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In this post, we’ll share a few Centerpiece Fish for a 55 Gallon Tank that will be sure to create an awesome community tank.

A centerpiece is an ornament that’s traditionally placed in the center of the dining table. It’s responsible for setting the theme of the overall décor. In most cases, the décor complements the centerpiece and not the other way around.

The definition holds somewhat true for the centerpiece fish. In a lot of cases, aquarists build an aquarium around a centerpiece fish. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single fish, a pair, a group, or even a large school. The centerpiece fish is the core attraction of the tank. And the other fish that are introduced in the tank is supposed to compliment the centerpiece fish.

But that’s not how it’s always done. In some cases, aquarists design a tank with a general set of parameters that can accommodate a wide range of tropical or other types of freshwater fish. Some prefer a marine tank. Aquarists like these have to narrow down their choices based on the water parameters they have.

Either way, a 55-gallon gives you a lot of options. Simply because all the fish that can be accommodated in a smaller tank, can be introduced in the 55-gallon as well. You may be building an aquarium from scratch, looking for fish in an already established tank, or looking to replace the one that went to the fish heaven, the list of centerpiece fish for 55-gallon tank can come in handy.

The typical dimensions for a 55-gallon are 48 x 13 x 21 (LxWxH). It’s a long and squatter version of a 60-gallon tank that has the same length and width but different height. The four feet length means there is a decent amount of space for fish to swim, and for you to decorate. It’s one of the starting sizes of the “large” fish tanks.

Some Equipment I Use For 55 Gallon Tanks

Every tank needs to be equipped with some essentials. Their particulars can be different for different fish, but their presence might be necessary for every healthy and thriving fish tank.

Centerpiece Fish for 55 Gallon Tank – Big Home For Your Bigger Friends

Some good choices for your centerpiece fish for 55-gallon tank can be:

1. Discus Fish

Discus Fish
It’s often referred to as the king of the aquarium fishes. It’s beautiful, graceful, and requires special treatment.

  • Care level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Size: 6 to 10 inches (Many species stay around 6 inches)
  • Temperature range: 82 – 88 °F (sweet spot is somewhere between 84 – 86 °F)
  • PH range: 6.5 to 8.0 (Some species require very soft to soft water, some require soft to moderate water hardness)
  • Social Behavior: It’s a schooling fish and needs at least five or six of its kind to feel safe
  • Tank size: 50-Gallon minimum

Discus is one of the most beautiful, and also one of the flattest fish in the aquarium trade. If it were a little more circular, it would look like dinner plates swimming in the tank. But no dinner plate can match the vivid colors and beautiful patterns of this fish. It belongs to the family of cichlids, and unlike many of its common family, it’s peaceful and social.

The only problem with the Discus is that it’s difficult to care for. It’s very sensitive to water parameter changes. If you are housing this royal fish in your humble 55-gallon, make sure you make 25% water change every week. His highness hates to be surrounded by his own royal waste even more than other fish do. Also, make sure to vacuum the substrate thoroughly, make sure nothing can contaminate and pollute the water. The fish is definitely not for beginners. But it’s worth becoming an expert aquarist for.

Discus fish are native to South American tributaries of Amazon rivers. There is a wide variety of Discuss species available, and almost all of them get along with each other. This is why many aquarists keep different Discus species together. This gives their tank a lot of colors. Some common varieties are Green, Blue (or brown), and Heckel Discus. Some are a bit hardy than others when it comes to parameters, but none are tolerant of fluctuations in the water parameters and only thrive in pristine water conditions.

If you have a good handle on pollutants in your tank, Discus can help you create a beautiful community tank. They prefer plants and a lot of swimming room. You can use gravel or sand as a substrate, but for Juvenile Discus, a bare bottom tank is preferred. Discus is carnivore fish, so you should feed them flakes are pallets with a higher concentration of animal-derived protein. And throw in as much live and frozen food as you can afford. They are slow eaters, so make sure to take your time while feeding them. They fit well with peaceful bottom dwellers like clown loaches or cories (make sure corydoras are not carrying any parasites). Many species of tetras also make very good tank mates.

Further Reading: 12 Awesome Discus Tank Mates For Your Not-so-social Discus Fish – Compatibility List and Care Guide

2. Gold Nugget Pleco

L177 Gold Nugget Pleco
Despite a very expensive-seeming name, Golden Nugget Plecos are very down to substrate fish. Though to be fair, they can be fairly expensive.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 6 to 9 inches (Some grow to 10 inches as well)
  • Temperature range: 71 – 79 °F
  • PH range: 6.5 to 7.5, preferably below 6.8 (soft to moderate)
  • Social Behavior: Can be kept alone and is aggressive towards other plecos and some bottom dwellers
  • Tank size: 55-Gallon minimum for adult plecos

As the name suggests, the Gold Nugget Pleco or Baryancistrus Xanthellus has small, golden nugget shaped patterns all over its black skin. The edges of the dorsal fins and its tail are the same color as the nuggets. Like most bottom dwellers, it has a flat underside. It’s also classified as a suckermouth catfish.

Gold Nugget hails from the Rio Xingu river in the Amazon system. It requires a decent bit of oxygen in the water, so make sure that you are pumping in enough air in the tank. As bottom feeders, they would not fit well with sharp gravel. Sand and fine gravel would be better. Also, they are avid algae eaters and would devour any algae they find on rocks in your tank, so make sure there are some. They also need driftwood, real driftwood to rasp on. Cave type decorations and places to hide are also important. Other than that, they are a very accommodating eater. They are technically omnivore but lean more towards the vegetable matter. As bottom feeders, they would need sinking pallets.

If you are keeping two or more together, make sure they are not males. Two males might not have enough room in a 55-gallon to have their separate territories. They are generally docile, but it’s best not to house them with other bottom feeders. Fish that swim in the upper level of the tank are fine, like most Tetras, rasboras, and dwarf gouramis will be happy with the gold nuggets (honestly speaking, anyone would be happy with some gold nuggets).

3. Electric Blue Hap

Electric blue hap ahli
It’s vibrant colored cichlid with the personality of a shorted electrical fuse.

  • Care level: Beginner (They can take care of themselves, you will have to take care of others in the tank)
  • Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Temperature range: 73 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 7.5 to 8.5 (soft water)
  • Social Behavior: One male with at least three or four females
  • Tank size: 55-Gallon minimum

Electric Blue Hap is a hardy fish from Lake Malawi. In its natural habitat, it dwells in caves and crevices. Which it appreciates in a tank as well. So if you are designing a tank for this hap, make sure there are a lot of cave decorations and rocks to mimic its home. Males of the species exhibit the beautiful coloration for which this fish is revered. The females of the species are grey and relatively drab in comparison. But don’t keep two males unless you are a fan of melee.

Other than their “affable” personality, there aren’t many problems in keeping them. They are a fairly hardy, and very active eater, which means that they will actively chase around any fish that can fit in their mouth and eat it. They are predatory carnivores and should be fed an adequate diet.

Due to their aggressive behavior, they can’t be housed with much peaceful fish. Due to their belligerent behavior towards Peacock Cichlids, they cannot be housed with them either, because they will kill the males and mate with the females. They can be housed with some decent sized fish like Lemon Yellow Mbuna or Synodontis Catfish.

4. Flame Angel

Flame Angel
If you are looking to mix things up a bit and set up a marine tank, Flame Angel can be a beautiful centerpiece fish to build your tank around.

  • Care level: Intermediate
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Temperature range: 72 – 82 °F
  • PH range: 8.1 to 8.5 (moderately hardy water)
  • Social Behavior: Can be kept alone. You will need at least a 75-gallon for pair
  • Tank size: 55-Gallon

Flame angel is a vibrantly colored marine fish that likes to live in a tank littered with caves and crevices. It’s a bit aggressive but only towards fish of similar size and colors. They have elongated bodies that are oval in shape, with the base coloration of orange to reddish-orange (hence the name). The bodies have black stripes of varying thickness, usually no more than seven bars.

This fish is relatively easy to care for. It eats algae, so if there is enough of it in your tank, you don’t need to prepare a proper feeding schedule. But it’s still a good idea to maintain a diet of angelfish feed. It’s not very finicky about water parameters or pollutants, but it’s still a good idea to keep up your usual water changes and substrate cleaning schedule. Most people keep a reef marine tank. And while the flame is not actively a reef-abuser, it still doesn’t accommodate too well in a reef tank. The fish is bottom to middle-level dweller. It can fit well with other dwarf angels, anthias, clownfish, tangs, and large wrasses, but not eels.

Some Other Fish for Your 55-Gallon

Some other fish that can make for good centerpiece fish are:

  • Banggai Cardinalfish: Marine water species, stunningly beautiful, easy to care for, but hard to find, and expensive.
  • Moorish Idol: It’s another marine fish, extremely difficult to care for, endangered, but very beautiful.
  • Leopard Bush fish: An oddball carnivore and freshwater fish. It’s relatively easy to care for.
  • Opaline Gourami: A beautiful beginner level fish that fits well with other similar sized fish in a community tropical tank.
  • Hero Severum: It’s easy to care for and gets very large in size.

Tips For Setting Up A 55 Gallon Tank

Buying a 55-gallon can put a bit of strain on your wallet. Plus, a larger tank means more decorations, more plants, and more fish. You don’t have to do it all at once. And you can shop around for relatively cheaper options to keep your “aquarium-budgeting” to a minimum. But one thing which you can’t skimp on is your aquarium stand. A filled 55-gallon can easily weigh up to 625 lbs. So unless you are planning to play a vengeful Poseidon for your fish, make sure that the stand can handle that weight and then some.

The choice of filter should be made with your bioload in mind. Also, in some cases, it’s better to install two smaller filters than having a single large one.

With a 55-gallon, you have a lot of room to experiment with your artistic abilities in aqua-scaping. You can lay the gravel in a tiered or slopping formation to give the tank a rawer look. The density of plants will depend upon the type of fish you are planning to keep, but make sure that the plants leave enough room for your fish to swim. Many aquarists design a planted tank in a way that the largest plants are on the sides, whereas the low laying plants Java Moss are usually all over the tank. Driftwood, rocks, clay caves, and a few floating decorations might help your fish accommodate relatively easily in the tank.

Further Reading: 55 Gallon Fish Tank Set Up: Everything A Beginner Needs To Set Up A 55 Gallon Aquarium. Kits, Equipment, Reviews & Set Up

Final Words

If you are adamant about sticking with the large centerpiece fish, you may have a relatively smaller pool of other community fish to choose from.

But if you choose to populate your tank with a few small schools and beautiful little fish like tetras, rasboras, betas, mollies, and danios, you may achieve similar results you would have gotten with a good centerpiece fish.

The difference would be that instead of a few fish catching the eyes of onlookers, your whole tank will become an attractive whirlpool of color and activity.

Further Reading About Centerpiece Fish:

Amazing Ideas For Centerpiece Fish For A 55 Gallon Tank