Reef Hacks- Brush up!

by Justin Hester

Ok, so its simple, but every 6 months when I go for my dental check up, the ear to ear grin that comes over me when I am handed a new toothbrush has to unnerve my dentist at least a little bit.  I’m thinking one of these years he is going to call me out and ask why the hell I am so excited to get a new toothbrush!  Little does he know that this silly toothbrush goes to work almost immediately on our reef tanks when I get home.  Its one of the most versatile reef cleaning tools that was never intended for such a use!

Yes, a simple toothbrush is one of our favorite reef cleaning tools.  We use it to clean our overflows free of algae so that our water level doesn’t rise.  It gets used to keep all fittings in our sump free of detritus, fan worms, and even the squiggles of chaeto that slip past our filter socks.  A simple twisting motion in our overflows makes a nice cotton candy ball of any algae that has started growing in there.


Three toothbrushes, photo taken in Sweden

Three toothbrushes, photo taken in Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Got some aiptasia on a rock or frag plug?  A toothbrush is a great way to remove the entire anemone without missing a piece that will grow back into an entire anemone within weeks.

Sometimes after a sink cleaning, our protein skimmers still have some goo in the little crevices under the lid.  we use a longer bristle automotive toothbrush to clean this and other hard to reach spots in the sink.

Any mother colonies that we get in automatically get a scrubbing on their bases ( or new bases entirely) upon arrival in preparation for their QT.

The best part about these brushes is that they last a long time and are easily replaceable.  In my case, every 6 months!  🙂

Have you used a toothbrush on your tank?  Have you used it for any other maintenance tasks?