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50 Gallon Water Change On A Dirty 300 Gallon Reef – The Power Of Bubbles!

By Fish of Hex on

Travis: Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome back to FishofHex. My name is Travis. Today's video, we're going to be doing a 50 gallon water change on the 300 gallon reef. My plan is to show you everything from beginning to end. Cleaning the 40 gallon shallow reef, which has some cyanobacteria in it to cleaning the 50 gallon lowboy frag tank, which I sell out of, and of course going over to the 300 gallon, cleaning out that detritus and doing some bubble scrubbing, all that good stuff. Stick around. If this is your first time here on the channel, I appreciate you subscribing and hitting the thumbs up. All that stuff helps me move throughout the community. I appreciate that.With all that crap out of the way, let's go ahead and get started. A water change for me is usually between 30 and 50 gallons. That's because I have a 55 gallon mixing drum, which you guys have seen in my RDI mixing videos and I have a 55 gallon drain drum, if that's what you want to call it, which I collect all the water from the system and then have it pumped out to the drainage ditch in the back of my house.

Obviously, I don't really like to make more water than I have to and being only that I can make 55 gallons max, I usually stick around that 50 gallon mark just to have extra water for doing GFO and just general maintenance in the sump that requires me to remove a little extra water. Just a little heads up on that, when it comes to these tanks, they don't really need a water change. There really isn't a direct need for adding micronutrients and all that stuff because I already do that through dosing every week, but they definitely need to have the detritus removed. That's really the whole point behind doing them. Let's go ahead and get started.

The first thing I like to do with any water change is clean the glass. There's a couple reasons behind this. One, I want to be able to see inside the tank and sometimes I let my tanks go wild and you can't even see through them. I guess that's part of being lazy I suppose. The second reason is I want to make sure that all the stuff that I am scraping off the glass gets into the water column and can be siphoned out during that process. Then the third reason, which is probably the most important, is I want to make sure that I'm not mixing anything up from the bottom of the tank before I clean the glass. That way I'm not getting any sand particles or detritus between the magnet and the glass and potentially scraping the tank.

Those are my reasons for cleaning the glass first and since I've been doing that, I haven't really had any issues with scratching the tank.

As you guys can see, the shallow reef is pretty dirty. Honestly, I haven't done anything with this tank in a few weeks. With everything going on, I just haven't got in here and clean the glass or even mess with the cyanobacteria, which has slowly come up over the last couple weeks because my powerhead, which is an MP10 has pretty much shit the bed. I have changed out the prop but the motor's starting to get loud. I've cleaned it and all that good stuff and it still doesn't want to work very well. I end up tossing that in the trash and replacing it with a PPA, which you guys will see later one.

The cyanobacteria is pretty common when I'm making adjustments to my food, which I do make here in-house. I'm trying a different batch and different types of stuff, so I am adjusting what my levels are. Right now I'm at 0.15 of phosphates and about 4 ppm of nitrates. My levels aren't too high, but if you still get dead spots in your tank even with the phosphates being up at that range you can still start to grow a little bit of cyanobacteria. That's exactly what has happened here in this tank. It's easily removed with siphoning and increasing the flow, it takes care of itself relatively quickly.

Now that we're done with the shallow reef, let's go to quickly clean the 50 gallon lowboy. It's safe to say that I don't clean it too often, given how much coral and algae is growing on it and the reason is I just don't feel comfortable putting excess pressure on the glass. Don't get me wrong, these tanks are great for holding water, holding frags, holding coral in general. They're easy to drill and they're relatively cheap to get, but if you don't have a stand that's level, or it there's pressure or pinch points anywhere in the stand, or if you happen to just bang it off the wall a little bit, you'll break the whole damn tank because I've done that several times over the last couple years.

I did bang it off the wall, but it wasn't that hard so it could at least give me a little leeway on that. All said and done, I just don't feel comfortable messing with these tanks. That's really why I just leave this one as is. When I add the other two from the imported system to this system from my grow out, I'm going to do the same thing and probably not clean the glass and just let them do their own thing.

Finally, last but not least, the 300 gallon. I am going to be using the tiger shark float here. This magnet cleaner is not the cheapest in the world but it works really well and I of course use the blade attachment. It's time consuming. It's an 8 foot tank by 2 foot wide by 30 inches tall and if you want to get all the coral and algae out of the nooks and crannies, it just takes a while. It's something I do probably once a week just so I can create content and if I didn't have to make YouTube videos, I probably wouldn't clean the glass to be honest with you because it doesn't really bother me. The snails take care of stuff. Again, the tank doesn't really get that dirty over a couple weeks.

Going to fast forward everything. Once we're done with that, let's go to move on to siphoning out and removing some detritus.

As I mentioned before, one of the main reasons behind doing these water changes is to remove detritus. It makes it very easy with a bare bottom tank. As you guys can see, we have cyano, which again is going to be removed relatively easily during the siphoning process. As I mentioned before, bare bottom is really the way that I like to go, not only because it's easy to clean, but you could have a lot of extra flow, you could put frags at the bottom of the tank and I not worry about them getting covered in sand.

Of course there are drawbacks with biological filtration and you can't have certain types of critters because of the sand, but I love having bare bottom tanks and as you guys can see, it's really easy to go ahead and remove the cyanobacteria and all the detritus within this tank.

When it comes down to how much water I actually siphon out of this particular tank, given that it's all one water volume really comes down to how much detritus and in this case how much cyanobacteria needs to be removed. During this particular water change, I end up taking about 20 gallons out, which is totally fine because I give this about 30-35 gallons to work with in the 300 and that's more than enough to get in there and siphon that detritus.

Now that we're done with the shallow reef, let's go to move over to the 300 gallon. The first thing I'd like to do is get in here and move some of these corals around and get into all the crevices with these pliers. Basically what I use them for is to mix up the detritus that sticks in some of the dead spots and it's really easy. They have this little bend on them. One of my subscribers actually got them for me at Reef-a-palooza a couple years ago I believe and I use these every time I do a water change to just simply get in there and you can see that I'm mixing up this detritus relatively quickly and it just gets it out from underneath the rocks so it's easy to siphon out.

I will say that this is definitely a time-consuming and tedious process and it is something that is well worth it in the end if you're willing to put the time in. Having a very clean, detritus free bare bottom tank is always something that I strive for and it definitely looks good when you're finished.

I will say if you are starting to this or if you want to do this for the first time, I would leave your return pump on, but turn your powerheads off. That way, if it takes longer than you anticipate, you don't have to worry about the temperature of the tank dropping down, but because I have such a large water volume, the temperature down here is pretty stable. I don't really have to worry about it. I could keep the tank off for 30 or 40 minutes without having any issues with temperature.

Now that we're done with that, let's go to move on to the easy part, which is just simply siphoning out all the detritus that we removed from underneath the rocks. This is again the easiest part of the whole entire process and it usually takes about 5-10 minutes depending on how many snail shells I get stuck inside that hose. The reason why I keep this size hose instead of going bigger is I don't want to take a chance of sucking up any fish or my starfish or anything like that. This is a 1 inch hose that I picked up from Home Depot and yes the little turtle snails get stuck in it, but I'd rather do that than end up ripping off a leg of one of my starfish or getting one of my fish stuck in it.

Takes about 10-15 minutes, relatively easy, and we can move on to the bubble scrub.

If you guys have been here for a while, you've probably seen me do bubble scrubbing in the past with a 125 and even a couple videos here on the 300. I'm a really big fan of this. I find it to be quite beneficial for my acropora. I don't really use it for any other corals like soft corals or LPS or anything like that. I don't really find it to be that beneficial, but for acros, I feel that the bubbles being added to the tank really help release that mucous membrane, get it up to the top of the tank, which you guys will see here in a second, and just help overall clean the corals and remove detritus that might be stuck in the water column.

If you're trying bubble scrubbing for the first time and you see this here, which is just simply the mucous being lifted up off of your acros, don't freak out, it's not a bad thing. They're not stressed, they're no hurt. This is just part of the overall process. One thing you will notice is within 24-48 hours, you will notice that the polyp extension is going to be a lot better on your acros, the tank is going to be clearer and cleaner looking and just overall a happier system. That's why I try to do this every time I do a water change at least on the big tank. I'm not really worried about it at this point on the 40 gallon because there's not a ton of coral in there, but I probably will implement that later on when we start getting actual colonies growing in that tank.

During this entire process, there is one thing that I have to keep an eye on and that is this stag horn that sticks out of the top of the tank. I just come in here every 10-15 minutes and just pour a few cups of water onto it just to make sure it stays wet and doesn't dry out and eventually die off. I will end up having to cut this coral back probably within the next month or two because it's just simply growing too far up and it is starting to die at the tips just because it is being exposed pretty much all the time now.

When it comes down to how long I spend bubble scrubbing is determined by how much time it took to actually complete the previous tasks, i.e., cleaning the 40 gallon and also cleaning and removing all of the detritus from the 300. If it's been about 30-40 minutes, I'll spend about 10-15 more minutes just bubble scrubbing before I eventually fill up the tank with freshly mixed salt water.

What's really cool about after you're done bubble scrubbing and you're filling up the tank, you can really see that mucous starting to get lifted up and go to the surface of the water, which is going to play a pretty big role in removal here in a second. What happens is the tank will fill up of course. I won't turn on the power heads or the return pump quite yet. I wait until it starts to get to the point where it's going to overflow. Then wait for all of the mucus and everything that was collected at the top to go down into the overflow and into my filter socks, before I eventually turn on the return pump and the power heads.

Now, once I'm done with that the tank is up and running and temperature is stable, I'll go ahead and get in here and change out my carbon or any other media that I might be using at that time. This instance I just have carbon going and again, I only change it once per month and it just goes with my water change. I am using the ROX 0.8 from bulk resupply for anybody who is wondering what type I use. It's really easy to do that here on the geo swamp.

That's pretty much it when it comes to the water change. There's a couple other things that I might do depending on how long it's been, like clean the skimmer, or clean the return pumps. I might get in there and remove some macro algae, even clean out the sponge between the chambers, change filter socks. It just depends on how it falls in to my water change schedule, and if it needs to be taken care of. That's about it for the video, if you guys have any questions, please let me know in the comment section below.

Don't forget to like the video and of course, subscribe. Hopefully, I'll see you guys next week with a couple more videos. I do have a few in the works, plus we're starting to work on tearing down the imported system. As you guys probably know by now, I have stopped importing coral altogether. I'm just going to be moving into grown in-house. I've already made some changes to the website, which is, for those of you who are new to the channel. I'm just going to be doing Wiziwig SPS and what LPS I do have. Of course, we'll be adding to that as I get corals in quarantine and grow now. That's about it guys. I hope you enjoyed the video and I'll see you guys later. Peace.

About Fish of Hex

Travis’ main reef display tank featuring many small-polyp stony coral (SPS) is a 300-gallon custom glass aquarium setting on a welded iron stand, both from Custom Aquariums.

"Here you will find everything you need to know to be successful in the saltwater aquarium hobby. I have several video series such as "Beginner Guide to Saltwater Aquariums", "300 Gallon Build" and "How to & Diy". I will teach you how to avoid common mistakes and prevent tank disasters. With thirteen years of experience in the hobby, I plan on sharing all of it with my subscribers. I take great pride in helping others and seeing their tanks grow into amazing works of art makes the time I put into making these videos worth it. Follow me and you will have an amazing reef tank in no time!"

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