Tank Journal for Jim in Mountain View 220gal

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Jim123, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    I am a new member. You probably saw me in the welcome forum.

    I decided to start a journal for my tank.
    This is my first saltwater tank.

    Tank 220 gal TruVu acrylic (84" long x 20" front to back x 30" high)

    Zero maintenance tank plan;

    I was tempted by the following article; http://www.theokaa.org/articles/zero.pdf

    This article describes a experiment where a "Lowest Maintenance Tank" was made by
    taking a 100 gallon tank with lots of macroalgae and stocking it lightly with herbivorous and omnivorous fish that could
    live off the algae and nothing else. The experiment apparently worked for many years.
    The fish were some semi-agressive Clown Fish species, several Dwarf Angels and some Damselfish.
    However I decided in the end that all the fish would probably kill each other when they matured.
    I came up with a plan for a more conventional tank. (Although the Zero Maintenance Tank still tempts me.)

    What do people in the Forum think about the "Zero Maintenance" idea?

    More conventional tank plan;


    Lower maintenance
    Easy fish
    Lots of live rock and sand
    Lots of macroalgae and soft corals (no Caulerpa!)

    Current problems;

    1) Top of stand is not flat enough.
    It is off by 1/4" at one corner, ughhh!
    I will be trying to use self leveling compound (used for floors).
    It could work, it could end up a mess, I will post methods and results.

    2) The acrylic tank has a 5" rim for support around the top.
    I can't install a internal overflow because the rim would not allow access to the overflow
    for cleaning. I could cut away a section of the rim bracing and then carefully reinforce it somehow.
    This may not be needed.

    I believe, in all newbie innocence, that if I have a large bioball canister filter and also lots of macroalgae in
    the tank that I will not need a sump or a protein skimmer.
    I also think this extra biology may drastically reduce the need for water changes.

    We will see...

    If I can figure out the overflow I may go for a sump and put the bioballs in there.

    Pictures of my freshwater planted tank;
    This is what experience that I do have.





    Pictures showing the current status of my reef tank;
    (Yes, the stand is very very sturdy)




    Current proposed reef tank fish;

  2. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    Here would be the proposed fish for a "Zero Maintenance" setup.
    (I have read online that the Green Clown Gobies will eat lots of algae).


    BAYMAC Guest

    Clown gobies eat algae? That's a first for me in 20 years :lol: they may nip a little, but no more than any other carnivorous fish.
  4. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I had thought about ultra-low maintenance in the past.
    My idea was basically:
    No hard coral, only small fish, heavy on herbivores, and lightly loaded.
    Good skimmer.
    Large very deep sand bed. Lots of live rock.
    Big invertebrate clean up crew.
    One part doser (Alk)
    Weak lights. Sort of low PAR, high CRI.

    Maintenance would be:
    Clean skimmer weekly.
    Clean front glass.
    Small bi-monthly water changes.

    Nitrates are the real enemy in a low maintenance system.
    Bio-balls make that worse, not better.
    Algae reduces nitrates, but only if it is exported (physically removed from tank)
    The skimmer + deep sand bed + live rock will handle it if lightly loaded.

    A skimmer is a great way to export crud, and really easy to clean, so
    removing that does not make sense to me.

    You will always need some water changes.

    EDIT: Stand comments deleted. Just read other thread.
  5. 650-IS350

    650-IS350 Supporting Member

    I dunno if the Damsels, Clowns, Clown gobies wouldn't get by without eating meaty foods ( brine/mysis etc )
  6. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    Well, they are green...

    Given my lack of experience, I am much more likely wrong than not.
    I guess you can find any opinion you want if you look long enough on the internet.
    Thanks for your comment, Jim : )
  7. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    No bio balls! Yes water changes. Yes skimmer! Yes macro algae.
    Oh yeah, an YES WATER CHANGES!!!
  8. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    Hi Mark,

    Yes, your plan sounds just like the original article.
    I can't remember if they used a skimmer.

    I guess if there were enough plants all the excess waste and protein could be exported as macroalgae removed from the tank.
    Not sure if this would actually work. I don't see any reason not to have a skimmer unless more nitrates are needed for the
    Macroalgae and Soft Corals.

    The part of the plan that I was most concerned with is whether the fish would get too territorial when mature, especially
    the damselfish. Even if they were the less territorial yellow tail, azure or springer damsels, when they get mature I bet they
    would beat up everything in the tank trying to maintain territories.

    However, maybe, if they had to live off the algae and any pods in the tank, and there was plenty of it, they might just be too busy
    eating to fight.

    Anyway just an interesting idea, and it did apparently work according to the article. The article does not say how peaceful, or
    not, the tank was. The article does look real to me...

    Well I ramble. Thanks for the comments. Jim
  9. 650-IS350

    650-IS350 Supporting Member

    Damsels are cool when they are first introduced but as they get settled they do get very very territorial... Hate having to break a tank down just to remove a group of damsels.
  10. BAYMAC

    BAYMAC Guest

    FWIW Live Aquaria is great website to simply cruise fish information :D
  11. 650-IS350

    650-IS350 Supporting Member


  12. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Note that the article mentions "cleaning" the tank once a year.
    Which they then specify as tearing the whole thing down and replacing/cleaning it all.
    For a 220G, that seems rather difficult. Plus, real easy to make a mistake
    and kill everything.

    If you want a very hardy peaceful fish: Blue/Green Reef Chromis (Chromis viridis)
    Best to have more than 3, since they like being in a group.
    Forget yellow tail damsels.
    Consider pygmy angels, lawnmower blenny.

    As far as living off algae and pods:
    Might work for a while, but seems like a good way to get sick unhealthy fish.
    They need a decent healthy diet just like everything else.
  13. BAYMAC

    BAYMAC Guest

    Those are not YT Damsels, they are Chrysiptera hemicyanea. There are dozens of damsels with yellow blue so its confusing. Those are actually better than Chromas viridis IME.
  14. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    Hi again;

    I am not planning to try the "Zero Maintenance Tank".
    Too many things about it make me nervous.

    On another topic;

    Green Chromis (Chromis viridis) or even Blue Chromis (Chromis atripectoralis) are
    beautiful fish.

    I only have info from the web.
    There are many reports of Chromis viridis having a low long term survival rate.
    Groups of these fish seem to regularly die off and dwindle down to 2 or 3 fish.

    The best explanations I have seen for this are;

    1) The fish don't ship so well. They have trouble getting acclimated and eating.
    2) The fish are very active and need to be fed at least 3 times a day
    3) The fish pick each other off until only 2 or 3 are left.
    (No one ever sees much aggression, but this does sound like Damselfish.)

    Because of the above I have been reluctant to add this to my planned fish.

    Does anyone have experience keeping these fish, in a small group, for a number of years,
    without a lot of losses? If so, how?

    It is nice to have people to talk to about this stuff.

    Thanks for your help, Jim
  15. CookieJar

    CookieJar Guest

    I have a 180 and before I redid it I had 5 green chromis do well for 2+ years. None in the group showed much aggression nor prevented one from eating. They all grew to adult size. With that said my 1st attempt adding chromis was an utter failure since 4 of the 5 dissapearred within 2 days, still don't know what happened to them.
    Your tank is pretty big so I'd say they're a good low-maintenance fish, quite hardy, just not that colorful. Also consider some wrasses, many of which are hardy. Just be careful to not pick out an aggressive species like a 6-line.
  16. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    I have had 2 blue-green chromis for 5+ years, and 5 more for 3+ years.
    Over that 5 year time, I have had 4 die I think.
    I have heard the same about problems with small groups though.
    I have a 240, pretty much the same as you plan.

    There is a bonus to blue-green chromis. They act as "dither" fish.
    Meaning, they like to swim around near the top in a group, and this makes
    the more timid fish come out.
    Lots of data on that online, and I have seen it personally.

    To clarify: Yes, I was talking about the Yellow Tail Damsel as the nasty fish to avoid, and not
    the ones you had in your pictures. Chrysiptera hemicyanea might be a very good choice.

    Good article on Damsles/Chromis here:
  17. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    Does anyone have LED lights that they like. Can you recommend a manufacturer?

    I copied this from my Welcome thread. All comments are welcome.

    I do need some help setting up my tank.
    How about if I make a proposed setup and then
    people can comment on it and point out any problems?

    Here it is;

    1) Tank;
    220gallon TruVu acrylic tank
    84" length x 20" front to back x 30" high

    2) Tank contents;
    Low density, easy fish
    Lots of live rock and sand
    Lots of macroalgae (no Caulepera)
    Some inverts
    Soft coral only

    3) Proposed fish;



    4) Lighting 570 actual watts T5HO, 6 tubes wide, approx 3 watts per gallon
    Should be good for Macroalgae and Soft Coral

    5) Two 300 watt heaters

    6) 55 gallon sump running at 40 gallons

    7) 1200 gph sump return pump running at 1000 gph

    External overflow box attached to the outside of the tank wall
    16" overflow slot in tank wall
    Three 1.5" hoses from the overflow box to the sump
    1 - Emergency overflow hose
    1 - Tuned hose with gate valve
    1 - I'm not sure what it is for hose

    9) Three part manual dosing for Calcium, Carbonate and Magnesium.
    Should be OK for soft coral.

    10) Wave maker in tank, not sure what type or size.

    11) Protein skimmer in sump, not sure what type or size.

    12) Acrylic tank covers.
    Some sort of auto top off.

    Well that's it.
    What do people think?
  18. Jim123

    Jim123 Guest

    This question is for aqua-nut (John);
    Any other comments are welcome!

    I have read the BA overflow tread at Reef Central several times. The only part I don't quite get is the airline on top of
    one of the siphons. I understand how it works but I can't my mind around how it works with the whole system. You
    don't seem to use it in your setup anyway.

    So does the following drawing represent what you have on your tank?


    Another general question;
    Is there a way to contact individual members on this forum?
    I have seen things like "@aqua-nut" etc.
    Do I have a mail box or something on this forum that I don't know about?
    I stumble confidently forward...

    Thanks for your help!
  19. gimmito

    gimmito Guest

    Since you are a member now, you should have a message option (which is next to new posts on the upper right of each page). Simply click on a members name (eg. Aquanut) and it will give you a message option to send to that individual.
  20. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    To answer in reverse order, :)

    You can PM individuals. I'll send you a test PM right after I finish this.

    Good diagram! Mine is not exactly like that.

    The main, aka full siphon, had two 'els' on top of a standpipe capped with a strainer. It sits somewhat below the emergency drain. It's the only one with a valve.

    The open channel is a standpipe just about to the top of the main. I haven't at this point done the little siphon tube addition. Right now it's either a open or has a strainer. I will eventually add the 1/4" tube so it can go into full siphon mode.

    All three standpipes are slip into the bulkheads. They have a couple of very tight wrappings of telfon tape to make them watertight and still removable.

    RE: stumble confidently forward
    Ha! I like that. Reminds me of a toddler learning to walk. At some point we gain experience and can run. That doesn't mean we won't fall or run into a wall but we keep going!

    Hope to see you at the meet today.

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