8 Indispensable gadgets that no aquarist can do without

As aquarists, we ply our stock in trade with some pretty standard gear" Aquariums (duh), high-tech filtration systems, heater, protein skimmers, reactors, electronic controllers, etc., etc. It seem like every year, new, cool gadgets and equipment is introduced that promises to make our hobby more enjoyable, the routine tasks easier, and our results more spectacular.

However, when you examine things on a deeper level, you'll come to realize that many of your best pieces of "equipment" are surprisingly low-tech items that may or may not have actually been originally intended for aquarium use, right? Yeah- like kitchen gadgets, household tools, and other stuff that adapts well to our needs.

It got me thinking about just how industrious and resourceful we aquarium geeks are, and how we can make use of just about anything, right? So without further fanfare, here's my list of my 8 favorite most indispensable  gadgets that we've adapted for our hobby:

1) Pyrex measuring cup- Yeah, think about it. You've got a piece of equipment that can be used for such widely unrelated tasks as removing or adding water to your tank, measuring salt mix, additives, or substrate, or serving as a fish holding containers, or even as a "caddy" to hold aquatic plants while your placing them in your tank. I mean, what aquarist doesn't need one of these?

2) Plastic drop cloth- Let's face it- an aquarium in the household is a given for the geeky aquarist, but there are plenty of spouses/roommates/parents/siblings that would just as soon rather see a couch, exercise bike, big-screen TV, stereo system- just about anything else instead of the aquarium, and every drop of water, grain of sand, or glob of algae that gets on the new hardwood floor just adds fuel to the argument that the massage chair was a far better choice for the living room, so why not invest $5.00-$10.00 on a piece of gear that can not only help ensure domestic tranquility, but protect those floors as well?

3) Length of vinyl tubing- Water exchanges are at the core of aquarium husbandry, and there have been numerous devices offered over the years to help hobbyists make the task easier. However, few offer the reliability, low cost, effectiveness, and operational efficiency of a simple 4-6 foot length of 1/2"-3/4" diameter vinyl tubing. It's as low tech as it gets; unglamorous, unsexy, yet perfectly functional. And, it carries with it the added excitement that can only come from the constant threat of accidentally ingesting tank water during it's use. What more could you ask for in an aquarium tool?

4) Set of plastic measuring spoons- Over the years, I'm positive that you've "borrowed", stolen, or otherwise appropriated one or more kitchen measuring spoons for use in your aquarium activities, right? I mean, measuring spoons are pretty much the most useful way to administer dry additives, fertilizers, and other aquarium materials into your tank with simplicity and accuracy. Why not just break down and buy a set of these little gems for dedicated aquarium use? 

5) Chamois- Because spills happen. And there are never enough highly-absorbative, clean towels on hand...or within easy reach in "emergencies", anyways. 'Nuff said.

6) Plastic bucket- The absolute workhorse of the fish room; an indispensable partner in your aquatic endeavors, the plastic bucket needs no introduction. If you don't have one, and have been somehow living in a cave for all of these years, you just need to grab one. Period.

7) Plastic syringe- I don't know about you, but I remember asking the doctor every checkup for a new plastic syringe (of course, without the needle), and felt a great sense of accomplishment when I'd score one. Now, of course, you can find them everywhere, for a variety of uses...but they're the quintessential aquarium tool, IMHO. It sure was more fun to feel like I scored one from the doctor with my convincing request, but it's good to know you can grab 'em easily nowadays nonetheless.

7) Hobby knife- Who needs a scissors? You need a good knife. 

8) Turkey baster- It's not just for the Holidays anymore. You can use a turkey baster to target feed invertebrates, blow sand or gravel away from areas you don't want it, prime a filter, and quickly feed fishes in your 30-tank fish room. Yeah- simple, low-tech, incredibly useful.

Okay, so that's my top eight most useful gadgets for aquarium use...Of course, there are dozens more, and these are just my opinions. You probably have them already, or have had them at one point or another...It's almost an afterthought, but it's also a testimony to our ingenuity, resourcefulness, and our ability to carefully "appropriate" stuff from other parts of the house for our purposes...you gotta love that!

What others can you think of?

Stay resourceful. Stay creative...

And stay wet.

Scott Fellman

Tannin Aquatics


Scott Fellman
Scott Fellman


Leave a comment