November 9, 2006

In the Beginning…..

Posted in Aquaria at 12:42 am by jyesis

Ladies and Gennlepeoples….. Allow me to present to you, my first aquarium! Ta da!
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I started this tank about 2 months ago, and finally finished the “basics” last weekend. The display tank is four feet long and holds 75 gallons, and the sump holds 55 gallons (more on that later). My friend Mike and I built the entire stand with a cordless drill and a jigsaw! There’s about 100lbs of Uaniva live rock from saltycritter.com in the tank, and an additional 50 in the sump (still more on that later). Ledge.jpgThe tank has a 3-4 inch live sand bed and is currently home to a Yellow Tang (Z. flavescens), a Royal Gramma (G. loreto), a mix of about 25 blue and red legged hermit crabs, and a handful of snails (Astrea, Turbo, and Nessarius). I’ve also found four “featherduster” worms on the rock and Mike was kind enough to give me a few Zoanthid coral polyps.

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The tank is lit with 2 daylight and 2 actinic PCs, a daylight T5 and an actinic T5. Moonlighting is primarily provided by Current USA’s Nocturnal Blue Lunar lights and a lunar link (four 1 watt LEDs). The tank is not “reef-ready” so I’m using an overflow, which seems to be working beautifully. Circulation is provided by a closed loop consisting of an SCWD and two “snail-go-rounds” (Hydor-flo rotating attachments). I’ll post a video on this later. The closed loop is driven by a 1300 GPH QuietOne 5000. Flow through the sump is provided by an additional 700 GPH from a Mag 7.

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The sump is a 55G glass aquarium partitioned with acrylic and silicone. Water enters through a column of submerged bio-balls, and under a partition into the skimming/filtration chamber. The used Turbofloater-1000 I aquired needed a little TLC,

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but it seems to be working fine now – especially with my brand new OR-2700!
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From the skimmer, water flows over a baffle into a chamber containing 40-50 lbs of live rock.
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sumplayout.JPGThis is the love nest for a bottle of copepods acquired from oceanpods.com. From there we move into an algae ‘fuge with a 6″ DSB and a handful of chaeto. (The rock just looks pretty there.)algaefuge.JPG
Then, it’s over another baffle into a corner ‘fuge for problem fish (solitary confinement). Finally, through a bubble trap to the return chamber with my Mag 7.sumpend.JPG

Heating is provided by two 150-watt “stealth” something-or-other heaters located in the skimmer and return chambers. The two white tubes in front of the sump are homemade canister filters containing activated charcoal and PhosLock in series. Water is double-distilled, deionized stuff that I get from work for free (I work in a research lab).

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We installed this nipple on the drain line from the overflow to make water changes that much easier…..

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As far as water quality…. I’m at 0 ammonia and nitrites, 10ppm nitrates, pH 8.3, specific grav 1.025 and temp between 79.6 and 80.1. I just installed a cooling fan, however, which should keep the temp a little more stable.

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The immediate future will see the introduction of 5 chromis (C. viridis), 2 cleaner shrimp (L. grabhami), and a Coral Beauty (C. bispinosus). Then it’ll be time to upgrade the lighting and save for an RO/DI unit. I’m hoping to work in some simple soft corals (mushrooms and, hopefully, a pulsing xenia) as well. Later down the road I’d love to provide some clowns (A. ocellaris) and a BTA for my beautiful wife (who, incidentally, paid for this entire thing and had put up with my destruction of our living room during construction). There is, of course, a lengthy list of other critters I’d like to add to the mix, but I think a little patience will go a long way on that front.

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Special thanks to my wonderful wife and best friend Michaela, and also to my good friend Mike who has made multiple 5-hour drives to help me build and tweak this system.

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