sizes, especially for new aquarists who find that performing maintenance on a regular basis becomes overwhelming. Sooner or later, they will throw in the towel and give up after only a few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with having a smaller or medium aquarium if you have the time to dedicate to it and you understand the implications. But if you are looking for an aquarium that will last you for years and be easy to take care of, then you will be glad that you have made the decision to go with a 55-gallon fish tank from the get-go.

In my opinion, 55-gallon fish tanks come with the best of both worlds. Not only they’re a “happy medium” size that provides the stability that is essential for a healthy aquarium environment, but they offer more stocking options than smaller aquariums. After all, every hobbyist gravitates to one or two stunning Cichlids over time, which we will explore in greater detail below.

But before we do that, let’s take a closer look at the 55-gallon fish tank dimensions and weight so that you can ensure it fits in your available space.

55 Gallon Fish Tank Dimensions

The standard dimensions of a 55-gallon fish tank are 48″ x 13″ x 21″ (122 cm x 33 cm x 53 cm) – making it a perfect size for small rooms or apartments. However, there are many different shapes and sizes of 55-gallon fish tanks on the market, so be sure to do your research.

Believe it or not, different fish prefer different tank shapes and swimming areas. For example, schooling fish like Tetras and Barbs require long tanks with plenty of swimming space. While some less active fish prefer these tall and narrow column fish tanks, the well-known species are Discus and freshwater Angelfish. For most cichlids, the larger footprint you provide, the better. 

The charts below show the dimensions of the most common aquarium sizes, and it’s easy to see why a 55-gallon fish tank is such a good choice.

Tank SizeDimensions (L x W x H)
20-gallon (long)30″ x 12″ x 12″
25-gallon24″ x 12″ x 20″
29-gallon30″ x 12″ x 18″
30-gallon (breeder)36″ x 18″ x 12″
40-gallon (breeder)36″ x 18″ x 16″
40-gallon (long)48″ x 12″ x 16″
50-gallon36″ x 18″ x 19″
55-gallon48″ x 13″ x 21″
75 gallon48″ x 18″ x 21″
90-gallon48″ x 18″ x 24″

55 Gallon Fish Tank Weight

You probably have chosen a list of locations to put your fish tank for decoration purposes, but there is one important metric you should always keep in mind – the weights of the fish tank with or without water.

When deciding on your next aquarium purchase, be sure to take this fact into consideration: a gallon of tap water at 70°F weighed 8.329 pounds.

How much does a 55-gallon fish tank weigh empty and filled with water and gravel? Check out the charts below; I also listed the Empty Weight and Filled Weight of the most common aquarium sizes for your reference. 

Tank SizeEmpty WeightFilled Weight
20-gallon (long)25 lbs.225 lbs.
25-gallon32 lbs.282 lbs.
29-gallon40 lbs.330 lbs.
30-gallon (breeder)48 lbs.348 lbs.
40-gallon (breeder)58 lbs.458 lbs.
40-gallon (long)55 lbs.455 lbs.
50-gallon100 lbs.600 lbs.
55-gallon78 lbs.625 lbs.
75 gallon140 lbs.850 lbs.
90-gallon160 lbs.1050 lbs.

You can see the absolute advantage of 55-gallon fish tanks in terms of Weight.

Best 55 Gallon Aquarium Fish Tanks

Now that you have a better understanding of the 55 gallons fish tanks and the advantages they bring, it’s time to move on and take a look at the best 55-gallon aquarium fish tanks on the market.

Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium 55 Gallon

Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium 55 Gallon

Aqueon is a trusted name in the aquarium world for good reasons. Their products are reliable and well-made, and the Aqueon Standard 55 Gallons Aquarium is no exception. 

This aquarium is a great choice for anyone looking for a mid-sized option that won’t break the bank. The glass is thick and sturdy, and the construction is top-notch. This tank is also equipped with clean silicone edges, giving it a clean, finished look. 

Unlike these aquarium kits, it does not come with equipment, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.

As an added bonus, this tank is also covered by Petco’s Dollar Per Gallon Sale. This means you will only be paying $1 per gallon for this aquarium, an amazing deal you don’t want to miss out on.

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish...
  • LARGE ENVIRONMENT: Larger environments can house more fish or a greater variety of fish. Maintains water...
  • KIT INCLUDES: one 55 gallon tank, EasyBalance Plus, TetraMin, AquaSafe, 6” fish net, 200W heater, WPF...
  • LED LIGHTING: Included lighting adds the natural daylight effect to your aquarium, giving you illuminated...
  • 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...

The Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit is one of the most popular kits on the market. It has everything you need to get started, including a filter, heater, and a lid. The only thing you need to add is water and fish!

The kit also includes energy-efficient lighting LED lights under each lid, which is perfect for creating a beautiful underwater scene. The filter is reliable and easy to use, and an automatic heater keeps the water at a comfortable temperature for your fish.

The Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit is an excellent option for anyone who wants a low-maintenance setup. Yes, it’s convenient. But if you have the tools and knowledge on how to set up an aquarium, you can save some money by choosing a tank-only option like the Aqueon Standard 55 Gallons Aquarium.

In addition, it’s more fun and satisfying to set up your 55-gallon fish tank from scratch. This way, you can choose your own equipment and decorate it exactly the way you want.

Top Fin® Essentials Aquarium Starter Kit (55g)

Another staple in the world of 55 gallons fish tanks, this product by Top Fin simply takes care of business. Like the Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit, it comes with a variety of components to get you started.

However, Aqueon heaters have a reputation for being more reliable. So if you live in an area with a colder climate, this may not be the best option for you.

Other than that, the Top Fin® Essentials Aquarium Starter Kit is a superb alternative if you can’t find the Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit in stock.

55 Gallons Aquarium Hood & Lids

No matter if you’ve heard the terms hood, lids, or canopy, an aquarium cover is essential and serves a few different purposes as follows.

  • Keeps jumpers from carpet surfing.
  • Helps to prevent evaporation contributing to the humidity in the room, especially for a saltwater aquarium.
  • It often comes with a barrier between the lighting and the water, which is helpful for cleanliness.
  • Preventing the salt from creeping into the light fixtures.
  • Reduces noise levels.
  • Provides a place to put some equipment.

Author note: Evaporation is normal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. But in a saltwater aquarium, you need to be extra careful as evaporation will increase salinity levels.

While an aquarium cover has benefits, it’s important to weigh these two main downsides before making a decision.

First, a glass lid will reduce gas exchange at the surface, thus causing low PH. This is why I recommend using a sump and a skimmer to help with gas exchange in an aquarium.

Additionally, the cover can trap heat from your lighting, leading to a rise in water temperature. This can be especially problematic if the cover is made of glass, as it has low thermal conductivity and is also transparent. The sunlight turns into heat easily and is then trapped in the aquarium (think about how a greenhouse works), resulting in a rise in water temperature.

In pondering a cover for your 55 gallons fish tank, you may decide which type you need based on a few factors. The following table provides a comparison of the three main types.

Type of CoverProsCons
Glass Lids1. Most durable
2. Effective
3. Versatile 
4. easy to clean
1. A bit more expensive
2. Does not include lighting
Hood1. Built-in lighting
2. Less expensive
1. Does not fit tightly
2. Become brittle over time
Canopy1. Stylish (Made of wood)
2. Comes with lights
1. Expensive

Once you come to grips with the pros and cons listed above, it’s time to choose a cover. And that decision will come down to two primary factors: size and budget.

55-Gallon Fish Tank Lids & Hood Size

A standard 55-gallon fish tank measures 48″(L) x 13″(W) x 21″(H), so two 24″(L) glass lids or hoods would work.

However, there is always an error involved in making physical measurements. The only way to be sure is to carefully measure the dimensions of the tank.

Here is a list of the best safe and stylish models in the market today.

H2Pro 24" Glass Canopy for 15/20/ 55-Gallon...
Aqueon Aquarium AAG29024 Versa Top, 24-Inch
Aqueon Deluxe LED Full Hood - Black - 24"
Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day &...
H2Pro 24" Glass Canopy for 15/20/ 55-Gallon...
Aqueon Aquarium AAG29024 Versa Top, 24-Inch
Aqueon Deluxe LED Full Hood - Black - 24"
Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day &...
$32.99
$26.33
$63.62
$50.08
H2Pro 24" Glass Canopy for 15/20/ 55-Gallon...
H2Pro 24" Glass Canopy for 15/20/ 55-Gallon...
$32.99
Aqueon Aquarium AAG29024 Versa Top, 24-Inch
Aqueon Aquarium AAG29024 Versa Top, 24-Inch
$26.33
Aqueon Deluxe LED Full Hood - Black - 24"
Aqueon Deluxe LED Full Hood - Black - 24"
$63.62
Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day &...
Marineland LED Light Hood for Aquariums, Day &...
$50.08

DIY Fish Tank Lids & Hood

If you’re the DIY type, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s relatively easy to make your own fish tank lids and hoods stylish and functional. All you need is a bit of time, some porous plastic material like a lighting grid or plastic mesh, and some creativity.

55 Gallons Aquarium Light

Aquarium light serves two purposes. It helps to show off your fish and is necessary for the photosynthesis of live plants.

Unfortunately, these two purposes are often at odds with each other in a planted community aquarium. While too much light will cause algae to grow and may kill your fish, not enough light will cause live plants to die.

Depending on your 55 Gallons aquarium type, you may need a different type and amount of light.

In a fish-only tank, like a Mbuna aquarium, the single low-wattage fluorescent tube that comes with the hood is usually sufficient to show off the colors of your fish.

For a 55 Gallons reef aquarium, you need good intensity “reef safe” light to promote coral growth and optimize attractive coloration as well as a gentle shimmer effect. Apart from personal preference, you must consider the heat management and warranty policy.

The only and best lighting for a 55g reef tank in the market that provides all these requirements is the Kessil A360X. I’ve had huge success with two Kessil A360X in my standard 55 gallons tank before, and I can say that it’s a great product. This compact light is straightforward to use and works great. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s a bit expensive. But other than that, I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Kessil A360X Tuna Blue LED Aquarium Light
  • The KESSIL A360X TUNA BLUE LED LIGHT is the latest offering from Kessil.
  • The A360X is LOWER PROFILE, BUT BRIGHTER than the A360WE or A360NE. It features a low profile design with...
  • The A360X features LOW DIMMING. There is smoother color transitioning and dimming, including moonlight...
  • The Kessil A360X Tuna Blue LED Aquarium Light works seamlessly with the Kessil Spectral Controller X (not...
  • 90 Watts: 25% brighter than older versions of the 360. Effective light much greater than a 250 watt metal...

If you want to grow plants, however, more light is needed, and the bulb’s spectrum becomes an issue (e.g., special plant bulbs are useful). If you are interested in growing plants, be sure to consult section plant and lighting sections before purchasing your light and hood setup.

55 Gallons Fish Tank Stand

Given the fact of the filled weight, a 55 gallons fish tank is not something easy to move once you set them up. Rather than perching your aquarium on a table or cabinet, consider getting a sturdy yet stylish 55-gallon fish tank stand. After all, you don’t want to come home one day to find your poor fish flopping around on the floor! 

In addition to weight, think about your tank’s material, home decor, budget, and the storage space you may need, whether ready-made or custom-built.

Best 55 Gallons Fish Tank Stand

With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. To help narrow down your choices, here is a list of the best 55-gallon fish tank stands specially designed to hold your aquarium.

Petco Brand - Imagitarium Brooklyn 55 Gallon Metal...
Aquatic Fundamentals 55 Gallon Metal Aquarium...
Flipper Wildwood 55 Gallon Aquarium Stand, Rustic...
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stand
Petco Brand - Imagitarium Brooklyn 55 Gallon Metal...
Aquatic Fundamentals 55 Gallon Metal Aquarium...
Flipper Wildwood 55 Gallon Aquarium Stand, Rustic...
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stand
$199.99
-
$395.87
-
Petco Brand - Imagitarium Brooklyn 55 Gallon Metal...
Petco Brand - Imagitarium Brooklyn 55 Gallon Metal...
$199.99
Aquatic Fundamentals 55 Gallon Metal Aquarium...
Aquatic Fundamentals 55 Gallon Metal Aquarium...
-
Flipper Wildwood 55 Gallon Aquarium Stand, Rustic...
Flipper Wildwood 55 Gallon Aquarium Stand, Rustic...
$395.87
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stand
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stand
-

DIY 55 Gallons Fish Tank Stand

As any hobbyist knows, the costs of keeping a fish can quickly add up. Between the food, the filtration system, and the occasional vet visit, it’s not uncommon for fish owners to spend hundreds of dollars each year on their aquatic pets.

However, the aquarium stand is one of the most expensive items associated with a large aquarium. A good aquarium stand can easily cost over $100, and that’s not even counting the cost of shipping.

As a result, DIY aquarium stands are becoming increasingly popular. Not only do they provide a cost-effective solution for fish keepers, but they also offer a unique opportunity to customize the look of your aquarium. 

Whether you’re looking for a simple design or something more elaborate, check out these DIY Cinder Block Aquarium Stands.

DIY 55 Gallons Fish Tank Stand
DIY 55 Gallons Fish Tank Stand

55 Gallons Fish Tank Filters

Most people think of their great aunt’s dirty goldfish tank when they hear that you keep pet fish. However, the secret to having a beautiful aquarium with crystal clear water is to find the perfect fish tank filter.

But with all the different types of filters on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. To help you make a decision, here is a brief overview of the three main types of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Biological filtration uses beneficial bacteria to break down waste and remove harmful nitrogenous compounds from the water. No matter what size fish tank you have, good biological filtration is a MUST for the health of your fish.

Mechanical filtration removes physical debris from the water by using sponges and filter socks, such as uneaten food, fish waste, and plant matter. This is an essential step in keeping your water clean, but it also requires regular maintenance to prevent the filter from becoming clogged.

Chemical filtration removes dissolved medications and tannins from the water using chemicals, such as activated carbon. This type of filter will really clear your water, but it can be challenging to maintain and may not be suitable for all Fish tanks.

Best Filters for a 55-gallon Aquarium

What type of filter is best for a 55 gallons aquarium? From my first-hand experience working with many 55 gallons fish tanks, I would recommend either using a Wet/Dry filter or a canister filter with an added Hang-On-Back (HOB) filter (A sponge filter will work).

I prefer Wet/Dry filters as they offer both mechanical and biological filtration in one unit. They work extremely well in large saltwater aquariums that need heavy biological filtration. However, they can be a bit pricey, and the setup can be complicated for beginners.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly and effortless option, I would recommend using a canister filter with an added HOB filter. This setup will provide both mechanical and biological filtration, and it’s much easier to set up than a Wet/Dry filter.

Here is a list of the best canister filters for 55-gallon fish tanks out there:

Table could not be displayed.

Also, here are some of the best HOB filters for 55 Gallons aquariums on the market:

Marineland Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power...
AquaClear 70 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for...
Marineland Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power...
AquaClear 70 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for...
$83.00
$56.68
Marineland Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power...
Marineland Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power...
$83.00
AquaClear 70 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for...
AquaClear 70 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for...
$56.68

Undergravel filters will create additional water movement and help to aerate the water. This is especially important in saltwater aquariums, where it is necessary to maintain high levels of dissolved oxygen. An air stone or bubble wall is appreciated, which will also help to promote the exchange of gas and create a nice visual effect.

55 Gallon Aquarium Heaters

Each species of fish has an optimum temperature range in which they will thrive. Generally, most fish prefer water between 74 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you plan to keep fish from the Amazon basin or the East African Rift System (EARS), then you will need an aquarium heater.

There are many things to think about when choosing an aquarium heater.

Aquarium Heater Types

Four aquarium heater types are available: submersible heaters, substrate heaters, filter heaters, and immersible heaters. The submersible aquarium heater is a combination of high-performance, consistent, with ease of use and is, therefore, the most popular type.

Safety

Don’t compromise on the safety of your fish, and make sure to get an aquarium heater with an automatic shut-off feature that will turn the heater off when it senses that the water is too hot.

Size and Wattage

The size and wattage of your aquarium heater should be based on the gallons of water in your tank and the temperature difference you need to maintain.

The rule of thumb is that you need a 3-5 watt aquarium heater for every gallon of water. So, for a 55-gallon fish tank, you will need an aquarium heater of between 150-300 watts. 

Budget

I recommend looking for a quality aquarium heater. As with everything in the fishkeeping hobby, there is a wide range of prices for aquarium heaters. Don’t cheap out on your aquarium heater since this is one piece of equipment you don’t want to skimp on.

Here are some best 55-gallon aquarium heaters to choose from:

Aqueon Pro 300 Submersible Aquarium Fish Tank...
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (200...
Eheim AEH3617090 200-watt Jager Heater for...
Fluval E200 Advanced Electronic Heater, 100-Watt...
hygger 200W Titanium Aquarium Heater for Salt...
Aqueon Pro 300 Submersible Aquarium Fish Tank...
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (200...
Eheim AEH3617090 200-watt Jager Heater for...
Fluval E200 Advanced Electronic Heater, 100-Watt...
hygger 200W Titanium Aquarium Heater for Salt...
$49.99
$70.10
$33.99
$63.39
$54.99
Aqueon Pro 300 Submersible Aquarium Fish Tank...
Aqueon Pro 300 Submersible Aquarium Fish Tank...
$49.99
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (200...
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (200...
$70.10
Eheim AEH3617090 200-watt Jager Heater for...
Eheim AEH3617090 200-watt Jager Heater for...
$33.99
Fluval E200 Advanced Electronic Heater, 100-Watt...
Fluval E200 Advanced Electronic Heater, 100-Watt...
$63.39
hygger 200W Titanium Aquarium Heater for Salt...
hygger 200W Titanium Aquarium Heater for Salt...
$54.99

Thermometer

Any fish keeper knows that having a reliable aquarium thermometer is essential to keeping your fish healthy and happy. Not only does it help you track the water temperature at various times and days, but it can also help you identify and correct any problems that may arise due to temperature changes.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that a good aquarium thermometer is one of the essential tools you can have in your fish-keeping arsenal. 

Three main types of aquarium thermometers are available: Stick-On (LCD) thermometers, floating or standing thermometers, and digital thermometers. Each type of thermometer has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs.

TypesProsCons
Stick-On (LCD) 1. Unbreakable
2. Easy to install
3. Can be placed in different locations
1. Hard to read in low light
2. Less accurate than digital thermometer
3. No alert feature
Floating 1. Can be placed in different locations
2. Not impacted by room temperature
3. Viewable safe zone
4. Inexpensive
1. Difficult to read
2. Less accurate than digital thermometer
3. Easy to break
4. No alert feature
Digital 1. Easy to read
2. Not impacted by room temperature
3. Unbreakable
4. Temperature alert feature
5. The most accurate type

1. Annoying alert feature
2. Require batteries
3. Expensive
4. Annoying Corde

Substrate

Aquarium substrate is often thought of as nothing more than a pretty way to spruce up the bottom of your fish tank. However, it serves several important purposes in a healthy aquarium.

First, the substrate helps keep the water clean by providing a surface for beneficial bacteria to grow. These bacteria break down fish waste and other organic matter, keeping the water quality in good shape.

In addition, it provides a place for rooted plants to grow and anchor themselves.

The microscopic ways substrate benefits your aquarium are less visible, but your fish will undoubtedly appreciate a natural-looking bottom in their home.

Substrate to Use for 55 gallon Fish tank

What Type of Substrate to Use for 55 gallon Fish Tanks?

The type of substrate you use for your 55 gallons aquarium will largely be determined by the kind of fish you keep and whether or not you plan to keep live plants.

Aquarium substrates come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. But most aquarium substrates can be classified into one of three categories: gravel, sand, or soil. Each type of substrate has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

The following chart summarizes the pros and cons of each type of aquarium substrate:

TypesProsCons
Gravel1. Affordable
2. Many different sizes, shapes, and colors
3. Heavey enough to not get kicked up
4. Inert
1. Dirt and debris easily build up over time
2. Needs more cleaning
3. Sharp gravel can be harmful to bottom-feeding fish
4. Can’t provide nutrients for live plants
Sand1. Affordable
2. Many different sizes and colors
3. Easy to clean
4. Best for bottom-feeders
5. Looks more fluid and professional
1. Can damage filters and pumps
2. Not ideal for live plants
3. Dirt and debris build up on the top of sand
4. Anaerobic patches are easily formed underwater
5. Easily gets kicked up into the water
Soil1. Provide nutrients for plants growth
2. Change water paraments (Lower PH and soften water)
3. Good for most tropical fish

1. Pricey
2. Limited variations
3. Release ammonia into water, cause algae growth
4. Not ideal for African Cichlids

Be aware that calcareous gravel, such as crushed coral and sea shells, or any limestone, will release calcium and carbonate into the water column raising its pH buffering capacity. While this may be desirable for many African cichlids, it’s not always what you want your gravel to do.

How Much Gravel is in a 55 gallon Aquarium?

As a general rule, you should have a depth of approximately 1.5 – 2 inches of substrate in your aquarium. Consider adding more substrate depth if you plan to have plants with long roots.

Because anaerobic patches are easily formed in the sandy substrate, the depth should be slightly less; 1 – 1.5 inches is fine.

To calculate the amount of sand or gravel needed to achieve a 2 inches (5 cm) depth in your tank, multiply the length by the width of your fish tank, divide by 12, then convert to kilograms by dividing the answer by 2.2.

So for a 55 gallon with 48 inches long and 13 inches wide, you would need 23.6 kg (52 lbs) of the substrate. 

Plants

55 gallon tank plants

In addition to substrate, aquarium plants are necessary depending on the specific species and your goals for the 55 gallon fish tank.

Live plants create a more natural environment for your fish, provide hiding places and shelter, absorb excess nutrients in the water, and produce oxygen through photosynthesis.

However, some fish tend to uproot or consume plants, and some plant species are much more difficult to care for than others and may require special attention in terms of lighting, fertilization, and CO2 injection.

If you are at all interested in planning to build a plant‐only 55 gallon aquarium or keeping delicate plants, make sure to do your research first, as it can be a time-consuming and challenging process.

Additional Equipment

Like any size aquarium, 55 gallon fish tanks will require some additional equipment, including:

  • Cleaning tools: Siphoning is the easiest way to remove water from your aquarium and can be done with various devices, such as an aquarium vacuum, python, or gravel vacuum. A non-soapy plastic pad or toothbrush can be used to scrub the walls and remove algae. For slower-growing algae, you will need a razor blade.
  • Bucket For Water Changes: At least one bucket is required for water changes.
  • Nets: Depends on your fish size, one or two nets to catch fish. Avoid nets with a fine mesh because of their high water resistance. In addition, netting your fish can be stressful for them, so try to use a net to chase the fish into a small container instead whenever possible.
  • Test Kits: You must maintain stable water parameters to ensure your sensitive fish don’t become stressed out. Picking up an accurate water testing kit is essential, and you should test your water weekly to keep an eye on things.

55 Gallon Aquarium Stocking Ideas

A 55-gallon fish tank is a perfect way to add a touch of class to any room. Not only will it be the focal point of the room, but it will also provide a welcome dose of relaxation. After all, what could be more dramatic than a giant aquarium filled with beautiful tropical fish?

Of course, stocking a 55-gallon fish tank can be a bit of a challenge. But with a little bit of planning, you can create an underwater oasis that will be the envy of everyone who sees it.

Best Fish for 55 Gallon Tank

The average 55 gallon aquarium can hold a variety of different fish, from small tetras to larger Mbunas. But just how many fish can be safely housed in a 55 gallons tank? The answer, as is often the case with fishkeeping, is “it depends.” Water quality, filtration, and tank size all play a role in determining the maximum number of fish that can be kept in an aquarium.

Lucky, a 55-gallon is much roomier and opens the door to many possibilities within the world of cichlids. But with all those extra gallons comes the responsibility of stocking the tank correctly. Here are some things to consider when stocking your fish tank:

  • The type of fish you want to keep
  • The size of the fish
  • The water parameters required by the fish
  • The temperament of the fish
  • The number of fish you want to keep

With a 55 gallon aquarium, you have the option of keeping either freshwater or saltwater fish. But before you make your decision, it’s important to research the type of fish you’re interested in owning. Certain species require specific water conditions and may not be compatible with other fish.

Additionally, numerous stocking calculators available online can help you get the hard and fast numbers.

Below you will read about some stocking ideas for your 55 gallons aquarium. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive, but they should give you a good starting point.

55-Gallon Tank with Centerpiece Cichlids

Being a Cichlid owner and enthusiast, I can’t wait to recommend some stocking ideas that include these fantastic fish as centerpieces.

IMHO, a 55-gallon tank is a minimum size for keeping Cichlids. These fish are aggressive and territorial and need plenty of space to assert their dominance.

When stocking a 55-gallon Cichlid tank, you have many options. You can either choose to keep a single species or create a mixed-species tank.

African Cichlids do best in groups in a species-only tank as they are simply very aggressive. If you decide to go this route, I recommend the following stocking setups:

African Cichlids Cookie Cutter Setups

Types Species Quantity Note
Peaceful Mbuna aquarium Red Top Hongi Cichlid (Labidochromis sp. “Hongi”) 5/15 These Mbunas are smaller and relatively peaceful. You could choose any three species of 5 individuals (15 fish in total) in a 55-gallon aquarium, but don’t mix any Labidochromis species to avoid hybridization.
Electric yellow cichlid (Labidochromis caeruleus) 5/15
Perlmutt Cichlid (Labidochromis sp. “Perlmutt”) 5/15
Rusty Cichlid (Iodotropheus sprengerae) 5/15
Acei Cichlid (Pseudotropheus sp. “acei”) 5/15
Pearl of Likoma (Pseudotropheus joanjohnsonae) 5/15
Aggressive Mbuna Aquarium Kenyi Cichlid (Maylandia lombardoi) 5/10 Most species from Maylandia, Labeotropheus, Pseudotropheus, Chindongo, and Tropheops are aggressive and should not be kept with peaceful Mbunas. If you want to create an aggressive Mbuna aquarium, I recommend choosing two groups of up to five from the list above.
Cobalt Blue Zebra (Maylandia callainos) 5/10
Red zebra cichlid (Maylandia Estherae) 5/10
William’s mbuna (Maylandia greshakei) 5/10
Red Top Albino Zebra (Metriaclima pyrsonotos) 5/10
Fuelleborn’s Cichlid ( Labeotropheus fuelleborni) 5/10
Trewavas’ Cichlid (Labeotropheus trewavasae) 5/10
Ochre Chilumba (Labeotropheus trewavasae) 5/10
Maingano Cichlid (Pseudotropheus cyaneorhabdos) 5/10
Elongate mbuna (Pseudotropheus elongatus) 5/10
Demasoni Cichlid (Pseudotropheus demasoni) 5/10
Johanni Cichlid (Pseudotropheus johannii) 5/10
Socolofi Cichlid (Chindongo Socolofi 5/10
Saulosi Cichlid (Chindongo saulosi) 5/10
Bluegray mbuna (Melanochromis johanni) 5/10
Tropheops tropheops 5/10
Lake Tanganyika Aquariums Sardine Cichlid (Cyprichromis leptosoma) 12 – 16 These wonderful Lake Tanganyika cichlids make a great addition to any Lake Tanganyika aquarium. They are relatively peaceful and can be kept in groups of 12-16 fish or two pairs in a 55-gallon fish tank.
Calvus Cichlid (Altolamprologus calvus) 2 Pairs
Altolamprologus compressiceps 2 Pairs
Caudopunctatus Cichlid (Neolamprologus Caudopunctatus) 2 Pairs
Lemon Cichlid (Neolamprologus leleupi) 2 Pairs
Marlieri Cichlid (Julidochromis Marlieri) 2 Pairs
Convict Julie (Julidochromis regani) 2 Pairs
Golden Julie(Julidochromis ornatus) 2 Pairs
Neolamprologus buescheri (Striped Lamprologus) 2 Pairs
Telmatochromis sp 2 Pairs
West African Aquarium Nanochromis transvestitus 2 Pairs West Africa has some beautiful and peaceful fish that are perfect for a mixed-species tank, including my favorite African dwarf cichlids and Upside-down catfish.
Kribs (Pelvicachrmis pulcher) 2 Pairs
Nichols’ Dwarf Mouthbrooder (Pseudocrenilabrus nicholsi) 2 Pairs
African Butterfly Cichlid (Anomalochromis thomasi) 2 Pairs
Lionhead Cichlid (Steatocranus casuarius) 2 Pairs
Synodontis sp. (Cuckoo Catfish | Dwarf Petricola | Lace catfish) 2 Pairs

South or Central American Cichlids Cookie Cutter Setups

New World Cichlids, often referred to as South or Central American Cichlids, are some of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. They are more adaptable and individualistic than African Cichlids. 

If you’re looking to avoid aggression issues in your aquarium, I suggest starting with South American cichlids such as Angelfish, Discus, Geos, and Acara. You can keep them with other peaceful fish in a community or species-only tank.

South American Aquarium

Centerpieces Species Quantity
Dwarf Acaras & Blue Acara Redbreast Dwarf Acara Cichlid (Laetacara dorsigera) 5
Blue Acara Cichlid (Aequidens pulcher) 1 pair
Emperor Tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri) 6
Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus temminckii) 2
Keyhole & Flags Keyhole cichlid (Cleithracara maronii) 4
Flag Cichlid (Mesonauta festivus) 1 pair
Freshwater angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) 1 pair
Gold Nugget Pleco (Baryancistrus xanthellus) 2
Rams & Angels Freshwater angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) 4
Ram cichlid (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi)
or
Bolivian Ram (Mikrogeophagus altispinosus)
4
Lemon tetra (Hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis “Lemon Tetra”) 8
Dwarf Suckermouth (Otocinclus affinis) 2
Rusty Cory(Corydoras rabauti) 5
Apistos Apistogramma sp. 2 pairs
Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) 6
Emperor Tetra (Nematobrycon palmeri) 6
Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus temminckii) 1

Central American Aquarium

Centerpiece Quantity
Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) A pair
Yellow Convict Cichlid (Archocentrus nanoluteus) 2 pairs
Nandopsis salvini (Salvini Cichlid) A pair
Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata) A pair
Herotilapia Multispinosa (Rainbow Cichlid) A pair
Thorichthys meeki (Firemouth Cichlid) A pair
T Bar Cichlid (Amatitlania Sajica) A pair
Blood Parrot Cichlid (Hybrid) A pair
Poor Man’s Tropheus (Neetroplus nematopus) 4-6
Honduran red point Cichlid (Amatitlania sp. “Honduran Red Point”) 4-6
Blue and Red Flash Cichlid (Thorichthys aureus) 4

55-Gallon Tank with Non-Cichlid Fish

Instead of keeping a Cichlid as the primary focus of your 55-gallon fish tank, you have many other options for Non-Cichlid fish. Here are a few of my favorites:

Type Species Quantity
Species-only Green spotted puffer (Dichotomyctere nigroviridis) A pair
Centerpieces Species Quantity
Pearl Gouramis Pearl Gouramis (Trichopodus leerii) 3
Molly Fish (Poecilia sphenops) 3
Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) 6
Otocinclus Catfish (Otocinclus sp.) 6
Thick Lipped Gourami Thick Lipped Gourami (Trichogaster labiosa) 3
Danio sp. 6
Kuhli Loach (Pangio kuhlii) 3
Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya) 6

Final Words

Now that you know everything there is to know about 55 gallon fish tanks, it’s time to get started on your own aquascape!

Whether you’re looking for a low-maintenance setup or a show-stopping display, a 55-gallon aquarium provides the perfect canvas. With so much space to work with, the sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing your underwater world.

I hope you enjoyed reading it and found it helpful in choosing the right fish for your aquarium. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Good luck!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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