Best LED Lights For Reef Tank In 2019 – Top 5 Reviews

Having all the right accessories in your reef tank and setting them up is only half of the job, believe it or not. The other which is even more important is LED lighting set up. We implement it in order to amplify the beauty and attractiveness of our wonderful aquarium.

If you’re looking to enhance the looks of the aquarium, why not choose the absolute best LED lights? If you ever had a dilemma, we’re here to solve it for you and help you find the best lighting for your aquarium.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of LED Lighting For Reef Tanks?

Adding spectacular lighting to an already amazing aquarium can make everything looks much better and captivate the attention of passers-by, friends and family. Whether it is an aquarium of biological facility or your own home, LED lights have become a staple of all aquarium sets. There’s much more to know, and it’s not all about the benefit of looks. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Safety of use

Only until recently, LED lights in reef tanks have become such an common sight. In fact, the type of lighting you were most likely to see was old-school metal halide lights or some form of weird, unnatural fluorescent lighting. The problem with these is that they were filled with metal parts and sensitive wires which could lead to fatal injuries to both the owners and the fish.

Note: what about the advantage of LED light over the old one? Why is LED much safer? Please detail them

Much Better Lighting In The Aquarium

LED lights are different from older models of illumination because they focus most of their energy on providing light, not heat. Therefore, the amount of lighting they generate is the ultimate choice for having a better reef tank.

Technology has come a long, long way and now there are many variations of LED lights for reef tanks. You can easily choose different colors, sizes, illumination intensity, and so on. There are even models which allow you to change the rhythm and intensity of the light. You can match the color of light with your sofa. So, no matter you place your aquarium anywhere; you have complete control over it.

They Produce Much Less Heat

Sometimes, having lighting in your aquarium may alter the temperature of the water and mess with the fish. This can’t be further from the truth when it comes to LED lights. What’s different with them is that they focus much of their energy solely on lighting. Did you know that neon lights and regular bulbs spend an astounding 80% of energy only on heat production, and only 20% of actual illumination?

If you opt to purchase a high-quality LED lighting system for your reef tank, you won’t face problems like this and the fish will have both enough light and the suitable temperature

Enhanced Growth Of Plants And Animals Within The Tank

Most think this is bogus, but there is scientific proof that LED lighting matches the sunlight better and allows water organisms to develop better and faster. A more natural environment means healthier fish and densely grown plants. A win-win, right?

Things To Look For And Watch Out For When Purchasing LED Lights For Your Reef Tank

Power Drainage

It’s crucial to know at which rate the LED lights expend electrical energy. Some brands don’t specify this on the product, and in such cases, you should disregard such brands. It’s important to know how much energy will be required to power the system.

Ease of installation

Some brands offer more complex and more powerful versions of LED lights for aquariums. This might lead to more complex installation processes. You should do your research online, on YouTube and inquire with the manufacturer. If you aren’t sure about whether you are capable of doing it – don’t hesitate to call up an expert!

Difficulty of use

Although operating a LED light is simple, there are some brands and models which are more elaborately designed. Think about it – do you really want to sacrifice time and hassle with access controls, just because of a little amount of light in your aquarium?


There are different grades of LED lights and you should ask yourself about how much money are you willing to spend. Most models last to about 30.000 hours give or take. A bigger investment means more hours.

Extra options

Do you want to set the changes of intensity on automatic? Do you need different colors? Do you want flickering modes on? There are all legitimate questions and they all yield extra money if you wish to purchase LED lights for your aquarium.

And Finally... Things To Consider When Buying LED Lights For Your Reef Tank

Tank Size

What are the exact measurements of your tank? You should be aware of the fact that different sizes require different lights. You wouldn’t want to overspend because of a miscalculation.

Varieties Of Plants And Animals You Have

Different kinds of plants and animals require various light intensities to be able to advance in growth and health. Make sure you inform yourself about the parameters in order to provide your fish and plants with the ultimate features to be able to grow!

Light Intensity

Some people like different colors, whereas some prefer the plain white LEDs. After you decide on which spectrum of lighting your wildlife can grow the most – it all comes down to preference!

The Budget

Make a compromise between your wishes and the money that you are able to spend. This will create the ideal choice and everyone will be happy with your new LED lights – both you and the fish!

The Reviews Of The Top 5 LED Lights For Reef Tanks

After you have all the necessary knowledge and the guidelines, it’s time to round up the contenders for the title of the best LED lights for your aquarium. The competition was fierce, nevertheless, a sound decision was made in the end.

COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting

COODIA once again proves its reputation when it comes to being the leader amongst lighting manufacturers. Simplicity and durability are the integral parts of this LED aquarium light. Unlike some models, this COODIA LED light gets bonus points for simplicity – you just set the light up and plug it in.

Don’t be mistaken, simplicity doesn’t mean lack of features in this case. Dimmable lights with interchangeable colors and intensities are just what you need to make your reef tank one of a kind. Everything is pretty much explained in the manual – so there is no rocket science involved.

What’s awesome about it is that it has an adjustable, extendable bracket that can fit any size from 30 cm, all the way to 50 cm. A rare sight indeed.


  • Very reasonable price for a quality product.
  • Uses a very small amount of energy compared to other models.
  • Extendable brackets for different sizes.
  • One of the most customizable options on the market, it has many lighting modes.


  • Fits only a 5-gallon tank. Not fit for 10-gallon tank.
  • White light is not very bright.

NICREW LED Aquarium Light

NICREW once again proved that they belong to the conversation for the top aquarium LED lights manufacturer and it’s really not that hard to see why and how. Out of all the models that we tested, this NICREW LED lights manifested the highest brightness parameters, as well as the smallest amount of heat produced.

The real deal here is the magnificent light adjustment for growing plants. The lighting system is equipped with blue and white LEDs for daylight adaptability, whereas you can turn on the special nocturnal system during night time.

What may disappoint some users is that it’s not very water resistant, but all in all – all the positives outweigh this lack of resistance, so it does not really matter.


  • Comes in a plethora of sizes and all perform equally well.
  • Energy efficiency is pretty high and expends less energy than most models.
  • Amazing brightness.
  • Yield excellent results with plants of all sorts.


  • Only 2 light options- White and Blue.

NOSIVA LED Aquarium Hood Lighting Fish Tank Light, 20 Inch (White and Blue)

With this model, we can see the power of innovation in full effect. NOSIVA decided to create one of the ultimate LED lights for reef tanks and did so in spectacular fashion – by adding 72 LED lights!

This large number is unheard of when it comes to LED lights for smaller fish tanks or reef tanks. They are concentrated on a small surface so that the plants and the fish can get the ultimate growth possibilities.

Again, we have the lack of water resistance, which can be a small speck on the impeccable reputation of this LED lighting system. With adjustable metal brackets, a big light hood and an energy saving program, you won’t have to worry about submerging this amazing LED system into the water.

It practically possesses all the necessities for a good growth program, with increased ease of operation in comparison to other models.


  • A large number of LEDs for efficient growth.
  • Adjustable brackets to fit the aquarium.
  • Extends the least amount of energy out of all the candidates on the list.
  • Very reasonable price for a fairly large LED lighting system.


  • The lighting is adequate but not ‘very’ bright.
  • There is no stopping mechanism for the extendable arms.

Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light

We are now venturing into the real hi-tech territory and in amazing fashion.This LED lighting model has all around customization options and adjustability available. We can say that their idea performed quite well.

During the testing, it showed the most stable set up out of all. It’s been a favorite amongst customers worldwide because of the size options it can be ordered in.

You will have a much better reef tank set up with this LED lights. The main reasons for that are the 24 hours on and off period, the automatic dimming down and much more modes for different plants. It’s a wise investment because it can last many years, even when changing plant species and different fish.

All in all, it losts out on the first place because it’s objectively the most complicated LED light to operate, out of all the models in the list.


  • Adaptability to different species.
  • Excellent light manipulation options.
  • 5-year warranty.
  • Can change modes according to the growth phase of the plant.


  • Light begin flickering after months of usage.
  • It can be difficult to program the light sometimes.

VIPARSPECTRA Timer Control 165W LED Aquarium Light Dimmable Full Spectrum for Coral Reef Grow Fish Tank

The deserved champion is this amazing VIPARSPECTRA model. It takes home the crown in spectacular fashion, after a hard battle at the top.

Although the price seems high, the overwhelming amount of features simply blows any financial downside straight out of the water.

It has an unbelievable spectrum of light with a special mode that allows every section to be completely independent of the main setup. This is a major advantage for all reef tank owners, simply because it allows customization and focus on different parts of the aquarium – something other LED lights simply don’t have the ability to do.

Photosynthetic corals, algae and lots of exotic fish thrived under this light and we were delighted with the spectacular results.


  • Amazing color and dimming options.
  • Versatility when it comes to different sectors.
  • Can literally enhance the growth of anything.
  • Excellent customer service.


  • Does not have a purple light.
  • Gives a blurry haze off the rocks.

Conclusion – Which Is The Best LED Light For Your Reef Tank

LED lights really are an important part of every reef tank setup, as they add an incredible aesthetic feature to an already carefully set up ecosystem in the tank. All the models on our list are top notch, simply because it’s very tough to crack the top five in such a competitive market. Therefore, any model will do – it all depends on your preferences.

If we had to recommend only one, it would be the Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light, as it possesses the ideal price and quality options for growers of all types. The VIPARSPECTRA one is also stellar, but it may prove to be too much of an investment for beginners.

Whichever model you choose, it will serve you well, so – it’s up to you! Good luck and may your plants and fish grow to be big and healthy!

​Another aquarium equipment you may need: 

- Best aquarium air pump​

Best Aquarium Heater

All You Have To Know About Hob Filters And The Best Products Of 2019

A filter’s purpose is to clean. In an aquarium, it’s responsible for removing physical and soluble chemical wastes from your water.

But what is a hob filter? A new aquarium hobbyist may not be sure what it means and how it differs from other filters.

If you try to look for the dictionary definition of the word “hob”, you’ll probably find it difficult to relate the word to aquariums or even filters.

That’s because this word is not really related to it. In fact, for aquarists, “hob” is actually just an acronym standing for Hang On Back, which means a filter that is simply hanging on the back of your aquarium.

Why Should You Get A Hob Filter?

There are a lot of benefits in getting a hob filter.

Due to the fact that it’s just hanging on the back of your tank, it’s easily accessible so maintenance would not be too difficult. You can also quickly replace or remove the filter media.

Hob filters are also generally inexpensive, and provide great filtration as well. Because of the improvements in technology, most of the hob filters in today’s market make very little noise compared to their earlier versions. This makes them ideal for aquariums that are placed inside the bedroom.

What To Consider When Getting A Hob Filter

When buying equipment for an aquarium, you need to think of various things.

What type of product should you buy? Is this product better than other products?

However, they are mostly dependent on how you want your aquarium to turn out. There are no absolutely right or wrong answers for those questions, but you do have to think of them carefully. For a hob filter, these are the things you may want to consider:

1. The Flow Rate

When deciding on a hob filter, it’s important to take the size of your aquarium into consideration. If you have a big aquarium, a higher flow rate might be necessary to reduce the time needed for filtration. Similarly, a smaller aquarium or a nano reef tank may only require a hob filter with minimal capacity.

Most hob filters indicate the amount of water they are capable of filtering. There are also brands that offer the same product, but in different sizes, to accommodate various amounts of water. Some are good enough for just 5 gallons, while some can filter up to 300 gallons.

2. The Filtration Media You’d Like To Use

There are different types of filter media that you can use. While you can choose the kind of media you want, depending on the types of fish and plants living in your aquarium, many hob filters already come with their own filter media.

It’s quite common to find filters that are equipped with one or all of the three types of media: mechanical, chemical and biological. If you have a certain preference, then you should take that into consideration when choosing your hob filter.

3. Maintenance

Having to clean and maintain your filter is a given.

However, different models of hob filters may have various methods for cleaning and maintenance. For filters that have more filtration media than others, they may require a more thorough cleaning process.

Choose the type of filter that is easier to clean if you don’t have enough time for maintenance.

Most hob filters provide instructions on how to maintain the devices, so you should consider this factor before purchasing one.

These three are the most important things that are specific to the hob filter.

What Are Your Options?

It might be difficult to decide on which hob filter suits your aquarium best. To help you, we've rounded up 5 top-rated products for you to choose from. The products have a vast range of gallons per hour (GPH), as well as different filtration media to suit your preference.

Fluval C Power Filter

Fluval C Power Filter

This powerful filter comes in three types: C2, C3, and C4. Each type can accommodate different aquarium capacities. The C2 is suitable for 10 to 30 gallons; the C3 can filter from 20 up to 50 gallons; and lastly, the C4 can handle 40 to 70 gallons.

In terms of efficiency, the C2 model can filter up to 119 gallons per hour (GPH). The C3, on the other hand, is capable of filtering up to 153 GPH. Being the highest-capacity one, the C4 model can filter a maximum of 264 GPH.

It offers a 5-stage filtration system that is composed of mechanical, chemical and biological filter medias. The combination offers a thorough filtration of your water.


  • Extensive 5-stage filtration system that produces crystal clear water.
  • Suitable for tanks of different sizes.
  • Easy maintenance: the impeller cover only needs to be cleaned once a year, and the motor should only be cleaned every 3 months. It's also equipped with a cleaning indicator for when the poly foam needs to be rinsed.
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty.


  • Not very quiet and is probably not ideal to use on an aquarium in the bedroom.
  • More expensive compared to other brands, but you might want to consider the 5-stage filtration system that it offers.
  • Due to its 5-stage filtration system, there are more filter media for you to replace (foam needs to be replaced every 4-6 weeks; half the quantity of C-nodes must be replaced every 6 months; 2-4 weeks for activated carbon; 2-3 weeks for bio-screen).

AquaClear Power Filter

AquaClear Power Filter

This easy-to-install filter comes in 5 different models that can handle various tank capacities.

The first model is meant for aquariums with up to 20 gallons. Up next is the model that can handle up to 30 gallons, while the third one has the capacity of up to 50 gallons. The fourth one is good for up to 70 gallon aquarium.

And the last one can accommodate up to 110 gallons. Their filtration outputs vary as well, at 80, 100, 150, 200, and 300 GPH respectively.

The models come with a 3-stage filtration system, which involves an AquaClear Foam that removes debris and provides optimal water distribution patterns; an AquaClear Activated Carbon Insert, which gets rid of odor and discoloration; and AquaClear BioMax ceramic rings that allow good bacteria to thrive.


  • Has a wide range of aquariums for different sizes.
  • Comes with a 3-stage filtration system, which may cost less when it comes to replacing filter media (foam can be replaced every 2 months; activated carbon should be replaced every month; BioMax ceramic rings can be replaced every 3 months).
  • Does not make much noise.
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty.


  • Requires a more extensive maintenance process: the filter has to be cleaned every two weeks.
  • It is also quite expensive compared to other brands.

API SuperClean Power Filter

API SuperClean Power Filter

This affordable filter is great for small aquariums containing up to 20 gallons. With its quiet, leak-free design and advanced cartridge technology, this filter is capable of making your water (and even your gravel) clean and crystal clear.

It comes with a Bio-chem Zorb cartridge that provides a complete range of filtration media. You can also add more filter media if you want.

At just 1.9 pounds, this filter is small yet highly durable(1). With an adjustable flow rate, it's a good option for hobbyists who keep betta fish or other aquarium species that aren't too fond of strong currents.


  • Affordable.
  • Especially made for smaller tanks so it’s a great option for aquarium hobbyists who keep only a small tank or fish who prefer little current.
  • Easy to set up and maintain.
  • Quiet and leak-free design.
  • Comes with a warranty, but the duration is unknown.


  • May not be an option for those who have tanks with more than 20 gallons.
  • It can be difficult to find replacement filter cartridges such as nitra zorb and phos zorb.

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Aquarium Filter

This hob filter can deliver 300 GPH for aquariums from 55 to 100 gallons in size.

It has an efficient quad-filtration system with an internal sponge that allows colonization of anaerobic bacteria. These can aid in the removal of ammonia and nitrite. An active carbon cartridge is also included, which helps in removing harmful chemicals, contaminants, odors, and toxins from your aquarium. There is also a polyfiber floss cartridge that traps floating particles.

Recommended for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, this hob filter has an adjustable flow knob that lets you adjust filtration as needed.


  • Comes with a quad-filtration system that ensures a thorough cleaning of your aquarium’s water.
  • Quiet and efficient motor.
  • Small and easy to install.
  • Warranty is available but for an unknown duration.
  • Optimizes maximum water oxygenation.


  • It is only offered in a single size, which is good for tanks from 55 to 100 gallons in size; quite a limited range compared to others.
  • Due to the quad-filtration system, it may be costly to replace all of the filter media.

Marina Power Filter

Marina Power Filter

This slim hob filter has a unique and compact design that reduces the needed space on the back of your aquarium.

Compared to other filters, which may look bulky, the Marina Power Filter is a nice fit to a small aquarium.

It comes in three models that can accommodate up to 10, 15, and 20 gallons respectively. All models are inexpensive and costs less than $20, however, shipping fee does not apply.

With its adjustable flow control, setting it up is easy and does not require any priming. It also includes two filter cartridges: a Bio-Carb and a Bio-Clear, which both contain Ceramitek. This is engineered to optimize a biological filtration.


  • Slim and unique design that makes it take up less of the space.
  • Includes two filter cartridges and may be more affordable to replace.
  • The filter itself is less than $20 regardless of the size you choose.
  • Self-priming; easy to set up and maintain.


  • Does not come with warranty.
  • Limited sizes available; the maximum it can handle is up to 20 gallons only, unlike other brands that have models for up to 100 gallons.
  • It’s mostly focused on biological filtration, however, you can customize this if you want to add mechanical and chemical filtration as well.

What’s The Verdict?

Our top pick would have to be the AquaClear Power Filter. Not only is it available in multiple sizes, it also offers a 3-stage filtration system that involves all three different kinds of filter media: mechanical, chemical and biological.

The manufacturers also provide easy-to-follow instructions on the hob filter’s maintenance and the replacement procedure for each filter media. Not to mention, they offer a 2-year warranty.

All of these are also offered by the Fluval C Power Filter. In fact, this one even has a 5-stage filtration system, which may be more intensive compared to AquaClear’s. However, it can be quite expensive to maintain and replace all of its filter media. It’s still a pretty good choice for those who have an extra budget and prefers a more extensive filtration process.

For those who prefer an inexpensive option, or those who don’t really need a powerful high-capacity hob filter, the API SuperClean Power Filter is a great option as well.

Overall, all of these products have their individual strengths and weaknesses, so carefully measure them up to your particular needs and wants for your own aquarium.

What about you? What’s your pick? Tell us in the comments section below!

5 Best Air Pumps For Your Aquarium And What You Need To Know

A lot of items are needed when building an aquarium.

There’s the thermometer, which helps you monitor the water temperature and ensure that it’s within the ideal range for your fish. Here is our review about best thermometer for aquarium.

Then there’s the filter, which is needed as it removes the excess food, fish wastes, and other harmful particles from the water. (Click here to read our aquarium filter reviews.)

Unlike a thermometer or a filter, however, an air pump is not considered as a basic necessity for an aquarium.

It could be necessary, but that depends on you and your fish tank.

What Do Air Pumps Do?

In general, air pumps can bring air from outside the aquarium to inside the aquarium through an outlet.

The outlet can be in form of decoration. For example, you can arrange a coral or a plant that has bubbles coming out of its center. If you enjoy having miniature structures in your tank such as a house or a ship, you can turn their chimneys into your air pump’s outlet as well.

Another option would be to use an air stone that you can hide behind plants or corals.

You can also illuminate the bubbles produced by your air pump using a colorful light source to provide more aesthetic appeal.

Aside from using the air pump to form bubbles for aesthetic design, however, you can also use it to provide more oxygen to your water. The more your water moves, the more contact it has with air, so more oxygen will then get into the water.

Providing oxygen to your tank is also the job of the filter outlet, which is why the air pump is not considered as a necessity. However, it doesn’t really hurt to have an additional back up, in case your filter breaks.

The addition of an air pump is not harmful to your fish. So if you like having an additional source of oxygen or just the nice effect of the bubbles, you can definitely get one.

There are also some types of filters that require the use of an air pump. An example would be an undergravel filter or a corner filter. However, for some of these types of filter, a water pump can also be used.

If you use protein skimmers, an air pump would be necessary as well, especially if the skimmers use air stones to produce the foam that removes organic waste from your tank.

Accessories For An Air Pump

While most air pumps come with instructions on how to install the device and its accessories, knowing the purpose of them can be extremely helpful and may give you that extra preparation you need.

There are only a few accessories that you can use with an air pump.

1. Airline Tubes

These are the tubes that you will use to connect your air pump from outside the aquarium to the ornaments or air stones inside the water.

2. Connectors or T-Valves

These items allow you to customize the air flow through multiple airline tubes. It is especially necessary if you want to connect the air pump to multiple ornaments or air stones.

3. Check or Return Valve

A check valve or return valve is a must for every type of air pump. It’s a device that allows air to pass in only one direction and prevents air or water from going backwards into the pump outlets. This can be useful whenever there are power outages or when the pump loses its power source, whether it’s the electricity or battery.

4. Gang Valve

These are used when you need more airlines than the amount supplied by the pump. It is also useful when you want to connect the air pump to various ornaments or air stones. When using gang valves, you can adjust the air flow individually to achieve your desired bubble effect from each air stone or ornament.

Before getting an air pump, be aware of what accessories you might need. This mostly depends on what you intend to use the air pump for.

Some of the most powerful air pumps are capable of pumping air to more than one tanks. If you’d like to do this as well, then the amount of accessories needed to accommodate multiple tanks would have to be well thought of.

You can check if the air pump comes with these accessories before purchasing. If not, or if the amount of accessories is not enough for what you need, you can buy them separately. Most of them are inexpensive and are fairly easy to find.

Some accessories are also offered to be bought together with the air pump as a bundle, so you can opt for those if you want to save more money.

How To Choose The Right Air Pump

This depends on what you intend to use the air pump for.

Some air pumps are suited for different sizes of tanks, but the sizes are only relevant if you intend to use the air pump to operate an undergravel filter.

If you’re using the air pump for decorative purposes, then the more ornaments you run using the air pump, the larger it has to be. Similarly, if you’re only running a few ornaments, then a smaller air pump would do the trick.

You should also consider air resistance. If you are using decorations in your tank that resist the air coming from the pump, then you might need a larger air pump. Note that larger air stones may also provide higher resistance compared to small air stones.

Additionally, if your tank is more than 20 inches high , you might need to get an air pump that is meant for deep water so that air can still be pushed far below the water surface.

What Are Your Options?

To help you decide on which air pump to buy, we’ve listed up some of the top-rated air pumps below, along with our reviews for each product.

Uniclife Aquarium Air Pump 4

Uniclife Aquarium Air Pump 4

With two outlets and various accessories, this 4-watt pump is ideal for tanks that contain 60 to 400 liters of water. It comes with a 6 feet power supply cable, 2 return valves, 2 air stones, 2 M airlines, and 2 connectors.

It has a voltage of 110 to 120V 50/60Hz, and provides pressure of up to 0.016Mpa. The airlines come in the standard 4mm internal diameter.

The air pump itself is measured at 129x71x63mm.


  • It has most of the accessories you might need.
  • Affordable price considering the accessories it comes with.
  • Has a low sound, described to be similar to that of a ticking watch or the sound of rustling leaves.
  • Adjustable flow rate.
  • Warranty is available, but for an unknown period of time.


  • Lacks power and may not be good enough for bigger fish tanks.

Marina Battery-Operated Air Pump

Marina Battery-Operated Air Pump

Known as a “back-up” air pump, this battery-operated pump is ideal for situations wherein your main air pump fails to deliver. Whether it broke or you just had a power outage, having a battery-operated air pump is a good idea to have a reliable air source for your fish.

At 6.2 ounces, this air pump is measured at 1.5x2.5x5 inches. This makes it very easy to carry around.


  • Affordable.
  • Battery-operated and can be relied on during power outages Ideal when you’re in transit or during fishing.
  • Small and portable.
  • Comes with air stone and 18-inch tubing.


  • Might not be the best option to use as your main air pump as buying and replacing batteries can be more costly.
  • Makes more noise compared to other air pumps.
  • Requires 2 D-cell batteries in parallel, a setup in which one cell will always discharge the other over time. It’s advisable not to leave the batteries in the unit when not in use.
  • Does not come with warranty.

Tetra Whisper Air Pump

Tetra Whisper Air Pump

This pump is designed for deep tanks with significant back pressure. It can pump air down to 8 feet. It comes in seven sizes, starting from the smallest that can handle up to 10 gallons, to the largest, which can handle up to 300 gallons.

Despite being a powerful air pump, it is still known to be a quiet one, that is why it is called “Whisper”. At only 8 ounces and 3.5 watts, this small but highly capable pump provides versatility.


  • Has a unique dome-shaped design that minimizes noise and turbulence.
  • Availability of pumps for various sizes of aquariums, which makes this pump a great choice regardless of your tank’s size.
  • Comes with a free program called TetraCare, where you can ask for online and over-the-phone support. They also send emails containing aquarium tips and guides for the first six months since purchase.
  • Lifetime warranty available.


  • Warranty does not cover rubber parts such as flappers, diaphragms, and isolators, which are parts that may fail on a pump.
  • Does not come with accessories.

Deep Blue Professional Air Pump

Deep Blue Professional Air Pump

This AC/DC battery-operated air pump automatically switches to battery backup when power outages occur and recharge once power has been restored.

It comes with two output ports and an impact-resistant design.

It can pump air continuously for 14 hours on a full battery. There are also interval modes that can extend the battery life for up to 28 hours. Despite the strong batteries, it only weighs 0.3 ounces.


  • Adjustable air flow.
  • Reliable; continuous operation even when there is a power outage due to backup battery extension.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Quiet air pump.
  • Has impact-resistant design, which makes it more durable.
  • Warranty is available, but for an unknown duration.


  • Great only for smaller tanks up to 50 gallons due to lack of power.
  • Does not come with accessories.
  • More expensive compared to other air pumps that has higher capacity.

JVSURF Aquarium Air Pump

JVSURF Aquarium Air Pump

This energy-saving air pump is driven by a thin piezoelectric ceramic plate, making it different from traditional electromagnetic air pumps. It doesn’t contain EMI, a motor, or a shaft, so it’s lightweight, silent and highly durable.

It also comes with multiple accessories. The installation process is simple and so this pump is ideal for beginners. It has a unique shape and design that can add aesthetic appeal to your aquarium.


  • Comes with an air stone, an airline, a suction cup, and a user manual.
  • Easy to install and is lightweight so it can be attached to the outer glass of your tank using the suction cup.
  • Unique design and system that makes little noise.
  • Warranty is available for an unknown duration.


  • Only suitable for smaller aquariums with up to 20 gallons.

What’s Our Pick?

It’s been a close fight between the Deep Blue Professional Air Pump and the Tetra Whisper Air Pump.

While the Deep Blue Professional’s rechargeable backup battery is an amazing feature, we think the Tetra Whisper’s support availability and wide range is awesome too!

Ultimately, the winner would have to be the Tetra Whisper Air Pump.

One of the things you have to consider when getting an air pump, especially when you’re using undergravel or corner filters, is the capacity of the pump. The Tetra Whisper Air Pump has multiple options that can accommodate from 10 gallons up to 300 gallons.

What’s The Best Filter For Turtle Tank: Know It Here

Turtles are wonderful additions to any house and a tank can really change the atmosphere of a household. Aside from all the decorations and the aesthetic improvements the turtle tank provides, it’s also a big responsibility to maintain your tank at the same time. The turtles are prone to producing a lot of waste and using up all the gallons of water. This can lead to hygienic problems that may damage the health of your turtles. The solution to that problem? A turtle tank filter, of course.

Filters for turtle tanks have come a long way in recent years and have turned into true technological works of wonder. More filtration media, more power, and more stability are all advantages that a turtle tank owner has at his disposal.

The market for filters has grown immensely and there are a lot of brands to choose from. That’s why we’ve decided to aid you in providing the best possible experience for your turtles. After our quick guide and the top 5 list, choosing a quality filter for your turtle tank will be a piece of cake. Enjoy!

What Are The Benefits Of Filters For Turtle Tanks?

First and foremost, filters are used for improving the hygienic state of the water in order to improve the health of the turtles and their quality of life. Since turtle tanks are small bodies of water, the aquatic mass doesn’t move around a lot and it can easily get stale.

That means fungus, mold and other detrimental health hazards can appear. Stale and uncirculated water also lead to a lack of friendly bacteria, which are crucial to every ecosystem.

Since turtles usually live in big bodies of water, the water mass moves and there is no need for a filter, as every bit of waste is taken far away from the turtle colony. Filters for turtle tanks provide excellent alternatives to big pools and they can do the filtering in a few different, but equally important ways.

Mechanical Filtration

It is the most basic way of filtering your turtle tank. It’s the first line of defense against health hazards. This works by separating solid waste from water, usually by employing a sponge, aquarium filter floss or polyester pillow stuffing.

Mechanical way of filtration is the least expensive way of filtering water and you should take care of it. As most of the obvious stuff that’s floating around, regular cleaning is required. Knowing that the discarding process is easy, you should throw the stuffing or the floss along with the waste that has accumulated there.

Biological Filtration

It is the second way of dealing with the problem of stale unclean water in your turtle tank. Your filter can use a sponge or floss, just like the mechanical one, but the main weapon of biological filters is the friendly bacteria that grow and flourish on the filter media. The so-called bio-media can be ceramic rings, cycling accelerators, and the Seachem Matrix formula.

The filter for your turtle tank engages the bacteria to devour turtle feces, ammonia, fungi or anything else that might stand in the way of a normal ecosystem. These kinds of turtle tank filters last years and are very reliable.

Chemical Filtration

It is also crucial to keep your turtle tank clean via a filter. Chemical filters usually employ ammonia systems or activated charcoal. Keep in mind that these filters should only aid you when the turtle tank is brand new and the friendly bacteria are not set yet. Active charcoal can also be used on its own to purge the smell from your turtle tank.

Things To Look Out For When Buying A Filter For Your Turtle Tank

Picking the good filter for your turtle tank might not be the daunting task it once was, but there are still a few things to keep in mind and a few factors that may improve the life of your beloved turtles. First and foremost, you should be aware of the different filter types as well as their flaws and advantages.

In-Tank Filters

These are not so good for the turtle tank because they are prone to jamming during the water rotation process. It functions using a pump that sucks in the water and filters it while letting it fall into the tank afterward. They are inexpensive, but also inefficient.

Decorative Filters

These are basically the same as the in-tank ones, but they don’t have the appearance of a usual filter for turtle tanks. They’re masked to look like rocks so that the turtle tank looks more natural.

Undergravel Filters

As far as turtle tanks are concerned, these are somewhat of a controversy amongst the turtle tank community. They use the gravel and the sand at the bottom of the tank as filtering media.

This filter pulls the waste down to the gravel and removes it from the water. The water is the cycled two to three times and released yet again. Despite the initial hype, we don’t recommend you to buy them because of the inefficiency and proneness to breakage.

Canister Filters

These are called the champions of the filter market by some and with full right. They employ a powerful water pump to suck in the water and expose it to numerous filtering media within the canister. Many experts say that this type of filter can help you the most, as it is the safest way to make sure your water is clean and that the turtles are healthy.

Although the filter type may determine the type of life your turtles will lead, there are a few more simple factors that may influence your choice of an ideal turtle tank filter.

What Breed Are Your Turtles?

This may be crucial as some breeds don’t respond well to chemical filtration and overly thorough measures. Also, if you have a lot of smaller turtles in your tank, a big in-tank filter may be the solution if you are on a limited budget. Both the turtles and your wallet will be happy!

How Many Turtles Are There?

The number of turtles directly influences the power of your pump. The more turtles there are, the more money you will need for purchasing a pump powerful enough to filter all that waste.

How Big Is The Tank?

The water surface is an important factor in purchasing the right filter for your turtle tank. As the water quantity increases, you will need even two filters or only one with an extremely powerful water pump.

How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

People always say the ideal product is the one which has a combination of an economic price and supreme quality. By calculating your budget, you may be able to see how much you have at your disposal and at which brand you should aim for.

That should conclude the list of info you should be aware of when buying a filter for your turtle tank. The type should determine the efficiency and the size of your tank and the turtle population should determine the power. Now that that is settled, it’s time for the final showdown, in order to see the absolute best filters for turtle tanks out there.

The Reviews Of The Top 5 Filters For Turtle Tanks

Now that you have all the necessary knowledge about the criteria for choosing the right filter, it’s come down to the top five. After months of extensive testing, collecting reviews and impression from both amateurs and experts – here it is!

This is the verdict of the best five filters for turtle tanks currently on the market and we have to say – it was a battle, but only one came out victorious.

SunSun Hw304B525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit

SunSun Hw304B525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit

SunSun may be a relatively unknown company, but they absolutely mean business with this excellent turtle tank filter. It’s also versatile and can be implemented in other types of tanks for aquatic animals.


  • An improved size limit, this model can handle up to 75 gals. turtle tanks.
  • Extra blue and white filter pads are included in the package so you can get the hang of switching them.
  • The triple threat of Ceramic rings, Bio balls, and filter carbon makes up for an excellent filter formula.
  • Any of the three filter media can be removed at any given time.


  • Very reasonable price.
  • Versatile method that is interchangeable.
  • Handles small turtle tanks excellently.


  • Can sometimes struggle with bigger tanks and perform slowly.
  • Questionable customer service.

Exo Terra Turtle Cliff Aquatic Terrarium Filter/Rock, Medium By Exo Terra

Exo Terra Turtle Cliff Aquatic Terrarium Filter/Rock, Medium By Exo Terra

Some experts may say that in-tank filter for turtle tanks are out of fashion, they can’t be more wrong. This Exo Terra decorative piece is one of the finest on the market and we had a blast testing it.


  • A powerful pump is cleverly hidden so that it doesn’t disrupt the aesthetics of your turtle tank.
  • It comes in five different colors and styles so you can choose to plan your decorations around it.
  • The filter chamber is filled with activated charcoal and friendly bacteria.
  • The emphasis is on the speed of the filtration process.


  • Faster filtration when compared to some older models.
  • Great, unnoticeable looks.
  • Easy refill and cleaning.


  • Somewhat faulty membrane.
  • Doesn’t work well with bigger tanks.

Fluval Canister Filter

Fluval Canister Filter

Fluval is one of the staple companies of the turtle tank filter business and they maintain such a reputation by putting out a model like this. The new FX4 Canister really amazed us and is bound for a big break this year.


  • Smart Pump technology completely removes the need for manual control.
  • Even though the canister is big, you don’t have to change water because a hose connection is available.
  • Filter media baskets are also removable – you can combine your own filtration plans.
  • It can filter and pump out 700 gals. of water per hour.


  • Efficient in big scale turtle tanks with multiple gigantic specimens.
  • Able to work multiple days without even the slightest hickup.
  • Reliable and contains a lot of media.


  • The pray may be a little too much.
  • Unsuitable for smaller environments.

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

When it comes to choosing the ideal filter for your turtle tank, the Penn Plax is certainly deserving a high place on everyone’s top list, as the superior quality meets an economic price that isn’t worth missing out on.


  • It’s available in a multitude of sizes, for every possible turtle tank size.
  • The filtration is a multi-stage one and you can select which stages do you want to be skipped.
  • Rotating taps ration the bacteria in the water so that the turtles may get the ultimate care and hygiene.
  • Shut of valves make for a sterile and easy-to-clean environment.


  • Easy to use and can be mastered in a matter of hours.
  • Maybe the best performance-to-price turtle tank filter out there.
  • Excellent customer service.


  • The valves can get buggy after two weeks of non-stop service.
  • Doesn’t work well with lots of small turtles.

Fluval 405 External Canister Filter - 110V, 340 Gallons Per Hour

Fluval 405 External Canister Filter - 110V, 340 Gallons Per Hour

Our champion is truly a heavyweight in the game and it still cements the Fluval’s position on the turtle tank filter market. They consistently put out respectable products with superior results. This is absolutely no exception.


  • The new and improved filtration system has many options, from quick filtering to long-term programs that can be implemented over a course of a few days.
  • An output of 340 gallons per hour puts this filter on the very top in the pumping category.
  • The valves are specially designed to be air tight and to deflect any unwanted debris while removing the hosing.
  • Resistance to temperatures of all sorts is a very welcome addition.


  • Very powerful and durable, can be used in all sorts of turtle tank projects.
  • Excellent customer service, plus a 3-year warranty.
  • The motor can work for hours and is energy efficient.


  • Somewhat expensive for beginners.
  • Slow delivery time.

The Final Verdict

When it comes to the ever competitive market of filters for your turtle tank, this battle could have gone either way and some experts and users may disagree with our choice. Be how it may be, the differences between these filters are small and it’s all just a matter of preference in the end. If you were to ask us about our verdict, we would say that the Fluval 405 External Canister Filter is the ultimate choice if you want immediate results and excellence. The budget may be a problem in a way, so a good alternative would be the Penn Plax one, as it employs a good performance-to-price ratio. The whole point of gaining turtle tank care experience is experimenting. The only way to accomplish that is to try different products and see for yourself how do they function. Good luck! May your turtles grow big and healthy!

Aqueon Betta Falls

The betta is one of the most popular tropical fish available to the aquarist. Its popularity is due in large part to its beautiful, flowing fins and tail. Many bettas exhibit brilliant colors that are sometimes the result of selective breeding, and this coloration is another factor driving their popularity with fish keepers. Bettas are also relatively easy to keep as they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions though they will thrive in a clean and heated environment.

Caring For Bettas

The most critical factor when keeping bettas is that you cannot keep two males together in a small tank. Though some success has been reported keeping multiple male bettas in large aquariums over 30 gallons they are usually kept in smaller tanks. Males kept together will tear at each other’s fins and will usually lead to the death of one of them. Just seeing each other through glass or in a betta condo can trigger aggression and lead to extreme stress and negatively impact their health. Even keeping a pair of one male and one female betta is challenging as they can also be very aggressive with each other. Additionally it is hard to find non-betta tank mates that will not either nip at the betta’s fins or be the target of a betta’s aggression. For these reasons they are often kept singly in smaller aquariums. Displaying multiple bettas usually requires using multiple tanks.

Aqueon Betta Falls

Aqueon’s Betta Falls is a new product that attempts to get around the problems of displaying multiple bettas in one unit. It is designed to allow viewing of three bettas kept in separate, small tanks. By integrating a filtration system that serves all three tanks at the same time it eliminates the need for a complete setup for each betta you wish to keep. Its unique design makes for a striking appearance and does beautifully display your bettas. Let’s look more closely at the Betta Falls and see some of its advantages and potential disadvantages.


  • Allows you to house 3 bettas in one unit.
  • Filtration keeps water clean and reduces need for water changes.
  • Stylish design is suitable for a desktop.
  • Fish cannot see each other eliminating stress.
  • Waterfall feature can be pleasing and relaxing in itself.


  • Each tank is only a little over 1/2 gallon in size.
  • Tank is not heated.
  • Potential for fish to get into another tank leading to fights and injury.
  • Can be noisy if not filled correctly.

Aqueon Betta Falls Features And Benefits

Display Multiple Bettas

The Betta Falls is designed to house 3 bettas. This is normally not possible in a tank this size. The fish are kept separated in three small tanks that share the same water as it circulates through the tanks. Aggression possible when bettas can view each other is eliminated by the use of frosted panels that the fish cannot see through.


Many betta bowls and small tanks designed for bettas do not provide filtration. These small aquariums rely on the aquarist to make daily water changes to maintain a healthy, aquatic environment for their bettas. Using Aqueon’s QuietFlow technology, the Betta Falls constantly filters the water and circulates it between the three tanks by way of the cascading waterfall feature. The flow rate can be controlled which can be key in keeping your bettas happy and safe. Filter cartridges can be easily changed as needed. The addition of filtration is a big advantage over tanks that do not offer this feature.

Aesthetically Pleasing Design

The Betta Falls is available in white or black. Its unique design makes for a more interesting display than many of the small, plastic tanks that are available and often used to house bettas. It looks great on a desk or small table. Three units can be set up back to back to create a striking circular display of up to 9 betta fish.

Reviews Around The Internet

My research has shown some mixed reviews of the Betta Falls. Positive comments have focused on the tanks’s modern appearance and the ability to have 3 bettas in such close proximity without triggering aggression. Many users find the waterfall feature to create a pleasing and relaxing sound that increases the enjoyment of viewing their fish. Reduction of water changes made possible by the filtration system is also a compelling feature of the Betta Falls.

In some cases aquarists have reported that fish can jump downstream and enter another tank. This is not something that you want to happen and there are covers included that will minimize the potential for this mishap to occur. Reducing water flow rate from the filtration system will also help prevent this problem. The individual tank sizes are rather small and may not be the optimum size for long term betta care.


1. Penn Plax Deluxe Triple Betta Bow Aquarium Tank, 0.7-Gallon

This small tank will hold up to three bettas. It holds less water than the Betta Falls. It does not include a heater and the filter requires use of an external pump. The lighting system is battery operated.

2. AquaOne Betta Villa Trio

The Betta Villa Trio is a larger tank that holds 8.4 gallons of water. It is available with LED lighting and multi-stage filtration system. It is triple the price of the Betta Falls but affords your fish more room to move.

3. Penn-Plax World Betta Fish Condo

The Betta Condo is designed to be used within a larger aquarium. It is comprised of rectangular compartments with opaque dividers to prevent aggression. It uses the light, heat and filtration of the larger aquarium that hold the condo.


The Aqueon Betta Falls is a distinctive and relatively inexpensive way to display multiple bettas. It takes up much less room than three individual tanks and the shared filtration system is a big plus for both you and your fish. While there are potential difficulties they can be addressed by using the product carefully. If you are interested in this aquarium you can check it out here.

What Is The Best Substrate For Your Aquarium?

The substrate used in your aquarium is an important but often overlooked component in the creation of a healthy aquatic environment. It is the foundation upon which your aquascape will be created. There are numerous substrate options available that will allow the aquarist to create an appealing simulation of the natural environment of the fish and plant species in their tank. Brightly colored substrates that would never occur in a natural setting are also available and are usually not a good choice when setting up your aquarium.

Caution needs to be taken when deciding on the substrate you will use. Depending on the type of fish in your aquarium some substrates will perform much better than others and will actually contribute to the health of your fish. The same can be said of a planted aquarium. Choosing the right substrate can make a huge difference in your ability to maintain the health of your aquatic plants. The wrong choice will hinder the ability of the plants to flourish and leave you disappointed with the results. Though you may be tempted to buy the least expensive product available this will probably not be the best choice. Spending a little more at the outset will enable your aquarium and its inhabitants to thrive and add to your enjoyment as an aquarist.

In this article we will identify the best substrate to be used in a variety of settings. We will look at how different substrates work better with certain fish species and which is best to use in a planted aquarium. Hopefully this will guide you in making your decision when purchasing the substrate for your aquarium. In particular we will look at substrates recommended for use with goldfish, bettas, African cichlids and planted freshwater community aquariums.

What Is The Best Substrate For Goldfish?

The very popular goldfish is kept by many aquarists around the world. Often purchased as juveniles they can be small fish just a few inches in size. Goldfish can grow to be quite large and require a large tank in which to thrive. They are also commonly kept in outdoor fish ponds.

When visiting your local fish store you may see small goldfish in a tank with a substrate consisting of marbles or brightly colored gravel. While this may make for appealing viewing it is not conducive to keeping your goldfish healthy and happy. Goldfish have very specific behavioral characteristics that preclude the use of many types of substrate available. Goldfish love to forage along the bottom your tank, picking through the substrate for morsels of food. This behavior should influence your decision when choosing their substrate.

Gravel of any size is not a recommended substrate for a goldfish tank. This is for a number of reasons. One of the most popular substrates available is variously colored, small, pea-sized gravel. This type of gravel is totally inappropriate for a goldfish tank. As your fish grow and go about their natural foraging behavior they will pick up pieces of this gravel in their mouths. On occasion they will swallow these pieces of gravel and this can cause serious health effects such as a ruptured digestive tract. This can lead to the death of your fish, so small gravel should be avoided when planning a goldfish tank.

Another problem shared by all size gravel is that there is space between the individual pieces in which food debris can be trapped. As it dissolves it creates toxins that are harmful to your fish. Goldfish spend a lot of time at the bottom of your tank making them especially vulnerable to these toxins. Marbles share this problem of spaces for food to become trapped and are also not a good substrate for goldfish.

Water softness can be a problem as hard water is beneficial to the goldfish’s fins and scales. Crushed coral is often used to increase water hardness but should not be used for goldfish. The sharp edges of the coral pieces are dangerous to the foraging fish and can cause mouth injuries.

Sand is by far the best choice in substrate for your goldfish aquarium. It packs tightly together eliminating the problem of spaces for food particles to be trapped. Debris will settle on the surface of the substrate and be easily removed. Additionally and just as importantly, sand will not hurt the goldfish if it is ingested. It may even be beneficial if eaten as it passes through the fish and helps clear out its digestive system. Choose sand for your goldfish substrate.

What Is The Best Substrate For African Cichlids?

Aquarists who choose to keep African cichlids should be aware that their care is demanding and specific water conditions are required for their survival. African cichlids originate in the Rift Lakes of Central Africa. These lakes have a naturally high PH and this needs to be recreated in your cichlid tank.

Another characteristic of cichlids is that they are avid diggers and love to burrow and create caves. This behavior will uproot plants and the fish will then consume them, so plants are usually not used to decorate a cichlid tank. Rocks and caves are vitally important to your cichlid tank. Cichlids are naturally aggressive and territorial. They will claim a cave and attempt to drive all others away. To minimize the aggression your tank mates will exhibit you need to have a sufficient number of caves for the cichlid population you plan on keeping.

With those factors in mind we see that a proper substrate for a cichlid aquarium will need to help buffer the water’s PH. It will also need to allow for digging without injuring the fish and enable you to create substantial rock and cave formations that will not be moved or toppled by digging fish.

Though some aquarists choose to go with a bare bottom tank free of substrate for their cichlids this is not the best layout for your cichlid tank as it eliminates the opportunity for the fish to dig and tunnel. Small and large gravel are inappropriate for reasons similar to that of goldfish. Smaller gravel can be ingested and cause health issues and all size gravel can cause toxins to be created that are dangerous to your fish. Cichlids like the bottom of the tank and will be susceptible to these toxins.

Plain, well washed sand is an excellent choice of substrate for your child tank. It will work well with the cichlids foraging habits and serves as a stable base for your rock and cave work. There are substrate products available that also help in buffering the PH and will keep it at the high range required by your fish. Coral sand or sand containing aragonite are recommended as they are excellent at performing this buffering. CaribSea’s Eco-Complete for cichlids is a good choice for your substrate, but any coral or aragonite sand should work fine. Crushed coral if around finely enough will also buffer the water and let your fish forage safely.

What Is The Best Substrate For A Freshwater Planted Aquarium? 

Choosing the right substrate for your freshwater planted tank requires you to put some thought into what type of fish and plants you will be keeping. Using gravel can pose the same problem of accumulating toxins and cause health issues with your fish. You can minimize these problems with vigorous gravel cleaning combined with regular water changes but there are other considerations. If you plan to keep any of the popular Cory catfish then you need to find a substrate that is not sharp as that can injure the delicate undersides and barbels of these fish. Some the more popular substrates designed for a planted aquarium are rather rough and will not serve well in a tank with Cory cats.

In some cases your best solution is to use two kinds of substrate. The bottom layer will be intended to promote plant growth and can be rough. Covering this with a thinner layer of a rounded gravel will protect your bottom dwelling fish while affording the benefits of the plant enhancing substances in the bottom layer of substrate. We will talk about the bottom layer designed to assist in plant growth.

Regularly, well washed sand will work in your planted tank but may pack too tightly to allow the root systems of certain aquatic plants to flourish. Mixing sand and some fine gravel can help with this issue. There are substrates specially designed for planted aquariums that will alleviate this problem. They are produced with a clay or lava base and are excellent at both biological filtration and promoting root growth. Two excellent products that are very similar are Flourite manufactured by SeaChem and CaribSea’s Eco-Complete for the planted aquarium.

Both of these substrates contain essential nutrients to promote plant growth. Flourite is made of a very porous clay gravel and is an excellent substrate for your plants. It does not soften the water or change PH levels. It will never need to be replaced for as long as your tank is operational. It is available in a regular sand variety as well as black, dark and red options. You can use this in a freshwater tank with or without plants.

Eco-Complete has similar properties. It is made from volcanic soil and contains many of the same nutrients and minerals as does Flourite. In addition it contains live bacteria that rapidly converts fish waste into plant food. This product is available as a very fine black substrate or a slightly larger red version. Either of these two products would be an excellent choice for the substrate in your planted aquarium.

What Is The Best Substrate For A Betta Tank?

Betta fish are kept in a large variety of different size tanks. Some aquarists will use very small tanks that will only house a single fish and some artificial decorations. In other cases a medium sized planted aquarium may be where you choose have your betta live. A betta needs a resting place in the tank so even in a small tank it is advised that you have at least one artificial plant for its use. Live plants are even better if that is an option you wish to pursue. You also want to choose natural colored gravel or sand for your betta tank. Though bright colors may appeal to the aquarist they can be the cause of undue stress in your specimens. The gravel’s colors will also compete with the fish’s natural coloration.

In a small tank that will only contain a betta it is critical not to use gravel that allows food particles to get trapped and disintegrate. With no bottom feeders to help clean up, any food going to the bottom will be subject to decay. Though bettas may lounge about the bottom your tank they are not bottom feeders and will not perform this duty in their tank. For this reason, large grained gravel or marbles are not to be used in a betta tank.

With these thoughts in mind we can see that in many cases the same substrate choices that work well for planted freshwater tanks will work well for your betta. If you are decorating with artificial plants then you do not need to go to the expense of a Flourite type of substrate, but sand would be an excellent choice. A betta tank with live plants will achieve the same benefits as those mentioned above for a freshwater planted aquarium.

What Is The Best Substrate For You Aquarium?

As you can see from the above discussion, this is a question that cannot be answered without asking other questions. Fish and plant selections are crucial to determining the substrate that will work best for you. A general rule for all tanks is that large grained gravel is problematic as bed for toxin production.

I hope this discussion has helped you in choosing a substrate for your aquarium. Take the time to plan your aquarium before purchasing the substrate and you will have a much easier time of maintaining a healthy and visually appealing tank.

Marineland Aquariums Review

If you are considering purchasing a new aquarium you have number of options. You can buy a tank, filter, lighting system and other necessary accessories separately. Several manufacturers have made your initial selection a little easier by offering complete aquarium kits that include many of the items you need to get started. We will look at the line of Marineland aquariums and see what they include in their packages. We will also briefly discuss several alternative aquarium kits.

Why Choose An Aquarium Kit?

Buying an aquarium can pose some confusing questions. Even after you decide on what size aquarium you will get you need to choose a filter and light that will work well with that aquarium. If you plan on keeping tropical fish you will also need a heater and thermometer. These are the essential accessories that you need to maintain a successful aquarium before you even consider selecting substrate, fish and plants or decorations.

Aquarium kits remove some of the confusion and potential mistakes you can make when selecting the basic items for your aquarium. When you buy an aquarium kit you will get a light and filter that are sized correctly for your tank. Most kits include other accessories such as a heater and thermometer. Some also come with food or water conditioner samples. Purchasing an aquarium kit simplifies your decision making and delivers everything you need to get started in one box. An aquarium kit is usually less expensive than buying all of the required items individually.

One potential drawback to an aquarium kit is that many of the components will be made by the same company. Some experienced aquarists may favor lighting systems and filters that come from two different manufacturers. This is a compromise that must be accepted if you want the ease and cost savings of a complete kit.

Marineland Aquariums

Marineland is one of the manufacturers offering complete aquarium kits. They have kits ranging in size from 3 gallon desktop units through various standard rectangular sizes. The largest complete kit Marineland has includes a 55 gallon tank and accessories. They all come with filter and lighting systems included. The smaller tanks up to 5 gallons in size do not include a heater but tanks 10 gallons and larger come with this important piece of equipment. When making your initial purchase all you need in addition to the aquarium kit is gravel or substrate.

You are now ready to get started whether you are new to the hobby or just want to easily set up a new tank.


  • Simplified purchasing decisions.
  • Filter and light correctly sized for the aquarium.
  • Larger tanks include a heater, thermometer, net and food samples.
  • Cost savings by buying a complete package.


  • No choice to mix and match various manufacturers’ equipment.
  • Lights may not be powerful enough for plants or corals needing high intensity light.

Marineland Aquarium Features And Benefits

Lighting System

All Marineland aquarium kits include an LED lighting system. These lights run cool and are very cost efficient to operate. The lights feature a 3 way toggle switch that enables you to choose between a shimmering daylight appearance and a more subdued, relaxing moonlight glow. The lights fit unobtrusively in the aquarium hood making for a sleek overall appearance of your aquarium. They are designed for standard aquarium applications and will serve well for a tank containing plants that require low to moderate light.


Every Marineland aquarium kit includes a properly sized filtration system. The smaller tanks that are under 5 gallons feature a hidden filtration system that uses Mainland Bio-Foam for biological filtration and have an adjustable flow filter pump. Larger system come with a Mainland filter that hangs on the back of the tank. These filters also perform biological filtration through the use of Marineland’s Bio-Wheel technology.

Appearance And Utility

The fact that all components are designed to work together as one unit make these tanks very appealing from an aesthetic point of view. Integrated lighting and filtration lead to an aquarium that looks good and will operate efficiently to care for the tank’s inhabitants.

Positive Reviews

I have seen positive review around the internet regarding the Mainland line of aquarium kits. Comments focus on the completeness of the kit, the brightness of the LED lights and the quiet operation of the filtration system. The multiple sizes available and overall quality made these kits a hit for many aquarists.


1. Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank Starter Kits

Aqueon offers aquarium starter kits in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from small betta tanks to a full size 55 gallon tank. They come complete with LED lights, filters and in the larger sizes heaters, thermometers and other accessories.

2. Coralife Fish Tank LED BioCube Aquarium Starter Kits

The BioCube line of aquariums by Coralife offer more powerful LEDs that will be capable of maintaining a small reef environment. They also come with integrated filter systems specifically designed to perform in their tanks. These tanks are more expensive than some other starter kits but are a good choice if you require the increased light intensity they provide.

3. Tetra Aquarium Kits

Tetra is another well known name in the aquarium business that offers complete aquarium kits. With choices from a 1 gallon hex tank up to a full 55 gallon, they have options for all aquarists. Filters, lights, heaters and other accessories are included as with the kits available from other manufacturers.


The Mainland line of aquarium kits are a good choice if you are considering setting up a new tank. While these aquariums may not work if you are planning a reef tank or want houseplants requiring high light levels they are very good for an average planted or unplanted freshwater setup. Decide what type of fish and plants you will be keeping and then choose the correct size. Get some substrate when you buy the kit and then go home and have fun setting up.

What Is The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium?

In this article, we will look at some of the best options on the market today for the aquarist looking to purchase a 20 gallon aquarium. We will be focusing primarily on complete aquarium kits that include most of the accessories necessary to get your tank up and running. In our review we will point out features which may make one tank more suitable for your purposes than others. We hope to be able to help you identify the best 20 gallon aquarium kit for your needs.





Our rating


Marineland 20 Gallon LED BIO-Wheel Aquarium Kit

Included 200 Watt Submersible Heater, Fish Net, Thermometer, Food And Water Care Samples


Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank 20 Gallon Starter Kit

Included 20H glass aquarium, low profile LED full hood, Quiet Flow LED Pro Power Filter with medium cartridge, 100W preset heater, premium fish food, water conditioner, fish net, thermometer


Tetra 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit

included 20 Gallon Glass Aquarium, a LED hood, a Tetra Mini UL Heater, a Tetra Whisper 20 Filter, a artificial Boxwood Plant Mat, 4 artificial plant


Marina 20 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit

Includeed a Marina Slim S20 clip-on filter with quick-change filter cartridges


Carolina Biological Supply Company Deluxe Marine Aquarium Kit

Included 20 gallon all glass aquarium, an air pump and airline tubing, LED lights, 2 filters, under gravel filter,  A 100 watt heater,  a thermometer/hydrometer 15 pounds crushed coral.


CoralLife LED BioCube 16 Gallon Starter Kit

Right white, sparkling blue and color enhancing LEDs

Automatic 30 minute sunrise/sunset and 60 minute moonrise/moonset functions to replicate natural day cycle


Fluval Vista Aquarium Kit - 23 Gallons

Included LED lamp, An Aquaclear power filter, net, fish food, water conditioner and biological enhancer, heater and thermometer

Why Purchase A 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit?

There are many styles and sizes of aquariums that you can buy. In order to enable an easier route to getting started in the aquarium hobby, many manufacturers now offer complete kits. Hopefully you have given some thought concerning what you intend to keep in your aquarium before determining that a 20 gallon tank is the size that is appropriate. Major choices such as if you will have a planted or unplanted freshwater aquascape or a saltwater reef tank should be made before you actually buy the aquarium kit. The type and number of fish you would like to have also need to be considered.

A 20 gallon tank is sufficient to have a small reef environment or a freshwater community tank comprised of mostly small fish. You can create a stunning planted aquascape in a 20 gallon freshwater aquarium. This is a very nice size for new aquarists. Smaller tanks can be harder to maintain due to the possibilities of water chemistry issues that can more easily occur in a small tank.

Taking all these factors into account, let’s say that you have decided that a 20 gallon aquarium is what you would like to have. Now you need to find the best way to set up your tank correctly.

Aquarium kits are available from many manufacturers. These kits can greatly simplify the process of choosing the right equipment to complement the actual tank. Lighting systems that are included in these packages are designed for the specific tank in the kit. This can be easier than trying to find a light that will fit your tank and look good. Similar advantages can be obtained when considering the filtration system you will use. Aquarium kits come with a filter that is rated to adequately care for that specific size aquarium which again reduces the need to independently choose a filter. Many of the 20 gallon kits also include heaters, thermometers and other accessories like nets that are critical to tank maintenance.

Purchasing all of these components in a package often leads to substantial savings when compared to buying them individually. This can be a major factor in your decision to purchase a kit.

One potential drawback to buying an aquarium kit is that all of the components are coming from the same manufacturer. Experienced aquarists may have a favorite lighting system or filter that is not available in a kit. You may also have very specific lighting needs for the organisms in your tank that none of the packaged kits can address completely. In those cases you may want to do it yourself and just purchase a solitary tank, adding the other components that you favor to complete your system. If you are a new aquarist or just want to set up a quality tank in the simplest and most economical way, then an aquarium kit is the best way to go.

Some Of The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium Kits

We will now look at some specific 20 gallon aquarium kits. Some manufacturers make tanks that are not exactly 20 gallons but are close enough in size that we will include them in our review.

1. Marineland 20 Gallon LED BIO-Wheel Aquarium Kit

Marineland’s 20 gallon aquarium kit comes complete with everything you need to get started. Opening the box reveals a 20 gallon glass tank and hood. LED lighting integrated into the hood gives the tank a sleek, modern appearance. The lights stay firmly in place when the hood is opened for feeding or cleaning and you will never be replacing bulbs with this unit. A three position toggle switch lets you choose between bright daylight or cool blue moonlight. The hood itself is designed to allow for easy feeding and the addition of accessories such as a heater or tubing. Marineland manufactures stand alone filters featuring their BIO-wheel biological filtration system and includes one in this kit. The filter performs admirably keeping your water clear and removing toxins that are harmful to your fish.

This tank is suitable for fresh or saltwater fish though the lights will not support coral growth. It’s a fine choice for a freshwater planted tank. The kit also includes a 200 watt submersible heater, thermometer, fish net as well as food and water conditioning samples. There is also a setup guide included that walks you through installing all the components correctly. Here is a video demonstrating this aquarium.

2. Aqueon Aquarium Fish Tank 20 Gallon Starter Kit

Aqueon’s 20 gallon starter kit is another complete starter kit that is suitable for a freshwater planted or unplanted tank. It can also be used for a fish only saltwater aquarium. Filtration is handled by an Aqueon QuietFlow filter that provides 4 stage filtration to ensure crystal clear water. The filter features a high flow rate and quiet operation. The kit contains a submersible preset heater, thermometer and net. Food and water conditioning samples are also included. LED lighting is incorporated into a sleek hood design but is limited to white light, not offering the moonlight option of some other LED systems. This kit is a reasonably priced entry into the aquarium hobby that offers good value for your money.

3. Tetra 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra has long been a name associated with quality products for the aquarist. The 20 gallon aquarium kit they offer is another complete starter kit ideal for setting up a new tank. The kit includes all the accessories you need with a heater, thermometer and net. Samples of TertaMin fish food and Aquasafe water conditioner are included. The standard setup has an LED lighting system built into the hood that creates a shimmering daylight effect. There are no color options with the standard Tetra kit. It is energy efficient and you will never be replacing bulbs. The Whisper filtration system will keep your water clean and healthy by performing full three stage filtration employing filter floss, activated carbon and Biofoam. Tetra also offers a ColorFusion 20 gallon aquarium that allows cycling through different colors of LED lights or allows you to pick one and stop the cycling.

4. Marina 20 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit

Hagen has been a respected name in the aquarium hobby for many years. They produce this Marina 20 gallon kit. It features an LED lighting system built into the hood that produces light simulating natural daylight. A Marina Slim clip-on filter that incorporates a quick change filter cartridge is included. Rounding out the package is a fish net and samples of Hagen’s Nutrafin Max fish food and Nutrafin Plus water conditioner. A feature not found in other packages is the inclusion of Nutrafin Cycle which will get your tank off to a good start by introducing beneficial bacteria to your tank before you stock it. Unlike some of the other products we have looked at this kit does not come with a heater but does have a thermometer. This means there is at least one piece of equipment that you will need to add if keeping tropical fish. This is another kit adequate for starting a new aquarium.

5. Carolina Biological Supply Company Deluxe Marine Aquarium Kit

Here is a kit specifically designed for those aquarists specializing in saltwater aquariums. The company also has a freshwater kit but we will concentrate on the saltwater version as it contains everything that you need for setting up a saltwater tank with the exception of the marine organisms you will be keeping. In addition to a 20 gallon all glass aquarium an air pump and airline tubing is included. LED lights built into the hood will allow you to create a small reef environment in this tank. Two filters are included in this package. In addition to an in tank filter it also has an under gravel filter. A 100 watt heater and a thermometer/hydrometer round out the accessories. An extra bonus to get you started is the inclusion of 15 pounds crushed coral for substrate and enough sea salt mix to give you 20 gallons of saltwater for your tank. This company does not manufacture all of the components as we see in some of the other packages but rather has chosen what it sees as the best accessories to include in its kit. It is quite expensive in comparison to other 20 gallon starter kits but does provide more additional accessories than most competitors. A good choice for those saltwater aquarists who are not on a tight budget.

6. CoralLife LED BioCube 16 Gallon Starter Kit

Another option for the saltwater aquarist is the BioCube line from CoralLife. Though this tank is a little smaller than a 20 gallon tank it has some features that make it stand out from the crowd. It is designed to maintain a small marine reef environment. The integrated filter system that is built into the back of the tank will meet all your filtration needs giving full three stage performance and oxygenating your water before returning to the tank. You can customize the filter with your own choice of media if you wish. The tank is very appealing to the eye with a sleek, modern hood design that houses an excellent LED lighting system. White, blue and color enhancing LED bulbs give you a sparkling blue nighttime light and a bright daytime option. An integrated timer lets you program it to create a 30 minute sunrise/sunset and a 60 minute moonrise/moonset simulation. A quiet, submersible pump with an adjustable return nozzle rounds out the package. You will need to purchase a heater, thermometer and other accessories as this kit is all about the tank lights and filter. While this tank will work for a freshwater planted aquarium, it is designed primarily as a saltwater tank and is more expensive than other starter kits.

7. Fluval Vista Aquarium Kit - 23 Gallons

The Fluval Vista aquarium kit is a trifle larger than a 20 gallon tank but deserves mention due to its distinctive appearance and plentiful features. It features a seamless panoramic display that will show off your aquascape to great effect. The lighting system employs a soft start LED lamp that will slowly reach full brightness minimizing daily shock to your fish. An Aquaclear power filter and media are included the package ensuring clear, clean water. Other accessories included are a net, fish food, water conditioner and biological enhancer to promote healthy bacterial growth. The kit also comes with a heater and thermometer. This tank is recommended for use only as a freshwater aquarium. Fluval also makes stands specifically designed for this aquarium.

What Is The Best 20 Gallon Aquarium?

Now back to our original quest to identify the best 20 gallon aquarium. As you can see there are many options available to you. You can always use the D.I.Y. method and choose components from various manufacturers to get the look and performance you want. This is not really necessary with the quality of starter kits now available. You can find one that suits your budget and space and enjoy the convenience of purchasing an all-inclusive aquarium package.

If you are determined to keep your tank size to exactly 20 gallons then I would recommend the Marineland BIO-Wheel aquarium kit. Its high quality filter and lighting system make it an excellent choice. It comes with everything you need to get your tank up and running except the gravel, plants and fish. Those who can squeeze a little more space to house their aquarium might want to go with the Fluval Vista. The distinctive panoramic view and soft start lighting are features that stand out from the competition and will let you create a striking freshwater aquascape. Have fun choosing your aquarium and much luck with your future aquascape!

What Is The Best Light For Aquarium Plants?

The type of lighting you choose for your aquarium can make a huge difference in its appearance. If your tank contains live aquarium plants then the lighting chosen will also play a critical role in the viability of those plants. Picking the correct lighting can help your plants thrive while using the wrong lighting system will hinder your ability to obtain the beautifully planted tank you envisioned. We will look at some of the best lighting options concentrating on those that work best with a freshwater planted aquarium.

What Types Of Aquarium Lighting Are Available?

Aquarium lighting systems have improved tremendously from the time when simple incandescent bulbs were the industry standard. Many different lighting systems designed to perform different functions are now available for your tank. Let’s take a quick look at the major choices an aquarist has when deciding on their aquarium lighting.

An aquarium that contains imitation plants and decorations can get by with a basic and inexpensive incandescent light. This kind of light will adequately illuminate your fish and decorations. The incandescent bulbs produce a lot of heat which can make resulting water temperature problematic. They also are not energy efficient, have shorter effective bulb life than fluorescents and will cost more to run than most other systems. Incandescent lights are usually not the best choice for your tank.

The next step up in lighting options are fluorescent lights. Though initially costing more than an incandescent fixture, the longer bulb life and energy efficiency make these lighting systems less expensive in the long run. Fluorescents come in many different intensities and light spectrums to allow the aquarist to choose a light that will enhance the appearance and health of their tank and its inhabitants. Common options for the aquarist are T8 bulbs which provide normal intensity light and T5 bulbs that generate high intensity light. You can obtain bulbs that are specifically manufactured to produce light in the blue and red regions of the color spectrum which is ideal for promoting aquatic plant growth. Compact fluorescents that increase the light output by using multiple bulbs can be used to save space while at the same time generating substantially more light. A fluorescent lighting system is a good choice for many planted aquariums.

Metal halide lights are high intensity discharge systems. They have long been popular among saltwater enthusiasts whose tanks require very high intensity light. Reef tanks in particular can benefit from this type of light. Metal halides are also good for tanks over 24 inches deep. Obtaining the intensity of illumination of metal halides with other types of lighting can be challenging in a tank of this depth. These lights generate a lot of heat and need to be used with a chiller or fan to counteract the heat production, so they are not the most economical choice.

LEDs or light emitting diode lights are a fairly new addition to aquarium lighting. The method of light generation employed by LEDs is called electroluminescence. LED lights will cost more initially but use a very cost efficient manner of producing light that makes these lights less expensive to run than all other types of aquarium lights. This type of lighting also generates very little heat. LED lights can easily support aquatic plant life. They are rated with a PAR value to assist you in making your choice. PAR stands for Photosynthetically Active Radiation and indicates that the light generated is in the spectral range required by photosynthetic organisms. PAR values can change at different water depths so care must be taken to choose a light that will be adequate for your particular aquarium. LEDs are becoming more popular for aquarium enthusiasts and come with many features such as remote control and lighting effects that are not present in other lighting systems.

Variations In Aquatic Plant Light Requirements

Not all aquatic plants will flourish in the same lighting conditions. Using the incorrect light intensity will lead to disappointing results. Plants that do well with low to moderate light intensities include some very popular varieties such as the Amazon sword plant and the Java fern. A single fluorescent or LED fixture will be sufficient to successfully grow these plants. Other species like the Sagittaria family and Hygrophilia require more intense light and will benefit from multiple fluorescent lights, a good compact fluorescent fixture or an LED system. Even higher intensity is required to provide adequate light for some other plant species. The Bacopa and Cabomba species fall into the category of plants that need intense light to thrive. High intensity T5 fluorescent bulbs in a reflector housing or a sufficiently powered LED system are your best bet if you are planning on keeping these kinds of plants.

As you can see there are some decisions to be made regarding what plant species you intend to keep in your aquarium before choosing the lighting system. A tank containing lush aquatic plants is beautiful to look at and will enhance the lives of your fish by providing the most natural environment possible in an aquarium setting. You definitely should consider high quality fluorescent lights at a minimum and if your budget can handle it you may want to move up to an LED system. They are becoming more reasonably priced and will do great job of lighting your planted tank. LEDs also run cooler and cost less to operate after the initial purchase.

Some Of The Best Lights For Aquarium Plants

We will now look at several different lights that are excellent at promoting aquatic plant growth. Our review will encompass both fluorescent and LED lighting fixtures. 

1. All Glass Aquarium Fluorescent Strip Light

Manufactured by All Glass Aquarium under the imprint Aqueon, this is a good entry level light for those wanting to employ fluorescent lights in their aquarium. It is available as either a strip light to replace another fixture or a full hood that opens to allow for easy fish feeding. These lights are designed for freshwater use and can handle any T8 fluorescent tube. The fixture comes with a full spectrum light suitable for general aquarium needs but can be fitted with an Aqueon Floramax bulb more conducive to plant growth. The intensity generated by this fixture and bulb is suitable for plants requiring low to moderate light to flourish. It comes in many sizes from 16 to 48 inches and has models designed to work perfectly with a bow-front or hexagonal shaped tank.

2. GLO T5 HO, Single Light High Output Linear Fluorescent Lighting System

Hagen has long been a trusted name in aquarium products. They are the manufacturers of this GLO T5 High Output fluorescent lighting system. Upgrading from T8 bulbs to the stronger T5 bulbs make this fixture perfect for the planted freshwater aquarium. It has a built in reflector to increase light reflection and intensity. Available in sizes from 24 to 54 inches this light is easily installed on many size tanks using the unit’s integrated extension brackets. The slim design will let you place up to six of these on an aquarium that is 18 inches wide so you can get all the light you need for any type of plants you are keeping. This fixture is water resistant negating the need for a glass top to protect your lighting system and will work with any properly sized T5 replacement bulbs. Flora-Glo bulbs made by Hagen will produce light in the blue-red spectrum that is ideal for growing aquatic plants. This is a good choice for the aquarist requiring more light than a T8 system while still remaining more affordable than some LED systems.

3. Fluval Aquasky LED system

Fluval’s Aquasky LED lighting system is designed to provide lighting options suitable for aquarium plants requiring low to moderate light intensity. As with many LED systems if affords the aquarist many opportunities to create lighting effects to enhance the tank’s appearance while at the same time generating adequate light to grow your plants. The infrared remote control enables you to simulate different weather effects like a cloudy day or a lightning storm. The Aquasky comes in a variety of sizes and each unit is expandable by 12 inches to further allow use on tanks of varying size. Fluval has priced the Aquasky aggressively and it is one of the more reasonably priced LED units on the market. Its energy efficient operation and 50,000 hour bulb life will offset the initial price tag. Fluval’s dual lamp timer is compatible with this light enabling you to set it up, program it and forget about it. It will provide vibrant light and encourage plant growth for years to come.

4. Finnex FugeRay Planted+ Aquarium LED Light

The FugeRay Planted+ LED light by Finnex is an excellent choice for a planted aquarium. Designed for any size tank, one feature that sets this light apart is the concentration on the red portion of the light spectrum that is critical for promoting plant growth. Rather than using cheaper red LEDs the FugeRay incorporates 660nm red LEDs which produce a wavelength that has been shown to be one of the most efficient for promoting photosynthesis. Other features include a splash guard to prevent water mishaps and a moonlight feature that concentrates on the blue LEDs to create a pleasing nighttime appearance. A slim design and unique leg fixture lets you mount the FugeRay on any size aquarium. No extra cooling is required as the unit handles heat dissipation itself. Finnex promises a long bulb life of 40,000 hours. Though this unit does not have weather simulation options like some other systems, it produces excellent light for your aquarium plants and is a good choice if you are looking to go with an LED light.

5. Marineland Aquatic Plant LED Light With Timer

The Aquatic Plant LED by Marineland is another reasonably priced lighting system designed to keep your aquarium plants flourishing. Its secure mounting legs will fit any aquarium from 18 to 60 inches length. An integrated clock and timer allow for easy programming of daylight and lunar modes and ensure that your plants will always receive the amount of light they need without daily intervention. It has an appealing slim design that will complement your aquarium. A newly redesigned dispersion lens perfectly blends the light for optimum results and produces a natural shimmer effect. It does not offer the weather simulation possibilities of more expensive units but will certainly help you in keeping a lush, planted aquarium.

What Is The Best Light For Aquarium Plants?

You want the best lighting system you can get for your aquarium plants. Cost considerations may come into play when making your decision. While there are fluorescent lighting systems that will do an adequate job of promoting good plant growth, LED technology gives the aquarist more flexibility in creating interesting lighting effects while still caring for the plants. LED lights are now becoming price competitive with fluorescent lights and over the long run may prove to cost less to operate when factoring in bulb life and energy use.

For the aquarist who wants to combine a high quality LED light designed for your plants with the ability to create weather effects that are interesting to observe the Fluval Aquasky is a good choice. If your interest is purely in providing your aquarium with a great light that will enable you to create the lush plant growth you desire I would recommend the Mairineland Aquatic Plant LED with the integrated timer. While it does not offer remote control capabilities, the timer gives you plenty of control without needing any additional equipment. The Mainland unit is a quality, reasonably priced lighting system that will be a welcome addition to your aquarium setup. Your plants will love it!

What Is The Best Filter For A Planted Tank?

In this article we will look at some of the best filters for a freshwater planted aquarium. Filtration is key to maintain any aquarium’s health and appearance. Planted tanks often require specific lighting and water conditions for the resident plants to thrive. Proper filtration is key in creating and maintaining these water conditions. Many systems allow the addition of various media to assist in the manipulation of water characteristics such as hardness that are necessary for your plants’ survival.

Why Use Filtration For Your Planted Tank?

Most aquariums benefit from the use of a filtration system. Though there are some aquarists who go completely low tech and attempt to maintain a planted aquarium without filtration, this is not the norm. The majority of us use filters to keep the water circulating in our tanks and to keep them clean and healthy for the plants and animals we choose to keep.




Gallon Per Hour

Our Rating


Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

115 gph - 350 gph


Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

190 gph - 345 gph 


AquaClear Power Filter - 110 V

100 gph - 500 gph


EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

42gph - 92 gph


Fluval C Power Filter

119 gph - 264 gph

Aquatic plants derive many of their nutrients through their contact with the water and even a gently flowing circulation will improve the plants’ ability to extract these vital substances. A filtration system adequate for your size tank will provide this water circulation. While water circulation can also be obtained without filtration by use of a powerhead to simply move the water around, your fish will benefit from good mechanical and biological filtration. The plants themselves perform biological filtration and at some point in a heavily planted tank may eliminate the need for additional filtration of this kind. Mechanical filtration which removes particles from the water to keep it clear can not be neglected. In a closed system such as an aquarium mechanical filtration is vital to the system’s long term viability.

Since the aquatic plants in your tank rely on water movement, an aquarium filled with stagnant, stationary water will not do your plants or fish any good. That being said, you also do not want an extremely vigorous water circulation. Filters come rated for a specific size aquarium usually based on a gallon per hour (GPH) number. This indicates the number of gallons of water your filter will move in an hour. In general for a planted aquarium you should start with a filter that can move 7 to10 times the amount of water in your tank. I currently have a 10 gallon planted aquarium with a filter rated at 75 gallons per hour and it moves the water quite nicely. You do not want to overdo the flow rate as you want your plants to at most be gently swaying in the water, not pinned down beneath a strong flow. This will allow optimal nutrient absorption by your plants and will also allow your fish to find peaceful areas of the tank where they do not have to fight the current to remain stationary and rest.

The amount of water moved is not the only factor to look at when considering circulation. The direction of the flow is important in distributing the nutrients and CO2 that your plants need. The best way to achieve this is with a flow coming from the back of the aquarium. The water should flow from the rear to the front of the tank without breaking the surface of the water. It will then flow down the front of the tank to the substrate and then return to the filtration system by moving across the bottom of the tank. This creates a front to back circular motion of your tank’s water. The flowing water will in this way contact all your plants and keep them nutritionally satisfied.

Chemical filtration needs to be addressed with some caution in a planted tank. Carbon, which is a standard in many filtrations systems, can adversely affect your plants. Filters that allow the addition of buffers that adjust water hardness to levels compatible with your plants can be beneficial when used correctly.

Types Of Filters

Filters are available in a variety of configurations for your aquarium. All of these filters require maintenance to keep them in good working condition. Some filters have reusable filter pads and sponges that can be cleaned and used many times. Other filters use cartridges that are disposable and require replacement every time you clean your filter. There are pros and cons to each type of filter and it is often a matter of personal choice as to the filter you will purchase. As we will see, some types of filters will definitely work better in a planted tank than others.

The two main types of filters suitable for your planted tank are canister filters and hang on the back (HOB) filters. They both have some advantages and disadvantages as we will discuss below.

Canister filters are very efficient in maintaining your aquarium and offer flexibility when considering filter media or buffers to change or maintain your water chemistry. On the positive side canister filters require maintenance less often and usually allow control of the water return through a spray bar attachment. Keeping this spray bar underwater is the best way to use it and it can create excellent water circulation throughout your aquarium to the benefit of all plants and fish. A canister filter will usually be located below your tank with only room for hoses needed behind the tank which allows you to place your aquarium closer to a wall. In most cases they have reusable filter media reducing the need to purchase replacements. Though requiring maintenance less often, canister filters are more complicated to clean and restart than an HOB filter. These filters are available for larger size aquariums so that can be a determining factor when choosing your filter. Canisters are not recommended for small aquariums. Canister filters are also more expensive than HOB filters.

 HOB filters are a great choice for aquariums of up to 55 gallons if you plan on using just one filter. They can be used in larger aquariums if multiple units are employed. HOBs are generally less expensive than canister filters and can be obtained in sizes that work for very small tanks. Maintenance is simpler with an HOB filter but the media often is comprised of disposable filter cartridges which will add to the expense of maintaining your filter. They are easy to set up but do need some space to fit behind your tank. HOB filters are less flexible in directing the return water flow from the filter though some of the newer models do have a flow control to allow some variation in flow rate. Some HOB filters can be a little noisy.

Undergravel filters are not really appropriate for a planted aquarium. The plants roots can get tangled in the grates and hinder the filter flow. Cleaning an undergravel filter also entails taking your tank apart. This is not something that an aquarist who has worked hard to achieve a nicely planted aquarium will want to deal with.

Some Of The Best Filters For A Planted Tank

Here are some of the best filters you can purchase for your freshwater planted tank.

1. Fluval C4 Power Filter

The Fluval C4 Power Filter is an HOB filter that will work well on planted tanks up to 50 gallons in size. It provides extensive mechanical, biological and chemical filtration through a 5 step process that leads to clear and healthy aquarium water. A feature of this filter that is especially important for a planted aquarium is that it uses a patented refiltration system that allows you to control the water output. You can slow it down to protect delicate plants and fish and allow the plants optimal nutrient absorption. Maintenance can be performed in stages due to its modular design, allowing you to replace or clean only one type of media at a time. This filter combines some of the best features of a canister filter with the ease of use of an HOB. It is designed to allow customization of the filter media if so desired, to say replace carbon with another biological filtration pad, or hardness buffers to protect your plants. It includes a telescoping intake tube to allow water to be drawn from whatever depth you desire. A nice choice in an HOB filter.

2. Eheim Classic Canister Filter

Eheim has been making canister filters for a long time. The Eheim Classic is available in various sizes to suit many aquariums, and allows for a canister to be used in a fairly small setting. It provides the benefits of a canister filter mentioned above and comes with a spray bar, eliminating the need for extra accessories. It is very quiet and energy efficient. The Classic can be used with filter pads or filled with loose filter media of your choosing. Some users found it to be difficult to prime but in all other aspects it is a great choice for a canister filter and will do the job of maintaining your planted aquarium.

3. AquaClear Power Filter

The AquaClear Power Filter is available in different sizes that are excellent for planted aquariums up to 55 gallons. Its multi-stage filtration system provides complete mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. It runs quietly which is a big factor when looking at HOB filters. AquaClear uses a unique waterfall system that gently and silently returns the filtered water to your aquarium. As with the Fluval C4, this filter gives you some flow control often only found in a canister filter and enables you to slow down the water flow rate to protect your plants. It is easy to set up and its media baskets make for easy maintenance. This filter features a large filtration volume that produces extended contact time between filter media and water. You can use additional media to perform custom chemical filtration by adding your own bulk materials to the media baskets. The AquaClear Power filter will serve you well in your quest to keep your planted tank looking great.

4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is another fine choice for your planted tank. It comes complete with a spray bar to control water flow and is available for use in aquariums up to 150 gallons. It is easy to use and set up featuring an easy priming mechanism. The filter is manufactured to run silently with little vibration and allows for various combinations of filter media. It is a little more expensive than some other canister filters but its exceptional quality offsets that expense. The square design makes it a space saver as well. An excellent choice in a canister filter for your tank.

5. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

The Cascade filter by Penn Plax is a very economical choice in a canister filter. Its available models offer very effective filtration for both small and large tanks. The filter has a simple push button priming mechanism to eliminate problems when restarting the unit. This filter is easy to install and will take about 30 minutes to get up and running. Large media baskets extend the time between required maintenance and let you use the filter media of your choice. Sturdily constructed and quiet to operate, the Cascade filter is ideal for those wanting to check out a canister filter but reluctant to spend a lot of money.

What Is The Best Filter For Your Planted Tank?

All of these filters will do a good job of maintaining the health and appearance of your planted aquarium. As for all filters, be sure to purchase the proper size. Even the best filter will not work on a tank larger than it is designed to handle. There are both power HOB filters and canister filters available for most size tanks and you can always use more than one for a very large aquarium. Though you cannot go wrong with any of these filters, I would recommend the Fluval C4 Power Filter as the best filter for your planted aquarium. Its winning combination of canister filter properties and HOB ease of use brings this filter to the top of my list. Whichever filter you choose I wish you great success in your endeavor to create a planted aquarium that you will be proud to display.