saltwater aquarium blog

Saltwater Aquarium Blog 2013: Year-end Review

Hard to believe we have another year under our belts, but 2013 was here and gone. I thought I’d take a moment this week to look back at 2013 and look forward to 2014.

saltwater aquarium blog

The Blog

There were a lot of news stories about updates to search engine algorithms affecting websites that were doing not-so-great things to get traffic. The stories were generally sob stories about lost traffic and visitors at the hands of the algorithm updates that drive traffic to all websites.

Thanks to YOU (yes, I’m talking to YOU) Saltwater Aquarium Blog actually had a banner year. Visits are up nearly 50% and page views have more than doubled. THANK YOU for visiting. I really do appreciate it.

I also “launched” a handful of comics starring Will and Gill. They made 3 appearances this year. That was the hardest thing for me to do. I was (and still am) so self-conscious about those comics. Mostly because I know I’m a terrible illustrator…and I’m not sure if other people think they are funny. But, I did it.

saltwater aquarium fish funny guys

The Newsletter

I sent the newsletter out 43 times this year…which means I missed about 9 ‘weekly’ updates…which isn’t so bad. I hope to do better. I really want it to be a truly weekly email newsletter. I was fortunate to have great growth here as well (subscribers grew more than 80% this year!!!) Of course that means the number is still small…but it’s growing! I am appreciative to all of you who have subscribed. If you would like to sign up for the Saltwater Aquarium Blog Newsletter, CLICK HERE to sign up. I have visions for making it much better. I just need to get organized and get it done.

The Tank(s)

In my basement, aka. “the fish room”, I had a pretty major (electrical) failure in the main return pump. I zapped my fish (who knows how long, unfortunately…) and myself several times (I was a slow learner). My shocking experience there led me to get a grounding probe. I recommend you do the same. I actually shut down the fish room for the time being, but I have the grounding probe for my main tank in the den.

On the main tank, rather than buy replacement bulbs I switched out my ancient, energy guzzling metal halide/power compact light fixture to an energy sipping LED and couldn’t be happier. The new lights seem to create a smaller ‘footprint’ of light (they don’t spread as wide as the halide seemed to spread) but intensity is totally adequate and comparable. I’m almost ashamed to admit–but I bought a lower-end model to start with (because I just wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it). I am NOT ashamed to admit that the LED fixture already paid for itself (in energy and bulb savings). I did post a calculator (alright…spreadsheet) on my Google Drive to help you do the math if you’re in the same boat thinking about switching. Looking back, I have no reservations at all.

At the end of the year (Holiday Wish List) I added a protein skimmer back into my sump. I had been managing without one (purposefully) for quite some time. Frankly, I’m amazed (again) at the nasty gunk these things pull out of the water column. I sincerely believe my fish and corals (I’m currently back on a soft coral kick again) were happy and healthy before, but I’d be lying if I didn’t perceive a little extra perking up since the third cup of gunk came out of the tank via the skimmer. That’s totally subjective, but I think I’m happy on both fronts. I proved to myself that it was perfectly reasonable and possible to get along for an extended period of time without a skimmer (more than a year–although admittedly I wasn’t pushing the envelope since I had mostly soft corals over that time). I’m also glad to have a skimmer back up in operation again. I feel like I’m doing a better job as a hobbyist by pulling that gunk out of the saltwater aquarium–one cupful at a time.

My Approach

I worked a lot, personally, on trying to improve the little things–like the quality and frequency of maintenance. I’ve been in the hobby for years and my habits (being candid) got a bit sloppy. The maintenance tasks really were bogging me down and I was avoiding them. So I used Google Calendar to create reminders of maintenance chores–and that helped some. I also tweaked the way I do water changes (simply the difference of making up the water a few days in advance). I always knew that was the “right” way to do things–I just never did. The result was a marathon evening of chores…that I hated and avoided. Now I do things in quick bursts more frequently–and my corals and I are both happier as a result.

The Future (2014…I guess that’s the present)

maybe in 2014

maybe I’ll build a tank for this guy in 2014

In 2014, my goal is to continue to find ways to improve my maintenance (quality, consistency, etc.) and I’ll be sure to share any tips, tricks or equipment that makes things easier. I also want to continue reducing my electric consumption. I’m not exaggerating here–but I’ve saved nearly $100/month on my electric bill and I think I can do better. The two biggest things were to switch to LEDs and switch out my powerheads for more energy efficient powerheads.  I’ll experiment with that and would love to hear your tips and tricks. I guess you could call those New Year’s Resolutions–but I’m just trying to focus (just a little bit) instead of getting the newest gadget or latest coral frag–just a bit–on what I can do to be a better hobbyist. I also got away from the fish breeding this year (upkeep on the fish room became daunting…) but I may try out a new (harder) species on a small scale. I also want to spend more time involving my kids. Here they are at a public aquarium (note the lame hyposalinity tank 🙂

kids and aquarium

How about you? You stayed with me through almost 1000 words here–can you tell me what you are proud of this year? What struck you most about this year or what you hope to accomplish next year? I’d love to hear it.

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