Whether you are buying for a friend or buying for yourself, this article aims to give you the best gift guide for aquarium lovers and fish tank fanatics.

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through links on this page (at no extra cost to you).

Here’s the quick overview of my top picks:

1. Marineland Contour Aquarium Kit

2. Etekcity Temperature Gun

3. Eco Complete Substrate

4.  Hygger LED or Finnex Stingray Clip-On

5. Cobalt Heater

6. Sponge Filter

7. Water Change Syphon

8. Aquascaping Tools

Marineland Contour Fish Tank

From my perspective, the selection of aquariums on Amazon is limited.

This is especially true for cube tanks.

Cube tanks are some of my favorite types of aquariums for creating nano aquascapes.

But, I did find one tank that worked well as a betta tank and also as a planted tank.

The Marineland Contour Aquarium Kit

This Marineland aquarium is actually available as a 3-gallon or 5-gallon tank.

The 5-gallon tank’s true dimensions are approximately 9.625 in L x 9.625 in W x 17.2 in H (when sitting on the provided pedestal).

The 3-gallon tank’s true dimensions are approximately 9.5 in L × 9.5 in W × 9 in H.

As the dimensions reveal, both tanks are extremely similar.

The differences are that the 5-gallon tank is taller and is called the Marineland “Portrait” while the 3 gallon is a cube and is called the Marineland “Contour.”

I personally went with the 3-gallon, because betta fish do not typically benefit from extra aquarium height.

The 5-gallon portrait version is also a great aquarium and would work well if you plan on growing plants taller than moss balls or Anubias plants.

The 5-gallon is also better for taller types of aquarium decorations and driftwood pieces.

Marineland Kit Pros

Easy setup: comes with a light and hidden filter/heater compartment.

Fitted glass lid.


Marineland Kit Cons

The included light is terrible for growing most aquarium plants (it does grow algae and moss balls though…).

The hidden filter compartment removes about 2 inches of space that could have been used to decorate or plant.


The Verdict

Overall, either Marineland 3-gallon (Contour) or the Marineland 5-gallon (Portrait) make excellent fish tanks or shrimp tanks.

Their main downsides are that they are pricey for the size of tank you get; you can typically find a 10-gallon aquarium at your local pet store for half the price or less.

But, these Marineland tanks are much more stylish than common 10-gallon tanks, and make perfect gifts for aquarium lovers who want to setup an eye-catching planted tank or betta tank.

Also, getting this shipped to your door is seriously nice. 

Etekcity Temperature Gun

This is one of those devices that brings some serious peace of mind to aquarium lovers.

My go-to thermometers use to be those stick on thermometer strips that change color depending on the temperature.

Well, thermometer strips are ok, but they lack accuracy and look amateur.

What screams fish tank master and looks like a taser? A temperature gun.

Point it at any inanimate object, press the trigger, and it will give you an accurate temperature reading on a backlit digital LCD screen.

I love being able to point it at any one of my betta tanks and get a quick temperature reading.

If you keep fish species that like it especially cold or especially hot, then a temperature gun is a must.

Plus, a temp gun is great for measuring other things, like your morning coffee or tea.

Aquarium Substrate/Gravel


If the aquarium lover in your life adores betta fish or planted tanks, then Carib Sea’s Eco Complete aquarium gravel is an ideal gift.

Eco Complete contains vital nutrients for growing aquarium plants as well as beneficial bacteria that will help your tank cycle properly.

Eco Complete’s dark color also pairs well with brightly colored fish like neon tetras and betta fish.

For a complete review of Eco Complete and other substrates, such as sand, check out my guide on aquarium gravel.

Aquarium Lights

Aquarium lights make it possible to grow aquarium plants.

But, most aquarium light do not emit enough light to reach plants at the bottom of a fish tank.

Without adequate light, most freshwater aquarium plants will eventually die.

Adequate light also helps aquarium plants fight algae.

I have an in-depth guide on affordable aquarium lights here, but below are my top picks for aquarium lights for planted tanks.

These lights also make excellent replacements for the kit light included with the Marineland Contour and Portrait tanks.

1. Hygger LED Aquarium Light

13 watt

30 LEDS: 24 white and 6 blue;

9000-11000K color temperature;

1330 Lumens.

The Hygger light is also available in a 45 LED bulb configuration.

This light is surprisingly powerful and will allow you to grow aquatic carpeting plants in small tanks like the Marineland Contour.

2. Finnex Stingray Clip-on Light

4 watt

12 Daylight (7000K) LED bulbs;

3 Actinic Blue LED bulbs; and

3 Red LED bulbs.

While not as powerful as the Hygger, the Finnex Stingray Clip-on provides an idea range of color for low light aquarium plants like Java Moss and Java Ferns as well as Anubias.

Cobalt Aquarium Heater 

Heaters are an essential piece of aquarium equipment.

If your heater breaks and you don’t live in Florida or Hawaii, then your fish are likely going to die.

Heaters also tend to break, so having an extra one on hand is smart.

Another downside to aquarium heaters is that heaters do not add to the beauty of an aquarium.

But, they are necessary for most fish to live so every aquarist will appreciate a heater that is durable and isn’t hideous.

So, if you want to make the aquarium lover in your life (even if that’s you), consider buying a shatterproof aquarium heater.

I have used this cobalt aquarium heater for over a year now without any problems.

And, I’ve even left this heater on while it was above the water’s surface and it did not break.

Cobalt Heater Pros:


Slim/flat design.

LED temperature indicator

Cobalt Heater Cons:

Relatively Wide.

Tricky to hide in a small tank.

Sponge Filter

Sponge filters are surprisingly effective for how simple they look.

These filters are especially useful for betta fish tanks and freshwater shrimp tanks because they provide filtration without creating a strong current or sucking up little shrimp.

To activate a sponge filter, all you need is a bubbler (the device that powers an air stone).

By attaching the hose from the bubbler to the sponge filter, a suction-like pressure is created by the rising bubbles.

The sponge filter will gradually suck in waste and excess nutrients and become a home where beneficial bacteria will rid your aquarium of excess waste.

Sponge filters also provide water movement, helping prevent algae growth.

Water Change Syphon

Consistent water changes are an important part of aquarium maintenance and will help your fish stay healthy as well as keeping algae under control.

In order not to make a huge mess and have water splashing onto your floor or aquarium stand, use an aquarium syphon.

These allow you to “vacuum” your gravel and remove particles of waste and leftover food.

I always buy an aquarium syphon with a built in hand pump to avoid sucking on the hose and getting a mouthful of dirty fish tank water.

Aquascaping Tools

Aquascaping tools are like paintbrushes.

They allow the artist to make detailed and precise movements.

In the case of aquascaping, these tools are perfect for inserting aquarium plants into gravel, trimming overgrown plants, and smoothing out gravel near hardscape.

A long pair of aquascaping tweezers is also ideal for removing algae, rearranging small stones or aquarium décor, and feeding live worms.

About The Author

Kevin is a betta fish keeper and planted tank enthusiast with over 16 years of experience as an aquarist. His mission with ZenAquaria is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping (and shrimp keeping) and the satisfaction of a well planted tank.

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