I bought many planted aquarium accessories, used them once, and never touched them again.
This list highlights the accessories I use weekly and can’t live without.
1. Aquascaping Kit
Having an aquascaping kit is vital for any planted aquarium. Your plants will grow, so you’ll want something to trim them. This is called the art of aquascaping. I picked up this kit from Amazon, and it works well.
You can get away with using regular scissors you have lying around the house. The benefit of buying this kit is everything is made from stainless steel and won’t rust. Trust me, it’ll make your life easier.
2. Aquarium Brush Cleaner
Algae is inevitable. There are ways to minimize it, but you’ll want something to scrape it off your glass. I bought this brush from Amazon, and it works well. But, you can use anything soft that won’t scratch your glass. My dad has been using a Dobie sponge for decades. Just make sure you only use it for your aquarium and don’t get any soap on it.
When I started out, I used a magnetic scraper but stopped using it. I feel like it wasn’t as efficient as using a brush. Plus it was easy to make sudden movements that scared my fish. I know many people who use it but it’s not for me.
Quick summary of my routine…
- Brush the big algae spots with this aquarium brush.
- Use an old toothbrush to get the harder-to-reach spots.
- Use an old credit card to scrape in between the substrate/ glass edges.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out my post on my tank maintenance routine.
3. Stainless Razor Scraper
This stainless algae scraper is a game-changer. It helps remove the algae from the harder spots. My biggest concern was scratching my tank’s glass… but it’s a forgiving blade. I use this in combination with the aquarium brush above. The dream team!
4. Gravel Siphon
A gravel vacuum (also referred to as a siphon) is important for two reasons…
- Performing water changes
- Cleaning the debris in the substrate
Before learning about these, I would do water changes with an old cup. That’s the absolute rookie way to do it. Unless you have a nano tank and you don’t mind.
Save yourself time and purchase one of these. Recently I setup a 20-gallon tank and bought a Python Siphon. While it’s much better quality than the cheap one above, the setup takes too long. If I had a 50-gallon, I would set it up properly and it would save me time. But, keep that in mind. I use that cheap siphon with a 5-gallon bucket.
If you’re filling up your aquarium for the first time, a kitchen colander could be helpful. Yup, you read that right. A kitchen colander spreads your water out so it doesn’t disturb your plants or substrate. You can use any type of colander.
Just make sure it’s a size that can rest on the top of your tank (it’ll make your life a lot easier).
It can get annoying having the colander while pouring.
5. Microfiber Cloth
Any time I do tank maintenance, I get water on the outside of the glass. And unless you’re some sort of magician, you will too. The best way to clean your glass is to use a microfiber cleaning cloth. You can get one at one of your local shops, it doesn’t have to be a specific one.
I bought this one from Amazon and it works perfect.
6. Water Testing Kit
Keeping your water healthy is vital. I heard someone say once that “you’re not a fish keeper, you’re a water keeper.” And the more I get into this hobby, the more that statement rings true.
Knowing the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels will help prevent health issues. Although I will be real, I don’t use this kit as much as I’d thought. It’s good to have around anytime you notice something’s wrong. But you don’t need to be testing your water all the time.
I use this API Master Test Kit. You can also use test strip kits if you want quicker results.
7. Specimen Container
The specimen container is one of the most underrated fish tank accessories. I use it to put my brush and aquascaping kit in when I’m not using them. But you can also use it to attach to the side of your tank to hold your fish if you need to do serious tank maintenance.
I also used it to drip acclimate my Cherry Shrimp. The main thing I like is that you can attach it to the side of your tank, making it easily accessible.
This one isn’t a necessity, but it is convenient.
8. Super Glue
I remember watching videos of people using superglue to attach wood/plants to rocks. This surprised me because I thought it would leach toxins. Most superglue brands will be fine, but to be safe, this is the one I use.
It’s useful to have around when you’re rescaping your tank and want to make sure everything stays in place. I’d suggest wearing gloves when working with super glue. When you get it on your hands, it’s very tough to get off.
9. Drip Acclimator
Depending on the hardiness of the fish you stock in your aquarium, a drip acclimator will come in handy. The purpose is to gradually get them acclimated to your water parameters.
If your fish are sensitive, and you put them into your tank without acclimating, they could get shocked and die.
For most fish, you can just float the bag without drip acclimating. However, if you put shrimp in your tank, they’re more sensitive and you’ll want to use a drip acclimator.
10. Fish Tank Net
The ideal size of your net will depend on your tank and fish. I started with a 5-gallon aquarium and some neon tetra, so I picked up this nano net. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for. It’s built extremely cheaply and the metal would often bend. Not a big deal, but still annoying.
Looking back, I would’ve spent a little more for a sturdier net. I would’ve bought the Aquarium Coop net below. It’s made of sturdy plastic and won’t rust.
I hope you found this list helpful. It’s a resource I wish I had when first starting.
These are the accessories I actually use – not just a list of everything I could think of.