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asylumdown
05-01-2013, 07:18 AM
It's time to start a new(isn) thread on my new favourite toy.

I bought CADlights 4 gallon all in one reef system last november with the intention of it being a permanent SPS quarantine. You can imagine how long having an empty box of water sitting my desk lasted. It's the second pico tank I've had, I got in to them after reading the article on Ecoreef One on reef builders, and seeing its detailed write up on advanced aquarist (http://www.advancedaquarist.com/2010/4/aquarium). I did the first pico tank while I was technically homeless between selling our last place and our new house being move-in ready to tide me over on the tank front. Here's a pic of the first pico I ever did:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsca00e886.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsca00e886.jpg.html)

It was incredibly simple - 5 gallon box, a small heater, a small submersible filter that also served as the only source of flow with a floss and carbon filter sections, cheap chinese LED fixture (that broke almost immediately and was a total POS), no water testing except for salinity and temperature, 100% weekly water changes and no fish or motile animals - just corals.This system thrived for 5 months, with all corals growing significantly. However, seeing as I didn't have an R/O unit at the time, mixing 5 gallons of salt water using store bought distilled water and temperature matching it to the tank once a week (a process that involved a stove, and half an hour of careful salt measuring and mixing) was a total PITA, so once the big tank was up and running, everything that you see in that photo was migrated and the system was shut down. I'm happy to report that the frogspawn, one of those acans colonies, all of the ricordias, and the clam are still with us.

This gave me confidence in the near zero maintenance method of 100% water changes on a pico system, so when I got the 4 gallon tank from CADlights, I almost immediately started trying to figure out how I could make maintenance on it as a 'permanent' reef more manageable. I realized that I could piggy back off most of the systems that run the big tank, and the only other thing I would need was a single large source of pre-mixed salt-water for water changes, as (perhaps not surprisingly) it's way less effort to make 40 gallons of saltwater once every couple of months than it is to make 5 gallons of salt water once a week. A trip to home depot and a 44 gallon garbage bin with a lid later, and I was in business! The other thing that was a real downer with such a small system was constantly having to top it up, which I would often forget to do on the first tank leading to crazy spikes in salinity, but with this new pico I was able to mod a Tunze ATO that I had bought for a QT system I'm no longer using, so I never have to think about it. The 2 gallon reservoir bucket is hidden under my desk, and I can forget about it for well over a month before needing to worry about topping it up with RO water. Also, since this is an all in one system, all the equipment is hidden from the display area. It's still following the super dressed down 'eco-reef philosophy' in terms of maintenance, but the equipment is a little higher end. Here's what runs the system:

- Stock return pump
- 25 watt heater
- large block of foam in the first chamber of the back-end overflow
- small bag of ceramic bio-rings that came with the tank in the middle back-end chamber (same place as the heater)
- Modified Tunze ATO
- Kessil A150 - this is the third light I've had over this tank, and is my favourite.

Enough talk, here's some progress pics:

The tank when I first got it - this is when I thought I could keep it as an SPS QT system. HAH! It had woefully under-powered stock lights for SPS.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps701d48f8.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps701d48f8.jpg.html)

Shortly after building a Marco rock pire for the LPS/softies this tank is now about
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps4f1a5bcf.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps4f1a5bcf.jpg.html)
The floating tupperware was filled with berghia that I was harvesting and selling from the big tank. I was using the pico to keep them warm.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps137913ec.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps137913ec.jpg.html)


Around christmas I ordered a better light than the one that came stock from NanoBox Reef. The light itself was spectacular, but something about the colours in it just didn't work for me, I felt like they were to cyan-y.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps2aae9a6c.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps2aae9a6c.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps64177b76.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps64177b76.jpg.html)
The two open brains on the right and left were rescued from my big tank, which has lights that are FAR too bright, and nutrients that are far too low to maintain colours on many LPS species. Over months they bleached out to near transparent, and I rescued them to the pico. They have improved drastically since those photos were taken.

A month or so ago I picked up a Kessil A150 Ocean Blue. I was originally going to use it to spotlight a troublesome anemone in my big tank to try and get it to stay put, but on a whim hung it over my pico tank first and fell in love. I'll keep it until something as good or better comes along.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps6ba9e4f0.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps6ba9e4f0.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps005419cf.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps005419cf.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps9653d1ea.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps9653d1ea.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsecbe2e95.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsecbe2e95.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsb65664e6.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsb65664e6.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsfa78d78b.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsfa78d78b.jpg.html)
Those are the most current pics I have, but since I took them, the left and right most open brains have only gotten better and better colours. I'm hoping they'll return completely to their pre-bleaching glory in this system. That ricordia in the last picture is actually a baby that fissioned off one of the ricordias from my first pico that grew up in the 275, and has now been transplanted back to a pico. It's in the process of fissioning.

This tank thread was something of a whim so I don't have pics of the whole set-up and it's guts, but I'll take pics of everything in a few days. I have to admit that now that I have 40 gallons of pre-mixed salt water in my garage, the only parameter I ever bother checking upon my weekly water change is salinity. I don't even try to temperature match anymore. The 44 gallon garbage bin is in my garage that is kept at 19.5 degrees, and the water seems to hover around 20 degrees. There's no crazy sensitive corals in this tank, and the air temperature in my office is kept at 21, so I figure that when everything is exposed to air during the 100% water change they all cool to around 20-21 degrees anyway. After the water change it takes less than an hour for the heater to bring the water temp of the pico back up to 24.5, and within 1.5 hours, all the corals look as if it never happened. I've taken to feeding everything that accepts food a healthy dose of Acans plus mixed with whatever else I feel like a couple of days before each water change.

Water changes take about 10 minutes, unless I want to really scrub down the display glass, in which case I take that rock pire (it and everything on it are all super glued together), put it in a bucket with the filter foam and bag of ceramic rings, and then give the tank a good scrubbing with a sponge and soapy water in the sink.

Future plans - upgrading the tank to an 8 gallon Innovative Marine all in one. Drool.

fishoholic
05-01-2013, 01:55 PM
Cool! I have a new found love for pico tanks after starting my 2.5g. The Kessil looks awesome over it :biggrin:

christyf5
05-01-2013, 04:55 PM
Hot damn! That looks awesome (and I did see this before you posted the link in the TOTM quarterly thread :razz:).

I love that you've tried all those lighting systems. When I first started it was with compact fluorescent, then t5 (tank is 12x12x12, 7.5gal or so) then I talked to Jeff at J&L and he figured LED wasn't worth it. Now the T5 setup is TU and they don't sell bulbs for the compact fluorescent setup anymore (can't find them) so I'm thinking of going to LED anyways. Wasn't planning on doing a Kessil but they seem to be the best bang for your buck. Did you find the flat rack LED system (4th pic down) ok? Thats the one I was looking at because it seemed the least costly but now I'm thinking maybe kessil or whatever is available to me more locally so I can see it before I buy it (I'm picky about color too).

asylumdown
05-01-2013, 07:44 PM
Cool! I have a new found love for pico tanks after starting my 2.5g. The Kessil looks awesome over it :biggrin:

Something about keeping corals in the minimum necessary setup is so appealing to me, I'm not sure why. I also love that when I really want it to look brand new, washing the inside of this thing out in the sink is no more difficult than cleaning a cooking pot. One of the reasons I haven't gotten the 8 gallon yet is that I think it will be more of a pain to clean!

Hot damn! That looks awesome (and I did see this before you posted the link in the TOTM quarterly thread :razz:).

I love that you've tried all those lighting systems. When I first started it was with compact fluorescent, then t5 (tank is 12x12x12, 7.5gal or so) then I talked to Jeff at J&L and he figured LED wasn't worth it. Now the T5 setup is TU and they don't sell bulbs for the compact fluorescent setup anymore (can't find them) so I'm thinking of going to LED anyways. Wasn't planning on doing a Kessil but they seem to be the best bang for your buck. Did you find the flat rack LED system (4th pic down) ok? Thats the one I was looking at because it seemed the least costly but now I'm thinking maybe kessil or whatever is available to me more locally so I can see it before I buy it (I'm picky about color too).

Thanks, it's getting there!

To be honest I think smaller tanks is where LEDs really shine (get it, shine, see what I did there?). The good ones are so bloody expensive that lighting a big tank properly can cost almost as much as an undergraduate degree. But on small tanks you have so many more options and the cost is way more justifiable I think. The key is a) not over-doing it, LEDs are more powerful than they seem and b) getting the mix of colours that will really make what you're keeping pop. The flat rack fixture came with the tank and was pretty basic, the colours looked good, but it was really dim looking and it was soooooo flimsy, I was afraid to touch it, it felt like a cheap kids toy. It still managed to bleach one of my ricordias to within an inch of it's life, but it didn't seem to have the pop to make other LPS look good. It was probably sufficient and since it came with the the $150 tank, it was an extremely good deal, it just wasn't for me.

If you're looking at switching I can't speak highly enough of the kessil, one A150 would light a 7 gallon tank no problem, but you get no control over the brightness or colour mix so you have to make sure to buy the colour blend you like, or spend the extra cash for an A350 and turn the intensity way down. There's also some really cool PAR38 bulbs that are incorporating really innovative diode colour blends now too that could easily have enough power. But man I am in love with this Kessil. It's like having a metal halide over the tank, the shimmer is outrageous. There was barely any shimmer from the flat rack CADlights unit because the bulbs were evenly spaced across the fixture. Also the first two lights had noticeable colour separation, and the Kessil has zero. My only real complaint about the Kessil is the hanging options over such a small tank. I hate how massive the gooseneck is compared to the tank, and since my whole tank is only 10 inches front to back (7.5 inches of that is the display) I have to bend the gooseneck in such a way that the light is closer to the water surface than I want to get it to be properly centred over the box. Some sort of custom hanging situation would have been better, but I'm limited in that I can't put holes in the wall and the tank is sitting on a very small wheeled filing cabinet.

asylumdown
05-01-2013, 08:42 PM
Alright, last night the green open brain got so heavy that it broke off it's super glue and epoxy base and fell. While that means it's growing, it also meant I had to take it all out and glue it back together, so I figured I'd document the process. This is what a pretty standard 'full-clean' of this system looks like. I normally do this once a moth, the other 3 weeks I just drain and replace the water.

Top down, prior to water change:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps702c58f4.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps702c58f4.jpg.html)

The equipment chambers:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps45554abe.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps45554abe.jpg.html)

As it looked today, the left brain fell and trapped all the extra goo from me feeding them last night under it. Bad news from a water quality perspective. The colours of the two bleached brains are way better now.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps7422c1d3.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps7422c1d3.jpg.html)

The powerbar that runs the whole thing. I can keep most of these cords hidden from view, but it makes it pretty messy behind the tank
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps6b9c8c1f.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps6b9c8c1f.jpg.html)

Shut down, ready to go
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpse1677aa6.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpse1677aa6.jpg.html)

Half drained, water enters the foam block box from slits near the bottom of the tank, and also pours down on top.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps92708b61.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps92708b61.jpg.html)

Pire repair! The brain that had fallen sprayed me right in the eye while i was trying to glue it back on to the rock. I also sliced my index finger something fierce on the skeleton of that dark coral.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps4da8767a.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps4da8767a.jpg.html)

If only cleaning my 275 gallon tank was this easy... Goodbye detritus.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsf03d7971.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsf03d7971.jpg.html)

If I'm going to be a while with the box, I usually keep some water that's going to get tossed for the rock, corals, and ceramic bio-rings.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps39e160fd.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps39e160fd.jpg.html)

Sparkling clean!
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps912a9db1.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps912a9db1.jpg.html)

asylumdown
05-01-2013, 08:51 PM
Setting it back up
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpseaa25ee7.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpseaa25ee7.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps57bdde39.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps57bdde39.jpg.html)

I modded the Tunze ATO by breaking off the sensor holder and epoxying it to the glass. The emergency shut off float switch is actually sitting next to the unit's brain in a metal lip under my desk. Not the safest thing in the world, but I've had a perfect track record with those sensors working properly, so I'm not too worried.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps95c3ff7d.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps95c3ff7d.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps3d958ccf.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps3d958ccf.jpg.html)

There, all done! Wait, something's missing...
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsa4d3c3cb.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsa4d3c3cb.jpg.html)

Oh right, water.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps4f228514.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps4f228514.jpg.html)

It takes less than 2 and a half of my red bucket (which is around 3 gallons) to fill this thing up
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsb58ebd13.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsb58ebd13.jpg.html)

All done for real this time. The tank will look like it never happened in an hour
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsb03cbfa3.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsb03cbfa3.jpg.html)

christyf5
05-02-2013, 11:28 PM
Wow that is slick. I need to glue all my rocks together so I can do waterchanges like that. For some reason my rocks shed detritus like nobodys business. It would be way easier to do waterchanges like that rather than the classic siphon style :razz:

subman
05-03-2013, 01:06 AM
Wow that's slick... I may have to go find a pico like that!

Very impressive!

asylumdown
05-03-2013, 07:26 AM
Wow that is slick. I need to glue all my rocks together so I can do waterchanges like that. For some reason my rocks shed detritus like nobodys business. It would be way easier to do waterchanges like that rather than the classic siphon style :razz:

You'd be surprised at how much bacterial mulm the stufff that lives on the rocks will produce. I think it's because the nitrosomonas are photophobic so they try to screen themselves by creating mulm to hide in.

I only do the whole clean once every so often, it's much faster to just siphon it out and pour the water back in, and way less stressful for the corals. The other benefit to taking everything out though is that I can really get in to the rounded corners of this tank with a sponge, it's hard to do them with a magnet. That pire is actually a piece of marco rock that I broke in to 4 pieces with a chisel and then put back together in a better shape with two whole tubes of super glue. I keep waiting for the day when the whole thing fails and the bottom piece falls off while I'm lifting it out of the tank. It would be the perfect excuse to go buy the 8 gallon ;)

Wow that's slick... I may have to go find a pico like that!

Very impressive!

They are so much easier to maintain than I thought they'd be. It's more like a little piece of art than a tank really

ETA: and thanks!

asylumdown
05-13-2013, 07:00 PM
If anyone's interested, I'm selling two of the corals from this tank:
http://www.canreef.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=97597

Three large open brains in a 4 gallon tank isn't going to work long term, so my least favourite is going.

I also moved my forest fire digi frag from the big tank to this tank. It hasn't grown at all (not even plating) since i got it, and has slowly been bleaching. It stopped extending any of its polyps about a week ago so I'm testing to see if it's my lighting, or the addition of coral beauty angel to my big tank.

asylumdown
05-13-2013, 07:52 PM
egads. I just worked out how much I've spent on this thing.

$1137.00 all in, that's if I don't count the two open brains that were rescued from my big tank in to it.

asylumdown
05-15-2013, 10:08 PM
Sold two corals that weren't working for this tank. I had the intention of replacing one of them with an insanely coloured scoly or something, but the really nice ones are like $250 bucks, which is insane. So instead I picked up a couple of tiny little corals that I think are maybe fungids? I also took an acan frag that was getting bleached in my big tank and not growing moved it in and fragged (more like butchered) my small colony of red and green Aussie blastos to put a small piece in the little tank. It looks a little emptier now, but the corals in here will all grow and fill in and the whole thing will be much more colourful.

I did have a mishap taking the rock structure out to attach all the new stuff though... the top tier broke off (I mean it's just super glued together) and the bottom half landed hard face down in a bucket, splashing about a gallon of water on my floor and seriously damaging my two brains. I was afraid I'd killed them, but the injuries seem to have sealed up and they're fully extended today.

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps33cbd6e0.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps33cbd6e0.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps37cabd17.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps37cabd17.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps9da08ba1.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps9da08ba1.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps13c2a609.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps13c2a609.jpg.html)

asylumdown
05-16-2013, 08:03 AM
Just looking at some old photos. I know I've posted these before but I never looked at them side by side before. All I have to say is WOW, did I ever get a good deal. I got this open brain for maybe 60 bucks because it was ugly as sin when I bought it. All this time reefing and I still had no idea what good water and good lighting could do for an LPS coral. I can't believe how much this guy has improved.

First picture (coral is bottom left) is pretty true to how it looked when I got it, browned out, muted, dull. I bought it because it was cheap but it still had a kaleidoscope of colours, even though they were all really drab. Second two pictures (mid left) barely captures how nice it is now because it's so brilliant and luminescent that it + LEDS reeks havoc on my phone's sensor. It's spectacular. Yes it's that teal blue in real life, and it also has gold in it that doesn't get picked up in the picture at all. Love this coral.

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps4f1a5bcf.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps4f1a5bcf.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps9da08ba1.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps9da08ba1.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps33cbd6e0.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps33cbd6e0.jpg.html)

fragbox.ca
05-20-2013, 03:53 PM
sweet little tank!
thumbs up for the bare bottom

asylumdown
06-29-2013, 02:20 AM
So I got in a bit of a forum debate over the merits vs the risks of a 100% water change in a reef system. I obviously am of the belief that they are a good thing and are a totally legitimate method for maintaining a reef. There is another school of thought out there that believes that massive to 100% water changes mess with the 'constancy' of a system and can 'shock' it in some way, and should therefore always be avoided.

My theory is this - the term 'shock the system' is vague, and as far as I can tell, there's no operational definition for exactly what it means. The same way that people talk about 'toxins' in our bodies, I find the language surrounding a lot of the things in the aquarium trade to sound more like pseudo-scientific superstition than anything that's really happening. Since, in my opinion, being intangible and having no visible or testable effects is the same as not existing at all, I will define the term 'shock the system' to mean some sort of tangible deleterious effect on the health of a coral, and/or the disruption of bacterial metabolism to a large enough degree to cause system instability, as I believe that's what people who speak in these terms are generally referring to. Those two things are testable - coral health is directly observable both in the behaviour and growth of a coral, and the functioning of a bacterial bed is indirectly observable via the processing of nitrogenous compounds.

Two things have been suggested -

1. That the difference in parameters between the discarded water and the new water will be significant
2. That this difference will harm either the corals, or 'things we can't see', ie, the bacteria.

Here's how I'm going to test this:

1. I've never tested my pico for anything other than salinity and temp, so I'm going to test the major parameters both before and after a water change.

2. I'm then going to document the corals over the course of a week in photos, and use old photos/photos in this thread as historical comparisons

3. I'm also going to feed each one of my corals either a meaty food if they can accept it, or a Acans plus/Coral Frenzy mixture as soon as they'll accept it after the water change. I'd normally wait a few days to feed to try and max out the low N and P levels of my change water. I'll feed the corals again a few days later

4. I'll test ammonia daily for the week following the water change.

I am expecting to see a difference in the major ions between the old and the new, as I don't dose them via any method other than water changes. I'm also not expecting those differences to cause any sort of damage, either to the macro inhabitants, or the micro inhabitants. But we shall see, I'll happily eat my words if I'm wrong.

mrhasan
06-29-2013, 02:36 AM
So I got in a bit of a forum debate over the merits vs the risks of a 100% water change in a reef system. I obviously am of the belief that they are a good thing and are a totally legitimate method for maintaining a reef. There is another school of thought out there that believes that massive to 100% water changes mess with the 'constancy' of a system and can 'shock' it in some way, and should therefore always be avoided.

My theory is this - the term 'shock the system' is vague, and as far as I can tell, there's no operational definition for exactly what it means. The same way that people talk about 'toxins' in our bodies, I find the language surrounding a lot of the things in the aquarium trade to sound more like pseudo-scientific superstition than anything that's really happening. Since, in my opinion, being intangible and having no visible or testable effects is the same as not existing at all, I will define the term 'shock the system' to mean some sort of tangible deleterious effect on the health of a coral, and/or the disruption of bacterial metabolism to a large enough degree to cause system instability, as I believe that's what people who speak in these terms are generally referring to. Those two things are testable - coral health is directly observable both in the behaviour and growth of a coral, and the functioning of a bacterial bed is indirectly observable via the processing of nitrogenous compounds.

Two things have been suggested -

1. That the difference in parameters between the discarded water and the new water will be significant
2. That this difference will harm either the corals, or 'things we can't see', ie, the bacteria.

Here's how I'm going to test this:

1. I've never tested my pico for anything other than salinity and temp, so I'm going to test the major parameters both before and after a water change.

2. I'm then going to document the corals over the course of a week in photos, and use old photos/photos in this thread as historical comparisons

3. I'm also going to feed each one of my corals either a meaty food if they can accept it, or a Acans plus/Coral Frenzy mixture as soon as they'll accept it after the water change. I'd normally wait a few days to feed to try and max out the low N and P levels of my change water. I'll feed the corals again a few days later

4. I'll test ammonia daily for the week following the water change.

I am expecting to see a difference in the major ions between the old and the new, as I don't dose them via any method other than water changes. I'm also not expecting those differences to cause any sort of damage, either to the macro inhabitants, or the micro inhabitants. But we shall see, I'll happily eat my words if I'm wrong.

If big water change was a problem, this tank wouldn't have lived long enough to tell the tale of 95% water change ;)

http://reefbuilders.com/2013/05/21/fix-fish-tank-reef-aquarium-problems-95-water/

asylumdown
06-29-2013, 04:38 AM
lol, I used that exact same example in my debate...

Well, here's the first round of parameters and pics:

It had been about 10 days since the last water change. I do not dose anything. Immediately before the water change:

dKh: 6.4 (this is much lower than I was expecting!)
Calcium: 340ppm (also, Much to low!)
Magnesium: about 1300ppm
Temp: 24.8
Ammonia: undetectable
Nitrite: Undetectable
Nitrate: didn't test
Phosphate: didn't test

Here's the tank before the water change
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps163d82c3.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps163d82c3.jpg.html)

I won't put detail shots of all the corals, but note how much the colours in the two brains have improved compared to earlier images in this thread:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps62eb037b.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps62eb037b.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps37fedf93.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps37fedf93.jpg.html)

Also note that the christmas favia (I think) has noticeably started plating polyps on to the rock:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps6aedeaad.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps6aedeaad.jpg.html)


The ricordia has about 3 mouths, I'm waiting for it to split, and I had mangled that blasto fragging to the point where I didn't think it would survive. It had one intact head, and 2 heads that were just chunks of torn flesh. It's recovered nicely.
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps9015b304.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps9015b304.jpg.html)

The last of those pics was taken at 1:02pm, I shut everything off and started draining immediately

Here's it empty:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps41842732.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps41842732.jpg.html)
and I drained it completely, also exposing the ceramic borings
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsbd8afffc.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsbd8afffc.jpg.html)

Those pics were taken at 1:09, right before I went in the garage to get the new water, so the tank was empty for 7-10 minutes.

Here's the tank immediately after the water change
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps9f6fb951.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps9f6fb951.jpg.html)

asylumdown
06-29-2013, 05:09 AM
Post water change parameters:

dKH: 7.8 (this is actually making me think my test kit has gone off, when I tested the batch of water I'm using for water changes when I made it the dKH was closer to 9)
calcium: 405ppm
Magnesium: 1360ppm
Temp: 23.2
Ammonia: undetectable
Nitrite: Undetectable
Nitrate: Didn't test
Phosphate: didn't test
oh I forgot to mention in the last post, SG before and after the water change was exactly 1.025

Here is the tank at 1:58pm, 51 minutes after every coral in this tank was high and dry:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps391dc3ff.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps391dc3ff.jpg.html)
Only the goniopora has yet to fully re-inflate.

I had to go out and pick up furniture right after this, so I didn't get a chance to feed until 7:40, 20 minutes before the lights go out on this tank. I fed a mixture Coral Frenzy and AcansPlus mixed in a dish with 10ml of water so that it formed a relatively thick paste:
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps22b19bcb.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps22b19bcb.jpg.html)

I ended up only using about half the syringe, but that's about 1/4 more than I usually ever feed at one time. I also fed the two brains several large pieces of PE mysis.

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsfcc53de9.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsfcc53de9.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zpsda513deb.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zpsda513deb.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps09dc6121.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps09dc6121.jpg.html)

I usually take gobbling down as much as you can eat as a sign of coral health.

So - if my test kits are to be believed (I'm suspicious of the alkalinity), this water change altered my levels by:
dKH: +1.4
Calcium: +65ppm
Magnesium: +60ppm
Temp: -1.6 degrees
Ammonia: no change
Phos & nitrate: Not sure, but almost certainly drastically lowered them, probably took both down in to the undetectable range.

It doesn't appear to have acutely harmed the corals in any way, as they looked and were behaving completely normally (save for the goniopora) in less than an hour. The stomatella snails in there faired perfectly well, and judging by the number of worms that popped out of the rocks when I started feeding, they didn't seem to mind either.

The next question is whether or not this somehow 'shocked' the bacterial filtration system. I've added a good dump of organic matter that will shortly be converted to waste, so I'm going to test ammonia every day for the next week. I'll post the results here.

Myka
06-29-2013, 03:18 PM
I like your water change system, and the bare bottom really make for a good plan on a pico tank. People often struggle with water quality in these pico tanks and you have it nailed down. That "kaleiascope" brain is WICKED. They are my favourite type of open brain. :D

As far as shocking the system goes, it appears as if you are probably not shocking the system. Consistency is always important, and if the tank is used to getting 100% waterchanges then that is consistent for that tank's inhabitants. I'm a firm believer that different systems react differently because of different maintenance. People can essentially achieve the very same thing (a thriving reef) by performing a myriad of different maintenance schedules. Even taking a peek through TOTM threads on ReefCentral or here on CanReen you will see very different maintenance habits.

However, if you're ever concerned, or you just want to experiment, you could always perform your waterchanges the same except add back 25-50% of the "old" saltwater. You would still get a thorough clean. I would suggest you put the water to reuse in a bucket on its own rather than allowing the corals to sit in it though. I'm not sure that is clear... so you would have say 50% of the water in one clean bucket and 50% of the water in the bucket holding the corals, then clean tank, add corals to tank, add water to tank from the clean bucket, and toss the water from the bucket that held the corals.

You're definitely making me take a second look at the 5-gallon Fluval tank I have sitting in a closet...

asylumdown
06-29-2013, 07:32 PM
Yah that open brain is wicked, I feel like I got away with theft though, it was ugly as sin when I bought it so I definitely did not pay the same kind of premium you often see them go for. I've never seen a brain with blue on it the way this one does.

And I definitely agree and a variety of methods working, what's important is the effect of what you are doing - how much light, water chemistry, flow, etc. how you achieve those things can be widely variable. I'm doing this to show with tests that doing a 100% water change, when done right, isn't dangerous to a system in terms of any of the metrics of "reef health" that we typically measure. I still see a lot of advice out there saying that it's dangerous to do it, but my hypothesis is that for the vast majority of animals out there, even a pretty significant sudden change in parameters like alk and calcium can be easily mitigated and adapted to by the organism. I'm not saying a change from dKH 6 to 12 is something you want to do often, but if you're using a good quality salt and keeping up with maintenance in general, you shouldn't ever get such a massive swing with a 100% change. It's my hypothesis that there's really only a few parameters that really, acutely matter from a biological functioning point of view - salinity being the most important, then probably pH and then after that temperature. Those are the ones that while a wide range of conditions are acceptable, marine organisms seem to need time to adjust to changes, and don't respond well to instantaneous shifts. All the rest of the major and trace ions only need to be held within a pretty wide range over long periods of time, but I don't think that sudden changes within that range (the key is the "within that range" part) once a week, or month, or year pose any threat to either the corals, motile animals, bacteria, or algae. I think to some people that sounds like a radical idea, but I'm going to try and show it using the tests available to us in the hobby as best I can.

asylumdown
06-29-2013, 07:34 PM
Also, ammonia and nitrite today were still undetectable.

Myka
06-30-2013, 03:12 PM
I'm doing this to show with tests that doing a 100% water change, when done right, isn't dangerous to a system in terms of any of the metrics of "reef health" that we typically measure. I still see a lot of advice out there saying that it's dangerous to do it, but my hypothesis is that for the vast majority of animals out there, even a pretty significant sudden change in parameters like alk and calcium can be easily mitigated and adapted to by the organism.

The trouble is simply that putting that information out there and a newbie reads it and starts doing 100% waterchanges "the wrong way" and now he crashed his tank. It's not that it can't be done, it's just that some care needs to be taken. Or even a tank that is used to 10% waterchanges for the last 5 years suddenly gets a 100% waterchange is not likely to go over unnoticed by the corals. :p

Also, it would be very difficult for you to be able to compare say 50% waterchanges which may show improved color, growth, etc. There is something to be said about disturbing corals and especially exposing them to air (no matter how brief). Generally, corals do prefer not to be disturbed or exposed to air. Another point is that I wouldn't be treating an SPS tank like this. LPS and softies are much more tolerant. Even small alkalinity spikes for SPS can cause severe damage. Some SPS are very sensitive, some are generally quite tough (like Montis for example).

It's working for you and your particular tank and corals though, so that's what matters. :)

asylumdown
07-04-2013, 05:32 AM
Well between in-laws birthdays, landscaping, and work, I've sucked at posting, but I have been testing:

Saturday: ammonia 0, nitrie zero
Sunday: (we went to Edmonton for a day so I technically didn't test until early Monday morning) ammonia 0, nitrite 0
Monday: ammonia 0, nitrite 0
Tuesday: ammonia 0, nitrite 0 - I should note, by yesterday the glass had a thick film, it normally doesn't get this for a week after a water change, so the early feeding definitely has been processed in to algae food.
Wednesday: ammonia 0, nitrite 0.

I have to go out of town tomorrow and Friday, but I'm not expecting to see any ammonia. I'm still gonna feed tonight and test when I'm home late Friday night. Corals haven't looked any different so I haven't taken any pictures

asylumdown
10-22-2013, 06:21 PM
Just thought I'd update this thread. I ended up breaking this tank down a couple of weeks ago and moved all the corals in to my big tank. There was nothing wrong with it, in fact it was thriving in spite of my neglect, but I'm at a stage in my education where I barely have time to eat every day, let alone take care of two tanks. My big tank is suffering, and rather than weekly water changes, my little tank was getting at best monthly water changes, and at worst bi-monthly water changes. I didn't even have enough time to magnet the glass so it looked like crap more than often than it didn't

I'm keeping all the equipment though so perhaps one day my pico will rise again!

fragbox.ca
10-23-2013, 03:19 AM
: (
it had a good run though!

asylumdown
10-24-2013, 11:01 PM
: (
it had a good run though!

it's sitting in my garage with all the equipment, so I'm sure it will rise again! Part of the problem was that I made it too easy to run - with the modified tunze osmolator I never had to to top it off, and it's 2 gallon top off bucket would last for months. Since I also didn't *have* to feed it, it was really easy to say 'oh, I'll deal with it later'.

It was the most tricked out desktop pico I've ever seen though.

asylumdown
01-06-2014, 05:45 PM
The pico tank lives again!

I couldn't sell it for anywhere close to what I think it's worth, and yesterday I as at Eli's picking some stuff up and he had this wickedly cool, 1 inch long mantis shrimp sitting in a plastic dish that had hitchhiked in on some of his rock. I thought to myself "wow, I've always wanted one of those but never had a tank for one". Then it dawned on me that I did in fact have a tank appropriate for a tiny mantis shrimp, complete and ready to go, requiring zero dollars to set up, sitting in my garage.

Lo and behold, it's back up.

Water quality for the next little bit is going to be tricky as I threw out the the old rock structure (wouldn't have reused it uncured anyway, too much dead stuff on it) so I made a new rock structure out of some of the last of my unused marco rock from when I first set up the big tank. I moved some of the corals that had previously been in the pico that were doing terribly in the big tank because the lights are too bright/white back over and hopefully lots of nitrifying bacteria with them, but I think I'm going to be doing lots of water changes and dosing with Prime for the next couple of weeks.

I'm thinking instead of doing full water changes on the pico for the next couple of weeks, I might just exchange it's water for the water in the big tank. The big tank could process even toxic levels of ammonia in a 4 gallon pico without so much as registering its presence on a test, and I've got the big tank back to low nutrient status so hopefully that won't encourage algae. I got rid of the bin that I stored ready made salt water for the pico when I shut it down, and I think having to do completely separate and dedicated pico water changes was one of the reasons why I fell so far behind on maintenance that I shut it down, so going forward, so long as the big tank stays in this low nutrient state and I keep running carbon to deal with organics that build up between water changes, I might just divert some of the discard water from my big tank water changes and use that for my pico water changes. It will mean that certain trace elements like strontium will likely be depleted in the pico, but I'm only growing a few LPS specimens in it now.

Enough talk, pics!

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/IMG_6439_zps6d286cc8.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/IMG_6439_zps6d286cc8.jpg.html)
http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/IMG_6440_zpsae71e4c4.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/IMG_6440_zpsae71e4c4.jpg.html)
He's too small to tell if he's a spearer or a smasher. In sunlight he's got some really beautiful pink and green to his tail fins and face area, but unfortunately under the light of my Kessil a150 he washes out to a dark brown/black He's dug a tunnel (which makes me think he's a spearer, as I've read smashers usually carve a burrow right out of rock) with a primary opening front and centre of the tank

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/IMG_6443_zpsbabf0e09.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/IMG_6443_zpsbabf0e09.jpg.html)
It's going to take a while before the corals that are in here recover from being in the big tank. The brains are bleached to within an inch of their life (thought this pic makes them look better than they are) and that tiny blast frag was so deep in a shaded overhang it's actually been shrinking.

I'm going to keep it simple with the corals this time and hopefully let the 4 that are in there just get really big. I might transplant a single polyp of one of my zoanthid colonies for good measure.

FishyFishy!
01-06-2014, 05:59 PM
Very cool adam! That will be a neat little home for the little guy.

asylumdown
01-22-2014, 09:58 PM
After getting bleached half to death by my radions, my favourite trachyphyllia is making a comeback. Since iPhones can't take photos of LED lit tanks to save their life, I adjusted this in photoshop with the screen right next to the pico tank so I could be sure I adjusted the levels to make the trachy look exactly as it does in real life in the picture. I'm hoping it doesn't darken too much more under the kessil because it's spectacular now.

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/Trachyphyllia_zpsdb5de1f0.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/Trachyphyllia_zpsdb5de1f0.jpg.html)

and to think, when I got it, it looked like this:

http://i1100.photobucket.com/albums/g411/asylumdown/file_zps137913ec.jpg (http://s1100.photobucket.com/user/asylumdown/media/file_zps137913ec.jpg.html)

Ranchu50
01-24-2014, 09:21 PM
Fun reading your pico thread.

I have a 4 gallon aqueon evolve aio that is sitting in my garage. You might motivate me to set it up!

asylumdown
01-25-2014, 12:50 AM
Fun reading your pico thread.

I have a 4 gallon aqueon evolve aio that is sitting in my garage. You might motivate me to set it up!

Thanks! They're a lot easier to run than I thought they'd be. It's pretty baller. I've got way fewer corals in it this time that I'm feeding the heck out of hoping they get big enough to fill the space in, but they all seem to grow so slowly.