Aquarium Maintenance Tools

To maintain a healthy aquarium, you need to routinely clean it. Other than cleaning there are other tasks to maintain the aquarium.

Here I am going to list some essential items to maintain an aquarium.


This is used to catching fish or removing debris and uneaten food. When you are doing the water change or cleaning the tank and need to move the fish to a temporary habitat the net comes in handy. It is easy to use and safe for fish.


This is one of the most important tools everyone should have who is keeping a fish tank. This is used to do the regular water changes. There are a variety of siphons available in the market. They come in different sizes. There are siphons which come with bulbs so you can start the siphoning process without sucking the fish tank water by mouth. Look for the small to medium sized siphon.

Siphons nowadays come with gravel cleaning attachment. Primarily the siphon tube has a wide mouthed tube attached to it. Using the wide mouthed end of the siphon you stir the gravel, This will raise the dirt from the gravel into the water. Now when you siphon this dirty water out it will take most of the dirt particles with it. This dirty water you take out from the tank is full of nitrates. This is an excellent fertilizer for your plants.


This is another one of the must have items for your fish tank. They also come in various sizes and shapes. Look at the specifications on the packaging. Most of them are submersible heaters and it will state if they are able to keep the tank at a standard temperature.

There are other heaters who have temperature adjusting mechanism. Submersible heater is better in design as you can place it horizontally near the bottom of the tanks. This has two advantages: 1. The heat rises and so the temperature in the tank is at the steady level. 2. During the regular water change the heater is submerged all the time since you do only 10 to 30% of the water change.

When purchasing a heater make sure you look at the heating capacity in watts. If your room temperature is within 5 to 10 degrees less than the target temperature of the aquarium, then a heater of 2.5 watts per liter should be enough. If it is more then that then you may need more watts.


You need to have a thermometer in your aquarium. The heater you put in does not show the actual temperature of the water. Thermometer will help you to keep track of the temperature. There are two main types of thermometers available in the market. One is a regular thermometer just like the ones you use it in your house. It has the mercury column, showing the actual temperature. They can be left floating in the aquarium or stick it to the inside of the aquarium using suction cups.

The other kind of thermometer is the flat strip type. They are usually applied to the outside of the aquarium walls. They show the temperature by illuminating the corresponding number using temperature sensitive chemicals.

Scouring pad and scraper

This is used to remove algae from the tank walls. You use this without any soap or chemicals. This generally cleans the algae from the aquarium walls.

There are various types of algae which grows in the fish tank. Some can be easily removed using the scouring pad. Others are too stubborn, so you need to use a scraper. The best one I recommend is the one which has about a foot-long plastic handle and a metal blade attached to the other end. This will make your job of cleaning the inside of the walls a breeze.

Tongs and grabbers

This tool helps to take out the plant debris from the tank. These are also used to place the plants in the aquarium soil. They come in variety of styles and lengths. Buy one which is appropriate for your tank.

Aquarium lights

I prefer to consider the aquarium lights as essential for the aquarium. My reason is that I do not use filter. To maintain a healthy aquarium for the fish, I always have planted tanks. The plants need light. Without that the plants cannot survive. For this reason I always have aquarium lights. There are a lot of types of lights available in the market. Some aquariums come with lids and the lights installed in the lids. There are ready to install LED lights available. They come in various sizes and are very easy to install. Many of these lights come with remote control and option to change colours.

Should I buy all the above from the day one?

That is a good question to ask. When I started my first tank, I did not get all of them together but had to go and get as needed. At the same time keep in mind that there are few items which you will need from the day one. You will need to add lights as you are planting the aquarium before adding the fish. You also need to have a heater to keep the water temperature at a set level. The rest you can add as it suits you.

Setting up Fish Aquarium

Today I am going to talk about setting up fish aquarium. I personally feel that we should if we can minimize use of artificial methods and try to mimic the nature when setting up fish aquarium. What I mean by that is that I will add only things artificial if I see them necessary.

What I mean by that is I do not use filter or artificial plants in the aquarium setup. I use live plants and regular water change. I use heater and lights as my aquariums are in the basement which does not get sun light and is colder than the rest of the house.

Marine Depot Aquarium Supplies

Getting a Fish Aquarium


The first step obviously is to get an aquarium if you have already not done so. There are many kinds and sizes of aquarium available out there in the market. You can go crazy just going thru the types out there.

If it is first tank you are setting up and have never done this before then my suggestion would be to get a 10-gallon rectangular aquarium. These are easily available from almost any aquarium store in town or you can order it online.

Cleaning the Aquarium

Before adding anything to the tank, clean it properly. There may be dust on it from the storage or store or even from the packaging it comes in. You should clean it inside and outside. You may be tempted to clean it with soap. Please don’t as the chemicals in soap are harmful for the fish. If by chance there is any soap left, which may not be visible to you but this could be lethal for the fish.

Gravel or Sand

It’s up to you if you want to use gravel or sand. I have used both and they seem to be working well. I even have used medium sized pebbles in a small tank. It all depends what kind of plants you are going to have in there. Some plants need soil or sand to establish their roots. Others can be attached to rocks and wood.

Aquarium with gravel and heater

Once you decide on the gravel or sand then add it to the aquarium and spread it the way you want it to appear under water.

Adding water

Now its time to add water to the tank. Make sur that the water is dechlorinated since chlorine is harmful to the fish. Do dechlorinate the water you can leave it over night in a bucket with no cover.

The other option is to use bubbler. What I mean is that if you already have a bubbler at home then you can use that in the bucket of water for about half an hour or when you feel the smell of the chlorine has gone.

Now you add the water to the tank. Put a small plate at the bottom of the aquarium and start to pour the water slowly on the plate. This way you avoid displacing your sand or gravel from pouring water.

Water Heater

Yes! this is very important if you live in area where it gets very cold, like North America or Europe. When I started my fish tank, I was watching everything including the chemistry of the water but never thought of the water temperature.

Aquarium water heater

My first pair of fish died within 24 hours. I ran to the store to find out what’s wrong with the water and my setup. No one was able to tell me why did the fish die. I realized that almost all the tanks in the store had some kind of heater. I didn’t have any. I learned my lesson hard way. Sorry my first fish!

Planting the aquarium

Now I would start planting the aquarium. You can check my blog “5 Easy to Care Aquarium Plants”. It will give you an idea of what plants you can buy.

After planting the aquarium, I would suggest waiting for at least a week before you add the fish. This process is called cycling the tank. This wait is important for growth of healthy bacteria. Plants tend to speed up the nitrogen cycle.

Planted Aquarium

Nitrogen cycle is a process through which the ammonia released from fish excreta goes into different chemical stages as ammonia to nitrites to nitrates. Plants take some nitrates and the water is purified and safe for the fish. Plants also take up the carbon dioxide from the water and release oxygen. Regular water change helps to reduce the harmful chemicals from the water.

Adding fish

Now the tank is ready to add the fish. Please read the blog “5 easy to care fish” if you want some idea about what fish to add to the aquarium.

When you bring the fish from the store it will be in a plastic bag. Place the bag in your tank without opening it. This will make the temperature of the water in the bag same as in the tank. Then open the bag and slowly release the fish with the water in the tank


Hopefully you have planted the aquarium as I suggested above. In that case you will need to add some lights to the aquarium. If you are on a budget, then you can use one of the table lamps you may have around the house. Else you can buy LED lights for the aquarium. You can order them online or get it at a local aquarium store.

Lights are essential for the plants. That is essential for the process of photosynthesis. Without lights your plants will not survive. Do not have the lights too bright as that can encourage the growth of algae in the aquarium.


Now you have everything setup and you can enjoy the aquarium. But this also requires that you must do some maintenance on the tank. You need to do the water change on weekly basis.

P.S. If you have a question or a comment about this article then please let me know and will try to answer them at the earliest