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FAQs on Cleaning Aquariums 1

Related Articles: Cleaning Aquariums, Cleaning Decor, Marine Maintenance

Related FAQs:  Cleaning Aquariums 2Cleaning Acrylic Aquariums,

Small Cleaning Question, FW  10/6/08
Great site, you guys are the best.
<Thanks Steph.>
I have a 20 and 37 gallon freshwater tank that have been sitting half-full of dirty water (fish dead, but the live plants are still living happily) for a year-I know, pretty disgusting, I am finally ready to rehabilitate the tanks. I have read all of the excellent posts from your sites on cleaning tanks, and plan to: drain, toss the gravel, use dilute bleach, rinse well (probably do a little scrubbing with a plastic dish pad), dechlorinate, then regravel. I plan to put in a new carbon filter, but I have not seen any information about what to do with the BioWheel?
<Just rinse it in the tank water, then keep it moist until you are done cleaning the rest of the tank.>
Any other advice for me?
<Sounds like you have the plan. However, do not just toss the gravel. A rinse in the bucket and you have new gravel, you do not need to buy more.>
I am not rushing to get new fish (well, not today at least!), and want to do this right.
Thanks in advance!
<Welcome, Scott V.>

What product do I use to clean the outside glass of the tank? Harvey L. Lichtman <There are some commercially made products like Brillianize (tm) that you can get from some retailers, plastic and glass shops. Or (what I use) there is water and a clean towel. Just NOT ammoniated cleaners. Bob Fenner>

- Heater Scale Deposits - Dear Crew: Thanks for the great site. I am new to marine aquaria. I have two large tanks, 75G and 125G, which I maintain similarly and are 9 months and 6 months old, respectively. Both have 300W submersible heaters. I found a heavy scale on the heater of my 125 a few days ago.  How long it has been there I am not sure but there is no similar scale on the heater in the 75G. Here is a picture of the scale in the 125G: It is orange-brown and has spalled in places taking away with it the decorative glass-stenciling. I am interested in what caused the scale to form because I am trying to track down the cause of a prolonged micro-algae or phytoplankton outbreak in this tank. <They are not related.> The calcium levels in the two tanks are similar (around 500 ppm) but the temperatures are different: about 75?F in the 75G and 83?F in the 125G. Possibly the higher temperatures or longer "on" times could have promoted scale formation in the 125G, but I was also considering another possibility. I thought that the scale formation might be due to my having left a floating glass-cleaning magnet in the tank for two-weeks. <Nah... doubt that. The scale is simply just the product of a high calcium level and the temperatures of the heater right at the surface of the glass.> I had seen other people leave them in their tanks but I took the magnet out after the algae or phytoplankton outbreak because I thought iron might be leaching from it. <Not all magnets are made of steel...> I had difficulty controlling the outbreak but eventually managed through water changes, improved skimming and use of a canister filter. Do you think that increased iron levels could lead to a runaway algae outbreak and produce the scale on the heater? <No... that is just calcium and very normal for just about any accessory attached to a marine tank and not regularly cleaned.> Respectfully, Karl <Cheers, J -- >

Algae and acrylic Hi Bob, <Steen Erik> I live in Thailand (Dane, retired). A few years back I made an outdoor aquarium which, after 1 1/2 cm thick glass exploded during filling, was empty for a couple of years. I then had the glass replaced with 4 cm. thick acrylic and actually got it to work. After a year or so it started leaking and I had the inside coated with fiberglass. Unfortunately the people doing this also damaged the acrylic and after one year the aquarium started leaking again. <No fun> In the meantime I had started a 1,500 liter. aquascaping tank and found it really beautiful. I consequently decided to have the big tank repaired and prepared for aquascaping. The dimensions are 1,30 m deep x 3,60 m long x 1,65 m wide. Originally it is 2 m deep, but I have build in a 'false' bottom at 1,3 m as I don't think any plants can grow at this depth. <Wowzah, this is a deep tank... usually I like ones I can stick my arm in all the way to the bottom... this one I'd have to dive in to!> Water and plants came in on 1/29 this year with 50 Siamese algae-eaters added a few days later. It took me a couple of weeks to get the CO2 system to work properly (self-constructed, but it works). I am using a submerged pump (8,400 lit/h) and a sand filter in connection with an Eheim 1000 lit/h filter connected to a C02 reactor. No noise and absolutely no plastic, hoses or anything else visible in the tank. <Outstanding> Everything works fine now except for the algae on the acrylic. As you can imagine I am actually in the water when cleaning, <Yes, I can> but even using all my power with a soft cotton cloth, I simply cannot get the algae off. The first tank I had got a lot of scratches and having spent another US$ 10,000 on this one I do not want a repeat. <I understand> The company installing the acrylic told me to use soft cotton cloth for cleaning only, but having spent 5 hours in the water today, all muscles in my arms hurting, and still algae on the acrylic I am getting a little bit desperate. <Yes> Anything you can suggest would be highly appreciated. Best regards, Steen Jansen <A few "things" come to mind... most importantly, "just" waiting a few more weeks to a couple months may well lead to succession of sorts with the harder, more resistant algae being replaced with softer varieties your SAE's can/will be able to remove. Besides that though, there are newer types of "algae magnets" that are useful for acrylic tanks (won't scratch unless you get gravel stuck between them) that I encourage you to look into... the bigger size ones the better... and hopefully folks have them there in Thailand for sale or you can find an etailer that can/will ship them to you. Lastly, do look into Eheim's Ehfi-Grob or Fein filter media... a one-time purchase of a bit of this polyethylene canister filter "wool" will help you in your scrubbing safely. This material is what our service companies mainly employed as "scrubbers" for large (expensive) acrylic tanks. Unfortunately, there are no useful "biological cleaners" or chemical treatments to recommend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Algae and acrylic Hi Bob, Thank you for your quick response. <Welcome> I have a feeling that there are different kinds of acrylic, some more soft than others. <You are correct... even gauged by their percentage of water content> The first time I cleaned the tank, I used water and a (I thought) 100 % cotton tea towel on the outside. That actually scratched the acrylic! I am now using an extremely soft synthetic Chamois for outside cleaning. <I see> The only kind of biological cleaner I know, and have used with success, is Barley straw. That kills the algae (green water algae), but not the algae growing on glass and acrylic. I have a garden pond with 6 Piranhas ( 35-40cm and weighs in at around 3-4 kg) and barley straw keeps that pond crystal clear despite heavy algae growth on the walls. The problem with Barley however is that it needs to be in direct light and in big bags this is not a nice view in an aquarium! <Yes... useful in ponds, but not aquariums> I realize that the tank does need a break-in period and things may with time change to the better. As an example the hardness started at 5 (my water supply is 2) and then grew by 1 a day up to 12 KH. By cleaning the tank every 4 to 5 days and change of 20% of the water KH is now 7 and only going up by 1/2 to 1 per day. I intend to run it at around 2 to 3 KH as the other tank I have. <Good accounting> I am protecting the tank from direct sun (one side covered during the day). The other side does not receive direct sun, but to avoid reflections it is covered until around 11 AM. For lighting I am using 36 18w tubes with reflectors, 50% 11 AM to 10 PM, 100% from 2 PM to 8 PM. Do you think this is too much and could be the reason for the serious algae growth and hardness of the algae? <Not likely... due to the depth of the system. I do think your and I's comment re "a break in period" is useful here. Over time your live plants should sharply limit nutrient availability to the algae and compete biochemically with it> Unfortunately Thailand is a real 3rd World country if you need something special (I had to import my C02 computers myself) and even if I order and buy an algae cleaning tool with 100% no scratching effect, I cannot depend on what the dealer tells me. I have looked at Eheim's web pages, but cannot find the products you mention. The wool I use in my Eheim filters seems very hard to me and I would be afraid to use it on the acrylic. <They are there: Ehfi-Grob and Ehfi-Fein> I did find a Danish aquarium shop selling non-scratching brushes for acrylic though, so I will email them to see what they can guarantee. Thanks again. Best regards, Steen <Hope to see your system in person one day. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning Aquariums What should I use to clean a 75 gallon aquarium that was last used 6 months ago and left empty, dirty and dry?  I'd like to convert it to saltwater use and since I got it for free, I'm taking my time with it.  What would you suggest is the best way, not necessarily the easiest or fastest? <I am a big fan of just water, I like to bring them out on my porch set them up on end and hose the heck out of them, if you are on concrete be sure to lay down a towel otherwise you can scratch the edges.  Vinegar is good for getting rid of calcium deposits and Muriatic acid (diluted) rocks when the vinegar won't cut it, be sure to wear gloves in a well ventilated area.> John Westgard

Cleaning filter bags hi there I am working in a abalone farm in Australia and I need some help they have offered to pay me $4 a bag if I can work out how to clean filter bags and cartridges they are 1 and 10 micron bags and 1 micron cartridge filter and charcoal filter cartridges if you can give me some help or point me in the right direction I would really be thankful, I need to make money hahahaha we use about 120 bags a week so that's a far bit of cash for me. please please I could live like a king :) <There are a few important facts re this procedure to relate to you and an article and FAQs posted on our sites re: One: Do NOT scrub these bags in any way... this will destroy them and cost a bunch of money for their replacement. Two: they should be first physically cleaned nonetheless. Most easily done by making a wooden or plastic pipe "post" to mount the bags on one at a time, inside out and a nozzle on a hose pips (garden hose in the west) and spraying the muck off of them. Third, you want a series of good-sized plastic containers (trash cans are best) to soak the bags first in a dilute solution of bleach and then in freshwater... the article and FAQs re here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clncarta.htm Cheers, Bob Fenner>

The True Nature of Vinegar >I just wanted to share a discovery. >>Alright. >I have several power heads that were totally encrusted with coralline algae. >>Something everyone wants. >Everyone knows how difficult this stuff is to get off.  Well, no more!  I soaked them in pure vinegar, and it turned the deposits into gooooo! I brushed it right off with a toothbrush! They look brand new!  Did you know about the wonders of vinegar? >>Why yes, yes I did.  It makes sense knowing that coralline algae are calcareous/calcium utilizing life forms.  Knowing that, and knowing that vinegar dissolves lime and other calcareous deposits, it works out perfectly.  You have made the discovery, and I shall post it for all to see.  I'm sure it will help many who didn't know. >See ya!  Pam >>C'ya!  Marina

Scratch remover How can I remove internal scratches and swirl marks from my aquarium. Please&Thank-You. Herb. <Glass, acrylic? Please insert "aquarium scratch removal" in the Google search tool on our homepage: WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

- Magnetic cleaner... - Good evening Wise Wet Ones- I have a magnetic glass cleaner that on the part that goes on the inside, had a piece of Velcro glued to it, to keep the cleaning cloth in place. Over years of use, the Velcro has finally come off the magnet.  What do you recommend to glue it back on?  I tried aquarium sealer which lasted about a week before it too came apart.  I'm afraid the industrial types of adhesives may not be compatible with the fish. <If you've had this item for years, I'd say you've probably gotten your money's worth out of it. I would suggest you just get a new one rather than take chances with various glues.> Thanks. Andy <Cheers, J -- >

Film (2 fer) Good morning crew <Yawn!> I'm trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. Do you know what this could be ???and how do I get rid of it??? It looks like its an  oil film. Thanks <Likely "just" dust, perhaps an aerosol as well from the room, air circulating about near the tank. I suggest "dipping" or wicking it off when you do your regular water changes... with a pitcher... or a clean, non-scented paper towel... and maybe using surface disruption from a pump discharge, airstone... to prevent the film from covering (and smothering) your livestock in the meanwhile (this happens pretty often). Bob Fenner>

Film algae - 10/12/03 Good morning crew I'm trying to get rid of this film I have on top of the water. <Need more info here. Salt or fresh? What color is the film?  Do you know what this could be ??? <Yes I do and it is on our webpage in a great many instances. Wanna know what is, eh? I assume you are talking saltwater?? Here you go: http://wetwebmedia.com/avoidingalgaeproblesm.htm> and how do I get rid of it??? <Many ways. If it is algae then I recommend to either use a cup to skim the top water layer and replace the water you take out. I also point a power head outlet nozzle to the surface to really churn the water up. Sometimes pre skimmers with a sponge or some other mechanical filtration helps as well. Please look through the link above (a great many additional blue links inside the link) and read up on the many types of algae issues (again, assuming it is marine algae.) Also use the Google search tool at the bottom of our page and go through the findings. Thanks for the question -Paul> looks like its an  oil film. Thanks

Gravel vacuuming, feeding Centropyge Hi, I have 2 non-related questions.  First, this is my first attempt at saltwater fishkeeping (about 8 months now).  I have crushed coral for substrate.<that is what I use>  I would like to know how deep I should clean the substrate.<I clean mine every time I do a water change, which is every 2 weeks> Do I just vacuum the surface or do I go deeper?<I vacuum most of the substrate in my aquarium. not very thoroughly, just spots where I see some detritus or crud lol>  The substrate is about 1 1/2 inches deep.  Also, I have had a coral beauty angel for about a week now.  He has yet to come to the top to eat with the other fish.<angelfish from the genus Centropyge generally eat foodstuff off of the live rock for about a month and then they begin to come and eat from the surface..> Instead he just seems to pick off the bottom (maybe the diatoms?)<or leftover food??>  Is this normal for this type of fish?<yes, it is exactly what my golden pygmy did and still does but now he comes to the top of the aquarium and eats right out of my hand!!! be patient my friend, IanB> Thanks for your help, James

Cleaning Snake Tank for Fish Hello, I have a 55 gallon aquarium that used to be the home of a ball python.  My snake died in the aquarium from an unknown illness...his insides basically liquefied.  I cleaned the tank out with a water and Clorox solution and sprayed it down with Lysol...to disinfect and to get rid of the smell.  I also sprayed the tank with Fabreeze to help with the odor.  Basically my question is whether there is something I can do to thoroughly clean the tank so that I can keep fish in it or if this is even recommended. Thank you, Scott <Hey Scott, sorry to hear about your snake, that sounds terrible.  I would not use anymore Fabreeze or Lysol on the tank, a good strong mix of bleach and water should do the trick, then let it dry and air out in the sun.  Make sure it is an aquarium designed to hold water, if it was sold to you as a reptile tank chances are it will not hold water.  Best Regards, Gage>

Cleaning used aquaria 9/22/03 Dear Bob, <Anthony Calfo in his stead> Yesterday I bought a tank that has been used but the guy said he didn't have time to clean it out.  So I was just wondering what I should do to clean it out.  I  was thinking  just get a sponge and wipe it off.   <hmmm... many inexpensive and easy ways to clean a used tank. Start with filling the empty aquarium and adding a half cup of bleach to sit for a day or two. Drain and scour with a plastic dish scrubbing pad (no soap of course)... use razor blades on the glass for tough spots if necessary. Rinse, refill and add a double dose of common aquarium conditioner (dechlorinator)... residual bleach will be neutralized then (easily). The tank will then be clean and sterilized> Also would a marbled Catshark and coral Catshark be able to live together. <yes... if the tank is large enough (over 150 gallons)> Thanks, Adam <best... Anthony>

Cleaning Refugium I just finished building a custom acrylic sump/refugium. In the process I used some buffing compound and polish both inside and out ( mostly outside). What should I use to clean it with before using it? Rinse it with water, bleach, vinegar or other? <Just freshwater and paper towels> PS Just ordered the new WWM Reef Inverts. book to read on vacation. Thanks as always, Ken <Know you will enjoy it. Bob Fenner>

Cleaning glass top of my tank and what is on my LR?... 07/22/03 Hello to all...just wanted to say that a day doesn't go by that I don't visit your website and read up on "FAQ"'s. <You keep doing that, and you'll wind up on the Q&A crew, that's what happened to me. ; )  > Can you tell me what is the best way to clean off the glass tops/lids on my aquariums?  They are not as clear anymore due to salt buildup and I'm afraid that my pc lights are not as effective.  Thank you in advance for any help you may provide. Also, my 72B with 80#'s of LR has been running for a year and a half.  Lots of critters can be seen when the lights are off (by shining a flashlight on the LR I can see what looks to be tiny clear/gray "shrimp", very tiny bugs moving around in circles, and small worms, less than an inch).  I assume all these are beneficial to my tank, including the worms.  My question is almost all of my live rock's surface on top and the back is covered with what appears to be small Featherdusters.  I mean hundreds of them all over growing out of and on my LR.  Some are even attached on my snail shells and crabs and some are over 6-8 inches around the bottom/back of my tank growing from my sand bed.  Very very skinny and the duster part is less than an inch in diameter.  Is this OK to have in my tank?  Does not look bad at all.  I have not done anything to try and get rid of them unless you tell me I should.  FOWLR system. Thanks again for your assistance... <Well, for cleaning glass I use a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water. That works well for me. As for the dusters, they're harmless, and will most likely in time fade away. Having an active population of inverts though is a good thing, means your clean up critters are there to help you. Have a nice day, PF>

Tank cleaning for storage! (7-16-03) Thanks Cody <My pleasure!> - one more quick question - should I bleach all the equipment that I plan to use in the future and then rinse really well? <Yep, and rinse before you set it up again.  Either use bleach or vinegar, for filters I would go with vinegar.  Those brushes with flexible handles that you would use for like cleaning out a musical instrument also come in handy for cleaning long or shaped tubing.  Tooth brushes often come in handy also.>  And the inside of the tank has some tough-to-remove purple coralline algae.  I have some "Safe & Easy" aquarium cleaner that was designed for fish tanks.  Should I just use this stuff on the equipment and inside the tank? <Yep again,  a razor blade also works well for the algae.  Cody> Thanks again for your time. Jon B

- Used Skimmer Cleaner - I just purchased a used Berlin HOT model that has a good bit of salt deposits built up. What is the best way to go about cleaning this product? <I'd let it soak in a weak mixture of water and vinegar... enough to fully submerge the skimmer. Let it soak as long as you please and then rinse, scrub and should be about as clean as it needs to be. If you want to be extra sure, you could then let it soak in a weak bleach solution, but I think the vinegar wash should be plenty. And of course, rinse very thoroughly before use.> James <Cheers, J -- >

Coralline Algae Scraping Hello Everyone at WWM, I have a lot of Coralline Algae on the glass in my fish tank and I was wondering what is the best way to get it off the glass.<I would use a razor blade to get the coralline off the glass...just make sure you don't scratch the glass> I have heard of using a razor blade but wouldn't that hurt my crabs and stuff I got in the tank.<I wouldn't cut the crabs> Also is it common for feather dusters to get in the corners of the tank and grow there?<yes> These are really small ones with just newly sprouting tubes.<have seen this before> Just wanted to know the safest and easiest way to get that coralline algae off before I clean out the tank today. Thanks for the help and love the site :)<thanks, IanB>                                                                                Matt

Tank Cleaning (dangers) Hello Crew, I've been using a gravel siphon to clean my 29 gallon tank. W/o thinking about it, I have been starting the suction manually, using my mouth.  Since I cleaned my tank on Monday night, I have been drastically sick - severe stomach distress, extreme diarrhea, cramping, and dehydration.  I know this might seem like a dumb question to you experts, but I am being fairly stupid for doing it this way? <Have done this myself for decades> I've noted other times when I didn't feel good, with similar stomach and intestinal distress, but never before this week have I been able to tie it to the tank cleaning.  Are there serious parasites in my (freshwater) tank that could be potentially dangerous to the human digestion system? thanks, Doug, the dumb tank cleaner. <Am concerned for your health here. I would consult with an MD re this possibility. As far as I'm aware, there is little danger of outright infection from ingesting aquarium water... There are a few other ways to "start" a siphon. I suggest you try these: filling the hose either from a tap or in the tank, plugging the siphon hose with your thumb, lowering it into the point of discharge (bucket, drain...). Bob Fenner>

Hi guys,     After 3 months of dealing with mucho green filamentous algae overtaking my live rock I have purchased a SpectraPure 2000 filter to make better water. I had been using my tap water with just TWP deionizer . I had just live rock and substrate (no fish yet) in my new 55 gallon tank. Once the product arrives I have to do major overhaul on my tank to clean and "sterilize" it with respect to the "bad water" and algae. How do I clean the algae completely off my live rock without killing it ??<A tooth brush should work and then come along right behind with a siphon to remove the algae.> How do I safely sterilize the acrylic tank itself ??<A good rinse and wipe with no chemicals should be fine.> This is anxious part, how do I "sterilize" inside my Iwaki pump, powerhead, UV sterilizer and closed in pipes and hoses under my tank to remove the algae and "bad water" from inside ??? <You just have to do the best you can with pipe cleaners, toothbrushes, etc.  You should be able to take them mostly apart to get the innards.  Cody>

Algae Scraping >To the greatest team since the '86 Mets: >>Crewmate Marina here this afternoon. >I just read from one of the FAQ's somebody mentioned using a razor blade to scrape some coralline algae from the front panel of (I assume) his glass tank.   >>Yes, glass ONLY, never acrylic. >The responder did not advise against this.  I have a tough time scraping the inside of my tank.  Is it okay to use a razor blade (metal, last time I checked) inside of a marine tank for this purpose? >>Yes, no problem.  You'll not be keeping it inside the tank, though expect it to rust quickly.  Marina

Worm like crust on glass walls Hi, I keep getting circle like coralline algae on the front and back of my glass aquarium, which is also a reef tank. I have to always scrape them off. Is this a good thing or not ? thank you for your help, again. Le Roy Hicks  <This is a good thing in the sense that you are doing something right and after the coralline is established it will be much harder for nuisance algae to grow.  On the other hand you have to scrape it off the glass, which is a real pain.  Cody

Question on sand Hi, i was wondering if i pointing a powerhead to my sand to remove top detritus around the live rock and if all the stuff becomes suspended would it bother my mushroom and button polyps? thanks JM  <This would help, and it shouldn't bother the mushrooms or the polyps.  You could also try siphoning it out with a hose.  Cody>

- Cleaning Coralline Algae and ID Assistance - Good morning to all - <And good morning to you, JasonC here...> I regularly remove/disassemble my pumps, heaters, skimmer...etc. for periodic cleaning. I have quite a bit of coralline algae growing on everything and it seems to come back faster after a thorough cleaning (as thorough as I can scrape it off). I have left the back of my tank covered in the algae because, frankly, it is covered and would be too hard to keep clean. Is there anything that I could soak the parts in in order to remove the algae, rather than mechanical means...scrapping - my first thought was vinegar - but I don't know why. <Your first thought was the correct one.> Any suggestions? <Just let the parts soak in vinegar for a while and the stuff will come right off - make sure you rinse thoroughly before replacing in the tank.> Secondly, I need some help with identification, I have searched you and other sites but can't find a picture that resembles a recent purchase. It is a cluster of polyps that looks amazingly like bright, almost florescent green moss growing but upon close inspection, you can see the individual polyps. <Sorry to say, there's not enough information to make a guess - perhaps send along a picture.> Unfortunately, I received a hitch hiker with the purchase - it has an aiptasia anemone (only one at the time of this writing) that I am trying to remove, that is killing the surrounding polyps and leaving a bare circle around it. I know aiptasia are not easy to eradicate - but I'm trying nonetheless, before it reproduces. <Consider Peppermint Shrimp - they work really well.> Thanks again for your assistance.    J.T. Craddock

Cleaning the Substrate Hi Guys, >And gals! Just a few quick questions.  I have been into marine fish keeping now for about 12 months and after my own investigation found that I was not vacuuming my gravel as i should have been.  I removed all of the gravel and gave the tank a huge clean.  Was this a bad thing to do.  >Well....in a word, yes.  A gravel vacuum is better, and even *then*, only vacuum 1/3-1/2 the bottom at each cleaning.  However, not all is lost, is it? Should I have just bought a gravel cleaner?  >Yes, but that can be fixed by buying one now.  Go online and get 'em cheap. Would not vacuuming my gravel have been the reason for my constant high nitrates?  >Only one reason.  If you're using gravel then no matter what, you won't be culturing the type of bacteria that would break down the oxidized ammonia (nitrogenous) wastes anyway.  That can be done with good quantities of GOOD quality live rock, as well as a deep sand bed (DSB).  However, not to worry, you can also use foam fractionation (protein skimming) to help stay on top of things. I perform a 20% change a week.  >Sounds good to me. I now want to add some new base medium.  I have been to my LFS and they said they cannot get live sand.  They have crushed coral gravel and small bits of bleached coral which i used to have it there.  What do you think is the best for my situation?  Could I leave it as is? >How about calling your local Home Depot and seeing if they have a product (sand) called "Southdown".  This is "the stuff" as far as reefers are concerned.  A finely-grained, calcareous substrate at a fraction of the price of your other choice (for calcareous substrata), Aragonite sand.  Aragonite can be ordered by mail or online as well, and you can also seek out deep sand bed seeding kits that help the process move along.   I have a rather small tank 20 gals with about 20 pounds of live rock.  Do you think I need more live rock as my nitrates are fairly high at the moment and I am performing at least a 20% water change a week?  >You have a fair amount of live rock, but it can only do so much.  I would suggest first investing in a good quality protein skimmer, CPR BakPak or AquaC Remora are two highly recommended hang-on-tank (HOT) brands.  Then I would purchase the sand, enough to make a bed about 3"-4" deep.  You could also set up a refugium, or add sufficient lighting so that you can grow macro algae that can then be harvested, thus removing the nitrates quite literally physically. Also, are canister filters any good for marine setups? >Sure, why not?  Just be careful when using carbon (in my opinion you can nix it), some brands will leach phosphates--no good! I have a closed top system with built in trickle filter containing Seachem's Matrix and cannot fit a protein skimmer.  >Then get the HOT protein skimmer.  That's preferable to the canister, in my opinion. I would like better filtration without making any major modifications and we're trying to find some viable options.  Any ideas.  Thanks in advance.  Amon >There you have it, please feel free to explore our site some more at http://www.wetwebmedia.com (look for filtration, specifically) as well as http://www.reefs.org/library >Also, both sites have very good, active forums where you can ask questions more directly, and will get a response from a much wider base.  Marina

Aquarium cleaning Can an aquarium once used for a reptile be used for fish? <Sure, as long as it is an aquarium that was made to hold water, and not a reptile tank that looks like an aquarium, but will eventually blow up if filled with water.  Be sure to clean the tank well, 1cup bleach in 5gal of water is a good cleaning solution. -Gage>

Response to Post (ClearTANKT product) Dear Crew, I am writing in response to a Q & A that I saw on your website reprinted here: Heard of this? Is this for real? http://www.cleartank.com/welcome.html Silicon Valley Steve <I have never heard of this but I wouldn't try it as most of these products do more harm than good. Cody> There seems to be some misunderstanding about our product and I would like to take this opportunity to clear this up by telling you a little about ClearTANK.    I am the R & D Manager for RMR Industries, LLC, the company that makes ClearTANK.  I found this Q & A because some people were referred to our website www.cleartank.com from the link.  Since we are a company interested in our customer's opinions and problems, I am personally responding to this post to alleviate any misconceptions and help raise the awareness about this great new product.   Please allow me to tell you a little about our product. <Please do> ClearTANK is a crystal clear coating for the interior walls of an aquarium that reduces and delays the buildup of organic material on the aquarium walls by 2 to 4 times.  When the walls do begin to get dirty, the buildup is much easier to remove.  In other words it takes a lot less elbow grease a lot less often.  ClearTANK acts very similar to a non-stick coating on a frying pan.  To give you more information I have included a copy of the FAQ from our website: 1. Can I buy ClearTANK at my local pet store? Every week more and more stores are stocking ClearTANK. If your favorite store doesn't, suggest that they do. Better yet print out this web page and give it to them. It has all the information they need to become a dealer. 2. How big of a tank will one bottle cover? Although all tank dimensions are different in surface area. You can expect one bottle to cover a typical 300-gallon aquarium. 3. Can I treat my Aquarium with the water in it? NO! ClearTANK is totally safe to all aquatic life when applied as directed, but will not work if diluted in water and can be hazardous to the fish. 4. You offer a one-year guarantee on ClearTANKT. Is that how long it lasts? All hobbyists have different methods of maintaining and cleaning their aquariums, some are better at this than others. Our research has shown that if a tank treated with ClearTANK is cleaned according to the recommendations in our instructions you can expect years of ClearTANK protection. 5. Does ClearTANK work on acrylic tanks? Yes. We have a formula for acrylic as well as glass aquariums. 6. Does ClearTANK work in salt-water aquariums? Yes. 7. Will ClearTANK be visible on my aquarium after I treat it? No. ClearTANK is absolutely clear. 8. How often will I have to clean my aquarium after treating it with ClearTANK? Again, all aquariums are different but you will notice that the time between your need to clean the tank walls will at least double. 9. I don't have a reseller number. Why can't I purchase ClearTANKT products at wholesale prices? Wholesalers buy in large quantities and therefore receive a discount so that they can resell the product to their customers and still make a profit. If you want to buy ClearTANKT products in large quantities, we will arrange a discount for you. Just e-mail us or fill out the request for access to the wholesale area. 10.Does ClearTANK make a good gift? Of course! Every tank deserves the treatment. Are your fish smiling? I was wondering if it would be possible to post a response on your website or perhaps a press release? <Would have to see such. We don't "do promotions", but are interested in informing fellow aquarists to (new) products of merit> Also I noticed that on your link page you have many aquarium related companies.  Would it be possible to get our link listed there and what would we need to do? <I will refer you to our folks that handle marketing>   For more information about our product please see our website, email us at info@cleartank.com or simply reply to this email.  Feel free to express to us your concerns and questions about the product or what it can do. Thanks in advance, Isaac Moore R&D Manager, ClearTANK <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

Pre-Setup Sterilization I've inherited a 40gallon aquarium that I'd like to make into a marine aquarium.  Before I got the tank it was used to house an iguana, and was cleaned with a variety of cleaners and whatnot. Will a standard cleaning of water with bleach make the aquarium clean enough to ever house a marine aquarium? Chris Jones <Should not be a problem, straight bleach, not perfumes or dyes, 1cup per 5gal of water, contact time approx 2 hours.  Rinse, dry in the sun, repeat if necessary.  The rinsing and drying should dissipate the chlorine (bleach).  I hope your friend with the Iguana got him a larger home, they don't stay small for long :-). Best Regards, Gage>

- Gravel Vacuum - Hi people, <And hello to you, JasonC here...> How do you VACCUM a marine tank? <With a gravel vacuum.> I have read about this method to rid the tank of food deposits etc... how do I do this? Is there a special vacuum cleaner available? <It's not a vacuum cleaner per se... it's really more of a siphon-based system with an enlarged tube which allows one to shuffle the gravel while siphoning the gunk out. They are fairly cheap and available at most any pet supply store.> Thanks for your time.... God Bless you Lyndon <Cheers, J -- >

Clear slime in fresh water tank I recently received a 75 gal. Fish tank from a relative. I am using it for my 5 large gold fish. Its been up and running for approx. 3 weeks. Over the past few days I've noticed of a build up of clear sludge in between the lava rocks as well as starting to gunk up my power head filter. It also includes some waste from the fishes.  I'm going to vacuum it out but I ran into this problem before when using lava rock and I removed them. Now for the new tank I bought new lava rock as decorations.  Do you have any idea what this slime is and how to get rid of it?  Thanks... <"Just" mulm from the goldfish, uneaten food. Get a gravel vacuum and siphon this out during regular water changes. Instructions, rationale here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm Bob Fenner> Sandra Frongillo

Re: goldfish & tanks If I washed a fish tank out with bleach how long should I wait until I can put more fish in the tank? <<Bleach is chlorine and it will evaporate. Scrub the tank out with hot water and then let it sit for a couple of days. You should then be safe to set the tank up and get it going. Don't forget that you will have to cycle your tank before you add too many fish! Ronni>>

- Seeing Spots - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have a 55gal tank with about 40 pounds of live rock.  I also have live sand.  I have had it set up for only 4 months, but have good algae growth, etc. I have white calcium-like spots growing all over the back glass, rocks, thermometer, artificial plants. <Probably a calcium-based tube worm.> They are hard to scrape off. <That's calcium for you.> I need help identifying it... then I need to know if it is good or bad. <They are harmless.> Also, I have a Foxface that acts kinda weird.  The hides in the back corner up near the top and changes colors. <Many fish change their coloration when they feel out of sorts.> He acts kinda dormant.  When I feed, he becomes alive and eats... swims around for a while, then goes back to hiding.  Is this the nature of the species, or should I be concerned. <How much decor do you have in the tank... it could be that the Fox Face doesn't feel like it has a place to 'be'. It could also be a matter of time. It usually takes a month or more for a fish to feel 'at home' in a new system, providing no one is hassling it.>  All of my water parameters are great. Thanks a bunch.  You guys have been very helpful in setting up my new tank. Michael <Cheers, J -- >

Water Changes And Elbow Grease! Hello and good evening, <Good Evening to you! Scott F. with you tonight> First off I would like to say that your web site has been an invaluable resource to myself and others that I have referred.  Your scientific and professional approach to research on anything marine has been a great benefit.  I have learned more surfing between classes than I have in years of school :^). <I did more surfing during classes then between them when I was in school! Oh, wait- different kind of surfing- but I get it now...> Recently (Sept.  02) I have started a nano-reef, 20 gal long acrylic, with 30 lbs of premium cured live rock, a CSL 65 watt 50/50/actinic, modified SeaClone skimmer, and a few well placed booster pumps for flow and circulation.  I have numerous little soft corals that came along with the rock, and a large amount of "freebies" that have come along for the ride. <Sounds cool!> After about a month all of my chemistry had stabilized, 0-0-0 on the basics, pH is always stable, and my calcium is always over 400ppm.  So as it seems everything is very stable, everyone loves the tank, and everyone inside is having a ball. <Excellent!> Though I did have one concern, I have been cleaning the front of the tank with a acrylic scrubbing pad because there seems to be the small colonies of hard to remove algae.  I know that it's not calcareous <sp?> algae (I have that growing all over the back and sides) but it seems to be dark green/dark brown and very hard to remove, it requires a good amount of elbow grease.  I end up having to drain out about 10% of the water and scrub the heck out of the front about once a week so we can see all of the magic that is going on in front.  Based on what I have been able to tell you, can you identify what this may be? <Sounds like some kind of diatom to me. In the absence of other nuisance algae (i.e; hair algae, Cyanobacteria, etc.), I'd say that this is a fairly normal occurrence. Usually, aggressive skimming, water changes, and lots of elbow grease are required to tame this. You'll probably always have some of this algae; it just needs to be scrubbed away regularly> I am using RO water that I mix in salt with and bubble overnight. <FYI- try aerating the water before you mix the salt, then mix the salt, and use the next day. A bit longer process, but generally yields a more stable pH, etc, in the long run when using RO water> Other than that the only complaints that I seem to have are the occasional loss of a blue leg hermit, and the somewhat stunted growth of my xenias. <Give it time, this too shall pass! these corals do grow like weeds when the conditions are right!> Any advice you could offer is more than appreciated.  Thank you and your teammates for your most valuable of resources. Ben <Thanks for the nice words, Ben. It sounds like you're on the right track here...Just keep up the basics- good skimming, regular water changes, observation, careful feeding, and a little scrubbing when needed. You're doing fine! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Magnet Cleaners for Acrylic Aquariums Do you recommend using magnet cleaners for acrylic aquariums.  I have a 160 gallon (only a few months old so we have lots of algae blooming!) and it is killing me to clean the tank.  Would a magnet help?  I have found one that I'm interested in getting (see link below).  Wanted to make sure you didn't see any problem with using them.  Thanks! http://www.reefgeek.com/products/categories/cleaning equipment/103899.html <I like credit cards for a first go at knocking off anything "gritty" (like small encrusting worms, coralline algae), then these "acrylic safe" floating magnets. Bob Fenner>

Magnet Cleaners for Acrylic Aquariums credit cards will definitely not scratch the acrylic? <They never have when I've used them. Many types of scrubbers work fine if regularly employed (once, twice weekly) with care to not "pick up" gravel et al. material twixt the pad and the acrylic. My all time fave material is the "Grob Flocken" of Eheim. Bob Fenner> - Cleaning Acrylic Tanks - credit cards will definitely not scratch the acrylic? <Not in my experience. Cheers, J -- >

Magnet Cleaners for Acrylic Aquariums Do you know where I can get "Grob Flocken" of Eheim?  Do places like Marine Depot or somewhere else carry it?  Thanks so much for your help! :) <Most all dealers of Eheim products sell their media. It's the larger grade white one... comes in a couple size boxes... the small one will do... the stuff lasts forever... or at least half this long. Bob Fenner>

Freshwater tank with film on water <Ananda here, fielding the freshwater questions today...> Can you tell me what might be causing a film on top of the water in my freshwater tank? <Hmmm. Usually a result of insufficient filtration or insufficient water agitation at the top of the tank.> It's a 5 1/2 gallon tank with four fish. <Depending on the size and type of the fish, you may be a bit overstocked.> The filter seems to be working fine. The water itself is clear, but there's a film on the top of the water.  It's kind of gross, help! <You don't mention anything about your tank maintenance or tank history...please check your water quality parameters and your filter, do a water change, and look through our articles and FAQs on freshwater systems -- start at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm.> Thanks. <You are quite welcome. --Ananda>

Cleaning "Scum" on water surface! Bob, <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> How does one go about cleaning the build-up of a surface layer of debris from the surface of the water on a marine aquarium? Thank you in advance for any information you may have on this subject! <I typed "surface scum" into the Google search engine on www.WetWebMedia.com and got this page, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pbfaq6mar.htm Your answer is at the very bottom. -Steven Pro>

Glass Cleaner? First of all, thank you so much for your help in the past. You at from the WWM Crew have been very helpful. < Glad to be of service. Scott F. with you tonight> >I would like to know if ammonia solutions, used to clean, can actually go through glass. I have heard that because of the chemical compositions of glass and ammonia, the ammonia will be able to penetrate it. Is this true??? I do not use this on my tank anyways, but I have had customers that tell me they do. They say that, they don't spray it on the glass, they put it on a rag first. I would not get any cleaner anywhere near my tanks, but that is not the point. <I am not certain as to how permeable glass could be with ammonia, so I'd play it safe and not use it. The amount that could get through is probably minimal, if any. but who can be certain? Sure, thousands of people spray household ammonia into a rag and wipe it into the glass...But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. I'd use one of the so-called "aquarium safe" glass/acrylic polishes on the market (which, knowing the way such products are marketed, are probably the same stuff you find in household glass cleaners...LOL!) and feel better about the whole thing! Probably being overly paranoid...but, if it helps us sleep at night- why not?> Also, does It matter what brand Calcium test kit you use to test the Ca levels? Does the Ca test kit have to be the same brand as the Ca supplement? I would guess that Ca is Ca.. but I just wanted to ask you. Thanks again. Yorgos Gregory <Well, Yorgos, there are different forms of calcium, such as calcium gluconate (e.g. Seachem's "Reef Calcium" product), and some kits do not measure this as accurately as others. My advice is to utilize a good all-around calcium test kit, such as a Salifert. Do read more about calcium supplementation and testing on the WetWebMedia site by using our Google search feature. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Hardening substrate Hello WWM crew! Not sure who I'll get, but I know you all know your stuff.  My set up is as follows: 90 gal. reef tank, with 70 gal refugium w/ 18" x 48" plenum. and 50 gal sump.  Mostly SPS and LPS corals and a couple anemones.   <good heavens... please split this group up soon if you want any of the to see 5 years old let alone ten. A lot of chemical aggression with this garden reef (soup) of drastically different corals. Please resist mixing LPS, SPS and especially anemones (species tank) unnaturally> 150 lbs of LR and about 100 lbs Live sand. My skimmer is an AquaC EV 400. Total system water is about 180gallons.  The question I have is over the last couple of months I have noticed something leaching out of the water and covering the pumps impellers and heaters of the sump, but don't notice it on anything else  It is a white cement like substance that can only be scraped off glass by a razor blade.   <calcium carbonate?> Also the substrate in my plenum is starting to "crust over" or "cement" together.   <ahhh... yes. Spiking your pH with supplements too much or too fast. Either fast running Kalkwasser or excessive/unshaken (shake vigorously every time) 2-part mixes. Do water changes to dilute and temper your dosing protocol> Nothing visible in the substrate but when you run your fingers through it, it comes up in giant clumps 1" to 1.5" thick.  Any ideas?  I use a couple of additives. EVS B-Ionic 2 part Alk/cal,  EVS Iodine, Kent Marine Strontium, and EVS activated carbon.   <all sounds fine... I really like ESV products> I do 5-10% water change each week with RODI water & Instant Ocean.   <larger water changes needed here especially as long as you have such a wild mix of corals and no application of ozone. Approach 25% weekly for ideal> Also am thinking about added a calcium reactor.   <quite convenient> Is the Knop C a good choice and big enough for my tank?   <hmm... that depends. What is your daily demand for calcium? ppm? I use a Knop reactor myself and love it. Others favor different brands> Looking forward to the new book.  Keep up the great work! Be chatting, Brad Stefanko <thanks kindly! Anthony>

Flame hawk/Magnavore cleaning pads Crew, <David here> Have two quick/easy questions this morning. 1) I see on all the etailer livestock sites where the flame hawk is described as "reef safe", but also it says they will eat "small crustaceans".  Does that mean all my red-legged and blue legged hermit crabs will disappear if I get one? <That's exactly what it means! Oh...and feather dusters, shrimps, snails, etc.> 2) I keep my aquarium glass pretty clean using a cheap 10$ magnet a couple times a week. However at least once a month or a little more often I have to scrub very hard with an algae pad to remove the extremely stubborn green dots of algae. I am wondering about those expensive Magnavore etc. magnets that are upwards of 50$ or the Kent Proscraper blades.  Will they make maint, easier or is elbow grease the only real solution to that stubborn glass algae. <Elbow grease is the only thing that's ever works for me> thanks - Kevin <You're welcome! I have an acrylic tank...therefore no experience with these magnets. Although I'm absolutely positive one could find lots of differing opinions on this subject! David Dowless>

Detritus Settling in Sump There is some junk at the bottom of my sump and I would like to get it out. What is the best way to do that? <It is probably detritus and you should be able to siphon it out with the next water change.> It sits under the tank and is too low to use a gravity feed siphon. <Unlikely. Water will always flow downhill. Your sump bottom is in your stand and raised a few inches from the floor. The water level in the sump is anywhere from 6-12" deep. You should be able to draw a siphon. The easiest way will be to shut off your sump return pump. Allow the sump to fill, if it does not fill to the top, siphon water from the tank to the sump until it is filled. This will create a bigger difference and aid in siphoning. -Steven Pro>

Got the calcium scale blues To the crew, Great job and thanks for all the help. All of you deserve a big hand for all the time you spend helping others. <Thank you kindly!> My question is regarding a white film that covers the inside of my mixing container, heater and, power head between water changes. I use IO salt, RO water (pH 6.8). First, I aerate the RO water then add the salt. After 12-24 hours I test the water for salinity and pH and adjust as necessary. I use Seachem Marine Buffer most of the time since the pH is usually only around 8.0. Once everything is settled, I add a cup or two of tank water and let it age with the heater on and the Hagen 802 power head providing circulation for about a week. After about 24 hours it starts to form a white film that eventually covers everything. If I clean the film off the container and such (has a gritty feel) it turns the water white and eventually just re-coats everything again. <I am guessing you have added too much buffer and caused a precipitation of calcium carbonate by raising alkalinity with the pH.> If I get to near the bottom where the film is heaviest, it flakes off and tends to clog my power head intake. Am I doing something wrong in the way I am mixing the salt? <Just a bit too much buffer. This sounds much like my protocol for mixing saltwater, except for the introduction of old tank water. For a frame of reference, I use about 1/2 teaspoon each of Reef Builder and Marine Buffer per 5 gallons of water.> I have seen this question posted on WWM chat forum, but no one has provided a clear answer. One response was to add magnesium, would this help? <Not likely, but maybe worth testing. Magnesium should be three times the calcium level.> I am struggling with my calcium levels and wondering if this has something to do with my low levels. <Yes, because all your new saltwater's calcium is laying in the bottom of the mixing vat.> I just tested my water and my calcium is 225, pH 8.2 and Alk 5.2 mg/L <Yep, your alkalinity is too high.> this is after a 32-gallon water change early this morning (my tank is around 100 gallons total). I forgot to test calcium levels before I made the water change, but the mixed salt tested over 500 for calcium a week ago. Any ideas? <Do take a look at Anthony's fine article here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm -Steven Pro>

Maintenance Dear Sir, Thanks so much for all of your help in the past and for providing such an informative website for all to utilize. I have been to your maintenance FAQ section and cannot find anything specific on the topic of cleaning a wet/dry filter. <Ok> I am wondering, other than the obvious pre-filter maintenance, how often I should actually clean the wet/dry sump and foam water polishing block in the bottom of the filter? <The foam block and prefilter should both be cleaned as often as possible. It is amazing how much material can be removed from your system with daily cleaning of these mechanical filters. The sump should be siphoned clean of settled detritus whenever you do water changes or debris accumulates.> I know not to immerse the bio balls in fresh water and a clean, salt water dip is ok to remove detritus matter, but what about the rest of the unit? Thanks so much! T. Michael Basciano <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Water precipitation is puzzling me! Hi WetWebMedia Crew.  <Hello> I am having a terrible time setting up a quarantine tank and would love to hear your advice. I moved to Pa. a month ago from N.J. and obviously had to move my 55 SWFO tank. I set up the 55 gallon tank and its filters etc. in my new house and everything (knock on wood) is fine. I quarantined my few small fish in my 20 gallon long quarantine tank which contains a TetraTec 300 filter, a Tronic heater, a thermometer, and a fluorescent light. After a few weeks of them healthy in the 20, I moved them to their 55 gallon tank. All seems well in the 55 gallon tank with my water quality and appearance as follows; 10 ALK, 0 NH3, 0 NO2, 0 NO3, 1.0235 salinity, pH of 8.2, temperature of 79 degrees, and the water is crystal clear. The fish also seem healthy as they are active and feed like monsters. I took apart the quarantine set up, rinsed it, and let it dry. Now I have tried to set the 20 gal tank back up and the water becomes cloudy and seems to precipitate out white powder all over the sides and bottom, on the heater, in the filter, etc. It only takes two days for this to precipitation to happen. Keep in mind the water in this new small 20 gallon quarantine system is coming from the same faucet, treated with the same APPlus Safe Water and Instant Ocean salt that the 55 gallon tank was set up with and the 55 gal tank is fine. The water is known to be hard where I live but it is treated town water. I cant determine if the white precipitate is calcium carbonate, salt, or something else. I think probably calcium carbonate as I have to scrub like the dickens to get it to come off, its like cement. It is hard to get off some spots but just brushes away from others on the glass. It is permanently attached to the plastic of my filter. I have drained the 20 G tank, cleaned it, and refilled it three times now and the same result happens all the time. What do you think is causing this white scale in my 20 gal keeping in mind the big tank is fine? Do you think I should do my first water change in my big tank or will this precipitation happen there as well? <I would wait on the water change until we have this precipitation problem figured out. Or for the time being you could purchase from Sea water from your LFS if it is available.> I don't know what to do and am sitting on pins and needles waiting for your reply <ouch>. <What are the steps that you are taking to mix the water? Are you mixing it in the 20gal tank? I would consider mixing the water in a separate container (maybe save yourself some scrubbing). Aerate the water (12-24hrs), then buffer (6-12 hrs), and then add the salt (mixed 12+hrs). Also, check your alkalinity and free calcium levels, you are aiming for 12dkh ALK and 400+ Ca. You can find more info on pre mixing your water at the link below http://www.wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm Best Regards, Gage> Thanks again, Amy

Algae Scraper To WWM Crew, Every two weeks or so I need to scrape off algae from the front and sides of my glass tank. It seems like I've bought every type of scraper but they just don't do the job properly so I wind up using a razor blade. It becomes a real pain in the neck, especially when wearing gloves and I usually wind up disrupting everything in the tank. <Plus, there is the eventuality of scratching the tank.> Also, the fish like to eat the algae while I am scraping and I am concerned that the razor blade will cut one of the fish. Do you have any recommendations as to any particular brands or types of scrapers that would work? <I like to use the Kent Pro Scraper with plastic blade, but my best advise is to get a magnet scraper and use this every few days. It takes but a few minutes and is very easy, not messy, and keeps the sides from ever getting too bad.> Thank you, Rob <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Commercial Aquarium Cleaning Gear Bob, Do you know of any companies that manufacture commercial fish tank cleaning equipment?  <A few, though most people in the trade make their own. You can contact Rainbow/Lifegard, Aquanetics, Python Products re their lines, possibilities> I need as portable system for cleaning tanks in office buildings, homes etc. Up to about 1500 litre freshwater systems and possibly saltwater in the future. I also have a petstore so could use the system there also. Any help would be gratefully appreciated. <Do contact other people in the service side... consider fabricating your own gear... it is less costly in general (if you have the time, skills), and will fit your needs better if you DIY. Bob Fenner> Regards Michael. P.S. Love the Wet Web Media website. <Please consider "adding to it" with an article/write-up of your adventures in securing the above gear... Our svc. division built, reconfigured skid units from the pool/spa industry, on dollies, rolling racks... even trailered larger diameter (1 1/2, 2" hose reels) for trash pumps... for cleaning ponds... and we'll place on WWM, help you get published in the print magazine realm.>

silly questions cant find on faq (Caulerpa, Dehumidifier H2O, Cleaning Tanks, Amphibious Snails...) hey there I have some basic silly questions, oh gods of the captive sea. <if we get to be deities... I wanna be Bacchus> 1. can I use water from my basement dehumidifier as replacement water or is my well water fine. <possibly neither... dehumidifier water has been used by aquarists before, but that doesn't make it right or safe. Just take the sheer number of hot dogs consumed by people as an alleged food, as casein point. The water produced is condensed on metal parts. No best or guarantees as to what that can or may impart into the water. Furthermore, the standing water collected in the reservoir as demineralized water is definitely going to absorb impurities from the air as it sits (all water especially soft will). Well water can be quite variable seasonally and is influenced by many factors... depth, local run off, etc. Even when good, it is generally not consistent enough to use unless you have it analyzed quarterly to monitor trends. My advice is to buy a deionizer with good prefilters and recondition the purified water made to suit the species you keep> 2. I bought a used 39 tall tank, it has wormy, hard crusted white stuck-on old tiny worm tubes. what's that about???? are they bad? I have his live sand and live rock in quarantine. tiny calcified tubes and all. <they are either Serpulid worms (kinda like miniature feather dusters) or they are sessile snail... both harmless, even desirable filter feeders. Enjoy> 3. my mom brought me some small snails from the Fla. gulf. they are always out of the tank, on the canopy, up the wires, several feet from the tank. waiting for high tide? what are they and should I get rid of them, the kids have a blast finding them every day. beneficial or not.?? also in another quarantine tank...have 3 now after my loss of 22 clowns to ich.  <I have absolutely no idea... many species this could be. And it really underscores the importance of not taking animals from the wild or buying from a store without knowing if you can meet their needs in captivity. I certainly understand that mum brought the snails back with the best intentions, but they are still living creatures that may end up dying or being killed prematurely> 4. ma also brought to NJ for me fresh live sand and fresh live gravel from the gulf...one day fresh...any good for my tanks. in quarantine tank 3 now. <likely fine and helpful> 5. my Caulerpa is making tank water yellow, how do I fix and prevent. grape mostly. <heehee... just one of the many reasons why I dislike Caulerpa in mixed garden reef displays. But.. to answer your question, small frequent changes of carbon (critical for quality light getting to live rock, anemones, coral, etc). For example, 2 oz of carbon replaced weekly is much better than 8 oz replaced monthly?> 6. how do I crop it back. pinch the WHAT?? in your faq, I don't get it. <best to pull up whole and continuous fronds (strands) rather than pinch, cut or crop along a perimeter. Pinching or cutting fronds causes a sort of sapping that can stress/kill an entire colony and forcibly send the mass into a "meltdown" releasing all of the garbage it took up in growth plus its own natural noxious compounds. Sometimes such events can even wipe a tank out. I am personally adamant that Caulerpa needs VERY close attention in mixed reef displays (I like it much better in a dedicated marine "plant" tank).> thank you again most timely gods Renee rn <quite welcome... my work is done: now time to go find some ambrosia and nectar (AKA beer and pretzels). Anthony>

How not to clean your tank! Gentlemen, <Hello> I have been given a 30 Gallon Tall tank. I haven't had an aquarium since I was a kid so I started looking on the Internet for advice and came across your site. What a find! I have found answers to everything I have needed to know. Unfortunately my 12 year old son hasn't seen your site and decided to help his Dad by cleaning the empty tank with soap! Now I know that soap is a BIG no-no. My question is that now that it's been done how do I get all traces out of the tank?  <Give the tank if it's glass a scrub with rock or finer salt and water... and lots of rinsing. This should do it> I am in the process of making a stand (very sturdy) so I'm in no hurry to set up the tank. Any Ideas? Thanks, Bryan <Don't get me started on the "any ideas"... Bob Fenner>

Mystery Slime Bob, <<JasonC here, Bob is away diving.>> I'll echo the compliments to you I read from most people on your FAQ's. Very nice job. I generally like to read over the FAQ's and articles already in existence on the WWM site and elsewhere on the web. You make it easy to research a subject. But I can't find anything on this white slime accumulating on the glass sides of my tank and in the tube feeding the foam fractionator. It looks like mucous. I know, sounds yucky...it is. <<is it? it sounds like a protein-like coating that is ubiquitous in marine tank keeping - a property of the "stuff" in the water and prolonged contact with things like the glass and plumbing. You should be able to just clean it off the glass with a scraper or magnet cleaner.>> My ammonia, nitrate, nitrite are all zip. My pH is a steady 8.2 and 78 degrees. A couple weeks ago I had a Cyanobacteria outbreak that seems to have turned into brown diatom problem now. I stir the substrate every day and the brown scum reappears. I do water changes each week and I just can't figure it out. The tank has been up for 5 months. <<this is part of the normal chain of events of a new tank.>> I feed my four fish in a 55 gallon system very sparingly. <<very wise>> Now, one of my communities of once flourishing green star polyps has retracted and hasn't been extended for 3 days. All the other corals are doing really well, although one of my Condylactis' is shrinking. <<this all sounds normal, polyps/anemones do this as they adjust to various conditions - lighting/current, etc.>> I thought the green star polyp's problem could be related to chemical warfare but I moved it and got no results. I thought at first the white film was some form of coral discharge. <<don't think so>> Now it seems too widespread to be that. I figure the algae could be high phosphates...I don't test for that. <<your Local Fish Store might, or at least be willing to sell you the kit.>> But I age my tap water like a good boy should. <<typically won't do a think to phosphate if that is a problem (?). Take some of your fresh water to the LFS and test that too.>> Thanks for the time and insight. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Questions about Cleaning Canister Filter Media JasonC, <<Greetings.>> Hey it looks like the maintenance section of fresh/salt water filter cleaning go to the same page. <<interesting>> What's interesting is I understood it you're never supposed to clean your bio-load balls or ceramic cylinders. It doesn't mention to clean them but I just wanted to confirm. <<you could RINSE them every so often [every six months or so] in clean salt water, just to remove silt/mulm but you wouldn't want to scrub or bleach them or rinse in fresh water.>> In my canister filter I have a small white pre-filter followed by my copper bag. <<copper bag? You mean carbon I hope...>> then a separator and my ceramic cylinders for bio load and then a thick black filter. Is it true all of these items can be cleaned except for the ceramic as bacteria is growing on them necessary to break down ammonia/nitrites? <<and filter pads should be cleaned, bleached, scrubbed, etc.>> Do you suggest not cleaning them all at the same time as some bacteria is growing on these items and this would not have a huge drop in bacteria population? <<you should always clean [or replace if necessary] filter pads, and if you are on a regular cycle with this [say every week] then the bacteria will never really have a chance to populate the filter pads.>> thanks for the help! <<You are quite welcome - Cheers, J -- >>

Cleaning magnet in tank, Eclipse Modification Hello Mr. Fenner, I just finished reading today's Q&A's & the last one about lighting for the Eclipse system. I started an experimental 25g Eclipse system a few months back & am thoroughly happy w/it. The CustromSeaLife retro PowerCompacts are terrific lights. And very easy to install. I cut the back of the plastic and have added a protein skimmer and a couple of power heads. <Thank you for this input> This little tank is supporting (I know you wont like this)-A mated pair of true Perc's, a Flameback angel (African), a yellow assessor, a orange spotted blenny. All very small fish. Also, a torch coral, a hammer coral, an Alveopora, a frilly mushroom and a small bubble tip Anem. Everything is thriving! I highly recommend this lighting setup. On another note-My brother leaves his algae cleanup magnet in his 180g reef tank, set up in Nov.01, & now he is noticing that the corals are dying or not looking as great on the left side of the tank (where the magnet is). Could there be a chemical reaction of some sort going on in that portion of the tank? <Yes. 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> Welcome back & thanks in advance. Craig

Cleaning a Used Tank Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo here in your service...answering queries while I am waiting for the Mother Ship to arrive> I have the chance to purchase a 85gal show tank with most of the works. (wet/dry filter, heater, pump, lights) The draw back is that it is a mess! It needs a serious cleaning. How would I go about cleaning it?  <cleaning what? Fresh or salt kept tank? organics/algae or calcium deposits/coralline?> What should I use that wont leave any residue that will be harmful to the fish?  <popular agents include salt, vinegar or bleach (never mix those two!!!)used separately> Also, The guy said that he had cleaned the tank once with bleach. What would happen to the tank? I hear that bleach isn't good for any tanks. How could I fix this? Thanks, John <use the bleach for organics/algae OR use the vinegar for lime deposits/corallines. Rinse well, air dry and use Dechlor for bleached water to neutralize. Anthony>

easy question today Hi there all of you guys, I just wanted to know if there is a trick you guys use to clean these darn micron filter socks. The garden hose is barely ok, I get more wet than the sock clean. <I know of a couple of guys that use them. To clean the filter bags, they turn them inside out and throw them in the washing machine all by themselves and without detergent. This seems to work pretty good for them. -Steven Pro> Believe it or not, that's all there is today(so now let me get a towel and clean the floor) SASCHA

Paint Fumes Hi Bob, I am considering some renovation work on the interior of my house which would include re painting the walls. I am concerned that the fumes may be harmful to my 110 gallon emerging reef tank. Obviously I'm aware of not letting any paint splatter/drip into the water but what about the fumes? Are the fumes something I should worry about? Is one type of paint (water base latex or oil base or other type) less "dangerous" than any other.  <Mmm, yes... some paints have more V.O.C.s... especially some of the oil-based enamels, stains... but no great danger given a couple of easy preventative measures... Right about "painting time" for the room area (if can be closed off by doors, towels at the base...) cover your tank/s with damp towels, turn off all air-entraining devices like powerheads, venturi-type skimmers, and "bubblers"... Provide new air circulation as you're painting, after... and all should be fine...> I have a feeling I'm worrying too much. As always thank you so much for your expert opinion. <You're welcome. If you'd like to "practice" your painting... I do have a few projects here... Bob "Huck Finn" Fenner>

sand bed cleaning i got a question regarding hydro-cleaning a sand bed. I've got a 125gal tank with about 5-6in of fine (sugar sized) sand. i haven't vacuumed it for about three months because I've been attempting to 'automate' the process by employing a highly diverse and strong fleet of detritivores (spaghetti worms, amphipods, copepods, Mysid, cucumbers, micro stars, brittle/serpent). regardless of how great the system sounds on paper it just doesn't work well enough. so no im stuck with ultra fine sand that needs to be hydro-cleaned.  <Or stirred perhaps... not shaken, call me Bond> can you recommend or point me to a place where i could get a cleaner designed to get waste and not sand? I've heard that they exist, but are pretty expensive. id rather DIY the vac. <This can be done... easy enough to build a large enough diameter gravel vacuum... that you can "fine tune" the flow with so you don't suck out the fine substrate...> anyways im struggling with a dissolved organics issue and im left with few options. <Why?> im doing frequent, large water changes 50% every week <This is too much> and i vacuum out large patches of Cyanobacteria and other slimes/algaes. so at least the organics locked in them are out of the system.  <99.9 some percent water...> also i harvet my Caulerpa tank regularly, sadly that's the only thing that is enjoying the sewage issue. oh, and the bio load exerted by my livestock is medium-low. god, i hate vacuuming tanks... it looks like my quest for a (mostly)carefree system got me into trouble. thanks Jon trowbridge <Time to investigate your options a bit more... do post your query, situation on our Chatforum: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/ Bob Fenner>

Is acrylic scratch remover safe for fish? Hello Mr. Fenner, I just got finished putting my new tank together. I have the powerheads, the heater, and the aragonite sand and water in. I have not yet put it the salt. I'm just testing the components and letting the sand dust settle. While inspecting my tank, I noticed in the light that there seems to be a very slight haze in a couple upper corners of the tank. I believe it might be from the TruVu SRK (scratch remover kit).  <This may be so... or typical "stress fracturing" marks from heat-bending in those areas> I might of accidentally not rubbed off all of the scratch remover paste thingy. The water has a oil spill type look when viewed at a lower angle. Is this bad? Shall I take out the water and wash the tank again? Please help. Thank You. <Ahh, our businesses (retail and service) used to sell many TruVu/Aquaplex tanks... and I've spent many hours with the green and tan pastes you mention in their scratch removal kit. This material is not toxic. I would not take the tank down, or worry. Bob Fenner> Stan

Re: Is acrylic scratch remover safe for fish? Thank you very much. That is what some people suggested on ReefCentral, but to hear it from an expert like you makes me feel so much better.  Thank you again and have a Happy New Year. Stan <You as well my friend. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Taking out scratches from the inside Bob, do you know of any acrylic scratch removal kit that works underwater? <No... all require draining the system at least down to the level of the work. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Lee

Messed up tank Hi Bob, Merry Christmas! I need help with my 60G reef acrylic tank .. I was stupid enough to dump too much buffer (water+Kent buffer) into it last week and half of the front glass is now coated with "white stuff". <Yeeikes!> I tried scrapping it off with my credit card and with the cleaning pads but still there is a lot of "white stuff" left. Good thing is I am actually moving this weekend so I would get a chance to give it a good clean. Do you know of any good way to get the "white stuff" off? <Not w/o emptying the tank... gently wiping with dilute acid (like vinegar, acetic) on a sponge, or better, swishing successive washes of it (white is better) onto the panels... Or letting time go by... it will wear off... Don't scrape! Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Brian

Calcium buildup IM not sure I have the correct addy, so apologies if so. I have an aquarium with calcium buildup stains, any ideas on how to remove them? Cheers Shell  <The best method bar none is to dissolve them away with a dilute (low concentration acid (organic or inorganic). Try starting with white vinegar (acetic acid) poured directly on empty tank (outdoors for fumes), and if this doesn't get rid of the scale, find a source (hardware, swimming pool maintenance) of three molar hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic). CAREFULLY dilute this to about one tenth concentration from stock by adding it one part to nine parts water... and pour this onto the scale... if this doesn't do it, make the concentration about two-tenths etc. DON'T SCRUB! As this will scratch glass and acrylic tanks. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

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