Another ‘Learning Experience’ with my tank

Albert B Ulrich III Aquarium Maintenance 2 Comments

Well, I had another ‘Learning Experience’ with my tank the past few weeks. It all started (I think…) with my return pump.

There’s no sense in hiding it, time to come clean…

I got lazy. Seriously. I have a Mag 7 return pump in my sump, and I use the pre-filter sponge attachment. Well, you probably already know that you’re supposed to clean that sponge out on a regular basis, because it gets full of gunk, goo, gorp and glop—as well as sediment, bacteria other things that are actual substances rather than nonsensical terms that sound funny…

I was ok about cleaning that sucker out, but not great…then I went from ok to lazy. The bigger problem, I think, is that my overflow is too noisy—so when the pre-filter sponge on the Mag 7 is clean, the water blows through the aquarium and the overflow sounds like something in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Which makes my wife annoyed, which in turn makes me cranky. So, in reality, I sort of tolerated the gorp-ridden pre-filter since the added resistance (probably killing the Mag 7 slowly but surely) actually made the tank less noisy and my household a happier place to be.

That is…until I got lazy…

In retrospect, I don’t really know how long I let that pre-filter go without cleaning it, but the sponge almost turned into sandstone and the flow slowed to a trickle…at the same time of course that I was slacking off on water changes

And then the problems began…

I had a coral die and a major cyanoalgae bloom—not the blue-green kind but the purple red kind—everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Just sheets of the stuff, clinging to the rocks despite the normally dead-spot obliterating flow of the powerheads.

saltwater aquarium learning experience

Red slime everywhere

There are people in the hobby that seem to thrive and enjoy the predictable aspects of a maintenance routine and an unwavering system to keep their reef aquarium pristine. I, on the other hand, regret to admit that I am cut from the cloth of hobbyists who dread the chores and go through fits and spells of motivation and laziness—is it self-destructive behavior? I’m not sure.

But the bottom line is…you can’t get lazy in this hobby…eventually it will catch up with you, and probably in a big way. When I look back at the crises I’ve faced in the hobby, they were almost always because I took a short-cut or skipped a step that I knew I should have taken. Create a plan and stick with it.

The part that kills me is that I know that if this was a dog (instead of a tank full of saltwater

cyanobacterial bloom everywhere

cyanobacteria everywhere

fish and corals)—I would know that the dog had to be taken out by 5pm after work each and every day—and failure to do that would result in…well…a big mess.

So why is it so easy for me to ignore the fish and coral when I want to be lazy? Well now I’m asking myself questions and making you read it…that’s rude…sorry…I really hope I learn from my laziness this time, and I guess I hope you can learn something from it too. Here’s to new beginnings!

Written by: Al Ulrich

How about you, do you have a system that works for you? Leave me a comment here and let me know. Thanks!

Albert B Ulrich IIIAnother ‘Learning Experience’ with my tank

Comments 2

  1. Susan

    I appreciate this article. I have a question. The sponge that you were talking about, does it sit in your sump before water spills over to your return pump? I am new to the sump maintenance and I want to make sure my tank does not get sick.

  2. Post
    Author
    Al Ulrich

    Hi Susan, thanks for the question. The sponge is physically attached to the front of the return pump. It is a pre-filter attachment provided by the manufacturer of the Mag Drive pump. The sponge is there to filter out stuff that might harm the pump. Along the way, it also is a spot where (helpful) bacteria will grow that help you filter the water, but the sponge has to be cleaned regulary in some saltwater or it will clog like mine did. The sponge and pump worked perfectly, it was 100% user error (me…)

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