Essential Aquarium Equipment and Accessories

Heater:  This is a must especially if the tank is placed in a room with inconsistent temperature readings. Just like humans, every fish are comfortable at certain temperatures.  For safety measures, I prefer heaters that are encased with additional plastic shield to prevent from shattering. However, it is all about personal preference.  

Thermometer: Thermometers are an essential equipment as its needed to check water temperatures. There are many types available, from fancy digital LCD to the generic floating device. Just find one that you like, and make sure you purchase one to prevent future accidents.

Image of a floating thermometer

Light/Hood: Providing light to your aquarium allows you see your beautiful tank in the dark and also acts as a cover on your tank. Some fishes are known to be “jumpers” and having a cover can prevent fish loss. If you have interests in keeping plants, there are different types of lighting equipment available to aid your plants needs.

Water Conditioner: It is recommended that you have a bottle of water conditioner readily available. Water conditioner neutralizes chlorine, chloramines, and heavy metals which is present in your tap water. Aside from neutralizing the elements, the conditioner provides a slime coating to help wounds heal and protect fish from any fin abrasions. Water conditioners should be used when setting up new aquariums and with every water change.


Water Testing Kit: To ensure your fishes are safe, you need to test the water. Make sure that the readings are safe before placing your fish into their new home.

Decoration: You can find many different choices to decorate your aquarium. Here are a few things you might want to consider:

  • Driftwood
  • Rocks and slates
  • Background
  • Plastic ornaments
  • Plants
Driftwood and plastic plants


It’s all about preference when it comes down to the appearance of your tank. Some may prefer the more natural look and some may even stick with a bare bottom tank. Here are some of the choices for substrates:

Gravel: Ideally for freshwater tanks, the most popular choice seems to be the colorful gravel which you can purchase at any local pet store. They come in all sizes, and colors.

Sand: There are many different choices and be careful what you choose. Some sand are finer than others and can cause a cloud of dust whenever your fish dashes across the tank.

Images of gravel mix with river rocks and aquarium sand

River Rocks and Slates: This is one of my personal favorites as it replicates natural lake settings. These are usually consists of river rocks of all sizes and even slates which are good for aquascaping.

Powerhead: Mainly seen in the salt water aquarium given that the water movement requirements are greater than freshwater. The power head devices create extra water movements’ simulating water currents in nature and allows for extra oxygen for the aquarium.

Lighting Timers and Automatic Feeders:  I consider these essentials if you are a frequently traveler or do not want the hassle of turning on your aquarium lights or feeding your fish every day. It might be helpful to consider these items in the future as an investment.

Tip: Failing to turn off the lights at night can over stress your fishes as do inconsistent lighting periods.

Air stones, Diffusers and Curtains can help aid gas exchange for improved water quality in the aquarium. Aside from replenishing the oxygen levels, it also allows for attractive bubble display in the aquarium. The aeration devices are usually attached via air line tubing to an air pump.

CO2 Systems are used for carbon dioxide injection. Those of you who are not familiar with those terms just need to know that it’s used for aquatic plants. With a CO2 system, it allows for plants to thrive with the additional oxygen generated from the CO2 system.  

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