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1/25/04 - Basic Maintenance

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Basic maintenance - it's the cornerstone of any successful reef tank. How we care for our equipment will in turn affect the health and longevity of the animals in our care.


So share your tank size, what you do, and how often. If you have any tips or tricks to share, this is the place for those as well.

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I have to admit, I started this thread mostly for selfish reasons - basic maintenance is something I'm not very good at keeping up with. My heater is coated in coralline, I haven't cleaned the magnet in my impeller in a couple months, and my tank is in bad need of a water change.


When I'm doing good though, here's what I do:


A weekly 1 gallon water change with BioSea salt mix on my 7 gallon minibow. The heater has just started getting much more coralline encursted than I'm comfortable with, so I plan on soaking it in vinegar for a while.


I also like to keep the front very clean. I razor blade it whenever I do a water change, and I magfloat in between.


I don't test my water - After a year I can tell pretty well by looking what my water quality is like.

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on the 1.5 i do about a 20% w/c every other week. this may seem like a lot, but i believe RDO's brandon429 (very experienced with tiny tanks) does complete replacements (100%). small tank so i try to use the highest grade salt that is available to me: aquacraft's bio sea like OC. instead of razor blades scrape the tank, i use a piece of straight edge scrap acrylic and a tank dedicated toothbrush. replace the lights regularly (especially with magnetic ballasts). do my best to keep the environment as stable as possible and any adjustments do slowly. don't waste kits on the nano either.


don't cut corners on tank equipment or setup. it'll suck in the long run.



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i do frequent water changes on my 7.5. one big one (1g) and perhaps 2-3 small ones. i change my poly-filters at least 2 times a week. and i magnafloat my front glass.


that's about it.



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I think one of the largest contributors to success is the water you use for your salt and top-off. Make sure you use good RO/DI water and if you have your own unit, invest in a TDS meter so you know when it's time to change media. Other than that I do a gallon WC per week in my 10, and add Seachem Calcium and Buffer on alternate days with my top-off. I run Renew in my HOB, I like to change that out monthly, I'll usually rinse the media bag in-between when I do WC's.

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My basic maintenance routine is fairly simple. On the 7gal Minibow I am changing 1gallon of water per week (when I am feeling extra lazy I let it go 2 weeks but thats not very often). The water is RO water from the LFS mixed with Tropic Marin salt to a SG of 1.024. I heat up the gallon of water by putting it in a sink of warm/hot water while I siphon out the old water.


I siphon out the water in one of 2 ways.

1. With a length of rigid airline tubing put into the end of a piece of soft airline tubing. I use the rigid airline tubing to vacuum out evil planaria and deitrous off of rocks where needed.


2. Lazy way = with a length of 1/2" tubing which empties a gallon of water in under half minute.


I try not to put my hands in the tank if I don't have to. If I DO have to put my hands in the tank I rinse them well with warm water before I do, and try to make it quick. Sometimes things need to be moved or trimmed so getting your hands in the tank can be unavoidable some weeks.


Basic topoffs are done with RO water from LFS on a daily basis.


I think that about covers my basic maintenance,



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IO Salt @ 1.024 (All made with in house airwaterice.com RO/DI unit) used for all water changes (same 10G batch for all tanks). Daily maintenence on all tanks (if needed)-Mag Float cleaning, feed fish and observe reactions, observe corals as well as equipment, check top off reservoirs and refill as necessary. Razor cleanings when needed or during coral maintenence. Bi weekly Remora skimmate cup cleanings X2 (hot water and elbow grease).


All water changes done in early AM before lights come on. It seems I spill less hungover.


Work Tanks: 1G water change on the 7G MiniBow. Roughly 50% changed from the Azoo mini and replaced with water removed from the MiniBow. Freshwater crawdad (crawdad was stolen :() tank with guppies gets top off weekly and a replacement filter pad every two months.


Home Tanks: 3G water change on the 10G and a 2G water change on the 7G Alife. 1G water change on the Mantis 5.5 which is refilled with the combined water from the 10G and 7G Alife. 4G water change on the 42G Hex. 20G freshwater tower gets top off weekly.

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I make about 10 gallons of RO/DI water a week, and use a TDS meter to make sure the TDS of the water is still at 0 or close to it.


I mix up about 5 gallons of saltwater (tropic marin) a week thats close to the same temp as my tank, and use a refractometer to be make sure the salinity is the same as my tank(36ppt). I let the water mix for at least 24 hours before adding it to my tank.


I use a turkey baster to blow debris off the rocks every few days or so.


I do a 2-3 gallon water change on my 20G every week.

I siphon the water out of my tank with a battery operated siphon/vacuum with a hose attached, and use a powerhead with a hose attached to the nozzle to put the water back in the tank.


If I ever see any debris or algae growing I use the same vacuum thingy with a bag attached to suck it up.


Look around the tank and check to see if everything is in order.. (no missing fish and nothing dead)


I clean the glass with a mag-float and a kent plastic scraper for the harder stuff (corraline) about 2-3 times a week.


I take the powerheads and heater out and clean them every 6 weeks or so. If the corraline is so heavy that it prevents me from opening the powerheads, I soak them in vinegar for a while until I can open them up.


Inspect the equipment every month to see if its still in good shape.


I use things like plastic tongs or a wooden stick to do things like move small corals and snails or stir the sand.


If I have to put my hands in the tank, I always turn the power off to everything in the tank so I don't accidentally get electrocuted...

and I always wear gloves when putting my hands in the tank.


Top-off about 1/2 gallon twice a day with RO/DI water


I run a HOB filter with a small micron pad and some carbon for about one week every 6-8 weeks.

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Mattie's .... routine fro his 20G.....



clean glass w/ mag-float i just leave it in the tank

check for anything obvious fallen coral, dead fish

check water level


add top water w/ Ca or buffer on different days

feed fish just enough so there tummys look full


weekly or bi weekly


check Sg

check temp

check Ca and alk

blow of detritus from corals and LR

add phyto planton ( DT's )


weekly or bi monthly


2-3 gallons of fresh r/o mixed for short time w/ ph

scrape coraline off glass in undesired places

manually feed polyps that will take food chunks

remove 1-2 cups of macro out of fuge sell to lfs or any one willing to pay shipping

check lights for salt creep and clean around rim of tank


bi monthly to monthly

buy something new like a frag ;)

update my pics at nano reef

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Topoff, feed (coral plankton by Liquidlife) and dose B-Ionic. (pick up fallen frags


Every other day:


feed fish.


Twice a week:


Scrape algea on front glass.




Water changes and testing for CA/ALK, SG (anywhere from every 5-14 days)




clean Skimmer, scrub hair algae on Rocks if need be, clean algae on powerheads and back and side glass.


The Less work the better. I find my corals grow better when I KEEP MY HANDS OUT OF THE TANK!!!!

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For my 5g Rose BTA tank (6g water volume, 39W PC light, no skimmer):

Daily: Add 1-2 cups fresh water (from office water cooler)

Weekly: Throw in a pinch of flake food for the lone clown goby

2x Monthly: Thaw a cube of FormulaOne and feed it to the BTAs

Monthly: 1g water change w/ NSW, prune back Halimeda algae

Yearly: Replace PC bulbs


No supplements, very infrequent glass cleaning (every other month maybe, but only when needed). Clean-up crew consists of two margarite snails, one red-leg hermit, various small snalls and limpit hitchhikers, and an army of bristleworms.


For my 29g reef (30g water volume, 64W PC, 250W MH, Urchin skimmer):

Daily: Feed clownfish FormulaOne or FormulaTwo (frozen or flake, depending on how late I am for work), top-off dripper with kalkwasser mixed with vinegar.

2x weekly: Blast sand with turkey baster to stir up detritus, clean micron bags in sump shortly thereafter, empty skimmer cup

Weekly: Clean inside of tank, feed bit of FormulaOne to BTA

Monthly: Clean skimmer, stir up sandbed

Yearly: Replace PC and MH bulbs


I think that about covers it.

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stagger bulb replacements.


b-ionic ca/alk supplements.

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I have a 15 gallon all in one system.

I do a 3.5 L waterchange twice a week or sometimes a 5-6 L once a week.

I replace the water by using a gravel siphon. I also clean the front glass with an algae magnet. Before refilling the water I took out I test the salinity and then replace the water.

I do this along with cleaning 1 of my filter sponges each week in tank water.

Every second day when the lights aren't on I get my hand in and rake the substrate around to get any detritus or mulm out. I wipe any salt that collects on the condensation tray accordingly.

I add prime water ager to the water when I do a water change(10-12 drops) and all my supplements are added from trent when I by my water.

Hope this gives some good advice


Dean' :)

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thanks for the information.

Unlike most supplements, these products are made from organic foods, not synthetics. Visit the Naturally Nova Scotia website for more information.

Natural Vitamins

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I have a 65 gallon Red Sea tank:

weekly to biweekly water changes and also clean carbon and the bio rings and the skimmer. Right after I take out the skimmer I put the water that is I the skimmer an dump it into the plants because the water acts as a fertilizer for the plants. I also clean the bottom of the glass with a old toothbrush while during the week I clean the upper par of the acrylic. An I clean the rock with the toothbrush because right now my phosphates are a bit high so I have been cleaning the hairy algae

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I have a 65 gallon Red Sea tank:

weekly to biweekly water changes and also clean carbon and the bio rings and the skimmer. Right after I take out the skimmer I put the water that is I the skimmer an dump it into the plants because the water acts as a fertilizer for the plants. I also clean the bottom of the glass with a old toothbrush while during the week I clean the upper par of the acrylic. An I clean the rock with the toothbrush because right now my phosphates are a bit high so I have been cleaning the hairy algae

no offense, but your responding to a 4 year old thread

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