Sally Jo
LeRoy has asked me to take on the task of describing to you some of the responsibilities involved with summer maintenance. Each season throughout the year brings new challenges. I thank the great Lord above that my oldest tank has lived thorough more than twelve years of my guessing and my never giving up on what I should do next. It is not always that easy to figure out what is going wrong or what to do next. It is our hope that by sharing the following information we will save you from making many of the mistakes several of the pioneers have made along the way.

During the summer months it is so important to take the time to do some daily inspections. We start the day by making certain all the power heads are working properly. Sometimes the power heads clog and when this happens the motors tend heat up and they are not providing the necessary oxygen needed for your fish. It does not take long for the tanks to heat up so be extremely cautious of this.

Next we check all the heaters, but we do not remove them from the tanks even during the summer months. The reason we do not remove them from the tanks during the summer months is because once the lights go off at night the tanks could become too cool. Sometimes the heaters are faulty and they could stay on, and this can cause a horrible problem. It is important to remember to look for this problem. It never hurts to stick your hand in your tank to feel how warm the water is. You can also touch the front glass after you learn how it feels when the tank is at the proper temperature.

Some of the creative ways we use to help maintain water temperature is to shut off the lights earlier in the day. Do water changes. Remove the hood or on some of the tanks half of the hood depending on how the hood is constructed.

Also sometimes just removing the reflector can cool down the tank. With the tanks that we have at GARF that have hoods we place small computer fans to blow out some of the heat. On the tanks that have sumps we place small clip fans over the sump so they are blowing directly over the water.

This cools down the temperature about 5 degrees. Many of these strategically placed fans are on the same timer as the lights so at night the tanks do not cool down below 78 degrees. They are programmed to come back on when the lights come on.

Always make certain that one or two power heads are adjusted so that they are breaking the water surface. I also keep all room doors shut to keep heat out and the cooler air in. You can use a fan to cool the room at night. If the tanks become too hot the corals will certainly bleach, and when this starts to happen it is so difficult to bring the tank back to health.

Summer is a time to have fun with your family, go on vacation, and play outdoors. Summer is also the time we hear of many home reefs being lost because owners simply did not take the steps necessary to make certain their reefs remained stable. The few minutes you take with your reef to make sure it is stable is a price we all should be willing to commit to.

You can use all the tricks to control the temperature, but if you do not take this one step further all may be lost. You should have a back up generator or battery system that will run the fans or cooling systems.

It is our hope that by sharing these few pointers your reef will remain healthy. We hope you will enjoy your summer, and make tremendous memories that will stay with you for all your life time.

At Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation we have over forty systems that contain the brood stock coral we use for propagation. We have been developing different ways to cope with the heat this summer. Today the temperature rose to a hundred and fourteen degrees, and we will have high temperatures of over one hundred and five degrees for several more days.

In Boise we are very lucky because when it is hot the humidity is very low. This allows us to cool our Reef Systems by adding small clip on fans to each system. These fans work great, but we have a much better way of protecting the valuable corals in Sally Jo's office.

Today we added a new large air conditioner to Sally Jo's office. We replaced two 10,000 BTU air conditioners with one giant one. The two smaller air conditioner used 110 volts from the office. This new 48,000 BTU air-conditioner has its own 220-volt service, so now I can add two more 105-gallon reef tanks to Sally Jo's office. We learned years ago that the only thing that limits how many reefs we can keep is that we have to stay within the amount of electricity available to the Foundation

Cooling the room that the reefs are in is the optimum way of maintaining the proper temperatures. Because the rest of our reefs are spread out through an old Victorian house, a large laboratory, and a greenhouse we are not able to cool the entire structure.

We hope that this article gives you some idea as how to cope with summer heat if you are not able to have an aquarium chiller or air-conditioned room. One great thing about the new air conditioner in Sally Jo's office is that it is removing a large amount of water from the air so the office will stay much drier.


  • shut off lights earlier in the day turn them on early so they are off during warmest part of day.
  • do water changes by keeping buckets of Instant ocean in cool place.
  • Remove the hood or lift half of the hood
  • use small computer fans to blow out some of the heat
  • place small clip on fans over the sump
  • add extra power head and adjust it so that it is breaking the surface water
  • You can add ice in a plastic bag, do this very carefully
  • Remove a large plastic bowl of water and cool it in the refrigerator
Water movement is extremely important at this time the year. Warm water does not hold as much oxygen as cooler water. To increase the oxygen in all of the reset Geothermal Aquaculture Research Foundation we add a power head to each system. This power head comes with a Venturi that adds oxygen to the flow of the water coming from this powerful power head. The Many power heads also come with a defector that flattens the water flow, and this can be adjusted to cause the water surface to be broken with a large up flow of water.

This weekend I will be experimenting with a very inexpensive chiller that I have tried with great success. This chiller consists of a 12 in. length of one and a half inch PVC pipe, 100 ft. of standard aquarium airline tubing , and a pressure reducing fitting for drip irrigation. The airline tubing is wrapped around the outside of the 2 in. PVC pipe. Do this carefully so there are no kinks in the airline tubing.

The coil of airline tubing is placed in the sump and cold tap water flows through this airline tubing. There are two ways to adjust how much the tank is cooled. With the entire coil submerged you can adjust the flow with a plastic valve, or you can leave the flow constant and only submerge a portion of the tubing.

Ocean warming is causing terrible trouble;

Unfortunately the reefs that we keep in our home are not the only reefs in danger. Ocean warming is causing terrible trouble from the Caribbean to Australia. I have included an e-mail that I received today that talks about some of the research that is being done. At GARF we are more committed than ever to developing ways that our hobby can continue grow and thrive without taking things from the natural wild reefs.

Dear colleagues

Most of you will be aware the Great Barrier reef experienced a mass coral bleaching event early this year. This event was more severe than the event of 1998. This makes the bleaching event of 2002 the worst ever recorded for the GBR.

In response to this event, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority implemented a comprehensive survey of coral bleaching in collaboration with AIMS, CRC Reef and NOAA. A summary of this program and an overview of the bleaching event is now available on the GBRMPA web site (under "Hot Topics"):

Below is a brief summary of the results of the program:

* Underwater surveys found that few reefs had completely escaped the effects of coral bleaching. However, the majority of reefs appear likely to survive the bleaching event with only minimal coral death. Extensive mortality was recorded on only a few of the inshore reefs surveyed, where up to 90% of corals were dead.

* The first signs of substantial bleaching were reported in January 2002. The worst of the bleaching event was over by April 2002.

* Aerial surveys found that coral bleaching was evident from the air at almost 60% of the 641 reefs surveyed. Inshore reefs were more severely affected by bleaching, as was the case in 1998. However, in 2002 many offshore reefs were also affected.

* The effects of bleaching were highly variable, varying from negligible to severe, even between reefs that were similar distances offshore. Bleaching was generally most severe in shallower water, and strong patterns of species susceptibilities were generally evident across the sites surveyed.

* Further surveys are planned for later in 2002 when the fate of corals that bleached during the Summer will be studied further.

* Should warm water events increase in severity, duration, or frequency in the future, coral bleaching is likely to become increasingly severe on the GBR.

We are continuing to analyse and interpret data collected from this event and will add additional information as it becomes available.

We would like to offer special thanks to our partners in this monitoring program, especially NOAA, AIMS and the CRC Reef, and to the many individuals who submitted bleaching reports to our Online Bleaching Reporting Program.


Paul Marshall
Research & Monitoring Coordination
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority