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LeeM

Lee’s Nano Reef triton method

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LeeM

This is a 60litre tank purpose built DIY for use with the triton method. I will run this aquarium journal 

 

I will log weekly my successes and failures and water parameters. With weekly photos of this tank as it matures.

 

The tank will be a mixed reef with ULM in mind.

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LeeM

Over the last few days I have been designing and then building this custom 60litre Nano tank to fit in with the triton method.

 

This tank will be bare bottom, having kept reefs for the last 10 years I’ve tried all of the main methods for substrate shallow sandbed, deepsand bed, crushed coral and at various sizes for all.

They all have their pros and cons, however as stated above ULM is a must as I’m military and often away for long periods with my wife having to look after my tank (she doesn’t like reef tank maintenance) the easier the tank is to look after the more likely she will 😂.

 

I have built this tank with a rear sump approx 30% of the total volume and the overflow has dual Venturi suction (video and pictures posted later). This means that detrius and uneaten food can be removed from the tank bottom and trapped by filter floss for easy maintenance.

 

I have also built a compartment for the heater and chaeto algae the primary method of nutrients export with triton. The chaeto will come from my current triton set up which has not had a water change since set up over 1 year ago.

 

finally water will flow into the final chamber which contains the return pump, a bracket for dosing lines of triton base elements I currently use a Jebao dosing pump and I have calabrated it to dose in 0.5ml increments and the aquasmart ATO sensor and RO/DI water line from the reservoir. This chamber has space for a Nano skimmer which I have not purchased or build yet. I don’t currently run a skimmer on my set up but will on this build.

 

The back of the tank and one side have been painted gloss black. 

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LeeM

Build process, I used formex pvc sheet to build as it’s easy to work with and inert in salt water.

 

super glue to hold the parts in place (use a very small dot as it reacts with the formex sheet and bonds the formex. Aquarium safe silicone for a clean water tight finish.

 

The small basket on the over flow holds media carbon and triton AL99 phosphate remover and filter floss. 

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LeeM

Leak check time, I did find a few areas that bled water from one compartment to another. I rectified this with a syringe full of silicone to fill these gaps. Now the tank is full sealed.

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LeeM

Duel overflow test

 

I added food to the tank it eventually settled on the bottom and was pushed to the overflow. It was sucked up and deposited in the filter floss basket.

 

More flow is needed a return pump of approx 20x tank volume and I will add a ball valve to the outlet to allow adjustment.

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LeeM

Next time to paint the tank. I used enamel paint gloss black it took 3 coats to get a good look.

 

In these photos you can see that the algae reactor compartment has gone. I decided it would require more maintenance using my existing algae reactor. It requires a lot of cleaning and fills up every week in my current tank I export approx 3 quarters per week every week seen pictures below. In this build I will let the chaeto sit freely and light from above. However I highly recommend algae reactors for those who can’t have a sump or have limited space.

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pmang6

Very interesting. Where do you get the formex? Also, wont the tiny strip of floss become clogged? I suppose for ULN it is better to have a small bit of floss that you replace/clean frequently rather than a large amount where gunk can build up, right?

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Christopher Marks

Neat custom tank build @LeeM, good work so far! I like how you're keeping the cheato refugium on display, it will be fun to observe.

 

P.S. Welcome to the community!!!

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LeeM
3 hours ago, pmang6 said:

Very interesting. Where do you get the formex? Also, wont the tiny strip of floss become clogged? I suppose for ULN it is better to have a small bit of floss that you replace/clean frequently rather than a large amount where gunk can build up, right?

I bought the formex sheet at simpleplastic.com it cost £20.

 

The floss will definitely become clogged how often I don’t know yet, the basket is set slightly lower so if clogged water just flows over. I do think this will be the only task will require regular attention. However I currently run a canister filter holding floss and media. It does work amazingly well but if it isn’t cleaned very regularly and properly I find it becomes a source of NO3 and PO4. Cleaning usually takes me a good hour. 

So removing this small bit of easily accessible floss and media will take seconds. 

3 hours ago, pmang6 said:

Very interesting. Where do you get the formex? Also, wont the tiny strip of floss become clogged? I suppose for ULN it is better to have a small bit of floss that you replace/clean frequently rather than a large amount where gunk can build up, right?

 

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LeeM
2 hours ago, Christopher Marks said:

Neat custom tank build @LeeM, good work so far! I like how you're keeping the cheato refugium on display, it will be fun to observe.

 

P.S. Welcome to the community!!!

Thank you, I decided it would be interesting to see all the critters in the fuge. I’ll seed this from my old tank which has various pods a healthy colony of mysid shrimp, bristle worms, feather dusters and who knows what else. It just as fun to watch this micro life.  

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LeeM

Tank is now in position and filled with fresh saltwater. 

I used reeflowers salt as I find it gives me the best levels for use with triton parameters reeflowers;

8dkh Ca 415 Mg 1280 PH 8.0 

I have used tropic marin as per tritons instructions but found it a bit low on the mag side.

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LeeM

I have seeded the tank with rock from my established tank and added chaeto to the rear sump whilst I am ghost feeding the tank to cycle. 

I have sent a test of to triton for ICP analysis something I would recommend to anyone starting a new tank. This provides a baseline for you’re set up. You can rectify deficient elements and it gives that confirmation your tank is chemically ready for livestock and that your salt brand is fit for your purpose. Future tests will highlight new issues and you’ll have a window from the last test when something changed.

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LeeM

While I’m waiting for the tank to finish its cycle I’m going to think about live stock for this tank.

 

Coral.

 

I will be moving my zoa and paly collection across to this tank which contains 

 

• darth maul paly

• gorilla nipple zoa

• palythoa grandis

• scrambled egg zoa

• pink incinerators zoa

• purple bees zoa

• fairy duster zoa

• sunny Ds 

• goochester zoa

• yellow hulks

• frozen apple zoa

• whamin watermelon zoa

• radioactive dragons eye

• reverse space monsters

• happy people eaters

• eye of Sauron 

• Hawaiian sunset

• orange bam bam

• Joker zoa

• Rasta zoa

• Sakura zoa

• orange explosions zoa

• starburst zoa

• plus few unnamed/identified

I’m sure I’ll add more to my collection too.

 

I will put some pulsing Xenia attached to the overflow area. Xenia in my opinion provides a few benefits. 1st helps keep nutrients down and can be used for nutrient export. 2nd  I think it looks good  and provides nice movement with the rythmic pulsing. 3rd since it grows fast I sell it to buy more zoas👍.

 

I will put some ultra green GSP in this tank on the bottom for easy control and for the same reasons above movement and to sell. Whilst I don’t use it for nutrient export I find GSP is the first coral to tell me it’s not happy and close. Think is my indicator to test the water for potential problems. 

 

I may add some nice rare shrooms to the tank not sure yet.

 

As for sps maybe one or two prize frags to become the show piece of the tank however I would need to keep them fairly small fragging often.

 

Now I’m sure some may disagree with my choices when it comes to Xenia and GSP and in a tank with sps. I have these in my current set up which is only 25 litre with no problems. I run carbon for chemical warfare and place the corals that can become invasive in easily removed areas, GSP on glass can be dragged off in seconds with a credit card to provide a nice flat mat to attach to a plug and Xenia on the overflow is simply pulled off or cut it control. 

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LeeM

Fish.

 

Clown fish a classic that my boy loves and don’t require any special care...

 

Sixline wrasse in a tank with so many zoas these little fish can save the day if you’re unlucky enough to get nudis, sundial snails or spiders

 

Mandarin dragnet love these fish and for ULM tank they would be the best choice if you can provide enough pods for them to eat from your Refugium then no feedings would be needed! and a self sustaining tank is possible, however having kept a pair for many years I already know that they desimate pod populations very quickly and enough pods may not enter the display from the refugium. So it’s unlikely I can keep a mandarin on solely tank pod population and will need to feed frozen food. I have trained several mandarins for myself and friends and found they will readily accept frozen if you trick them into it.

What I did was watch their natural behaviour, they put those small mouths into rocks and puff a little jet of water out and quickly suck in (at least that what it looks like). So when I train mandarins I get a breeder box and place a few bits of dry rock into the breeder box. I look for dry rock that is smooth with very few holes then use a 2.5mm drill bit and make several small holes that the mandarin would explore. In these holes I use a syringe to place the frozen food. The mandarin will during its hunting find these holes and eat what’s in them after a week of this I start adding the food with turkey Baster or feeding syringe to the breeder box then finally when the mandarin associates the turkey baster with food and swims to it I release the fish to the main display to look for pods and feed daily via turkey baster so far this has worked for me everytime.

 

At the moment I’m leaning towards a species tank with the mandarin imo the most beautiful fish you could own. Once trained to eat frozen and pellet it takes no special care.

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LeeM

Critters and inverts

 

hermits I will never add to my display but may add few into my refugium area.

 

I have a lot of bristleworms already and these provide the bulk of my clean up crew

 

mysid shrimp and pods feed on algae and waste

 

feather dusters I have been lucky the feather dusters I have in my tank are bright red, blue and yellow. Some have strips and the reproduce nicely.

 

I will add snails at some put in the future when and if algae starts to show.

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LeeM

Refugium has been lit for several days now. The Refugium is approx 15 litres capacity.

 

It currently contains some live rock from my established reef this has brought various small critters (pods, dusters, worms shrimp ect ) across to this tank. This rock will be moved to the rear chamber once I feel the dry rock used for the display has become established.

 

Chaeto algae for nutrient export, however as part of the triton method I do not remove any unless a friend needs some. This causes some die off of the chaeto which releases nutrients into the tank for corals to use.I find 6500k LEDs are perfect for chaeto growth. I currently light for 12hours on a reverse cycle.

 

The first of 2 x 100W heaters in this chamber the second in the return pump chamber. 2 heaters I feel give more stability and a fail safe. My temp swing has been 25.5C - 25.7C over 24 hour period.

 

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LeeM

Now is a good time to talk about testing and tank maintenance I intend for this ULM build.

 

Maintenance care shedule:

 

Daily - look at the tank and enjoy does my reef look happy (until work forces me out the door). Quick check that equipment looks to be working.  (30seconds work) 

 

Every other day - when I do add mandarins supplement feeding (this my increase or decrease until I find the sweet spot that I have a fat pot bellied little fish. (2 minutes).  Spot Feed reef roids 0.15ml (2 minutes) I spot feed this to different colonies as I see fit the left over is broadcast by flow. I truly believe that reef roids grows zoas fast so if I have a slower growing colonel I spot feed them more often to catch their growth up.

 

Once a week - Test KH is around 8dkh. Increase or lower dosing pump as needed, royal nature alkalinity test kit (1min). Change floss (10 seconds). Empty skimmer if needed (30 seconds). Fill RO/DI reservoir (2mins ).

 

Once a month - test calcium salifert test and magnesium Royal nature test (5mins) addjust if needed. Change carbon and phosphate remover (5mins).

 

3 monthly - triton ICP test 5mins

 

I will update this if anything else becomes required.

 

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LeeM

Next topic to consider will be lighting and hopefully I can share my experience and what I’ve learned over the last 10 years.

 

I will be running LEDs over this tank and I do prefer LEDs over T5 or metal halide.

 

So what I want from a light

 

1. That ability to grow corals

2. To be programmable and simulate the natural cycle of the sun as much as possible.

3. To give corals colour POP

 

I feel LEDs have a massive advantage over other lights due to the ability to program them for a natural sunrise through to sunset. The narrow spectrums can be honed in to grow any coral with the light they actually require and finally LEDs can clearly make a coral POP with amazing colour.

 

However not all LED lights are created equal and unfortunately most manufacturers don’t provide enough information for the average reef keeper to even know where to start. LEDs are very deceiving to the naked eye and without a PAR meter generally you’re guessing, what height to mount the light, what photoperiod, how intense, ratio of white to blue the list goes on. 

 

This is why for me the choice of LED lighting is simple.

 

Ecotech Radion 4th Gen. Ecotech not only provide a light capable of growing corals but they give you all the information needed to do this on ecotech smart live. You can use pre made templates and set your LED up very easily. You can copy well now aquaculture facilities that use this light for example WWC worldwide corals or Battlecoral. The acclimatisation setting is fantastic when starting a new tank.

 

I have set my Gen 4 Radion on the very successful Coral Lab SPS AB+ Profile that has given great results for many aquaculture facilities. As this tank is mostly softies and polyps a max intensity of 55% with an acclimatisation over 6 weeks. 

Probability of cloud or storm set to 3%

lunar cycle not active.

light is hung 8 inches from the water level.

once set I won’t touch this again.

 

 

   

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LeeM

Just fitted a Nano skimmer to the tank in the last chamber.

 

this chamber houses;

the return pump,

heater number two

aquasmart ATO sensor and feed line

3 x dosing lines for triton base elements on a bracket 

and the skimmer 

 

 

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Christopher Marks

Great plans and progress @LeeM! That’s going to be an epic zoanthid collection to grow out, looking forward to seeing all the future inhabitants!

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LeeM

Thank you Christopher, So far this tank build has gone well and a think a sleek looking tank will ensure attention will be focused on my zoa garden.

 

I have 30 or so morphs that will call this tank home in the next few days.

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LeeM

So I have now added all the frags to this tank zoas are everywhere 😁

 

I wanted to take some time to talk about zoa and paly care and parameters, problems and pests and how I will create a zoa garden that looks great yet doesn’t require much if any regular maintenance. Hopefully someone will get something they can use. This is all based on my experience.

 

Zoas and Palys don’t require any special care above providing the correct lighting and water parameters. 

 

For me:

 

KH - 8

calcium 410-420

mag 1300-1400

No3 - 0

Po4 - 0

SG 1.025-1.026

temp 25.5-26c

 

Most importantly is stability! Every change will slow growth or stress out your colonies.

 

I often see talk of dirty water this imo is nonsense. The best colours I always find in my tank when No3 and Po4 are reading zero.  Theirs a huge difference between dirty water and nutrient rich water. This is why I regularly feed reef roids and allow die off of my chaeto. Feeding makes the colonies pop with colour as they are less reliant on zooxanthellae.  

 

Lighting again I often see that zoas like low light. Yet I find that all zoas and Palys can thrive in high lights but need to be acclimated very slowly. Zoas and Palys will actually change the size of the pylops and colour depending on light for example I have two colonies of fairy dusters one high up the pylops are small yet the colour and pattern are amazingly bright. The one lower down the pylops are double the size yet the colour and pattern are not as impressive, same tank allfrom same original frag but look different. Most important thing for me is to set the lights and leave them alone. I’m using a radion 4th gen set at a custom coral lab sps ab+ profile.

 

Zoas closed up! This is something I believe many panic about. If you have had the zoa or paly for a while and they suddenly close my personal opinion is do nothing! What I mean by this is don’t start moving them, changing light or flow, or carrying out a non routine water change you’ll just piss them off. 

 

The imediate action is to test the main water parameter. If they are in check do nothing, wait and watch. Sometime zoas just close up for a little while. However if you can clearly see the problem zoa pox or pests ect aggressively treat the problem.

 

Stretching zoas this is fairly common firstly ensure you have enough (turbulate) flow, zoas will stretch if flow is not strong enough powerheads need a clean for example. If your flow is good then look at lighting. Increase light by 1% a week max or lower fixture by 1mm if non dimmable even take week breaks with no increase. This is very slow and allows all tank inhabitants to adapt, which not only affects the amount of zooxanthella algae held in the tissues but the size shape of pylops. These physical changes are slow.

 

Placement of zoas personally I just put them where I think they look good and they adapt.

 

I like to keep zoas from growing into each other and get nice blocks of colour. I do a few things to acheive this. I’m not a fan of that random zoa in the middle of a colony breaking the block of colour. I also don’t want them to eventually be over run and the fastest grower to fill the tank.

 

The pillars I place the zoas on give the illusion that they are close but in reality they can’t get to each other. 

 

I will try explain this more when I take photos of the display just waiting on a gel filter for my rubbish camera.

 

 

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LeeM

Weekly update 

 

Zoas have settled in nicely their is however a few that are still sulking they open for a bit then close then open but at the moment I have no real concerns just going to leave the tank alone.

 

The colours are looking great although my camera isn’t great at capturing them and the camera gels still haven’t arrive 😩

 

xenia is pulsing away and GSP has attached to the bottom and started to spread. 

 

Some zoas are starting to bud babies babies so far so good 👍

 

 

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LeeM

Again best pics I can get atm on a iPhone 6s the blue LEDs unfortunatly wash the colours out 😫 Hopefully I can get better pics soon.

 

weekly parameters 

 

SG 1.026

Temp 25.5

No3 0

PO4 0

KH 8.1

 

cal and mag not tested

 

Pylops showing growth Reef roid feeding to remain at 0.15ml 3 times a week

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LeeM

Not much changed, I have added a baby yellow eye Kole tang it’s about 1inch, this will remain in the tank until it reaches about 2 inches and is keeping algae growth down while this tank grows to maturity. It’s future home is a friends 150 gallon mixed reef as unfortunately it will be far too big and need far too much swim space in this Nano tank. 

 

Pod population has grown nicely and my hope is still for a mandarin species tank in the future.

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