An indoor aquarium will require the same sort of basic supplies that an outdoor pond would require. The most important piece of fish tank equipment is the filter and pump, fortunately in indoor aquariums these often come combined together.
Types of fish tank filters:
Hang on and external canister filters will provide mechanical, biological and depending on what media you use, chemical filtration.
In recommending a filter, the main advice I can give is if you are anything like me, the chore of cleaning a fish tank filter isn't particularly appealing and you will probably want to do it as least often as possible. To prolong the frequency of needing to clean your filter, buy a bigger one than what you really need, or as big as the budget will allow. Large filters like the Fluval 406 canister filter.
Mesh and foam provide mechanical filtration by physically trapping solid waste and also provide an ideal environment for the colonization of the waste eating bacteria.
Activated carbon will provide chemical filtration by means of absorption, carbon is not required all the time, but when you do choose to use carbon remember it needs to be replaced regularly. If carbon is left too long in the filter and reaches the maximum it can possibly absorb it will actually begin to dump the impurities it has caught back into your aquarium, which is not ideal at all.
Hang on type filters are suitable for small tanks, generally they will allow you to get away with weekly water changes.
Aquarium Canister Filters
Canister filters vary in size, functions and quality. They are suited for larger aquariums than what hang on type fish tank filters can handle. Canister filters contain baskets that you can add whatever type of filter media you want to, most canister filters have at least three basket trays. Ideally you want to have at least one tray of mesh/foam for mechanical filtration and the rest devoted to biological filtration media. Biological filter media includes products like ceramic noodles and porous volcanic rock.
Some canister filters include built in UV clarifiers. These are useful for fish tanks exposed to direct sunlight and help kill algae. Fish tanks not exposed to direct sunlight generally don’t have too much trouble with algae. Things to remember with UV clarifiers is: 1) They should not be used for the first few weeks after a filter is installed as the UV light will kill the good bacteria before they can get established in your filter. 2) Although your UV light bulb might still be working, they lose their UV effectiveness after approximately 12 months and need to be replaced.
The Fluval FX5 is the most powerful filter for residential aquariums. For viewers outside Australia the best prices we could find on the Fluval FX5 was through Amazon (see link below).
There is also the option of wet/dry filters. Some people prefer them to canister filters. They filter well however produce more noise than canister filters and take longer to clean. On a very positive side, wet/dry filters allow for the addition of a protein skimmer, which are fantastic.
The below video explains how wet/dry aquarium filters and protein skimmers work.
What will an aquarium filter cost me?
The answer to that is $80 up to $600. There is a rule in life though, you get what you pay for. Why are Fluval filters so special? In my opinion it is the quality of the materials that go into making it. They are tried and tested, their pumps are made to last and are reliable. They provide features that make cleaning a breeze and many other nice features.
Is an aerator necessary?
Ideally yes. Not only so your fish can breathe easier, but the good bacteria that live in your biological filter thrive on oxygen rich environments. If your filter makes some bubbles when it returns the water to the fish tank that can often be sufficent too.
Cleaning a fish tank filter
Just as described in the pond filtration category, the same applies to indoor aquariums. When washing your filter, do not wash the biological filter media in tap water. Tap water is chlorinated and will kill the waste eating bacteria you have grown in your filter. Instead take a bucket of your aquarium water and wash it out in that. Never use bleach or any other chemicals.
Starting a fish tank for the first time
Maintaining a stable temperature in your fish tank is essential for the health of your fish. While some species can tolerant slight changes in water temperature, other fish are more sensitive and could become stressed or die as a result of unstable tank temperature. Aquarium heaters are the easiest way to change and maintain the temperature in your tank and they come in two main varieties: hang-on heaters and submersible heaters. A hang-on heater is simply one which you affix to the back wall of your tank in a vertical position using suction cups. These heaters typically include a temperature control setting which allows you to choose the temperature for your tank. Submersible aquarium heaters can be placed directly in the tank, positioned horizontally a few inches from the bottom of the tank. This positioning allows for a better distribution of heat.
Lighting is essential to maintain the health and growth of photosynthetic organisms in your fish tank – it can also help to enhance the appearance of your fish. In order to determine how much light you need for your tank, you may need to do some basic calculations. Tanks that house fish only require 1 or 2 watts of light per gallon (4 litres) of water whereas planted tanks require between 2 and 5 watts per gallon. In order to determine how many watts per gallon any particular bulb will provide your tank with, divide the total wattage by the gallon capacity of your particular tank.
When it comes to aquarium lighting you have many choices. Standard fluorescent lights are the most basic option, still very popular among aquarium hobbyists. Compact fluorescent lights, however, are a popular upgrade to standard fluorescent. Either of these options is sufficient for the basic fish only or planted tank but if you have a particularly large or deep tank you may need a lighting system that provides higher intensity light. T-5 high output and metal halide lights provide high-intensity light capable of penetrating deep aquarium water which also provides for the needs of aquarium plants. Before you select the lighting for your tank, think about which type of lighting will best suit the needs of your particular tank.