Aquariums of all types including fresh water fish tanks, saltwater tanks even gold fish tanks provide a beautiful, warming and comforting feature to a home. In order to enjoy them safely, however, you must be aware that aquariums also pose electrical hazards, potential home damage and personal injuries if proper precautions are not taken. Follow these steps to enjoy your pet fish and maintain a safer home.
Unplug Electric Cords
Before moving or adjusting the aquarium, be sure to unplug all electrical items that are attached to the fish tank or in the surrounding area, such as the water pump, aquarium light or nearby electronics. Follow this guideline when you clean the aquarium water as well. Also unplug any electrical items from the aquarium if you must reach inside it. It is important to unplug any of these devices, even if only removing the top hood for a short time to avoid any possible electrical items or current to enter the aquarium and causing electric shock to you or the fish.
Install a GFCI Outlet
A ground fault circuit interrupter is a special type of grounded outlet designed to protect you from electrical shock by interrupting the household current when it detects a difference in currents. They are commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens and anywhere water sources are present or nearby. Of course, have a licensed electrician assist you, do not change outlets yourself.
Add a Drip Loop
This simply means arranging the electrical cords and tubing that comes out of the fish tank in the shape of a “U” where the line drops below the electrical device (such as a fish tank pump) or electrical outlet, then back up to it to plug it in. This causes any leakage from the tank to run down the cord and onto the loop, then dripping off of it and onto the floor instead of entering the electrical outlet or device potentially causing a short, electrical damage or fire.
Avoid Fire Hazards
Any time you are adjusting the fish tank or anything in it, especially if you remove two inches or more of water from the aquarium, be sure to unplug your aquarium heater and water filter. It’s very important for these devices to only run when water is present and to the proper level to avoid the heater element or water filter from over running or burning out which can cause a potential fire.
Be Careful Around the Glass or Acrylic Walls of the Tank
Aquariums are typically made of glass or acrylic with the sides sealed together with a silicone type material to prevent leaking. Adding excess weight, pressure or twisting the tank in any way by pushing it can make the walls or seems susceptible to breakage or leaking. Avoid placing an aquarium around a heavy traffic area to avoid it being bumped into or knocked over. These simple precautions can help avoid cuts, spillage and damage to your walls, floors and ceilings, if the tank is on a second story floor or above. (If a tank spills on an upper level floor, the water can seep down to the ceiling on the floor below it.
Use a Safe and Sturdy Stand
One way to make sure that an aquarium is secured in a safe place is to be sure the stand you place the aquarium on can handle the weight. A good rule of thumb is 11 pounds per gallon of water the aquarium can hold. This approximation calculates in 8.2 pounds per gallon of water plus the rocks or stones, tank and accessories. So a 25 gallon tank can actually weigh around 275 pounds! When choosing a stand, it is usually best to choose one designed to hold an aquarium and anchor it to the wall, if possible, but in the case you do not buy a special stand, be absolutely sure it does not sway at all, can not be easily tipped over, can handle the weight being placed on it and it is positioned higher than a child’s reach so there is no temptation to hang on it.
Do Not Mix Your Own Chemicals
Only use products that are specially designed for aquariums and premixed. Also, do not mix your own chemical concoctions to clean your tank or you could inadvertently release noxious gases into the air and the aquarium water which could lead to accidental poisoning. Ammonia and bleach are commonly mishandled chemicals and mixed together can be deadly!
Avoid Disease Exposure
Although rare, fish may cause various diseases in humans. Take precautions when handling a fish that you suspect is sick. Wear gloves when you will have direct contact with the fish. Use a fish net or tongs to move items or fish in the aquarium. And of course, be sure to properly maintain your tank so it doesn’t accumulate dirty water, bacteria or molds.
Having an aquarium should be an enjoyable family experience that teaches children how to properly care for fish or other species while learning responsibility and safety. Taking the necessary safety precautions ensures that your family will enjoy the aquarium without worrying about possible hazards or damage. For more information on aquarium safety, consult with your local pet store.
Keeping your home as safe as possible can help avoid unnecessary lawsuits or insurance claims which poses an altogether different problem. Complete an annual review of your insurance policies or to request a no obligation homeowners insurance quote, just let us know. If you have any aquarium set up and fish tank safety tips of your own, comment below and share your wisdom!