Welcome to MyFishTank.Net!

Have A Question? Join our awesome community today and it's free!

My new tank - step by step account

Discussion in 'Saltwater General Discussion' started by wayne, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Having moved house I'm finally getting round to rebuilding a marine tank. As I don't have much time for maintenance, room in my office (too much freshwater) and money (small children) I'm going to bodge it round a Juwel 110 litre - this is approx 30 US gallons. 80 cms, 35 wide, 45 high (I think). I can document this - are you interested?
    Also, beware, I have patience. I will be surprised if there are any fish in there before March. I am looking to get to 3 or 4 small fish and some low easy inverts.
    Right now I've filled the tank and checked for leaks, and that the electrics work. I am using the lheater and 600 litres per hour juwel pump from the installed filter. I am NOT using the filter material - this will be live rock and sand only for filtration, and the filter will only become a nitrate trap and limit the water flow. I've also added a 400 litre per hour powerhead I had in my 'stuff box' , but I don't think this is enough and wil replace it with one when I go shopping in Britain next week. I will also try to get a T5 retrofit to go in the Juwel Rekord hood. Last night I dumped in a bag of Kent Salt I had knocking around, and am waiting for it to dissolve. I have the pumps and heaters on

    Cost so far in Norwegian Kroner - you will have to convert this yourself, according to your local currency. Remember Norway is EXPENSIVE

    Juwel 110 Kit - 1590 Kroner
    Kent Salt - 12 quid I tihnk in Britain
    TMC Hydrometer - 6 quid
    Rena Powerhead 400 NOK I think
    2 bags oolitic sand - 100 NOK. Enogh for a thin sand bed
    Marine pH kit - 89 NOK

    For ammonia and other products I am going to use my freshwater kits as I think they work in salt as well.

    I guess this can end up as a thread, or a mod can make it into an article?
     


  2. catfishmike

    catfishmike Superstar Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    2,614
    Likes Received:
    0
    i'd love to see this as an article or sticky.pm me and i will lock it as you go if you don't want posts etc....
     
  3. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    I think we might want to keep it open for posts, but trim them at the end..... questions are usually good, but it has to read top to bottom reasonably well
     
  4. OceanNwisconsin

    OceanNwisconsin Small Fish

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    how do you benifit from not using filter material? also when are you going to put live rock in?
     
  5. itchy armpits

    itchy armpits Large Fish

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0
    so the organisms in salt water tanks eat the poo in the substrate, and the nitrates?
     
  6. dbacksrat

    dbacksrat Superstar Fish

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    1,865
    Likes Received:
    0
    what is live rock?
     
  7. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    OK - progress to date. Friday night - check water conditions. Salinity too low, add salt. pH 8 - too low, add a kH buffer to raise alk. Temperature 25 - 26 - a little too high so heater stat down a notch.
    Amuse myself by painting part of carboard box tank came in blue with acrylic paint to make background. Acrylic is cheap, nice and very good for this.
    Later Fri. night all conditions as I want. SG - 1.022 at 24C, pH 8.2.

    Saturday morning conditions still good. Pumps circulating, temp steady. I am patient , but I don't have a lot of spare time for the next month, so time to get some, but not all, of the live rock. Down to my favourite lfs, where I have spent some time looking at his rock. I now spend another hour selecting what comes out as 5 kilos , or 11 pounds of cured rock. This is very good rock , and for now it's all I want to test the tank, so I put it in a bucket, give the man 500 NOK and drive home real fast with it. I take each piece in the tank, and turn it underwater to get air bubbles out. Each piece is now lying on the bottom, live side up. Aquascaping comes later.
    Within a few hours a whole bunch of stuff is appearing. Lots of aiptasia, which can be a pest, but I don't care as I don't really plan yet to keep other cnidarians for a while, serpulid worms, peanut worms, and a red sponge that looks ok. Also valonia bubble algae , and good coralline growths. And best of all , lots of great bacteria for filtration purposes. Later that night I see a couple of pods running around.
    As the above indicates I am basically using cured rock. I got 11 pounds for 500 NOK, about 80 or 90 dollars I guess. Yes, that's expensive for rock in the US, but for here that cheap so I'm pleased. I could have just bought a complete box, but I wouldn't have saved much money, plus I'd have to cure it myself, plus you don't know what you're getting - if I got 15 kilos of base, in bad shapes, I'm a bit screwed - it will all have to go in my tank, and there'll be no room for any good rock. My advise for small tanks ,where there isn't much room is don't buy anything you haven't seen - what do you if you don't like it?
    The only problem with these pieces is that they're quite small, and hard to build good structures round, but I will buy another 5 kilos this week as 2 or 3 large pieces, then stick all these with super glue and milliput to make the vertical, airy structures I want. It is not possible to say, for sure you need 1 pound of rock per gallon ,or 2 or whatever. If you just have a pile of crappy rocks, poor water flow will likely mean you need more than if you make nice airy structures of good porous rock which also allows for good water flow to more of the substrate, which will also become live.

    Sunday. Repeat all tests, inc. ammonia and nitrate. All is good, zero ammonia or nitrite, background nitrate. So dieoff was low, or at least not so high that the remaining life has biologically filtered as I desire. My tank is actually now cycled, as it has a full suite of bacteria, but there's a long way to go will there's any fish in it. All critters filter feeding away.
    I also changed one of the lightbulbs yesterday. Juwel hoods come with 2 NO bulbs, one of approx 4500 K and one of 6500 K. The 6500 K is alright, but the 4500 is a sure way to generate nuisance algae, so I swapped it for a 15000 K NO. I still plan to upgrade, but this hopefully temporary fix will help the coralline at the expense of nuisance algaes.

    Cost this weekend
    500 NOK Live Rock 5 kilos
    150 NOK 15000K Fluor. bulb


    In answer to questions. Live rock is porous reef limestone rubble knocked off by storms, collapse et al, collected by divers and sold to aquarists. It comes with, hopefully , a good, rich , diverse flora and fauna, the majority of which is benficial, and includes all the filter bacteria traditionally created by 'cycling'. If this is new to your research, you need to do a lot of reading yet, and I'm not going to rehash it all here.
    I've pulled all the filter media from the built in internal filter as I don't think it will help me. All it will do is trap material, and biologically compose it to nitrates, but I want that to happen in my live rock. If you don't clean the sponges, particularly the fine particulate mechanical filtering material frequently, like 2 or 3 times a week, it will clog with gunk and form a nitrate trap. Not good. Plus I want to use the pump supplied for as much water flow as I can manage, and any clogging reduces flow. I can still put in bags of carbon or phosphate remover as required. Also I like filter feeders and I don't want to filter their food out.
    I'm surprised noone has commented on my water. Basically I'm very, very lucky and can use tapwater - mine is straight off the mountains, and very pure with almost zero hardness , and no nitrate. Most people are advised to start with RO - start with bad water, and you will get more algae problems. I imagine it does carry some silicate so I'm waiting for diatoms now. My only problem is many salts assume you will start with 'tapwater', so often you need to add trace elements and buffer, as well as adding the salt.
    As yet I also don't have a skimmer runing , but as I don't have much bioload running yet I'm not worried. Shopping next weekend
     
  8. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Another day, another round of tests - all good. Everything ok.
     
  9. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Went to another fish store last night and bought another 6 kilos of cured rock - 1200 NOK (ouch!) Not cheap! Startup costs for live rock tanks are high, but that's how it is. At least they work!
    This rock is in bigger pieces as I need some to help aquascaping. This rock has more life - more serpulids, copepods, some small nerites ('free') and a small bivalve. Within half an hour all these filter feeders were, well, filter feeding. Good.
    Next week aquascaping, then put downt he substrate. Am off to Britain this weekend. I ordered a nasty, noisy Prizm skimmer mail order to be collected from my mums house, and will try to get a T5 retrofit kit, some bi-ionic calcium additives and some invert food as well.

    Costs today 1200 NOK Live rock
    £100 quid w/shipping Prizm (1200NOK)

    Costs to date..... I reckon 4750 NOK. (6 NOK to the dollar?)But getting there... Remember Norway is NOT cheap!
     
  10. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Damn my eyes! Flight cancelled, so waiting for the skimmer in the post.
    Anyway things stable in the tank. So this weekend went to the local art shop and got a coupl of packets of milliput. This is 2 part epoxy clay that hardens when mixed together and will harden underwater, so is a godsend for aquascaping. Covered the floor with newspaper and got all rock out. I then separated it into 2 piles , separated by surface texture. The smaller pile had a smoother surfce texture than the big. The smaller became a pillar type structure, the rougher surfaced became a blocky , open reef in two parts , linked by a semi cave. Both structures are approx 12 - 14 inches high. They are airy, allowing good waterflow all the way through, and don't take up too much 'floor space'. As they are help together with milliput they are not likely to collapse, it's possible to make more ope structures, and if necessary it's possible to lift them out in one piece for netting fish, cleaning or whatever.
    This activity caused a very small ammonia and then nitrate spike but this disappeared in a couple of hours. A day later I put down my substrate, a 1/2 inch or 1 cm or so of oolitic sand. Oolites are little round balls of normally aragonite - if you want to know more, do a google search on them. These are about 2 mm in size I guess.
    The tank is now after 10 days getting a nice brown diatom algae bloom. Also if I look in the tank at night I can see quite a few copepods, and some bristleworms.
    I have started using invertfood as I want to get some organics in the tank to push along the biological development, and I don't feel there's enoguh organic load at the moment, but I don't feel it's been going anything like long enough yet to add any fish.
     
  11. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Things going along as they should. Diatom blom being replaced by green thread algae on tank walls, turf algae deveoping a bit on the live rock. Still diatoms on the substrate. Some of the coralline looking a bit bleached, but no surprises in any of this. No traces ammonia, nitrate, time to start testing nitrate. Will probably spend this weekend trying to find some algae eater locally... plus still need to more pieces of live rock to complete aquascaping
    New creature appeared - a 2 inch diameter brittle star
     
  12. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Added final 2 1/2 kilos live rock and finished aquascaping... no ammonia spike, or nitrite. Total of 13 kilos (13 *2.2 = 28.6pounds) + a nice piece of baserock in there. I'm happy with that - it 'looks' right.
    Diatom now only present substrate, green turf algae elsewhere. Everything looking good. Did not find any algae eaters for sale this weekend - damnit! Only thing I've seen are a few blennies, and I don't want any fish in yet.
     
  13. TommyB

    TommyB Large Fish

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    0
    have you been taking pictures along the way? sounds really interesting.

    can you point me in the direction of a good saltwater begginers website or how to?
     
  14. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    No pictures yet, but might try. Mike Palettas New Marine Aquarium is hard to beat. Most of the websites are at best brief, or a bit old or whatever. For marine startup the web is not the best place to get info unless you like to do a lot of searching. This is just my experience so far, hopefully it'll be useful. At least it might give some idea of how long it takes to get a reasonably priced yet sustainable system going.
    Ooh, and I cleaned the lights yesterday. This needs to be done weekly or you'll suffer more dimming than you'd imagine. Water flow in the tank is causing some surface splashing, so there was salt caking..
     
  15. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Excitement - something live went into the tank - Trochus snails and 2 blue leg hermits to give the 'free' nerites snails a hand with algae duties.
    My diatomaceous brown algae is now largely gone, but I have a bunch of green filamentaceous algae growing on the tank back wall. Nothing too much though. I'm real glad I don't have fish in now else I'm sure algae will be going crazy.
    Tank has now been running 3 weeks. I'm off to Aberdeen the week after next, Spain after that then Houston in March so I can see it being 2 months before any fish go in. Good
     
  16. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    3 more Trochus to help with algae. As is usual the hermits have disappeared , never to be seen again, except at night with a torch.
    Does anyone else here ever use a torch on their tanks - you can get some big surprises!
     
  17. Somonas

    Somonas Superstar Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    2,061
    Likes Received:
    0
    Absolutely. I have only read the first paragraph of your first post and I am already excited to hear the process. I've wanted to start a marine tank for awhile now and this might be the veritable kick in the butt I need.

    Eddited to ask a question.
    Can you explain the difference between cured live rock and uncured live rock?
     
  18. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Easy. Imagine a diver swimming in a back reef collecting reef rubble to become live rock. The rock is collected, put in a boat, goes to shore, goes in a box, goes in a plane, goes to your country and arrives at the dealers. This rock has been shipped without water, and thus a lot of life is now... dead. This is, in this state, uncured rock.
    What needs to be done is that the worst of the dead material is removed and the rock goes into water. Stuff continues to die and rot off, but some, or manythings have survived in either adult or larval states. The water in this 'curing' tank will be pretty nast with high ammonia so it will typically be very heavily skimmed, with frequent large water changes. After a period of time (weeks) all the stuff that has died has rotted off and the rock is clean of dead flesh. The rock is now cured.
    You should never put uncured rock into established tanks - the amount of ammonia from dieoff can cause many, many problems.
    It is a constant debate whether beginners should buy cured or uncured rock. Cured is easier, but you pay for the work the shop does, and it is reliant on how good they are. Uncured is far cheaper, especially by the box, but you have to cure it and I think a lot of beginners underestimate the number of water changes required and generally get it wrong, and kill a lot of biodiversity. Also if the tanks in your bedroom you won't be able to sleep there for several weeks at least.
     
  19. dgodwin

    dgodwin Large Fish

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2002
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just a couple observations:
    I think reefcentral.com is a pretty good place to start on the internet, if you are thinking of doing a marine tank, reef or not. There are a lot of good people on there, as well as a ton of information about starting a tank.

    Also, I'm glad I don't have to pay your prices for live rock.. ouch!
    I've picked up all my live rock, except for one 3 lb piece, second hand. If you keep an eye out on message boards, newspapers, etc. you can usually get a good deal. I saw one today 200lbs of live rock for $100. If I didn't have more than enough rock all ready, I would've stopped by to get it. If you buy it second hand, it's also usually cured rock.

    I hope you'll have someone to keep an eye on the tank while you are gone doing the maintainence, such as cleaning out the skimmer cup, adding fresh makeup water due to evaporation, etc. Also, even though you don't have fish in there, you may need to toss some food in there for the pods and any of the other creatures living in the sand and on the rocks
     
  20. wayne

    wayne Elite Fish

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    4,077
    Likes Received:
    3
    Well I'm back from part one of my travels, and part two is temporarily cancelled. DGodwin - l just have to live with the live rock costs - I actually find hardware (in)availability more of a pain.
    My wife cleaned the skimmer cup while i was away though there probably wan't much in it. This tank is still unstocked with fish remember. Also as it has an almost fully enclosed hood the amount of evaporation is pretty negligible. When I got back 5 days ago I was pretty pleased. Most of my algae has been consumed, and I even have spots of coralline appearing round the outlet of the juwel filter box, about 4 months earlier than i expected. pH was good, nitrate near zero.
    As things looked so good the day after for something to look at I purchased and introduced a boxing shrimp and 2 very small clusters of zoanthids. The zoanthids would prefer stronger lighting than the NO fluors in at the moment, but I have them near the top of my rock so they're only 4 or 5 inches from the tubes. this will keep them going for a while.
    While in Scotland I got myself a T5 retrofit kit which I'm trying to figure out how to get in.... The current tubes ballast and electronics is enclosed in a moulding in the hood I might have to saw off
     
Want To Reply or Ask A Question?
Join our forum today (it's free!) in one easy step! Click Here To Join!





Share This Page

  • About Us

    MyFishTank.Net and the blogs, articles, comments and other features therein are for informational purposes only and provided "as is" without warranties, representations, or guarantees of any kind. Content on MyFishTank.Net should never be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified professional. MyFishTank.Net shall not be liable for the accuracy, usefulness or availability of any content, and you agree to hold MyFishTank.Net harmless from any loss, harm, injury or damage resulting from or arising out of your use of or reliance on any content. The views and opinions expressed in an article or column are the author's own and not necessarily those of MyFishTank.Net.
  • Quick Navigation

  • CHECK THIS OUT!