- 55g aquarium tank fish stocking suggestions for beginners


55g aquarium tank fish stocking suggestions for beginners

Author: Yeo-Hoon Bae
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2009

55g tank is an excellent size for beginners. It has a footprint of 48 inches by 12 inches which leaves you with lots of options for different themes and species choices. More volume of water means easier to keep water parameters stable. Larger tanks are actually easier to maintain! You should first look at what themes or biotopes you like, and go from there:

Peaceful South American theme

These are peaceful species that are easy to keep. No need to worry about aggressions since they will get along fine on 99.9% of the times. A great choice if you are just starting your hobby.

Consider the following groups:

  • a group of tetras, rasboras or barbs
  • a group of bottom dwelling species such as cories and/or smaller loaches
  • a center show fish

  • Here's an example stocking plan:

  • 8 x Neon Tetra
  • 8 x Cherry Barb
  • 8 x Panda Cory
  • 1 x Bristlenose Pleco
  • 3 x Oto
  • 1 x Pearl Gourami
  • 4 x Zebra Loach

  • Press this link to further experiment with this setup using All species mentioned here are already pre-populated for you.

    This setup is slightly understocked which is good for beginners since there's less maintenance required.

    Aggressive large New World Cichlid theme

    These are typically very aggressive and grows large. 12 inches or larger are not uncommon hence many of these cichlids are unsuitable for a 55g tank. Most of them are territorial too. If you add one too many fishes, they will fight for death or seriously hurt each other.

    Do NOT get Oscars. They may look cute at 2 inches but they will grow to 12 inches and it is one of the aggressive species that cannot live well in 55g later on. You really need a 75g tank (the one with 48x18 footprint) for Oscars.

    In this theme, the limiting factor might be the territory (i.e. footprint of your aquarium tank) not the total bioload. You are looking for species that will not grow more than 6-8 inches max.

    Example tank 1:
  • Single Green Terror

  • Example tank 2:
  • Single Jack Dempsey

  • Example tank 3:
  • Pair of Salvini

  • Example tank 4:
  • Pair of Convicts

  • Example tank 5:
  • Pair of Firemouths

  • New World Cichlids are incredably good at caring their youngs. If you have a pair, they will produce many frys. You will need to plan ahead what you want to do with those frys because once they reach certain age, their parents will show aggressions toward them.

    Mbuna species theme from Lake Malawi in Africa

    Read the article Introduction to mbuna species first.

    Mbuna species are one of the most attractively colored species for fresh water. They tend to grow to about 4-6 inches and they tend to be very active and aggressive. Because of their aggressive nature, their aggresions are kept in check by overcrowding the tank. This means typical mbuna tanks are full of active moving colorful fishes.

    Not all Mbuna species have the same level of aggression. For beginners, you will want to choose the ones with less aggression.

    Example tank 1:
  • 6 x Pseudotropheus Acei (ideally 1 male, 5 females)
  • 6 x Yellow Lab (ideally 1 male, 5 females)
  • 1 x Bristlenose Pleco

  • Example tank 2:
  • 5 x Pseudotropheus Acei (ideally 1 male, 4 females)
  • 5 x Yellow Lab (ideally 1 male, 4 females)
  • 5 x Rusty Cichlid (ideally 1 male, 4 females)
  • 1 x Bristlenose Pleco

  • Both of these setups consist of peaceful (for mbuna) species. 1 male plus N females is often a necessity in mbuna setup but in this case, due to their relative peacefulness, you may be able to get away with 2 males but still advise against it.

    Although both tanks are overstocked, tank 1 has lighter bioload which means your filter load is lower and your water change volume will go down accordingly as well.

    Make sure you have plenty of filtration capacity when you are dealing with overstocked Mbuna species tanks.

    You can further discuss or leave suggestions in this forum.

    Try out our Intellegent Aquarium Stocking Calculator.