Best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums (2021)

Whether you are an old hand at keeping fish as pets or a newbie, properly maintaining the fish tank to ensure that it provides a thriving ecosystem for your beloved fish is absolutely necessary. However, the fast, always-on-the-run lives of today can affect the time and care you can give to maintaining your fish tank or aquarium.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a tank which requires minimal maintenance and still provides a serene, comfortable environment for your fish? Or something that  even a teenager can maintain? Self-cleaning aquariums are exactly what you are looking for.

In this article, we will look at some of the best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums available in the market. We will look at both gravity-based filtering tanks and aquaponics water gardens and kits and share our top picks for each category. Gravity-based fish tanks are best options for young kids and newbies while aquaponics water garden aquariums are meant for more serious fish hobbyists. So, read on to find out more about these low maintenance fish tanks and aquariums!

If you are looking for just a standard aquarium, check out our article on the best starter fish tanks and Aquariums to look at some of the best standard fish tanks and aquariums available online.

And if you do not have enough space for a full blown fish tank, why not consider getting a wall-mounted fish tank?

If you want to get a Betta fish as a pet, do read out post on the best betta fish tanks.

Best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums list

Some of the best self cleaning fish tanks and aquariums available in the market are listed below:
As Seen on TV My Fun Fish Tank0.5 gal.- Budget gravity-based self-cleaning fish tank, suitable for children and newbies. Plastic tank body with a dimension of 4.5” x 4.5” x 10”.
- Clean conditioned water can be poured in while the dirty water comes out of the disposal tube.
- Compact and small to keep only one fish at a time.
- Comes with LED white light with batteries, one aquatic plant and riverbed rocks.
Alician Self Cleaning Fish TankCircular: 0.6 gal.
Rect.: 0.5 gal.
- Gravity-based basic noclean aquarium with a food-grade plastic tank. Available in rectangular and circular shape.
- Suitable for a single small fish.
- Standard compact design with a filter pipe that removes dirty water out of the tank. Need to add one glass of conditioned water every day.
- Comes with a plastic aquatic plan, LED lamp and cobblestones.
BiOrb FLOW Aquarium4 gal.
8 gal.
- High-quality, elegant-looking self-cleaning aquarium with an Acrylic fish tank.
- Features a five-stage automatic filtration system that operates on a 12V transformer.
- Low-maintenance. Requires only a filter replacement and changing of about one-third of water every four weeks.
- Comes with elegant LED lighting system, airstone, water conditioner and beneficial bacteria liquid.
- Backed by a 12-month maintenance warranty.
- Also available as a classic fish bowl.
EcoQubeC Aquarium2 gal.- Small, compact aquaponics self-cleaning aquarium system with a compact acrylic fish tank. Suitable for keeping one betta fish or a couple of small aquarium fish.
- Handmade, living decor for an office desk, cubicle, or home.
- Low maintenance. Simply require top-up feed 3-6 times per week and some additional water every 15-20 days. Full water change is not required.
- All-inclusive kit - comes with an Integrated aquaponics filter, aquarium sand, mountain stone decoration, wireless remote control for light control, Full spectrum LED hue lights, and Basil seeds.
- A phone app to manage the aquarium is also available.
- Backed by a one-year warranty.

Back to the Roots Water Garden3 gal.- Made in the US, aquaponics water garden with a clear plastic tank that works as a decorative water garden.
- A true aquaponics system that is ready for use in 10 days. Does not require a water filter. Fish release nutrients as waste which is used by plants to grow-up and filter the water.
- The package includes organic seeds, grow stones and organic fertilizer for plants, some gravel, along with fish food sample and water pump for fish.
- The latest model includes 4 power cord slots for accessories such as additional lights and heater.
Marina EZ Care Betta Kit0.7 gal.- Gravity-based basic self-cleaning aquarium with a food-grade plastic tank. Available in rectangular shape.
- Suitable for a single small fish (not a full-grown betta).
- Standard 6.25" x 6.25" x 6.25" compact self-cleanng design. The debris gets flushed to the bottom of the tank and then out to the reservoir located on the back. Need to add one glass of conditioned water every day.
- Comes with a decorative double-sided background, decorative pebbles and water change cup. A costlier version with LED lighting is also available.
Penn-Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank0.5 gal.
1.4 gal.
- A budget, self cleaning aquarium with a plastic fish tank and a plastic plant holder with ceramic substrate planting material.
- Elegant design suitable for office, cubicles and homes. Also suitable as a beginner aquaponics system for newbies and teenagers.
- Plant holder is removable for cleaning the tank or adding water (once a week).
- Suitable for a single betta, goldfish, tetra or guppies.
- The plant is not included. Need to purchase an indoor houseplant separately.
- Backed by 100% satisfaction guaranteed support.
AquaSprouts Aquaphonic Garden Kit10 gal.- Best-selling, self-sustaining aquarium kit that fits any standard 10-gallon aquarium (20” x 10” x 12”) and converts into a water garden ecosystem. Tank not included. Competitively priced.
- The kit includes a water garden bed in a black matte-finish, submersible water pump with timer, removable 2-ft. light bar and special clay media for the grow-bed.
- The garden bed can be easily connected to the tank through support legs.
- Reliable performance with high success rate. A detailed guide is also included in the kit for setting up and maintaining the garden.
- Works well for betta fish, angels, tetras and guppies.
- Backed by a one-year warranty on the pump and timer, and a very responsive customer support service.
Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden System20 gal.- A closed-loop self-cleaning aquaponics system that fits any standard 20-gallon aquarium tank (12"x24"). The tank is not included.
- Large size means you can keep more fish, which produce more waste to fertilize the water garden.
- Features a built-in advanced, programmable 7-watt LED light bar with 4 growth settings, remote control and built in timer.
- The kit also includes a pre-filter sponge, grow bed, net pot holder, clay substrate and more.
- Suitable for homes and also as a teaching tool for K-12 classrooms.
Springworks Microfarm Aquaponic Garden10 gal.- Made in the US, low maintenance aquaponics system that can fit on top a 10-gallon fish tank. The tank is not included.
- The kit comes with all items included - grow bed, LED lighting, water treatment starter kit and organic basil and oregano seeds.
- Works well for betta fish, angels, tetras and guppies.

What are self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums?

As the name suggests, a self-cleaning fish tank is a low-maintenance fish habitat which has a maintenance system that keeps the tank clean without frequent manual intervention. Self-cleaning fish tanks are many times also referred to as low maintenance aquariums, no clean aquariums or fish tanks. Such aquariums help in saving time and effort required to clean up the fish tank regularly.

Self-cleaning fish tanks are a perfect choice for aquarists with a very busy lifestyle and those who do not like the burden of cleaning their fish tanks frequently. Some of such low maintenance aquariums, especially the cheaper gravity based self-cleaning tanks, are also an excellent choice for young children and teenagers who are just starting on the fish keeping hobby.

Self-cleaning fish tanks are also better for the fish, which can thrive well in cleaner, healthier environments.

Self-cleaning aquariums are generally classified into two broad categories:

  • Gravity-based fish tanks: Gravity-based fish tanks are the simplest types of self-cleaning fish tanks. Such aquariums have a low-powered pump that continuously runs to remove the dirty water from the tank, while you can manually add fresh water regularly, preferably daily (the fresh water that has to be added should still be mixed with conditioner to make it suitable for fish).The pumps are designed in a way to prevent your fish to get sucked up the filtering pipe, so you do not have to worry about that. You would, however, have to add a cup or container at the outlet to collect the dirty water.These simple self-cleaning tanks are suitable for keeping one or two fish at most and are quite popular among kids, teenagers, and newbies. More serious aquarists, on the other hand, may find these systems inadequate for rearing a thriving ecosystem for their fish.
  • Aquaponics fish tanks: Aquaponics or water garden fish tanks use a combination of plants growing in a water-bed and fish to create a self-cleaning ecosystem. The plants in the water garden feed on the fish waste for nourishment and in return clean the water in the tank. This symbiotic relationship provides a thriving self-cleaning environment for the fish (see the illustration below).Commercial aquaponics aquariums can further be sub-categorized into two categories – water garden aquariums which comprise of fish tanks along with the aquaponics kits fish tank and water garden kits which aim at converting an existing fish tank into a self-cleaning aquaponics aquarium. Water garden kits are meant for more serious aquarists who want to convert their standard aquariums into a thriving aquaticecosystem. In this article, we would list both these types of aquaponics self-cleaning aquariums.

the aquaponic cycle

In the next sections, we will look at some of the most important factors to consider while picking the best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums for your needs and share our favorite picks.

How to pick the best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums?

With so many options available in the market, each claiming a very high success rate, picking the best self-cleaning fish tank can be a challenging task. In order to pick a self-sustaining, easy-to-maintain self-cleaning fish tank, you need to keep a few things in mind. These major factors to consider while picking the best self-cleaning fish tank or aquariums are summarized below:

  • Type of the self-cleaning aquarium
  • Construction material and design
  • Shape and size of the tank
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Additional accessories and considerations

Type of the self-cleaning aquarium

The first thing you need to consider is the type of the self-cleaning aquarium system you would like to opt for. This is generally governed by the primary hobbyist for whom you are buying such an equipment.

As discussed above, gravity-based self-cleaning aquariums are most suitable for children, teenagers, and newbies who are just looking for a small setup to learn about fish-keeping. Such tanks are inexpensive, easy to use but can only sustain a single betta, tetra or goldfish.

On the other hand, aquaponics tanks are meant for more serious aquarists. Their elegant designs and looks make them perfect for homes, offices, cubicles, and shops. However, if your tank uses an air pump, you would have to consider the noise it creates before installing such a system in your bedroom.

And aquaponics water gardens and micro-farms such as the AquaSprouts Aquaphonic Garden Kit are best suited for experienced hobbyists who already own a standard aquarium or fish tank. Such systems are also perfect for science studies in K-12 classrooms.

Depending upon these factors, you can decide on the type of self-cleaning aquariums you should look for.

Construction Material and design

Once you have zeroed in on to the type of the self-cleaning aquarium you would like to opt for, you need to look at its construction material and design.

Gravity-based fish tanks and water gardens that come with their own tanks are generally made of plastic or acrylic, and very rarely glass. Plastic tanks are smaller and cheaper, but not as durable as the acrylic tanks.

Acrylic tanks are light-weight, reasonably durable and because of their malleability, available in different elegant designs. The aquaponics kits that do not include a tank have a grow bed that is generally made of plastic, with a smart non-reflective finish to look elegant with an existing acrylic or glass aquarium.

If you are a beginner, you can opt for a small plastic fish tank and then move to a costlier acrylic or glass fish tank as you become more comfortable with self-cleaning aquariums.

In addition to the construction of the aquarium, you need to look at design features such as the lighting, filtration (if any) and power fittings, especially in case of water gardens. Pick a setup has a reliable LED lighting system and filtration mechanism. And if you are looking for a model with an air pump, pick one which has a silent, noise-free submersible operation.

Maintenance Requirements

Irrespective of whether you are an expert aquarist or just a newbie, having a self-cleaning fish tank that is easy to setup and maintenance is important. After all, you are looking for a self-cleaning option specifically to minimize your maintenance burden not increase it!

Gravity-based tanks generally require almost no lead time and very little maintenance. Small capacity tanks only require you to add conditioned water once a day. You would, however, have to occasionally clean up the water-bed. Among such fish tanks, the BiOrb FLOW Aquarium is probably the best option, as it requires filter replacement and changing of about one-third of water every four weeks only.

Aquaponics and Water gardens generally have a lead time ranging from ten days to three weeks to establish the ecosystem properly. But once set up, they require very little maintenance. You only need to add some fish feed once or twice a week and some conditioned water once every week. Under normal circumstances, you would not need to replace the water in the tank.

Keep these initial setup and maintenance requirements in mind before picking the best option for your needs. You can generally look at the reviews, videos and other instructional material to get a feel for how much care a fish tank would need.

Shape and Size of the tank

The size (and associated shape) of the fish tank is also one a common point of discussion while picking a self-cleaning fish tank.

Because of the self-sustaining requirements, self-cleaning tanks are generally small in size. Tanks such as Alician Self Cleaning Fish Tank are only 0.5-0.6 gallons and only suitable for a small betta or other fish. However, to provide a comfortable space for your beloved pet to move around, you should consider getting a tank which has a capacity of at least 2 gallons.

The shape of the tank also matters in some cases as even a low capacity can provide a large surface area for the fish to move around.

Consider picking a shape and size which compliments the overall décor and still provide enough space for one or more fish to flourish in.

Additional factors and considerations

In addition to the four factors discussed above, there are a couple of other things that can make a purchase more attractive than others.

One such factor is the accessories that come with the aquarium. Accessories such as remote control for LED lights, water conditioners, and feed samples can provide some initial items to kick-start your fish tank setup. EcoQubeC Aquarium is one such aquarium which has an all-inclusive kit with LED lighting remote, filter and air-stones, making it an excellent choice.

Another important factor to check out is the warranty and service support provided by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers offer decent additional warranties on top of the 30-day return guarantee by Amazon. A word of advice: to avail the full warranty support, always look for an authorized seller and register your aquarium kit with the manufacturer.

Keep these other small considerations in mind while picking the best options for your needs.

Which are the best self-cleaning fish tanks and what our picks are?

EcoQubeC Aquarium review – Best self-cleaning fish tank
best self-cleaning fish tank

Buy It on Chewy

The EcoCube C Aquarium is a perfect self-sustaining, low maintenance fish tank for anyone who is looking for a compact yet elegant-looking aquarium for his or her office desk, cubicle, home or shop. This improved model of the original EcoCube aquarium is a perfect all-in-one aquaponics system that supports a betta fish or a couple of guppies, tetras or minnows.

The EcoCube C Aquarium features a clear acrylic fish tank making it more scratch resistant than some other such fish tanks. The fish tank is handmade and flame polished for 100% clarity. The tank has an overall capacity of 2 gallons.

The EcoCube C Aquarium kit comes with all the basic accessories needed to set up and maintain an aquaponics ecosystem (there is a no-accessories option also available). It comes with an Integrated Aquaponics filter, aquarium sand, mountain stone decoration, wireless remote control for light control, full-spectrum LED hue lights and organic Basil seeds for the water garden. The new package even includes an aquarium cover for people with furry pets – a great addition indeed!

The several preset simulations for LED lights are especially remarkable and can simulate different light conditions in the tank. The aquaponics filtering processing provides a silent, serene function without noise, making it suitable for enclosed spaces and bedrooms.

The EcoCube C aquarium is pretty easy to setup and maintain. Once the seeds are planted, the aquarium becomes suitable for fish within 1-3 weeks. Once the ecosystem is set up, you only need to add top-up feed about 3-6 times per week and some additional water every 15-20 days. It is advertised to use 90% less water and 50% less energy than a standard aquarium. The full change of water is not required and not recommended.

The EcoCube C aquarium is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty on the LED lighting.

For its elegant looks, decent quality, low maintenance and superior aquaponics performance, the EcoCube C Aquarium is our Editor’s pick for the best self-cleaning fish tank.
  • A high-quality, handmade, 2-gallon acrylic desktop aquarium with an elegant design.
  • All-inclusive kit with integrated sponge filter, gravel, air stones and LED lighting with remote. The latest model even includes an aquarium cover.
  • LED lighting provides multiple presets for proper growth of plants. Can be controlled by the remote control.
  • Uses up to 70-90% less water and 50% less energy than the standard aquariums.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
  • Smaller size means it is suitable for one betta or only a couple of aquarium fish.
  • Some people have reported missing accessories in the kit.

AquaSprouts Aquaphonic Garden Kit review – Best aquaponics water garden kitbest self-cleaning aquarium

If you already own a standard 10-gallon aquarium and are looking to convert it to a self-sustaining natural eco-system than the AquaSprouts Garden Aquaponics kit is what you need. This reliable, self-cleaning aquarium and aquaponics kit is perfect for the homes, offices or schools.

The AquaSprouts Water Garden Kit is designed to convert a standard 10-gallon aquarium (measuring around 20” x 10” x 12”) into a thriving aquaponics environment.

The garden kit comes with all the basic accessories needed to get started. The garden bed is made of plastic with an elegant black matte finish that goes well with any household or office decor. The assembly is easy and tool-free; the garden bed snaps easily to the aquarium with the support legs.

The water garden kit also comes with a removable light bar to which you can attach any standard 2-feet grow light. The kit also has a submersible 9.5-watt pump with a 24-hour timer to control the water flow. The pump and timer are backed by a one-year warranty. In order to address the complaint of water splashes, the latest model includes an adjustable drain extenders to reduce the noise with water flow.

To ensure proper growth of water garden plants, the kit includes a clay-based grow media that does not degrade with time. The grow media traps fish waste and uneaten fish food and acts as a silent mechanical filter.

Because of all these features, the success rate of an AquaSprouts Garden is more than many other aquaponics kits as is evident from the reviews and feedback. To make setup easy, the AquaSprouts kit also comes with a step-by-step instruction guide. You can also get some useful information on the manufacturer’s website.

For its decent quality and high success rate, the AquaSprouts Water Garden Kit is our Editor’s pick for the best aquaponics water garden kit. It can convert even the simplest 10-gallon aquariums into a thriving full-year, multi-fish aquaponics environment. It is a perfect item for homes and schools.
  • A decent water garden kit for 10-gallon fish tanks. Elegant black matte finish.
  • The garden kit comes with light bar, submersible pump, timer and drain extenders to minimize water splash noise.
  • Clay-based garden bed media acts as a natural filter that does not degrade with time.
  • Competitively priced.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty on pump and timer.
  • Fish tank and grow lights are not included and have to be purchased separately.
  • Despite improvements, water splash noise may make it unsuitable for bedrooms.

As Seen on TV My Fun Fish Tank reviewbest self-cleaning fish tank and aquarium

If you are looking for a simple self-cleaning system for a kid, teenager or newbie and do not want to spend a lot of money, then you can consider getting the gravity-based My Fun Fish Tank. This As Seen on TV model is a great gift for first-time pet owners.

This simple self-cleaning tank features a rectangular plastic body with a dimension of 4.5-inches x 4.5-inches x 10-inches. A small 0.5-gallon capacity means that it is only suitable for a single small betta or any other aquarium fish.

The fish tank comes with an artificial plastic water plant and some aquarium rocks, though you may want to add some additional water gravel. It also comes with white LED lights that can be powered by a couple of batteries (batteries are also included). No separate power supply is required.

The fish tank has a gravity disposal filter that looks like a water pitcher tube. The dirty water comes out of the disposal tube and can be collected in a container outside the tank. For regular maintenance of tank, you only need to add fish feed and about half to one cup of conditioned water daily and that’s it! You may, sometimes, have to replace the water to keep your fish healthy.

For its budget price and simple operation, the As Seen on TV My Fun Fish Tank is our best value pick for self-cleaning fish tank. This tank is a perfect fish hobby gift for young children and beginners.
  • Compact, simple self cleaning aquarium with a compact, tall plastic fish tank.
  • Gravity filter automatically removes dirty water, which can be replenished.
  • Comes with a LED lighting system with batteries included. Riverbed rocks and an artificial plant are also included.
  • Extremely cheap and simple.
  • Small size makes it suitable only for one small fish.
  • Plastic construction, so easily scratchable and not as durable.

Self cleaning fish tank accessories

Most aquaponics self cleaning aquariums come with their own refill kits and you are better off sticking with brand-specific refill kits. Still, if you are looking for an ideal refill bundle, check out the HomeGrown Ponics Natural Aquarium Refill Bundle. This aquarium care bundle has all the ingredients of maintaining a thriving aquaponics environment for your fish.

For gravity based no clean aquariums, the only accessory you would probably look at is a decent water conditioner to mix with the tap water before adding it to the tank. Some of the popular conditioners for such tanks are listed below:

If you are looking to set up your own self-cleaning ecosystem, do check out our article on the best aquarium and fish care guides to find some of the best books and resources that can help you in setting up a flourishing self-sustaining no-clean fish tank or aquarium.

Final thoughts on the best self-cleaning fish tanks and aquariums

Keeping fish as pets is one of the most popular and enjoyable hobbies to have. Fish-keeping is also a perfect hobby for kids and teenagers. However, in order to provide a vibrant, healthy environment for your fish to thrive in, you need to ensure that the aquarium or fish tank is properly maintained. This is something that may be difficult to accomplish in today’s busy lifestyle. Self-sustaining and self-cleaning fish tanks are exactly what you need in such situations.

In this article, we looked at some of the best self-cleaning or no clean fish tanks and aquariums available in the market. These aquariums require minimal maintenance, while still providing a thriving ecosystem for your beloved fish. We looked at both gravity-based self-cleaning fish tanks and complex aquaponics aquariums. We also discussed some of the factors to consider while picking the best self-cleaning fish tanks and shared our top picks.

We hope that this article would help you in picking the most suitable low maintenance self cleaning aquarium as per your requirements and preference. Do let us know your feedback and questions by commenting below. Until next time, have a playful time with your beloved fish!