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#1
ajmckay

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Edited 3/1/2012

Okay so I was cleaning my tank out and inevitably I end up dumping a ton of pods, worms, stars, and other little things down the drain... It just happens when I do major cleanings...

So I thought to myself, I should build one of those little jars that newb on N-R.com made... I could even place it on my desk at work to replace the recently deceased stalk of lucky bamboo (oxymoron?).

So I went to Target (mostly because I can convince my wife to go there anytime no questions asked) and picked up a suitable container. It's a 2qt. (1/2 gallon) cookie jar. The lid is NOT aluminum though, it's steel. So I'm going to waterproof it with some silicone underneath.

Now normally I wouldn't create a topic before I actually have water, but I want some serious thought to go into the planning stages. So I would appreciate any serious input/feedback on this. I'm not looking to spend much (if any) money on this, so keep that in-mind.

Equipment list (so far):
- 2 Qt. cookie jar with metal lid (the underside will receive a thin coating of silicone to protect the metal and also to give the glass something to seal against.
- DIY 2 LED light built into the lid.

Livestock list:
- 5+ herbivorous gammarid amphipods (http://reefkeeping.c...09/rs/index.php)
- 2+ bristleworms
- 2+ spinoid worms ('cause I have a bunch)
- 2+ asterina stars
- 3+colonista snails
- Maybe a few more different kinds of pods or worms that are in the rock.

Vegetation list:
- Chaeto? (if someone has an idea of what type of plant would be ideal for this situation, please let me know and maybe I could source some locally for cheap. Chaeto is what I have for now though.

Miscellaneous:
- A .25" deep sand bed of medium grain aragonite
- A few small pieces of thin branchy live rock rubble secured to an acrylic base which can then be secured to the bottom of the jar.

Internal conditions:
- Fresh mixed SW, to 1.020 S.G. (What do you think about this S.G.? Benefits of going higher/lower? Recall that I'm not trying to recreate a reef, but rather a self-sustaining environment).
- The jar is approximately 1.89 litres, so I will have 1,250mL of water, approximately 200cc of sand & rock, and 440cc air taken from about 650ft above sea level. That's about 66% water, 11% rock and sand, and 23% air.
- The LEDs are running at a very low current, thus their heat output is minimal, however, at times I notice a small amount of condensation on the inside of the jar that may be attributed to this. To give you an idea, the heat is hardly noticeable when I apply my finger directly to the back of the LED star.

External Conditions:
- Temp in my home is between 68 and 78 99% of the time. If I keep it at work it's more like a steady 70.
- I'm not planning to put this on a window sill or anything, so natural light will be minimal.
- I'm mostly just curious as to how this will turn out and I hope to learn more about proper stocking, and identify various biological interactions as they occur.

Edited by ajmckay, 02 March 2012 - 09:43 PM.


#2
pj86

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Very doable, I have two set up right now, that have been running for 2-3 weeks. The light I use is the stock jbj picotope. Each one has some miscellaneous macros, GSP, zoas and hitchhikers. So far the little jar has been really stable and I enjoy it being right next to my computer.

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#3
ozzyvega

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Cool idea. Reminds me of an ecosphere. It might be hard to grow the cheato without suplimental lightning. Maybe just rely on algea for food source and a small peice of nonphoto seafan for nutrients.
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#4
mmcguffi

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if you want to amphipods to maintain a stable population youre going to have to put in more than two imo

put in like 5 or 6

my .66 gal in my sig has maintained a stable pop of them for over 6 months now, I think I started with about that many

granted mine isnt sealed but the animals I found that have stuck around are the asterinas, amphipods, and the spionid worms (ie 'hair worms')

I doubt the snails would last long term--Id ditch em. uses too much O2/carbon/nitrogen. I ended up tossing two dwarf ceriths I threw in mine. unless colonistas are super hearty and tiny--I have no experience with these guys

Ive never tried bristle worms worms but I wanted to, Ill be tagging along

the organisms I found didnt work (in an open-to-the-air system mind you) were blue ochtodes macro, xenia, very hearty mushrooms, and very hearty zoas. aiptasia and majanos did just fine and did not overrun the place. they reproduced very slowly, if at all. so if you want a cnidarian Id maybe seek out some good-looking majanos

in terms of lighting personally Id stick to natural sunlight for the sake of simplicity and what have you. not as cool/impressive imo if youre running some crees on there. might as well just plumb in a small pump at that rate imo


gl!

Edited by mmcguffi, 05 February 2012 - 11:19 PM.


#5
ajmckay

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Thanks for the input everyone. Some changes:

- Upped the # of amphipods to 5
- Maybe more spinoid worms. They were the first signs of life I noticed when I got into the hobby!
- I like the idea of adding an aptasia or majano anemone. I also discovered some little ball corallimorphs the other day that might be kinda neat to have in there. Either way I bet I could get someone to give me a majano/aptasia for free.

As for lighting, I'm leaning more towards installing a capable light source (single 1w LED mounted directly to the underside of the lid). The issues are that at home I don't have anywhere to put it where it would get much light at all except randomly when the kitchen light is on (will be doing some remodeling in the spring, and until then there are cabinets blocking all the windows pretty good). At work, I have no windows and the only lighting is a T12 fixture about 7ft. above my desk that is on weekdays 7am until 7pm. The problem with this is that it's literally directly overhead, so when I test it out the lid literally blocks all of the light such that I don't think anything photosynthetic could survive inside.

So some questions follow:

1) I need to build a small light as cheap as possible. I'm thinking that:
- 1w LED, maybe 5000K - 6500K color temp epoxied directly to the underside of the metal lid. Anyone have an idea of a good LED I could use?
- What's the smallest/cheapest driver I could expect to use with something like this?

2) What does everyone think of a .75" sand bed? Would there be a benefit going deeper or shallower?

#6
mmcguffi

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I would maybe use a 3W LED if youre going to go that route. all the other 'still picos' that Ive seen use sunlight--which is much more powerful than 1 watt of LED. Id use maybe a cree cool white?

for the sand I have no idea though--.75" sounds okay to me

Edited by mmcguffi, 06 February 2012 - 12:52 PM.


#7
Whys

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Don't go with cheato if that's all the light you're going to give it. I know the other thread on this site working on a home-made ecosphere-in-jar is having a lot of luck with red turf algae.

I would guess a lot of different sand beds could work, and depth might depend somewhat on grade. I know my Ecosphere uses crushed coral, just enough to actually cover the bottom, maybe 0.25" high.

BTW, I absolutely love this...

Livestock list:
- 5 amphipods
- 2 bristleworms
- 2+ spinoid worms ('cause I have a bunch)
- 2 asterina stars
- 2 colonista snails
- Maybe a few more different kinds of pods or worms that are in the rock.


Best livestock list EVER! :)

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#8
ajmckay

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Don't go with cheato if that's all the light you're going to give it. I know the other thread on this site working on a home-made ecosphere-in-jar is having a lot of luck with red turf algae.

I would guess a lot of different sand beds could work, and depth might depend somewhat on grade. I know my Ecosphere uses crushed coral, just enough to actually cover the bottom, maybe 0.25" high.


Thanks for the comments and approval of the livestock list!

So you think a single high power LED (@ 300ma) would not be sufficient light for chaetomorpha? For some reason I'm thinking that this would be plenty, but I'm not 100% sure obviously.

Another thing I hadn't thought of is that chaeto generally likes flow... This "jar" won't have any water movement at all inside other than movement from the various critters, which won't be much. Do you know of another type of algae that would be as effective (and palatable to the inhabitants) and doesn't require much flow or lighting? The red turf is a good idea... Maybe I will have to goto a few LFS and see what kinds of algae I can find on their rubble and such that they might give me.

So you have an ecosphere? Those are really cool, but also really $$. Still, I think we can learn some things from them on how to accomplish this. As it turns out they have minimal substrate (gravel), a gorgonia (dead) and other than that there is not a lot in there, except for some shrimp (correct me if I'm wrong!). So I might re-think my plans a bit. Do you know what type of algae they use in the ecosphere?

I'm thinking that the reason they used the gravel/crushed coral is 1) because it is large enough not to create a sandstorm or excessive debris and 2) because they are trying to regulate the amount of surface area. Do they recommend giving your ecosphere a little shake/swirl every once in a while?

So regarding the sand, I am still probably going to use aragonite vs. crushed coral, but I'm thinking of increasing the particle size, and decreasing the sand bed depth to .25" because if this thing tips over I don't want everything to get covered up permanently. They claim that the gorgonia is there to provide shelter (from the shrimp) for other microorganisms, however I think it could also be used for filtration. So taking that example all my rubble will be very thin/branchy so that it doesn't trap too much detritus. Also, I will be adding dry sand and I will be scrubbing the crap out of any rocks I add so that I reduce the chances of introducing pest algae.

See original posts for modifications.

#9
Whys

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You're really giving this a lot of thought. I like it. :)

Obviously, I can't say with any certainty that chaeto won't work, but lately, my experience has been that if it doesn't receive enough light, other things will ultimately suffocate it. I know 24w of 10K T5 (not HO) is enough to keep it alive, but it doesn't grow and gets covered over by other things. Now lack of water movement my actually help with that, since most coraline and film algae grow where there is flow, but I can also tell you that cheato genuinely prefers dirty water. Long enough without a water change, and perhaps the eco-jar will get there, but with so little margin for error, I really think you'd be better off picking something else.

My ecosphere uses what I believe to be filamentous green hair algae, tho I never see it any longer. At the store counter where it was bought it sat beneath halogen ceiling lights and contained a large green clump of algae. Since then I've kept it on a shelf where it only ever receives diffused indirect sunlight (direct sunlight can kill it; greenhouse effect). The algae slowly disappeared and can no longer be seen with the naked eye. The instruction booklet it came with insists that the algae is microscopic and that the shrimp can still eat it just fine.

I wish I knew the kind of shrimp in the ecosphere. They say it's a brine shrimp, but it's certainly not artemia. Looks much more like an actual shrimp. It probably wouldn't be too hard to find out, but they might not be easy to obtain, as they aren't your typical reef pet. I honestly don't know.

And yes, that's all that's in there. Mine is about the size of a softball and came with 3 shrimp and a small piece of a sea fan for decor, a few pebbles of crushed coral, and the micro green filamentous. That's it! Believe it or not, this is as far as science has gotten us on self sustainable ecosystems.

The ecosphere was designed by NASA and the privately funded Biosphere2 project you might have heard about never actually succeeded in pushing the science any farther. This is unexplored terrain ripe with potential discovery that even the average hobbyist can meaningfully contribute to, IMHO. :)

Word of Caution: if I had to guess, I'd say one of the greatest challenges NASA likely faced in the creation of the ecosphere, was contamination. You'll probably spend less time thinking about the list of things that go in there, and more time thinking about removing the things that don't. But I could be wrong about that.

Now fill it up! Start with some livesand and indirect sunlight. Then sit it on a shelf and ponder. Add (or remove) things as they seem appropriate. Personally, I'd start with a spinoid worm and maybe a colonista snail as my first target. But that's just me and it ain't mine. ;)

Edited by Whys, 07 February 2012 - 10:48 AM.

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#10
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No, they don't recommend shaking or swirling the ecosphere. The shrimp can be easily crushed by the crushed coral and I know I personally lost 1 of my 3 shrimp that way. As for the algae, yes, it's an absolutely essential "filter". "Catalyst" might actually be a better term. The biological exchange largely moves from algae, to shrimp (the shrimp eats it), to bacteria (eats the shrimp's detritus), then back to the algae as nutrient uptake. There is of course some gas exchange that must occur, thus the small pocket of air in the ecosphere.

Hope this helps! :)

Edited by Whys, 07 February 2012 - 10:57 AM.

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#11
ajmckay

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Thanks for your input whys.

I totally agree with your thought about contamination. There are many things which could get in and mess things up. That's why I've edited the first post to include the following:
- Fresh mixed SW using RO/DI water
- Dry aragonite sand - very well rinsed
- Thin branchy rock that has been thoroughly scrubbed.

The algae thing I'm still out to lunch on... I want some type of algae that is easily eaten by the animals, but also something that won't go crazy or look ugly (aesthetics are important too!). So while your typical green turf is probably what I end up using, I'm going to continue checking out all the potential options.

Finally, I do plan on carefully analyzing the biological interactions that will most likely take place in this jarquarium (jar+aquarium=jarquarium ^TM). Of course there may be some alterations that have to be made, but hopefully with my research I'll get close enough to not have to make too many significant changes/adjustments. Right now my limiting factor is the light. Since there will be very little ambient light getting into the jar I need to supplement.

#12
mmcguffi

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the shrimp in ecospheres are Hawaiian red shrimp

they arent a balanced ecosystem--those shrimp are just some of the heartiest organisms on earth

they slowly starve to death/are poisoned by their waste over several years

#13
ajmckay

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the shrimp in ecospheres are Hawaiian red shrimp

they arent a balanced ecosystem--those shrimp are just some of the heartiest organisms on earth

they slowly starve to death/are poisoned by their waste over several years


Yeah I know they are the Hawaiian red shrimp (Halocaridina rubra), and I've heard on a few occasions now that they are slowly starved to death in these little ecospheres. What I can't find is the evidence of that. I've seen people say it's cruel and they open up the spheres to feed them, or even take them out and replace the red shrimp with brine shrimp and what looks like a phyto culture!

But nowhere does anyone give an ammonia reading (or any other type of reading) and/or find some way to prove that they are starving slowly.

On the contrary their food supply (the algae and bacteria) are controlled by the amount of light the caretaker supplies. If more algae is desired then all that is needed is to provide conditions for the algae to increase. If it gets to the point where there is too much algae then conditions must be altered to disfavor the algae.

A similar effect will need to be maintained here as well. I won't have these hardy shrimp though, but some common hitch hikers instead. Still though, everything will depend on the algae that is introduced. If the algae fails (because I can't give it enough light or otherwise) then the whole concept will fail.

Now given the nature of the biology there does come a point at which it may not be able to sustain itself. The ecosphere makers even admit that these do have somewhat of a shelf life. I would love to be able to find out exactly how this works (that is, the biology behind it's eventual demise) so that I can either find a solution or at least make some minor adjustments. Recall that mine will not be permanently sealed, though I don't plan on opening it up unless I need to.

mmc, I see you're in ann arbor.. Any good LFS out there?

Edited by ajmckay, 07 February 2012 - 07:47 PM.


#14
mmcguffi

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those shrimp have a natural lifespan of 20 years+ but those ecospheres always seem to crash or the shrimp just 'disappear' after a few years

so I think that's where all the indirect evidence comes from. I dont think it's cruel--I just think it's neat lol



I actually just went to tropicorium for the first time on monday--man is that place awesome! I highly, highly recommend it if you havent. preuss is always great... fish doctors is the local store in ypsi, people seem to like them but tbh I think they are kind of lame. inflated prices on all coral, poor selection, relatively unknowledgeable staff, and lacking essentials like chaeto. moby dick's is lame. Dont even bother with them

those are really the only places in Michigan that Ive checked out, do you have any suggestions? I cant wait until cherry corals gets their new store front up!

#15
Whys

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the shrimp in ecospheres are Hawaiian red shrimp

they arent a balanced ecosystem--those shrimp are just some of the heartiest organisms on earth

they slowly starve to death/are poisoned by their waste over several years


I've had the same one for over 15 years now. That's not balanced? You ask too much.

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#16
mmcguffi

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I've had the same one for over 15 years now. That's not balanced? You ask too much.

whatever Im regurgitating what I read on the internet/combing with my own experience.

congrats on the magical ecosphere.

#17
Whys

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The ecosphere makers even admit that these do have somewhat of a shelf life. I would love to be able to find out exactly how this works (that is, the biology behind it's eventual demise) so that I can either find a solution or at least make some minor adjustments. Recall that mine will not be permanently sealed, though I don't plan on opening it up unless I need to.


Two thoughts.

One, I don't believe an ecosphere's demise is typically biological, at least not directly. As you say, light conditions play a huge role, as does temp. On hot summers the poor little guys swim in circles near the surface in an apparent attempt to escape the heat. I don't think mine would have made it this far if we hadn't bought an air conditioner for our home. But less obvious is evap and gas exchange. I can't tell you at what rate water and air molecules penetrate the glass, but I know it happens. The water level in my own sphere hasn't changed noticeably, but there have been accounts of some shrimp successfully reproducing themselves for a 20+ year ecosphere. I have to assume at some point, a multi generational sphere will fall out of balance due to evap alone. For reference, the gas exchange rate on the biosphere2 dome was 1% a year. But then, it wasn't solid glass. :)

Two, if you seal a Jarquarium ( I like your thinking with the TM ;) ), then unseal it later, potentially even just a couple of days later, then the sudden gas exchange is going to throw the jar's chemistry into complete shock. It needs to either have a continues exchange, or it needs to stay sealed. I don't see a way around that.

Edited by Whys, 07 February 2012 - 09:04 PM.

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#18
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the shrimp in ecospheres are Hawaiian red shrimp


Thank you much! :)

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#19
ajmckay

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I've heard of pruess in Lansing. I also want to goto Tropicorium sometime and it never fails, each time I'm out that way (usually going to the airport) it's during odd hours, so I still haven't gone! My local store is Kees. They're pretty good IMO. Average pricing, average staff (with a few exceptions), but they have a pretty good selection and they have good sales on occasion too. A bit of a drive from you though. I've been to moby dicks, they were okay in some regards (one or 2 of their employees I would consider very knowledgeable), but their prices are nothing special, the tanks were pretty small/dirty, and the place can be extremely busy so I always had to wait a while for assistance. Not many dry goods either. On the other hand their FW section was pretty impressive.

From the eco-sphere site:

The average life of an EcoSphere is between 2 and 3 years. The life expectancy of these shrimp is known to exceed 5 years, and the oldest EcoSpheres are now over 10 years old and still going strong. While we know that the life expectancy of these shrimp can exceed 5 years, we have no way of knowing how old each shrimp is as it is put in an EcoSphere. All things considered, an EcoSphere may last many years or not depending on the age of the shrimp and the environment in which it is kept.


Also, from a site called "abundant earth" (it looks like a direct copy/paste from the ecosphere site, maybe a previous version though because most of the wording is exactly the same):

The nature of all closed ecosystems is to wind down. Eventually the major chemical building blocks get "locked up" and are no longer available to the microorganisms. There is no weather inside the EcoSphere to pull these chemicals apart from each other. However, on Earth this action takes place in the oceans and on land continuously. Replenishing is done by the weather always mixing and returning nutrients back by the actions of wind and rain.

.

Two thoughts.

One, I don't believe an ecosphere's demise is typically biological, at least not directly. As you say, light conditions play a huge role, as does temp. On hot summers the poor little guys swim in circles near the surface in an apparent attempt to escape the heat. I don't think mine would have made it this far if we hadn't bought an air conditioner for our home. But less obvious is evap and gas exchange. I can't tell you at what rate water and air molecules penetrate the glass, but I know it happens. The water level in my own sphere hasn't changed noticeably, but there have been accounts of some shrimp successfully reproducing themselves for a 20+ year ecosphere. I have to assume at some point, a multi generational sphere will fall out of balance due to evap alone. For reference, the gas exchange rate on the biosphere2 dome was 1% a year. But then, it wasn't solid glass. :)

Two, if you seal a Jarquarium ( I like your thinking with the TM ;) ), then unseal it later, potentially even just a couple of days later, then the sudden gas exchange is going to throw the jar's chemistry into complete shock. It needs to either have a continues exchange, or it needs to stay sealed. I don't see a way around that.


These are the types of interactions I still need to do some research on. Opening the jar would of course alter the composition of the gas inside, however, I don't know how much, or how it would effect the sealed ecosystem. Would it harm or help it? Also, I do hopefully plan to have some breeding action with the animals I introduce.

Edited by ajmckay, 08 February 2012 - 11:01 AM.


#20
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Pretty cool idea. What about adding a clown fish too? They're pretty much disposable.

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mmcguffi

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oh wow youve never been to preuss! you have to go. lansing is a bit of a drive, but it's like going to the zoo. it's seriously that good. their saltwater section is incredible, but so is their FW, arthropod, reptile, amphibian, avian and puppies/kittens

they have any dry goods you could possibly think of too. even if you have no intention of buying anything you can easily spend over an hour just looking at stuff

nice find on the ecosphere info. I wonder what in compounds/where the 'nutrients' get locked up?

also I highly doubt opening the lid after it being sealed would crash the system. that seems silly. throw it out of a relative balance *maybe* but people open up their ecospheres all the time

Edited by mmcguffi, 08 February 2012 - 11:54 AM.


#22
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These are the types of interactions I still need to do some research on. Opening the jar would of course alter the composition of the gas inside, however, I don't know how much, or how it would effect the sealed ecosystem. Would it harm or help it? Also, I do hopefully plan to have some breeding action with the animals I introduce.


When you buy livestock online and it's shipped to you, the excess detritus that collects in the bag fails to convert to ammonia due to a lack of gas exchange within the bag. Once you open the bag, the sudden gas exchange causes the ammonia to rise rapidly. Leaving mail order livestock in open bag water for more than an hour is a recipe for failure. Considering that it's sent next day air... it really doesn't take long for a sealed system to become sensitive to exposure.

The only alternative I can think of would be to place the jar inside a vacuum chamber, open the jar, then add outside air slowly. But... I ain't go'n there. :D

also I highly doubt opening the lid after it being sealed would crash the system. that seems silly. throw it out of a relative balance *maybe* but people open up their ecospheres all the time


The difference is an ecosphere is in balance. Since we are still experimenting here, I have to assume our systems will be largely out of balance. Thus yes, a crash is very possible, unless you want to perform a significant water change at the same time. But just opening it up for an hour to feed and poke around... {shrug} ...I guess that would be our first experiment. :)

Edited by Whys, 08 February 2012 - 12:00 PM.

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#23
ajmckay

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A little broader than the scope of my jarquarium, but if you're lookin' for a read... (Where's KGoldy?!):

http://www.ecospheri...osqEcoFun5.html

oh wow youve never been to preuss! you have to go. lansing is a bit of a drive, but it's like going to the zoo. it's seriously that good. their saltwater section is incredible, but so is their FW, arthropod, reptile, amphibian, avian and puppies/kittens

they have any dry goods you could possibly think of too. even if you have no intention of buying anything you can easily spend over an hour just looking at stuff

nice find on the ecosphere info. I wonder what in compounds/where the 'nutrients' get locked up?

also I highly doubt opening the lid after it being sealed would crash the system. that seems silly. throw it out of a relative balance *maybe* but people open up their ecospheres all the time

Are you on Michigan reefers? Next time I'm in lansing I might have to check it out. When I get some $$ maybe I'll have to go check out their stuff.

When you buy livestock online and it's shipped to you, the excess detritus that collects in the bag fails to convert to ammonia due to a lack of gas exchange within the bag. Once you open the bag, the sudden gas exchange causes the ammonia to rise rapidly. Leaving mail order livestock in open bag water for more than an hour is a recipe for failure. Considering that it's sent next day air... it really doesn't take long for a sealed system to become sensitive to exposure.

The difference is an ecosphere is in balance. Since we are still experimenting here, I have to assume our systems will be largely out of balance. Thus yes, a crash is very possible, unless you want to perform a significant water change at the same time. But just opening it up for an hour to feed and poke around... {shrug} ...I guess that would be our first experiment. :)


Some good food for thought. Time for some more research. I'll post what I find, as I find it. I'm not completely sure about the exact compounds consumed or created during the ammonification process.

Edited by ajmckay, 08 February 2012 - 02:36 PM.


#24
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Created the following thread, so as to stop the trans-forum hijack currently taking place across 2 or three threads. NOT MY THREAD! Intended for a team effort.

http://www.nano-reef...howtopic=294016

Reef Tinkers -- premier Sexy shrimp breeding tutorial, mentoring, and more.  ;) 


#25
jbowser

jbowser

    Nano Reefer

  • Members
  • 156 posts
  • Joined 05 Oct 2011
I'm tagging along!

To bad I cannot buy that exact same jar..., but for sure I will be looking for something similar, plastic and about 3/4g right?
I will be using a 4W GU10 led on top of the lid for lighting and I'm thinking of a way to add flow, I got a neat idea but not really simple anymore then...

Jb