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My Little Box of Water


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Hi. Welcome to my little box of water build thread. Over the next few posts I am going to go into some detail about my system setup and the choices I made. I hope you find it useful, not just to see what goes into a reef tank, but also the reasoning behind why I selected what I did.

 

So first off some background, I have been reefing for 8+ years and I am just about to 'start' my fourth tank. It is a 510L system (sump, tank and connected mini 40L frag-tank). The main display is 42 inches (107cm) by 30 inches (76cm) and is 20 inches (50cm) high. It isn't a massive display tank, but with a good height and depth I hope to do something interesting with. The aim is an SPS dominated system with a semi-minimalist rockscape creating some negative space for the fish the actively swim in and to provide some room for a few clams and LPS islands.

 

So, when I say i am about to 'start' that isn't technically correct as the tank is actually already setup and has been 'cycling' for nearly 10 weeks now (The aim is to follow WWC's 16 week initial cycle).

 

I hope to bring everything I learnt from my previous success and failures in the hobby. What is so awesome about keeping a little bit of the ocean within our homes or offices is that the hobby is always moving forward always changing. As technology and knowledge improve it is getting easier to succeed, so with my new setup I see it as a great opportunity to use the latest tools and techniques. I also see this tank as a testbed for some ideas I have around automation. My idea of a low maintenance tank is one that uses te technology to run itself.

 

What I have learnt in the hobby is that you need to make good decisions on your tank. They ultimately save you money. Yes, there are normal constraints like budget or size or even knowhow, but I managed to scrape together some interesting tools and it didn't cost the earth either.

 

Luckily knowledge is something that is free. So I decided to write out a set of objectives for the tank and plan accordingly.

 

Tank Objective: To design a tank that is easy to maintain and uses various systems and tools to run itself with minimal intervention (as I am not always around to look after it). To improve my chances of success it should be a controllable, stable, pest free, ultra low nutrient tank. The tank should be stocked with attractive corals and interesting utilitarian fish and invertebrates.

 

In the next post I will go into some detail about how I planned to achieve this...20200315_000335.jpeg

 

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Part II

They say that knowledge is key, so I hope you indulge me as I go into a little more detail surrounding my objective of having a controllable, stable, pest free, ultra low nutrient tank.

Objective 1: Controllable: There are several different use cases that spring to mind when I think about what I mean by having a 'controllable tank'.

Firstly there is the technical ability to control equipment on my tank. Whilst there are many ways to achieve this at a basic level with the use of timers or even smart plugs. For the automation I had in mind this will involve implementing an aquarium controller to run:
[ ] various safety measures (e.g. switching off the skimmer if the water level is too high in the sump, or switching off the return pumps if the water level gets too low)
[ ] Programming a few sub-routines relating to the equipment (Creating 'maintenance' sub-routines to switch off various pieces of gear as and when I need OR 'feeding modes' that switch off the skimmer and wavemakers for a set time when I want to feed the corals.
[ ] Introducing Automated Water Change functionality.
[ ] Using flow meters to control water flow into the tank and key elements such as UV systems.
Basically being able to switch gear on/off at the press of a button or based on some reading from sensors or probes.

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Secondly, when I think about control, I want to be able to control the parameters as much as possible.
[ ] Temperature is controlled via a chiller and some fans

[ ] Salinity is controlled via an ATO

nothing radical there. Standard stuff, but what about the other elements? Well this is where you can have fun...

[ ] For PH I plan on using differing air sources to keep PH both high and stable. A simple Recirculating CO2 scrubbing system and carbon filtered air tube from from outside will be controlled to maintain PH. The idea is that the scrubbed air will increase the PH and a tap or even solinoid will be activated after when the PH gets too high (the irony typically people want a high PH!) As such PH will be more stable.

[ ] For nutrients (and PH) I plan on using different length photoperiods to manage nutrient reduction via an ATS and Refugium (yep both! Haha); Reverse photosynthesis will also be used to keep the PH stable. The control will not only come from controlling growth rates (dragons breath grows much slower then chaeto), but also from measuring the amount of a particular macroalgea is needed.

[ ] For Alkalinity and Calcium it will involve implementing the likes of a Calcium Reactor with an adjustable continuous dosing pump to vary the flow of effluent, and thus, control the level of calcium and alkalinity entering the tank. Again nothing too new. However, this will be supplemented with the latest automated testing equipment which will automatically control a secondary dosing amount.

[ ] For Phosphates I plan on using a reactor with GFO (along with an initial Lathium Choloride dose). As standard GFO can strip ALL the phosphates out of the system I am going to use a special product from Fauna Marin that keeps the level of phosphate stable at 0.04 irrespective of how much you put it (beyond a minimum amount). Basicslly a 'pace it and forget it' approach. Well not quiet but is certainly still low maintenance.

[ ] I also will implement the KZ Zeovit system to control nutrients via the zeolite rocks which strip ammonia A SKIMZ automated zeovit reactor (keeping it local - great product btw) will wash the mulm at regular times in the day. KZ products (yep those little blue bottles) will add nutrients back into the tank in a controlled manner. It will be interesting to see how I can incorporate the successful zeovit system into my overall setup, as typically with zeovit you don't run a refugium, carbon or a UV and I plan on all three) That said the more I have read I have seen many systems using a hybrid approach with zeovit at its core and still still massive success so I intend to emulate those.

So, once you some tools available to you as a reefer then the next thing to think about is how to use them in concert to gain Stablility. I will cover that next...

Until then Happy Reefing!
20200310_095452.jpeg

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Objective 2: Stability. I plan on using a combination of known tools and techniques along with the latest technology to ensure that the parameters are super stable (or at least ensure that change happens in a controlled and purposeful manner based on real data).

The aim here is to use 'old school' reefing techniques to get the water parameters close to where the tank needs them to be (each tank is different). However, to ensure exact stability I plan to use automated testing and control systems to control dosing. These will come in the form of the new GHL ION Director (still on order... with Covid19 impact I suspect August delivery) and the GHL KH director. So how will these be used exactly? Well, let's look at the case of keeping Calcium stable as an example. Imagine there is a need to keep calcium at say 440. The idea is to use a Calcium Reactor to cover the base need and get into the 410+ range. The good news is that Calcium reactors are actually Alkalinity and trace element Reactors too, they are also sudo 'set it and forget it' kind of tools, hence fairly low maintenance.. They look complex but are actually reasonably simple. Pegging the calcium reactor to a specific PH will dissolve the media at a set rate. Changing how much of the effluent enters the tank will allow me to control the level of Alkalinity and Calcium.
Additionally i plan on adding Kalkwasser. Line water has been used for years to increase the levels of calcium, but there are often issues attached to how this is implemented or overused. Anyways I will again use my doser to control. The idea is to use it sparingly to boost the calcium and bring this up to say c.435. Kalkwasser will also increase the PH to offset the CR effluent which is rather acidic. Finally, and this is where the latest technology comes into play, I intend to implement an automated testing system that measures Calcium throughout the day (the GHL ION director can test calcium 24 times a day without the need for reagents). This ION director will be linked to my dosing pumps to contol the level of calcium that is then dosed via traditional balling supplements. In allowing the system to just control a small amount of dosing I can ensure that no catastrophic overdosing or underdosing will occur. But the tank should see a vary stable level of calcium. The idea is that if demand increases the doser will automatically adjust upwards its dosing amount (if I see this need continue as a trend in the long term I can just dial up the flow rate on the CR to set a new base level). If demand decreases then the doser will reduce the amount of calcium dosed (similarly if this is a longer term need - maybe I removed a coral - then we can simply dial back the flow rate on the CR). Stability is key.

Similarly Alkalinity will not only be delivered via the calcium reactor but the final level of control will be via the GHL KH director which will be in charge of the most important task of keeping ALK in check. It will test Alkalinity about three times a day and make minor alk dosing adjustments accordingly.

...It will be interesting to see if this works! Haha20200502_113715.jpeg

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wow GHL ... 

Humble tank :

Size: 4x2.5x2 ft - Display 

Equipment :

Return 1 : Ecotech marine L1

Return 2 : Ecotech marine M1

CR : Skimz CM122 - Caribsea extra course media with Grotech magnesium

Light : ATI 8x54W

 

 

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Very interesting, camping here to see how ur high tech gears works.

Display Tank : 48" x 22" x 22" Bean Animal CTC overflow box design, custom built by Aquarium Iwarna.

Sump : 37" x 20" x 18" inspired by Royal Exclusiv Dream box & Trigger Systems Tideline Series sump designs, custom built by Aquarium Iwarna.

Lightings : Inled R80 x 3 with 2  x Illumagic Vitamini Super Actinic LED Striplight Bars.

Chiller : Dalkin 1hp compressor with build-in drop coil.

Skimmer : Skimz Octa SC205i Protein Skimmer.

FR : H2Ocean FMR75 Fluidised Media Reactor with Hailea HX-2500 (Feeder Pump) running Rowaphos.

CR : Skimz Monzter E Series CM122 Calcium Reactor.

Main Return Pump : SICCE Syncra ADV 9.0 & Jebao ACQ-10000 Water Pump.

Wavemaker : Maxspect Jump MJ-GF4K, Jebao SLW-30M & SLW-20M Wave Pump.

Water Top Up: Reef Octopus ATO.

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A new toy. The Skimz ZAR-127 automatic zeolite reactor takes all (well some) of the effort out of the zeovit system. I am always looking for low maintenance, which i take to mean that I dont have to intervene too much. I must say it is doing really well! (fingers crossed I haven't hexed it saying that). It has an adjustable flow rates for differing amounts of the zeolite media and to suit different tank sizes. What isn't really advertised is that you can double the flow rate at the touch of a button. As such it can run from 60L/H to 480L/H, which will happily serve tanks from 120L in size to roughly 900L. It's great to have a little upgradability built-in and keep the footprint down. Well done Skimz! 20200503_192501.jpeg

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7 hours ago, R0B said:

A new toy. The Skimz ZAR-127 automatic zeolite reactor takes all (well some) of the effort out of the zeovit system. I am always looking for low maintenance, which i take to mean that I dont have to intervene too much. I must say it is doing really well! (fingers crossed I haven't hexed it saying that). It has an adjustable flow rates for differing amounts of the zeolite media and to suit different tank sizes. What isn't really advertised is that you can double the flow rate at the touch of a button. As such it can run from 60L/H to 480L/H, which will happily serve tanks from 120L in size to roughly 900L. It's great to have a little upgradability built-in and keep the footprint down. Well done Skimz! 20200503_192501.jpeg

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nice toy to have and the best part is the auto flushing 

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Humble tank :

Size: 4x2.5x2 ft - Display 

Equipment :

Return 1 : Ecotech marine L1

Return 2 : Ecotech marine M1

CR : Skimz CM122 - Caribsea extra course media with Grotech magnesium

Light : ATI 8x54W

 

 

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Wow! Wow! Wow!!!! Finally after a long wait from you initial pics shared. Thanks for sharing so generously. Will definitely follow your thread. Now can slowly take my time to read up.

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OBJECTIVE 3: PEST FREE: The aim here is to use effective preventative quarantine procedures, medication and observation to reduce the probability of pests entering my system. The hope is to achieve ICH and disease irradication in my fish (plus learn a new reefing skill), and for the Corals it is all about pest identification and removal.

Note. In addition to chemicals and medications I will also use the natural ecosystem to keep pests at bay. Wrasses, Cleaner shrimp, file fish etc etc

In order to implement I have two small cheap 20L tanks which have their own HOB waterfall filters and link to a DIY chiller. Also I monitor Ammonia via the Seachem Badge which is really handy. The tanks allow for me to perform the 'two tank transfer' method as well as prophylactic medication of the fish. In addition to the two tanks I have a 50L observation tank for corals I picked up second hand, and a small 10L tanks for coral bathing. (Just a tip I got hold of a glass marker and i use it to write on the face of the tank what treatment is currently happening, is good to keep track as to what meds are in the tank and when you need to transfer them again).
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CORAL
Corals are removed from plugs and dipped in the 10L tank with some Coral RX. The tank has a small circulating pump (want to find a mini wavemaker). After 30 mins they are inspected woth a magnifying glass and then placed in to the 50L tank where they stay for at least a month. They are dipped a few extra times during their stay in quarantine. For my dips I use Byer, RX and Hydrogen Peroxide (if I know the coral can handle it).

Why quaratine coral? Well, just to give you an idea. I picked up some frags from fellow reefers prior to the covid CB, between them the frags had Aiptasia, Vermetid Snails, Red Bugs, Nudibranch and various worms. I would hate to imagine what would happen if I placed all of those pests directly in my tank.

My rule is simple. NOTHING gets into my tank that hasn't been quarantined and is pest free (I even quaratined the macroalgae!)

FISH
As for the fish they initially get a commercial dip before going for a fresh water swim for 3-5 mins. After that initial treatment they are placed into one of the 20L tanks, which is what I use for the two tank transfer method. The tranfer method basically involves keeping the fish for 72 hours in one tank before moving them into another tank. This is repeated four to five times. Each time you do it you clean out the old tank, to make it sterile. The two tank method significantly reduces the probability that ICH is still on the fish. I fresh water dip during transfers just to make sure any flukes etc are gone and to make sure there is limited water droplets transferred from one tank to the next.

20200508_072721.jpeg

I use water from the main display so the fish are acclimated to the main tank at all times. During the first tank transfers I use methleyne blue to remove any fungal disease. For the second and third I use Prazipro. For the third and fourth transfer I also treat with the likes of metroplex, kanaplex or neoplex (which you can bind to fishes food with the use of Focus). If a specific fish is susceptible to a particular ailment i will tailor the treatment. The tanks also have a dedicated mini 9w UV to kill any free floating parasites. Well that is the hope. Obviously if a fish has a particular issue then I treat for that.

After the transfer method is complete. I move the fish for a fifth time and treat with copper for 15 days. All in all it takes about four weeks and the fish are ready to go into the main display.

Honestly, yes it is a big pain in the butt as if you miss the transfer window you have to start over, but once you get into a rhythm it doesn't take too long to do.

To me having healthy fish and corals is important. There is something rewarding letting the little fishes out after quaratine knowing you did what you could to improve their health.

Anyway I hope that gives you a good idea of what my quarantine set up is like. Next update I will start to discuss one of the most important aspects of the reefing hobby, the water! Until then happy reefing.

20200409_215141.jpeg

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RODI SETUP: It is said that reefing is simply about keeping good water. Whilst one could argue there are many other aspects, water quality for sure is key without it you wont be going very far. Hence, for my new set up I wanted to make sure that I had good quality RODI water.

So first off why would one need RODI vs. Dechlorinated water?

Singapore is awesome, and they have amazing quality water. I get 68TDS for my water from the tap, that is typically cleaner then rain water, Great job PUB Singapore! Still for reef needs 68 TDS is still too high.

So what does an RODI system do? Firstly RODI systems remove sediments, silt, clay... (it's amazing just how dirty the sediment filter gets from tap water!). Typically a four stage system will have one 5 micron sediment filter. (Bigger systems can couple this with a further 1 Micron filter). Secondly the carbon filters and RO membrane(s) remove any unwanted chemicals like chlorine, chromium, pesticides.
The DI resin typically focuses on the removal of heavy metals like copper as well as some acids. Combined they remove impurities, microorganisms, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and even naturally occuring radioactive nuclides!

Now whilst Declorinated tap water is okay to use short term all the above elements even in extremely small ppm/ppb will build up over time (Silicone even absorbs heavy metals). This will start to cause issues (typically algae related) for you.

My system is currently 7 stages. 1x 5micron sediment filter, 2x Carbon, 2x RO membranes in water saver configuration (the waste water of the first membrane goes into the input of the second filter, and both RO membrane accepted water are joined together). I run 2x DI resin filters. The idea here is to hold the Cation and the Anion resins separately. Typically they deplete at different rates so only one needs to be replaced versus a single mixed bed resin setup that you replace both resins when just one of them depletes.

My system also comes with a micro controller, which auto flushes the system, along with keeping track of water quality (alarms come on if water quality is poor). Flushing makes the RO membranes last much longer.

In the end you only need a system that produces 0 TDS, additional stages and control systems do nothing more then make the unit more efficient. Whilst the micro controller is awesome, simple systems off lazada will work too.

Hope that helps. Happy reefing everyone20200314_140938.jpeg

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RODI SETUP: It is said that reefing is simply about keeping good water. Whilst one could argue there are many other aspects, water quality for sure is key without it you wont be going very far. Hence, for my new set up I wanted to make sure that I had good quality RODI water.

So first off why would one need RODI vs. Dechlorinated water?

Singapore is awesome, and they have amazing quality water. I get 68TDS for my water from the tap, that is typically cleaner then rain water, Great job PUB Singapore! Still for reef needs 68 TDS is still too high.

So what does an RODI system do? Firstly RODI systems remove sediments, silt, clay... (it's amazing just how dirty the sediment filter gets from tap water!). Typically a four stage system will have one 5 micron sediment filter. (Bigger systems can couple this with a further 1 Micron filter). Secondly the carbon filters and RO membrane(s) remove any unwanted chemicals like chlorine, chromium, pesticides.
The DI resin typically focuses on the removal of heavy metals like copper as well as some acids. Combined they remove impurities, microorganisms, disinfection byproducts, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and even naturally occuring radioactive nuclides!

Now whilst Declorinated tap water is okay to use short term all the above elements even in extremely small ppm/ppb will build up over time (Silicone even absorbs heavy metals). This will start to cause issues (typically algae related) for you.

My system is currently 7 stages. 1x 5micron sediment filter, 2x Carbon, 2x RO membranes in water saver configuration (the waste water of the first membrane goes into the input of the second filter, and both RO membrane accepted water are joined together). I run 2x DI resin filters. The idea here is to hold the Cation and the Anion resins separately. Typically they deplete at different rates so only one needs to be replaced versus a single mixed bed resin setup that you replace both resins when just one of them depletes.

My system also comes with a micro controller, which auto flushes the system, along with keeping track of water quality (alarms come on if water quality is poor). Flushing makes the RO membranes last much longer.

In the end you only need a system that produces 0 TDS, additional stages and control systems do nothing more then make the unit more efficient. Whilst the micro controller is awesome, simple systems off lazada will work too.

Hope that helps. Happy reefing everyone20200314_140938.thumb.jpeg.e69c330ab1f3d9acb9115edb0d2404c8.jpeg

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great explanation of the importance of RO/DI water Rob! keep the detailed overviews coming!


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OBJECTIVE 4: Ultra low Nutrient Tank (part 1)

I have or am in the process of installing several Nutrient Removal solutions. I have listed them down below (in a rough order of importance)...

1. RODI. Every successful reef tank starts with good water. A reasonable RODI system producing zero TDS allows for you to ensure the tank starts off with a strong building block.

2. ROLLER-MAT. These simple yet ingenious devices not only have a much finer mesh then socks removing much finner particulates, they also need far less maintenance as they typically last several months before replacement. One benefit is you are literally removing the detritus out of the water column, as opposed to a sock where the detritus sits in the bottom of the sock constantly leaching nutrients back into the water like an ammonia rich tea bag.

I designed my whole sump around having a roller mat, sadly not all sumps come in a roller mat freindly model (any tank manufacturers out there listening!). The roller mat dose such a good job of removing nutrients that I ended up having to reduce the size of my skimmer*. So those of you upgrading to a bigger tank and thinking of getting a new larger skimmer, may want to consider an alternative option.

(*note need for gas exchange)

Personally I don't enjoy maintenance, I would rather spend my time more productively. So to find a solution that is not only so much better in its execution, but also takes the worry out of having to constantly remove and clean socks at a certain time to ensure stability, well it is a win win for me. They are amazing tools and I would never have a system without one.

3. REFUGIUM. Powered by a strong refugium light to ensure fast growth. The aim is to only use sterile cheato (macro algae tends to have loads of hitchhiker's, so I quaratine mine). One consideration of a powerful refugium light is to check the PAR and height placement as to ensure you don't overexpose your macro algea (turns white). I have a Kessil H380 (which just stopped working yesterday - sob sob sob) so ended up building my own light shade with built in defuser.

Now, you may not recognise it but refugiums are actually a highly controlable nutrient export tool. You can amend the amount of macroalgae in the system keeping the ball of chaeto to a set size/weight (over time you will figure out how big it needs to be); You can amend how much you harvest at any given time; how long you leave the lights on; how strong the light are; (if you have a good sump) you can even control how much water flows through the refugium; Furthermore you can get differing macroalgeas that grow (thus intake nutrients) at differing rates - Although my search for dragons breath macroalgae is still yielding no leads haha.

As such there are many ways you can dial in the refugium into your nutrient removal toolkit. You dont need to have a large space either to achieve results. Mine is just 35L in volume which is c.7% of my total water volume. Much lower then the recommended 15-20%. Yet it is more than sufficient as I use it in combination with the other tools mentioned, plus I have / had (sob sob) a powerful light to enhance growth rates. So even if you dont think you have enough space, use what you have got available and if necessary just increase the photoperiod (to a certain degree)

Now, I dont have a macro algae reactor. I used to own one but found it difficult to keep, also I prefer the ease of a refugium. However, if space is an issue then you can always consider one instead of the refugium.

4. ATS: An Algae Turf Scrubber is dollar for dollar the best nutrient removal solution IMHO. An ATS allows for finer control of nutrient removal beyond that of the refugium as both the flow into the ATS and the photoperiod of the light can be easily amended to either increase or reduce it's overall impact. Further, one can even downsize the actual mesh size inside an ATS to control exactly how much GHA can grow. Another benefit is that oxygen is produced by photosynthesis. As such (especially in a waterfall design) an ATS provides another means of gas exchange.

Given this, I intend to use a small ATS (I built my own) to fine tune the nutrient removal in my system. It will be part of a series of tool that I can use. But to be clear, the idea with the tools mentioned above is to use them when needed, and not necessarily all at the same time.

So that is my top four. In part 2 I will continue to go through what other tools I have in place on the new build in order to keep nutrients exactly where I want them.

Until then happy reefing! 20200512_132606.jpeg20200512_132634.jpeg20200507_111422.jpeg

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Objective 4: Ultra Low Nutrients (part 2)

5. FLOW: in my view one of the most important parts of a low nutrient system. I plan on having a lot of flow in the right place.

Consistent flow into the tank is achieved via two return pumps that are connected to flow meters. The flow meters allow you to see not only the volume but also to detect any slowing over time. Is amazing that my old 6000 L/Hr pump on full blast only gives me 1020 L/HR at the return nozzle! Head pressure and restrictions are clearly something you need to consider when you buy a pump for your tank.
20200516_133726.jpeg

The flow meters are great tools, as they allow me to monitor any reduction in flow overtime, thus, indicating when I need to maintain the pump. I simply place alarms on the system to indicate if the flow is too low. The GHL flow meters have no moving parts unlike their Apex equivalent so they don't deteriorate overtime, nor need their own maintenance to ensure accurate measurement. The plan is to get the control system to make adjustments to the pumps automatically to maintain flow (however I don't think I can do that with the pumps I have.... hmmmm maybe time to get a M3 when it comes out hehehe). I also flush the lines into the tank, simply by switching off the return on a regular basis. The backward pressure helps keeps the return lines clearer.

The flow I have is aimed at maintaining a 4x turnover in the sump and 100x flow within the tank. The Tank flow is served by 2x MP40s on each side of the tank, along with 2xSLW20's which are placed on the back wall (which I will move to MP10's in the future... I here there are new MP's coming out soon!). I will also add a Gyre shortly, most likely to the back wall aswell given the depth of the tank, and as such I am thinking about the new Red Sea 45 simply as they are easy to maintain.

6. ZEOVIT REACTOR: The skimz zeovit reactor has auto flushing capability making it ideal for my low maintenance objectives. Use smaller model as it covers the flow rate needed upto 900L tank. Love this little toy.
20200503_192501.jpeg

7. BIO MEDIA: Installing bio media is beneficial, however it needs to be placed in flow areas that allows for the water to be in contact with beneficial bacteria. Placing the media in low flow areas is doing little more than producing a nitrate magnet. As I built a section of the sump to house the media (as well as having bio bricks in other areas)
20200516_141111.jpeg

8. SKIMMER: You may wonder why this is lower down on my list of essential tools for combating nitrites. Well, on my system this is because of the roller mat, refugium and ATS. Given the bioload actually reaching the skimmer there was not enough organics for the bubbles to properly hold their form, as such i had loads of micro-bubbles and hardly any skimmate irrespective of how I control the air flow, water input and water height. The skimmer I had was rated for a tank upto 1500L so much bigger then my system, reducing it down to a skimmer that is rated for my system has improved the skimmers performance. One of the only cases in the hobby where bigger equipment is worse haha. I currently have a tiny Curve 5, which I have to say that it is cracking good skimmer. It has a air hose leading outside to a carbon filter.
20200516_142014.jpeg
The filter is made out of a simple DI replacement canister and was placed on the end of the air tube to reduce any impact of pollution such as when they fog for mosquitos and I forget to disconnect the hose inside.

There are a still a few more tools available to help reduce nitrates and phosphates so will cover the final ones next post.

Until then, happy reefing! 20200514_210945.jpeg

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Hi,

It’s really a very detailed write out of your tank process.

I do have slot of questions on mind

1) is your sump on a roller board where you can pull out your sump for effective maintenance?

2) why do you need 3 source to bring your nutrients down? ATS, Refrigum and the zeovit stones. Are you intending to keep a lot of fishes?

3) Can you explain what are you intending to dose? It seems like there’s 3 dosing pumps on top of your KH guardian.

4) how you do fair between KH guardian and alkatronic?

5) it seems like you’re using calcium reactor and also dosing KH and cal. Why not just get a bigger calcium reactor to do the job.

6) very very nice write up on the QT fish system. Will 10g a bit too small for the fishes? Especially tangs? What will your schedule or plan in introducing fishes? 2-3fishes every month? And I find it’s abit too harsh on the new fishes to go thru so many treatment before putting in your tank. It will stress the fishes more. IMO. Doing the TTM & freshwater dip is good but after that I’ll just observe and see is there anymore parasites then do the necessary treatment.


Lastly I can’t wait to see your build. Probably can head over and chat with you more after CB to learn more from you.


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Hi,

It’s really a very detailed write out of your tank process.

I do have slot of questions on mind

1) is your sump on a roller board where you can pull out your sump for effective maintenance?

2) why do you need 3 source to bring your nutrients down? ATS, Refrigum and the zeovit stones. Are you intending to keep a lot of fishes?

3) Can you explain what are you intending to dose? It seems like there’s 3 dosing pumps on top of your KH guardian.

4) how you do fair between KH guardian and alkatronic?

5) it seems like you’re using calcium reactor and also dosing KH and cal. Why not just get a bigger calcium reactor to do the job.

6) very very nice write up on the QT fish system. Will 10g a bit too small for the fishes? Especially tangs? What will your schedule or plan in introducing fishes? 2-3fishes every month? And I find it’s abit too harsh on the new fishes to go thru so many treatment before putting in your tank. It will stress the fishes more. IMO. Doing the TTM & freshwater dip is good but after that I’ll just observe and see is there anymore parasites then do the necessary treatment.


Lastly I can’t wait to see your build. Probably can head over and chat with you more after CB to learn more from you.


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1) Yep my sump which is on industrial rollers. I just have to undo a few unions and I can roll it out. I have a limiting screw that means it cannot come out too far and place too much streemss on the rollers (or tip over!). There is a handle under the front. However, it moves surprisingly easily. I have on occasion found myself grabbing the actual glass sump and pulling, but then I need to remind myself that that probably isn't the smartest move. I have been thinking of moving it via an actuator, but that is a future project.

2) Why multiple sources of nitrate removal? That is a good question. Plenty of fish but not too many. My objective was to have an overlapping controllable set of tools which need little maintenance. I think the key is to use the tools as needed, not necessarily all at same time. Another key element was to size the tools to solve the problem at hand. Each of the tools, refugium, ats and zeovit can be dialed up or down to meet my needs. My objective was a system capable of zero NO3 and PO4, allowing me to feed aggressively (Heavy in, heavy out), the combination of the tools certainly allows me to do that,but going too low can also cause issues. The zeovit captures the ammonia and produces bacteria. The refugium strips out any remaining nitrates and acts as a filter, it also is a safe place to grow Copepods as food source for the fish (I want a dragonette). The macroalgea will only grow as a function of the available nutrients, so is kind of self limiting. I see that the ATS is a fine tuning device (as i can control size of mesh, lighting schedule and water flow) and will be activated as and when needed. Typically I find an ATS works very well in first year of a tank.

3) Multiple dosers why? I intend to dose calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and trace elements. Basically the Tropic Marin balling solutions ABC. Why so many dosing pumps? Well the GHL KH director and ION directors (still on order) are automated testing and control tools. Between them they will automatically test KH, Nitrate, Calcium and Magnesium (as well as sodium and potassium). The GHL systems basically require a dosing unit each to operate; pulling and dispelling water samples, adding reagents or reference liquids. The remaining dosing unit will take the information from the Directors and adjust up or down the necessary dosing amounts of the alk, calcium, magnesium and trace elements.

4) Alkatronic vs KH director? Well I have no first hand experience of the alkatronic, but i hear good things about it (bar its a little noisy). I understand you can connect an alkatronic to an APEX controller via a module in the same way I can connect the KH director to the profilux. Both systems can also be used stand alone. Both the alkatronic and the KH director have dosing pumps that not only draw reagent and sample water but also can be used to add Alk to the tank, controlling the level of dkh if it drops below a certain threshold. They both use reagents in the form of acids that they titrate in sample water until it meets a particular ph, so you need to buy these reagents ongoing. Both have their issues (bubbles in tubes is common issue but both companies say have fixed) and both require a little configuration to get going. Alkatronic needs you to mix its reagent (which to me adds more uncertainty). But overall with regular calibration they do the job if monitoring dkh and keeping it in check.

5) Why not use bigger CR? Calcium and alk demands go up and down. The calcium reactor will do the heavy lifting of adding calcium, alkalinity and trace elements and will be controlled via a continuous dosing pump pulling effluent (with ph set). However, to cope with the increasing or decreasing needs the ION director will control this via direct dosing. Combining the two tools should produce much more stability. For this to work I have to dial back the CR effluent to give me enough room to potentially decrease the amount needed to dose. If I see a trend I can simply turn up or down the amount of effluent out of the CR.

6) QT. Thanks. Yes, If you have bigger fish then yes bigger tanks may be needed. My fish tend to be small juveniles, as I tend to pick fish that look at the correct scale to the DT and my DT isnt huge. But my Tangs all been through it and they are all good. Treating fish prohyliactically allows you to ensure any internal issues are sorted. I think QT is also an art, and I am not skilled enough to spot all potential issues in observation. I try to treat for the most common issues. Does it stress the fish? actually I have not lost a single fish in QT since I started doing this, which I hope means they don't get too stressed. As far as how many I can add. Well this is theoretical as I find I cannot get the fish I want and have to wait to get them into Singapote (anyone have a white tail bristletooth tang?). But I would tend to add slowly and yes typically only add one or two in a batch. But I dont have a fixed number. I think more about how many extra cubes of food I would be adding to the DT and dont want to do more then half a cube at a time. 20200331_153144.jpeg

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1) Yep my sump which is on industrial rollers. I just have to undo a few unions and I can roll it out. I have a limiting screw that means it cannot come out too far and place too much streemss on the rollers (or tip over!). There is a handle under the front. However, it moves surprisingly easily. I have on occasion found myself grabbing the actual glass sump and pulling, but then I need to remind myself that that probably isn't the smartest move. I have been thinking of moving it via an actuator, but that is a future project.

2) Why multiple sources of nitrate removal? That is a good question. Plenty of fish but not too many. My objective was to have an overlapping controllable set of tools which need little maintenance. I think the key is to use the tools as needed, not necessarily all at same time. Another key element was to size the tools to solve the problem at hand. Each of the tools, refugium, ats and zeovit can be dialed up or down to meet my needs. My objective was a system capable of zero NO3 and PO4, allowing me to feed aggressively (Heavy in, heavy out), the combination of the tools certainly allows me to do that,but going too low can also cause issues. The zeovit captures the ammonia and produces bacteria. The refugium strips out any remaining nitrates and acts as a filter, it also is a safe place to grow Copepods as food source for the fish (I want a dragonette). The macroalgea will only grow as a function of the available nutrients, so is kind of self limiting. I see that the ATS is a fine tuning device (as i can control size of mesh, lighting schedule and water flow) and will be activated as and when needed. Typically I find an ATS works very well in first year of a tank.

3) Multiple dosers why? I intend to dose calcium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and trace elements. Basically the Tropic Marin balling solutions ABC. Why so many dosing pumps? Well the GHL KH director and ION directors (still on order) are automated testing and control tools. Between them they will automatically test KH, Nitrate, Calcium and Magnesium (as well as sodium and potassium). The GHL systems basically require a dosing unit each to operate; pulling and dispelling water samples, adding reagents or reference liquids. The remaining dosing unit will take the information from the Directors and adjust up or down the necessary dosing amounts of the alk, calcium, magnesium and trace elements.

4) Alkatronic vs KH director? Well I have no first hand experience of the alkatronic, but i hear good things about it (bar its a little noisy). I understand you can connect an alkatronic to an APEX controller via a module in the same way I can connect the KH director to the profilux. Both systems can also be used stand alone. Both the alkatronic and the KH director have dosing pumps that not only draw reagent and sample water but also can be used to add Alk to the tank, controlling the level of dkh if it drops below a certain threshold. They both use reagents in the form of acids that they titrate in sample water until it meets a particular ph, so you need to buy these reagents ongoing. Both have their issues (bubbles in tubes is common issue but both companies say have fixed) and both require a little configuration to get going. Alkatronic needs you to mix its reagent (which to me adds more uncertainty). But overall with regular calibration they do the job if monitoring dkh and keeping it in check.

5) Why not use bigger CR? Calcium and alk demands go up and down. The calcium reactor will do the heavy lifting of adding calcium, alkalinity and trace elements and will be controlled via a continuous dosing pump pulling effluent (with ph set). However, to cope with the increasing or decreasing needs the ION director will control this via direct dosing. Combining the two tools should produce much more stability. For this to work I have to dial back the CR effluent to give me enough room to potentially decrease the amount needed to dose. If I see a trend I can simply turn up or down the amount of effluent out of the CR.

6) QT. Thanks. Yes, If you have bigger fish then yes bigger tanks may be needed. My fish tend to be small juveniles, as I tend to pick fish that look at the correct scale to the DT and my DT isnt huge. But my Tangs all been through it and they are all good. Treating fish prohyliactically allows you to ensure any internal issues are sorted. I think QT is also an art, and I am not skilled enough to spot all potential issues in observation. I try to treat for the most common issues. Does it stress the fish? actually I have not lost a single fish in QT since I started doing this, which I hope means they don't get too stressed. As far as how many I can add. Well this is theoretical as I find I cannot get the fish I want and have to wait to get them into Singapote (anyone have a white tail bristletooth tang?). But I would tend to add slowly and yes typically only add one or two in a batch. But I dont have a fixed number. I think more about how many extra cubes of food I would be adding to the DT and dont want to do more then half a cube at a time. 20200331_153144.thumb.jpeg.8ad152661640e9b5aef21879b0395bf1.jpeg

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Very detailed explanation. Thank you for your time. Btw I’m also looking for white tail bistletooth. Occasionally irwana and SAS will bring in.

The photo attached will be located beside your tank right? The Tank is for? QT corals? It’s a combine sump or separate?


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Very detailed explanation. Thank you for your time. Btw I’m also looking for white tail bistletooth. Occasionally irwana and SAS will bring in.

 

The photo attached will be located beside your tank right? The Tank is for? QT corals? It’s a combine sump or separate?

 

 

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By white tail bristletooth tangs do you still mean the ones that are considered yelloweye koles? like the one in this photo(from the internet):

IMG_5510.JPG.9403d25e732b000d68f5959b18bad2a8.JPG

 

if yes, the 2 places i’ve seen them around before are iwarna and ah beng. generally ctenochaetus tangs are considered the least aggressive genus of surgeonfish but i have a spotted yelloweye kole from the indian ocean and for its small size.. it’s a terror. I can’t keep algae blennies nor gobies in my system with it even in a 6ft cause of how aggressive it is towards them. but perhaps mine is just a jerk hahahaha

 

 

 

 

 

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Very detailed explanation. Thank you for your time. Btw I’m also looking for white tail bistletooth. Occasionally irwana and SAS will bring in.

The photo attached will be located beside your tank right? The Tank is for? QT corals? It’s a combine sump or separate?


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Yes awaiting shipments. If you see one let me know :)

I ran out of space so got this cupboard to store my calcium reactor. In retrospect I should have got this earlier and placed all my electronics in it. But it works well. Had a little 40L tank that fits perfectly on top, so I tied it into the main system and will use it as a mini frag tank.

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By white tail bristletooth tangs do you still mean the ones that are considered yelloweye koles? like the one in this photo(from the internet):
IMG_5510.JPG.9403d25e732b000d68f5959b18bad2a8.JPG
 
if yes, the 2 places i’ve seen them around before are iwarna and ah beng. generally ctenochaetus tangs are considered the least aggressive genus of surgeonfish but i have a spotted yelloweye kole from the indian ocean and for its small size.. it’s a terror. I can’t keep algae blennies nor gobies in my system with it even in a 6ft cause of how aggressive it is towards them. but perhaps mine is just a jerk hahahaha
 
 
 
 
 
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Yes that is the little fella. The white tail I think is a good option, something a little different but also a hard worker. I hear they are normally compliant so will just hope he(she?) is going to be a model citizen. Plan is to catch my Yellow Tang and reintroduce them together to reduce any aggression and then let them sort it out a fresh.

Whilst talking about fish, does anyone have any suggestions for stocking? I have a stocking list already but am always looking for something a little different. Let me know your thoughts, but whatever it is it has to be a good looker! Haha.

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Agreed, definitely something different compared to the usual yelloweye kole tang from hawaii. i went with the indian ocean white-spotted variant for the same reason. Ultimately they’re all from the same genus though, and yes they’re very diligent at keeping the algae(especially film algae and diatoms) at bay, are slow growers and don’t grow very large so definitely a great tang for smaller setups.

that said, ime while they don’t bother other tangs at all(i can understand most are concerned about tangs going at each other as a commonality in the hobby), they can for whatever reason get very aggressive towards algae blennies and stuff that resembles those in shape, like gobies. my hawaiian kole tang in my older system back then used to chase the salarias blenny till it disappeared whenever it saw it peep out of the rockwork. it didn’t kill it, but the blenny got considerably skinnier after i introduced the kole tang to my system and it had gotten very comfortable.

in my current 6ft, my indian ocean yelloweye kole tang wore down a lagoon goby i had(by chasing it whenever it came out and essentially caused the goby to starve)and eventually murdered it. they seem to be generally very peaceful around tangs from other genus but from what i’ve seen their aggression is underrated when it comes to harassing other fish that it sees as a threat to its supply of algae(especially rock blennies and fish that resemble them in shape).

 

also if i may, for fish stocking, apart from tangs for their utility, you could consider a pyramid butterfly(Hemitaurichthys polylepis) or 2. or 3.(they school, just like anthias, and aren’t heavy eaters like squirrel/soldierfishes. their diet is more akin to anthias). they are perhaps one of the few truly reef-safe butterflyfish out there and definitely not something you see in most reeftanks cause most will just assume all butterflies aren’t reef-safe. also a good conversation piece when others see it in your tank and immediately recognize that it’s a butterflyfish, but how are you keeping one in a tank full of corals!? 🧐

 

 

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