Aquarium Net Covers: Everything You Need to Know

Aquarium net covers are an essential accessory for any fish tank owner. These covers act as a barrier between your aquatic pets and the outside environment, serving both a practical and aesthetic purpose. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of aquarium netting, from types of covers and DIY options to tips for selecting the best cover for your tank. Whether you’re a seasoned aquarist or just getting started in the hobby, read on to discover everything you need to know about these useful tools.

Aquarium Cover Basics

Before diving into the specifics, let’s review some aquarium cover basics.

What is an Aquarium Net Cover?

An aquarium net cover is a mesh or netted material that fits over the top of your fish tank. The netting has small openings that allow for ventilation and light penetration while preventing fish from leaping out of the aquarium. The netting is held in place by a frame that sits on top of the tank.

Main Benefits of Aquarium Covers

There are several key reasons to use an aquarium cover:

  • Contains fish – Active fish like bettas, goldfish, and cichlids are prone to jumping. A cover contains them while still providing swimming space.
  • Prevents accidents – A cover prevents kids or pets from falling into the tank accidentally.
  • Protects from debris – Dust, dirt, and other debris can contaminate your tank. A cover blocks contaminants.
  • Supports equipment – Covers provide a mounting point for lights, filters, and other hardware.
  • Aesthetics – Covers can be discrete or a decorative focal point depending on your style.

Drawbacks of Covers

The cons of aquarium covers include:

  • Expense – Glass or acrylic covers can be pricey, especially for large tanks.
  • Condensation – Some covers trap humidity, resulting in beads of condensation.
  • Cleaning – Covers need occasional cleaning to keep algae at bay.
  • Access limitations – Covers can make it trickier to access the tank for maintenance.
  • Evaporation – Tight-fitting covers limit beneficial gas exchange from water surface movement.

Do All Aquariums Need Covers?

While not necessary, most aquariums benefit from some type of cover. Tanks containing jump-prone fish or located in high-traffic areas especially need the protection a cover provides. However, if fish safety isn’t a concern, open-top rimless aquariums can go without covers.

Types of Aquarium Covers

There are several options when it comes to aquarium covers. The type you choose depends on your tank size, setup, and aesthetic preferences.

Glass Covers

Glass aquarium covers provide a clear view into your underwater world. They are available in hinged and sliding styles.


  • Crystal clear view of tank
  • Very smooth and sleek look
  • Sturdy and durable


  • Heavy, especially on larger tanks
  • Prone to algae growth
  • Condensation can be an issue
  • More expensive than other options

Plastic Covers

Made from acrylic or polycarbonate, plastic covers offer transparency combined with affordability. They are lightweight yet strong.


  • Allow in light while containing fish
  • Much lighter than glass
  • Low cost compared to glass
  • Easy to remove for tank access


  • Can become brittle and discolored over time
  • Prone to scratching
  • Not as clear and optic as glass

Mesh Covers

Mesh or netted covers allow maximum airflow and light penetration. They come in nylon, aluminium, and stainless steel materials.


  • Allow for full ventilation and evaporation
  • Permit unobstructed light spread
  • Fully customizable sizing
  • Block debris and contain jumps
  • Durable and long-lasting


  • Can have a utilitarian look
  • Need to be cut to fit tank
  • Prevent full hands-on tank access

DIY Aquarium Covers

For the DIY enthusiast, making your custom aquarium cover is possible. Here’s an overview of the DIY aquarium cover process.

Planning Your Cover

The first step is taking exact measurements of your tank length and width. Note any rim or brace placements that could impact frame positioning. Sketch your ideas so you can visualize the result.

Choosing Materials

You’ll need netting material as well as a frame. Plastic canvas mesh works well for netting, and aluminum strips make ideal frame material. Both can be found at most craft stores. Make sure to get UV-resistant materials.

Building the Frame

Cut the aluminum strips to the lengths needed to fit your tank top using a hacksaw. Drill holes in the ends of each strip, then connect them with screws or small bolts to form a square or rectangular frame.

Adding the Netting

Lay the frame on top of the mesh and use a spline rolling tool to press the netting into the frame’s grooves. Trim any excess mesh. Attach hinges if making a lidded cover.

Final Touches

File any rough edges, then give the cover multiple coats of spray paint if desired. Install the cover on your aquarium and make any final adjustments for proper fit and function.

Shopping for Aquarium Covers

For those who prefer to buy rather than build a cover, there are many options on the market. Here’s what to look for when shopping:

Size and Fit

Confirm the cover is designed to fit your exact aquarium dimensions. Measure the tank length and width to be sure.

Material Quality

Opt for aluminum, stainless steel, or black nylon netting. Transparent PVC or acrylic covers should be crystal clear.

Style Preferences

Consider solid lids versus open netting and black covers versus metallic finishes. Hinged lids allow easy access.

Added Features

Look for integrated cable ports, rim cutouts, and hinged openings to accommodate equipment.

Brand Reputation

Stick with reputable brands like Marina, Aqueon, and Zilla that produce quality covers.


Aquarium covers range from $10 for basic mesh to $200+ for large acrylic canopies. Set a budget before you shop.

Online vs. Local Purchase

Buying online has more options but no chance to test fit. Local stores allow test fitting.

Installing and Using Aquarium Covers

Once you’ve selected the perfect aquarium cover, it’s time for installation. Here are some tips:

Allow Proper Ventilation

Avoid completely sealing the tank to prevent stagnant, oxygen-depleted air. Leave a gap or use a mesh cover.

Make Cutouts

Cut slits or holes to accommodate filter tubing and power cords. Use grommets to prevent snags.

Secure The Frame

Position the frame evenly atop the aquarium trim with the netting taut. Affix with retaining clips if needed.

Maintain Access

If the cover is cumbersome, hinged lids can allow easy feeding and maintenance access without fully removing it.

Perform Routine Cleaning

Use an algae scraper and towel to wipe down glass covers periodically. Rinse mesh covers when doing water changes.

Check Condition

Inspect covers for signs of brittleness, cracking, cloudiness or other deterioration and replace if needed.

DIY Aquarium Cover Kits

Aquarium cover kits offer an excellent solution for those seeking a DIY cover option without starting from scratch. Let’s look at what’s included in these kits and how they work.

What’s in a Kit?

Typical kits include precut frame pieces that snap together, rollers for pressing in mesh netting, spline cord, and instructions. The mesh netting is usually sold separately to allow sizing customization.

Ease of Assembly

Assembly with cover kits is quite easy, mainly involving cutting netting, fitting into the frame, and pressing with a roller tool to fasten. Minimal tools are needed.

Sizing and Adjustments

Kits allow you to size the mesh precisely to your tank’s top. The netting can be trimmed for a perfect fit. Frame corners often pivot to fine tune angles.

Added Benefits

Kits include all the necessary frame parts so no measuring or cutting rails is required. The kits simplify the process considerably.

Popular Brands

Some well-known aquarium cover kit brands include Red Sea, Tenecor, and Pro-Line. Bulk Reef Supply and Breeders Box also offer their kits.

Cost Factor

These kits generally range from $60 on the low end to $150 or more for larger sizes, so while not cheap, they save over custom aquarium covers.

Selecting the Best Cover Material

The material from which your aquarium cover is made really matters. Each material has unique properties to consider when deciding which is best for your tank.


Glass covers provide maximum clarity and durability, but have some downsides.


  • Allows full view of aquarium
  • Very sleek aesthetic
  • Withstands heat well
  • Easy to cut openings for equipment


  • Heavy, especially for large tanks
  • Brittle if lid is slammed or dropped
  • Prone to limescale buildup over time
  • Condensation can drip back into tank


Acrylic aquarium covers offer transparency combined with lightweight strength.


  • Crystal clear viewing
  • Around half the weight of glass
  • Resists impact and scratching
  • Warps less than glass over time


  • Can become hazy and brittle with age
  • More easily scratched than glass
  • Prone to static cling with dust
  • Costs more than other materials


PVC plastic offers durability and ease of customization.


  • Inexpensive compared to other covers
  • Can be easily cut to desired size
  • Withstands high humidity well
  • Many color options like black, tan, green


  • Not as optically clear as glass or acrylic
  • Can become misshapen over time
  • Prone to algae growth
  • Can warp and crack with age


Mesh covers provide maximum ventilation and evaporative cooling.


  • Allows beneficial gas exchange
  • Customizable to any tank dimensions
  • Very lightweight
  • Won’t shatter if dropped
  • Provides support for hanging equipment


  • Not as aesthetically sleek as solid covers
  • Allows some evaporation from tank
  • Net texture somewhat limits view
  • Need to trim carefully for clean edges

Top Aquarium Cover Brands

There are a myriad of companies producing aquarium covers, from large manufacturers to small custom suppliers. Here are some of the top brands dominating the market.


One of the most recognized names in aquarium gear, Marineland offers glass canopies and hoods for both traditional and rimless tanks. Their products feature hinged, sliding, and multi-panel covers for different setups. Sturdy aluminum frames and black backgrounds provide a clean, finished look.


Known for quality at reasonable prices, Aqueon provides both glass tops and plastic covers for tanks of all dimensions. Their Versa-Top hinged covers combine shatter-resistant strength with easy open access. Cutouts accommodate filters and heaters.


Zilla crafts affordable aquarium covers from black nylon mesh and transparent PVC. Their patented frame design allows quick access while keeping fish contained. Zilla also offers kits for DIY mesh covers.


Specializing in custom work, Tenecor hand crafts made-to-order acrylic lids and canopies. Their covers can accommodate embedded lighting, curved tanks, and other unique setups. Tenecor also produces hinged mesh covers.

Red Sea DIY Kits

Red Sea’s DIY kits include black netting and aluminum rails with corners that adjust to fit different tank sizes. The included spline roller tool makes attaching the mesh quick and easy.

Top Considerations When Choosing a Cover

Selecting the ideal aquarium cover involves weighing several key factors:

Types of Fish

Active jumpers like bettas and gobies require tightly stretched mesh. More sedate species do fine with partial covers.

Equipment Mounting

Will the cover need to support lighting, pumps, or other hardware? Mesh or acrylic provide mounting points.

Access Needs

Hinged lids allow easy feeding and maintenance access. Sliding tops are better for rimless open tanks.

Tank Location

Tanks in high traffic areas benefit from tightly fitting covers to prevent accidents.

Aesthetic Preferences

Glass or acrylic lends a seamless look while mesh has an industrial vibe.

Aquascape Considerations

Avoid excessive condensation dripping on emersed plants. Opt for mesh or vents.

Cost Constraints

Shop prices to find attractive options that fit your budget. DIY can provide cost savings.

Evaporation Concerns

Minimal covers reduce evaporation. Total sealing can lead to stagnation.

Safety First

Pick mesh holes small enough to prevent fish escapes but large enough for ventilation.


The right aquarium cover keeps your finned friends safely contained while fitting in with your tank’s aesthetic. Glass, plastic, and mesh materials all have their pros and cons. Hinged lids allow easy access when needed. For the DIY-minded, custom covers can be built using kits or raw materials. With so many choices available, you can select a cover that perfectly balances style, functionality and affordability. Your aquatic pets will thank you for giving them a secure yet comfortable home.