Marineland 5 Gallon Tank Review (Bought & Tested)

By: Billy | August 7, 2023 | Planted Tanks

The Marineland 5-gallon portrait was one of my first tanks. While it averages close to five stars on Amazon, there are some annoying things you should know.

The good, bad, and the ugly.


  • Affordable
  • Easy Setup
  • Don’t need a lot of space


  • Glass lid has no handle
  • Weak light for live plants
  • Small filter cartridge

First, let me briefly go over…

My First Setup

I went to my local chain pet store. They recommended some live plants and four Neon Tetra. Within a few weeks, the plants rotted away, and my Neon Tetras were acting aggressive toward one another.

Neon Tetras are better suited in at least 10 gallons and a minimum of 6 since they’re a schooling fish.

I moved them to my 20-gallon setup and they are much more comfortable. Their aggressive behavior went away and I can sleep easy at night. My mistake was that I didn’t research Neon Tetra before going to the chain Pet Store. As a result, I built an improper environment for them.

marineland 5-gallon portrait tank

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.

Easy setup

Most beginners have no idea where to start, so this was a great all-in-one setup. As I briefly mentioned above, the setup was pretty easy. This was my first aquarium, and I could figure it out without issues.

Alright, now let’s move on to the cons.


If you plan on having live plants, the light with this tank will only be suitable for a select few…

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.

I’d suggest upgrading to this Fluval light. It allows you to automatically program a circadian rhythm, which is good for your live plants and the health of your fish. While it’s not cheap, it’s high quality and will last you a long time. You can use it for any of your future tanks.

marineland portrait light

Moving on to the most frustrating part about this aquarium.

Glass lid

The most annoying part is that the lid doesn’t have a handle. Maybe because it could easily break during shipping?

But come on!

It isn’t a very pleasant experience to pull the lid off by the sides. I accidentally dropped the lid a few times, making a mess. If you buy this tank, make your life easier and get these sticky clips to use as a handle.

marineland portrait lid

Small Filter

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.

marineland 5 gallon portrait filter

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.

marineland portrait pump

Pump attachment

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 could 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.

I bought this pump (2-pack) from Amazon, which does the job nicely.

How to replace submersible pump for marineland portrait 5 gallon setup?

First, unplug your be pump so it’s off. Next, pull it up off the bottom. There are suction cups on the bottom of the pump, so it will require some force. Once out, pull the tube off the pump and put it on your new pump.

How to filter change marineland portrait aquarium kit 5 gallon?

The filter cartridges are a rip-off. Constantly changing the filter is a bad idea because you’re replacing the beneficial bacteria. A better solution is to buy a sponge filter and cut it to fit it in the back. You never need to replace and repurchase new filters. Just make sure to clean it every now and then when you’re doing tank maintenance.

Bottom Line

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.


I've been building freshwater aquariums with my dad since a young age. A few years ago, I shifted my focus to low-tech planted tanks. My goal is to share my experience to help make yours easier.