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Aquarium logs ... and why you should keep one.

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Aquarium logs ... and why you should keep one.

Postby Basenji » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 1:30 pm

For many years I have been an advocate of keeping a log of changes made to my aquariums. It gives you a chance to note when things livestock specimens are added, somewhere to write down test results, document when you've adopted different approaches to dosing or feeding, when you've replaced lamps etc, and provides a starting point when you are trying to figure out what's happened when things go wrong.

There are any number of approaches I have tried over the years, from handwritten log books, scribbling on scraps of paper, spreadsheets, downloaded database programmes and my own custom written database. To be honest, my most successful method really has been the old hand written log book - low tech is sometimes good.

With that being said, over recent years I have become lazy.
I actually filled up my old log book that I kept for many years, and never got around to buying another one. I really don't have many records from the last 4 years or so.

Some of you may have read my tank journal entry yesterday relating the dramas I have been through with my tank over the last 8 months or so. One of my biggest frustrations has been trying to work out what actually went wrong, and the sequence of events over that period of time, since I didn't really write anything down. In trying to resolve my tank health issues I have made a lot of changes to lighting, skimming, dosing methods as I've responded to symptoms as they presented themselves. I have lots of theories about what happened, but it is very hard to come to any firm conclusions because I just don't have the hard data. For example, I would love to know when I did water changes over the first month or so of the problems presenting themselves, when that water was collected, but I only have a general memory of what I did.

So in the last 2 months, I've gone back to basics and set myself up a log system.
I've come up with a very simple tabulated sheet, which I stick on a clipboard that is left handy to each of my tanks. As each sheet is filled up, I throw it into ring binder.
It is an infinitely expandable system that works just as easy for 1 tank as it would for 10.
If I really felt like it I could key it into a spreadsheet, but I don't really see a lot of point in doing that.

As well as being a record or what is happening, it also acts as a quick daily checklist of what needs to be done (feeding, dosing, skimmer, topup). I believe that already it has manifested itself in a more stable system simply by prompting me to check the topup reservoir each day, rather than letting it run dry and then not realising for a few days until the sump return starts blowing bubbles.

It takes no time at all to do, and it is satisfying just from the point of view that it disciplines you to actually look at your tank critically for a few minutes to see what is going on, even if it is just to count the fish and ensure everyone is accounted for.

In the interests of sharing the love,
here is a PDF copy of the latest version of my log sheet
Feel free to print it off and use it, or run with the idea and vary it to suit your own specific needs.

I'd also be interested in hearing what systems other people use, and what works for you. It's not really important what system you use. What is important is that you use it.

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My Tank Journals:--> 3x2 Project-->Thomas's Tank --> 4 foot display (retired) --> 2 foot Nano (retired)
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Postby OzSpock » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 1:59 pm

:withyou: It's amazing, I've been tossing & turning about the same topic for a while like you Colin.
I've created similar spreadsheets, even downloaded the program Aquarium Lab v.2.5. If you would like to evaluate I can e-mail you a copy.
At least the program allows for statistical trends etc.
But it misses some of the details one sets out with hand written notes.
But then being able to overview all your comments & findings in a search becomes difficult and I haven't found an answer for that yet.
I like your idea of a "ticking a box", to make sure that things are done.
So thanks for sharing your insights, consistancy in our hobby is still the key.
Cheers,
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Postby coral1 » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 2:22 pm

i have a log book for my tank and have just always used it from the start so now its habit ,very handy
not only for tank health but also a quick refrence as to purchase dates for equipment.
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Postby Alf D » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 3:21 pm

I use ReefConPro.
It's also good for adding photo's of new purchases (fish, corals etc)
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Postby gros21 » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 3:32 pm

for fresh water i used to use a very basic laminated log and write down, notes doses ect. then i flip it over and us eteh other side, sure u can only use 2 sides (one onth each side) of it but it was great setting up my co2 system and general dose ad trying to learn the cycle of my crs and rcs shrimp
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Postby isullivan » Wed 15 Apr, 2009 6:00 pm

I have found keeping a spreadsheet to be extremely useful, and have been able to diagnose a couple of tank issues from it, which otherwise I would have had no idea!

Recently I have been logging statistics from my Profilux 24hrs a day and this has also provided me with invaluable info. For instance I recently noticed that just sticking my hand in the tank makes the redox drop quite dramatically, so now I try to keep my hands out of the tank as often as possible.
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Postby amehel0 » Thu 16 Apr, 2009 8:23 pm

yeh at tafe we have spread sheets for our system water quality parameters are checked 2x daily. we also need to check equipment daily and live stock daily as well as hand feed them to see how they are doing. but all in good fun! i feel sorry for the poor buggers on fish farms who need to check 200 water quality maintaence points twice a day every day including chirstmas.
<a href="http://www.masa.asn.au/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=194327">My 3x2 rimless tank journal!</a>

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Postby siddr20 » Thu 23 Apr, 2009 1:12 am

Thank you very much for that pdf. Will print it and stick to it.. great explaination!!
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Postby sydneydrewid » Thu 23 Apr, 2009 9:00 am

thx basenji!! :cheers:
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Postby Adrianvh » Sat 25 Apr, 2009 6:28 pm

I've keep an Excel spreadsheet since day one. Its good because I can customize graphs to show quickly upward or downward trends. You can attach a note to a numerical entry and add popup fields to remind me of water changes due etc.

However, I am considering going to paper for day in day out routine. Keep it by the tank and tick it off as done.
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Postby Basenji » Sat 25 Apr, 2009 7:56 pm

Thanks for the comments guys.
The beauty of the hand-written system is that it is easy to actually capture the data.
Once you've captured it, you can enter it into whatever spreadsheets or databases you want, do analysis, plot trends and all the other fun stuff that us fish nerds like to do. :roflmao:

But if you haven't captured the data in the first place, then the best database in the world won't help you.
Colin
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Postby Steve Campbell » Sat 25 Apr, 2009 11:12 pm

Excel spread sheet for me, water parameters, range, target, action or addition, water changes, equipment change or maintenance.

One thing I have been poor in documenting is my bulb choice dates they were changed and my lighting schedual. I haven't included skimmer tuning, maintenance or skimmate production. I used to have a species list that was lost but am slowly working on that again.
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Postby swiftly » Sat 25 Apr, 2009 11:28 pm

Very good log sheet set up :clap: - have tried a spreadsheet and computerised logs - but remember water and electricity do not mix. Sharing spreadsheets may be a good idea :wavey:!
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Postby Jesster » Sun 26 Apr, 2009 12:20 pm

thanks basenji! very useful! already printed and in use.
Cheers

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Postby KirTracid » Mon 27 Apr, 2009 11:57 am

Looks fantastic Colin, makes me really wish I had a working printer right about now.

I just take dodgy hand written notes. Nothing fancy, but have gotten really lax lately.
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