Evolutions of a 3.5 gallons starfire

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Ibn, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    First a little history. Converted one of my Ocean Free 1.5 gallon freshwater planted tanks over to a pico reef in February 2007. Rocks and sand were contributed by Hyacinth (Alan) out of his huge tank (now sitting over at Perry's) and some yellow zoas and orange bam bams were added the same day (also courtesy of Alan). Originally lighted by 2x9W mini coralife fixture and filtered with both a red sea nano HOB filter and a Tom's micro dive pump.

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    Corals were doing fine for awhile, but really wanted the MH shimmer. So, I started reading on NR and saw the 70W DIY fixture using a Brink's reflector. Sourced out the parts starting on the 22nd of Feb. and put together my own and placed it over the tank on the 24nd of Feb. The changes were pretty dramatic.

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    With 70W of lighting over such a small volume I implemented a gravity fed ATO system. That didn't work so well and I finally took it off after running it for the first week and just started topping off the tank manually. At the same time, I was starting to deal with heat issues and began taking a look at cooling options. Threw the idea out of using fans out since evaporation was already an issue and I would have to look at another ATO solution. Instead I settled on either the iceprobe or a smaller chiller. Eventually, I ended up with both. I upgraded to a larger HOB filter (AC 150) w/a hole drilled for the iceprobe and placed it over the tank to see how it would do. Since the room was usually closed during the day, the temps in the room would hit 85F+ during the summers and the iceprobe did squat to bring it down. Pulled that down and up went the chiller. For intake and return, I customized and had a buddy drill some holes for me. Here's the last shot of the tank w/the PVC in the tank before it came down.

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    As you can see, it was packed to the gills and I was in need of an upgrade. Next thread will go into the details of how the starfire came about.
     
  2. Raddogz

    Raddogz Guest

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    Keep'em coming Eric!
     
  3. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

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    1 and 1/2 gallons - wow what is the dims on the tank. I an guessing you actually have less than a gallon of water in it?
     
  4. Elite

    Elite Guest

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    Cool little tank.
    So what did the guy say when you ordered a 3.5G starfire? ;D
     
  5. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

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    So what went wrong with the gravity fed ATO?
     
  6. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Crap, can't seem to find where I put the pics for when I first started transferring stuff over...

    [quote author=Apon link=topic=3158.msg34703#msg34703 date=1203707215]
    1 and 1/2 gallons - wow what is the dims on the tank. I an guessing you actually have less than a gallon of water in it?
    [/quote]

    Dimension of the tank is 9x7x6". After all the rock, sand, and equipment, guessing that it was real close to a gallon of water in it.

    [quote author=Elite link=topic=3158.msg34704#msg34704 date=1203707528]
    Cool little tank.
    So what did the guy say when you ordered a 3.5G starfire? ;D
    [/quote]

    Not much, just why so small. :)

    [quote author=sfsuphysics link=topic=3158.msg34709#msg34709 date=1203709926]
    So what went wrong with the gravity fed ATO?
    [/quote]

    Used too small of a container and it wasn't as accurate as I'd like it to be. I ended up refilling the bottle every couple of days and it was just easier to top off manually.
     
  7. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

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    Gravity feed drip line like that used for IVs :)
     
  8. kurplunk

    kurplunk Guest

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    Eric-Finally I've been waiting to see pics of this tank. Incredible so far!
     
  9. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Not really the ones that they used for IV. I just tapped a hole into a small plastic container and put an airline tubing on that. Very easy to setup, but the pressure didn't hold and it became less and less useful.

    Daniel, that's actually some very old shots.

    As the tank became more packed, I actually started giving corals away to a buddy of mine since he owned a much bigger tank. At the end of April, I was already planning on replacing the 1.5 with a larger tank and starting looking at options. I wanted something that was clean and it just happens that while I was reading through the RC forum that I noticed that Hyacinth was ordering a new starfire tank with some other reefers. Due to the size of the cabinet that the tank is currently situated, I was confined to a 10x10x8" starfire tank. Sent the dimensions over to Alan and got a quote for a 4 sided starfire glass tank at 3/8" thickness and all edges machine polished. Price came back from Miracles in Toronto and the order was placed since it was cheaper than I expected.

    Fast forward to mid June 2007, when the tanks shipped.
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    The tanks came in three different crates for the entire order. The largest of the tanks in the top picture was quite large and the crate barely fitted into the truck that was used to hauled it off. The bottom picture is of Alan's tank with another nano on top. I believe that Alan's tank was something along the lines of 42x42x30. The nano tank that sat on the top of the crate is 20x20x18 with an external overflow and one of the nicest that I've seen. My little tank was tucked inside it for shipping purposes. :)

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    Moved tank and ziptied the lighting into place.

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    Once I had it home, I made sure that it didn't leak and tested water in it overnight. Next day, I went over to DPV and picked up a 5# bag of Caribsea sand to add to the existing sand bed. Once I got home, it was time to move everything over.

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    Was cloudy the first day and cleared the following. You can see how I used the PVC for intake and return for the chiller.

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    Tank was doing well, until around late July. The Current 1/15 chiller that I had on the tank crapped out on me on a weekend when I was away. Temperature gauge showed 97°F when I returned. Just about everything melted, other than some zoas and palys.
     
  10. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Come early August, I knew that I needed a new chiller. After checking out the chiller that Ian was picking up, I placed an order for a Pacific Coast 1/10 chiller. In addition, I also ordered the deluxe auto top off kit and a Tunze nano skimmer from Premium Aquatics. I wanted to beef up the filtration since I was moving to a larger tank.

    At the same time, it dawned on me that the tank that I had made was a bit too short to run the nano skimmer, which required ~8" immersion depth to work (was the smallest skimmer that I could find at the time and only possible one to run). I had to figure out something to be able to use the skimmer. I came up with the idea of a two part sump that could possibly work. I had commissioned World Marine System to make a custom acrylic FW tank for me in the same month, but decided to not go with them since it took them forever to make a simple tank (24x6.5x6.5). Instead I contacted Keith Grandt up in Sacramento and sent him the design. Keith was very responsive to emails and told me that I could have the sumps within a week, in time for the Dixon swap. It couldn't have worked out better timing-wise. These were the designs that I sent over.

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    These were delivered at the Dixon swap.
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  11. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Drilled some holes and added some bulkheads.
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    Here's the sump in place with the rest of the gear.
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    Left compartment is inflow for the sump and also where the chaeto sits. There's also currently a bag of purigen sitting in that compartment. Middle compartment is for frags mainly. In the picture, the frags are sitting on the bottom of the section since I hadn't received the magnetic frag rack yet. On the right is out flow and where all the temp, pH, ORP probe and the auto top off switches are positioned. In the front of the sump, you can also see a 1/2" line, which feeds into a Mag 2 and the 1/10 chiller. An Eheim 1250 feeds into the second part of the sump, one level above, where the Tunze nano skimmer sits. You can see what I've done with the 70W DIY MH that used to be over the 1.5 gallon. The AC2 monitors the tank and automates the lighting.

    Skimmate from the Tunze a week after being set up.
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    ATO pump, AM 3000 pump. Reservoir is a 2.5 gallon round container that came from a Bayer's lab.
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  12. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Eventually got tired of the PVC and went with a CS50 overflow box instead. I actually wanted something smaller, but couldn't find anything. Here's the tank in early November; what it looks like when I'm lazy with the maintenance. Also, decided to swap out the chinese 14,000k bulbs with something else.

    Here's the tank being lighted with the Iwasaki 50,000k bulbs.
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    Here it is with the Phoenix 14,000k. Needless to say, I didn't run the Iwasaki for long and stuck with the Phoenix. I'll use the Iwasaki when the Phoenix burns out and I'm waiting for the replacement to arrive.
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    I need additional flow in the tank and went with a nano koralia. You can also see one of the magnetic disc in use there.
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    Not much happened in December other than picking up a vortec pump. Some nano-reefers down in socal did a group order and the deal was too hard to pass up. Figured that 300 GPH on the lower end wasn't much more than the 240 gallons that the nano koralia was pushing. The pump came out to be $315 and the battery backup was another $120. At $435, it's really hard to pass up, plus I wanted to future proof having to pick up a larger size pump if and when I go with a larger tank. The battery backup also gave me some assurance since I would be out of town for two weeks during the holidays.

    This is what I returned to on the 2nd of January. Tank needed a bit of cleaning, but just about everything made it through fine, even though my ATO reservoir was empty. You can also see the colors from the Phoenix bulb after it burned in (actually prefer the colors before the bulb burned in).

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  13. Raddogz

    Raddogz Guest

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    That Vortec is so monstrous in that little tank - lol :D
     
  14. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Yeah, that's why I posted over on the Eco Marine forum to see if they were gonna make a smaller one awhile back. No luck there. :( I have it like 1/6 power or something; can't go any more since it begins to pull water from the surface in a whirlpool effect.

    Last pic, taken earlier this week. Pulled out the old rockwork and got some new Marshall Island stuff for $2/lb. which was pretty much devoid of all life. Need to do some tidying up and maybe redo the rockwork again...
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

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    Which brings me to a newbie questions. How much flow is too much flow? (assuming no dust storms or whirlpools lol)
     
  16. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Whatever it takes to get the dissolved oxygen to the corals. Too much flow and you lose polyp extension and tissue (as seen in AgentSPS' tank). Too little and you end up with STN.

    The blue mille which sits about 4" away from the front of the vortec gets quite a bit of flow and I see a bit of the base receding on the right side. I think that has to do more with a lighting issue than flow since it's not receiving any light on the underside. The c-aquarium unknown which is literally 3" from the front of the vortec does fine even at that distance. I like the look of swaying polyps. :)
     
  17. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

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    Vortec in that? are you kidding me!?
     
  18. fishnfst

    fishnfst Guest

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    Damn Eric...
     
  19. Raddogz

    Raddogz Guest

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    If it strips flesh off corals = bad

    If over time it strips off corals = also bad

    If it blows or topples said corals into another or into sand or lost under rocks = bad bad bad or bad to the third power.

    Okay seriously, some corals don't like high flow i.e anemones (may wind up moving around the tank), many softies will just close up, etc
     
  20. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

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    Art was kind enough to test out a vortec in a 4 gallon square bucket when he got his pump. Under the lowest setting it works. I just cranked it up a bit higher in reef crest mode to get the polyps to sway.

    Agree with what Eileen said. I have a toadstool and a couple of LPS in the tank which I use to monitor flow. My aussie acan actually sits 2.5" in front of the bottom lip of the vortec and shows polyp extension the entire day. The c-aquarium actually sits closer than I expected. I measured it 2" from the front of the vortec.

    Most of the other LPS sits in the sump with only a few exceptions (baby's breath, LE watermelon chalice, ROAB watermelon chalice, kong's eye favia; they're situated in areas of lower flow).
     

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