The next step is figuring out the flow in the tank and was one of the trickier elements of the build. On one hand, I want to keep that “clean look” with little or no wires visibly coming out of the tank, and on the other hand, I want to keep quite a bit of SPS and need to provide significant amounts and varied flow in a rather wide rectangle-shaped footprint. Seemingly two goals that conflict – a ton of unnoticeable flow. So, for most of my flow, I went with the most unnoticeable pumps currently on the market (or at least the only ones that don’t have cords running around inside the tank and should pretty much disappear against the black background).
4 Ecotech Vortech MP40WQD’s (max flow rate of 4,500+ gph per device): These will comprise the majority of the “unnoticeable flow”. Two of these will be placed on each side of the overflow- two placed in the upper third and the other two about halfway up the tank (or as low as I can go without blowing around the sand). The plan here is to use the tidal swell mode where the two on the left side run in unison, and the two on the right run in unison. There’s also the added benefit of having spare wetsides that I can just swap out when I need to clean the ones in use.
The problem with the Vortechs is that they can only be placed on the back wall of the tank, but with an internal overflow taking up part of the back wall, I am guessing that there would be quite a few dead spots in the middle (especially once SPS start to grow in at the top of the tank). That’s why I decided to place a gyre pump at the top of the overflow box so that the cord is not extremely noticeable, and should create enough flow in the center of the tank to address most of the dead spots.
Red Sea Reefwave 45 (max flow rate of 3,960 gph): I went with the Reefwave 45 for a few different reasons: 1) it has a completely sealed magnet and can be placed (quite discreetly) at the top of the overflow box, 2) it is marketed as being extremely quiet (so far so good on this front), and 3) it is marketed as being extremely easy to maintenance (disassemble/reassemble/etc.). I also like the fact that you can direct the two propellers independent of each other (this may not be a novel thing with Red Sea) so you can direct flow (up or down) depending on if you’re looking to agitate the surface, blast the rockwork, or a little of both.
I also went with some flow accelerators on my return line, so that I can direct the return flow into the rockwork to eliminate as many deadspots as possible.
2 Accel Aquatics Vortex Flow Accelerators on Return Lines: I went with these because, while I’m not trying to have a high turnover of water go through my sump, I’m trying to get my in-tank water to be pretty turbulent. This should help with some of directional flow where my MP40’s and Reefwave 45 can’t get to.
While I don’t expect that it will come to this, depending on how my current set-up works, I might add two different types of pumps down the line: 1) Another gyre pump on the far end of the tank (not preferable because it is a viewing panel) and/or a directional pump on the back wall to flush out any dead spots in the rockwork (also not preferable since it will result in a not-so-easy-to-conceal cord running up the backside of the tank):
1 Tunze Turbelle Nanostream 6095 Controllable Pump (already have) or Turbelle Stream 6255 Controllable Pump: I won’t start with placing the Tunze in the system and will see how I am able to manage the flow with the Ecotech Vortechs and the Reefwave, but if the need arises, I can plan to mount at least one on the back wall, and place it lower behind the aquascape. I specifically liked the design of these two pumps since, not only can you control it, but it also provides a very wide and more gentle flow than what you find with some of the other Tunze powerheads. It also has a relatively small footprint and can be pointed pretty much any direction (allowing for potentially easier concealment behind the aquascape), so hopefully, with the black background, the powerhead and cord shouldn’t be too noticeable, but we’ll see.
Red Sea Reefwave 25 Gyre Pump (already have): This pump definitely has a small visual footprint given that it is the smaller of Red Sea’s a gyre pumps, and can be placed relatively high in the water column so that it is not clearly in the line of sight. If needed, I might be able to get away with mounting this on the far side of the tank, which would obviously help immensely in getting a more varied flow in the tank. The other challenge is trying to hide the cord coming from the pump. This would be a “last resort” piece of equipment if I’m really having a difficult time sustaining sufficient flow.
Yeah, so far so good. I like it because, for now, all of the pumps will be on pretty low, but as the need arises (i.e., when I start getting some corals and/or they start growing out), I'll just bump it up and keep doing that without maxing out any one particular pump.
While I live only about 15-20 minutes from the beach, it still gets pretty hot where I live at times (hitting 100+ degrees just a few weeks ago) and will dip as low as the high 30’s a few nights during the winter. So, just in case, I wanted to make sure my tank would be taken care of regardless of the weather.
Heating: I will be running two 600-watt BRS Titanium Heaters with their own controllers. Since they independently should be able to handle my tank, one will be the main heater, set to turn on at a temperature of approximately 76 and off at a temperature of approximately 77, and the other heater will purely be used as a back-up, and set to turn on at 75 and off at 76. Both will be plugged into the APEX which will have ultimate control and shut off both if the tank reaches 78.
Cooling: This is obviously more of a concern for me, but I think that without a canopy and not running Metal Halides, I should be in pretty good shape. In fact, even when it was over 100 degrees a few weeks ago, the tank was still just hovering around 78 degrees without any additional cooling (aside from our A/C). Just in case the $h!t hits the fan though and my A/C breaks in the middle of a heat wave or something, I wanted a back-up plan, so I'll also run with the following equipment.
Plan A: Sunlight Supply Air King Fan and Vents in Sump Shed… on those hot days where we’re not running the A/C while we’re away, I figured I would start with some evaporative cooling in the sump shed using the Air King Fan/Ventilation. This will be set to come on if the tank gets to 79 or above.
Plan B: JBJ Arctica Chiller 1/5 HP… if it gets really hot, then worst case, I’ll have this plumbed into the tank on the manifold and will set it to turn on if the tank ever gets to 79.5 degrees.
This was another tough decision… back in the day, I ran with Metal Halide and supplemented with T-5’s, but with energy costs the way they are going in Southern California (I live in one of the more expensive areas for energy in the country with SDG&E as my utility provider) and the controllability you have with LED’s, it seemed like it made too much sense NOT to go with some form of LED lighting option.
So, then it became a decision of whether I wanted to go with only LED or a hybrid option of LED and T-5. I did quite a bit of research on this, and it seems like the safest bet on making sure you have enough coverage/spread on such a wide tank without shadowing after the SPS frags have grown into SPS colonies is either a car downpayment’s worth of LED’s or a hybrid of LED’s and T-5. I took the more cost effective approach here and decided to go with the hybrid option.
LED Option: When first trying to make this decision, I narrowed my options to either the Ecotech Radions G4 XR30 Pro (the G5’s weren’t out when I was considering this) or Kessil A360X. Honestly, I was kind of leaning towards the Kessils until the Ecotech Radion G4 sale popped up and I couldn’t pass up the deal. So, I scooped up 2 XR30 Pro units to pair with the 4-bulb hybrid T-5 fixture.
T-5 Hybrid Fixture: The choice here was mostly about aesthetics since I planned to simply mount the fixture above the tank without a canopy. Initially, I was looking at the Geisemann Stellar fixture since the fixture I chose NEEDED to only have the power cord(s) come out of one end (since this is a peninsula style) and the standard Aquatic Life hybrid fixtures have the power cords coming out of both ends (although you can turn one around). But then I came across a deal for the Dimmable Aquatic Life T-5 fixture and went with that one. Only one power cord coming from one end AND looks a bit sleeker than the other hybrid fixtures I was looking at.
Depending on the PAR readings I get on the current set-up, I might have to expand the spread of the unit and/or add some more power.
Expanding the spread: for this I might consider attaching some Reef Brite 50/50 or Actinic XHO LED strip lights (attached to the outside of the Aquatic Life T-5 Fixture) if I find the perimeter of the tank is being underlit.
Adding more power: for this I might consider adding another Ecotech LED fixture (maybe a G4 if I find a good deal, but more likely a G5 XR15 Pro).
Yup, that's exactly it (preference and look). Since it's a peninsula tank, I'm trying extremely hard to avoid placing any equipment/pumps on the viewing panes of the tank, so the back wall is my only option here.
So now that I have the core components for running a tank in place, I was able to get the cycle started with Brightwell’s products. The ammonia went down to from about 3ppm to zero in just a matter of days, but the dang Nitrite has been over 1ppm for several days now. Just waiting for that to go down to zero before introducing my first few fish.
Speaking of fish… they’re officially out of quarantine and just waiting for their new home.
For this first round of fish, I wasn’t expecting to get a Blue-spotted jawfish so early, but found one for a really good deal, and then brought home what my kids call the “pretty fish” (i.e., Royal Gramma) that my kids LOVE already, and two Bangaii Cardinalfish to add a different shape/color/pattern (not sure if they’ll pair up but I’m crossing my fingers).
Something I have done in the past with success is quarantine my own fish. Except this time around, I’ve looked to the expert on this (Humblefish) and essentially copied the process from him. It might sound complicated if you haven't done it before, but after you go through one round of this treatment plan, you’ll soon realize it isn’t that bad.
The QT Process:
Step 1: Set up quarantine tank a few days in advance and seed with bacteria
My equipment list:
20 gallon long tank
HOB Filter (with Bio Balls in the media compartment dosed with Dr. Tim’s Bacteria a few days before getting fish)
Air pump with air stone (I place this in the HOB filter where the Bio Balls are- it is supposed to promote the good bacterial growth to keep ammonia processed)
Cheap LED light
Eggcrate with screen zip-tied to the top (so the jumpers don’t jump)
Seachem Ammonia Alert badge
Step 2: Acclimate the Fish
Bring the QT water salinity up or down to match the salinity in the LFS bag
Temp acclimate (I do this by dripping QT water into the bag, but some will just float the bag in the QT)
For most fish, dose the Copper (I use Copper Power) to 1.0 ppm verified using Hanna Instruments High Range Copper Colorimeter)
Note: some fish, such as wrasse and/or anthias might do better to be introduced without meds until they are feeding well, then slowly introducing Copper
Step 3: Treat the Fish
Over the next 48 hours after introduction at 1.0 ppm, raise the copper level to 1.5 ppm. At this point, I plan to continue to raise the copper level over another 48 hours to 2.0 ppm UNLESS the fish are not eating. If they are not eating, I plan to wait for them to begin eating before continuing to raise the copper. Then, continue to raise copper at this rate until at about 2.5 ppm.
Once at about 2.5 ppm copper level, I add both Metronidazole (MetroPlex) and Kanamycin (Kanaplex) which treat for internal parasites and external fungal/bacterial diseases
If there are signs that the fish is actually dealing with internal parasites (e.g., white stringy poop), then I will also add MetroPlex to their food
After about 3-5 days of treatment, I’ll do a larger water change (50%+), then treat with Prazipro
After the first Prazipro treatment, I'll do another larger water change (50%+), then I will dose another round of Prazipro
After a full 14 days of copper levels being 2.0 ppm or greater (I test every other day to make sure of this and keep it closer to 2.5 ppm), I transfer the fish into a completely separate QT with zero meds but ONLY IF the fish are showing no signs of disease; if fish look/act normal, then after a few days of observation (a full week is recommended by Humblefish), I will place into the DT.
While I'm on the topic of quarantine, I'm not stopping at my fish. The biggest pain the ass is having to treat parasites after they're in your DT, so I'm trying my hardest to simply never get any parasites in my DT to begin with.
Plus, with my sump outside, I need to put something in my stand that can double as a QT and a Frag tank in the future.
The plan is to quarantine everything for about 45 days so as to avoid not only coral pests, but also fish pests that may hitchhike onto the corals/inverts.
And since I plan on keeping an SPS-dominant mixed reef in the DT, I made sure my QT had enough light...
It seemed like it took forever (although, it only took about 3 weeks if I recall correctly), but my cycle finally finished up (Ammonia and Nitrites at zero), I did a 25%+ water change and added the first batch of fish this week. I’m sure they were as ready as I was to get them out of my post-quarantine holding tank. The little Blue Spotted Jawfish has already made himself a little home in the very front of the tank, so we’ll see if it stays put (I’ve read they will sometimes move around their burrow).