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Wonderboy's UGFuge 2.5G Pico


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Recent FTS - Oct 27, 2019:




(this one is the contest final FTS)



I really like the theme of the Kickin' It Old School Pico Reef Contest - so I'm going to jump in on this one.

Looking forward to putting this together as "old school" as possible with some necessary twists.

I am almost finished collecting everything for my build; here's a shot of the 2.5G and my current preferred snack (contest prereq):



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That is one of my 11 month old daughters preferred snacks too...lol


Interested to see some of these tricks you have up your sleeve, based on some of your other threads here.

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Everything that I have collected for it so far is enough to get this thing filled by tomorrow. I am only missing a small handful of items. Here's what I have at the moment:




I have had this tiny stand for who knows how long (might even be antique lol); this contest was the perfect opportunity to put it to use. Plus, it even has the added touch of rust like trusty 'ol stands ought to have. The tank did not quite fit it, so I affixed some trim to the tank so that it would sit securely. This old school pico's going to be rockin' an under gravel filter with some infamous pea gravel :coolguy: [ANYONE READING THROUGH THIS, PLS DO NOT GET THE CRAZY IDEA TO USE IMAGITARIUM GRAVEL IN YOUR REEF AQUARIUMS - IT WILL KILL YOUR CORALS]. Don't worry though, this one's not going to be just a regular UGF. No heater for now, going to watch fluctuations and select species thereafter - will add a heater and controller if I have to, but in the meantime I have one of those cutting edge 'suction cup combination glass thermometer' contraptions to help me keep track of those numbers, so I'm good to go. I don't have the light fixture yet (in the mail), but the bulb is a 50/50 CFL because before nearby times, fluorescent bulbs were my go-to. I dug up my clunkiest analog timer for the job, which might also be antique-sh lol. I'm planning on keeping a gallon of RO DI nearby for manual top offs, but I did at least scoop up a glass top to prevent as much evaporation as possible - and bubble splatter (Go UGFs!). If I add an ATO, I will build something rudimentary. I took the time to paint the back black and cover that with chrome spray paint to better reflect the minute amount of morning sun that sits on the back of the tank. Lastly, I have the hardscape ready as well - it is just one peice of dry rock, cut to fit. Will be getting things put together and wet quite shortly.

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I got the light fixture in the mail today, so I figured I'd update mid build:


Here's a sneak peak of the hardscape, plus my brand new old fixture - check this bad boy out!




I super glued glass-lid baffles to the gravel screen to "convince" the water to flow in a more circular pattern, to help eliminate dead spots, and primarily to ensure that there is adequate water movement across the plenum under the gravel (important for the intent of this trick-UGF). I also put some slits into the sides of the screen.




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I'm ready to fill it, seed it with bacteria (I use Microbe-Lift), and chuck a rock from another system into it for a few days.

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Temps crept just over 82 - I figured that I was going to have to do something about the heat that the bulb might produce, so I went through with upgrading the incandescent hood. I drilled some holes in the reflector - then cut and installed an acrylic panel that is recessed 1/4" into the fixture to allow for some dead air space. I had thought that the under gravel filter would have come with two, "bubble-chimneys" ...ahem, so I had purchased a dual outlet air pump for the job. However, the 2.5G UGF only comes with one; which I think ended up being better for the final layout - not sure about it necessarily being better for flow, but it opened up other aesthetic and accessibility options for down the road. Anyways, I taped off the vent on the side w/o the bulb and put some air line from the 2nd pump outlet into one of the slits to help push hot air out of the fixture. A few hours later, the temps had reduced to just over 80 - seems promising - been running the light non-stop since the tank's start-up. I'm practicing optimism when I say that this should work well enough. We will see... (pc fan mod if it comes to it)







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Temps are staying in the 75 - 80 F zone with lights on 24hrs. Laughing a little inside because the airline to hood vent mod is silly but working so well.




Side view:


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5 hours ago, RudyEnt said:

Looking good.  Don't you love this contest?  It brings back so many memories.  Loving it.

Definitely! I had never thought I would have to build out a saltwater system with a UGF setup again, but I was excited to do so for some reasons :lol: and it's been a blast!

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This old school pico is officially cycled (5 days, one nice advantage of small systems + seed rock and water) - threw in a couple coral friends just now - FTS:




And how about a trick?


Before burying my UGF screen with pea gravel, I needed to be sure that I provided myself with a way to insert stuff into or vacuum clean (if necessary) the plenum under the screen. I was thinking of cutting an access, but the 2nd "bubble chimney" port was minimal sized, however already there; I cut to shape a flap door using more glass-lid baffle plastic - here it is exposed during the tank's first water change:




Trap door removed:



Now you see it:



Now you don't:




UGF = Under Gravel Fuge


...bottom panel lighting is the next project - been waiting for LEDs, almost here.




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