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Why You Should Wear Aquarium Gloves: 5 Crucial Reasons

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

rubber gloves

If you are like I once was… Aquarium gloves might seem to you like just one more silly expense in the fishkeeping hobby.

You probably won’t think so after this post.

Now, I’ve realized how important they actually are. And I hope you will too! Here are 5 important reasons you should really consider using this accessory when you interact with your fish tank.

The 5 Reasons Why You Should Always Wear Aquarium Gloves

1. Protect Your Health

sores on hand
Image Credit: yevgeniy11, Shutterstock

Interacting with your tank can put you at risk of contracting zoonotic disease. (“Zoonotic” means animals transmitting infection to people.)

Look: Fish Tank Granuloma, Fish Handler’s Disease, Swimming Pool Granuloma, and Fish Tuburculosis (TB) are all names for a nasty mycobacterial disease that can spread to people. In fish tanks, it can cause high mortality with several gruesome symptoms before the fish dies.

But it gets worse… There’s no medical treatment for it in fish. The scary part? Fish TB is MUCH more common than you think—most healthy fish have it in their system. This disease is becoming rampant in pet store fish. Especially feeder fish that come from stressful environmental conditions.

Though it’s not as common for people to catch it (you are more vulnerable if you have a weak immune system), there is still a risk of transmission, which is heightened if you have a wound or cut on your hand, a condition like eczema, cracked or chapped skin or abrasion.

Symptoms? What looks like a gradually growing bump can develop on the extremities of your body, leading to a painful sore outbreak.

YIKES! While it is treatable with antibiotics (for months to even years), certain individuals who are elderly or more immunocompromised can have dangerous complications if the disease goes septic.

I always used to read about this and think it could never happen to me. However, after I lost several pet store fish to fish TB, I started to realize how common—and how serious—this really can be.

Fish that look healthy for quite some time can be carriers and show no obvious signs of the disease. Some fish were not having the same issues, but who knows if they could still have this in their system?

At one point I found myself thinking: “Is my hobby really worth my health?”

But THEN I learned about how you can use gloves to protect yourself from getting this disease. And I bought them instantly.


Never use your mouth to start a siphon. Ever. Under NO circumstances should you let your mouth come into contact with water from a fish tank, especially if you have pet store fish.

2. Keep Your Hands Dry

This one kind of goes without saying. Keeping your hands dry makes the fishkeeping experience a bit more pleasant. After all: It can be a bit annoying to have to dry off from your shoulders down after working in the tank every time.

3. Prevent Cross-Contamination Between Tanks

This is a big one: Many diseases (including some strains of TB) can spread through the water. If you have multiple tanks, this can be potentially a problem. Especially if you have a quarantine tank in operation. You can wash your hands after every time you interact with your tank… But what if you forget? Or what if you don’t want to do that?

Using aquarium gloves makes things much simpler.


Using gloves eliminates the need for hand-washing after interacting with the tank.

sick goldfish laying on bottom of aquarium
Image Credit: mrk3PHOTO, Shutterstock

4. Eczema & Dry/Cracked Skin

Do you struggle with skin rashes or eczema on your hands like me? See: The more I interact with my fish tanks, the drier the skin on my hands becomes. This is because the water dries the skin out from repeated exposure.

I get painful cracks on the pads of my fingers and splits on my knuckles that can become kind of a nuisance. Not only is it not smart to put your hands in a fish tank if you have eczema/abrasions on your skin…

The water really dries it out and can make it feel ten times worse! Be kind to your hands.

5. Avoid Contaminating Your Tank

This isn’t something a lot of people think about: Do you wash your hands BEFORE you interact with your aquarium? If not, it’s recommended for a reason.

Lotion (especially with artificial fragrance), hand sanitizer, body wash, nail polish remover, disinfectant napkins, perfume, soap, shampoo, etc., may all contain chemicals that could be harmful to your fish. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of all the weird residues that could be on our hands from the things we handle in everyday life.

Using gloves prevents these things from getting into your tank water. It’s one more precaution for a safer tank.

dirty water
Image Credit: Chaikom, Shutterstock

Which Aquarium Gloves Are Best?

This brings me to the next point: What kind of gloves are safe for use in a fish tank, and what should you look for? The best aquarium gloves are much longer than regular gloves to avoid getting your arms and sleeves wet.

Atlas gloves

If you don’t want your hands to be all hot, yucky and sweaty after using them, the cotton-lined kind are very nice. Finally, the kind that have a tightened drawstring effect at the top really help the gloves from slipping down as you are using them.

Oh: And they should be made of an aquarium-safe material, without any weird powders. The Nitrile kind are ideal as they are chemically inert. These come in a medium and a large size.

clownfish divider2 ah

Final Thoughts

I strongly recommend using gloves when managing your aquarium, both for your own sake and the sake of your fish.

A bonus reason some saltwater fishkeepers always use gloves is to protect their hands from the bites of fish and from potentially harmful or pokey coral or rock in their tank.

Featured Image Credit: Sergo_elst8, Shutterstock

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