Aquarium gloves: one of the best choices for aquarium security

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Aquarium gloves are a good idea if you work with dangerous livestock, have sensitive skin, or just want to keep unnecessary chemicals and oils out of your aquarium. Gloves that are specifically designed for use in aquariums are usually quite cheap and reusable. This can be more economical and environmentally friendly than disposable latex gloves that only cover the hand. If you are in doubt about putting your hand in your aquarium when it is time for maintenance, a cheap pair of gloves will definitely alleviate your concerns!

Read on to find out everything you need to know about aquarium gloves and 3 products that are right for you in your saltwater or freshwater fish tank!

Should you wear gloves to clean your aquarium?

In general, saltwater aquarium keepers have more reason to wear gloves than freshwater keepers. This is because marine animals tend to be a little more dangerous than typical freshwater fish and invertebrates. Certain marine fish and coral species are also more susceptible to foreign chemicals and oils.

However, it is always recommended to use rubber gloves when working in the home aquarium to avoid infection.

Dangerous fish and corals

In marine fish tanks in particular, there are many different animals that can cause physical harm. Bristleworms are common hitchhikers that can inject their fiberglass-like spikes into the skin. This is so common that you won't be considered a true saltwater fish hobbyist until you've been "attacked" by a bristle worm! While these bristles can usually be easily removed or eventually fall out on their own, they have been known to cause irritation and infection. Sea urchins can also cause nasty infections when a spine becomes lodged in the skin.

Bearded fireworms (Hermodice carunculata) are possibly one of the most feared hitchhikers in the sea, although they are not commonly encountered in the fish farming hobby. This type of bristle worm is aggressive and has been known to kill corals and smaller fish and invertebrates overnight. They are also known for their incredibly painful stitches that can lead to hospital stays.

When a reef tank is maintained, some species of coral have been known to release toxins when injured, such as members of Palythoa and Zoanthus. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you wear both hand and eye protection when removing these corals from your tank and attempting to break them. Sea anemones (Actiniaria order) are also commonly kept and have stinging cells that can cause a reaction in some people.

Some hobbyists simply use gloves to get a tighter grip when working in their tanks so they can move things around better without damaging fish or corals. Some gloves even have a textured hand for extra grip.

Sensitive skin and infection

Working in the aquarium can lead to various skin problems, especially if the skin is already dry and sensitive. If you have been diagnosed with eczema or a similar condition, it is best to use gloves so that the tank water does not cause further irritation.

Believe it or not, your aquarium is full of harmful bacteria and other zoonotic pathogens that can make you very sick. One bacterium in particular, Mycobacterium marinum, is known to cause serious infections that can prove fatal in patients with immunity. These bacteria can easily get into the body through cuts and scratches. So it is best to use protective gloves if you have an open wound on your hand or anywhere along your arms.

Even if you don't have a condition that increases your chances of being affected and you don't have any cuts or scratches, the aquariums are dirty. This is especially important if you plan to destroy the gravel or sand and / or cleaning hard-to-reach areas with accumulated debris. These unknown particles can easily stay on your hands or under your nails.

Bacteria and other pathogens can get into the body even after the aquarium maintenance is complete, if the person doesn't wash their hands and the bacteria get into the system by other means. For this reason, even if you wear aquarium gloves, it is best to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water each time you finish cleaning.

Chemicals and oils

One of the most important jobs of a freshwater or saltwater aquarium is to keep pollutants and toxins out. Aerosols and other cleaning agents should never be used in close proximity to a tank unless the aquarium system is securely covered. This also applies if you have to put your hands in the aquarium water for regular maintenance.

During the day, hands come into contact with a wide variety of chemicals that can directly affect the livestock in your aquarium or otherwise affect water conditions. Natural oils also form on our skin, which lead to complications and can form an oily film on the surface of the water.

The best way to avoid contamination is to thoroughly rinse and scrub your hands under cold water (cold water causes less lead to leak out of the tubes and less lead to get into your aquarium). Never use soap even if you may want to remove all of the contaminants from your hands as it can potentially crash your entire system!

While you are rinsing your hands, you should also rinse your aquarium gloves in case they come in contact with anything awkward. Then dry your hands and gloves to prevent as much tap water as possible from getting into your system. Put on the gloves and proceed with maintenance without worrying about external chemicals or oils contaminating your tank!

Can you use latex gloves for your aquarium?

In general, most hobbyists prefer to use nitrile gloves over latex gloves for aquarium work. Most latex gloves have powder residue that can contain unknown chemicals and residues. As long as the latex gloves have proven to be powder-free, they can also be used.

The top 3 aquarium gloves

When looking for aquarium gloves, it is best to look for a pair that won't get in the way of cleaning your tank. Maintenance should be easy and quick, without the risk of harm from dangerous animals, injuring your skin or causing infection, or introducing chemicals or oils into the system.

We have listed 3 of our best aquarium gloves based on price, customer rating, durability, and practicality.

Coralife (Energy Saver) ACLAF9505 Aqua Gloves

Coralife (energy saver) ACLAF9505 Aqua Gloves 28-inch (1 pair)

  • Coralife is one of the leading manufacturers of premium aquarium products in the market.
  • Innovative aqua gloves are ideal for handling anemones, corals, living rock and other sensitive aquatic life.
  • These gloves are made of the finest PVC material and prevent allergic reactions and contamination.

Coralife (energy saver) ACLAF 9505 aqua gloves are specially made for aquarium holders. These 71.1 cm long arm gloves are made of special PVC material to reduce the possibility of an allergic reaction. The main glove part is rubberized with a textured handle to ensure easy and safe handling in the tank. They have an elastic opening that fits snugly around the upper arm to keep them from slipping and preventing water from entering the hand.

These aquarium gloves are more expensive than the average but last a very long time. Customer reviews have found that these gloves are generally too big for smaller hands and that the sleeves can be a little longer for better coverage. The rubberized handle also tends to be a little too thick, which can make careful and precise movements difficult.

What we like:

  • Manufactured by an aquarium-specific company for safe use in tanks
  • Made from special PVC material to prevent allergic reactions
  • Structured handle and elastic fit

What would be better:

  • Above average price
  • Tight fit for smaller hands
  • Some reviews found the sleeves too short to allow tank water to enter
  • The thick, rubberized glove part makes dexterity difficult

Atlas 772 nitrile coated gloves

Atlas 772 nitrile coated gloves appear to be the best aquarium gloves available right now based on price, customer ratings and durability. These 66 cm long seamless aquarium gloves are made of 100% cotton and are lined with an elastic band to keep the water out of the tank. As the name suggests, these gloves are made of nitrile instead of PVC material to ensure a liquid-tight seal and increase the skill level when working in the tank.

These gloves are commonly used with other household cleaners to prove that they are safe from harsh chemicals. They do tend to grow small, however, and those with larger hand sizes may have difficulty getting the right size. While these gloves are resistant to most chemicals, they tend to wear out easily with more intensive and frequent use. Atlas 772 Nitrile Coated Gloves also have some of the same issues as the Coralife gloves, as the thickness of the material can compromise dexterity and the length of the sleeve will still allow water to enter, especially in deeper aquariums.

What we like:

  • Cotton lined with an elastic band for comfort and protection
  • Nitrile material for added durability
  • Multiple use outside the aquarium (but never mix the two activities with the same pair of gloves!)

What would be better:

  • Shorter than Coralife (Energy Savers) ACLAF 9505 Aqua gloves in sleeve length
  • Tend to leak under heavy use
  • Thick material can make dexterity difficult

KingSeal Poly shoulder-length disposable gloves

Kingseal Poly Shoulder-Length Disposable Gloves, with an impressive 34-inch cover, offer the best protection against tank water ingress into your gloves. These thin, disposable gloves allow a close yet secure touch with a thickness of 1.6mm. Made of smooth plastic, they're intended for single use, though some aquarium hobbyists have got multiple uses out of a pair. The package listed contains 100 gloves.

These disposable aquarium gloves are popular with hobbyists who do not need such a thick and durable glove. Because these gloves are so thin and are for single use, they have been known to tear easily and cause water to leak. They are advertised as "one size fits all" although the top sleeve can be tight at times. The lack of a rubber band on top can also cause them to fall down the arm.

What we like:

  • Full shoulder length to keep hands and arms dry
  • Thin glove for better dexterity
  • Relatively inexpensive for the package, although the offering needs to be updated based on usage

What would be better:

  • No elastic on top that may not keep hands completely dry and will make sleeve fall down
  • No structured grip on the hand
  • Intended for single use and may not last as long as latex, nitrile or other rubber gloves
  • Difficult fit due to extended shoulder length


It is always a good idea to have a pair of aquarium gloves when working in your home fish tank. Aquarium gloves protect you from dangerous fish or corals and offer you a better grip when moving living stones and other large decorations in order to protect your animals in return!

Aquarium gloves can also save you a trip to the hospital as nasty infections due to bacteria in the aquarium can occur. Finally, protective gloves help keep your hands dry and keep your tank free of chemicals and oils that might otherwise be on your hands.

If you have any questions about aquarium gloves, use protective gloves during a water change, or have experience with a specific type of glove, don't hesitate to leave a comment below!


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