Fish Tank Aquarium Supplies & Accessories

We have a great topic for novice aquarium owners–aquarium accessories. Most people think you just need an aquarium and do not know the rest of the accessories are just as important as the type of aquarium you purchase.  We will consider various aquarium accessories such as stands, canopy, versa top, lights, filtration system, heater/chiller, UV sterilizer, protein skimmer, and auto top-off system.  There are many more accessories but these are the most important accessories.

The stand must be able to properly fit the aquarium, meaning the aquarium should not hang-over the edge of the stand, nor should the aquarium be too short to reach the side of the stand. Either way could cause the aquarium to become unleveled and possibly fall or break.  The most popular types of stands are metal and wood.  Metal is more frame like with open space underneath the aquarium.  Wood stands have cabinets underneath the aquarium for concealing products, wires, etc.  Just a little FYI, most aquarium manufacturers require you purchase their stand with their aquarium or the warranty on the aquarium is void.

In addition to the cabinets, some stands come with a canopy.  The canopy sits on top of the aquarium and hides the versa tops and lights, depending on the lights.  The canopy is used for aesthetical purposes.  Living Color Aquariums trained professionals will build your custom stand and canopy to match your aquarium.

One of the items which may be hidden in the canopy is a versa top or glass top (they are used interchangeably). The purposes of the versa top is to reduce the amount of water evaporation from the top of the aquarium and to prevent fish from jumping out of the aquarium.  Yes, you read it correctly.  Fish jumping out of the aquarium happens more frequently than you think (some fish just like to jump while others are content in the aquarium).

Hovering above the versa top is a light. There are various lights to choose from based on the type of aquarium (freshwater fish, marine fish, coral/reef aquarium, and/or plant aquarium).  We will describe three lighting systems so you will be able to make the most informative decision on which light to choose.  You are not limited to these lights but Living Color Aquariums use these lights for their custom-built aquariums.

  1. Current USA Loop Lighting System-Programmed by a remote control or your cell phone using the LOOP app. The remote control allows you to program your daily light cycle to include various color spectrums, weather patterns, and pulsing waves and flashing lights to mimic a thunderstorm.  Fits aquariums as small as 10 gallons to as large as 220 gallons.  The light sizes range from 10” and to 72”.  These lights are used for both freshwater and marine water aquariums.
  2. Kessil-Programmed by a remote control. These lights use photosynthic absorption to improve plant color and growth, as well as a blend of UV light to improve coral color and growth.  Even though the lights are slim, they emit a uniform color with widespread coverage.  These lights are best used for reef and plant aquariums.
  3. EcoTech Radion Lighting System-Programmed by remote control or by your cell phone with the EcoTech Reeflink app.   The remote control allows you to program your daily light cycle to include various weather features, lunar cycle, and acclimation ramping to name a few.  The lighting produces vivid coloring and growth to the corals and plants.  These lights are best suited for reef and plant aquariums.

The Kessil and EcoTech lighting systems are best for custom aquariums due to their widespread coverage and UV lighting. Living Color Aquariums trained professionals will assist you in determining which light system will be best suited for your custom aquarium.

Hang in there, you are doing great! We have reviewed the types of stands, canopy, versa tops, and lighting systems.  The outside of the aquarium is now complete.  Let us focus on the accessories required to properly maintain your ecosystem.  The filtration system.  This is the most important system for your aquarium.  Without the proper filtration system, your ecosystem will be skewed and problems will occur (corals closing, fish obtain diseases, etc.).  There are four types of filtration-the canister, over-the-back filter, wet/dry system, and sump.

  1. Canister-This is a filter system sits directly under the aquarium. Water flows down a tube, into the canister where the water passes through a filter media, then the clean water is pumped back into the aquarium via a tube.  These filters are best suited for freshwater aquariums up to about 150 gallons.
  2. Over-the-back filter-This is filter system sits on the back-aquarium wall with the filter media outside the aquarium and a lip flowing clean water sits on top on the aquarium wall and into the aquarium. Water is sucked up a tube via an impeller on a pump, passed through various filter medias, then the water flows out of a lip hanging over the top back wall of the aquarium.  These filters are best suited for freshwater aquariums up to about 150 gallons.
  3. Wet/dry filter-This filter systems sits under the aquarium or even in the next room/closet. Water flows down a tube into a tower, water passes through a filter media, collects in an area/sump, then the clean water is pumped back into the aquarium through a spill way or spray bar. The wet/dry filtration system is the best option for all sizes and types of aquariums because of the volume of flow they may handle and the biological capacity (bio chamber).
  4. Sump-This filter system also sits under the aquarium. Water flows down a tube, with a filter on the end; into chamber; then the clean water is pumped back into the aquarium via a spill way or spray bar.  Sumps are usually only used for reef aquariums.

Majority of the custom aquariums usually use the wet/dry filter system for numerous reasons. One reason the wet/dry filter system will be able to handle a huge bio load need for such a large quantity of fish/sea life.  Second reason is the filtration system may be placed directly underneath the aquarium or in the room/closet next to or behind the aquarium (allowing for a more open stand).  Living Color Aquariums specializes in wet/dry systems and the placement of them.

Wow, that was a lot to digest! Now it gets a lot easier and less mind blowing. Heater and chillers. Depending on the location of the aquarium and the temperature of the air surrounding the aquarium, determines if you will need a heater or chiller.  For example, if you live in sunny Florida where it is always hot, you may need a chiller, unless you keep the air surrounding the aquarium cool.  If you live in Pennsylvania, you will need a heater for the winter.  Living Color Aquariums trained professionals will assist you in determining if you need a heater/chiller for your aquarium.

The next topic will not be needed right away and hopefully, not at all, a UV Sterilizer. A UV Sterilizer is used when algae, parasites, and bacterial diseases continue to reappear in your aquarium.  The UV light targets the small microorganisms and alters its genetic make-up shortening its life span and preventing it from creating algae or spreading the disease.  Hopefully, you will not need this.

Almost done, hang in there. If you are not going to have a reef aquarium, then you may skip this paragraph.  A protein skimmer is used on reef aquariums to remove dissolved organic compounds (DOC) and other harmful substances.  These compounds/substances (protein) form bubbles which rise to the top of the inside of the protein skimmer and burst.  The clean water is then released back into the aquarium while the protein waste stays in a catch cup.  Remove the catch cup and rinse thoroughly then replace back on the protein skimmer.

This is the last topic!! Finally, right? You will not need this right away also.  Auto Top Off (ATO) system.  Everyone at one time or another had to lift a 5-gallon bucket of top-off water into the aquarium and hope you do not spill the water everywhere.  An ATO is the perfect solution!!  The sensor will let the controller know the water level is low, the controller will pump more water into the aquarium until it reaches the proper fill level, then stops.  That easy!!  No need to worry about spilling water and hurting your back.  Living Color Aquariums build the ATO’s in house and for every aquarium, unless the customer specifies differently.

(For novices, top-off water is water placed into the aquarium periodically when the level of the aquarium gets low due to water evaporation. For freshwater aquarium, use RO/DI water with alkaline and acid buffer.  For marine aquariums, use RO/DI water with marine buffer.)

Congratulations!!! You now have knowledge of what accessories are important for your aquarium.  Please remember, Living Color Aquariums will assist you in making your custom aquarium dreams come true.

Author: Tessy Weigold

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