Kessil

Mike's 200 & 40 gallon tanks

In my experience bigger fruit doesn't come with bigger flavor, almost like the energy going into producing sugars gets hijacked for growing flesh (uneducated hypothesis). That said the smaller ones next to it (still pretty big) tasted fine, I've tasted better mind you but it wasn't bad.

As for what else, plenty of other tree fruit everything from apricots to figs, also a fair bit of melons of all kinds as well.
 
Ok so today I learned a few things, luckily with no casualties (yet?)

1: If you have a frag tank with 3-5 times the amount of corals than in your main tank but 13 times less water volume chances are your calcium and alkalinity is going to get depleted much more quickly
- So when doing a weekly (late) testing of my main tank, because that's the important one, I decided to test the alkalinity of the other two tanks the 40B, anemone/soft/maybesoontobeLPS, and the 20L, frag/QT (corals) tank, so the softie tank was quite low 5.6dKh, and the frag tank with all the stony corals in it? Well lets just say the amount of solution used was so low it wasn't even on the card, I extrapolated about 5dKh. Since the frag tank has stonies but the other none (a lone pocillipora frag) I decided to also test the calcium and it was 370.

2: Just because there is powder mixed around in your kalkwasser stirrer/reactor doesn't mean you still have potent kalkwasser
- So one thing I did is I ordered a pH probe, I found an old pH monitor (Pinpoint) that still works so figure get a probe and test the strength of the solution, well that doesn't come until Friday. So I do some research I try to figure out how much kalkwasser I can add, come across a Randy H-F post or two that says adding 1.25% the water volume will increase pH by 0.6-0.7 which is too much of a swing but half that is ok, so did some math and figured if I try to raise it by 1 dKh that was way less than that and I could just do that daily. So yesterday dosed both tanks with solution. Today I measured the Calcium and Alkalinity of the frag tank, and both got lower, the Calcium went from 370 to 320! (there might be some wiggle room in that number due to dilution of the water so maybe not all consumption, I'll check the tank in 2 days) and the alkalinity, well I didn't think it could get lower but it did... hoboy! Translation: That kalkwasser is dosing nothing but h20 to my system.

3: Don't use a kitchen scale when you need fine measurement of reagents
- Alright so I decided to mix some fresh kalkwasser and dose that but then I figured I didn't want to lower the sG because not much evaporated over night, so hell I got a bunch of 2 part solution. Run to the "Reef Chemistry Calculator" how much "dow flake" to go from 320 to 400, roughly 19.6 grams, how much soda ash to go from 5 to 7dkh 2.5grams, pull out my trusty kitchen scale (don't tell the wife) flip it to grams see that the resolution is only 1 gram... ok no problem, I put 2 grams in that's fine, after all I may have over estimated my tank volume due to the rock in it (yeah I put rock in the frag tank). Start to slowly dose... ok no problem, screw it I'll just dose it all. Now where's the problem? Well the scale measures to the nearest whole gram but it does so in 2 gram increments, so who knows how many grams that first bit was as I don't know how it rounds, does it just truncate the value and round down? does it properly round up? needless to say it could have been anywhere from 1.1 to 3.9 grams. I'm thinking it was a little closer to the later. Reason? Tested alkalinity, dKh 9.4.... f*cking DOH! Calcium went up to the exact amount prescribed, seems measuring out nearly 20 grams is quite a bit more accurate than measuring out 2.5 grams. Well I did it, not going to try and chase that number by lowering the alkalinity, I know I could do a water change but whatever we'll see how the corals respond, if they respond horribly I'll do a water change tomorrow morning.

So kids the lessons of the day? Think about how a smaller system reacts, don't assume powder = useful stuff, if you're going to measure small make sure you use the right measuring instrument. The last one really bit me hard because I tell my students that all the time!
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
1) Yep. Been there, done that, will probably do so again at some point.
2) True, but in your case I'm not convinced that's the issue. Also, it's hard to do kalk saturation with pH unless it's way off as you're outside the calibration range of most pH monitors (it's above 10). I've read that conductivity is a decent way to do it, but haven't tried myself. The issue in your case may be the rate it is added at. I've had good luck with kalk dripping it, or at least putting it in via ATO, but any sudden additions have always resulted in little to no change to the tank and presumably precipitation. I did find that I was unable to keep up my parameters using kalk, so switched to 2 part.
3) I use a scale that reads to 0.01g. Not sure it's accurate to that, but its probably good to at least 0.1 g and I rarely go below that even with traces due to how I dose. In the case of yours I'd make a bunch of solution (say 100 g worth), then use volume of solution used to add the smaller amount. If things are unhappy but you've waited until tomorrow morning I'd be inclined to ride it out. I'm not sure at what point a rapid down swing is still justified as a solution to a rapid up swing, but I'm inclined to say that the next day is too far out so long as you aren't at 18 dKh or something (with zero evidence for that statement btw).
 
2. Well I'm not hoping to get exact pH of saturated kalk but I'd hope to at least have something reasonably high >10, if the pH of the kalk is like 7 or so then I know that's nothing but useless powder at the bottom

3. Yeah after the fact I did think that I should have made a big solution and simply scaled back for what I need although my graduated cylinder was full of kalkwasser at the time that I was going to use and didn't feel like just dumping that. Hey that's a good idea actually when I get my pH probe test my stirrer versus the fresh obviously not used up stuff (solution to 2?).
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
Yep, 7 would convince me it wasn’t working. I think mine was 9 when I reached that conclusion, although it’s been a while so I don’t remember the details clearly. I wonder what it is that makes kalk powder in reactors go bad? I simply replaced all of mine at the time, and ended up switching to 2 part before it went bad again. My indication to check was that my tank pH kept falling despite massive amounts of kalk dripping in daily.
The guy I know who used to run a big tank on kalk went through enough that he had to add more somewhat regularly, but he still dumped it all and replaced it every 6 months or so.
 
yeah the penny pincher in me wants to get as much value out of the kalk powder as I can, and while I probably could test the actual alkalinity of the effluent with a large dilutions trying to figure out what dilution is necessary seemed like more work than just getting a pH probe and jamming it in there to see if it has a high pH still (very much non penny pincher :D)
 
Ok so confusion abounds me, couple days later test the alkalinity in the frag tank and it's back to 5.6 from like 9.4. So some possible reasons for this are
1) I somehow measured wrong, although this is a really huge "wrong" to measure I don't recall where I did the test often I'll walk into the garage and use the lights in there (warm white fluorescent tubes) and the color change (from blue to green) is a little easier to determine there, maybe I did it next to the tank and didn't realize it? Or perhaps a tainted sample in some way?

2) The alkalinity wasn't completely homogeneous and I managed to pull a "denser" sample into the tube, although it was a good 2-3 hours since I dosed so I'm willing to let this be a non factor.

3) Alkalinity actually got sucked up that quickly! Now this would be the most worrisome one. Although there are a lot of stony corals in there it's not packed wall to wall like some tanks. Plus if it went through 4 dkH in 2 days I should see like 1" a day growth or something :D But the fact that Calcium went from 400 to 380 over that same time period tells me that no they did not in fact suck up 4 dKh in 2 days.

4) Some of it precipitated out of the water. Now I don't see white coatings on the heater or anything, but I do have white egg crate and fairly white rock in there so maybe it did get pulled out.

Luckily looking at the numbers this is an easy enough fix, just dose kalkwasser (SLOWLY) and both calcium and alkalinity should ease back up.


That said definitely need to change out my kalkwasser though, I didn't get my pH probe yet (today sometime it shows up) but my main display went from 7.6 to 7.0 over that same 2 day period, Now just need to mix up some new kalkwasser, although part of me wants to save this stuff to see what the pH of it is :D Maybe I'll do that since it's my wife's Bday today, so me spending time downstairs working on tank stuff won't go over too well with her :D
 
BTW for others here's a good resource for figuring out calcium/alkalinity problems
https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/11/chemistry

Oh and if anyone says "gee wouldn't testing alkalinity 4 times a day be pretty useful right now" 1) no it wouldn't because I would want to constantly monitor my main tank not a frag tank that is separate, and 2) I will kick you in the nuts the next time I see you... even if I have to fly to Colorado to do so!
 

JVU

BOD
It might be faster and more conclusive to manually do the test 4 times a day vs writing up your ideas on why your individual tests every few days aren’t reliable.

And yes I’ll be wearing something to protect the boys at the next event.
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
1) Consuming 2 dKH per day isn’t unheard of. I get suspicious when I see coral heavy systems consuming less than 1 dKH.
2) Precipitation can take a while to show up, especially if you’re cleaning the glass.
3) You already mentioned test error, which exists in both the Ca and Alk tests, but which explains away some of the change.
 

rygh

Webmaster
So what else is going on in frag tank?
GFO?
Carbon dosing?
What are your Mg level?
How old are your test kits?
Getting tons of Coraline growth?

It is very unlikely that frag growth would cause Alk to plummet that fast.

Testing at least once per day until you find the cause might make sense. It only takes a couple of minutes.
 

rygh

Webmaster
So in your frag tank - is it small frags, or sizable colonies?
I assumed a few frags, so that drop did not make sense.
But if you have some big colonies in a small tank, then it might simply be coral growth.
 
yeah 20 long tank mostly frags, there is one sizeable colony encrusting montipora. Nothing on the tank but a protein skimmer (crappy HOB one) no coraline growth at all, test kits are relatively new (months old)
 

Flagg37

Supporting Member
BTW for others here's a good resource for figuring out calcium/alkalinity problems
https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2002/11/chemistry

Oh and if anyone says "gee wouldn't testing alkalinity 4 times a day be pretty useful right now" 1) no it wouldn't because I would want to constantly monitor my main tank not a frag tank that is separate, and 2) I will kick you in the nuts the next time I see you... even if I have to fly to Colorado to do so!
I can’t help but think that last comment was directed at me. :)
 

Flagg37

Supporting Member
So what else is going on in frag tank?
GFO?
Carbon dosing?
What are your Mg level?
How old are your test kits?
Getting tons of Coraline growth?

It is very unlikely that frag growth would cause Alk to plummet that fast.

Testing at least once per day until you find the cause might make sense. It only takes a couple of minutes.
And testing at the same time each day. I remember a guy selling his own all monitor at the CFM that claimed that alk would swing 2 dkh over a 24 hour period. I find that hard to believe, but there is definitely some up and down over the day.
 
Ok so here's my lighting setup on the 200 gallon tank

It's basically 2 pieces of aluminum C-channel as rails in the long direction, and the lighting is setting on 2 other aluminum C-channels, with some square tubing so that I can slide and adjust as necessary.

Unfortunately I wanted a lighting upgrade, there LEDs themselves are homemade jobbers, and with "full power" (at the settings I have full, not max power) I get ~200-220 PAR directly under them (on the rock directly under which is I dunno how many inches deep) and on the sandbed anywhere from 100-120, so not horrible at all for a mixed tank, doubly so considering no lenses on any of the LEDs. However I don't want a mixed tank, this tank is full SPS (ok and maybe some LPS...) but all stony coral, and I wanted a little more punch.


Here you can see how everything is wired up. Overall it's not bad, each fixture covers a 2' x 3' area with fairly good distribution, it doesn't hurt that the fixture itself is 20" x 6" which is about as big as a Kessil AP700 (not quite 2 Radion XR30s side by side) and about the same power too (although obviously not 2 dense matrix of LEDs)

Now the upgrade plan was to use 4 of these guys over the tank, just rotated 90° and 2 to each side, the problem is I have 3 of them made up, a 4th heatsink was turned into an emergency light some years back, so all the drill holes are wrong, and while I still have the LEDs I'm not sure I want to try and squeeze them all together, building LED fixtures is not exactly fun work. Plus one of the fixtures I put over the frag tank, the emergency one is over the softy tank (and only getting PAR values from 40 to 120 based on which channels are on... so I might need to upgrade that one too.

But one thing I wanted to do...

Start with some fresh ingredients

Please excuse the mess, the maid is out of the country...

So I fell into the trap, the "I can make something that works for cheaper" trap, which I did with the C-channel, all told it was about 1/3 the price or so, however I've grown to not like it, so now I just added 1/3 the price to what I actually wanted to do. Use extruded aluminum (e.g. 8020), now this stuff was fun "erector set for adults" is often what is said about it, I mean this whole thing went together in all of about 15 minutes once I found an allen wrench that fit the screw head, but overall this wasn't really that much and really should have done this in the first place. I will say however this stuff is NOT light. Yes it's aluminum but damnit it's beefy. Basically a 1" x 2" wall around the perimeter and 2- 1"x1" pieces in the middle.

Actually it wasn't just total cost that kept me away from doing this initially it was needing to have pieces cut to exact lengths and I didn't know how I was going to mount the LEDs, it which direction, etc. So probably would have done something that wasn't upgradeable in the future, so not too upset about the aluminum C-channel route I went earlier (and I still have 4' and 3' lengths of C channel if I have a project :D).


So here's what I changed, as you can see rotated the LEDs, and yes they are tilted and that is done on purpose because there are no lenses on each LED and the fixtures go to the end (sides) of the tank instead of wasting that light spilling over the side I decided to put a slight tilt to angle as much as possible in the tank, there still will be some but the light hits the corals from different angles now. And yeah I'm a bit miffed that a 4 foot long tank comes with a brace in the middle, but what am I going to do? (not remove it is what!). Also had adjustable cables like an A-frame to the ceiling, decided to change that to each corner goes straight up to a hook, the old system it was actually easy to tilt the whole fixture accidentally like pushing a swing.

Also added T5 lights too, I figure these are easy enough to install, I have practically the equipment, reflectors, ballasts (more on this later), even have 2 bulbs, and while yeah there is bulb replacement, it allows me time to change my mind later (also way F'ing cheaper than buying any of the commercial LED fixtures out there). I was waffling back and forth on how I wanted to set things up, at one point I wanted to keep the lights in the other orientation and simply use shorter bulbs over the tank, and honestly that probably would have been fine too, but the cheap ass part of me was just thinking "damn it's only $2 more for a 4 foot bulb versus a 3 foot bulb" and so the cheap ass in me went 4 feet, plus I think overall I get more lighting this way too, plus the 2 bulbs that I had... they were 4 foot bulbs (I should say "4 foot" because they're actually 2 inches shorter).


Here's with the reflectors in, the bulb combo is UVL actinic, ATi coral plus, Ati blue plus , again in reverse. The actinic bulbs have the reflectors angled fairly sharply since I don't care about light on the glass and the coral plus have a slight tilt towards the center of the tank, and the blue plus is straight down. Gotta say I also fell in love with velcro cable ties, I only had like 6 of them, but man wrap them around the aluminum beams to hold all the wires in place works wonders, and if I change my mind remove and reapply. Also need to find my cable wraps I have, when I'm sure everything is up and working, because I'm not a big fan of having wires directly on metal like this, don't get me wrong the metal doesn't have any sharp corners or anything but if any wire frays or the insulation some how cracks there's a chance to electrify the whole frame, but for now corals are still happy :)


Here's the end, had to use wood to attach to the aluminum frame as one of those "I don't know exactly how far it needs to be" issues, this just gives me flexibility. And yes I will wrap these cables up too. I was just working late last night taking the old one down and putting the new one up, re-running wires, etc, I just wanted it hooked up for most of today. The T5 bulbs/reflectors were done this afternoon.

Right now though I have 2 bulbs going. Reasoning... thought I had a lot more ballasts than I did... correction, I thought I had a lot more WORKING ballasts than I did. I had an old Icecap ballast, hooked it up according the wiring diagram, plugged it in, and that expensive smell came out of it, in the garbage! Fulham workhorse 5 ballast, WORKS! Another Fulham workhorse 5 ballast, doesn't work, GARBAGE!. Fulham workhorse 7 ballast, WORKS, and best of all the WH7 can do 4-54W bulbs. Although ideally I want each color on it's own ballast, I thought about each bulb on it's own ballast and I can turn on front to back or whatever, but that's too complicated plus 6 ballasts = 6 spaces on a powerbar which uses up a lot of resources, so 2 ballasts will do I can do actinic bulbs off a separate ballast and the other 2 on at once (I will change this though. So hook up actinic, working fine. Hook up WH7 ballast, nothing... WTF... move the power cable I hear a crackle sound and they all work, then I let go of the power cable and off and see the spark, the power cable is actually split and unfortunately it's split super close to the ballast so there's not a whole lot of repair room... GARBAGE! :(

So I decided blue plus was probably the better of the two to have hooked up, so got that one hooked up, and PAR levels went from 200-220 to 300, sandbed itself is 160+ and that's just with 2 T5 bulbs, Basically 50% more lighting, plus I get that "all over" lighting which helps keep corals from getting "ugly sides" that LEDs are known for. Got an order for 2 more WH5 ballasts, and about 100 more velcro zipties :D maybe sometime this weekend. Also have to remember to dial down my LEDs too!
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
I love little velcro straps. I finally got a bunch of little screw on anchors for them along with the roll of straps when I set up the current (hopefully temporary) tank and I'm really glad I did. Sort of like zip ties but nicer looking and reusable. I have to ask though, for the number of times you talked about it in your post, why not put lenses on your existing LEDs, or is the spread not actually all that bad?
 
Well initially I did put lenses on. However I found out that they blackened/browned on the much more shorter wavelengths (mostly violet), not sure if this was a crappy batch of clear plastic or what but that was unacceptable, also saw this happening with some other fixtures (commercial ones). Plus it was a major pain the butt to put each on individually as I couldn't use super glue (fumes) wasn't like a Radion fixture where there are mounting brackets for it where you can just slap on one lens to go over every LED in the cluster.

That said, I feel like I was ahead of the curve as early LEDs makers were all about focusing those beams to blast that light straight down, but over time they realized that spreading it out actually was more useful and gave a much nicer blend of colors, while you still can see some colored shadows you don't see the crazy colors bouncing around the ground.
 

jccaclimber

Supporting Member
I had the same issue with the splash shield on my old biocube when I switched over to a RapidLED Aurora Puck, similar to a half of a Gen2 or so XR30. The issue was nicely centered under the UV emitters. I ended up cutting out the damaged portion of the shield and substituting in one of a different material. In short, some plastics will heavily degrade under UV in an unacceptably short timeframe and some will not. It sounds like they made your lenses out of the wrong material.

Here are the pictures from my issue along with the repair:
 
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