No matter what type of fish tank you’re in the market for, you should always check the reviews out first. Here you’ll find previous customer’s testimonials and see what the best and worst parts of the tank are.
Without checking the reviews, you’ll be at risk of getting an aquarium tank that doesn’t work for your needs.
Both freshwater and saltwater fish require constant maintenance. It’s a common misconception that fish are easy to take care of and you don’t need to focus on them too much.
However, this is not the case. To give your fish the best life possible, they require a regular cleaning schedule.
Some people realize this too late and already have their fish by the time they see how messy they can be. If this is you, don’t worry - you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.
The good news is that there are now self-cleaning fish tanks on the market that can take some of the pressure off you.
Not to be confused with easy-to-clean fish tanks, a self-cleaning tank can make your life much easier when you’ve chosen the messiest fish to keep. Today we’ll be looking into all about self-cleaning tanks and what the best on the market are.
Now that we’ve looked into the benefits and drawbacks of self-cleaning aquarium tanks, as well as why you might want one, let’s take a peek at some examples. We’ve found eight of the best self-cleaning fish tanks on the market so that you know you’re getting the best of the best.
OUR TOP PICK
First on our list is an aquarium tank that creates its own miniature ecosystem as well as self-cleans itself. This tank adopts the shape of a four-sided jewel with a number of live plants on top of the lid.
This is a water garden self-cleaning tank. The plants can grow their own food thanks to the magic of aquaponics.
One thing that we love about this fish tank is that it comes with everything you need to set it up. You don’t need to purchase lots of additional accessories such as the plants unless you want your garden to be fuller and luscious.
But you can decide that after the initial setup process.
The tank itself is 3 gallons and comes with a water pump, seeds, natural aquatic supplies, five grow pots for the plants, fish food, and even a coupon that gets you some money off buying a betta fish to live in the aquarium!
This system takes the waste from your fish and uses it as a fertilizer. As this waste can be harmful to your fish and attractive for guests, this is a great feature and makes it a self-cleaning fish tank.
You won’t even need to replace the water yourself! The plants do all the work for you, and all you need to do is feed the fish as and when they need it. Plus, fish food is already included in your purchase, so you don’t need to worry about buying any of this, either!
- This tank is excellent for children and teaches them how ecosystems work. They can enjoy watching the plants grow while understanding how the fish fertilizes the plants.
- There are four holes for power cords which allows you to add in your own modifications to the tank. We’d use these for lights, heaters, oxygen bubble blowers, etc.
- You will need to deep clean the tank every so often and change the water. This is to ensure that there doesn’t become a build-up of nasty chemicals in the water such as ammonia and nitrates.
- A few customers found that the build quality wasn’t up to scratch. However, the manufacturer has since made some improvements and there has been a clear decrease in complaints of this nature since then.
Next up we have the EcoQube, which is the ideal fish tank for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time on maintenance. It has been designed to fit on a desktop and hold a betta fish, brightening up your office or workspace.
Not only is this to be considered a low maintenance fish tank, but the manufacturer claims that this is the lowest maintenance aquarium tank on the market. You can’t get more self-cleaning than the EcoQube, apparently!
We don’t know how true these claims are, but it is certainly a good self-cleaning fish tank nonetheless. The aquaponics sees a plant on top of the tank that uses the fish waste as its fertilizer, growing stronger as time goes on.
All you need to do is feed your fish up to six times a week and replenish the water when the levels are getting a little low. You won’t need to change the water or clean the filter at all.
- The tank is small enough that you can fit it on a desktop or coffee table around your house.
- It is low maintenance and ideal for people who don’t want to spend too much time or effort cleaning their fish tank.
- You can adjust the LED lighting with the presets to mimic different weathers for your fish.
- This fish tank is gorgeous to look at, and it is quiet enough not to disturb you as you’re working or watching television.
- There are different versions of the EcoQube, with the older versions being less effective than the newer alternatives. Buying an older version might mean that you miss out on the accessories that come with the new version.
- The manufacturer is a new startup business, meaning customer service might not be the best.
Some people don’t want to put any effort into their fish tanks at all. While some might say that you shouldn’t get fish if this is you, we say that there are still a few options out there that fit your needs.
Just don’t get any fish that are too needy - stick to one or two small fish, or maybe even just a shrimp.
If you fit this description, the biOrb FLOW is a good option for you. It comes with everything needed to set up your tanks, such as the tank itself, an air pump, a transformer, and an airstone. The tank is 8 gallons, allowing you to fit one or two small fish inside.
You’ll also get ceramic media to line the bottom of your tank with, which is better than gravel as food and waste cannot get stuck underneath it as easily.
The ceramic media works to offer a very efficient biological filtration system to keep the water oxygenated and clean.
Any additional waste is collected by a filter cartridge and removed from the water.
- This is a great tank for people who want to use their fish tank as a decorative item with little maintenance required. All you need to do is replace the filter cartridge every four weeks and change a third of the water.
- There’s the option to put a heater in the tank if your fish require it.
- The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
- This fish tank requires very little voltage so you won’t see an increase in your energy bill too much.
- The filter is slightly louder than a normal fish tank, which can be annoying if the tank is kept in your bedroom or living space.
- It’s rather expensive for a small tank, although as a decor piece the price can be understood.
- It might not be the best tank for beginners.
Water changes are certainly not the most strenuous of tasks, but they can be annoying when they’re needed every few days. If you’re one of the people who doesn't enjoy this part of fishkeeping, the biOrb Aquarium could be the best option for you.
It’s also a good option for people who like traditional decor, as the rounded fishbowl look is something that you don’t often see regularly anymore. It holds 4 gallons of water and has a diameter of 13-inches, so it will fit on larger desks or workspaces.
You can also opt for a larger tank if you want to keep more than one fish or a larger fish breed. Choose between a 4, 8, and 16-gallon tank.
While the design could be considered retro, this tank comes with lots of modern features to enjoy. The filtration system is revolutionary to people who want a self-cleaning fish tank, with a 5-stage cleaning method that uses chemicals, mechanical and biological filtration.
This tank also comes with everything that you need to set it up with, including light and detailed instructions that ensure that you set the tank up correctly the first time around.
- You’ll only need to replace the filter every four weeks instead of cleaning the whole tank. You also won’t have to replenish the water every couple of days.
- It looks great if you’re into the retro style of a goldfish bowl. Choose between three sizes depending on your needs.
- There are plenty of customer testimonials stating how great this fish tank works.
- Not the best for small fish as they can get sucked into the filter.
- Might not be suitable for children or beginners.
- Having to replace the filter every four weeks can quickly become expensive.
If you’re wanting a larger self-cleaning fish tank, the AquaSprouts Garden is a good option. It holds 10 gallons of water and uses aquaponics to keep the fish tank clean and your plants healthy.
The New York Times has even reviewed this fish tank and it was created through a Kickstarter campaign. Like the other aquaponics tanks we’ve looked at, the plants remove the fish waste and use it as fertilizer, keeping the tank clean.
You’ll get a submersible pump with a 160 gph flow rate and a 15-minute timer to set your own schedule for the flood and drain cycles. This comes with a one-year warranty so that you can get it replaced if it were to break.
This fish tank is great for people of all ages, whether they’re beginners or seasoned fish owners. It might even make a great gift for plant lovers who are looking for a new challenge.
- Use this tank for all sorts of fish such as tetras, angelfish, and bettas. Just make sure that you don’t overcrowd the tank.
- Great customer service that will help you with any troubles that you’re having.
- The price is reasonably low for the quality of the product.
- It is easy to fit together thanks to the individual pieces that snap together.
- The instructions are not the easiest for everyone to understand, which is why good customer service is such a benefit.
- The filter is a little noisy and water sometimes splashes up from the top of the tank, back into the tank. It’s not the best to keep in your bedroom where it could disturb your sleep.
This next tank is ideal for teachers or parents who want to teach their children about life cycles and ecosystems. If you’re a teacher, you can even e-mail ecolifeconservation.org to receive the STEM k-12 curriculum that will help you to get the most out of your tank.
You will need your own fish tank before choosing this aquaponics kit, as it doesn’t come with one. It will need to either be 24 x 12 inches in size or 20 gallons.
Once you have your tank you can add this aquaponics kit over the top of it to turn it into your very own indoor garden.
Raise both fish and plants at the same time so that they can work together and thrive off of one another. This is a great educational tool but you can also use it to simply add some greenery into your home.
Some people have even used it to grow their own basil and other herbs for the kitchen!
- You’ll receive everything you need except the tank itself, including a filtration system and lights.
- It requires very little maintenance, with you having to do very little other than topping up the water every now and then.
- The quality is very high and the customer service is excellent if you do have any queries or complaints.
- There is a setup video that you can watch to ensure that you’re doing everything correctly. This is much more effective than paper instructions.
- Deep cleaning the tank is quite complicated as you’ll have to remove the lighting, pump tubing, and electrical cords before being able to remove the top of the tank.
- An automatic feeder might not work well with this tank.
Best Self-Cleaning Aquarium Tanks Buying Guide
Who needs a self-cleaning aquarium tank?
Everyone can benefit from a self-cleaning fish tank - even people with well-behaved and clean fish!
Unless you enjoy the task of cleaning your fish tank, you’re going to benefit from this product. We switched to a maintenance-free fish tank and it blew our minds! Trust us, you won’t turn back.
Basically, you need a self-cleaning aquarium tank if you:
- Don’t like cleaning the fish tank (we mean, who does?)
- You keep forgetting to clean the fish tank, or you keep pretending to forget because you hate it so much.
- You don’t have time to clean the tank, or you keep finding excuses not to do it.
- The fish tank belongs to a child who isn’t responsible enough to clean the tank properly.
Essentially, a self-cleaning fish tank is for anyone who owns fish and doesn’t have a burning passion for cleaning the tank. So basically every fish owner, then.
Different types of self-cleaning aquarium tanks
There are two main types of self-cleaning fish tanks that you could opt for. These are both relatively similar, as the only difference is the system of cleaning that they both use.
The first type is a gravity-based self-cleaning fish tank. This type uses a pump to remove all of the dirty water from the tank while you add new clean water. You don’t even need to disturb your fish!
The pump is only strong enough to pull the water from the tank, so your fish, ornaments, and equipment will all remain in the same place. So you can remove the dirty water and replace it with clean water within minutes.
The second type is a water garden self-cleaning fish tank. This aquarium has a small garden made up of floating plants on top of it. Instead of accumulating at the bottom of the tank, the fish waste is used to fertilize the plants and therefore doesn’t make the tank dirty. It’s like magic!
Benefits and drawbacks of self-cleaning tanks
We’ve already said how amazing we think these tanks are, but just in case you need even more convincing, we’ll list a few more benefits below.
Self-cleaning tanks save time
If you have a busy job or seemingly never any free time, you won’t want to spend your little downtime cleaning the fish tank, right?
It might not seem like it when you’re just starting out, but cleaning an aquarium tank can actually take a lot of time! If you don’t have hours to clean your tank every few weeks, a self-cleaning tank could be a lifesaver.
You won’t have to put as much effort into cleaning
The next benefit goes hand in hand with the first, and it is that a self-cleaning tank takes so much effort out of the task at hand! Okay, so this is a little lazy of us, but efficiency is key when you live a busy life.
If you have a hectic schedule or a particularly taxing job, you won’t want to spend all your effort on cleaning a tank. If there’s a way to make this job a little easier for you, why not take it?
Your fish will benefit from a self-cleaning tank
Finally, a self-cleaning tank is actually great for your fish. They will be able to enjoy cleaner water without having to wait for you to have time to clean them.
Clean water keeps your fish healthy and can prevent diseases, which extends their lifespan and makes them happier. So, not only is a self-cleaning fish tank great for you, but it’s also excellent for your fish!
Unfortunately, everything can’t be perfect and there are a small number of drawbacks that come with a self-cleaning fish tank. To keep things fair, we’ve included these below so that you have a well-rounded picture before investing in a self-cleaning aquarium.
It might not work as advertised
Some advertisements like to embellish the truth and tell you what you want to hear. When purchasing anything, there is always the risk that it won’t work as advertised. This can waste your time and money, as well as subjecting your fish to a dirtier tank.
They might be more expensive than normal tanks
As manufacturers can state that their tanks are self-cleaning, they often see an opportunity to higher the asking price and make a bit more money on each purchase. So, the self-cleaning tank could be more expensive than a regular tank.
However, as long as the price isn’t significantly higher than the regular tank, we think that a higher price can be excused for the convenience that you’re getting. Plus, you’ll feel like it’s paying for itself when you don’t have to drag your feet to clean the tank every few weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about these amazing inventions? We’ve answered the most common questions about self-cleaning aquarium tanks in this section.
How do I warm water in a fish tank?
Some fish need warm water to live happily, such as betta fish. To warm the water, all you’ll need is a water heater suitable for aquarium use. This can warm the water to the desired temperature that your fish need.
If you have a larger tank, you might need more than one water heater to get an even temperature throughout all of the water. If you have a heater too small for your tank, you’ll get cold spots which can shock your fish and possibly even lead to death.
Aquarium heaters are easy to use, and they’ll often be able to remind you when you need to turn the heater off. Alternatively, you can get a heater that allows you to set a certain temperature that the heater cannot surpass.
Does aquarium water need to be treated?
Yes, all fish tank water needs to be treated with the correct chemicals for the fish you’re keeping. Tap water is often too harsh for fish, which is why you’ll need to treat it to make the water safer.
There are fish water test strips that you can use to test the pH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Carbonate, and Hardness of the water. These allow you to see what needs to be altered with your water before introducing your fish back into the tank.
Once you have tested the water, you can add more treatments to amend it so that the water is ready for your fish. Bear in mind that some fish require different needs than others. For example, tetras cannot tolerate any ammonia while goldfish can tolerate up to 0.2 mg.
You should test your aquarium water on a regular basis to avoid your fish becoming stressed or ill from poor water parameters.
Can you use aquatic plants in self-cleaning aquarium tanks?
Aquatic plants are great for fish tanks as they offer a better environment for your fish and help to clean it by using the fish waste as fertilizer.
However, quite a few fish owners are in a lively debate as to whether you should use live plants in your aquarium or not. You can search this online to see what others are saying about the matter.
If you’re not comfortable using live plants in your aquarium, you can swap them out for plastic plants. Not only are these harder to kill, but they also take away the risk of snails hatching in your tank.
If you’re a beginner at fish keeping, you might want to start with plastic plants until you get used to your new fish.
We hope that you’ve learned something interesting about self-cleaning fish tanks from our article, and maybe even found your new aquarium to place in your house!
Bear in mind that different fish will need different needs, so always do your research before opting for a tank that will turn out to be too small.
We find that water garden self-cleaning tanks are better than the gravity alternatives, but you can create your own opinion on the two.
Self-cleaning tanks are ideal for beginners, kids, or people with hectic schedules who don’t have time to clean their fish tanks every few weeks.
So, enjoy this new discovery and sit back and relax while your fish tank cleans itself!