Planning your first aquarium can be difficult, especially making sure you’ve got exactly what you need. There’s a lot of different information out there for the different types of aquariums; freshwater, marine, large or nano tanks etc. This list is the all encompassing freshwater check list. Copy the check list below to ensure that you’ve got it all covered, you probably won't need everything from the list but it's always worth double checking for your own situation.
I cannot stress the importance of really planning out your aquarium before hand to really work out what you will need. This will save you a lot of time, money and stress!
Tank - pretty obvious one here
Stand - if using your own stand make sure that it can hold the weight (aquariums are heavier than most realize)
Leveling Mat - typically a foam mat underneath the aquarium
Hood - usually comes with the tank, if not a condensation tray or glass cover is helpful
Filter - research which type works for you: hang on back, external, internal, sponge
Light - lots of options here, most aquarium hoods will have one built in so make sure to double check
Heater - check what power you need for your tank size
CO2 - if you're interested in growing plants then CO2 is a must
Substrate - if you want plants make sure to buy a substrate that helps them
Test Kit - for starting out strip tests will be good enough
Thermometer - just to keep an eye on things
Algae Scrubber - magnetic cleaners save you a tonne of hassle
Net - useful for picking out debris and transferring fish
Food - flake or pellets
Siphon - you will need this for your water changes (you can always use a hose / tube of any kind)
Hardscape - rocks or wood
Decorations - anything; as long as it is aquarium safe
Water Conditioner - to treat your tap water
Starter Bacteria - this will help cycle your aquarium so it's ready for fish
Background - make your life easy and do this early on
Plants - make sure these are the last things you buy so they can go straight into the tank
Air Pumps - helps keep your tank oxygenated, you will also need one of these for a sponge filter.
I recommend writing down the list into a spreadsheet and ticking off each as you go. There's nothing worse than getting prepared to setup the tank and then to find out you're missing something. No-one wants to wait another week to setup their aquarium!
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