If you enjoy keeping fish and owning aquariums, you will want to consider purchasing a River Tank Ecosystem. While these tanks are similar to an aquarium, they do have some fundamental differences.

It is these differences that allow the tank to resemble a rock face or a mountain stream. While you may assume that they have the same features, river tanks are slightly different.

One company in particular that produces great river tanks is Carolina. In this article, we will be taking a closer look at their River Tank Ecosystem. We will be reviewing it to let you know whether it is worth purchasing. 

Carolina Company Background

Before we dive into our review of the Carolina River Tank Ecosystem, it is important to look into the company’s background. This is important when purchasing any product as you will want to ensure that the company produces good quality and reliable products. 

Carolina was founded by Dr. Thomas E. Powell Jr over 90 years ago. He was a biologist and geologist, which emphasizes how this company is deep rooted in scientific research. 

He founded Carolina to provide scientific products to the public. Their products are interesting and provide others with scientific knowledge. They are consistently researching and improving their products and designs. 

When it comes to river tanks, they are one of the best suppliers to choose. Their products are reliable and deep rooted in research. Given this, you know they can be relied upon. 

Carolina River Tank Ecosystem

We have split our review of the Carolina River Tank Ecosystems into different sections to help you find the information you need. 


When looking at the cost of the River Tank Ecosystem, you may think that they are fairly expensive to purchase. However, when you take into consideration how special these tanks are, the price is justified.

Unlike a standard aquarium, there is a lot more that goes into the design and components of a river tank. This is why they do tend to be more expensive when compared to a standard tank of the same size.

When you purchase a Carolina tank, you know that it is going to be well made, thus, the increased price is justified. When looking at the cost of the tanks, this will vary depending on the size you choose. There are three different options available, and they do vary in cost. 

Size Specifications

There are different sizes available when purchasing a Carolina River Tank. There are two sizes available, 20 gallons and 30 gallons. There is not a huge difference in the price, however, the 30 gallons is larger and more expensive.

You can also purchase the mold only, which fits a 20 gallon tank and is the least expensive option. The 20 gallon and 30 gallon tanks arrive complete. 

As these are both good sized tanks, they can only hold a few fish and other critters before becoming crowded. Years ago I owned a 55 gallon kit and it was much more versatile for a variety of pets. I do hope to see them make larger versions in the future.

What Is Included

When you purchase one of these tanks, you will receive the following:

  • Tank (either 20 or 30 gallons)
  • Plant pocket features
  • Pump
  • Filter cartridge
  • Heater
  • Fluorescent strip lighting
  • Owner’s guide and manual

As you can see, when you purchase the complete sets, it comes with everything you need to set up the ecosystem.

However, if you already own a tank large enough, you can convert it into an ecosystem. To do this, you will want to purchase the Ecosystem Mold and Aquarium Sealer.

The owner’s guide is comprehensive and explains everything in much detail. The set-up process is fairly easy to follow.


The purpose of the Carolina river tanks is to replicate a river habitat for different animals. This is why they are different from standard aquariums. The Carolina River Tank is suitable to common river fish, reptiles, plants, and amphibians.

It is important to note that you will need to take into consideration the size the animals will grow to before placing them into the tanks, to ensure it is suitable for them. 

The environment you create in the tank is essential. Without the correct environment, the animals chosen will not be able to survive. This is where the Carolina River Tank excels above many of its competitors. 

Carolina has worked hard to ensure that this tank will create the perfect environment. It allows the water within the tank to emulate a rushing river. This lends itself to a thriving ecosystem , and will ensure that the water in the tank is oxygenated constantly. 

The filtration system reflects what a river would be like and there is both wet and dry filtration, which is essential. In addition to this, as this is its own ecosystem, it balances its pH when the water travels through the different plant pockets and any gravel media.

It can be left to its own devices to an extent when it has been set up, this is the beauty of it being its own ecosystem.  It does require a small amount of maintenance after the initial set up.

This is great if you are looking to educate yourself on river ecosystems, and if you are looking for a tank that is not difficult to upkeep. This would be a great option if you were a beginner looking to educate yourself on river style environment.

Once set up, you will need to keep an eye on things such as ammonia levels, the nitrogen cycle, the hardness of the water and the pH. These are all things you would normally need to check in regular aquariums too. 


As this is an ecosystem river tank, there are multiple levels. This allows the fish or other animals within the tank to be able to move between the different sections, which helps to emulate a real river.

It is worth noting that the top of this tank is uncovered. Given this, if you have other pets, you will need to take this into consideration to ensure that the animals within the tank are safe from harm. Also, I usually purchase a screened cover to keep all the critters in the tank (especially crabs, the escape artists) but still allow light and air movement freely in the tank.

The design of the River Tanks are incredible and contain waterfalls, smaller pools, and eddies. The water will create smaller rapids. 

The molded plant pockets are perfect for many plants and animals such as shrimp and snails to settle into.

When setting up the tank, you will want to do this slowly and add small amounts of fish at a time to ensure that the water levels remain consistent and steady. 


  • Easy to manage – As this is its own ecosystem, it is easy to manage once it has been set up. While you will need to care for the animals and check the quality of the water, it is not overly difficult to manage.
  • Complete set – If you need to purchase everything, the complete sets are perfect. They include everything that you need to get the ecosystem set up and started.
  • Perfect Environment – The Carolina River Tank provides the perfect environment for river animals to thrive in.
  • Easy to set up – The instructions are detailed and easy to follow when setting up this ecosystem.


  • No lid – As this ecosystem does not have a lid in order to allow the plants inside to grow, this can be an issue if you own other animals. I would love if they would provide a screened top.


If you are interested in owning river animals, such as fish, shrimp and certain amphibians, the Carolina River Tank is one of the best available to purchase. It provides the perfect environment and ecosystem for these animals.

While it is not the cheapest option available, this is reflected in the quality of the product. It is created by a trusted company that is deep rooted in scientific research. Given this, you know that the environment created will be the correct one. 

Given that it comes with everything that is needed, it is a great kit for beginners. It is easy to set up and once assembled, it does not require too much upkeep. This is great for beginners looking into purchasing fish for the first time. All you will need to do is ensure the water level and quality is correct. 

Overall, I highly recommend this ecosystem. I have owned a few, and had great success.