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The Python system allows you to drain and fill an aquarium from any sink without having to carry any buckets.

If you are using buckets to do your water changes, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System. The Python system allows you to drain and fill an aquarium from any sink without having to carry any buckets. I use my Python all the time to do cleanings and water changes, even though I have a plumbed-in water change system on many of my tanks.

Photo: Python Products

How to Use the Python No Spill Aquarium Water Change System

The Python system comes with a faucet adapter and a hose with threaded male and female ends which allow it to be extended or attached to a gravel vacuum tube. All you do is attach the green faucet adapter to a sink and turn on the water to begin siphoning. When the tank has been drained to the appropriate level, you can switch the Python over to fill mode and refill the tank. The video below covers the system's operation in more detail.

How to Use the Python Video by Big Al's on Youtube

Python Water Changer Accessories and Replacement Parts

The greatest thing about the Python compared to similar products is the great selection of accessories. The Python Hook, for example, allows you to fill an aquarium without worrying about the hose slipping out when you walk over to the sink. I use this particular attachment all the time.

Python Hook in use

Other accessories offer more customization for your particular aquarium. The gravel tube can be purchased in 20, 24, 30, 36, 48 and 72 inch lengths for deeper aquariums! (Links below)

Because of the modular design, you can also build your own custom length Python using clear tubing from a hardware store. I did this to create a 100' siphon hose because I often service aquariums that are more than 25' or 50' from a sink. Since each hose has one male and one female end, they can be connected together. Now, I have a 20', 25', and 100' hose that could all be joined together to form a 145' water changer!

Also, since every single part can be purchased separately, you will never have to pay for an entire new system if one piece fails. I've listed many of the Python products below. Just make sure you get an idea of the distance from your aquarium to the nearest sink before ordering a particular size!

Links to Python Products on Amazon:

This store-bought shelving unit is the perfect size for supporting a pair of 40 gallon breeder aquariums.
40 Breeder Rack
40 Breeder Rack

I've built a few DIY aquarium racks, but I wanted to go with a steel frame for my two 40 breeders to save space. Unlike a wooden frame, these steel supports lay flat against the sides of the aquariums. Steel shelving can also support a lot of weight - 800 lbs per shelf in this case. Water weighs roughly 8 lbs per gallon, so 40 gallons of water alone is 320 lbs. When you add the weight of the glass aquarium (58 lbs for a 40 breeder), substrate, heater, filters, etc. the total weight of one 40 gallon aquarium can be over 400 lbs.

Where to Get a Steel Aquarium Rack

Edsal Storage Unit
Edsal Storage Unit

These heavy duty storage units have been recommended by several people over the past few years as an affordable store-bought option for holding one or two 40 gallon tanks. This video by Aquarium Co-op from 2014 referenced a very similar rack that may or may not still be available from Lowe's. I purchased mine at Home Depot. Similar units are available from a variety of retailers, including this Muscle Rack on amazon. Fortunately 36" x 18" seems to be a fairly common shelving size, so it should not be too difficult for most people to find.

Aquarium Rack Assembly

The cool thing about these 5-shelf steel units is that they are really two units that stack. The kit comes with eight upright posts that are 3 feet long, which makes the unit 6 feet tall when stacked. If you didn't want one tank on top of the other, you could place both sets of uprights on the floor and have two separate aquarium stands.

First Aquarium in Place
First Aquarium in Place

For my application I only used 3 of the 5 shelves that came with the unit. It has to be assembled from the floor up, so the bottom shelf goes on first, followed by the first aquarium shelf. Because the dimensions are so similar to those of a 40 breeder aquarium, the tank has to be lowered into the posts from the top. This gets tricky when you get to the top aquarium.

Hacksaw
Hacksaw

In order to be able to lift the top aquarium above the tops of the posts, I cut about 6 inches off the front two uprights using a hacksaw. Cutting through the steel was actually easier than it looks because its not very thick. Once the cuts were made, I was able to lift the top tank up (with help) and slide it down into place.

40 breeder rack
40 breeder rack

Although two of the shelves were not used on this rack, I added their steel support sections to the sides and back of the unit to add stability. Without the extra bracing, the whole rack was somewhat wobbly. In the photo above you can see two extra 36" braces positioned a few inches below each aquarium. This keeps the rack from bowing or shifting under the weight of two full aquariums.

After both tanks were on the shelves I moved the unit into its place along the wall and finished the overflow plumbing before filling with water. I also painted the bottom shelf black to match the rest of the rack. The space underneath the tanks adds a lot of extra storage to the fish room. I keep my folding step ladder tucked next to the rack so that it's easy to access when I need to work on the top tank.

Bottom Shelf Storage
Bottom Shelf Storage

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How to make cheap custom DIY aquarium lids using twinwall polycarbonate greenhouse panels.
DIY Polycarbonate Aquarium Lid
DIY Polycarbonate Aquarium Lid

Why Use Polycarbonate for DIY Aquarium Lids

I've previously covered how to make DIY Aquarium Lids out of glass, but glass lids are less practical for larger tanks or configurations where you want a lid that has multiple cutouts for your equipment. I used a panel of twin-wall polycarbonate to make a custom lid for my 40 gallon breeder aquarium (shown above).

Twin-wall polycarbonate is used for roofing panels on greenhouses, so it is designed to allow good light penetration. It is also far more durable than glass. Polycarbonate sheets won't crack or shatter if they are dropped or bumped. They also will not bow or bend like sheets of acrylic, which makes them an ideal material for covering larger aquariums.

Constructing the DIY Aquarium Lids

Hacksaw
Hacksaw

I started with a 2' x 4' sheet of polycarbonate, and used a table saw to cut it down to the dimensions of the top lip of my 40 breeder aquarium: 35" x 17". Then I used a handheld hacksaw to make the cutouts for my incoming water line and my Aquaclear 70 HOB filter. Finally, I added "handles" to the front edge using clear Command hooks. The hooks allow the lid to be lifted off the tank easily for maintenance.

This video by Jadren Aquatics has more good information about making DIY aquarium lids out of polycarbonate panels: