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jon.smolders
02-10-2014, 11:05 PM
Hey Everyone,

So after having my tank shut down for almost a year and a half, I’m getting the itch to set it up again. I’m a little concerned with setting up a tank here in Fort St. John because the nearest store that deals with saltwater is in Prince George which is 5 hrs away (although I can get some basic dry goods in Grande Prairie which is 3 hrs away). I’m thinking that most of my livestock will have to be shipped by air. Anyway, I’m just in the planning stages and want to work out what I want with this tank. I did a bunch of work to my last setup and still have everything so I probably won’t modify it much, but that being said I do want to lay out some goals and make any necessary changes.

Goals:
1. Low/Medium Tech: little money on new equipment. No controllers, vortechs, radions, dosers, etc. I basically want to work with what I have with a few exceptions…

2. Upgrade existing equipment: New heaters (mine are 14 year old Ebo Jagers), New Skimmer (14 year old CPR BakPak 2), etc.

3. Ease of Maintenance: Just in case I get sent to work out of town for two week shifts, I would like daily maintenance to be simple so my wife can look after it. This means auto top off with reservoir that doesn’t need to be filled every day, timer for lights, etc.

4. Compact and organized: My tank space is limited to part of a small room. No sumps in the basement or dedicated fish room. Just my “office”. I want it to look fairly clean and organized

5. Livestock: I am thinking I would like to stick with some easy corals and fish… probably soft corals or easy/hardy LPS or SPS. Livestock that would do well in a low tech reef.

Current Equipment:
• 60 gallon SeaStar aquarium, 48 x 16 x 16. Old, some scratches, but no issues in the 14 years I’ve been using it.
• 20 gallon sump (may switch it up for a 20 long or something similar)
• CPR CS 90 HOB overflow (have had no issues, even with power outages)
• Sedra KSP-7000, 700 GPH return pump
• 6x 54 watt T5 Tek Light
• Koralia and Penguin Power heads
• 150 watt Ebo Jager heaters. I would like to replace these.
• CPR Bak Pak II skimmer. I want to replace this too.
• Filter socks
• Live rock. Rock is dead, have about 30 lbs or so. I bleached it and am now in the process of giving it a vinegar bath. I’ll need to order some more live rock anyway.
• Sand. needs some serious cleaning too as it sat wet in a bucket for a year and went black from H2S. I’m hoping I can save it. We’ll see.

I had a makeshift refugium with chaeto set up last time, and would like to do that again. I may need to change my sump design to better accommodate a proper refugium and new skimmer. My sump was pretty cramped before.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Thoughts and comments are appreciated. Anyone else run low tech reefs? Anyone live in Fort St. John or other “remote” locations (any problems running a reef when everything is so far away)? Any thoughts on an affordable but efficient skimmer?


Here are some pictures of my tank before I tore it down (Sept 2012), and a picture of it now in the room where I'm going to put it.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/_DSC0226.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/_DSC0226.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/AquariumAugust20123.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/AquariumAugust20123.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/AquariumAugust20124.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/AquariumAugust20124.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/400639_10203178595935749_999196713_n.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/400639_10203178595935749_999196713_n.jpg.html)

pgtanks
02-14-2014, 06:32 AM
looks good so far, like the tank size and your goals are solid

IanWR
02-14-2014, 01:16 PM
Looks like you are on the right track for a smooth restart. Maybe you could reconsider your first new livestock addition, that may not completely fit into your low maintenance goal. Sure is cute though. :)

As for ordering live rock, I wouldn't bother. If you need/want more rock, just order some base. I see that Eli has a nice selection of shelf and pukani. I would also get new sand. You don't want your nice new stable setup marred with unwanted algae.

Keep us posted with the progress.

- Ian

FishyFishy!
02-14-2014, 04:18 PM
As for s cheaper efficient skimmer, you might want to look into a bubble magus. Maybe a curve 5 or 7. They are good, cheap, efficient skimmers. I have had 2 curve 7's, and they worked great.

As for the fuge, I see a couple options without having to modify too much:

You could add a glass or acrylic baffle on one side of the sump and connect it with your return pump to make the fuge. Simple and affordable. Just a piece of glass or acrylic and some silicone.

You could purchase a hang on fuge like a CPR. Or even modify an aquaclear 100 into a hang on fuge. If you look up "aquaclear fuge mod" you'll see a bunch. I have used many of these and they work fantastic.

Or you could stick with your current design, and use a 2.5 or 5 gallon smaller tank and place it within the sump. Then feed it with a pump or from your overflow. It would simply overflow back into the sump. Might look a little better than a bucket, and hold more volume due to the square shape.

Tagging along to see your progress!

Leah
02-14-2014, 04:53 PM
Didn't know things actually bred in a tank.

FishyFishy!
02-14-2014, 04:58 PM
Didn't know things actually bred in a tank.

Are you drunk?

Oh yeah....ditch the old sand...that sounds like trouble and a lot of extra work.

SeaHorse_Fanatic
02-14-2014, 05:04 PM
Are you drunk?

Oh yeah....ditch the old sand...that sounds like trouble and a lot of extra work.

I think she was joking about the last pic with the Baby in the tank.:wink:

jon.smolders
02-15-2014, 05:59 PM
Yeah I think I'm leaning toward ordering some dry rock from fijireefrock.com. Probably 25 lbs of pukani and 20 of Tonga shelf. You guys are probably right about getting new sand. I forgot I had already cleaned that sand a while ago.. and it smells ok now but who knows if it would leach anything back into the tank. Ill pick up a few bags of new stuff. Better safe then sorry.

I really like the vertex omega 130, but ill definitely check out that curve 7 too.

GrimReefer
02-16-2014, 10:01 AM
Wow Jon....you've really gotten your money's worth out of that tank!!

jon.smolders
02-16-2014, 10:00 PM
Wow Jon....you've really gotten your money's worth out of that tank!!

Lol, yeah hey. What did I pay you for it, $150? I just need to stop moving so much so I can keep it set up for more than a year at a time. Maybe next time we move I'll get a new one. :)

jon.smolders
02-24-2014, 07:13 AM
Got out of town to pick up a 20g long for my new sump, a bucket of salt, and two 20g Brute containers. Also picked up some Chaeto (thanks Hal!) which I'm going to keep in a bucket until I start my tank up. Figured I'd throw it in the sump once I've started the cycle and it might help introduce bacteria into the system and/or prevent keep some of the unwanted algae off my rock.

Started on my stand for my mixing station too. Got the basics done, and first coat of primer.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_181721.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_181721.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_203011.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_203011.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_214252.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/Mobile%20Uploads/20140223_214252.jpg.html)


I might add a shelf or something to it as well. Not sure yet. I'm playing with some designs and might even set up a remote refugium on there as well. I would like to find some marine enamel or something similar to paint it with. That's what I painted the inside of my tank stand with and I love the durable, glossy, waterproof finish it gave. Have to track some down though...

FishyFishy!
02-24-2014, 03:42 PM
Do you get any side to side movement when there is weight on that stand?

jon.smolders
02-24-2014, 11:48 PM
Do you get any side to side movement when there is weight on that stand?

Not anymore!

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/Mobile%20Uploads/20140224_154237.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/Mobile%20Uploads/20140224_154237.jpg.html)

Actually it was pretty sturdy before, but's definitely solid now. I would have doubled up the back legs too, but I ran out of 2x4's.

Myka
02-25-2014, 12:15 AM
I really like the dimensions of this tank! Looks great!

jon.smolders
03-08-2014, 03:29 PM
Updates:

- Ordered and received 45lbs of dry rock (pukani and tonga shelf). I didn't use it all.
- Aquascaped using fiberglass driveway markers, and almost completed the PVC pipe/eggcrate stands for the rock.
- Bought a dual inline TDS meter... after over a year in storage my RO membrane is still good and producing 0ppm water!
- Picked up a bunch of plumbing for my ATO / water mixing station and the return for the fuge (did I mention I've decided to do a remote fuge?). I haven't done any plumbing yet though.
- Bought glass baffles for sump, still need to silicone them in (hopefully today).


Cycle and Sand Issues:

I want to start cycling as soon as possible. I have been waiting until I get the aquascaping done with all the pvc supports and everything so that I don't have to start moving the rock around once it gets wet. HOWEVER, I also would like to get the sand in before I fill up the tank too. The problem is that I can't find anywhere that sells aragonite sand. I found a bag of crushed shells/coral, but I was hoping to go finer then that. I even asked the local store if they could order some in but apparently they can't. They told me to check online, which would cost about $50 for a 30lb bag to ship.

So, I have decided to try my old sand, and hope that it isn't full of phosphates. Right now its dry and it smells clean, and really its not that "old" considering the amount of time I had my last system set up. I am going to try to give it a short vinegar bath (providing it doesn't completely dissolve), rinse in RO, and then throw it in the tank with my fingers crossed. Figured I could always remove it if I'm having algae issues.

I'm thinking I will fill the tank (with rock and sand) with RO and let that soak for a week or so (changing water if necessary), then refill it with salt water next week and begin cycling with Microbacter7. Not sure if I need a shrimp in there or not... I heard that pukani is full of enough organics anyway.

I'll post some pictures soon...

pgtanks
03-08-2014, 03:48 PM
rinse it out really good, i mean really good. do a small amount at time using a 5 gallon pail

ReEf BoSs
03-08-2014, 08:51 PM
As for s cheaper efficient skimmer, you might want to look into a bubble magus. Maybe a curve 5 or 7. They are good, cheap, efficient skimmers. I have had 2 curve 7's, and they worked great.

As for the fuge, I see a couple options without having to modify too much:

You could add a glass or acrylic baffle on one side of the sump and connect it with your return pump to make the fuge. Simple and affordable. Just a piece of glass or acrylic and some silicone.

You could purchase a hang on fuge like a CPR. Or even modify an aquaclear 100 into a hang on fuge. If you look up "aquaclear fuge mod" you'll see a bunch. I have used many of these and they work fantastic.

Or you could stick with your current design, and use a 2.5 or 5 gallon smaller tank and place it within the sump. Then feed it with a pump or from your overflow. It would simply overflow back into the sump. Might look a little better than a bucket, and hold more volume due to the square shape.

Tagging along to see your progress!

I agree i have a curve 5, they are worth the money.love the smaller foot print too.

jon.smolders
03-09-2014, 03:23 PM
I agree i have a curve 5, they are worth the money.love the smaller foot print too.

Yeah, I think I'm leaning more towards the curve 5 now... especially now that the Vertex Omega 130 has jumped in price by $30. Somehow in my mind that extra bit pushed it into the "expensive, high end skimmer" category, lol. The $160 difference could be my first few fish or frags too!

But yeah, after reading some reviews, the curve 5 looks like the way to go. How do you find the noise level? What water depth do you run it at? I had my glass cut for my sump so that my skimmer section would have a water level of 8" so I hope that's not an issue. I have heard that some people run them lower than the recommended 9-11" water level.

Doug
03-09-2014, 06:45 PM
Good work on the stand. Love it

ReEf BoSs
03-09-2014, 06:52 PM
I was looking at the Omega 130 also and settled on the curve 5. Noise level is great, i don't hear it over any of the other things. As far as i can tell it is silent.My water level is usually 8-9 ", i find at 9 " it does work better than at 8".So that might be an issue for you, im not sure what level other people on canreef are running it at. I did read online one guy had it in 7.5" of water.

jon.smolders
03-10-2014, 02:04 AM
Some aquascaping photos. Cut up a fiberglass driveway marker for the rod, and fit them into holes I drilled with a masonry bit:

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140302_215910.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140302_215910.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140302_221357.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140302_221357.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140302_222101.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140302_222101.jpg.html)


For the supports underneath the rock I cut and notched 3/4" PVC pipe, then cut eggcrate to fit rock footprint and siliconed it to the pieces of pipe. Hopefully this will allow a bit of flow under the rock and prevent detritus buildup.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140307_215110.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140307_215110.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140307_220536.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140307_220536.jpg.html)

And final aquascape... I might trim up that middle PVC/eggcrate support so its not as visible. I may also make some kind of support for the smaller rocks on the right hand side. Haven't decided yet.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140309_175306.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140309_175306.jpg.html)

jon.smolders
03-10-2014, 02:06 AM
Good work on the stand. Love it

Thanks! I think it turned out pretty good considering all I had was a cordless circular saw and drill. :) I'll post more photos of it when I get the plumbing done...

krazykarl
03-10-2014, 07:19 PM
Looks Good! I like the AquaScape.

jon.smolders
04-06-2014, 06:45 AM
Time for a quick update. It's salty now! Still have to add a bit more salt, and finish siliconing the sump baffles, but hopefully the sump will be up and running by Monday. I'm going to throw in a shrimp here soon and start dosing Microbacter7 to help the cycle along. Should be ready for a cleanup crew or a hardy fish in a few weeks. Still lots to work on, I'm not getting a lot of free time with work and family life but I'd like to finish plumbing in the remote fuge before the cycle finishes, as well as finish the top off/mixing station (or at least set up the ato). Fuge has had water and chaeto in it for a month and is growing green algae now. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all 0 in the fuge, but the chaeto is growing so I'm assuming it has cycled. Thought about adding a cleanup crew or a fish, but decided to leave it that way for a bit longer until I can plumb both tanks together.

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140405_211607.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140405_211607.jpg.html)

URL=http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140405_094703.jpg.html]http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140405_094703.jpg[/URL]

jon.smolders
04-18-2014, 10:52 PM
So the tank has been cycling for ten days with a small shrimp in it. Everything seemed like it was going well for a few days. Got some brown algae which I know is normal. I put the shrimp in the sump however, and it got sucked up into the return pump and shredded into tiny pieces. I figured it was no problem since it would just help it break down faster. Now, however, the water is super cloudy (probably bacterial bloom - no big deal) and VERY brown and gross looking. My whole tank looks like watery skimmate! This doesn't seem normal. Its like I have a huge excess of dissolved organics. I haven't been running a skimmer until today. I just set up my old CPR BakPak II... and right now there's so much foam its coming out the top of the collection cup. Ammonia topped out at 1ppm and is now down to 0 again (or at least less than 0.25ppm). Right now I'm reading 0 Nitrites and 0 Nitrates. ??? Unless they spiked and leveled out again in the last ten days, that doesn't seem right. I did get a bunch of small bubbles in the sand and rocks which looked similar to the kind you get when NO3 off gasses. I have been dosing MicroBacter7 fairly regularly. Two capfuls almost every day. I have filter socks on it too and they are turning dark brown within 24 hrs.

Anyway... not sure if this is normal. I'd appreciate others experiences and input. Should I do a water change or just let it play out for a few more weeks? I'm not necessarily in a hurry to add livestock but its hard to look at an ugly brown cloudy tank... lol

Here are some pics:

Lights are off but you can see how brown the tank looks
http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140418_113641.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140418_113641.jpg.html)

Here you can see the foam collecting in the sump...
http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140418_113707.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140418_113707.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20140418_140806.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20140418_140806.jpg.html)

jon.smolders
10-03-2014, 05:01 PM
Figured it was time for an update and hopefully I can get some advice too. Over the last few months I have been dealing with various algae (and possibly bacterial?) blooms. My water has always had this cloudy tinge to it and the rocks and sand get gross pretty quick. it always looks better after a water change and good scrubbing, but the algae always comes back. I did not have any issues last time I set up my tank. Here is what it looks like now...

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20141002_164441.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20141002_164441.jpg.html)

http://i1177.photobucket.com/albums/x358/jsmolders/20141002_164546.jpg (http://s1177.photobucket.com/user/jsmolders/media/20141002_164546.jpg.html)

Its been set up for months now so all the organics from the dry rock should have broken down by now. I have been changing about 10 gallons of water a month. It was hard to keep on top of it as I was working out of town all summer.

Updated skimmer to a Bubble Magus Curve 7 - works great.

Added a small cleanup crew in July - slowly losing my snails and hermits. Ive lost about half of them now. Also added a small mushroom rock. Seems to be doing ok but I know they are pretty hardy.

I'm a little worried about adding any more livestock until I get this cleared up.

I was thinking of removing the sand (it was reused from my previous setup) and going bb. Also thinking of doing a 100 percent water change. Any suggestions?

skabooya
12-11-2014, 02:41 AM
How old are your bulbs? When my bulbs reach the 9 month mark my tank starts to do funny things. Rocks and sand get a film on them, skimmer starts to pull a lot of brown foamy and gunky stuff, bad algae starts to really flourish.