I swear I've done my homework but...


Junior Poster
Feb 4, 2009
I want to start at 20 to 30 gal planted tank. What would be the best tank size, in your opinion, for a planted tank? I've looked at a 26G (24x15x21) bowfront but they seem a little on the tall size so then I was think about a 20L. Now for lighting ::sigh::. I have looked at the Catalina T5 lighting (2x24W). Would that be enough light for the carpet plants that need the high lighting requirements? I will have CO2. I don't know enough to argue so I'm completely open to ANYthing:)



Junior Poster
Dec 18, 2008
I have heard that bowfronts are slightly harder to deal with, I am not completely sure why, but this is what I have heard. 2x24 watt T-5's would be plenty for a 20 gallon and the 30 gallon, and perhaps even a bit overkill on the 20 gallon. It seems the difference on this forum compared to others is that most everyone will swear by T-5 lighting as it is superior to other lighting types since a T-5 bulbis smaller in circumference gving it less restrike than say Power Compacts and the like. I myself have a 55 watt PC bulb over my 20 gallon high, and while it seems to be working fine, I am considering getting a Nova Extreme 2x24 watt fixture.

The size of the tank is up to you, but no mater what you may decide to go for lighting wise be sure to consider T-5 lighting if you can sheel out a few more dollars than you would for some T-8's


Lifetime Charter Member
Lifetime Member
Jan 24, 2005
Sacramento, CA
The best tank for a planted aquarium is one with a big "depth" - front to back dimension. A 29 gallon or 55 gallon tank is too "shallow" - too little front to back room - to allow many options for a good looking aquascape. A 75 gallon tank is the same size as a 55 gallon tank, but with almost 50% more front to back room, so it is vastly superior for a planted tank.

I think the best size for a tank is the biggest one you have room for, money to set up, and time to maintain. It is unusual to hear someone complain about their tank being too big, but many people complain about it being too small.

If this will be your first planted tank, I suggest you consider it to be a learning tank, where you can learn to be comfortable with fertilizing, with CO2 injection, with pruning techniques, etc. For that, a 29 gallon tank is about the smallest I would try. (I'm prejudiced, because I used one for that purpose, when I realized I really knew nothing about planted tanks.) Smaller tanks are harder to judge light intensity in, are less stable, and have too little room for plants.

My current tank, still a learner tank, as far as I am concerned, is a Jebo tank I bought on Craigslist - about 45 gallons, and with a great shape for planting, but a small footprint so it takes little room in my condo.