“ Brand: Tropix / Type: Aquarium Equipment - Bubble Air Ornament „
To be honest, I'm not sure if this an alligator or a crocodile, but it looks more like an alligator to me. However, my youngest son wanted a crocodile - so a crocodile it is. It is listed as an alligator / crocodile ornament as if the two were one and the same.
This ornament is roughly 9 - 10 " in length, and it's main selling point is the fact that the jaw opens and closes as air bubbles are released. When buying this ornament, you will receive the ornament only, with a small built in air tube in the mouth. You will need your own air line to connect this, as well as an air pump and most likely an air regulator or gang valve. I would also very strongly recommend a small bit of plastic known as a non return valve. This fits into the air hose and prevents water from siphoning back out the air tubes. I learned about these the hard way, returning home in time to find half of a 48" tank had emptied onto my floor. It is quite a bit of water trust me, but had I been gone longer the whole tank could have drained, leaving me with dead fish, a blown heater and an incredible mess. So when purchasing this product, you need to keep in mind the original purchase price of £9 - £25 depending on where you buy this, plus a non return valve - roughly £3, an air tube - £3, an air regulator or gang valve - £2, and an air pump from £14 - £30. Thankfully I already had a number of the these parts, but total price is likely to set you back over £30 if you shop around. Picked up at an expensive pet shop it could easily reach over £60.
In all honesty, I don't really like these gadgets. If I want to add air, I would rather use an air stone or air curtain. But this was for my youngest sons tank, and children do seem to love these novelty items. He was only 2, at the time of purchase, and he really did want all the gadgets and such. He spotted this in a local pet shop. But with a price tag of £25, Mommy refused to buy it. He wanted to use his own money, but did not have enough, and I promised him I would buy one online instead. I do think he was a bit disappointed, but I did find this for £9, saving myself a whopping £16 by waiting a few days. The best price I can find now is £10, from ebay, new and boxed and including delivery.
My son was absolutely delighted with this item, and it is his favourite aquarium decoration. Sometimes I think when we first got this, he liked the decorations more than the fish! That said, we have had this a year now, and while he still likes it, it does not get turned on nearly so often as used to.
This is fairly easy to set up. You simply plug a length of aquarium hose to one end, being sure to splice in your non return valve and a regulator of some sort to control air flow. Then plug the other end into you air pump, hook up to the mains and drop it in the water. You will then have to fiddle about with the air flow a bit. Too much and the crocodiles mouth stays open, too little and it stays shut. With the right amount, air will build up under the crocodiles jaw until it forces it open, releasing a big bubble at the same time. Now my two year old thought this was just brilliant - but as an adult, it does get boring pretty quickly.
After a year though, I have noticed the colour has faded significantly on this item. Of course it is still easy to keep green. This is a magnet for algae, and the rough surface is quite difficult to clean. It must be taken out of the tank and scrubbed and set up all over again quite often. I am incapable of doing things like this with splashing all over the floor and soaking myself - so it's a messy job. The air lines also attract algae, float up and are difficult to keep tidy at the back of the tank. The jaw catch on this is quite weak, and my husband broke this in the initial set up, but was able to reattach it with some aquarium silicone and it is still working well.
If this were my tank, I would have binned this ages ago. It simply is not worth the upkeep in my opinion. But the fact is, my son really does love this. He now has his brothers volcano as his brother wanted to redesign his tank to make his cichlids as comfortable as possible - which means a lot of cave space. He has this crocodile, and a dinosaur as well giving the tank a primeval theme overall. As my son's whole room is painted with a giant dinosaur mural on all four walls, it fits in very nicely. It really does make an exciting child's tank with only a small amount of fish ( I prefer lightly stocked tanks). It keeps his tank interesting, and a set up like this makes an ideal night light, or sleep aid for a child to watch while drifting off.
For all my moaning about upkeep - I am glad I bought this. The happiness it brings my son makes it worthwhile. I would still recommend this to families with young children and a typical community tank set up. Both of my sons like this, as do any other children who come over. This doesn't seem to annoy my sons fish, but the corydoras usually move away when it is going. His other fish are mid water to surface swimmers. Personally, I would not use this in a tank with more timid cichlids which spend much of their time on the tanks floor. I would certainly recommend shopping around for a good price if you are interested. I am knocking one star off though for the weakness of the jaw, and the colour fading, and very nearly brought this down to 3 stars.