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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,
Yesterday was a great day. I recieved alot of really spectacular soft coral frags and some great advice from a local reef keeper (Troy, my new best friend :dance) He let me know that I am more than likely over dosing my tank with supplements, which could be causing my cyano problem, along with draining my wallet. I read too much from the 'professionals' before I started and have been adding seachem's 'reef plus', 'reef compete', 'reef calcium', lugol's plus, marine snow phytoplankton, and adding garlic extreme to the fish food.
He suggested using only B-ionic and the ocassional plankton feeding for my soft coral reef. That is all he has used for the past several months and his show aquarium and propagation tank look absolutely incredible. His softies were growing so large that he literally had to cut them up into dozens of frags to 'clean' out his show tank! I will definately take his advice but I have a 180 gallon tank and according to the dosing levels recommended, the B-ionic won't last very long, even if I buy their 10 gallon bulk size.
So, I started thinking this morning that maybe I should try lime water first, or maybe use both to cut back on the amount of B-ionic I need to dose.
Here is where I would like opinions/suggestions/advice. Again, my tank size is a 180 gallon. I have two Rio 20 Hyperflows returning a total of 1900 gallons per hour through the corner returns split in four directions, and four powerheads inside the tank totalling about 1000 gallons per hour. The four power heads are located in the bottom back and front of the aquarium facing in toward the center to keep water moving over the substrate. The current is actually quite gentle for the amount of water flow.
Lighting is provided by my self made hood with three 175 watt 12K MH with Icecap electronic ballasts, two 140 five foot VHO actinic day and one 140 watt five foot actinic blue VHO run by an Icecap 660. All under a PFO super refelctor.
I have a pretty heavy load of soft corals (colts, leathers, xenia, mushrooms) and two bubble corals, and two anemones)
I probably have too many fish. I need to remove three fireclowns that are picking on my prize percula, a large blue tang, small yellow tang, small sailfin tang, four chromis, and two small blue damsels. I have three peppermint shrimp, one coral banded, two cleaner, 200 nassarius snails and several turbos and blue leg hermits. I can't seem to keep starfish alive (even with hours of acclimation)
Well, back to my original question. What should I do? Try the limewater first for a while and see what happens or try both limewater and B-ionic, or just B-ionic. I am not lazy, but the idea of mixing limewater and setting up some form of drip system is not that appealing. With my luck, something would go wrong.
Sorry for the novel.
Thanks for the advice,
Sean
 

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A goof
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On a tank that size I would probably recomend buying or making a kalcreactor, that tops off your tank. Also have you tested your alk and ph and calcium lately? you will want to check that during your dosing.
 

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Kalkreactor and limewater, lose the extra additives, the tank wil have natural cyanobacteria blooms for a bit, then settle down as your substrate matures.

nothing to worry about.
 

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Get rid of the damsel and at LEAST one of the tangs
whats your specific gravity?
Calcium and alk readings ?
if your params are way off Water Changes and stabilize them at good levels then dose kalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hello Doug,
My specific gravity is kept between 1.023 and 1.024. I do my best to keep up with the evaporation every two to three days. I am trying to work up the nerve to make an automatic top off with limewater, but still vervous about this. (Fear of flooding my game room, fear of overdosing?) My temperature fluctuates between 80 and 81 with all lights on and down to 78.5 or so at night. A little warm for my ideal, but I can't afford
Unless my test kits are off, my nitrates are 0 and ph is 8.3. I don't have a calcium, or phosphate test kit yet. I am going to order one very soon, especially if I start to drip the limewater.
I would very much like to get rid of the damsels, all three fire clowns, but the tangs are there to stay. They are all getting along fine. The yellow and red sea sailfin school together, feed together, sleep together. They are the same size, went in the tank at the same time and I think they are buds. The blue tang is three times the size of the other two and he cohabitates with them well.
I am going to try and trap the fish soon and trade them off.
Thanks again for the advice.
Sean
 

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hmmm...


top off the tank every 2 or 3 days for a 180 at 80F is about 3 .5 gals a day for me..., in 3 days that is 11 gals of water, enough to drop the tvol of the tank to 169, poretty big swing in salinity there..., and a big change suddnly when you top off all at once... Using an auto top off at least will stop problems with that... make it with Kalkwasser and you'll kill the proverbial 2 birds...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Tom,
Thanks for the input. Just for clarification, I don't top the water off all at once. I generally add the make up water over a 90 period, a few gallon in the sump at a time.
The total volume of my tank and sump is close to 220 gallons and your right, I do add about 10 to 12 gallons of fresh RO/DI.
I do agree that I really should work out an automated top off system. I just need some advice on how to safely and reliably make one. The make up water and pump system will have to located in another room and I will have to run the tubing through the ceiling to reach the tank, which is not too bad, but not a really simple thing either.
My biggest concern is leaving the connection from water line to the RO/DI unit open all the time. I just built this house last year and the thought of a flooded basement makes me nervous.
I would appreciate any advice on a foolproof way of making this top off system.
Thanks again
Sean
 

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sean said:
I would appreciate any advice on a foolproof way of making this top off system...
Heh! I can relate, as I just bought a new house and have one room dedicated to all the coral systems, with a separate room for the equipment, pumps, storage, etc. I haven't had an accident (yet), but it is best to plan for such an occurrence regardless of what top-off system you decide on.

My personal preference would be to install a reef filler running through a Kalk reactor from a 33 gallon RO/DI reservoir. If you want the auto top-off to run on autopilot, put a mechanical float valve for your RO/DI in the reservoir, not your sump, and an overflow standpipe in the Ro/DI reservoir just in case something happens (plumb the overflow standpipe to a drain or to the outside, this is just in case the float valve sticks in the open position). Run the reeffiller from the RO/DI reservoir through the kalkreactor and into the sump, set at your evaporation rate less about 5%. Then use an electric float switch to control a small powerhead attached to a flexible tube to supply the rest of your evaporative losses to your sump (plug the powerhead into the controller for the float switch, set the float switch to turn the PH on when a minimum level in the sump is reached). This will assure that your salinity will be rock steady, but supply adequate amounts of calcium and alkalinity for most systems without worrying about the small changes in daily rates of evaporation.

Many different brands of electric float switches (I personally like the Ultralife one, but hommie versions work just as well), you will need to install the float switch inside a protected waveless zone to prevent rapid switching for the top-off device. This can be accomplished by using a 4" piece of PVC cut to the depth of your sump plus a few inches, drill out the bottom, and mount the switch in the upper sections. This will allow the switch to detect changes in the sump level but block the waves formed by the returning water. If you want a little extra protection, you can plug the controller for the float switch into a second unit set to cut power off if the water reaches a certain maximum level.

To prevent your pipe from the reservoir from siphoning all the water from the reservoir to the sump when it cuts off, make sure that the open end of the tube going to the sump is higher than the top level of the reservoir. To do this, take a 1" piece of PVC, cut several slots in the bottom 4 inches such that water can flow out while the pipe is in a vertical position. Mount the pipe with the slots down in a vertical position in the sump and attach the flexible pipe from the pump in the reservoir about an inch inside the top of the slotted tube, making sure that the top of this tube is STILL higher than the top level of the reservoir. You can do this easily by drilling a small hole in the PVC and using a zip tie to hold the flexible pipe in place. In this manner, each time the top-off water is added it will not siphon, and it will not splash and create any saltcreep either.

Many different ways to do this, some will depend on how you're doing your ca supplementation. If you have a CO2-driven Ca Reactor, the above system will work well without the Kalkreactor, just plumb as above without the reeffiller, etc.

HTH
 

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Sean,

1) Get an alk and calcium test kit. You have a lightly loaded tank as far as hard corals are concerned. Without testing, you have no idea what your levels are and you may be making chemical soup. Once you get the test kits, test and record your measurements once a week to judge if you are using enough or too much calcium suppliments.

2) I started using Seachem calcium additives years ago, swtiched to B-ionic for a few years, now use kalk and kent turbo calcium. My opinion is to use kalk in your automated/regulated top off and any other calcium additive as a suppliment if the kalk can't keep up. What I mean by regulated top off is don't connect your kalk resivoir to a mag 12 and pump it into the system as fast as you can when your float switches say you need more top off. Use a small peristaltic pump with a pumping capacity of about double your evaporation rate. This way WHEN (it really is when, not if) your topoff switches stick, you won't overdose your system with kalk.
 
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