Trouble maintaining tank lately - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 12:41 AM Thread Starter
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Trouble maintaining tank lately

I've been working a new job now for the past three months. My hours are constantly all over the place and sometimes I work up to 60 hours in a week. Sometimes I get home at 10 pm and have to get up again the next day at 5 am.

So with all this chaos, it's hard to find time to manage and maintain my 55 gallon planted tank! That and spend time with my wife at the same time because she has the opposite schedule as me.

I would definitely love to still keep my fish tank! I am considering going down to a 40 gallon though just to make it easier on myself instead of having such a large tank to maintain. Anybody have any tips?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 12:57 AM
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Depends on what you are doing now. I think you can have a pretty decent tank with 30 min of care per week and 2 hours per month.

Aim for slow growing plants that enjoy low light and are root feeders. Lower light means reduced growth speed for both algae and plants.

Have a big volume canister or sump that allows for less frequent cleaning.

Less bioload will allow for less frequent water changes. When doing water changes use a phyton system.

Cover your aquarium with glass, then you have almost no need for top-off.

Read D. Walstad book, she has some additional good tips on how to set up such a low maitenance aquarium.

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 01:11 AM
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A good pre-filter and purigen are your best friends in this situation.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 02:41 PM
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Yeah, I don't think a slightly smaller tank does anything to the time 'n energy required for decent tank maintenance. With a decent filter(s) and modest feeding, a heavily planted tank should go a week or two between 25-50% water changes with filter maintenance like once a month...and these would be roughly the same regardless of tank size. Surely you can find 30-45 minutes every or every other week!?

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 03:16 PM
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Another way is to automize everything. Use a dosing pump for your fertilizers, get a auto fish feeder, lights I hope are on timers. All that is left to do is water changes
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Yeah, I don't think a slightly smaller tank does anything to the time 'n energy required for decent tank maintenance. With a decent filter(s) and modest feeding, a heavily planted tank should go a week or two between 25-50% water changes with filter maintenance like once a month...and these would be roughly the same regardless of tank size. Surely you can find 30-45 minutes every or every other week!?
It does if the tank is smaller and shorter? Would make maintenance much quicker/easier. I sometimes have a hard time reaching down into my tank that is 21 inches tall. A 40 gallon long is still the same amount of work, but would be much easier due to it's height of 16 inches tall.

I am also planning to use lots of low light, slow growing plants such as crypts and java fern.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-25-2016, 04:24 PM
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Keys to a low-maintenance tank:
  • Low fish load
  • Amano shrimp for algae control (BN plecos, otos, and nerites also work, but have a higher bioload)
  • Carpeting and rosette plants (don't need as much trimming, but take up a lot of nutrients)
  • Floating plants (NOT duckweed; use RRF, frogbit, salvinia, riccia, watersprite, or, for big tanks, water lettuce)
  • If you have floating plants, use low-light plants underneath them
  • Allow plants to grow out of tank
  • A fine substrate (easier to vacuum)
  • Cover the tank to reduce evaporation
  • Low light so plants grow slower (will need more frequent water changes) or high light so plants take up more nutrients (will need pressurized CO2)
  • Use a light timer
  • Use a python for water changes
  • Don't try to tinker with your water parameters, just use dechlor
  • Skip water dosing and just use root tabs or dirt
  • Lots of water circulation so mulm doesn't build up
  • An oversized filter (also helps with circulation)
  • Use sponge prefilters and rinse them frequently, or use no prefilters at all
  • No DIY CO2 - either use Excel or a canister that can go a long time without a refill
  • Do small bits of maintenance every day at feeding time - feed fish, check CO2/add Excel, add ferts, and on alternate days trim the stems of one plant and clean the prefilter
  • Get your kids to do the daily tasks (extra allowance ) so you only have to do the occasional big maintenance
  • Keep all your equipment organized so you don't have to run around looking for the stuff you need. I suggest sorting your stuff based on how often you use it, like so:
    --Top shelf of stand: fish food, Excel, ferts with measuring spoons, large cup, hand towel
    --Bottom shelf of stand: net, algae scraper, dechlor, hose/python, scissors, forceps, filter tube brush, and spill towel, all stored in bucket
    --Emergency use (in closet, garage, etc.): battery operated air pump with airstone or sponge filter, rubbermaid tub with fake plants for QT, fry net, meds, ammonia removers (purigen, zeolite, bacteria supplements, etc.), all stored inside QT tub
  • Check every day for signs of disease, equipment problems (leaks, reduced flow, overheating, etc.), and dead fish - tank crashes are very high-maintenance

I've never used a canister filter, but it sounds like it takes a good chunk of time to open and clean it. I have always used Aquaclear filters with three sponges. I've found it's fastest to leave the filter running and just lift out the media basket, rinse the top sponge in a cup of tank water, move it to the bottom of the media basket, and then put the basket back in the filter. If the tank is big enough, you can just dump the cup out in the sink and add a cup of tap water to the tank without dechlor. Takes about 3 minutes.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterski View Post
Another way is to automize everything. Use a dosing pump for your fertilizers, get a auto fish feeder, lights I hope are on timers. All that is left to do is water changes
This and add an auto top off system. I have been on the road for work for the last three weeks with only one day home.
I did a big water change and refilled the top off tank. So far my discus have managed on their own.

Sump filters also require less maintence. It's work to switch a tank to one, but worth it for ease of maintence.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 05:10 AM
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Depending on what your time is worth, maybe get an aquarium maintenance guy to service your tank until things level out a bit?

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterski View Post
Another way is to automize everything. Use a dosing pump for your fertilizers, get a auto fish feeder, lights I hope are on timers. All that is left to do is water changes
I agree but add a drip system to your system and that will help minimize how often you need to do water changes and can also stop water changes altogether if you have it set up right.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 05:39 PM
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Re. smaller tank -- I actually take the view that the larger tank is easier to maintain, as the water temperature and chemistry are more stable. My heavily planted large tank is nearly self sustaining, and water changes barely register on the fish.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 07:07 PM
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FWIW, I spend about 0-1 hours a month on my 125G w. 50G sump, including fish feeding.

+ In practice, the larger the aquarium, the more stable the water parameters, thus a wider reaction window.
+ Sump means better/more filtration options

- But, more square feet of glass to scrub of algae every now and then.
- Sump means more custom fabrication/cost/failure points

Pretty sure that doesn't help you though... "Not enough time to spend on your tank? BUILD A CUSTOM SETUP PROBLEM SOLVED!!!"


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-14-2016, 07:39 PM
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Found myself in the same predicament recently. Seems the older I get the more I have to work. 55 gallon I have had for 20+ yrs was in sad shape due to I couldn't find the time to do proper maint. that it needed. Seemed like eat, sleep & work is all I was doing. Was fighting the dreaded blue green algae when We sprung a leak. I had to break it down instead of sleeping that day, set it out on the back porch. For Fathers day this year the chillen brought me a 26 gallon cube and stand. It sat there for over a month before I was able to do anything with it but it has been up and running for a couple months now and looking good. It only takes about 30 min. a couple times a month to clean and 1/2 water change. Stocked it with a big enough cleaning crew (nerites, amano's, hermits, otos and corys) don't need much cleaning. Getting close enough o retirement now and will be fixing the 55 and thinking about leaving it on the back porch and putting in native cichlids (redear) and raising vegetables on top.
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 02:22 AM
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Change more water, less often.
Use a Python water changer instead, if you are still using a bucket brigade.

I sympathize. I often work four 12 hour shifts a week, night shift I might add, and I always have to force myself to do the 50% water changes on my two tanks come Sunday. But I use a submersible pump with a 40 foot hose to pump the water out into the toilet and a Python to pipe fresh water into the tanks. I don't know that its all that much faster than the bucket brigade but its certainly less of a chore.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-18-2016, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah I really hate doing the bucket brigade!
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