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After lurking the forum for a few years, allow me to share my reefing experience. This is my aquarium-in-progress.

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ACROPOLIS

Acro:           1. (greek) the highest point; 2. Acropora, a genus of coral

-polis:          (greek) city

This aquarium draws inspiration from the famous Acropolis of Athens. This scape reminds me of the majestic ruins on top of the acropolis, the meandering path climbing upwards, as well as the sprawling civic districts at its feet. Coincidentally, the name also can be interpreted as acropora city, a good fit of the corals home to this aquarium.

I did not document the build and the transitions, but I would like to share my experience here. 

I'll start with the overall visions i have for this set up.

  • My aquarium should be balanced-minimal. There must be large open space balanced by dense growth and complex structure. There must be large organisms balanced by fine details.  Although minimalist is the characteristic of this aqua-scape, the balance is the soul. 
  • The feeding tube on the right side and the labyrinth on the left encourage fishes to adopt a more natural behavior. They will take advantage of the shelter in the main scape, only to venture out into open when opportunity (feeding) arises. This creates a interesting shifts in dynamic.
  • The rock work is the skeletal foundation of the main "acropolis", but I want organic growth to obscure most of it. eventually the rock should be almost invisible.
  • The tank is placed in the corner of the living room. Therefore it offers two-sided view. The aqua-scape needs to be well proportioned for both view; there should also be minimum clutter of equipment on the viewing side.
  • Uniformity is over-rated. I want to direct flow at where flow is needed; shine light on where light is needed, give food to where the food is needed. Efficiency is the name of the game here.
  • My reefing decision needs to be deliberate. if a hardware is setup in a certain way, I must be able to justify how it helps my tank to do better.

This aquarium is still work-in-progress. 

Thank you for reading, and feedbacks. 

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After lurking the forum for a few years, allow me to share my reefing experience. This is my aquarium-in-progress. ACROPOLIS Acro:           1. (greek) the highest point; 2. Acropora,

From Nutrient Export  to Nutrient Management As my replacement tank is getting ready, I started planning the filtration system of the aquarium. I was a subscriber of high inport,  high export  st

Wow, I'm amazed by your reefing knowledge and editorial skills! I've been reefing for the past 25 years and I knew less than 10% of what your wrote. Amazing work! Great Job! and you're so an

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This set up is very young at almost 4 months old. After my previous aquarium sprung a leak, I take the chance to make some design changes to the setup while getting the replacement under warranty.

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This is the technical specs of my Acropolis

Display: 4.5' x 2.5' x 2.5'. Top and bottom euro-braced, Front and left view, backpack overflow on the right side, with Herbie drain.

Sump: 3' x 2'. floss -> media -> reactor chamber -> return pump

Circulation: Vectra L1 x2 as return pump, which double up to create gyre flow in the DT. Jebao SLW-30 x2 for random flow. All pumps are on the left side of the aquarium.

Biomedia: Maxspect Nanoplate x 8

Reactor: Skimz ZAR-157 for zeolight. Carbon and bacto-reef balls are used passively in media bags

Skimmer: Aqua-excel EC80

Chiller: Drop-in coil with compressor

Light: Wyatt lightworks 240 x 3

Dosing: Kamoer X1 dosing all for reef

Monitors: electrical probes for ORP, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrate and calcium

Decommissioned equipment: Gyre xf350, macroalgae reactor

 

10 hours ago, equiox said:

Lovely scape with witty intention. 

:P

thank you! 

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Followed! So you glue your sps on the wall or? haha

 

 

There's nothing to see here. 

But do check out my articles! https://www.sgreefclub.com/home/

Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/floratiaracoral/

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Designing proper flow for a mixed reef has its challenges. On one hand,  acropora species enjoy copious random flow; on the other hand, fleshy LPS may suffer when blasted with water. These animals evolved to make the best use of their environments.  Now that they are in my aquarium,  I need to try and provide the suitable flow for them.  

A few consideration for flow:

1. A mixture of flow style is beneficial. Have a gentle "gyre" flow to circulate the water,  and a localized strong random flow to cater to sps corals. 

2. The output of a random flow pump decreases rapidly as distance gets further.  That's why a large aquarium requires wavemake on both sides. I would like to keep the second viewing side clear of equipment, so something else must be done. 

3. Rocks and corals create obstruction to flow. It's important to consider this effect with the fully grown colony in mind. 

Presenting, the flow schematic of my Acropolis. 

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The return nozzle (red) sits at the top left side. Since the return pumps operate at constant flow rate,  the continous operation generates a gyre flow (white). This flow is relatively low speed except at the water surface near the nozzle. Thus fairly condusive for lps in general. 

The forward flow is far above the rocks and corals.  This minimize flow obstruction and ensuring the gyre flow can be set up properly. On the other hand,  the return gyre flow at the bottom is break up by the rock scape. Some will follow the contour of the rocks and form a upswell, while some will flow around the rock pillars and form back Eddie current. 

Supplement this flow is a pair of jebao wave makers (blue). The operates at randome flow mode. Supplying strong and varying flow (green)  to the core of the rock scape. The open rock work structure ensures the flow goes as far as possible.  The strong random flow reaches about half way into the aquarium. 

There is a region with relatively less flow,  on the right side of the aquarium at the mid level.  This is ok as it is a void space without any corals or rock work. 

Overall I think the flow design is satisfactory. Do let me know your thoughts. 

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The next compromise I have to make for this aquarium is the light. The reason for this compromise, is the tridacna clams

Clams on the open sand bed looks good,  but unfortunately, many clams don't belong to the sand beds. The crocea, maxima, noae and ningaloo clams are generally rock dwelling.  Yet they grow to sizable proportions which can upset the balance of the aquascape,  both physically and aesthetically. 

As the result. I keep my clams on the sand bed. Therein lies the dilemma.  The maxima and crocea clams requires tremendous amount of light to thrive. Even if we leave aside the challenge of providing sufficient PAR level at the bottom of a 2.5ft tank, the same light intensity can cause the top of the scape to be irradiated to very high levels. 

Unfortunately, I only have partal solution for this design challenge. Presenting my light schematics

 

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First,  I elect to partially illuminate the aquarium.  The set up intentionally make sure the light (blue cross) shines on where it matters. The main rock work and part of the sand bed. This give me maximum return for my lighting bills. It also have the pleasant side effects of reducing algae growth on the viewing glass. 

Secondly,  the light sets is placed around, rather than right on top of the main scape (red). This reduce slightly the max PAR at the top of the rock work, reduce slightly the photostress. It also illuminates the coral from all directions,  minimize the white out areas. The lower tier of the rock work (green)  and clams (yellow) benifits from overlapping light field of mutilple lights, receiving good PAR overall. 

Third,  since I view my aquarium from thr front, the front light is angled towards the back. So that there is sufficient fill light to illuminate the bottom of the acropora. This reduces the bleached bottom,  improving the viewing experience. 

Fourth. The fill light is as strong as the main light. This is because the fill light has the same responsibility of influencing growth pattern, as well as bring out the color of the coral. As such,  I feel a traditional "light bar" is insufficient. 

IMG_20210116_211156.jpg

The lights used is Wyatt lightworks model 240, 240 watt each. Very capable lights. 

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It's for redundancy.  If one of the return pump were to fail for any reason, I will still have some circulation between my sump and display. 

Also,  if needed,  I can adjust the flow at the front and back of the tank separately, without adding more valves. 

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Noise

When it comes to aquarium as part of the living space, noise management is very important.  If the aquarium runs quietly, it will not take away from the restfulness of the living space.  In my opinion, noise management is important.  A quiet setup will have the benefit of allowing the aquarists to hear the sound of the fishes. From grunting of an angelfish, to the snapping of a feeding wrasse. In addition, if any piece of equipment or setup were to run sub-optimally,  the noise it makes can give me an immediate indication about something is amiss. 

The noise of an aquarium comes from two main sources. 

1. Equipment. 

Rapid moving parts produce humming noise. Protein skimmers produce sounds of sloshing and popping bubbles. Cooling fans on the light set and chillers spins up as they become warm.  All theseare contributors of noise. We can't reduce much of these noises unless we swtich to a quieter equipment, but having an enclosed sump, keeping the impellers clean and balanced,  and ensure stable but cushioned placement can greatly reduce the decible. 

2. Water movement.

Water movement is the soul of an aquarium. Yet it is possible to design an aquarium with ridiculous amount of water movement with minimum noise. 

How does water make noise? There are two main mechanism 

(1) when the water flowing at a high enough speed strikes a surface,  it males a splashing sound.  The faster the speed, the louder the sound. 

(2) when air is incorporated into water, as the air rise to the surface,  it creates a popping sound.  But if the aerated water flows inside a pipe,  there can be a loud gurgling sound, which is extremely unpleasant. 

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Flow and noise

Keeping this in mind, there are several places to take note so that these noises are minimized. 

If the overflow is sized too small,  the water level in the overflow box can drop.  This cause two problems. Firstly,  the longer drop distance will cause the water to impact at higher speed, splash. Secondly,  the high speed entry draws in gas bubbles, leading to a popping sound.  Therefore a properly sized overflow is important to ensure the water overflows gently into the overflow box.  (Wow.  Three overflow in one sentence :yeah:)

The noise of the splashing water will be nothing compared to the gurgle when air bubbles are drawn into the down pipe.  Those air bubbles could be the result of the splashing water, or because of the incomplete siphon. Worse still, when these air bubbles enters the sump,  they rushes up to the surface. Again,  splashing, popping noises. The way to deal with this is to ensure no air is drawn into the main down pipe.  This can be achieved by adding a down turned elbow to protect against bubbles,  and using a valve to reduce the flow and maintain full siphon. 

Next,  when the water is emptied into the sump,  if the pipes terminates higher than the water level,  splashing sound again. However, if the pipe is stretched too deep,  airlock may prevent siphon from forming properly. Therefore,  1-2 inch below water level is ideal.  For the emergency pipe,  it's good to have any flow splashes into the sump, so we are alerted whenever the emergency is activated. 

Finally. The water cascading between sump compartments shouldn't be overly steep. This will reducing splashing in the sump. 

 

My ideal choice of overflow is beam animal. Due to wrong communication, I have a herbie drain instead. It's perfectly serviceable,  but it is less adaptive to change. A dirty filter floss,  a snail climbing over the overflow,  Herbie drain will start to make noise. Bean animal,  on the other hand, gave my previous aquarium dead silent operation. So quiet that I can actually forget there is an aquarium running in my living room. 

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Thank you very much! 

I will try to write down my experience with different equipment and design choices. Hopefully can lead to some discussion. 

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Nutrient Management

My understanding of reef nutrient management has evolved significantly since the beginning of my reefing journey. My old (leaked and replaced, RIP) aquarium allow me to experiment with various bioload levels and nutrient export techniques. It's in the recent months when I have replaced and setup this aquarium, I had the moment of eureka,  and had new perspective on nutrient management

Allow me to share this evolution with you. 

1. A Cautious Beginning 

When I first cycled the old aquarium,  I was very cautious.  I used 16 blocks of marinepure brick (massively overkill), and keep a modest number of fishes. The protein skimmer,  which I'm still using now,  is rated for 4000L.  Plenty sufficient for my 1000L aquarium. I was cautious in feeding my fishes,  fairly disciplined to control what goes into the aquarium. I did these based on what I read on various forums about maintaining good water parameters.  The idea sounds very simple, very logical, and very sustainable. Afterall,  by polluting water less,  water will be cleaner,  right

To give myself a peace of mind,  I started measuring nitrate and phosphate in the aquarium. It was okay for a fish only tank,  not great. A nitrate level of 25ppm and a phosphate level of 0.2ppm is not that bad,  but certainly could do better. I started trying to reduce feeding,  and try to add in more filter media as well as more bacteria. Surely it will help? 

Alas it's not so.  Cutting down feeding, adding bacteria barely manages to reduce the nutrients in the tank. Well...  Since cutting down feeding doesn't do a thing, why shouldn't I feed more? At least my fishes will be happier. 

2. Reckless Abandon 

Things swing the other way quickly. I started to increase the. Bioload,  adding more and more fishes.  I started to feed the fishes more, pellets,  frozen, and nori. Before long, I was adding fish food by spoons into the aquarium multiple times a day. Through it all, the nitrate and phosphate level remains about the same. I have to replace floss more frequently,  and clean my skimmer more often. Other than that,  everything goes well,  fishes were fat and happy. 

Then I thought,  perhaps,  it's cool to add some coral into the tank.

What a costly thought! 

In order to try to keep corals,  I thought I need to bring the nutrient level down. So try I did.  

I started with carbon dosing. NOPOx. Within weeks I start to see the impact. The skimmer produce ridiculous amount of scum; nitrate started to dive, phosphate also started to decrease slowly. I thought, hey, this is great. All the problem in reefing solved!  Little did I know what follows were cyano,  dino,  endless use of gfo, carbon, purigen and a hundred other products. I begin to realise reefing is not as easy as reducing a nutrient. There is a delicate balance,  a thin line to walk upon. 

The complication from carbon dosing lead me to seek out other export measures. Algae refugium and ATS. Both of them helps tremendously with nutrient export. I was pulling out cupful of turf algae every week, at the same time, cleaning loads of skimmate every few days. Looking at the amount of waste thrown away, I was satisfied. 

I also learnt to dose nitrate to help with phosphate reduction,  slowly able to balance the CNP ratio in the aquarium. This is the period of time where I hold redfield ratio as the golden truth. This is also when I fully embrace the idea of high input,  high export philosophy. 

Fishes are growing, corals are doing ok. Water parameters are good and stable. Without water change,  the level of nitrate is less than 1ppm, and phosphate was around 0.03 ppm. 

Isn't that great. 

But as I add scoop after scoop of fish and coral food, pulls out cup after cups of turf algae.  There is a nagging feeling of something is not ideal. I couldn't put my finger on it then,  but my assumption of nutrient export will be challenged soon,  at a fundamental level. 

Then my old tank leaked,  a replacement tank is ordered. The next stage of journey begins. 

 

 

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From Nutrient Export  to Nutrient Management

As my replacement tank is getting ready, I started planning the filtration system of the aquarium. I was a subscriber of high inport,  high export  strategy, firmly believe in providing as much food as possible to the aquarium,  while removing as much nutrient from water as possible through different techniques. 

I had some measure of success using Nitraguard Biocubes. They are a form of solid carbon,  and are effective in removing nitrates through bacteria growth and skimming. However, they are less effective at removing phosphates.  Thus I use FM Ultraphos, aluminium oxide based phosphate media is much cheaper and easier to implement. 

In my experience, a filtration system fully driven by carbon dosing are fairly prone to imbalance. Thus I decided to include chaetomorpha to shoulder half of the export duty. I do not like to have light spill in my sump,  thus I opt for an AquaExcel Macroalgae Reactor

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Effective is an understatement.  

The nitrate and phosphate are stablised at almost undetectable level very quickly. On one hand,  lots of pellets and coral food are added into the aquarium on a daily basis; on the other hand,  the skimmer pulls out copious,  dark skimmate. The small handful of chaeto quadriple in size after one month. 

As I pull out the lumps of chaeto to throw away, an idea clicked. 

What am I really growing?  Chaeto and skimmates or coral and fishes ? In another word,  if most of the fish and coral food (expensive)  end up becoming chaeto and skimmates,  is it a sensible proposition?  Is there a better way? 

 

Enter the Zeolite

If improving the efficiency of nutrient management is the goal, Zeolites are a god send. These stones selectively absorbs some nitrogenous compounds,  stripping them from the water column and prevents formation of nitrates. But they are much more than a nitrogen sponge.  The rocks also provide numerous surface for bacteria to grow. That's not all,  through the regular rinsing of the zeolites,  the bacteria flocks are dislodged to be skimmed out,  or even better,  to feed the corals. 

Now how is this different from biopellet reactors?  Don't they also make use of bacteria plankton to export nutrients?  There is a huge difference!  Carbon dosing export nitrate and phosphate by adding carbon source,  while the zeolite system recycles the dissolved C, N and P and fix them into living biomass, effectively reduce the free nutrient in the water. 

In a normal aquarium,  if 10% of food is used by livestock,  90% is exported as waste. In a zeolite system,  that 90% is recycled,  fed back to the display tank repeatedly.  It's not hard to imagine how this can massively increase the utility of the food fed. 

In essence,  ULNS is a by product. The gem of a zeolite bases system is the efficiency of feeding, as well as the continoued presence of food for corals. 

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Zeolite In My Acropolis

So, the Acropolis is powered by zeolite. Majority of the products comes from Fauna Marin Zeolight system. However, I do make use of several KZ Zeovit system products to meet the need of my aquarium.

Let me share with you how the modified zeolight system is run in my tank.

 

On the Surface

It is possible to run FM Zeolight system with almost full automation. For the lack of dosing pump,  and my inclusion of KZ products,  the aquarium is maintained daily. 

 

Dosing:

5 drops of Coral Vitality (FM)  by hand daily

5 drops of Sponge Power (KZ) by hand daily 

45 ml of All-for-reef (TM) on a single motor doser,  daily. 

Top up water, if needed. 

Feeding:

Fish: hand feed a mixture of selected pellets 3-5 times a day

Coral: frozen mixture of Min S, Amin, and Organic.  Once every 2-3 days. 

Maintanence:

Change floss every 4-5 days

Change Carbon every month

Partial replacement of zeolight every month. 

Dose Color elements as and when I feel like it .

It's fairly straight forward, less than 5 minutes a day.

In terms of costs. The main costs comes from the zeolight stones and activated carbon. The dosing products,  although expensive, can last for a long time. (I had used sponge power before on a Berlin system aquarium. The dosage needed is much higher). Considering that I don't need to rely on expensive GFO to keep the phosphate in check. I think it's not too bad a deal. 

 

Under the Hood

The nutrient management is powered by three pieces of critical hardwares. 

1.  AquaExcel EC80 skimmer.  When it comes to skimmer,  a simple workhorse is all I need. Start with a massive reaction chamber, and slap on a decent needle wheel pump.  One does not really need anything else when it comes to effective skimming. This skimmer helps to remove some bacteria flocks.  It also helps to increase the dissolved oxygen level during lights off (interestingly, during light hours,  the skimmer decreases the oxygenation) 

2. Skimz Automatic Zeo Reactor. This is the hardware that make me feel that zeolite based system can be practical.  The reactor makes use of an oversized DC pump. During normal operations, the flow is slow. However, every hour,  the pump is set to pulse mode with maximum power. This fluidise the entire zeolite completely for 30 seconds. The flow and the collision between media particles effectively knocks out surface bacteria films. Compared to a reactor which stirs the media once a day,  or a manual reactor,  this approach spread out the release of the bacterioplankton (mulm in Zeovit terms), ensure the corals always have food to capture from the water column. 

A device to help with nutrient export,  and feed the corals 24/7. How much better can it get?! 

3. ORP meter: compared to a Berlin style reef,  zeolite based system consist of a much smaller organism size. Remember about not feeding the chaeto? The goal is also to not feed and encourage organisms to compete for nutrient wij the corals.  As a result of the smaller biodiversity, zeo light based system is less adapt at dealing with nutrient spikes. Without an over-sized food web to wipe out organic nutrients rapidly,  zeolite based system are slightly more prone to cyano/dino outbreaks if the organic is not well managed. 

Other than studying the algal growth and infer the state of organic nutrients in the aquarium,  an ORP meter can also be used to provide an indication.  When the ORP is low, it will be ill advised to add in various coral food and liquid formulae. On the other hand,  if the ORP is too high,  it signals the need (or opportunity) to step up on coral feeding. 

 

 

 

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Phosphate Management 

One of the challenge in my previous aquarium is that phosphate is never truely well managed. Phosphate media needs to be used on a fairly regular basis to keep the phosphate level reasonable. 

As I embark in the direction of internal recycling,  getting those phosphates to become part of the cycle becomes essential. 

What kind of organism takes up phosphate?  Cyano and dino are effective at removing organic phosphates,  but they are a plague in the aquarium, and not many organism eats them.  Brown hair algae removes inorganic phosphate well,  but they are unsightly, and not preferred by tangs either. Macroalgae tends to use up a lot more nitrates than phosphates, thus not meeting my need. I need an organism which use a lot of phosphate to grow,  not toxic to aquatic life or smother them.  Finally,  they need to be a source of food for tank inhabitants. 

Is this too much to ask? Turns out there is an organism which fits perfectly. 

 

Diatoms are Friends, and Food

Consider diatom, harmless,  nutrient rich phytoplankton.  Visible diatom can look like brown dust on the aquarium substrate,  at the same time,  a population of diatom floats freely in the water column. The growth and reproduction of diatoms removes dissolved phosphates from water. At the same time,  these nanoplanktons are readily captured by corals as food. Win-win situation. 

In order to induce diatom growth in the aquarium, Sponge Power is used daily. I have used sponge power before,  it encourages formation of growth tips in many acropora corals. It also have the pleasent side effect of inducing some diatom growth. Perfect fit for my aquarium. 

If too much is used,  a thicker layer of diatom will cover the sand, therefore the dosage is adjusted so that there is a slightest hint of brown on the exposed sandbed at the end of the day light duration. The little bit of diatom in the sandbed is cleaned up my nocturnal clean up crews, and the sand bed is clean as new the next morning. 

 

Zero Phosphate?! 

The phosphate level has remain at 0ppm (Hanna ULR)  for the past 2 month. However,  livestock shown no adverse reactions,  instead,  the polyps extension has been quite pronounced. I believe the reasons are three fold: 

1. The corals,  with their mucus and bacteria holobiont,  has the ability to concentrate dissolved nutrient from surrounding waters.

2. The constant supply of bacterio- and phyto-planktons provide the coral another quality source of energy. 

3. Lastly, Hanna ULR has its limitations,  the limit of detection is 0.015 ppm,  and the organic phosphates are not detected by the test kit. Therefore a zero on Hanna doesn't mean there is no phosphate in the water. 

Thus I will happily let the phosphate be. 

 

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Feeding the Aquarium

The top of the line water processing facilities will do little to clean up the rivers if the factories and farms dumps chemicals indiscriminately. It's much cheaper for a country to control these polluters compared to trying to undo the damage. 

Same logic goes for reef aquarium.  It is easier and cheaper to ensure less pollution enter the aquarium,  than to try to extract the pollution from the water. 

That's why, I believe limiting the pollution is the first step towards health reef environment. However, it is crucial to note, that nutrient and pollution are not one and the same. One can feed the aquarium a lot,  and cause very little pollution;  while someone else may be heavily polluting the aquarium with minimum feeding. It all depends on how the feeding is done. 

 

Who Needs Food in the Aquarium? 

 I would like to categorize the feeding clients into 3 categories:

1. Those who chases down the food,  such as fishes and invertebrates 

2. Those who wait for food to come to them, such as coral and sponges

3. Those who don't really "eat" such as bacteria and algae

In an properly cycled and matures system. The population of three groups don't fluctuate much. Therefore the feeding need is always there. 

 

The Chaser

Fishes and some invertebrate goes after the food and extract them from water column. Their feeding is efficient,  since they don't need the whole water volume to be flooded with food. In fact when some pellets are added into the feeding tube, the pellets are often wiped out before they drift very far. Feeding for this group is,  by nature,  rather targeted. It's also easily to evaluate how much food is consumed.  

If the food is left unconsumed,  it starts to decompose under the effect of bacteria action.  This process consums oxygen,  release carbon dioxid and lowers pH. It also release nitrogenous and phosphourus compounds. A source of pollution. 

What's unseen is even more crucial.  If a fish consume the whole pellet in one swallow. Does it mean none of the nutrient is leaked to the water? Unfortunately,  this is not the case. 

The food consumed by fishes and invertebrates must first be digested. Undigested food will just get excreted,  before they start to decompose in water.  Take a look at the following ingredient of a pellet. 

IMG_20210125_133052.jpg.9de5fc33aab3435bde056128ffef0c9b.jpg

The second on the list, derivatives of vegetable origin, is the second most abundant ingredient in the list. These are likely wheat or soy flours used as a binder in the pellet forming process,  but these are also terrestrial ingredients. The fishes may experience difficulty at digesting these. 

What happen to these components if fishes cannot digest them?  They gets excreted as fish poop,  and the bacteria in the tank acts on those poop,  and break them down into nitrtates and phsophates. It's almost as if part of this pellet is not consumed at all. 

Therefore picking a good pellet is critical not only to ensure fishes recieve suitable nutrients,  but also minimize the impact of pollution. My definition of good is that majority of the ingredients should be marine origin,  with as little binder as possible. 

Currently I'm using NewLife Spectrum pellets and TDO Chroma Boost.  Recently, I came across Fauna Marin pellets.  Interestingly,  there is no terrestrial orgin ingredients in the food. I expect this food to be highly digestable.  As the result, I expect the impact on free nutrient in the reef is minimal. 

I doubled my feeding amount, with the addition being the Fauna Marin Pellets. Just like how I predicted,  there is no visible impact on the phosphate and nitrate concentration. 

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2 hours ago, JiaEn said:

Feeding the Aquarium

The top of the line water processing facilities will do little to clean up the rivers if the factories and farms dumps chemicals indiscriminately. It's much cheaper for a country to control these polluters compared to trying to undo the damage. 

Same logic goes for reef aquarium.  It is easier and cheaper to ensure less pollution enter the aquarium,  than to try to extract the pollution from the water. 

That's why, I believe limiting the pollution is the first step towards health reef environment. However, it is crucial to note, that nutrient and pollution are not one and the same. One can feed the aquarium a lot,  and cause very little pollution;  while someone else may be heavily polluting the aquarium with minimum feeding. It all depends on how the feeding is done. 

 

Who Needs Food in the Aquarium? 

 I would like to categorize the feeding clients into 3 categories:

1. Those who chases down the food,  such as fishes and invertebrates 

2. Those who wait for food to come to them, such as coral and sponges

3. Those who don't really "eat" such as bacteria and algae

In an properly cycled and matures system. The population of three groups don't fluctuate much. Therefore the feeding need is always there. 

 

The Chaser

Fishes and some invertebrate goes after the food and extract them from water column. Their feeding is efficient,  since they don't need the whole water volume to be flooded with food. In fact when some pellets are added into the feeding tube, the pellets are often wiped out before they drift very far. Feeding for this group is,  by nature,  rather targeted. It's also easily to evaluate how much food is consumed.  

If the food is left unconsumed,  it starts to decompose under the effect of bacteria action.  This process consums oxygen,  release carbon dioxid and lowers pH. It also release nitrogenous and phosphourus compounds. A source of pollution. 

What's unseen is even more crucial.  If a fish consume the whole pellet in one swallow. Does it mean none of the nutrient is leaked to the water? Unfortunately,  this is not the case. 

The food consumed by fishes and invertebrates must first be digested. Undigested food will just get excreted,  before they start to decompose in water.  Take a look at the following ingredient of a pellet. 

IMG_20210125_133052.jpg.9de5fc33aab3435bde056128ffef0c9b.jpg

The second on the list, derivatives of vegetable origin, is the second most abundant ingredient in the list. These are likely wheat or soy flours used as a binder in the pellet forming process,  but these are also terrestrial ingredients. The fishes may experience difficulty at digesting these. 

What happen to these components if fishes cannot digest them?  They gets excreted as fish poop,  and the bacteria in the tank acts on those poop,  and break them down into nitrtates and phsophates. It's almost as if part of this pellet is not consumed at all. 

Therefore picking a good pellet is critical not only to ensure fishes recieve suitable nutrients,  but also minimize the impact of pollution. My definition of good is that majority of the ingredients should be marine origin,  with as little binder as possible. 

Currently I'm using NewLife Spectrum pellets and TDO Chroma Boost.  Recently, I came across Fauna Marin pellets.  Interestingly,  there is no terrestrial orgin ingredients in the food. I expect this food to be highly digestable.  As the result, I expect the impact on free nutrient in the reef is minimal. 

I doubled my feeding amount, with the addition being the Fauna Marin Pellets. Just like how I predicted,  there is no visible impact on the phosphate and nitrate concentration. 

Interesting. What are your thoughts about feeding fish/prawn meat? Either commercial products like LRS Frenzy or home made concoction.

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Feeding the Aquarium
The top of the line water processing facilities will do little to clean up the rivers if the factories and farms dumps chemicals indiscriminately. It's much cheaper for a country to control these polluters compared to trying to undo the damage. 
Same logic goes for reef aquarium.  It is easier and cheaper to ensure less pollution enter the aquarium,  than to try to extract the pollution from the water. 
That's why, I believe limiting the pollution is the first step towards health reef environment. However, it is crucial to note, that nutrient and pollution are not one and the same. One can feed the aquarium a lot,  and cause very little pollution;  while someone else may be heavily polluting the aquarium with minimum feeding. It all depends on how the feeding is done. 
 
Who Needs Food in the Aquarium? 
 I would like to categorize the feeding clients into 3 categories:
1. Those who chases down the food,  such as fishes and invertebrates 
2. Those who wait for food to come to them, such as coral and sponges
3. Those who don't really "eat" such as bacteria and algae
In an properly cycled and matures system. The population of three groups don't fluctuate much. Therefore the feeding need is always there. 
 
The Chaser
Fishes and some invertebrate goes after the food and extract them from water column. Their feeding is efficient,  since they don't need the whole water volume to be flooded with food. In fact when some pellets are added into the feeding tube, the pellets are often wiped out before they drift very far. Feeding for this group is,  by nature,  rather targeted. It's also easily to evaluate how much food is consumed.  
If the food is left unconsumed,  it starts to decompose under the effect of bacteria action.  This process consums oxygen,  release carbon dioxid and lowers pH. It also release nitrogenous and phosphourus compounds. A source of pollution. 
What's unseen is even more crucial.  If a fish consume the whole pellet in one swallow. Does it mean none of the nutrient is leaked to the water?
Currently I'm using NewLife Spectrum pellets and TDO Chroma Boost.  Recently, I came across Fauna Marin pellets.  Interestingly,  there is no terrestrial orgin ingredients in the food. I expect this food to be highly digestable.  As the result, I expect the impact on free nutrient in the reef is minimal. 
I doubled my feeding amount, with the addition being the Fauna Marin Pellets. Just like how I predicted,  there is no visible impact on the phosphate and nitrate concentration. 



Bro, good write-up but needs clarifying. You are right about binders not adding too much nutritional value , but not about adding nutrients to the water.

Binders used in pellets are carbohydrates ( starch, sugar etc). Some of it can be metabolized by fish for energy. But you dont end up with nitrates and phopates due to thhesr binders.

Nitrates from food usually comes from the protein content. About 65-70 percent of the protein in the food gets passed through the gills as Ammonia ( more than 50 percent) and in poop ( about 10 percent). This ammonia then breaks down into nitrates.

Choose the food that offers the most nutritional value. But the best foods does not automatically translate into the least nitrates/phospates.

Happy reefing !!





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