I am sometimes asked what aquarium hardware I use. Most hobbyists have particular brands that they are loyal too, and I am no different. However, I purposely don’t confine myself to one specific brand, even though I may prefer one brand for specific needs. But I also like to try different equipment. Let’s face it, all mass produced aquarium equipment suffer from quality issues. Like any other products, some are good and some aren’t.
There are numerous brands of aquarium hardware available. You can spend a lot or spend a little. What you use largely depends on what you want to achieve and what your budget is. Now, having said all of that, below is a pretty complete list of what all I use.
All of my tanks are glass Aqueons except for the 30g, which is a rimless glass Mr. Aqua square aquarium.
Because I don’t have large tanks, I don’t use sumps for my filtration. I also don’t use air driven sponge filters, either. I use canister filters unless the tank is really small, < 20 gallons, in which case I use HOBs.
For canisters, I prefer Sicce’s external canister lines – the Whale and the Space Eko. The Whale is a square canister and the Eko is round. Both lines come in multiple sizes.
Sicce is a lessor known manufacturer of aquarium and garden products. Though probably best known for their submersible pumps, they make great canister filters, in my opinion.
For HOBs, I use Hagen’s Aquaclears. These are workhorse HOBs that are very versatile, quiet, and easy to clean. They also come in various sizes.
Occasionally I use a home made internal bottle filter, depending on what species I’m keeping and what I’m trying to achieve in the tank environment. There are lots of DIY filters out there, just search on YouTube. You can see my bottle filter here. Instead of the powerhead pictured, I actually now use a small Sicce Syncra submersible pump.
All of my filters utilize prefiltration using cylindrical sponges over the intakes. Though I don’t usually have live plants or submersible wood, which tend to produce lots of debris, I still like to prefilter. These sponges are dense enough to prevent fry and other larger particles from getting sucked into the filter including all but the finest sand. I’m not actually sure of the sponge brand, but they’re similar to the Filter-max III by Aquarium Technology Inc. I get me sponges in bulk from my LFS, and they’re a bit denser in ppi.
For submersible heaters, I use Eheim Jagers, Fluvals E series, and Sicce Scubas. I prefer the Fluvals because they include a digital display with color LEDs, can be adjusted with one hand, and have a built in thermometer.
I do not use airstones or bubblers.
Tank lighting isn’t crucial for me because my tank lights aren’t on more than 2 hours a day. For my larger tanks, I use either Finnex Stingrays, Mr. Aqua MA-8s or MA-3s. For my small tanks, I use Aquaneats. All of these are slimline LEDs. They also all come with legs to raise them a couple inches above the tank, but I don’t use them. I lay the lights flat on the glass canopies, which I have on all my tanks.