Assuming you read my article on 10 Items To Buy For Keeping Fish In College, you are now set with the essentials. In this article, I will give you some "good-to-have's" that will make your life much easier when having a fish tank or two in college.
1. different sized Clamps
Clamps are single handedly one of the most helpful tools an aquarium hobbyist can have in his/her arsenal. You never know when you'll need a third hand (or a sixth). I find myself using clamps in so many situations, whether it's clamping a tube as I'm drip acclimating new fish or anchoring down a siphon as I'm doing a water change. Do yourself a favor and get this set:
2. algae scrapers
Getting your entire arm wet as you scrape algae off the walls is less than ideal. Save yourself the hassle and buy designated algae scrapers. They come in different forms, but I personally prefer both the Mag-Float Aquarium Glass Cleaner and any generic stainless steel aquarium scraper.
3. aquascape decorations (Fake or Real)
No one likes an empty tank. Having decorations in the tank is good because it provides your fish places to hide and it breaks their line of sight, which is always more enriching. You have a plethora of different options to provide some visual prowess to your fish tank including spiderwood, cholla wood, ceramic decorations or rocks.
4. portable USB air pumpS
College students are more likely to have long drives between campus and home, especially before and after breaks (i.e. spring break, holiday break and summer break). Taking this into consideration, it's important that you properly aerate your fish's transport bucket, tub or tank as you transport it in the car. A USB air pump accomplishes just that since most cars are equipped with USB power nowadays. This is what I use and it has come in handy more than I thought it would:
5. betta log or leaf hammock
This is specific to betta fish keepers, but if you feel like plants aren't your thing, just get a betta log or betta leaf hammock. Betta fish like to rest on things and like to have places to hide from the light. These two accomplish just that. Get them to make your betta fish happy!
6. surge protectorS
One downside to fish keeping is that it takes up a lot of outlets (at least two!). Getting a surge protector will not only provide flexibility for where you place your tank in your dorm/suite/apartment, but it also will help you account for the inevitable multiple outlets that you will need.
7. golf towelS
This is a nice little secret to all fish keepers. A golf towel specifically over a normal towel is perfect for fish keepers because they usually come with clips that you can latch onto you as you're doing maintenance. A normal towel works too, but just make sure you don't use your normal bath towel... that would be gross!
8. fish light timerS
Part of being in college is that you will often have a lot on your plate, whether it's lectures, exams, extracurriculars, etc. Getting a fish light timer will allow you to take one thing off of your plate: turning your fish tank's light on and off. Automation is the way to go!
9. different food
It is absolutely imperative that you give your fish a variety of different foods. "Different" means a variety of ingredient compositions (i.e. frozen, dried, high protein) and forms of food (i.e. flake, pellet, dried). Fish are more likely to thrive better and nutritional deficiencies are less likely if you refrain from feeding them the same thing every day.
10. aquarium salt
Aquarium salt isn't necessarily an end-all-be-all to solving ever fish disease. But, when used correctly, it does a darn good job as a first-line treatment whenever illness pops up in your tank. Of course, it is ideal that you have certain medications on hand, but at the very minimum, get aquarium salt.
11. [bonus] an automatic fish feeder
This is a bonus suggestion. Remember when I said automation is the way to go? Well you can actually automate feeding your fish! Automatic fish feeders actually work pretty well and are used across the industry. College students may be even more keen to use an automatic fish feeder so that feeding becomes one less thing to worry about!
Longevity in the fish keeping hobby starts with a good personal experience. If there are investments that can be made to make your experience easier and overall better, then I think those investments are priceless. Hopefully this list will open up your eyes that maintenance and water changes don't have to be the bane of your aquarium hobby existence!