11 Best Aquarium Kits: Your Buyer’s Guide

best aquarium kits

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There’s something very calming about having fish as pets. The mellow glow of the hood lamp, the fountain-like sounds of the filter, and the charming antics of a tank full of tiny pets all contribute to a very zen experience. If you’re looking to start an aquarium, there are a number of starter fish tank kits on the market these days. Learn more about the best aquarium kits to get you started on keeping fish as a hobby.

Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Good value
  • Provides everything you need out of the box
  • Large enough for most
Price: $230.23 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Image of aqueon fish tank Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with almost everything you need
  • Bright LEDs
Price: $55.19 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Coralife 32 Gallon LED Biocube Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Integrated timer with three light channels
  • Customizeable built-in filtration
  • Quiet pump
Price: $394.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
biOrb Cube 60 Aquarium Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Good volume for multiple fish
  • Includes light hood and filter
  • LEDs mimic daylight
Price: $283.42 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
SeaClear 46 Gallon Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Large capacity
  • Bowfront and ultra clear acrylic
  • Works great for salt or freshwater
Price: $437.62 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Marina 10 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Includes adjustable flow filter
  • Slightly better quality than rivals
  • Comes with supplement to populate helpful bacteria
Price: $79.01 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Hagen 15 Gallon HG Fluval Flex Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Huge array of light colors and effects
  • Integrated three-stage filtration
  • Modern tank design
Price: $145.24 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Midwest Tropical Fountain Aqua 15 Gallon Hexagon Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Classic decorative hexagon shape
  • Made in the U.S. of heavy duty acrylic
  • Includes almost everything you need
Price: $482.57 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Aqueon 15 Gallon Square Aquarium Starter Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Vertical tank provides good viewing in a small footprint
  • Low-profile flat hood
  • Includes almost everything you need
Price: $152.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Very unique, modern look
  • Includes 3D rock background
  • Lighting controller allows for good customization
Price: $101.14 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Koller Products 6.5 Gallon Aquarium Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • LED lighting with seven color options
  • One-piece construction prevents any leaks
  • Light is on a timer
Price: $48.66 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Tetra 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Good value
    • Provides everything you need out of the box
    • Large enough for most
    Cons:
    • No innovations in tank or light design
    • You may need to upgrade components later
    • Hood somewhat flimsy

    Probably the original king of the aquarium kit, Tetra products have come in bundles for as long as I can remember. This is the standard 20 gallon size can comes in two variations — Color Fusion and Standard.

    This kit includes a made in the U.S. glass tank, LED light hood, Tetra Mini UL heater, Tetra Whisper 20 filter, an artificial Boxwood plant mat, and four artificial plants. To complete this set you need gravel, water conditioner, a water testing kit, and, of course, fish. The beauty of these large tanks is that you can really design a killer habitat.

    This uses Tetra ATS26170 Assembled BioBag Filter Cartridges.

    A nice alternative to this old standby is the GloFish 20 Gallon Aquarium Kit, which includes some interesting decor.

  2. 2. Aqueon Aquarium 10 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit

    Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Comes with almost everything you need
    • Bright LEDs
    Cons:
    • Some quality control issues
    • Hood is not hinged
    • Included heater can't be adjusted

    Very similar to the old standby of the Tetra fish tank kit above, this option from Aqueon expands the included gear for even a little bit less money. It is, however, only a ten gallon tank, and the price certainly reflects that.

    This aquarium kit includes not only the tank itself, but a full hood with LEDs built-in, a QuietFlow LED Pro Power 10 filter with medium cartridge, a 50 watt preset heater, premium fish food, water conditioner, fish net, and a thermometer. The heater will keep the water warmed to a steady 78 degrees, while the filter has an LED indicator to let you know when the filter needs to be replaced.

    Speaking of, those filters can be found here. You just need to add plants, gravel and a water testing kit.

    You might also consider the Aqueon NeoGlow 10 gallon kit, which includes some neat blue LEDs and glowing orange silicone.

  3. 3. Coralife 32 Gallon LED Biocube Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Integrated timer with three light channels
    • Customizeable built-in filtration
    • Quiet pump
    Cons:
    • Only includes tank, lights with controls, and filter
    • Somewhat pricey
    • May require a few modifications for your particular setup

    This generously-sized tank is centered around lighting cycles. On the top of the hood is a control panel that allows you to set a 24-hour timer with 30 minute sunrise and 60 minute moonrise cycles to mimic natural light conditions.

    Three independent lighting channels – one for daylight, one for moonlight and one for color enhancement – maximize your viewing experience. The integrated filter makes for a seamless look (cartridge replacements here), though it should be noted that this primarily aimed at saltwater setups, so freshwater applications will require you to adjust the return flow down and consider larger fish.

    Still, it’s a beautiful option with a number of system accessories to customize use. Since this price only includes the tank, lights, and filter system, you may want to opt for the bundles, including a combo with a stand, saltwater fish bundle, or basic reef bundle. You’ll have to supply your own decor for any of these, though.

  4. 4. Aqua Culture 29 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit

    Pros:
    • Good volume for multiple fish
    • Includes light hood and filter
    • LEDs mimic daylight
    Cons:
    • Only includes tank, light, and filter
    • Filter may need to be replaced with something stronger
    • Will require a proper fish tank stand

    If you’re looking for something a bit larger, this offering pairs good volume with a reasonable price. This is a traditional rectangular glass aquarium paired with a low profile hood, which includes daylight LEDs.

    This kit is on the lean side, but still comes with the basics. In addition to the tank and lighted hood, you get a basic Tetra Whisper filter, a net, and a few samples of food and water conditioner. To this, you’ll want to add a heater, plants, substrate, and a testing kit. Filter cartridge replacements are easy to find, though in the future you might want to upgrade to a more powerful filter if you want to have a number of fish in this spacious tank.

    Speaking of spacious, you can also get this kit in a 55 gallon size if you really want room to expand your school.

  5. 5. SeaClear 46 Gallon Bowfront Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

    Pros:
    • Large capacity - 46 gallons should be enough for just about anyone
    • Bowfront and ultra clear acrylic make for good viewing
    • Works great for salt or freshwater
    Cons:
    • Very expensive
    • Doesn't include much in the kit
    • Light bulb not included

    If you want even more space and a bit more visual interest, consider this acrylic option which is super transparent for great viewing and lighter than alternative glass options. You’re investing in the tank here, which will likely serve you for a good while.

    As kits go, this is barebones and comes only with the tank and a light fixture to hold a 24-inch T8 bulb. To round it out, you’ll need to add substrate, a large filter, water conditioner, a heater, and any decorative elements you might want.

    It’s worth it if you want to go big and wish to save weight on what will be a heavy tank.

  6. 6. Marina 10 Gallon LED Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Includes adjustable flow filter
    • Slightly better quality than rivals
    • Comes with supplement to populate helpful bacteria
    Cons:
    • No low-light mode for the LEDs
    • Ten gallons may not be big enough
    • LEDs on some units arrive burnt out

    Perfect for the beginner, this ten gallon kit includes (almost) everything you need to get started. It comes with a tank, a lid and light combo, net, filter, food, Fluval Cycle Biological Supplement, and water conditioner.

    It lacks a substrate material, such as this classic dark blue gravel, plants, test kit, and nifty decorations like this Malaysian driftwood. You’ll also need a heater if you plan to have tropical fish. Still, it’s a pretty complete kit and will get you started on your fish adventure quickly.

    The included filter uses Marina Slim Filter Carbon Plus Ceramic Cartridges.

  7. 7. Hagen 15 Gallon HG Fluval Flex Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Huge array of light colors and effects
    • Integrated three-stage filtration
    • Modern tank design
    Cons:
    • Only includes tank, hood, filter, and lights
    • Expensive
    • Some quality control issues

    This modern-looking option brings a fresh approach to bowfront tanks, with the curve oriented horizontally. The unique honeycomb pattern and integrated filter at the back give this a very interesting look.

    To add to the visual appeal, the lighting array includes 48 white and six adjustable-color LEDs, which can be blended in any way you choose. Special effects can also be layered in using the included remote control.

    The 132 gallon per hour filter is fully integrated into the back of the unit, hiding it away and giving the design a neat appearance. Replacement filters are available, of course.

    As with other options on this list, this includes only the tank, lights, and filter, so you’ll have to pick up everything else separately. Choose between this white version or the black version.

    If you like the general idea of this but would prefer a more standard tank shape, opt for the 13.5 gallon Fluval Sea Evo XII.

  8. 8. Midwest Tropical Aqua 15 Gallon Hexagon Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Classic decorative hexagon shape
    • Made in the U.S. of heavy duty acrylic
    • Includes almost everything you need
    Cons:
    • Very expensive
    • On the small side
    • Wide corners blur visibility

    The hexagon tank is a classic shape for adding the decorative touch of a fish tank to any spot in the home. This 15 gallon kit is made in the U.S. out of high quality components, which goes some way to explain the price. Most of the other offerings on this list originate from China, with the mixed quality that tends to accompany them.

    The cost is also explained by the fact that this comes with almost everything you need, including a pump, a lighted hood, an extension cord, decorative plants, and under-gravel filter. You’ll still need gravel and a heater, but it’s a fairly complete setup.

    For other hexagonal options, you could consider the eight gallon version of this, or the SeaClear 20 Gallon Deluxe Hexagon. Or you could go all-out and get one of two models of their octagon coffee table tanks.

  9. 9. Aqueon 15 Gallon Square Aquarium Starter Kit

    Pros:
    • Vertical tank provides good viewing in a small footprint
    • Low-profile flat hood
    • Includes almost everything you need
    Cons:
    • Pricey for a smaller tank
    • Filter may require an upgrade
    • Large plastic panels not exactly eye-catching

    As an alternative to the verticality of the hexagon tanks, you might consider this square option that achieves a similar effect. It also uses a standard hanging filter rather than an under-gravel model, so filter changes are quick and easy and upgrades are possible later on.

    This uses traditional fluorescent lighting integrated into the hood, which is totally flat. This also comes equiped with virtually everything you need, including: a preset heater, QuietFlow LED PRO power filter (using standard QuietFlow filter cartridges), fish food sample, water conditioner, fish net and a thermometer.

    If you want to go even smaller, you might consider the MarineLand 5 Gallon Portrait Glass LED Aquarium Kit, which may only be good enough for a betta fish tank.

  10. 10. Hygger Horizon 8 Gallon LED Glass Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • Very unique, modern look
    • Includes 3D rock background
    • Lighting controller allows for good customization
    Cons:
    • Open tank style won't work in all settings
    • Filter needs to be disassembled and refilled - no convenient cartridges
    • Rock formation displaces a lot of water

    If you want something really eye-catching, consider this micro tank option. It’s novel not only in the design of the tank itself, but also that it includes a 3D rock wall for the back, as well as a filter with spray bars rather than a single water return.

    The lighting is also highly customizable using the included external controller. You can set timers for three, six, and 12 hours, adjust the brightness to five different levels, and choose between combinations of white, blue, and red LEDs.

    It’s an open-tank design that might not work for everyone, nor will the fact that the included filter requires repacking with floss filter and carbon media, rather than simple cartridges. You’ll need to supply the usual other items, but having a dramatic look right out of the box is a nice option.

  11. 11. Koller Products 6.5 Gallon Aquarium Kit

    Pros:
    • LED lighting with seven color options
    • One-piece construction prevents any leaks
    • Light is on a timer
    Cons:
    • Some quality control issues in the past
    • Entry level filter may not provide robust performance
    • Only includes the tank, filter, and lighted hood

    Mostly-rectangular tanks are great, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more visual interest, you’ll want to look at other designs. This is still a fairly simple option, which is large enough for a few small fish, but small enough to fit in multiple places in the home.

    The real trick to this one is that the LEDs in the hood can change between seven different colors: white, blue, green, amber, aqua, purple, or red. You could choose a color and pick your fish to suit it or change the colors to highlight different fish throughout the day.

    This kit includes only the tank, filter (which uses Tetra Whisper S filter cartridges) and the hood with lights. Add in a heater, plants, substrate, water conditioner, and a test kit to complete your set.

    If you only need a five gallon tank, you could go with the Panaview Kit, instead.

How Big Does an Aquarium Need to Be?

Generally speaking, the bigger your fish tank, the better. Aquarium kits range from just under two gallons on up to any custom, massive tank you could imagine.

Our list caps out at 46 gallons, but as with anything, you want to buy as much tank as you can possibly afford. It varies considerably based on the fish, but a general guide is one inch of adult fish (excluding the tail) for 24 inches of surface area.

This is imperfect, so you'll really want to focus on the species of fish you want to keep first and then select from the tanks above. For example, neon tetra, which are among the smallest and most commonly-kept fish, should get five gallons for a single adult and 15 gallons for a school. Guppies, which are also quite small, need five gallons for a single adult and 20 for a school. MyAquariumClub offers more guidelines to consider.

Your choice will also depend on where you want to set the tank. The water is far heavier than you'd think, so be sure to choose a spot that not only accommodates the dimensions of your fish tank, but can also support that much weight.

Choose your fish species, select the spot of your home where a tank can sit and then decide on a tank.

Anything smaller than ten gallons is considered a nano tank and should host only nano fish, though with proper maintenance, the best betta tanks can be smaller. Most of the tanks on this list are considered micro tanks, as habitats for larger or more fish should be larger.

These are generally less widely available, in part due to the difficulty of shipping them. The tanks on this list are good for beginners - if you take the time to appropriately select your fish species.

Are Fish Tank Heaters Safe?

Yes - assuming you take the proper precautions. The most important of these is to choose a high-quality heater, like the Aqueon Adjustable Aquarium Heater or the slightly more expensive Aqueon Pro. This will allow you to make changes once you see how warm your tank gets after setup.

Be sure to turn the heater off during water changes, as the lower water volume can cause the temperature to spike. Fixed temperature heaters can also work just fine, but you'll need to keep an eye on them and ensure the one you have is appropriate for your setup.

Why Is My Fish Tank Water Cloudy?

There are a number of reasons your water might be cloudy, and The Spruce Pets has a handy explainer of the types of cloudiness and what to do about them.

For new tank setups, which is the most likely with these kits, the cloudiness that occurs when you first set it up will almost certainly clear up on its own. Simply allow time for the new filter to work and beneficial bacteria to get established.

You can give the bacteria a jump start with additives like API Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria or Fluval Biological Enhancer for Aquarium. Otherwise, be sure to not overfeed your new pets and manually clean any noticible debris to help things along.

See Also:

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