Fluval Spec V: A Good Betta Tank Setup for Beginners?


All-in-one tanks can make for great aquarium setups for beginners. They usually come with their own filtration, light, and other components. These kits make tanks convenient and easy to set up.


If you're in the market for an all-in-one kit for your betta or some other nano fish, the Fluval Spec V might be for you. For this kit, we’ll be going through:

  • What’s in the box

  • Pros and cons of each component

I'll be as objective as possible. But some opinions will be sprinkled out here and there based on my experience. Always remember to do additional research on your own.

By the time you finish reading this, you can make an educated decision if this all-in-one freshwater aquarium is right for you.


What’s in the Box


With this beginner betta fish tank setup, you get the following 7 items:

  • Glass tank

  • The 3-stage filtration system

  • Filter sponge

  • Ceramic media

  • Activated carbon

  • Water pump with tubing

  • Light fixture

  • Lid

What’s NOT In the Box


If you’re buying this aquarium tank setup for beginners, here are the components that you need to shop for separately:

  • Substrate

  • Tank décor

  • A tank background

  • A heater

  • Fish food

  • Water conditioner

Now that we’ve gone through the items that are included and not included in Fluval Spec V, let's dive into an overview of each component with pros and cons.


Pros and Cons for each Component


For the 7 items of Fluval Spec V, let’s start with the glass tank.


The Tank


For the dimensions, I decided to take the measurements of the tank. This doesn’t count the base. The elevation from the base shouldn't technically be factored into tank capacity.


To be as accurate as possible, I measured from the inside of the tank to avoid factoring in the thickness of the tank walls.

​Tank Dimensions per Fluval

Tank Dimensions

(Full tank)

Tank Dimensions

(Swimming space only)

Length

20.5 inches

19.3 inches

17 inches

Width

7.5 inches

6.4 inches

6.4 inches

Height

11 .6 inches

10.6 inches

10.6 inches

Capacity

5 gallons

--

4.7 gallons

Max. Volume

5.5 gallons

~5.3 gallons

--

In short, the actual swimming space is 4.7 gallons which is just under 5.


Here are other tidbits of info: the tank is made of glass with a width of 0.13 inches. And the plastic base raises the tank about an inch from the surface.


Pros for The Tank


First, the kit comes in 2 colors, white and black.

Second, it looks aesthetically great, especially if you like the rimless look.

Third, the aquarium is glass instead of cheap plastic.

Lastly, it has ample swimming space of 17 inches horizontally. This is a huge selling point for this tank, especially for being a 5-gallon.

With the full tank being 5.3 gallons and the genuine swimming space being 4.7 gallons, the advertised swimming space is only partially sacrificed by the filtration compartment.


A common thing you'll see with all-in-one kits is that they advertise a certain gallon amount. But in reality, it's lesser due to the filtration compartment taking additional space.


Cons for The Tank


The glass is relatively thin compared to other rimless tanks. But I haven't had this be an issue, so it's more of a call-out.

There's metal trim on each corner which can be a drawback for those who care about a genuinely rimless experience.

The tank's base is thin plastic, which takes away from the rimless aesthetic. On the bright side, the tank base accommodates any uneven surfaces on which you place your tank. But it is a bit flimsier than other tank bases out there.


The Light Fixture


Some general things: There are three settings:

  • On, which turns on the white and blue LEDs

  • Night light, which turns on only the blue LEDs

  • Off

In its "on" state, it gives off a temperature of 7000 Kelvins, which is on the cooler/bluer side.

Tapping the touch module on top of the light allows you to go through different settings.

One thing to note is that Fluval updated this light from its previous version. Beware of bad reviews on the light fixture. They may be referring to the older version, which was plastic. This updated version is metal.

The light attaches to a fixed side of the tank. Pre-planning is needed on your tank's orientation before you go in and scape it.

To attach the light, simply slide it into a notch and tighten a screw.


Let’s move on to the pros and cons of its lighting.


Pros for THE Light

Firstly, it's metal and aesthetically sleek and sturdy.

Second, it’s relatively bright compared to most stock lights you find with all-in-one kits. I honestly have no tools for assessing the true brightness. But subjectively, it's pretty bright.


You may ask, “Is the Fluval Spec V good for plants?” From my experience, yes. Plants that have thrived under it include frogbit, anubias, and water wisteria.

I've had algae problems in the past, and even algae blooms in this tank. The light output is not insignificant.

Another plus is the tank is timer compatible.

The light has a separate cable from the filter pump, which is a must-have if you want to be able to leverage a timer.


Sometimes you see all-in-one kits that use one plug for both the filtration and the light. This is a red flag if you're looking to use a timer for your lighting. Luckily, this is not the case here.

The light remains in the "on," "nightlight," or "off" state you leave it in when you unplug and plug it back in. Despite this being a minor aspect, this feature is essential when looking to use a timer.


I highly recommend you use smart timers like the Kasa Smart Plugs. They have more flexibility than your conventional mechanical timer because it connects directly to your phone.


Cons for The Light


One is the switch. I still preferred a mechanical/tactile switch instead of cycling through via touch. But this is subjective.

Another drawback is that the LEDs are not full spectrum. Aside from the potential plant growth benefits, I prefer full-spectrum because it visually brings out other colors in the tank, such as your reds and greens. It's a personal preference and not a deal-breaker.

Next up is light positioning. The light stays close to the tank, about 2 inches from the surface. It's not necessarily a bad thing. But the only issue I have with its positioning is that it's difficult to clean the tank with the light on.


The gap to get your hands in there is very narrow. And after cleaning tanks for years, it's inconvenient to take off their light, especially if your ambient lighting isn't bright enough to maintain visibility within the tank as you're cleaning away.

That's pretty much all there is to the lights. Next, let's talk about filtration.


The Built-In 3-Stage Filtration System


The filter compartment is located on a separate section of the tank, ultimately split by a black plastic panel held by silicon.

It has 3 stages of filtration:

  • Filter sponge, which provides mechanical and some biological filtration

  • Ceramic media, which provides biological filtration

  • Activated carbon, which provides chemical filtration

Water flows to the filter compartment in 2 places: a grate at the top and a slit at the bottom. Ideally, the top grate is where most of the tank water should flow into.


Next, water flows down through the filtration system to the bottom, where the water pump pumps it back into the main tank compartment via a tube and adjustable nozzle.

A small slit near the bottom of the black panel serves as a fail-safe in case the water level goes below the top grate and can no longer flow from there. This fail-safe prevents the back compartment from running completely dry and potentially damaging your water pump.

Some people choose to close up the bottom slit since it technically allows water to bypass the multi-stage filtration system. Be mindful of your water levels and never let it drop below the grate if you want filtration to be done correctly.


Pros for The Filter

First, you can fit a heater inside the back compartment where the filter pump and tube are located. The one I fit back there is this heater.

Another plus is this filter compartment does a great job hiding everything unsightly like the media, cables, heater, pump, and other components.

Fun fact: the older version of this tank had this compartment hidden via frosted glass. The newer version hides everything with a mesh pattern bonded to the glass.

Next, the plastic panel looks like it can be easily removed with a blade. I've heard reports that the mesh bonded to the glass is also removable. This is great if you decide to use this tank without the filter compartment at any point.


Additional pros include:

  • The output nozzle is adjustable

  • The pump is quiet

  • The pump is easily replaceable if it breaks


Cons for The Filter

As stated earlier, the bottom slit allows water to bypass the filtration. This is a non-issue if you keep your water topped up, but I figured I call it out.

Regarding the pump, I've heard anecdotal reports of faulty pumps where they are very loud out of the box. In my case, I've only heard it loud once. But I just had to unplug and re-plug it.


Nonetheless, Fluval has excellent customer service, so it shouldn't be an issue if you need to swap it.

Another con is that this tank is not entirely shrimp-safe without modification. Shrimplets can easily get stuck in the back compartment or get sucked through the pump. In my case, I currently have a Spec V running with shrimp in it, and there are shrimplets in there that are thriving.

Next, the water pump flow can still be too intense for bettas at its lowest setting. You will need to MacGyver your way to further diffuse it, like using these. At its max setting, it pumps 83 gallons per hour.

Finally, this kit comes with activated carbon. While I think activated carbon has its place in the hobby; I prefer to swap this out for more biological media.


The Lid


The lid is plastic and has a hole cut out in the center to allow unobstructed light. It also has a notch on one end to accommodate cables in the filtration compartment.

The lid is probably the biggest pain point in the whole kit, but first, let's address the pros.


Pros for The Lid


One pro is that it's easy to pick up and remove as needed due to the overhang edges.


Cons for The Lid

The lid is plastic. I've heard cats can easily take it off because it's so light.

Next, while the pre-cut hole allows unobstructed light to come through, the trade-off is that this lets water evaporate way too quickly... especially if you heat your tank.

I find myself needing to top it off once a week.

To magnify this issue, topping the tank off is especially important for the Fluval Spec V because the water must not go below a certain level to maintain filtration. Another thing is that this hole is not ideal for jumpers like bettas.


Let's move on to the purchasing tips if you decide to get this betta tank setup for beginners.


Final Thoughts for the Fluval Spec V


I would highly recommend this kit, especially to beginners looking for a quality all-in-one kit to get them started in the hobby. For the amount you get, I think the price is very reasonable.


The Fluval Spec V is the true definition of party in the front, business in the back. I enjoyed having this tank in my arsenal and am glad I purchased it 2 years ago.

Anyway, the tank is super easy to set up. Check out this video for an in-depth walk-through.




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