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El Fab's Simple Guide to Pico Tanks


el fabuloso

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No scientific journal can provide the information on how long term pico reefs work with sandbeds nr.com tanks provide material for them.

 

Given anything shy of a review of another ten year old pico and how it's sandbed is cared for, the work would be positing or based on natural models but making that stick even five years in a pico requires storm simulation upwelling and export.

 

Undisturbed sandbeds crash with cyano, we cure the invaded condition by being aggressive with the sandbed. It's not that we have to clean one, it's that we can if it benefits us and it won't recycle, here's a large example rip cleaning thread for all sizes

 

There are no examples of living long term pico reefs 8+ yrs that use undisturbed sand. The continuously-taking on style from the early 2000's is the cause of most reasons people cleaned up beds here:

http://reef2reef.com/threads/the-official-sand-rinse-thread-aka-one-against-many.230281/#post-2681445

 

 

I too kept a reefbowl hands off as was the way, when overheated due to ac outage it was massive o2 demand and waste production liability. Reefbowl 2 was kept clean.

 

In that thread, my own reef is shown parted out and the whole sandbed rinsed with cold tap and peroxide. Those two actions do not sterilize bacteria I've worked with them in labs and in tanks it takes medication or desiccation to kill them/extremes

 

Being aggressive on waste export of extra BOD increasing organic substrates isn't harmful to a system that's short on dilution/volume, it's key to making one live for a decade.

 

Once it becomes a searchable fact that core filtration bacteria remain after flushing then we are free to act once and act harshly on a sandbed

 

Partial action is worse, it's a nutrient presentation and sustain option. Knowing the bac remain makes you free to press instant restart and keep your pico reef ageless

 

 

One of the journal labs better get going on the older pico reef they already have the bar set for alternate proof delivered by 2026 if they start now heh/by then RB2 will be college sophomore

 

I once lost some worms during an aggressive bed rinse and that had literally no impact on anything. Incidentals they are

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Just noticed this thread has come to life again. It looks like it has more posts in the last few weeks than it had in the last few years. This was my reference bible when I started reefing almost 3 years ago.

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  • 2 weeks later...

like this :) :)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgonY5FXxVE

 

 

I don't even give mine the benefit of saltwater anymore, its gets the tap lol (while the rocks and corals sit in the air half an hour, the shrimp and crab in a cup, and the tank moved down to the sink)

 

my living sandbed is blasted with cold tap water with no rocks or anything else in the tank, because it was taken apart fully for access. The cold tap water rinse on the sandbed is not antibacterial, its anti detritus. The filtration abilities of the sandbed remain just fine, tap water is not a sterilizer. Our kitchen sinks pump out tons of living bacteria from the tap, its not sterile at all. the brief rinse is too quick to kill off bacteria.

 

any pico can be drained and moved away closer to a sink area, then you do a ton of water changes over and over to flush out the bad items that a rotten sandbed would normally store up for troubles years later. this is opposite of the hands off sandbed method, but a long term viable method even still./

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Seems Brandon beat me to the post. I read it from him on a few threads. I read how one guy (could be Brandon or someone else, I forget) would bring his tank into a sink and pour (from a decent height) about 20 gal into his 10 gal tank to thoroughly wash out his sand bed.

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yep I did exactly that. my reef used to be packed to the core, wall to wall, and not partable like it is in that vid. For that I literally had four blue 5 gallon water containers all missed to 78 degrees and .023, and would lift the reef (15 pounds full) and set it in the sink and pour all the water through it -hard-, enough to break some sps at times, thereby flushing out the bed below it and after the last pour the water was cloudless and massively exported, all with no recycle.

 

as the tank aged into a decade I took out 50% of the corals and went lower loading, fully partable now for cleanings or even full bed changes if wanted. all skip cycle.

 

* I ran my first reefbowl 2001> as a hands off bed, 6 inches deep, and at year 3 the red algae gelidium (a bad hitchhiker) took me down with all that pent up waste. there's usually some 36~ mo trigger mechanism that makes the hands off systems really a challenge, more pronounced in nanos etc vs the larger dilution tanks.

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I'm not doubting the benefits of doing that but that sounds like way too much work for what little amount of sand there is in a pico in the first place. I'm more likely to do a partial sand replacement before going through all that trouble.

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Might be able to keep not cleaning it if your urchins or clean up crews keep working to keep the system algae free.

 

 

the impacts of the sandbed when the cuc are not in the tank is the algae...it gets harder closing on three years

 

Your tanks ability to self reset after algae cleaning done by the grazer balances is all it needs to get any number of years, is a good balance so far and your sand isn't particularly deep, those shallow beds are easy to pour through no takedown needed.

 

 

How do systems that use no clean up crew and no nutrient testing remain algae free, what are key differences in the systems?

 

 

The 100% water changes every week are just something easy to do for smaller systems, is not required just one of a few care options.

 

50% weekly alongside a non sinked sandbed would also work just fine, we just get to feed super heavy before the full change and it's working well.

 

AndrewK gets five years on a no sandbed approach, no algae issues, but he uses gfo and does partial changes weekly

 

Even if not regular maintenance, being able to rip clean and not cause a cycle is handy

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

what would you experienced pico-reefers say is needed to start a reef jar? 

 

I'm looking at the 2 gallon Anchor Hocking Heritage jar at the moment. 

 

I'm thinking the light that Sandeep is using for his scale 2.5 gal project, but I haven't the foggiest what I should consider for heater or filtration. 

 

for livestock, long term goal is to get a small CUC...few snails, few small shirmp and maybe a small crab, if permissible. 

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3 hours ago, Friendly said:

what would you experienced pico-reefers say is needed to start a reef jar? 

 

I'm looking at the 2 gallon Anchor Hocking Heritage jar at the moment. 

 

I'm thinking the light that Sandeep is using for his scale 2.5 gal project, but I haven't the foggiest what I should consider for heater or filtration. 

 

for livestock, long term goal is to get a small CUC...few snails, few small shirmp and maybe a small crab, if permissible. 

Check out Natalia's bowl.  I think a lot of them are using betta type heaters hooked to a thermostat control like the Inkbird temp controller on Amazon.  Usually just an airline for circulation and 100% water changes every week. :)

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  • 6 months later...
On 12/30/2008 at 1:53 PM, el fabuloso said:

El Fab's Simple Guide to Pico Tanks

 

More and more people are venturing into the realm of pico reefs and I've noticed that a lot of the same questions are frequently tossed around, so I decided to create this thread to offer some basic insights to help get everyone started. Whether you're a beginner looking for a fun challenge or an advanced reef hobbyist setting up your second, third or fifth tank, this thread is not intended to be a definitive guide but rather as a simple, easy to follow resource to help ensure success using tried-and-true methods employed by successful pico reef owners on this site.

 

 

Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing Your Tank and Getting the Right Equipment
  3. Lighting, Filtration and Flow
  4. Modding An AquaClear Fuge
  5. Setting Up Your Pico
  6. Cycling

Part 1: Introduction

 

Pico2Apr21_08b.jpg

 

Sandeep's 2.5g AGA pico with built in sump/refugium.


 

 

 

What is a pico reef? Different people have varying definitions on what classifies a pico. The most common consensus is that a pico tank is anything less than 5 gallons. A majority of tanks—and the ones that have yielded the most success—typically fall within the range of 2.5 to 4 gallons. Whatever the size, the most important part to remember is that when done right and maintained properly, a pico tank can become a thriving, living miniature ecosystem capable of supporting a diverse range of marine life for an extended length of time.

 

Pico tanks are not suitable for everyone. In fact a majority of reef hobbyists discourage newcomers from starting a pico for a very good reason: their small size provides very little room for error. But that's not to say that a beginner can't start with a pico. As long as you're diligent and willing to learn, anyone can setup and maintain a pico tank successfully. Below are some key deciding factors to consider whether or not a pico is an ideal setup for you.

 

DO NOT keep a pico if…

 

  • you expect to keep a number of fish in your tank
  • you're constantly away for extended periods of time
  • you have no patience

 

DO keep a pico if…

 

  • you're aware of the space limitations
  • you have the time to devote for upkeep and maintenance
  • you're prepared to learn and have plenty of patience

 

picotope71cir2.jpg

Bonsai's 3g office Picotope with custom glass lid.

 

People keep pico tanks for a number of reasons. Their small footprint means that they can be set up anywhere, especially in places where space is limited such as small bedrooms, kitchens, apartments, offices and dorm rooms. The most common assumption people make is that a small tank means less cost. While the initial setup cost for a pico is less than that of a larger tank, the cost of maintaining and stocking a pico in the long run is just the same. Ultimately the main reason people keep a pico is the awe factor in being able to keep a thriving piece of the reef in a tiny little box.

TIP: Check out the various pico threads on this forum to get a feel of all the different setups or check out The Official Club Pico Thread.

 

 

Part 2: Choosing Your Tank and Getting the Right Equipment

"While the initial setup cost for a pico is less than that of a larger tank, the cost of maintaining and stocking a pico in the long run is just the same."   That is definitely not true in any way... It cost VASTLY more to keep, stock, and maintain a 200 gallon tank than it does a 2 gallon pico(even on a per gallon basis it is vastly more expensive to keep a large tank).. There is no comparison. I had a 200g and it cost me 40 gallons of salt water per 2wk, All the fish are 100$s, the corals that can be stocked into a 200g is at least 30-50 times as many$. The supplements.. my 200 uses about a full gallon of carbonate per month as well as magnesium and calcium. It uses 20x more RODI water requiring much more filter changes. It consumes about 20-30x as much electricity. It produces a lot of humidity causes the AC to run a lot more or else external venting is needed. If it leaks then it floods and causes an immense amount of damage to home and all livestock is 100% lost. Replacing equipment such as Apex systems, pumps, 1000$ of lighting... All that goes into maintenance.. Then there is even feeding. large fish eat a lot of food. Factor in the maintenance of scraping a 12 Square foot glass pane(even if its just your time thats at least 2 hours per week) and There are many more expenses such as unexpected disease treatment, carbon, GFO, UV filters, ... The list is endlist.

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MainelyReefer

IMG_3010.GIF.9263cf6a2bfd7a05210cfd27598ed433.GIF

@ReefMagixMaybe he meant cost per gallon?  Regardless this thread and the information within it is an invaluable resource, and a minor hiccup like saying it will be similar cost to maintain compared to larger tanks doesn't detract from the threads value and may even be a good lesson for those who think it will be an entirely cheap endeavor.  Thanks El Fabuloso, I and many people surely find this an indispensable resource when planning a first pico tank.  Also costwise per gallon picos could easily be more expensive, imagine the cost of 100 2g picos compared to one full 200g system.  The cost per gallon for picos is arguably substantially more, depending on how well stocked and designed the pico is. 

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1 minute ago, GraniteReefer said:

IMG_3010.GIF.9263cf6a2bfd7a05210cfd27598ed433.GIF

@ReefMagixMaybe he meant cost per gallon?  Regardless this thread and the information within it is an invaluable resource, and a minor hiccup like saying it will be similar cost to maintain compared to larger tanks doesn't detract from the threads value and may even be a good lesson for those who think it will be an entirely cheap endeavor.  Thanks El Fabuloso, I and many people surely find this an indispensable resource when planning a first pico tank.  Also costwise per gallon picos could easily be more expensive, imagine the cost of 100 2g picos compared to one full 200g system.  The cost per gallon for picos is arguably substantially more, depending on how well stocked and designed the pico is. 

Yes it is definitely a good thread. BUT one of the biggest perks of a pico is the fact that it does not cost over 10,000$ to have a nice reef like a 200g tank does. Also Per gallon reference is quite irrelevant.. Can you imagine how your house would look with 100 pico jars in it LOL (paradise?)

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19 hours ago, ReefMagix said:

"While the initial setup cost for a pico is less than that of a larger tank, the cost of maintaining and stocking a pico in the long run is just the same."   That is definitely not true in any way... It cost VASTLY more to keep, stock, and maintain a 200 gallon tank than it does a 2 gallon pico(even on a per gallon basis it is vastly more expensive to keep a large tank).. There is no comparison. I had a 200g and it cost me 40 gallons of salt water per 2wk, All the fish are 100$s, the corals that can be stocked into a 200g is at least 30-50 times as many$. The supplements.. my 200 uses about a full gallon of carbonate per month as well as magnesium and calcium. It uses 20x more RODI water requiring much more filter changes. It consumes about 20-30x as much electricity. It produces a lot of humidity causes the AC to run a lot more or else external venting is needed. If it leaks then it floods and causes an immense amount of damage to home and all livestock is 100% lost. Replacing equipment such as Apex systems, pumps, 1000$ of lighting... All that goes into maintenance.. Then there is even feeding. large fish eat a lot of food. Factor in the maintenance of scraping a 12 Square foot glass pane(even if its just your time thats at least 2 hours per week) and There are many more expenses such as unexpected disease treatment, carbon, GFO, UV filters, ... The list is endlist.

 

Oh my. Well I can see where that line could be misleading but context is definitely everything here. I will clarify.

 

Larger is the operative word. A 200-gallon is indeed larger but so is a 12-gallon tank. At the time I wrote this guide, a lot of pico newcomers were setting one up instead of a 9- or 12-gallon tank on the pretense that it would be a lot cheaper to maintain so I wanted to emphasize that point to help curtail that notion. Maintaining a fully operational pico isn't that much more cost-effective than a typical nano setup.

 

I suppose I could have clarified that but I never intended for this guide to be read outside of the pico circle, let alone have it be a huge hit outside of this forum. I'm not sure what the definition of a nano reef is these days but at the time we kinda drew the line around 34 gallons on the large end and four to five gallons on the small end with most people running anywhere between 6 to 24-gallon setups. Since I was writing this specifically for Nano-Reef, I didn't think it was necessary to define that larger really means no larger than 34 gallons.

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8 hours ago, el fabuloso said:

 

Oh my. Well I can see where that line could be misleading but context is definitely everything here. I will clarify.

 

Larger is the operative word. A 200-gallon is indeed larger but so is a 12-gallon tank. At the time I wrote this guide, a lot of pico newcomers were setting one up instead of a 9- or 12-gallon tank on the pretense that it would be a lot cheaper to maintain so I wanted to emphasize that point to help curtail that notion. Maintaining a fully operational pico isn't that much more cost-effective than a typical nano setup.

 

I suppose I could have clarified that but I never intended for this guide to be read outside of the pico circle, let alone have it be a huge hit outside of this forum. I'm not sure what the definition of a nano reef is these days but at the time we kinda drew the line around 34 gallons on the large end and four to five gallons on the small end with most people running anywhere between 6 to 24-gallon setups. Since I was writing this specifically for Nano-Reef, I didn't think it was necessary to define that larger really means no larger than 34 gallons.

Glad you came back and clarified.  I thought he was taking it out of context and that trying to compare a pico with a 200g was silly but couldn't quite articulate what I was thinking.  You were basically comparing a smaller Honda with a larger Toyota while he's trying to compare it with a Ferrari. :lol:

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On 1/25/2018 at 12:37 PM, el fabuloso said:

 

Oh my. Well I can see where that line could be misleading but context is definitely everything here. I will clarify.

 

Larger is the operative word. A 200-gallon is indeed larger but so is a 12-gallon tank. At the time I wrote this guide, a lot of pico newcomers were setting one up instead of a 9- or 12-gallon tank on the pretense that it would be a lot cheaper to maintain so I wanted to emphasize that point to help curtail that notion. Maintaining a fully operational pico isn't that much more cost-effective than a typical nano setup.

 

I suppose I could have clarified that but I never intended for this guide to be read outside of the pico circle, let alone have it be a huge hit outside of this forum. I'm not sure what the definition of a nano reef is these days but at the time we kinda drew the line around 34 gallons on the large end and four to five gallons on the small end with most people running anywhere between 6 to 24-gallon setups. Since I was writing this specifically for Nano-Reef, I didn't think it was necessary to define that larger really means no larger than 34 gallons.

Its all good. Just saying it is an advantage that it is cheaper and a good reason to consider going pico vs nano or even larger. Over the long run even a 34g tank will be vastly more expensive to maintain.  34g still uses a lot of electricity compared to a 2g jar.. Plus the gear required will need to be replaced eventually and that alone could cost 1000s if you went for a radion or AI prime, MP10, full Apex system and so on. I think you are comparing setting up a pico to a nano with the same gear(electricity and replacement costs) and then just considering that the only expense of "aquarium maitenance" is the cost of water changes, but thats not close to true or even practical.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just found this thread today.  Good read through.     One point I'd strongly question for a pico?.

 

Sand!   Why? 

 

I've had my pico 3.5g for 2 years now.  No sand.  Just a "sand colored" spray painted bottom.  I used rustoleum sand paint on the bottom glass outside the tank.  So it shows nicely through the glass bottom.  This makes it simple to turkey bast the detritus out.

 

Radian

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