5 Things to Have on Hand, Ready to Go at All Times


No matter how full proof and well thought out any tank is, at some point, something will go wrong and the unexpected will happen. Even in the case of a tank failure – aka a leak – there are a couple of key items to always have on hand, ready to go, where you can find them so that you can be prepared. (I’m assuming you already have a net…you have one…right?)

#1 Fresh Saltwater

At the end of the day, fish can’t live out of water. And mixing up a batch of saltwater takes time and when something goes wrong with your tank, time is the one thing that you don’t have.

By having at least 5 gallons (I recommend 10) of saltwater that is already mixed up, and has the same salinity of your tank, you will always have somewhere to put your tank inhabitants. Keeping your pre-made saltwater in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid is fine, just have it ready to go.

(Best case scenario would be to use tank water to fill the holding container for your fish/corals, but it you don’t always get this option.)

#2 Heater

Temperature shock is a big contributor to fish disease outbreak and stress. By having a heater on hand, you can warm up the spare saltwater you have on hand to match your tank’s temp. Removing fish from a tank is stressful enough, don’t make your tank critter’s new home a hostile one by having it be colder or warmer than your tank. Here is a basic heater that will work just fine.

#3 Holding Container

A 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot works fine as does a cooler. If you have the space, having a 20 gallon fish tank on hand would be the best. Personally, I use the cooler route as they are made to keep their contents warm/cold.

#4 Air pump and bubbler

Between the falling water in our tanks and our protein skimmers, plenty of oxygen gets mixed into our tanks’ water. However, when we put them in buckets, or a cooler as temporary housing, there is not a way to get air into the water so our fish can breathe. The air pump and bubbler will force air through the water so that your fish and other tank inhabitants can survive.

#5 Somewhere to Hide

Fish feel safest (and less stressed) when they know they have somewhere to hide. Take a piece of live rock and place it into the holding container so that your critters have somewhere to hide. A hiding place will help them survive the emergency and will help keep the holding container maintain its parameters like your main tank does.

Finally, know where all of these items are at any time. When you have water leaking out of your tank onto the floor, you won’t exactly be in the frame of mind to go hunting for a piece of equipment. If you know where the items are, you can grab them quickly which will reduce the stress for everyone involved.

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Comments for this article (2)

  • Mike says:

    For #5, Somewhere to Hide, I prefer several PVC elbows and pieces. A bottle of a product such as Stability will help the water params if it becomes more than a brief stay in the temporary holding container.

  • John Fusco says:

    what should i keep my salinity at..i have live rock fish only..thanks

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