It all started in about 1991 when I bought my own flat. In this flat I built my own fireplace with a 4 ft tank either side, one held tropicals and the other Pacu (yeh I know how big they get?..now). The hobby progressed after I got married to investigating marines and so the purchase of a 4 ft tank was made along with airstone driven skimmer. Anyway to cut a long story short that tank sat empty for about 6 years until we moved house, as I was afraid it would go through the flat floor if filled with water. On moving house we decided to set the tank up and took it to my LFS to get drilled, hah on attempting to drill the tank one side shattered completely due to the glass turning brittle I guess. Not to worry new 4ft tank ordered, pre drilled for sump etc. This tank was set up December 2001 and lasted at least 6 months before the urge for a monster tank took over, so the planning began. Heres a picture of the old tank.
Besides the 4 foot tank was in the conservatory and was manual everything and although I spent hours working on it never spent any time enjoying it. Therefore the new tank would not only be big but also be located in the living room and be as automated as I could afford, so there you go below is details of my current tank, including reasons for the design, live stock etc and future plans. Hope you enjoy, oh and visitors are always welcome. Finally thanks to my wife and kids for putting up with the money pit and the constant swearing when things are?nt going right. Craig.
The tank is 84 inch * 30 inch * 30 inch and was built onsite by Seashell 2 days before Xmas 2002. Cabinet was also supplied by Seashell but was pre-built at their factory. The tank is drilled but as discussed later is not pre-drilled for a sump as I don't have one.
Water capacity is 270 gallons empty but 230 gallons when holding all my live rock. Also the tank is not a ?whole in the wall? type but I have tried to give it that appearance by using a full height ?hood?. Also the tank has 4 weirs along the back wall which I will explain later. The tank was finally filled during March. So is coming up soon to its first birthday. The tank contains about 270kg Live Rock and an in tank DSB.
Tank is in theory controlled by an Octopus 3000 computer but since my second one has just blown up it is currently computerless. If the Octopus was working it would control most electrical items via X-10 devices (I do use this option but for now am back to standard timers) and also monitors PH, TEMP, REDOX and Conductivity. I may need to look at the Neptune as I believe that still offers X-10 as my opinion of the Octopus is now a little strained. Up until this second failure I had nothing but praise for it though.
I do not have a sump on this tank. There are many reasons for this, one being I wanted a virtually silent tank as it is located in my living room, also I was planning to use majority Tunze kit which kind of neglected the need to have a sump as it wouldn?t need to hold a skimmer etc. I have nothing against sumps in fact my last tank had a sump, its more that I wanted to try something a little different this time round and with everything else currently in my cabinet I wouldn?t have had room for a sump in any case. However with the tank being drilled I always have the option to change things around and install a sump at a later date if I felt the need. There are possible future plans for some changes concerning a refugium etc so see that later.
Skimming is controlled by 2 * Tunze Comline 3140/2 skimmers. These are located in the corner weirs at either end of the tank, it was designed this way for even skimming, and strangely due to different flow etc I guess going through each weir each skimmer produces varying amounts and colour skimate. So I feel this is an experiment that has worked, although at times I wonder whether they are producing enough skimate, the tank seems to be coping fine.
Calcium is added using a Schuran Jetstream 1 which I?m well pleased with, this is added 24/7 using a Aquamedic SP3000 dosing pump.
Kalkwasser is added via a Tunze Osmolator topup system pumping water through my Aquamedic Kalkreactor. This is only added between 2300pm and 10.00am due to a dramatic drop in PH at night if I don?t add it this way. As stated this is a kalk reactor and not a stirrer and although I guess it does what it says on the box I?m not overly impressed with either the design, ease of use or refilling method / requirements. So an alternative is probably going to be investigated.
Lighting Lighting is currently 4 * 400 watt Lowbays and 6 * 40 watt Antinic Tubes. The lamps in the lowbays are 2 * 14k Arcadias and 20k Radiums.
Lighting period = Halides 13:00pm to 22:00pm (9 Hours) Antinics 09:00am to 23:30pm (14.30 hours)
Circulation Circulation is substantial and details follow:- Yellow = Turbelle 7400 Red = 6110 Stream
Arrows = flow direction Pumps are as follows:- 6 * Tunze Turbelle 7400 Powerheads (Output: 700 - 4000 l/h each) 2 * Tunze Turbelle Stream 6100 (Output: 4000 - 12000 l/h each) There is also flow via my closed loop through my chiller this is via an Eheim 1060 (Output: 2280 l/h) Therefore my tank being 1000 litres has a theoretical turnover of 52000 litres per hour. (50 times) This is theoretical because all the Tunze equipment is electronic controlled via the Tunze 7094 Multicontroller with 2 extension blocks to accommodate all 8 pumps, which I use to ?Pulse? the flow throughout the day. The diagram shows the back view of the tank with the 4 weirs.
Temperature control is more of a problem in the summer due to the 4 * 400 watt halides and the ?closed? hood. I quickly discovered that I would need a chiller, I was trying to wait until June / July time but ended up buying a AquaMedic Titan 1500 in May. This keeps temps to a max of 28?c which is still to high and so this year I will be using extractor fans in my hood and outside walls. The chiller itself is a great bit of kit and is the correct size for my tank, however with the fact that my tank is fully enclosed and has the 4 halides, it appears I should have gone to the next size up. Still its better than the 32?c I saw before installing the chiller. I have one 300 watt heater in tank just to prevent a critical drop in temperature if something went dramatically wrong, but that said I never see it on.
In the right hand half of my cabinet I have a tank which is divided into 2 sections, one section holds pure RO water produced from my 35 gallon per day Kent Maxima HI/S, the other side gets filled with RO but is my mixing tank for my 10% weekly water changes which is something that I believe in as it works for me. (I currently use the new Tropic Marin Reef Salt) Each side holds 25 gallons of water.
Anyway as previously stated water is topped up from the pure RO tank using a Tunze osmolater but on route passes through the Aquamedic Kalk Reactor. This is only done at night by use of a digital timer, the timer also helps me get over the one issue with the Tunze osmolater in that it has an auto cut out after 9 mins of continuous use. Therefore I just get the timer to switch the power off periodically throughout the night to reset the device, this works perfectly.
This is where my honesty will show through, my water quality has never been ?Perfect? and often get puzzled when other reefers report zero, zero, zero. And sometimes despair as I think I must being doing something wrong. Therefore I will publish my current figures so newbies out there can see that things are?nt always zero to get good results, that being said I strive for the magical zero and hope to get there oneday. Anyway:- Nitrite = 0.05 mg/l Nitrate = 5 mg/l Phosphate = 0.25 mg/l (this is a seriously bad figure but has been as high as 1.0 mg/l which going by the Salifert kit should probably mean instant death for all living nearby, therefore I don?t necessarily trust this figure. Incidently I am now using Seachem Phosguard which is now bringing the figure down, Rowaphos had no positive effect in my tank). KH = 12.6dkh Alkalinity = 4.5 mg/l Calcium = 400 mg/l
Feeding is now 90% dry food due to my phosphate problems (I used to feed 4 cubes of frozen per day I now feed 2-4 cubes once per week). My food mix is every kind of dry food (flake and pellet) I can find of varying sizes all poured into one container and shaken vigorously. This is then fed in 5ml quantities 4-6 times per day. I used to automate the feeding via Ehiem auto-feeder but since one fell in the tank and the other failed due to the high humidity I've given up on that game. I also feed Golden Pearls and Cylop-eeze on alternate days in small quantities. Kent Phyto is added when I remember.
The main maintenance is simple stuff like keeping the skimmers clean, topping up the Kalk Reactor as previously stated can be a chore and has to be done every 2 weeks though. Hmmm and then theres the Streams and Powerheads. Now the Streams I have had to clean twice now and is ok'ish. Well certainly the right hand side is easy enough as I can take the side off the canopy and get access. The left hand side is possible but leads to some choice swearing when the kids are'nt about and some moving of the halides out of the way. Also I can get to the middle turbelles and the turbelle in the bottom of the right hand weir with fairly limited problems. That leaves one Turbelle the left hand weir at the bottom. I'm sure if I really really really had to I could get to it, but I havent yet had to and to be honest the tank could survive quite happily without its participation if needed if you know what I mean. No, I'm sure if it broke I would pack the family off for the day and the hood would get stripped and then access would be no probs but its one of those things that I try not to think about. Other than the worry of that one pump all other maintenance is no worries and my goal of enjoying the tank has definately been acheived. I could quite easily switch off the TV and watch the tank from my sofa right opposite all day long, which is the opposite to my old tank. That said we can never sit still and you can see my future plans for changes ahead including my new 15ft.....sorry only joking. Livestock Hermits, snails, 3 Cleaner Shrimps, 1 fire Shrimp, 4 Sand sifting starfish.
My tank is I think very heavily stocked as follows:- I also nearly added a pair of Scribbled Angels the other day but chickened out and added the 2 Pipefish instead. The scribbled is my dream buy but I?m afraid of pushing the tank ?over the edge?. To me my fish are as important if not more so than the corals, 12 ? Diamond Head Anthius 1 ? Flame Angel 1 ? Midnight Angel 1 ? Lipstick Tang 1 ? Yellow Tang 1 ? Yelow tailed purple Tang 3 ? Wild Australian Percula Clowns 1 ? Lightning Wrasse 2 ? Japanese SwallowTail Angels 1 ? Scooter Blennie 1 ? Algae Blennie 1 ? Social wrasse (Seafighter) 1 ? Yellow fin Fairy Wrasse 1 ? Manderine 1 ? Zebra Angel 1 ? Powder Blue Tang 1 ? Caribbean Blue Tang 1 ? Cleaner Wrasse 2 ? Blue banded Pipefish 2 - clams Corals/Inverts Too many. And I?m not good with names. Various Acropora Spp Various Montipora Hystix Brain Elephants eye Button Polyps Mushrooms Bubble Frogs Spawn Torch Hynophora Porites
The Future I am very pleased with my tank so far, bar the fact that I?m not that patient and just want it to grow. My big plans ahead are to build a large shed on the side of the house and put all the Tunze control electrics in there out of the way. Also I want change my lowbay ballasts to remote types and put them out in the shed as they currently can be heard when on. I will also be putting my old 100 gallon tank in the shed and plumbing that into the system as a refugium / frag tank. Other than probably eventually adding ?that? pair of scribbles I just need to learn to be patient and just let it get on with it. Oh and expect lots of pictures in the future as I've got heavily into my photograhy (not any good, just enjoy it). And finally that Leather Toadstool just has to go.