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The Best Fish Tank, Heater, Light, and Accessories

Updated Dec 10, 2022
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Watching fish swim, glug, and blub all day can bring hours of enjoyment. To keep your fish happy and healthy, they need an adequate home—and a decorative jar with a few rocks ain’t going to cut it. After interviewing two aquarists and one aquaculturist, and researching dozens of aquarium goods, we recommend the 20-gallon Marina 20G LED Aquarium Kit as a great freshwater starter tank because it’s the most versatile kit we found.

Marina 20G LED Aquarium Kit, a great starter kit without a heater

Marina 20G LED Aquarium Kit

A great starter kit without a heater
This is the best kit we’ve found for beginners because it includes the highest-quality filter, light, and lid—but it lacks a heater.
We recommend
Aqueon LED 20 Aquarium Kit, a good starter kit with a heater

Aqueon LED 20 Aquarium Kit

A good starter kit with a heater
This kit has all the essentials, as well as a heater. The overall quality of its equipment is inferior to that of our main pick, but compatible equipment is easy to find at any fish store.
Another good choice
Eheim Jäger Thermostatic Aquarium Heater (100 Watts), the best heater

Eheim Jäger Thermostatic Aquarium Heater (100 Watts)

The best heater
This heater is a staple in the aquatic community, offering the most precision and the widest temperature range.
We recommend
Aqueon Pro Heater (100 Watts), less precise, more indestructible

Aqueon Pro Heater (100 Watts)

Less precise, more indestructible
While less precise, this heater is shatterproof and guaranteed for life.
Another good choice
Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED, slim and dimmable

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED

Slim and dimmable
Offering bright, customizable light with a small footprint, this light will reach every corner of your tank without distracting from it.
We recommend
Nicrew White and Blue LED Aquarium Light, bright, if bulky

Nicrew White and Blue LED Aquarium Light

Bright, if bulky
The Nicrew model gives off more light than our main pick at half the price, but it lacks dimming options.
Budget friendly
Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Automated LED, perfect for plants

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Automated LED

Perfect for plants
This model gave off more light than any other we tested, and its wide range of settings let our plants thrive.
A better upgrade
AquaClear Power Filter 30, the best filter

AquaClear Power Filter 30

The best filter
This filter’s foolproof three-pronged filtration system will keep your beneficial bacteria as happy as your fish.
We recommend
Seachem Prime, the best water conditioner

Seachem Prime

The best water conditioner
This extra-concentrated solution will make tap water safe for your fishies.
We recommend
API Freshwater Master Test Kit, the best water test kit

API Freshwater Master Test Kit

The best water test kit
This kit contains every formula necessary to test tank water for toxic compounds 800 times.
We recommend
CaribSea Instant Aquarium, the best gravel substrate

CaribSea Instant Aquarium

The best gravel substrate
Just one bag of this gravel is enough for a 20-gallon tank. Plus, it comes in beautiful hues.
We recommend
CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate, the best soil substrate for plants

CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

The best soil substrate for plants
This velvety black soil provides your plants with tons of nutrients, and it won’t degrade over time.
Another good choice
Terapump Aquarium Gravel Cleaner, the best gravel vacuum

Terapump Aquarium Gravel Cleaner

The best gravel vacuum
This affordable, lightweight gravel vacuum has a handy pump that creates suction without getting you wet.
We recommend
Tetra TetraMin Tropical Flakes, the best flake food

Tetra TetraMin Tropical Flakes

The best flake food
These popular flakes are packed with protein and can be consumed by any fish.
We recommend
New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula, the best pellet food

New Life Spectrum Small Fish Formula

The best pellet food
These pellets will leave behind far less waste in your tank, though tiny fish may refuse them.
Another good choice
API Algae Scraper for Glass Aquariums, the best algae sponge

API Algae Scraper for Glass Aquariums

The best algae sponge
The extra-long handle on this scraper lets you easily reach all the corners of your tank without getting your hands wet.
We recommend

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