In the beginning...

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Flagg37, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    I figured I should probably start one of these since I don't have one for my 30 gallon tank and I want to make sure I keep a journal for this one.


    This is my LeeMar 120 that I got in a trade with @Vhuang168 for a stand I made him for his 190.

    I'm currently building a stand for it so it's not just sitting on the floor in my living room

    image.jpg This is it in pieces. 3/4" quarter sawn walnut plywood.

    This is the stand partially assembled. It has. 2x4 structure to help with support but I think the plywood would have been enough.
  2. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    The stand looks pretty nice!
  3. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Thanks. The door for the front will be a bifold door that swings up and out of the way instead of to the sides.

    I've got several other pieces of furniture out of the same material so it will all match throughout the house.
  4. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Just put a coat of stain on.

    Stained and two coats of polyurethane. I still need to do the doors and install them so my kids don't crawl around underneath it. My youngest was already eating crackers hiding out inside.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
    coral4me and Vhuang168 like this.
  5. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    The tank was given to me with a piece of 1/8" plastic stuck to the bottom... image.jpeg
    And acrylic bracing around the top.
    I'm planning on removing the top bracing since, according to my calculations, even with out it, it would still have a safety factor of 6.7. Do I need the bottom piece though?
    Vhuang168 likes this.
  6. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

    Gotta keep track on the progress !!
    Always nice to see a thread from the dry start.
    Where do you get that type of plywood?
    Whenever I take on a small thing I have three choices, oak, birch and maple; well four if you count basic pine.
    Sometimes I'm tempted on ironing on walnut veneer but nah... few nice choices at Discount Builders in SF.

    Think I've seen hybrid? tanks like that one, plexi bracing, pvc/glass bottom...

    I would definitely keep the bottom.
    Vhuang168 likes this.
  7. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    If you're in San Francisco look up Macbeath hardwoods. They'll have a large variety of species of both plywoods and solid lumber.
  8. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    Let's talk filtration a bit. Originally I was planning on doing a pretty conventional setup with a skimmer, refugium (with macro algae), and a return pump. @Vhuang168 started a thread about the Pax Bellum ARID units and got me thinking about whether all that other gear is really necessary. The more research I did seemed to point to the idea that this unit could be run without a skimmer as the sole form of nutrient export. They do such a great job in fact, that many people cease doing water changes and have to add Nitrates because the water is too clean. My thinking is then, this one unit could eliminate the need to buy a skimmer, sump, and return pump. I know this isn't the normal way of doing things so I wanted input from you all.
  9. No sump is a big deal for us apartment dwellers. Starting my research.....
  10. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    While I think the Arid could take the place of the skimmer, the sump plays a bigger role than just a place to put your equipment.

    The overflow serves to do surface skimming, effectively removing the surface scum produced by proteins. This allows the skimmer/MacroAlgae/ATS/Arid to do its job more effectively.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    I would still plumb the overflow but just have it feed directly to the ARID unit.
  12. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    I read up on the ARID, and as a freshwater guy, I didn't think it is such a big deal. The concept of using CO2 to boost plant growth is fairly common in freshwater. Couple of things to note:

    Calcium reactor is required - without the extra co2 from calcium reactor, it is not much difference from other algae scrubber out there
    Nutrient dosing is almost required - with extra co2, chaeto will also need extra nutrient for maximum growth. In fresh water, the common dosing is KNO3 + KH2PO2 for macros and CSM+B for micros to make sure plant growth is not nutrient limited
    PH/O2 benefit - reef tank tend to have massive amount of surface agitation/gas exchange so the tank would almost always level out no matter what anyway. In freshwater tank, in order to build up high co2 concentration, we have to minimize surface movement.

    So if the goal is to grow a bunch of chaeto fast, this thing seems pretty good. But if you as a nutrient control tool, there are too many variables required for it to operate properly.
  13. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Well here are my 2 cents. I'm super super super super skeptical of the ARID unit (it's essentially a chaeto reactor on steroids). Frankly I don't think it's gonna work the way it claims.

    Here's one thing that is unfortunately really common in this industry/hobby. Expensive useless equipment/gimmicks.

    Is the ARID an expensive useless equipment? I have no idea. But it's pretty new. On the unique corals website they have this reactor at 1,500$. But the Pax Bellum website is STILL down for maintenance since September 2015? strike 1. If this product is so great why haven't I seen countless reviews on reef2reef (why aren't they a sponsor advertising their product on the world's largest reef forum) and why haven't I heard much more about this? strike 2.

    Algae turf scrubbers will grow mats of algae super fast too and can be built for really cheap. Check out nav's ATS in his tank journal.

    My advice at least get a sump to hide your equipment (heater, probes, etc) and promote surface skimming via your overflow/return. Leave the option for a skimmer. Protein skimmers are tried and true. Rich Ross lead biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium will vouch for protein skimmers but his stance on algae turf scrubbers is inconclusive.

    Also if you're keeping stony corals you're going to want either a dosing pump or calcium reactor. Oh and watch out for mold in your cabinet stand. Let the sump breathe!
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  14. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    While I agree with you that the industry is awash with useless equipments that profess to be the miracle end all to all your problems. I think the Arid is not 1 of them.

    It is, as you say, a chaeto reactor on steroids. Is a chaeto reactor useless piece of equipment? Most grow and use chaeto in the sump, but if you have a small sump and don't have room for a refugeium, how can you use chaeto to reduce your nutrient levels? Chaeto reactor.

    Pax Bellum seems to have taken something that is usually DIY'd and engineered a nice piece of equipment. LEDs are on the inside so helping to ensure the chaeto gets full even coverage ( a problem with chaeto growing in the sump if you don't have it rolling). LEDs are heat piped to a heat sink that is outside so keeping the heat out of the water.

    The price you saw is for their biggest system. Rated for 300-600 gallons. They have other smaller sizes and the newest one is their smallest. Rated for 40-120 gallons. Priced at $449. Equal to or slightly more than a skimmer for a 120 gallon.

    Link to their different models.

    Their website is down, but they are active on FB.

    They are not a sponsor on R2R, but not all companies choose to do so. Kessil is not a sponsor as well. But Unique corals is, and they seem to be the company that you purchase from and get support from.

    I think what the Arid reactor boils down to is a nicely engineered and manufactured chaeto reactor. Is it ground breaking or some new technology? Not really. Is it worth the price? (and I think this is what the major gripe is about). Depends on who you ask I suppose. There are ATSs being made and sold that are about the same price so that would be what I would compare to. I like the Arid design better, smaller and self contained.
  15. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

  16. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    I can understand not advertising it since there is only one guy at the moment that makes them by hand. He's apparently trying to expand but at the moment this is what he's got going for him. I am skeptical about their claims though, but their logic seems sound so I've really been leaning towards getting one. I could always get a sump if it's not working out. I really doubt the unit is such garbage that I would stop using it. It's more a matter of how well will it work.

    I'm very thankful for all the input on the topic though. It's good to see other people's thoughts and not just my own biased views.
  17. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Tank looks great! I don't want to hijack your build thread, but I'd agree with @Enderturtle 's sketicism about the Pax Bellum reactors. I'm sure they work and they're nice, but growing chaetomorpha or other macro-algae isn't likely enough nutrient export for a tank that size.

    For the same money as one Pax Bellum reactor, you could buy a premium sump, return pump, media reactors, and refugium and still have a lot left over. Exporting nutrients through Macroalgae is a powerful tool, but I would still want a protein skimmer and GFO/phosphate binding media in a reactor.
  18. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

    I'm going to add my bit to the skepticism side of things as well. I can't see how that it any more effective than just growing the macro in your sump. They also look to be using flexible strip LED lighting, which isn't really a very powerful source of light. When it comes down to it, this is just a light slipped into a piece of PVC drain pipe.
  19. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Looks like a neat idea, but some things to keep in mind, especially if you're considering using it as your sole source of nutrient export:
    1. Nutrients: Yes, it'll help with the nitrates in the system, but at the same time, you'll have to dose your tank with other macro/micros/trace elements such as iron, iodine, etc.
    2. co2: The Pax Bellum looks, on paper, made to be run in complimentary to a calcium reactor, since the chaeto can make use of the co2 from your Ca reactor and the effluent.
    3. Running the Pax Bellum sumpless: While it does come with quick disconnects for ease of maintenance, regardless of how careful you are, you still have to disconnect the unit for harvesting and maintenance. I'm sure you're gonna end up with some sort of residual water from taking this sucker offline.
    4. Time to market: The concept has been around for awhile and the first prototype was out 5 years ago using T5 instead. It's been 5 years since and they still haven't gained the traction or the economy of scale needed to drive the price down. They're still building these units as they're being ordered.
    5. Skimmer replacement: While chaeto does pull out a lot of nutrients, I don't see it being the sole source to replace water changes or a decent skimmer. The large model that they had running on the 5,000 gallon tank was using the Pax Bellum as a supplement in addition to the skimmer.
    Enderturtle likes this.
  20. Flagg37

    Flagg37 Colorado member

    It sounds like I'll be best off with keeping my original plan and use a sump and skimmer. I could potentially still use the ARID but in conjunction with a skimmer.

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