You wish to have a freshwater fish-only aquarium. What do you need to be able to put fish into the aquarium with a reasonable expectation they will survive and thrive? Here are the 12 essential products necessary to have a freshwater fish-only aquarium (
With a quality filter you will need to do less work cleaning your tank. For tanks less than 40 gallons a simple hang-on Power Filter
is perfect. For tanks over 40 gallons you really need a Canister Filter
- Filtration Overview
Fish-only aquariums do not have to have as much light as planted or reef aquariums. The fish need very little light. However, you may want to have a brighter light so you can better enjoy your aquarium. Refer to the Fish Only Tanks Lighting Chart
when choosing a light.
LED lights will save you money because they are energy efficient and you won't need to change the bulbs. They should last for five to ten years, although with some of the cheaper LED lights you might see earlier failure of some of the individual LEDs.
You will need to make sure that your water is safe for your fish. We recommend the API Freshwater Master Test Kit
. This kit will include the tests for pH, High Range pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. You will also want a good thermometer to confirm the temperature. Our favorite is the Lifegard Big Time or Temp
- Test Kit Overview
You will need to clean your aquarium to keep it healthy and attractive. For maintenance you will need a good gravel vac and algae magnet. The Python Gravel Vacs
and the Flipper Magnet Cleaners
are good choices. Make sure to look at the depth of your aquarium when choosing a gravel vac and thickness of your glass when choosing an algae magnet.
- Cleaning Basics 101: Five Pro Cleaning Tips
- Top 10 Aquarium Maintenance Hacks
You will need gravel and decorations. We recommend coarse freshwater substrates which are easier to clean. Substrate is best purchased locally due to the cost of shipping. Decorations include artificial plants, branches, rocks, sunken ships, mangrove roots and much more. We have a section with Freshwater Decorations
You will notice on our web site we have hundreds of different additives for aquariums. The good news is that most of these are for advanced aquarists looking for specific results. For a freshwater fish-only tank you will probably only need a dechlorinator, such as Seachem Prime
. If you are using RO water, you will not need a dechlorinator.
- Additives Overview
Water movement is important in fish-only tanks to oxygenate the water and stir up the waste so the filter can remove it. As a general rule you will want to have enough water movement to turn over your aquarium’s total water volume at least 4 to 5 times per hour. Your Canister Filter
or Power Filter
should be large enough to accomplish the turning over of the water 4 to 5 times per hour. If your filter does not have enough flow, you can add a powerhead
to the tank, but it's best to just purchase a filter that will have enough pumping capacity for your freshwater system.
- Pump Overview
Tropical freshwater aquariums should maintain a temperature of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your aquarium temperature is dropping below 76 degrees at any time you will need a heater
. All the heaters we carry have aquarium size ratings. Keep in mind the rating assumes you only need to raise the temperature by 10 degrees. We recommend an Hydor Theo Heaters
. You will need a thermometer
such as the Lifegard Big Time or Temp
to know your tank temperature.
If your aquarium is in a very warm room you may need a Chiller
. If your aquarium is an a room that gets up to 80 degrees, the heat created by the aquarium and pump may push the temperature above 82 degrees, which is the absolute threshold for tropical fish.
- Heater Overview
- Chiller Overview
Your home may have GF/CI outlets, but if they don’t you might want to have one installed for your aquarium equipment. The alternative is the Shock Shield GFCI Plug Adapter
This really depends on the type of fish you purchase. Ask at the aquarium store about the best food for the fish you purchase.
If you travel and no one is at home to take care of your fish, you might consider an automatic fish feeder
You will always want to use a fish net
to move fish you purchase at the aquarium store.
Every freshwater fish-only aquarium definitely
needs these 12 Products:
1. Aquarium (& stand)
2. GF/CI outlet or adapter
water or dechclorinator
5. Power Filter
or Canister Filter
7. Test kits
9. Gravel vac
10. Algae magnet
11. Fish food
12. Fish net
You don't have to have aquascape decorations, but 99% of aquariums do have them.
Your reef aquarium might
need these products:
1. If your tank gets below 76 degrees you will need a heater
. If you tank gets above 82 you need a chiller
2. Fish feeder
If you need further help please always feel free to shoot an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org