What aquarium equipment do you need to start a fish tank? The Aquarium Equipment Hub is your aquarium supplies checklist. We explain what aquarium equipment, accessories and supplies are essential and what you may be able to live without.
Essential aquarium equipment
What equipment is essential for an aquarium? There are 8 must-haves, including the tank itself. It’s essential for every fish tank to have a hood, a stand, a filter, a thermometer, lighting, cleaning equipment, and a net.
Read on to find out what this aquarium equipment is for and why we think these items are essential aquarium equipment for every fish tank.
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We know this is stating the obvious, but clearly every home aquarium needs a tank. You’re going to end up with a very wet floor without one!
Seriously though, it is vital that you choose a suitable fish tank for your circumstances.
We recommend finding a suitable place for your fish tank, then working out what size you should buy based on the space available. The size of the tank then determines what fish you can keep.
For stable water parameters and the most space for your fish, it’s best to buy the biggest fish tank that you can afford and that will fit in a suitable space in your home.
You should never keep any kind of fish in a small bowl and we also recommend avoiding unusual shapes. A standard horizontal rectangle fish tank will be the easiest to maintain and will allow the most oxygen to dissolve into the water.
- SPEC Series Aquariums: The newly redesigned SPEC series now features an impressive high output 7000K LED, which generates 20% brighter lighting performance for noticeably bolder fish colors and plant growth.
- Tank Construction: SPEC adds style and design to your aquarium set. Constructed with etched glass with high-quality aluminum trim.
- Filtration Capability: SPEC boasts a powerful 3-stage system with oversized mechanical, chemical and biological media for unparalleled water clarity. Includes foam block, activated carbon, and BioMax bio rings.
- Lighting System: The powerful LED lighting system has 37 LED bulbs with a total output of 821 lumens and 7000K color temperature.
- Capacity: 5-gallon tank capacity with a water pump output of 55-80 US Gal/h (210-300 L/h).
An aquarium hood is the lid that stops your fish jumping out of the fish tank.
It’s also common for lighting to be installed inside an aquarium hood.
Your fish tank may come with a hood, in which case you won’t need to purchase one separately.
If you buy a fish tank and it doesn’t have a hood then you’ll just have to take care to buy one that fits. Remember that you’ll need the hood to be the correct size, both lengthways and in terms of depth.
You may also want to consider your lighting needs when purchasing a hood, as different hoods will be able to hold different types of light.
- Actual Dimensions: 22.94" x 11.38" Fits most 24" x 12 " Aquariums
- DOMED HOOD: Sleek design with energy-efficient LED light bar.
- NATURAL EFFECT: White LEDs create a shimmering illumination that mimics sunlight’s natural underwater effect.
- NIGHT LIGHT EFFECT: Enjoy your aquarium at night by switching to the blue night light mode.
- HINGED: Includes two sets of hinges to fit most popular frame sizes – for easy access during maintenance.
You can’t just put your fish tank on the floor, so you’re going to need some kind of stand for it.
Some fish tanks come with special cabinets that they are designed to sit on top of. The advantage of these cabinets is that you can be sure they’re strong enough to hold the fish tank, and they provide space to store other aquarium equipment, such as an external filter, fish food and cleaning supplies.
If your tank doesn’t come with a cabinet or stand then you can buy one separately. You’ll just need to make sure that the stand you choose is designed to hold the size of tank that you have.
Finally, you could of course put your fish tank on top of a table or other piece of furniture. We don’t recommend this option. Fish tanks are extremely heavy when filled with water and furniture that isn’t designed to hold that amount of water could easily collapse under the weight.
- Sturdy & Durable Construction: Made with 4cm thick steel powder coated legs. This fish tank stand is sturdy, durable, and moisture-resistant. No need to worry about wobbling like with many other weak stands on the market.
- Holds Two Aquariums: Able to hold one big aquarium on the top shelf up to 40 gallons and bottom shelf can accommodate a second small aquarium (5-10gallon)
- Versatile: Besides the main tank storage, this fish tank stand allows you to store your fish accessories: fish food, fish net,gravel cleaner, water conditioner,etc. All in a no clutter configuration, neat & well-organized.
- Sleek & Modern Design: Black steel legs with powder-coated finish paired with brown P2 MDF cabinet makes this aquarium stand quite high end and easy to match your current furniture décor. Tanks not included.
- Dimensions: Stand Dimensions: 36.6"L x 18.9"W*31.6”H, Stand Holding Capacity: 40 Gallons,660 LBS. Suitable for a variety of sizes of aquariums or terrariums up to 40 Gallon.
A filter is a crucial piece of aquarium equipment that every fish tank needs. Your filter contains media that cleans the aquarium water and is a place where a colony of “good bacteria” will build up. These bacteria then remove harmful chemicals from the water.
Internal and external filters are available. Internal filters sit inside the tank water, while external filters sit outside the tank.
Filters come in different sizes for different size tanks. When choosing a filter, a good rule of thumb is to buy one with a flow rate that turns over 4 times the size of your tank per hour.
For example, if you have a 20 gallon tank, your filter should have a flow rate of at least 80 gallons per hour. If in doubt, go for the model with the higher flow rate.
- WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration
- MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain a clean aquatic environment, Multi-stage filtration for a clean healthy aquatic environment
- MARINELAND FILTRATION PRODUCTS: Count on Marineland brand for the most reliable, technically advanced aquariums and accessories on the market
- COMPATIBILITY: Use with Marineland Rite-Size Filter Cartridges (see individual filter for sizing recommendations)
- FIVE SIZES: Available in 75 GPH, 100 GPH, 150 GPH, 200 GPH and 350 GPH sizes
Water temperature is hugely important to the health of your fish, so a thermometer is a little piece of aquarium equipment that every fish-keeper needs.
Each species of fish is native to bodies of water that are within a certain temperature range. The fish’s body is adapted to living at these temperatures and it is this environment that you’re trying to recreate in the home aquarium environment.
Without a thermometer, you’ll have know way of knowing what your water temperature is and whether water that is too warm or too cold is having a negative effect on your fish’s wellbeing.
Thermometers can be as simple as strips that stick to the aquarium wall. Alternatively, for a little bit more money, digital thermometers are available and will give more accurate temperature readings.
- 👁️🗨️【HD LED Display】PAIZOO Aquarium Thermometer adopts LED screen to display temperature, LED can provide wide viewing angle and the color is saturated, it is easier to read the data no matter day or night. Green environmental protection and energy saving.
- 👆【Cordless & Touch Design】Stick-on Induction Thermometer senses water temperature through probe, cordless design, no messy wires in the water, providing a clean and safe environment for fish.Touch the button to display the temperature, and the thermometer outside aquarium will enter the sleep state after 5s.
- 🌡️【High Accurate Display】Tank Thermometer Aquarium just needs to tear off the adhesive and stick it below the water level on the outside of the tank. The thermometer for terrarium has a reading range of 0-140°F and is accurate to 0.9°F. Up to 5s refresh speed allows the naked eye to detect temperature changes more quickly.
- 🔋【Long Battery Life】The thermometer tank fish built-in 3V battery button, the battery is long-lasting. Mini design, easy to use. Digital thermometer is suitable for different water types such as fresh water, tap water, salt water, sea water, etc., to provide the most comfortable water environment for your beloved pets.
- 📫【Product Guarantee】You will get 1*Backside Sensing Thermometer(Battery included).We offer 30 days money back and one year warranty for its quality problems. If you have any questions or want to know more about our products, please contact us, we will help you solve the problem as soon as possible.
We’ve decided to list lighting as essential aquarium equipment.
While it is technically possible to have an aquarium that receives enough natural light (but not too much), it’s difficult to achieve the right balance without having an electrical light that you can control.
If you want to keep aquarium plants in your fish tank then they will also need a strong light source to encourage healthy growth.
Lights are often installed in the hood of the aquarium, just above the surface of the water. However, submersible lights, which go under the water, are also available.
- Fits aquarium tank from 18" to 24" in length with adjustable mounting brackets
- Light body without docking brackets: 17” L x 2.7” W. Tank thickness: No limit to rim size
- Configuration: Total 42 LEDs, 30 pcs 6500K white LED, 6pcs blue LED, 3 pcs pink LED, 3 pcs Green LED
- Mode: all lights on and all lights off
- Super bright and energy efficient LEDs, suitable for all freshwater NOTE： KEEP THE LIGHT AWAY FROM THE SPLASHING WATER
Every fish-keeper needs to establish a regular routine of tank maintenance, which includes cleaning the tank to remove algae from the walls and waste from the substrate.
In order to clean your tank, you will need a set of cleaning tools.
Cleaning equipment usual includes a siphon to remove water from the tank and vacuum the substrate, a scraper to remove algae from the glass, and a bucket to transport dirty and clean water to and from the tank.
Cleaning supply kits, like the one listed below, are available to purchase or you can buy each item separately if you prefer.
- High-quality Material: This aquarium cleaning kit includes two essential tools: the 5-in-1 Aquarium Fish Tank Clean Algae Scrapers and the Fish Tank Gravel Cleaner Siphon Vacuum. Both tools are made of high-quality materials to ensure durability and longevity.
- 5-in-1 Aquarium Fish Tank Clean Algae Scrapers: With this versatile tool, you'll get five functions in one convenient device. It includes a fish net, gravel rake, algae scraper, fork, and sponge brush, making it easy to clean your fish tank thoroughly. Plus, it can be easily assembled and disassembled with the included strap, making it even more convenient to use.
- Fish Tank Gravel Cleaner Siphon Vacuum: This easy-to-use tool is perfect for water changing and sand cleaning, ensuring the safety and health of your fish. It effectively removes debris and waste from the bottom of the tank without disturbing the gravel or harming your fish.
- Fish Tank Cleaning Tools: The soft hose of the gravel cleaner allows you to reach every corner of your fish tank without difficulty. The gravel washer makes it easy to clean sand and sweep up debris from the bottom of the tank, keeping your aquarium clean and healthy.
- Note: To maintain the hygiene of your fish tank, it is important to wash the cleaning tools thoroughly after each use. With this convenient cleaning kit, you can keep your aquarium in top condition and provide a safe and healthy environment for your fish.
If your cleaning supply kit doesn’t already come with one then we recommend purchasing a fish net.
We don’t recommend removing your fish during cleaning – and you generally want to put your fish in a net as little as possible, as there is always the risk of them getting injured or stressed – there will be times when a net is required.
You may need to remove a fish because it has died, is sick, is fighting with another fish, or perhaps your fish have bred and you need to remove the parents or fry. All of these situations will need a fish net.
Finally, a net is useful for removing other objects from your aquarium too, such as leftover pieces of food or rotting bits of plant.
A net may only be cheap and simple, but it’s a crucial piece of aquarium equipment that our fish couldn’t live without!
- ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR FISHKEEPING: It’s always good to have an extra fish net for your aquarium! In addition to cleaning up some extra fish food that was accidentally poured, it becomes a handy tool when you need to quickly handle fish, and transfer them between tanks. They’re safe to use with both freshwater and saltwater fish, and come in various sizes!
- DURABLE, STRONG, AND SAFE: Each fish net features a vinyl covered, two-part braided handle that provides for an ergonomic grip, ensuring reliable operation with its strong design. Our aquarium fish nets won’t bend or become distorted over time, even with repetitive use. The mesh netting is appropriate for almost any type of aquarium fish, both freshwater and saltwater.
- MEASUREMENTS: The QN4 model of our Quick-Net line features a 4” x 3” net, with a handle length of 10”
- COLOR MAY VARY: Please be advised that our fish nets come in various shades of blue and green. We will ship based on availability. But rest assured, your fish won’t mind the difference in color, as long as they’re safely transported.
- SHOP PENN-PLAX FOR ALL YOUR PET’S NEEDS: PENN-PLAX is a manufacturer and distributor of top quality pet supplies, who specialize in creating excellent pet products for animals, both great and small.
Optional aquarium equipment
Not all aquarium equipment is essential to every tank. Some equipment is only needed in certain circumstances. We consider heaters, air pumps, plants and decorations to be optional types of aquarium equipment, which you may or may not need.
Whether a heater is an essential piece of aquarium equipment really depends on the type of fish you plan to keep.
Clearly, if you intend to keep tropical fish that need warm water to survive then you are likely to need a heater in order to maintain your aquarium water at the right temperature.
However, if you’re planning to keep cold water fish – particularly fish that can tolerate a wide range of temperatures – then a heater probably isn’t essential aquarium equipment for you.
One other situation where you might need a heater is if you plan to breed your fish, as spawning is often triggered by temperature changes. You’ll need a heater in order to recreate the natural temperature fluctuations that fish experience in the wild inside your home aquarium.
- 🐠【Rapid Heating and Two Temperature Control System】300W aquarium heater is sutable for 40-75 gallon fish tank and made of the most stable nickel-chromium heating wire, which can quickly and stably conduct heat to the surroundings. It has a built-in temperature control system of Fahrenheit and Celsius(Temp range: 63-94℉/17-34℃). You can press and hold the button next to the controller for 2-3 seconds to switch.
- 🐠【Intelligent Water Sensor and Over Temperature Protection】This fish tank heater has a unique intelligent temperature and water sensor system, the heater will automatically stop heating when the heater is completely out of water or it rapidly heats beyond the set temperature, the indicator light will turn green in both cases to ensure the maximum safety of you and your aquatic organisms just like protecting our own safety.
- 🐠【Explosion-proof Quartz Glass Aquarium Heater】The submersible aquarium heater is made of explosion-proof quartz glass material and a high-temperature resistant nickel-chromium heating wire with silicon carbide heat conduction, faster water heating and longer lasting. And the stronger black shell is a high temperature resistant ABS material which protect the fish, your aquatic organisms and you from scalding.
- 🐠【Accurate External Digital Display Controller】The external IC temp controller of this aquarium water heater can show the water temp with 2 red LED digits. The temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius is displayed, which can be switched by pressing and holding the button for a few seconds. To set the temp, just press the button over and over until the screen displaying the temp you desired, the setting is done and the led shows the current water temp again.
- 🐠【Wide Range of Use】This 300 watt adjustable aquarium heater is suitable for many occasions. The fish market is a common place for us. It can maintain the freshness of fish. They are also suitable for places where aquatic life such as fish tanks, aquariums, and small fish ponds are kept. There are strong suction cups on the heater guard and the thermometer, it's easy to install the aquarium heater no to the tank walls or bottom, please keep them fully submerged.
An air pump has two key advantages: Firstly, it helps to add oxygen to your water, which helps your fish to breathe. And secondly, the bubbles created by the air pump are aesthetically pleasing.
The interesting thing about the first advantage is that the air pump doesn’t add oxygen in the way you probably think.
It’s not actually the bubbles coming out of the air pump that add much oxygen to the water, it’s the agitation that the bubbles cause at the water’s surface.
The ripples caused by the air pump increase the surface area of the water, which helps more oxygen dissolve into the water from the air.
The reason we’ve listed an air pump as an optional piece of aquarium equipment is because many tanks will have plenty of oxygen in the water even if they don’t have an air pump.
- POWERFUL: Tetra Whisper Air Pump provides dependable airflow to your aquarium.
- QUIET: Patented dome shape, suspended motor and sound-dampening chambers for quiet operation.
- PROVIDES OXYGEN AND WATER MOVEMENT: Keeps underwater pets happy.
- AVAILABLE SIZES: Select the proper size for your tank – 10, 20 and 40-gallon pumps have single air outlets, 60 and 100-gallon pumps feature dual outlets.
- NON-UL LISTED: Reliable performance at an economical cost.
While very popular with most fish-keepers – you’ll find aquarium plants of some kind in most fish tanks – they are definitely an optional item in most cases.
The only time that plants are really essential is if you are keeping a species of fish that needs to hide among plants to avoid becoming stressed by being out in the open all the time.
If you do choose to add plants to your aquarium then your first decision will be whether to add live plants or plastic plants.
Plastic plants have the advantage of being low maintenance and allowing you to control exactly what your aquarium looks like. Whereas live plants have the advantages of adding oxygen to the water, removing chemicals from the water, giving your fish something to nibble on, and creating an ever-changing aquascape.
- This aquarium decorations would fit 7 - 20 gallon and up aquarium nicely, bright colors make your aquarium full of vitality.
- Package includes: 25 Pieces assorted Heights plastic aquarium plants: Various Heights 6 to 30 cm. ( 2.4 inch to 12 inch ), 9 different styles.
- Safe fish tank decor: The aquarium decor plants are soft and won't hurt your fish. It is ideal for both fresh and salt water, do not affect the PH in the tank.
- The fish tank plants will neither fade nor create pollution to the water, which will provide a comfortable and clean living environment for the fish.
- Easy to clean - The smooth surface is also very easy to wipe and keep clean. Please wash it before using!
Like plants, decorations are largely an optional item of aquarium equipment.
There are only really two reasons why you would add decorations to your tank:
- Because you like how they look
- To give your fish objects to explore and hide within or behind
These aren’t bad reasons by any means, and you can certainly go ahead and add decorations to your tank if you want to. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
- High quality resin material: ECO-Friendly resin material non-toxic,safe for all aquariums and fish.
- Proper Size: The big one:5.5 x3.6 x2.4 inch/14 x 9 x 6cm(L x W x H ); The small one 5.9 x 2 x 2.8 inch/ 15 x 5 x 7 cm(L x W x H ); perfect for use in small and medium size fish tank. Cool artificial driftwood ornament for your fish tank, adds sunken look and feel to your aquarium.
- Lightweight: This driftwood is lightweight and sturdy branches are perfect for decorating and climbing reptiles. It is suitable for salt and fresh water.
- Widely used: Suitable for shrimp, fish fry, hermit crabs, fish, tortoise, lizard, frog, gecko or other small size fish or reptiles; Applicable to fresh water environment.
- Make your aquarium more beautiful: It is vividly and color detailed to add lively and natural life to your tank. It is great to decorate your aquarium all the time with minimum responsibility and maintenance.
Consumable aquarium supplies
We consider aquarium equipment to be permanent items that won’t run out. Aquarium equipment is the hardware that makes up your aquarium setup. But there’s another kind of equipment – consumable supplies – which you’ll also need to buy. Consumables are items such as test kits, water treatments and food, which you’ll use up over time and need to purchase on a regular basis.
There are a number of water parameters that need to be within the correct range in order for your fish to survive and thrive.
These parameters include ammonia levels, nitrite levels, nitrate levels and pH.
In order to monitor these water parameters and know when you might need to take action to correct them (such as performing a water change), you’ll need a test kit.
We recommend the API Freshwater Master Test Kit for freshwater aquariums, as it has all the tests you need to monitor ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH.
- Contains one (1) API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, including 7 bottles of testing solutions, 1 color card and 4 glass tubes with cap
- Helps monitor water quality and prevent invisible water problems that can be harmful to fish and cause fish loss
- Accurately monitors 5 most vital water parameters levels in freshwater aquariums: pH, high range pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate
- Designed for use in freshwater aquariums only
- Use for weekly monitoring and when water or fish problems appear
When you notice a problem with your water parameters – or perhaps to stop a problem beginning in the first place – you’ll likely need to add some form of water treatment to make your water healthy for your fish.
There are all kinds of water treatments available, as well as medications to treat a wide variety of illnesses, so the treatments you need will vary depending upon your own circumstances.
One water treatment that we do however recommend for all fish-keepers is Seachem Prime.
Prime works in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, removing chlorine and chloramine from tap water so that these chemicals don’t harm the bacteria in your tank. This allows “good bacteria” to build up in the tank and remove ammonia and nitrite, which would otherwise harm your fish.
- POWERFUL TREATMENT: Seachem Prime is a complete and concentrated conditioner for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, working hard to remove chlorine and chloramine.
- REMOVER: Seachem Prime immediately and permanently removes chlorine and chloramine, successfully allowing the bio filter to remove ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate while they are detoxified for 48 hours.
- DETOXIFIER: Seachem Prime effectively detoxifies ammonia, nitrite, and heavy metals found in the tap water at typical concentration levels, providing a ideal environment for your betta, tetra, or other fish.
- USE: Use 1 capful (5 mL) of Seachem Prime for each 200 L (50 US gallons) of new or replacement water. For best results, add Seachem Prime to new water first. For exceptionally high chloramine concentrations, a double dose may be used safely. For smaller volumes, use 2 drops per gallon.
- SAFETY: In case of an emergency, the 5x dose of Seachem Prime may be used for both ammonia and nitrite. Use a ½ dose if the water temperature is > 30°C (86°F) and chlorine or ammonia levels are low.
An essential consumable that you’re going to be buying on a regular basis. Fish obviously need food!
We recommend stocking up on a wide variety of foods in order to feed your fish a healthy varied diet.
Learn more about the types of food fish eat.
- TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible ingredients for use as staple food for your top- and mid-feeding tropical fish.
- COMPLETE DIET: Nutritionally balanced for optimal health.
- ACTIVE LIFE FORMULA: With added antioxidants for healthy cells, select proteins for growth and prebiotics for digestion.
- CLEAR-WATER FORMULA: Won’t cloud water when used as directed.
- LESS WASTE: Feed two to three times daily, only as much as your fish can consume within three minutes.
Saltwater aquarium equipment & Supplies
If you plan to keep saltwater fish then there are a couple of specialist pieces of aquarium equipment and supplies that you will need in order to maintain the correct salt levels within your tank.
Saltwater fish need a certain level of salt in the water. Too much or too little salt could be lethal, so it’s hugely important that you keep salt levels within an acceptable range.
But how do you know how much salt is in your aquarium? That’s where a clever piece of aquarium equipment known as a hydrometer comes in.
A hydrometer will tell you exactly what level of salt is in your tank. Allowing you to add more salt, or lower the concentration with more water, whenever necessary.
A hydrometer is only needed if you’re keeping saltwater fish.
- Salinity Range: 0~9999ppm/10~200ppt or 0.0-25%, ORAPXI salinity tester has an automatic temperature compensation function(32°F~140°F), which can decrease the error caused by the change of liquid temperature.
- Wide applications: There are various purposes for the salinity tester. This instrument can not only detect the salt content of edible salt, salt water pool and koi fish pond, but also the salinity of seawater, marine, salt water fish tank salt level testing.
- Backlit design: There is no need to worry about seeing the displayed value if the light is insufficient. ORAPXI salinity meter features a green backlit LCD to help you see the measurement results clearly in any situation.
- 4-in-1 salinity tester: The multi-parameter Tester can test Salinity, TDS, EC and Temperature in an accurate, quick and reliable manner for most regular water solutions' testing.
- After-sales: 30-day free return/replacement and we promise respond your any questions about the product within 12 hours.
Sea Salt Mix
A hydrometer will help you measure the levels of salt in your aquarium, but how does that salt get there in the first place?
If you’re keeping saltwater fish, you’ll need to manually add salt to your aquarium water until it reaches the right concentration for your fish.
You do this by purchasing a bag of sea salt, designed specifically for use in aquariums, and mixing the salt into your water to the desired level before adding the water into your fish tank.
- Precision formulated and balanced salt blend that replicates natural sea water for all marine and reef aquaria.
- Manufactured from reagent grade, pharmaceutical grade, and tested and assayed ingredients; developed through decades of testing and experience manufacturing salt mixes.
- Manufactured in small batches in Continuum’s factory under tight quality controls.
What should I read next?
If you’d like to learn more, we recommend exploring our aquarium equipment articles or finding out more about freshwater fish, saltwater fish, fish tanks, or aquatic plants.