This page is filled with information on the products I use and why I use them. I’ve left Amazon links throughout—if you click through and buy something I’ll get a few bucks (dollars that will help to keep this page up and running). I've only listed items that I actually use in my home or in some instances have been recommended to me by experienced aquarists. Whenever possible, I've tried to outline why I've listed specific products—I am not saying these are the products you should buy, just products I’ve had positive experiences with.
Let’s start with Filtration. I own and use every single one of these filters. There are other fantastic filtration options out there, but these are the ones I am currently running.
FIrst, we have the Fluval 406, it’s a great canister filter at a reasonable price. A priming pump and built-in valves makes it easy to clean and restart. It’s flow is decent, although it’s marketing drastically oversells it’s capacity, but that’s par for the course (Don’t try putting this on a 100 gallon and expect it to do a good job, it does a passible job on my 56 gallon but it’s probably best for a 30-40 gallon). The other canisters in the Fluval 06’ line are also great, so explore them if your tanks are larger or smaller. The smallest being the Fluval 206, then the Fluval 306, my Fluval 406, and finally the Fluval FX4.
Second, my old standard, the Eheim Classic 2217. My Eheim Canister has been running for 15 years and still does a great job. I have it pumping away on a 20 gallon at the moment. The downside is that I find this canister a bit tougher to clean but it’s reliability is top-notch.
Getting away from canisters and into nano options, I’m completely in love with the Dennerle Corner Filter. This filter puts out a decent flow and doesn’t clog easily. It’s absolutely perfect for a betta or shrimp tank. I used this filter in my most popular video and since I didn’t mention it in the video, no one spotted it in the background. It’s small and I love it and it even comes in my favorite kit, the Dennerle Scaper’s Tank.
Next is my favorite sponge filter. These cheap plastic filters do the job, especially if you’re running multiple nano tanks. When I was breeding shrimp last year, I had one in each nano tank and they worked like a charm. With no moving parts and easy to clean sponges, this is one of my favorite forms of filtration! The only catch is that you’ll also need to buy an air pump to power them.
The last two filters on this list are actually skimmers. They don’t do much filtering at all, but they will keep your surface crystal clear. I’ve used both. The AZOO skimmer is tiny and great for true nano tanks (perfect for bettas). The Eheim Skim 350 is a bit larger and can handle more substantial tanks. Add one of these into your rimless set up and you’ll be amazed at how beautiful your tanks will look. Plus, surface skimmers increase gas transfusion into your water, so they are a key addition to well-stocked aquariums.
As for lighting, I have always gravitated towards the mid-output LED lights. This is for two reasons. The first is that I am cheap (or as cheap as one can be in this hobby). The second is that I don’t want high growth in my aquariums—I try to keep my aquariums healthy but slow growing so that I can reduce maintenance as much as possible.
To that end, here are a few lights that I recommend. The first is my old standard, the Finnex Planted+. It’s not a cheap light, but it’s not an outrageously expensive one either. I am happy with this light’s output, both in it’s intensity and it’s color range. My largest complaint is that the moonlight is pretty much useless if you are controlling your lights with a timer—you can only switch between daylight and moonlight manually, so it’s moonlight function is pretty much useless. (As an aside, you might be tempted to splurge on the Finnex Planted+ 24/7—it’s a light the cycles through a full 24 hour cycle with sunrise and sunset. This light is wonderful for setting a mood but it’s light output is dramatically lower than the Planted+. It’s a fun light, but it’s a bonus rather than the main show.)
My second light is one I absolutely adore for it’s design and performance. It’s the Dennerle LED 5.0. This light is sleek and does the job for nano aquariums. I use it on my cube tanks that are in the 5-10 gallon range. I wish Dennerle would produce a larger scale LED fixture because their design is miles ahead of their competitors. (Another note here: This light is a bit pricy, but it also is included in the Dennerle Scaper’s Tank. It’s about $60 more than the light alone and you get a 10-gallon rimless tank.)
Finally, I’ve included the Fluval Nano LED light. It’s a good light, but I’ve listed it here mainly to talk about Fluval’s Planted 3.0 series. These are quality lights and I wish they were available on Amazon.
This past year I started to phase out heating in as many of my aquariums as possible. That’s because most fish we keep experience summer and winter temperatures in the wild and removing heating elements from my tanks helps reduce the risk of something going wrong. But if you choose to heat your tanks, either for peace of mind or necessity, I’ve included three heaters I use below.
The Hydor In-Line Heater is a great option if you use a canister filter and want to keep your equipment out of sight, I’ve used it in my tanks before and been very happy with the results—it’s easy to use and it evenly heats your tank.
The Tetra Mini Heater is a great option for nano tanks on a budget. It’s a CHEAP heater but I haven’t had one fail—the downside is that you cannot adjust it’s settings, it heats the water to around 77 degrees F and that’s it. It’s the most basic thing you can buy, but for nano tanks it does the job in a pinch.
Finally, I use the Finnex Titanium Heater. I like this heater for two reasons. First, it’s pretty—if there is going to be a huge heater in my tank it might as well be eye-catching. Second, it’s controls are separate from the heating unit—that means I can mount the thermostat for easy access.
ODDS & ENDS
In this section, I’ve included a few products I use regularly that just don’t belong anywhere else.
First off is Seachem Prime, what I consider to be the dechlorinator of choice. It’s a wonderful product that does the job—plus you can get it in a range of sizes.
The next thing I consider a must is a syphon to clean your aquarium. I’ve got two suggestions for syphons. The first is the Python—it’s a syphon that can connect directly to your faucet.
Next up is a water atomizer. This little bit of electronics produces a fine mist of atomized water when submerged in a few inches of water. I have been using these to help grow aquatic plants using the dry start method. It creates a thick fog when its on, so I put them on a timer. The big hitch with these is that they heat up quickly and can send your water temperature skyrocketing. Since I use these to mist dry-start aquascapes, I run them in a separate bowl within my aquarium. The mist they make can’t be beat.
The next two products in this category are timers. The first is a Power Strip Timer that does a lovely job of managing multiple outlets at once. Four outlets are on the universal timer and the other four are always powered—this is great for a rack system when you’d like a group of lights to turn on and off together. The second is a Single Timer Outlet, it’s inexpensive and it does the job.
Next up is a simple power strip, but this one is round. I like it for three reasons. First, it’s round and that’s fun. Second, because it’s round, it allows me to plug in bulky plugs and timers without blocking quite as many outlets. Third, it has a six-foot cord, longer than many power strips provide.
The final addition to this list really deserves it’s own section, substrate. I’ll be adding a section on substrates soon enough, but I’ll start with the one I’m most familiar with, Fluval Stratum. Lots of people think Fluval has delivered a mediocre product here. Stratum might not deliver the fertilizer punch other compacted dirt substrates do, but I love it for that reason. Stratum helps my plants grow without a huge nutrient spike I’ve seen in other substrates. For that reason, it’s the first on my list. That list will get longer soon though!
In the future, I’ll be adding sections on Food, Fertilizers, C02, Aquariums and Substrates.