Thomas’ Top 5 Unlikely Reef Tank Tools!
While we pride ourselves in serving up a comprehensive selection of saltwater aquarium supplies, there are a few things that you won't find here at BRS that can really enrich your hobby experience. While these gadgets are not necessities by any means, they will help you connect with your tank in new ways and keep you engaged with the hobby in a way that you may have never experienced before.
Your reef tank is pretty incredible in terms of the diversity of life. This diversity goes way beyond the beautiful corals, fish, and invertebrates you can see with your eyes and includes an entire network of organisms and microbes you cannot see. The microbiome is all of those microscopic critters, both good and bad, that ultimately contribute to your aquarium's overall diversity and balance. A microscope allows you to peer into this tiny universe and develop a whole new appreciation for what is happening inside those glass walls.
- ID algae, pests, and parasites
- Check out bacteria and pods
- Take a look at what lives in your sand bed or refugium
- Observe how microorganisms interact
- Examine fish scales, fin clippings, or coral tissue
- Perform an amateur necropsy to find out what went wrong
- Use adapters to take pictures or videos using your phone or camera
2. 3D Printers
One of the coolest inventions of the 21st century, a 3D printer allows you to create pretty much anything you want out of plastic. These printers are already being used to make a wide variety of aquarium accessories, a few of which we sell on our website!
There is a whole community of reefers using 3D printers to create helpful accessories, brackets, and tools for the aquarium. You can get download designs and plans online or even create your own using 3D modeling software.
What can I build with a 3D printer for my aquarium?
- pump brackets
- controller mounts
- probe holders
- tube holders
- cord clips
- feeding rings
3. Mini Fridge/Freeze Combo
While it might seem a little over the top, having a dedicated place for your fish foods and additives has a number of benefits. Obviously, frozen foods can be kept close by the aquarium but you can also help ensure liquid and dry foods don't go bad, at least get the maximum shelf life when kept cool. You might save a little money and buy in bulk! Many additives can also benefit from cool storage including amino acids, phytoplankton, and bacteria.
Hobbyists have gone as far as modifying little refrigerators with dosing tube ports running in and out so they can automatically dose directly from cold stored additives. This is especially useful in NPS tanks or aquariums that get a heavy dose of live phytoplankton and other liquid foods. Cold storing live phytoplankton retains the nutritional value and slows down the decomposition so you won't have to refresh the storage container as often.
Perhaps the best benefit of all is you no longer have to store stinky fish food alongside your frozen pizzas and leftovers.
4. Wifi Camera or Webcam
Webcam technology has come a long way in recent years and provides a great way to keep an eye on your tank when you are away from home. There are a wide variety of different wifi capable cameras on the market, including some really affordable options that can be accessed via an app on your smartphone. Just set the camera up by your sump or aquarium and connect to your home's wifi network for around-the-clock monitoring.
Not only can you check to see how your livestock is doing but you can also find out if anything is going wrong or simply show off your tank to friends and acquaintances.
For those of you using Neptune System Apex controllers, you can actually integrate a webcam into Apex Fusion so it displays right on your dashboard. Should the Apex send you an alert that something is wrong with the tank, you can use the webcam to check on the tank and help walk somebody else through correcting the issue.
5. Bucket Head Shop Vac
Bucket head vacuums are incredibly handy devices that turn any standard-size 5-gallon bucket into a wet/dry shop vac! It's essentially a modified vacuum lid that sets atop the bucket and all of the debris is collected inside the plastic bucket, including water! You can use it to clean out your sump or water reservoirs, pick up spilled water, remove dust and cobwebs from inside your tank stand, or whatever else you might use a shop vac for.
They are inexpensive (under $35 at the time of publishing this page) too which means you don't have to worry about corrosive saltwater ruining your expensive wet/dry vacuum and they don't take up anywhere near as much space as a traditional shop vacuum.