Due to the low price of stainless steel compared to some of the alternative metals out there, many of the people within the fish keeping hobby who like to customize their aquarium reach out and ask about using stainless steel in their fish tank. There is a large amount of contradicting information online about using stainless steel in an aquarium so we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Given enough time, all stainless steel products will eventually start to rust and cause problems with your fish tanks water parameters so it is not recommended that you use stainless steel as a long term material in your fish tank. Many of the people who do use stainless steel in their tanks tend to use it for short term tasks to help them clean their tank or other similar jobs that will only take a few minutes so there is no chance of their tool rusting.
We have seen various products being released onto the market that has stainless steel within them that claim that their stainless steel parts are protected from the aquarium’s water supply to reduce the risk to your fish. Even though this may be true, over time, these protections may end up failing and cause problems with the stainless steel rusting and polluting your aquarium’s water supply.
Is It Safe To Use Stainless Steel In A Fish Tank?
The short term use of tools with stainless steel on them within the fish keeping hobby is usually considered safe by most people but the long term use of stainless steel within the hobby is heavily discouraged. Stainless steel contains iron that will begin to rust in as little as three days when submerged in your aquarium with water parameters quickly starting to suffer.
If you are using various tools that contain stainless steel for short term tasks with your aquarium such as cleaning your aquarium glass then we would highly recommend that you dry them correctly after use. It only takes a few minutes to dry the tools but many beginners to the hobby overlook this resulting in their tools rusting that could have otherwise been saved.
The next time you come to use your stainless steel tools for tank maintenance these tiny rusted areas can break off in your tank and sink to your substrate and quickly cause problems. Even though these tools do tend to be cheap, it is still worth taking the time and effort to protect them just to prevent issues with your water parameters to reduce any possible risk to your fish rather than to prevent you having to purchase new tools each year.
Why Do Some Tank Accessories Contain Stainless Steel?
Some of the cheaper aquarium accessories on the market contain stainless steel even though it does present a risk to your water parameters. It is often claimed that the stainless steel parts pose no threat to your fish as they are in water tight areas of the tool but when the cheaper tank accessories, we would usually recommend that you go with an alternative if possible.
The more reputable brands within the fish keeping space do their best to use alternative, aquarium safe materials in their tank accessories no matter what the actual accessory is in place of stainless steel. Due to product laws in both North America and Europe, you should easily be able to work out if the aquarium accessory that you are considering purchasing contains stainless steel or not.
Just keep in mind that some aquarium accessories such as pumps will have stainless steel on them in places that are not actually submerged anyway. This is totally normal and can be considered safe depending on exactly what the accessory is and unfortunately, the packaging of some of these accessories will only mention stainless steel is used but not if it will be in contact with the water or not so there is a little bit of a guessing game.
But I Have Seen Some Aquarium Decorations That Have Stainless Steel On Them!
There are some decorations on the market, often on sites such as eBay or Amazon that do contain stainless steel that are marketed as aquarium decorations but were only ever designed to be decorations for in your home. This is unfortunately becoming increasingly common and putting many peoples fish at risk if they do add these to their tank thinking that they are aquarium safe.
This is due to many people importing these decorations with unique looks from other countries and selling them in Europe and North America without really knowing what they even purchased in the first place. With some of these accessories, stainless steel is not the only potentially toxic material used so you should try to avoid any potential tank decoration that is not sold by a well known brand.
Some people use various toys as tank decorations in their aquariums that also have stainless steel on them. Even though this may look like a unique tank decoration, they are often unknowingly putting their fish and other aquarium inhabitants at risk so we never recommend that you do this either.
That brings our article going over if you should use stainless steel in your fish tank or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help our readers better understand that there will always be some level of risk with stainless steel in your aquarium due to its rust potential. Even though there are people on social media saying that they use stainless steel in their tanks without issue, we would never recommend anyone do it.