Aquarium owners are always trying to save money.  Spending less on aquarium maintenance means we can spend more on new livestock.  There are lots of excellent pieces of equipment where spending a lot of money makes sense (lights, skimmers, controllers, etc), but there are plenty of common items that can make your aquarium easier to operate, while saving you some money.

We assembled this list of items that we use on our aquariums that are available next-day from Amazon prime.  They’re all pretty handy, save us some stress, and are both cheap and reliable.  Stock up on your favorites today and don’t forget to let us know any items we may have missed in the comments!

Turkey Baster

Perfect for spot-cleaning uneaten food or debris from the substrate without disturbing the entire tank.  I always keep one of these hanging right next to the tank, in case I see a crab sitting on my favorite new frag, or a flatworm that my wrasse hasn’t found yet.  Using a turkey baster to spot feed lps is always a lot of fun.


Nylon Mesh Bags

These food grade mesh bags are perfect for holding media such as activated carbon, a nitrate sponge, whatever.  I put all my dead corals, shells and pebbles in them and then place them in the sump.  This gives the critters more safety to reproduce but lets me easily remove it from the sump when I’m ready to do some cleaning.



Useful for precise dosing additives and foods.  I like this set because it includes a bit of tubing.  I can use the tubing to position it right behind a powerhead to direct the food, every few minutes I’ll walk by the tank and push another blast of food.  The fish love this method!


Collection Cups

These are my FAVORITE!  Not only are the most reliable and quick way to pack up some frags for a swap, but I keep them near the tank for cleaning and collecting things.  Examples include the nuisance algae I scrape out, dead frags that are destined for the sump, extra xenia, and other sorts of much.  They’re also great for holding frags before and after you’ve cut them.  I keep a whole pack of 100+ of these in my closet at all times.  Bonus use case: If I catch a bug around the house I’ll put it in one of these with the lid on so the kids can get up close without the bug escaping.


Zip Ties

These are a MUST for any aquarium owner.  Not just to tie cables together, in fact I prefer velcro straps for most things that I plan to move around or perform maintenance on, as I don’t want to be cutting zip ties in the future.  But you can connect zip ties into loops and make strange shapes and chains to control how things “sit”.  What I mean is sometimes cords and cables don’t sit quite right, and some zip ties and a dash of creativity helps a ton when trying to fix something that is creating a drip, or a device that doesn’t fit quite right.  Doing cool things with zip ties should be an olympic sport.


Zip Tie Mounts

Combining these with the zip ties above turns you into an aquarium ninja.  There is literally nothing that you cannot solve with these two items together.  There are thousands of uses for these things.  Don’t sleep on this!


Gardening Shears

There are a ton of great coral shears that are perfect for the average coral thickness, however when you need to chop something really thick like the base of a massive frogspawn colony, or break apart some branching live rock, these shears are your friend.  They are super heavy duty, don’t rust out quickly, and are inexpensive.  I recommend giving them a dip in freshwater after each use to extend their lifespan.


Spray Bottles

I keep a number of these around the tank for lots of purposes.  They are paired with a roll of paper towels that sits inside my stand.  The first bottle has glass cleaner for the outside of the tank, to make it sparkle after I’ve given it a good cleaning.  The second bottle holds RODI water, for cleaning off salt creep without adding anything toxic to the tank.  I also use this second bottle in the tank itself to blast certain corals (mostly SPS) for flatworms.  The third bottle has plain water and sits near the tank strictly as a warning my cat that he will indeed get sprayed with it if he tries to go fishing as he likes to do.


Rectangular Bucket

This is still my favorite bucket for tank maintenance after trying really every other option.  It’s big and can easily hold a media chamber, my skimmer collection cup, and a ton of dirty water.  It’s super easy to empty into a toilet because of its shape, and it’s also a bit easier to hide near my tank without wasting a lot of space.  You can also use it as a small cleaning bucket for parts, for example doing vinegar baths.  The sides aren’t too high so you can get your hands into it yet it doesn’t really allow water to splash out unless you’re really moving it around a lot.


Infrared Thermometer

This is a simple way to measure the temperature of just about anything.  Basic uses are to spot check the temp in your tank, sump, water change bucket, frag bags, etc.  You can also use it to check the external temperature of pumps, lights, anything really.  The more we measure the more we know and the better we can engineer reef aquariums in our homes.


Switched Power Strips

Most of the important stuff in your aquarium should be on a controller, in case you need to adjust things remotely over the internet.  But there are a number of maintenance things that I’ll do frequently where I don’t want to have to plug something in, I just want a quick switch to turn off and on.  This one is metal so it should be placed in a dry area, but there are indeed strips that have plastic on the outside.  I use these to control things like my return pump which should always be on, powering off water mixing pumps, mixing buckets, and sump area maintenance lights.


Heavy Duty Scissors

Ah, the workhorse of any saltwater aquarium. These don’t rust, and they can cut through all soft tubing, plastic frag bags, soft corals, etc.


I hope this list was helpful, maybe you found a new tool you never had, or considered a new use for an existing gadget.

Get salty!

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