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FAQs on Cleaning Aquariums 2

Related Articles: Cleaning Aquariums, Cleaning Decor, Marine Maintenance

Related FAQs:  Cleaning Aquariums 1Cleaning Acrylic Aquariums,

"Gimme that algae sponge to chew!"

Equipment cleaning- reef tanks       10/15/19
Dear team
How frequently should be clean out equipment’s like wavemaker , skimmer pumps and return pump ?
<Depends on your particular system and chemistry but a *regular schedule* is the important thing. It's very easy to overlook this kind of maintenance. Out of sight, out of mind. Yet some things like pumps in particular are both expensive and cannot be allowed to fail. Preventative maintenance is the embodiment of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. I have learned this the hard way in the past by "letting it go" for too long and not realizing I messed up until an impeller seized up and either wrecked the powerhead or else lead to its early demise due to wear and tear, which I could have prevented by be being diligent and throwing the thing in the sink with vinegar and a toothbrush sooner. Money down the drain or worse.>
Is it a must to clean them in vinegar?
<Not necessarily but it's simple, cheap and easy. See also here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnaqfaqs2.htm . Towards the top of the page you'll find an entry where those wiser than I have expounded a bit on using diluted chlorine bleach. Please read there. In particular the safety information. Personally I consider that sort of the "hardcore option" and would save it for times you really have hard-to-remove buildup, and/or have concerns about contamination of some kind. The Nuclear Option of cleaning. Otherwise, about once a month, inspect all your plumbing, fittings, pumps and clean as necessary. Also check soft parts like gaskets and tubing. I also advise unplugging powerheads and wavemakers, putting them in the sink, or a clean fish-tank-dedicated plastic bucket and soaking them for a few hours. Then take them apart as much as is easily done and use a fresh toothbrush to scrub 'em down thoroughly. Soaking them lets the white buildup flake off easily. I'm always sad to see a little coralline algae go, but it's the price we have to pay. Freshly cleaned "things with propellers" are vital if you want to keep that GPH flow rate we all hope to have. Rinse them off very well. Short answer: you must clean them, about once a month, and can use diluted plain old vinegar, or else diluted bleach as per Bob's info in the link above. Beware that certain bleach in the grocery store has additives in it for laundry use and check the bottle.>
Is using vinegar to clean safe?
<Safe and advised. Obviously take care when handling it. I have found that the biggest risk in the reek of vinegar aggravating housemates...if you've cleaned out a coffee maker you know the feeling!>
<Hope this helps! -Earl>

Sterilizing a marine fish tank       10/21/16
Hello, with 25 years servicing under my belt I’m having problems with a marine fish only tank that resides in a nursing home.
At first my suspicions were that the fish might have been stolen from this job or poisoned.
<Happens. I did aquarium maintenance for nineteen years>
After three starts at replacing fish slowly and using copper safe at 2.0 I just was called and all livestock are dead once again.
So if it’s possible to have a parasite survive a sustained copper treatment, I’ve thought of trying to sterilize the glass 90 gallon using Clorox but I don’t think this would be a good idea in a nursing home setting.
<Mmm... chlorine/bleach is still my/a fave... could people be moved from the room, windows opened for a day or so? Maybe moving all off-site would be better? You could use concentrated H2O2, but it is not as effective... and can be stinky>

I’ve thought of draining, removing all and throwing away crushed coral at the bottom and letting the tank completely dry out and install new crusher coral and restarting the tank. Of course all decorations would go through a Clorox and hot water rinse and soak at home.
Could you offer your comments or any idea’s on how to sterilize better in a nursing home situation?
<As above Jim. Either isolating the space around the system, or moving it elsewhere>
Thank your for any ideas,
Jim Jesko
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Sterilizing a marine fish tank       10/21/16

Thanks for writing so quickly Bob,
Chlorine/Bleach concentrations, 1 part bleach to 10 parts water??
<Thereabouts, yes... for browsers, there's no need to increase concentration here; and one can use a "household" product, though folks in the trade often utilize "swimming pool" (hypochlorous acid)... At times we lower the water a bit, and after removing any desirable biota, leave the system running with the added bleach for an hour or more... TAKE CARE NOT to spill the bleach on anything you don't want discolored>
And for how long would you leave this solution?
<Oh; as above. Till all appears "bleached">
Job is also in an Alzheimer's unit so I'd hate to leave this solution too long in the tank.
<Understood. You can/could increase the dosage... to about twice... and all will be done in a few tens of minutes>
Would you remove crushed coral as I thought?
<I'd leave in, esp. if I was going to re-use. AND vacuum it as part of the rinse, re-rinse process>
Or leave in place and let the Chorine/ Bleach do it's job.
Of course problems like this always seem to come up at jobs that are hardest to reach in buildings!
<Am sure you have gear to drain waste water to toilets...>
Seen you at a couple of Macna events.
You sure are help to so many!!!
<A pleasure and honor to share with others Jim. As you know. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Sterilizing a marine fish tank       10/21/16

Bob thanks again, this tank is a 90 gallon. I cant imagine putting 9 gallons of bleach into this unit. The smell would be over powering for a nursing home unit.
<Yes.... IF the system can be left for a day or so... I'd just use a quart or so... IF it has to be done in under an hour, a gallon or two>
Opening a window is out of the question because of a fatality years ago.
<.... do they have good ventilation?>
One last question, to avoid removing this unit. Since there are no fish in the tank presently, what would you think of a crazy high copper level with water changes after a week or so to remove the copper?
<Could be done...>
Thanks again for your super quick response.
Jim Jesko
<Welcome. BobF>

Hi Bob,

I like to keep my tank as clean as possible with everything in good working order. I try to keep all equipment free from algae and slime, so their performance doesn't suffer, so reasonably often I take equipment out to clean. When it comes to things like powerheads though I do struggle in the hard-to-reach areas near the propellers. Have you any ideas on what type of liquid solution I can use to clean the equipment in which will help to agitate the muck? Obviously I don't want to try anything that will introduce toxins to the tank. As I have three powerheads I can take one out and leave it to soak and this shouldn't have a negative effect on the rest of the tank. I have heard of people using vinegar to clean equipment ­- is this a wise idea?

Alan Stephens

Hi Alan, and I salute your diligence to cleaning matters. When it comes to really getting non-living materials squeaky clean, I am a big fan of using diluted chlorine bleach as a soak. Now, I must proffer some warning statements re this materials use. Even diluted Chlorine Bleach is toxic'¦ both to the skin and to human breathing (i.e., your lungs). Hence, all such treatments should be done in a well-ventilated area, or better, outdoors, in containers that are non-reactive with bleach, and of course have no soap or detergent residue on them. Further, one must take care in handling Chlorine bleach such that it does not splash on their clothes, as'¦ it will indeed 'bleach' whatever it touches.

            All this being admonished, you want to make about a ten percent solution, adding the stock Chlorine bleach to simple mains water, at about one unit to nine units of water. To this, gently add/submerse your aquarium gear, and leave to soak for an hour or so. After this bleaching interval, the gear is 'fished out' with a net or such, and rinsed under the tap in freshwater. If you detect a 'chlorine smell', you are encouraged to leave the gear out for a day or more to allow the free chlorine to gasify, i.e., leave via the air. If you are impatient, commercial solutions for eliminating Chlorine and Chloramine in mains water can be applied at a few times suggested concentration, and the gear soaked in this for another hour or so. IF you are still concerned re residual chlorine, there are simple colorimetric assays (test kits) for discerning trace chlorine presence.  

            I am aware of the simplest organic acid, Acetic (aka vinegar) use in these matters, but find that it is not as efficient (a favorite word as it has 'fish' in it) as chlorine bleach; and I just really don't like the residual smell.

Cleaning an olde tank; using WWM       7/15/15
Hi there!!
I was wondering if you have a suggestion on cleaning out an empty tank and the gravel and deco? We had small community fish that kept dying and we didn't know why. We ended up giving the survivors to someone who has a hospital tank and understood that they were dying and we didn't know why...
We want to clean the tank and possibly get one larger South American Cichlid, but want to make sure the tank is cleaned efficiently.
Thank you!!!!
Lindsey Hernandez
<Ah yes; read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnaqfaqs.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Water mould on used tank     2/5/14
Hello Crew!
I've always relied on WWM when I have questions so here I am again:)
I have a 3 inch GSP living in SG1.009 brackish environment. It has been living in a 20gallon, and I finally have a 31gallon tank for him! Due to my tight budget, I had to get a used tank. It is a really sturdy tank that was used for 3 years to contain 6 parrot fish.
The tank is curved on the front, so no silicon on the two corners. It has silicon inside and out,
<Out? Moan...>

 but what worries me is that there is black mould on the silicon on the inside of the tank. A little frayed as well. Either the tank is a lot older than 3 years or the silicon job was done poorly in the first place.
I wiped the surface the best I could, and the silicon linings seem half cleaner now. Have done water test two times, no leak. What should I do?
<Next time it's empty completely try a light (chlorine) bleaching... with the windows open>
Will it be harmful for my GSP?
<Not likely; no>
Should I take out the old one and re-silicon?
<I wouldn't... too much trouble/work... likelihood of not improving the situation>
Just that I have no experience, and the nearby LFS are all inexperienced when it comes to this. Will it be alright after I give it a thorough wash with white vinegar?
<I'd go the bleach route first>
Thanks in advance, June.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Sterilizing/Breaking Down Display Tank     1/15/14
Hi WWM Crew,
I read through the sterilization FAQs and a few other accounts and just want to get clarification on the best way to sterilize my display tank. A brief background/history on my tank: I've got a 185 tall acrylic FOWLR tank that has been with me in several locations for about 13 years. It's been in it's current location since 2006. I've had several battles with Ich that I've treated in the DT with copper and seemingly defeated (I now realize that was probably a big mistake). Anyhow, the last 6 months or so I seem to have gotten some type of nasty that survived prolonged copper treatment at a therapeutic level (sometimes even above the recommended level in the absence of fish) for about 1 1/2 months.
<Happens; and oh yes; no fun>
After removing the copper with the large-sized industrial Polyfilter pads, I attempted to add a fish and it soon died with symptoms similar to the outbreak prior to copper. The primary symptom is darkening/sloughing of the skin in a quickly increasing patch size, followed by death within about 24-72 hours after showing initial symptoms.
<... I take it this msg. is continued in your next email. RMF>
Fwd: Sterilizing/Breaking Down Display Tank     1/15/14

My apologies on the pre-mature send!
<No worries>
Anyway, my question is: should I go ahead and drain the system, fill with fresh water, add a few cups of bleach as mentioned, and run it for a while then rinse, even though it is the display?
<Yes I would likely go this route>
Do I need to remove my live rock, live sand, and bioballs?
<Mmm, no; not for this phase of the operation/procedure... after running w/ the bleach a few hours (with the windows open on a nice, hopefully warm day), I'd drain, perhaps take out the rock, maybe the substrate to further clean, rinse (versus trying to do this in the tank)>
Or would there be a better course of action to completely sterilize my system and start over using proper QT methods?
<.... Mmmm, the above IS, will sterilize all>
You expert advice is greatly appreciated,
<Glad to share. Bob Fenner>

Glass tank care, algae scrapers   9/2/13
Hello crew,
I saved, and planned, and devoted countless ours to the set up of my 265 gallon glass tank. I thought buying the Mag Float was the answer to keeping the glass looking pristine every day. Well, it only took a tiny grain of sand (I was being so careful!!!) and I put scratches in a section of it!
Oh, the devastation is without words. I decided to go back to the way I clean my 50 gallon by using the scraper. Somehow the blade must have gotten bent slightly and I noticed it scratching my 50 gallon. I can't believe after all these years of tank maintenance I'm having so much trouble now. I am now TERRIFIED to clean the glass for fear of scratching it again. Now that the sides look awful from not being cleaned, I must find a way. Is there any devise or technique you would recommend to clean glass with no risk of scratches? I've read so much, but in those readings the Mag Float was praised. Please help me. This is making me crazy.
<Am a big fan of all-plastic scrapers; used by hand... or old "credit cards"... Bob Fenner>

Re: Help! Marine fishes with rapid breathing. Bleaching a system     6/6/12
Greetings! Bob and Crew at WWM!
An update on the disinfecting process with bleach in my tank. Now, hold on to your hats because it is scary stuff.
I have "soaked" the 230+ gallon system in bleach twice, each lasting about 12 hours whilst letting the system "run" through the sump, skimmer (bleach helps make LOTS of bubbles),
<Yes... can>
 magnum canister filter, and through the UV
sterilizer (UV OFF). I ended up taking most of my rocks out so that I can stir that sand! I soaked the rocks in bleach in the spare bathtub. I then rinsed the system three times with tap water, I figured out that one good way to stir the sand is to stick the hose down in it and run that around which agitates the sand very well. I've used 2/3 gallons of Dechlor for the rocks in the tub and sand in the tank. Okay, here is the "creepy" part. I couldn't believe it, but as I was moving things around to do my rock-scape, I saw pieces of GREEN algae! YIKES! I think it was buried in the sand and didn't get exposed to the chlorine as much...or it is MUTANT NINJA CHLORINE
Dilemma, should I bleach the system again or move forward with the dechlorination?
<I would re-bleach... after thoroughly mixing the sand... with a few inches of water and some bleach above it>
Leave it up to me...strange things always happen to this tank!
Hope Bob and everyone at WWM is doing well!
<I am, thanks, B>
Re: Help! Marine fishes with rapid breathing. Bleaching a sys.  – 06/14/12
Hello! Bob and crew at WWM!
I hope you are having a beautiful day!
An update on my tank situation...
I added more bleach in the sand stirred it, let it sit, then decided that I'd better run the whole system with bleach again. So I dumped a total of two gallons of bleach in my system, this time with all the rocks in the tank. This I left for a day. The house smelled so nice a clean! It really wasn't that bad. I then rinsed out the tank, stirring the sand each time, filled the tank with tap water, run for an hour through the system, drain, then repeat a total of four times. Each time I would use my Chlorine test kit that I got from a pool supply store. Initially, the readings were off the charts then after each filling and draining, the chlorine would decrease. I rinsed and filled the tank with one gallon of Dechlor solution, then using some water/Dechlor mixture to wipe down all surfaces that could have been exposed to bleach. I did that twice, the second time, letting the system run overnight. The next day, I drained the tank and filled with salt water. Yippee! My tank was finally a salty tank again. Here is the strange thing - my tank smells of sulphur-y eggs now!
<Ahh, yes... a few days time and this should clear>
 I remember going to hot springs in Asia and having some boiled eggs when I was little - those were yummy! But this is definitely not appetising. I replaced the Magnum 350 with new carbon, running the skimmer which is collecting foamy beigey fluid, added Purigen to the sump, and started running my GFO reactor.
Today, the tank still smells stinky. I researched this online and at WWM, I know many tanks can experience this when the anaerobic bacteria are at work in those "dead zones" where oxygen is deprived, but I really bleached and rinsed out the system well and it wasn't like this until I added the salt water. I am guessing this could be from the "die off" from my bleaching the whole system, or maybe my doggies are just gassy?
<Mmm, likely Methionine... the amino acid w/ Sulphur... from decomposition... your first guess; let's not blame the dogs>
I checked an ammonia, nitrite, and phosphate level. The ammonia was less than 0.25 ppm, nitrite 0 ppm, phosphate was 0.24 with the Hanna checker.
What would you do?
<Let time go by>
Thanks a million!
<Welcome it back! BobF>
Re: Help! Marine fishes with rapid breathing. – 06/14/12

Thanks Bob, for saving me at least $50 if I have to do a 200 gallon water change!
I will let it sit and "sniff test" it everyday. I have a "clean" 28 gallon nano reef and a 55 gallon mini reef that have never had any signs of illness. I was planning on using their dirty filter sponges to seed this tank. Would you wait till the Methionine resolves then put sponges in, or do it now?
<I would wait>
I've also enclosed a picture of my tank with the bleached everything. It looks...very white. How do you like my rock-scape?
<Nice stacking>
My most sincere "Thanks" to you for teaching me so much over the past several years and especially the support you have given me the past several weeks. I was ready to say "bye-bye" to that tank!
<Oh, don't go!>
By the way, how long would you wait till the smell goes away and the ammonia/nitrite tests remain zero before adding the first livestock?
<No time at all>
 All my fishes are in their perspective quarantine tanks in the "fish room" waiting for their chance to return. I've got 7 Chromis viridis, a Forcipiger flavissimus, Acanthurus pyroferus, Amphiprion ocellaris, Amblygobius phalaena, Halichoeres chrysotaenia, and my Pomacanthus imperator. The two leopards are not joining them as we've decided to set up a tank specific suited for them to increase their chance of survival, they are still in their "reef" quarantine tank now.
I am better at being patient now, thanks to you and my experiences with this hobby.
I will keep you updated! Oh, Sleeping Beauty (M. bipartitus) is asleep now, but Cinderella (M. geoffroy) is awake. She wanted to "personally" tell you her thanks for her being alive. I've enclosed a picture of her "shouting" her thanks to you!
<Wish we were all in Hawai'i diving. BobF>

White Calcium Deposits    5/1/12
Good Morning Crew,
<Hello Jay>
I have a question regarding my marine aquarium. It is a new setup around 5-6 months old. It is a 75 Gallon with an approximate 15 gallon sump. Amm-0, Nitrite- 0, Nitrate- 0, Ph- is in the ideal range of the test, dKH has been high I have tested it in the 13-14 range. I was told that it was not necessarily something to be alarmed about as long as it's stable. I have read things to contradict that information. Now I have been noticing the consequences of high Alk. I have been noticing these white calcium deposits forming on random things around the aquarium. I believe this to be an indicator of a high Alk from what I have been reading.
<Likely so.>
 I use Ro/Di water and I buy pre made Ocean Saltwater from my LFS. Why is my Alk so high and how do I control it without having to start playing the dosing game? Is there something I am doing incorrectly or should I maybe change something?
<Have you tested the dKH in the pre-made saltwater you buy?  Could be higher than needed.  You can lower dKH with soda water as it contains CO2 but extreme care is needed as too much soda water can cause a drastic drop in pH.  This must be done slowly over a period of a few days.  Do read/learn more about alkalinity here.
Thanks crew.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Jay Morales
Re White Calcium Deposits 5/2/12
Thanks for your response. I tested my parameters last night. My Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate are all 0. My Ph is 8.2, My dKH is still on the high side at 10.5. I have not used the soda water yet. By soda water do you mean regular seltzer water? Is there a brand you recommend?
I feel weird putting that into my tank.
<Was just a comment I made on how it could be lowered.
Your dKH isn't high enough to worry about.>
 I did go out and get some Instant Ocean Salt (only brand they had at the store I stopped at) I hope it's at least a decent salt that I could use for now. I plan on getting a higher grade salt mix (Any recommendations?).
<I use Tropic Marine but there are other good mixes as well.  Red Sea Pro is a good mix as well.>
 I suspected as much as you did that my source water for water changes has to be the culprit though I never tested it. I have none on hand and will not buy more just to test. I will assume this is the problem and do some water changes with a different salt mix to see if that corrects the problem. I mean a water change can't hurt.
 I'll do 5 gallons a time every other day and test in between to see what changes occur.
<Also measure the pH and dKH of the mix before you put it into your tank....see what you are starting with.>
Thanks again for all of your assistance. 
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>
Jay Morales

Cleaning tank, 10/29/11
Is there any way to clean my tank if there is no sink close by? I have a python hose/siphon but no sink close by...
<Most people just use a couple of buckets, nothing fancy.>
Re: cleaning tank  10/30/11

Okay, this is probably a dumb question but can you use a siphon without it being attached to a faucet?
<Absolutely, there are a few ways or getting the siphon started, the easiest can be shown here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfEBbjKK5xQ >
It's hard to clean this tank because it's 75 gallon and I am a floor above the closest sink.
<The downside is you are going to be lugging water up and down the stairs, but buckets work fine otherwise.>

Old Coralline Algae (Removing from acrylic) -- 08/18/11
<<Hello John>>
I bought a used acrylic aquarium that was in good shape. However, the black background has tons of old calcified coralline algae on it. I tried using a Kent acrylic scraper and a credit card, but nothing works.
<<Yes 'can be a bear to remove>>
I almost want to take a metal paint scraper to it!
<<Mmm, well'¦ if done VERY carefully, this is not likely to do too much more harm than has already been done by the Coralline algae>>
Any ideas?
<<Coralline algae, when left alone for a while on acrylic, will etch the surface quite remarkably 'not only making it very difficult to remove, but also scarring/distorting the surface. When this happens on viewing panels, it can take a significant amount of polishing to restore clarity (I speak from experience'¦ do be sure to deal with any Coralline buildup on viewing panels without delay). The fact that the panel you need to clean up is opaque and not used for looking in to the tank can make this cleanup a bit easier, but you will still likely see the marring of the panel. So softening of the Coralline with a mild acid solution (a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of tap water) and scraping with a plastic or acrylic scraper is still probably the best approach. Then if desired, any scarring/marking can be addressed/reduced to a tolerable level by polishing with any of several products available re>>
Btw the tank is filled with water.
<<If this means there is livestock in the tank, a suitable magnet cleaner with Micro-Mesh (Google the name) sandpaper sandwiched betwixed may be a better option>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Marine Algae on used tank - how to clean? -- 10/11/10
Hi Crew,
<Hi Mark, Misty here>
I wondered how do I clean a tank that has been used as a marine. I bought it off eBay and it has lots of algae or some growth on the back? see link
here: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?VISuperSize&item=140463102476
<link wouldn't open for me...just went into eternal "spin" mode :)
Anyway, I've always had luck with a water/vinegar mixture, a scraper (you can try plastic first, but if you're careful, a utility razor blade will do the trick with less elbow grease...just be careful to keep it straight to avoid nicks and go slowly around the silicone seams!). Happy cleaning!>
Thanks <You're welcome, Misty>
Re: Marine Algae on used tank - how to clean?
Thank you Misty. I did try the vinegar and hot water option but no luck :(
I have attached picture:
<I would rinse out the vinegar, refill the tank on a solid, level, planar surface and add chlorine bleach... let set for an hour or so... Read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/clnaqfaqs.htm
and the linked files above>
Any other thoughts? Is this bad for fish?
<Can be if the residue is not rinsed, removed. Bob Fenner>

Nasty glass- 5/10/10
Greetings from the Texas Panhandle!
<And from the western edge of Hertfordshire, likewise.>
Hi folks. I have a question that has bothered me and so many other people for so long a time.
<Go ahead.>
Recently I was given three forty gallon breeder tanks. They are in great condition as far as not leaking goes.
However they have each got a ring around the middle of the tank where water has set in them for a while out under the shed of the giver's house.
I have tried several types of glass cleaner with no luck. In all of your infinite wisdom do you have an answer for me and all of those thousands of other good people who are wracking their brains for the right cleaner that might eliminate the 'tank ring'?
<Assuming this is lime scale, any mild acid should do the trick. Vinegar is generally the cheapest option here, and used liberally it should dissolve the lime scale. Some algae scrapers have a slot for an old fashioned safety razor, and this are very useful for scraping away loosened lime scale and dried algae. Vinegar isn't particularly toxic, so is easy to rinse away and any residue will be broken down quickly by the filter bacteria. Citric acid, i.e., lemon juice, is another good acid to use.>
Thanks a bucket! Bob
<Cheers, Neale.>

vacuuming gravel, FW  2/17/10
I have a 72 gal. with: 6 silver dollars, 8 female platy, 1 male pearl Gourami, 1 male Bushynose Pleco, 1 clown Pleco, 1 angelfish, 2 mystery snails, 2 bamboo shrimp. It has been running for almost 9 months. All of the inhabitants are doing well. I do a 10%-15% weekly water change and I vacuum the gravel when I change the water. I feed twice a day - what they can eat in about a minute. I rarely see food hit the bottom.
<I bet! Silver Dollars are remarkably greedy fish!>
My gravel is 1-2 inches thick. When I vacuum the gravel there is always a lot of debris. Why is there so much debris under my gravel?
<You have some big, messy fish. Mostly it's faeces. There may also be decaying plant material, if you're feeding your Silver Dollars and Ancistrus the green foods they need (peas, courgette, spinach, etc.).>
Is this normal?
<Pretty much.>
I'm done with my water change long before I remove all of the debris from underneath the gravel. I considered switching to sand, but I like the look of the gravel.
<Pros and cons to both, but while sand leaves detritus on the surface, gravel lets the detritus sink in. So tanks with sand may look dirtier, that's only because you can see the detritus (and potentially, it's easier to remove). Gravel tanks tend to be dirtier than sand tanks, if only because debris accumulates in the gravel over time.>
I've changed over half the water in the tank trying to vacuum out all the debris, only to find it all back in less than 2 weeks.
<About the going rate!>
Do my fish produce that much waste?
<Clearly, yes.>
I've had 2 green water outbreaks in the past, I'm wondering if that is what caused them.
<The two things are not strongly connected, since the debris on the gravel is largely insoluble and so can't be used as a nutrient by algae. But having said that, a tank with lots of debris typically has high levels of nitrate and phosphate as well, and also relatively poor water circulation, and these two issues can be associated with algal blooms.>
I have 2 350 Marineland penguin filters running, I keep my lights on about 11 hours. Thanks for your help,
<While popular filters, hang-on-the-back filters do suffer from having the inlet and outlet close together. That means water circulation across the tank will be variable, strongest near the filter, weaker farther away. This is different to an undergravel filter, where the water flow is uniform across the bottom, or an external canister, where the inlet and outlet are usually at different ends of the tank. Also, whatever filter you have, it's ability to remove silt and debris will be dependant on sufficient turnover *and* mechanical filter media. If your tank is silty at the bottom, clearly
the filters aren't doing their jobs, or you aren't maintaining them properly. Check they have enough mechanical filtration media (typically filter wool) and make sure you replace this regularly. If you don't have plants with roots, consider installing a reverse-flow undergravel filter.
This uses a canister filter to force water into an undergravel plate. The water rises through the gravel, and in doing so pushes silt into the water column. This prevents the gravel getting dirty, and with the silt in the water, the mechanical media in the canister can quickly remove it.
Reverse-flow undergravel filters aren't compatible with plants that have roots, but floating plants and epiphytic plants (like Java fern) are fine.
Cheers, Neale.>

White growth in freshwater aquarium   12/2/09
I have had the same 30 gallon aquarium for over 15 years. I have a white growth in my aquarium that I have been fighting for a year. It grows on the rocks on the bottom of the aquarium only. It looks like a horrible stringy slime in the aquarium. Disgusting! I have never had this problem.
I have searched on your website for answers and I just saw your response to be to clean it out.
<This is generally the best approach, however...>
Let me tell you that I have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned!!!! I am getting so frustrated I am considering giving my fish away so I don't have to clean it anymore! I am so sick of it! Is there something to add to the water to make this grow less?
<Yes... competitors and a change in water quality/chemistry>
Or an animal that will eat it?
<Not really... this is very likely a mix of microbial life... Fungi, bacteria... only other wee-beasties likely will consume it>
I feel like something must be able to be done about it. I love to have fish but I can't clean this often. It starts to grow back immediately and is very noticeable in 2 weeks. And NO I am not feeding too much. I have had an aquarium for 15 years and never had this problem before.
Thanks for any help you can give! Please help me!!!
<Please read Neale's piece here re Water Quality:
and increase your waters GH and KH as per his instructions there AND add some simple live plant material... Either Egeria/Elodea, Ceratopteris, Myriophyllum... floating types to your system. This should "do it".
Bob Fenner>

Fish tank, soap removal  -- 11/27/09
Hi there, perhaps you would be good enough to help me....my three year old as put washing up liquid in my tank and killed all the fish.
<Sounds like quite the little angel...)
I have cleaned the tank and refilled with water but it is cloudy. how can I get rid of washing up liquid?
<Lots and lots of water changes! I'd recommend luke warm, but not hot, water -- this will dissolve any remaining soap more quickly. Don't use hot water because that can crack the glass.>
I do have another tank, which i can put some of the water from into this tank to get the bacteria back, but how can you get rid of the fairy liquid?
<As I say, rinsing. Repeatedly. If the tank is small enough to carry outside easily, a hose pipe might speed things up. But don't try and move a big aquarium: you're more likely to twist the silicone seals in doing so,
and end up creating a leaky tank instead of a soapy one. Try running the hose pipe inside the house, spray the edges and rinse the gravel thoroughly, and siphon out the soapy water. It's not a difficult problem to
fix, but it is worth doing a good job.>
it is a aqua 620t, should i change the sponges in the top? thx very very much
Belinda x
<Good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

White Film on Glass  11/26/09
Hey folks,
I am working on a clients 275 salt fish only tank and he has a major issue. The tank is set up as the wall between two offices and there is a white film on the inside that had gotten to the point that they could not
see through the tank. The client has spent several hours a day for the last month scrubbing with razor blades and scrub pads and managed to get the tank walls a little clearer but not anywhere near 100%. He states that it feels like there is nothing there when he is scrubbing. On one side of the tank the white film is heavier and thicker and this is the side that is exposed to the most natural light. Also it gets lighter and less dense the
deeper into the tank and further away from the lights. Whatever the growth is it has some relation the light wavelengths reaching. Any suggestions as to what this film is and how to get rid of it.
Duncan McConaugha
Aquarium Operator
Bass Pro Shops
Manteca, CA
<Is this an acrylic tank? There are possibilities that the opacity here then may be due to chemical/physical (and not biological) processes... and these are very hard to fix. There is some small probability that if this is
either a glass or acrylic paneled system that there may be a type of microbial involvement. These can often be addressed through efforts at limiting nutrient (by exclusion... using clean/er water, rinsing frozen
foods ahead of offering...) and filtration (GAC/carbon, PolyFilter...) or the use of Ozone to raise/sustain ORP... I do hope the cause here isn't the former (most often seen in new/er tanks of weeks to a few months age... as these almost always have to be replaced en toto. There are as far as I'm aware, no means of "fixing" a system constructed of poor/unsuitable acrylic. Bob Fenner>

Used/Old 100 Gallon Acrylic Tank: DIY Cleaning\Maintenance 9/22/2009
<Hi David, MikeV here.>
I recently acquired a *very used and dirty* 100 gallon (60 x 18 x 20) acrylic aquarium tank.
It's so dirty and scratched that I'm considering putting in a bleach solution to sit over night (or longer) before cleaning it more. Previously, it was sitting outside someone's house (unused) for 3-5 years and when I emptied out the dirt and leaves I also found a dead bird's corpse as well.
Do you have any suggestions on how to clean this, more than a bleach solution and lots of soft scrubbing? I'm told there are no leaks, so if I can't get the scratches out, I want to use it as a sump for a larger/future
<The trick to cleaning it is to minimize any additional scratching. Rinse it with lots of water, and let it soak full of water for a day or so to loosen any dirt. Once the tank is clean, wipe the acrylic down with vinegar That should remove any yellowing in the acrylic. You can bleach it to sanitize after this.>

Cleaning used equipment 8/27/09
Greetings Mike (or other wet web expert)
<Have to make do with Neale!>
Hope this finds you well. Since I last wrote (I've included our correspondence below) the fish are doing very well together and fighting at feeding time has diminished substantially.
<Very good.>
You may remember when I first started writing I had two goldfish and added a third into the pond. Two are now about 4" and the other is about 2.5". I plan to bring them inside in mid October because my pond is very shallow.
Even in MD it can freeze to the bottom.
<Good. In the UK we routinely overwinter Goldfish outdoors, but that does assume a pond at least 1 metre (a little over 3 feet) in depth. Ice acts as an insulator, and keeps the water below the ice from getting less than 4 degrees C in temperature, but that will only happen if the pond is deep enough it can't freeze solid.>
I picked up a used 55 gallon tank with what I think are three filters (they type that hang over the edge of the tank), lights and some other equipment I can't identify. Here are my questions. Thanks in advance:
1. What is the best way to disinfect and wash this used tank.
<You can buy commercial aquarium cleaners, but usually these aren't required. Simply allowing a tank and all objects (gravel, rocks, etc.) to dry out thoroughly will kill off any potential parasites such as worms or
Ick. The bacteria that cause most diseases will be in any healthy aquarium once the filter is matured anyway, so the use of antibiotics really doesn't serve any practical purpose.>
2. There appear to be 3 over the tank filters (there is no literature for any of them and there is no manufacturers name on any equipment either).
After I remove the old filter material what is the best way to clean the plastic boxes
<I favour a strongly salt solution, i.e., brine, if you want to kill off any germs, or a vinegar or lemon juice solution if you want to remove lime scale.>
3. 'What would be the best approach to identify the manufacturer of these filters. I'd like to make sure I have the right filter material to start them up.
<Well, most filters should have the brand embossed on them somewhere. But by default, a mix of filter floss and good quality ceramic noodles provides optimal filtration for most aquaria. Filter floss is good for trapping silt, and ceramic noodles are good for biological filtration.>
4. I plan to set the tank up about 6 weeks ahead of bringing the fish in.
I've read lots of books and articles about cycling the tank. Do you think if I started the tank with some of the pond water and some tap water that would be enough to start the bacteria process
<No. You need a source of ammonia. The best approach is simply to "feed" the tank every other day, just as if there were fish, for the six weeks before the fish are added. As the flake rots, it produces ammonia, and this gets the filter going. Adding some gravel from a mature aquarium (or even the pond) will help, as will adding some filter media from a mature aquarium.>
5. Any ideas for starting the cycle without introducing live fish are appreciated. I have some filter materials in the pond, they sit at the box opening where the pump is placed to keep algae and debris out. Perhaps I
should put a piece of that material in the tank
<Sure, this would work fine. If you can wedge such media into the aquarium filter, all well and good, otherwise simply floating the filter media in the tank should have much the same effect.>
6. would you recommend a canister filter in addition to the filters that have come with this set-up
<A filter rated at a turnover of 6 times the volume of the tank would be fine by itself, so anything at 4-6 times, i.e., 4 x 55 gallons per hour to 6 x 55 gallons per hour should be fine.>
Thanks so much. Deborah
<Cheers, Neale.>

Glass Coating   8/14/09
Hello Crew, hope you are all doing well. I have a question, please.
<Fire away!>
On top of my aquarium I have a glass canopy which holds my lighting on top.
<I see. Between the water level and the actual lighting tubes, right? In England at least, this is (was) called a condensation tray, and served to stop moisture getting into the fittings between the tubes and the tube holders, thereby avoiding potential problems from electric shocks. Anyway, you don't see these very often any more, since modern hoods have waterproof light fittings. Removing the condensation tray is useful: it allows more light to get into the aquarium, so your plants or corals get all the lighting you've paid for. If you have the option, you might want to see if an alternative hood is available for your aquarium.>
I am purchasing new ones because my current ones have so many stains and marks it obscures the vision somewhat.
<Very typical. Usually lime scale, from splashing water, and the growth of things like algae and Cyanobacteria. I have one such tank where the acrylic has also started to turn cloudy.>
I wanted to know I you knew of anything that I can put on this glass like a wax or something that would help protect the glass but also not harm the fish.
<Likely not. Anything you add will inevitably cut off some of the light.
There's also a risk its toxic to fish. Besides, things like lime scale and algae can develop on practically anything, however "slick". Lemon juice and vinegar are useful for removing small amounts of lime scale without risking livestock, and an algae scraper should remove organic slimes without much bother. Such cleaning needs to be done frequently, or else stubborn deposits will form that are much more difficult to remove.>
I have never heard of anything like this but I just wanted to check with you to make sure. thanks,
<Cheers, Neale>

Early tank mineral buildup, 7/31/09
I have seen others subjects on this problem but I need to know if this mineral build up or salty film on the inside of my glass is harmful to my salt aquarium and if I use a straight edge on my glass aquarium if it will scratch my glass thanks, Kade
<Best to not let too much build up, but will most likely not cause a problem. As long as you are careful there should be no problem removing it with a razor.>
Re: Early tank mineral buildup, 8/1/09

I did some more research and figured out to use a credit card it worked great! Thanks for the questions yall answer so I can figure this stuff out!
<That works too.>

Streaks on the aquarium glass SW to FW system. FW maintenance: Likely mineral buildup. 7/17/2009
Hello Crew, hope all is going well for you. I need your knowledge again on a problem I am having.
<Hi James, going well, thanks.>
I have a FW 75 gallon tank that when brand new I used for salt water. I got sick and had to take it down. It sat for quite a while with the salt water still in it. Later I decided to clean it up and start over with fresh water fish, which I have done. Now I am noticing cloudiness or areas that look like they are smeared with a hand print or something. It just looks like areas that need cleaning.
<I'm familiar with these... >
It is not algae. I have a cleaning magnet that I used to go over these areas again and again with no results. Then I also used an algae cleaner to no avail. Right now if you look through the glass directly straight it looks OK, but if you get kind of close and look at an angle you can see these streaks and spots. I have tried cleaning the outside also. I have never know this to happen to regular glass so I am assuming it is something that has happened because it is an aquarium although I cannot imagine what.
<Mineral buildup - likely from the SW that was sitting in the tank for a long time. It should not get worse.>
Please let me know if you have ever heard of this and if so if there is anything to do that will help get rid of it.
<Scraping with a razor blade or a mild acid wash (vinegar) can help. Since the tank is set up, a razor would be your best bet.>
My fear is that it will get so bad that eventually it will be harder and harder to see into the tank and the beauty will be lost.
<It should not get any worse.>
After all the work I have put into this one I will not buy another tank and start all over setting it up. Thanks for your help.
<My pleasure.>

Acrylic and vinegar 4/16/09
A woman I know has a small acrylic aquarium and had 3 goldfish and what looks like a Pleco of some type. She called me and told me that she cleaned it out with vinegar water and rinsed really well, she told me just the aquarium not the rocks or any thing else. She then put her fish back in.
She told me the next day they all were dead except the Pleco.
She asked me if she should get more fish. I would guess that may have saved a few more fish. I have a small tank and I told her she could put the 4 inch Pleco in it till she figures this out. Are acrylic aquariums porous
and take in the vinegar to the point it can't be rinsed and if that is not so than I am wondering if I didn't get the whole story.
<Vinegar is not toxic to fish, at least not in the trace amounts likely to be left behind after cleaning the lime from an aquarium.>
Either way I believe she is buying a new tank or planning on really rinsing out the other one as of now. I also believe she uses distilled water for her water changes and I though the fish needed the minerals.
<Ah, this could easily be the reason the fish are dead. You cannot keep fish in distilled water. You are absolutely correct about this. While the need for minerals is vague (there's little evidence fish absorb minerals they need like calcium and iron from the water) they do need water to contain at least some minerals for reasons of osmoregulation. This is the balance of salt and water in their tissues. In distilled water they will be losing salts from their bodies at an alarming rate. Even soft water fish will be living in water with at least some, albeit small, amounts of minerals in the water. Moreover, sudden changes in water chemistry can be lethal.>
Thanks for the answer. Maybe the last one will have a chance.
<Your friend needs to read a fish book. If she's keeping Goldfish, they need hard, basic water. Regular tap water is usually fine. Distilled water or water from a domestic water softener should not be used (though for
different reasons, the first for reasons explained above, the second because it contains too much salt). They also need big tanks; 30 gallons is about the minimum realistic size if you want healthy, happy fish. Smaller
tanks just don't work and aren't fair on the Goldfish (akin to keeping a dog in a closet). Have your friend look over the following articles, one on Goldfish, one on stocking small tanks, and one on water chemistry:
These should keep her going for a while *before* she buys any more fish!>
<Good luck educating your friend, and well done for helping out! Cheers, Neale.>

Acrylic Magnet Cleaners 1/15/09 <Hello Ryan, Minh at your service.> For my 180-gallon tank upgrade I went with acrylic since I live in CA and you guys seem to recommend acrylic. My question is, what brand magnet cleaner do you recommend for acrylic tanks? My tank has been up and running a few days now and I need to get one soon. <For larger and thicker acrylic aquariums, "Mighty Magnets" are considered the best. These are often used by professionals. More information can be found here: http://www.mightymagnets.com/.> Thanks you! Ryan <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

How to make sure container (i.e., big drum) is safe? Was wondering if there is any way of making sure a plastic container can be safe for, say, storing saltwater or RO/DI water? <Mmm, yes, there is/are> I mean, it's the regular blue PVC plastic drums, but it could have been used as a container for soap (I suppose easily cleaned), or maybe some chemicals (maybe even <gulp!> cyanide!) <Yikes!> While the answer is probably "don't use it unless sure", I just came across a sort of "junk shop" that has hundreds and hundreds of these "unknown" containers ranging from 15 gallons to VERY big ones (and cheap!) -- he says he cleans them all out, sometimes with chlorine. Anyway, just checking first if there's a sure way of really cleaning/disinfecting these containers (super chlorinate? Bleach? ozone?). Thanks! <All can/will work in terms of biological cleanliness... chemical not so. Some physical cleaning (with coarse salt, some water, a tough sponge) may be a good idea to scrub all the insides... I'd rinse, fill, let sit for a week or so... add some "test fish" (perhaps a few Comet goldfish, platies...) see how they do for a few days as a bioassay. Bob Fenner>

Large Scale Cleaning 8/20/08 How is everyone today, While going over 08-18-08 FAQs, in particular the Brittle star making a home query, Bob mentioned re-laying the tank. I assume that this is being done after a complete tank cleaning. Removing fish, coral, rock and thoroughly cleaning the substrate, all surfaces and checking and cleaning all equipment. I searched your archives and could not find anything other than the daily and weekly maintenance already being done, water changes, vacuum substrate, cleaning algae off the glass and rock and checking the water parameters. Is this kind of complete cleaning necessary if you have no problems with the livestock and water chemistry is good. <Hello, the above is what a large scale cleaning consists of. If your fish have died of parasites or other diseases I would completely drain the tank and recycle your aquarium. Also for future notice setup a small aquarium to quarantine new additions to the aquarium for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. Good luck with your aquarium!, IanB> <<To answer the question, no to wholesale cleaning... not necessary, nor advised. Bob Fenner>> Thanks in advance, Shawn

Cloudy aquarium glass 6/25/08 Hi WWM crew <Hello Seth!> My name is Seth and since you guys helped me out greatly the first time I decided it would be a good idea to ask you another question. I have a 75 gallon tank which was once used as a salt water aquarium. The glass though is very cloudy and has been since I first got it, I think its hard water or calcium. I have checked your site for this but could only find things that say it looks like it but is not it. I was wondering if they're is any way to get rid of it other than using a razor blade. <Seth, I assume this is a build up of salts or lime. If it is on the outside of the tank a solution of half hot water and half white distilled vinegar should clean it up- wipe it down, then buff it clean with a soft clean cloth. If the tank is empty, this will also work on the inside- just be sure to rinse well and make sure the pH of the water is good when you fill it back up. If the tank is filled, I'm afraid your best recourse will be a straight-edged razor.> Thanks a lot for your help and patience. <No problem! Benjamin>
Re: Cloudy Aquarium Glass - 6/25/08
dear Benjamin <Hello again Seth!> Thanks a lot I had no idea about the hot water and distilled vinegar but sadly to say my tank is full and it is on the inside and I will be using a razor unless I can just change the whole tank and take everything out so I can do the hot water and vinegar way, but on approximate how long does this take and would you recommend it? <I wouldn't do this- not only would it be an awful lot of work but you'd risk causing a re-cycle or other biological problems. I'd advise carefully using a razor. Benjamin>
Re: Cloudy Aquarium Glass - 6/25/08  6/27/08
Okay, I will use the razor and thanks a lot for your input Benjamin, I appreciate it. <No problem, glad to be of service. Benjamin>

Powerhead vs. coralline- Coralline Remover 4/29/08 Hello to the actual "lifesaver"! <Hi. Yunachin here.> Please tell me an accurate way how to clean coralline off of power heads and in-out takes. Does vinegar really works? Is that safe for reef? Your help is appreciated! <Yes, you can use vinegar to remove the excess coralline on your pumps. Remove them and give them a good soak for a couple of hours or even over night. Then give them a good rinsing with clean water to remove any vinegar before placing them back in your tank. An old credit card can also help scrape algae off of surfaces on your tank. -Yunachin> Sonny

White film on inside walls of my aquarium   3/3/08 Last night I noticed my epaulette shark very active as if it were hungry, swimming all around the front wall of my tank and climbing/swimming on areas of the acrylic. I wasn't sure why since they were fed but decided it was no big deal. Then I woke up to white S shape lines all over the front inside of my tank as if someone finger painted....I tried to scrub it off and its hard like dried egg white. When I can get some area's off it finally will start coming off in a slim type film. My question is this, what could this hard substance be inside my 600 gallon aquarium and how can I get it off without draining this tank. <Mmm... need a bit more to go on... Perhaps scratches or slime from a fish... but may have been a spawning event of some sort... from life in your substrate, or live rock...> I have tried algae scrubbers and even fine fine 8000 sand paper but nothing seems to be getting through it very fast. Mostly, I am very curious as to why over night this can happen and what the heck it is? I also have some really large eels in the tank too, just figured it has something to do with that shark since he was the one *it was the one* in the area that the white film showed up in. Its not on the back wall, minimal on the sides, mostly concentrated in the front inside. Any ideas would be appreciated, Leann <If the area is high enough "up" from the bottom, I'd drain the tank down, try simple organic acids like dilute acetic/vinegar, on new/white-only paper towels. Bob Fenner>

Re: White film on inside walls of my aquarium 3/3/08 Hi, Thanks for taking time to read this. With my tank, the S marks all over are literally from top to bottom of the inside front of the acrylic. My tank is a critter tank mostly, no live rock at all. <Is this a marine tank or a freshwater tank? I'm confused.> Just puffers, eels and a shark all of which are definitely older creatures. I was thinking like you, maybe this was a sexual maturity thing but I couldn't find anything online that talked about what I found on the acrylic. <Acrylic is easily scratched, and some catfish, notably Panaque spp., will turn it opaque in no time at all with their rasping teeth. I dare say in a marine aquarium the radulas of certain gastropods could do similar damage, too.> It is hard as a rock to scrub like a mineral deposit would be but once I start scrubbing and the muscles start screaming, then it will start to come off in a slime? Its wild, something I wouldn't expect being so hard on there. What ever it is should be collected and used as a new glue:) <Hmm... need a picture and some explanation of what sort of aquarium this is: saltwater, freshwater. A photo of the "damage" is essential, so we can determine if this is a chemical change to the plastic, abrasion, scratches caused by some animals, or whatever.> The only change my tank has had was just hard lining in my inlet and outlet, filters and everything are the same as they were. I can say though, today is day 3 since this started and there was nothing new today, yeah! So this thing, what ever it is or was seems to be past now. Now its just clean up and this is where I am having the trouble only because no regular algae scrappers or scrubbing pads will remove this at all. I only make headway with 8000 micro sand paper. <Scrubbing acrylic will surely only make things worse. I'd be very careful how I cleaned such a tank.> If something crosses your mind as far as ideas to what this was or a new idea to clean it I would love to hear more:) Thank you again! <Totally mystified. This is in the Freshwater in-box, so I'm having a stab here, but if this is really a marine question, please re-send! Cheers, Neale.>

Cleaning a Hospital Tank - 1/04/08 Dear WWM, <Hello Jean,> Hello; first I wanted to let the entire crew at Wet Web Media know that you all are the greatest. <Thanks!> Can you please tell me how I can clean my hospital tank after treating fish with ick and dropsy? Should I just soak it in boiling hot water; it is an acrylic/plastic tank. Or should I clean it with a little vinegar, water and rinse thoroughly? Or do you have any other suggestions? Thanks again for your help - Jean <Boiling water isn't a good idea. It's easy to crack or warp tanks using water that is too hot. Cleaning a tank runs in two steps. Firstly you need to wash away debris. This is important because even if you use a sterilising agent like bleach, bacteria and other pathogens can survive if they are protected by a layer of dirt or limescale. So, clean the tank thoroughly, rinsing removable items (like gravel and nets) under running water. The second step is to use some sort of antiseptic. Bleach is often recommended for this. Dilute the bleach before use by at least ten parts water to each one part bleach. What you're after is a faint chlorine smell but not an overpowering one. This dilute bleach solution will kill most pathogens very effectively. Wipe the tank down with this solution and leave for at least 30 minutes. Do the same thing to the removable items. Because bleach is also incredibly toxic to aquatic life including fish, removing the bleach afterwards is critically important. After emptying and rinsing the tank, fill it up with water and leave to soak overnight. Remove the water, and the fill again with more fresh water. Do the same thing with the removable items by placing them in a bucket or whatever. The more you rinse, the safer the process. If this all sounds too risky, a strong brine solution will work almost as well but with no risks at all. Make up something 3-4 times stronger than seawater (say, 100 g salt per litre) and use this instead of the bleach solution. Salt is easy to rinse away, and any traces left behind will cause no problems, even to freshwater organisms. Do also remember that allowing the tank and equipment to dry out, especially under natural sunlight, will dramatically improve their cleanliness (dry air and UV light are lethal to most aquatic pathogens). This won't by itself sterilise a tank, but it is a reminder that hospital tanks are best stored dry in a clean, dust-free environment between uses. Cheers, Neale.>

Filter Box Cleaning     8/28/07 Hi Guys! I've been searching the site for hours on this topic and can't seem to find the answer I need...hopefully I won't need 'the punishment' for asking a question that appears 10 times on the site. I was led to believe that you send out 2 tough guys who force the guilty aquarist to drink his skimmer cup. (And since I have the AquaC Remora that you often recommend, I can tell you that I definitely DON'T want to drink that much yuck.) <<Heeeee! Ewwwww! Heeeeee! RMF>> So I'm changing filter media the other day (on an Emperor 400) and I noticed all these whitish, worm-like things all over the walls of the filter box. They were stuck to the sides and filling every crevice top and bottom. When I pulled out the media, some of the stuff dislodged and went into the tank. Since the instructions for the unit say to clean it out regularly (and it seemed gross), I scrubbed out all of this gunk with a brush. I replaced only one of the filter pads (I alternate replacement of these); and put back the existing bio-wheels (which I left floating in the tank during cleaning). When I asked about this at my LFS, the guy said I messed up and should have left these 'critters' alone because they were beneficial. He warned me that I may have caused problems because I disturbed an important part of the filtration process. I have to add that this particular LFS seems to give me a lot of advice that conflicts with what I read here on WWM; but sometimes his advice seems good (and he takes my phone calls...). But I've taken to trusting WWM more than anyone else. So what's the answer? Do I scrub this thing out regularly or do I let the 'garden' grow in there? Thanks, Mike. <Hello Mike. Those little white worms, if small (a couple of mm across) and spiral shaped are Spirorbid tube worms (family Spirorbidae). They are harmless filter feeders, and very common in marine tanks, especially inside filters. If the worms are thread-like, and anything up to a few cm long, then they're most likely Serpulid worms (family Serpulidae). Again, harmless filter feeders, and also very common in marine tanks. Bob may correct me on this, but to the best of my knowledge they don't contribute anything to biological filtration as such. They certainly don't remove ammonia or nitrite. Indeed, they're "fouling" organisms, meaning they impede the flow of water, so potentially they can reduce the efficiency of the filter. (Certainly, Polychaete worms like these are notorious fouling organisms on water pipes around power stations and the like.) For what it's worth, when I help my marine-fishkeeping friends clear out their filters, I brush away those tubeworms without any sense of anxiety. Cheers, Neale>

Watermarks!  8/6/07 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi Erin, Mich here.> I've recently acquired an older aquarium, and have scrubbed it spotless except for some pesky watermarks that start to appear about three-fourths of the way up the tank. It's a hexagonal 20-gallon, and right now is filled to the brim with water and I've been dropping in Alka-Seltzer tablets every few hours (eighteen so far) <Wow! That's a lot of plop, plop, fizz, fizz!> to try to get rid of them. (A remedy that has been used to remove similar marks from vases.) Are you aware of any sure-fire methods to clean the tank? <I would empty the tank and soak the area with some basic household white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to sit for while on the glass. You may need to turn the tank on its side and cover the area with paper towels to accomplish this. Hopefully this will remove the watermarks. If they persist you may need to prolong the vinegar soak and then gently take a straight edge razor to the area.> I've stayed away from harsh chemicals because I assumed that they wouldn't rinse away and make the tank safe for fish. <This is the conservative route.> I can't wait to start the cycle and put saltwater fish in it, I just want to make sure the watermarks can be cleaned first. <Yes, is much easier issue to address now, while the tank is empty.> Thanks! <Welcome! Mich> Erin K.

Aquarium Cleaning Magnets...Which Ones Are Safe To Leave In The Tank? - 08/03/07 I have been looking into magnetic cleaners for cleaning everyday tank build up. <<Wonderful devices>> Of course I checked with/through your wonderful web pages first. <<And...?>> A little concern. <<Oh?>> You mentioned in one of the FAQ's that there are some magnets that shouldn't be taken out. ". . .Most aquarium magnets are safe for leaving in a system... but not all. I would pull these out when not in use... Please have your brother contact us re water chemistry checking, use of Polyfilter... as moves to correct the situation. Bob Fenner>" I have felt to use it every day or at least every other, it would be more convenient to leave it in. <<Indeed, and there are some brands that are very safe/designed for such use...is what I use. Please take a look at the "Algae Free" and "Magnavore" brands. I have a pair of Algae Free Tiger Shark Float magnets that have been in my tank for "years">> Somewhere else it was mentioned that not all magnets are made out of steel. <<Tis true>> So steel magnets are not good right? Or wrong? <<Steel magnets can be fine as long as they are "sealed" from exposure to the water. Keep in mind that virtually all "submersible" pumps contain metals>> Can you please tell me what to look for as far as what they are made of, or maybe even brands that you know of that are good or which are hazardous to the corals? <<Any of the cleaning magnets from the two brands mentioned will serve well. They are a little pricier than most others, but... There are other brands that are/can be safe as well, but these two brands are the best in all aspects, in my opinion>> Thank you as always for your never ending help. Trisha <<Always a pleasure to assist. EricR>>

Salt Creep Stains on Nano Tank, cleaning   7/31/07 I have a small (24 Gal.) Acrylic Nano Tank which had persistent salt staining on the outside front. No glass cleaner I found could remove it to my satisfaction. Finally I tried good old household vinegar and it came off completely and has not returned. FYI. Bob <Thank you for this... On glass tanks I regularly use single-edged razor blades for such... And of course try to find, curtail sources of creep... Silicone tank frames, discount splash, spray... Bob Fenner>

Removing soap from an aquarium  7/28/07 Hi crew <Hello.> I inherited a 10 gallon aquarium set-up and want to set it up for my granddaughter. However, the owner had cleaned it with soap and water after dissembling it and storing it. I understand soap is deadly to fish from the reading I have been doing. Is it possible to clean the soap residue out, or should I just buy a new tank setup?? <It's perfectly possible to use soap to clean an aquarium and then rinse it out safely. Rinsing the tank thoroughly with warm water (but not hot) water should do the trick. Be sure and wipe all the surfaces with a sponge or something under running water to remove soapy residues. On the other hand, do be careful not to twist the tank while you're cleaning it. This is easy to do if you're trying to wedge the thing into a sink, but the problem is you end up breaking the silicone seal. If all else fails, take it the garden and wash it there. The more you rinse it, the better. It's a good idea to test the tank outdoors overnight filled with water before using it inside the house. Sometimes, during storage, tanks can get damaged, and it'd be better to find out the thing is leaky with it outdoors, rather than once you bring the thing into your house and end up with homeless fish and soggy carpets.> Of course, I would prefer to reuse it. I searched for an hour on this site - and I have certainly learned a lot, thanks to all! - however, I didn't find this particular question answered. Thanks for your time, much appreciated - T <Since you have a 10 gallon tank to play with, please be sure and read over the amount of space fish need. 10 gallons isn't much. It's fine for perhaps a group of neon tetras plus some of the smaller Corydoras or a trio of Kuhli loaches, but it's totally unsuitable for goldfish, angelfish, swordtails, or Danios (the latter not for size but swimming space requirements). A 10 gallon tank can be a little jewel handled properly, or it can be an unstable, unhealthy nightmare. Cheers, Neale>

Salt Creep and Repainting issues - 7/28/07 Good afternoon, crew. <Hi there, Tatyana!> I have a question about my marine tank. <Okay> My fish look happy and healthy, <Always good to hear!> but I am suffering from salt build-ups on the wall behind the tank. <Salt creep - Arghhh!!> First, I tried to clean it with a mild vinegar solution, but very soon paint started to chip away from the wall. <Yikes> I am about to re-paint the wall, but what can be done to prevent this from happening again? (Also very worried about mold growing on that wall, since it's always wet behind the tank from evaporation). <It sounds like an issue of the tank being too close to the wall. You'll have to move it out of the way to paint, so when you're through, just be sure to leave a couple extra inches of breathing space. I like about 4", but it all depends on how much/what type equipment you have behind the tank. If you have any hang-on refugiums, skimmers, filters, etc, you'll need to allow at least an inch of space behind those. One thing I can tell you from experience, is that before you paint, you'll need to be sure to clean away all salt residue. Salt acts as a resist for paint, so if you don't remove it, you'll end up with spots and streaks where the paint didn't take. Also, be sure to give that wall some time to dry out before painting, especially since it sounds like it stays pretty damp (fans might help here). When it's time to paint (and if you can't move the tank to another room), be sure to use a water based (not oil) paint, turn off all tank equipment that brings in air, such as venturi skimmers, wet dry filters, etc, and cover the tank with damp towels. Your best bet is to wait for a nice warm day, open all the windows for good ventilation, and start painting the tank wall first. That'll give you a chance to so some touching up if you see any paint voids where salt residue was left. After that, wait for the paint to dry, move the tank back in place, get everything going again, and proceed to relax in the beauty of your newly painted room!> Thank you, <You're very welcome and good luck to you! -Lynn> Tatyana Kucherenko

Removing Lime-A-Way Residue...Not a Big Deal - 05/24/07 I made the mistake of using Lime-a way to remove the dried Coralline algae that covered the back of a used 55 gal. tank that I purchased. <<Not that serious really...though a little patience and some plain white vinegar would also do the job, and probably for less money>> Now to get the Lime-a-way out, my local Aquarium store said that I should circulate fresh water in the tank for 1 week with a bag of charcoal in the filtration chamber.  And to change the water and charcoal ever day. <<Much overkill...no need to go to all this trouble/expense>> On the 8th day I am to fill the tank with saltwater and put a Damsel in the tank. <<Please don't do this...>> Does this sound right? <<Nope>> I hate to use a live fish as a test. <<Me too>> Does anyone have any other suggestions? <<I do...  The Lime-A-Way; per the MSDS, is a combination of Citric Acid (likely from oranges), Acetic Acid (a component found in household Vinegar), and Sulfamic Acid (a component of Drip Coffee-Maker cleaners).  I would simply give the tank a thorough rinsing (or you could just fill it up with tap water, let it set overnight, and then dump it out), and then set up/cycle as normal.  Eric Russell>>

How to clean a large second hand tank    5/11/07 Hi All - a very good morning to you <And you Glen> My recently acquired second hand 200g tank is a bit crusty and dusty. When I bring it home on the trailer (i.e. USA, pls don't read as mobile home :) tonight, I am trying to decide how to clean it well/properly/safely.  In days past I cleaned smaller cichlid tanks by carrying it out onto my lawn and scrubbing away with a hose and a small amount of dishwashing detergent (because I read that it was designed to 100% completely rinse away - believable for obvious reasons - beer brewing folk are almost as picky about water quality and cleanliness as aquarists are!). <More so!> I don't like the thought of using any detergents on this big marine tank. <No, not a good idea> What do you guys use? <Is it glass?> I also don't fancy carrying it onto the lawn.  Is a vigorous house-out with some decent water pressure while it is sitting on the trailer going to be good enough? <This and perhaps some single edge razor blades... a bit of dilute acid (Vinegar should do) to help loosen the "crusty" bits if mostly inorganic... A bit of bleach (sodium hypochlorite) if more organic...> Secondly, do you know how long it would be before 850 litres of tap water circulating in the tank is chlorine free, without the anti-chlorine drops treatment? <About a week if chloramine... a day or so if free chlorine...> Many thanks for any insight Glen Brisbane, Australia <And please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnaqfaqs.htm and the next FAQ file, linked above. Bob Fenner>

Alkaline Deposits on Tank Glass...Not Always Easy To Remove - 04/13/07 Hi, <<Hello>> I recently decided to set up a saltwater tank. <<Neat!>> I've never done it before and am proceeding with fear and trepidation. <<Mmm, have you spent some time perusing our site and obtaining a good book or two for reference?>> I've already run into a problem and I don't even have anything in the tank yet! <<Definitely sounds like you may need to slow things down and spend some time on research/study.  Do start here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_3/cav3i2/marine_planning/marine_planning.htm) and here ( http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bestfaqmarsetup.htm), and following the links at the top of the pages for much more information>> I purchased a filter by mail.  It arrived.  I purchased salt, mixed it and filled my 55 gallon tank, and attached the filter.  It ran for one night and in the morning we awoke to a big crack down the side and water dripping out.  I contacted the seller who sent me another, but not until it had been about 2 weeks.  By the time it arrived the tank had developed a hard crust of salt attached to the top 4 inches of the tank.   <<Not salt...likely alkaline material deposited/dried on the glass as the water evaporated>> I realize I should have emptied the tank back out when the problem first happened. <<Or at least add some water motion (powerhead) and keep the water level topped-up>> I ended up going in for an unexpected surgery which laid me up for another week and now I have run the new filter for about 2 weeks and it runs great, but I can't figure out how to get the salt off the side of the tank.  I emptied the tank and tried scrubbing, but try as I might, it just won't budge.  It's like it has become part of the glass! <<Indeed>> Any suggestions? <<Yes...  As stated, this is not salt but rather is a deposit of earth elements...try soaking the affected areas with an organic acid (white vinegar should suffice).  Since the deposits are at the top of the tank your best approach is to lay the tank on its side and place vinegar-soaked rags on the deposits turning the tank to treat each side as you progress.  Keep the rags wet by periodically adding more vinegar to them or laying plastic wrap over the top of the rags.  Let a side soak at least overnight and then try to scrub away the deposits, resoaking/waiting/scrubbing as needed.  Work one side at a time until you have removed the deposits.  Also, do be aware the possibility exists that despite your best efforts these deposits still may not come off completely>> Thanks! C.J. <<Hope this helps...and do let me know how it turns out.  EricR>>

Cleaning a Used Tank  2/20/07 Hi, <Ni, Pufferpunk here> I have a 125 gallon tank. I quit keeping large fish for a few years. I loaned it to my son who kept several lizards in it. I heard somewhere that you shouldn't put fish back in it after it's been used for lizards. I want to set it up again for my large goldfish that have outgrown their 46 gallon.  Can I use my 125 gallon for them or this an old wives tale? Thanks. <You can disinfect the tank with OxyClean & rinse.  Should be good to go.  ~PP>

Cleaning salt from the glass top, ...water, vinegar soak and scrape   1/8/07 Hello, and Happy New Year <Hi there Luis Miguel!  Happy New Year to you also!  Mich here today.> I want to know which the best way to clean a glass top is (Versa-Top Glass Cover). When salt accumulates on the glass cover, it reduces the amount of light penetrating into the tank. <Yes, it most certainly does!> I use regular tap water to clean it but there are always some salt spots that are almost impossible to remove. I tried vinegar without any success. Do you have a suggestion? <Yes, first rinse with tap water, then allow the vinegar to soak a while on the glass, like an hour or more. Then carefully use a straight edge razor blade scraper to remove the scale.   Regards <Good luck!  -Mich> Luis Miguel Thanks a lot! <Welcome!> You (and the crew) are doing a great job for the hobby! <Thank you for your most kind words!  -Mich> Luis Miguel Ferrero

Cleaning a Used Tank  12/10/06 <Hi Melissa, Pufferpunk here> I have acquired a used tank but I'm not sure how to clean it. I know that it has sat outside for about a year or so and that it once housed a catfish that someone caught but decided not to eat. It's still a bit green from algae and covered with general outdoor dirt. I've searched all over your site for advice on cleaning up an old tank but I found nothing, even though I'm sure you guys have the answer. Among other things, I want to avoid chemicals so as to not poison the fish or the environment. Would vinegar be appropriate? Baking soda? What would be strong enough to get the tank shiny-new safely? After cleaning and rinsing thoroughly, should I let the tank sit empty for a period to let it air out or something? Thanks for your help. <My suggestion to you would be to take newspaper & lay it on the sides of the tank that are stained.  Then saturate the paper with vinegar.  After a few hours, you should be able to scrape off the dried-on algae, etc. with a razorblade.  The outside should wipe off quite easily with vinegar.  For the final rinse, use OxyClean.  It is totally non-toxic after it dissolves & can be rinsed out easily.  Then just fill the tank with fresh water & start cycling the tank. You can either do a fishless cycle or instant cycle with Bio-Spira.  ~PP> --Melissa P.S. You should consider posting your email address somewhere on the homepage of the website or on some "contact us" page. I had to search for about fifteen minutes before I could find this email address and it was the only way I could email you. This computer, among others that I use, isn't set up to use mail servers like Outlook, which work well with the type of "email us here" link that you have. I know this is common among others like myself who often use one of many computers on a large, shared network. <Thank you for this. RMF>

Another Acrylic Woe 10/24 Hello crew, <Hi there Greg>                   I have a six gallon (eclipse six, acrylic) tank. I also have a lot of  coralline algae on it. Now my question is, what's the ideal scraper (money no  object) for the job? I've looked at a few from Kent and Aquarium Art. These seem  good, but I really can't tell. I'd love to get your opinion on the  matter. Thanks again for an incredible web  site, Greg <Either is fine, but be aware that they still do scratch the surface.  You must be very careful to not get any sand in between or so on.  Unfortunately this is a big issue with acrylic tanks!  Jen S.>

Maintenance...Cleaning Coralline Deposits On Acrylic  - 10/15/06 Hello Crew, <Hiya Dave> I have a 300g. 7/8" thick acrylic tank. I had to be gone awhile and my son took care of the tank. The fish and corals are just fine. The water parameters are OK. The equipment is working fine. But he didn't clean the algae, diatoms, etc. off the tank. Now there are fairly large areas of gorgeous purple coralline algae on the front panel of the tank. (The way the tank is placed, only the front panel is an issue). I have a Magnavore 8 cleaner, a long acrylic safe scraper, and a short hand scraper. Some of this stuff is tough, tough, tough. I work with my hands and they are quite strong, but this is ridiculous. Is there any other way to help remove this stuff short of a jack-hammer? <I do not believe you will find an easy way, Dave.  The tools you are using are norm for the problem.  Read FAQ's here re this subject for other suggestions.  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corlinecompfaqs.htm Thanks in advance. <You're welcome, James (Salty Dog)> Dave Harvey

-Cleaning Acrylic-  8/28/06 Hello, <Hola> Read articles and FAQs, but couldn't find the answer... Is there any safe cleaner I can use to clean adhesive from acrylic pieces for a DIY fuge? I peeled an adhesive plastic lining of off them and want to get any residue off and make them safe for my marine system water. Is this possible? Rubbing alcohol/bleach? Thanks, Michael <Rubbing alcohol works well, vinegar diluted in water works if the acrylic is soaked in it, soap and water if you wash out the acrylic well afterward, quite a few choices.  I would not use bleach though, may leave a residue if not cleaned off well, and a bit too strong for a first use.> <Justin>

How do I de-contaminate my fish tank after my brother tried to clean the silicone off with petrol ?   8/24/06 Hello Bob ! Please help. I bought a second hand tank and had removed the inside panels as I wanted to install an external filter rather than using the overflow system. Problem is I removed the panels and cut off the excess silicone with a blade. My brother then decided to clean the silicone smudges with a cloth soaked in petrol ! He is not very bright ! Please advise how do I de-contaminate the tank before adding fish ? Please advise ! oh mighty wise one ! Thank you <Wipe with a solvent... Xylene, even Acetone, wash the tank in turn with plenty of water and coarse salt. Bob Fenner> From Denny Moodley, South Africa

Maintenance/Operation...Chemical Cleaners   8/16/06 Dear crew, <Ariel> I moved about a week ago, and set up a new tank at the new house to receive my fish from the old tank. The fish are in the new tank and doing fine; I drove them 800 miles in a car. Well I scrubbed the tank briefly just before I left, and went to go get the sponges today to give it a better cleaning, but behold, right on the package I read "not for use in aquariums." Uh-Oh. There isn't a list of chemicals, which I was hoping for, but the package says Publix Easy Grip Sponge, naturally absorbent, resists bacterial odors. They smell a bit funny. What could I use to clean out/ sterilize any chemicals that could have been put in the tank? <More than likely tainted with a chlorine/bleach substance.  I'd filter the water through a Poly-Filter or Chemi-Pure for a week, then discard the chemical media you end up using.  Wouldn't be a bad idea to do a 50% water change also.  Do this after the filtering is complete.> Thanks, Ariel. <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)

Maintenance/Substrate Cleaning   7/18/06 Your site is great & have used it for about 8 months now, learning so much.  Thank you. <You're welcome.> Have done searches & FAQ's, but have these Q's: 1) When I vacuum <vacuum> my substrate (Caribbean product, I believe aragonite?), I think I may be sucking out too much of the substrate itself.  How much, if any, of the substrate should actually be removed from the tank when siphon cleaning? <Very little, if any.> I started with about a 2" deep bed 5 months ago and am now down to about 1/4". <Ah, a substrate guzzling tank.> 2) I have not been regularly rinsing & reinserting the sand I've removed (too lazy after cleaning red slime off of live rock), <Can't be lazy in this hobby.> so now I have a bunch of sand that has been sitting in a bucket for weeks/months.  I want to put that back in the tank (slowly, parts at a time) but think I should probably clean it since it's not completely dry.  What is best way ?  Should I use a bleach/water combo, rinse , and then let it dry in the sun ? <I'd put the substrate in a five gallon pail and just keep rinsing with water, no bleach or other chemicals.  Fill the pail with about two inches of substrate at a time, much easier, quicker. I like doing this outside with a hose.  Shouldn't say "I like", rather, "doing this outside".> Thanks, <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Paul

Cleaning water marks - 6/20/6 Hi! Please help!! I have a strange problem! As evaporation takes place and water runs down the side of my tank, when I attempt to wipe the marks they don't fully come off! <<Why does water run down the sides of your tank? Evaporation does not do this. Could be from splashing.  You should check for leaks. It seems as if it has eaten into the glass! What should I do? <<Lots of warm water or a warm water/vinegar solution.>> <Mmm, and to kibitz here, I'd consider a careful re-siliconing under the lip of this tank... and the occasional use of single-edge razor blades to remove this scale otherwise. RMF> Is my water the problem? <<You do not give any information on your water.>> The fish are happy and settled so I don't want to change too much. Tank you (no Pun intended) Thank you again for your wonderful assistance <<Glad to help.>>

- Cleaning Mineral Deposits Off Of Aquarium Glass 6/15/06 - I have several used (I'm on a budget) aquariums with lots of mineral deposits on the inside of the glass. What's an easy way to clean this off? I've tried scraping with a razor blade (helps a lot, but doesn't get completely clean, and I'm afraid of scratching the glass), white vinegar (didn't budge), and Jungle brand "Lime Off". Suggestions? Much thanks in advance, Brian W. <Hmm... it's been my experience that when glass gets mineral deposits that are never cleaned it tends to etch or stain to the point that there are marks that will never clean off. You could try a different weak acid that isn't quite as weak as vinegar, perhaps Muriatic acid. You would still need to be careful using this material, ideally outside with good ventilation, have something to dilute with handy, and wear gloves. <<And eye protection. And if you dilute this 3 molar HCl solution, "do ass you oughta, add acid to water". RMF>> Cheers, J -- >

Cleaning Tanks  5/12/06 Hi, <Hello again> Can you tell me how to get rid of those calcium deposits on my tank? Thank you very much. <A little elbow grease and white vinegar.  Be careful not to get the vinegar in the tank, it can cause quick changes to PH> <Chris>

Siphoning... TGIF once again Crew, Assuming maybe Jen S. is still answering since I just got an email back from you. <I'm still here... wish I was on a tropical island somewhere, but hey.  I have fun w/ this too!> I just wanted to share something I do for siphoning water since reading that a lot of people use there mouths. <Ick, not me... use an automatic syphon here.  I could never understand why people used to siphon gas tanks with their mouth either.  ick.> I also use to do this but being paranoid I always thought "Hey is my mouth dry, arms a little shaky, little dizzy" so I decided to figure out another way. Many may use this same technique but from what I read a lot don't. Simply go to your local Wal-mart and buy a spare power head or use one if you have access to it in your Fishtank. Stick the hose right in front of it and  pump enough water to start the flow take away and your siphon has started. <Very cool!>   Figured I would share this with people that may need a solution to using there mouth. Since finding out about palytoxin today and realizing there is a lot of dangerous stuff in there I am sure to be A LOT more careful in future handling of my aquarium. <Hahaha, yes you should!  Don't want to inhale something that might bite, right?> Thanks for the time, Homerj <No, thank you for sharing!  Excellent.  Have a great night!  Jen S.>

Marine Algae; Still Frustrating You After Death  - 04/19/06 Hi <Hello Simon.> I have decided to retire from my salt water hobby and move into fresh water. <I'm sorry to hear that….I guess.> I have emptied/dismantled my old tank but am struggling to clean it. The main concern is what appears to be both green and purple (probably coralline algae) on the glass and plastic back divider - I have one of those JBJ Nanos. <Ahhh….you started your marine endeavor with a  "ready-made" tank and a nano at that…..that is why you became frustrated with the hobby I surmise.> I have tried scrubbing at it using one of those algae removal pads, but that was unsuccessful. I am reluctant to use a razor because of scratching - particularly against the plastic. <I understand.> Do you have any suggested methods given that the tank is empty. <The tank is free of livestock and empty correct? If so do the following: Fill the tank with tap water and generous portion of distilled vinegar, let it sit for at least 24 hours, then attempt to use a credit card or straight edge (Kent pro-scrapers are great) to get it off.> The tank is stored in a dark place - would it be fair to say that the algae will die off ? <It is dead I surmise, just the calcified remains left over.> With regards to my next project, I would like to create a fresh water tank which is a microcosm of a particular environment - such as the Amazon or whatever may be suitable to my tank dimensions. So I would want it to contain the same livestock, landscape, parameters that you might find in such a setting. I was just wanting to know whether you have any resources that may describe those environments and their configurations so that I could plan. <Read through the WWM and net re: the bio-tope first then if you get any specific questions I would love to help.> Your response is appreciated. <Quite welcome.> Regards Simon <Adam J.>

Metal Cleaning Tool in Marine Aquaria  12/5/05 Hello all, <Hello Jon.> I have a question regarding my algae brush. I have one that has the slip on metal (mesh) scrubber to use on glass aquariums, is that or is it not ok to use this in a saltwater tank? <Honestly I would prefer not to use this utensil. Especially without knowing what type of metal it is. I would much rather use something made up chemically inert material. If you are looking for a good tool for scraping coralline off of a glass tank I am fond of the Kent pro-scraper, old credit cards are also a good tool.> Thanks! <Welcome!> Jon <Adam J.> 

Reef Calcium conundrum, Captive-prop'ed BTA  12/9/05 I have a question for you...imagine that, I have a 55gal w/ 4" DSB that I've started with a few zoo's frags, some Kenya tree, and a Ricordea. I just got a wild hair and decided to test my alkalinity and calcium levels. My calcium came out to a whopping 560ppm and the alkalinity to about 180ppm. I've been using B-ionic 2 part calcium/Alk. supplement and Kent's SuperBuffer dKH weekly as my source water is extremely soft (about 10ppm).  I am seriously considering putting in an anemone (BTA to go with ocellaris clown---I love anemone/clownfish systems!), but don't want to do so until I'm sure my water quality is just right...not to mention that I'm at a loss as to where to find a captive produced clone in my area (N. CO) I have about 60 lbs. LR and about 15 lbs. coral skeletons. I'm not sure if these levels are OK and if I should stop/scale down my dosing? Any help? Oh, also, what is your opinion on using bleach to clean out QT tanks/equipment?...I've always used vinegar, but was recommended to use bleach...Thanks, Branon. <If your levels and water quality are rock-solid and stable, you're probably fine, assuming other parameters are met (lighting in particular). Your LFS should be able to procure a captive-cloned BTA for you, or you may be able to find one via internet mail-order.  Good on you for demanding captive prop'ed livestock. Bleach is definitely better than vinegar for sterilizing equipment. You can dilute it 1:2 or 1:3 bleach: water and spray it with a spray bottle (KEEP IT OUT OF YOUR EYES, OFF SKIN, FAVORITE BLUE JEANS, ETC) on large stuff like tanks. Just be sure to rinse everything very thoroughly. Lastly, try to buy the most basic bleach, without perfume, etc. Happy Holidays, Lorenzo>  <<It helps to keep a bit of dry sodium thiosulfate on hand, can be found online through chemical supply houses at incredibly cheap prices!  Marina>>

Re: Reef Calcium conundrum...  12/13/05 Thanks for the advise re: the bleach, I'll definitely be making the switch. Thank you also for the encouragement to buy captive propagated specimens...sometimes it is so tempting to buy the WC stuff at the LFS, but I just keep telling myself I'll be happier in the long run. <And so will the rest of the hobby, and the livestock too!> However, I'm still not sure about the dosing ??? (I know, I asked way to many questions in that last e-mail...sorry.) Should I continue at current levels, stop, reduce, or what? <If you do make any changes, do so very gradually. Some folks say, when it comes to aquariums, anything that happens fast - is bound to be bad.> Also, will these softies, and maybe a GSP and/or xenia be alright with a BTA? LTA? <It is ALWAYS a risk, to mix corals with anemones, no matter the size of the aquarium. But stick to generally hardy species, keep fresh carbon in a power filter, and keep the whole environment stable, and it's certainly possible.> Thank you. Branon. <You're always welcome, Zo>

Doorstop scraper - 11/29/05 Hi, <Hello Patty> I am trying to make a scraper attachment for my cleaning magnet. I need a "wedge" to attach. Part of a doorstop seems to fit the bill. It is made of galvanized rubber. Is that safe for a reef tank? <I don't see any problems with this, but do watch it and remove it if you see it start to break down significantly> Thanks! <You're welcome! John> To Bleach or Not To Bleach?  11/8/05 Bob, <Actually, Scott F. here for Bob today> I'm going to completely clean my tank. I have sometime {some kind of?} of a fungus disease that is just killing fish left and right. <A fungus? Or a parasitic disease, like Amyloodinium ("Velvet")? Either way, it does sound nasty.> I will be selling my live rock to some else and I heard to add bleach to the system and run the system for like 2 hours, remove the water and that fill again and add a dechlorinating agent. <I'd be very honest with the purchaser about the origin of this rock. If this turns out to be a parasitic disease, the purchaser can unknowingly introduce it into his/her tank. Best to have the purchaser let this rock sit without fishes for a month or two before use in a display. Yes, your "bleaching" technique sounds okay.> Would this work if I were to leave the gravel in the bottom and still effectively sterilize the tank, or should I just get all new gravel? <Personally, I'd start with new substrate material. If you're going to the effort to break the system down, you might as well clean everything and start with fresh sand.> Will the bleach hurt my UV sterilizer and protein skimmer or should I continue to system these while the bleach is in the system <Bleach may or may not damage the plastics used in their construction. Personally, I'd sterilize these items with lots of hot freshwater and a very quick (like a few minutes) dip in water with bleach, followed by a thorough rinsing. I would not run either while using bleach in the system.> Thank you Andrew Watson <Glad to help, Andrew. best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

Problems cleaning an aquarium  10/19/05 Hello, <Jason> My sister just moved and emptied and cleaned her 55 Gal tank.  The process of moving took about a month, (active duty military).  After arriving at her new assignment her tank was delivered and looks horrible.  It's totally stained with what looks like calcium.  just about every inch of the glass is covered with this white substance.  I've tried filling the aquarium and allowing it to sit for a couple days and then I emptied it and took a razor blade to it with no luck.  Then I soaked it with Windex and then I tried 409, both with no luck.  Do you have any ideas of what I should try next?  <Pure vinegar always worked well for removing calcium deposits etc.  James (Salty Dog)> Patiently Awaiting Your Response, Jason <<Umm, make sure to totally remove (like scrubbing with rock salt and water if the tank is glass, these commercial cleaners. RMF>>

White build-up on inside of Aquarium  9/7/05 Hello, I recently acquired a 29 gal aquarium from a neighbor.  On the inside walls about 4-6 inches up there is a white build up that I cannot get off. <Ah, yes... often called "scale", this is an accumulation of dissolved solids from the water...> I've tried to scrape it off with razor blade and right now have about an inch of vinegar in it.  My neighbor told me her father had used it as a terrarium before he gave it to her.  There was about six inches of dirt and some plants growing in it.  I was wondering if this might be something other than calcium, and maybe you guys might know what it could be and how to get it off.  Thank you for your help. Regards, Christine Hinkle <Mmm, might be, but doubtful... if the vinegar (dilute acetic acid) and single edged razor blades don't "do it"... it might be worthwhile considering escalation... to a more concentrated, "faster" acid... like HCl (hydrochloric, aka Muriatic acid)... this must be done outside, away from children and pets... and still diluted... start with a mix of one part stock and five parts water (add the acid to the water), and pour on the scaled area... with the tank at an angle, some water in the bottom... if this does not "fume"... please write back... and we'll try something else. Beware of breathing the fumes, getting even the diluted acid on your skin. Bob Fenner> Cleaning off calcium deposits Hi. <How goes it?> I am getting large calcium deposits on the back glass of my fifty gallon saltwater tank.  I can't get it off with elbow grease or razor blades, so is there any other way I can get it off without emptying the tank and temporarily moving the inhabitants elsewhere.  Thank you. <Anything acidic should do the trick - try vinegar, or if not, a household cleaner such as phosphoric acid> <<I would not do this w/o draining the tank... too much likelihood of driving pH down too much, too quickly. RMF>> Joe <M. Maddox>

Re: calcium deposits Sorry Mr. Maddox, I've confused myself.  The tank is fully set up and running right now, so should I empty it out before I clean it with the vinegar etc. or could I just add a little to the water.  Thank you, I shouldn't have to ask this. <I assumed from your first email that the deposits were on the outside of the tank - are they on the inside?  If they're on the *inside* of the tank, DO NOT add vinegar!  Instead, use a heavy duty algae scraper.  If they're on the outside, sponge them with vinegar and let it soak\dissolve - but don't get any in the tank!> Joe. <M. Maddox>

Tank Cleaning (2/14//05) Steve:  <Hi again. Getting back to you from Dallas this time.>  Mahalo for your concern & support, I received your response.  <You're welcome.>  I filled the tank with water and 1 cup of bleach and placed all the equipment in it to get sterilized. I let it sit for a day, rinsed well with water and let dry.  <Drying in the sun (UV light) is particularly helpful.>  I hope that's long enough?  <That bleach should have been very effective.>  I will be placing the sponge filter in my main tank to get colonized.  <This works well. As I recall, you have been following wise quarantine practices, thus keeping your main free of pathogens.>  How soon can I use the tank again?  <I'd say any time now.>  If I fill it with water from my main tank can I get another fish to quarantine now or should I wait and for how long?  <I would do half main tank water and half new water to cut down on the waste content.>  How long does the filter need to be in the tank to get colonized?  <No specific data, I'd say that a week ought to be plenty of time.> I would like to try again.  <Yes, do. You have the right attitude. Do remember my recommendation to do only one fish at a time. It is much easier to notice and treat problems this way.>  Aloha, Les  <To you as well. I'd love to be in Hawaii right now, but Dallas is certainly warmer than Madison and my home in Salt Lake.>

Disinfecting tank supplies I am sorry if this is a repetitive question. I have been looking on your website for the information but I am a little confused. Recently I moved and somehow ended up killing my tank. I must have used a contaminated bucket or something. <Happens, often> Anyway I am now ready to disinfect my entire tank. I know to use chlorine bleach for the tank, and I read that I should not use bleach for my carbon filter. <Mmm, just rinse this in cool running tap water> But can I use bleach for my underground filter, the rocks, and aerating stones, and if so do I just follow the same procedure for them? <The same, bleach solution> As far as the carbon filter goes it says to use formalin. Exactly how much and how should it be done? <Mmm, I would NOT use formalin/formaldehyde period... not necessary, and quite toxic... many times more than the bleach, which is also toxic... just rinse the carbon as stated> And is it something that can be purchased in a pet store?  Thanks, Ana Zelia <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm  Bob Fenner>

Cleaning a salt water tank      Once again, I thank you for your quick reply on my previous e-mail. I am beginning treatment for the potential ich spots (maybe even fungus???). Yet, I have another question. As I said before, I have converted my fish only saltwater and  I am moving towards the more advanced art of fish/reef keeping. << Personally I think corals are much easier to keep than fish. >> For the first time, I cleaned my tank with reef in it. With live rock, I naturally do not have to clean the tank as much + with a large protein skimmer nitrates are practically always low. Nevertheless, in exchange for good water chemistry and longer periods between cleanings, I am left with a considerably large amount of debris from vacuuming my substrate. << I don't think I would vacuum the substrate.  I'd leave the sand bed alone. >> In fact, when looking through the side of my tank after the cleaning, it was so cloudy from being stirred up that I could not see to the other side! I know debris and cloudiness are natural for up to several hours after a cleaning. Yet, can my inverts withstand this brief period of intense environment? << Yes the inverts can take the brief period of disorder, it is the long term affects that worry me.  My advise is to stop all gravel cleaning.  I wouldn't stir it up at all.  If you do water changes, try to do them with the least amount of stress to the tank. >> If not, how should I change my method of cleaning to reduce stress on my corals? << For the most part, just leave it alone.  Stop cleaning your tank and that will (in my opinion) really improve the health of your fish and corals. >> Thank you. <<  Blundell  >>

Stubborn Calcium Deposits Hello Bob,<Sorry, MikeB here to help you today.> Kudos on your site.  It's awesome!  I'm getting ready to set up my first reef in about five years and your site has been super beneficial in helping me gather my plans.<Thanks.>  I have compiled the hardware and am almost ready to begin; however, my used glass tank has severe calcium deposits on it.  I found the answer on your site...or so I thought.  I first tried vinegar and let it soak in over night.  I even covered it with plastic wrap to make sure it didn't evaporate.  It made no perceivable change.  I then tried Lime Away at the advice of a friend; however, I chickened out after letting it soak for only 5 minutes.  I was afraid of poisoning my future inhabitants.  It didn't seem to produce any results in that amount of time.  Is it safe to let Lime Away?<I would not use it.>  Can I let it soak in over night without worrying about the silicone?<Again, I would not use it.>  Is there anything else that I can try?<Yes.>   Please let me know your thoughts. THANKS IN ADVANCE! Mike <Mike, here is what I advise.  Take a straight edge razor blade and scrape the calcium deposits off of the glass.  I would leave the silicone alone.  Sometimes, If you fill the tank with Deionized water and then use several gallons of vinegar it will loosen the deposits.  You might have to let it sit for a day but it will work.  Otherwise elbow grease is the best way.  Good Luck. MikeB>
Re: Stubborn Calcium Deposits
Mike, Thanks for the quick response.  I tried a razor blade last night and I wasn't able to remove anything.  I did some searching and I found a string on the web talking about tanks being etched by saltwater?  Have you ever heard of this?  If so, might this be what has happened to my tank? Thanks, Mike <Mike, I have never heard of this happening but I don't see why it wouldn't be a possibility.  The trace metals found in saltwater can be harder than glass.  But I am not sure how this would "etch" the tank.  Have you tried to fill the tank with water and see what it looks like?  If there are minor etchings from the salt water then filling the tank should make the glass look clear.  That is until the algae starts to grow.  Keep me posted on the progress.  I am curious to see what happens.  Good luck. MikeB>

Re-Starting a Tank - VroomVrrrooommm! Bob or the new guys at WWM, <Ryan Bowen helping today> I can't believe how much information is on your website. I remember when it was just a couple of questions on the Flying Fish Express website. Well I have a question about my old tank which I couldn't find and answer for. <Shoot!>  I had FO tank before moving to Okinawa which I was unable to setup in Okinawa for a couple reasons. Well I am now back in the USA and looking to start up my tank. Its has been sitting either in a crate or in my living room with Finding Nemo toys on display for the last 4yrs. It has gotten a little dusty and I was wondering if there was anything special I should do to clean it before I fill it. (Bleach, Hot water) <I prefer half vinegar, half hot water...bleach can be used, but very carefully.>  I'll probably be replacing the pump and heater. Do I need to replace the Bioballs in the wet dry.  <Give them a good soaking, they'll be fine>  Also once started do you think I will notice any strange readings when I cycle the tank.  <Just the normal spikes, as long as everything is well cleaned of vinegar before put into use. I'd replace the impellers on your pumps if they're not clean after a good soaking. Good luck, Ryan> 

Vinegar to clean a skimmer? Hi!  I read your sight's Q&A daily, seems like it should be my home page. << What a great idea, everyone should make this their home page. >> Thanks for all the wonderful insights and their postings.  I was reading about cleaning your skimmer with vinegar.  Could you elaborate? << I didn't see that topic, but I can give my input.  I would take out the skimmer (when the wife isn't home) and wash it in the kitchen sink with vinegar.  It is slightly acidic which helps to clean, and isn't toxic.  However, I don't really see a reason to clean your skimmer.  They run wonderfully well for years. >> Does the vinegar get rinsed out intensely or should a little linger in the plastic? << I would rinse it out with regular water, but not be too concerned about it. >> Should I soak the skimmer with a vinegar solution overnight for better benefits? << I don't think so, because I don't see what the benefits of that would be. >>  Thanks, it seems as though this person also has the problem I seem to have once in a while. << Good luck. >> <<  Blundell  >>

Chlorinated Water For Cleaning? Greetings Crew! <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> First of all, I LOVE the new edition of the Conscientious Aquarist Online Magazine!!!  Five-Star Work all the way! <Thank you! You can't imagine happy Adam and I are to hear that! We're working very hard to keep making CA better and better with each issue!> I was cleaning out my tank the other day when this question hit me.  I add nothing but RO/DI water to my tank since finding your site 8 months ago and my 55gal minireef is doing WONDERFULLY! <Glad to hear that! Use of high quality source water is truly one of the best steps that you can take to assure great results in any system!> When I clean out skimmers, buckets, intake tubes, pumps etc. (usually bi-weekly or monthly depending on what it is) I just bring them over to the sink and rinse with fresh water and scrub down using Lysol. (just kidding, I use nothing but water and dedicated scrub brushes) <Whew! Ya' had me there for a second!> My question is this.  Is the minute amount of tap water that I am using add enough chlorine, minerals, copper, etc. to my tank that I should add a dechlorinator (Amquel+) to my tank at cleaning time?  Will these traces of bad water components accumulate in my tank?   <To be honest, I do the same type of rinsing of components with freshwater, and I've never had any sort of problems. Unless you are performing top-off's with significant amounts of tap water, then I wouldn't be concerned> I would rather not add anything to the tank that I do not have to (thus the RO/DI).  I do have a Whisper filter with activated Carbon that I change bi-weekly. <Excellent procedure. Regularly replacing chemical filtration media is vital if it is to perform as intended> Thanks again for all your help and keep up the great work! Ray <Glad to be here for you, Ray! Keep up the good work! Regards, Scott F.> DUSTY TANK 30 Jun 2004 hi crew, <Hi Steve> I have 2 questions for ya folks... First, I bought a nice, used 70 gal tank + stand and canopy along with tons of live sand. <Wow nice> Fact is that there is too much silt/dust and I'm starting to regret that I did not take care of this problem initially, now that I have my rocks nicely aquascaped and fish in there. Is there anything I can do besides taking all that sand out? <Is the dust problem only from the sand? Or is part of it from the rock as well? Is it the creatures living in it stirring the sand? Is it the tanks current? I do know people who have put in some crushed coral on top of spots where current hit the water directly. Or added a touch of a larger grade of sand to try to "hold it down".> My LFS recommended fine filter media that is 50 microns or less, which is logical but that didn't do much yet. I have come across a product called "Particle Clear" from a freshwater site, that will clump silt together to be heavy enough to sink. <There are similar salt water products. Please don't ever put one for freshwater in a saltwater tank. Could be big big problems.> Has anyone heard of this and is it safe for saltwater use? <The micron filter is a good idea. Also something like a poly filter might work. I cleared mine out by adding Caulerpa to the tank. All of the sand seemed to be attracted to the Caulerpa. There are also products available called Diatom filters that are very useful for clearing out a tank. I just recently had to use one at a conference to keep a tank clear after using Southdown sand.> Secondly, in this tank I have a Copperband and a flame angel. I'm thinking of tearing down my other smaller coral display tank and move the inhabitants to this 70 gal. I have Shrooms, zoos, and other mostly soft corals. Will it be safe to place them with these 2 fishes? I hear that Copperband is the most reef safe of all butterflies and yet I think he ate 2 zoo polyps that I planted from the other tank <It is possible that either of them ate it.> (I was hoping they will propagate in the new tank). I assume he ate them since he is most prone to doing that. Besides these fishes I also have 3 clowns and a Mithrax emerald crab. Could they have been the culprit instead? <I think its very possible. Especially the crab who might just have moved or dropped them.> Your time and response is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.... <Good luck with this, MacL>

Homemade glass cleaner Mr. Fenner, I'm recycling several old tanks and need to remove crusted-on dirt, etc. I've reviewed your site and Googled/Teoma'd looking for an inexpensive homemade glass cleaner rather than pay $7.00 for Oz commercial aquarium cleaners.  Any suggestions?  Many thanks Bill <I use water and a clean towel on clean tanks... dilute acetic (vinegar) to dilute Muriatic (hydrochloric, be careful here... outdoors) for calcium/scale... there are some commercial products... but am not a big fan of these. Bob Fenner>

Rainex, Rainex, Go Away!  Greetings crew!  <Scott F. here today!>  I had an idea and want your opinion on it. I have glass covers over my 55-gal minireef (put there after I lost a jumper, 1 of only 2 fish deaths I have had). Every 3 or 4 days, I remove them to clean the salt and water/salt spots off.  <Not fun, but necessary>  Here is my idea. What if I treated the glass with Rain-x? In case you don't know what that is it is like a wax for glass, water won't stick to it. The glass does not actually come in contact with the water and this may prevent condensation from accumulating and thus, keep my glass cleaner for longer. So, good or bad idea?  Thanks Ray  <Well, Ray- it's an interesting thought, but I really don't know about the potential dangers of this product, should it come into contact with tank water. It's an automotive product, not a fish product, after all! May be harmless to fish, or it could be deadly...I'd pass...You could always use egg crate, which has the added advantage of greater gas exchange (due to its structure) and decent light transmission...Hope this helps. Regards, Scott F.>

Used Tank with foggy glass- at my wits end!  Hello crew!  Yesterday, I came across a 75g tank at my LFS for $30. The only thing about the tank was it appeared dirty, so I picked it up. The side panes of glass are clear, but the front and back are extremely foggy. I've tried using vinegar, hot water, Oxi-clean, newspaper, algae scrubbing brush, and all to no avail. I seem to be able to kind of scratch it off, but I don't want to have to do that to the whole tank and en up with a super-scratched tank. I doubt it's a carbonate because the owner of the LFS said the previous owner tried using some CLR to remove it and it also didn't work. I don't think Muriatic acid will work. Do you have any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions on cleaning this tank? Attached is a picture of side and front. Thanks a bunch  Daniel Babcock  <Your pic didn't come through... and you may well be faced with having this tank be "foggy" permanently. Filling it with water may make it appear much clearer... but it might be better to relegate this container as a sump/refugium and tie it in with a clearer main tank. Bob Fenner> Forgot to add image! what do you think? if I were to soak it with salt for a few days, would that help? using iodized? which salt would you recommend. When the tank is wet, I can see through the glass.  <Mmmm, well... when you feel the glass does it seem rough to the touch? Am concerned that the glass has been crazed somehow... and made structurally weaker... you might want to try a few organic solvents (e.g. acetone, xylene...) AND separately a dilute inorganic acid (perhaps the Muriatic I think you mentioned... the last outside, using gloves, trying to avoid fumes. Bob Fenner>

Re: Used Tank with foggy glass- at my wits end! the glass feels smooth to the touch. Using a flat-edged razor blade I can scrape it off, slowly but surely I guess. <On the inside of the tanks front and back I assume... very interesting that whatever the source of the opacity that it is not "on" the side panels...> I'm going to fill the tank Thursday since the weather will permit it being outdoors and see if the glass is clear, and if worrying about the haze is of any concern, as any time the glass is wet, it's clear. Wonder what's going on. Thanks for the input on this matter, it is greatly appreciated. What a fine service you guys provide! <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Used Tank with foggy glass- at my wits end!  Bob,  The weather was nice today, So I filled the tank. The tank is crystal clear now that there is water in it. Very strange indeed!  <Yes, but not unusual. Hence my reason for the suggestion/trial>  I plan to let the tank sit outside for a few days to make sure they stay clear and there are no leaks. If the glass remains clear I should be in the clear so to speak, correct?  <Yes>  BTW, some of the guys at the LFS were joking with me and said the guy said it got cloudy after over-feeding? Do you think there is any validity to the claim?  <Overfeeding with what? Jello? Kalkwasser?>  Again, thanks a lot for your help and I hope this will be the last time I have to contact you concerning a fogged tank!  <Real good. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Tank Cleaning  Thank you very much for all the advice, I'll give it a try and see what happens :) Is there any way to sterilize the tank as well or should the cleaning of it be good enough?  <Cleaning it should be enough, you could use a diluted bleach solution if you are worried, just rinse well and let it dry in the sun. Best Regards, Gage>

How often should I clean my tank - 3/24/04 Hello, I have a question regarding the normal (average) frequency of cleaning a reef tank. <As much as it is needed> I have a 50g reef tank with LR and DSB (about 3" deep) that I've been running for around 2.5 years. Additionally, I use a Bak Pak 2R skimmer, and 2x 96w power compact lights. The placement of my tank is near, but no directly in front of, a window that receives morning diffused light. <Some say that diffused sunlight somehow adds to the algae problem. Not sure of the scientific reasons (no research done on this I am sure)> My livestock includes: yellow tang, pygmy angelfish, percula clown, Banggai Cardinalfish, and a royal Gramma. Methods: I feed my fish once a day dried seaweed and mostly frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, and Ocean Nutrition's Prime Reef. Add freshwater every couple days and 5% water change every 2 weeks using RO/DI water. <Increase water changes to 10-20% at least every two weeks. Start with 10% and see if this helps algae control issues> I was wondering about how often people need to clean their reef tank sides for algae? <Not just in personal tanks but also at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, tanks get cleaned almost everyday for algae> I seem to get a layer of algae on all sides of my tank in about a week. <Once a week??? Sounds like you are doing good> Am I having an algae problem or does this sound normal? <Normal> Also, I seem to get a layer of scum (protein?) on the surface of the water after a few days from water changes. Is this normal? <Normal is relative in this instance, people do have this problem as well, this sounds more diatom like. Read through our algae control FAQs and articles here on WetWebMedia> My tank doesn't have an overflow box. Increase flow at the surface if possible. Add more circulation if you can> Also, it seems like algae just grows on the sides of my tank and not on any rock.  Is this true or is it just easier to see the algae on the side of the tank. <A little of both. Fo' sure algae is growing on your rockwork> thanks SO much, Jason

Need help with salt in Pittsburgh 3/22/04 Hi there Bob and Tony, <Hi Amy!  Adam jumping in here.  You sure are in the right place!  Three of the crew members (Anthony, MikeH and I) are all from Pittsburgh.> I am still learning about saltwater tanks and right now I have a small 30 gallon set up. My question is: Why do I get salt build up on my equipment and the tank? Do I need to have more air circulation around the tank and is moisture a factor? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank in advance.  Sincerely,  Amy Good New GPASI member <That salt build up, often referred to as "salt creep" comes from salt water spray, splashes or leaks settling and drying on equipment.  Any kind of airstone or bubbler is notorious for causing this.  It has nothing to do with the humidity or air circulation in the room. Also, please come out to Elmer's on this Saturday, March 27 from 2-4pm if you can.  I will be there along with some other Pittsburgh Marine Aquarium Society members giving a beginners saltwater demo.  Best Regards!  Adam>

Need help with salt creep 3/25/04 That would be great but unfortunately I have WPKA Dog Show at the Convention center. Hopefully we can hook up sometime. I do have an airstone in the tank. So should I shut it off or is there something I can do about it. Thanks Amy G <Hi Amy.  Sorry you can't make it to the demo at Elmer's.  You can shut off the airstone if you have other sources of water movement for gas exchange (powerheads, sump return, skimmer, etc.).  If the airstone is your only source of water movement/gas exchange, you will have to add something before removing the airstone.  FWIW, airstones are rarely used in saltwater tanks for that reason.  Have fun at the Dog Show!  Adam>  

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