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Innovative Marine Aquariums

Sub-gallon stacking system .123G PICO


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Christopher Marks
23 hours ago, Wonderboy said:

Quick updates:

The pump ceased - switched to the spare and need to apparently buy another; hoping one lasts somewhere more sufficient.

Bought a teeny tiny blue hammer frag; introduced to display - seems to be doing okay, pic soon. Planning to move it to larger system when ready.

Burrowing brittle star died - watching parameters, nothing seems abnormal.

Display led failed - ran it with cfl 4 days - purchased this and put it over the system tonight

Finished upgrades to the calcium reactor; there was a persistent slow leak that, in the end, required sealant - now waiting on the media.


I finally had a chance to catch up on your journal and build progress, so many incredible details! That overflow is really something, I'd love to see a video of it all running sometime! Looking forward to seeing your tiny calcium reactor come online too! 😍

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@Christopher Marks Thank you much - the reactor should be up within days (3M 5200 sealant just finished curing), and I was planning on putting a video together as soon as it was in place (meaning not necessarily operational lol - we'll see).


A lot of my time has been going into several other projects; a 5' x 7' frilled dragon terrarium/paludarium has been the most time consuming.


I haven't done a water change on the pico since the pump was replaced (I have ordered more, just in case). Planning for WC tonight.


The nassarius didn't make it; I spotted the hermit crab sporting its shell yesterday. I'm suspecting not enough larger particulate food made it down to the fuge for the nassarius - so I think I'll try another in some time. The dwarf cerith or baby cerith is still doing well. It is bigger though....


The calcium reactor media is in the mail, and I have been playing with a setup similar to this thing for CO2. I am trying to see if I can get it to let out just one bubble at a time lol.


The zoas lost almost all vibrancy after being semi-closed for a while and dealing with the lighting changes. I have a cfl next to the actinic led for a broader spectrum, but I am still thinking the setup can be better.


The hammer looks to be doing okay though.


Here's the zoas:



Here's the hammer:






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Stocking update:



(possibly 'JF leap frog'):



leptoseris (JF Jack-o-Lantern):



Some orange-skirt zoas:



Also, managed to squeeze a splitting ricordea in here (temporary until another setup is ready)


Still waiting on reactor media, and still playing with the "diy" CO2 approach.

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On 11/25/2018 at 1:51 AM, Tamberav said:

That tiny little hammer! :wub: Tank looks great!


19 hours ago, Snazxy said:

It’s a baby hammer 😃

I know, when I saw it, I just had to; I wasn't planning on anything branching, but for me it was like seeing that puppy in the store you weren't supposed to. The new LFS in town has a bunch of small frags, and they're thinking of fragging even smaller just to help with tiny displays like this; moreover, I have been thinking of building another type of pico. We'll see what happens.


Speaking of frags - stocking and layout update - center, left, and right side:




Another cyphastrea (on the right) and that favia? (in the middle) are the newcomers. I removed that shell on the substrate thinking lps may need to go there; after too much effort, I got the shell out, but I could not get anything else down there - haha. Did my best to move the lower light demanding stuff to the sides - the patience required for shifting things around in here is unfathomable - I wouldn't recommend a display less than 500mL with a hardscape to anybody. Maybe Antman.


I'm still testing for appropriate CO2 output on this thing - not too far from success:



Also, the cal reactor is filled with Brightwell Coralazarus and Neomag (11%) - will be installing it on the system tonight.


A future concern of this is the water inlet or outlet becoming clogged - I am planning on implementing a particular practice during water changes that should help clear the potential for this up. I am going to try dosing 1mL of 3% H2O2 into the display water supply nozzle coinciding with powering off the pump - I might be able to keep the inside of the supply line, calcium reactor, and the pump clear when the display water is siphoning through the supply line.


Going to get the video up next and more pictures soon.

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9 hours ago, Reefkid88 said:

What in the actual... that is insane !!! What are you gonna do for ph control/monitoring ? 

Haha thanks. I have a couple ideas; I am planning on running a controller and finding and splicing a small pH probe to ideally fit in the sump. In case no probe can fit, I have been reserving designs for an exterior chamber, but ultimately, the probe's dimensions/guts will play the main role in any implementation effort. So, I need to figure out what to do for a controller and probe first.

9 hours ago, Tamberav said:

Lol just imagine trying to frag the corals when they go to war or try to crawl up the glass

Yeah I know, I have to pretend this was a good idea every time I see it - hahaha :rolleyes:. A few things in here are only temporarily confined until my 39G mixed reef is finished cycling. If anything becomes problematic, I will have to pull out the hardscape, transfer particular specimens out, clean the acrylic, reassemble and address placements. Sounds like about an hour's worth of miniature maneuvers; I won't be excited but have dealt with worse.

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@Reefkid88 The calcium reactor recipe:

Mostly patience; I broke 3 test tubes making the top part before accomplishing the outcome of the fourth test tube. I have collected many test tubes over time, so those were free. I have 1/4" barbed Ts; used one for mitigation to the tubes, so no addition there. I purchased appropriately sized 316 stainless steel screws from ebay that I carefully ground into for flow control that fits into the T. There's a tiny "diamond edged" loop of 3/8" tubing in there to keep the media away from inserting/removing the T fitting from the test tube - snipped it from the slack of another setup. The media cost something, but also will be used elsewhere. I stole the rubber feet from the cooling fans for all of the inserts/seals. The screens were made from tiny net pots for fertilizing epiphytic plants; already had those. Filters in there were up-cycled as well. I purchased a set of several glass pipettes on ebay because I didn't have that aprx diameter glass tubing anywhere. The DIY CO2 thing was purchased part by part (bottle tops, pressure gauge, solenoid, needle valve, bubble counter, check valve) because I don't like plastic precision parts. I implemented 316SS quick connect to enable the setup to be modular, and I still kind of want to incorporate a pressure relief valve. I had the power supply and switch - collect those things, too. Vinegar or citric acid and baking soda, plenty in the kitchen already. I at one point had to go out of my way and purchase two sodas, too. I am looking through controller options and a probe that can fit somewhere; until then, I can manually test and switch on the solenoid. I think that's everything; except tools - those are common acquisition :wink:.


Screws: $2

Media: $33

Pipettes: $6

DIY CO2: $34  ...quick connect: $7  ...future pressure relief: $13.50

Sodas: $4

Controller + probe: ideally < $80

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well that was expectedly fast... I am done with the cerith pushing stuff off the rock; I don't want to epoxy/glue things in here, so I replaced the hardscape:




There's still not very much room (still not even a little easier to tweezer in here), but at least the sand bed is more available - also, this time I made sure to construct it so I can lift out the new hardscape without the return line interfering.

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New addition

Lemon lime favia or sector 001 favite?






Here's the hammer; it looks damaged today... I don't recall bumping it or anything while placing the favite:



Doing a big water change now and checking old parameters. Test fitting a new specimen (anemone crab); hoping it's not that.

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Alkalinity was low <7 and moved the little anemone crab just in case - GH probably my fault; the calcium reactor isn't online full time yet, and I hadn't changed very much water out in a while (need to keep that up until the reactor is running all the time). The hammer is looking better this morning - I moved it down last night as much as I could to reduce some (if any) light intensity as well. Lastly, I finally, "what some might call", housed a full spectrum led array from the internet and got it running overhead:





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Here's a visual update of this nonsense.


The DIY CO2 is a little too finicky for me; I can get it to work, but it's not much longer before I switch to pressurized. It will probably end up on a FW planted tank somewhere else in the house.


The 2nd chamber of the calcium reactor keeps disconnecting itself and prompting small leaks - I have the entire calcium reactor removed from the system right now and will be recomposing the connection between the chambers tonight - I already know what I need to do.


I put the Nano Glo on. It seemed a little powerful, so I covered it with some red vinyl tape (not sure if this will benefit or detriment algal photosynthesis, but it was freaking bright from the front and ime, living things grow with even just ambient light). Then it warmed the system up to 82.7, so I taped a strip of thin packaging styrofoam to the light that sits between the diodes and the glass - it's still quite bright though. The temp is now maxing at 80.2, but that's during "night" times. Because of this, I am considering raising the system's temp to 79 - 81.


I mounted the cooling fans to the tile, no more bumping them.


Aaaaand the worst news: I noticed white, salt-creep-like corrosion (underwater though) on the back of the mini pump at its edges. I have no clue if this is the cause of the hammer damage, but I don't trust it. I have a replacement pump re-sealed with 3M marine 5200 stuck to the wall curing - 5 more days :unsure:  ...just in case, 100% water changes about twice daily until then.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Have been going through a diatom bloom since replacing the rocks and increasing the temperatures, but everything was still doing great until the Bayite temp controller failed - it's stuck on cool because the probe is reading over scale - the system reached almost 60F a few nights ago (snow outside), and the heater on its own accord (with the fans running) brought it to 88F... I put all the coral into my 10G - except the cyphastreas (encrusted to rock) and ricordia (tolerating everything fine). I have a different controller on the way. Running at ambient temps now.

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New temperature controller by Poniie up and running. Going to leave everything that I moved to the 10 in the 10 because they all (favia, favite, lepto + hammer) look semi-melted from the temp swings. The Nano Glo is working great; chaeto is dark green and getting dense. Thinking of putting it on a cycle timer so that it has less influence on temperature. Going to let things run for a couple weeks.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Starting to stock this thing again. Added a stomatella and little blasto to the display. Found that the nassarius I thought was hermit food is actually still very alive. Calcium reactor not running - switching to pressurized asap. Light hours switched to 12-7:10am refuge, 7am-12:15pm display, 12-7:10pm refuge, 7pm-12:15am display. NH4, NO2, NO3 all constant 0. WC >50% weekly until reactor up.


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  • 2 weeks later...

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