Saturday, February 18, 2006

Step 1 is done

Well, I got tired of not being able to make plans for the rest of the aquarium project due to being unable to determine just how much room I would have in the stand for a sump, so I setup the stand this weekend. I think it looks pretty nice though there are a few minor blemishes (one of the rollers for the drawer is missing a chunk so it doesn't turn (the drawer still works but with the missing part of the wheel the one side of the drawer doesn't catch when fully opened), there is a small section on the top that was slightly splintered, and there is a small chunk on a back corner that was damaged). I'll probably just see if I can find some paint that matches the wood and paint over those spots, if not I'm not going to lose any sleep over it they are small and in out of the way places.
I did find one possible handicap with the stand, however, that stands to cause me a little difficulty. Fully assembled, the protein skimmer sits about 4 inches below the bottom of the tank which will make emptying the collection cup a little cumbersome since I can only get at it from the back of the stand. Add to this that it somehow must sit on the sump and we have a potential problem. The arm that goes over the wall of the sump is roughly 12" from the base of the skimmer, most tanks are 16" tall, set the skimmer on the tank and the collection cup will be right up against the bottom of the display tank. I think I have a solution to the problem though. If I can push the sump all the way against the back of the stand, it may be possible for me to hang the skimmer on the tank so that the body of the skimmer and the collection cup actually stick out the back of the stand making it both easier to get at for cleaning and eliminating the problem with how tall the sump is. This will make it a little harder to close off the back of the stand with a bit cloth though, but I think it can still be done fairly effectively. In case you are wondering why I want to hang cloth off the back of the stand it is to keep stray light from escaping the stand. I plan on placing some algae in the sump to help keep the water clean and free of excess nutrients and that means providing light for it to grow. While the display tank's lights will be on during the day (roughly 8am to 8pm for the blue actinic lights and 10am to 6pm for the regular white lights) the lights over the sump will be on a reverse schedule (from 8pm to 8am) to help prevent shifts in PH that occur overnight (I'm not sure why they occur but it seems to be the general consensus that they do happen and using reverse lighting prevents them.)
I think the only way for me to make sure that my plan will work is to get a tank to drop in the stand (not literally mind you) and set the skimmer up on it. Since I need a quarantine tank, I think that I will pick up one of those aquarium kits for a 20-40 gallon aquarium (haven't decided yet how big I want the quarantine tank to be). If it works well then I will have eliminated a problem, if it doesn't work at all then I may have to resort to sticking the skimmer on the back of the display tank.
There is another good thing about having put the stand together...Now I can start planning on ordering the tank itself and having someplace to put it. With that critical piece in place I can begin the task of plumbing everything and making sure I'm not going to turn the floor into giant fish pond.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Order #4

Well, here goes the next part of the aquarium setup:

Item #
Description
Qty
Extended
CD-18715
Visi-Therm Stealth Heater (250 watts)
3
$50.97
CD-21050
Pinpoint Wireless Thermometer
1
$36.99
CD-21051
Pinpoint Thermometer Sensor
1
$19.99
CD-14144
Quiet One Pump (3000)
3
$119.97
CD-18757
Continuous Siphon Overflow (1" Bulkhead, 1500 gph)
1
$114.99
CD-16904
Aqua Lifter Pump
1
$9.99
CD-18881
Aqua Lifter Filter
1
$2.99
CD-21221
Aqua Lifter Replacement Diaphragm
2
$3.58
CD-21468
Overflow Replacement Sponge (6-pk)
1
$12.99
CD-21145
Coralife Power Center (dual)
1
$42.99
CD-19341
Model 600 Wavemaker System (480 gph - 160 gph x 3)
1
$78.99
CD-517670
Maxi-Jet Pre-filter Sponge (2 pk.)
3
$23.97
CD-12022
Tidal Marine Substrates
16
$239.84

Color: Meridian Oolitic Aragonite

Subtotal $758.25
Standard (Within 7 Business Days) $13.99
TOTAL $772.24


This one was kind of a big order. I was going to wait on the substrate (I'm aiming for 4" to provide good denitrification) since I need at least 15 bags (I need about 75lbs per inch of depth and they are about 20lbs each + 1 extra for good measure), but they are normally $20 each and were on sale for $15 (figured I might as well save myself $80). I also bought other essentials (heaters, thermometer, water pumps, and the overflow box that will move water from the tank to the sump that will be located in the cabinet).

For those of you trying to keep tabs on how much I've spent so far (Caution, do not read further if you have a history of heart problems, high blood pressure, are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing, have been or would like to be impregnated by aliens, or are generally squeamish about anything resembling money.)


I warned you...


$2,180.87

What could I possibly still need for this fish tank? Lots...I still need the tank, sump, misc. tubing/pipes, a background (I'm thinking of a black cloth, perhaps velvet or suede, I want something that gives an impression of depth and makes the fish stand out without actually reflecting any light itself.), Live Rock/Sand (I am planning on about 80-90 lbs of rock and 20lbs of live sand to cycle the tank and provide a foundation for the coral and other life forms.), fish foods, fish, corals, a second (much smaller, much cheaper) tank to act as a quarantine/hospital tank for new/sick fish. I'm sure that there is more that I am forgetting at the moment.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Baby Broth

Friday, December 30, 2005

Order #3

Slowly but surely I am gathering up all of the components for my aquarium project. At times I feel like I'm moving extremely slow at setting all of this up but I did not set out on this expedition with the expectation of adding the first coral and fish sometime around February. That goal is still quite obtainable I believe. I have continued to research and try to learn as much as I can before subjecting any fish or corals to my hospitality and have found a fairly good online resource. They cover Marine, Freshwater, Brackish systems and appear to have a lot of good information though it is mostly provided in the form of answers to reader questions. I've never been particularly fond of FAQs as a general source of information so I've found it to be useful in a general nonspecific way. There are a number of articles on there, however, that go into more specific information on a variety of topics. Some of the articles may be a little out of date so if in doubt the best bet is to search through the FAQs to see if there is any more recent discussion. If you are interested the site is: www.wetwebmedia.com.

On to the drain on my wallet...

Description
Price
Qty
Extended
Portable Refractometer
$42.99
1
$42.99
Turboflotor 1000 Multi
$225.99
1
$225.99
Refill Cartridge with Gasket (6-pk)
$80.69
1
$80.69
Tap Water Filter
$26.59
1
$26.59
Hagen Master Test Kit
$59.99
1
$59.99
Copper Kit (fresh & saltwater)
$7.99
1
$7.99
Reef Crystals Reef Salt (160 gallon mix)
$37.79
1
$37.79

$482.03

$482.03

After doing a lot of reading I came to the conclusion that it can be hard to get anyone to agree on anything. This seems to be especially true of Reverse Osmosis units used for aquaria. While no one seems to think it does not serve it's purpose, the general consensus is that RO units are extremely wasteful on water (i.e. they produce around 3 gallons of waste water per 1 gallon of purified water.) Not wanting to waste copious amounts of water, I decided that I would invest in a much cheaper (initially) Deionization filter. It is just as effective at purification without producing all of the waste water of RO. The major drawback appears to be the cost of running these units long term. While capable of creating roughly 10 gallons of purified water per hour (running it faster than this will not clean water as effectively), the filter media becomes contaminated rather quickly. Depending on the quality of the source water, a DI unit can be expected to create roughly (very roughly I might add) between 25 to 125 gallons of purified water before the media needs to be replaced. I decided that this should be acceptable initially for setting up my tank and I can decide after that if I would be better off replacing it with an RO unit later on. It is also always possible that, after testing the regular tap water, I can get away with just using tap water with a dechloronator. That will have to depend entirely on what sort of phosphate/nitrate levels I find upon testing. Nitrates should be able to be dealt with in moderate quantities by the tanks biological filtration. Another concern with tap water is the presence of copper. While most fish are tolerant of copper, the type of invertebrates (shrimp, coral, snails, crabs, etc) that I hope to keep are not.
So, this order consists primarily of test kits, a refractometer (used to determine the specific gravity/salinity of saltwater), a DI tap water filter and 6 extra filters (which hopefully will prove be closer to the 150 gallon mark than the 25 gallon one), salt mix, and a protein skimmer (to remove nutrients from the water before they have a chance to breakdown into toxic ammonia and help keep my water stable and clean).

So far my total expenses:
Category Amount
Books $163.61
Hardware $1,005.55
Livestock $0.00
Expendables $186.66
Shipping $27.98
Tax $1.23
Total $1,385.03

Monday, November 28, 2005

Part 2


The second part of my order. Two more books and a stand. I was going to buy a stand locally to avoid shipping charges but I didn't like the stands I saw at Aqua Pets and Birds (neither of the two styles they had have drawers and the under cabinet area doesn't actually have a panel on the bottom to set things on, it all sits right on the floor.) This stand is a little more expensive, but looks better and has drawers.


Reef Invertebrates
$ 36.49
x
1
=
$ 36.49



Conscientious Marine Aquarist
$ 33.99
x
1
=
$ 33.99



Sedona Stand & Canopy Set (75/90 Gallon)
$ 319.99
x
1
=
$ 319.99

Options: Color: Red Oak




Subtotal
=
$ 390.47



Shipping: Standard (Within 7 Business Days)
=
$ 13.99
Total:
=
$ 404.46

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I gave in to the urge

I went ahead and ordered the 384 watt lights (instead of the 260) because they went on sale ($389 instead of $549) I also ordered a book on fish and one on corals to give me some additional reading material while I wait to order the rest of the stuff.


Aquarium Corals: Selection, Husbandry and Natural History
$33.99
x
1
= $33.99

Dr. Burgess's Atlas of Marine Aquarium Fishes: Third Edition
$44.19
x
1
= $44.19

Orbit Compact Fluorescent Lunar Lights (48" w/4-96 watt)
$389.99
x
1
= $389.99
Subtotal = $468.17
Standard (Within 7 Business Days) = $13.99
TOTAL = $482.16

So I guess now I'm commited...


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Decision

I've made up my mind. I know I was tempted by the 100 Gallon (and still am) but I measured the place I plan on putting the tank again (it will be on the wall between the door to the kitchen and bathroom making it the centerpeice of the room. I was going to put it on the other side of the bathroom door but felt that would be too far away to enjoy all the time and would also put it in risk of being hit by the door. I'll put the TV there instead...I watch too much TV anyways.) and found the space is exactly 5' from doorframe to doorframe, meaning that anyone coming into the room might bump the 5' tank. Instead I'll go for the shorter 4' tank. I'll just have to live with the slightly more cramped 75 Gallon tank. Don't get me wrong, a 75 Gallon tank is huge, but with lower oxygen levels in saltwater and more waste byprodocts from coral/invertbrate life in the system it puts more strain on the fish. I also downgraded my lighting choice a little more from 384 watts to 260 watts. The lady at Aqua Pets and Birds seemed to think this was an adequate amount though I think I may still decide to upgrade that sometime down the road, especially if my corals don't appear to be thriving. Until that happens however I'll simply locate the more light dependant corals closer to the top of the tank where the light is more intense. Price tag? (minus tubing, incidental hardware, and go live supplies (such as salts, live rock/sand, test kits, etc))

Item Price Source Quantity Total Price
75 Gallon Glass Tank 199.00 Aqua Pets and Birds 1 199.00
Stand 199.00 (local shop) 1 199.00
Glass top 49.00
1 49.00
Wet/Dry filter 185.00
1 185.00
Visi-Therm Deluxe Heaters 17.99 Dr. Foster & Smith 3 53.97
Coralife Thermometer 6.99 (online store) 2 13.98
Aqua Pumps 2500 37.49
2 74.98
Aqualight double strip lights (260 watt) 239.99
1 239.99
actinic 65w bulbs 27.99
2 55.98
10k 65w bulbs 27.99
2 55.98
SCWD Wave Device 31.99
1 31.99
Pure Flo II RO Unit 289.99
1 289.99





Total 1,312.42

1,448.86