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Louis T

Louis' pico come back (LED mixed reef)

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Louis T   

In 2007, I started my first ever reef tank in a 30cm x 30cm x 30cm cube, which went on to become ReefKeeping magazine's first "Tank of the Month" that was a nano tank. A lot of thanks have to go out to the people who read my tank journal for their feedback and support.



However, soon, I needed a bigger tank (as we all do), and I bought a fellow reefer's frag tank which I turned into a shallow reef. At the end of 2009, I shut down my 4x2x1 shallow reef tank because I did not have time to give it the proper care it deserved. It was a sad day, we even went to send off our little yellow goby to his new home. Most of the corals grew from small colonies into dinner plate-sized colonies. The tank had 4x Tunze 6045, 1x MP40 and 2 eductors and the corals were still blocking a lot of the flow!



Three years later, I finished my PhD and got engaged, moved to Melbourne and finally I am getting back to the game! My fiancee loved my old tank, and I am embarrassed to say that her, not I, shed tears over the fishes and corals we sold to fellow MASS reefers.


We decided to set up a new nano tank in our apartment. It had to be small, since we will be getting our own place in the near future, and it had to be portable. We wish to keep some less demanding corals in here to begin with, but we'll see how that works out in the long run.


Tank: Dymax IQ5, which has an internal dimension of 21cm x 21cm x 25 cm (WxDxH). It has a back section which is partitioned into 3 compartments, one as the overflow, one for heater and one for the return pump.


Lighting: AquaIlluminations Sol Nano with controller to replace it.


Flow: The return pump is a 300 L/hr powerhead, which resides in the last compartment (right most when viewed front-on). The return is piped through the back wall and back into the display through a tiny little "loc-line", which has internal diameter of approx 6-7mm. The pump was originally connected to the loc-line through ~20cm of tubing, which severely impeded the pump's power since it is only rated for 60cm of head pressure. I shorten this tube to approx 7 cm, which improved the flow significantly. I wish to put in an EcoTech MP10wes in the near future. The Ecotech I had on my old tank was brilliant. I do wish to keep the tank as equipment free as possible.


Livestock: corals, lots of it. 1 fish, most likely a yellow coral goby.


The tank



The three compartments



Float switch installed for auto top off.



Peristaltic pump for the ATO. I am showing this pump because unlike normal peristaltic pumps, which requires a relay between the float switch and the pump (for control), this pump already has build-in circuitry to be externally controlled. In this case, when the external signal's circuit is closed, the pump runs. Therefore, I just had to connect the float switch directly to the pump's signal input. Simple. This pump had 2 channels, but only one will be used.



One of the current inhabitants.



I did the first parameter test yesterday and came up with 30 mg/L of nitrate :o I thought this might be due to the heavy feeding to help both the rescued Acan and Dendrophyllia recover, but it still seemed a bit ridiculous. Today, I did a water change and tested my fresh NSW, guess what? The fresh NSW's NO3 reading was 30 mg/L. This water came from Upmarket aquarium, I will be going to Reeflection to refill my NSW stock. This lot is going down the drain.
















AquaIllumination Sol Nano pendent. The light is angled towards the back to give the Pocillopora and Seriatopora more light.





Light controller. 14 timers, ramping modes, colour adjustment, intensity adjustment, lunar cycle simulation, lightning stimulation, etc



Back of the unit showing the clamp and the cable guides



The two clusters of 5 LEDs each. 1 white, 2 blue and 2 royal blue. Each colour is individually controllable.


Edited by Louis T

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Louis T   

Sorry, photos of the same corals again! Next time, the tank's placement needs to take ease of photography into account!












On a different note, the peristaltic pump died. So much for an expensive "scientific/industry-grade" pump. To replace the current system, I purchased Guppy's ATO relay system, but I will make some modification to it. I will add my existing float switch to it as the over-fill cut off. The decision to buy this rather than DIY own is that the parts cost is already very similar to this product. After my move to Melb, I longer have my garage workshop, so it's a pain to DIY anything serious. I will put back my trusty Williamson peristaltic pump again.


My original plan to have no SPS in this tank lasted about 2 days. When the Seriatopora and Pocillopora start to grow, I will use 2 part dosing to supplement Alk and Ca demand.

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Louis T   

This green Acan colony was rescued from the live rock bin. It look very sorry at the beginning (left, 14-March-12) and today (right, 9-April-12)



I also found 3 jellyfish in my tank after having set it up since March! They are still around today, but moves between various positions.



A video of the jellyfish:


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Wow! Looks great so far!! Love your old tanks!!

Always wanted to try a Pico. One day!

Good luck. I'll be keeping a ln eye on this :ninja:

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Louis T   
Wow! Looks great so far!! Love your old tanks!!

Always wanted to try a Pico. One day!

Good luck. I'll be keeping a ln eye on this :ninja:

Thanks jtgordon!


Quick update with FTS since I just got myself a nice piece of Acropora!


Calcium and alkalinity demand is currently at 27 ml of Randy's #1 recipe per 24 hours.







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Great setup and photos!

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Louis T   

Playing around with a PnS camera at home


Apparently a Balanophyllia rather than Dendrophyllia:






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Louis T   

Photo update as promised.


First of all, the closed loop circulation. The pump is a cheap Haliea 1000 L/hour pump. It was a cheap option that fits the budget well. Unfortunately, it is a bit noisy in my quiet apartment and the connectors are not well designed. I had to put a serious amount of tape seal on one to prevent it from leaking. I considered using a Hydor Seltz because it is so quiet and small, but experience tells me that the connector for that pump is one of the worst design I have ever seen. It really is only suitable for submerged application and not in-line.







One from the front to show how it looks:



Latest full tank shot:



For anyone who doubts the AI's "not-full-spectrum" LED's ability to keep corals. If you think the saturation is ridiculous, look at the colour of the frag plugs. This was shot using my iPhone since I couldn't fit my camera in the gap between the light and the water's surface. This is also during the "mid-day" cycle of 30% white, 40% blue and 40% royal blue.



Last, but not least, is a slow motion video of my precious little Acan polyp feeding on mysis. This single polyp came on the side of the colony I rescued from the LR bin. It was about 1/2 the current size when I isolated it from the original colony's skeleton. I have never seen a full orange Acan before, but the colour is super bright! To give you an idea, the orange is like that of the superman morph!


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Louis T   

So, finally an update.


The tank has changed a little bit. The old IQ tank has been replaced by a 30 cm cube for more room and bigger water volume. I was also having issues with precipitation from Randy's 2 part dosing to the extent that my substrate turned into a "cake" and clogging up the pumps and heater. I also had issues with the heater going bonkers and heating the tank to 29ºC and also flow problems. I also had issues with the light being too strong and bleaching all the corals. I think I should have started with the "Problems I didn't have" list, which would've been shorter.


In summary, I lost some corals in this process but aiptasia are doing very well. They have even started growing on the glass....... :angry:


To fix all those problems, these have been introduced:

1. Heater and fan are now wired onto an "Ebay" temperature controller. Since then, the temperature has been super consistent!

2. A Vortech MP10WES is responsible for primary water circulation. It is on random reef crest at 40% max power.

3. A Kaomer dosing pump now doses Randy's part 1 and 2. No more precipitation issues, and much more consistency.

4. The AI Nano's power has been turned all the way down and all the corals are responding very nicely.



1. Introduce 2 yellow coral gobies in the next months or so

2. Grow all the corals out.

3. Get an army of peppermint shrimps

4. I really want a mini carpet anemone but these are hard to source in Australia.
















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good to see you back :P

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