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Spring Into Reef Cleaning

Spring has sprung! And there is no better way to celebrate than to get your reef aquarium clean and prepared for sustained success. Within this article we will break down five steps to take with your reef tank to have it in perfect shape for all of your beloved livestock. It is common for us to get lost in the daily challenges of life but, when you have time to perform some tank maintenance, your system will reward you upon its completion. After a water change and some additional cleaning, you will see your tank glow. Your fish and coral will proceed to remind you why you own an aquarium in the first place. If you are needing any assistance or suggestions when it comes to your tank maintenance, our customer care team would be glad to assist you.

We will break down your tank cleaning process into the following five steps. First, we will discuss cleaning the glass or acrylic of your aquarium. Then, we will highlight the best practices for removing a variety of algae's. We will continue by mentioning the best tools to remove pest anemones. Our next paragraph will detail the best ways to conduct a water change. Finally, we will go over a few last tasks you can do to have your tank looking brand new. 


Scrape the walls of your aquarium 

Algae removal tips

Eradicate pest anemones

Performing a water change

The finishing touches

Scrape the walls of your aquarium:

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Maintenance and Husbandry: 3 Glass Walls with Reefbum Part 19

One of the first steps I take when performing maintenance on my aquarium is scraping down any algae build up on the walls of the tank. If you are conducting this on your aquarium we recommend having both an algae scraper such as the Continuum AquaBlade and an algae pad like the Seachem Duo Pad. I usually try to remove all of the tougher diatom algae with the scraper and then I like to go over the glass with the algae pad to clean up any missed spots. It is crucial to make sure you select a scraper that is safe for your type of aquarium whether it be acrylic or glass. Another useful tip is to avoid picking up any sand in the algae pad as it can severely scratch both glass and acrylic. Additionally, we suggest taking your time with this process to ensure all algae on the tank walls is removed. There is nothing more frustrating than working hard to get all of the algae off the walls and once you are done, you notice another spot. With all this information in hand, cleaning your tank walls will be the first step to spring into a cleaner reef.

Algae removal tips:

Image courtesy of @whatthereef on Instagram.

Once you get done removing the algae from your tank walls, it is time to turn your attention towards any algae varieties within the aquarium. The first step in removing this algae is identifying which kind you have. If it is either green hair algae or bubble algae, unfortunately, the best way to get rid of them is through manual removal. If you notice any type of film algae, it is best to just remove those by sucking them off the rock during a water change. Within this paragraph, we wanted to highlight a couple of products that will aid in algae removal. The first of these products is Boyd Chemiclean which is specifically designed to help remove cyano algae. The other product we wanted to highlight is Red Sea’s NO3:PO4-X supplement which will reduce both nitrate and phosphate within your aquarium and in turn it will cut down on algae growth. We hope these tips will help you address any algae outbreaks and allow you to spring into a cleaner reef.

Eradicate pest anemones:

Aiptasia courtesy of Felicia McCaulley
Aiptasia courtesy of Felicia McCaulley

Moving onto the next step in cleaning your reef, we are going to discuss the removal of pest anemones such as Majano’s and Aiptasia. At Marine Depot we always like to provide natural solutions to aquarium problems. With that in mind, we recommend enlisting the services of a peppermint shrimp as they are known to feast on these anemones and keep their population under control. If the pest anemone presence in your system is already out of control then, we have a product recommendation for you in the form of Red Sea’s Aiptasia X. When this product is injected into the anemone it will kill them. When using this product, it is important to turn off all flow within the system for at least 10 minutes after applying the medication. Additionally, you will want to make sure that you don't miss any anemones when dosing as they can quickly repopulate within your tank and you will be forced to medicate again within a matter of weeks. Approaching pest anemones with these tips will allow you to spring into a cleaner reef.

Performing a water change:

We have now made it to arguably the most important step in conducting “spring cleaning” on your aquarium. Performing water changes are essential for nutrient export and are very helpful in adding important trace elements back into your reef. We recommend doing a 10-20 percent water change biweekly depending on the volume and bioload of your system. When doing a water change we usually recommend siphoning the sandbed with a Python Pro-Clean. After I finish my water change, I sometimes like to add a little bit of beneficial bacteria back into my system to help beef up their population within my biological media. For this, I usually use Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter 7 for its ability to both add bacteria and help aid in the removal of phosphate and nitrate. When conducting a water change, it is also the perfect time to replace any old media such as filter floss, carbon packets, etc. When adding the newly mixed water back into your aquarium it is crucial to make sure that the salinity is very similar if not an exact match. Adding the water to the system slowly will ensure that you will not disturb the sandbed and possibly cause your water to be cloudy or have a nutrient spike. Conducting your water change with the proper tools and technique will allow you to spring into a cleaner reef.

Python Water Change System
Python Water Change System

The finishing touches:

For the final step in establishing a cleaner reef aquarium, we are going to move onto a few finishing touches. Once the water change is completed, it is time for the dreaded cleanup. It is best to remove all built up salt creep with a damp rag and make sure to swipe up any water that may have made it from your tank to the stand or floor. Wiping down tank accessories such as light fixtures and mounts will help keep dust build up away. Once all dust is taken care of, we recommend drying off the tank glass and using a product like API’s Safe and Easy Aquarium Cleaner to get your glass sparkling clean. When everything looks great, be sure to turn back on all pumps, heaters, and any other tank accessories. Once everything is back-up and running, give your tank an hour or so to clear up and you will come back and be rewarded with a spectacular display. This will be the final step you will need to take in order to spring into a cleaner reef.

Final Thoughts:

We hope this article has been helpful in your aquarium spring cleaning process. Having a vibrant and clean reef system will ensure a relaxing and healthy environment for your viewing pleasure. While we have highlighted a wide range of steps to take when it comes to cleaning your system, how you conduct this maintenance may depend on the type of system you own. If you have any additional questions on how best to perform maintenance on your aquarium, our customer care team would be happy to assist you.