Seaslugteam Ugly Box

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Seaslugteam, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    tl;dr version: Help Seaslugteam design a 40g breeder frag tank that does not care about aesthetics.

    long version:
    In this journal, I would like to have an open discussion regarding how to build/design a 40g breeder frag tank which I will eventually build over the next 6 months. Each post will include a new topic regarding reef keeping ranging from lights, water params, etc. The end goal is to have an environment that is very good for growing out the 'easier' coral such as zao, palys, lps, shrooms, etc. without caring much for how the tank will look. Of course, ease of maintenance is also an important factor.
  2. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    First topic:
    Nutrition control. I.e., nitrate & phosphate.

    long version:
    To me, there seems to be only a few general category of nitrate control. The few that I can think of are: water change, protein skimmer (with and without bio pellet reactor) & algae (macro & algae turf scrubber). Water change is not a very effective way to maintain nitrate. It can be used in an emergency but removing 10% water per week is usually not sufficient. For example, suppose your nitrate input is approximately 2.5 ppm per week. Then your equilibrium per week will be around 22.5 ppm - 25 ppm. The second method is with a protein skimmer (with or without bio pellet) which I admit I do not have much experience with. This is the most popular method for most aquarist and probably the most reliable for larger systems. The issue that I have with it in regards to the Ugly Box is that it takes up A LOT of space or some external pumping to a sump which I would like to avoid. The third method is using macro algae or algae turf scrubber. One method is to simply have macro algae in the frag tank and since the tank will not have any macro algae eater, it will not succumbs to predation. Algae turf scrubber (ATS) is the method that I have been using for my 55 gallon tank and it seems to work decently well. It also has it's issue with fairly annoying process to maintain/clean. Fortunately, it's one of those once a week deal. Currently, there seems to be 3 main design for ATS which are vertical waterfall, horizontal & upflow. Waterfall involves pumping water to a standing pipe and allowing it to vertically fall down a screen of algae. This is the most efficient method but takes up just as much space (if not more) then a protein skimmer. The second method to pump water over a horizontal screen of algae which is also very space consuming. The upflow method uses an airstone which creates an upward current in an enclosed space. This method is compact but I do not know how efficient it is for low nitrate systems. For what I have in mind, see tl;dr version.

    For phosphate control, I only know of 2 methods which are GFO reactor & algae (macro & algae turf scrubber). GFO is automatically not viable due to the pumping constrains which leaves us with algae. Since both idea situation uses algae, I think it algae is probably the ideal solution for the Ugly Box.

    tl;dr version:

    There is no reason why we should be deathly afraid of algae (especially in a frag tank). In fact, the right type of algae can be very beneficial in removing nitrate and phosphate while still leaving trace amount in the water column for coral to use. The main issue with algae IMO is that it gets all over the place. It will grow anywhere that it can attach itself to which includes the frag plugs. Macro algae such as chaeto do not have this issue but I doubt it's ability to compete with hair algae, etc. to completely eliminate it. So the issue is how to grow algae while isolating it to a specific location for easy removal. One method is using algae turf scrubber (ATS) but since the Ugly Box does not have aesthetics constrains, I think we can rethink how to design the ATS. Essentially, the sides of the frag tank receives a considerable amount of wasted light. If we create a screen on the sides of the tank that allows algae to grow on, we can reuse this space and light as a method to remove nutrients. Additionally, there should already be sufficient flow in the frag tank so an extra pump is not needed. One potential issue is that algae also goes through day and night cycles which means that dissolved oxygen might drop significantly at night.

    Let me know what you think of the design so far or if I should take a completely different route. If you also run frag tanks, I would like to hear how you are doing with nutrients and your removal method.
  3. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    One fun scrubber design was to put a small tray across the back top of the tank. 3" x 3" x length of tank.
    With a small powerhead on one end for flow, and just uses normal tank lights.

    But personally: I would either do an algae scrubber right, or don't do it at all.
    If it is not efficient enough to out compete algae in the main tank,
    you end up with a bunch of hassle for minimal gain.

    GFO pumping constraints? Not sure what you mean.
    You can put it in a media bag and drop it in any high flow area.
    And if you don't care about aesthetics, it can be floating in the display tank.

    But really ... want to make it simple ... just limit your fish.
    A few firefish, and clown, and not much else, and you would be just fine with a protein skimmer and vinegar dosing.
    You will be limited anyway since it is a 40G. Not much room for larger fish to swim.
    Seaslugteam and Coral reefer like this.
  4. Ahruk

    Ahruk Guest

    IF you're interested in the scientific experiment aspect of this, you might want to look into getting an oxydator. Seems to very good at helping control algae.

    Also there are some pretty small skimmers out there which might be good if you don't have a huge bioload.
    Seaslugteam likes this.
  5. Ahruk

    Ahruk Guest

    Also try getting useful fish like maybe even mollys which are supposed to be really good at eating all sorts of algae and maybe a wrasse to control other potential pests like flatworms ect.
  6. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    This is going to be a frag tank. If you limit your fish to 1 or 2 (six line or something similar for pest control, add a Peppermint shrimp for aptasia) water changes alone will b enough for nitrate control. That's assuming you don't over feed.

    Add to the fact that you want to have softies n some easier LPS, which prefer dirtier water, I think you are over thinking it. If you want to grow sps, then that is a whole different ball of chaeto!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Seaslugteam and Enderturtle like this.
  7. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    +1 to vhuangs suggestions.

    It kinda sounds like you want to turn a 40breeder into a tank with mostly frag racks and frags. No rock.

    Don't overstock it.
    Where does most of all this Nitrate and Phosphate stuff come from anyways? THOSE DAMN FISH THEIR POOP AND THEIR FOOD.

    Don't go wacko with acros.
    Let's just lay it out on the carpet! They're hard to maintain and require a lot more stability/maintenance. Don't make this an acro frag tank unless you're ready to go down that route.

    Got enough surface area?
    I kinda skimmed over your paragraphs but are you including liverock or pourous rock for nitrogenous waste-fixing bacteria culturing? Is this plumbed to a sump?

    Bad Algae
    Depends on the algae but algae can kill corals. Bubble algae/hair algae/bryopsis can literally smother corals and prevent them from photosynthesizing. I've seen frags die from excessive algae growth. Don't let your NO3/PO4 get too crazy. Stock snails. A small tang would benefit your tang. Maybe try a small yellow tang or Foxface. But remember don't overstock it. Get a clean up crew. hermit crabs are not good at climbing frag racks. Snails are better at climbing frag racks.

    A 40 breeder is kinda tall. Make sure you have a good enough light to match the height that you positioned your frags at. I imagine you will be doing a stair-step frag rack?

    If you want a low maintenance tank don't add things that make your maintenance harder.
    Seaslugteam likes this.
  8. Seaslugteam

    Seaslugteam Guest

    @rygh , the 3" x 3" x length of tank idea is great. I will probably think about this very hard :). I always thought that you need a reactor for GFO since the material is soft so you don't want it to physically hit something or high flow going through the material. Thanks for the info. I will probably have to rethink GFO.

    @Ahruk , oxydator seems like a very interesting idea. I'll definitely look into it. The live stock that I was thinking of keeping are salt water acclimated mollies & a wrasse so you hit the nail on the head on the fish aspect.

    @Vhuang168 , the frag tank will be fairly lowly stocked but I enjoy feeding my coral so I think the bioload might be higher than a normal light only frag tank.

    @Enderturtle , no acros :). I don't even know why people like them so much. To me they are just fuzzy sticks that have slightly different colors. The plan is to have no sump so all the bacteria needs to be in tank. I was thinking of simply have a few MarinePure bioblocks under some of the higher racks and somehow force current through it. A lot of the design for the tank is not flushed out it. Nitrifying bacteria will probably be covered in a later post.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone :).
    Ahruk likes this.
  9. tygunn

    tygunn Webmaster

    I dunno, reading the website for the Oxydator doesn't instill in me a lot of confidence in its operation. :) Seems almost too snake-oily..

    I am a big fan of trying to keep it simple. My 37g tank uses a small Tunze skimmer (which doesn't work well because I never remember to clean the skimmer cup; I'm lazy), and other than that its the rock that helps keep nitrates in check. I've got a low bioload; a couple clowns and a goby.

    I've definitely wanted to try an ATS but I don't really have the room for it at the current time. I think I'd still run a skimmer with an ATS; I mean if you can get junk out of the water before it rots into ammonia and goes through all the bacteria then all the better.
    tankguy and Enderturtle like this.

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