Jump to content


Photo

Texas 3.5G Pico


  • Please log in to reply
189 replies to this topic

#1
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

March 2011:
Posted Image

Feb 2011:
Posted Image

Hi all.

Just getting started and am new to saltwater. I noticed an 'all-in-one' approach to jellyfish tanks at Kickstarter, which sent me searching for nano-aquarium, and then I found El Fab's great Simple Guide and his awesome Sexy Pico thread and I was hooked! I did check out bio-cubes a couple of years ago, but for me, still too big.

Frankly, I truly believe there's a dormant market for pico-reefs, if it can be made simple enough. That's why the Kickstarter project funded so quickly-- a friend of mine told me folks desire an analog desktop device instead of all the digital computers, cameras, TVs, TiVos, etc.. Makes sense. That's where I'm keeping mine-- next to my computer.

That said, I'm not sure it's possible to create such a simple Pico. And frankly, there's not much out there as far as a really good Quick Start for Picos (hint: El Fab or someone should write an E-Book and sell it for $20-- bet they would make a killing ;-)

Actually reading about all the experiences in this forum seems to be the best education one can get. So, here I am, starting my own thread. Please let me know if you see me making any mistakes!

OK, now here's what I have so far:

The aquarium is a most unique Bending Glass Tank AQUA H20 AQ-35 3.5 gallon aquarium. It was the last one at the LFS, and had been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. I cannot find mention of another one like it anywhere on the Internet. Has anyone else seen this one?

IMO, it's great! It has full radiused front L/R corners, and 90 degree corners in the back. The front is flat, not an arc, which should make for better and distortion free photography. It comes with a 4/5 covered glass top with clips (rear open for HOB and other stuff). Bottom is glass too! So far, it seems to be just the right size.

I've added to it an AC-30 power filter. I'm not sure it's big enough to convert later to a fuge, but I guess I'll cross that road later. I also have a Fluvial PCL 13W compact lamp. Good enough to get started, but I've already put in an order for one of these LED lamps-- it's exactly the same length as the aquarium, but I'm not sure how I'm going to mount it (ideas???).

Posted Image

I've ordered at Rio 50 powerhead which should increase the flow. I'll put it in when the tank is finished cycling.

Posted Image

  • Just set up. That's the light which will be replaced.
  • The next morning. The tank gets morning sun. I *think* this is good? Those are chopsticks.
  • Traditional Filter
  • Live rock.

I'm using cured live rock. I waited a couple of days then added 2 hermit crabs only to find another one was already in the tank.

Here are my current readings:

Posted Image

I'm now waiting for this thing to cycle. My LFS tells me I can start adding a couple hardy LPS corals this weekend, though I'm not sure. He says with this particular LR, it's finished cycling after a couple days. I haven't ever read anything about this. Any thoughts?

Edited by chippwalters, 08 March 2012 - 02:40 AM.

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#2
mbarton2010

mbarton2010

    Michael, the one who is

  • Members
  • 2,563 posts
  • Joined 04 Oct 2009
  • The Woodlands/College Park, Texas
where in TX do you live?

looks like a good start but i would get a better light IMO

#3
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

where in TX do you live?

looks like a good start but i would get a better light IMO


Thanks! I'm in Dripping Springs, TX, just outside of Austin.

Which light are you referring to? The one I *have* or the one I *am getting*?

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#4
mbarton2010

mbarton2010

    Michael, the one who is

  • Members
  • 2,563 posts
  • Joined 04 Oct 2009
  • The Woodlands/College Park, Texas
i looked at both. if you want any corals besides softies, you will need an upgrade even with that light you ordered,

#5
BLoCkCliMbeR

BLoCkCliMbeR

    the price of great bacon is eternal vigilance

  • Members
  • 3,944 posts
  • Joined 30 Oct 2006
  • closer to the sun

Here are my current readings:
Posted Image


chemistry reading lay out win.

that light your thinking about getting is a POS. a store here as a section lit with cheap LED like that.....not enough punch...

what are the tank dimensions?

Edited by BLoCkCliMbeR, 30 August 2011 - 04:49 PM.


#6
xxbrianxx

xxbrianxx

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 774 posts
  • Joined 09 Jan 2011
  • LA
have you given any thought to covering the back in black vinyl or spray painting it and then replacing the ac30 with an ac70? You could mod it into a fuge and it would give you a lot more flexibility and options in terms of filtration. And you might not even need an extra powerhead with the larger filter.

#7
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

chemistry reading lay out win.


Thanks. I'm using Google Docs and keeping notes as I go. It's nice because I can access it from any computer, including my iPhone. ;-)

that light your thinking about getting is a POS. a store here as a section lit with cheap LED like that.....not enough punch...


Thanks for the heads up on the light. I'm sure I can return it. Do you have any LED suggestions? Mounting is also a problem-- I'd like something nice as far as a mount goes.

what are the tank dimensions?


The dimensions of the tank are

35cm(W) x 21cm(L) x 23(H)cm
which converted to inches is:
13.78"(W) x 8.27"(L) x 9.05"(H)


have you given any thought to covering the back in black vinyl or spray painting it and then replacing the ac30 with an ac70? You could mod it into a fuge and it would give you a lot more flexibility and options in terms of filtration. And you might not even need an extra powerhead with the larger filter.


I think I'm going to leave it clear for now. I might add a backdrop at some time later. You are correct, I do wish I had purchased an AC70 as then I could mod it. They're not that expensive and might be a good try later on. Thanks for the advice.


Just curious...what do you guys think of Foster & Smith Aquatics? Are they good to buy from? Are there other recommendations?

Edited by chippwalters, 30 August 2011 - 06:59 PM.

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#8
castiel

castiel

    Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.

  • Members
  • 2,207 posts
  • Joined 23 Jul 2011
  • Melbourne, Australia
Your tank looks good and no, never come across that one.

Regarding the Kickstarter project, looks very cool. But seriously:
Posted Image

ctFyi9l.gif


#9
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

Your tank looks good and no, never come across that one.
Regarding the Kickstarter project, looks very cool. But seriously:

Exactly. And the fact is the guy has already raised over $100K selling these at $350 a pop! Thus my point earlier regarding a dormant market for Picos. I mean, imagine being able to sell someone a Pico Reef kit for $500 which puts together a small tank with reef in 30 days. If such a thing WAS POSSIBLE, I believe it would fund at least as fast as the jellyfish tank!

BTW, I loved reading your thread yesterday. Fascinating you using real ocean water!

Edited by chippwalters, 30 August 2011 - 07:52 PM.

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#10
castiel

castiel

    Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.

  • Members
  • 2,207 posts
  • Joined 23 Jul 2011
  • Melbourne, Australia
Thanks, glad you found it useful!

Yes I think there is a market for modified pico tanks, with proper pumps and flow, and lights that actually will allow what people want to do. I think they could be put together and marketed for around the same price as the jellyfish project, $350. At a basic level, just take a good kit like the IQ5, drill a hole for a second pump (or at least replace teh stock pump), add a clip on fixture with a Par30 LED, add suitable heater (the Dymax heater is actually good, but I am sure a cheaper one would suffice), bundle with a bag of coral sand and maybe a hunk of live rock, and away you go.

You might have guessed but I have already been thinking about this market, or at least the potential for a nano-focused store offering proper nano/pico advice (like stocking yellow clown gobies for picos). It is pretty hard work figuring out yourself what to do and not given that most stores a) don't know crap or B) know about marine but not on a small scale. I have had condescending advice from one suggesting that I could only keep zoas in such a small tank, to others offering to sell me anemones that would take up most of the tank. And there's always the classic 'get a clown'.

Edited by castiel, 30 August 2011 - 09:58 PM.

ctFyi9l.gif


#11
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

Yes I think there is a market for modified pico tanks, with proper pumps and flow, and lights that actually will allow what people want to do. I think they could be put together and marketed for around the same price as the jellyfish project, $350. At a basic level, just take a good kit like the IQ5, drill a hole for a second pump (or at least replace teh stock pump), add a clip on fixture with a Par30 LED, add suitable heater (the Dymax heater is actually good, but I am sure a cheaper one would suffice), bundle with a bag of coral sand and maybe a hunk of live rock, and away you go.

Certainly, that is one way to go. But, it's based on stock parts and frankly you could write an e-Book on the subject and include the same shopping list. I know I'd buy it!

You might have guessed but I have already been thinking about this market, or at least the potential for a nano-focused store offering proper nano/pico advice (like stocking yellow clown gobies for picos). It is pretty hard work figuring out yourself what to do and not given that most stores a) don't know crap or B) know about marine but not on a small scale. I have had condescending advice from one suggesting that I could only keep zoas in such a small tank, to others offering to sell me anemones that would take up most of the tank. And there's always the classic 'get a clown'.

I certainly did notice my LFS looking a bit 'down the nose' at me when I mentioned my puny 3.5 gallon tank. Still, I'm thinking the basic designs of all the current Picos seem to be wrong. None of them have sufficient lighting or water flow. I haven't seen one Pico here in this forum that didn't go through some serious mods.

This tells me the industry hasn't caught up with the best practices in Pico aquarium design. So, I think there may be a better idea-- or design. I'll post more thoughts later, including perhaps some sketches to critique by you masters here. Perhaps this should be in a different thread?

Edited by chippwalters, 30 August 2011 - 10:47 PM.

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#12
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX
Here's a quick sketch:

Posted Image

This could be made in glass or acrylic, with a plastic base which houses many controls including thermometer, and perhaps even pH and specific gravity? There's a center unit which has a powerhead flow nozzle, and the back area can be used as a fuge or basic filter. A heater and lamp timer are included, as these seem to be necessary for just about everyone. Clear lids fit inside on the back and front chambers. Of course this would have a SPS rated lamp with an optional 'mini' over the fuge if desired.

Perhaps there should be a warning light when the temperature, pH, SG or other settings are out of whack? I'm not sure, but I suspect monitoring Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates, etc. is probably impossible.

This could be a 3.5 gallon like the one I have. In anycase, it's a start for discussion.

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#13
castiel

castiel

    Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.

  • Members
  • 2,207 posts
  • Joined 23 Jul 2011
  • Melbourne, Australia
Wow you have quite the talent! Awesome sketch, and some really great ideas.

You've definitely gone for the 'all in one' premium option here with all of the monitors and gadgets. A few comments I have:

- no need for a heater switch, this should just come on and off as the temperature deviates from the ideal (the temp on control panel is awesome)
- I like the timer for the light, but a dimmer would be even better. And you need to incorporate blue and white individual controls somehow. The Dymax light I have does this well, just lacks the timer.
- Also regarding the light, I would be impressed if an SPS grade light could be so compact. Cree style LEDs usually need a cooling fan, and a Par bulb is quite bulky.
- the back filter area needs careful design also - media baskets built in for example
- I think the pH and salinity tester is a 'nice to have' give that you are going to have to test for other things not possible to build in. But depends on additional cost this would add.

If you get this into production, I stake a claim for Australian distribution =0)

ctFyi9l.gif


#14
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX
Thanks for the input. I'll work on detailing the backside a bit later. I need to do a bit of research into production techniques as I'm pretty sure all glass is cheaper to build in limited quantities.

Your point about the heater is good, though I'm thinking there might want to be an 'overide' switch somewhere, 'just in case.'

Couple of questions. Where is the best place to put the intakes? I'm thinking there are two separate compartments in the back, one which is for heating and the powerhead. The other is for filtration and/or fuge. Both need intakes.

And I was thinking the LED lights could work pretty much like the Ecoxtic Panoramas fixtures, w/out fans. Does that make sense? Perhaps a heat sink on the back might help.

And, do we need a fan across the top to cool the tank?

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#15
castiel

castiel

    Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.

  • Members
  • 2,207 posts
  • Joined 23 Jul 2011
  • Melbourne, Australia
Your point about the heater leads to a question - how many power sources would this have? One, two, one per 'gadget'?

Maybe a heatsink on the LED would do the trick, though there are many I am sure that would argue the Ecoxotic modules you linked aren't exactly SPS ideal.

Which leads me to another point (sorry, train of thought here) - would you really target SPS, given that the target market for these is likely to be the beginner who doesn't want to modify the tank, and is looking to learn? I would aim for a light suitable for LPS, so that they can start with morphs and zoas etc, then move on to LPS. But I think making it SPS ready would unnecessarily drive the cost up, when only 10% of buyers would use it for that purpose.

Intakes - again most have one set of 'teeth' leading into the media compartment, then the pump draws teh water to the other side (past the heater and fuge) and back into the tank.

The tank material is an interesting question - most pico tanks tend to be acrylic, which has the benefit of weight and given you are aiming for a desk pico might be the better option.

I would say no to a cooling fan, as most people won't need it. Maybe one of the additional 'modules' you could build in.

ctFyi9l.gif


#16
Addinali

Addinali

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 576 posts
  • Joined 08 Jul 2010
  • Knoxville,TN
Awsome sketch

#17
wildmanzeke

wildmanzeke

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 190 posts
  • Joined 16 May 2011
I love this idea. I did one kinda like it in another thread. I'll post it here. Some of the potential problems I see:
1) The cost to put a PH, SG meter on one of these would really drive the cost up.
2) If something went wrong with the controls, How would the user get this fixed? Would they have to take the entire system down in order to fix something on the bottom controls?
3)The Panorama Module's would also drive the cost up.

So when you think about it. How much is this thing going to cost?
Panorama Module's $84 each. Considering there color's and the dimming option i would go with three.(for the magenta color)
Ph monitor $90
SG Monitor $119
all other electronics $150 guessing
Glass $?

when putting all of those together you come out with a giant sum of money to spend on just a PICO.

I feel the point of these is to keep it small and simple. Consumer's are going to want customization and upgradability. With the size how much coral can they put in there?

I'm not saying it wont work i'm saying i love it and i hope you come up with an affordable way to do this. Cause if you do, I'm first in line!

Here's my google sketch: http://www.nano-reef...?...=280126&hl=

#18
xxbrianxx

xxbrianxx

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 774 posts
  • Joined 09 Jan 2011
  • LA

I would say no to a cooling fan, as most people won't need it. Maybe one of the additional 'modules' you could build in.


ehhh I think a cooling fan is pretty important. When it get's hot temperature in a pico tank swings like crazy...and you're not going to be able to keep sensitive coral in an environment like that. Another thing is auto top off. I know a lot of people who are lazy as hell and refuse to even do top offs. I know you might be able to lower evap with a lid, but then you won't have the ability to use evaporative cooling and will then need some type of chiller (which would take up a good amount of space).

#19
xxbrianxx

xxbrianxx

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 774 posts
  • Joined 09 Jan 2011
  • LA
Also why do you need two intakes? Pumps take up valuable space in a pico and putting more than one pump in there isn't too practical imo.

Is your heater going to be just a regular aquarium heater? Or inline? If it's built into the tank, then you're going to need an easy way to service it.

And actually there is a new product coming out that monitors nitrates, ph, salinity (I think). I know it at least monitors nitrates and ph. I forgot what it's called though....I saw an article about it on reef builders so maybe do a search for nitrate monitor. It goes for $100 though so that get's expensive.

#20
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX
All excellent points! Thanks everyone. For the record, my degree is in Industrial Design, so I always like to do these 'sketch' experiments for different projects. I no longer spend much time designing products, so it's fun to play around. And it's an especially valuable education just hearing the responses. This is a round about way of saying I don't really intend to build this, and hope this design helps inspire others.

If one were to try and create a Kickstarter project, then the manufacturing startup costs would have to stay fairly low-- no expensive tooling, which pretty much leaves large injection molded parts like an acrylic tank out of the picture.

After reading carefully the comments, I'm inclined to agree with most all of them. But for short runs, like a Kickstarter project would need, I think it would be best to go with glass. Just like Zeke shows in his excellent SU model.

And castle1, I also agree with your comments on the lighting.

Or, perhaps it's even wiser to go with an AGA like the one shown here for $13:
http://www.pets-ware...xd.asp?id=91003

And thinking a bit further, what if the tooling was spent in creating a massive HOB device which could work with virtually any AGA aquarium? Then things could be modular. You could buy a separate adjustable lamp unit which includes timer and dual mode, a separate heater/fan (thanks Brian) thermal control unit (with of course it's own digital thermometer). Perhaps another sketch is in order :-)

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#21
BLoCkCliMbeR

BLoCkCliMbeR

    the price of great bacon is eternal vigilance

  • Members
  • 3,944 posts
  • Joined 30 Oct 2006
  • closer to the sun

Thanks for the heads up on the light. I'm sure I can return it. Do you have any LED suggestions? Mounting is also a problem-- I'd like something nice as far as a mount goes.

The dimensions of the tank are

35cm(W) x 21cm(L) x 23(H)cm
which converted to inches is:
13.78"(W) x 8.27"(L) x 9.05"(H)


well, you get what you pay for. all i can say about that. you could do the panorama suggestion, or get a par38 style bulb. thats just if you have your heart set on LED.

on a tank that little, you can get away with a 2x18watt PC fixture and still have a thriving tank. only problem is i think currentUSA and coralife may have d/c making them.

a little 70watt halide would also grow life nicely, if watched. they are hot and heat up a tank. Posted Image

however, with your degree and what not, im sure you want nice clean lines and still have a light that packs a decent punch, then an DIY LED is the way to go, that is if you have access to all the machining tools to get the heat sink just right.

cant wait to see this build.

Edited by BLoCkCliMbeR, 31 August 2011 - 04:55 PM.


#22
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX
Here's another concept. This one uses a standard AGA, and has a modular unit which attaches to the back. The basic unit comes with a filter and compartments. You can add on a lamp and other modules as you like. The Thermal module has both a fan and a heater as well as a digital thermometer. You can add an extra powerhead for more flow if you like. The light has a timer wheel which you can use to set on/off daylight cycles.

Posted Image

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#23
chippwalters

chippwalters

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 377 posts
  • Joined 29 Aug 2011
  • Dripping Springs, TX

well, you get what you pay for. all i can say about that. you could do the panorama suggestion, or get a par38 style bulb. thats just if you have your heart set on LED.

If I go for Panorama's..I imagine I would go for Panorama Module 8000K White/453nm Actinic Blue ones which are 1/2" shorter than my tank. Would 1 module be enough for SPS?

I already will have a problem with heat and don't have a fan, and I'd rather not use the electricity for other lamp types.

<snip>
cant wait to see this build.

Me too! :-)

myThreads.pngada60p.pngadaIcon.png3dReactorIcon.png


#24
Builder Anthony

Builder Anthony

    Coral Trader

  • Members
  • 3,505 posts
  • Joined 30 Jan 2011
  • Appleton Wisconsin
You could try branching coral but i find it hard to take care of and for being new to saltwater it really isnt a good idea.Even with the right equipment you have very little room for error.Try to find hardy corals to start with.Auto top offs are a must.I dont have one myself but i dont keep branching corals.I need one though.
BUt if you do decide you want to go that route buy a small fragment and not one worth alot of money.

Edited by Builder Anthony, 31 August 2011 - 07:51 PM.

Anthonys 5 Gallon
Pictures
http://www.nano-reef...howtopic=267313

#25
xxbrianxx

xxbrianxx

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 774 posts
  • Joined 09 Jan 2011
  • LA
Wow....are these drawings free hand? Or do you use some kind of program?

One thing you might consider is adding a way to direct the flow. And have you found a solution for chilling/ato? I'm looking for a solution myself lol