We review the Petcube Camera Pet Monitor to test if owners will benefit from its HD camera, speakers, and laser toy.
Let's Take Care of Fish the Easy Way!
Ever wanted to take care of a betta or tetra fish but were worried about cleaning up your tank every so often? Worry no more. We take a brief look at 15 self-cleaning fish tanks from different manufacturers that aim to bring convenience in pet fish care to new and experienced fish tank owners alike. Generally, these self-cleaning fish tanks can fall into one of two categories: tanks that rely upon filter systems, and tanks that rely upon aquaponics, putting fish and plants in a symbiotic relationship of sorts. One thing they have in common is that they generally require minimal maintenance, and that is convenient for pet fish owners who have little time for that activity.
We have been taking care of fish for some time now, and we were intrigued by how pet owners were sending us feedback about self-cleaning fish tanks in the market. We wanted to try them for ourselves, and we discovered that there were plenty of them out there. We spent quite a bit of time trying out 15 of the fish tanks that promised easy care for our pet fish, and we enjoyed seeing how these worked. We hope to present this information so that you can make an informed choice based on the options we offer.
Ever wanted to help people, especially your children, learn about the wonders of aquaponics? The ECO-Cycle Home Aquaponics Kit is for you. It fits over your existing aquarium (provided it takes up a 12x24 footprint) and consists of a grow tray, a grow light fixture, and all the other accompanying accessories needed so that you can begin aquaponics at home. The best thing about this is that if you already are an aquarium owner and you have a fish tank of the right size, installing it will not be a problem. Just follow manufacturer instructions and you would be fine, but in any case, it is very easy. The only challenge, as one user pointed out, is cleaning and maintenance, but we have not experienced any major problems with that.
One market for which the ECO-Cycle Home Aquaponics Kit has gained some traction is the educational sector, where it is used as a teaching tool to help students learn ecology and the role different creatures play in helping each other thrive. However, it is not just a teaching tool. It can be a useful conversation piece when you tell people how quick your herb garden is growing thanks to aquaponics. You could even tell them that's one possible way people going to Mars will be fed! As for us, we have grown an herb garden on this self-cleaning fish tank. We are very satisfied with the results, and we plan to grow some more plants on this one. Hopefully, you will be pleased with how your plants grow and you will get to enjoy the fruits of fish and plant working together.
The Tetra Waterfall Globe Aquarium has more high-technology features than the other self-cleaning fish tanks we've seen here. It has an electronic system for detecting when the fertilizer runs low, which means it is time to feed the fish. Yes, this is an aquaponic fish tank. It has a training tool to help people learn how to use the system to feed the fish and grow plants. Moreover, one does not need to buy a grow lamp. The artificial lighting system is optimized for different settings depending on the crop one desires to grow. All these bells and whistles should not distract pet fish owners from having a usable aquarium that serves as a good home for fish, although we recommend only using smaller ones in it.
One thing worth noting is that, while the Tetra Waterfall Globe Aquarium seems to be good enough for smaller fish, this is definitely more garden than aquarium, judging from its dimensions. You can adjust the light fixture's height depending on what kind of plant you wish to grow and how tall it becomes. Moreover, you have some flexibility in what choice of fish to have in it. One user we have heard of recommends using betta fish rather than goldfish in this fish tank. There's also, of course, the choice of seeds you wish to grow, as the tank can accommodate up to seven plants. With this one, we've tried growing some small flowers and some vegetables, and so far, we're enjoying the results, until the device warns us that the fertilizer may be running low.
The last three self-cleaning fish tanks we will talk about are all in the aquaponics category, which is all about how plants and fish coexist. Fish generate waste in water which waters and nourishes plants, and plants filter the water by absorbing the waste. The Back to the Roots Water Garden is one such version of this. The fish tank is a small countertop model that is meant to be a starter kit for those interested in this, and it contains all one needs to get a garden/aquarium started. It even includes a seed packet and a coupon for fish! This makes a great present for children who are into fish and who might be interested in exploring about how nature works. It is also good for people who are into growing and sourcing their own food locally, giving them a chance to have their own herbs and vegetables right from the countertop.
You would need a glow lamp or other source of lighting for the Back to the Roots Water Garden to help get the plants' food manufacturing processes going, but having it exposed to natural light would definitely be an ideal solution. The only other investment is in fish food: you do need a source of all that waste to fertilize the plants! We enjoyed feeding the fish, knowing full well that our tiny herb garden on the kitchen counter would be thriving and becoming as green as it could within some time after we planted the seeds. A note about the fish that can fit in this fish tank, though: its small capacity means it is ideal for some smaller fish or one bigger one.
We have already spoken about the EcoSphere in some detail in our discussion of another variant (#9), so we will talk a bit about why this alternative fish tank makes a great gift for someone who is interested in the natural world. It is a good example of biological coexistence. We will not go into much detail here, but let's just say that shrimp and algae literally help each other to survive with the help of bacteria and other microorganisms living within the sphere. The process is something nature enthusiasts will enjoy and reflect upon, as it mirrors exactly how, underwater, life depends on other lives. Again, this whole process requires very little human intervention or maintenance.
One problem that might emerge that requires human intervention is a thin film that may form on the surface of the inside of the sphere, which must be cleaned. Simply use the magnet provided in the EcoSphere's instruction manual, or that refrigerator magnet which has been holding up a grocery list or coupons, and stick it to the surface to attract another magnet buried in the tank's gravel, and move it around to clean out the muck. That, dear reader, is very low maintenance. If you're wondering what we do when we are bored, we look carefully at how our shrimp in this tank are behaving, or if we are lucky enough, molting. That is definitely another way of seeing nature up close, and that is why we like it.
The biOrb Classic Aquarium comes in four sizes but are all shaped the same. It is a spherical acrylic orb that has a tube running through it. The tube is part of the fish tank's filtration system, which is a five-stage one that includes biological filtration, something which is much more than other filter-based systems already have. More importantly, unlike other filtration systems, it does not rely upon noisy motors! The system relies on an air pump cycle that drives water down to the filters and back up through the tube in the middle. It not only keeps maintenance time down but also keeps the water as clean as it possibly could be. The biOrb comes complete with all the accessories needed to start up the filtration system, making setup relatively easy.
The one other thing that comes with the biOrb Classic Aquarium is a LED light that runs on a low-voltage connection, the other thing that needs to be plugged in alongside the air pump. This helps light up the fish tank, in turn helping marine plants thrive. All that's needed would be gravel, plants, fish, and other marine life as you would want to place in your tank. We found that the biOrb's air pump has been improved in later versions as it is much quieter than before, thus making this an ideal aquarium if you value that sort of thing. Also, maintenance is definitely an investment, which is why we recommend it for experienced fish tank owners. They may be willing to buy from the manufacturer or are aware of cheaper alternatives.
The Fluval Spec III has all the advantages of a fully functioning filter and pump system in a smaller package. This makes it an ideal present for a fish enthusiast. It also makes a great addition to any counter or desktop because of its small footprint. Over the aquarium, there is a lighting fixture consisting of 31 LED lamps which help illuminate plants and decorations. You can save on energy costs with this low electric consumption feature. This self-cleaning fish tank has a three-stage filtration system with a powerful pump. It means that you don't have to replace water as often. This is because it gets cleaned and circulated quickly and efficiently. It is definitely an aquarium for smaller fish, as the 2.6 gallon size is not suitable for much larger fish that need all that room.
We said that this is a good fish tank for experienced aquarium users because of its customizability. You can add a heater into the filter and tank compartment with some ease, and users sometimes tinker with the filter system to reduce current speed, a consideration with betta fish. We do have a heater and thermostat system with our Fluval Spec III, and it is useful for taking care of the tropical fish we do have. Replacement parts are easy to purchase online, which makes it possible to keep this aquarium around for a very long time. The question is, what fish would you next place in that fish tank? We suppose the possibilities for this are as numerous as the pet fish one can find in the market.
The Tetra Aquarium Kit is a much more complete version of the GloFish Aquarium Kit (#10) and is much larger too, accommodating a 20-gallon capacity. This aquarium comes complete with a LED stick, a heater, filter, some plants, and yes, an anemone that glows under the light. If you are into the classic aquariums, this one may be the right one for you as it is of the traditional box-like design. This is definitely for the hardcore aquarist (aquarium enthusiast) in your life who wants to have a head start on making a new aquarium alive. They don't have to worry about added costs of investing, other than in the gravel and fish, which are sold separately. Having a heater, moreover, helps customize the environment in the aquarium and allows a pet fish collector to keep different kinds of fish.
What advantage does the larger size have, you ask? A good number of our readers happen to be betta fish collectors, and we all know that they thrive in larger spaces, as do all fish in general. While this tank, again, is meant for Tetra's proprietary GloFish varieties, this does not mean that pet fish enthusiasts need to stick to that fish. However, one need not worry about replacing so much water so often because the Whisper 20 filter system is generally reliable, though some users reported problems with overheating that we are certain manufacturer support has been trying to resolve. Other additional items, apart from fish and gravel, that the manufacturer recommends getting is the water conditioner and fish food. This should not be a problem if you are willing to buy such things.
The NoClean Aquarium is touted by its manufacturers as the first of its kind. It is one that does not, unlike the other two major types, rely on filter pumps or plants. It relies entirely on gravity. The tank has a tall, slender design which not only helps its filtration process but leaves a small footprint on most counter or desktop space. What we find most useful about it is the ease of cleaning up. All you have to do is to place a cup underneath the filter's outlet, pour a fresh batch of clean water into the tank, and watch as the dirty water flows out through the fish tank's filter and into the cup. The resulting dirty water can be used to fertilize plants in the same way as other aquaponic systems do.
The kit comes with low-voltage LED lighting to provide adequate tank illumination while keeping the growth of algae down. The size of the tank, however, means that this is a tank for smaller fish, who need the width of the tank as much as the height. Having said that, it is a valuable starter tank for those who are not too keen on maintaining a fish tank to the point of getting their hands wet while diving into it! One last thing is that it is a good tank for kids to use. They will have fun seeing how their efforts in pouring in water to clean the tank will be a success and will look forward to having their turn to "clean it up."
We are reviewing two versions of the EcoSphere in this article, and what we have to say in general about this item applies to the spherical version, which contains far less marine shrimp than the one we are talking about now. Yes, you heard this right. This is the only self-cleaning fish tank that does not hold any fish. More importantly, you may not even need to maintain this at all! The manufacturer promises to keep it all self-contained with this ecosystem, which includes algae, small shrimp, bacteria and other microorganisms thriving in filtered sea water. It does run the risk of becoming cloudy with all the algae involved. This is why this glass bubble has a limited working lifespan of two to three years, but with some cleaning, it could last longer.
Apart from the minimal maintenance, lighting it is easy. If you are somewhere where there is a good source of natural light, place the EcoSphere in such a way that it gets exposed to the light. If you have an artificial light source like a lamp of some sort, it also works the same way. Special lighting set-ups are not needed for this one. Moreover, as we will say later in our discussion of the smaller and spherical EcoSphere, this unique fish tank makes a great gift for someone who enjoys looking at the natural world. It comes in two or three different shapes and multiple sizes. The one we are talking about in this review is shaped like a pod, or better yet, a seed of coexistence.
The Tetra GloFish Aquarium Kit is meant to be a starter kit for those who want to grow the pet fish supplier's unique GloFish. It is a semi-circular five-gallon tank which is made largely of acrylic, and this offers enough room for fish to swim and thrive. The tank comes with an LED attachment consisting of 15 blue lights to accent the phosphorescent colors of this pet supplier's special breed. You can detach the lights if lighting them up is not quite your thing. The built-in pump and filter system help keep the water clean and keep maintenance time and costs down. You will need the manufacturer's medium Blow-Bag cartridge to keep the filter active as it does the work of cleaning the fish tank.
As we mentioned, this is a starter kit, which offers a degree of flexibility for the pet fish owner. Maybe you are more keen on growing betta fish and this tank is big enough for their very territorial needs. It is also possible that you are after having goldfish, which we grow in this tank. But this is a tank especially made for GloFish, and a tank to make any room look brighter. Thus, you do have to invest in gravel, plants, additional supplies, and yes, the fish. It should be worth it, though, if you are after taking care of fish and want to see your life brightened by having pet fish at home. That is why we recommend the GloFish Aquarium Kit for those who are learning how to start a pet fish school, no pun intended.
From the top of this Fluval View Aquarium, the whole thing is shaped like an eye. This is to highlight that this is an aquarium where you can view your fish. Its 4-gallon capacity is big enough for pet fish, plants, and gravel, so you can maximize the clear plastic that surrounds the aquarium. Moreover, we all know that fish enjoy swimming in a larger tank so that they can find room to move and mark out their space. The fish tank is completed by an integrated pump and filter system for minimal maintenance and LED lighting for illumination and plant growth. This aquarium is good for people whose spaces provide a suitable backdrop for this transparent fish tank, and it can blend in anywhere as well.
The flexibility built into the LED system and the heater of the Fluval View Aquarium allows for several different modes according to your preference. For example, the lighting system allows for a day and a night mode, according to the time of day. This helps fish keep up their sleep cycles. If you have fish that thrive in certain water temperatures, this tank has preset cold, temperate, or tropical environment settings that help them survive better, or balance out ambient temperatures outside. What we found most attractive about this tank is its minimalist design and simplicity in setting things up. We advise that users take care of their fish tank filters (not only with this one, but with all fish tanks!) as some other users reported problems with them.
Siamese fighting fish, also known as bettas, are one of the most popular pet fish these days. The trouble is that keeping multiple bettas may be a problem because they are fiercely territorial. The Aqueon Betta Falls solves this problem by putting three betta fish in three separate compartments, separated by frosted glass. This means you don't have to worry about these fighting fish becoming, well, fighting fish. You can appreciate the unique fin structure of these fish with the clear glass surfaces of this tank, which has a filter that provides a current fish will enjoy. But that current flows in a very interesting way. That current flows like a waterfall, which makes it an attractive feature for pet fish owners. It makes a great present for the person in your life who loves bettas and wants to keep more of them.
Another reason one should get this aquarium is the cost. For an elegantly designed self-cleaning fish tank, this is relatively affordable. It is also good for the betta fish owner who has relatively small fish to keep because of the size of the Aqueon Betta Falls. It can fit on desktops and decorate spaces that are particularly minimalist in type. One of the challenges facing owners of this tank, though, would be how to change the water in this tank and the manufacturer's instructions should help. Otherwise, one has to sit back and enjoy seeing three bettas, swimming against the current and getting some exercise of a sort in the process. That is the joy of a fish tank where conflict between bettas just would not happen.
The API Panaview Aquarium Kit is the first of a series of aquariums that are self-cleaning because of a filter system of some sort that does not involve plants. It is a D-shaped aquarium that can fit into spaces ranging from dorm rooms to apartments to living rooms, thus making it a versatile and decorative fish tank for pet owners. The tank has a Superclean 10 power filter that allows for frequent cleansing of the tank's water, and the built in cartridge filters out as much organic waste as it possibly could, keeping the tank clean and preventing algae from growing. The tank is meant not only for beginners but also for veteran pet fish owners who balk at the time and expense of maintaining a bigger tank.
One of its biggest selling points is the LED lighting, which comes in seven colors: amber, aqua, blue, green, purple, red, and white. These colors can be run in a cycle or can remain steady. Having LED lights will help grow certain types of coral in your fish tank if you choose to put them in there along with your plants and fish. At the same time, you will save on electrical costs over traditional forms of aquarium lighting. The best thing about this multicolored LED setup, which has been improved in later versions of the API Panaview Aquarium Kit, is that it makes this fish tank a more attractive option to purchase if you're in the market for a more decorative item of that sort.
The Aquasprouts Garden is not a self-cleaning fish tank in itself, but a special accessory that turns any 10-gallon fish tank into one. It is a member of the aquaponics family of self-cleaning tanks. Its key attachment is a large box on top mounted on a pair of legs, which is easy to mount and install for the first time user, if one follows the instructions.. It has a light bar mounted on top for a set of grow lights. These must be purchased separately but should be worth it for pet fish owners. A pump and filter rounds out the Garden, which has enough space for plants, vegetables, and herbs. The plain black matte design adds a touch of elegance which accents most living rooms or places where people usually put aquariums.
Of all the aquaponic-type self-cleaning fish tanks, the Aquasprouts Garden has one of the largest growing spaces for its kind. The bacteria in the growing medium breaks down the ammonia fish generate into nitrites which in turn fertilize the plants on top, which means that the fish's water remains clean while you get to enjoy the plants and vegetables on top. Most of all, if you are into organic food, or into the locally sourced kind, it does not get any more local than this! You save on the cost of buying herbs and certain kinds of vegetables with something like this self-cleaning fish tank attachment. We tried using it for a couple of weeks and we still use it as our home's herb garden.
Aquadorables are a smaller variety of the so-called aquaponic self-cleaning tank. A small aquarium with a plant box mounted on top, the fish tank can fit on most countertops. The acrylic material means that it would not break as easily as other fish tanks. There is room for one or more small plants, herbs, or cut flowers on the top. The tank can fit exactly one fish, usually a smaller betta, but it may be a snug fit. This is for pet fish owners who do not have a lot of space for a larger tank but want to grow plants and fish at the same time. Its small, sleek design complements many spaces, whether apartments or flats, and it makes a great gift for friends or family.
We tried this in our office and found that it suits our purposes, but our fish enjoyed it so much that it quickly outgrew its tank! It was also a good game for us to choose what to plant on our Aquadorable that we eventually settled on a mix of parsley, thyme, and basil, all of which we would be using for cooking later that week. Having plant foam for hydration means that we, and you, the pet fish owner, would not have to worry about watering our plants. Moreover, it comes in a choice of colors, black, white, or red, which you can choose when you order your fish tank. This is what, more than anything else, makes it an attractive starter option for new tank owners.
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