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Top Five Beginner Maintenance Equipment

I possess a vast assortment of maintenance equipment for my aquarium. While some items are in frequent use, others see action only every few months. To narrow it down, I opted for the top five pieces that I utilize every week. However, I couldn’t stop at just five because there are simply too many essential tools! Here’s my top five, along with a few honorable mentions!

5. Stainless Steel Algae Scraper

The Pronetcus Premium scraper is designed for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. It features a replaceable blade, making it simple to install and change blades when needed. The large knife head ensures thorough cleaning of the aquarium glass. To ensure safety during storage, the scraper comes with a plastic blade cover, providing a sturdy and secure storage option. It is lightweight and durable, and it’s essential to select the appropriate scraper length based on your aquarium glass height. 

4. OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set

While it may sound odd, I highly recommend the OXO Brush Set for aquarium cleaning. These brushes offer firmer bristles compared to regular toothbrushes, making them much more effective for various tasks.

Having two sizes to choose from is incredibly handy as I use them all over my tank. They are perfect for removing salt creep and scraping algae off baffles. Honestly, these brushes have become indispensable for my aquarium maintenance routine.

3. Irwin Quick-Grip Handi-Clamp

This clamp has been a game-changer for me. I use it exclusively for one purpose: to secure the gravel vacuum during water changes.

In the past, I experienced countless spills when the gravel vacuum would slip out of my 5-gallon bucket and onto the floor. It was incredibly frustrating.

However, ever since I got my hands on this affordable $5 gem, I haven’t had a single spill. What sets this version apart is its quick release button and adjustable grip pressure, unlike other clamps that only offer one setting: super strong. This flexibility is crucial when you’re clamping a piece of flexible tubing.

Don’t repeat my mistakes and deal with messy spills. Invest in this clamp now and save yourself the hassle!

2. Gravel Vacuum/Cleaner

This gravel vacuum is a must-have for any water change, offering simple yet effective functionality. When selecting the size, I recommend going for the large to extra-large option, especially if you want to siphon out the sand bed. Smaller sizes tend to suck up sand into the tube more easily.

As for the brand, it’s not a significant factor, and various options are available. Some fancier versions may come with a self-priming bulb for an easier siphon start.

However, if you’re skilled with siphoning (or plan to become one), you can easily learn to start the siphon with this gravel vacuum without using your mouth. 

1. Flipper Standard 2-in-1 Magnetic Algae Cleaner

The Flipper is a magnetic algae scraper that comes with a higher price tag, but its performance makes it worth the investment. Having tried various magnetic scrapers, none of them compare to the Flipper.

What sets the Flipper apart is its unique design that allows you to switch between the soft, felt side and the stainless steel scraper side without having to put your hand in the tank. This versatility makes it highly efficient for dealing with both new, easy-to-remove algae growth using the soft side and hard algae build-up near the edges with the stainless steel scraper.

When purchasing the Flipper, it’s crucial to select the right size. They offer three sizes, each with a magnet suitable for a specific glass/acrylic thickness. For most beginners, the standard Flipper will work just fine and prove to be a valuable tool for tank maintenance.

Honorable Mentions

Polyester Filter Fiber

One of my favorite ways to mechanically filter my tank is by using polyester filter fiber. It’s a cost-effective option that comes in bulk, allowing you to replace it easily every few days without the hassle of rinsing or washing.

Personally, I rely on this exact product for my 24-gallon office tank and all of my quarantine tanks. However, for my larger 120-gallon tank, I prefer using a standard sponge.

The only downside I’ve noticed with this filter floss is that it doesn’t hold together exceptionally well, leading to some strands floating around inside the tank. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you might want to consider checking out this alternative filter floss, which holds together much better.

Stainless Steel Turkey Baster

Although I don’t use this Turkey Baster as frequently as my other tools, it proves to be indispensable whenever I need it.

There are instances where I need to blast sand off the rock or stir up detritus and get it back into the water column, and this baster comes to the rescue.

I particularly appreciate its stainless steel construction and the fact that the rubber bulb is easy to detach for cleaning. It also comes in handy during coral acclimation and whenever I need to create additional water movement in the tank.