You have undoubtedly heard of wall-mounted televisions, but a wall-mounted fish tank? Even if you are an experienced aquarium hobbyist, you may not realize that aquariums can take the shape of more than just a tank on a stand – they can be mounted directly into the wall. This type of aquarium is also known as a “portrait aquarium” or simply a “wall aquarium” and they have become a trending item in the aquarium trade of late. These tanks work by mounting them directly to the wall studs which serve to support the weight of the tank. Wall-mounted tanks vary in size, but they are typically only 4 to 6 inches deep with a height between 16 and 18 inches and a length of about 18 inches. It is possible to find larger models, however – some may reach up to 6 or 7 feet long!
A wall-mounted tank is not the right choice for everyone, but it certainly is a statement piece. Before you go out and buy one of these designer tanks, you would do well to think carefully. Though it may look beautiful, there are unique challenges associated with creating and keeping a wall-mounted tank versus a traditional aquarium. In this article you will learn the basics about this type of tank including its associated advantages and disadvantages. After you learn everything you can about this type of aquarium you can make a decision regarding whether it is the right choice for you.
Advantages to a Wall Mounted Fish Tank
A wall-mounted aquarium is guaranteed to be a statement piece in your home or office – your guests will not be able to keep their eyes off it. In addition to being very attractive and unique, there are other advantages of a wall-mounted tank over a traditional aquarium. The advantages to having a wall-mounted fish tank include:
- A wall-mounted fish tank is perfect for when you really don't have a lot of floor space for a fish tank.
- For an unusual design feature, you can install a wall-mounted tank into a wall between two rooms.
- Wall-mounted fish tanks make it easy to see and enjoy your fish as they are mounted at eye level.
- The wall-mounted fish tank's compact design often includes filter and light that fits the tank.
- Wall-mounted fish tanks are great for places where you have a lot of foot traffic and wouldn't normally risk having an aquarium that could get knocked over.
- Wall-mounted fish tanks are great for banks, doctors' offices, and other lobbies.
Disadvantage to a Wall Mounted Fish Tank
Though they may be unique in appearance, there are definitely some challenges that come along with a wall-mounted tank. Some of the disadvantages to having a wall mounted fish tank include:
- A wall-mounted fish tank limits water to air exchange because of the reduced surface area of the "tank."
- A wall-mounted fish tank requires strong wall support with studs (or concrete) to hold up the tank. A small wall aquarium can weigh 75 to 100 pounds when full. A large wall aquarium can weigh close to 300 pounds when full of water.
- Wall-mounted fish tanks are more expensive than regular fish tanks (the same way a laptop costs more than a regular computer).
- A wall-mounted fish tank will limit your fish selection as you can only get small fish that would be happy in such a "skinny" tank. Fish size is limited to the width of the tank (usually 4 inches).
Where to find Wall Mounted Fish Aquariums Online
An important thing to realize about wall-mounted aquariums is that they are not as common as traditional tanks. This being the case, you may not be able to walk into your local pet store and find a wall-mounted aquarium kit. For the most part, you are going to need to purchase a custom tank or a wall-mounted aquarium kit online. If you're interested in researching options for wall-mounted tanks, here are some sites where you can buy them online:
Bizarre Aquariums has a wide range of wall mounted aquariums that they'll ship out with instructions and fish purchasing guides. Bizarre Aquariums uses FedEx to ship out and offers a 1 year warranty against any defects. They'll guarantee delivery in perfect order as long as you contact them within a week of receiving your aquarium. You can return your purchase minus S&H costs or any custom charges if you're not 100% satisfied with your tank. Here's what they have to offer:
- Wall Aquarium (32" L x 4" W x 16" H) for $199.99 plus $19 S&H. The wall aquarium package includes the fish tank, the lid, the light, and mounting brackets.
- Portrait Aquarium (32" L x 4" W x 16" H) for $259.00 plus $19 S&H. The portrait aquarium package includes the fish tank, a wooden "portrait" frame and florescent strip light
- 4 Ft Wall (48" L x 6" W x 16" H) for $289.99 plus $29 S&H. The 4 Ft wall aquarium package includes the fish tank and the light.
- Jumbo Wall Aquarium (60" L x 8" W x 24" H) for $699.99 plus $58 S&H. The jumbo wall aquarium package includes the fish tank, lid, and light.
"Our Custom Wall Aquariums are full working aquariums. They give a nice touch to any decor. We have four styles which to choose from ranging from rustic to very modern. We have enhanced the packaging and installation so that they can be shipped anywhere in the USA and you can install the tanks yourself."
offers a wall mounted aquarium called the Frame-a-Fish tank. Frame a Fish offers six different ways to ship the tank to you. You are guaranteed to receive the aquarium in perfect order and you can return your purchase within 30 days of the shipment date (minus a 15% restocking fee). Frame-a-Fish offers a link
where you can find a seller near you. Here's what you can get from Frame-a-Fish:
Their Frame-a-Fish tank (20 ?" L x 3" W x 14" H) costs $110.00 plus S&H (depending on how fast you want it shipped to you). Each Frame-a-Fish package comes with the Aquarium and holder, a black frame, filtration, lighting, decor, 2 background images (you can also supply your own) and an owner's manual in both English and Spanish.
Living Pictures is a company based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado that offers large aquariums. Their technicians can come out and install the tank for you or you can elect to receive the "ship to package" option where you'll install the tank yourself:
4 Ft Model (48" L x 6" W x 31" H) includes biological powerhead filters, heater, light tube, air pump, air diffuser, thermometer, plus choice of background and frame finish. Full install price is $2,495.00 with saltwater setup an additional $300.00. Ship to package price is $1,995.00 plus S&H.
7 Ft Model (84" L x 6" W x 31" H) includes biological powerhead filters, heater, two light tubes, air pump, air diffuser, thermometer, plus choice of background and frame finish. Full install price is $2,995.00 with saltwater setup an additional $300.00. Ship to package price is $2,295.00 plus S&H.
AquaticaGallery.com offers the wall mounting Aquatica Gallery aquariums. From their website:
"These elegant spotlight decorations are constructed under the consolidated ingenuities of a fine art portrait, live aquatic environment, space saving design, minimum maintenance, and easy and automated controlling devices – all under one cord and a plug! Beautiful solid wood frame & cabinets of Aquatic Gallery aquariums are elegantly crafted and finely finished. Beneath the outstanding appearances the tempered aquarium grade glass with reinforcing side bars are used to ensure the quality and integrity of the aquariums."
Setting up an aquarium can be very challenging, but a wall-mounted aquarium is a different story entirely. Safe installation is very important with wall-mounted aquariums -- don't even consider mounting a wall aquarium yourself if you don't know what a stud finder is. All kidding aside, the weight of a wall aquarium once it is full can be 75 to 100 pounds (or more) once it is full. If you don't want that tank to come crashing down with your fish in it, makes sure it is securely mounted to your wall. If you aren’t confident in your ability to mount the tank yourself, consider hiring a professional to do the job. Depending where you purchase your tank, you should also receive detailed instructions in how to install it properly.
Where to Find Installation Instructions Online
Bizarre Aquariums sends installation instructions along with wall tanks they ship but they also have their installation instructions available online at:
Wall tank instructions
Portrait tank instructions
Here's a thread
on CaptiveReefing.com, a Reef Aquariums Forum of which Bizarre Aquariums is a sponsor. Find out how Dakar, the administrator, is doing with his own installation of a wall mounted aquarium from Bizarre Aquariums.
Frame-a-fish has their installation instructions available online in PDF format.
Living Pictures out of Colorado offers installation help on their installation page. They also offer detailed instructions for setting up a saltwater wall aquarium here.
What Fish to Stock in a Wall Mounted Fish Aquarium
Not only to you need to think about where you are going to put your wall-mounted tank and how you are going to install it, but you also need to think about stocking it. What type of fish do you want to keep in your tank? A wall-mounted tank is not right for every type of fish – it provides limited swimming space, particularly in regard to tank depth. Fish enthusiasts will tell you that, at a minimum, you'll need to have a tank that is 1.2 to 1.6 times as wide as the fish's length. So, for a 4 inch wide wall aquarium, you'll want to keep fish no larger than roughly 2.5 to 3.3 inches long. Given this information, you will need to do some careful research to determine the types of fish you can safely house in your wall-mounted tank. Here is a short list of fish for you to consider:
- Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish)
- White Cloud Mountain Minnow
- Ghost Shrimp
- Small tetras
- Small rasboras and barbs
- Fancy guppies
- Mollies or swordtails
- Dwarf gouramis
- Small algae eaters
Another challenge associated with wall-mounted aquariums is selecting the right accessories. As with any aquarium, you need to outfit your tank with a high-quality filtration and lighting system. As your fish eat, they excrete waste which will build up in the tank and break down. The process of breaking down waste produces harmful toxins like ammonia which must be removed from the tank so your fish do not get sick. Performing routine water changes will help to keep the water quality in your tank high, but a filtration system is essential for filtering out both solid and dissolved wastes. Lighting is also essential for keeping your tank looking its best – it is also necessary if you plan to keep live plants in your tank.
The tricky part about equipping your wall-mounted tank is finding equipment of the right size. These tanks tend to be much narrower than traditional tanks and you may not have extra space in the wall to accommodate the equipment. You'll need to find a small filters, small air stones, and small submersible heaters that will work with an enclosed tank. Resting a large power filter off the top isn't going to look that great with a wall mounted aquarium. Fortunately, if you purchase a wall-mounted tank kit, it may come with the equipment you need.
Alternative to Wall Mounted Fish Tank
If you really like the look of a wall mounted fish tank but want to keep more fish or larger fish than would be practical with a wall mounted fish tank, consider getting a fish tank that has been designed to be placed into a wall (in wall aquarium). The advantage to an in wall aquarium is that they are normally built deeper so you can hold more fish and they are bigger because you won't have to worry about them falling down due to their weight. Unfortunately, you will likely have to do some remodeling to your home to accommodate an in-wall aquarium, but it may be worth it. As is the case for any aquarium, think carefully before you decide to go with this option.
Other Tips and Questions
Because wall-mounted aquariums are still fairly uncommon, you may have a few more questions about them. It is important to learn everything you can and to have all of your questions answered before you select this type of tank – that is the only way you will succeed in keeping it. Below you will find a list of tips and questions regarding wall-mounted tanks:
- Can you keep live plants in a wall-mounted tank? Generally a wall-mounted tank is not ideal for plants because the lighting system is very limited. Small, low-light plants may be able to survive, however.
- Can you turn a wall-mounted tank into a saltwater aquarium? Wall-mounted tanks are typically capable of supporting a saltwater system, but it does require a significant amount of experience in the area. Keeping a saltwater tank can be a challenge in and of itself, so adding to that the non-traditional size and shape of the tank, it becomes more difficult.
- How do you clean a wall-mounted tank? The same cleaning principles for a traditional aquarium apply to wall-mounted tanks – you still need to change the filter media, perform water tests and keep up with routine water changes to keep your tank clean.
- It is essential that you avoid overfeeding your fish in a wall-mounted tank because the water volume is restricted due to the depth of the tank – waste and toxins will accumulate more quickly than in a traditional tank.
By now it should be clear to you that wall-mounted aquariums are both unique and challenging. These tanks can become the focal point in your home, doubling as both a hobby and a type of decoration. As is true with any tank, however, you need to think carefully before you set up a wall-mounted tank because there are certain challenges associated with them. After reading this article, however, you should be prepared to make an informed decision regarding whether a wall-mounted tank is right for you.