Seaslugteam Tank Journal

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Seaslugteam, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Hello BAR members,

    I'm a new member to BAR and reef keeping in general. I used to keep freshwater for a while back but moved to the bay area 4 years ago. I didn't bring anything with me so I did not start any fish tank. Recently, I started a salt water tank and it's been a fun learning experience which includes flooding my floor when I simulated a power failure. The issue is now fixed by adjusting the output height. I think adding a check valve to the return pump would also have fixed the issue but currently, I simply make sure there's enough volume in the sump.

    My tank is a 55 gallon acrylic tank with another 55 gallon acrylic sump. Although realistically, I think they are running at around 45 gallon each. I'm running about 60 led lights (12 UV, 24 blue 24 white) in a DIY-ish hanging heatsink. Eventually, I would like to get off my butt and program an arduino to dim the lights.

    I am also trying to run with an algae turf scrubber (ATS) instead of a protein skimmer. So far, the tank has been running for about 6 weeks and I feel like the algae turf scrubber might not be up to the job. At least not until after hair algae grows on it. I worry because I'm starting to see nitrate build up and a thin protein layer on the surface of my sump water. I will probably buy or build a smaller DIY protein skimmer to use until the ATS is ready.

    As for live stock, I currently have:
    2x Ocellaris clownfish: Doing well. No issues.
    Cleaner shrimp: Doing well. No issues.
    Blastomussa Merletti: Seems to not open as big. Not sure what the issue is, moved it lower to the tank with less light and flow.
    Hammer Coral, Branching: Doing well. No issues.
    Green Acan: Not doing as well as the Red Acan. Currently, sitting in lower in the tank then the Red Acan.
    Red Acan: Doing well. No issues.
    Dragons Revenge Favia: Doing badly after adding it to the tank. Coral started recessing after the first day. Didn't notice it since the back of the frag was recessing while the front was doing fine. Hypothesis: The recession was due to rough handling when dipping the coral and/or large temperature swings (80->84). Tissue does not seem to be recessing anymore.
    Oregon Mummy Eye Chalice: Got it in a bad state (from another reefer), seems to be doing better currently but still isn't in the best condition.
    Blastomussa Wellsi: Somedays opens up really nicely. On other days, seems to be shrunken. Need to watch the coral more.

    Lessons since the previous post:
    Need to acclimate coral to lighting.
    Be careful when buying coral from other reefers, especially when the person has been neglecting his/her tank.

    P.S: Being new to reef keeping, I think one of the biggest mistake is to grossly underestimate the cost of EVERYTHING!

    IMG_0097.JPG IMG_0099.JPG IMG_0100.JPG IMG_0101.JPG IMG_0103.JPG IMG_0104.JPG
    Enderturtle likes this.
  2. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Your tank is 6 weeks old and your're still kinda learning how your tank behaves.

    When you have a tank for a while you kinda know when you need to do a water change, what your alkalinity/calcium demands are as your corals grow/you add more corals. You'll know if you're having low/high pH issues.

    :) again feel free to ask ANY questions here. We were all newbies once and had to ask questions too. I'm grateful for the people that answered my questions.

    I guess first important lesson is to learn basic saltwater tank care for maintaining Salinity.

    Then learn your basic reef chemistry. Calcium, Alkalinity, pH, Nitrates, Phosphates, etc.

    This forum here is where I learned everything about reef keeping, so if you want more reading material there's also this resource:
    But feel free to ask us too.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2015
  3. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Welcome to BAR!

    If you need help on Arduino LED PWM code, let me know. I wrote that for mine.

    I also run an ATS, so might be able to help on that as well.
    I still run a skimmer, even with an ATS.
  4. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Thanks for the offer for help. I've read on most basic reef chemistry and I don't think I have enough coral currently to have to worry the non-essential (although I do have test kits for them).

    @rygh, what power supply did you pick up for the pwm signals? I have the ean Well ELN-60-48P which requires a 10v PWM signal but the arduino only output 5v PWM signal. I think I also need a 5v DC power supply for the arduino but those should be fairly standard. I really need to get this project going though since I've been running the kits off cheap 9v batteries and the blue led battery case stopped working earlier today.
  5. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Welcome to BAR.

    I'm assuming you have rock in the sump? Because there obviously isn't any in the DT.

    I think most people running ATS also run skimmers. Might look into incorporating 1 into the sump. You will need to partition off 1 area to provide a constant water level (usually 7") for the protein skimmer to work properly.

    As to coral element uptake, you'll be surprised how much they take once they get comfortable and start to grow. I had about the same amount of coral to start and saw my alk drop quite far when the scans started budding.

    I would start measuring once a week and before/after your water change to get a good baseline of where your tank parameters are right now. Then when you see them start to drop, you will know to start dosing.

    Good luck with the tank! Hope to see more.
  6. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I did my LED drivers a bit different than most, because it is a large system.

    I have a large 480 Watt main 24V power supply. Mean Well high efficiency SDR series.
    I then have several Recom RCD-24 current drivers that take the 24V and output constant current for each set of LEDs.
    That allows different PWM controls and different current levels for each color LED (CW/NW/Red/RB)
    That strategy may not match what you want..

    For your 5V to 10V conversion, I would suggest a simple NPN transistor.
    Arduino -> 10K resistor -> Base
    10V supply -> 1K resistor -> Collector and to Meanwell PWM input.
    Emitter -> GND
    It will invert it, but that is no big deal.
    (Search online, probably lots of schematics for that out there)

    FYI: I have several power supplies actually.
    All my power supplies are Mean Well.
    A 5V supply for the Arduino and other circuits.
    A 12V supply for the relays and some other circuits.
    A second 12V supply for a pump. Power surges badly, so must be separate.
    A high quality SDR series 24V supply for the LED lights
    Soon to be another 24V SDR supply for the DC pumps.
  7. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    @Vhuang168, I have about 10 lb of rock and 2 8x8x4 CerMedia MarinePure Block. Seems sufficient for now. I've just purchased 30 lb of pukani rock from BRS that I plan to add to the DT tank and remove the egg crates (they are a lot uglier than I imagined), but those won't cure for another month at least.

    @rygh, are you using the arduino for drive your DC pump also? Are DC pump as good as it seems. (Also, thanks for the schematics, if I get stuck on the arduino project for the LED, I'll definitely brother you :p).
  8. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Tank Updates:

    Measured the tank parameters today and a few numbers where interesting.
    Nitrate 3.75: Down from the previous week value of 6.5. There was a 10% water change in between but that is unlikely to cause the large drop. Most likely, it is due to the fact that brown algae was cleaned off the ATS and new brown algae was able to grow over it. Still waiting for the promised green hair algae on the ATS.

    Alkalinity 7.3 dKH: This is a large drop from the 8.3 value 2 weeks ago. This likely caused Ph dropped from 8.2 to 8.0. I went and purchased some baking soda and baked it at 400F for 60 mins. I plan to dose about 3.5 Tbps of baking soda to bring alkalinity to out 9.0 dKH. Note to self: Do a second measurement of alkalinity and pH before dosing.
    This reef calculator is great :).

    Phosphate 0 ppm: I’m starting to think phosphate is probably the most useless test. First of all, It is very hard to get an accurate low value reading (at least from the Salifert test kit). Secondly, most of the phosphate is probably already consumed by the algae in the tank so the test result will show a low value even if there is a very obvious algae problem.

    I added a nano protein skimmer to the tank to help it remove excess waste and to give time for the algae turf scrubber to kick in. The skimmer is the Reef Octopus NS80 which is rated for tanks up to 25 gallons vs the total volume of about 90 gallon in the current system. However, it was cheap and I don’t plan to run a large protein skimmer in the future. The NS80 has been running for about a day and it is pulling very wet skimmate. This is likely due to the fact that the water level is above the recommended water level. It has gotten much better over but only time will tell.

    I purchased 31 lbs of dry pukani rock from BRS. The attached picture is for anyone who is curious how much 30 lbs of pukani rock is. This patch seems much cleaner and more pourous than the one from MarineDepot but it could also be the luck of the draw. Curing these rock in 10 gallon buckets over the next month or two will test my patience.

    Been fighting the hardest battle in reef keeping. Patience.
    This week, I had an idea to start a secondary tank for zoanthids and palythoa. It will be a 20 gallon long all-in-one tank that can be used as a quarantine tank for coral/fish. However, I think I’m better off focusing on the current tank instead of spending more money on a secondary tank that would just take up time and space.
    Yesterday, I went to the LFS that is closing down. They had a very cool red starfish that is very active. Since the LFS was closing, the starfish was being sold for very cheap. However, I did not know anything about starfish keeping or the species. After much searching on the internet, it turns out to be a red thorny sea star which is NOT reef safe. Thankfully, I did not get the starfish on impulse. Otherwise, it would have spent its life in my sump.

    Lessons since previous posts:
    My DT is a 55 gallon acrylic tank. It has two “large” opening which are 14.5’ by 4.75’. It is too small for most of the new pukani rock that I purchased from BRS. If starting a reef tank, especially incrementally. It is probably better to use a rimless tank to allow easier access.

    Things to do for next week:
    Increase alkalinity to 9.0
    Buy all necessary equipment for driving the led lights & pwm fans with the arduino
  9. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Forgot to attach the picture of the BRS pukani rock for those who are interested. They feel very light weight (compared to other dry rocks that I've picked up). Each tile in the photo is exactly 6 inches.

    IMG_0105.JPG IMG_0106.JPG

    P.S: Please excuse the mess in the background.
  10. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Remember with dry pukani rock it probly needs to cure. Lots of dead stuff on the surface=nitrate /phosphate bloom.

    Looks good! Keep up the good work!
  11. muhli

    muhli Guest

    What Ender said. Although the rocks from BRS is listed as dry, there's usually some dead stuff in it that will cause another cycle if thrown in the tank. Best to just let it cure in another tank temporarily
  12. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    @rygh, are you using the arduino for drive your DC pump also? Are DC pump as good as it seems. (Also, thanks for the schematics, if I get stuck on the arduino project for the LED, I'll definitely brother you :p).[/QUOTE]
    DC is always on, set speed, so no need for Arduino.
    The DC pumps are great! Good flow at decent pressure, so specs seem correct, not enhanced.
    Super quiet. Power is low. I measured it to check also.
    Just two problems:
    Not built for external use.
    Pretty much zero warranty or support.

    PS: Note that the Reef Angel is Arduino based and open source. If you only want to tweak software, not hardware, that might
    be a whole lot easier to start with.
  13. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    It’s been 3 weeks since my last update. I guess life gets busy.

    Tank Updates:
    My refractometer was off by about 0.0035 so my tank was running at a much higher salinity for the last few weeks. It’s important to calibrate once in a while to double check. My calcium and magnesium is dropping below recommended levels so I am starting to dose calcium and magnesium this week. Unfortunately, I do not have a doser so it’s a long and painful process of dripping it by syphon.
    I started to feed my acan and favia coral using julien’s thing. I also made a big batch of DIY food today. It’s a much more time consuming process that I originally thought but I should have enough to last for 6 - 12 months.
    I received a free 10g from newhobby@ (transferred from Vhuang168@) which I planned to use as a quarantine tank. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the protein skimmer to run even after trying to prime it multiple times. In addition, the LED lights required a pwm signal which I have not set up yet so I transferred the coral to my main tank. I managed to clean the tank of algae but I haven’t gotten around to setting it up again.

    Why are aquarium controller so expensive?!

    Lessons since previous posts:
    I lost 1 of the 3 rock flower anemone from the group buy. The anemone never attached to the rock that I placed it in and eventually just melted away. This is my first coral/livestock lost and it’s sort of sad that I don’t quite fully understand what went wrong in this instance.

    Things to do for next week:

    I have the circuit design and the components for an arduino light controller. I need to sit down and solder the parts to the PCB board.
  14. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Only ca and mg dropping? Not alk?
  15. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Alk have been dropping for a while now. I've been dosing baking soda in the top off to keep it up so it's stable...ish at about 9-12.
  16. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    Ughhhh. That's a pretty large range....
  17. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Seaslugteam the Reef Angel Controller is actually very cheap.

    At 269$ you get 8 outlets to control, a temp probe, a ph probe, float switches, and more.

    We will be raffling off a Reef Angel controller and Dosing Pump at the Regional Frag Swap in September too. :)
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
  18. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    That IS a huge range. How often are you testing?

    What test kit?

    How much stony coral do you have?

    I don't see that big a drop unless I don't have kalk in the top off and I don't manually dose for 3-4 days. My average Alk consumption is about 1-1.2 dkh per day.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  19. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    I should have been more precise, the range is actually 9.9 -> 11.9 dKH over about 2 weeks. I'm testing approximately every 3 days. The 11.9 measurement might have been a mistake since I took a second measurement the day after and it came in at 10.2 dKH. In generally, it's been fairly stable at around 10 ish.

    My Alk consumption is probably close to 0.3 dKH per day. Most of my coral are LPS but they're just frags so not much consumption yet I'm guessing :).

    I didn't know reefangel pricing was so reasonable. But I've already traveled down the DIY path, might as well continue on (plus that's half the fun). I mean, we all can also go out and buy huge colony of coral but a lot of fun is in growing a small frag into something awesome.
    Enderturtle likes this.
  20. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    Tank Updates:

    I finally got the arduino to control my led lights. It’s still in the breadboard but it will do for now.

    I purchased 4 cheap Chinese LED flashlight from amazon and modified it into blue 455nm flashlights. These can be used for the regional frag swap. I’ll be giving away 3 of these to BAR members. Disclaimer, I am not an electrician so if the flashlight feels hot to touch. Turn it off.

    I purchased a sps frags pack from yourreef and everything arrived on time and nicely bagged. Only 1 of the sps bleached during the shipment process (or so I think, not sure; I do remember one of the bag smelled funny when I opened it). Lets see if it survived. Yourreef sent me some pretty cool looking frags and they were even nice enough to give me a bonus frag :). I don’t have any sps currently except for a green birdnest. Hopefully, my tank is ready for sps.

    Did a 10% water change in about a month. Feels nice to vacuum some of the algae away.

    I removed the sand from the 10g tank. Now, I need to find a spot for it. How do people disinfect a old tank? Vinegar or bleach? I have heard of 10% bleach and 90% water but what about vinegar?

    Lessons since previous posts:
    LPS likes to eat.

    Things to do:
    DIY dosing pumps!
    What do people use to store dosing solution? I find it hard to find a container large enough for me to create a batch once every 3 months but stacks nicely into a corner.
    Enderturtle likes this.

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