Marine Aquarium Projects for Home-Bound Hobbyists

Here in Ohio, we just received the official order to stay at home in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, and similar orders are being given all over the US and around the world. That means a whole lot of people are suddenly looking for ways to stay productively occupied in their homes until this crisis, God willing, is finally in our rearview mirror.

For marine aquarium hobbyists, the silver lining to this unanticipated period of isolation is that it presents an opportunity to tackle some of the bigger, more time-consuming tasks that we tend to put off during the normal hustle and bustle of life. Here are just a few examples of projects you might consider while in lockdown:

Research your first or next system

If you’re new to marine aquarium keeping and are just in the planning stages of your first system, you’re in luck. You’ve got a lot of research to do if you want to succeed in this endeavor, and this COVID-19 crisis just opened up a lot of time in which to do it. Take this opportunity to read any books and articles on the topic you can get your hands on, scour websites such as this one and, and reach out to more experienced hobbyists for advice and information on your favorite online forum.

Similarly, if you’re an experienced marine aquarium hobbyist and are considering trying something different—say a biotope aquarium, a single-specimen tank, or other specialized system—there’s no time like the present to research your next move.

Tackle that daunting maintenance chore

Let’s face it, we all have certain chores that we tend to ignore because tackling them just seems so daunting. For me, the most despised maintenance chore is the periodic cleaning of my sump, which involves tearing down and cleaning all the equipment it contains—protein skimmer, return pump, GFO reactor, etc.—and then rinsing the sump itself to eliminate the detritus that has settled there.

Every time I do this, I manage to make a mess due to my own carelessness, dripping salt water everywhere and cursing Neptune in frustration. It’s just so much easier to close the door of my cabinet stand and pretend the problem doesn’t exist. However, this past weekend, with plenty of time on my hands, nowhere to go, and no more excuses, I finally got around to this long-overdue chore. Now I’m feeling pretty good having completed it!

Get fragging!

Got an overgrown colony of Acropora or perhaps a Sinularia colony that’s dangling over the edge of your tank and threatening to ensnare the family dog? (It could happen!) Now is the perfect time to frag it, though, depending on restrictions in your area, you may have to wait until some sort of “all clear” to sell or trade the frags.

Schedule a livestock or live rock shipment

One good thing about the timing of Ohio’s stay-at-home order is that it more or less coincides with the arrival of spring, which can be a good time to order a livestock or live rock shipment, the reason being you don’t have to worry about temperature extremes to the extent that you do in mid-winter and mid-summer (I’ve had some disastrous experiences with wintertime shipments despite vendor assurances that they routinely ship to cold regions in winter with no problems). Also, since you’re stuck at home already, it’s guaranteed someone will be there to accept the shipment when it arrives. However, keep in mind the possibility that changing restrictions on travel and workplaces could limit vendors’ ability to fulfill and ship orders.

Enjoy your marine aquarium!

Last but certainly not least, be sure to take the opportunity this lockdown provides to simply enjoy the aquarium system in which you’ve invested so much time, money, and energy. So, sit back, relax, maybe sip a little bourbon, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Until next time, please stay home (if you can) and stay healthy!


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About Jeff Kurtz

Jeff Kurtz is the Co-founder/Editor of Saltwater Smarts, former Senior Consulting Editor for Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine, and the aquarist formerly known as “The Salt Creep.” He has been an aquarium hobbyist for over 30 years and is an avid scuba diver.

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