You might not have to walk a fish, clean its litter box, or give it live mice to eat, but that doesn’t mean you can abandon your fish tank for days at a time. If you want to be a successful and humane pet owner, you’re going to need fish tank supplies.
1. Aquarium Filter
While you can have a fish tank without a filter, it increases the levels of toxins in the water, and the number of times you will have to change the water every week. With a small, unfiltered tank – the norm for a new fish owner – you are taking more of a risk that particles from the air will seep into the water and poison your fish.
A filter helps remove those toxins from the environment around your fish, ensuring they don’t poison themselves with ammonia, and keeping the water clear so you can enjoy watching them. With a mechanical filter, water is forced through a sieve, while chemical filtration must push the entire tank’s water through carbon twice per hour or more.
There are many different types of filters, and it’s best to ask a pet store employee or read a book that tells you which filter is appropriate for your individual tank, given the types and number of fish in the tank, whether it’s a tropical or fresh water tank, and so on.
2. Heating and Cooling
For tropical fish, North American life is pretty cold, though temperate fish are fine with it. Either an internal or external heater will help keep them from freezing and getting sick. The most common type of heaters are hanging heaters, while submersible heaters attach to the tank glass with suction cups. Substrate heaters go under the gravel and help to keep plants in the aquarium from freezing.
These can be dangerous fish tank supplies for fish, so make sure that there is room to swim on all sides of the heater, and that the glass of the heater never touches the tank glass, any plants or ornamental decorations, or the gravel unless it is designed as a substrate heater.
It’s less common to need a chiller, because only cold-water fish need them, and they are relatively expensive. If you need a chiller, check with your pet shop about the best type to buy, as they may have to special-order it.
3. Lights for Your Tank
Incandescent lights are the most common and cheap type of lighting, but they can overheat your water quickly, and it’s hard to regulate how hot or cold the water is with this type of lighting. It’s much better to use fluorescent lights.
Besides providing enough light to see your fish, most tanks don’t need much light – just enough for fish to tell when it is day and night, and for plants to grow. If you have a tropical tank with live corals, you will need more light, but most people don’t.
There are more fish tank supplies you may need if you are maintaining an elaborate, beautiful, or high-maintenance tank, or specific types of fish. These are the basics that every fish owner should think about first. Once they’re taken care of, have fun choosing plants, rocks, and cute bubbling treasure chests for your fish to play with!