75 Gal build Stage 1, Planning
by, 05-04-2012 at 12:44 AM (969 Views)
As most of you know I'm getting the 55 gal set up I gave away a year ago back. And planning to upgrade it to a 75.
Step 1, Research
I've just finished rereading parts of "Aquarium Corals" by Eric H. Borneman, which prompted me to get a copy of "Natural Reef Aquariums" by John H. Tullock. I really like Tullocks ideas for a biotype aquarium that replicates one reef zone, from one part of the world.
Currently I only have 2 species of fish. 1 false perc clown and 3 bluegreen chromis. Both indo/pacific species. With the chromis being from the reef crest and the clown usually found in calmer areas.
For corals I have:
a toadstool leather
a zoanthid colony
a clove polyp colony
lots of mushrooms
2 open brains.
2 huge torch coral colonys
1 birdsnest SPS
1 Pocillapora SPS
Lots and lots of mushrooms.
Most are indo/pacific corals, but from all different reef zones. The leathers, mushrooms and zoanthids are lagoon and deep reef slope species. The brains are typically found in sand flats behind the barrier reef. Not sure about the torch corals, but it seems most LPS corals are typically from calmer lagoons or deeper fore reef zones. And the SPS's are from the shallow fore reef or reef crest.
So, not the best start for a biotype tank. Especially since my two must have species are a candy cane goby/randalls pistol shrimp pair, and a Rainfords goby. The goby/shrimp pair live on deep sandy fore reef slopes. The Rainford's lives in turbid lagoons and sea grass flats. However, both do seem to prefer calmer water and darker conditions (the rainfords is reportedly most active at dawn and dusk). I'd like to go with an SPS dominated tank this time, with a few LPS corals. Fortunately the SPS corals I've got are both species that do well in a variety of conditions. And LPS's in general tend to be pretty hardy as long as they have food and light. The finger leathers are going back to the LFS, and I'm undecided on the toadstool. I can't really get rid of the mushrooms without replacing nearly all my rock, so they'll probably get incorporated into the new set up.
Step 2, the Plan
Based on all that, I'm planning to go with a fore reef, indo/pacific tank. I'm going to try and simulate the transition between the rocky SPS dominated reef, and a sandy fore reef slope. So most of my rocks will be along the back wall of the tank. The front 1/2 of the tank will be deep sand bed. My existing SPS colonies will be placed high on the rock work, the favia down low. The brains out on the sand bed. I'm planning to add more SPS to the rocks, probably some branching and tabling acro's as both forms seem to show up on the deeper fore reefs. I don't plan to add any more LPS since I like a more open looking tank with larger areas of bare sand. In fact, I'll probably try to find a new home for the torch corals.
As for fish, of course my clown and chromis will be moved over, and I may add more chromis. And the must have goby/shrimp pair. I'd also like a small tang, either a yellow or Kole. Tangs seem to roam over all parts of the reef, so one will fit in with my biotype. I'd also like to risk a dwarf angel, either a flame or potters, which should be right at home on the deep reef fore. Possibly a small wrass, I love the look and movement of wrasses, but don't like what they do to the micro invert populations. A dragonet is another possibility once the tank is well established. And of course some kind of shrimp.
As much as I love the little Rainford's gobies, they just don't fit in this biotype. And from my own personal experience they do need filimentous algae to stay healthy. So I may have to plan a nano, lagoon tank for my office to fill that need in the future.
I currenly have a 4x54W T5 retrofit kit over the 55 using 2 super blue lamps, 1 figi purple and 1 10,000K. To simulate the deeper zone I plan to replace the super blues with actinic. If I feel I need more light I may add a couple rows of royal blue LED's and go back to the super blue T5's, but I think the 4 T5 lamps will be sufficient.
The current 55 has an 1100 gph Pan World pump driving a closed loop through a SCWD wave maker. The SCWD is broken, and only flowing out one side right now. For the 75 I'm considering 2 options for circulation. 1. use the same pump to drive a 1" SCWD closed loop, with penductors on the outlets for increased flow. This has the advantage of being very low cost since I already have the pump. 2. A pair of Vortec MP40's. Vortecs are increadibly versitle, move huge amounts of water, are quiet and leave a very clean uncluttered appearance. They're also about $450 bucks each.
It looks like my new job will require me to be out of town for a few days each month. So a robust system that requires little or no daily maintenance will be a nessecity. The 55 uses a siphon type overflow box, while I've never had a problem with it, the potential for loosing siphon and overflowing the tank is always there. So on the 75 I plan to use a Glass-Holes.com overflow. The overflow will drain down to a sump with a reactor to run carbon, an algae scrubber, auto top-off system and auto dosing 2 part system.
I've done my fair share of battles with nuisance algae in the past and I'm convinced that the only way to prevent it is to have some system of constantly removing nitrate and phosphate. There are dozens of ways to accomplish this. Refugiums with macro algae, algae scrubbers, GFO, bio pellets and those are just what I can think of off the top of my head. I plan to use an algae scrubber because I've had great success with them in the past. I've also had a problem with them. The water slot tends to plug up with algae causing it to squirt out. This causes lots of salt creep and at least twice now has squirted out of the tank creating a mess and draining several gallons from the tank. I recently discovered an easy fix on algaescrubbers.net, simply drape a piece of plastic wrap over the top. It clings to the water flow smoothing it out and preventing the squirts. A further refinement that I haven't tried yet is to use black plastic to also prevent algae from growing at the top of the screen, so the water slot won't get plugged up in the first place.
I've never tried a skimmerless system, but theoretically they're not necessary and possibly detrimental with an algae scrubber. Don't get me wrong, skimmer work, well proven fact. They remove organtic particles from the water before they can break down releasing nitrate and phosphate. The algae scrubber (AS) doesn't remove particles, it absorbes nitrate and phosphate. The theory is that removing the organic particles is removing potential food for the corals and small fish. Sounds good, but I'm going to leave enough space in the sump to add a skimmer later if needed. But not having one, means one less maintenance item.
I'd also like to have a separate refugium, or large refugium section in the sump for pods, mysis and other small food animals to propagate. But that's optional at this point.
OK, it's about bed time for me. And I'm about typed out. Please add your thoughts and comments. Since I'm still planning, I'm not committed to anything at this point and open to other ideas.