Keeping fish is a great way to have pets when higher maintenance animals like cats and dogs aren’t possible. Not to mention, there is a lot to be said for the surprising connection that someone can have with their fish – just like any other pet. That’s why it can be so helpful to have a self-cleaning fish tank on hand.
These tanks offer a lot of benefits. For one, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the tank regularly and manually.
This makes them a great choice for busy fish owners or people who haven’t owned fish before. For instance, it can be easier for children to take care of their fish when they have a fish tank that does most of the work.
Here, we’re going to break down what you need to know about self-cleaning fish tanks ranging from what features and traits you should look for all the way down to specific models that you will want to consider.
Keep reading to find exactly what you might need or want in a self-cleaning aquarium.
Top 5 Self Cleaning Fish Tank Choices
1. Back to the Roots Water Garden Self-Cleaning Fish Tank
The Back to the Roots Water Garden Self-Cleaning Fish Tank is an aquaponic aquarium that depends on the coexistence of aquatic animals and plants life to maintain a clean environment for your fish.
The kit comes with everything you might need to get this environment started in your new tank. This includes organic microgreen seeds, D-Klor, Zym-Bac, grow stones, and fish food. This will help you get started right away and save you time and money on gathering supplies.
The plants themselves are guaranteed to grow and you can expect them to reach a harvest-ready state in about 10 days. You don’t need a green thumb but you’ll want to follow the care instructions to keep the plants healthy if you want the aquaponic environment to stay effective.
Once the plants are fully grown, you can harvest them for use in other situations. For instance, Back to the Roots recommends putting them in smoothies or adding them to a salad to make use of them while you grow them to keep your tank clean and safe for your fish.
Since you don’t need to worry about having a green thumb, this is a great choice for beginners and kids. All you have to do is follow the guide and use the components that are included with the tank.
If you run out, you can rely on the refill kit the company offers. It also holds up to 15 gallons, making it a good starter fish tank for single fish owners, depending on the species and their specific needs.
- The aquaponic system keeps water clean
- Organic micro greens grow in as little as 10 days
- Includes everything you need to get started
- Tank fails to self-clean if the plant life isn’t properly maintained
2. EcoQube C Aquarium and Aquaponic System
The EcoQube C Aquarium and Aquaponic System is another fish tank option that relies on the interaction between fish, plant life, and bacteria to keep the water clean and livable for the fish. Instead of a set of plants on the surface of the water, though, this fish tank relies on a basil plant in the water to do the work for you. The more that your basil grows, the better it will be able to filter the water.
Remember, if you want to make your aquarium temperature stable, do not forget about aquarium heater!
When it comes to water with plants in it, though, one of the biggest concerns is that the growth of algae will negatively affect the livelihood of the living components in the tank.
In addition, while some bacteria are very helpful in cultivating an aquaponic environment, not all bacteria are something you want around.
To help with this, the EcoQube C Aquarium and Aquaponic System use a UV LED sterilizer to keep these harmful components at bay.
The LED lights will also allow you to keep a close eye on your fish friend as he swims around. The tank also comes with origin sand, an ornament, a cover, and remote control to change the settings even when you’re on the other side of the room.
It’s also small enough to keep on your desk or on a side table but this also means you’ll want to stick to smaller fish and keep your collection down to a single fish when using a tank of this size to ensure that they aren’t too cramped to prosper.
- The aquaponic system is self-regulating when cared for correctly
- Includes UV LED sterilizer to protect against algae
- Small aquarium designed for betta fish
- Includes a basil plant to set the aquaponic environment into motion
- Small tank
3. Huamuyu Hydroponic Garden Aquaponics Fish Tank Growing System
With the Huamuyu Hydroponic Garden Aquaponics Fish Tank Growing System, you can keep your fish alive while growing almost whatever plant you please to keep the system going.
The plant tray itself can support plenty of different seeds but the company recommends avoiding anything “spicy” in the tray such as growing hot peppers. While the tray will support them, the material it releases into the water can harm the fish.
The fish tank is rather small – it only holds three gallons of water. This means its best suited for single, smaller fish.
However, Hyamuyu does warn that if you have fish smaller than two to three inches, you’ll want to place an ornament in front of the filter to prevent them from being sucked into the filter.
The tank also works to actively introduce oxygen in the water to nourish both the plants and fish. This is done via an automatic siphon design that inputs natural oxygen into the water every two minutes.
While you don’t need to worry about regularly cleaning this tank since its self-cleaning, you won’t have to worry about too much difficulty when you do decide to opt for a manual deep clean of the system.
The tank has a distinctive U-shaped bottom that means that you don’t have to worry about trying to scrub out any corners.
- The tray can support multiple types of seeds
- Kit includes fish tank, plants, ceramsite, filtering sponge, seed sprouter tray and pump to set up the aquaponic environment
- Siphon oxygen supply introduces oxygen to the water and plants regularly
- U-shaped design makes cleaning easy
- No need to water or fertilize the plants
- Fish smaller than 2” to 3” may get sucked into the pump
- Only holds 3 gallons of water
Related: Guide for Best Bow Front Aquariums
4. Penn Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank
The Penn Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank, as its name might suggest, is compatible with many different small fish.
Penn Plax recommends keeping betta fish, goldfish, danios, bloodfin tetra, or white cloud minnows in the tank.
The tank holds up to 1.4 gallons of water, so you won’t want to place any bigger fish in the tank who need plenty of space.
It is also compatible with a wide variety of plants. This ranges from houseplants for a purely aesthetic purpose to plants like herbs that you can use when they grow to maturity.
Some popular houseplants they recommend with this system are bamboo, dumbcane, Chinese evergreen, and Moses-in-the-cradle.
The kit even includes a ceramic planting media to help you get started on your new no-soil garden that without having to order any extra supplies.
The planter in the tank isn’t locked into place. If you need to remove it, all you have to do is pull the planter off the top and set it to the side. The planter is made to sit in the water to obtain nutrients, so you won’t want to keep it out of the water for extended periods of time if you want to keep the plant alive but it’s a handy feature for occasionally cleaning the tank out.
The tank also has a circular shape which makes it easier to clean because you don’t have to worry about anything getting stuck in corners.
- Made as a great home for betta fish, goldfish, danios, bloodfin tetra, and white cloud minnows
- Can be used for the growth of most houseplants or herbs
- Includes ceramic planting material
- Can be used as a planter alone as well
- Only holds 1.4 gallons
- Made for single, smaller fish
5. AquaSprouts Garden
The AquaSprouts Garden is a unique choice on this list because it’s a kit that attaches to your existing fish tank.
So, if you already own fish with their own tank, you can transform it into an aquaponic environment without having to spend the money to replace your current tank.
However, it doesn’t fit every tank perfectly. It works best to place this attachment on a standard 10-gallon fish tank that measures approximately 20” x 10” x 12”.
The kit includes everything you might need to get the plant life in your aquaponics aquarium started.
This includes clay grow media to start your garden, a pump, a timer that can be set for 24 hours at as quick as 15-minute intervals, and a light bar to offer your plants the light they need to photosynthesize no matter how much light the area in your home where you keep your fish tank is.
Of course, AquaSprouts recognizes that this isn’t an activity that should be limited to individuals who are already skilled at gardening.
To help out new gardeners, they offer a step-by-step guide to help you through the process and keep your aquaponic system balanced. If you still find yourself having trouble, they also provide information so you can contact the company for help over the phone or via email.
Their website also hosts live chat helplines to answer any questions you might run into while you set your AquaSprouts Garden up or as you work to maintain it after its initial installation.
- Fits any standard 10-gallon fish tank
- Includes a light bar to help encourage plant growth
- Includes grow media to replace traditional soil and get you started
- Includes a step-by-step guide to help you get started
- Does not include fish tank
Self Cleaning Fish Tank Buying Guide
When you’re looking around for self-cleaning aquariums,just like when you’re buying any other pet supplies, you aren’t limited to a single option. There are plenty of different choices out there and it’s important to know what to look for.
After all, different needs and preferences will mean that a different self-cleaning fishbowl will work better for you. These are some of the considerations you should keep in mind as you choose what works for you.
Many of the topics you’ll want to keep in mind are concepts affecting almost any kind of fish tank you’ll buy. We’ll go over everything you need to know to choose the best low maintenance fish tank for your needs.
One of the first decisions you have to make is as to what type of self-cleaning fish tank you want in your home. There are three basic options: an aquaponics fish tank, a gravity-based self-cleaning fish tank, or a three-filter self-cleaning fish tank.
Each of these options has distinct advantages and works differently. For instance, aquaponics relies on a full and carefully balanced ecosystem to keep the water quality high rather than depending on a filter to do the work.
We’ll take a closer look at how each type of self-cleaning fish tank works so you understand your options fully.
The size of your fish tank is especially important. Choosing a size that’s too small could result in an aquarium that isn’t large enough to sustain the healthy life of the fish you keep in it.
On the other hand, if the aquarium is too large, you might have a happy fish but it will take up unnecessary room in your house.
A general rule of thumb is to have a 10-gallon tank per fish for most freshwater fish. If you have a saltwater fish, though, it’s recommended to have a fish tank of at least a 30-gallon fish tank.
A 10-gallon fish tank typically has standard dimensions of 22” x 12” x 13.5” while a 30-gallon fish tank usually has standard dimensions of 36” x 18” x 12”.
However, most children with goldfish or small homeowners with betta fish aren’t the owners of large tanks. For beginners, a modest option is a five-gallon tank, although larger options are more ideal.
Remember, your fish aren’t going to suffer from having too much room. If you have the space, floor support, and budget to choose a larger tank, it’s better to do so.
In addition, the larger a tank is, the longer it will take for fish to reduce the water quality by contaminating it which is less of a problem when it comes to self-cleaning aquariums that work to take care of the water before it becomes dangerously contaminated for the fish.
It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that if you have a new fish from the pet store, they’re fairly young. In other words, they’ll grow over their lifetime if they’re given a healthy fighting chance. This means giving them the space they need to grow with a properly sized fish tank.
Number of Fish
One concept that heavily affects the size of the fish tank that you’ll need is how many fish you plan to have. After all, one fish won’t need as much room as a well-stocked and diverse aquarium.
If you’re new to owning and caring for fish, this is one part where you won’t want to get carried overboard. It’s easy to get excited when you see a gorgeous tank full of different colored fish of different species but this concept comes with its own challenges. Just like with different breeds of dogs, different species of fish have different needs.
This can make taking care of a lot of different fish right off of the bat when you’re new to owning an aquarium quite the challenge.
Starting off small with relatively few fish or even a single fish to take care of is also a good way to cut down on the startup costs of having an aquarium. Just like any other pet, fish have basic needs that must be met right away or they won’t survive long. The less fish you have, the fewer supplies you’ll need to gather to be ready as a pet owner.
This is a concept that ties directly into size. When you’re considering the best fish tank for your home, you have to remember that anything filled with water is going to be heavy. For example, you can expect any tank over 15 gallons to weigh over 200 pounds when it’s completely filled with water.
This means that you have to consider where you’re keeping your aquarium as well. A floating shelf, for instance, would struggle to hold this weight if it could at all. On the other hand, keeping it on a sturdy stand or table will save you a lot of trouble.
When you’re considering where your aquarium will go and thus the size and shape of the tank, you’ll want to remember that you won’t want your aquarium over any items that could get damaged by water like books. While fish tanks work to keep the water contained, this isn’t a complete guarantee against occasional splashes.
When measuring for your new fish tank, you’ll want to take this into account as you decide where in your home you want the fish tank to go.
There is a good reason that high-quality fish tanks aren’t closed completely and it isn’t just to allow you into the tank to carry out simple tasks such as feeding fish or adding accessories to the tank.
Many people often think of fish living in water in simple terms. For instance, they live in water because they breathe water like we live on land because we breathe air. However, fish do breathe oxygen, they just get that oxygen out of the water while we pull that oxygen out of the air around us.
The water obtains this oxygen from the air above it by absorbing it through the surface of the water. This means that a sealed tank won’t allow the oxygen flow in the water that fish need to survive.
This also means that surface area is important. A tall, thin tank might have the right gallon size for all your fish, but it won’t offer a lot of oxygen flow. It’s much better to use a wider tank with plenty of surface area on the opening to ensure that your fish are getting the oxygen they need to survive.
When you want to purchase a fish tank, you have to consider the material that the fish tank is made of. The two main options you have are glass and acrylic.
The easiest thing to remember is that you generally want a glass tank. Specifically, a tank under 150 gallons is recommended to be glass.
Since most beginners and most home fish owners, in general, won’t have a tank above this size, it’s a good idea to stick to glass.
In addition, glass tanks are typically cheaper than acrylic tanks, so it’s a money-saving option to opt for glass. They’re often easier to find as well.
The biggest draw to acrylic tanks is that they aren’t as fragile. For instance, if you scratch an acrylic tank, you can buff it out. Yet, while shattering or cracking an acrylic tank isn’t usually a risk, they do scratch easier than glass tanks.
Another factor to keep in mind is your own personal budget. If you’re on a limited budget, it helps to choose cheaper options like glass over acrylic and not opting for a tank bigger than you need.
Just like any other product you might buy, there is a range of aquariums available for a range of prices.
When you’re looking around, you can look for an aquarium that fits your needs without necessarily choosing the most expensive option.
Don’t be afraid to look around to stay within your budget but make sure that the options you’re looking at remain high-quality and will serve you well for a long time.
There are also planning measures that you can take to help reduce the cost of your fish tank. For instance, if you know you have a smaller budget, plan your aquarium to be of a smaller scale with fewer or more easily managed fish that won’t require as much room allowing you to
Self Cleaning Fish Tank FAQs
Can You Get Self Cleaning Fish Tanks?
Yes! Self-cleaning fish tanks are a great way to learn and use as a starter fish tank or to just cut out some of the regular grinds of remembering to keep up with cleaning your fish’s tank.
There are plenty of different models and types of self-cleaning fish tanks available.
You can check out our buying guide above and check out the recommended products to help find the right tank for you.
How Does a Self Cleaning Fish Tank Work?
Self-cleaning fish tanks work on a principle known as “aquaponics”. This is actually a combination of the concepts of aquaculture and hydroponics.
Aquaculture is the practice of raising aquatic life. For instance, the fish you keep in your fish tank contribute to the aquaculture of your aquarium as well as any other living components in the tank. The second component, hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil.
The living setup in any aquarium, no matter what type, has three distinct features: live aquatic animals, plants, and bacteria. These components work in a cycle. The waste the fish create fertilizes the plants and the plants use their energy to purify the water of any waste.
The bacteria come in during another cycle known as the nitrogen cycle. Instead of general waste, they rid the water of components that are harmful to plants and animals such as ammonia and nitrate.
This process isn’t anything new either. Aquaponics has been estimated to have seen use as far back as in ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. It’s a well-practiced idea that uses a natural concept to create an automatic fish tank filter.
There is also the option of a gravity-based self-cleaning aquarium. These systems have an aquarium filter that cleans out dirty water as you pour clean water into the tank. However, the filter isn’t so strong that you have to worry about your fish getting hurt thanks to the filter.
A step beyond this is the option of a three-filter easy clean fish tank. These fish tanks work in much the same way as a gravity-based aquarium with a filter but it has a three-step filter to offer extra protection against the messy and toxic components in the water that could affect the health and survival of your fish.
What Types of Fish Can Live In a Self-Cleaning Fish Tank?
Generally, freshwater fish are safe in a self-cleaning fish tank. It isn’t that saltwater fish wouldn’t survive that makes that environment unsustainable but more that the plants necessary for aquaponics struggle to survive in saltwater. If you’re keeping fish that naturally live in the ocean, an aquaponic tank may not be your best choice.
How Do You Clean a Self Cleaning Fish Tank?
The benefit of a self-cleaning aquarium is that it does most of the work for you. If you’re working with an aquaponic self-cleaning fish tank, all you really have to do is make sure that the system you’ve set in place is working properly.
If you choose a gravity-based self-cleaning fish tank, you’ll need to add clean water every so often and allow the filter to take care of the dirty water in the tank. Many recommend changing about 10% to 15% of the water in your fish tank every week. If your aquarium is more full, it’s better to up this number to 20% each week.
What Is the Easiest Fish Tank to Maintain?
When it comes to the tank itself, a small self-cleaning aquarium kit is the easiest fish tank to maintain since it saves you both time and effort. You won’t have to put as much energy into remembering to clean the tank or worry about cleaning it and keeping your fish safe and alive in the meantime.
Related: Guide for Small Fish Tank Filters
Yet, the difficulty of keeping your aquarium as a low-maintenance fish tank partially lies in the fish you keep in it. A good tip is to start with an option like betta fish. These fish are relatively easy to maintain because they have less intensive needs and are a hardier breed of fish. Just remember, male betta fish are particularly aggressive. If you choose to keep a male betta fish, it should be kept in a fishbowl on its own to prevent it from attacking other fish – including other male betta fish.
We’ve gone over it a few times already but the best tip there is when you’re cultivating your own aquarium – especially a new type of aquarium to you – don’t be afraid to take small steps before you reach your goals of a large and lively fish tank.
There’s a learning curve being a pet owner and self-cleaning tanks work well as a helpful tool during this learning process since they shoulder some of the regular work of maintaining an aquarium.
However, it can also be advantageous to remember that while fish themselves are often thought of as an “easier” pet to own, it can go a long way to take things slow. Look for species that require less intensive care and limit the number of fish you’re going to start with to help you stay on a manageable level.
As you get more comfortable in your skills as an aquarium owner and more comfortable using tools such as self-cleaning fish tanks, you can take steps to expand your aquarium to move towards your eventual goals.