View Full Version : FragIt Dan's 2012 nano contest entry

FragIt Dan
09-22-2012, 06:53 AM
Theme: The Cave... two micro habitats created in one small reef tank.

Objectives: Low budget, recycle used bits and pieces to make a unique reef tank that is stable enough to not need checking for as much as a couple of weeks at a time (I frequently travel for work).

Livestock: SPS/LPS, softies, zoas, inverts and a couple of random fish.

Circulation: Closed loop with Mag drive 5 running externally (I hope)!

Lighting: 20K XM 175W mogul in some sort of pendant I was given a while back (this may change). I may add some mood lighting in the cave too ;).

Filtration: Phosban 150 reactor(s) packed with ammonia, nitrite and nitrate reducing media as well as Ferric Oxide and carbon (Brightwell Aquatics XPort BIO/NO3/PO4 and Bulk Reef Supply ROX 0.8).

Skimming: Red Sea Prizm with overflow protection mod (just drill a hole at the top of the skimate chamber above the return overflow). I don't like this skimmer as it has never worked very well for me but I have one kicking around.

Water Changes/Supplements: 33% (5 gallons) weekly-ish water change, I will attempt to do no supplementation at all (not even Ca or carbonates).

ATO: Marine Magic dosing pump adding RODI top off water with periodic spot checks to make minor adjustments. I might end up doing Kalk for ATO depending on whether or not my water changes can keep up.

Heater: Finnex HMO-100 Titanium with LCD digital control, set to 78f (purchased from Bulk Reef Supply).

Feeding: a little splash of various different coral and fish foods whenever I remember.

Substrate: Bare bottom with live rock reef

Aquascaping: Live rock placed on cross-members to create the cave (cross members will be pre-glued into the tank prior to filling). Crushed barnacle shell will be silicone glued onto the cross members and overflow to give them a bit more of a natural look. I used 2" abs pipe cut into thirds lengthwise and will silicone glue them onto the glass (see photos in future posts).

Coral Growth: I have found corals really like up-flow. I will try to create this by feeding the closed loop outlet into the cave forcing the water through the live rock and up past the corals above.

ASW: RODI with Brightwell Aquatics salt made to 1.025 sg.

Total estimated water volume: 15 gallons (I will get an exact measurement upon final placement of live rock and post in this thread). The glass tank itself has a capacity of 18.7 gallons filled to the brim, but I will be about 2 inches short of this, less live rock, plus phosban reactors and plumbing.

Budget (me): $75 for a new bulb for the lighting fixture. Everything else has been pulled out of my spares/junk bin.

Budget (you): $300 + livestock for decent used gear; all of this stuff can be sourced used fairly easily (all of the gear used in this build was stuff I originally bought used). New, this would run you about $750 from your LFS.

Questions/Feedback/Constructive Criticism: Always welcome :)


09-22-2012, 11:16 AM
looking forward to see your progress.

09-22-2012, 02:17 PM
What kind of tank are you going to be using? Or, is that a secret? ;)

Depending on what salt you're using, you won't need to supplement calcium with the big water changes you're planning. When I was doing 10% three times a week on my first reef (a 10 gallon) my calcium was really high as I was adding it faster then it was being used. I was using Reef Crystals, and that mixes up high in calcium at 1.025. I had to cut back my WCs to bring my calcium back in line.

09-22-2012, 02:53 PM

FragIt Dan
09-22-2012, 04:56 PM
This is the starting tank, it is just a plain 24x12x16 glass tank by a company called SeaStar out of Victoria... no secrets but I'm afraid there isn't much to keep secret;). I am glueing the braces in today and hope to leak test the plumbing later. I'll post a pic up when the bracing is set,



FragIt Dan
09-22-2012, 07:53 PM
Got the braces put in and covered with barnacle shell. Silicone is setting as I type this. Hopefully I will leak test the plumbing later today,

Cross braces installed

Cross braces drilled for frag plugs

ABS and IPEX covered with barnacle shell

Looking 'end on' into the Cave...

Oops, looking at that last pic I see I forgot to cover the spray bar with barnacle shell, be right back :)



FragIt Dan
09-23-2012, 05:45 AM
Leak and flow test were a success! Just filled it with tap water (no salt) and will let it run the night to make sure. I may end up putting a koralia in for a bit more flow, we'll have to wait and see how it looks once the live rock is in,


09-23-2012, 12:52 PM
You have some very interesting things going on here.

09-23-2012, 03:46 PM
I like the cave idea, it'll be interesting to see it all come together.

FragIt Dan
09-23-2012, 04:23 PM
You have some very interesting things going on here.

Yeah, I am curious to see how things turn out :). Your build is coming together nicely as well!


FragIt Dan
09-24-2012, 04:22 AM
"The Cave" is finished with a few minor mods...
1) Heater is now zap strapped to the underside of the lowest cross member. I had originally placed it inside the overflow 'box' (which is only used to feed the closed loop) but when I ran the leak test I realized that if (when) the tank gets too low on water this area may accidentally end up dry which would fry the heater.
2) I added a second Phosban 150 reactor inline with the first. This gives me a total of about 3 cups of the BA XPort BIO in the first reactor (completely full) and a bit more than 2 cups of XPort NO3 and a bit less than a cup of the XPort PO4. All of this media is in the form of 'croutons' and should not be tumbled, so it has been packed with sponges to be tight.
3) I was originally going to place my carbon in the Prizm skimmer media chamber but forgot the BRS 0.8x ROX is much finer than the usual pellets. The chamber will not contain the carbon and I am afraid it will restrict flow in the Phosban reactors too much so I have resorted to placing it in a sock by the intake of the Phosban reactors (for increased flow). This will eventually be hidden by live rock anyway.
4) I will not need to replace the bulb in the fixture as it is still in great shape (fixture was given to me about a year back during a friend's shutdown). Turns out it's a 14K 175w Hamilton mogul (in a LumenMax 2 reflector) which works out great as I use the 250w version of this on my DT, which is where I will be fragging out of. This makes this build 100% spare parts for me so cost is down to $0. Is it bad that I have that much tank crap around :)?

I also suspect my MagDrive5 is putting out far too little flow than it should. It's acting more like a Mag2. Fortunately I have a couple of these around and have plumbed it so that it is a simple 4 screw swap out. I might change it over tomorrow to see.

I will post up final build pictures tomorrow and then will be out of town for a bit over two weeks with only spotty satellite Internet access.


FragIt Dan
09-24-2012, 11:09 PM
"The Cave" build photos...

General tank view:

End on view:

Birds eye view:

Plumbing - Closed loop Mag5 and dual inline Phosban reactors feed by a MaxiJet1200:

Build is done, I can't wait to aqua scape and light the cave :).



FragIt Dan
11-11-2012, 03:48 AM
Cave update: don't run mag drives externally (I know it says right on them to not run dry, but who listens anyway?). I tried to do a closed loop with one and it did not end well. After about 5 days of running fine, it managed to melt a hole into the sealed motor portion of the pump, shorting it and blowing a breaker in the house. I didn't immediately know it was the tank that popped the breaker, so when I reset it, it just popped again. Eventually figuring it out, I unplugged the pump and got the electricity back on. Got up the next morning to find the tank half drained onto the floor (basement workshop) as a result of the closed loop siphoning the water out and through the pinhole in the mag drive. Glad it was just a nano!

Tank is filled and rock is placed: