Yes, it requires a bit of effort in fishkeeping. It demands water change, cleaning, and many other associated tasks. The concept of a self-cleaning fish tank ought to be a good idea if you get overwhelmed with the burden of fishkeeping.
However, there is no fish tank in the world that doesn’t need to be cleaned or is self-cleaning.
The term self-cleaning is misleading; it should be ‘easy clean’ or ‘less maintenance’ fish tank. Of course, an aquarium in an auto-pilot is a dream. Indeed, you can build an aquarium where you will need almost no water change or require minimal maintenance.
The products sold under the name of the self-cleaning aquarium are pretty handy, although you can make one from scratch as well. However, building from scratch demands much more research to collect every piece of equipment and set them up.
In that sense, a self-cleaning aquarium kit can help because it is already pre-equipped with the necessary gears. Here, in this article, I’ll recommend the very best self-cleaning fish tank where you need less time maintaining and can enjoy more time in fishkeeping.
Suppose you don’t like to read a whole lot of comparisons among the products and want to get suggestions straight away. In that case, I recommend Eco-cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden as my best pick.
It’s the largest aquaponics kit in the market. If you aren’t new to fishkeeping, you should know that a bigger tank always gives you some flexibility. In a small aquarium, the parameters can shift quickly, which is stressful for the fish.
Moreover, you’ll get a larger area for growing plants with this kit. Finally, except for the tank, it includes everything to start the self-cleaning aquarium journey.
If you are a Goldfish lover, it’s the only kit on the list that can house Goldfish. Because Goldfish can grow really big, as much as 6 inches in an aquarium, and increase the bio-loads so quickly.
Since it can hold many plants at the top, this kit can support the filtration required to have Goldfish in an aquarium and keep maintenance frequency a bare minimum.
Our List Of The Best Self-Cleaning Fish Tanks
I have had to put a lot of effort into finding the best self-cleaning fish tanks for you. I always emphasize the bigger size aquarium; However, as I know choices are diverse, I also kept small sized aquariums.
The largest size I picked is 20-gallon, and the smallest is half a gallon. The rest of the items fall within this range.
I have selected the kits that both suit beginner and pro aquarists. Anybody who wants a self-cleaning, low maintenance tank, you have got the options here.
Self Cleaning Water Garden By Back To The Roots
Back to the root self-cleaning fish tank is far ahead of others in terms of popularity. This is because it uses the aquaponic principle where fish and plants co-exist together and help each other.
The capacity of the fish tank is 3-gallon, which is ideal to house a single betta or 3-4 community fish that doesn’t grow much more than 1-2 inches.
If you are fond of fishkeeping and, at the same time, gardening, this kit could be the ideal choice for you. Although you can’t grow too many plants, the tabletop cute aquaponic fish tank is good enough to get into the hobby.
The good news is, it comes with almost everything you need to start up. Seeds for plants, grow stones, gravel, water circulation pump, de-chlorinator, fish food, and water conditioner are included.
Although you could ask for something more like a heater, or a little more décor along with the package, still I think it’s a good deal. It can be fun working with the kids and teaching them how the natural ecosystem works.
There are three separate compartments at the top for growing plants from seeds. Moreover, you can grow underwater plants; I’d suggest going for low-light plants. Some users also grow high-tech plants using submersible light.
Anyone who has little or no knowledge in fishkeeping can turn the kit into an excellent presentation containing live plants and fish.
- Affordable in price
- Great fun working the kit
- Easy to set up and grow plants
- Great starting package to fishkeeping
- Full money-back guarantee
- Comes with essentials to set it straightway
- Molds can develop on the grow stone.
- You need to buy a heater separately for keeping tropical fish
- Doesn’t have a light, plant growth is limited
The AquaSprouts Garden Kit
The pictures are misleading; the AquaSprouts garden kit is not a fish tank. It’s only a frame that holds a grow bed for plants and a pump and timer to circulate water through the grow bed. An adjustable light bar is also attached to the frame, and you can install lights (not included) for better plant growth.
The kit fits over a standard size 10-gallon aquarium. However, you have to buy the tank separately. So yes, you are missing out on the tank, but it’s definitely the best when it comes to self-cleaning.
You can enjoy the true feeling of a self-sustaining aquaponics fish tank with this kit because it has tons of space for growing plants. You can harvest herbs, veggies, etc. and increased vegetation provide better cleaning than smaller kits.
You don’t need an additional filter because once set, the self-maintaining mechanism will take care of the rest. Moreover, the beautiful black container surrounds a 10-gallon tank where you can enjoy the fishkeeping with much more fish than the smaller tanks. Check my detailed 10-gallon tank stocking guide for fish selection.
Although it’s pricey and some users complained that it’s made of flimsy plastic. Yes, plastic is thin but structurally sound and sturdy. Overall, it’s a fabulous way to delve into the hobby of self-cleaning aquaponics fish tanks. It is my best pick despite some downsides. Get a detailed review of the kit here.
- Beautiful black decorative kit
- Allows to grow a variety of veggies, herbs, and houseplants
- Set up is a breeze
- Great customer support
- Suitable for a 10-gallon aquarium
- A little expensive & doesn’t include a tank
- No light fixture, only the light bar comes with the package
ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden
This is the most extensive aquaponic kit on the market. It can accommodate a 20-gallon aquarium, and you can grow fresh organic herbs, vegetables all year round. The kit fits the standard 12 inches by a 24-inch aquarium, but it does not include one.
It works in the same way as other aquaponic kits on the list. Fish wastes fertilize the plant, and plants clean the water for the fish; a natural self-sustaining cycle goes on in this closed ecosystem.
Unlike others, this kit Includes programmable LED Light fixtures with a timer. It comes with two LED lights; one is a high-intensity grow light for plants, and the other is for the tank. One downside is both the lights operate on the same timer.
The kit is expensive, but if you can afford it, I recommend it because it is the best self-cleaning aquaponics kit for a 20-gallon tank. Moreover, a larger tank is easier to maintain; fish and plants thrive better in a large aquarium than in a smaller one.
Overall, the kit is a complete package for anyone who wants to start a self-sustaining aquarium journey with aquaponics tanks. It’s fun, educational for kids, and can make fishkeeping a delightful hobby for you.
Please see the video for more information on the kit and how to set it up.
- Spacious to grow a lot of vegetables
- Includes light fixture
- Tank light allows making a planted aquarium
- Great fun and learning working with the kit
- Ideal for getting introduced to the aquaponic system
- Doesn’t include the tank and heater
- Grow lights are so intense that they can irritate the eyes
Penn-Plax Presents The AquaTerrium Planting Tan
The AquaTerrium planting tank made by Penn-Plax is a revolutionary design to give you a new desktop aquarium experience. It includes a beautifully curved glass aquarium where you can keep your favorite live plants and fish together.
The innovative design incorporates a rockscape waterfall. The pump circulates water through cascading waterfall to planting pods and provides nutrients for the plants. Water from the top flows into the below aquarium section giving you a soothing experience.
The kit also comes with an integrated filtration system with filter media and LED growth light. The water filter and natural aquaponics cycle keep aquarium water fresh and healthy, making the tank a self-cleaning one. In addition, the LED grow light provides optimum lighting for the live plants to thrive.
If you don’t want to add live plants, you can use the artificial plants that come along with the kit. But, in that case, you will definitely miss the added filtration provided by the live plants.
The 1.86 gallons terrarium is suitable for small fishes Like guppies, tetras, zebras, etc. In the planting section, you can grow almost all house plants and herbs. The tank is beautiful and can be a perfect décor that easily fits on a dresser, tabletop, or at any desk.
- Innovative waterfall design
- Perfect décor for any home
- Can hold 5 to 8 small plant
- It’s not so expensive
- The filter can be customized for better performance
- Includes led growth light
- The filter is difficult to access for maintenance
- Plant pods have no drain holes that can lead to a long-term problem
- A small aquarium is not suitable for Goldfish or Betta
Huamuyu Hydroponic Garden Aquaponics Fish Tank Plants Growing System Self-Cleaning Seed Sprouter Tray
This is another kit that operates on the aquaponic system, a mini symbiosis composed of fish, plants, and microbes. A healthy ecosystem establishes in the aquarium space; microbes decompose fish wastes, providing nutrients for the plants. Plants assimilate the nutrients and clean the water in return.
A self-cleaning aquaponics system keeps the water clean; therefore, it requires 50% less cleaning than traditional tanks. In the planting pods, you can grow healthy vegetables for salad, soup, and sandwiches.
Huamuyu Hydroponic Garden kit is a 5-gallon aquarium size. It is ideal for 2-3 inches long fishes; smaller fish may suck into the pump. However, you can easily prevent that by placing some decor or a fine mesh covering in front of the pump. Many users also successfully kept Betta fish using the kit.
The kit doesn’t include a heater or light, but the feeding hole is large enough to put heater and light cords through it if you want to use them. The filtration system is simple but works really well.
It’s a great beginner kit, includes everything to set it up, and the price is also considerably low. This could be a fantastic learning experience and great fun for you. If you would like to start your very first aquaponics garden, I suggest buying this kit.
The one negative a few users mentioned in the instructions. It would have been better if the manufacturer could include more detailed instructions.
- Relatively cheaper than other aquaponics kits
- Great for beginners
- Requires less cleaning and maintenance
- Sponge and roots of plants filter the water twice
- Affordable in price
- Not detailed instructions included
- Lights aren’t added
King 5 in 1 Indoor Gardening Ecosystem Hydroponic/Aquaponic with Lighting and Fish Tank
King 5 in 1 indoor gardening aquaponics kit is one of the best kits in the market. There are two separate compartments for growing plants. One container is for traditional soil gardening. The other one is for an aquaponics system where you can raise leafy vegetables and fish.
The planting system is super simple and easy to set up. A self-watering system for the dirt compartment is there; a microfiber strip carries water from the hydroponic system to the soil chamber. So you can go on a vacation for 10 days without worrying.
Each compartment holds about 6 gallons. The kit comes with many things to set up, including a water filter pump, seed germination trays, planting cup, microfibers, etc.
The kit also includes a grow light for providing a suitable light spectrum for plants’ photosynthesis. The lights operate on a timer, consume only 20W, requiring less than two dollars of electricity consumption in a month. In addition, healthy plants keep the water very clean and require very little maintenance.
The system is the most versatile one, straightforward to use & not so expensive while compared to a plant-only hydroponic system. You can enjoy the sheer elegance of the aquaponics system with the kit, and it can hold 30 plants easily. Moreover, the water reservoir volume is adequate (12 gallons in total) to house many fishes.
The only complaint users mentioned is that sometimes during shipping, it got broken, and the set of instructions weren’t clear enough.
- Versatile kit
- It can accommodate many plants
- Growing plants is simple with the kit
- Includes grow light with timer
- Requires less maintenance
- Easy to set up
- Not overly expensive, but a bit pricey
- Not having a clear instruction manual
As Seen On TV 56028 My Fun Fish Tank, 4 3/4 x 6 x 10-Inch
This cute little fish tank works on the principle of gravity flow technique. It does the cleaning by itself; all you need to do is pour some water into the tank, and the dirty water will come out through the siphoning tube attached to the tank.
It is the perfect low-maintenance tank and an excellent gift for a beginner. This half-a-gallon fish tank can be a great decor piece in any house and is a decent way to acquaint yourself with the fishkeeping world.
The tank doesn’t come alone; in the package, it includes a white LED light and riverbed stone as a substrate to get you started. In addition, you will also get a live plant that needs to be placed right in the middle of the tank.
The build quality of this plastic-made fish tank is impressive. However, the most dominant downside is the size of the tank, which is very small. As a result, it is only likely to house a couple of small fishes, snails, or small shrimp.
Although this setup gets a good customer review, I would say, if you are really serious about fish keeping, you should not go for it because its small water volume is not ideal for the fish. Nevertheless, if you want to keep it as décor and house a pet simultaneously, you may consider buying.
- Very innovative design
- No need to get your hands for cleaning
- Sturdy build quality
- Comes with an LED light
- Built-in siphon tube makes water change super simple
- Very much affordable
- Capacity is too small for most fish.
- It requires regular water changes to keep the waste out of the tank
Why Should You Consider A Self-Cleaning Tank Over A Traditional Aquarium?
We all know that maintaining a fish tank is a lot of work. But in this busy world, it’s not always possible to spare some time and indulge in a hobby like fishkeeping. Also, after hectic office days, you might be too tired to care for the fish.
The most significant aspect of self-cleaning tanks is it saves a considerable amount of time. Suppose you are not super active; in that case, you may feel laziness inside when it comes to changing the water, maintaining the filter, and so on.
A self-cleaning tank only requires effort at the beginning to set it up properly. Once established, a solid self-sustaining fish tank saves much time. In addition, it keeps you free of tension regarding the water parameters compared to traditional tank setups.
Frequent cleaning and changing water is not only stressful for you but also for your fish. The ideal situation will be if your water parameters remain stable all the time. A self-cleaning or self-sustaining aquarium serves the same purpose. A healthy ecosystem inside the aquarium keeps the water ideal for fish. Therefore, you don’t need to be worried about your fish’s well-being when you are on vacation.
Moreover, besides fishkeeping, if you are someone who likes to grow different plants and herbs, the self-cleaning aquaponics system brings you the opportunity. Moreover, Aquaponics offers the best self-cleaning effects. That is why we have included several aquaponics kits on the list of best self-cleaning fish tanks.
The second best option is the dirted tank; a planted aquarium where the soil is used as a substrate. The concept of a dirt tank is to create such a balance where you don’t need any fertilizer, carbon dioxide for plants, and no filtration for the water to keep clean. However, it requires specialized knowledge to achieve the exact balance. If you are interested, you can check my detailed article on setting up a dirted fish tank.
Overall, suppose you are a beginner or a seasoned aquarist, and you have a dream to own a fish tank with ‘zero’ or minimal maintenance required, then the self-cleaning fish tank would be the ideal option for you.
Are There Downsides?
It will not be ethical if I don’t enlighten you about the downsides. Apart from being expensive to set up and spending much more time during the early days, there is no significant dark side of a self-cleaning fish tank.
The downsides are associated with the products being sold as ‘so-called’ self-cleaning fish tanks. Sometimes those are overly advertised and don’t function as promised. It can be avoided if you build your own setup, but that will accompany a whole other level of difficulty. However, If you aspire to give it a try, you can read my detailed article on making a self-sustaining fish tank.
If you are a beginner, I wouldn’t say buying a self-cleaning fish tank is altogether a bad idea. However, you should know the limitations well beforehand. One of the common drawbacks is the aquarium size, which is usually on the smaller side. Here, larger are better; small aquariums are not perfect because toxins build quickly in a small ecosystem.
Most of the self-cleaning kits are under 5-gallon of capacity, meaning few small fishes can elevate the toxicity level in a quick time. Ideally, plants on the top in an aquaponics system should keep the water clean; however, the concept works better with a slightly bigger aquarium. Considering this, I have tried my best to pick aquaponic kits over 5-gallons.
You will not get the same advantage as an aquaponics system with a gravity tank because a single plant cannot take too many nutrients. Although you can own a gravity tank, I recommend it only for decorative purposes.
Hopefully, you now have much knowledge of the benefits and limitations of self-cleaning fish tanks. Also, you know the pros and cons of the best self-cleaning fish tanks on the market. So, ultimately it’s your decision which one you should go for.
But suppose you ask me to name a kit to buy for. In that case, I recommend the Eco-cycle indoor Garden System because it is the biggest on the list. As I said earlier, the bigger is easier to maintain and keep everything stable. Yes, I know it’s expensive, but if you can afford it, that would be the ideal one.
Honestly, I am a big fan of the self-cleaning ecosystem. I am also thankful to the kits’ manufacturers because it allows anyone to try a self-cleaning fish tank. However, the user should know the limitations and drawbacks before purchasing.
I would like to hear your experience of owning a self-cleaning fish tank; please leave a comment below.