Cleaning and water change are the most time-consuming aspects of maintaining a fish tank. You should change at least 25% of the water in the fish tank weekly or biweekly. You should also clean the substrate every month. As such, self-cleaning aquariums make maintenance easier.
Below is a review of the 10 best low-maintenance fish tank models and tips for choosing the most suitable one for you among the numerous options in the market.
10 Best Low-Maintenance Fish Tank Models
Best Overall: Back to the Roots Indoor Aquaponic Garden and Fish Tank
- Self-Cleaning mechanism – Water Garden
- Tank Size – 3 Gallons
The Back to the Roots fish tank is versatile and multipurpose. It enables you to create an ecosystem where you keep aquatic pets and grow plants. The 3-gallon fish tank can be used to keep small fish such as betta fish/Siamese fighting fish and other aquatic animals such as snails and shrimps. It has a beautiful design that complements your home decor.
The fish tank comes with the essential parts, including a compact top-layer planter, several pots, a water conditioner, a de-escalator, a water pump, grow rocks, seeds (radish and wheatgrass seeds), fish food, and a coupon for fish. However, you may have to buy other accessories separately.
It is a great gift option for kids and can be used to teach them about the ecosystem. There are different growing slots enabling you to grow different plants separately.
- Suitable if you have limited space for a fish tank
- Easy to maintain
- Comes with essential parts and accessories for setup
- Low-quality pump
- Does not have a light
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Water Garden
- Tank Size – 10 Gallons
If you want a larger gravity-based self-cleaning aquarium, go for the AquaSprouts Garden, Self-Sustaining Desktop Aquarium Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit. The 10-gallon aquarium is suitable for keeping medium-sized fish and growing more plants. It has a modern matte black finish that complements a wide range of decor styles. It is made of Polypropylene plastic.
It is custom molded with a single-piece garden bed that easily snaps at the fish tank’s top. Instead of soil or grow stones, it comes with expanded clay, which supports the plants while offering water filtration and purification. You can grow herbs, greens, and small-statured fruits and vegetables
It is also fitted with a removable light bar that you can replace with any standard indoor grow light. As such, this aquarium is suitable for places that have insufficient light. In addition, it has a submersible 160-gallon-per-hour pump & a mechanical timer. It also has an advanced filter that keeps the water clean.
The AquaSprouts Garden Aquaponics Ecosystem Kit can be used for keeping a wide range of fish types, including barbs, tetras, platies, mollies, guppies, danios, minnows, Corydoras, and most other small freshwater fish.
- Offers adequate space for medium-sized aquarium fish while growing plants
- Elegant design for home decor
- Comes with a mechanical timer and submersible
- Came with minimal instructions
- Heavier and takes up more space
Best Budget: As Seen on TV 56028 My Fun Fish Tank
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Gravity-based
- Tank Size – 0.5 Gallons
As Seen on Tv My Fun Fish Tank requires minimal maintenance and has a minimalist design. It is shaped like a pitcher with a siphon at the side near the top. The siphon is built in, so you do not have to attach a hose to the spout to drain the water.
When cleaning, dirty water pours out through the disposal tube, and you can easily add more fresh water through the top of the water tank. Therefore, you do not disturb the fish when changing water.
The Fun Fish Tank comes with 1 white LED light, riverbed stones, and 1 aquatic plant. The LED light already contains two Lithium (CR 2025, 3V) batteries.
It is a great option for first-time pet fish keepers and kids. It is also relatively inexpensive and can be customized with aquarium decor pieces such as rocks and plastic plant decorations. It is best suited for small fish breeds, snails, and small shrimps.
- Suitable for kids and first-time fish keepers
- Simple design with an inbuilt siphon
- The siphon may not catch all debris and dirt, requiring several water change rounds.
- Limited capacity
Best Self-Cleaning: AQQA 1.8 Gallon Multifunction Self-Cleaning Fish Tank
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Filter
- Tank Size – 1.8 Gallons
The AQQA 1.8 Gallon Multifunction Self-Cleaning Fish Tank has a unique, elegant design. Not only can you use it to keep fish, but it is also great as a decoration and night light. It has a high-quality build as it is made of ABS and acrylic materials.
The large transparent acrylic display lets you view the fish from multiple angles. It has minimum and maximum water level lines for easy cleaning and refilling. The top cover is easy to access and open for cleaning and feeding with fish flakes and other foods.
A piece of removable filter cotton is placed between the water pump and the water inlet to prevent the water flow from sucking in the fish. The cotton filter should be replaced every 1-2 weeks.
The fish tank is fitted with a 40GPH water pump, a built-in hidden filter system, an air purification outlet, and one adjustable stainless steel mini fishing net for easy cleaning. The retractable fishing net has an extended length of 8.3″ to 16.3 to provide ample space to hold your fish when changing water.
It has 9 adjustable LED light modes to mimic different aquatic environments to keep the fish stimulated. The color modes include white, white and blue, red, blue, green, marquee, marquee 1, and marquee 2. You can easily switch between the modes by pressing the light button. The lights are not removable.
The aquarium has an independent aromatherapy system with a switch to enable you to relax. You can replace the aromatherapy tablets with different scents.
It is suitable for betta, guppies, angel fish, and other ornamental fishes.
- Unique, elegant design
- Multiple lighting modes
- Easy to clean
- Affordable pricing
- Numerous convenience features
- Small capacity
- LED lights are easy to break
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Water Garden and Filter
- Tank Size – 1.85 Gallons
The Penn-Plax Aqua Terrarium Planting Tank with Aquarium offers a combined ecosystem for fish and submersible live plants. The terrarium is made of beautifully curved clear glass that offers an unobstructed view of the fish and plants. The terrarium is also fitted with a high-powered LED light.
It features an aquaponics waterfall, a rockscape with planting pods, and a deluxe artificial plant pack. The cleaning system integrates a water filter and water pump. The pump creates a cascading waterfall over the rocks to provide nutrients to the plant.
You can grow plants such as watercress, English ivy, jade, and herbs. On the other hand, you can keep small fish such as guppies, goldfish, and zebras. The terrarium is available in two sizes—large and medium. Both can be placed on a tabletop, dresser, desk, countertop, etc.
- Innovative design
- The filter can be customized for better performance
- Available in two size options
- The filter is hidden, making it difficult to access for cleaning
- The tank is exposed
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Water Garden
- Tank Size – 8.4 Gallons
Like the Penn-Plax Aqua Terrarium Planting Tank with Aquarium, the Penn-Plax AquaTerrium Fish Tank (REPTT1R) enables you to keep fish and grow submersible plants in a symbiotic environment.
However, unlike the Penn-Plax Aqua Terrarium, the Penn-Plax AquaTerrium Fish Tank (REPTT1R) has two separate fish compartments, which allows you to keep different species of small freshwater fish. The tiered design of the aquarium replicated nature’s metabolic cycle. The plants absorb fish waste and purify the water, while the fish waste serves as nutrients to the plants.
To keep the ecosystem clean, the fish tank utilizes an integrated filtration system that consists of a 4.5 Watt submersible filter pump, carbon filter media, bio media balls, coarse sponge, and circulating waterfall.
The front chamber is best suited for keeping nano fish such as betta fish, tetras, danios, barbs, rasboras, small crustaceans, and shrimp. It has a 3.8-gallon capacity and measures 5” (W) x 14.75” (D) x 6.5”. Therefore, it can hold several nano fish.
The rear chamber is designed for plants. You can grow submersible plants such as Anubis petite, narrow-leaf chain sword, Indian red sword, and dwarf baby tears. Or you can grow marginal plants such as Christmas cactus, arrowhead plant, and cordyline terminalis.
- Unique, beautiful design
- Easy to assemble
- Large capacity
- May need to add small filter pump to circulate water properly
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – BiOrb 5-stage water filtration system
- Tank Size – 8 Gallons
The biOrb FLOW 30 Aquarium does not apply aquaponics or gravity to keep the aquarium clean and well-oxygenated. Instead, it employs a 5-stage filtration technology to clean, stabilize, and oxygenate water in the fish tank.
The unique biOrb filtration system creates a vigorous water flow and constantly changes the water surface to maintain oxygen saturation. It creates a circular flow of water that causes the fish waste and dirty water to collect downwards where there is a ceramic filtration media.
The ceramic media absorbs toxins and breakdown harmful bacteria. Any residue is trapped in the sponge cartridge. The water then passes through resins and natural stabilizers to remove any remaining toxins and stabilize pH levels.
The biOrb FLOW 30 Aquarium has a compact design that fits even in limited spaces in your home or office. It has a high-quality acrylic construction, up to 10 times stronger than glass yet 50% lighter. The acrylic is also transparent and offers a good view of the fish and decorations in the fish tank.
It has a built-in LED light that fits seamlessly at the top of the aquarium. The top has a feed hole to enable you to feed the fish conveniently.
- Large capacity
- Unique and sophisticated self-cleaning mechanism
- Comes with a low-voltage pump and LED lights
- Available in 2 sizes —4 gallons and 8 gallons
- Comes with poor instructions
Best Desktop Low Maintenance Aquarium: Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Kit
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Smartclean Filter
- Tank Size – 5 Gallons
The Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Kit is fitted with a Smartclean filter to help with its maintenance. The technology enables you to change the water in less than two minutes. It has a beautiful, sleek design that includes an aquarium tank, hood, elevated base, and fish cartridge. The seller also provides fish food, a water conditioner, and a setup guide.
To change the water, remove the lid, push down the filter’s nozzle, and rotate it to face outside the tank. Then place a container beneath the nozzle. Push it down again, and water will be pumped out automatically. Afterward, add conditioned water to top the fish tank to recommended levels. You should replace the filter cartridge after every four weeks for optimal performance.
The aquarium is available in three tank sizes — 1 gallon, 2.5 gallons, and 5 gallons. It is also available in a variety of colors. It is best suited for small fish. It is suitable for both beginner and experienced fish keepers.
- Simple, beautiful design
- Easy to clean with minimal mess
- Available in different sizes
- Filter cartridge requires regular replacement
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Water Garden
- Tank Size – 1.6 Gallons
The Oltraman Betta Fish Tank has a unique compact hydroponic design. It is made of high-quality plastic, which makes it lightweight. It is also easy to clean as it has an automatic cleaning function.
The betta fish tank has a heater, dirt absorber, natural filter, aquarium rocks, water pump, and a removable heater. The hydroponic growing system is located at the top of the tank. The water pump pushes the water from the fish tank to the plant tray for filtration and nitrate breakdown before it flows back to the tank.
The 1.6-gallon fish tank is suitable for goldfish and nano fish. The aquarium’s small size makes it suitable for your desk or tabletop. It is suitable for kids and beginner pet fish keepers.
This Oltraman Betta Fish Tank is best suited for targeted fish species, including guppies, betta, jellyfish, crab, angelfish, and shrimp.
- Beautiful and elegant design
- Suitable for small and nano fish
- Comes with essential components
- Some complained of a flimsy top that wouldn’t stay on
- Some feel the heater that comes with it is too large
- Self-Cleaning Mechanism – Filtration Media
- Tank Size – 1.6 Gallons
The simple, round-shaped, fish-bowl-style aquarium has a 4-gallon capacity. Like the biOrb FLOW 30 Aquarium, this aquarium has a high-quality acrylic construction, which is stronger, lighter, and clearer than glass. It comes with a standard LED light for illumination. It is also designed with a feed hole at the top to enable you to feed your fish conveniently.
It utilizes the biOrb filter cartridge to get rid of dirt and toxins. The 5-step filtration offers biological, mechanical and chemical filtration, oxygenation, and water stabilization. The filtration system also incorporates advanced ceramic media that surrounds the filter media. It has a honeycomb design and populates the water with good bacteria.
For maintenance, you simply need to replace the biological filtration every 6 weeks and change the water every two weeks. You can decorate the aquarium as you like.
- Simple, elegant bowl-design
- High-quality construction with acrylic
- Sophisticated 5-stage filtration system
- Air pump can be loud, depending on what surface the tank is on
Types of Low-Maintenance Fish Tanks
Self-cleaning tanks are the main category of low-maintenance fish tanks. It is worth mentioning that although they are mostly advertised not to require any cleaning, the tanks still require to be cleaned, only that the cleaning process is much easier.
Depending on their cleaning mechanism, there are three main types of self-cleaning tanks: gravity—based, water garden/aquaponics, and filter.
A gravity-based fish tank works on the assumption that most waste sits at the bottom of the tank. It is designed with a built-in siphon that draws dirty water and solid waste from the bottom of the tank.
It is easy to operate with a simple turn of the knob that enables the siphoned water to drain into a bucket or bowl. You then add fresh, conditioned water to fill the tank.
The water-garden low-maintenance aquariums work such that dirty water is pumped from the fish tank into a planter placed at the top of the water tank. The soil breaks down the ammonia and oxygenates the water making it safer for the fish. The oxygenated water is then returned to the tank.
Other aquariums have a sophisticated filtering media that removes debris and fish waste, making it easy to clean the tank. For example, the biOrb aquariums utilize a 5-stage filtration system, and the Aqueon LED MiniBow Aquarium Kit is fitted with a smart filter.
Pet fishkeeping doesn’t have to be too hectic. There is a wide range of low-maintenance fish tanks to choose from. They differ in size, design, and water filtration and cleaning mechanism. Choose one depending on the type of fish, recommended water parameters and tank size, and your preferred filtration and cleaning mechanism.
Our top picks for the best fish tanks with low maintenance include the Back to the Roots Indoor for an Aquaponic Garden and Fishtank for an aquaponics self-cleaning tank, and As Seen on TV 56028 My Fun Fish Tank for a gravity-based water tank.