A 55 gallon fish tank is a big commitment. Literally. These massive tanks can take up an entire desk’s worth of space. While their size may make them feel a bit daunting, they’re actually not that hard to maintain. Once you get past the initial setup process, you’ll find that 55 gallon fishtanks are able to maintain more stable water conditions throughout the week, reducing the need for you to keep testing your water and changing it. Less disturbance means less stress for your fish so it’s kind of a win-win.
Setting Up a 55 Gallon Fish Tank Will Have Its Challenges
A 55 gallon fish tank will allow you to add multiple species of fish in the same tank or keep a large school of the same fish species. Whichever community tank you go with, it will come with its own unique set of challenges. A single species tank will be easier to keep within good parameters to accommodate all your fish, but a multi-species tank will be a lot more interesting to look at as it will allow you to recreate your fishes’ natural habitats.
Your Fishes’ Compatibility
Individual fish have different personalities and entire species will have different temperaments. Some fish species, such as the betta fish, are naturally more aggressive than small schooling fish like tetras. Choosing tankmates with compatible temperaments can go a long way to making sure that you don’t come home to mysteriously dead fish.
Even if you manage to pick fish with mild tempers, some tankmates may not be compatible for other factors. For example, long-finned fishes may not do well with especially nippy tank mates like crayfish that may rip their tails. And then, there’s the obvious: You can’t mix saltwater fish and freshwater fish as well as tropical fish with fish from cooler climates. Their preferred water conditions have such little overlap that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep them in the same tank.
Your Fishes Maximum Growth Size
While 55 gallon fish tanks are quite generous in terms of space, all of that space is going to be filled by other fish, decorative rocks, and aquatic plants. The bottom line is there’s not as much space as you may think there is. While your fish look fine now, some of them may not be at their maximum growth size yet so when they do get bigger, there may not be enough room for everyone to live comfortably.
The occasional fight will break out and your fish may overwhelm each other. Some fish are also naturally more skittish and as such will want more hiding spots. Good aquascaping can help you break up the space of your tank so your fish have plants to rest on and rocks to hide under.
6 Fish That Go Well in a 55 Gallon Fish Tank
Generally, the same fish that go well in other tank sizes are also great for 55 gallon fish tanks. It just so happens that you can now keep more of them together with other fish. 55 gallon fish tanks open up the possibility of having large schools of fish which can be quite entrancing to look at. Neon tetras look particularly magical when they move in large schools due to their bright red and blue coloration that give the tank water this almost visual illusion-like effect.
Angelfish are known for their triangular, sometimes even arrowhead-like shape. Remember Gill from Finding Nemo? He’s an angelfish. These fish can grow up to the size of a saucer so it’s great that they’re not really schooling fish or else you might have a cramped tank in no time. Like a lot of other fish, these fish can be fed dried or frozen bloodworms. Since they’re tropical fish, they’re best kept in temperatures between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Blood Parrot Cichlid
As you can tell from their name, blood parrot cichlids are bright red fish that can add a lot of color to your tank. They can be tankmates for angelfish since they prefer water temperatures of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they may not be the fish for you if you don’t feel like keeping a tank for 10 to 15 years.
3. Betta Fish
You’ve likely heard that betta fish can’t be kept in tanks with other fish. This is generally true since the species has quite a mean temper and a territorial streak. However, the rule only strictly applies to keeping male betta fish together in the same tank. Individual bettas can be added to community tanks and live in harmony with other fish…though you might run into the occasional betta that just wants to pick a fight with everything. Keep a spare tank near your 55 gallon fish tank in case that happens.
You can also keep several betta fish in the same tank together as long as they’re all female. Sorority tanks are tanks stocked exclusively with female betta fish and sometimes the occasional snail or shrimp tank mate. These tanks take work to pull off but are really the only way to keep several feisty bettas in the same tank. As with any sorority though, you might see a fish get bullied so be sure to separate them from the community tank when that happens.
4. Discus Fish
Discus fish are a little out of range for some of the fish on this list as they like their water between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. These exotic, gorgeous fish that look straight out of Cameron’s Avatar films have a reputation for being difficult to keep alive so you may want to reconsider getting them if you’re relatively new to the hobby.
If you like the look of the chili rasbora but want a different fish, you can switch over to the killifish. These bright red little fish grow up to just 2 inches and like tropical temperatures of 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, making them good tankmates with some of the other fish on this list.
Not every 55 gallon fish tank owner can stock up a tank full in one go so if you want to take your time selecting fish and just getting a rough feel for your tank’s community first, you might want to try adding a school of guppies to your tank. Or just two. Guppies are live-bearing fish that reproduce easily, requiring little interference on your part compared to other fish. You’ll have an entire school of them before you even realize it.
Plus, guppies come in all kinds of colors and patterns so you can experiment with breeding your own fish. They are also tropical, freshwater fish that like temperatures between 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, making them quite popular alongside the betta fish.