30 Gallon Fish Tank Guide: Size, Stocking Ideas and More…

Beautiful aquariums are not always the biggest.

Some of the most versatile and beginner friendly tanks are actually small.

The 30 gallon fish tank in particular is perfect for beginners. These tanks have less limitations compared to smaller nano tanks. They can house a variety of small fish species and also a few medium sized species too.

Whilst they are suitable for beginners they are also perfect for more experienced fishkeepers who want to create a species only or breeding tank.

Are you considering a 30 gallon aquariums?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know including: stocking ideas, running costs and much more…

30 Gallon Fish Tank

All About 30 Gallon Fish Tanks

A 30 gallon fish tank is a fantastic size for beginners.

It is large enough to capture your attention yet it is still smaller than much larger (100 gallon tanks) aquariums that can be difficult to place.

30 gallon tanks are capable of holding a large variety of fish and are generally considered the largest sized nano tank that is available. It comes in many different shapes which means it can fit into any room in the house, office or school.

This is a very versatile tank size and it can be used to set up most freshwater or saltwater environments.

A tank this size is also much more budget-friendly than larger tanks too!

How Many Fish Can You Keep In A 30 Gallon Tank?

A useful rule to keep is mind is one inch of fish per gallon.

Lots of fishkeepers follow this rule for fish stocking.

This means that for every inch of an adult fish, 1 gallon is required to make sure they have enough space.

For example Neon Tetras reach 1.2 inches when fully grown, so a 30 gallon tank will hold 25 Neon Tetras.

This method of calculation for fish stocking should be used as a rough estimate. You should also consider the activity level and behavior of the fish. A highly active fish will need more space than a low activity fish.

Also the amount of décor should also be taken into consideration. You should aim for around 50% décor coverage because anymore than this can reduce the amount of swimming space inside the tank.

Benefits Of A 30 Gallon Fish Tank

  1. This size tank is an excellent choice for beginners. A 30 gallon fish tank is not as limited as other nano-tanks, so you have much more freedom with species and décor selection.
  2. Smaller aquariums are often the best if you have a limited budget. Not only are smaller tanks cheaper to buy, but they are also much cheaper to stock too.
  3. Unlike larger tanks the 30 gallon aquarium is easy to maintain. Generally they will only need a regular 20% water changes, frequent water-testing and routinely checks of the equipment. These activities do not take very long and are easy duties to perform with a smaller tank.
  4. They can be found in many different styles and shapes which means they can fit in pretty much any room.
  5. A 30 gallon tank is the perfect size for a breeder tank. They are suitable for either freshwater or marine species and are great tanks for aquarists who want to challenge themselves and have a go at breeding their own species.

30 Gallon Aquarium Dimension

30 Gallon Aquarium

A standard 30 gallon fish tank will measure 36″x13″x16″.

However the exact dimensions will depend on the shape and brand you pick.

Breeder tanks usually have a different ​width and height to help create a squarer base which is needed for breeding. These 30 gallon breeder tanks usually measure 36″x18″x12″.

The weight of these aquariums will depend on the material – they can come in glass or acrylic.

An empty 30 gallon glass tank will weigh around 50lbs and once stocked it will around 350lbs.

How Much Does A 30 Gallon Aquarium Cost?

There are a few key things which will impact the price of an aquarium:

  • Material
  • Shape and Design
  • Equipment Included

You can find this tank in either glass or acrylic.

Glass is scratch resistant but it tends to be heavier. You should expect to pay around $300-$500 for a 30 gallon glass aquarium.

Acrylic aquariums are more durable, lighter, but they are much more expensive than glass. Expect to pay around $600 for an acrylic tank.

The shape and design can also impact the cost of the aquarium.

A simple rectangular design will be the cheapest, and more exotic shapes like bow front, cubed or hexagonal being more expensive.

The last thing that will impact the price is whether you are buying the tank on its own or as part of a kit. You should expect to pay $50-$100 more to get a kit with your tank. These kits usually include all the basic equipment you need to set up your tank including: lighting, filter, heater and a pump.

Just remember that if you are on a tight budget then consider getting a used tank. For a 30 gallon you should expect to pay around $200 for a used one.

What to Consider When Buying This Tank

Feeding Fish In A 30 Gallon Tank

There are many things to consider when purchasing a 30 gallon fish tank.

The first thing you will need to think about is the positioning and placement of the aquarium. You will need to make sure the aquarium is no direct sunlight on the tank (sunlight will cause algae growth). You will also need to keep enough space around the tank so you can do regular maintenance because you won’t be able to move the tank once it is stocked.

Once you know where you would like to position the aquarium you can then decide what shape would be best.

Another very important point to consider is your budget. Your budget will include the aquarium, stocking and equipment, and also the monthly cost of running the aquarium. This will include electric, stocking the aquarium and monthly purchases of food, cleaning supplies and water testing kits.

For a tank this size you can expect to spend close to $200 on equipment, $50 for décor and another $50 for stocking. On top of this the average cost of running the aquarium will be around $15 depending on the food and cleaning supplies you buy.

Finally, you will need to consider the type of equipment you need.

Most aquariums will need at least a heater, lights and a filter. The power of your equipment will largely depend on the fish you are planning to keep. Make sure you research each species properly so you can buy suitable equipment for them.

Cleaning Fish Tank

30 Gallon Fish Tank Stocking Ideas

School of Neon Tetra

With a tank this size you have a lot of stocking options available.

Small schooling fish are the most popular option for beginners.

Neon Tetras, Black Neon Tetras and Lemon Tetras are just some of the desirable species which you can keep in a 30 gallon aquarium. They make colorful additions to planted aquariums. Another small species loved by aquarists are Rasboras. They are a peaceful community fish that are very common in tanks under 30 gallons. You could try Chili Rasbora.

It is possible to keep a pair of Dwarf Cichlids or Dwarf Gouramis. Just know that these fish are slightly harder to care for because of their specific water parameters.

Catfish species and non-fish tank mates do exceptionally well in small aquariums like this.

Some even help to prevent algae that can commonly happen in smaller aquaria too.

Shrimp are amazing little helpers and Amano Shrimp and Cherry Shrimp are popular choices.

If you are planning to create a marine environment then there are also lots of options.

For a small marine reef tank, the Clown Goby would work very well.

Banggai cardinalfish are also a great addition to a small reef tank.

Clownfish are one of the most popular and well-known saltwater fish so you could consider them too.

Tank Setup Ideas

Freshwater Nano Tank

Freshwater tropical aquariums are great for beginners.

They are also much cheaper than saltwater aquariums.

There are lots of great schooling species that would make a great addition to this aquarium. An example community tank could include 2x Honey Gouramis, 5x Zebra Danios and 1x Corydoras.

Nano Reef Tank

What better way to capture attention and spark conversation than with a reef tank?

Some wonderful beginner corals are: Candy Cane Coral, Ricordea florida and Hammer Coral.

You could make a hard rock reef, with a few anemones and a pair of fish. Some of the most popular saltwater aquarium fish include: Firefish, Tangs, Mollies, Damselfish and Clownfish.


You could also turn your 30 gallon tank into a paludarium.

Paludarium are aquariums that contain an aquatic and terrestrial environment.

This tank can keep many semi-aquatic species including turtles, frogs and some reptiles, along with many other freshwater fish.

How To Set Up A 30 Gallon Tank

Setting Up A 30 Gallon Fish Tank

Setting up a 30 gallon fish tank is fairly straight forward.

First you will need to clean and remove any dust from your chosen gravel and décor.

Once this is done you should place the substrate carefully into the tank. You will want the gravel to be a maximum height of 2.5 inches. For a live planted aquarium the substrate needs to be at least 2-3 inches.

You can then begin to fill the tank with water.

If you are going to keep live plants you should fill the water to just under a quarter of the tank. Then you can plant the roots within the sediment and continue to fill the tank as normal.

Next you will need to fit the lights, heater, filter and any other equipment that you choose to have.

Switch on and add the required water treatments, water conditioner and a bio filter. The next step is the one of the most important. The tank will need to be cycled. This period of time allows a natural biological filter to establish and create a healthy environment for your fish. The cycling period takes around 4 weeks to complete.

Once the tank is cycled nitrites should read 0 ppm and then your fish can start to be added.

Common Problems

The most common problems with a 30 gallon fish tank are overstocking and irregular maintenance.

Let’s start with overstocking.

There are many wonderful and diverse species that can live in small tanks but unfortunately you can only choose a limited number of these species. A crowded tank can increase aggressive behavior. It will also increase the chances of sickness and disease within the aquarium from the buildup of excess waste.

Make sure to read our stocking advice earlier to prevent overstocking.

30 gallon aquarium are easy to maintain when regular water testing and scheduled cleaning is done. However with small tanks this advice can sometime be ignored and the results can be deadly.

With smaller volumes of water the water parameters can change quickly. This can become fatal to the fish or make them very unhealthy.

You need to make sure you test the water parameters weekly to prevent sudden and deadly water changes.

Should You Get A 30 Gallon Fish Tank? (Summary)

The beauty of the 30 gallon fish tank is that you can stock a good variety of fish without worrying about the tank taking up too much space. This tank is versatile, easy to maintain, and budget friendly.

They are suitable for many different aquarists with different experience levels and are one of the best options for beginners.

Because this tank is available in so many different shapes you can find one to fit pretty much any room.

Just remember that it is easy to overstock this tank so make sure you plan carefully. In addition you will need to perform routine cleaning and water testing to make sure your fish stay healthy.

With good planning and scheduled maintenance, this aquarium will make a great addition to any home.

What is the best fish to keep in a 30 gallon fish tank?

Let us know in the comments section below…