You’ll agree with us when we say that with so many aquarium kits targeted towards beginners, selecting the right one can be a difficult choice.
This is why we’ve decided to test and discuss in detail the popular starter aquarium kits out there so you can judge for yourself and make an informed decision on which one to get.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss what features a starter aquarium kit should have and how you can ensure a successful start to your fish-keeping journey.
We’ll look into the products in detail later in this post but for now, here are some quick summaries:
We’ve had our little introduction to these popular products. Now, let’s get into the detailed reviews for the 3 best starter aquarium kits available in the market.
Best Starter Aquarium Kit - Best 3 Reviews
1. All-Around Best Starter Aquarium Kit - Tetra Complete Aquarium Kit Review
Tetra is a well-known brand in the fish-keeping community. They have been manufacturing aquarium equipment for decades and at this point, they seemed to have mastered the craft of building a high-quality aquarium.
This aquarium kit comes with everything you need to get started and more. That’s right. Not only will you find essential equipment such as lighting and a filter inside the kit. It also has a heater and also comes with decorative plants and a blooming white anemone which gently sways in the water currents that are produced by the filter.
Features of Tetra Complete Aquarium Kit – Best Starter Aquarium Kit
- 20 gallons in size
- Weight: 30 pounds
- Comes with a filter and a heater
- Color-changing LED lighting
- Artificial decorative plants included
- Easy to set up
- Easy to clean
- Comes with a lot more accessories than its competitors
- Filter works very silently
- Quite bulky and difficult to handle
If you want everything you need inside one kit, this is the product you’re looking for. It’s the kit with the most accessories on this list and the aquarium is very simple to get started with.
2. Best Acrylic Starter Aquarium Kit - SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set Review
This acrylic aquarium was shocking to pick up simply because we weren’t expecting it to be so light. Sure, acrylic aquariums are known to be much lighter than glass ones but this was just ridiculous.
We tested it for months and the aquarium material stayed true to its shape and did not bow in the slightest under the pressure of the water inside it.
Acrylic is known to be much clearer than glass and this aquarium takes full advantage of that fact. Every aspect of the aquarium is designed so that you can view your fish without any obstruction. The clear acrylic walls really make the colors of your fish and aquarium plants pop.
Features of SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set
- Comes in several shapes and sizes
- Impact-resistant material
- Made of acrylic
- Rimless design for a modern look
- Designed for unobstructed viewing
- Scratch-resistant walls
- Lots of choices when it comes to shape
- Easy to clean
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater environments
- Lighting fixture is slightly flimsy
If you have multi-colored fish, corals or plants that you really want to show off, this is the product for you. You’ll find it very easy to handle and it will really give your fish an aesthetic edge.
3. Best Affordable Starter Aquarium Kit - GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank Review
The GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank comes in several sizes for you to choose from. We recommend that if you’re a beginner, you should go for the bigger sizes as they are easier to maintain.
This aquarium kit comes with all the essential equipment including a filter, a heater and an air pump. The air pump is noteworthy as this is a piece of equipment that is usually not included as a part of aquarium kits. When we tested it, it was very effective and did a great job of aerating the aquarium and helping our fish breathe.
Features of GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank
- Several different sizes ranging from 3 gallons to 20 gallons
- Clear cover for top-angle viewing
- 15 bright blue LEDs
- Built-in air pump
- Made from Acrylic material
- Extremely light and easy to handle
- Quiet filter
- LED lights are soothing, not overbearing
- Easy to install
- Great value for money
- Can’t be used as a saltwater tank
If you want an aquarium that’s easy to set up and provides you with great value for your cash, this product is ideal for you. It’s built to last a long time and the LED lights provide a very calming ambience.
What are some things that a starter aquarium kit should definitely have?
Since starter aquarium kits are aimed at beginners, they tend to come complete with all the equipment that one would need in order to set up a successful aquarium. Meaning you would not have to go out and buy any external equipment.
Almost all starter aquarium kits claim themselves to be the “complete package” or that they “come with everything you need” but oftentimes, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The equipment that is essential to running a successful aquarium is listed below:
This is by far the most important piece of equipment that every aquarium is required to have. Many people try to tell new fish-keepers that they don’t need a filter if their aquarium is small enough or if they have a small number of fish but this is false. No matter how little fish you have, they are still going to produce waste that needs to be cleaned and processed. It’s absolutely necessary for you to have a filter for your aquarium so, make sure that your starter aquarium kit comes with a filter inside it.
It’s very calming for fish to be in a familiar environment and having lighting that can mimic sunlight and preferably moonlight as well is a great way to make them feel at ease. LEDs and lighting fixtures are a common feature in aquariums and aquarium kits and you should definitely check to see whether your starter aquarium kit comes with a decent lighting setup or not.
These days, aquarium lighting has gotten a lot more sophisticated with automatic timers and dimmers which are able to mimic sunset and sunrise perfectly for your fish.
If you have live aquarium plants within your fish tank then lighting becomes even more essential as it is important for the growth of these plants and they need it to perform photosynthesis.
Heater (if you have Tropical Fish)
Whether this piece of equipment is essential or not depends on the kind of fish you have. If you have fish that require a certain amount of temperature in order to survive such as Cichlids, then you’re going to want a heater that’s able to maintain the water temperature consistently.
What are some things to avoid when getting a starter aquarium kit?
We’ve gone over the essential equipment required to set up an aquarium. If you’re a beginner, we strongly recommend that you get an aquarium kit that only has these bare essentials. Also, look into reviews to see whether the aquarium kit you’re getting is easy to set up or not.
As a beginner, it’s important that you get an aquarium kit that’s simple to install and set up as you don’t want to be overwhelmed when you’re first starting out. Many aquarium kits have big price tags because they come with extravagant equipment such as air pumps, air stones, chillers, lights, ornaments, etc. but we recommend that you don’t spend too much and get an aquarium kit that only has the bare essentials. Not only will this save you money, it will also be simple to set up and will ease you into your fish-keeping journey.
How do I set up my starter aquarium?
Starter aquarium kits are usually aimed towards beginners and so they come with easy-to-read setup instructions and are fairly simple to set up by design. Follow the instructions that come with your starter aquarium kit and you’ll have it set up in no time. As some general rules, here are some steps you can follow:
- Identify the location where you’re going to put your aquarium and put it there.
- Treat the water you’re going to put in the aquarium with a dechlorinating agent and a water conditioning agent.
- Add external equipment to your aquarium such as a filter, lighting, heater, etc.
- Add gravel to the bottom of your aquarium.
- Add the treated water to your aquarium.
- Turn on all of your equipment and let it run for a few weeks.
- Add your fish.
What are some common mistakes that beginners make when they first set up an aquarium?
It’s only natural for you to have some missteps when you’re first starting out. Here are some of the things you need to be aware of and how you can avoid them:
- A lot of beginners are anxious to get their aquarium started and end up adding their fish to their tank too early. This can have catastrophic consequences. If the water parameters aren’t stable, you might end up killing your fish. Please make sure that the nitrogen cycle is complete and that water parameters such as pH, water temperature and hardness are stable before you add your fish.
- Many beginner fish-keepers go out and buy a small aquarium because they think it will be easier to maintain but in reality, it’s the exact opposite. A larger aquarium doesn’t get dirty too easily and it’s water parameters are much more forgiving and easier to maintain. If you want an easier to maintain environment, we recommend you get as large a tank as you can afford.
- Many beginners don’t routinely test their water and its parameters. You have to understand that there are many variables that could change the conditions of your water and you need to routinely monitor your water so nothing gets too out of hand.
What are some tips to ensure my starter aquarium is successful?
Here are some helpful tips that will help ensure that your fish are happy, healthy and safe:
- Be wary not to overfeed your fish
- Perform weekly 10-15% water changes
- Give your fish enough room to swim around
- Avoid adding chemicals that could lower the pH of the water
- Take the time to learn the basics of water chemistry and the nitrogen cycle
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should I clean my starter aquarium?
Cleaning a fish tank is actually quite simple but we recommend that you keep an eye on your aquarium and make sure it stays clean enough because having a dirty aquarium can lead to all kinds of problems such as algae buildup and diseases in your fish.
Your cleaning schedule usually depends on the size of the aquarium but we recommend that you perform regular small cleaning and water changes so that when the time comes to perform a deep cleaning of your tank, it’s not as difficult. Weekly 10-15% water changes with a deep clean every few months is usually the way to go for most aquariums.
How long do I have to wait before putting fish into my starter aquarium?
Cycling your tank is very important and it refers to letting the nitrogen cycle occur in your fish tank so that beneficial bacteria can grow inside it. This is the reason why you don’t immediately add fish to your aquarium when you first set it up.
You can test when your starter aquarium is ready for fish by testing the water. When the nitrate levels are spiking and the water parameters (pH, temperature, hardness) are stable, these are indicators of the fact that the nitrogen cycle is complete and it’s safe to add fish to your starter aquarium. In general, this process usually takes about 6-8 weeks.
Do starter aquarium kits come with gravel?
You may be able to find some starter aquarium kits that do come with gravel but in general, gravel is not something that is included in a starter aquarium kit. Some companies tend to include samples of gravel with their aquarium kits so you can observe it and then go and buy a complete packet if you feel it’s appropriate.
Are starter aquarium kits able to house creatures other than fish such as hermit crabs or turtles?
This can be done but you’ll have to do some research into what kind of conditions are necessary for these other creatures to live a healthy life and whether the equipment you’re getting with your starter aquarium kit is sufficient enough for recreating those conditions.
If you’re a beginner, we strongly recommend that you get a kit that is specifically catered towards the type of creature that you’re planning on getting. Modifying and adjusting a starter aquarium kit for a different purpose can definitely be done but it will require research, time and resources.
Can I create a planted tank on a budget using a starter aquarium kit? How?
You can definitely utilize a starter aquarium kit to set up a planted tank for yourself. If you’re on a tight budget, you may have to get a smaller aquarium. Having a small-sized aquarium means you may have to get creative with the types of fish and plants you decide to have in the aquarium.
A great idea is to set it up as a Paludarium which would be a combination of land and water. This would allow you to include a number of species.
Some plants you could have in your planted tank include species such as Anubias nana, Dwarf Hairgrass, and Staurogyne Repens.
More and more people are getting into the hobby of fish-keeping and there are a number of starter aquarium kits available in the market that is catering to this growing demographic. With so many options, it’s important that you get one that is high in quality and is relatively easy to set up.
After months of rigorous testing, we’ve decided to go with the Tetra Complete Aquarium Kit as our pick for the best starter aquarium kit available overall. It’s built from sturdy materials that are resistant to cracking and withering and the tank itself is very simple to set up.
This brings us to the conclusion of our post for the best starter aquarium kits.
Let us know in the comments what aquarium kit you first got started with.