Like the majority of aquarists I have a schedule for maintaining my aquarium. With the commitments I have and the time available I’ve found that this schedule saves time – usually.
Saving time doesn’t always occur, sometimes, and it is infrequent, something occurs which takes up a lot more time. Not today though, all went well mainly.
My schedule depends on a number. Number one is clean the glass. Wow, that’s it! Number two is the same as one plus the intake filters on some powerheads, plus a routine seawater change. Number three is the same as one. Number four is a comprehensive clean. Included with all of these numbers is a check for any unwanted organisms such as Aiptasia. So as can be seen maintenance covers a four week cycle.
Maintenance is nearly always done on a Sunday as there is time available, in the morning anyway. It all sounds a bit military maybe, but it works.
The number for today is four, the long one. New seawater ready and waiting, cleaning equipment near the aquarium. The aquarium is surrounded by carpet, so polythene covers are in place. They catch the drips and minor splashes very well.
The very first thing is to clean, with a hard toothbrush, my miniscule algae scrubber. This developed by itself and is obviously doing something as it exists! There must be some level of nutrients in the seawater feeding it. The photo shows it – I did say it is tiny, about 3 inches across and 2 inches deep! The seawater flow is from the hang-on skimmer.
Next the bracing struts and viewing glasses are cleaned with an algae magnet. Only the front and one end viewing glass are done, encrusting algae is permitted to grow on the others.
Exciting stuff this isn’t it! Now the four powerheads which sit in a small compartment are checked. The powerheads driving the under-reef spray bar and anti-phosphate filter have sponge intake filters and these need thorough attention. The anti-phosphate filter is shown in the photo; it is a homemade hang-on type. (Taking the photo was difficult, it is under an open stairway and space is restricted.) The other is an anti-nitrate filter, again homemade but this isn’t in use.
This maintenance is progressing well. The Eheim canister filter is next, the mechanical media has to be checked. This is comprised of fine and medium sponges and it can be surprising how much they catch from what appears to be clean seawater. I have to save numerous very small shrimps as well; these are placed in the display aquarium ensuring the fish don’t get them. There are numbers on the filters – this is from when they were both used for biological purposes so that they could be selected for cleaning, this doesn’t apply now as the biological media has been removed.
Getting there now and it is usually at this point that a cup of coffee appears. Thanks!
Siphoning is next on the agenda but before the main siphon tube is used, I attack any unwanted organisms. Today I located a few Aiptasia and these were dealt with. I’ll have to deal with more as time passes; they are never eliminated, probably because there are so many nooks and crannies in a reef aquarium. As long as they are not left to their own devices for too long they aren’t a problem.
So out come gallons of seawater with the siphon tube, this seawater will be dumped. (I used to use it for brine shrimp production but no longer do so.) At this time any debris spotted on the base of the aquarium is removed. There isn’t much base to be seen but it is checked anyway.
The new seawater is placed on the stairs above the aquarium and my wife kindly makes sure the tube doesn’t come out (not the siphon tube, one that is considerably longer). In goes the seawater.
Not quite done. I manually add certain additives to the seawater, these being calcium, bicarbonate and carbonate powder (for alkalinity) and iodine. Calcium is maintained at around 420ppm and alkalinity at around 4.0meq/L. I don’t measure the iodine level as it is only added once every two weeks at the minimum dose, there has never been a problem.
Nearly time to pack up now, just give the glass bracing struts a clean with a paper towel, likewise the viewing glasses. A check with the hydrometer is required, this is fine at 1024.
Final job – give the fluorescent tubes a wipe. Now it’s all done.
No, not quite. The two fish get some brine shrimp for being so patient!