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InTank media basket & fish saver install in a BioCube 14

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After a 4 and a half year hiatus from keeping tanks in anything other than storage, at my wife's prompting I retrieved my BioCube 14 from the basement after Christmas and got back to work.


My abbreviated history with aquaria is that since 1990, I've kept a dozen or so salt and freshwater tanks in size anywhere from 2 to 250 gallons. My favorite was a 150 gallon display reef tank with a handmade 55 gallon sump/refugium that was plumbed through a wall and fully automated, right down to dosing and water changes. Of course, as soon as it was finished in 2007 I sold the house and had to break it all down. I gave away most of the livestock to folks from the WAMAS site, and traded out the display tank for a BioCube 14 that I set up at the new place and moved the remaining livestock to there. That setup thrived for a couple years, but was broken down during a remodeling campaign in 2009. Since then I've forgotten a lot about how to do this right, so I've spent a lot of time lurking here the last few months. Thanks to all of you for the advice, and hopefully this thread starts paying that forward.


Back to the topic at hand...this was the tank on Thursday afternoon.



Things have been going pretty well since it was set up. However, I'd had two recurring issues: the turbo snails keep screwing up the aquascaping by pulling live rock down (they make too much bio load anyway and will be getting new homes soon), and adequate flow to the third (return) chamber. The first issue was annoying, but the second needed attention. Water changes were followed within hours by a drop of inches in the return chamber's water level, putting the pump cooling at risk and requiring top offs of a gallon or more of prepped water.


The problem was inadequate flow from the pass through from the 2nd to 3rd chamber, owed to crappy execution of the refugium I set up. In these two pics you can kinda make out how high the water level is - overflowing from the the top of chamber 2 into chamber 3 and even over the back wall. No bueno.





Let's get a closer look at the problem...here's the back of the tank. To light the fuge, I've got a Coralife dual T5 6500k 9w fixture. I'm only using one tube - it's plenty of light on it's own, and keeps the heat output in check.






Here's the back with the fixture off. I couldn't get a decent shot, but you can pretty clearly make out the chaeto craziness and bag of Chemi-Pure at the bottom of chamber two that are contributing to the congestion.




With the return pump shut off, in the next pic you can more of less see that once the water levels have equaled out between chambers that the overall level is much too high.




In the month since I added the refugium, there's been algae buildup in the chamber, green on the back glass and red on the inner wall. The red had me a little concerned about cyano; if that's what it was, I'm assuming the UV lamp in the return line killed it before it made it to the display.






I pulled the lower chamber divider and found a bit of what looks like red fauchea. To my shock, I found more filter floss under the divider...I literally have no memory of putting it there and no idea what I could've been thinking when I did. Clearly, it had been there since I set the fuge up, and is likely why my nitrates have never dropped below 5 (some might also call out the filter sponge leading to the return pump, but in my first foray with the BioCube nitrates stayed at zero for as long as I had it, despite the sponge).






Finally, with the divider out and a flashlight shining in to the chamber, you can clearly see all the chaeto bits, detritus, and Chemi-Pure bag crammed in to the bottom. No wonder return flow was an issue...


Anyway, I pulled the Chemi-Pure bag, set it to rinse, then thoroughly scrubbed the glass and wall. After that, I sucked out all the junk.




I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to whack out the false bottom/first chamber divider and relocate the heater there. After reading the myriad opinions about how to get it out, I tried and failed with each. I got fed up and grabbed my wife's Ginsu knife that I'd been mocking since we started dating, and got read to get violent. To my surprise, it was the ideal tool! I pushed directly on to the center of the divider with the knife tip, which bent the panel and crimped it's molding, then it popped right out. I then stuck the tip of the knife in to one of the slots, twisted a bit and out it came.


Anyway, I'd been using the overflow chamber to house Coralife's BioCube protein skimmer. Unlike the many naysayers, after several weeks of patiently tuning it I had excellent results. However, the InTank basket requires a mod to the chamber divider that precluded it, and I'm diligent with water changes anyway so off to retirement it goes.








On to the InTank install!


The box arrived unscathed, and the contents were nicely cushioned by the filter floss I included on the order. I should note that I recommend the filter floss they sell - much thicker and generally higher quality than the stuff I've been using for years.








My two year old was thrilled when I revealed the unexpected Swedish fish in the box, and I was promptly instructed to hand it over. She LOVES those things.


And by the way, no...cufflinks aren't part of my standard aquarium maintenance uniform. I took these shots earlier and hadn't changed from work yet.




Packaging of individual items was outstanding. I read a gripe or two about this before, but mine were impeccably done.










To prep for install, I rinsed the media basket and fish saver thoroughly, as well as the aforementioned bag of Chemi-Pure. After pruning the chaeto to about half of what'd been in there, I put it in the bottom chamber of the basket, the Chemi-Pure in the middle, and Purigen at the top with floss atop it (Purigen only pictured in the in-tank shot below).


The Chemi-Pure took every bit of space in that middle chamber. I thought about removing some from the bag, but I've torn one before so I left it as is.


Also, as I mentioned the InTank floss is pretty thick - I don't think I'll be able to fit it AND the Purigen once I start using that floss. As I'm typing, I'm thinking I'll relocate the Purigen below the chaeto on the bottom chamber of the media basket to keep little bits from escaping in to the tank. Hindsight...






As others have mentioned, the basket wiggles in the chamber a little, but it's a necessary caveat because of the design of the BioCube. After affixing the water director, the wiggling was acceptably lessened and plenty of water cascades directly in to the basket. Nice, nice, nice. Very well designed, equally well made. If you're considering it, stop quibbling and just buy it. It's very reasonably priced in contrast to the cost of other tank investments, and manages the function it sets out to accomplish in the most elegant way I've ever seen in a nano. Well done, StevieT!




(EDIT: Since I posted the commentary below on the Fish Saver I talked to Steve at InTank and realized I skimmed over a very clear disclaimer that it's not designed for my tank. Rather, it's for Oceanic (not Coralife) BioCube. That said, I modified the stay hold to fit my Coralife and the play discussed below is now OK.)


The Fish Saver Guard, on the other hand, I'm less impressed with. Same build quality, but the design is lacking a bit. In the first two pics below, you can see that it fits nicely between the wall and media basket. What I couldn't capture well in pictures is that there's a gap of nearly 1/4" between the wall and guard, and a half inch of front to back play at the top of the panel. After wasting a lot of time second guessing myself with trial and error and referencing InTank's installation video on YouTube a few times, I think the issue is that the stay hold I was sent isn't cut properly. I'm going to reach out to InTank about it and will follow up here.


That notwithstanding, in the third picture below you can see the gap on the right side of the tank above the overflow chamber isn't insignificant, particularly if you have small fish.


In the end, the gap is addressed better than it was in the BioCube OEM design, but it's not a silver bullet. That said, minimizing the risk of a lost fish is worth the 14 bucks, so I still recommend it.








Hesitantly, I did all this without a quarantine tank, so I've been pleased to see my livestock haven't taken a turn since the install. I'm going to give it a few weeks to settle and if my numbers stay in check, will add a shrimp and eventually soft corals.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you!  You gave me the courage to use my knock-off Ginsu knife (that's really bad) to attack the false bottom in the chamber. Just one stab and it broke.  It was easy to remove and I am so grateful for your pics and directions.

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