5 Tools Every Aquarist Should Own

Owning an aquarium shouldn’t feel like owning a home.  When it comes time to do a little routine maintenance or repair a problem, you’ll need to find just the right tool to fix for your problem.  Here are the top five “tools” for the aquarium that I can’t live without.

5 gallon bucket

A large bucket can serve many purposes for the home aquarist.  It makes water changes much more efficient, can be used to clean gravel, and can even be used to transport fish.  I always have a few on hand, though a beginner can start with just one.  As a bonus, I like to use a 5 gallon bucket to keep all my aquarium supplies together!


A plastic hose is used to create a siphon, a simple system where suction is applied to one end of the hose and gravity takes over to continue to pull water from one end of the tube to the other.  When doing water changes, a siphon can help remove old water from your tank into an empty 5 gallon bucket.  The reverse process can help move fresh water from a 5 gallon bucket into your tanks.


Spills are inevitable.  When you are working in your aquarium, you will accidently drip water onto the furniture, hardwood, carpet, glass, or walls.  Having a supply of dedicated towels for cleaning up aquarium spills will give you and others peace of mind when things get a little wet.  I like to use a combination of old beach towels, kitchen rags, and even old t shirts!

Acrylic sponge

One of the most important rules of owning an aquarium is that soap and fish should NEVER mix.  Your common kitchen sponge likely has a warning on the package that says “Not for Aquarium Use”.  This is because these products are shipped with an antiseptic chemical residue.  An aquarium safe sponge will make sure your tank inhabitants are safe from harmful cleaning chemicals when you clean the inside of the tank, covers, and decorations.  Aquarium supply companies even make sponges specifically for soft acrylic tanks that prevent accidental scratching.


One of the most important environmental conditions of your aquarium ecosystem is the water temperature.  Fish are ectotherms, meaning their health is dependent on the temperature of their environment.  Keeping a stable temperature in your aquarium will help ensure good health for your fish.  When doing a water change or introducing new fish to your tank, use a thermometer to ensure the temperatures from each water source are similar to avoid thermal shocking your fish.  Thermometers come in all different varieties, but make sure to avoid old mercury based thermometers (these are typically silver fluid in a glass bulb).


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