For the past couple of months, I've written about being prepared for various issues that arise due to the colder weather conditions. This last month, I was constantly reminded that continued vigilance is important. As life throws you one curve ball after another, are you ready or can you adapt in time? What about when special circumstances strike that are not only unexpected but could be downright calamitous?

During February, I took a road trip that covered 2500 miles. The entire time, I used my iPhone to check on the status of my reef, and when necessary called home so my son could make small adjustments, which worked out beautifully. However, the day I got home, I only had a few hours to tinker with my tank before I ended up in the emergeny room with belly pain. They told me I'd be in the hospital for several days and that surgery was required. Since I'd already been away from my reef for over a week, I worried that yet another absence would be detrimental for sure. My son was able to fill in for me again, and I also called a local fish store owner to stop by to double check that all was well. Having a support system in place is a good plan, and if your set up isn't too complicated, friends and family can be your eyes and ears for the duration. If possible, plan now for unexpected times.

Now for a regular maintenance tip, is it time to calibrate your refractometer? A false reading won't help your livestock, so if it has been a few months, it is probably time to get out the reference solution and verify that your refractometer is measuring correctly. I recently discovered that mine was reading higher than it should be, using Salifert's 35ppt calibration solution. Randy Holmes-Farley wrote a good article on this topic, including how to make your own DIY solution. If you currently use RO/DI or distilled water to calibrate a refractometer, it would be wise to read that article and find out why this isn't a good idea.

Over the past weekend, I visited a club in Raleigh, North Carolina. While I was there, I was given a few SPS frags to bring home on the plane. Because of the 3 oz. liquids rule, I opted to simply wrap each frag in a papertowel that had been soaked in saltwater, bagged them together without water, and put that sealed bag in my camera bag as carry on. All three frags made the trip home safely and are currently in my quarantine system. If you want to bring small coral frags home, this may be a method that you could employ as well. Alternately, if you have the room for a small styrofoam cooler in your suitcase, small corals could be tripled-bagged and sealed in the container for the flight home.

Happy reefing!

Marc Levenson (melev)
Managing Editor

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