Back in June of this year, we ran a post titled “My Top 6 Simple Accessories Repurposed for Marine Aquariums,” in which I discussed several inexpensive household items that can be converted to aquarium tools in various and sundry ways. Of course, that list, which included razor blades, plastic milk jugs, plastic storage bins, toothbrushes, turkey basters, and egg crate light diffuser, was just scratching the surface.
So, here are several more oddball items that can be repurposed for aquarium use in ways you might not have considered:
1) Plastic colander
Thanks to Matt Bowers for making this suggestion in the comment section of that original post (I think it deserves repeating here). As Matt noted, a floating, plastic colander “can be great for giving a rambunctious specimen a ‘time out’ without having to remove it from the system.” The colander can also be used to isolate a bullied specimen or introduce a new fish to an established community.
The water flowing through the colander allows the fish, both inside and outside the colander, to sense each other’s chemical presence without actually being able to reach each other to do harm/be harmed until, hopefully, any aggression subsides.
2) Plastic ice cube tray
Ice cube trays are perfect for pre-apportioning frozen fish foods (e.g., mysids) in the event that you’re leaving town and someone else will be feeding your fish. Just put an appropriate-sized quantity of the frozen food in a compartment of the tray for each day you’ll be gone or each day the person will be stopping by to feed. (You can also use a pill organizer for this purpose.)
I also use an ice cube tray to store portions of fresh meaty foods in the freezer after preparing them. For instance, after chopping fresh squid, clams, shrimp, or fish into bite-size pieces, I dole equal amounts of the food into the tray compartments, cover the tray with plastic wrap or foil, and then put it in the freezer. Then, all I have to do is pop out frozen portions as needed, thaw them, and feed my fish.
3) Bridal veil material (tulle)
I use this mesh fabric—along with a clam or scallop half shell—for a rather unconventional purpose: to create a target-feeding station for finicky long-snouted fish (e.g., butterflyfish) that don’t take an interest in food floating in the water column or are being outcompeted by tankmates at mealtimes.
I simply place thin strips of meaty food, such as clam, in the half shell, wrap the shell with bridal veil, secure the fabric with a rubber band so that it’s held taut across the shell opening, and place this makeshift feeder in the tank. The mesh keeps the food from drifting away in the current and prevents most fish in the tank from gobbling it up, but it allows slender-snouted fish to reach in and pluck out pieces at will.
4) Pipe cleaners
When maintaining aquarium equipment, I use pipe cleaners to clean narrow valves, nozzles, hoses, etc. that are difficult or impossible to access with even the smallest aquarium brush. However, because the metal wire inside rusts quickly when exposed to salt water, I use them only once and never in the aquarium itself.
What did I forget?
I’m sure there are still many more household items I haven’t mentioned in either of these posts that can be repurposed for marine aquarium use. If you can think of one, please share it in the comment section below.