When people think of pet fish, they tend to imagine something beautiful that requires little maintenance or attention. While fish require less work than other types of pets, particularly mammals, they’re not without their own needs. The following will explore a few items that you might want to keep handy if you’re thinking about keeping a pet fish in your home.

7 Must-Have Items for All Pet Fish Owners
Claudio Guglieri

Of course, every fish species is different, and this means that there might be things your specific type of fish needs that isn’t included on this list. Be sure to research the type of fish you have and speak to the person from whom you’ve bought the fish for detailed recommendations based on the kind of fish you have.

The Basics

Before you bring your fish home, you’ll need to secure some essentials. This includes a tank with a lid or hood, a light, a filtration system, food, a heater, a thermometer, a substrate, and a fishnet. Take some time to find the biggest tank you can for your space and budget; you can learn more here about some popular options. Fish, just like humans, like having lots of space.

Test Kits

When caring for a fish, one of your main responsibilities is to make sure that the water in which you keep your fish meets all the right standards. You’ll need testing kits for ammonia levels, nitrite levels, and pH levels. If you have hard water in your home, you probably also want to test for minerals. If your aquarium is saltwater, look into phosphate levels. If your water comes from the city, you’re also going to want to test for chlorine.

The tap water available in the city or a township needs to be filtered before placing it in the aquarium, as harsh chemicals are used to clean the water. Yes, this is also a major concern for human health and can be disastrous for tiny fish. So take the time to ensure your water is in a good state.

Water Conditioner

To deal with the problem of highly-chlorinated tap water, you’ll want to seek out a water conditioner. It’s a good idea to have your tap water tested before choosing the right conditioner. Some focus on heavy metals, while others tackle ammonia or chlorine. Figure out what balance of chemicals you have in your water and choose a conditioner accordingly.

Algae Scrubber

Algae will eventually grow within any aquarium you have; it’s simply part of the inevitable. This being said, most fish species don’t love algae and might not thrive in an algae-slick environment. Beyond this, algae also cloud up your aquarium, making it hard for you to see and enjoy your fish. An algae scrubber will help you keep things clean and pleasing to the eye. You can also look into algae magnets. These nifty tools aren’t necessary, but they’re incredibly convenient. They allow you to clean the inside of the glass by dragging them across the outside of your tank, meaning you don’t need to put your hand in the aquarium. To help reduce the speed at which algae grow, be careful about placing your fish tank in front of a window or other direct, natural lighting source.

A Fish-Only Bucket

While a bucket might seem like a simple item that can be interchanged with any number of household items, it isn’t. You need a new bucket that you use only for your fish. If soap or any other chemicals were in a bucket, there’s a chance that residue remains. A small amount of cleaning product residue can cause illness or even death, given how small fish are. If you have several buckets in your home, try to buy one of a different color so that you know the green bucket is only for the fish tank. You can also label the bucket and explain to children in the home that this bucket is not to be touched unless you’re dealing with fish things for the safety of the fish.


Returning to the idea of cleaning the tank, a siphon is needed to vacuum the gravel within your aquarium and conduct water changes. Since you’re going to be changing the water every month (you know you need to change the water monthly, right?), this tool can make your life a lot easier. Gravel vacuums can clean the waste off of the bottom of your tank while removing water for partial water changes.

Decorative Plants

Of course, decorative elements within your aquarium are pleasant to look at for you; they’re critical for the well-being of your fish. Research what the underwater terrain is like in the wild for the type of fish you have, and seek out similar plants, rocks, and elements. Fish that feel comfortable tend to live longer and healthier lives.

The above list should help you get together the things you need to properly maintain a fish tank and care for your fish. But, again, be sure to research the specific species of fish you have, as there might be additional items you should seek out.