Marineland 5 Gallon Tank Review (Bought & Tested)

By Billy | Updated: July 23, 2022 | Planted Tanks

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 a little hesitant to buy it because I couldn’t find any reliable reviews. Sure, 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.

Summary

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. Because it was fair priced and easy to set up, I would recommend it to beginners.

First, let me briefly go over…

My Setup

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 somewhat aggressive. I now know that Neon Tetra need at least 10 gallons and a minimum of 6 for a colony. I’m in the process of moving them to a larger tank.

marineland 5 gallon tank

Aesthetically this tank looks awesome.

But from a functionality standpoint, there are some things that are frustrating.

First, let’s start with…

What’s Included?

Well, it comes in this nicely packaged box.

Inside you’ll find…

marineland portrait 5-gallon

Pretty straightforward.

Since this was one of my first tanks, I ran into some setup issues. If you’re curious, I dedicated a full post to how to start a live planted tank.

Below are the pros & cons I’ve noticed after using it every day.

Pros & Cons

Starting with the pros…

Aesthetic

I love the look of this aquarium. The fact that it sits vertical 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 (including myself) have no idea where to start, so this was a great all-in-one setup to get started. 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.

Light

If you plan on having live plants, the light that comes with this tank won’t work well. 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. You might be able to get away with extremely 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.

marineland portrait light

Glass lid

How the heck are you gonna sell a lid you need to remove every day to feed your fish, WITHOUT A HANDLE.

Look, I’m sure a handle could easily break from a shipping perspective.

But come on. It’s super frustrating to carefully pull the lid off by the sides. I’ve had several times where I accidentally dropped the lid, and it made a mess.

Having no handle is probably my biggest frustration with this aquarium. Sure, you could hack something together (like buy sticky clips on Amazon), but they should already come with some.

marineland portrait lid

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 that attaches at the top often slides off because algae builds up on the connectors. I wish there was a better way to secure it because almost every week, I 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 did some research and found this pump (2-pack) which does the job nicely. Or you could buy directly from Marineland’s website.

Bottom Line

To put it simply, this tank has a lot of room for improvement. But mine is still going strong, and for the price, I can’t really complain. It’s fairly priced and an easy setup, so I recommend it for beginners.

Billy

I've had a fascination with aquariums since a young age. A few years ago, I started to build low-tech planted tanks. My goal is to share my experience to help make yours easier.