Equipment Cleaning

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Introduction

This is aimed to be a simple marine aquarium maintenance guide.

Cleaners

A cleaning solution of 1:10 to 1:1 water and plain white vinegar can be used for most equipment.

Bottle/nail brush for cleaning out smaller diameter piping.

Clean rags for wiping down surfaces.


Equipment

Disassembled protein skimmer.JPG

Protein Skimmer

Frequency

Every 2 months.

Disassembly

What

Inside and outside surfaces, and plumbing pieces. New skimmers should be completly disasembled and checked to ensure all parts are present, fit together properly and nothing is broken.

How

Clean the inside and outside of skimmers with a soft cloth. Plumbing pieces can be cleaned with a soft bristled brush or pipe cleaners. Skimmer pumps can be cleaned the same way as powerheads and other pumps buy soaking and running in a 1:1 solution of white vinegar. New skimmers should be cleaned and run in tub with a 1:10 solution of white vinegar for a few hours but preferably at least 24 hours. After a good rinse in fresh water run the skimmer in the same tub with discarded tank water for a few weeks prior to instillation. This will allow the break in period to be completed prior to installation into the system. The breakin period for a skimmer is a short time for new skimmers where bio films will coat the inside surfaces and slowly bing the skimmer to maximum efficiency.


Sump cleaning.jpg

Sump

Frequency

Yearly.

Disassembly

There is often not much that can be removed, some dividers that are removable can be removed, equipment such as skimmers or calcium reactors that are running submerged can also be removed. Any media can be removed and rinsed.

What

How

Siphon all the detritus out of the bottom. Canister filters can filled with filter wool and used to vacuum out detritus. An extra pump is usually required (see photo opposite). To avoid damage to the pump and canister set it up as; line in (suction end)--> canister in, canister out --> pump inlet, pump outlet --> return to sump. Avoid disturbing the sand in a DSB or refugium as much as possible, lightly rake it if needed. Clean and replace filter bags as often as needed (usually weekly). Use a new razor blade to clean glass of coralline algae buildup and only vacuum the top 10mm or so of the DSB. Clean any filter material in discarded tank water.


Aqua bee 2000i.jpg

Pump

Most hobbyists use magnetic drive pumps, although the pumps may look a little different the configuration is very similar. The photo opposite is a protein skimmer pump with a solid front cover and a needle wheel impeller. The air injector can be seen in the front left of the photo.

Frequency =

Every 2-6 months.

Disassembly

Disconnect power, remove plumbing connections and remove from system. A plastic bowl or tub is very handy for this. Remove the front cover, in the photo opposite the front cover is a solid panel (top left) but most are slotted and act as strainers to prevent large objects from getting into the pump. A sponge may be found inside the front cover. Remove the impeller cover locking ring by twisting anti clock wise and remove the impeller cover buy simply pulling it forward. The impeller can removed by pulling it forward.

What

Impellers, pump housing and all parts.

How

Put them in a bucket with 1:1 water and vinegar solution and let them run until clean. Usually takes about 1-2 hours. Then pull them apart and clean all parts with a 1:1 vinegar solution using a soft cloth and a soft bristled brush like a tooth brush or bottle brush. Stubborn coralline algae can be removed using full strength plain white vinegar but must be rinsed after.


Powerhead

Frequency

Every 2-6 months.

Disassembly

What

Impellers, impeller chamber and inlet / outlet.

How

Clean Same as pumps above.


Aquarium chiller.jpg

Chiller

Any maintenance required on the internal section of a chiller including re-gassing should be done by a suitably qualified technician.

Frequency

Yearly.

Disassembly

There is very little that the Hobbyist can do to a chiller. Some chillers have air filters that can be removed and the plumbing can be disconnected from the unit.

What

Internal piping and radiator.

How

Chillers can be flushed by connecting them to the garden hose and flushing fresh water through in the opposite direction to the normal flow. By setting up a temporary sump using a suitable bucket, a 1:1 white vinegar or kalkwasser solution can be flushed through the chiller using an appropriate pump and temporary plumbing between the two. Ensure adequate rinsing afterwards.

Air filters on chillers (those that have them) should be removed and cleaned by flushing with water or using a vacuum cleaner monthly. The exterior of the unit should be cleaned using a damp cloth only, avoid soaps or detergents.


Shop fitting metal halide.jpg

Lighting

Frequency

Weekly

Disassembly

What

Globe and glass shield surfaces.

How

Wipe clean with a damp cloth. More resistant deposits can be removed using a vinegar solution.


Plumbing

  • algae build up

Frequency

Once per year.

Disassembly

What

Internals of piping, especially vinyl tubing that is exposed to light.

How

Pipe cleaners / bottle brushes work well. Turning pumps off for a few seconds will dislodge any loose mulm that can build up on the inside of plumbing.

Professional Maintenance Service

A standard service from a professional aquarium maintenance company would usually include the following tasks:

  • Rake and siphon debris from sand bed (if required)
  • Change or rinse mechanical and chemical filtration media
  • Empty protein skimmer collection cups
  • Clean covers and light fixtures
  • Clean pumps and impellers
  • Remove and clean decorative ornaments (if required)
  • Check the inventory of food
  • Check and test water quality and temperature
  • Water change and top up
  • Visual check of equipment, air and water flow
  • Check fish for disease
  • Overall layout check and tidy
  • Clean exterior and interior aquarium surfaces
  • Log of all tests and actions