Aquarium Kits Buyer’s Guide

There are plenty of factors to consider when starting a new aquarium. So before rushing into buying a random kit, think about your purchase. Consider what your next aquarium must feature so that you’ll be able to grow your fish the way you want to.

After considering more than two dozen different tanks, I decided to buy the Tetra 20 Gallon Complete Aquarium Kit (link to Amazon). For me, this is the one tank that features the perfect balance between price and quality. It has a lot of built-in features of the high-end aquariums. Among those are a scratch-resistant glass, impressively quiet filter, built-in LED hood, and a heating system. From what I’ve researched, that kit was much more cost-effective than assembling an entire tank from scratch. 

  • Precise dimensions – 27.9 x 16.1 x 20.4 inches.

The most important takeaway from this product is that you should strive to resemble the most natural conditions for your fish. From what I’ve seen, the more the aquarium resembles their habitat, the longer they live. Also, I encourage you not to buy the different parts of the aquarium separately. It will be much cheaper to buy them as a kit, in one piece.

What to Look For in Aquarium Kits

If you are starting a new tank, you may buy an empty one and fill it yourself, or you can get a premade kit. From my experience, it is better to go with the second option. This way, the products you end up buying are precisely suitable for the aquarium’s dimensions. From my experience, there are primarily four things to consider: glass, filters, LEDs, and heaters.

Scratch Resistant Glass

In my previous aquariums, scratches have inevitably appeared. At first, it happened since I was cleaning my tank with a Scotch-Brite. It was a terrible mistake, and the visuality I received afterward was awful. 

However, scratches used to appear overtime even after I switched to a soft cloth. At a certain point, it seemed inevitable. Perhaps the gravel or arrangements we do damage the glass.

Nevertheless, the glass in the Tetra 20 Gallon Kit is somehow different. I’m not an expert in chemistry, but I guess the materials being used are resistant to scratches. With that particular tank, I always get the best visuality possible.

Quiet Filters

I personally keep the aquarium in my bedroom. Therefore, a quiet filter is exceptionally crucial to me. Don’t get me wrong. It is impossible to get absolutely no noise from your bubbler – after all, it has to do its job.

Nonetheless, the filter in the Tetra 20 is absolutely amazing in terms of noise. Even for a guy like me who can’t fall asleep when the owls outside call, I had no troubles with that aquarium so far. You are more likely to hear the relaxing water movement other than the filter itself. 

Keep in mind that you have to work a little to keep it this way. It is essential that you replace the water regularly and that you clean the tank once a month. Otherwise, leftovers and waste would accumulate inside, and the filter will become noisy.

Soft LEDs

The first time I got an aquarium, I’ve made a terrible mistake and bought all its components separately. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a proper LED for my tank’s dimensions. I ended up using a desk lamp, which I put next to it. However, that didn’t allow me to dim the light as the day passed and was probably too bright for my fish.

The Tetra 20 Aquarium Kit comes with built-in LEDs. They are placed inside a black hood, which is also appreciated. It doesn’t allow too much light to penetrate from above. 

With that particular aquarium, I was able to get the perfect balance in light, so my fish don’t seem disturbed when they come up. I don’t have scientific evidence for that. However, I assume that less stressful fish eventually live longer.

Proper Heating Systems

It is essential to maintain the ideal water temperature and adjust it to what your fish experience in their natural habitat. The heating system in the Tetra 20 is not adjustable. That means you won’t be able to raise it or lower it if desired.

I personally found it hard since I like growing fish in their precise temperature range. Therefore, I use the Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater (see my review). That was the only one so far, which didn’t make my water’s temperature fluctuate.

Nevertheless, it does seem like the aquarium provides an adequate temperature for tropical fish. You’ll also get a thermometer that sticks to the tank from the outside.

Most fish are not spoiled and will probably survive in a wide temperature range. It is particularly true when the rest of the aquarium conditions are ideal. Don’t get hung up on it. You’ll do just fine with what this kit provides.

Some Nice Touches

What I also like about this kit is that the manufacturer thought a bit forwards and provided some additional useful equipment. Inside the package, you’ll find a few plastic decorations for your aquarium.

They are not the highest quality, but they certainly give a cozy feeling to a brand new tank. You’ll also find some flakes to feed your fish in the first days and a net to move them inside.

Things You’ll Need to Buy Afterwards

Although it is a premade kit, you’ll need a few things even after you buy it. The Tetra 20 Gallon Complete Aquarium Kit does come with decoration, but you will have to obtain a few more for sure.

The artificial plants are a nice touch, but they are surely not enough to give the aquarium the tropical sense. You may buy a few from advance so you won’t be disappointed. Also, buy some gravel. This kit comes without it, so you’ll have to figure out what is your favorite type in the pet store.

Also, if you are a strict fish owner, you’ll also need to get a water conditioner to check if the conditions are appropriate. I personally use the API Master Test Kits (link to Amazon), which measures the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. 

Aquarium Kits For Beginners

For some of you, the Tetra 20 will be too large. That is entirely fine. When I’ve just started, I used ridiculously small tanks. These days manufacturers make excellent small kits that are impressively cost-effective.

Even though I haven’t purchased it myself, I kept seeing good reviews on the MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit (link to Amazon). First of all, its water pump is adjustable. So if it makes too much noise or disturbs your fish, you may lower it.

  • Precise dimensions: 11.8 x 11.6 x 17 inches.

It also comes with built-in lights, so you don’t have to purchase any separately. From what I’ve seen, people really liked the stand it comes with since it is easy to clean.

Also, it seems that the experience they had with the filter was positive, with almost no noise disturbances. If you ask me, it definitely worths checking it out.

Aquarium Kits For Experts

If I had to buy my future aquarium, I would definitely consider the Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit (link to Amazon). First of all, I was really impressed by this brand, which also produced my existing aquarium. Also, my neighbors own this kit, and their tank is absolutely gorgeous.

  • Precise dimensions: 51.9 x 16.4 x 24.4 inches.

The reviews I read about it on Amazon were almost all five-star positive. People were really impressed by the silent filter and the design of the aquarium (including the hood LEDs which the Tetra 20 also features). I have done plenty of research for future and more professional aquariums, and this one is definitely on the top of my list. 

Top Aquarium Brands to Consider

As you saw already, one of my favorite brands for fish tanks is Tetra. From what I’ve seen so far, the best way to distinguish the tops brands is by experiencing. Personally, I have years of positive impressions from Tetra. However, if you tend to disagree, it is totally okay.

For that, I’ve collected you a few more brands that are widely known among fish fans. I highly recommend that you stick to one of those before getting a new tank. Do not compromise on quality. There are another two brands which I highly appreciate:

  • MarineLand – Probably one of the most known companies among fish keepers. Since the early 70s, they have produced high-quality tanks, LEDs, filters, and so much more. Don’t miss them if you consider buying new fish equipment.
  • Fluval – These guys had been delivering innovative products for over thirty years. I personally owned an aquarium LED from them that lasted so long that I’m not sure if I ever had to replace it. Don’t let them slip under your radar.

Featured Image: