Aquarium Covers | Put A Lid On it!

Aquarium covers are an absolute must if you are to keep your fish from jumping out of your aquarium. A defense mechanism to facilitate rapid escape from predators, fish will jump when startled, or when harrassed by other fish.

Aquarium covers are especially important for fish-only aquariums. When there is a mix of docile and more aggressive fish, the incidence of the occasional fish leaping out increases considerably.

Even the most docile and slow-moving of fish have the uncanny ability to leap out of the water when startled, or harrassed by another fish.

aquarium covers

RIP Manny..

In fact, this article was prompted by my Mandarin fish, ‘Manny’, recently jumping from his tank and landing on the floor — by the time we found him, it was too late. If only we had placed a cover over his open-top tank when we saw him being occasionally chased by his tank-mate, a much smaller, female spotted Mandarin.

Types Of Aquarium Covers

Wood Aquarium Hoods

Traditional wooden aquarium hoods that covered the entire top of the tank were once very popular. But with the advent of intense lighting for reef aquariums, these enclosed canopies caused a build-up of excess heat. The solution was to install small cooling fans at opposite sides of the hood to draw heat out, and blow cool air in to prevent overheating.

While excellent at keeping livestock from jumping out of the tank, the excess heat retained by aquarium hoods require the chiller to work extra hard at keeping tank temperatures at an optimum level.

Glass Or Acrylic Aquarium Covers

Glass or acrylic sheets placed over an aquarium are a simple solution to prevent fish from jumping out. They are also great at keeping insects or even house lizards from falling into the tank! Glass or acrylic aquarium covers, however, do present some major drawbacks.

Routine tank maintenance such as water changes or algae removal require that the cover be completely removed. Having to regularly remove glass aquarium covers for routine maintenance from the top of a tank is quite a dangerous proposition, if you think about it!

aquarium covers

Glass aquarium covers should be handled with care

Although a whole lot safer to handle than glass, acrylic aquarium covers will turn yellow and become very brittle after a couple of years because of the heat from the lighting. Furthermore, glass or acrylic aquarium covers require that salt creep and dried salt spray be cleaned off weekly so as to maintain efficient light penetration.

Another important consideration is that using glass or acrylic sheets as aquarium covers will form a tight seal over the aquarium which might inhibit gas exchange at the surface of the water, reducing dissolved oxygen levels.

Light Diffuser Over An Open-Top Aquarium

The trend in reef aquarium design nowadays is towards more streamlined, cover-less aquariums. The top of the tank is left uncovered and the aquarium lighting is usually suspended by metal cables and hooks from the ceiling or from L-brackets drilled into the wall.

Over open-top tanks, you’ll find that plastic light diffuser or ‘egg-crate’ is the simplest and most elegant solution to prevent your fish from from jumping out. It is inexpensive and is easily cut to the desired length and width with wire cutters. Once it is in place over the top of your aquarium, it won’t be noticeable at eye-level.

aquarium covers

Using light diffuser as an aquarium cover

And because it is light diffuser, your aquarium lighting shouldn’t be impeded in any way. Some anecdotal evidence might even suggest that egg-crate light diffuser will even intensify light penetration.

Jumping Fish

Aquarium covers are essential if you are keeping any kind of wrasse or basslet — these fish are known to frequently jump!

And as any seasoned fishkeeper will tell you, the sound of a wrasse jumping and hitting the inside of a canopy or the lighting fixture is an almost daily occurrence! While wrasses seem none the worst for wear from bouncing off the canopy, they will most surely perish if they leap out of the tank and end up on the floor!

Links to more Saltwater Aquarium Setup pages:

Aquarium Tank Size | Length, Width And Height

Ideal Location For Your Saltwater Aquarium In Your Home

Ready-Made Aquariums

Drilled Overflows Vs. Siphon Overflows

Aquarium Stands

Why Beginning Hobbyists Should Avoid Starting A Nano Aquarium

How To Setup A Nano Tank

Aquarium Chillers

Aquarium Sump



Aquarium Covers | Put A Lid On It!

Cooling Fans


What You Don’t Need For Your Saltwater Aquarium!


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