Staying on top of maintenance chores for a reef tank is very important when trying to maintain a healthy tank. These regular tasks can be time consuming and mundane (ok, let’s say boring) but some can help to keep a tank from melting down. With that said, here are my Top 5 Maintenance Tips & Chores to prevent a reef tank from going off the rails.

#5 – Test Parameters

Once a week I test nitrate, calcium and magnesium with Salifert test kits and phosphate with a Milwaukee M1412 Low Range Meter. I use a GHL KH Director to test alkalinity once a day while my GHL Profilux 4 controller continually measures temperature, pH, redox and conductivity. It is also a good idea to do an ICP test every few months to make sure other key parameters are not out of whack.

#4 – Keep Measurement Probes Clean

Allowing gunk, primarily calcium carbonate, to build up on measurement probes can result in inaccurate readings. Bad data can result in bad decisions. I clean my probes every few weeks.

#3 – Re-calibrate Probes

Remember, bad data equals bad decisions so it is wise to re-calibrate ph probes and other types of probes every few weeks.

#2 – Clean Return Pumps

Every few months it is wise to clean return pumps to make sure they don’t seize up. Bad news if you are away on a trip. I disassemble mine and soak the parts for 30 minutes in a 50/50 solution of fresh water and vinegar. I then use a brush to scrub off the calcium carbonate build-up.

#1 – Clean Heads on Peristaltic Dosing Pumps

Every few months it is a great idea to disassemble the heads on a peristaltic dosing pump to remove the dirt and gunk that can get onto the rollers, shafts and tubing. Failure to do so can cause the rollers to stick and rub up against the pump cover, and in some cases, freeze up the head and crack the cover. Not good if you are using the heads to dose two-part since a sudden drop in alkalinity and calcium can really stress out corals. As a precaution, it is always a good idea to keep replacement head kits on hand in case parts are too far gone.

Well, that’s my list and I am sticking to it.


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If you are looking for additional insights and information, please explore my many other reef tank and SPS related articles as well as my book, A ReefBum’s Guide To Keeping an SPS Reef Tank: A Blueprint For Success. Additionally, you can see all of my reef tank videos online now as well as my Live HD Webcam. And if you are interested in purchasing affordable SPS frags that are pest-free and homegrown, you can visit my SPS Frag store.


Happy reef keeping!