Cleaning My Entire Saltwater Aquarium Setup

I took a good chunk of time this last weekend to clean the entire saltwater aquarium setup I have in my studio.

It was a big project, since I don’t normally clean everything on the same day. I usually do one or two things at a time, spread out over time, which is a lot more easy to handle. But for some reason I just went for gold this last weekend and cleaned the whole works.

I started out by doing a substrate cleaning while pulling 10 gallons of the aquarium water out (my aquarium is a 75 gallon aquarium). I turn off all my powerheads and filtration before I pull water out of the tank, since they don’t work well when the water level drops below the lever where the pumps are at.

Once I had the substrate all vacuumed up, and two full 5 gallon buckets of dirty aquarium water dumped down the drain, I conditioned the water that I had ready to go to add back to the tank.

I had two 5 gallon buckets of clean saltwater ready to go. I always get my replacement water through my water purification system that is hooked up to my kitchen plumbing. It’s a 3 stage RO/DI system, and I gives me excellently clean water to put in my aquarium.

I fill the buckets up with purified water first, then add salt mix when they are full. I stir and then let sit for a couple hours after adding the salt. Once the salt is dissolved, I add Prime and Essential Elements from Kent Marine. I can usually get by without any conditioners since I’m using purified water, but I like to add the essential elements at least, and I will usually add the prime to help support the fish in the aquarium.

Anyways, I let the water then sit, while I got to work cleaning up the rest of the aquarium hardware.

Next up was the AquaC Remora protein skimmer. I usually don’t clean the whole skimmer, I usually just remove the collection cup. But this time I wanted to clean the whole works. I disconnected the water pump from the skimmer and pulled the whole unit off the aquarium. I used a long brush to reach way inside this thing and scrubbed it clean. After the good cleaning I reattached the skimmer to the aquarium.

Next up was the phosphate reactor. This is the one I hate cleaning the most, it’s awkward to replace the Rowaphos that I usually fill this with. I pulled the whole thing off the aquarium, dumped the used up Rowaphos in the garbage, and rinsed it all out. After putting new Rowaphos in the unit and reassembling it all (this time I also replaced the foam filters) I flushed out the Rowaphos. After flushing, it went back on the tank. Whew, the tough one is now complete.

After all this I was getting sick of cleaning this all up, but I still needed to clean the canister filter and lighting fixture.

I disconnected the Eheim canister filter (which is very easy to do) and pulled it apart. I dumped out the ChemiPure Elite pouches that I had been using in this canister, they had been in there for several months. I also threw out the coarse and fine filter pads that were in the unit. Usually I’ll wash and use these again, but these just needed to be replaced at this point.

I rinsed out two new ChemiPure pouches and placed them into the canister trays, along with new filter pads packed around them. I like to pack the ChemiPure tight to keep it flattened out and to make sure as much water passes through it as possible.

Ok, so all that crap was done, I just needed to reassemble the canister and hook it back up to the tank.

And… on to the last item, cleaning the aquarium lighting.

Lucking for me, the Current USA Nova Extreme Pro is very easy to clean. I usually just blow out the fans with a can of compressed air (I got used to the idea of fan maintenance after maintaining computers for years). And beyond that all I really ever need to do is wipe the outside of the lighting fixture with a damp cloth to get dust and salt creep off of it. The whole fixture is enclosed pretty well, so I don’t need to worry about cleaning the inside of it.

Finally, all the hardware was clean.

I finished up this whole process by wiping the glass tops and glass sides, and turned all the pumps back on.

Of course the water was a bit cloudy after all this maintenance, but a few hours later, after the canister filter had a chance to get to work, the water was crystal clear and everything was shiny and clean.

Now I get to sit and enjoy for a few days before I need to clean anything again. But I think I’ll go back to my normal cycle of cleaning stuff one piece at a time. That full day of maintenance was pretty brutal.

About Luke

the owner and caretaker of a 75 gallon aquarium in his home studio. Good times.

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