Keeping an aquarium is a great hobby but if you’re just getting started, it might be a bit overwhelming. There are some essential things you need to get your tank up and running but how do you know what works best together?
Luckily, there are a lot of great starter kits out there to get you started. The best aquarium starter kits include the tank itself as well as an appropriate filter, multi-stage filter cartridges, water conditioners, and more. You get everything you need to set up your tank and prepare it for fish.
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The 10 Best Aquarium Starter Kits For Beginners
Aquarium starter kits come in all shapes and sizes. While they all include the basics, some also include extra accessories and other things you need to get your tank up and running.
|Aquarium Starter Kits
|MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit
|MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit with Rail Light
|3, 5 Gallons
|Aqueon Fish Aquarium Starter Kits LED NeoGlow
|5.5, 10 Gallons
|Hygger Horizon LED Glass Aquarium Kit for Starters
|Marina LED Aquarium Kit
|5, 10, 20 Gallons
|Tetra Complete Aquarium Kit w/Filter Heater LED & Plants
|Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit
|3, 5 Gallons
|GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank
|3, 5, 10, 20 Gallons
|Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit
|Koller Products Panaview Aquarium Kit
Aquarium Starter Kit Reviews
1. MarineLand Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit
The is a portrait glass tank from MarineLand that comes with everything you need to set up your first aquarium. Plus, it’s a gorgeous tank that won’t take up too much space on your table or counter. The portrait shape is unique and the curved edges give it a sleek, modern look.
A five-gallon tank is a great size for beginners and everything you need is included. A three-stage filter with adjustable water flow is hidden in the back panel. All of the cords are hidden, too, and the filter runs quietly. Filter cartridges are also included.
This kit includes a hinged light over the tank that uses both white and blue LEDs. You can create a proper day and night cycle – white for shimmering daylight and blue for mellow moonlight. A sliding glass canopy keeps debris out of the water and any jumping fish in without distracting from the style.
2. MarineLand Contour Glass Aquarium Kit with Rail Light
Another great option from MarineLand is this contour glass aquarium. It’s a small, three-gallon tank that looks cool and modern and is a good choice for a starter tank. It has such a small footprint that it can sit on most counters or tables without taking up too much space.
This tank comes with a hidden three-stage filter. It also includes a filter cartridge that acts as both mechanical and chemical filtration as well as Bio-Foam. All you have to do is get the filter set up and you’re ready to cycle your tank.
The rail light looks great and can be switched from daylight to moonlight settings so you create a realistic atmosphere for your fish. Switch from white and blue lights, only blue lights, or turn them off altogether.
A sliding glass canopy can be moved easily for feeding, cleaning, and water changes. It also helps maintain the water temperature and prevents adventurous fish from jumping out of the tank.
3. Aqueon Fish Aquarium Starter Kits LED NeoGlow
This starter kit from Aqueon is a great way to get started. It’s 10-gallons so it gives you a little more options when it comes to how many fish you can keep. Plus, it has cool neon silicone edges that create a truly modern look. Choose from orange, pink, and green.
It includes a black background, bright multicolored gravel, and three plants so you can get set up right away. The low profile hood prevents the tank from looking too bulky and the integrated blue light makes the neon colors glow.
This kit also includes a quiet-flow filter, medium filter cartridge, and water conditioner to begin cycling the tank right away. It comes with fish food and a preset heater, too, so you’re all set for when you add your fish.
The black gravel, bright colors, and blue light create a really unique look that adds a little something extra that you don’t get from most fish tanks. It really becomes a focal point in your home.
4. Hygger Horizon LED Glass Aquarium Kit for Starters
Another unique style is this glass aquarium kit from Hygger. The eight-gallon glass tank is a good size and it includes everything you need to get your tank up and running. An internal power filter is quiet and durable and works with water as low as 2.5 inches.
The glass tank has a unique curved design with a convex shape that creates the illusion of a wider view. It’s large enough for a small turtle, single betta, or 10 nano fish and can be used with fresh or saltwater.
One of the cool things about this tank is it comes with a 3D rocky background that gives a realistic feel to the environment. Fish love to explore all the nooks and crannies and it’s a good spot to place plants.
The included LED light has extendable brackets and can be adjusted up to 19 inches. A remote control allows you to set the lights on a timer for three, six, or 12 hours, adjust the brightness, and choose between three different lighting modes.
5. Marina LED Aquarium Kit
If you want a larger aquarium, this kit from Marina come with a 20-gallon tank and includes everything you need to get started. The clip-on filter and quick-change filter cartridges let you start cycling the water right away. It even includes water conditioned to make tap water safe for your fish.
There’s an LED light built into the canopy that creates a natural daylight effect and a simple on-off switch so you can turn the light off at night. You also get a soft mesh fishnet, a biological supplement to encourage beneficial bacteria growth, and an aquarium guide to help you get started.
This is a simple design with a black hood that helps maintain water temperature and prevents fish from jumping out. Plus, since its a bigger tank, you have a lot more choices when it comes to what kind of fish you can keep in it.
6. Tetra Complete Aquarium Kit w/Filter Heater LED & Plants
For something a little different, check out this kit from Tetra. It includes a 20-gallon aquarium, hood, whisper filter, and a heater to get everything up and running right out of the box. One filter cartridge is included, too.
The cool thing about this kit is it comes with a color-changing LED, two plant multipacks, and a blooming white anemone. Add some black substrate and let the colors cycle. Pause on any color that catches your eye.
This kit also comes with a soft net that’s fin-friendly, a packet of water conditioner to make tap water safe for your fish, and some fish food to get you started. It’s a good size to get started with, too. The larger the tank, the more options you have when it comes to choosing fish.
7. Tetra Crescent Acrylic Aquarium Kit
This five-gallon acrylic tank is a great choice for small spaces. Keep it in your office, dorm room, or right on your kitchen counter. The seamless curved front is sleek and modern looking and the black frame and cover match any decor.
The included filter uses a cartridge with dense, dual-sided mesh for mechanical filtration as well as activate carbon to pull out odors and any contaminants to keep the water clear and clean. There’s a bio bag included, too, for the necessary beneficial bacteria to keep the water chemistry balanced.
This is a perfect sized tank for up to three community tropical fish or a single goldfish. The hidden LED lights illuminate the tank without being too intrusive and the cover is designed for easy cleaning and water maintenance.
8. GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank
GloFish are some of the most interesting and coolest looking fish you can keep in a tank and this kit comes with everything you need to create the best setup for them. The 20-gallon tank is large enough to keep a good variety of fish and the blue LED to fluoresce the environment is included.
This kit also includes a mini heater, Tetra filter, hood with LED lights, two plant multipacks, a yellow anemone decoration, water conditioner, fish food, and a setup guide. Accessories glow under the blue light, as do the fish!
Once you get the tank up and running, choose your favorite GloFish from the pet store. They come in three species and six different colors. Choose danios, tetras, or barbs in red, blue, green, orange, purple, and pink.
9. Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit
Another great starter kit is this 15-gallon tank from Aqueon. It comes with all the essentials: a preset heater, thermometer, hood with LED light, a Pro Power filter, and a filter cartridge as well as fish food, a soft mesh net, and water conditioner.
A cool thing about the filter that is included in this kit is it features an LED indicator that lets you know when it’s time for a new cartridge. When the light flashes, it’s time for a new one. This helps maintain a healthy environment for your tank by making sure the water is as clean as can be.
This tank features a stylish design that gives your fish a lot of vertical space to explore. It’s a cool, modern-looking design that becomes the focus of any room. It doesn’t have a very large footprint, either, so it won’t be hard to find the perfect place for it.
This 5-gallon aquarium kit from Koller Products is a great choice if you’re looking for a small, simple tank to keep on your desk or kitchen counter. It’s made of one piece of clear plastic and, since there are fewer seams than a glass tank, there’s less chance of leaking.
The LED lighting comes with seven different colors to choose from: white, blue, amber, green, red, purple, and aqua. There are also four different lighting patterns to choose from that transition from one color to the next.
This kit comes includes a powerful internal filter that has a flow rate of 45 gallons per hour, keeping the water as clear and clean as possible. The hood is designed to tilt upward so that moisture drips back into the tank, keeping your table or counter drip-free during cleaning or feeding.
What is the Best Aquarium Starter Kit?
All of these kits are great and they’re so different, it’s really hard to choose just one but we really like the Aqueon LED Aquarium Kit.
It comes with a lot of accessories, including a filter cartridge, heater, a net, a water conditioner, and fish food.
The filter has an LED indicator light that lets you know when it’s time for a new filter cartridge which is a great feature that can have a big effect on water quality if you don’t always remember when it’s time to do a filter change.
How to Set up Aquarium Starter Kit?
Setting up an aquarium for the first time is not as easy as you might think. There’s a lot more to it than just putting everything in the tank and turning on the filter.
Here are some basic steps to make sure you get your aquarium off to a good start.
1. Choose the best place to set up your aquarium
Aquariums should always be placed on a flat, hard surface. Since these starter kits are all 20-gallons or less, a counter or sturdy table is enough support.
For larger aquariums of 30-gallons or more, it is important to get a proper stand that can support the aquarium’s weight.
You should also make sure that there is an electric outlet close by to plug in the filter and lighting. Also, never place a tank where it will receive direct sunlight. This makes it difficult to maintain water temperature and may encourage algae growth.
2. Gather your supplies
This is where having a starter kit comes in handy. Most of the essential supplies are already included! But there are still a few things you need.
- Gravel or sand, substrate
- Plants (real or fake)
- Water conditioner
- Water testing kit
- Fish food
- Aquarium vacuum
- Glass scrubber
- Large bucket
Eventually, you will also need more filter cartridges, water conditioner, fish food, and additional water testing supplies, too.
3. Clean the gravel
Washing the gravel keeps the water from clouding and prevents any contaminants from getting into the tank. Place the gravel in a large bucket. Fill with water and move the gravel around vigorously with your hands to loosen any dust or debris.
Dump the water and refill, repeating the whole process three or four times. The water may not clear completely but you should definitely see an improvement. After cleaning, place the substrate gently into the bottom of the tank.
4. Fill the aquarium with water
If you don’t have a hose, using a bucket to transport water from the sink to the aquarium. These tanks may not be very heavy when they are empty but once they’re full of water, you won’t be able to lift them. Filling them in place is the only option.
Once the tank is full, add a water conditioner. These treatments remove harmful chlorine from tap water and had to be done with every water change.
5. Add the filter
Rinse the filter that came with the kit to wash away any dust. Depending on the type of filter you’re using, the instructions may vary. Most kits use a simple hang on filter which hangs over the back of the tank with an intake going down into the water.
You might have to manually fill the filter reservoir at first before it will begin cycling water appropriately. During the initial set up, set the filter to cycle as quickly as possible.
6. Add the heater
If your kit came with a filter, install it as instructed. If it didn’t, consider getting one. Most tropical fish like their water between 65 and 80 degrees F which is difficult to maintain without a proper heater.
7. Add decorations
Rinse any decorative rocks, plants, or other decor items prior to placing them in the tank.
8. Cycle the tank
You might think that you’re ready to put in your fish at this point but before you do, it’s very important to properly cycle the tank. This allows beneficial bacteria to grow which is important to keep nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels under control once you do add fish.
Cycling usually takes a week or two. You don’t have to do anything but let the filter run and check the water with a test kit. After a few days, you might see the water get cloudy. This is normal. It’s actually a bacterial bloom which is a good sign that you tank it nearly ready for fish.
9. Add hardy fish
You should add a few hardy fish first to add some ammonia to the tank to encourage more bacteria growth. Don’t add too many.
If the bacteria are not yet ready to handle the amount of ammonia in the water, the fish could get very stressed and possibly sick.
10. Finish the cycle
Throughout this process, you should monitor water parameters regularly. Ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites will slowly build with the nitrites spiking after about two weeks.
Keep testing the water. Once you see everything return to 0, your tank is properly cycled and has enough bacteria to keep the water clean and balanced.
11. Add more fish
Once the cycling process is over, you can add fish that are a little more sensitive. The bacteria should be well established at the end of the cycle to be able to handle more fish while keeping ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites under control.
We know that cycling might seem like a bit of a pain. It could take up to eight weeks for the levels to spike and come back down to zero. But if you add fish before the tank is ready, you won’t get good results and may even lose a lot of fish in the process.
There are a lot of things to think about when choosing a good aquarium starter kit. Remember, the bigger the tank, the more fish you can keep. Figure out what kind of fish you want first and what size tank fits best into your space and budget.
These kits have everything you need to get the tank up and running and some even come with water conditioners, fish food, and other things you need to maintain your tank and keep your fish happy and healthy.