Translating Qualitative Tank Sizes Into Quantitive Volumes

M’kay, first off, truly wicked title, eh? Yeah, thought of that all by myself! 😛 Anyway, moving on…

So, it often makes me smile when someone tells me s/he has a “fairly large” tank, and then when I ask for the dimensions, the tank ends up being somewhere around the 15 gallon mark. I offer for you, the enthusiastic fishkeeper, my interpretation of tank sizes, based not on human perception of the tank, but on the size of fish one might put in them. Small tanks are for small fish. Large tanks are for large fish. Multiple large fish must be kept in an XL tank. Make sense?

Taking the whole spectrum of common sizes of tanks available in Canada (with Hagen, Miracles, Perfecto/Marineland and Aqueon being the four big brand names), I give you the following grouping of tanks, based primarily on each tank’s footprint and, of course, its capacity. The primary concern for a fish is swimming area, and while added height does have the benefit of additional volume, it does not necessarily add any new territory, unless you have different species that separate into various strata within the tank. Let’s review…

Note:
H = high/tall, XH = extra-high/tall, B = breeder/short/wide, L = long. Measurements are given as length x width x height in inches (sorry!) and volumes in approximate US gallons (again, sorry!).

BOWLS & CUBES

Included just for comparison, the biggest of fish bowls usually max out at about 1 gallon. Yes, ONE gallon. Please think about this before housing your fish in one of these torture devices. What’s that? You have more than one fish in one of these?! Not cool, dude. Not cool. These make a great place to hold your fish nets, however!

TINY TANKS (itty-bitty micro-tanks)

These are good for not much else besides hospital/isolation tanks, shrimp, dwarf frogs, temporary breeder tanks for smaller species, fry raising tanks or to give your pet Betta some actual swimming room. No, you should not keep Goldfish in tanks this small. Don’t do it. Ever.

Common sizes:

2.5 (12 x 6 x 8 )
3.5 (14 x 8 x 8 )
5.5 (16 x 8 x 10)
10H (16 x 8 x 20)

SMALL TANKS (starter tanks)

Not to say that if you own one of these tanks you’re new to the hobby, but chances are one of these will be the first of your collection, or at least the first tank a particular fish inhabits before swimming up to some larger quarters.

Common sizes:

10   (20 x 10 x 12)
15H  (20 x 10 x 16)
16H  (20 x 10 x 19)
19XH (20 x 10 x 22)
20XH (20 x 10 x 24)

15   (24 x 12 x 12)
20H  (24 x 12 x 16)
25H  (24 x 12 x 20)
28H  (24 x 12 x 22)
30H  (24 x 12 x 24)

18L  (30 x 12 x 12)
25   (30 x 12 x 16)
28   (30 x 12 x 18)
35H  (30 x 12 x 22)

28B  (30 x 18 x 12)

MEDIUM TANKS (3-foot & narrow 4-foot tanks)

Note that 30 gallons is generally the smallest sized tank in which one should keep ANY kind of adult goldfish.

Common sizes:

23L (36 x 12 x 12)
28L (36 x 12 x 15)
33  (36 x 12 x 18)
37  (36 x 12 x 20)
45  (36 x 12 x 24)

42B (36 x 18 x 15)
45B (36 x 18 x 16)
50H (36 x 18 x 19)
55  (36 x 18 x 20)
65H (36 x 18 x 24)

40L  (48 x 12 x 16)
48   (48 x 12 x 19)
50   (48 x 12 x 20)
60   (48 x 12 x 24)

LARGE TANKS (4- & 5-foot tanks)

Common sizes:

65L   (48 x 18 x 19)
66    (48 x 16 x 20)
75    (48 x 18 x 20)
80    (48 x 16 x 24)
90    (48 x 18 x 24)
110H  (48 x 18 x 30)

125XH (48 x 24 x 24)
150XH (48 x 24 x 30)

110XH (60 x 18 x 24)
120XH (60 x 18 x 26)

EXTRA-LARGE TANKS (6-foot tanks)

Common sizes:

100L (72 x 18 x 19)
124  (72 x 18 x 22)
135  (72 x 18 x 24)
150  (72 x 18 x 27)
150  (72 x 18 x 29)

180  (72 x 24 x 24)
220  (72 x 24 x 30)

XXL TANKS

Aquaria in this category are truly monumental, in excess of 6 feet long and/or hold more than a kilolitre of water! Yeah, that’s about 265 gallons. (Red terror or wolf cichlid colony, anyone?) These are the biggest of the big, the tanks you see in store windows, museums and in the homes of the truly crazy, crazy fish nuts. (No, I don’t own one…yet!)

Common sizes:

265 (84 x 24 x 30)

So, into which category does your tank fall?

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