I maintain my reef aquarium once a week, disregarding feeding, the protein skimmer and anything found needing rectification during the maintenance period. This maintenance is done on a Sunday morning usually, as that is time convenient.
The maintenance is divided into two types, called the ‘big one’ and the ‘quick one’. The quick one is a case of cleaning the viewing glass and carrying out an observation check. The big one is a much more thorough affair. Today was a big one.
The new seawater mix had been pre-prepared and was bubbling away in its bucket and the bucket for old seawater was waiting. As usual the protective polythene mats were down around the aquarium. Additives (calcium and iodine) and required cleaning equipment were out.
I had a cup of coffee. Well, these jobs shouldn’t be rushed should they!
My aquarium is in the hall under open fronted stairs and I try to remember not to whack my head when I stand up. I’ve done it many times.
The first thing done is always the viewing glasses using an algae magnet. They’re not usually particularly algaefied (is that a real word?) so this doesn’t take much doing. Then I can see clearly within the aquarium. A visual check is made to see if all looks fine, it usually does. This check includes the fish and the corals, noting growth and potential problems such as corals interfering with one another and shadows being cast lower down. If there is anything seen I note it down as it will not be done in the maintenance period.
Next comes cleaning of the circulation powerhead intakes as they usually have some dirt trapped. This is needed to ensure full circulation is maintained. I also use powerheads to deliver seawater to the under-reef spray bar (the reef is raised clear of the aquarium base) and the external anti-phosphate filter. The powerheads are hidden in a small compartment. The intakes, which are covered with tubular foam filters, are also cleaned. This is essential particularly for the spray bar under the reef which must be kept clean.
Under the powerheads just mentioned is a small DSB (deep sand bed) kept mainly out of interest though it will have some effect on the seawater quality. There is a lot of life and I take the opportunity to feed it, using a few very small cut up bits of fish. The worms and other beasties are quickly aware of dinner being served.
The canister filter is cleaned next. There are two, both Eheim Ecco models. They are very good and easy to service and in more than six years I haven’t had any trouble (cross fingers!). They were originally used for bio-filtration and still have the media in them, though really I could close one or both down, at least as far as bio-filtration is concerned. When I started I used inert porous rock and this is now live because of the additions I have made over the years. I just haven’t got round to it as they are so easy to service. Servicing is done every two weeks alternatively, so each canister is looked at four weekly.
My wife helps with the next bit. As said the aquarium is under the stairs, so the new seawater bucket is placed on them. Then I siphon out old seawater getting rid of any detritus noticed though this is usually minimal. My wife holds the tube in the bucket on the stairs, I give a quick suck at the other end and the rest is easy.
I sometimes do selected seawater checks at this point, though this is not scheduled at all. The aquarium has been running for over six years and is very mature and stable. The fish load is low, just two small fish. Checks made to date have always read the levels required. Nevertheless I’m careful.
It’s now time to clean up with paper wipes the internal stress bars and external viewing panels. Put away the equipment after throwing the old seawater away, and all is done.
Well no, not quite all done – another cup of coffee and a sit down near the aquarium to admire my handy work. I didn’t bang my head either.