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5 Inexpensive Tools Recommended for a Reef Tank

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zoa and anemone

Reef aquarium maintenance is going to be a necessity for every build in the hobby. We all know the basic tools that are used but there are others that aren’t as common which may be missed by new hobbyists. This guide will provide information on 5 different types of instruments and gadgets that are highly recommended to use in your reef tank.

Ground Probe

Have you ever dipped your hand or finger into your aquarium and received what feels like a good shock? That could be caused by stray voltage running through your fish tank. The cause of this is usually a defective piece of equipment such as a heater, protein skimmer, circulation pump, return pump and so on. Ideally, the best practice is to search for and remove the equipment that is causing stray voltage in your aquarium. Stray voltage is dangerous to fish, coral, shrimp, as well as you! It is important to remove the problematic piece of equipment as quickly as possible.

The grounding probe will help alleviate the effects of stray voltage in an aquarium. It is a temporary fix until you, the fish keeper, find the source of the problem and replace it. It also provides piece of mind that if there is stray current in the fish tank, it will quickly become grounded by the grounding probe. This tool plugs into a wall outlet or power strip except it only has a grounding prong. The other end of this instrument (probe) gets put into your fish tank. Electrical currents will travel to the probe and out of the fish tank. The shocking feeling should almost immediately go away.

In order to find where the stray voltage is coming from, we will need a multimeter. This equipment detects electrical current. Once we have the multimeter, turn off all of the equipment that is inside of the aquarium and remove the grounding probe. Turn on your equipment one at a time and test to see if there is an electrical current in your fish tank by using the multimeter. Once electrical current is detected, remove whichever equipment is causing it and replace it with a new one. Keep testing the equipment to make sure there aren’t any others that are causing electricity to run through your fish tank. Once that is all completed, plug the grounding probe back into the outlet. The ground probe is a safety feature to prevents damage, stress, and possibly death to fish and other wildlife within your aquarium until you can find the source of the problem.

V2O Aquarium Foods Wide Point Coral Feeder II

There are two common ways to feed the coral in your reef tank, target and broadcast feeding. With target feeding a tool is used such as the V20 Coral Feeder, in order to get very close to the mouth of a coral to ensure it receives food. With broadcast feeding you simply take coral food, mix with water and pour it into your aquarium. Target feeding is far more precise, prevents a lot of food from being wasted, and overall may minimize increased levels of phosphates and nitrates in your aquarium. On the other hand, with broadcast feeding not every coral is guaranteed to acquire food, a lot of food can be wasted, and phosphate/nitrate levels may be more susceptible to spikes because of the unused food that will be broken down.

The V20 Wide Point Coral Feeder is an excellent way to keep your hands dry and still precisely feed your coral to help maximize their growth. When feeding with this tool, it is recommended to turn off circulation pumps before feeding. Once that is done siphon food into this tool and begin feeding your coral. Try not to touch the coral because doing so may cause them to close up. Wait 3-5 minutes after feeding and then turn your circulation pumps back on. It is a very easy to use piece of equipment and great for precision feeding.

Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget AccuDrip Acclimator

There are many fish, coral, and invertebrates that are very finicky and sensitive to changing water parameters. When introducing new livestock into a fish tank, it is very important to properly acclimate the animal before adding it into an aquarium. The Innovative Marine AccuDrip Acclimator is an excellent tool to use to carefully acclimate our delicate friends. New fish will be gradually introduced to your fish tank’s water using this drip acclimator which can prevent or lessen stress levels and lower the risk of diseases arising in your new fish, coral, or invert.

This tool will require a bucket to pour fish, coral, and invertebrates in to begin the acclimation process. For more information and directions on use, follow this link to the AccuDrip Acclimator page.

Hamilton Technology Dual Outlet Programmable Analog Timer

Running your system on a schedule is important to keep your aquarium stable. A timer such as the Hamilton Technology Programmable Timer is a definite way to help accomplish that. The timer can help control lighting schedules so there is no worries on getting home to turn the lights on or off. Timers are also great at completely removing tedious tasks such as turning on light fixtures. The less you have to worry about little things such as lights, the more you can enjoy your fish tank! Many light fixtures have built in timers but for those that don’t this is an excellent alternative. I personally run all of my aquarium, terrarium, and paludarium lights on timers in order to keep a consistent lighting period. I try my best to mimic natural light patterns.


Keeping your hands out of a fish tank is one of the hardest things to accomplish. I personally love tinkering and working on my aquariums and its hard not to get down and dunk my hands in to save a flipped snail or move some coral around. We produce oils on our skin, get our hands dirty, have soap and/or lotion on our hands, so constantly dipping your hands into your reef isn’t the best thing to do. It is always recommended to wash your hands (without soap) before putting them into your fish tanks but we can never get them 100% clean.

If you can’t resist constantly working on your fish tank there are a few things you can do to help keep your hands out! A mag-float is a very good way to clean your glass or acrylic aquariums without having to dip your hands in water. Be sure to purchase the appropriate sized and type of mag-float for your aquarium. The following list shows many different mag-float options:

  • For Glass
    • Mag-Float 30 – Small (Up to 30 gal. & glass thickness of 3/16″)
    • Mag-Float 125 – Medium (Up to 125 gal. & glass thickness of 3/8″)
    • Mag-Float 350 – Large (Up to 350 gal. & glass thickness of 5/8″)
    • Mag-Float – Large+ (For glass thickness b/w 3/4″ and 1 1/4″)
    • Mag-Float – X-Large (For glass thickness b/w 3/4″ and 1 1/4″)
  • For Acrylic
    • Mag-Float 25A – Mini (Up to 10 gal. & acrylic thickness of 3/16″)
    • Mag-Float 35A – Small (Up to 30 gal. & acrylic thickness of 3/16″)
    • Mag-Float 130A – Medium (Up to 125 gal. & acrylic thickness of 3/8″ )
    • Mag-Float 360A (Up to 350 gal. & acrylic thickness of 5/8″)
    • Mag-Float – Large+ (For acrylic thickness b/w 3/4″ – 1 1/4″)
    • Mag-Float 510A – Extra Large (For acrylic thickness b/w 3/4″ – 1 1/4″)

As a side note, always inspect your mag-float or any other glass cleaning tool before and during use. You run the risk of scratching your glass or acrylic if debris is wedged between the glass and glass cleaner. This commonly happens when the mag-float sits in an aquarium for long periods of time without use or when it is being used close to the sand bed. The kicked up sand may get attached and then scratch your glass/acrylic while cleaning.

Final Notes

There are many other tools and equipment that can make fish keeping easier. Hopefully the 5 items listed in this article will help make your fish keeping journey easier, more enjoyable, and safer!