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

Aquarium without Filter

When you look at the list of items required to set up an aquarium, normally one of the items is filter. Why do we need the filter? The fish excreta is the harmful byproduct from the fish for the fish. The filter cleans the water of the tank by removing it. If so then can we setup an aquarium without filter?

Fish in Natural Habitat

Now if we look at the natural setting for the fish, what is it that cleans the water? Normally the natural habitat of the fish is river and ponds. In there is no filter. So how the water is clean and safe for the fish?

Natural Eco Balance

It is the nature where all is living in harmony. Rivers and ponds have the water flowing and it has vegetation. All these along with the fish reach an equilibrium and all thrive in this environment. This is natural Eco system in balance. The fish population is maintained in nature in balance and it helps to stop build-up of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates making the water poisonous to fish.

Applying the Nature to AquariumPlanted tank

In aquariums the same can be achieved by duplicating the same natural habitat. What I mean is that we can have the fish tank planted. These natural plants use up the excreta of the fish as fertilizers and release oxygen keeping the water aerated.

When setting up a tank without filter, we have to consider the density and type of plants. At the same time the number of fish in the tank is an important factor.

Feeding the fish

Other than that we also have to be mindful of the amount of food for the fish. If we feed them too much then the fish will excrete more and that may be too much to handle by the plants.

Oxygenate the tank

Plants in the tank provide oxygen for the fish, They do this by a process called photosynthesis, where the plants take the carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This keeps the water oxygenated for the fish. For the photosynthesis process light is necessary. There are many types of lights available in the market for the plants.

Aeration of the tank

You will notice that many aquariums out there have a bubbler in there. That is to oxygenate the tank. But when you have the planted tank it provides the oxygen in the water, eliminating the need for the bubbler.

I have written an article about plants for beginners in the aquarium. Please read it to get an idea of what plants to use in the aquarium and their lighting requirements.

Water Temperature

Other than oxygenation of water and cleaning it of fish excreta we have to make sure that the water temperature is also suitable for the fish. Depending on of where you live and the weather conditions you may or may not need the water heater. All my aquariums are in the basement where it becomes very cold. So I have to use water heater in each aquarium.

Water Change

Other than the above steps make sure that the water change is done regularly. Especially a tank without filter needs that as there may be some harmful bacteria growth which may not be taken up by the plants. This can happen with too many fish in the tank.

Take away

As we can see that to maintain an aquarium without a filter is possible. Aquariums can be setup as planted with appropriate number of fish without filter. By providing the above mentioned environment we can enjoy the aquarium and fish will be happy.

If you have any question or comment, please let me know below and will get back to you within 24 hours.

5 Best Aquarium Fish

So, you decided to have an aquarium and now thinking “what is the best aquarium fish for it?”. The most popular is the 10 gallons aquarium. It is manageable and is suitable for many kinds of fish. You can place it on a countertop or a side table. Let us look at some of the fish which will be easy to maintain and add the beauty to your tank.

  1. Guppy  This is one of the fish which is very easy to maintain. They are readily available at most aquarium stores. They are great for beginners and are liked by many aquarium hobbyists.


They are very peaceful and live in planted and community tanks with no issues. They thrive well in the planted tanks with hardy plants such as Java Fern and Java Moss.

Guppies are live bearers and very easy to breed. Unless you are planning to breed, make sure you have only male or females in the tank. If you want to breed then make sure that you have another tank ready for the frys as the guppies tend to eat their frys.

It’s easy to distinguish between male and female. Male has more colourful and larger tail. It also has elongated anal fin as opposed to a short or fan shaped anal fin in the female guppy.


  1. Celestial Pearl Danio             This is another one of the best aquarium fish and easy to maintain. It was discovered in 2006 and has taken the aquarium industry with a storm. It is commonly known as Galaxy Rasbora.

Celestial Pearl Danio

They are peaceful and have very vibrant colours which make them not only popular among the new hobbyists but they add a different level of beauty to the fish tank.

They are schooling fish and prefer well planted aquarium. They are active and always moving around in the lower part of the tank.

Celestial Pearl Danio males show more vibrant colours on their tails and are slim. The females are slightly rounded and colours are little dull as compared to the males.


  1. Neon Tetras     Neon Tetras are also known as Neon fish. They were first discovered in Amazon jungles back in 1934. These fish are known for it’s dazzling colours and energetic temperament.

Neon Tetra

Neon fish thrives in well planted tanks along with driftwood and rocks. This kind of environment replicates their natural habitat of Amazon jungle rivers.

These are schooling fish and can be put 10 of them together in the 10 gallon tank if that’s all you are going to keep in there.


4. Black Molly     This is also called short finned or molly. This is a hardy fish which can adapt to survive from fresh water to saltwater with gradual acclimation.

Black molly

Black Molly are easy to care for as long as the tank is kept clean. There should be a weekly water change of 10 percent.

These are of peaceful nature and a great fish to keep in a community tank. They live peacefully with other fish mates.

Black Molly is a live bearer. So be wary of few things if you are going to have them. First make sure you have two to three females to each male Black Molly. Otherwise the female Molly will be harassed by the male. Keep similar ratio if you have more than one male Molly. Else the males will fight. Lastly make sure that when Molly gives birth, take the babies out to a separate nursery as the Mollies tend to eat them.


  1. Goldfish I am sure you have heard this name before and have seen them in aquariums. These are one of the most common and famous fish in aquarium field.


They are no doubt very easy to maintain and their colours are very attractive. Gold Fish breed varies in body shape, size, fin configuration and colours.

Goldfish are not live bearers and they lay eggs. The female lays eggs on the leaves of the plants.


Take away:    Keeping fish is a very satisfying hobby. You can sit and watch your fish swimming around the tank for hours (I love doing it). If you can handle little physical work, then it is a greatly rewarding hobby. As I have given the details on 5 different fish above, you can select anyone or two for your tank.

Make sure you are doing the regular water change and trimming the plants to keep the look attractive and fresh.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question below.

5 Easy to Care Aquarium Plants

Today let us look at some aquarium plants which are easy to maintain and grow.

There is quite a long list of easy to care aquarium plants. If I start talking about the whole list, then I may have to dedicate a whole website to this topic only. I don’t feel like doing that and at the same time you may get bored.

This is a hobby which me and you enjoy so why not enjoy it by learning bit by bit. So today let us look at only five of easy to care aquarium plants.

Water Wisteria

This is very easy to care for plant. You can call it an unproblematic aquarium plant. It also is a fast-growing plant.

Water Wisteria

Scientific name:

Water Wisteria is one of the easiest plants to take care of. It’s scientific name is hygrophila difformis. It belongs to Acanthaceae family.

This plant is good for middle or background of the aquarium.

Origins of the plant:

Water Wisteria is native to Indian subcontinent. It is seen mainly during monsoon season. It is found mainly in the shallow waters of marshland.

Physical appearance:

This plant grows to maximum size of about 50 cm or 20 inches tall and approximately 20 centimeters or 8 inches wide. When planting in the aquarium make sure there is enough space between plants for it to grow.


Water Wisteria will grow in almost any substrate but it grows better in fine gravel. Ideally sandy substrate is best for it.

Water condition

This plant likes the water temperature between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius (70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). The ideal PH for this plant is neutral. Meaning it thrives in PH of 6.5 to 7.5. It likes soft to moderately hard water (2-8 KH).


Water Wisteria will flourish well in moderate to high lighting conditions.

Amazon Sword

Amazon Sword

Scientific name:

Scientific name for Amazon Sword is Echinodorus grisebachii.

Origins of the plant:

Amazon Sword is native to amazon basin but now a days it is cultivated in the farms around the world.

Physical appearance:

This plant grows to maximum size of about 50 cm or 20 inches tall. This plant is suited for larger tanks.


Amazon Sword will grow better in small grain gravel. It will also thrive in loose substrate or specialty planting substrate.

Water condition

This plant likes the water temperature between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius (72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). The ideal PH for this plant is neutral. Meaning it thrives in PH of 6.5 to 7.5. It likes soft to moderately hard water (2-8 KH).


Amazon Sword will grow in mild to moderate lighting conditions.

African Water Fern

African Water Fern

Scientific name:

Scientific name for African Water Fern is Bolbitis heudelotii. It is also referred to as Congo Fern.

Origins of the plant:

African Water Fern is native to tropical and subtropical Africa. This plant is true aquatic plant.

Physical appearance:

This plant grows to maximum size of about 15 to 40 cm or 6 to 16 inches tall. It can grow up to 25 cm (10 inches) wide. It is a slow growing plant.


African Water Fern grows best when attached to a wood. This plant must be fully submerged in the water.

Water condition

This plant likes the water temperature between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius (68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). The ideal PH for this plant is neutral. Meaning it thrives in PH of 6.5 to 7.5. It likes soft to moderately hard water (2-8 KH).


This plant thrives in wide range of light levels.



Scientific name:

Scientific name for Hornwort is Ceratophyllum Demersum.

Origins of the plant:

Hornwort is one of the easiest plants to care for. It has originated in North America. It has grown easily and spread across all continents of the world except Antarctica.

Physical appearance:

This plant grows to maximum size of about 15 to 40 cm or 6 to 16 inches tall. It can grow up to 25 cm (10 inches) wide. It is a slow growing plant.


Hornwort can be rooted in the substrate or can be left as floating plant in the aquarium. You can use it whatever suits your décor.

Water condition

This plant likes the water temperature between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius (59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). The ideal PH for this plant is neutral. Meaning it thrives in PH of 6 to 7.5. It likes soft to moderately hard water (2-8 KH).


Hornwort likes moderate to high lighting. Make sure the tank water is clear so the light can penetrate to the plant easily.

Dwarf Lily

Scientific name:

Scientific name for Dwarf Lily is Nymphaea stellata

Origins of the plant:

Dwarf Lily seems to be native to areas from Afghanistan to Indian subcontinent to Taiwan, South East Asia and Australia.

Physical appearance:

Growth of this plant depends on the depth of the aquarium. They do send shoots of leaves to the surface of the aquarium. These should be cut near its origin else in due time these shoots will cover the surface of the aquarium causing to block the light going to the depths of the aquarium. That will kill the plants there.


Dwarf Lily is usually sold as a bulb with one or may be two leaves. It is supposed to be planted in the substrate half way only. Otherwise the plant will die.

Water condition

This plant likes the water temperature between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius (71 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit). The ideal PH for this plant is neutral.


Dwarf lily grows in wide variety of light conditions. It can be grown in low light but grows faster and bigger in higher light condition.

General Note:

These were the five plants which are very easy to take care of. I appreciate you reading thru the article. If you have any question or comment please let me know below. 

How to take care of Aquarium Plants

Today we are going to look at the topic of aquarium plants care. I am going to focus on freshwater aquarium plants.

Benefits of the aquarium plants

Plants in an aquarium not only enhance the look of the aquarium but it also helps to establish balanced Eco system in it and provide many benefits to your fish. By adding plants to the aquarium, we are trying to duplicate the nature.

What about artificial plants?

Some people add artificial plants to their tanks. This may be visually good, but it has fewer benefits than the live plants. I also heard from some hobbyist who have tried the artificial plants, that it takes time to clean the plants during the water change as there is a lot of algae sticking to the surface of these plants.

Natural is better

I prefer natural stuff in my aquariums anyways. In most of my tanks I don’t even have a filter. Some day I will write details of how I accomplish this. Today we are going to talk about Aquarium Plants Care.

Basics of aquarium plants care

Aquarium Plants care is not as hard as some people think. Follow some basic steps and you are on your way to have a planted aquarium which you will love and your fish will thank. Here are some basic rules to follow:

  • Select the plants suited to the kind of aquarium you have
  • Select the plants which are suitable to the kind of fish you have
  • When buying plants, you need to know what kind of substrate is suitable for them
  • Lighting is another factor to look at as well
  • Don’t forget that some plants require pruning

Some plants suggestion for beginners:

There are quite a few types of plants which anyone can grow in their aquariums. Here is a short list of them:

Java Moss:                                           Java moss

It is a great plant to use as carpet, front or back of aquarium or even to make a bonsai tree. This also provides microscopic food for shrimps.

Java Fern and Amazon Sword: Java Fern   Amazon Sword

These are easy to maintain plants and provides great hiding place for the fish.

Anubias Nana and Dwarf Sagittaria:

These are medium-sized plants and also easy to take care of.


I   hope that this short article shows that its easy to have plants in your aquarium. You can propagate these plants in your aquariums easily and can have fun in creating your own aquascape master pieces.


How to take care of Java Moss.

Today I am going to talk about Java Moss care. It is one of the easiest plant to take care of and the best friend of a newbie to aquarium field.

What is Java Moss

Java Moss belongs to Hypnaceae family. It is native to Southeast Asia. It is one of the most widely used plant in aquariums due to its ease of care and is very hardy plant. It clings to various surfaces so it is easily grown on rocks, pebbles, drift wood etc in the aquariums. Java Moss is very easy to maintain.

Java Moss grows outside and found by river banks, moist rocks and even on moist brick walls. It also grows easily underwater. It is used as foreground plant in aquariums or as a carpet plant. You can make underwater bonzai tree using Java Moss.

Benefits of using Java Moss in an aquarium

Java Moss not only adds colour to your aquarium but it also helps to:

  • reduce nitrates
  • reduce nitrites
  • oxygenate the water
  • Reduce algae growth

Lights for Java Moss

Java Moss care does not need any special lighting. It will florish in regular light. I have personally tried regular bulb, foresence light and LED lights. The results were great with all of them. I have not done a comparative study but overall I did not see any difference. Although it grows faster with brighter light, CO2 and fertilizers but it comes with a disadvantage of algae. Yes if you have too bright light then it will grow faster and you will also see algae growth on it.

I personally have all my tanks planted but I do not use CO2 or fertilizers. My tanks are made to mimic the nature with appropriate temprature, water flow and plants. I will write about them in the future.

Water Temperature for Java Moss

This plant is native to Southeast Asia and it thrives in tropical climate. Hence it loves the water temprature of 21 to 24 degrees Celcius (70 to 75 degrees Farenheit).

Trimming Java Moss

Since Java Moss is fast growing hardy plant, it needs to be taken care of by trimming it. If it’s left unattended can overgrow and the looks of the aquarium could be like a jungle instead of an aquarium.

The best way to do this is by using sissors and siphon at the same time. This way you are able to get most of the cuttings out of the aquarium. The cuttings outside the aquarium can be left immersed in water where it will grow. Make sure there is light for at least 8 hours a day for it to grow and thrive.

Taking care of Java Moss

Taking care of Java Moss is very easy. Once you get the moss (by mail or if you are getting from your local aquarium store) just attach it to the river rock, pebble or drift wood. Then immerse it in the water. The fish will also love it and it will enhance the look of your aquarium.

Once in the aquarium, make sure there is some light for at least eight hours a day. Now you have the planted aquarium to brag about. This will help to reduce small amounts of nitrates from the water and also absorbs some harmfull nutrients which encourage algae growth.

Don’t forget to trim the Java Moss occasionally to keep the look of your aquarium fresh.

Land Moss to Aquarium

Moss is one of the most interesting plants for aquariums. It is very easy to maintain at the same time very easy to propagate. It does not need any special lighting for its survival. Today I am going to share with you my experiment with land moss.

One day I was walking in my back yard and noticed some green patch. It was not grass and looked out of place and something algae. Upon close inspection it looked like moss which I had in my aquarium.  It got my curiosity so I scraped some from the ground and tried to wash all the dirt from it. There were no visible roots to it as was the case with my moss in the aquarium.

Land Moss
Land Moss

Since I was not able to get all the mud from it, I left it soaked in the water for couple of days. I made sure that the bottle was under regular LED lamp for about ten hours. I left it there for about two days. Then I took it out and washed it again. I checked it properly and there were no signs of stress or yellowing of the moss. So now I took a small piece of the moss and attached it to a river lock using plastic mesh. I placed this moss on the river rock in one of my aquariums.

This has thrived in there and grown so much that I had to trim it and now I have so much growth from it that I had to move the moss cuttings to a separate bottle.


About me

Here on this site I am going to share my experiences with you about mini aquaponics and aquariums

How I got into Aquaponics?

I was introduced to aquaponics by my brother back in 2018. I knew little bit about aquariums but was totally unaware of aquaponics. I started to study the subject as the initial introduction to it was interesting. I was also mad about how the grocery stores were charging so much more for so called organic products.


As I studied the subject more I thought why not develop a mini system at home. In one year I have tried couple of different mini systems in my basement. This helped me to understand how to take care of the fish tank as well as how to set up a planter to grow some vegetables in my basement. I had great success with mint and pothos plants.



Here on this web site I am going to share my experiences with you and hope i can help to guide you if you want to develop a mini aquaponics system. I am also going to share with you my experiences with different techniques I use to make my aquariums.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best

Azim Sogay