Top Fin 55 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit – Review & Spec

The Top Fin 55 gallon starter kit is a nice balance between convenience and tank size. It follows a non-traditional form factor, stretching 48.25” in length while remaining only just over 20” tall and 12.75” wide.

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The result is a panoramic view of your fish, with an increased amount of surface area facing the viewer. Able to support a wide range of freshwater, saltwater, and marine fish, this tank will allow you to enjoy watching a variety of species race across the four foot length of their habitat.

A 200W electric heater provides a wide range of adjustment settings, allowing you to dial in the water temperature to better suit your specific species. A strip thermometer makes it easy for you to keep an eye on water conditions and catch any problems should they arise.

Dual hoods each contain their own set of fluorescent lighting to fully illuminate the length of the tank. The power filter comes with an extra cartridge to ensure you’re ready for your first maintenance session. Also included is a 6” fish net and a guide to getting started and maintaining your equipment over time.

The use of a glass tank helps reduce maintenance work, and allows the use of specific tools (like metal razor blades for scraping) that other tank materials can’t support. The internal capacity creates plenty of room for decorations and plants, ensuring your fish have a home to be proud of.

The use of a sturdy stand is highly recommended to ensure this tank is stable.

Click here to see current availablity at PetSmart

MarineLand BioWheel 55 Gallon Fish Tank – Review & Spec

The Marineland BioWheel LED aquarium kit is an all in one package designed to quickly get you up and running with either a freshwater or saltwater setup. At 55 gallons, this is a tank that doesn’t require a ton of room. It’s 48” wide, 13” long and 18.5” high, so it will fit most homes or apartments with ease.

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The use of LED lights is a different approach that saves both energy and maintenance costs over the long run. LEDs last much longer than other types of bulbs, so you won’t have to worry about bulb changes.

This is a full kit containing everything you need short of the actual fish. It even includes water conditioner and fish food. Just unbox and setup, add your water, and wait 24 hours for the temperature to regulate and for the conditioner to do its job. After that, you’re ready to add fish.

Included in the box is the aquarium itself, the hood with integrated LED lighting, a powerful Penguin 150 BioWheel filter, and the electrical adapter to power this equipment. Water climate is controlled by an integrated heater with a visible thermometer so you can manually confirm the conditions.

Due to its convenient size, this tank doesn’t necessarily require the use of a full stand. It can be supported by a sturdy table or other piece of furniture. To help ensure your experience is a success, they include a one year warranty (which also covers the lights – something rare in a non-LED setup).

Available to purchase online from PetSmart

Aquarium FAQs: Answers to Your Biggest Questions

There’s a lot to learn when setting up a fish tank. Here’s a list of some of the more frequently asked questions – hopefully these answers will help you get started on the right foot.

When should I run my tank’s lights?

A lot of new owners leave their tank lighting switched on 24/7, or otherwise don’t pay much attention to when they are turned on. Constant or inconsistent lighting can be detrimental to the health of your fish. Around 10 hours per day of light followed by 14 hours of darkness is preferable.

Since it can be difficult to remember to turn your lights on or off at the appropriate time (or you may simply not be home to do so), a timer is highly recommended. They run on a 24 hour schedule, so you can set them to turn on and off at specific intervals. For more detail on using lighting with a marine / reef aquarium take a look at our Planted Tank lighting here.

Are plants just for aesthetics?

Although the addition of plant life to your tank can provide something extra to look at and give your fish a more interesting environment, they also serve an additional purpose. Just like plant life helps supply oxygen to us humans, it also helps regulate the aquatic environment of your fish.

These plants reduce the amount of free waste floating around with your fish. Remember, their toilet is their tank, so it helps to have something to process this waste matter. As a bonus, they produce oxygen within the water, helping to balance out any problems in this area.

By providing these benefits, the presence of plants actually help correct any errors you might have with the chemistry of the water. They can help drastically improve the odds of fish survival.

What’s the deal with adding fish gradually?

For a new tank, it’s important to introduce no more than three fish at once. That means that when the tank is initially setup, the chlorine has been removed, and the ideal temperature has been reached, only a few fish should be added.

This will prompt the nitrogen cycle to begin, and it can take several weeks for this cycle to conclude. Adding too many fish at once can stop this cycle from properly taking place. After a few fish have had time to seed the nitrogen regulation process, you can begin to add more fish gradually.

Does an algae eater clean my tank for me?

Absolutely not, although this is a very common misconception. They will help clean your tank by consuming algae, but they produce waste of their own that they can’t remove. Adding an algae eater means your total fish population has increased, and you should clean the tank more often – not less often.

With that in mind, an algae eater can be fun to watch, and they do help keep the algae population under control – they just don’t technically clean the tank.

Does the maximum size of my fish depend on my tank?

Not at all. A fish will reach its maximum size based only on its type. A fish in a smaller tank will not reach a smaller size as a result. Based on that, it’s important to carefully select your fish based on the size of your aquarium, or you risk having to upgrade to a larger tank as they grow. Fish need plenty of room to move around to be happy, and you shouldn’t risk overpopulating your water with the wrong type of fish for your aquarium size.

What temperature is best for my water?

You should always look up your specific type of fish to determine what temperatures they are best suited for, but a general rule of thumb is around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Most fish will be comfortable within a few degrees in either direction of this range.

Reptile Aquariums & Vivariums: What Do You Need?

If you are planning on keeping reptiles, they have some pretty specific needs. What specifically you need will depend upon the reptile and the environment that they come from. You’ll literally build a different vivarium (fish live in aquariums, reptiles live in vivariums) for each species, be it a snake, turtle or lizard. In order to make sure that your new pet stays happy and healthy, you should make sure that you have researched the following four items and have appropriated your reptile’s needs as closely as possible.

Temperature Settings

You probably already know that reptiles are cold-blooded which means that they can’t generate their own body heat. That means that they rely on external heat in order to stay warm or cool – at the perfect temperature in other words. Different reptiles prefer different environments, but a good average temperature is about 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for some species that are used to being in the desert.

This means that you’ll need a heater of some sort with thermometer for your vivarium. However, depending upon the reptile, maintaining the right temperature can be complex. The best way to do it is to keep part of the vivarium warmer than others and let your reptile decide where he or she wants to go. There are a number of devices that you can use to heat your cage: blankets, hot rocks, lights or actual heating units. Each species is different, but remember that they move in and out of the sun to maintain temperature so plan accordingly.

Vivarium Humidity

The amount of moisture in your reptile cage will need to be monitored as well. The humidity will depend upon temperature, the type of ventilation built in and the amount of water being introduced into your vivarium. You can increase humidity when needed by spraying water or putting standing water inside the cage. Again, the humidity needed will vary depending upon the reptile.

Create a Large Space

Make sure that your reptile has plenty of space to move around. If your cage is too small, or if you have too many reptiles in the cage, you will not only annoy the animals, but you may upset the other factors like temperature and humidity – particularly with overcrowding.

Introduce UV Light

Reptiles that spend time in the sun do so because they get vitamin D3 from the sunlight. If your have a reptiles that requires this, you will have to introduce an ultraviolet light into the vivarium. This is because the type of light bulbs that are normally in a household do not provide UV radiation. Make sure that you place is so that you reptile will be about 12 inches away from it when underneath it.

Planning your 75 Gallon Aquarium

An aquarium of this size (75 gallons or larger) is a big commitment, requiring careful planning of both the individual components and the overall setup. By the time you finish this guide, you’ll be ready to purchase your aquarium and prepare it for use.

There’s a lot to consider when setting up your aquarium, but if you follow these steps, you’ll minimize your risk of making any rookie mistakes.

Before Buying Your 75+ Gallon Aquarium Setup

To ensure your project is a success, it’s best to thoroughly plan your setup before making any purchasing decisions. Careful planning in this area will help you avoid many common mistakes that plague beginners, and give your first batch of fish a fighting chance at longevity.

  • Research the type of fish you’re planning to house. Different fish have widely varying requirements in terms of necessary space, environmental conditions, and compatible equipment. This will be the long-term home for these creatures, so you want to make sure they are as happy and healthy as possible.
  • Buy a book aimed at your specific fish species. An entire book for the care of one type of fish might seem like overkill – but it’s not. Once you decide on the type of fish you will house, it’s worth at least a quick read on the caretaking of their type.Among other things, you’ll want to research the maximum size of your fish and the water volume requirements. This will allow you to purchase the right number of fish, without under or overpopulation issues. Another point to consider, if you’re planning to keep multiple types of fish, is how those types interact with one another. Some types of fish simply aren’t compatible with one another, and can cause major issues upon introduction.
  • Select the location that will house your aquarium. This might sound like an obvious point, but it’s often overlooked until it’s too late. You’ll want to make sure the tank will fit nicely in the designated area, filling the height and width in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Also take into consideration the need for distance around the electrical equipment, providing adequate airflow to ensure long life. Simply planning to push everything up against the wall is never an ideal situation.
  • Establish your budget. Once you realize the extensive equipment involved in fish care, it’s clear that the tank itself is only a small part of the overall cost. Aquariums can get expensive very quickly, and it’s easy to nickel and dime your way into a very costly project. Setup your budget ahead of time, and plan out a sample list of equipment so you know what to expect. If possible, try to keep your expenses at 10% or so below your budget, because unforeseen expenditures always seem to pop up before the project is fully completed.
  • Plan your components. In the past, the best way to pick out your equipment was to visit your local pet store and browse around. While still a viable option, the internet has become the best place to find everything you could possibly need. There are a lot of unique components available only online, and the price savings tends to outweigh the cost of shipping – even for large components. Plus, eyeing your setup online gives you the ability to do more research on your own before pulling the trigger.This is where a book with information specific to your fish type comes in handy. You can continue referencing it as you go, ensuring you stay on track to an effective setup.

Once you’ve considered these points and done adequate research into the requirements of your individual fish, you should have greater insight into making an informed decision. As you list off your components, you’ll likely end up with some of the following:

  • The aquarium tank itself
  • A solid stand for the tank
  • A canopy / “top” for aquarium
  • Substrate material (gravel)
  • Heating system
  • Lights
  • Filtration and pump setup
  • Multi-use chemical test system
  • Various necessary chemical additives (which will depend on your specific fish)

This doesn’t include the optional (but highly recommended) extras, like decoration for your tank’s interior. You can always add these touches later, but an interesting décor arrangement that mimics what would be found in a natural environment will help ensure your fish are happy and healthy. Additionally, they provide a nice aesthetic touch that makes any tank vastly more beautiful.

These examples also assume you will be using a freshwater aquarium – which is still the most common type, even among larger tanks. If you’re using a saltwater setup, you’ll need to take additional steps to achieve the desired salinity before introducing your fish.

As you plan the overall size of your tank, remember to check any details in your lease (if applicable), as some terms will prohibit very large aquariums on the premises. Ensure the floor is solid enough to support a large tank as well. A 75 gallon aquarium can weigh over 700 lbs when full, so it will place a heavy strain on the floor.

Once you have your equipment, it’s time to move on to setup. This can be an intimidating process for a first-timer, but there’s no need to stress out. While care must be taken to follow setup instructions closely, once you do, you’ll be on the fast track to being operational.

One thing to mention before we begin – don’t plan on being able to add your fish the same day you fill the tank. It takes time for the water to stabilize, for initial chemical additives to do their job in prepping the water, and for the water to be adjusted to the appropriate temperature (this alone can take some time).

With that in mind, it’s easiest not to purchase your fish until you’ve finished setting up your tank. That way, when you bring them home, their home will be all ready for them. You can just plop them in and watch them become accustomed to their new environment.

Setting Up Your 75+ Gallon Aquarium

With all of the planning and purchasing out of the way, it’s time to get to the fun part – putting it all together. Here’s what the process looks like, in an ordered step-by-step manner:

  • Setup the actual aquarium. This involves placing the tank on top of the stand. Ideally, your stand will be made specifically for the aquarium to ensure adequate size and support. These large tanks are heavy, and needless to say very fragile if they are dropped. Enlist the help of at least one other person (preferably two, to be safe) to ensure nothing goes wrong. There’s nothing more frustrating than a cracked or broken tank.Before continuing, be sure to remove all packaging material, such as protective films or stickers.
  • Fill the tank. First, you’ll want to lay down an ample layer of gravel. Before adding gravel to the tank, thoroughly rinse it off with clean water. Lay the gravel in a gradual slope that is thinner at the front and thicker at the rear of the tank.Next, fill the tank with water. This is usually done with a simple garden hose. Unless you have well water or are using a special chlorine-free water source, you’ll want to immediately use a chlorine neutralizing chemical. These additives make even basic tap water suitable for aquarium use. Follow the package instructions, which dictate the amount to add based on your aquarium’s capacity.
  • Optional: Add décor. As stated before, you don’t necessarily have to add decorations right away, but they do create a more appealing tank and give your fish something to enjoy in their environment. Don’t over-do it, however – your fish will still need plenty of free space to swim around.Always rinse off new decorations before adding them to the water. Basic décor usually includes some branches with faux leaves, some larger pieces of wood, some large rocks, and preferably something that gives your fish a cozy place to nest.
  • Setup the pump, filtration system, and heater. The individual steps for this process will vary depending upon your individual equipment models, so make sure to read the setup instruction manuals before continuing. Never plug in your equipment until you’ve finished setting up everything. The external pump motor will typically hang off the rear of your aquarium’s glass. Also take this opportunity to install the light fixture. Dial the heater in to the desired temperature, and when finished, plug it in and turn everything on.
  • Adding your fish. You’ll need to allow at least a full day (24 hours) for your water to reach the appropriate temperature before you can consider adding fish. It’s best to add fish gradually, if possible. After four weeks have gone by, you should do a test for ammonia and nitrite levels. It’s best to only have a few fish in the tank before taking this reading. Ideally, you’ll add the rest of the fish after that ammonia and nitrite balancing process has taken place.

There’s a lot to consider when setting up your aquarium, but if you follow these steps, you’ll minimize your risk of making any beginner mistakes.