Recently I bought the Marineland 5-gallon portrait tank.
I’ve had it set up for a while and want to share my experience.
The good, bad, and the ugly.
Honestly, I was hesitant to buy it because I couldn’t find reliable reviews. There were plenty on Amazon, but it’s always tough to know if they’ve been manipulated.
While this tank averages close to five stars on Amazon, there are some annoying things you should know.
For the price, the Marineland 5 Gallon Tank is a solid beginner-friendly aquarium. The biggest annoyance is that the lid has no handle, and the light isn’t suited for most live plants. I would mainly recommend using a beta fish in this size tank. Because it was fair-priced and easy to set up, I would recommend it to beginners.
First, let me briefly go over…
I wanted an aquarium that could fit on my work desk. I don’t have a lot of room, so this 5-gallon portrait worked perfectly.
I love its shape because it doesn’t take up too much space and is aesthetically pleasing.
I stocked it with some live plants and a colony of Neon Tetras. If you look close enough, you can see a few of the Tetras in the bottom right corner.
After observing their behavior, they seemed to be acting aggressively. I didn’t know this then, but Neon Tetra are better suited in at least 10 gallons and a minimum of 6 for a colony. I’m in the process of moving them to a larger tank.
Aesthetically this tank looks awesome.
But from a functionality standpoint, some things are frustrating.
First, let’s start with…
Well, it comes in this nicely packaged box.
Inside you’ll find…
- 5-gallon glass aquarium
- LED strip panel
- Bottom stand
- Filter slide
- Pump w/ tube
If you’re curious, I dedicated a full post detailing my setup.
Below are the pros & cons I’ve noticed after using it every day.
Pros & Cons
Starting with the pros…
I love the look of this aquarium. The fact that it sits vertically and doesn’t take up as much space as a normal wider tank is so nice. I have it set up right next to my computer, and it’s a vibe.
Most beginners (including myself) have no idea where to start, so this was a great all-in-one setup. As I briefly mentioned above, the setup was fairly easy. This was my first aquarium, and I could figure it out without any issues.
Alright, now let’s move on to the cons.
If you plan on having live plants, the light that comes with this tank will only work with a select few, like…
- Java Fern
It killed most of my live plants because it wasn’t powerful enough. You can see in the image below that it consists of a small LED strip. Again, it’ll probably be fine if you only stock low-light plants. But I’d suggest upgrading, especially if you’re gonna stick with this hobby long-term.
My solution was to replace it with a Fluval LED Nano light. That light allows you to automatically program a circadian rhythm, which is important for your live plants and the health of your fish. I’m so glad I upgraded to the Fluval; it’s a high-quality light that will last a long time.
Moving on to the most frustrating part about this aquarium.
How the heck are you gonna sell a lid you need to remove daily to feed your fish WITHOUT A HANDLE?
I’m sure a handle could easily break from a shipping perspective, but come on!
It’s annoying to carefully pull the lid off by the sides. I accidentally dropped the lid a few times, making a mess.
Having no handle is probably my biggest frustration with this aquarium. You could hack something together (like buy sticky clips on Amazon), but they should already come with some.
After watching Aquarium Coops video on this tank, I saw that Cory added more biological filtration. I bought this sponge from their website and have completely replaced the stock filter that comes with the tank.
You can see in the image below how tiny their filtration is. It’s a replaceable filter and small sponge. Not only do you have to keep buying the filters, but it’s also just so tiny. The more biological filtration, the better.
Pump suction cups
The suction cups for the pump are on the bottom and work well. But the annoying part is that there’s barely any space in the back to see if you suctioned the pump properly.
It’s sort of pushing it down and hope it sticks method.
The pump tube at the top often detaches because algae builds up on the connectors. I wish there were a better way to secure it because I often have to go in, wipe it down and reconnect it.
Pump stopped working
After five months of letting my tank run, my pump stopped working. I read online that several people were able to get theirs to start working again by cleaning it.
Unfortunately, I tried everything, and nothing worked.
I now know it’s common practice to clean your pump every couple of months, which I’ll be doing.
To put it simply, this tank has a lot of room for improvement. But mine is still going strong, and I can’t complain about the price.
It’s budget-friendly and easy to set up, so I’d recommend it for beginners.