Did you know freshwater fish are the most popular pet with 139.3 million of them nationwide? With those numbers, there’s a good chance you’re looking to buy an aquarium, but you’re unsure of which items to get?

Our quick aquarium checklist will make sure you have everything you need. From aquarium gravel to plants, we’ve got you covered. Use it to ensure everything you need is in order and all your bases are covered.

While the list may seem extensive, it’s to ensure a healthy and great-looking aquarium! You can take the checklist to your local pet store to ensure that you’ve selected the right aquarium products.

Use this checklist to make sure your new aquarium is guaranteed to thrive!

Fundamental Aquarium Products for a Fish Tank

There are certain parts you need for a successful aquarium for beginners, so if you want to build an aquarium, here is a list of essential items.


Always aim to get the largest size that you can manage – your fish will be happier for it. Avoid tall or thin tanks, as they will provide the fish with less swimming room. Instead, stick with the more traditional shorter, more extended tank.


If your fish tank requires a stand and didn’t come with its own one, then look for a stand explicitly made to withstand the weight of your fish tank. Otherwise, you can DIY a stand from How-To instructions online.


Lids are imperative to keep your fish in the tank, but it also helps with reducing evaporation. Some lids come with the tank light already installed, which are referred to as “hoods.”


A good beginner choice is a fluorescent light. These lights are common, so they cost less than other lights; otherwise, opt for LED if you can.


The filter is responsible for keeping the tank clean, keeping your fish healthy and thriving. Your filter should be appropriate for the tank size, so all the water is filtered.


Every fish has an ideal temperature, and a heater can ensure there are no fluctuations in the water temperature as the seasons change. But, again, the heater needs to match the tank size to heat evenly.


A thermometer is handy for ensuring your heater still works. Also very useful if you are breeding fish.


All tanks require gravel at the bottom, which should be well rinsed before being used. Small, smooth gravel is recommended, but the color is entirely your preference. Aim for 1 lb gravel per 1 gallon of water.

Tank Decorations

Your new aquarium tank wouldn’t be complete without some decoration and obstacles for the fish to swim around. So let your creativity fly and have fun choosing them.


If you have a freshwater tank, then plants like hornwort, java fern, and anubia nana will work great. If you have a reef tank, you’ll be looking at coral, such as green star polyps will create some drama in your tank.

Calming and Rewarding

Once you’ve set up all the essential equipment, you can branch out and start upgrading your aquarium products bit by bit. Fishkeeping can be a gratifying and calm pastime and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to begin.

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