Walking through the aquatic supplies aisle in a pet store can be a little overwhelming, surrounded by so many products, but are they all really necessary? Of course not! Our list of equipment and accessories for aquarium maintenance is a great guideline for the beginner so you’ll know what you need and what to skip.
Accessories You’ll Need
Gravel Siphon – The single most important tool. Needed for proper aquarium maintenance, just to empty the water is not enough, you will need to vacuum fish waste and detritus that collects on the bottom.
Water Conditioner – Add this only during water changes. Chlorine evaporates so you can leave the bucket exposed to air for 24 hours, however conditioner commonly includes additives to enhance fish health. We always use water conditioner.
Freshwater Aquarium Salt – Extremely important, regulates the osmosis between water and internal organs. Reduces stress, enhances the body’s ability to repair itself from scratches or fin tears. Salt does not evaporate so it’s only added during water changes. We always use aquarium salt.
Thermometer – An useful tool, especially when doing water changes so you can easily match the temperature from bucket to aquarium.
Fish Net – Always used when landing fish into the aquarium. Read the “adding new fish page” for step by step on this procedure.
Large Bucket – Even if you have the ability to drain water into a bathtub, we advise to get a bucket anyway. You’ll need it to rinse filter cartridges in before dumping removed water during regular maintenance.
Decorations with Hiding Spots – You’ll want to replicate a natural environment as much as possible, offering rocky outcroppings and ornaments with little caves and secluded corners not only looks pretty, it offers fish a chance to hide and rest.
Filter, Heater & Lights – All required and important for any aquarium. Please see the corresponding categories in the drop-down menu at the top of the page for more information on the respective equipment.
Accessories You Don’t Always Need
Air Pump & Air Stone – An air pump and stone is required for a fish bowl to aerate water, in an aquarium with a filter, it’s not necessary. Some ornaments activate by air, for example, an alligator with closed mouth on hinges, when air exists the stone, it opens the mouth, giving an animated look.
Bacteria Cycling Liquid – You only need this during the initial cycling of your tank which takes place the first 3-4 months. An established aquarium does not need these supplements. The levels of bacteria will plateau over time therefore adding more is not going to increase growth, it’s just a waste of money.
Algae Scraper or Magnet – I don’t own one of these. When doing water changes, I use a small facecloth to gently wipe the glass in circular motions to remove algae. If you make a habit of wiping off with every water change, you’ll prevent the hard algae that is difficult to remove from the glass. If you slack on wiping glass, an algae scraper will be an accessory you’ll need eventually.
Water Chemistry Aquarium Test Kits – If you perform regular water changes, there is no need for testing. If you are concerned about it’s chemistry, bring a sample of water to a pet store and ask them to do testing. Ammonia has an odor and high levels are obvious to the senses. If your water smells normal then you’re fine. If it has pungent ammonia odor then levels are high and a 25% water change is in order.
Vacation Fish Feeders – Never use these! The white chalky substance can disrupt water quality or cause clouding, furthermore some fish don’t eat sinking pelleted food, creating an abundance of waste. Fish can easily live 3 weeks or more without eating.
Carbon, Ammonia or Nitrate Removing Chips – A filter will already have these, but power filters do not have very much of this media contained inside the cartridge. If you have a power filter and want to overstock the aquarium, adding extra media is suggested. Place a handful in a water submersible mesh bag and let sit on the bottom of the aquarium. If you have a canister filter, there is already more then adequate amount of filter media; you won’t need to add more.