Jump to content
aclman88

Feasibility of Classroom Tank

Recommended Posts

aclman88

Hey guys!

 

I was at  a frag swap recently, and after talking to some members who were also teachers I was enticed by the idea of starting a nano reef for my middle school classroom.  I wanted to reach out to see if anyone has any experience or advice before I really commit to this.  I teach science and currently have a variety of animals and freshwater tanks, but since we do an entire unit on Ocean Acidification and Coral Bleaching, I thought it a good idea to try a small reef tank keeping mostly softies and possibly a few very hardy LPS coral.

 

One of my main questions concerns the type of tank.. I have a 20L not being used along with filters, heaters, powerheads, ATO.  I would need to purcahse a filter and lights.  I am also considering going with a Fluval Evo XII as it is an all in one and might be a little easier to maintain.  Does anyone have any thoughts or advice which way to go?

 

Thanks!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
7 hours ago, aclman88 said:

Hey guys!

 

I was at  a frag swap recently, and after talking to some members who were also teachers I was enticed by the idea of starting a nano reef for my middle school classroom.  I wanted to reach out to see if anyone has any experience or advice before I really commit to this.  I teach science and currently have a variety of animals and freshwater tanks, but since we do an entire unit on Ocean Acidification and Coral Bleaching, I thought it a good idea to try a small reef tank keeping mostly softies and possibly a few very hardy LPS coral.

 

One of my main questions concerns the type of tank.. I have a 20L not being used along with filters, heaters, powerheads, ATO.  I would need to purcahse a filter and lights.  I am also considering going with a Fluval Evo XII as it is an all in one and might be a little easier to maintain.  Does anyone have any thoughts or advice which way to go?

 

Thanks!

I think it's completely feasible, and might even be super awesome to boot! As long as you're willing to commit to the time it takes to maintain a reef at work, I'd say you should definitely go for it - especially if you have everything you need except for a light. I know that several other N-R members have tanks in their offices, which is basically the same idea as a classroom tank, so it's certainly very doable.

 

For a 20L you might want to consider Current USA's Orbit Marine line of LED lights. They're very long, which would be good for that sort of tank, and are quite affordable. Any of them should be more than sufficient to keep soft corals and the like.

 

The Evo 13.5 would also be a good choice if you opt to go that route. That's a battle-tested AIO tank that many reefers here on N-R have had good success with.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Seadragon
8 hours ago, aclman88 said:

Hey guys!

 

I was at  a frag swap recently, and after talking to some members who were also teachers I was enticed by the idea of starting a nano reef for my middle school classroom.  I wanted to reach out to see if anyone has any experience or advice before I really commit to this.  I teach science and currently have a variety of animals and freshwater tanks, but since we do an entire unit on Ocean Acidification and Coral Bleaching, I thought it a good idea to try a small reef tank keeping mostly softies and possibly a few very hardy LPS coral.

 

One of my main questions concerns the type of tank.. I have a 20L not being used along with filters, heaters, powerheads, ATO.  I would need to purcahse a filter and lights.  I am also considering going with a Fluval Evo XII as it is an all in one and might be a little easier to maintain.  Does anyone have any thoughts or advice which way to go?

 

Thanks!

 

My wife teaches high school Biology and she forced me to set up a reef tank for her classroom.  (Years before that, she had me set up a heavily planted guppy tank that is still going strong today.  She tends to give away the baby guppies since there's way too many in that tank.)  The School Nano Reef has been going strong since 9/17/2019 and has only Green Star Polyps and Pom Pom Xenia corals.  I wanted to keep it simple to maintain, yet elegant for all the students, co-teachers, and parents to look at.

 

Either of those tanks will work just fine.  It all depends on how committed you want to be on maintaining water parameters (Calcium, Alkalinity, etc.) and getting the right lighting if you want to add LPS corals to the mix.

 

We use the Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light on her 10 gallon tank which can support macroalgae, soft corals and low light LPS corals just fine.

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
12 hours ago, billygoat said:

I think it's completely feasible, and might even be super awesome to boot! As long as you're willing to commit to the time it takes to maintain a reef at work, I'd say you should definitely go for it - especially if you have everything you need except for a light. I know that several other N-R members have tanks in their offices, which is basically the same idea as a classroom tank, so it's certainly very doable.

 

For a 20L you might want to consider Current USA's Orbit Marine line of LED lights. They're very long, which would be good for that sort of tank, and are quite affordable. Any of them should be more than sufficient to keep soft corals and the like.

 

The Evo 13.5 would also be a good choice if you opt to go that route. That's a battle-tested AIO tank that many reefers here on N-R have had good success with.

 

That's a great idea to look into the Orbit.  I had seen that suggested elsewhere and seems to be affordable.  Another forum I am on gave good advice that I should first start with the 20L since I already have everything needed for it to run except the light.  The Evo 13.5 would be great but might require more tinkering and would be more prone to swings in parameters.  I do like the idea of the lid though, which would really help reduce evaporation.

 

12 hours ago, Seadragon said:

 

My wife teaches high school Biology and she forced me to set up a reef tank for her classroom.  (Years before that, she had me set up a heavily planted guppy tank that is still going strong today.  She tends to give away the baby guppies since there's way too many in that tank.)  The School Nano Reef has been going strong since 9/17/2019 and has only Green Star Polyps and Pom Pom Xenia corals.  I wanted to keep it simple to maintain, yet elegant for all the students, co-teachers, and parents to look at.

 

Either of those tanks will work just fine.  It all depends on how committed you want to be on maintaining water parameters (Calcium, Alkalinity, etc.) and getting the right lighting if you want to add LPS corals to the mix.

 

We use the Current USA Orbit Marine Aquarium LED Light on her 10 gallon tank which can support macroalgae, soft corals and low light LPS corals just fine.

That is awesome to hear about your wife's tank!  How does she manage it over breaks (especially interested in how she cares for it doing the summer vacation).  Could you let me know what else you have set up with the tank to help run it?  I know, for example, I will need to invest in an RODI system for ATO and water changes.  I also just set up a guppy tanks as well.  Currently the class has a tarantula, hissing cockroaches, crested gecko, betta/african dwarf frog tank, and a guppy tank with an aquaponics system.

 

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88

Does anyone have a solid RODI system that I can use that won't break the bank?

 

Also, for filtration I was thinking HOB but was between the AC 70 or 110... any thoughts on one vs the other?

Share this post


Link to post
McCune

I have a reef tank in my office in the school I’m in. Last year it was a fluval 13.5 and this year I upgraded it to an IM Nuvo 40. Students all wanted More fish.

I will say the fluval 13.5 was easier to maintain just because it was less water I had to bring back and forth for top off and water changes.

 

this year I’ve been battling algae issues but am starting to turn a corner. Kids definitely love the fish and corals that sway and move 

tank has a pair of Picasso’s clowns

royal gramma 

Pygmy angel 

and tails spot blenny

 

 

I also have a dart frog vivarium in my office as well 

2E1A53FF-1A14-4B06-85C3-24F96C411234.jpeg

A4B4FF1B-597F-4415-85BE-A1D9328DC77C.jpeg

1BCCCBEA-03DC-4D0B-96D3-6E4B3DDCED48.jpeg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
11 minutes ago, McCune said:

I have a reef tank in my office in the school I’m in. Last year it was a fluval 13.5 and this year I upgraded it to an IM Nuvo 40. Students all wanted More fish.

I will say the fluval 13.5 was easier to maintain just because it was less water I had to bring back and forth for top off and water changes.

 

this year I’ve been battling algae issues but am starting to turn a corner. Kids definitely love the fish and corals that sway and move 

tank has a pair of Picasso’s clowns

royal gramma 

Pygmy angel 

and tails spot blenny

 

 

I also have a dart frog vivarium in my office as well 

Holy cow that vivarium is incredible!  It blows my crested gecko setup out of the water! 

 

 

I am really torn between a 20L and an Evo, since the after buying a filter and light for the 20L I would only be like $40 shy of the Evo, which would have a smaller footprint and require less water for ATO and changes.  Do you think the stock light for the Evo could grow softies? I really only want some GSP, Kenya tree and pulsing xenia in the tank since they are hardy, have a lot of movement, and would grow relatively quickly.  I probably would not get any LPS the first year it is running and maybe never since I really don't want to worry about dosing the tank.

Share this post


Link to post
icatchsnook

I just want to chime in and say that I think the notion of having a reef tank in a classroom or space where it will get exposure to students to learn about marine life is absolutely awesome!  I would love to have one to talk to my college students about but the university I work at has a no-aquariums policy. 😕

  • Sad 1
  • Wow 1

Share this post


Link to post
McCune
10 minutes ago, aclman88 said:

Holy cow that vivarium is incredible!  It blows my crested gecko setup out of the water! 

 

 

I am really torn between a 20L and an Evo, since the after buying a filter and light for the 20L I would only be like $40 shy of the Evo, which would have a smaller footprint and require less water for ATO and changes.  Do you think the stock light for the Evo could grow softies? I really only want some GSP, Kenya tree and pulsing xenia in the tank since they are hardy, have a lot of movement, and would grow relatively quickly.  I probably would not get any LPS the first year it is running and maybe never since I really don't want to worry about dosing the tank.

The stock Evo light is not great. There is not really any adjustability. I tried that then upgraded to a current USA orbit which was ok for a little and had some controllability.

I eventually picked up an AI prime which was leaps and bounds better. 

Thanks for the compliment about the vivarium. I have built a few and once they are build and established all I do is feed the frogs, fill the misting system and trim the plants. 

Share this post


Link to post
McCune
14 minutes ago, aclman88 said:

Holy cow that vivarium is incredible!  It blows my crested gecko setup out of the water! 

 

 

I am really torn between a 20L and an Evo, since the after buying a filter and light for the 20L I would only be like $40 shy of the Evo, which would have a smaller footprint and require less water for ATO and changes.  Do you think the stock light for the Evo could grow softies? I really only want some GSP, Kenya tree and pulsing xenia in the tank since they are hardy, have a lot of movement, and would grow relatively quickly.  I probably would not get any LPS the first year it is running and maybe never since I really don't want to worry about dosing the tank.

The stock Evo light is not great. There is not really any adjustability. I tried that then upgraded to a current USA orbit which was ok for a little and had some controllability.

I eventually picked up an AI prime which was leaps and bounds better. 

Thanks for the compliment about the vivarium. I have built a few and once they are build and established all I do is feed the frogs, fill the misting system and trim the plants. 

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
1 hour ago, aclman88 said:

Does anyone have a solid RODI system that I can use that won't break the bank?

RO/DI units tend to be pretty pricey in general, but there are other reasonable options for fresh water as well. I for example have been using water that comes from the Sparkletts machine (or rather the Primo machine now - they rebranded it recently) in front of my local grocery store. The price is 35 cents per gallon and I use 3-5 gallons of water per week for WCs/top-off, so that adds up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 a year for water. I keep a 20 gallon Hefty trash can at home which I fill up with RO water from this machine. The water tests at 6 TDS (the local tap water is around 150 TDS), which so far has seemed perfectly fine for pretty much everything in my tank. I was hesitant at first to not use "true" RO/DI water, but my tank has been going strong for over a year now so I am convinced that the grocery store water is more than adequate for my needs.

 

That being said, not all grocery store water machines are created equal, and maintenance schedules/standards for cleanliness may vary wildly between different stores. I'd test the total dissolved solids in the water from your local machine before committing to using it in your tank.

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
21 minutes ago, billygoat said:

RO/DI units tend to be pretty pricey in general, but there are other reasonable options for fresh water as well. I for example have been using water that comes from the Sparkletts machine (or rather the Primo machine now - they rebranded it recently) in front of my local grocery store. The price is 35 cents per gallon and I use 3-5 gallons of water per week for WCs/top-off, so that adds up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 a year for water. I keep a 20 gallon Hefty trash can at home which I fill up with RO water from this machine. The water tests at 6 TDS (the local tap water is around 150 TDS), which so far has seemed perfectly fine for pretty much everything in my tank. I was hesitant at first to not use "true" RO/DI water, but my tank has been going strong for over a year now so I am convinced that the grocery store water is more than adequate for my needs.

 

That being said, not all grocery store water machines are created equal, and maintenance schedules/standards for cleanliness may vary wildly between different stores. I'd test the total dissolved solids in the water from your local machine before committing to using it in your tank.

Since this is for a school and I live in a metropolitan area I won't have a car or an easy way to transport large quantities of water and I want to make this reef as low maintenance as possible which is why the RODI s a must for my situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Joevember

Thought I'd chime in as well. I set up at 2.5 for the pico contest in a high school science classroom, and it went well for the first few months. I went for a softie and nem focus since dosing is kind of pricy and is a lot of maintenence and testing... plus 2.5 gallons would have been impossible for me to keep stable. It worked out well for me in the end, tons of color and cool movement.

 

Now the tank is 10 gallons, and much more bulletproof than a pico. I'd suggest an ATO you can really trust since you'd only be able to see the tank 5 times a week, so equipment failure is much more important. Also, you'll be moving it a lot because of breaks, so get a lot of buckets ready. 

Hope this helps

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

You'd be able to give yourself more slack as far as water changes if you added some macroalgae. Soaks up some nitrates for you. 

 

Also, if it'd be possible for you to get into the building (or send someone in) outside of hours, ook into a cheap webcam you can hook up to a phone app. Check the tank remotely and all that.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Ratvan
2 hours ago, aclman88 said:

Does anyone have a solid RODI system that I can use that won't break the bank?

 

Also, for filtration I was thinking HOB but was between the AC 70 or 110... any thoughts on one vs the other?

Have a look on the classifieds forum here, there should be a couple of RODI units for sale

 

like this one, for example

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
billygoat
56 minutes ago, aclman88 said:

Since this is for a school and I live in a metropolitan area I won't have a car or an easy way to transport large quantities of water and I want to make this reef as low maintenance as possible which is why the RODI s a must for my situation.

Ah that makes sense! I wouldn't want to lug a 5 gallon jug of water to work with me every week either. 😬

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
nevets9333
2 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

Have a look on the classifieds forum here, there should be a couple of RODI units for sale

 

like this one, for example

 

Thanks for the mention. Just sold it today though. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
37 minutes ago, Joevember said:

Thought I'd chime in as well. I set up at 2.5 for the pico contest in a high school science classroom, and it went well for the first few months. I went for a softie and nem focus since dosing is kind of pricy and is a lot of maintenence and testing... plus 2.5 gallons would have been impossible for me to keep stable. It worked out well for me in the end, tons of color and cool movement.

 

Now the tank is 10 gallons, and much more bulletproof than a pico. I'd suggest an ATO you can really trust since you'd only be able to see the tank 5 times a week, so equipment failure is much more important. Also, you'll be moving it a lot because of breaks, so get a lot of buckets ready. 

Hope this helps

I have a 3.7 pico that has been thriving.  I am currently battling bubble algae, but my softies and my LPS seem happy and are growing.  I am running a DIY ATO, on this tank, but I agree I would not want something so small at school where I cannot keep an eye on it.  Most breaks are only a week so I would onl really consider making a move during the summer break.

33 minutes ago, Tired said:

You'd be able to give yourself more slack as far as water changes if you added some macroalgae. Soaks up some nitrates for you. 

 

Also, if it'd be possible for you to get into the building (or send someone in) outside of hours, ook into a cheap webcam you can hook up to a phone app. Check the tank remotely and all that.

 

Webcam is a good idea.  I won't really have access on weekends and most maintenance would be happening during school hours.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
McCune
1 hour ago, aclman88 said:

Since this is for a school and I live in a metropolitan area I won't have a car or an easy way to transport large quantities of water and I want to make this reef as low maintenance as possible which is why the RODI s a must for my situation.

Best bet it to speak with your facilities manager and the building custodian they will definitely be the ones to help

make this happen.

 

choose a large RODI reservoir to keep the tank going and I would recommend Tunze ATO as it has multiple redundancies.

 

make sure you buy a quality heater and some sort of heater controller or alarm that will shut off a run away heater so it doesn’t cook the tank.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
mcarroll

Do you have a good LFS that you can depend on? 

 

If so, I would outsource water making and salt mixing to them to save expenses and to avoid unnecessary complexity and using unnecessary amounts of space.

 

If not, personally I'd hesitate to attempt a full reef at school.    (If the expense, complexity and space requirements aren't a big deal, then go for it.)

 

If that's the case, maybe just run a saltwater experiment to demonstrate bleaching on a frag?  Much simpler and MUCH less costly than keeping a system running in perpetuity.  I imagine it could take place in the same time frame as your unit on the subject and then be done.

Share this post


Link to post
Seadragon
5 hours ago, aclman88 said:

That is awesome to hear about your wife's tank!  How does she manage it over breaks (especially interested in how she cares for it doing the summer vacation).  Could you let me know what else you have set up with the tank to help run it?  I know, for example, I will need to invest in an RODI system for ATO and water changes.  I also just set up a guppy tanks as well.  Currently the class has a tarantula, hissing cockroaches, crested gecko, betta/african dwarf frog tank, and a guppy tank with an aquaponics system.

 

We live relatively close to her school (~20 min) and during breaks we can visit her tanks every 2-4 days without any issues so far.  The main things is that you want to make sure there are lids over the tanks to limit the amount of evaporation (we use glass canopies made for the Aqueon tanks that we purchased) and to top off the tanks each time you visit (we top off the nano reef with distilled water).

 

Her Nano Reef hasn't experienced an extended leave from us yet, but her planted tank has.  We were out of the country for 2 weeks and I tried one of those "feeder pyramids" made for freshwater tanks and amazingly enough it actually worked and everything survived.  They also make affordable ATO products on Amazon that I wouldn't mind trying where you put an upside-down water bottle over the tank.  I might try that next for over the summer since with saltwater tanks, you do not want the salinity to get out of whack and end up killing everything.  There's also automatic feeder devices out there -- I've tried the Eheim Automatic Feeder before.

 

One thing to note that makes our tanks different than what many others may have on here is that we put a huge emphasis on plants and macroalgae.  In the case for her freshwater tank, I'd say around 33% of her tank is covered in plants, most of it being Java Moss, but there's also different types of Anubias, Java Ferns, and Marimo Moss Balls found within.  For some reason, her Java Moss is abundant and has a stunning green color which I think is because of the bright lights in her room combined with the nutrients within her tank.

 

As for the exact details of her School NR setup, all of her equipment is listed within the School NR Journal thread:

 

And we use Chaeto macroalgae and Xenia as the nutrient exporters within that tank.  I'm excited to see how your school nano reef comes along, be sure to create a Journal for it so we can all follow it!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
9 hours ago, Tired said:

You'd be able to give yourself more slack as far as water changes if you added some macroalgae. Soaks up some nitrates for you. 

 

Also, if it'd be possible for you to get into the building (or send someone in) outside of hours, ook into a cheap webcam you can hook up to a phone app. Check the tank remotely and all that.

Good thinking! I had some macro in my tank at home and loved how it looked. Great idea with the webcam,  worth looking into

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
7 hours ago, mcarroll said:

Do you have a good LFS that you can depend on? 

 

If so, I would outsource water making and salt mixing to them to save expenses and to avoid unnecessary complexity and using unnecessary amounts of space.

 

If not, personally I'd hesitate to attempt a full reef at school.    (If the expense, complexity and space requirements aren't a big deal, then go for it.)

 

If that's the case, maybe just run a saltwater experiment to demonstrate bleaching on a frag?  Much simpler and MUCH less costly than keeping a system running in perpetuity.  I imagine it could take place in the same time frame as your unit on the subject and then be done.

I like the idea of an experiment to show the effects but I think I would feel too bad to kill coral. We have a whole science supply room to set up a mixing station and all that. Plus I would have my students involved in a lot of maintenance. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
On 1/10/2020 at 11:01 AM, Joevember said:

Thought I'd chime in as well. I set up at 2.5 for the pico contest in a high school science classroom, and it went well for the first few months. I went for a softie and nem focus since dosing is kind of pricy and is a lot of maintenence and testing... plus 2.5 gallons would have been impossible for me to keep stable. It worked out well for me in the end, tons of color and cool movement.

 

Now the tank is 10 gallons, and much more bulletproof than a pico. I'd suggest an ATO you can really trust since you'd only be able to see the tank 5 times a week, so equipment failure is much more important. Also, you'll be moving it a lot because of breaks, so get a lot of buckets ready. 

Hope this helps

Nice! I have a JBJ ATO someone gave me. I built my own ATO using directions from @ajmckay on here. Been working flawlessly. I will never have a reef without an ATO

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
On 1/10/2020 at 9:41 AM, icatchsnook said:

I just want to chime in and say that I think the notion of having a reef tank in a classroom or space where it will get exposure to students to learn about marine life is absolutely awesome!  I would love to have one to talk to my college students about but the university I work at has a no-aquariums policy. 😕

Oh man that’s a bummer. Any chance you can convince the powers that be?

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

×
×
  • Create New...