Part 10, Saltwater Tanks Demystified: Maintenance

Table of Contents

I) Introduction

This blog is all about saltwater aquarium maintenance.  Scroll down a bit for the video, and just after that is the free downloadable checklist!

If you missed any of the episodes in this 10 part series, click on the links below!

II) Daily Tasks

1) Feed Fish

I feed my fish twice a day.  Here is a list of all of the different types of food I use, with links to each product!

  • V2O Frozen Fish Food
  • New Life Spectrum Marine Pellets
  • Reef Nutrition Lineup
  • Ocean Nutrition Flakes
  • V2O Pellet/Flake Food

2) Two-Part Dose

I use Brightwell Aquatics Reef Code A & B, but really any two-part will do.

I only need to dose my 24 gallon reef tank, as my other tanks don’t have enough corals to need it.  I use a capful a day, but eventually I’ll set up my Kamoer dosers!

3) Observe Livestock

© My First Fish Tank

This is my best “Observe Livestock” face!

4) Check Water Temperature

TDS Meter / Thermometer
a product shot of a bayite temperature controller. It is a square piece of gear, black and grey. On the left are two 3-pronged outlets, one for heating and one for cooling. On the right side are two small lcd displays with setting buttons. A small black temperature probe wraps around the back with the stainless steel tip in the foreground
Temperature Controller

Three of my tanks have the Bayite Temperature controller installed, so checking the temperature just takes a quick second.  But for my other tanks I use a thermometer.  I like the HM Digital Thermometer because it’s also a TDS meter for your RO/DI water!

III) 2X/Week Tasks

1) Replace Evaporated Water

You really only have three choices when it comes to replacing evaporated water:

One of my first purchases in this hobby was a $200 RO/DI filter, and it was the best purchase I ever made… in the saltwater hobby I mean!

2) Scrape Glass

Buy the Flipper and the Kent Pro Scraper.  You will use them every few days, they last forever (okay, not literally forever), and you can always buy replacement blades.

3) Replace Filter Socks/Sponges

I run a filter sock in my 120 gallon, and it usually becomes clogged in 3-4 days.  The only filtration I run in my 24 gallon reef tank is the BrightWater Sponge… no joke… that’s it.  I’ve tried a lot of sponges, but BrightWater makes the best in my opinion: dense, tons of surface area, and holds together amazingly well.

4) Fill Auto Top Off Reservoirs

No explanation necessary… If you have a reservoir, just fill it up with RO/DI water!

IV) Weekly Tasks

1) Water Test

I don’t test all parameters every time, but that’s because I know my tanks pretty well.  When I’m starting a new tank, then yes, I absolutely test for everything.  But you’ll find that as you get to know your tank, it will be prone to certain parameter swings and not others.

Here are my favorite test kits:

  • Red Sea Reef Foundation Pro
  • Red Sea Marine Care
  • Hanna Alkalinity Checker
  • Hanna Calcium Checker
  • Red Sea Phosphate Pro
  • Refractometer
  • Hanna Salinity & Temperature Tester

2) Feed Coral

I try not to overfeed my corals,  mainly because it can lead to a nutrient spike.  I feed once a week, but sometimes even less than that.

There are so many different kinds of coral foods out there, and I use a lot of them:

  • PolypLab Reef Roids
  • Coral Frenzy
  • Feliz Reef

Here’s a little trick.  Broadcast feed the tank with a little bit of food about 10 minutes before target feeding.  That way you’ll entice the polyps to extend.  Then, target feed.

3) Feed Anemones

I used to feed Silversides.  I would cut them up into tiny pieces and feed them to my anemones.  While they would eat them, the next day, or even later the same day that would shrivel up and spit it out.  So I don’t feed that anymore!

The two products above are my nems favorites, especially Mini Mysis.  I feed them once a week.

4) Visually Inspect Equipment

You’re just checking to make sure all of your equipment is working and that nothing is broken.  I’ve heard too many horror stories of exploding heaters… so check your equipment!

By far one of the grossest parts of maintenance.  Super stinky and disgusting.  Depending on how wet you skim your tank, you may need to do this deplorable chore more often.

6) Dust Lights

Why you may ask? To keep the fans clean and your lights cool.

7) Wipe Down Outside of Tank

Nobody wants to look at a gross tank!  Just don’t use any chemicals to wipe your tank down, as they may end up inside your tank!

V) Every Other Week Tasks

1) Clean Substrate

Just do this task as a part of your water change.  Sandbeds can become nutrient traps that lead to high nitrates, so do yourself a favor and get that gunk out!

2) Remove Salt Creep

A simple task, but one that makes your tank look that much cleaner!  I’ve owned and used the same set of OXO brushes on the left for over five years… no joke.  The Tunze set on the right is great for cleaning out your flexible tubing.

3) Make RO/DI Water

Making RO/DI water is certainly better than lugging buckets back and forth from you LFS.  I know it’s not a sexy purchase, but it will not only pay for itself, it will make your life in this hobby just that much easier!

4) Clean Sump and/or Rear Filtration Chamber

I use the OXO brushes for the baffles, heaters, pumps, etc… and the Kent scraper to clean the glass and baffles.

VI) Monthly Tasks

1) Change Chemical Media

I don’t run chemical media all the time, but just when I need it.  I pretty much just run activated carbon and GFO, and I always like to get the ROX 0.8 and the high capacity GFO.

VII) Semi Annual Tasks

1) Vinegar Bath Pumps

 It’s a huge pain to disconnect, soak, scrub, and rinse all of your pumps, but it will keep your pumps working for a long time.

I usually make a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water, but you can add extra vinegar… it will just make the process go faster.

Disassemble your pumps and soak them for several hours.  This will loosen the calcium build ups, so you can just scrub it off.  Then give everything a freshwater rinse, and your done for the next six months!

Recent Beginner Blogs

saltwater aquarium tank on cabinet with clownfish and anemones

Ultimate 4-Month Saltwater Aquarium Guide: Stunning Results

Setting up your first saltwater aquarium can be an exciting yet daunting task. In this beginner’s guide, we explore a detailed tour of my 15-gallon Hello Reef tank, covering essential tips, equipment recommendations, and maintenance strategies to ensure your saltwater aquarium thrives.

Read This Next