Gadgets that will save your sanity.

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
1. a refractometer. Salinity measure. It's laboratory-accurate, instant, uses no batteries, and you don't have to slam it repeatedly on a table to get all the bubbles off a swing-arm. It measures down to very tiny differences, and this is what you need. Tape on the side of your sump can tell you the proper water-fill level, which helps, but a refractometer will save fishy lives.

2. a ro/di filter. From your first fill. Phosphate feeds algae and fish and corals don't like it. Phosphate, even arsenic, even some worse things, are permitted in city water supplies because WE can drink it without great harm: not good for fish, however. A ro/di filter is pricey to buy, but not so bad at all to replace the cylinders one by one, which is how you will do it in use.

3. an autotopoff: this is a float switch controlling the pump that sits in your autotopoff (ATO) reservoir of fresh water, delivering topoff by the teaspoon, not the bucket. Bouncing salinity is not healthy for fish. Though they swim between salinity differences in the ocean, they get to pick where they go; in your tank there's no choice. And salinity change can kill some inverts. So be kind: top off by the teaspoon. This also lets you leave your tank for a week and know it's not going to be the Dead Sea when you get home.

4. a canopy fan. Most marine tanks are open-top because we have so many pumps and lights they overheat. If your circumstances require a lid, get a canopy fan array. They're (ideally) quiet little computer fans that move a lot of air and keep your tank cool. Set them to come on with the lights.

5. powerheads: little underwater fans that have a magnetic hold through the glass: you can position them to cure a 'dead spot' in your flow and keep it clean under the rockwork.

6. controller: a master device that monitors and controls levels of various things, or times doses of stuff. They vary in what they do. Ask around before committing!

7. water alarm: a little batteried device with 2 electric probes that you set into your carpet by your tank. If moisture causes those probes to complete the circuit, it sounds an alarm to tell you that you have a problem.

8. timers. I don't have a controller, but I do have ordinary hardware timers for my lights.

9. eggcrate lighting grid and GutterGuard (Lowes) and plastic needlepoint canvas (yarn or hobby store) ---things you can cut and shape to seal holes and prevent fish in the overflow.

10. a small mirror and flashlight---can let you see what's IN your overflow.

11. wavemaker: this is a little thingie that takes your inflow hose and directs it randomly to create chaotic flow in your tank. In a wedge tank, I've used two Sea Swirls (nodding nozzles) aimed at each other to create that effect. There are surge devices, there are intermittent flow directors, etc. Your imagination is the limit.

12. actinics or moonlights: gives your tank a twilight, and improves the color balance. My MH (metal halide) light is ooky yellow on its own, but 2 actinics correct the color and provide a nice energy to the tank as well.

13. GFO reactor: removes and binds phosphate. If you have hair algae, you need one. If it's spectacularly bad or persistent, you need the bigger one, and you need to change the medium monthly until you see you're making a dent in it. A fuge is a great thing, but in a bad case of rock or sand releasing phosphate into the water, there is no substitute for this device. It may take 6 months, but it WILL get it.

14. nitrile exam gloves: they save your fingers from bristleworms and save your corals from tears due to your fingers. Kinder all the way around.

15. white vinegar: dissolves calcium carbonate, and a little residue won't hurt your fish. Run an old pump in it, use it to wipe down second-hand tanks, or to wash your hands with if you've gotten tagged by a bristleworm.

16. water conditioner: Prime or Amquel: have it on hand in case you need to create salt water fast and have no ro/di ready. Also good for prepping things you've washed in tapwater, just to handle any residual amount of chloramine. Nice to keep some in the laundry, if you've had a Chlorox accident.



In general, before you buy the pricey new item at the LFS---get online on RC and ask around: who's tried it, does it work, etc. A week of asking may save you bucks. I've been sold some neat-sounding things that weren't.

These are all I can think of off the top of my head. HTH.
 
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MinnFish

New member
#7 is a great ideal. I have installed them on server room floors. Never thought about using them in this hobby. Thanks.
 

scott3569

New member
Very awesome, I actually do a lot of those things, and just starting off, things are going great. I don't have gloves, I have thought about it, only becasue, I am not sure if I want to get tagged from anything.. LOL I don't have corals as of yet nor anything that will put me into shock so gloves have not been on the for front..But when I start with corals, I am seriously thinking about getting gloves..
 

Rick2880

New member
I installed my water sensors after I flooded my neighbors house. It was clean RO/DI water at least...

She does still speak to me.
 

MinnFish

New member
I put gloves as priority #1, I never work in my tank without them. I used shoulder length, dairy livestock exam gloves. Or my heavy aquarium gloves.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Even dirt-cheap nitrile exam gloves are a protection: they keep nippy clown fish from biting, worms from stinging you, and corals from having to harpoon you with their stinging cells. Everybody's happier. If you have a cut on your hand, also, definitely wear them: the fish we get come from water where you-don't-know-what-disease was in the area: astronomically unlikely it would survive this long, but why take a chance? And there are natural toxins in the tank. Put a rubber band around your wrist and glove, and that stops most of it, but wear a truly waterproof bandage. And don't rub your eyes.
 

Sk8r

Staff member
RC Mod
Yep, and don't let Fido drink from water where you've had palys (sea mat, type of button) ---which can be toxic; and definitely watch your eyes when fragging (cutting) corals: ground bone and living reproducing tissue landing in your eyes is not a Good Idea. Your tears and the ocean are similar....
 
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