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A 20 gallon aquarium is probably the most versatile fish tank size made. It’s large enough to hold a decent fish population and can also be used as a terrarium should you need to do so.
If you’ve started with a smaller tank and want to upgrade to a 20 gallon aquarium you’ve made a wise choice!
Here are our top 10 picks for the 20 gallon aquarium:
20 Gallon Aquarium Dimensions
The standard 20 gallon aquarium dimensions are 30 x 12 x 12” and weighs about 225 pounds when filled with water. This means that you will need a fish tank stand specially made for this size aquarium so that it gets the support and weight distribution it needs to maintain its safety and integrity.
It may not look that much larger than a 10 gallon fish tank but there is definitely a lot more air surface so the tank will be more properly oxygenated than a smaller one.
The fish will have more room to swim around, obviously, but there is another advantage to getting a standard rectangular 20 gallon aquarium—fish prefer to swim side to side rather than up and down. The length of the tank allows them more natural movement than a smaller tank.
20 Gallon Aquarium Setup
It’s a lot of fun preparing and decorating a 20 gallon aquarium!
Since there is more real estate on the bottom, you’ll have a lot more choices. When a tank is small you have to be very careful that everything goes just right together but with a larger tank you can throw in a random element or two just for surprise value without upsetting the serenity of the environment.
For instance, a natural underwater theme in a smaller tank would have to stay consistent in order to set the mood. In a larger tank you can afford to perhaps have a skeleton peeking from behind a rock without totaling destroying the mood of the tank.
Glass vs Acrylic
The glass vs. acrylic question is not very significant at this point. A 20 gallon aquarium will not be heavy enough to impact the integrity of a well made, quality acrylic tank.
If you can be fairly sure that your tank won’t be prone to scratching in your household, an acrylic tank is something you can consider if you like the looks, the shapes and the clarity of view that one of them offers.
You’ll pay more for hoods, canopies and filtration systems for this size tank, of course, since everything will have to be larger. For instance, you won’t be able to make do with an inexpensive pump as you can for a smaller tank. You will need something more heavy duty that is able to produce a consistent, strong flow of air for the filtration system.
Be careful when choosing a pump for these larger tanks and don’t underestimate the power requirements. Spending a couple of dollars more on a good quality pump will save you time, trouble and perhaps your favorite fish!