Essential gear for aquarium photography means something different to each individual. For some, it means camera, lighting, tripod. Not me. The way I think of essential gear is – it means the gear you need to do the job right.

I’m in that camp.

There are many factors to consider before you begin shooting pictures of your fish tank. Some are very simple, and yes, fairly obvious. But I guarantee if you forget to do any of these basic steps, your pictures will not be as good as they could have been.

So read on to see what I consider to be crucial preparation for your shoot and my list of essential gear for aquarium photography.

First Things First

Python Aquarium Siphon one of my essential gear for aquarium photography core items

Before you do anything else, clean the tank. Make sure the glass is algae-free and smudge-free. The water should be crystal clear before you start shooting pictures, and for this reason – I like to clean the tank the day before I plan to shoot pictures.

Do a partial water change before the shoot and clean the gravel substrate.

When I began my aquarium maintenance service, I purchased my very first Python. Up till then, I had always used a siphon hose and a bucket to change the water. On top of being cumbersome and messy, it also sucks very much bad when you accidentally get nasty aquarium water in your mouth. If you have ever done that, I think you will agree that the Python is a total game-changer!

Once you have finished cleaning, step back and take a critical look at your tank. Are any heater wires showing? Is the gravel clean of detritus? Is the water crystal clear?

Remember – any cleaning efforts you make right now will improve your fish photo 100%.

Essential Gear List

  • Camera (Point and shoot, smartphone, or DSLR)
  • Shoot using the RAW camera setting, instead of JPEG
  • White-colored paper or white cloth (for background)
  • Clear Tape
  • Lamps, flashlights, spotlight, external lights
  • Tripod (to facilitate slower shutter speeds, low-light conditions)
  • Darkroom
  • Dark clothes
  • Small photo tank (for isolation photos of fishes)
  • A “blind” made from black cardboard with a cut-out fitted to your camera lens. This prevents the front glass of the photo tank from reflecting your image.


Fishlore provides aquarium fish information for both freshwater and saltwater hobbyists. They present information in an easy-to-understand way so that more can enjoy our wonderful hobby!

I also previously wrote an article that might help –