Perhaps I need some of your feedback with my dilemma

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by HiFidelity, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    helloooo everyone, many of you may know me from a couple of BAR events where we might have met.

    My first saltwater tank is the culprit here, I had made an introduction back when I first joined and this is the thread;

    Well since this is the best and most helpful reef tank community I have ever found :D I am back my dear friends with open ears to hear your advice/opinions in regards to my most recent predicament.

    Simply put I've outgrown the tank very very quickly, it is a 45 gallon setup w/ built in filtration and at this point I have 5 fish (clown pair, lawnmower, firefish and a yellow prawn goby. I also have over a dozen different corals in there now, many of them are frags as well as a few decent size colonies, and lastly I have a CUC consisting of maybe a dozen snails as well as a dozen hermit crabs.

    The problem I'm having is how sensitive my parameters are, I have to be on top of my water changes or nitrates will spike quickly and that is what happened recently, I had a busy few weeks and managed to go a month without water change and the result was elevated nitrates. I am currently still fighting back the nitrates in fact I just started dosing vodka about two & a half weeks ago.

    I believe I've reached the breaking point of my filtration capacity and the solutions are very limited as things stand right now. Problem is my sump is not quite as big as needed and the same goes for my skimmer. Don't get me wrong the tank isn't crashing, in fact everything in there is happy and thriving except for my SPS (naturally the first to suffer from elevated nitrates) but my softies & LPS are growing.

    So taking a step back to elaborate on where the plans started; the current tank was supposed to be a an introduction for me into the reef hobby, something with which I can learn the ropes and learn to practice proper husbandry and reef keeping habits before I jumped into something more serious. What I didn't anticipate is how quickly I would outgrow the tank (this is due to this awesome club, without you guys I wouldn't have so many corals or the useful knowledge I've picked up :p ) and now my concern is for the well being of my livestock, I'm very mushy when it comes to suffering livestock, it makes me sad when things die lol.

    Since my last set of pics I posted I've upgraded the lighting to a Cadlights 150w MH, 2 t5's and LED moon lighting which really made all my corals thrive (including SPS) but after a while and after I neglected to do my water changes the nitrates are up and my SPS are receding, 2 small frags didn't make it (bummed me out).

    I do have in my garage 90% of the parts for my next setup which includes a 55g tank (35x18x18) it is a very odd size yes but i chose it because of the fact that it has depth (front to back) and it is not so tall, the idea is to build a setup that is geared towards optimum coral growth and this shape for the size is the best that I can use. I also have an Aqueon Modular ProFlex Sump, AquaC EV120 Skimmer, Lifereef Overflow Box, Mag 5 pump for the skimmer and Ocean Runner 2500 for return pump.

    The Plan was to set the new tank against the wall in front of our staircase at the entrance to our home, there is also a closet under the staircase and a wet bar behind it, I planned to plumb the tank through the wall and into the closet where I would setup my sump, frag tank and everything else I need for my tank along with plumbing into the sewer and fresh water so I can run RO/DI right there next to everything and also have the ability to drain directly into the sewer system for quick and easy water changes.

    Well that sounds great you might say, so what's the problem? My problem is I feel like I need to go into my new tank sooner than expected as it has 10 times the filtration power I currently have and can most likely sustain a heavily stocked tank of the size I'm planning to have but there is a major hiccup, I'm redoing the flooring where the new tank location will be, on top of that there is actually no floor in that area it is an opening where there used to be a staircase leading to the lower level of the house, so not only do I have to redo the flooring I actually have to do some framing work to the beams underneath and that is not going to be for another few months.

    Now I can't get myself to stop thinking about what I should do as a solution for this? at least temporarily so I can keep SPS Corals and not just LPS & softies. I considered plumbing the new sump into the existing tank and have it sit on the side next to it for the meanwhile (sump is way too big for current tank and could never fit in the stand) but my fiance frowned instantly at the thought of having an exposed sump just sitting on the floor in our formal living room. Another thought was whether or not to run the new tank temporarily in another location in the house other than the planned area at the entry of the house, but then I have the sump issue again because my stand is low and not really designed to house a sump (since I want to run the sump behind the wall in the closet) so it's quite a predicament, I either say bye bye to SPS and wait till I can setup the new tank once & for all and only move my livestock once. Or bite the bullet and temporarily setup the new tank somewhere else and later deal with the hassle of moving that tank again into the area where it's supposed to be...

    To add to my headache now I'm wondering if I want to drill my tank?? I know I'm going to drill my frag tank (18x18x18 cube) I only think of this because if I am going to do it I should be doing it before any water goes in but then I don't know if I'm going to keep this setup since I have enough room for a 90 gallon tank to fit and work with the design concept we're going with but then again i love the shape of this 55 gallon tank I'm going with and really like the idea of staying under 24" in height.... Decisions Decisions.

    Any thoughts or ideas as to what the best option may be?? lol
    I will snap a few shots when I get home today of the area where I plan to put the tank so you can get an idea of what my plans are. I don't know if I'm being impatient or overly and unreasonably concerned with trying to keep SPS corals. I guess I just need some constructive criticism or input from those who understand my predicament.

    Sorry about the lengthy read, I figured I'd be thorough in explaining my future plans and current situation.

  2. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member


    Definitely keep the old tank and new tank build completely separate.
    Sharing/moving sumps and equipment causes a huge headache.
    It will be WAY easier to take your time, and do the new system right,
    let it cycle, play with rock work, etc.

    Sell/give away a few things in the old tank that you do not love.
    Reduce the bio load. Makes the old tank simpler, and less to move.

    Just use chemical methods and lots of water changes to reduce nitrates for now.
    It is short term, so don't go crazy with vodka dosing and other mechanisms.

    Get your current system to minimal effort, and focus on new tank.

    Perhaps make sure you are not over-feeding as well.
    Those 5 fish do not seem like they should pollute a 45G that quickly.
  3. Kmooresf

    Kmooresf Supporting Member

    Well first of all.........Congrats on the eventual upgrade!! Seems like we all move up and up. I started with a 7 gallon tank and am now into a 300. LOL!

    Couple possible solutions in the interum. I personally would be doing weekly water changes until the nitrates get back under control or GONE is even better.
    Is it possible to hook up your larger skimmer to the current tank? Sounds like you are not currently using a sump? If not, I would make sure to clean you skimmer cup every other day and check the adjustment to make sure it is doing the best it can.
    I would normally say add some live rock to your sump......if you don't have one, do you have room for some more rock in your tank? I had a 65 gallon with no sump, and having lots of rock to aid in filtration was very helpful. However it needs to be cured........adding un-cured rock would only add nitrates. UGH!
    Are you monitoring your Alk? Most of my SPS issues seem to be from alk fluctuations.......even when I thought it was something came back to alk.
    How are your phosphate numbers?

    Sounds like you are doing your research..........I think the best solution would be.........don't add anymore SPS...........if you feel you can't keep what you have healthy, then put it into DBTC and when you are ready you can get a frag of it back. I am all too familiar with wanting the tank to be DONE myself, but there are always setbacks. The new set up you have sounds pretty nice, so you will have way more options to deal with this kind of thing. Good luck!
  4. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    Ideally I wanted to keep my new setup completely separate as I had plans to cycle and cure some dry liverock in it pre-move, but the bulk of my rock is still coming from my existing setup so I will be using a small amount to seed the new rock.
    I'm in the process of getting rid of my Kenya Trees (surprised to see that people want them) I am resorting to Vodka Dosing because my repeated water changes have not put a dent in my nitrates. I would have to say that I need to focus my efforts on the old tank simply because I believe I did a good job planning my new tank thoroughly and shouldn't have any hassle setting it up other than figuring out my plumbing. I also feel it's necessary to focus on my old tank because it houses all of my livestock, all the livestock that will have to go in my new tank.

    I think I was overfeeding a month ago when I was feeding twice a day but as soon as I caught the nitrate rise I cut the feeding in half, now they get a little bit of frozen food and a little bit of flake food once a day.

    I can not run my larger skimmer to the tank because I can't see a way of running it without a sump and my current sump is small and it sits on top of the tank towards the back. My current skimmer AquaC Remora is pulling a lot of skimmate, I empty & clean it once every couple of days and it's been skimming even more now that I started dosing vodka. Weekly water changes are being done for at least a month now.

    As far as liverock goes, i have as much rock as I can possibly fit in the built in filter and I actually added bioballs (temporarily) on top of all the liverock which catch the mist from the water splashing off the liverock so they're serving as a mini wet/dry filter.

    My Alk is steady at 7, that is a bit on the low range but I didn't think it would cause SPS to die off!! perhaps I'm wrong there I'll wait to see what you guys think?

    0 Phosphates
    0 Ammonia & Nitrites
    40-50 Nitrates
    7 Alk
    8.1 PH
    480 Calcium
    1.025 salinity
  5. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Be patient. Keep what you can for now. Wait for the sps. I will likely be getting rid of my 120 4x2x2 in the next couple months if you are interested. Definitely drill your tank (new one right?). You will regret not doing it if you don't.
    How big are you water changes? I'd do a few 20 gal changes every 3 days or so for a week or two. Should get rid of mist of the nitrates.
  6. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    perhaps add some items that will consume the nitrates? Maybe some plants or filter feeders.
  7. euod

    euod Supporting Member

    Yes, patient is key. Since you started dosing vodka has your nitrate dropped? I'd like to see alk up to 9, but if you have always maintained at that level, then you can leave it. What is your Mg? Maybe you can look into the nitrate kit that you are using, too. Also, my neighbor is selling a great 90 glass tank setup for a couple hundred bucks that I can hook you up if you want.
  8. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    I agree with everyone on patience, I'm quite patient with what I do and often too patient (like the time I quarantined new fish for 40 days :bigsmile: ) but it's not a question of patience in this matter, just trying to make sure I don't lose any livestock before the upgrade...

    The Vodka dosing has not yielded any drop in nitrates YET, of course I don't expect to see it yet since I've only been dosing for 3 weeks, I'm only up to 2ml/day and I'm not rushing it just taking my time till I hit that sweet spot in my dosing volume. No negatives yet either.

    I think I'm going to order some pickling lime and mix up some kalkwasser, I have a 1.1ml/minute dosing pump that I can run to dose some kalkwasser, this would be my first time playing around with kalkwasser can anyone tell me where I should start? (concentration) just a safe ratio I can use since I'm only increasing Alk a little bit. I do have to admit that when my SPS were growing and healthy my Alk was above 8 and PH was slightly higher 8.2-8.3 so this combination could possibly be the culprit.

    I appreciate everybody's suggestions and offers for a new tank but I've spent so much time designing my new setup around this next tank that I just don't have the energy to start over with a bigger tank, I would actually prefer a 90 gal tank over my 55 but then I'd have to also reconsider using certain parts and maybe replace them with different ones so that's what I'm trying to avoid, in a couple of years perhaps when I fill up the 55 gal I may go ahead and go to 70-90 gal setup.

    I'm actually more concerned with how my closet setup is going to be than I am with the display tank, primarily because I have to build everything in there from scratch including running a power line from the main circuit breaker in the house and framing for supporting things like my sump, water holding containers, frag tank etc. The display tank should be stress free once it's setup and situated.
  9. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    The closet setup sounds like fun. ;)
    Google sketchup is a pretty easy way to make 3D drawings to look at things.
    I also suggest you get cardboard boxes and place virtual components before you start really building.
    Making sure you have good access to items that need maintenance is key.

    May or may not apply to you, but water holding containers and RODI can go outside in a shed pretty easy.
    Frees up a lot of space, and gets stuff that sometimes leaks out of your house.
    The peristaltic top off pumps can pump a long ways, and it is only a small 1/4 line.
  10. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    oh yes I'm really excited about building the closet setup, I love the concept of having someone walk into the house to be greeted immediately by my reef tank with everything else hidden from sight till you open the closet door & see everything humming there. I figured I'd put the holding containers in the closet because of 2 reasons;

    A. there is a considerable amount of dead space in the very back of the closet, since it's under a staircase it's shaped like a triangle and the very farthest point inside is the narrowest naturally, so I figured I'd get some shallow or square container(s) to bury back there where I can't put anything else.

    B. the nearest point outside of the house would be 30-50 feet away and it has at least 3 walls between one of which an exterior wall, so a lot of work to run all the piping through which would be a huge PITA to accomplish, not to mention no accessible power in the space where I would be able to put it all. The only other viable location would be my garage which I should probably give more serious consideration into since you have me thinking about a 30-50 gal holding tank springing a leak into that closet :O

    I took a look at sketchup once but not in detail, what would the learning curve be like for a digital artist? (I'm a photographer)

    I forgot to take pics yesterday by the way, didn't realize it till after sunset and I wanted a decent pic so I'll try to get pics of the space I'm talking about later today when I go home...
  11. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    by the way I was very inspired by someone else's closet setup that I saw on here a while back, perhaps someone will remember who it was!

    and I just snapped a few pics for fun :)

    This is the space I'm preparing for the new tank;


    To the left is the front door, the ugly carpeted box is the cover that's sealing the opening for the old staircase, this I have to rebuild & seal off and then refloor the area. To the far right you can see the door and behind this door is the closet or future "aquarium room" basically it's the width of the door + 12" or so and runs the depth of the staircase.


    Happy LPS & white twigs in the background are what's left of my birdsnest colony :(


    more LPS and a couple of SPS skeletons...
  12. tr1gger

    tr1gger Keyboard Cowboy

    I can totally see it. So jealous :)
  13. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Sure looks like you can fit a lot more than 55G in there. >)
    Remember: Larger is sometimes easier.
    And if you want fish like tangs, you need a lot more than 55G.

    At any rate, a real suggestion:
    Put a large refugium below the display tank, on floor in the main room, inside stand.
    Only put a small sump in closet fish room, for skimmer and a bit of misc equipment.
    That should leave a lot more room in the closet, plus you will have better access
    to refugium, which can actually be fun, not just macro-algae.
    So your flow : Display tank => sump => refugium => display tank
  14. HiFidelity

    HiFidelity Guest

    That's an interesting idea, I have been wondering which would be more efficient; a refugium or a scrubber? anyone have experience with both? because I can't find any detailed comparisons though my research, the only thing I've found is statements about scrubbers working much faster & more efficiently than a fuge.

    I have for a while now looked at refugiums trying to figure out how I could incorporate a display refugium in my setup. I can use that 18x18x18 tank for a refugium instead of frag tank because it's the same height & depth as my display tank. I don't know too much about refugiums yet other than they're good for growing algae and copepods but that's bout it. I have seen a couple of great looking display refugiums and for a while I thought it'd be really cool to keep seahorses in it until I learned that seahorses require cooler water. In any case if I decide on a refugium I figure that 30 gal tank should be great for it, the only problem I'll have to sort out is the stand because as I mentioned earlier that I have a low stand specially because everything goes inside the closet and it would allow for easy top-down viewing of the corals in the tank, which is why I thought putting it beside the tank would be cool since it's the same height & depth.

    By the way it was Julian Sprung's Refugium that made me think of putting a fuge on display, this is what it looks like;

  15. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I have run a scrubber for years. Really like it, and will never go back to a macro-algae-fuge.
    But that is not to say I do not have a refugium. I am currently building a new bigger one, for fun stuff. (Lobster maybe)
    Just no macro algae, because that starves and dies quickly in a scrubber system.
    At any rate, I like scrubbers, but there are big caveats and concerns, so make sure you really know what you are doing first.
    See for details, but be careful of the over-hype in spots.
    PM me for details if you want.

    Ahh, sounds like what you really want is two display tanks.
    That is fairly easy. Both need overflows, and have two return pumps from sump.
    I sometimes wish I had done that. Reef on one side, FOWLR or special something on the other.
    Yes, if you have a low stand, probably not a good idea to put a refugium under there.

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