AquariaWise is a participant in the Amazon Associates program and a few other affiliate programs and may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. However, we have vetted every program in this guide and believe they are the best for generating affiliate revenue. You can read our full affiliate disclosure in our privacy notice.
Keeping your fish tank exposed is not overly detrimental to your aquatic life, but it comes with some inconveniences, some of which are borderline bothersome.
For starters, you risk losing your fish and inverts like snails, which quite often get curious and jump out of the aquarium to their demise.
Dust and other debris from the surrounding environment will also find their way into your water more freely, making you do more cleaning than you need to. Plus, you will require to do a lot of topping up since water evaporates much faster in open tanks than closed ones.
So overall, covering your fish tank is recommended though it is not a must. A cover is better for convince and some level of safety for your fish.
Below are the four (main) reasons why you would want to cover your tank.
- To keep out curious household pets from your fish tank
- To prevent your aquatic animals from jumping out of the fish tank to their death
- Prevent items from outside falling into your aquarium, some of which might even harm or kill your fishes
- Reduces evaporation by sealing the top of the aquarium. As I’ve mentioned, without a lid you’ll have to top up your water much more frequently.
What Can You Use to Cover Your Fish Tank
Aquarium covers come in varying designs and are referred to by different names, including hoods, canopies, and lids. But they all serve the same purpose with minimal variances, though some are generally more durable and versatile than others.
A pretty common type are glass lids (see product), which are pretty long-lived, efficient, and versatile. Compared to hoods that primarily cover aquarium light fixtures, glass lids envelop the whole fish tank top, effectively reducing evaporation and keeping debris out of your aquarium.
Some hoods may include a plastic cover for the whole fish tank, though not all the time, as such they are more useable as light covers as opposed to enveloping the entire aquarium.
Canopies are generally more decorative than glass lids, though some aquarists use the two words interchangeably, particularly when referring to glass or plastic canopies:.
From experience, canopies provide cover for both the fish tank and your aquarium light and made from wood that matches (or complements) your aquarium stand.
Canopies are usually customizable and can be quite expensive depending on the design, but aesthetically, they are the most pleasing and compatible with house interiors.
Aquarium Top Cover Material
The most common material used to make aquarium tops is glass and plastic (polycarbonate), but a considerable number of custom and DIY canopies use wood, which best matches a hood’s aesthetics to those of the stand.
If looking for a simple, durable lid that you can quickly grab from your local fish store or online, I recommend going for a glass or polycarbonate piece, particularly one that will cover your tank and house your lighting fixture.
You can even get a piece made of more than one material, for instance, a glass or plastic (polycarbonate) top with a wooden frame.
Even so, a disadvantage of using glass is the accumulation of dirt particles and calcium deposits, which can be quite unsightly. see how to get rid of limescale from aquarium glass.
Plus, compared to polycarbonate, glass is also a lot more challenging to cut, hence cumbersome when making a DIY cover or cutting filters or feeding holes.
Plastic is also more durable and will take a harder fall, bang, and a razor-like nicks-nacks better than glass.
However, if you want a material that won’t warp, then a glass cover is your safest bet. With plastic lids, you will also have more water and food particles getting trapped in the holes inside the polycarbonate plastic and needing much more cleaning
One other thing you will note is hard water stains tend to be easier to clean on glass than on plastic.
Having said that, you are willing to go all out for eye-catching aesthetics, wooden canopies are your best bet. Wood is also a DIYers paradise, just in case that’s your vibe.
And fortunately, there are a lot of awesome designs on Pinterest and project on your tube you can implement.
However, please note that wood might not be the best material to use over a humid fish tank. Most types will eventually warp, while others may leach if not suitably dry.
Most wooden canopies are also quite bulky, an aspect that is not very desirable in the fish keeping hobby, as such, go for lighter woods, but also try not to compromise too much on quality; light softwoods warp more easily.
Does a Fish Tank Lid Need Holes
Punching holes on your aquarium lid is not too necessary, but it is ok if you choose to. Of course, you will need a couple for your filter and pump units, but for aeration, the water circulation from your filter is enough to break the surface tension and oxygenate your fish tank.
It’s also helpful if you have live plants in your tank since they play a part in oxygenating water.
One other trick you can use is allowing a cushion of air between the lid and the water surface to allow room for extra oxygen to enter and leave the column freely.
One inch is enough for aeration and will even let labyrinth fish come up for air without banging their head on the canopy.
With that said, please note that a sufficient number of openings on the lid will allow new air to enter your tank, which is quite necessary for a deep aquarium with many bottom dwellers.
Moreover, if a lid gets too tight, you might experience a problem with too much build-up of moisture within the canopy, so place it lightly, making sure there is enough aeration within your whole aquarium system.
Should You Cover Your Fish Tank at Night
If you have fishes that jump, it is recommended that you cover your tank, not just at night but also during the day. This is more crucial if you have species that love to hang around the surface of the water.
Other than that, a lid for your fish tank is only imperative at night within an aquarium room where the ambient temperature can get high enough to evaporate the water significantly.
During colder seasons when you need to run room heaters, this scenario might be possible. As such, cover your fish tank at night.
You might also want to cover your tank at night when using a powerful lighting system that produces a lot of heat enough to evaporate the water in your aquarium.
On the flip side, another reason you might want to cover your fish tank during colder seasons is not too much evaporation, but instead, your aquarium getting too cold for the fishes you have.
Of course, your first remedy would be to add an extra heater in the tank, but if that is not feasible, you can cover your fish tank with blankets or towel to at least ensure your fish get to the morning for you to purchase an extra heater.
Please note that blankets and towels are not to be used above the tank as a lid. Instead, use them on the side as insulation. This will keep your water temperature high enough for your fish; the trick also comes in handy during a power outage.
Thats all, happy fish keeping.