Mr. Saltwater Tank Friday AM Quick Tip #148: How To Save That Frag And Your Aquascaping

If you’ve lost a frag or something else in a hard to reach place in your tank, you could tear apart your aquascaping, or get one of these:

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Comments for this article (25)

  • Lesley says:

    HI, just seen your coral frag pick up tool.
    Where can we buy it in australia ?
    We have a red goni that has fallen into a tiny whole in the aquascape and we would love to save him ?
    p.s thanks for answering my questions re algae in overflow last week I was so excited.
    lesley from Aussie

  • Joel says:

    I had one of those for dropped bolts when working on my truck but I didn’t rinse it after I used it in my tank and it rusted after a few times. Then the claw wouldn’t open up anymore.

    Worked good but definitely rinse off the saltwater!

  • Joe says:

    Great advice Mark, also they work great for that item dropped behind your tank. Saved me from moving cords and tubing many times to get a test tube or other item that have fallen behind my tank. Keep up the Friday quick tips best advice ever.

  • Matt says:

    Thanks Mark is that something I can pick up at the autostore? What brand was that? What are your thoughts on spraying it with vegetable oil and wiping it off after use to prolong the life of it?

    Thanks good idea

  • Matt…I got mine via this link and your autostore might have it as well.

  • george Nicholson says:

    Might want to pre rinse before sticking in tank, they usually come shipped with an anti corrosive oil coating, just my two cents.

  • Dale says:

    Great advice. My question is do you have any pre use cleaning suggestions before you use it in your tank?

  • Robert Smyth says:

    Great idea, If it were not for the light coating of OIL the manufactures of mechanical fingers apply during the manufacturing process to insure the smooth operation of the device.

  • George and other asking about the coating: I’ve used these on several reef tanks over several years without issue. Any coating that might be applied will be in very small amounts and will be a drop in the ocean compared to tank volume. Certainly if you feel lots of oil on the grabber, wipe or rinse it off before use

  • Robert Smyth says:

    As sensitive as the reef environment is I can’t imagine why anyone would want to take a chance on introducing any oils into the system. I can’t think of any oils that is completely removed with a simple rinse. I’m just saying. If you never had any trouble from using this device I think your very lucky. There is a reason why manufacturers in the aquarium world go through the trouble of making everything like this that you would place into your tank out of plastics that do not need to be lubed with oil. Sure the one reason they use plastics is the corrosion issue. But the other reason is plastics do not need the oil these fingers do. I love 99% of your tips, but I think this one is very bad advice.

  • Mark Larson says:

    If the coating REALLy is that big a deal for you.. simply rinse or wipe it down with alcohol. It will cut the light oil and clean it off.. THEN. be sure to rince it again with clean water and make sure it dries good before sticking in your tank.. The alcohol will most likely evaporate off before you even get to rinse it.. Acetone also could work. as it is FAST evaporating. and cuts oil very well.. Just use common sense here guys and everything will be just fine….

    Great tip Mark, this tool can REALLY come in handy and they are very cheap. .. !!

  • MarineSniper says:

    Great tip and one I never considered due to it being metal. In hindsight, and in response to those who believe the miniscule amount of oil might devastate your tank, after rinsing, there would be such a small amount of oil remaining that, along with the short amount off time the device will be in your water, I can’t see any harm coming…especially since you’re unlikely to need this in a bio cube, or the like! I have written off many frags that fell into what I call The Singularity, in my nps dominant 115. They disappear completely and, even if I could see them, there’s no easy way to get at them. This would be especially useful for those of us with the older Oceanic tanks, with the glass braces. Thanks!

  • Any problems with oil pollution would not become present immediately. The water quality would in fact be altered. The smaller the tank the larger the alteration in chemistry. I have used these 2 for years, but I sort of developed my own to alleviate any problems.

  • Brian says:

    Yeah, I don’t think you will be able to wipe/rinse all the oil off of those things. I could have used one of those yesterday but it needs to be a reef safe version. There is oil all the way up in that tube. Usually I can’t even see the lost frag. Buy the way folks you can get a regular grabber at harbor freight for $2!… Yes that says Two dollars!

  • Bear says:

    Pretty much every steel tool or part comes with a coating of protective oil to ensure it doesn’t rust before getting to the end-user, even razor blades. I wash my blades with dish soap to remove the oil before fragging.

  • Robert Smyth says:

    To Mark Larson, all good steps. But why take the chance. Oil is oil, is oil. If you do not get it all what is so important to remove from your tank that you can’t use a device meant for a reef tank that it makes sense to you to take the chance? Also to even come close to having a chance to removing 100% of the oil one would have to disassemble the tool completely. And you do know that Acetone does leave a residue don’t you? Also something I would not want in my tank that I have $1000’s invested in.

    Brian, I’m 100% with you on this.

    Also consider that you can find info on the web that talks about how it is a very good idea not to put your hands in the water anymore then necessary just because of the oils on your skin from entering the system. They also talk about washing your hands to help with this issue as well as reduce the possibility of anything else that might be on your hands that you would not want int your system.

    But some here think is is well worth the risk to use a tool that is lubricated with petroleum oils meant for the automotive industry and put into their tank just because they ran it under some tap water or wiped it down with some solvent cleaner like Acetone or alcohol?

    I think good advice is, if you have something that you think should be or could be washed off with either Acetone, alcohol, or whatever, maybe should not be used in your tank in the first place.

    Jason Russell points out, “Any problems with oil pollution would not become present immediately.”. Well that is correct. It’s not as if when you do put any oil like this into your system you fish and corals will go belly up in 10mins. The effects of doing something like this would be way down the road. So when you do have a problem, and we all do from time to time. When do you tie it to the fact that you introduced OIL into the system at one time?

    Look at it like this-

    Is oil good for your tank? NO!

    Will OIL help your reef tank? NO!

    Can you remove the oil from a tool that was not meant to be used in your reef tank? Maybe, some think.

    As much as reef tanks cost and when you consider how hard you work to get them as good as you can, do you really feel it is a good idea or makes the least bit of sense to take a chance by using something like this in their tank? Well, not in my tank is all I can share.

  • Robert Smyth says:

    One thing I would like to add. In my youth I worked as a Machinist. Oil when applied to any metals becomes imbedded into the surface of that metal. When we wanted to remove all of any oils from metal parts we had this system that immersed the metal parts in a hot acid vapor. We did this by placing the parts is a basket that was just above a the heated acid that was heated to around 400degs. This hot acid created a thick vapor that washed the metal parts. These metal parts had to be exposed to this hot acid vapor for 1 hour to get 100% clean.

  • Mark…good points and we need to keep in mind that the actual time the tool will be in the tank is maybe 1 minute. If there was enough oil on the tool to cause issues, I don’t see it flying off the tool (oil and water don’t mix remember) and causing problems.

  • Matt says:

    Lesley- they sell them at bunnings in the tool shop.

  • Matt says:

    Lesley- they sell them at bunnings in the tool shop.

  • Scott says:

    Along the same thought I use a plastic coated coat hanger custom bent to any special shape. This has gotten me out of many tight spots at the tank bottom especially with a 36″ deep tank and when I don’t feel like swimming up to my armpit. Simply calculate the size of the different bends and put a hook bend on the end and you can slide just about anything out from underneath any rock stack and then grab it with any style clamper. It’s completely adjustable and available from just about any local closet for free. Scott.

  • Robert says:

    Thanks Scott, that sounds like good advice and a smart way to keep your tank clean.

  • Matt says:

    I have one of these in my Mac roll cab… Had a quick look and I’d say a fine syringe and some food grade plumbers silicone and you could have the two ends of the shaft pretty much sealed …

    It’s a nifty idea… they’re so cheap I think I’ll buy another and have a stab at sealing it 🙂

  • Pierre Bouic says:

    Hi Mark and all you Reef keepers, I’ve been using a tool that is not as flexible but has a good reach and won’t rust at all.
    Its is a pair of long nosed tweezers that fresh water hobbyists use to plant or hold things in their tanks and its made from stainless steel, these come in various sizes and lengths with either angled or straight tipped ends on them. They may not be able to reach around bends but as long as you can get these long tweezers in the gap that you’ve sighted your lost item thru then you’ll be most probably able to use these to grab and retrieve it.

  • What’s up everyone, it’s my first visit at this web page, and article is in fact fruitful in favor of me, keep up posting these content.

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