“ Brand: Algarde / Type: Water Treatment „
Several years ago we bought our first wooden aquarium stand and hood. As we were leaving the fellow asked if we had a condensation cover, and I just turned around and stared at him like an idiot. I made more of an idiot of myself as he explained the need for this - but that isn't important to the review. What is important is that this little bit of plastic is absolutely essential to any aquarium without a built in splash guard / condensation cover. Do you need one? If the inside hood of your tank has a separate glass panel between the water and the light - you do not need this if not, then this is an essential item.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
This doesn't look like much. It is just a thin rippled piece of plastic. These are available in wide rang of sizes. Most people will have a 12" width, but some aquariums are wider. Lengths range from 12" to 48" that I am aware of. Be certain you have the correct measurements. This can be cut to accommodate tubes and wires with ordinary scissors, but cutting off length effects the way it lays. You can overlap slightly - I find a 36" and a 12" leave a very slight overlap and work quite nicely in a 4' tank the smaller end being easier to open - but you do not want major overlap as it will affect the amount of light coming through..
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Aquariums evaporate a lot of water. The main purpose of this is to reduce evaporation. This is especially important with wooden cabinets as the wood will warp out of shape, crack split and possibly grow blue mold without a condensation cover. This also protects your light fittings and we have found even bulbs seem to last longer. When water evaporates from an aquarium, minerals do not. Continuously topping up water levels leads to an increase in calcium and other minerals, and can result in limescale deposits on heaters and other fixtures. Limescale does effect a heaters operation and can result in failed heaters. These chemicals are also not the best for most fish. In a saltwater tank evaporation is even more of a problem, affecting the delicate chemical balances. Finally you may find that condensation from aquariums causes mold on your walls.
WHAT IT DOES NOT DO:
This is not suitable as a lid by itself. Very active fish could knock this to the side and still end up the floor - and escape artists like reed fish, rope fish, snake fish etc can easily squeeze past it. This is for condensation only.
INSTALLING THE CONDENSATION GUARD:
You won't get any instructions with this - but none are needed. aquariums have a wee ledge inside, larger ones often have small glass supports as well. You simply put this on top of ledge mark where you have tubes and wires, snip out holes to allow these to pass through and set it down. This should not sit on the water - if it does you need to drain off a bit. Water must come in contact with air or your fish will die. As long as there is any gap between the condensation cover and the water you are fine.
Yes - this will grow algae like mad if you have any spray or bubbling in the tank. Even without any splash back it can become overgrown with green. It is easily washed though with a kitchen sponge and a bit of water. I have poured the kettle over mine a number of times as well without problem. I do not use any cleaning chemicals on anything to do with fish. Also - my husband has forgotten to lift the cover many times when feeding. This not only seems very cruel to the fish - who can see their food but not reach it - the food quickly turns to goo and is a nightmare to scrub off. I have also found that after several years they can appear slightly cloudy.
USING THIS PRODUCT ----- AND NOT USING IT:
We used the original condensation cover which was given to us for years. We bought another tank and cabinet from the same fellow and he gave us another cover so we used it as well. I would expect to get 5 - 7 years or more from a cover with minimal care. Then we decided we didn't really need these. It had been cracked a bit from a few moves and my husband felt it would be easier to just bin these and do without - we were using them on two tanks at the time. In retrospect - this was not a brilliant idea. It is only by not using these that we saw how much difference they make. After we removed the condensation guards we burned out 1 heater, 1 light fixture, two light bulbs, destroyed a cabinet cover and managed to get a horrible colony of blue mold growing behind one tank that resulted in having to repaint the room. This is now a product I would not be without for my large tank, but my smaller tanks have been replaced with more modern tanks which have built in condensation barriers in their lids. We do like the look of a large wooden cabinet with the aquarium in the front room though so I expect to be using these for years. Prices can vary widely depending on size and place of purchase. The last one I bought was a 36" from Amazon at £6.99 - but this is one item you may find for less in a local pet shop. It all depends on how much driving you have to do to look for one as to whether it is better to buy online or in store.