Tank Setup and Log

November 4th, 2000 / Saturday / 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Tank delivered today. It was purchased from Reef Science in Danville, CA. Some of the smaller parts were purchased online from Marine Depot. It took about six hours to setup. Here is a list of the components:
  • Aquarium - Custom 90 gallon Lee Mar glass tank, 1/2" glass
  • Stand/Canopy - Marine Systems 36" white washed oak stand with Euro doors, metal halide canopy (extra height)
  • Lighting - 48" retro kit, 2x55w PC Actinics, 2x250w 10,000K halides (Hamiltons made in Belgium)
  • Filter - Only a 25 gallon glass sump
  • Protein Skimmer - ETS Reef Devil III, plus a large 2 qt collection cup for additional scum
  • Substrate - 100 lbs live sand
  • Live Rock - 90 lbs Fijian rock (I intend to add another 30 lbs this week)
  • Ocean Water - 90 gallons
  • Chiller - 1/4 HP Aqua Logic with coil
  • Heater - 200w EBO Jaeger
  • Pumps - Main pump is MAG 12, skimmer pump is Rio 2500, two Maxi-Jet 1200 powerheads inside tank, one Rio 800 for auto fill system
  • Controller - Neptune Systems AquaController II Backlit, with pH, temperature, and ORP probes, plus two X10 controller modules, calibration fluids, and their AquaNotes Windows software
  • Auto Fill Up - Vertical mount float switch inside sump and attached to a five gallon bucket with dechlorinated tap water (no salt) for automatically filling up evaporated water
  • Testing - Red Sea test kits for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Calcium, plus an Aquarium Systems hydrometer
  • Chemicals/Additives - Amquel Dechlorifier, Instant Ocean synthetic salt, and many SeaChem additives I plan to use later: Reef Complete, Reef Builder, Reef Calcium, Reef Plus, and Reef Advantage
  • Webcam - X10 Anywhere from This allows me to broadcast the signal from the webcam on the tank to my Linux machine without running cable everywhere. I intend to replace the camera unit due to poor picture quality.
  • Miscellaneous - two 4" fans for the canopy, two additional X10 controller modules, plumbing, Tunze magnet, micron bag, three powerstrips, titanium probe, small fish net
Update to this: I have since replaced the Reef Devil with a Precision Marine Bullet 1 skimmer. A separate Mag 12 drives the skimmer and I also have a PM custom acrylic sump and waste container. I replaced the Reef Devil because it was very sensitive to water level changes in the sump and was also difficult to calibrate. The acrylic sump was put in because it was better organized than a glass tank in terms of chambers and had baffles to reduce bubbles being returned to the main tank. Also, as I now use a calcium reactor, I no longer use any SeaChem products.

November 4th, 2000 / Saturday / 6:00 PM

Tank ready to go. For the next several weeks, I will apply the following:
  • Run tank only with live rock/sand for a few weeks to allow it to settle in - then add a few fish and corals slowly.
  • No skimmer during this time
  • Actinics on 24 hours per day, halides off
  • Add hermit crabs to control the various diatom and algae blooms
  • Do not feed the system any additives for the first two months
  • Once there is a lot of coralline algae (hopefully in two weeks), the skimmer comes on as well as halides for 10 hours and actinics for 12 hours.
  • The only maintenance that is needed on the skimmer is a simple vinegar bath if the amount of foam starts to decrease. When the skimmer is slowing down, simply remove the power head and run it in a pint of warm (not hot) white vinegar for an hour. After a short rinse in fresh water the skimmer is ready for several more weeks of use.

November 9th, 2000 / Thursday / 4:00 PM

Order from Garf came today. It included 10 lbs of Garf Grunge which is added on top of the live sand for activation purposes. I really recommend this stuff! I also added 50 Mexican red legged hermit crabs and 100 mixed snails. About five snails were dead on arrival from shipping. Plus I purchased 30 more lbs of Fijian live rock from Reef Science to build up more of a base inside the tank.

November 13th, 2000 / Monday / 11:00 PM

Tested water. pH 8.10, ORP 386, Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.3, Nitrate 10, Calcium 400, Specific Gravity 1.026.

November 18th, 2000 / Saturday / 8:30 PM

Tank is going well. Water is relatively clear, and I am starting to see small patches of new coralline algae growth. The clean up crew of snails and crabs is definitely earning their keep.

November 19th, 2000 / Sunday / 4:00 PM

Tested water. pH 7.76, ORP 324, Ammonia 0.0, Nitrite 0.1, Nitrate 20, Calcium 400, Specific Gravity 1.0255. Last night, I noticed for the first time a brown worm hungrily eating detritus - about four inches of its body extended out of the sand and the sides of the substrate against the glass show small tunnels. Very interesting things apparently come in the live rock!

November 21st, 2000 / Tuesday / 6:00 PM

I added two cleaner shrimp today, aka Lysmata amboinensis. Read more about them at the Breeder's Registry. I also turned on the protein skimmer and started the metal halides for 10 hours per day, and reduced the actinics to 12 hours. Now that everything is running well, I will apply the following:
  • Water tests every two weeks
  • Change 10% water each month to replace minerals. The more water that is changed the better the reef will do. Use Instant Ocean for water changes.
  • Only fresh water needs to be added to the tank as the water level goes down. The salt stays in the tank. All tap water is treated with Amquel Dechlorifier, and starting in two months (when I will start feeding the system additives), treat the tap water with SeaChem Reef Builder one week and then SeaChem Reef Advantage one week.
  • I will write more about the regular additive additions when I start doing them in about six weeks.
Update to this: As I now use a calcium reactor, I no longer use any SeaChem products.

November 25th, 2000 / Saturday / 3:00 PM

Made some big purchases at Reef Science and Aquarium Concepts (Hayward, CA) today. They included:
  • Sun coral, Tubastrea aurea - a stony coral that is ahermatypic (i.e. does not contain zooxanthellae)
  • Brown button polyp colony, Zoanthus sp.
  • 2 fire shrimp, Lysmata debelius
  • 2 peppermint shrimp, Lysmata wurdemanni - to eat the aiptasia growing in the tank
  • A yellow sea cucumber and a black sea cucumber, Holothuria sp.
  • 4 blue green chromis damsel fish, Chromis viridis
  • Dark red brittlestar, Amphiodia urtica
  • Blue linkia starfish, Linkia laevigata

November 29th, 2000 / Wednesday / 5:00 PM

Made some more purchases at Reef Science. They included:
  • White with purple tip Sebae anenome, Heteractis malu
  • Pink and yellow Nudibranch - Using Sea Slug Forum as a reference, I believe it to be Noumea romeri.
  • Very small Scopus tang, Zebrasoma scopus
  • Mandarin dragonet, Pterosynchiropus splendidus - read more at J. Charles Delbeek's site
  • Green sea cucumber, Holothuria sp.
Update to this: Its 4/26/01 and I was just reading this log entry. 3 of the 5 livestock purchases listed above were just plain wrong for this stage of the tank. Anenomes are very difficult to keep (in fact this one later died), nudibranchs are also very difficult to keep (this one also died), and mandarin dragonets typically do not survive in unestablished tanks because their food source of copepods is not yet thriving (I was lucky - my mandarin is still around). Blame this mostly on the lack of informed purchases on my part plus poor LFS (local fish store) recommendations. Knowing more today than 5 months ago, I cannot stress how much one should research their purchases before they get to the store.

November 30th, 2000 / Thursday / 5:00 PM

It looks like the peppermint shrimp was either sucked into the powerhead or was eaten by something. I found its shell stuck to the intake on the powerhead. Also, I believe one of the larger chromis fish was bullying a smaller chromis - it had a big gash down the side of its body for a few days and is now dead. And I just saw the brittlestar, one of the fire shrimp, and about three crabs eating a snail. Its a tough life.

Update to this: a few days later, I saw both peppermint shrimp. The shrimp did not die, but rather it molted (i.e. gave up its shell for a new one).

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