Equipment: Aquarium Tops Are a Necessity

Tenji

Aquarium Design + Build
View Badges
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
173
Location
Carmel, California
Tenji is pleased to present a series of exclusive articles for Reef2Reef members. We will be delving into the various aspects of reef keeping, focusing on tried and true methods that can be implemented by aquarists of all levels.
_____________


As a young aquarist working in a local fish store I had a 16” lionfish launch itself out of a tank during feeding time. I quickly placed the fish back into his home, and after a couple hours, the animal returned to normal behavior. However, that event changed my views on the potential for fishes to jump forever. How often do we see threads titled, “Which fish for open top aquariums?” The truth is that every fish has the potential to jump, even the frumpy frogfish. Think of a top as a seat belt for your fish. If you’re serious about keeping your fish friends thriving long term a top is not optional, it is a necessity.

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 10.34.45 AM.png



Choices for nice aquarium tops run far and wide nowadays, including some that even look great on rimless aquariums. Here are the basic options along with their pros and cons.

Glass Top.png


Glass/Acrylic Top Pros

· Readily available

· Oftentimes included with mass produced aquariums

· Affordable

· Keeps evaporation to a minimum


Glass/Acrylic Top Cons

· Water condenses which negatively effects light penetration

· Does not afford high levels of gas exchange

· Must be frequently cleaned

· Breakable (glass)

· Heavy (glass)


eggcrate top.jpg


Eggcrate/Light Diffuser Top Pros

· Readily available

· Easy to alter shape/size

· Affordable


Eggcrate/Light Diffuser Top Cons

· Many small reef fish can jump through holes

· Breakable

· Becomes brittle over time

· Best used as a temporary top

· Uneven light distribution (it is used to diffuse fluorescent lighting after all)


IMG_20180903_140953.jpg

Screen Top Pros

· Affords superior gas exchange

· Best light penetration option

· Rarely if ever requires cleaning

· Can be custom made to fit within rim of trim-less aquariums (looks beautiful)

· Capable of complimenting an aquarium rather than detracting

· DIY potential using store-bought material


Screen Top Cons

· Custom acrylic framed options can be expensive and have long lead times

· Screen can be fragile, but is easily replaced

· If screen hole not sized appropriately fish can get stuck


That’s our lowdown on tank top options. Of course, there are a few exceptions when it comes to aquariums with enclosed canopies, flip-up tops on all-in-one nano tanks, etc., but the fact remains that all fish have the potential to jump, so do them a favor and provide them with a safety net.
 
Last edited:
Top Shelf Aquatics

TessGlo

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
210
Reaction score
396
Location
Northern California
Lids are necessary and mind any gaps, even if they appear too small for your fish to get through. The downfall of my beautiful resplendent anthia trio began when I forgot to put my lid back on after a WC and found this in the morning, still upset by it. Second photo is flasher wrasse who managed to get through the tiniest slot in my lid and fortunately landed in the open top overflow, saving his own little gangster life.

P_20171223_123237.jpg


IMG_20180228_035100_563.jpg
 

James M

.
View Badges
Joined
Jul 6, 2018
Messages
6,740
Reaction score
10,660
Lids are necessary and mind any gaps, even if they appear too small for your fish to get through. The downfall of my beautiful resplendent anthia trio began when I forgot to put my lid back on after a WC and found this in the morning, still upset by it. Second photo is flasher wrasse who managed to get through the tiniest slot in my lid and fortunately landed in the open top overflow, saving his own little gangster life.

P_20171223_123237.jpg


IMG_20180228_035100_563.jpg
:(
 
OP
Tenji

Tenji

Aquarium Design + Build
View Badges
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
173
Location
Carmel, California
Sooo what’s the best to have
For a reef tank some type of screen top is generally your best option. There are exceptions, which is why we outlined all common options.
Just had my snowflake clownfish jump out last night, heartbroken. Just ordered a lid from Artfully Acryllic. NEVER AGAIN!!
Aw, crap. Sorry to hear that! The first and last pictures in the article are Artfully Acrylic/ClearView lids. They're great!
Lids are necessary and mind any gaps, even if they appear too small for your fish to get through. The downfall of my beautiful resplendent anthia trio began when I forgot to put my lid back on after a WC and found this in the morning, still upset by it. Second photo is flasher wrasse who managed to get through the tiniest slot in my lid and fortunately landed in the open top overflow, saving his own little gangster life.
Nailed it! Any gap left is likely to be found by our finned friends. Sorry to hear about the anthia trio, but you should have that wrasse pick out lotto numbers for you ;)
 

Pedal Dangit

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
May 13, 2018
Messages
175
Reaction score
196
Location
Temecula CA
Glass : Does not afford high levels of gas exchange.

I'm going to go ahead and say that is false unless you have a tank without a sump. Or so e really slow turnover rate.

I plan on having a glass top on my tank in the kitchen. Not just for jumpers but also to help keep out dust, pet hair, and burnt food smoke etc...
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
Tenji

Tenji

Aquarium Design + Build
View Badges
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
173
Location
Carmel, California
Glass : Does not afford high levels of gas exchange.

I'm going to go ahead and say that is false unless you have a tank without a sump. Or so e really slow turnover rate.

I plan on having a glass top on my tank in the kitchen. Not just for jumpers but also to help keep out dust, pet hair, and burnt food smoke etc...
An overflow down into a sump is a superb means of oxygenating a tank. As you noted with enough flow through the sump this is probably enough. Although heavily stocked tanks would still be better served with screen/mesh tops since glass/acrylic does not afford high levels of gas exchange. We use high-quality YSI meters to measure dissolved oxygen levels and its amazing how quickly it gets depleted in heavily stocked display aquariums.
 

Acartia

Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
21
Reaction score
13
My tank was topless for a couple years but I had a couple clown fish discover that they couldn’t survive on my carpet. I then build a screen using Lowes window screen frames and doubled over bird netting. Since then, no high five attempts. Best $30 I ever spent.
 

vetteguy53081

Well known Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
19,168
Reaction score
33,784
Location
Sheboygan, WI
I always have covers and have 4 tanks. Two with glass, one with mesh and one with drilled acrylic.
Prevents jumping, has a feeding hole and allows light with full penetration
 

Sir Chris

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 30, 2016
Messages
1,131
Reaction score
362
I believe it’s also what fish are in the tank. Bonus and blennys yes!! Clowns and a butterfly tank like I want for my 75g I’m 5 months in and setting up a 120 rr deep at my moms for more business or possible. So it matters the contents of what fish matters. But I have had my spottered mandy pop out. But that’s a goby or blenny. So I want a diamond back for sand but can use more inverts and solve it but want fish... it sucks and do see me making a diy cover on my 75g. I just like the sound and think the screen will cut it but they’ve become tested out.
 

Forsaken77

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 26, 2016
Messages
1,948
Reaction score
1,203
Location
Long Island, NY
I have other pets (2 dogs & 2 cats) and my tank is by my back door. Let me just say that between pollen, dust and hair getting blown around on a carpet, I have to clean off the outside of my glass top more than the inside. There's no way I would want that stuff in my tank. Plus any other undesirables from outside, like spraying. That's because the tank is in a high traffic area with carpeting literally 3 feet from the sliding glass door, which is usually open.

Even if my tank was in a less trafficked area, I don't think I'd want the massive evaporation. Just my preference though :).
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
Tenji

Tenji

Aquarium Design + Build
View Badges
Joined
Feb 21, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
173
Location
Carmel, California
I believe it’s also what fish are in the tank.
Unfortunately, every fish has the potential to jump.

Some species are significantly more likely to jump as you mentioned, however, after sixteen years in the industry I have seen them all try to fly, including a frogfish... who woulda thought they had it in them?
 

vetteguy53081

Well known Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
19,168
Reaction score
33,784
Location
Sheboygan, WI
I have other pets (2 dogs & 2 cats) and my tank is by my back door. Let me just say that between pollen, dust and hair getting blown around on a carpet, I have to clean off the outside of my glass top more than the inside. There's no way I would want that stuff in my tank. Plus any other undesirables from outside, like spraying. That's because the tank is in a high traffic area with carpeting literally 3 feet from the sliding glass door, which is usually open.

Even if my tank was in a less trafficked area, I don't think I'd want the massive evaporation. Just my preference though :).
With todays vacuum motors especially Dyson, youd be surprised the amount of dust left behind. Glad i have cnopy as there is a light film left of dust every time vacuum is used
 

Greybeard

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
2,429
Reaction score
5,933
I disagree, sir.

There is no mandatory equipment in reefkeeping... you don't _NEED_ a top, any more than you _NEED_ a skimmer, controller, Calc RX, Dosing pump, filter sock, et al.

Is it possible that your fish will jump if you don't have a lid? Sure. If you want to go down that path... it's a certainty that EVERY creature we take from the oceans will eventually die. Then again, they would have died had they remained in the ocean, as well... Nobody gets out of this world alive.

Reefkeeping is a hobby. The priority and emphasis needs to be on enjoying the hobby. If you're not enjoying the hobby, chances of hanging around are dismal. Telling someone that they CANNOT build the system they want because it's open top, is no way to insure the growth and success of our hobby.

My reef was designed to be open top, and it will remain so. The tank is wide, low, and fat... lighting is free floating and fairly high... the tank was built around the idea of being open top. That's what I want, and I'll shut it down and sell it off before I put a top on it. My hobby, my reef, who the heck are you to tell me what I MUST do.

I've lost a grand total of 2 fish in a bit over a year. One didn't make it through the first couple of weeks after purchase... I suspect it was some sort of parasite, but can't really say what killed it. The other, an ocellaris clown, jumped, shortly after being introduced. Now, I don't like to loose fish, any more than anyone else around here does, but in my humble opinion, loosing two fish in the first year of a new 140 gallon reef system... not so bad. Wish I could say the same for loosing corals... but I can assure you that NONE of the corals I've lost jumped out :)

Stubborn? Perhaps. You wouldn't be the first to call me that... still. It's MY tank, in MY home, they're MY pets, and how I want to go about keeping them is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
 

siggy

I'm still swimming
View Badges
Joined
Feb 16, 2017
Messages
5,708
Reaction score
15,673
Location
Lake St Clair Mi
Well I know I have lost a few NICE fish and now the first question I ask is "is it a jumper?" Open top is nice, It does limit what fish I KEEP;)...... BTW Blue Spot Jawfish JUMP :(

Now speaking of seat belts and opportunist
upload_2018-9-6_12-24-52.jpeg
 

Greybeard

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
2,429
Reaction score
5,933
Well I know I have lost a few NICE fish and now the first question I ask is "is it a jumper?" Open top is nice, It does limit what fish I KEEP;)...... BTW Blue Spot Jawfish JUMP :(
I believe the point of the article, though I disagree with the way it was presented, was that ALL fish can be jumpers.

In that basic judgement, he's correct. Chances of some fishes jumping out are much lower... Dartfish, wrasses, chances are near certain they'll end up on the floor. On the other hand, my PJ Cardinal school is quite unlikely to end up there. My goatfish? Don't know that I've ever seen him more than an inch off the sand bed. Put an octopus or a big moray eel in a topless tank, and they won't make it a day before they end up on the floor.

I don't disagree with the author's basic premise... just the 'I'm right and you're wrong' manner in which it was presented. Wouldn't matter to me if I agreed or disagreed with the article, I'd oppose it on basic principle.
 

How are you accomplishing water flow in your reef tank?

  • Powerhead Type Pumps

    Votes: 448 66.7%
  • Closed Loop

    Votes: 25 3.7%
  • Return Pump

    Votes: 373 55.5%
  • Wavemaker

    Votes: 252 37.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 18 2.7%

Online statistics

Members online
1,283
Guests online
3,594
Total visitors
4,877
Best reef aquarium LED lighting
Build a Better Aquarium at Marine Depot
Top