Best Aquarium Kits for Beginners

Keeping fish has never been easier. One of the best ideas since sliced bread is the option to purchase an aquarium kit. An aquarium kit is a collection of fish-keeping supplies that generally offer the bare essentials in keeping your fish alive. This is helpful for people who want to push the easy button instead of having to buy everything separately.

It’s difficult knowing where to start with so many aquarium kits on the market. And all you want is to find the best aquarium kit for your needs. This article covers everything you need to know to find the best aquarium kits available. I’ve also provided you with plenty more information on what to look for when shopping for a kit and other aquarium essentials that may not come with the kit.

Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Aquarium Kit for Beginners

When searching for an aquarium kit, whether it’s for your home, office, or as a gift, there are a few things you need to consider before taking the plunge. Some main points to consider is an acrylic or glass aquarium, the shape and size of the tank, and the type and number of fish you want to keep.

Type of Fish You Want to Keep & How Many: The type and number of fish you want to keep in your aquarium are dependent upon the shape and size of your tank and whether or not you have a filter. Luckily, pretty much all aquarium kits include filters. When choosing an aquarium kit, you’ll need first to figure out if you want a single fish like a betta, or a few small fish to start with like neon tetras or guppies. Consider the adult size of the fish, and if partnering with other fish and you have a small tank, make sure the fish are 100% compatible.

Acrylic vs. Glass: The most significant difference between glass and acrylic tanks is the clarity and surface durability. Most aquarists highly recommend getting a glass aquarium because acrylic tanks scratch very, very easily. Cleaning the gravel can even add several scrub marks. Acrylic tanks also tend to yellow with age, while glass aquariums are relatively scratch resistant and have a constant clarity. Acrylic tanks have their benefit though, and are said to be lighter, have more variability in shapes, and have better impact resistance than glass.

Shape of the Tank: Most people don’t realize that the shape of the tank can affect its inhabitants. If you have chosen a tall, narrow aquarium for your fish, then it allows for less oxygen because there’s less surface area. Of course, this can be fixed with a filter or air pump, but it’s something to consider nonetheless.

Size of the Tank: Smaller is not always easier. But if you’re okay with a little more maintenance and water changes, then the smaller tanks will be fine. With a small tank, the temperature and water quality changes very quickly. Smaller tanks are also for people who don’t have a lot of space in their home or want something nice to set on a larger desk at the office.

Top 6: Best Aquarium Kits for Beginners

1. Hygger Horizon Aquarium Kit

The Hygger Horizon Aquarium Kit is an 8-gallon, curved, glass fish tank that includes all of the basic needs to start an aquarium. This includes a filter, decorations, background, and lighting. Here you can find the Hygger Horizon Aquarium Kit!Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • The filter can be set like a waterfall off of the attached rock décor
  • Four LED lighting triggers
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Unique curved design
  • Low water feature

Cons:

  • Can’t remove décor

This incredibly unique design has great reviews about the curvature and compact size. The front of the tank has a convex arc curve shape with a cushion pad on the bottom. The glass is durable and ultra-transparent, and the tank stands at 17.5 inches in length with a 3.2-inch width and 2.6-inch height.

The Hygger’s Horizon has a low water power filter that is ultra-quiet and energy-saving. It’s easy to install either vertically or horizontally, the water flow is adjustable, and it has two rain shower tubes. The low water option allows you to have a water line higher than 2.5 inches. It will keep your water crystal clear if you change the water out once every couple of weeks.

The decorations are an interesting addition as they are attached to the background. They are specially designed for this tank and are firmly stuck to the backboard with waterproof glue. The décor is a 3D rockery mountain that climbs up the back wall. A brush can easily clean it if there is extra algae, and many people like to attach live or fake plants for a more lively effect.

The LED lighting can last up to 20,000 hours and is removable. It has two brackets to attach it to the tank and comes with four buttons: light brightness, light modes, lighting time setting, and on/off.

2. Fluval Edge Aquarium

The Fluval Edge Aquarium is a very stylish and contemporary-looking 6-gallon tank. It can also come as a 12-gallon, but this review is for the smaller size. It comes with an LED light, a clear glass cover, and a filter. Most reviews say this aquarium is easy to handle and has a powerful, efficient LED lighting system. The Fluval Edge is a 360-degree viewing water cube, and it can be filled to the very edge of the tank. You can find the Fluval Edge Aquarium here!Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • 360-degree viewing
  • Spectacular LED lighting (daytime and moonlight)
  • Sealed, clear top to prevent evaporationSealed, clear top to prevent evaporation
  • Compact design with an attractive floating base
  • Easy assembly and maintenance

Cons:

  • Can be hard to clean
  • Can only fit very minimal, small fish

The Fluval Edge Aquarium is a very stylish and contemporary-looking 6-gallon tank. It can also come as a 12-gallon, but this review is for the smaller size. It comes with an LED light, a clear glass cover, and a filter. Most reviews say this aquarium is easy to handle and has a powerful, efficient LED lighting system. The Fluval Edge is a 360-degree viewing water cube, and it can be filled to the very edge of the tank.

The LED lighting is beneficial because it is bright enough to grow plants in the aquarium, and it can easily take the place of a tabletop lamp. It uses 21 LED bulbs (18 white and three blue), and it can be turned on for either full illumination or with just the blue, moonlight effect. When the water quality is spot-on, the LED lighting creates a natural, clear appearance which helps the fish and décor look amazingly vibrant.

The Fluval Edge Aquarium’s powerful and efficient 3-stage filter is located in the top, back column. Besides being attractive, the black column also conceals all of the wirings to give it a clean, minimalist look. The filter pump can be loud upon the initial setup, but once the water starts to filter through and lubricate the pump, it is nice and quiet.

The pedestal bottom gives the Edge an architecturally pleasing floating appearance and is notorious for being an easy setup. The only common complaint is that it can be difficult to clean, but can be made easier with a magnetic tank scrub and siphons.

3. LifeGard Aquatics Aquarium

The Lifegard Aquatics Aquarium Kit is a full view, 7-gallon tank with an LED light, heater, net, algae magnet, thermostat, and built-in back filter with pump. It has a singular design in that its angled front allows the user a much larger viewing area inside the tank. This means you won’t need to bend down so much to enjoy what’s inside! Here you can find the LifeGard Aquatics Aquarium.Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • Spectacular viewing capabilities with the angled front
  • Comes with extra accessories like a magnet cleaner, heater, thermometer, and net
  • A minimalist, low profile lighting system
  • Functional back filter design
  • More bottom space for aquascaping

Cons:

  • A filter can be difficult to set up as many complain it doesn’t come with instructions
  • Lighting can slip off easily

The 10-inch, 12v low voltage LED light is a minimalist’s dream as it is low profile, but can be changed from full spectrum to moonlight. The coated metal legs can easily be set on the side edges of the tank but can slip off if they’re not positioned correctly.

The LifeGard Aquatic has a super functional back filter design without a filter head. The filter is equipped with a Quiet One 400 pump, multi-grade mechanical sponge, activated carbon bio balls, directional jet flex nozzle, integrated CO2/O2 dispensing capability, and a water level control with a waterfall.

The complete kit also comes with a magnetic algae cleaner which is very useful in cleaning the glass from possible algae build-up and a small telescopic aquarium net. The LED thermometer and 100-watt preset heater are great additions as these can be costly if purchased separately.

4. MarineLand Portrait Glass Aquarium Kit

The MarineLand Portrait Glass Aquarium Kit is a 5-gallon tank that is taller than it is wide, and has rounded corners for a modern look. The product dimensions are 11.8 inches long, 11.6 inches wide, and 17 inches tall. It comes with a filter, a light, and a sliding glass canopy. Here you can find the MarineLand Portrait Glass Aquarium Kit.Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • Has a sleek, modern look
  • Compact design suitable for small spaces and beginners
  • Easy to clean
  • Advanced, strong filtration for a small tank
  • Small, but illuminating LED lighting with sunlight and moonlight settings

Cons:

  • The tall, narrow shape should be used for certain types of fish
  • Less durable

The MarineLand Portrait filter is an advanced 3-stage hidden back panel filtration system. It boasts an adjustable flow filter pump so that you can match the flow to whatever kind of fish or life you’ve chosen for your tank. The 3-stages it focuses on are the mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration needed to help remove impurities from the water.

The small, narrow LED light bar allows for a minimalistic approach as well as functional in that it adds enough illumination for plant growth and acts as a small lamp. The white LED lights are used for daytime sunlight inspiration, while the blue LED lights give a moonlight effect.

The clear lid is hinged and attached to the light. You can easily slide the canopy lid back to feed your aquatic pets. It’s also easy to access the interior of the tank and the filter for any maintenance and cleaning. This tank is rated very highly for being a great beginner starter kit.

5. Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit

The Aqueon Aquarium Kit is your traditional-style aquarium, but comes with all of the necessities to start a tank, minus the fish! This 20-gallon, 24-inch long glass tank boasts a hood, lighting, filter, heater, guide, fishnet, and thermometer. They even toss in a sample size of fish food and water conditioner to get you started. Here you can find the Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit!Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • Great price for all that’s included
  • Traditional design
  • Comes with fish food and water conditioner
  • Two LED lighting options: sunlight or moonlight
  • The larger size allows for more or bigger fish and plants

Cons:

  • Equipment designed for smaller tanks or less fish
  • Flimsy plastic and less desirable filter

The hood is black and slightly curved for a modern, sleek look and contains vibrant, and cool-white LED lights that will illuminate the whole tank. The hood covers the entire top portion of the aquarium, which helps to decrease the amount of evaporation, and the filter attaches to a cut-out in the back. There is also a convenient feeding door in the front of the hood, and breakout sections along the back to store extra accessories.

The Aqueon Aquarium Kit has a QuietFlow 10 LED Pro power which flashes a small, red LED light to notify you when it’s time to change the cartridge. One less thing to have to remember! The filter is a very basic, traditional-looking hang-on filter that is an enhanced 5-stage system. Although, reviews have said the filter is a little too small for the tank – possibly for a 10-gallon aquarium. This will depend on how many and the type of fish you have in your Aqueon Aquarium.

It’s also helpful to have the included stick-on thermometer, fish food, and water conditioner since these usually are not included in many other aquarium kits.

6. EcoQube Aquarium

The EcoQube Aquarium Kit is an ultra-compact, 2-gallon aquarium kit best used for a single fish like a betta. It’s super easy to use and has a minimalist design, which makes it great for a small home or an office desk. It includes an aquaponics filter, a wireless remote control, LED lights, aquarium sand, glass cover, mountain rock décor, and basil seeds. Here you can find the EcoQube Aquarium here. Opens in a new tab.

Pros:

  • Comes with a complete kit
  • A unique aquaponics filter system
  • Very low maintenance
  • Very small and compact
  • Grows plants

Cons:

  • Can only fit small fish or a single betta
  • Price

What makes this EcoQube unique from the rest is that it’s a simple aquaponics tank, which helps to grow and automatically water your plants. Many people choose to grow kitchen herbs, such as green onion or basil. The plant will help to filter and purify the water by removing the waste and nitrates built up by fish.

ecoqube-aquarium-kit

The EcoQube is a self-sustaining system that leaves you with only two main tasks: to feed your fish and maintain the water level. The LED light sits above the plant so that it has adequate lighting to survive. The LED UV sterilizer helps to remove bacteria in the tank that may have been caused by overfeeding or adding a new fish. The filter sits below the plant. If you’re patient to wait at least three weeks for the basil seeds to grow and start to filter the water itself, then this tank is for you.

The goal is to help people reconnect with the environment. It includes a free science project curriculum guide about ecosystems that are perfect for kids’ science projects. Not to mention, they will have a functional and decorative result.

What Aquarium Kits May Not Include

When you’re buying an aquarium kit, they will always come with some essentials like a cover, a filter, and a lighting system. There are plenty of other items that you’ll have to have to keep your aquarium world healthy. I’ve rounded up the essentials and listed them here for you.

[amazon link=”B00025694O” title=”Water Conditioner:” /]Water conditioner is a type of solution that is specially made to add to tap water to make the water safe for the fish to live. The majority of tap water has toxins that are relatively safe for humans and most animals, but to fish, it could be lethal.

Basically, it changes the condition of the water by breaking down the chemical bonds by removing chlorine from the water. Better water conditioners will also remove heavy metals in the tap water, and some provide a type of slime that adds extra protection to the fish’s scales. How’s that for added armor?

Gravel/Substrate: Not only does gravel or substrate add an attractive flair to your fish tank, but it also serves a fundamental purpose for most types of fish or aquatic pets. Gravel helps to house beneficial bacteria.

You wouldn’t usually think to add the terms ‘beneficial’ and ‘bacteria’ together, but in this case, the bacteria help to decompose and eliminate waste by-products made by fish, leftover food, and if debris from live plants if you have them.

Gravel is also suitable for providing a softer-looking habitat for your fish and is crucial to properly housing live plants.

Fish Net: There will no doubt be a time in your fish-parent life when you’ll need to use a fish net to scoop something out of your aquarium. Times you may need a fishnet is when there is an injured or sick fish, dead fish, thick debris at the bottom of the tank, or if you’re moving house or tanks and need to empty the aquarium. It’s not always easy to catch fish in a net, but it’s helpful to have it handy for when the time comes.

Algae Scrubber/Magnetic Glass Cleaner: Whoever invented the algae scrubber or the magnetic aquarium cleaner is officially my hero. Because of these cleaning tools, cleaning an aquarium is much easier. Algae is a normal part of having a fish tank, and some have more algae than others.

best-aquarium-kits

Although algae eaters like the Plecostomus are notorious for helping to keep the tank clean, they can’t always get it all clear. Insert the handled scrubbers and magnetic cleaners here. They can be used to scrub the algae off of the tank walls gently. You can also use the handled scrubbers to clean the decorations.

The magnetic cleaner is also fun and easy for kids to use, and you don’t have to worry about getting your hands wet or dripping water anywhere.

Siphon: An aquarium siphon is a manual vacuum for a fish tank. It’s so handy to have because it helps to clean all of the gunk out of your gravel. It’s a long plastic tube that you insert one end into the tank’s water, and the other end either has a pump to pull the water.

When the water begins to flow, place one end into a bucket, and use the other end in the water to dig and pull up the gunk from the gravel and throughout the tank. This is one of my favorite cleaning tools for any aquarium, and even if the water is like pea soup for a little while, it eventually filters out.

The water then looks squeaky clean. Ah, but don’t forget the bucket.

Bucket: You’ll need some kind of bucket or two for a variety of reasons, but mostly for cleaning purposes. If you’re using a siphon to clean the gravel, the dirty water will have to go into something… like a bucket.

Most people recommend a 5-gallon bucket as you’ll still need to be able to pick the bucket up to dump it. You may also need the bucket to transport items to and from your fish tank, to temporarily isolate aquatic animals, or to hold décor if you’re doing an extra deep cleaning.

Air Pump: Air pumps are optional, but can be crucial to a fish tank. An air pump helps to oxygenate your fish tank. This is important because, although fish live in water, they need oxygen to survive. They breathe oxygen gas bubbles from the water into their gills.

An air pump doesn’t make air bubbles. It works by agitating the surface of the water to create air bubbles. The air bubbles are oxygen and help the fish to breathe. The times an air pump is not necessary is when your fish tank has an adequate filter that creates enough disturbance in the water to provide air bubbles.

Deep tanks, warm water tanks, and heavily stocked and planted tanks are three excellent reasons to invest in an air pump.

[amazon link=”B000255NCI” title=”Water Test Kit:” /] (ammonia, nitrite, pH) Toxic water quality is the #1 fish killer. I know you’ve read that overfeeding is, but it’s the water quality that occurs after the overfeeding that kills the fish. This accounts for water changes and adding new fish, too.

You can consider how important it is to maintain water quality by thinking of the water is for fish as the air is for us. If the air we breathe is toxic, we’re in deep trouble. The same is for fish, which is why it’s important to make it a habit to test your water.

The three main water tests you’ll need to perform are for nitrites and nitrates, the pH level, and ammonia (also known as the silent fish killer). If you follow the instructions ‘to a t’, then you should be good to go!

Heater: A fish tank heater is an often-overlooked necessity for a tank. It’s essential to have the right size heater for your aquarium for tropical, warm water fish and for the cold season when your water temperature drops.

Most fish need the water temperature to be consistent and stable, which is what an aquarium heater brings. There are a few different kinds of heaters, such as submersible, hanging, external or inline heaters. You should consider the type of fish and the size of the tank when looking for the perfect tank heater.

And, if you’re going to have a heater, you should have a thermometer.

best-fish-for-5-gallon-aquarium

Aquarium Kit FAQs

Does the aquarium kit come with a filter?

So far, every reviewed aquarium kit comes with a filter. A kit doesn’t seem like a kit without one!

What is the best aquarium kit?

There are so many types of aquarium kits on the market that I could relate a whole website just to that. I have listed some of the most popular and reliable aquarium kits, so this is a great place to start. It depends on what kind of aquarium you’re looking for, what items you prefer to have included in the kit, what price range, and what type of fish you want. Once you know these things, you can narrow down your options.

Will the aquarium kit house a hermit crab or turtle?

Some aquarium kits can be used for hermit crabs or turtles. The smallest ones are not ideal as they won’t give the animal much space to roam. Some aquarium kits have filters that allow the water level to stay very low if needed, like a turtle.

Do aquarium kits come with gravel?

Sometimes, many aquarium kits come with the basics such as a light, a cover, and a filter. Some aquarium kits will include a small bag of gravel and a piece of decoration, and others will include a water conditioner and/or fish food. It depends on the type of aquarium kit.

Should I get a heater for my aquarium kit?

Most common aquarium fish require warm water, so getting a heater is dependent upon which type of fish you’re getting and if your water temperature usually is colder than normal. It’s best to err on the side of caution and keep your fish from freezing to death.

Final Words

Looking for the best aquarium kit for your needs doesn’t need to be complicated. Following the advice in this article, you should be well-equipped to make a well-informed decision on how you will care for your aquatic pet and in what style of aquarium.

Having all of the proper essentials to take care of your fish is part of being a good fish parent. An aquarium kit is a great way to start, especially for beginners. Whether you choose to take the minimalist or the traditional aquarium kits route, over time, you can build on your expertise and expand your aquarium accessories.

If you like the article above, here are some other similar articles you should check out!

How to Setup Your First AquariumOpens in a new tab.

Best Aquarium Heaters – Buyer’s Guide

Best LED Lighting for 125-150 Gallon AquariumOpens in a new tab.

Rick Kesler

I'm Rick and I've kept freshwater fish for over 5 years now. My main tank now is a 55-gallon tropical freshwater tank and my wife and I both just love watching all of our different fish while they swim around, some schooling and others not. I've also learned a lot about what to do and what not to do to keep our fish healthy and happy.

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