Nathan Hill gets to grips with these new aquarium scissors from Planted Tanks.
A while ago I gained access to the Planted Tanks range of extended scissors, pinsettes and a handful of other tools. I got on well with them and, many months later, they are still going strong, their edges remaining sharp.
These more recent test subjects got off to a great start, but performed a little less smoothly than the first set of samples.
The principle is simple enough, with scissors that can be used in absence of cumbersome and often irritating finger holes that usually either embed themselves in the pudgier parts of my digits and then, as a parting shot, drag skin from the scrawny knuckles.
These designs are spring loaded, and come in two shapes: straight edged or a curved.
They come with pouches that have a sensible back but a flimsy front. The thin, clear screen at the front soon snags against a blade as you’re trying to insert it and, before you know it, the thing is disemboweled. However, while they last, they do look the part.
The blades themselves are flawlessly sharp, although, for some reason, they love to attract sand and gravel to the fronts of their edges. However, this is a part of the peril when dealing with planted aquaria.
The spring-loaded action makes life incredibly simple, but I was soon disheartened that the straight scissors chose to snag and snarl — closing nicely, but failing to pop back out. On closer inspection, a little rust that had formed at the base between the blades was the culprit, but even after cleaning this off they lack their original free action.
The curved blades are far more fun to play with, allowing you to chop into dense mosses without the risk of going in too deep and slicing off something that you would rather have kept.
Although easy to use, the big downside to these pairs is that you cannot get the blades to open widely, the beak being very narrow.
This is no issue when dealing with fine snipping, removing individual Glossostigma or Hemianthus leaves, but when you want to mow a grassy lawn, or get elbow deep in some rampant Rotala, it rather feels that you’re trying to attack a hedge with, well, a pair of scissors.
However, these blades do have their place. In the growth market of the nano aquascape where precision is everything, these are a world apart from those restrictive manicure scissors, or cumbersome poultry shears. In fact, in any situation where you need a precise cut, these are the logical choice for any self-respecting 'scaper.
The blades need to be properly cleaned and dried after use, otherwise rust spots can fast become obvious, and, at all costs, do not let marine water splash onto them as they’ll be a ferric ball before you can say 'wire wool.'
Kept correctly, they’re a superb, shiny expensive thing that should appeal to the inner magpie in all of us.
Price: £22 each item.
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