[Timezone Detection]
Create Account - Join in Seconds!

User Name: Email Address:
Human Verification

What is one of the colors on a clownfish? (hint there is a clownfish on the CR logo in the top left corner of the page.)

Preparing Your Reef For Vacation


Bookmark and Share
Page 1 of 2 1 2 Last
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    lReef lKeeper - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    louisville ky
    Posts
    1,456
    First Name
    Bobby

    Default Preparing Your Reef For Vacation

    This article is going to, hopefully, help everyone in this hobby to actually be able to take a relaxing vacation. Everyone knows that if you are in the marine aquarium hobby, well ... there is no such thing as a relaxing vacation. Why? We all have way to much time and dedication in our tanks, not to mention the money we have spent on them!!

    When we have to have someone else take care of something that we are so passionate about, well ... we get a little stressed about it. Can you really blame us? I am actually writing this while I am ON vacation, so anything that comes up while I am here will be added, because we all know that there are all kinds of unexpected circumstances that arise.

    Selecting Someone
    to Check on Your Tank


    If your going to be gone for more than a couple days, you will want someone to look in on your tank. Obviously you want someone you can trust and that is responsible. After all, you are giving them the keys to your house. Secondary to that the more familiar with keeping reefs the better or at least someone that is detail oriented.

    When I go on vacation, my sister is my tank sitter. She use to keep a 29 gallon reef and when we shared a house, she saw pretty much everything that I did to my systems, (Not to mention the fact that she is a science teacher at a local middle school). Now that they (my systems) are combined things are a little different, but I think she is up to the challenge. The things that I do everyday are minimal because my system is pretty much all automated. The only things that I have to do manually are feed the fish, and clean the glass. Cleaning the glass will be done by the cleanup crew I am buying when I get home. One less thing to do is gonna be great !!

    Have A Call List

    Ideally your tank sitter should have your cell phone number to call if something doesn't seem right. But if not, or in addition to, it is a good idea to have someone whose judgement you trust such as another reefing friend. This could be a friend from a reef club or depending on your level of comfort a LFS/tank maintenance company. The two I have left are with my local club (Louisville Marine Aquarium Society). Both have been to my house several times and know how I run my system. This way when I am gone and something goes wrong, in a sense I am still there, because these guys know my system.

    Another good idea is to introduce your tank sitter to CaptiveReefs.com or your local reef club's forum, so they can post questions or concerns if something looks out of the ordinary. Web forums are an invaluable tool in our hobby. Everyone wants to help and be helped and the Internet is, in my opinion, the best place to get help in a hurry. When something just does not look right other hobbyists are far more likely to give the right advise if the correct and detailed description of the problem is given to them. Sure a LFS can help, but I trust the answers given by my fellow reefers more than a kid who has no experience in the hobby that I have spent so much of my blood, sweat, tears, time, and money building. It is nothing personal against the kid in the LFS, this is just my preference.


    Make A Check List

    Each system is different, but you know what has to be done on a daily, or every other day basis. Write it all out on a check list. Be sure to keep the list to only the necessary things that need to be done. Adding extra complexity, is not only asking for trouble, but also creating an imposition on the person who is helping you.


    1) General Observation - Make sure your sitter knows to look for the obvious...is the water clear? Are there any dead fish? Weird noises? Make sure they can tell obvious issues.

    2) Make Sure the Pumps are Running - Show your tank sitter how to tell what is running.

    3) Check the tank temperature - If the temp gets above your maximum level (81 for me), the tank sitter can turn on the air conditioner or float some baggies of ice in the sump (make sure they know where the baggies are or have ice packs prepared).

    4) Check the skimmer - Show you tank sitter how to empty and clean out the skimmer cup.

    5) Topping off - Even though I have the ATO , a lot of people don't. This could be one of the most important things the tank sitter does. Low water levels can lead to pump and heater failures as well as high levels of salinity. Likewise, it is important not to overfill the system, this will cause a low salinity reading and to much of a sudden drop in salinity, to fast, is very stressful on the fish and corals.

    6) Check specific gravity - Show your tank sitter how to use it and where the line should stay. Even though I have an auto top off (ATO) system to keep my parameters where they should be, I check this every day. The ATO keeps it pretty much on the money, but the one day that I don't check it ... something will happen and it will be all messed up.

    7) Feed the fish - I have pre measured the food and stored it in the freezer in a separate Zip Lock baggie. It is better to be safe than come home to an overfed tank with a massive algae outbreak.

    8) Dosing Additives - I would par back the dosing to the bare essentials. Remeber keep it simple! Make a list of the additives and how much, of each, to add to the system. Leave these additives out and next to the check list. Hide all chemicals that you don't want used to avoid any potential accident from occurring !!

    Tip - Proportion Any Additives Including Food-If you are going to have your tank sitter adding chemicals or food to your tank, you should have it proportioned. The human tendency for error is for overdosing and overfeeding, both of which are worse than not doing it at all.


    Other Pre-Vacation Preparation

    Top Off Water - Have Enough Fresh RO/DI Water On Hand - Be sure you have your barrel or jugs filled up and available to last your vacation and have it clearly label as "Top Off Water"

    Pre-Mixed Saltwater - It is a good idea to have a pre-mixed 10% water change on hand. I would put this in the garage or another room and have it well marked that it is saltwater. The instructions with the sitter on this would be to call one of the on call reefing buddies. I wouldn't expect a water change unless other serious problems were occurring. It also assures you will have water handy to do a normal water change when you get home.


    Label Electrical Cords - I recommend doing this for one reason. If something needs to be unplugged it will be a lot easier for the sitter, not to mention you, to identify the plug and remove it from the surge protector.

    Power Loss Mitigation - Unless you have an automated generator system, get a few battery powered air pumps available at all times...ones that automatically turn on during a power failure are great for vacations. Just through them in your tank and plug them in while your gone. Keep a few packs of new batteries out and near the tank for the sitter just in case. Fresh batteries normally last a long time, I kept my tank going for over a day on one air pump and a set of batteries.

    You can also use a UPS battery system that will operate a power head off from battery power. Again, be sure this equipment is functional and know the operational duration well in advance of leaving for vacation.

    Automation - Timers and controllers are also important in our systems. They also can make life easier on your tank sitter. However, do not try to install timers and autotop offs right before leaving on vacation. I wouldn't feel comfortable with less than a month of operation before leaving. You should have these already programmed so that the sitter doesn't have to worry about them. The sitter will need to have been shown where they are, leave a manual handy in case they need it. Improper settings or faulty equipment in this area can have serious negative outcomes. So if this is something you are thinking of implementing, think ahead!


    Conclusion

    With a knowledgeable tank sitter, the right preparation, and keeping things simple...You and your tank should be able to survive several weeks apart...and hopefully enjoy yourself!

    Obviously everyone's system is different, but thinking through the daily tasks and what is absolutely required and making sure to address both how to make those as easy as possible and ways to avoid disaster is key. Please add your comments and tips of things you do to prepare for vacation.

    [attach]4523[/attach]
    [attach]4524[/attach]
    [attach]4525[/attach]
    [attach]4526[/attach]
    [attach]4527[/attach]
    Attached Images Attached Images            
    Last edited by jimsflies; 03-10-2012 at 07:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Sir Patrick - Reefkeeper A2 Club Coordinator
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    UofM territory
    Posts
    7,488
    First Name
    Chris
    Awards Monthly Giveaway Winner

    Default

    Cool write up! Lotts of info- thx!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Troy, 48084
    Posts
    1,099
    First Name
    Manoj
    Awards Fishbowl Drawing Winner Tank of the Month

    Smile

    The above info is very good.

    I have been in the hobby for about 2 years now and I travel frequently for weeks. Over time I have come up with some ideas that have helped me. Here is my 0.02. Please feel free to remove/modify.

    1. If you know you are going to travel start to think about automating your tank early,very early.
    1a - Automate Lighting
    1b - Automate Dosing
    1c - Automate Top off
    2. Invest in good equipment
    3. Perform full system test atleast 2 times a month
    4. Have a baterry operated airpump
    5. Simulate complete power failure for 4 hrs and then restore, do this two times consecutively with a gap of 2 hrs. check which equpment fails/does not come back on.
    6. Make sure you pick someone who is good at the hobby to come and feed your fish alternate days and check equipment.
    Last edited by Manoj's Reef; 03-15-2010 at 08:22 AM.

  4. #4
    henry hill - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Shelby Twp, MI
    Posts
    138
    First Name
    Chris

    Default

    Get a generator! Have the person watching your house learn how to start it and light the house up! LOL

  5. #5
    tazzy695 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    flint, mi
    Posts
    1,410

    Default

    great article really enjoyed reading it
    I have been reefing from 08-2007 till 5-2011

    reef tanks are like wifes you have to give them some attention every now and then

    current tank is an 80g FW containing Oscars

  6. #6

  7. #7
    Rabidgoose - Reefkeeper Moderator

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Thumb MI
    Posts
    2,203
    Awards Yugo Award Photo of the Month

    Default

    Good job Reef Keeper, very informative and well written.
    I simply can't trust people that don't like bacon,

  8. #8
    jimsflies - Reefkeeper
    Admin/Founder

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    10,710
    First Name
    Jim

    Default

    Very timely Bobby! Thanks for the great read!

  9. #9
    Tom@HaslettMI - Reefkeeper
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East Lansing, MI
    Posts
    1,821
    First Name
    Tom
    Awards Yugo Award - For helping with the CR Booth at MCES Monthly Giveaway Winner Monthly Giveaway Winner Photo of the Month Tank of the Month

    Default

    Well written and very informative. Personally I like to have someone who has a reef tank-sit when I'm out of town.

  10. #10
    Sir Patrick - Reefkeeper A2 Club Coordinator
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    UofM territory
    Posts
    7,488
    First Name
    Chris
    Awards Monthly Giveaway Winner

    Default

    I will be revisiting this article, for sure, before any vacation- just to keep everything organized, and not miss anything important!

    Again- Great write up!!

Page 1 of 2 1 2 Last

Similar Topics

  1. Substrate & Liverock Preparing Dry Rock
    By nate_newton in forum Basics
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 08-30-2011, 07:32 AM
  2. Disaster & Prevention Preparing for a week long trip
    By CashFan83 in forum Basics
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 05-06-2011, 10:52 AM
  3. Tanks, Sumps & Refugiums Preparing to move my tank...
    By Tom@HaslettMI in forum Basics
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 06-08-2010, 05:05 PM

Tags for this Article

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new articles
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

About CaptiveReefs

    If you are interested in learning about reefkeeping or have a problem with your reef, our reefkeeping community is here to help. Feel free to ask a question or search our site. We have lots of experienced reefkeepers that are willing to provide free reefkeeping advice!

    Besides being a great resource for all levels of reef aquarium hobbyists, CaptiveReefs is a social experience that will enhance your enjoyment of reefkeeping. CaptiveReefs is committed to connecting reefkeepers with the support and information they need to grow beautiful coral reef aquariums.

Information

Connect with Us