Well, I've finally moved on from Picos to Nanos-- but not too far as the Nano is pretty small. A couple months back I ordered an ADA 60-F shallow ~8 gallon tank.
First, some background on this new build:
Those of you who have kindly followed my first forays into this hobby, may know I've had a 3.5 gallon Pico going since last summer. Recently, I added a Tupperware Sump and was truly amazed at how adding another couple of gallons-- and chaeto-- helped my Pico.
By now, my poor little Pico was just about full-- or at least seemed so. The acans were crowded and complaining, the zoas didn't seem to get enough current, and I made some big mistakes when I started this one up-- being a newbie and all.
Mistake 1: Sand WAY TOO fine. Any stirring at all and there's a snow storm-- AND snails and CUC can't really do anything but bury themselves in it. Plus, all the 'rubble parts' seem to float to the top and just make it look really bad.
Mistake 2: Attached my very first coral, encrusted gorgonian, (like GSP) to LR. Ugh-- while it is a beautiful green under the correct lighting, the stuff grows like a weed and once attached is there to stay. As you can see in this picture of my Pico (now cleaned out), it's clear the stuff has spread all over!
Mistake 3: LFS LR had tons of hitchikers-- some really interesting, but some created problems. Zoas seemed to be continuously attacked by something (not the Sexy shrimps), aptasia galore, many many worms and colonial hydroids, brittle and asterina stars-- and me not knowing which is good, bad or indifferent. Plus there's these white dots and spots all over the LR-- perhaps more worms, or snail eggs? I dunno.
Mistake 4: Added 2 Damsels. One bullies the other and they're impossible to catch. Won't do that again!
Even so, things seemed to do pretty well in the tank for the most part, but I was forever 'on the watch' for new aptasia and trying to figure out what's killing what.
So, I ordered an ADA 60-F and about a month ago it arrived:
Man, those Japanese do a really nice job of packaging! And the build quality and clarity of the sapphire glass is in stark contrast to my other tank.
I knew I would take my time figuring out the best way to do all this. So, I researched here and elsewhere on the web-- looking at other ADA 60-F's and putting together my 'list' of must have items.
And, I took a page out of Mark Callahan's book and decided my new tank would use dry rock and dead sand. I found the best sand I could, Tropic Eden Reef flakes, and a GREAT local reef guy, Dave Beck aka 'prof' from Austin Reef Club, to drill my tank (only $25) PLUS-- and for me this was a great find-- Dave has a stockpile of superb dry rock dry mined out of Florida. It is old coral reef and sold for $2.50/lb-- and wow is it nice looking-- and clean. I had to take it to the shop and chisel it apart to get the sizes I wanted:
(OOPS, forgot to mention I also picked up a screaming deal on a new MP10 from my fave LFS)
OK, now I had a 3.5 gallon Pico with a Tupperware sump and a drilled but empty 60-F with dry rock, a Vortex and no water. What next?
I needed a plan.
I decided I would connect both tanks together-- through a sump. This way I could quickly create a water column of mature and bacteria enriched saltwater in my new tank. Furthermore, I already had a Walmart 1 1/2 gallon which I used to keep snails and excess chaeto-- which was getting nastier by the month! So, I purchased a 10 gallon glass rimless at LFS for under $50 and put the Walmart special (after cleaning) directly in the middle-- with all the chaeto from both it and the Tupperware sump, thus creating my 'fuge chamber.'
After much debate on skimmer vs reactor, I opted for a Phosban reactor filled with Purigen. I know I don't need a skimmer yet (if ever) and I've preferred Purigen over Chemi-Pure Elite, so I set it up in the Sump-- to which it immediately dumped half the Purigen out of the reactor onto the sump floor-- which required a complete restart includine emptying the sump, cleaning it out and refreshing the water. Ugh! I did add a fine filter pad in the top of the reactor which keeps the Purigen inside, and things seem to work fine now.
Next, I hooked up the 3.5 Pico to the 10 gallon sump (only 1/2 filled) and got things running.
Now onto the ADA tank. I first added sand, then the rock, then filled it up with freshwater (we have sterilized rainwater here in the country) and started mixing saltwater (using the MP10 powerhead-- man is that thing fun to play with!).
After it mixed for a number of hours, and checked out with the refractometer, I then began the process of hooking up the ADA to the sump/fuge. I used a 3/4" high density PVC elbow (because it's gray not white) for my overflow intake. Then I added some PVC sprinkler gray and black components for the return (again better than white and all available at local Lowes/HD)-- some valves and tubing and-- GOOD TO GO.
So, I started pumping water to the ADA and thankfully, after a few minor adjustments, things looked good. I kept the flow ultra slow, so to no shock anything in the 3.5 Pico, and let it sit for 24 hours.
The water goes from the ADA into the sump. The return from the Pico goes into the fuge tank inside the sump, which overflows to the sump. For now, I'm also running the exit from the reactor into the fuge tank inside the sump as well. As soon as everything settles down and the ADA water is more 'dirty' , I'll run the media return into the sump and the ADA return into the fuge.
I also added a single Ecoxotic Par 38 (12K), thinking it would hold for awhile, but turns out I needed two of them. They do look nice and I like the color more than my Pico fixture. Plus-- I hope they can work on my pitiful acro-- which is just not meant for this tank. If not, I'll be giving it to another reefer hopefully soon.
After a few talks with some respected reefers, I decided to NOT wait for a full cycle, as there was plenty of enriched water moving between the three tanks, and I put a few frags of the encrusted gorgonian in the new tank, and it went GREAT. Slowly over the next few days I started migrating healthy corals, one at a time, to the ADA, and for each one, they seemed to really like the new tank much more.
I put in the Sexy Shrimp, some snails, added the acans, the candy canes and torch-- everything good.
So, my next move is to wait a month, then tear down the Pico, store the live rock and try and drill the back. I'd eventually like to make a display fuge out of it-- or get rid of it altogether.
Oh, and take the Damsels back to LFS, and purchase a pair of tiny clowns for the ADA.
- I'm now a big believer in decent and varied flow. The MP-10 is amazing and it's clear the corals much prefer it to the smaller and consistent flow of the Pico Rio pump and HOB filter.
- Can't say enough about the Tropic Eden Reef Flakes. They don't blow around much, contained little to no dust making them super simple to wash-- and are beautiful to look at.
- I'm hoping the 'tank within a tank' model for my sump will make it super simple to clean. I can just remove the smaller tank, drop the chaeto and LR into a bucket, clean the tank in the sink and be done with it all.
- Much, MUCH, more noise than before. Most of it is due to the siphon overflow on the Pico, which is a temporary solution.
- Wow. Water evaporates FAST. Up to now I've always had the Pico covered and only added 1/2 cup per day. Much different with all 3 tanks with open tops. For now, I've added a JBJ ATO with an Aqualifter. We'll see how it does. I'd eventually like to get a full-on tank controller.
That's it for now! Comments, questions, admonishments WELCOME!
Edited by chippwalters, 07 April 2012 - 06:12 PM.