To reduce maintenance, I tried to automate the system as much as possible. The top-off water is automatically replaced by a reservoir that is filled through my RO-DI unit.
The skimmer is connected to the house’s sewer system. The calcium replacement needs are handled by the Deltec reactor, which pretty much just leaves cleaning and feeding.
I try to remove as much detritus from the system as possible before it can pollute the tank. My circulation system tends to blow detritus to the center canyon of the aquascaping (which is by design). It is then easily vacuumed up. I vacuum the sand at least once a week. The process is very quick and easy….. I just slide the light hood out of the way and vacuum the entire sand area. This usually takes about two 5 gallon buckets to perform. I then let the vacuumed water, sand, detritus, and other waste settle for about ten minutes in the bucket before I decant the water back into the overflow. Some waste gets back into the system; but, 90% or more of the waste gets totally removed.
This method allows me to vacuum the sand even if I don’t have replacement water available. The vacuumed sand, along with the waste, is then discarded. As the sand gets too thin in the main display tank, new sand is added. It takes about three months of sand vacuuming to completely replace all the sand.
Cleaning the front panel is very easy. I use a Magnavore 10 cleaning magnet to accomplish the task. I place a 4 X 6 inch piece of acrylic down onto the sand against the front panel and then place the wet part of the magnet onto the 4 X 6 piece of acrylic. I then go to the viewing side of the front panel and engage the dry part of the magnet to the wet part of the magnet. This method keeps any sand particles from getting trapped between the two parts of the magnet. I just reverse the process to remove the magnets.
The Deltec skimmer has self cleaning capabilities. There is a brush in the neck of the skimmer that rotates and cleans the skimmer’s neck every 6 hours. There is also a cup flushing mechanism that rinses the collection cup every 12 hours. The only other maintenance that I perform is to clean the self cleaning brushes twice a month.
I replace 165 gals every month or so. I have a 165 gal container that takes about two days for my RO-DI unit to fill. I pour one 200gal bucket of Oceanic salt into the container and let a mag24 pump circulate the water for 24 hours before use. When it comes time to perform the water change, I then turn off my sump pumps ( I leave the closed loop pumps operating) and completely drain the sump plus about half of my refugium…. which equals about 165 gallons. I then completely sponge down the empty sump. Finally, I pump the new water back into the sump using the same mag24. The whole process takes about 20 minutes to perform.
The bonded pre-filter pads are replaced about twice a month.
There are no additives that are used other than 1 liter of carbon changed bi-weekly
The metal halide bulbs are replaced every 9 -12 months with the VHO bulbs being replaced every 6 months.
Since the refugium is bare bottomed, it is easy to vacuum any settled detritus from this area. I vacuum the refugium about twice a month and harvest the Chaetomorpha macro algae about once a month.
Feeding is performed every other day and consists of various frozen mysis, plankton, squid, scallop and Cyclops-eeze. Nori is also occasionally added.
Humidity is removed by an attic exhaust fan that is mounted in the garage. It completely changes the entire garage’s air volume every twenty minutes.