Aquariu wiht plants

Technical equipment of the aquarium

An aquarium is not just glass panes, water, fish and plants. To maintain life in the tank you need appropriate technical equipment and accessories. When choosing technical equipment for the aquarium, take into account the species of your fish, plants, the size of the tank and your personal preferences.


There is no better material for the aquarium than glass. There’s no doubt about it. However, recently acrylic aquariums have been very popular as well. They are lighter than glass, but – depending on the quality of the material used – sooner or later they become dull due to minor scratches. There is also a grade of tinted glass (so-called optic white glass – although each producer has its own name for this type of glass) with increased transparency. Looking at the edge of such glass, you see light green color instead of dark. It is always a good idea to buy aquariums of renowned manufacturers. They have many years of experience and comply with generally accepted safety standards. Read more about how to choose an aquarium.

The aquarium cabinet

Technical equipment of the aquarium also includes a cabinet. The aquarium cabinet must be solid, stable and properly levelled. If you plan to start more aquariums right away or in the near future (yes, here I would like to point out that aquaristics usually turns from passion into addiction, so it is worth to think ahead), the best solution will be to choose sufficiently durable cabinet.

It is also important not to place the glass container directly on the top of the cabinet. Minimal surface imperfections, sand particles or other contaminants that can get under the glass bottom of the aquarium can cause uneven stress and result in glass breakage. To prevent this, use aquarium mats. Read how to choose a place for your aquarium and what to place a tank on.

The aquarium lid

A lid is as important as the the aquarium itself. It not only prevents losses caused by water evaporation, but also reduces heat loss and thus electricity. By protecting the fish from jumping out of the aquarium, it also reduces the loss of stocking. You can do the lid by yourself. The simplest solution is to place a cover glass, which can be made of thinner glass than an aquarium. It can be put on the tank reinforcement strips along the top edge. In case they are not available in smaller aquariums, you can use special covers for the tank’s edges to support the cover glass.

If you have manual skills, you can make a lid by yourself from PVC foamed sheets or aluminum profiles. A perfect solution for those who value aesthetics is an aquarium set offered by many manufacturers, where a cabinet and a lid are a perfect match.


The technical equipment of the aquarium consists of many elements, but the filter is undoubtedly of key importance. No aquarium can function properly without proper filtration. Filters are divided into two categories: internal and external. The internal filters include air powered sponge filters, cassette filters and single and multi-module filters driven by a turbine pump. The internal filter is also a skimmer used to remove floating impurities from the water surface.

External filters include cascade and canister filters, and sumps. The latter ones are in the form of a smaller aquarium, located under the main tank and filled with filter media. The water from the aquarium gets into the sump by gravity through a specially constructed pipe with “teeth” that prevents fish or floating plants from getting into it. Sumps are used primarily for keeping so-called monster fish, marine fish and other fish that need excellent water quality. This equipment has the greatest capacity for water purification. In-line filters are more and more popular as well. You can install them in any number and configuration on the external water circuit. The undergravel filters are usually incorporated into the canister filter circuit.


If you do not plan to keep cold-loving species such as White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys albonubes) or the Rainbow Shiner (Notropis chrosomus), you will also need a heater for your tank. Since most of the fish kept for hobby purposes in aquariums are tropical species, you need to ensure temperatures from 23-28°C, depending on the preferences of specific species. Today almost all heaters have a built-in thermostat, and if not, it is worth using the external thermostat. It would be good if it was an electronically controlled thermostat. Bimetallic thermostats, especially those built into cheap models of heaters, can be unreliable.


If you are aiming to keep your fish without living plants and do not care about the decorative function of the tank, you may give up any lightning. However, living plants, although not essential for fish, help to keep the balance in the tank. They support water purification and create an environment as close to natural as possible. They provide hiding places for the fish, increase the feeling of safety, so that fish can display their full coloration and natural habits. Beautifully decorated tank with plants in good condition and properly selected lighting will undoubtedly be a decoration of every apartment, living room or office. Although all lighting trends are moving towards LED technology, in aquaristics as well, lighting systems based on T8 and T5 fluorescent tubes are still commercially available.

In deeper tanks, larger plant aquariums and marine aquariums metal halide HQI lamps based on HQI are mostly used. You can read about the parameters of light in the article about lighting.

Time controller

A timer is required to limit the daily switching on and off the aquarium light. This gives the fish a constant length of day and night. It has a positive effect on their well-being and thus on their overall immunity. Leaving the light on for the night is expensive and it also causes unnecessary stress for the fish, because they don’t get any time for rest and their biological clock is disturbed. These factors have a direct impact on the condition of fish.

Hose and bucket

Technical equipment of the aquarium also includes a hose and a bucket. If we do not run an aquarium with plants only and the fish play an important role in it, even the most perfect filtration system cannot replace regular water changes. Absolutely necessary accessories for this operation are a drain hose and a clean bucket. It is important that the hose and bucket are made of non-toxic materials and are not used for purposes other than aquariums. They should not be in contact with any chemical agents. Some aquarists, who own more than one tank, use separate buckets and hoses for each to prevent spreading diseases.

Fishing net – scoop net or dip net

Fishing nets will also make life easier for the aquarist. Whoever tried to catch an agile fish with a glass or a plastic cup once knows that’s it’s not easy. We don’t catch fish on every random occasion. However, there may be a need to isolate an individual due to mechanical injury or illness. The need for isolation often occurs when keeping more fish from the cichlid family and others with strong territoriality, especially during the spawning season.

Glass cleaner

Cleaning the glass from algae is a basic activity that an aquarium hobbyist has to do. The weaker the light, the less frequent need to do it. For this purpose, a number of cleaning products can be used. The basic type is a magnet cleaner (recently even electronically controlled ones are available). There are also cleaners on a stick with a handle, where the algae scraping element is either a blade of an interchangeable razor or a sponge with various abrasive elements. A well-known and popular home way is to use an old, unnecessary credit or telephone card.


The use of desludger depends primarily on the type of substrate used. Sand deposits can be easily removed by the hose itself during water changes. However, with thicker gravel, a desludger may come handy. Desludging should be done in batches so as not to disturb the biological balance by allowing the excessive amount of organic and mineral substances move from the ground into the water column. Special substrates for aquatic plants are not to be desludged. The excessive amount of sediment accumulated at the bottom is often the result of overfeeding fish or poor filtration.

RO Filter

The RO filter is used to produce clean, soft water. By using a special semi-permeable membrane, you can obtain water free of any other particles than H2O. It is used for the preparation of soft and acid water needed for breeding many species of fish such as South American dwarf cichlids, Characidae fish, discus or Asian labyrinth fish.

CO2 fertilization

In plant aquaristics, in addition to appropriate lighting and fertilization with N, P, K and other elements, it is important to provide carbon as a building material. One way to provide it to plants is to install CO2. The basic set consists of a CO2 compressed gas cylinder, a reducer, a high-pressure hose with a valve and a diffuser, which is supposed to dissolve the gas in water. Care should be taken when using such an installation in a fish tank, as an excessive concentration of this gas in the water can cause suffocation and death of fish.

There is a lot of other technical equipment for the aquarium on the market, but it is not always necessary for every tank.

Dawid Krótki

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