Bow Front Aquarium–Glass Aquarium

One question I get when people see my aquarium is, “I’m thinking about getting a bow front aquarium–do you like yours?” So I thought I’d explore the options when selecting a bow front aquarium and share my experiences with you here. Let’s start with some of the basics

What is a bow front aquarium?

A bow front aquarium is an alternative to the standard rectangular glass monoliths that you grew up with and are everywhere.
Instead of having a flat piece of glass along the front, a bow front aquarium bows out in the middle, creating an aesthetically appealing smooth, curved look.

Compare the bow front design here:

bow front aquarium

With this standard rectangular design here:

glass aquariumsAn aquarium with this design has the opportunity to create a bit more ‘wow factor’ and depth than a traditional rectangular design.

What sizes of bow front aquariums are available?

The smallest bow front aquarium I am aware of is 1 gallon and I suspect you could go as large as you want, as long as you’re willing to pay for a custom aquarium. If you’re looking for a standard model, Aqueon offers the following:

  • 16 Gallon: Dimensions: 20.3″ x 12.9″ x 17.8″
  • 26 Gallon: Dimensions: 24.2″ x 14.8″ x 20.9″
  • 36 Gallon: Dimensions: 30.3″ x 15.5″ x 20.9″
  • 46 Gallon: Dimensions: 36.4″ x 16.4″ x 21.9″
  • 54 Gallon Corner: Dimensions: 39″ x 27.4″ x 23
  • 72 Gallon: Dimensions: 48.4″ x 18″ x 23″

I’m not partial to the Aqueon model, by any means, but they did a good job of making their options and dimensions readily available. I suspect you’ll be able to find other options out there–but this should help you get a feel for what’s out there.

bow front aquarium

The tank I have in my den is a 92-gallon corner bow front aquarium–it’s roughly 4 ft x 4 ft along the side walls.

Is a bow front aquarium right for you?

Are you looking for an aquarium that will stand out and impress your guests even before you stock it full of amazing animals?
If so, then you may want to consider a bow front aquarium. The aquarium in my den right now is a 92-gallon bow front aquarium. So yes, not only would I use a bow front aquarium, it is my aquarium.

What are the pros of having a bow front aquarium?

  • The bow front design provides an aesthetically pleasing alternative to the traditional tank design. It creates a sense of depth in the tank and allows you to create different aquascapes than you could with a flat-front traditional rectangular tank.
  • The curved front glass design also encourages peering into the tank from different angles, to see a different perspective.
  • The tank I have in my home is a 92-gallon bow front corner tank. This is a relatively large tank that fits very nicely into a compact footprint, made possible by the curved front panel.
  • Other than those aesthetic and taste preference differences, I’m not aware of any quantifiable advantages to a bow front vs. a traditional rectangular aquarium.
    From an aesthetics perspective, the decision to go with (or not go with) a bow front aquarium is one of personal taste.


Are there any cons associated with a bow front aquarium?

I’ve been the happy owner of a bow-front aquarium for about 10+years now, so I know the tank inside and out.

The biggest draw back I have noticed is that it is a bit more challenging to take tack-sharp pictures of my fish and corals in certain areas of the tank, because of the curved front glass.

The curved front glass bends the light and distorts images ever so slightly. The farther back in the shot (meaning the closer to the back of the tank the subject of my photo is), the harder it is to get a non-blurry image. The distortion is not noticeable in the front 2/3rds of the tank, but I’ve noticed that if/when I try to take a photo of corals or fish that are close to the back wall, those photos are generally less crisp than photos in the foreground of the tank.

The aquarium water itself also contributes to this effect, regardless of the shape of the tank (bow front or not), but my sense is that the curved glass exaggerates this effect.

If you’re a photo fanatic, you may want to go with a longer tank vs. a deeper tank and a straight-front vs. bow front.

How happy am I with my bow front aquarium?

I’m very happy. Given the choice to start over, I’d still get the same tank. Yes, I do like my bow front aquarium






4 responses to “Bow Front Aquarium–Glass Aquarium”

  1. Brooks

    I think something new reefers forget is you can get more bang for your buck in the lighting department with a bow front or cube tank versus the traditional rectangular tanks.

    When I am looking into what size my next tank will be I am often trying to consider the cost to light it. Its probably the most expensive upgrade I will have to make.

    I also look at the width (front to back) as I find most tanks to be to be to skinny.

    1. Brooks,

      Thanks for the great comment. Can you elaborate on your comment? in what ways do you get more for your money? Agree with you that the depth really makes a difference in the aesthetics of the bow front tanks.

  2. Angelann T Stephens

    I have two bow fronts: a 25 gallon freshwater from PetSmart and a 46 gallon saltwater from PetSmart, but National Geographic made the “46” while Top Fin made the “25.” When I got back into aquariums ( I have not been into them since high school), I fell IN LOVE with the bowfront. So, I have had the freshwater now for 3 years and the saltwater for 1 year. I wish I could get the bow front that is made for the corner, but I have no where else to put another aquarium (lol). For both aquariums, I purchased the stand. It is an amazing look for furniture and different than most people usually see. I only wish that my 25 gallon was the same size as the 46 gallon. Both aquariums sit in my library where I work and read. They are wonderful to watch especially when I am in the middle of writing a paper (doctoral student).

    1. Angelann,

      Thanks for the comment. Glad to see you have TWO tanks going. Hehe, somebody caught the virus alright. It seems that most bow front owners love their bow fronts. I wouldn’t get much reading done if I had a fish tank in the room. I applaud your focus.

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