END Reef Tank Clutter & 5 Tips to Tame the Cord Octopus Using a Controller Board
While we appreciate cool tech and fancy aquarium gear on our tanks, we also realize that each piece of new equipment means one more cord to wrap, strap, and tuck away out of plain view. While there really is no ONE right way to organize the cords underneath your aquarium, there are some clever products and excellent tips that can make the process much less painful. Let alone help you keep your aquarium safe and the surrounding area looking sharp.
Suggested Cord Organization Gear
- Adaptive Reef Controller Board or Cabinet
- 1ft Power Cords
- 1ft extension cords with rotatable heads
- Velcro cable wraps
- Zip-ties / plastic cable ties
- Zip tie anchors
- Adhesive Velcro
- Cable Concealers
- Label Maker
- Alex Tech Split Sleeve
Adaptive Reef is the leader when it comes to tank organization with their line of Controller Boards and accessories. The boards provide you with a safe place to mount all of the various controllers and power supplies that feed into your aquarium gear and the power bards they plug into. You also have space behind the board to wrap and attach excess cordage so it's not getting tangled up or dangling out where everyone can see it.
You will need to choose between the Standard or Deluxe model controller board but there is also the Controller Cabinet for those who have some serious organization to accomplish. Just choose the board that best suits your needs; the more equipment you have the more "board" you will need.
Tips & Tricks
1. Plan Everything & Create Templates
Using paper, create templates and plan out where you're going to place all of the various controllers, power bars, and power supplies. You only have so much space and you want to be sure everything fits and is placed in the most logical location. Pay attention to where the cords come out of the controllers (top, bottom, or side) and position them so they feed easily into the holes on the controller board. Remember the wires also need to run to your aquarium so the board itself needs to be in close enough vicinity to the tank. Run the cords through the board and test fit everything in place before finalizing things.
2. French Cleat
Use the french cleat to mount your board because it makes for easy access to the back of the board when you want to make changes. You can also install hinges to the front panel so it's easy to open and close but ultimately you want to anchor the back of the board using the french cleat.
3. Don't Skimp on Power Cords
Many of the DC power supplies we use on modern aquarium gear include a 4-6ft long power cord which is usually way too much cord. Replace those short cords with 1ft Power Cords to save yourself the hassle of having to deal with all that extra power cord.
You can also purchase short extension cords with flat rotatable heads which makes it easy to position the cord neatly out of your wifi strip or controllable power supply. Then simply plug all your gear into those uniform and flat extension cords on the back of the board. This looks cleaner and reduces bulk on the front of your board where the wifi strip is mounted.
4. Use Velcro
Velcro cable ties are removable which means you can easily make changes down the road. If they are too long, just cut them as short as you need. Adhesive velcro can be cut into squares and used to mount the controllers to the front of your board (instead of screws or double-sided tape).
5. Frayed Ends
When using the Alex Tech Split Sleeve, you will likely be cutting it to size which ends up creating frayed plastic ends on the sleeve. Just use a lighter to melt the frayed ends and prevent the sleeve from unraveling; just like you would do with a plastic rope or shoelace. The split sleeve can be used as a cord concealer and wrapped around longer runs of cords from the board to your tank.
6. Zip-Tie with Caution
Zip-ties are more permanent and work best for attaching power supplies to the back of the board. The board has rails with holes drilled into them that are made for Zip-ties to run through and secure power supplies. Double-sided velcro works too but sometimes the heat from these power supplies can cause the adhesion to lose hold over time so Zip-ties are more secure. Zip-ties will work to wrap cords but will have to be cut if you ever make changes which just creates more work for yourself. Zip-tie anchors can be stuck anywhere on the board where you want to attach a cable tie which work great if you run out of rails on the back of the board or simply want to mount something elsewhere.
7. Label Everything
When running cords through a board and into your aquarium, you can easily see which cord leads to which piece of equipment. Label all of your cords right at the plug end before it goes into the power bar, this way you know exactly which plug leads to what piece of equipment. If you need to remove something or make changes, you won't have to unplug everything to figure out which one it is.