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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
so I noticed a small leak in the 29 gallon tank; it's getting salt creep on the front glass on the bottom right. I decided to play it safe and go pick up a new 29 gallon tank rather than playing with fire (or water in this case), this one isn't rimless but it was 60 dollars which seems like a decent price to me.

I decided I might as well install a sump and get a better skimmer if I'm doing a major overhaul anyway, so here are some photos of the empty tank along with the new overflow box (eshopps pf-800) I received in the mail yesterday.



now I just have to wait for my new skimmer (reef octopus 110 sss) and return pump to arrive (should be tomorrow) and I'll start switching the tank and plumbing in a 10 gallon tank for a sump. I'll upload plenty of photos as I go.

- sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
so I received the return pump (sicce syncra 3.0) in the mail on friday, but was out of town for the weekend and unable to make any progress on the build.

I went to the LFS today, and picked up a 10 gallon Aqueon tank (15 dollars.. not bad?) along with some aquarium silicone to silicone in a baffle.



The baffle is cut from 1/4 inch thick sheet acrylic, it will keep the water in the right chamber right around 7 inches deep for the skimmer, while the left chamber will be slightly less (around 5 or 6 inches). The skimmer will go in the right chamber and the return pump and most likely a heater (and eventually a float switch for an auto top off) will go in the left chamber.

the right chamber measures roughly 10 3/4 inches by 10 inches. the left chamber measures roughly 8 1/2 inches by 10 inches.

I've read that a glass-acrylic bond is rather difficult to achieve, as the silicone can only form a mechanical bond with the acrylic; the difference in water level on either side of the baffle in this case is going to be small, so I figure there shouldn't be much strain on the purely mechanical bond.



it occurred to me once I finished it would have been smart to take some photos of the process rather than just the result. I suppose a description will have to do unless somebody wants me to go out and take photos of me prepping a scrap piece of acrylic just for educational purposes...:doh:

Essentially I rounded the two corners of the acrylic baffle with 60 grit sandpaper so it would sit flat on the bottom glass rather than 1/4 inch too high, then roughed up all the surfaces on the acrylic baffle that the silicone would be applied to with 60 grit as well.

I cleaned both the acrylic and inside glass with 99 percent isopropanol, and let all surfaces dry out completely.

Then I applied tape like the images show but higher up, and applied the silicone where the acrylic meets the bottom glass on both sides of the baffle.

after that I applied silicone up the side glass until I got to the tape. at this point i removed one piece of tape at a time and re applied it lower down where the silicone had already been applied (not quite touching the silicone), and applied silicone the rest of the way up the glass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
So I more or less figured out the plumbing today.

Here's a photo of the return pump more or less in its final resting place:



A photo of the prepped surfaces of one of the PVC joint immediately before solvent welding:



I found the solvent welding was rather simple, one simply applies the purple primer to the inside of the female fitting, then around the outside of the male fitting, then again inside of the female fitting, before repeating the process with the solvent used for welding. Once this is done you quickly insert the male fitting into the female fitting while rotating it 45 degrees.

After wiping up excess solvent:

 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
A photo of the (nearly) completed plumbing; I just need to figure out a means of fixing a filter sock, and I still need to drill a siphon break (brake?) in the return line.



I used 1 inch piping for the drain, and 3/4 inch piping for the return line (adapted to 1 inch for the ball valve and unions)

Another angle:



I've set it up so the tanks sit how they will relative to each other on the stand in my room after final set up.

doing a mock set up in the garage allows me to more easily cut pipe as I go and will make it much easier to run the set up and test for leaks since the drain and return lines wont be squished against a wall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Close up "behind" the display tank:



and the sump area:



slightly different angle:



As you can see I used 3/4 inch flexible tubing to connect the pump to the rigid PVC; with any luck this will help dampen vibrations and thus noise.

in preliminary testing of the pump it does seem more or less silent but we will see once its all connected and running.

Now I need to wait a few hours for solvent weld joints to cure and then I'll leak test everything.

PS: tracking for the skimmer says to expect delivery this thursday, so with luck I'll have everything ready for final install by the time it comes.

- sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Okay so the system is now leak free.

I had to address a few leaks on the threaded adapters I used to adapt the 3/4 inch piping to the 1 inch unions and the ball joint; I had to tighten the connections quite a lot to stop the leaking (any tips?), but the system has been running in the garage for most of the day now leak free.

I figure if it goes all day without any leaks I'll leave it circulating overnight just to be sure and if all is good in the morning I'll swap this set up with the 29 gallon tank that is currently set up in my bedroom.

protein skimmer just arrived while I was typing the above. will report back with photos. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Just finished taking the old tank down and setting up the new system, following are some photos, please excuse the mess in my bedroom and the electrical to the bottom left of the tank, I still haven't organized all the cables; I promise the electrical hazard will be taken care of.

front shot of the tank:



close up of the sump:



and another full shot with flash:



I was surprised by how much room the 10 gallon tank actually afforded me for setting up separate chambers for the skimmer and return pump; I could have easily ordered the classic 110 INT (the non space saver version with the pump on the side rather than under the reaction chamber) and still had a few inches spare. The pump side of the sump easily has enough room left over for adding an Auto top off set up with room to spare.

The overflow box makes a bit of a gurgling sound but it is quite a bit quieter than the HOB skimmer that was running previously, and the sound of running water is easier to deal with than the sound of the air intake on the previous skimmer.

The new skimmer is extremely quiet, I can only just barely hear it at all if I stick my head into the sump and hold my ear against the skimmer body.

the sicce pump I ordered is quite something, I slightly over estimated the total dynamic head the pump would be pushing against (I estimated 5.8 feet) and I have to throttle it back quite a lot so that the overflow can keep up with it. I assume that the overflow isn't capable of anywhere near the 800 gph that is advertised, I also feel like sicce may be slightly under rating their syncra pumps, or at least this one.

One final note, I like the clear silicone on this tank better than the black silicone on the previous one, small difference I'll admit but something about the look I just really like. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
update for skimmer shot:

I just took the photo, its been about 48 hours since I cleaned the collection cup for the first time (skimmers breaking in :blob:)
it just pulled more (and darker) skimmate in 2 days than the old Bak Pak would in a week. talk about a huge upgrade.

another big difference I notice is that it actually skims after I feed the fish rather than just shutting down for like 4 hours. the Bak Pak effectively just skimmed at night because it didn't have time to build a foam head in between feedings during the day. It also doesn't shut down as readily from me putting my hand in the tank momentarily or blowing off the rocks with a turkey baster, or looking at it the wrong way while the moon draws the wrong angle across Saturn (you get the point. :rolleyes: )

- sean
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
picked this up two days ago:



placed it midway up the water column with some CA glue

polyps came out within maybe 2-3 hours and have been fluttering around in the current ever since. (it seems happy :) )

I've been obsessively checking calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium, as well as PH and specific gravity.

changing filter sock every morning, and running the skimmer relatively wet.

I also installed a Tunze Osmolator and did a bit of an upgrade to my salt water mixing station; updates to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
installed the tunze ATO last night, install was easy enough.

here are some photos:

the controller:



the back up float switch, the optical sensor is the black bit in the foreground.



I decided to use the separate mount for each sensor so that I could place the backup float sensor high enough that it sits just above the water level in the sump with the return pump switched off. This allows me to avoid the warning tone the controller gives when the float switch is triggered, and should help to minimize salt creep since its not touching water in normal operation.

electrical and water connections routed into my closet where the ATO reservoir sits out of view (its just a 4.5 gallon bucket, nothing fancy):



I had to route the ATO water line to the display tank because my ATO reservoir has a higher water level than the sumps return chamber does; this prevents the water from siphoning from the reservoir to the sump when the ATO pump switches off. Its important when doing this to securely anchor the water line from the ATO pump above the water so it doesn't back siphon your display tank into your ATO reservoir.

here's a photo:

 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
on to the salt water mixing station update.

to understand why its an update I should first explain how I was mixing salt water previously; I would siphon 4 gallons out of my RODI storage tank into a bucket, place a small submersible pump, heater, and airstone into the bucket, and then once the water warms up a bit I would weigh out the salt mix and add it to the water, allowing it to mix usually for a few days before checking salinity and storing it.

I was sick of having a bucket in middle of the laundry room floor so I went and picked up another 10 gallon aqueon tank (I have three now... lol) to mix saltwater.



I now can mix slightly more than twice as much salt water at once, while being able to see easily when its clarified. I also don't have to really do any work now; I just plug in the pump that sits in the RODI tank and wait for the adjacent SW tank to fill to the desired level. I then unplug that pump and plug in the 3 way electrical splitter that runs the pump, heater, and airstone in the SW mixing container, wait for the temperature to come up a little and add the salt mix.

super easy, and it really tidies up the laundry room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
had a bit of an algae problem, green hair algae I think?



anyway I went to the LFS and bought 5 snails, they called them turbo snails, but I'm not a snail doctor so don't call me out if that's not what that little guy is.
the guy at the LFS said they may or may not eat the algae and even if they do they will probably just eat a little bit of it, which was fine with me.

here's the same patch of rock 7 days later (today):


So I was pretty surprised but in about 5 days they ate every last visible speck of the green "hair" algae in my tank, and its a heck of a lot easier to siphon out snail poop than pick out tiny tufts of algae.

I'm happy with my purchase. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
also an update on the acro frag from a few posts back:



that's as of today, it may not be clear in the photo but I've had roughly 5 mm of growth on the tips, and I have quite a few new polyps forming, its interesting watching how it grows.

it is also a lot less brown than when I bought it, when I first purchased it it was basically brown with a green tinge under the moonlighting, now its lightened up considerably and is showing green, purple, and blue hues both during the day and (especially) dusk and dawn under the actinic LEDS, I couldn't be happier with the purchase, I believe it was 20 dollars and its about a 2 inch frag that is starting to show some really nice colour.

its nearly encrusted over the CA glue and onto the rock its glued to:


I also added this small colony a few days ago:


I apologize for the odd colour, the rock it sits on isn't quite that yellow/green IRL
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
A bit of an update:
I haven't updated this thread in a while; I had an issue with my salinity due to a refractometer falling out of calibration, at the same time I was feeding blender mush which had a bit too much salmon in it, which drastically reduced my skimmers performance.

Over the course of a few weeks my nitrate concentration rose to approximately 40 ppm (due to the skimmer not producing skimmate). I was still performing water changes, but I assumed my nitrates were low since I had never seen a result for nitrate on this tank besides initial set up.

Eventually after going crazy trying to find the source of my problem (salinity had been corrected at this point) I decided I might as well double check the nitrate level and got a dark orange that was nearly red on the API test kit (not good).
So at the same time my salinity was all out of wack due to my own negligence (not buying calibration fluid), and I had excessive nutrients building up all the while.

the combination of the salinity swings and having significant excess nutrients killed off nearly all of my corals (save 1 Seriatopora Hyacinth which has recovered nicely since)
lesson(s) learned: Never assume you know what your test results will be.
Never assume anything is calibrated properly.

Here are some updated photos: (please click on thumbnails for higher resolution, the photos look much better)

unknown Acropora species:


another:


I think some sort of montipora, possibly digitata or something:


it looks like an acropora frag thats fully encrusted over the plug and has sent out a digit, but the digit is devoid of a terminal polyp which suggests to me its not an acropora, the greenish hue is all new growth since I added it to the tank roughly a month ago.

Some sort of monti (?) looking for an ID:


two frags of that acro from the first photo:


A third frag from the acro in the first photo:
 
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