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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please place your entries in this post, they will be judged, and posted approved/disapproved.

Contest: Article
Range of Contest: Personal Experience, Research, DIY, Humor, Reefiction, Tips/Tricks/Techniques, Basically its open to everything (within reason of course)
Tickets for Entry: Each Qualified entry will receive a ticket. To qualify, 3 out of 4 judges must approve the article.
Rules:
1. All must be origional Content.
2. All must be posted in the same post, Which will be labled "Contest Entries"
3. All entries must be submitted by 1/1/01
4. The winner must be willing to keep us informed as to the transaction between Gerald (ISPF) and themselfs (good product, Good Customer Service, ECT.....)
5. The winner will be picked at random from the tickets entered. Tickets and users are different. If you have some good information, and more than one article (as FD pointed out) you can submit them, and get credit for each article.
6. All flames/Offensive material will automatically disqualify the user. YES THE USER, NOT THE POST, PLEASE REMEMBER This is a no flame family board.
7. This contest is limited to US residents only, unless you are willing to take the shiping costs/hassles for whereever you live. **** (The package must be shipped to a US mainland address by Fedex)
8. This contest is OPEN to Everyone! Admin/Moderator/Reefer alike.
9. Prize is the 9for99 at ISPF, Picking your livestock and shipping to be arranged by Gerald at ISPF!


Happy Reefing
Steven

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To Keep a Reef is more than a Hobby, its a way of living, Especially for your tank inhabitants!
My Home Page
Knowledge is power, are you powerful, or powerless???

[This message has been edited by SJLord (edited 11-26-2000).]
 

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this will be my first post in "the reef tank" so I might as well make it a good one it will fall under the catagories tips& sad humor.

I set up my tank about 2 months ago. my tank is 70 gallons. I used all of the water from my 25gal and my 2 fish(blue damsel & lawnmower blenny). I always wanted to get a jawfish, but I have never seen one before. then when I went to the pet store they just got in about 10, so I got one. After I aclimated the jawfish (casper) he went strait into the substrate. He dug an awsome looking hole and he surrounded it with empty hermit shells. At night he would bring a rock over the top of it like a door and he would sleep there all night. the next morning Casper ate some formula 1 verry eagerly. I was so happy! He ate at every feeding and he seemed very happy. I celebrated on the third night by watching Caddy Shack (very funny movie). then the nexy morning my brother woke my up and told my that casper jumped out of the tank. I said no he didn't because I didn't want to belive him, but then he brought poor dried up casper down the stairs to show me. I was so sad I was fixing to cry. See, I have a tunze protine skimmer (best skimmer that I have ever seen) and it goes in the tank. It sticks up out of the top so there is a little space where he could have jumped out. That is not the first time I have had someone jump out. my snowflake eel somehow got out of my eclips 25. I picked up the eel and set him in the water and he pretended like nothing happened. I got rid of the eel because he ate one leg off of my sally lightfoot every day untin he had no legs and died. Any way, back to the jawfish, I plan on getting another one as soon as I get a sump and a hood, that will be in a couple of weeks. The fish I know that jump out are: wormfish (firefish, bargobies, ext...), jawfish, octopuses, eels, bamboo sharks. I can't think of any more right now, but I am sure that there are liot more. In conslusion, never keep any over these fish without a proper tight fitting lid or hood.


Well, that was not mutch of an arctical but I thing that it is at least worth a half of a ticket.

scencerily,
Jake Rome, emoR ekaJ backwards
 

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Leapin' Wrasses!

Reading the first contest entry reminded me of an experience I had in the late 80s. We had a 30 gallon FO setup, with a 20 gallon sump on a metal stand, the sump was directly below the display tank, and the stand was open, that is to say you could see the sump.

We had several great fish, including a Yellow Coris Wrasse. We loved how he buried himself in the substrate at night, and he had personality galore.

One day the wrasse went missing. Knowing that wrasses can be "jumpers", and after stirring up all the substrate wondering if he was just "sleeping in", we conceded that this fish must have had a skydiving accident, and that our cat must have disposed of the body. We mourned, and life went on...

About six months later, my husband was adjusting the return pump in the sump, and from behind the rack of bio-blocks, what should appear but our Yellow Coris Wrasse! We couldn't believe that for all this time, he was there, in the sump, that only ever had about 4-6" of water in it! But sure enough, there he was, fat and happy, and my husband scooped him up and returned him to the main tank, where he lived happily ever after.

Respectfully submitted as a contest entry,



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JennM

Our Evolving Tank
http://home.earthlink.net/~grashoppr
 

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"I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead."

----H. David Thoreau; "Walden"

No words could better express my personal opinion on the reef hobby and more directly the message boards associated with it. The vast amount of information and knowledge contained in these boards can be a lifeline to both the hobbyist and the animals themselves. They offer a place for the individual to seek wisdom and ultimately self-discovery. My tanks have taught me much more than mere biology, they have taught me about life.

When I first got into this hobby I lived by the trial and error methodology, but time soon showed that failure was one aspect that I was succeeding at. What did I do to change this? I started reading, reading everything about reef tanks I could find. This basic concept had implications beyond my understanding at the time. It taught me that knowledge truly is power. From the readings in the books, to the post on message boards, I begin to fine-tune my ecosystems. I took the destiny of my tanks into my own hands. I learned that research is far more rewarding than second hand knowledge. Those discoveries are trickling over to other parts of my life. I have developed patience with issues that I never before could contend with.

When one first starts out in this hobby they are most certainly going to be overwhelmed by information. Just as anything in life, everything is a matter of perspective. That is why I like the quote above so well. I do not want someone to try and duplicate any of my tanks. One must gather all the information for themselves than choose their own path. The boards are here to teach, not instruct.

Staceon



[This message has been edited by Staceon (edited 11-24-2000).]
 

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My article deals with the results of a little "experiment" i did. I took a piece of live rock (6 cubic inches) and a plug (one of the ones garf sells)(3 cubic inches) I took both of them out of my tank after they had been in the tank for about 8 months after sitting dry for several weeks. Anyway i took them out of the tank this evening and took a hammer to both of them. both had a good bit of coraline encrustation. The live rock was very dense and not very pourus. It took quite a bit of effort to break it up. Inside it i found numorus worms of different varieties. Bristle worms, tube worms, segmented worms, etc. Also found several other interesting creatures that defy discription. Next i took the hammer to the plug. It was extremely pourus and broke easily. INside it i didn't find anything. No worms at all. This was make with aragonite, cement and bits of plastic. It may be that the reason for not finding any life in it is the high internal Ph of cement. Both had aproximatly equal amounts of life on the outside but very different on the inside. It just goes to show you the diversity of life in your live rock. Perhaps i should also mention that this was not high quality live rock. This was rock out of the bottom of the dealers base rock tank.

Jon

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Nothing dissolves money faster than saltwater.
 

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Why to test your water!

I have a thirty gallon of the age of 5 months old. When I first started, I thought, hey, I am going to test the water every day so I will know when the nitrogen cycles over! That lasted for a week.
When the cycle finished, I went crazy! I bought 3 fish at a time, and at one time had 9 fish. Small gobies, but still nine fish! I wouldn't test my water, because I had two hoods on top of the tank, and they were too heavy and hard to lift up. so I slowy let my tank go downhill.
I woke up one morning and my bicolor blenny was dead, and my rayee goby had jumped out of the tank, probably because of the stress. I didn't even do a single test, blaming my fishes death because a mean domino damsel in the tank, that I took back the next day.
Two days later, I come back and find 1 engineer goby dead, the other on the floor, almost dead. The one on the floor died 3 hours later. Then that night my last engineer goby died. That was 5 fish! I was very confused, but didn't want to 'waste my time' doing water tests, so I blamed it on my percula clowns.
Next day, the clowns are dead. I scoop them out, and my mom convinces me to do some water tests. I do them, and the ammonia is whoa! 0.60! I do a large water change, and everything is fine.
It proves that you should always keep up with your ever growing tank....and it's problems.
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The surviors included various corals, a bar goby, a common firefish and a watchman goby. Two purple firefish and 2 catalina gobies were introduced at other times, but they died recently. I also have a cinnomin clown and his large 1 foot anemone.

QUESTION: What does 9 for 99 mean?

[This message has been edited by Baby Kay (edited 11-24-2000).]
 

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The Conspiracy

So I come home from work one day and my wife, Marylu', had gone to Walmart and bought gravel, some gaudy sunken ship
decorations and some plastic plants, and asks me to clean out the 10 gallon platty tank and replace the contents with the new items. You see the tank is my middle girl's and she has been away at college so it had gotten kind of green. Not being one to disobey a direct order I embarked on the cleaning and redecoration process and I have to admit when I was finished, the tank
looked pretty good. My wife then commented that she wouldn't mind having a 10 gallon salt water tank to place on the other bookcase....wush...the line was cast.

Not being one who likes 10 gallon tanks I replied to her, "oh, you can't do salt in a 10 gallon, it has to be bigger". Now honestly belived that statement to be true at that time, never having done salt water before. To my surprise my wife replied "but where would we put it?". What! My suggestion of a bigger tank wasn't dismissed?....hook set!

I figured I was on a roll so I got out a tape measure and started measuring around everywhere looking for a place to put it. You see one problem we have is that our house in New Hampshire is 233 years old and there aren't many places that are level enough or strong enough for a big tank. It turned out that the only place available for a tank was in the living room, the spot
was between two windows and was about 38 inches.. Hmm, time to do some research and see what I could get in that footprint...I let out some line.

A hurried search of the internet revealed tanks in the 36x18" footprint but I had no idea what size to buy. I then found #reefs and The Beginners Reefkeeping Message Board and asked a bunch of questions but that is a story all by itself. Suffice it to say that I decided on a 65 gallon AGA with corner overflow. I now had to convince my wife that the 65 was the way to go since she had picked a corner spot in the living room for a tank...and I didn't want a corner tank. As luck would have it we
have a reef store in Nashua New Hampshire called Inland Reef Aquaria, and it is around the corner from where my wife works. I had been in there the day previous and they have a great selection of inverts and fish. This day my wife and I rode into work together and I had to pick her up at the end of the day so I did and swung by the reef store....reeling

We went inside and the first tank you see is the owner's display tank, it is beautiful and housed amoung other things a bubble tipped anemone and a pair of skunk clowns. The clowns were very busy with the anemone swimming in and out of it and just loving the heck out of the bubble tip. That was it, my wife asked if we could keep them in our tank and I of course replied yes...reeling.

I still had the problem of the corner tank though and I offered a trade, I committed to sanding and refinishing
the floor in the living room in exchange for the 65 gallon tank, we struck a deal!...landed


I hope you all take the above tongue n' cheek, my wife and I have been married 28 years and have kept freshwater aquariums on and off throughout most of them. What I wont deny about what I've written is the fact that I did have to help her come to the conclusion that she wanted a salt water tank...call it a conspiracy if you like.

by Bill Esposito

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Bill Esposito
[email protected]
JAqua for the AquaController 2
http//cereal.mv.com/jaqua.html
My Reef Page
http//cereal.mv.com/reef
The box said "Use Win 95 or better", I chose better so I run OS/2!
 

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My experience with the anemone... By Aquaman

I first got interested in keeping anemones when my father-in-law purchased a Carpet Anemone for his 125 FOWLR. Now his tank consisted of TBSW LR, a 150gal wet/dry with BIO-bail and a LG 3md pump running half speed, and 3 NO lights "over a year old". His fish were several damsels,a 6" lunar wrasse,a 6" niger trigger, and a couple of clowns. I admit I didn't know anywhere near the amount of reef knowledge as I have now, BUT I thought cool! and trotted of to the LFS and got one myself. Ha, I thought. I have more water flow than him, more lights than him, I dose additives each week and my rock looks better! and I test all my parameters each week! No problem right!. Killed it within a two months. Found out my PH was a little low but my ALK had taken a dive to the 1.0 range! Definitly not good.

Now my 55 reef was only 8 months old and I was constantly upgrading this and that, changing lights, pumps, even switched stands which required the tank to be emptied. After the 55gal passed that magical first year mark, things started to settle in and I had all the changes done that I wanted. I started to purchase corals for the tank as my knowledge grew leaps and bounds.

My father-in-laws tank looked worse and worse, So my ever fathful wife convinced her DAD to let me have the carpet anemone, Which had shrunk from its origional 12 to 14 some inches long to about 6 or 7.

The carpet settled right down in the front of my 55reef where there was the most room and enjoyed the glow of 2 175watt 10K MH lights and 2 atinic Blue VHO's as well as received the current from 3 maxijet 750's and 1 Rio 600 powerhead. My sand is a fine grade mix of argonite and FLa LS and I had a large population of copopods and other night crawling creatures. I feed the little monster a mix of fresh squid,shrimp and LFS bought "silversides" each week.

The carpet seemed to enjoy the light and as I read and learned more I began to feed more and more often, until I was doing small feedings once to twice a day. He began his growth from about 7 to around 8 to 10 inches within a six month period. I kept a close eye on all my parameters, with him and my corals I didn't want a repeat of the last epasode! I knew if it did I would never hear the end of it from "DAD" nor my wife! "the ultimate critic"

I found that not all clowns that are suposed to host with the carpet will. I lost a female 4" T purcula clown to the monster, and over the next six months lost a Sailfin tang, Regal tang, Kole tang.

After a year and a half my wife agreed to let me have a larger tank, Thanks in part to a rather dedicated reefer and well respected LFS employee. It was his old tank I bought. I moved my 55gal reef to my "NEW" 125gal custom tank 60x24x22 drilled in the back, Complete with sump and ETS style "home made skimmer, pumps lights the works. I was very hesitant to move the monster over to the new tank but as I had no other tank with the "RIGHT" equipment IN he went.

Monster Doesn't like large Fla crushed coral! but did settle against my rock and is happy! I even found a pair of saddle back clowns that have taken to him like a duck to a pond. after 1 year in my care he has grown back to almost his origional size and seems very healthy happy and "Hungry". It is a joy to watch the interaction between the clowns and the anemone.
After several months in the 125 gal reef I moved him into his own 25 gal tank which was upgraded a month ago to a 45gal tank. In this past year I have also added two other Haddoni carpets, One from another reefer in the Central FL area and the other was returned to a LFS I worked at part time, It was returned for consuming a yellow tang.

The origional carpet has been in my care almost 3 full years and the second anemone almost 1 year now. I know that these guys have life span has been reported to be over 100+ years, But with all three anemones now thriving and growing in their own tank I believe I may have a good chance at breeding these carpets within the next year or so. I will keep spending whatever I need to make them continue to grow.



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www.magicnet.net/~jwhite/aquamans.html

You may be capable of great things,
But life consists of small things.
 

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Natural Wave wavemaker strip

By
Bill Esposito

This review will be brief, as there is not much to say about the "NaturalWave" wave timer by Aquarium Systems except that it works as advertised. The Natural Wave is a six-outlet strip, with 3 outlets functioning as normal outlets, and the other 3 on a timer. There s nothing fancy about it. The three timed outlets have a fixed pattern, the repetitive frequency of the pattern being adjustable. Outlet one and two are on opposed timing and outlet three spans the entire cycle as described below:

O1 ..ON ...OFF ..ON ..OFF

O2 ..OFF ..ON ...OFF .ON

O3 ..OFF ..OFF ..ON ..ON

The duration of the cycle is adjustable from 20 seconds to 3 minutes for outlets one and two which result in outlet three being from 40 seconds to 6 minutes.

I have found the pattern to be satisfactory for what I want to do, which is to simply provide alternating current. Those who are more demanding should look elsewhere.

On the technical side each outlet can handle up to 100 watts which should be enough for almost all pumps. The Natural Wave does not have "soft start", a feature which would prevent some pumps from chattering upon sartup. Since Maxi Jet pumps
don t seem to require this feature, they are the recommended pumps for use with the Natural Wave. They are also distributed by Aquarium Systems...how convenient. I ve talked to folks who have used Hagen and the like without problems and after all, even some of the most expensive controllers don t have a soft start feature.

That being said, if you don t want to spend a fortune for a wavemaker and can get along with the fixed pattern, then the Natural Wave along with it s $60 price tag is a good investment.


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Bill Esposito
[email protected]
JAqua for the AquaController 2
http//cereal.mv.com/jaqua.html
My Reef Page
http//cereal.mv.com/reef
The box said "Use Win 95 or better", I chose better so I run OS/2!
 

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PinPoint pH Monitor
By
Bill Esposito

So what color of purple is this? Is it the purple that means a pH of 8.1 or is it the purple that means 8.4? I was getting tired of always guessing which purple it was, unclogging the nozzle of the reagent, and being told every time I had my water tested at the LFS they that my pH was low, when I thought it was high. Finally I brought my test kit (Red Sea) to the LFS and compared it against their kit, as well as their pH probe. You guessed it, mine was off, and even if it wasn t the color changes were difficult to read. So I had a choice, spend another $20 on a good test kit, a cost which would have to be spent again when the kit was empty, or spend $90 on an accurate electronic one. I opted to buy the PinPoint pH meter by American Marine.

Unpacking the box I found that you get the meter, a probe, and some alibration fluid, enough for one calibration. I hurriedly read the instructions, inserted the 9v battery (not included), and began calibrating my unit. By the way you can also buy a 9v adapter for about 9 bucks but I decided on the battery because I know of at least one person who was getting inaccurate readings using the adapter. I had it calibrated in no time but then realized that one has to adjust the pH figure you are calibrating to by the temperature of the fluid. Hmm, the temperature was 68F so it wasn t 7.0 I should be shooting for; it was something like 7.15. The same problem with the high pH, 10, was something higher like 10.05. Being that I bought this probe for accuracy I had to recalibrate it, which took a few more minutes. One thing the instructions are silent about is how often you should recalibrate.

Once calibrated it was a simple task to put a piece of self-stick Velcro on the back of the meter and attach the meter to the outside of my tank by the corner overflow. The instructions clearly state that the meter is not waterproof so be sure to place or mount it in a dry spot, not on the hood where it can fall into the tank. I didn t actually measure it but there appears to be at least 6 feet of wire for the probe, so finding a suitable location should not be too difficult. I placed the probe horizontally in my sump. I did this purposely because the Pinpoint instructions warn you about keeping the probe tip clear of air bubbles,and in my sump, there are plenty of bubbles. I figured that the bubbles would not collect on the tip if mounted this way. Also be sure that the probe is accessible since you should clean the probe tip every two weeks with a toothbrush to maintain proper operation.

The LFS was correct, my pH in the morning before lights on is 8.1, it jumps to about 8.30 after I add the b-ionic, and climbs to 8.45 by day s end. My next project is to construct a DIY a Nilsen Kalkwasser reactor, which should steady the pH swing.

Was it a worthwhile investment? Most definitely! There comes with it some peace of mind knowing that I can accurately determine my pH at a glance. Very important I think, since pH can tell you a lot about how and what your tank is doing.


[This message has been edited by bill-e (edited 12-08-2000).]
 
G

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here are lots of cute things in reef tanks
that can cause all manner of reactions. The obvious one
are fish that bite,slice,or stab(venomous or not).
Anemones and some corals have nemacysts or other
stinging mechanisms that may cause allergic reactions.
Lots of the mushrooms and star polyps actually secrete
toxins, some quite serious. Then there are the inverts
that have venomous spines such as some urchins. Cone
snails may hitchhike on live rock(rarely) and are quite
deadly, as are bluering octopods. Fire worms can inflict
nasty stings, and on and on.
Your tank can harbor some bacteria that can give you a
bad time whether its an infected cut or diarrhea from
suck starting a siphon. These are fairly common annoying
problems and there is the rare cases of serious systemic
infections that are a real pain to diagnose and treat.
In the health care field we are required to observe
Universal Precautions that lessen exposure to
blood-borne Pathogens that can cause nasties like
Hepatitis, HIV,etc.
Given I all that I would like to submit:
Universal Reef Precautions
Wash hands thoroughly before and after putting them in
the tank. Wear gloves or use tongs if at all possible.
Avoid sucking on siphon hoses to start them, if you get
tank water in your mouth Rince really well with an
antiseptic mouthwash, repeatedly. Dont start hose from
kalwasser container this way, the pH is around 12 and it
can cause NASTY burns. If you do it any way and get a
mouth ful spit it out immediatly and rinse,rinse,rinse.
Dilute vinegar rinse may be good idea but not full
strength as it will burn also.
Avoid getting SW in your eyes, it stings and infection
possibility exists as is the possibility of water borne
irratants(free floating nemacysts or toxins)
Be aware of the obvious danger involved with keeping
risky animals and know first aid for exposure. Assume
that everything in there is capable of causing you greif
and limit handling your corals and such. You'll all be
happier.
And last and most important if you are working in your
tank and notice any reaction do seek medical advice,
better safe than sorry. Some problems, like wierd
infections, can show up much later so be sure to mention
your exposure to the doctor, they wont know what to
look for unless you tell them.
Other than that enjoy your reefs


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I thought I was me, but we were wrong
email: [email protected]
 

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Article Entry #1

There are only very few instances when a "reef" tank smaller then a 5 gallon should be tried. One of these is to house a small, potentually dangerous reef creature that has hitch-hiked it's way into your tank by accident. The other is when a scarlet hermit crab has gone completely insane and is whacking snails right and left, cleaving a path of destrustion the likes few (me) have ever seen.

Instance #2 was, unfortunately, exactly what happened to me. Because I am one of those oft strange and scary types that happen to like creepy things such as crabs and mantises the "buried at sea" option just didn't sit well. After all, I did purchase the snail-butchering little creep... so I felt mildy responsible for his blood-sucking anti-social little self.

Anyhow, I decided to set up one of those acrylic two gallon hexigon tanks for him... and it actually worked out pretty well. Being aware, of course, that any patently evil crustacian like a ruthless rock crab, horrid hermit crab, or malicous mantis are neigh well involnerable and thus can tolerate insane conditions such as being submerged in pure carbonated water or subjected to insanely high temperatures via blow-torch. More delicate creatures such as fish, corals, and anemones are NOT candidates for such a small tank, so be forewarned.

However, for those faced with the prospect of housing a homicidal hermit, cantankerous crab, or maniac mantis it's worth a shot.... here's what I did:

I had a 2 gallon hex sitting around, which I cleaned out really well. I then went and used some sand from my main tank, and made a mini sand bed 2 1/2 inches thick. I put one small, nice-looking piece of live rock in the tank (after all, let's face it, horrible hermits, ravinous rock crabs, and/or mad mantises aren't generally all that nice looking, so a nice looking piece of LR is absolutely maditory) and some razor macroa algae for added filtration. I also added some spotted/striped marine shells for a nice effect.

I used a mini-might I have laying around for lighting, and just used that for heating...no heater at all. My house stays pretty warm, the water was 82F when the light was one and dropped to 76F degrees over the night. I kept the plastic lid over the tank to cut back on evaporation, and used an airstone and airpump to move the water around. I did 20% water changes once a week, using water from my main tank.

This setup actually worked out pretty well, I kept a few mushrooms in it along with that horrid hermit just fine. This tank was up for several months without incident, though I did finally tear it down, because I was too lazy to try and keep up with the coraline growing all over the glass. For something so hardy as a malivolent mantis, henious hermit, or crotchety crab, this is -in my opinion- a workable alternative to a short swim in the septic system.

Raszagil
 

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A funny thing happened on the way to the.....

Many years back when I set-up my first salt tank I was clueless like most everone else in the beginning. I knew I needed a deep crushed coral bed and good filtration etc but that was about it. I bought 40 lbs of crushed coral about a month before I had set up the tank. I spread it out in a rubbermaid container roughly the same size as my tank to see how deep it would be. I was happy with it and just put the container in a closet and covered it with a towel to keep out the dust. When I set up the tank, I mixed the water adjusted the salinity, and added the coral. That night I noticed a terrible smell comming from the tank. I tested the water and all of the tests were off the scale. I had the water tested at the LFS. They said my tank was higher in ammonia than any they had ever seen or heard of. As it turns out, my cat was urinating in the crushed coral. I threw out all the coral and started fresh. The tank went on to be a nice stable project after the innitial fiasco. Unfortunatly my wife made me keep the cat.
 

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MRIGUY,
I have no words for this one!!!!

Di*k
 

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About 7 months ago I decided to make the change from fresh water to salt water. I got an 80 gallon tank setup and cycled with a little clown fish. Finally it was time to start getting some more exotic fish. I decided on a gorgeous orchid dottyback. If you've ever seen one then you'd know why its name is Ru'Paul. With a neon purple body and black lines across its eyes. But this was no ordinary fish. It couldn't be caught. first it hid in samll crevices in the rock work. Once the salesman got smart enough to take all the rocks out, it hid inside the filter system of the tank. To make a long story short it took three days before Ru'Paul was caught.

Since then I've added some large tangs and clown fish and also got a small 2" lionfish named Harold (you don't wana know). Now only 5 months later he's 5" long. I dindn't want Ru'Paul or the little clown to get eaten so I decided to make my 80 gallon a fish only tank and setup a 10 gallon reef for Ru'Paul, the clown and some corals.

I knew the biggest challenge here was simply catching Ru'Paul. I tried a few different ways for about an hour and decided I was going to have to take all the rock work out. This was about a hundred pounds of rocks. Finally I got all the rocks out, I looked around wondering if Ru'Paul could have been hiding in one of the rocks I had taken out. but then I saw him in the back corner, half his body in Harold's mouth. I quickly waved my hand by Harold, he spit out Ru'Paul and darted to the other side of the tank. I grabbed a net and put Ru'Paul in the 10 gallon.

All I can say is, cross dressers sure are dramatic.
 

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Reef-Filler Top-Off Pump
By
Bill Esposito

The one chore I dislike more than water changes is the constant top off of evaporation water. My routine is to make about 7 gallons of DI water a week - no, actually 9 gallons a week because no mater how hard I try, I always forget I'm making water and at least 2 gallons overflow. I only did that a few times before I began filling the container in the tub. I am also planning on dosing kalkwasser and there is no way I want to make daily batches of that. My job requires that I travel a lot so although my wife never complained, I wanted to make things easier for her when I was away. So to that end, I decided to buy a top-off system. I was undecided as to which one to purchase, the Reef-Filler or the Litermeter. Since noise wasn't a concern, and because the Reef-Filler was around $70 cheaper, I decided on the Reef-Filler.

When you open the box and unpack the pump, you also will find some 3/8" I.D. poly tubing , vinyl tubing, and all the fittings to connect the input and output. Unless you're installing the Reef-Filler right next to your tank the included tubing is of no use because there isn't much of it. For my installation I went to Home Depot and bought 50 feet of the semi-rigid milky white poly tubing for 14 cents a foot. Again the size is 3/8" ID and ½" OD. You could also use the more flexible vinyl tubing although it is more expensive and might kink on you if you are taking a circuitous route to your tank.

Installation was straight forward. I mounted the pump on a shelf in a closet in my laundry room. The pump comes with about a 10 foot long power cord but I still had to go to Walmart and pick up a 15 foot extension. While I was there I also paid 6 bucks for a 35 gallon plastic trash can to be used as the reservoir. For water source, I tapped into a cold water pipe using a $5 valve kit I purchased from True Value hardware. This kit is designed to clamp onto a water pipe and then pierce the pipe. A 5 minute installation which will provide you with a spigot for a ¼" plastic hose. I attached this hose to the input of my first Tap Water Purifier and attached the output of the second TWP to a hose which drains into the trash can. To overcome my problem of forgetting that I'm making water, I planned to use a simple float valve to turn off the TWP when the can was full. Well, that doesn't work because the TWP units are not made to hold pressure. If you close the output of the TWP in a matter of seconds enough pressure will build up to not only cause the TWP to leak water, but is causes the release of the resin crystals into the output as soon as you release the pressure. So in order to make this work, I will have to find a float valve with both input and output fittings so I can run the input t the TWP through the valve. If you know of such a valve, send me an email at [email protected]

Ok, so I've mounted the pump, the input water and the reservoir in the closet and now have to run the tubing to the tank. That was easy but I had to drill a hole in the hardwood floor behind the tank (still haven't told my wife about that one) which was awkward because of the limited space. I created an elbow in the poly tubing by using two 90 degree 3/8" couplers I also purchased at True Value. So, installation is finished.

The next step after filling the reservoir was to start the pump. The instructions say that it is self priming but mine would not suck up any water until I removed the output tubing and poured a little water into the diaphragm valve area. After doing that it began to pump. The Reef-Filler is rated for 0 to 3 gallons a day and I knew that I was evaporating about a gallon to a gallon and a half a day so I initially adjusted it to 40% stroke. Oh yea, the adjustment know is labeled in percent of stroke. I assumed 0% being 0 gallons and 100% being 3 gallons. 40% was way too much and I readjusted it to 10% and believe it or not, on the second try I matched my evaporation rate. The one drawback to this type of top off system is that if you are in a climate where it's dry one day and humid the next, the amount of makeup water is going to be off. I live in New Hampshire and this should not be a problem from September to March but will and has already proven to be a minor problem for the other months. I think I will save up and buy a good electronic float switch and set it up so that I don't overfill my sump. By the way, the Litermeter already comes with one so the price difference is negated by that fact. Also the Reef-Filler is noisy and can be heard even with the closet doors closed. It sounds like an electric can opener, but not as loud. Because of the noise and the included float switch, the Litermeter may be a better purchase for those who don't have a long run from the pump to their tank. Remember that the Reef-Filler can pump water 200 feet, the Litermeter cannot.

All in all I'm satisfied with my purchase of the Reef-Filler and can recommend it to those not concerned by it's noisy operation.

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Bill Esposito
[email protected]
JAqua for the AquaController 2
http//cereal.mv.com/jaqua.html
My Reef Page
http//cereal.mv.com/reef
The box said "Use Win 95 or better", I chose better so I run OS/2!
 

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Auto-Pilot Reef
by
Bill Esposito


Hmm, what to write about? Here I sit on a plane going cross-country. I already saw the movie because I was sitting exactly here last week. I'm on my way to San Diego on business for the second time in two weeks and that means that I will have to visit some of the local fish stores. Meanwhile my wife, home in cold New Hampshire, is taking care of my reef and I'm worrying about it. Not that I really have much to worry about but I don't usually leave it two weeks in a row, although I do leave it at least one week a month. I guess that will be the topic of this little ditty then, "How to leave your reef on auto-pilot for short periods of time."

When I first set up my reef everything had to be maintained manually and it was quite a task for my wife, who herself had to go to work. Although she did a great job, I felt guilty leaving her so often with that responsibility. So what did she have to do? Well, the evaporation rate was about a gallon a day so she needed to replace that with DI water. Then there was the b-ionic, a two-part calcium supplement, checking the tank for and righting turned over snails, feeding, monitoring the temperature, etc. Now it was obvious that I couldn't automate everything, but I wanted to make things easier on her.

The first task was the b-ionic, measuring and dosing daily was a pain, even for me, but how could I make that easier. My solution was simple. I bought some 3 ounce plastic Dixie Cups, I labeled five with a "1" and five with a "2". I only labeled five because Im usually not gone longer than that. I also bought some of those Glad disposable Tupperware-like containers. Sitting here on the plane I cant tell you the exact size of the container but they are as deep as the 3 oz Dixie Cup is tall. Anyway I then measured each part into it's respective cup, then placed the cups in the container and snapped closed the lid, which pressed firmly in the cups holding them in place. Now all that was needed was to open the container each morning, take one of each kind of cup, and pour it into the sump. Much easier when you still have sleep in your eyes and you're rushing out to work.

The next thing I did was to automate the top-off. I decided on the Reef-Filler top-off pump. You can read a review of that pump in another article at http://cereal.mv.com/reeffiller.html. In summary, what I did was as follows: I commandeered about a 20" wide piece of the closet in my laundry room. I then mounted my two Tap Water Purifier (TWP) cartridges on the top shelf. I tapped into the 1/2" cold water pipe with one of those brass self taping valves and used it to feed the TWP. The output of the TWPs is fed to a 35 gallon trash can that I use for a DI reservoir. Also mounted on the top shelf is my Reef-Filler pump which draws water from the trash can and pushes it about 50 feet to the sump of my tank. With the Reef-Filler you adjust the pumping rate to match your evaporation rate so there is no level switch involved. It does require weekly checking of the sump level to assure that things are on track.

With the two biggest chores taken care of, heres a few tips to make your time away uneventful.
  • Feed all your coral a day before you leave.
  • Cut your fish feedings in half. That way if/when your reef-sitter overfeeds, its not as bad.
    Consider packaging your food for the sitter. My fish get fed as if I was still home. I use a ice cube tray from one of those "dorm" refrigerators. It makes cubes about 1/2" square. What I do is prepare a meal in each cube. I actually have breakfast cubes and supper cubes. Once the right amount of food is in the cubes, I top the cubes off with DI water, and freeze. Then my wife just has to grab a cube or two depending on the meal, let it defrost in a 3oz Dixie Cup of tank water, and dump it into the tank..Simple and foolproof.
  • Do all your weekly maintenance the day before you leave, like cleaning the skimmer for example.
  • Leave instructions as to what the reef-sitter is to expect like lights on/off periods, acceptable temperature ranges, acceptable sump levels, etc. and to call you for further help if there is a problem.
  • DO NOT perform any water changes, any thermostat adjustments, skimmer, reactor, or any other adjustments within a week of leaving. You need a fully stable system.
  • Make sure all your plugs and switches are labeled, and that the sitter knows where and how to reset the breakers or Ground Fault Interrupters. You may have to tell them to unplug the heater and want them to do that and not unplug the pump, for instance.
  • Lastly, go to church that week.

About three months ago I made a DIY Nilsen (kalkwasser) reactor so my wife doesnt have to worry about the b-ionic dosing anymore. She is relegated to feeding and turning over snails while I'm gone, much easier than it was in the beginning. You can read up on the details of the reactor at http://cereal.mv.com/nilsen.html

Oh, by the way, the movie I mentioned in the first paragraph is Double Jeopardy with Ashley Judd. Very entertaining and I did stop to watch the movie again...I just love Ashley Judd


------------------
Bill Esposito
[email protected]
JAqua for the AquaController 2
http//cereal.mv.com/jaqua.html
My Reef Page
http//cereal.mv.com/reef
The box said "Use Win 95 or better", I chose better so I run OS/2!
 
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