In unusual rooms and spaces, you may find that you need a different shaped tank in order to make things work. Hexagonal fish tanks are extremely eye-catching and you may see them online, but are these really viable or good habitats for fish?
This guide explores the pros and cons of this kind of tank, how to set one up successfully, and whether they are worth it, so read on to find out everything you need to know about this striking and unusual tank.
What Is A Hexagon Aquarium?
A hexagonal fishtank is exactly what it says on the tin – a hexagon-shaped fish tank that has straight panels along the six sides of the hexagon, leading up to the tank lid which is generally shaped to fit the walls.
A hexagonal fish tank often has a special stand that makes it able to stand freely in the middle of a room, as opposed to pushed up against a wall. If the tank is intended as the centerpiece of a room it may have all six sides clear; if it isn’t, three or four of them may be opaque so that the remaining sides function just like they would on a normal fish tank.
Hexagonal fishtanks are tall and they don’t offer a lot of length for fish to swim. That’s why unless you have a very big tank, which can quickly become very cumbersome and heavy, they are generally best suited to small schooling fish and aquascaping.
Why Are Hexagonal Fish Tanks Popular?
Hexagonal fishtanks are popular for many of the reasons that you may be drawn to them in the first place – they are eye-catching and they look much more naturalistic in the middle of a room than their square counterparts which when singled out may look plain or awkward.
They are also popular due to the number of interesting stands you can put them on which makes them less like furniture and more like ornamentation or decoration.
In addition, their shape can make them marginally easier to grow tall aquatic plants in, especially if you want semi-aquatic species that may stick out above the surface of the water and flower.
Author’s Note: These tanks have relatively more potential for headroom than other shapes. Their elongated shape also works well with large pieces of driftwood or a towering pagoda inside the tank.
Are Hexagonal Fish Tanks Good For Fish?
Here is the question you may have been wondering since you discovered these tanks – are hexagonal fish tanks good for fish, or are they just a fad? The truth is somewhat more complicated than a straight yes or no. In fact, these tanks are good for some kinds of fish, but not for others. In addition, they come with their own set of pros and cons just like any other tank.
Pros Of Hexagonal Tanks
- Tall height for aquatic plants
- Height is also good for some fish with trailing fins like angelfish
- Height allows many different habits of swimming within the tank. The different layers mean fish that swim near the surface can coexist with fish that like the middle of the water column or the tank floor such as algae eaters.
Cons Of Hexagonal Tanks
- Comparatively little surface area when put alongside an equivalent square or rectangular fish tank.
- Can be unwieldy to fit in a room if not intended as a centerpiece
- Small area means it’s hard for fish to swim lengthways
- Shape may confuse some fish and make it harder for them to find their way
How To Safely Set Up A Hexagonal Tank
One other thing that comes as a result of the unique shape of these tanks is the fact that setting them up takes a few considerations. This guide will show you how to set one up safely so that it doesn’t encounter any accidents.
1. Hexagon Fish Tank Stand
To create a big enough surface area and give your chosen fish species enough space, a hexagonal tank can quickly become quite heavy There are reports of some fish keepers of even specialized stands designed for these tanks breaking under the weight of the water and glass.
Naturally, you don’t want this to happen so bear in mind the shape and concentration of water can exert a lot of weight in one spot and prove challenging even for regular tables. Make sure whatever you choose to place your tank on has a firm foundation with lots of supports and is built of sturdy material. Ideally, ensure the base you put your tank on is heavier than the tank itself. That way, you won’t need to worry about mishaps.
Where to place your tank? As these tanks don’t always have a back wall bear in mind the trailing wires that keep your tank running. A cable tidy for these is always useful.
In addition, your filter and heater may not always be sold as part of the tank. You may have to designate one wall as the dedicated ‘back wall,’ and hang your filter and attach your heater here. A simple HOB or sponge filter is best.
3. Stocking Your Tank
Bearing in mind you may be using a relatively weak filter and your tank doesn’t have much surface area, you may have to be careful with the species you include in a hexagonal fish tank.
Species that grow large and need lots of room lengthways to swim are best avoided. These include angelfish, discus fish, goldfish, cichlids, most barbs, and potentially mollies, depending on the size of your tank, as these can grow quite large.
Good species include:
- Cory Catfish
- Kuhli Loaches
- Endlers Livebearers
- Red Phantom Tetras
- White And Black Skirt Tetras
- Small Barbs like the Cherry Barb
- Neon and Cardinal Tetras
Hexagon Fish Tank Dos And Don’ts
DO Choose which your back wall will be
This can help you decide the positioning of your tank as well as where to hang a filter and heater as well as tidy your cables. Remember your tank is hard to move when se tup so choose carefully! In addition, you can reinforce this wall by sticking on a sheet of black plastic if desired.
DON’T buy a tank without planning
It goes without saying, but one of these tanks is a bit more fiddly than a basic square tank. Thus, always plan first where you want it to go and which fish you want as it’s much less forgiving with mistakes.
DO Get creative with aquascaping
As the swimming area is smaller, even if the water volume is the same, you may find you need to add more stimulation for your fish. Plants that offer shelter at different levels of the tank are a great way. Try growing Brazilian Pennywort as a creeping vine as opposed to a floating plant. The unusual shape is great for experiments like this!
DON’T Keep fish without additional stimulation
Another reason to give plants a go – there’s not much swimming space, and bored fish are stressed fish, which are more prone to disease. Always fill your tank with exciting environments and places to hide.
DO think about what to put your tank on
These tanks concentrate lots of weight in one area. The best stand is heavily reinforced and definitely able to take this weight and pressure.
DON’T just choose anything as a stand
It goes without saying but a weak stand means your tank is more likely to crack and break. Choose a strong material and possibly test it first with objects that aren’t filled with water!
DO think about the rest of the room
If you’re setting up a fish tank in the middle (as is popular with hexagonal tanks) be aware cables can be an electrical hazard. Likewise, lighting and heating can all affect your tank and make it a good or bad environment.
DON’T leave cables lying around
If water gets on cables, this can short-circuit your tank at best and electrocute you or your fish at worst. Always add a drip loop for cables, and use a residual current device to break dangerous ground loops.
Common Troubleshooting With Hexagonal Tanks
1. Fish Aggression
Fish aggression can happen for many reasons, including over territory, food, and mates. In a hexagonal tank, territory and confined spaces are the most likely reasons. This is because although a tank may look big, the total swimming area is reduced as most species swim lengthways as opposed to up and down in the water column.
You can minimize aggression by ensuring you get a tank that is larger than you would normally to account for the reduced swimming area. For example, if you would normally get a 20-gallon ( 76 liter) tank for 5-6 zebra danios, try a 30 ( 114 liter) or even 40-gallon (182 liter) tank if you want it to be hexagonal.
2. Plants Dying
Dying plants can happen for many reasons and not all are related to the hexagonal tank. Plants may die if they don’t get enough light, or nutrients, or if there is overcrowding. In a hexagonal tank overcrowding is the most likely cause of plant death as compared to volume of water you have a decreased surface area of substrate.
You can pick the best plants for a hexagonal tank by choosing only ones that are tall, with minimal need to spread roots. Fast-growing plants like Cabomba (which can grow in almost any sort of fresh water) and Anubias are almost impossible to kill.
3. Toxin Build-Up In Water
Water is often less oxygenated in a hexagonal tank due to less surface area. Water that does not have enough inflow and outflow of oxygen can easily become stagnant and in addition, the water flow from your filer is less likely to reach all places in a hexagonal fishtank.,
Plants purify nitrates and nitrites but only to a certain extent. Be on the lookout for signs that your fish are sick such as difficulty swimming, coming to the surface to gulp air (in the case of certain species), and sore or ragged patches on fins. Also, be aware that cloudy water means your tank is already too dirty!
Author’s Note: Always clean your tank at least once a week, removing a third of the water with an aquarium vacuum and replacing it with fresh. Keep a nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia test spare too, in case you ever need it.
4. Tank Develops Cracks Or Is Unstable
Of all the issues here, this is potentially the most dangerous. As fish can’t survive long outside of water 9except for some specially adapted species such as the mudskipper) you want to avoid your tank breaking at all costs as not only is this costly and messy, it almost certainly spells the end for your fish.
Some aquarists keep a spare tank on hand in case of emergencies such as needing to quarantine a sick fish. However, if your tank develops leaks or a crack you may monitor the situation until you decide that it’s best to transfer the fish to a safer environment while you fix the leak.
It may not be the geometric hexagonal tank you desire, but your fish will thank you for it – and better safe than sorry.
Author’s Note: If your tank is unstable, this requires a different approach as you almost certainly won’t be able to move it from its base. As a result, simply transfer the fish to a new tank and remove the water from the main tank while you set it up on a more stable base.
Overall, a hexagonal fish tank may seem like a fantastic and unusual addition, but there are a few important things to consider before getting one.
If you are prepared to invest more time into the setup of your tank and don’t mind just having small schooling species, one of these stunning tanks can be the centerpiece of any room.