Everyone knows that the easier it is to do something, the more likely it is to get done. Even things that are fun to do get done more often when they are easy to do.
So how can aquarium maintenance be made easier? You can always hire someone to come in and do all the things that need doing to your tank, but that can cost a lot of money and really... Where's the fun in that? Most aquarists take a lot of pride in their tanks, mostly because it's their tank and they "did it themselves."
As with most things in life, little things can add up to be big things. A minute saved here and there can quickly add up to hours saved.
Tank maintenance can be broken down into two groups: the little daily things and the dreaded big "major" thing which is the "clean everything" thing.
Let's start off with the daily things that need to be done to a tank and its occupants. Think about how much time doing all of the maintenance tasks to your tank take now. We'll show you how much time can be saved by following a few simple steps.
In a vast majority of tanks, the critters should be fed at least once per day. How Often Should I Feed My Fish? explains why. Due to their nature, some marine animals (i.e. Eels) will not eat every day, but let's put them aside for the moment and deal with rest of the fish and inverts in your tank.
Installing an automatic feeder may work for your tank. Most (all?) automatic feeders are not designed to dispense frozen foods, but work well for periodically dropping measured amounts of flake and/or pelletized foods into a tank. Unfortunately, many of the automatic feeders on the market can be difficult to install under a tank light hood or canopy. The up side is that, with a little imagination, some of them can be worked into most aquarium designs. Do the research before spending any money. The units in the Top Automatic Fish Feeders will give you an idea of what is available on the market today as well as how much you can expect to pay for them.
Time to load a weeks worth of food into an automatic feeder: 1 minute
Frozen food blocks can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer in convenient daily doses. The food blocks can be dropped into the tank frozen, or put in a plastic cup and thawed before feeding. We have found that putting the frozen cubes in a small plastic cup and thawing them out on top of the light canopy works very well.
Time to feed frozen food to the tank every day: 20 seconds
Food Clips are inexpensive and work great for feeding Nori (sheets of sea weed or algae) to a tank. Cut the sheets into strips and store in an air tight container. At feeding time, just insert a Nori strip or 2 in the food clip and stick it on the inside of the tank or just drop it in and let it settle on the bottom.
Time to load a food clip: 20 seconds
Topping off your tank every day or even every few days can be a giant pain in the rump. If you use top off water to dose your tank with calcium and other additives, the time required to mix up the water every day can add up quickly. Mixing your top off water in 5 gallon jugs, then filling one gallon jugs (bleach bottles work great) and storing them near your tank can save a lot of time every day. Packing a one gallon jug around is a lot easier than the 5 gallon jugs. Dumping a gallon of top off water in your tank every day or 2 doesn't take much time and you are much more likely to do it.
Time to dump a gallon of top off water in your tank: 30 seconds
Auto Top Off
Obviously, a system that automatically tops off your aquarium system would save a lot of time. There are a number of DIY Auto Top Off systems on the market which can periodically inject water in your tank/sump. Most of them require a remote reservoir (water containers) located above the tank (in the attic?) which will need to be refilled periodically. The up side to these systems is that you can mix additives in the water to be dispensed into the tank. The downside is that you have to refill the reservoir periodically.
This DIY Auto Top Off System has the advantage of being fully automatic once it is installed and it filters the water before it reaches your tank. The downside is that it does not allow for additives and the filter will need changing occasionally.
Time required to top off your tank automatically: 0 seconds