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If you’re shopping for aquariums you’ve already likely seen dozens of different rectangle and square designs. But have you considered setting up a tank that’s a bit curvier? Bow front aquariums use a curved front glass panel that offers a different viewing experience from what you might be used to. And many of them include added accessories that have you up and running in no time at all!
The Best Bow Front Aquariums of 2021
Bow front aquariums come in an assortment of styles, shapes, and sizes. But there are a few models on the market that stand apart from the rest. Each of these includes not only the tank but lighting, filtration, and other accessories that make them even more complete!
We’ll be looking at the following bow front tanks in this review:
- Fluval Flex Aquarium Kit **Top Choice**
- Koller Products AquaView 3.5 Gallon Aquarium
- Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Kit **Best Cheap Bow Front Aquarium**
- Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon Aquarium Kit
- Penn-Plax Water World Luxury 58 Gallon **Best Large Bow Front Aquarium**
But before we delve into these top-shelf tanks, let’s take a moment to talk about why you’d want a bow front versus a traditional aquarium!
What Makes a Bow Front Aquarium Unique?
One look at a bow front tank and you can immediately tell the difference between it and a standard rectangular or square model. The curved front panel adds a new aesthetic element, incorporating a modernist take on what’s already a minimalist structure. The curve can also enhance the size and shapes of your fish, depending on the viewing angle and design of the tank itself. The curve also offers a modest increase in water volume relative to a tank with a flat front panel as well.
Bow front tanks, even more so than standard styles, become a natural focal point for a living room or bedroom. Just be aware that since they have non-standard floors, bow-front aquarium stands are sometimes harder to find. Your best option, assuming your tank is larger than 5 gallons, is to use the stand made by the manufacturer.
My Top Choices for the Best Bow Front Aquariums
The Fluval Flex line is a series of bow front aquariums ranging from 9 to 32.5 gallons in size. But the 15-gallon model is the size that appeals to the most people. There’s enough water volume to house the majority of tropical community fish yet it’s not so large that maintenance feels like a chore!
The plastic lid comes in both black and white and has a 2450 lux LED lamp with 48 white and 6 red/green/blue bulbs installed, giving it a pleasing color temperature of 7500K. Fluval chose this range because it allows you to grow low to medium light plants, such as java fern and Cryptocoryne with ease! You can also both turn on and off the lighting or customize the output to emphasize the greens or reds using the included LED remote.
In the back of the tank is a set of rear chambers that hold the 132 GPH filter pump, your heater, as well as foam and activated carbon media (heater not included).
Thanks to their decades of experience designing aquarium products Fluval products have a polish other manufacturers often lack. One feature that’s easily missed is the honeycomb design on the upper portion of the tank. This prevents the water level from distracting you when viewing. Another is the circular unsealed opening on the lid, allowing you to feed without having to lift and replace it. The Fluval Flex combines aesthetics with functionality, making it an ideal bow front if you prefer medium-sized models!
- Comes in several sizes: 9, 15, and 32.5 gallons
- Filter pump, filter media, and LED light remote included
- Lighting is the right spectrum for live plant growth
- Matching Fluval Flex stand available as a separate purchase
- No models small enough for a desktop
- No extra accessories such as water conditioner or food
- Pump outflow is on the same side as the feeding hole, which causes food to blow around the tank
- Prone to damage during transport
Desktop bow front tanks have a lot to offer; they are small enough to be maintained with just a few minutes per day. And they tend to be significantly more affordable than larger models. But the Kollar has quite a bit more to it than just its size and price.
For one, the 25 GPH filter pump provides just the right amount of flow for proper water turnover without being too forceful on your fish. This unit uses filtration cartridges made from plastic, cotton fibers, and activated carbon. While they do need to be replaced every few weeks the process takes less than a minute to complete.
The AquaView uses an LED light installed in the hood that can be set to daylight white, blue, green, amber, aqua, purple, or red. A timer switch is also in place, allowing you to set the light to run in 4 and 2-hour increments as well as continually.
Unlike most aquarium kits the Koller LED light runs primarily on 3 AAA batteries installed directly into the hood. There is an optional accessory to run it via a wall outlet but it costs extra. But being an extremely power-efficient LED light, it can run continuously for thousands of hours before the batteries need replacement.
Glass is heavy and acrylic is prone to scratching and warping. So instead of either, the Koller AquaView uses a single piece of durable molded plastic, further decreasing the weight load.
- Perfectly sized for a home desktop
- LED light can be set to one of 7 different colors
- Uses easily replaced filter cartridges as media
- Power cable for wall outlet sold separately
- Does not include gravel, heater, food, or other accessories
**Best Cheap Bow Front Aquarium**
If you want a tank that’s fast to set up and simple to maintain you can’t do much better than the Aqueon LED MiniBow. Unlike the other desktop-sized bow front aquariums here the Aqueon comes in a trio of sizes, including 1, 2.5, and 5 gallons. This makes a stand unnecessary since the tank is light enough for a table or desk.
My favorite design feature of the MiniBow series has to be the technology surrounding the lighting, hood, and filter. The LED bulbs are adequate enough to provide good illumination. But they aren’t nearly as powerful as those on the Fluval Flex or as customizable as the Koller AquaView’s.
And the filter is more reminiscent of a hang on the back power filter, using the traditional extended inflow which draws water up into the attached unit. A single media cartridge provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration before sending water back out into the tank. You also get water conditioner, neutralizing chlorine and chloramine from your tap water, as well as fish food for your first guests! Once you buy a small heater, you’ll have everything you need to be up and running in just a few minutes!
- Includes the filter pump, filter media, lighting, food, and water conditioner
- All three sizes are ideal for a desktop setup
- Comes shipped in a separate interior container to prevent damage during transport
- The 3-bulb LED light system isn’t especially bright
- Fish capacity of the tank is very limited due to its size
Most aquarium kits include plenty of technology but leave the aquascaping up to you. But the Hygger Horizon 8 offers you a great base to build from thanks to the 3D rocky mountain background that’s attached to the rear panel. This background not only hides the included submersible filter but gives you a place to attach plants and other decorations!
The internal power filter runs on a modest 7 Watts of power and has a turnover rate of 110 GPH; ideal for a tank this size. But if your fish prefer a calmer environment a flow control knob allows you to adjust the outflow. Rather than cartridges, the filter uses a foam block and loose activated carbon media.
Hygger is a major manufacturer of aquarium LED lighting so it’s no surprise that they use an excellent light for their Horizon aquarium kit! The 18 watt LED strip is adjustable in 5 increments from 10% to 100% brightness and uses predominantly white LEDs mixed with blue and reds. You can run either all of them simultaneously or run just white for daylight or blue+red for an evening look.
Just keep in mind that an 8-gallon tank is a rather odd size. The footprint is 19″ L x 11.8″ W x 9.6″ H, which won’t work on a commonly available 10-gallon tank stand. But it’s heavy enough when filled with water that you’ll want an especially sturdy table or desk.
- Includes a high output LED light fixture that’s customizable in both brightness and color output
- 3D rocky mountain background is unique and ties into nearly any aquascape
- Powerful 110 GPH filter with adjustable flow control
- Too large for lighter desks and odd-sized for standard aquarium stands
- Spray bar filter outflow and lack of a hood speeds water evaporation
**Best Large Bow Front Aquarium**
Bow front aquariums can be built to fit any size and budget! And if you’re looking for a more impressive room fixture the Penn-Plax Water World is the best of this list at drawing attention. This design holds 58 gallons of water, making it a suitable home for angelfish, discus, silver dollars, and other larger tropical fish as well as schools of smaller species!
Notably, this model uses acrylic rather than glass or molded plastic. Acrylic is commonly used in larger bow front tanks because it’s very light and easy to shape. Just be careful when cleaning it because acrylic scratches very easily if you use a standard glass scrubber.
The height of this tank is further emphasized by the aeration line built into the bottom. The tall curtain of bubbles is not only beautiful but provides extra oxygen and circulates water from top to bottom.
Normally longer maintenance times are a downside of larger tanks but the Water World Luxury uses several design elements to speed things up. One such feature is the bottom drainage hose, allowing you to perform water changes without a siphon hose.
A top compartment houses all of your electrical wiring and power strips, hidden from sight and next to the filter, which also sits within the hood. And a separate top compartment gives you quick access for feeding without having to lift the entire hood!
- Acrylic design is lightweight and crystal clear
- Aeration line installed on the tank bottom for oxygenation and water circulation
- Multiple top compartments for electrical components, the filter, and access for fish feeding
- Comes with its own custom stand
- Acrylic is very scratch-prone if not cared for properly
- No hidden compartment for the heater
Which Bow Front Aquarium is Best for You?
While each of these aquariums has something to offer everyone, I find that the Fluval Flex 15 meets the needs of most aquarists! It’s just the right size for an active fish population and uses a strong light suitable for growing live plants.
The compartments in the rear house not only your filtration accessories but also allow you to hide a heater, keeping the display area neat and tidy for viewing. The trim hides the water line, preventing further distractions from fish viewing. And while it’s not sized for most desktops the custom stand matches the design of the tank perfectly!
Bow front aquariums offer a unique viewing experience that traditional designs lack. And these particular kits include filters, lighting, and other necessary tools, having you up and running in even less time than ever! From 1 gallon desktops to 58-gallon room fixtures, there is a bow front tank here for every aquarist!