Making Aquarium Water Changes Easier - EP 2: Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance
Pets & Animals 9 years ago 216,208 views
www.bulkreefsupply.com Water changes in your saltwater aquarium play a major role in the health of your reef tank. In today's episode of BRStv, we discuss ways to make changing the water easier so you do it more often. Let's face it, water changes are not the highlight of owning a reef tank. It can be time consuming, waiting for your RO system to produce the water, waiting for the water to heat up and getting the correct level of salinity to be able to use the water. Then you have to remove the water from your tank and replace it with the new salt water all while keeping the salinity in your tank stable. So here a few ways to hopefully make it easier: 1. Get two containers that are the same size and a three way valve. Be sure you have enough space for both these containers. This will ensure you always have a waiting batch of freshwater from your RO System. When the saltwater container is empty, simply turn the valve to fill up with the heated water, add your salt and you are ready to go. Go one step further and put a timer on the container of freshwater. If you always do a water change on Sunday, you can set the timer to heat and aerate the water on Saturday night and turn off on Sunday - saving you energy because you are not heating the water all the time. It is a good idea to always keep the saltwater container heated with some flow to avoid precipitation issues. 2. Get two same-size containers matching the amount of water change you would like to do. For example, if you want to "change" 25 gallons for your 100 gallon tank each time, mark a line on the container at 25 gallons coupled with the container which also holds 25 gallons. This way you can completely empty the freshwater container, thus eliminating the process of adding small amounts of salt over and over again to get to the proper salinity. Same freshwater volume, same salt added, same salinity - it won't be perfect but it will get you pretty close. 3. Removing the saltwater from your old tank can be a pain and no one likes hauling buckets around - they're heavy and they make complete mess. Try the water change hoses that start the siphon by turning on the faucet (no sucking up tank water with your mouth - yuck) and the old water just goes down the drain. 4. Pump the water directly to your tank from the storage container. If your tank and storage container are close enough this is a great option. Get a large submersible pump like a Sicce that can handle the head pressure and just pump the water to the tank. Finally, people often ask about the large water containers you see in many of our BRStv videos. We don't sell them at bulkreefsupply.com as they would be too expensive to ship. The brand we use are Norwesco but you can look up a farm supply or plumbing supply store in your area. Are you going to try any of these tricks to make your water changes easier? Are you already doing them or have other great ideas for decreasing the pain of water changes? Let us know in the comments below.
10. comment for Making Aquarium Water Changes Easier - EP 2: Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance
I keeping reading/hearing that in reef tanks, doing large water changes are a bad thing. What exactly makes this bad? Assuming the new water is correctly mixed and the 'holy trinity' of alk calc and mag test true before hand, why is it bad? I'm only curious, as in freshwater doing water changes are vital to the overall health of the system. What is inside of the 'aged' water column that we are trying to limit removal of? Or is it something to do with what's inside of the 'new' water? Thanks for the help!
It's definitely a great topic to explore for BRStv Investigates!
I'm new to the hobby just ordered a Red sea reefer 350 im just doin as much research as i can before i start my new aquarium.
20. comment for Making Aquarium Water Changes Easier - EP 2: Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance
30. comment for Making Aquarium Water Changes Easier - EP 2: Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance
1. Please define precipitated in relation to saltwater? Are you referring to water dehydration, salt creep, or loss of minerals out of the water such as calc, mag and others?
2. I have heard suggestions to let the saltwater mix age 24 hours, but then again I would want to know how long is reasonable without
it losing the above mentioned minerals into the air, if that is precipitation? I have let mixed salt sit for a week with a small pump for flow and heater in it, but I was worried it sat too long because I did have to add some fresh R/O to make up for dehydration. So how long should the saltwater sit once it is mixed, before adding it to the tank?
3. If I should let the saltwater sit for a period of time, for whatever reason it should, should I go ahead and have the salt mix aerating in addition to heater and flow? Thank you.
On a side note; what is your opinion on keeping the storage containers sealed? (Considering factors like evaporation, contamination and oxygenation).
I keep the fresh water resevoir above the middle tank.. so I can just gravity feed into it with the replacement water. So the only pump involved is the mixing one that I keep in the middle tank. One of the nice features is that I can just turn "on" a step and walk away and know it will stop on its own. So I can, for example, while walking to the car start step 1... then go mow the lawn..etc.. when I notice things are done... gravity drain the fresh water in..(just open valve). then go do other stuff.. then when I notice its done... dump salt in & turn on mixing pump... then maybe on the next day before I go to work confirm salinity and un-bypass.
The total time involved in doing the water change is really .... less than 2 or 3 minutes.. because I don't have to babysit any of the steps.. no pumps to fry on a dry reservoir or anything like that...
The "optional upgrade" lower sump comes with an "ATO with Reverse Osmosis reservoir" so there's that... I've been paying some thought to how auto water changes would work with auto top off systems; or rather how they wouldn't. The easiest work around I could think of was to put the ATO on a daily timer who's schedule doesn't intersect with WCs... and will perform an "early" top off about 5 mins before water starts getting dumped. I don't think this provision would be needed if old and new water are solely being exchanged in compartments/containers upstream from the return chamber (lowest point), assuming there was no "overflow" from one to the other while filling. Just thinking out loud...
Perhaps modifying the container's outlet-to-drain (for WC) would allow all the gunk at its base to be prioritized by the suction when draining? Your right in that this particular container would be a PITA to clean the inner walls of. This actually brings to mind the issue of organics export in any compartments up stream from the mechanical export methods (skimmer, filter socks, etc.)... if memory serves Saxby may have partially side stepped this by adding a skimmer or two upstream from the exchange containers, as well as including multiple circulation pumps to add flow in and between said containers.
As for how to add new water, I personally believe a separate storage container that can keep enough new mixed water for at least 2 or 3 full water changes is indispensable for the long term convenience of maintaining a reef system, and even freshwater systems that require some form of water conditioning. I would be thanking myself when the time came for an emergency exchange, or just needing to replace a small amount to account for a removed rock/coral. Some people are more skilled with mixing the right proportions of salt and fresh on the fly, so making it as they need it isn't a problem for them.
Yep. Life could be made easier for many an aquarist once more manufacturers start catching on to the desire for auto/semi-automated water changes. I started thinking about the "sump compartment drain" idea after watching this one part of an aquarist's house tour (search von Drachenfels > 1st video > 1:48). I noted the ball valve drains coming from the bottom of the somewhat-elevated sump and it got me thinking.
I like your "double bucket" idea since, like your original drainable middle tank, it provides a handy way of exchanging a predefined amount of water without interrupting the sump return's operation. Emptying the whole sump, though possibly a more "thorough" organic export technique like siphoning display tank detritus, doesn't offer the same luxury. I will say though that the "middle tank" method looks better to me on paper than the double bucket due to its flexibility. You would just be redirecting the display tank water straight to the sump instead of the 2nd bucket, emptying the middle tank to waste, then filling it by pump/float switch from a bigger reservoir that may be too large to comfortably fit above the tank level, but can hold many weeks worth of fresh, prepared water.
Thanks for the input about raising the sump. You may have noticed that I tend to be shying away from plans that require gravity feeds for the water change system. Part of the reason is that I am usually living with others, so putting holes through walls for piping, putting new-water containers on high platforms beside the tank or leaving tubing going from the sump to the nearest drain isn't really an option. :P At the same time, I'm also thinking of ways to make it more hands-off, meaning certain items associated with mandatory weekly/twice weekly maintenance should be able to stay in one place, perform the required tasks, and not get in anyone's way. Hence ideas like using a pump to empty the sump... most likely into a waiting, tall container that can take a week or two of old water before I get around to pumping it to the garden/drain.
I've thought that if I could have a tank -- with 2 x 5 gallon buckets under.. both of which would have a standpipe and drain into the sump. Water from the display only goes into one of them at a time, the other "inactive" bucket is your mixing/prep bucket. When the inactive bucket is ready.. redirect tank to that one.. and simply remove the formerly active bucket... dump it.. fill it with water add salt... maybe a small pump/heater on it... both buckets help with mixing.. and maybe even act as the heater for the main tank...
If you were one of these companies that make AIO tanks.. you think they would be all over something like this... the Fluval AIO with the drainable 'back sump' shows they are starting to go that way. There are also some small 1 gallon tanks that have removable portions of the tank that you dump/replace... but nothing I've seen in the ~30g range...
It would start with an "export pump". Its intakes going into the smallest chambers (1st ones to empty) would be plumbed with float valves set to close at certain water levels, while the largest chamber's float switch (last to empty) would cut power to the pump just above the level of its intake. The regular sump return pump would have to be set to shut off a minute beforehand though, so as to keep the water level in the return more or less constant.
1 minute or 2 after the time that's expected to finish, the timer/controller would cut power to that export pump up stream from its float switch relay. An "import pump" for the new water would activate and fill the sump up to a predefined point, probably by way of another float switch in the return chamber. Another couple of minutes later, the sump return pump/skimmer/s etc. come back on and it's back to business as usual.
As you can probably guess my imagined system is just full ways it could go wrong (float switch failure for one), which is a shame since I'm brainstorming ways to automate these essential tasks so that they can be carried out during my absence. I really don't like the idea of resorting to something like a drip system where many more dollars of salt mix/preparation liquids go down the drain than what I think is needed. The real kicker is I seem to find the act of "overthinking" these concepts rather amusing.
The only issue that comes to mind is dedicating space under the level of the display for a tank that does nothing but hold water (as opposed to the sump), but in practice it looks like the most trouble-free way to perform an efficient 'pump and dump' water change.
As far as mixing goes, I generally try to mix it within a week or two of a planned water change, but as long as you circulate the water and keep it heated then it can be stored for quite a while.
im sorry did you mean with cholrine as in (decholrinator)? then let the magic happen? :D
50. comment for Making Aquarium Water Changes Easier - EP 2: Saltwater Aquarium Maintenance
i got a question to ask. I have bought one of the 55 gallon drum from a local food store that i have been using for a about 6 months now to collect the RODI water for my weekly water changes. when i bought this drum i had cleaned it up thoroughly and let it dry. after about 6 months of usage i noticed the Phosphate level in my tank was showing high.. i checked my rodi unit and the tds meter was showing 0 so the water was good. i checked the phosphate on the water coming directly out of my rodi and the test showed between 0.4 to 0.2ppm however i had some rodi water in the 55G drum and whn i check its ph it showed 0.64ppm so i know that was the source of the phosphate being high in my tank. My question is if you collect rodi water and keep it untouched for some days or untill next water change will that slowly increase your phosphate since the water in the drum will have no movement...i have always liked the idea of setting up a water change station for my 150G setup to make life easier but i am worried to collect water and leave it there would effect the water quality?
As far as storing the water, it will basically last indefinitely provided it's well sealed and not at risk for any contamination.
It's about the best system I could come up with since I don't have room for RO/Saltwater holding tanks! At least it's easy enough that it helps me keep up with the water changes.
Of course that's with water I filter through my BRS 5 stage filter. I am almost in need of some di resin. I will have to order some after Christmas.
Do you have any information on automatic water changers? it seems like I saw something once that was a couple of reservoirs and one would take out a gallon and one would add a gallon or something. there has to be a good way to diy one with float valve controlled pumps or something.
Nah, I just have a tendency to make my life more complex. :)
There is another approach that can be used that is more simple, and cheaper, provided you have a programmable controller like an Apex, and a float switch for sensing the water level in the sump. The switch is placed at the normal operating level of the sump. The controller is programmed to turn on a small pump for a set time each day, and this pump sends water from the sump down the drain (typically 1% of the system volume). After it's done running, a second pump in the makeup salt water reservoir turns on, and refills the sump until the float switch tells it to turn off.
There are important considerations with this setup, such as having some sort of redundancy to eliminate disasters from controller or switch malfunction, and the ability to disable auto topoff during the water change cycle. Also, the water change process needs to automatically disable itself if the reservoir runs dry. These things can be easily accomplished with a versatile and reliable controller.