The Best Aquarium Brands

Jennifer Doll

Jennifer Doll

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Best Aquarium Brands

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While researching your next tank, you’re bound to come across many different aquarium brand names.

Every fish tank, filter, powerhead, substrate, and air pump is made by a different company. Some companies only specialize in some products, while others offer a broad selection of every possible thing an aquarium buyer might need. 

It is important to know which brands are trustworthy and give the best value for your dollar. It’s also important to know which brands to avoid so you don’t run into problems down the line.

Keep reading to learn everything about the best aquariums brands and what they offer as well as some that you might want to stay away from!

The best aquarium brands

As mentioned before, some companies in the aquarium industry only specialize in one aquarium niche, and others offer a wide selection of basic fish tank products. 

To make this list as comprehensive as possible, we will separate the best brands according to several categories: fish tanks, filtration, food, substrate, and heaters.

Fish tanks

At the heart of a good aquarium is a dependable fish tank. Gone are the days of a single goldfish in a fish bowl. Now, a hobbyist must decide if they want a larger tank or a rimless glass aquarium. Do you go with a biotope aquarium for one particular species or an aquarium kit complete with built-in filtration? The aquarium craze has produced almost as many options as there are fish species.

No matter what shape or size you end up choosing, the materials and build of your aquarium should be able to withstand whatever freshwater, saltwater, or brackish system you establish for years to come.

Here are some of the most durable and trustworthy tropical fish tank brands available.

Aqueon

Aqueon Aquarium 20 Gallon Long
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Aqueon is one of the most dependable yet affordable aquarium brands. While they offer many other products, their glass aquariums are exceptionally well-built and reliable, and an excellent choice for your aquarium setup.

Aqueon offers a wide selection of standard fish tank sizes to choose from, like the extremely popular 20-gallon tank, the Aqueon Long Aquarium.

They also offer an array of aquarium solutions, including all-in-one startup kits that are perfect for the beginner aquarium hobbyist; these kits include a glass aquarium, aquarium hood, Pro power filter, preset heater, fish food sample, water conditioner sample, net, and exterior thermometer. 

What we like:
  • Dependable and inexpensive
  • Wide selection of sizes, including rimmed and rimless options
  • All-in-one startup kits for beginner hobbyists

Marineland

Marineland is one of the oldest brands in the aquarium hobby, and for a good reason. These tanks are sturdy and dependable. They tend to be a little more expensive than Aqueon’s, but the Marineland name comes with a guarantee.

One of the best things about Marineland is that they offer less common sizes of aquariums like this 60-gallon tank, the High Definition LED Ensemble Modern Aquarium.

They also offer all-in-one beginner systems that include the glass fish tank, daylight and moonlight LED lights and an integrated 3-stage filtration system. 

What we like:
  • Time-tested dependable aquarium tanks
  • Offers less common aquarium sizes and setups
  • Offers several all-in-one systems 

Fluval

Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit, Black, 5 gal, 10528A1
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Fluval is another common budget fish tank brand, though a little more specialized. This aquarium brand is known for its sleek, compact nanosystems that are higher in price than comparable products.

The most popular design is the Fluval Sea Evo V Saltwater Fish Tank Aquarium Kit, which features internal biological filtration, a return pump, and powerful LED aquarium lighting that can grow low- to medium-light demanding corals.

Other popular Fluval systems include the Fluval SPEC Freshwater Aquarium Kit and Fluval Sea Flex Aquarium Kit. The SPEC has a BioMax 3-stage filtration system and an energy-efficient LED light fixture. Its contemporary design is made with etched glass to create an aquarium suitable for any room.

What we like:
  • All-in-one nano aquarium systems 
  • Quality pre-installed aquarium equipment ready to support some corals and live plants

Waterbox

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line aquarium option, Waterbox fish tanks are professional setups and definitely not recommended for starting a budget fish tank! 

These rimless aquariums are available in a wide range of sizes and with internal or external filtration and can be pre-drilled for a variety of advanced filtration equipment. Some packages include the stand and lighting as well. 

Waterbox Aquariums specializes in catering to the needs of more advanced freshwater, saltwater, and reef tank aquarists, and the prices definitely reflect that.

What we like:
  • Beautiful aquarium designs for freshwater and marine setups
  • Various aquarium size, stand, and lighting packages

Filtration

The next important thing to consider for your aquarium is the quality of the filtration; your filtration is the foundation of your biological system, and you definitely want something that will last!

For filtration, we will only consider fully assembled units, like hang on the back filters and canister filters. 

Marineland

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration
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In addition to making great fish tanks, Marineland is one of the leading aquarium manufacturers of filters. They are primarily known for their Bio-Wheel hang on the back filter designs that provide additional surface area for beneficial bacteria. 

These filters come in an assortment of gallon per hour (GPH) options for nearly every standard tank size; Marineland also offers several canister filters, though these are less popular.

Marineland filters are largely dependable, though some models might be better than others. 

What we like:
  • Dependable aquarium brand
  • Innovative Bio-Wheel design with many other models available
  • Easy to find and install

Fluval

Fluval caters to hobbyists looking for efficient canister filters. These filters are quiet, energy-efficient, and flexible.

Fluval has been trusted by hobbyists for years, though their canister filters can be on the more expensive side. These filters are the highest grade construction for the price and will last for years.

Hang on the back filters by Fluval are less common to find.

What we like:
  • Highest-quality materials and design
  • Easy to install and clean
  • Quiet

Eheim

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2213
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Eheim is a German aquatic brand and can be more challenging to find on your local aquarium shelf than Marineland or Fluval.

However, Eheim is especially known for its smaller canister filters for tanks under 50 gallons (189.3 L), like the Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media. Eheim is less known for its hang on the back filters.

These canister filters are compact and easy to use. Their small size lets them easily fit into cramped spaces. 

What we like:
  • Catered towards smaller tanks
  • Dependable and compact

Tetra

Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter, Terrarium Filtration, Keeps Water Clear
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Tetra designs filters in every shape and size imaginable; there are internal and external filters and even decorative reptile filters, though no canister filters. Otherwise, Tetra has what you need, no matter your setup.

One of Tetra’s most popular hang-on-the-back designs is the Whisper line. These filters are quiet, streamlined, and affordable.

That said, Tetra is considered a budget brand and is not meant to be the most efficient or durable. However, they will be more than enough for a beginner tank or simple setup.

What we like:
  • Internal and external designs
  • Many shapes and sizes for fish and reptiles
  • Widely available and easy to use

Food

There are millions of fish foods to choose from. How can you be sure that your fish are getting the nutrition they need?

When choosing a fish food, the guaranteed analysis, or the nutritional breakdown, is the most important thing to look at.

Quality brands will have at least 40% crude protein, 5-10% crude fat (carnivores) or 5% crude fat (herbivores), and crude fiber under 10%. 

For the purposes of this article, we will only be covering fish flakes, pellets, and dry foods. 

Hikari

Hikari is one of the leading brands of fish food for freshwater species, especially goldfish and koi fish; they even cater to turtles. They offer flakes, pellets, and wafers for carnivores and herbivores alike.

Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Baby Pellets Fish Food Bundle
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Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Baby Pellets make feeding betta fish fun and simple. Of course, you may always supplement Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Blood Worms as a fun treat.

Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Blood Worms for Pets, 0.42 oz(12 g) - 2 Pack
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Hikari offers foods designed for specific species to meet all nutritional needs. 

What we like:
  • Wide selection of foods to choose from
  • Catered towards freshwater herbivores or carnivores
  • Meets nutritional needs for specific species

Omega One

Omega One Super Color Flakes 5.3 oz
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Omega One competes with Hikari but is slightly more affordable and caters to saltwater species.

This aquarium brand isn’t as specific as Hikari and offers universal foods like Omega One Super Color Flakes, but it still has all the needed nutritional value.

Likewise, Omega One offers a variety of flakes, pellets, wafers, bloodworms, and brine shrimp for all your carnivore or herbivore’s needs.

What we like:
  • Quality food for freshwater and saltwater species
  • Easy-to-feed, highly-nutritional pellet and flake fish foods
  • Variety of snack foods for occasional fish treats

Northfin

Northfin Fry Starter
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Northfin is an older company but still offers premium fish food to keep fish healthy and happy. In fact, their main product is freshwater, saltwater, and turtle food. 

Northfin specializes in freshwater flake, pellet, and wafer foods for community fish, cichlids, bettas, and even arowana. They even cater to baby fry with Northfin Fry Starter.

These foods can be a little more expensive than competitors, but their formulas have been tested for years.

What we like:
  • Company specialization in aquarium food manufacturing
  • Caters to freshwater and saltwater fish (and fish fry!)

Tetra

TetraColor Plus Tropical Flakes 7.06 Ounces
  • TROPICAL FORMULATION: Highly digestible flake formula for use as staple food for all tropical fish.
  • PLUS COLOR ENHANCEMENT: Rich in carotene and other ingredients to bring out natural pink to orange-red coloration.
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Tetra isn’t the best food available for your fish but is widely available and good enough for many fish. 

TetraColor PLUS Tropical Flakes with Color Enhancing is one of the most popular Tetra foods and is very affordable. They also offer other flake, pellet, and wafer foods for goldfish, turtles, and tropical fish

Tetra caters to marine fish, though these products aren’t the most popular. Otherwise, Tetra foods are budget-friendly and easy to find for freshwater species.

What we like:
  • Variety of foods to choose from
  • Easy to find and widely available

Substrate

You may not think about it, but not all substrates are created equally.

Substrates are literally the foundation of any tank, and you will want to make sure you’re using a quality brand that supports any fish, invertebrates, plants, corals, or other aquatic life you plan on adding.

If you’re setting up a simple freshwater fish tank, then well-washed, uncontaminated play sand may be used.

If you’re trying for a more natural-looking or complex tank, or just don’t want to risk using play sand, then you might want to consider an aquarium-specific substrate brand. 

CaribSea

CaribSea is arguably the best substrate brand for both freshwater and saltwater systems.

Carib Sea Eco-Complete 20-Pound Planted Aquarium, Black
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Their CaribSea Eco-Complete is one of the most popular substrates for freshwater aquariums as it is made from nutrient- and biological-rich basaltic volcanic soil.

CaribSea Arag-Alive 20 lb Fiji Pink Sand
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Caribsea Super Naturals Aquarium Sand, 20-Pound, Sunset Gold
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CaribSea’s lines of Arag-Alive and Super Naturals are both ideal substrates for saltwater and freshwater aquariums, respectively. They also offer dry and biologically-active substrates in addition to these products.

What we like:
  • Services both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • Unique formula for increased biological benefits
  • Available in many colors and grain sizes

ADA

ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Ver 2 (3L)
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ADA substrates are incredibly popular among freshwater live plant enthusiasts. These Japanese plant-based black soil substrates, like ADA Aqua Soil Amazonia Ver 2, make aquascaping a breeze.

ADA substrates do not cause dusty water, and they do not leak ammonia or other nutrients into the water column. Instead, they’ll retain those nutrients for roots that can easily grow between the granules.

These substrates can be pretty expensive, but they will last a long time and support any aquatic system you choose to go with.

What we like:
  • All-natural materials
  • Harvested for plant-growing abilities
  • Retains nutrients and can help control pH

Fluval

Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum, For Fish Tanks, 8.8 lbs.,
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Fluval also packages substrates designed for optimal plant growth. Fluval Plant and Shrimp Stratum is widely found in aquarium stores and made from mineral-rich volcanic soil, similar to CaribSea. 

These large granules are lightweight, which is optimal for root growth. However, this can also make it difficult to initially weigh plants and other decorations down. 

Still, this substrate is workable for most freshwater enthusiasts and definitely within budget.

What we like:
  • Widely available 
  • Light and aerated for optimal root growth and nutrient exchange 
  • Buffers pH

SeaChem

If you’re looking for other colors than Fluval has to offer, SeaChem has several substrate products available. 

Their Fluorite series, made from porous clay gravel, is especially popular for freshwater plants. It is lightweight yet heavy enough to keep most aquatic plants weighted; this substrate may be pushed around in tanks with high flow, and some plant species may struggle to remain secured.

These substrates are also easy to push around the tank for aquascaping purposes. The granules can be a little sharp for bottom-dwellers, but this is uncommon.

What we like:
  • Widely available
  • Lightweight and easy to use for aquascaping purposes
  • Several colors available

Heaters

Heaters are one of the most problematic pieces of aquarium equipment, and you definitely want to use a dependable brand.

Still, it is recommended to regularly clean, test, and replace aquarium heaters to help prevent any accidents.

For a more exact list of the best heaters available, check out our list here.

Aqueon

Believe it or not, Aqueon heaters are some of the most dependable heaters in the hobby. Their Adjustable PRO Aquarium Heater designs seem to fit the needs of most systems and are durable yet inexpensive.

Aqueon offers adjustable glass heaters, which can be just as good as the PRO version. They also have preset heaters, though it’s generally agreed upon to avoid these kinds of heaters entirely in the freshwater or saltwater aquarium. 

What we like:
  • Durable, accurate, and longlasting
  • Multiple heating capacities and designs
  • Often included in all-in-one fish tank starting kits

Eheim

Eheim 3619090 Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater 300W
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Eheim is a close second to Aqueon heaters; Eheim heaters tend to be more popular than their canister filter selection. 

The Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater is used in many different systems. These heaters have a quality build that results in accuracy and consistency. 

They are a little cheaper than Aqueon’s PRO model set, making them a great alternative for a budget tank.

What we like:
  • Accurate and consistent heating mechanisms
  • Cheaper than competitors

Cobalt Aquatics

Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater
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Cobalt Aquatics is known for its Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heaters. Though these heaters are more expensive than the rest, they are sleek, compact, and accurate.

This allows them to easily fit into places that other longer and more delicate glass heaters cannot. 

However, these heaters have also been known to crack and leak toxins into the tank. They have also been known to overheat as they fail, boiling the water and any fish or invertebrates along with it.

Though these problems should not be ignored, they have successfully been used by most hobbyists.

What we like:
  • Sleek and compact for easy installation
  • Accurate and easy to read

Aquarium brands to avoid 

For the most part, finding a quality aquarium brand is easy to do in-store. Online though, there are an infinite amount of aquarium styles and options, and it can be easy to get lost in all the reviews.

In general, it’s best to stay away from companies that don’t specialize in aquarium products. These could be off-brand names from department stores or cheap unfamiliar brands. 

That isn’t to say that either of these can’t offer quality products, but there is usually a reason why their name isn’t plastered across aquarium blogs. You really do get what you pay for!

As you can see from the list above, most of the quality aquarium brands overlap in products. When in doubt, choose from a familiar name, even if the product is a little more expensive. 

Conclusion

Picking out things for your fish tank can be nearly as difficult as picking out the fish you want to keep! Nowadays, the possibilities are endless, (advanced acrylics or scratch-resistant glass, for example) and one thing always seems to be better than the next. A beautiful shallow lagoon-style reef tank would look wonderful in your family room!

Establish a budget with your end goal in mind and find the best product within that price range. Never go for the cheaper, unfamiliar brand, as you’ll often have to pay for your mistake later on.

If you have any questions about any of the aquarium brands listed, have other recommendations, or have had a bad experience with cheap fish tank accessories before, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below! 

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