Build Your Very Own All-In-One Aquarium
All-in-one style aquariums come with a filtration compartment built right into the back of the tank. These AIO tanks are perfect for first-time tank owners or situations where space is limited. They are typically smaller in size ranging from 10 - 50 gallons, are more manageable in terms of maintenance, and look nicer too without bulky equipment hanging off the tank.
To build your tank, choose from each of the selections outlined below. Upon checkout, you will have everything you need to get your AIO aquarium started.
We also included some additional video content so you won't be stuck wondering what to do next along with a shopping list for everything you will need to buy within the first few months.
1. Choose Your All-In-One Tank
First and foremost, you need somewhere for your tank to go so choose the tank according to the available space you have and something within your budget. Refer to the advertised dimensions and measure the space to ensure it fits.
All of these tank kits include a return pump so you can get water moving as well as an initial batch of filter media. Tanks sized at 25 gallons or less can usually be safely placed onto a desk or heavy-duty piece of furniture. Larger tanks will do best on a dedicated aquarium stand or something built specifically to hold the weight of the aquarium.
Starting at: $371.99
Starting at: $439.19
Starting at: $1,999.00
Starting at: $1,699.00
Starting at: $1,499.00
2. Choose a Heater
Your heater will be placed into the back filtration compartment and the biggest factor is making sure the heater fits. We selected the best heaters for AIO tanks below because they are compact and should not have a problem fitting into AIO-style tanks. The heater should be sized according to wattage and tank size: 3 - 5 watts of heating power per gallon of water volume. A 20-gallon tank needs to have a 60 - 100 watt heater.
3. Choose Your Sand
The amount of sand you need comes down to the tank size and the depth of the sand you want. We recommend nothing more than 1-2" of sand and you can use the Sand Bed Calculator to find out exactly how much sand you need using the dimensions of the aquarium. In most cases, this will be somewhere between 1 and 2 lbs of sand per gallon of water volume but use the calculator to be sure.
Using LIVE sand is best to help cycle the aquarium efficiently and you want to use medium-grain sand like the Special Grade, Bimini Pink, and Natural Reef. The Hawaiian Black and Florida Crushed coral provide a more unique aesthetic and will work just as well. Avoid the fine-grain sand like the Sugar Size and Oolitic sands which we have excluded from the selections.
4. Select Rock
Rock is mostly about appearance and the colored rocks look so much better compared to classic dry rock. The CaribSea LifeRock looks great and comes in a wide variety of shapes to help you easily build an intricate aquascape with minimal effort. The Real Reef Rock is also an excellent choice and looks very natural right out of the gate.
You can start with as little as 0.5 lbs of rock per gallon of water volume but getting a little more means you can build a nicer looking aquascape; 1 - 1.5 lbs per gallon is usually more than enough.
5. Choose Bacteria To Start Cycling
Bacteria in a bottle is needed to jump-start the biological cycle of the aquarium and we have a few kits that give you specific instructions. This cycling process will take 2-4 weeks and is critical for any new aquarium. You cannot add any livestock into the aquarium until you have successfully cycled the aquarium.
Learn More: How to Cycle a Saltwater Aquarium
After choosing an AIO tank kit, a heater, sand, and rock will be everything you need to get started. Of course, you will need to fill your tank with water and the easiest route for first-time tank owners is to purchase the water from a local fish store. That said, you will eventually want to have an RO/DI system and mix your own saltwater at home because it really is the best choice long term. You not only save money but also save the need for regular trips to the fish store.
After starting the cycle, take the time to purchase your RO/DI system and salt mixing supplies. We don't recommend any lighting until after your tank has matured, roughly 2-4 months after adding your first fish. This helps to reduce some algae and other photosynthetic pests that are common in new aquariums. A powerhead, replacement media, and test kits will also be on your shortlist but are not mandatory right out of the gate.
Additional Supplies Shopping List
We also highly recommend you take some time to watch a couple of our video series that will help you tremendously throughout your initial tank build. These series are specifically tailored for first-time tank owners and provide all kinds of insight that will help you skip the learning curve and avoid some of those common beginner mistakes.
Don't forget you also have a full team of experienced saltwater hobbyists at your disposal here at BRS, just call our Customer Service Center anytime and we will be happy to answer tank questions and help you through a tank build.