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Keeping a Towel with your Regular Aquarium Maintenance Equipment

(The First Tank Guide)

One of the pieces of aquarium equipment that is often overlooked, even though it is pretty logical, is a towel. Just think about it. You're working with water. And you're probably working with water someplace that is otherwise dry and probably otherwise not prepared to hold water...

These drips can cause damage if they get into particle board or under the fish tank. You also want to be sure to stop any water before it gets into (or really even near) an electrical outlet. And, of course, drips down the front or side of your fish tank are easy to clean up when they are wet by just wiping with a towel, but once they are dry and set, the streaks and drip marks they leave can be difficult to remove.

You'll probably want a typical "bath size" towel available at or near the fish tank at all times to take care of drips, spills, splashes, or leaks right away. It doesn't have to be a brand new towel. I typically use a towel that's ready for retirement from being a bath towel, and dispose of that one when it really starts to fall apart in favor of another "ready to retire" towel.

Weekly Water Changes

Moving water out of one immovable container (your fish tank) into smaller containers (your bucket), then from those smaller containers back into the big container with your weekly 10-15% water change.

This weekly routine is almost always going to have some drip or splash somewhere, and you'll want to have a towel handy to dry it up. You can also use the towel to wipe down the bottom and sides of the bucket after you fill it so that any water that got splashed over the side when you were filling your bucket isn't dripping all the way from the faucet where you filled it to your fish tank.

Aquarium Filter Maintenance

Aquarium filters require regular maintenance. This may be just replacing media cartridges or may be opening up the water pump to clean the impeller or impeller shaft. Rinsing biological filter media and mechanical filter media also needs to be done regularly to insure good water flow. Sometimes tubing or plumbing needs to be cleaned or replaced.

All of these involve some degree of moving wet or water filled items from your fish tank to another location. These are all opportunities for a drip or spill. Having a towel available to clean those up right away is again convenient, and, as always can prevent damage.

Other Aquarium Maintenance

Other aquarium maintenance will often involve sticking your hands (and maybe arms) in the tank, putting freshly rinsed things into the tank (such as new aquarium decorations). These are obvious opportunities for drips or splashes - not to mention wanting to dry your arm off after you take it out of the tank.

Netting a fish to remove it from your aquarium, or introducing new fish to the fish tank are also opportunities for water to drip or splash somewhere, and having that towel at hand to clean it up is very nice.

Possible Leaks

One of the unfortunate risks with any aquarium is that the fish tank itself or some piece of aquarium equipment may leak at some point.

Should this happen, having a towel around will be very helpful. If it is a slow leak, you can use the towel to dry things off so you can track down the source of the leak to address it more efficiently. In the case of a faster leak, the towel can be a stop-gap while you get your bucket to start draining water quickly to minimize any damage or risk caused by the leak.

Why Not Just Grab a Towel from the Closet

Having a towel dedicated to the aquarium and near the aquarium means that the towel is that much more convenient when you need it. Rather than dripping all the way from the fish tank to the closet to get a towel when you have to sand up a decoration that got knocked over, you can just grab the aquarium towel that is right there.

Also, when you use a towel to dry your arm or the front of the fish tank after a drip, you don't want to put it back away, it's no longer a clean towel. However, rather than washing it each time, you can let it hang to dry, and then fold it and put it away under (or behind or beside) the fish tank for use next time you have to work on the tank. A towel can be used several times this way between washing. This saves on laundry and wear on the towel...

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September 20, 2010
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"I've had 30 and 50 gal freshwater units for a couple of years now but wasn't aware of some of the interesting things you pointed out in your segments, [especially] concerning substrate and filtration."
May 6, 2002
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