Jump to content
Wizzy

Chaeto As Only Filter?

Recommended Posts

Wizzy

I have an idea for a 55 gallon low maintenance tank.

 

No sump or mechanical filtration. Just chaeto, soft corals, and a couple hardy fish.

 

The goal would be for the growth/harvesting of chaeto to keep nutrient levels low enough to eliminate the need for water changes/outcompete undesirable algaes.

 

I would assume that since I only stocked chaeto, soft coral, and very few fish I wouldn't need to dose (except maybe iron for chaeto?)

 

I basically got the idea from the Triton method (minus LPS/SPS corals)/the BRS refugium testing series/tanks like https://www.nano-reef.com/featured/2016/brad908-r114/.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

More Details:

 

I am thinking of doing bare bottom, some dry rock, LED lighting, heater, strong powerheads.

 

I am worried that without sand/lots of rock the biological filter might not establish, but I was also hoping that lots of chaeto would make up for it, since all of that macro algae also has surface area for bacteria (right?). Basically just want to better understand if a very simple, very low maintenance tank would work. Really not sure though, hence why I'm here asking for advice.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
WV Reefer
2 hours ago, Wizzy said:

I have an idea for a 55 gallon low maintenance tank.

 

No sump or mechanical filtration. Just chaeto, soft corals, and a couple hardy fish.

 

The goal would be for the growth/harvesting of chaeto to keep nutrient levels low enough to eliminate the need for water changes/outcompete undesirable algaes.

 

I would assume that since I only stocked chaeto, soft coral, and very few fish I wouldn't need to dose (except maybe iron for chaeto?)

 

I basically got the idea from the Triton method (minus LPS/SPS corals)/the BRS refugium testing series/tanks like https://www.nano-reef.com/featured/2016/brad908-r114/.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

More Details:

 

I am thinking of doing bare bottom, some dry rock, LED lighting, heater, strong powerheads.

 

I am worried that without sand/lots of rock the biological filter might not establish, but I was also hoping that lots of chaeto would make up for it, since all of that macro algae also has surface area for bacteria (right?). Basically just want to better understand if a very simple, very low maintenance tank would work. Really not sure though, hence why I'm here asking for advice.

I’ve never used chaeto in my tanks but I do run very simple aquariums with minimal equipment and water changes only.  I have light, heat and flow...... no sump, no filter, no skimmer, no dosing. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
6 hours ago, WV Reefer said:

I’ve never used chaeto in my tanks but I do run very simple aquariums with minimal equipment and water changes only.  I have light, heat and flow...... no sump, no filter, no skimmer, no dosing. 

Thank you for the reply. I'm going to go through your tank threads to see what knowledge I can garner. I find the 12 and 75 gallon especially interesting and I think relevant to what I want to do.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

Plenty of people run a system where all they have is a pump for water movement, maybe some filter floss. It's absolutely doable. 

 

Chaeto has a lot of surface area, yes, but sand has more. A thin layer of sand (half an inch or less) may be a good idea. I also strongly advise some non-dry rock, as biodiversity is every reefer's friend, but will be especially helpful in a tank that may have low nutrients a lot of the time. Be sure to feed enough and keep the chaeto thinned enough not to starve your corals and non-pest algaes. 

 

Do keep in mind, you'll need to do water changes. You have to replace all the things being used up, especially since chaeto and soft corals both grow fast. You can get to a low number of water changes with lots of seaweed nutrient export, sure, but you can't do no water changes and no dosing. Pick one or the other. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
29 minutes ago, Tired said:

Plenty of people run a system where all they have is a pump for water movement, maybe some filter floss. It's absolutely doable. 

 

Chaeto has a lot of surface area, yes, but sand has more. A thin layer of sand (half an inch or less) may be a good idea. I also strongly advise some non-dry rock, as biodiversity is every reefer's friend, but will be especially helpful in a tank that may have low nutrients a lot of the time. Be sure to feed enough and keep the chaeto thinned enough not to starve your corals and non-pest algaes. 

 

Do keep in mind, you'll need to do water changes. You have to replace all the things being used up, especially since chaeto and soft corals both grow fast. You can get to a low number of water changes with lots of seaweed nutrient export, sure, but you can't do no water changes and no dosing. Pick one or the other. 

Would I be able to leave the sand alone, or would regular vacuuming be required?

 

I was thinking of adding 1 piece of live rock to seed the dry and/or I assumed a good amount of micro fauna would be introduced from the chaeto/other additions to the tank.

 

Do you think that low nutrients will be an issue? Should I plan on stocking more fish and/or maintaining a smaller amount of macro algae? If so, any thoughts as to how many fish/how much macro algae would be ideal? 

 

I'm not opposed to dosing, especially if it increases my chances of not having to do water changes. Would an all purpose product such as https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/all-for-reef-tropic-marin.html work? I saw this in a BRS video. I'm not very familiar with dosing products. Do you have any suggestions for specific products or methods?

 

Thank you for your response, it has given me a lot to think about. (also if anyone else wants to answer the above questions, please feel free to jump in)

Share this post


Link to post
Murphych

I think it would be difficult to totally eliminate the need for water changes as you don't want all the extra equipment, for sure you will need to do at the very least top offs.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
30 minutes ago, Murphych said:

I think it would be difficult to totally eliminate the need for water changes as you don't want all the extra equipment, for sure you will need to do at the very least top offs.

 

I definitely would be doing top offs. Any idea how often I'd have to do it though? (and/or any tips on how to reduce evaporation?)

 

I've heard estimates of a 55 gallon evaporating around 1 gallon a day. Do you think I could top off my 5-7 gallons weekly? Or would that increase salinity too much?

 

When you say extra equipment, are you mainly talking about the lack of dosing? Or do you not think the chaeto would be sufficient filtration?

 

Thanks for your input 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

Water changes both remove waste, and replace a myriad of trace nutrients that your fish depend on. I know there are a couple of macroalgae tanks on here where the person running them does water changes a couple times a year, with success. I wouldn't advise trying to do NO water changes, because your dosing isn't likely to cover all the micronutrients very well. Water changes aren't that bad if you do them right- just plop a pump in a bucket of water and salt and ignore it while it mixes, then figure out a way to get it into the tank. 

 

If you have a very shallow sandbed and some sand-stirring snails like ceriths, you should be able to pretty much leave it alone. Stirring it with a stick during your twice-a-year water change might not go amiss, though.

 

I wouldn't top off weekly. Every few days might work. Or get a solid lid so it loses less water.

 

I can't give you a solid number on ratio of fish to macroalgae, because it's going to depend hugely. Start with a few fish and plenty of feeding, and as the chaeto grows, test frequently to monitor nutrient levels. When they start getting too low, either add another fish (or some hungry LPS) or remove some of the chaeto. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
6 hours ago, Tired said:

Water changes both remove waste, and replace a myriad of trace nutrients that your fish depend on. I know there are a couple of macroalgae tanks on here where the person running them does water changes a couple times a year, with success. I wouldn't advise trying to do NO water changes, because your dosing isn't likely to cover all the micronutrients very well. Water changes aren't that bad if you do them right- just plop a pump in a bucket of water and salt and ignore it while it mixes, then figure out a way to get it into the tank. 

 

If you have a very shallow sandbed and some sand-stirring snails like ceriths, you should be able to pretty much leave it alone. Stirring it with a stick during your twice-a-year water change might not go amiss, though.

 

I wouldn't top off weekly. Every few days might work. Or get a solid lid so it loses less water.

 

I can't give you a solid number on ratio of fish to macroalgae, because it's going to depend hugely. Start with a few fish and plenty of feeding, and as the chaeto grows, test frequently to monitor nutrient levels. When they start getting too low, either add another fish (or some hungry LPS) or remove some of the chaeto. 

When you say trace nutrients, do you mean like food or elements like calcium, magnesium, etc? I honestly didn't even know fish needed stuff from the water changes, other than nutrient reduction to keep clean water.

 

A couple water changes a year doesn't sound bad. I just don't want constant pressure to clean the tank. However, all this input from everybody has definitely made me rethink an absolutely minimalistic approach. Now I'm thinking about things like ATO/Dosing and/or devising an efficient method to change some water out hopefully not more than every couple months. Just depends on how often water changes are needed to eliminate dosing... or if dosing ends up being easier than water changes.

 

Any thoughts on nassarius snails for the sand bed, or are ceriths superior? I've heard people who say stir the sand with critters and others who say that the clean up crew actually actually adds to the bioload/overall amount of waste.

 

I've been researching lids a bit, and I'm having trouble finding anything other than literally just a piece of glass/acrylic over the holes. Any suggestions? Also, I've heard people say that a closed top is bad for oxygen exchange, but the lid isn't going to be airtight, so I don't know if this matters.

Share this post


Link to post
mipster

I would say an ATO will be your best friend to keep the system low maintenance. You could also look into an automatic water change system. Auto aqua has one that will do your auto top off and your auto water changes all in one piece of equipment. Then all you need to do is mix up the salt water for the water changes and the fresh water for the auto top off and dump out the waste water. If you have room for larger reservoirs, then you don't have to make water often. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

Coral Pro Salt Mix - Red Sea

This is the ingredient list from a brand of salt. I'm not saying this is THE brand of salt to use, I'm just using it as an example that there's more in your salt mix than salt, magnesium, and calcium. There are a lot of trace elements that nobody doses because they're used up in such small amounts that they're never used up between water changes. But if you do NO water changes, they'll eventually be used up. If you keep freshwater fish in pure distilled water, without enough substrate and whatnot to add trace nutrients back in, it can eventually kill them. Hell, humans get some of our trace nutrients from water, and we don't live in the stuff! 

 

Personally, nassarius snails creep me out. They don't just eat dead things, they'll eat something while it's dying. They also tend to mostly eat extra food, they definitely lean more towards protein. I believe in the wild they mostly eat corpses. I prefer all-round snails, like ceriths, that will eat detritus and algae. I like my dwarf ceriths, but you'd want regular ceriths for a bigger tank. Try ReefCleaners. 

If you don't have any cleanup crew at all, you'll have a LOT of algae. You also want something to try and remove the detritus that builds up in gaps, put it back into the water to be used or removed. And what's better for stirring the sandbed than something that's constantly at work? If you're planning a light stock anyway, a big handful of snails won't hurt anything. Try ReefCleaners, they get some really nice stuff in. 

 

An automatic water changer is going to be a lot of trouble for a tank that could reasonably just need a few water changes a year. An auto topoff is excellent for a reef tank, though, or any saltwater tank. Hell, I might start using them on freshwater tanks sometimes, though it's less important there when the salinity can't fluctuate. 

 

People typically use mesh lids when they want good oxygen exchange. A solid lid, even if it's not airtight, is going to allow for much less air circulation than mesh. But you should absolutely have a lid- basically all fish can jump, may do so if startled, and will die slowly if they're unlucky enough not to fall back into the tank. 

 

Any reason why you want to start with dry rock? If you get live rock from a good source, your risk of serious pests is pretty low, and all that biodiversity will help you keep your tank stable with less water exchange. A few bits of live rock added will help, but a lot of it will help you seed everything properly. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
14 hours ago, mipster said:

I would say an ATO will be your best friend to keep the system low maintenance. You could also look into an automatic water change system. Auto aqua has one that will do your auto top off and your auto water changes all in one piece of equipment. Then all you need to do is mix up the salt water for the water changes and the fresh water for the auto top off and dump out the waste water. If you have room for larger reservoirs, then you don't have to make water often. 

 

I would do an ATO, but after some reading, failure/flooding worries me and I was under the impression that it was a bit of work to clean/maintain the sensors so that it doesn't fail. My current idea is to have a RODI reservoir under the stand with a pump, tubing, and return overflow that I would manually plug in a couple times a week for top offs. The only concern there is back flow though... not sure how to prevent that other than a check valve/adjusting the height of the return. Also, I plan on covering the 2 main holes on the aquarium, hopefully reducing evaporation significantly. If I could reduce top offs to weekly, that would be ideal, but even twice a week doesn't seem bad if it's as easy as plugging a cord in/out for a few seconds.

 

I will look into the auto water change systems a bit, but I've always assumed they need a good amount of plumbing into the home that I don't think I can do. 

 

 

14 hours ago, Tired said:

Coral Pro Salt Mix - Red Sea

This is the ingredient list from a brand of salt. I'm not saying this is THE brand of salt to use, I'm just using it as an example that there's more in your salt mix than salt, magnesium, and calcium. There are a lot of trace elements that nobody doses because they're used up in such small amounts that they're never used up between water changes. But if you do NO water changes, they'll eventually be used up. If you keep freshwater fish in pure distilled water, without enough substrate and whatnot to add trace nutrients back in, it can eventually kill them. Hell, humans get some of our trace nutrients from water, and we don't live in the stuff! 

 

Personally, nassarius snails creep me out. They don't just eat dead things, they'll eat something while it's dying. They also tend to mostly eat extra food, they definitely lean more towards protein. I believe in the wild they mostly eat corpses. I prefer all-round snails, like ceriths, that will eat detritus and algae. I like my dwarf ceriths, but you'd want regular ceriths for a bigger tank. Try ReefCleaners. 

If you don't have any cleanup crew at all, you'll have a LOT of algae. You also want something to try and remove the detritus that builds up in gaps, put it back into the water to be used or removed. And what's better for stirring the sandbed than something that's constantly at work? If you're planning a light stock anyway, a big handful of snails won't hurt anything. Try ReefCleaners, they get some really nice stuff in. 

 

An automatic water changer is going to be a lot of trouble for a tank that could reasonably just need a few water changes a year. An auto topoff is excellent for a reef tank, though, or any saltwater tank. Hell, I might start using them on freshwater tanks sometimes, though it's less important there when the salinity can't fluctuate. 

 

People typically use mesh lids when they want good oxygen exchange. A solid lid, even if it's not airtight, is going to allow for much less air circulation than mesh. But you should absolutely have a lid- basically all fish can jump, may do so if startled, and will die slowly if they're unlucky enough not to fall back into the tank. 

 

Any reason why you want to start with dry rock? If you get live rock from a good source, your risk of serious pests is pretty low, and all that biodiversity will help you keep your tank stable with less water exchange. A few bits of live rock added will help, but a lot of it will help you seed everything properly. 

 

 

Wow, I didn't know that Coral Pro Salt used salt from the ocean. Do all salts do that? Makes sense that it might have something special in it, that isn't easy to add through dosing.

 

I was hoping to just use Instant Ocean, since it's inexpensive and my livestock aren't demanding. Thoughts? Either way, that's a very enlightening image, thank you.

 

Good points about nassarius snails/snails in general. And yes, I like ReefCleaners 😄

 

Yeah I figure an auto water changer is out of my reach due to plumbing constraints. Auto top off systems also scare me due to potential failure/flooding and I got the impression from reading that they're a bit of work to clean the sensors, in which case I thought I might as well manually top off. However, I was thinking of having a RODI reservoir under the stand with a pump, tubing, and return overflow that I would manually plug in a couple times a week for top offs. The only concern there is back flow though... not sure how to prevent that other than a check valve/adjusting the height of the return. Also, I plan on covering the 2 main holes on the aquarium, hopefully reducing evaporation significantly. If I could reduce top offs to weekly, that would be ideal, but even twice a week doesn't seem bad if it's as easy as plugging a cord in/out for a few seconds.

 

If I can figure out the back flow issue/the holes in the back of the tank still allows enough oxygen exchange, then this seemed like a good solution to me, but still thinking about it obviously.

 

Dry rock was mainly about cost and convenience. However, what you're saying makes sense. If I end up not having enough biodiversity and/or surface area for a living filter, I figure this will directly affect how much I can put in the tank/how often I'll have to clean it. I was hoping that either way though, given enough time, I'll reach the same end result through aging of the rock, tweaking of the system, etc. But it concerns me, and comments such as yours have definitely given me something to think about.

Share this post


Link to post
mipster
17 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I was under the impression that it was a bit of work to clean/maintain the sensors so that it doesn't fail

Cleaning a sensor every few months vs manually topping off your tank every day, even every few days, seems like a no brainer, but that's just my opinion. It's just a quick wipe down of the sensor to clean it, it's not like a pump which you have to take apart to clean out.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
jservedio

If all you've got is soft coral and a couple of fish, why even put the chaeto in there at all? With a low bioload and 2-5x the amount of water most tanks on here do, doing a water change every 3-4 weeks would be fine with no filtration. A huge number of people on here, myself included, don't run any filtration at all and don't have chaeto or other macros growing. After your tank matures, with nothing but soft coral and only a few fish, you will likely have trouble keeping any nutrients in your tank.

 

Do get an ATO if you want low maintenance. I live in North Carolina with approximately 100% year-round humidity and in my 20g tank, I go through 1/3g per day even in the summer with my first floor where the tank is at kept at 75.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Tired

Instant Ocean works fine, yes. If you had a lot of stony corals, you'd probably need to dose more, but for softies it works just fine. My LFS uses Instant Ocean, and their displays (though mostly soft corals and anemones) are gorgeous.

 

One thought, if you're going to stock lightly, is to go with decorative macros. There are plenty of pretty decorative ones you could integrate into your scape, instead of just having a big blob of chaeto, and they could provide the same benefits. Gracilaria grows pretty fast, but comes in some nice-looking varieties. Dragon's tongue and dragon's breath are also nice, and fairly easy to keep. Codium grows a bit too slowly to do much cleaning, but looks nice. Stay away from large amounts of money plant halimeda, it'll drain calcium from the water. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
On 6/8/2020 at 10:00 AM, mipster said:

Cleaning a sensor every few months vs manually topping off your tank every day, even every few days, seems like a no brainer, but that's just my opinion. It's just a quick wipe down of the sensor to clean it, it's not like a pump which you have to take apart to clean out.

 

I was under the impression that you had to clean the sensor more frequently than every few months. Additionally, I feel like it's one of those things where the longer you ignore it, the more likely it'll get dirty/fail. I might not be understanding how it works though. I'm just very afraid of a flood.

 

I'm also hoping that if I can get a large RODI reservoir, a pump, and some tubing, that I can semi-automate it. I'm thinking I'll just plug a cord in a couple times a week to replenish the evaporated water. And that my RODI reservoir will be able to last about 2 weeks, before needing to replenished by an RODI unit.

 

I think I could get an even larger reservoir and only refill it monthly, but my understanding is that would be bad for the RODI unit. I'd like to understand just how bad only using the RODI unit monthly would be though, because this would make tank maintenance even easier.

 

I'm also planning on using my RODI reservoir to mix salt/refill the tank when I do water changes. I'm assuming this is fine, but am not 100% sure. Also not sure if I need to run a pump 24/7 in my RODI tank or if it will be fine uncirculated.

 

On 6/8/2020 at 10:09 AM, jservedio said:

If all you've got is soft coral and a couple of fish, why even put the chaeto in there at all? With a low bioload and 2-5x the amount of water most tanks on here do, doing a water change every 3-4 weeks would be fine with no filtration. A huge number of people on here, myself included, don't run any filtration at all and don't have chaeto or other macros growing. After your tank matures, with nothing but soft coral and only a few fish, you will likely have trouble keeping any nutrients in your tank.

 

Do get an ATO if you want low maintenance. I live in North Carolina with approximately 100% year-round humidity and in my 20g tank, I go through 1/3g per day even in the summer with my first floor where the tank is at kept at 75.

 

I'm hoping to stretch the water changes as far apart as possible. Every 2 months would be ideal. I also still don't want to use sand or lots of rock, but am thinking about it hard, because if it means less tank maintenance I would be for it... I've just also heard of the problems associated with sand (not so much the rock). So, if I don't do sand, I'm concerned about not having enough of a bio filter or something.

 

Your tank looks great, especially considering no filter/monthly water changes. Definitely gives me some inspiration.

 

And I think I either don't understand or am just too afraid of ATO currently. I am thinking of doing a semi-automated system where I have a 20 gallon tank filled with RODI water, a pump, and tubing. I am assuming I could just plug in the pump every few days and fill the tank that way. I'm assuming it won't be that different than cleaning a sensor or managing an automated system. I'm estimating that on a 55 gallon I'll lose about 1 gallon a day (hence the 20 gallon tank, hopefully lasting 2 weeks before needing to be refilled). If something about what I'm saying seems misinformed though, please let me know. I am just in the idea/learning stage currently.

 

On 6/8/2020 at 11:30 AM, Tired said:

Instant Ocean works fine, yes. If you had a lot of stony corals, you'd probably need to dose more, but for softies it works just fine. My LFS uses Instant Ocean, and their displays (though mostly soft corals and anemones) are gorgeous.

 

One thought, if you're going to stock lightly, is to go with decorative macros. There are plenty of pretty decorative ones you could integrate into your scape, instead of just having a big blob of chaeto, and they could provide the same benefits. Gracilaria grows pretty fast, but comes in some nice-looking varieties. Dragon's tongue and dragon's breath are also nice, and fairly easy to keep. Codium grows a bit too slowly to do much cleaning, but looks nice. Stay away from large amounts of money plant halimeda, it'll drain calcium from the water. 

 

That's reassuring about Instant Ocean.

 

I was thinking about decorative macros too. I'll look into that. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
jservedio
10 hours ago, Wizzy said:

I'm hoping to stretch the water changes as far apart as possible. Every 2 months would be ideal. I also still don't want to use sand or lots of rock, but am thinking about it hard, because if it means less tank maintenance I would be for it... I've just also heard of the problems associated with sand (not so much the rock). So, if I don't do sand, I'm concerned about not having enough of a bio filter or something.

 

Your tank looks great, especially considering no filter/monthly water changes. Definitely gives me some inspiration.

 

And I think I either don't understand or am just too afraid of ATO currently. I am thinking of doing a semi-automated system where I have a 20 gallon tank filled with RODI water, a pump, and tubing. I am assuming I could just plug in the pump every few days and fill the tank that way. I'm assuming it won't be that different than cleaning a sensor or managing an automated system. I'm estimating that on a 55 gallon I'll lose about 1 gallon a day (hence the 20 gallon tank, hopefully lasting 2 weeks before needing to be refilled). If something about what I'm saying seems misinformed though, please let me know. I am just in the idea/learning stage currently.

I could easily stretch to 2 months between water changes if my tank wasn't filled with acros that I wanted to get really good color out of and you'll have almost triple my volume so I don't see it being an issue once your tank is mature. You are definitely going to need to be doing more water changes in the beginning as your tank establishes, but after the first year or two you can dramatically cut back to 2 months easily.

 

I've been using the same ATO for the last 8 years without any failures, so it isn't even something I consider. For your tank, if you run your water level just 2" below the tippy top of the tank (not below the top of the glass, 2" below the "oh shit, my tank is overflowing" line), that means you can dump a full 5 gallons of water into your tank (48"x12"x2" = 5 gallons) without overflowing it. If you use a 5g bucket as your ATO bucket, you simply can't overflow your tank even if the ATO system fails the second you refill the bucket.  You'll need to refill the bucket once every week, but that's plenty long in between. Alternatively, you could get a backup float switch that kicks when the water level gets to about 1/4" below the rim of the tank and use that to shut down your entire ATO system in an emergency - I do this on my tank since I run an HOB overflow and they are garbage, so it fails from time to time and I don't like flooding my expensive hardwood floors.

 

In a 55g tank, lets assume you have about 45g of water and you wgait 3 days between topping off - all of your parameters are going to shift by 7-10% - that's a really bi swing when you dump all that RODI in. If you live somewhere really dry, it might be even more. Your parameters are going to constantly be all over the place. If you want to keep a reef, topping off by hand is something you do every day, or you get an ATO.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
mcarroll
On 6/6/2020 at 7:07 AM, Wizzy said:

No sump or mechanical filtration.

Sump/No sump isn 't a big deal either way.

 

It's supposed to be the norm for reefs to have no mechanical filtration.  (For a long time it was the norm....in many places it still is.)

 

On 6/6/2020 at 7:07 AM, Wizzy said:

The goal would be for the growth/harvesting of chaeto to keep nutrient levels low enough to eliminate the need for water changes/outcompete undesirable algaes.

That's a tightly packed statement.   Let's unpack.

 

Why is there a goal of growing and harvesting cheato?  Is there a goal for the harvested material?

 

Why is there a desire to keep nutrient levels "low"?  What do you consider "low"?

 

Why do you think water changes and nutrient levels are related to algae growth?

 

It sounds like you just don't want excessive algae growth and the rest is "fluff"...true?

 

Algae growth is not related to any of those things.  

 

Don't use dead rock.  Don't stock your tank too fast.  Don't be lazy and let algae grow unchecked.  Don't be lazy about your maintaining your cleanup crew.  

 

All of those things factor into "pest" algae blooms.  

 

Dead rock brings exposed, well-lit, open/availalble aragonite surfaces.  Aragonite works just like GFO in binding phosphates, so it even provides a source of P for any algae that settle.  

 

Stocking your tank too fast causes ammonia generation to out-pace your tank's ability to process it.  Stock no more than one fish at a time and no more than once a month.  Use in-between times to stock a coral or some new CUC or just to observe the tank.  

 

Being laissez-faire about algae is a common downfall of many a reefer....they think the reef should take care of the algae for some reason.  Real reefs have LOTS of algae predators that we can never have in our tanks...not just herbivorous snails...and a Tang if you're lucky to have a huge tank...that truth leaves YOU the reefer to "emulate" the effects all those parrotfish, batfish, et al. have on a reef.

 

On 6/6/2020 at 7:07 AM, Wizzy said:

I would assume that since I only stocked chaeto, soft coral, and very few fish I wouldn't need to dose (except maybe iron for chaeto?)

I would assume that you don't grow plants.   N-P-K is the name of the game.   IMO it is unlikely that you'll successfully grow chaeto without dosing.   (But then you weren't even thinking of nutrients....you were thinking of calcium and alkalinity.  Gotcha! 😜)

 

On 6/6/2020 at 7:07 AM, Wizzy said:

Thoughts?

 

There are better places to mine for ideas.  👍

 

On 6/6/2020 at 7:07 AM, Wizzy said:

I am thinking of doing bare bottom, some dry rock, LED lighting, heater, strong powerheads.

 

I am worried that without sand/lots of rock the biological filter might not establish, but I was also hoping that lots of chaeto would make up for it, since all of that macro algae also has surface area for bacteria (right?). Basically just want to better understand if a very simple, very low maintenance tank would work. Really not sure though, hence why I'm here asking for advice.

Bare bottom is fine...makes high flow easier to attain since there's no worry over "blowing sand".

 

Dry rock is THE LAMEST way to save money on setting up a reef.

 

The rest is basic.

 

Live rock and dead coral skeleton are excellent filter mediums...no worries about "not enough".  Stop trying to conflate live rock's role with chaeto's role.  All you need is live rock.  Chaeto complicates things. (It is not a bio-media and does not work that way...it is a lot more, not all of which is helpful like you would think.) 👍

 

If you sub out the chaeto and sub in a protein skimmer, I think you have a winner for a low maintenance tank.  Skimmers are a real winner in that scenario...almost no maintenance/ no overhead and they go on working like that "forever".  All the while they cannot over-filter, cannot remove any appreciable amount of "food" and provide solid aeration for the tank.  

 

Winner, winner.  Chicken dinner.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
On 6/10/2020 at 7:06 AM, jservedio said:

I could easily stretch to 2 months between water changes if my tank wasn't filled with acros that I wanted to get really good color out of and you'll have almost triple my volume so I don't see it being an issue once your tank is mature. You are definitely going to need to be doing more water changes in the beginning as your tank establishes, but after the first year or two you can dramatically cut back to 2 months easily.

 

I've been using the same ATO for the last 8 years without any failures, so it isn't even something I consider. For your tank, if you run your water level just 2" below the tippy top of the tank (not below the top of the glass, 2" below the "oh shit, my tank is overflowing" line), that means you can dump a full 5 gallons of water into your tank (48"x12"x2" = 5 gallons) without overflowing it. If you use a 5g bucket as your ATO bucket, you simply can't overflow your tank even if the ATO system fails the second you refill the bucket.  You'll need to refill the bucket once every week, but that's plenty long in between. Alternatively, you could get a backup float switch that kicks when the water level gets to about 1/4" below the rim of the tank and use that to shut down your entire ATO system in an emergency - I do this on my tank since I run an HOB overflow and they are garbage, so it fails from time to time and I don't like flooding my expensive hardwood floors.

 

In a 55g tank, lets assume you have about 45g of water and you wgait 3 days between topping off - all of your parameters are going to shift by 7-10% - that's a really bi swing when you dump all that RODI in. If you live somewhere really dry, it might be even more. Your parameters are going to constantly be all over the place. If you want to keep a reef, topping off by hand is something you do every day, or you get an ATO.

 

Any idea of how often I should expect to do water changes at first? Or how often you did them when you started? Sounds pretty manageable though.

 

That's a good idea with the ATO. Didn't think of that. I'll probably start off without one, but I'm going to keep researching and maybe implement something like what you've explained.

 

Also, great point with the math. I found some online calculators that really highlighted what you described.

 

On 6/10/2020 at 10:31 PM, mcarroll said:

Sump/No sump isn 't a big deal either way.

 

It's supposed to be the norm for reefs to have no mechanical filtration.  (For a long time it was the norm....in many places it still is.)

 

That's a tightly packed statement.   Let's unpack.

 

Why is there a goal of growing and harvesting cheato?  Is there a goal for the harvested material?

 

Why is there a desire to keep nutrient levels "low"?  What do you consider "low"?

 

Why do you think water changes and nutrient levels are related to algae growth?

 

It sounds like you just don't want excessive algae growth and the rest is "fluff"...true?

 

Algae growth is not related to any of those things.  

 

Don't use dead rock.  Don't stock your tank too fast.  Don't be lazy and let algae grow unchecked.  Don't be lazy about your maintaining your cleanup crew.  

 

All of those things factor into "pest" algae blooms.  

 

Dead rock brings exposed, well-lit, open/availalble aragonite surfaces.  Aragonite works just like GFO in binding phosphates, so it even provides a source of P for any algae that settle.  

 

Stocking your tank too fast causes ammonia generation to out-pace your tank's ability to process it.  Stock no more than one fish at a time and no more than once a month.  Use in-between times to stock a coral or some new CUC or just to observe the tank.  

 

Being laissez-faire about algae is a common downfall of many a reefer....they think the reef should take care of the algae for some reason.  Real reefs have LOTS of algae predators that we can never have in our tanks...not just herbivorous snails...and a Tang if you're lucky to have a huge tank...that truth leaves YOU the reefer to "emulate" the effects all those parrotfish, batfish, et al. have on a reef.

 

I would assume that you don't grow plants.   N-P-K is the name of the game.   IMO it is unlikely that you'll successfully grow chaeto without dosing.   (But then you weren't even thinking of nutrients....you were thinking of calcium and alkalinity.  Gotcha! 😜)

 

There are better places to mine for ideas.  👍

 

Bare bottom is fine...makes high flow easier to attain since there's no worry over "blowing sand".

 

Dry rock is THE LAMEST way to save money on setting up a reef.

 

The rest is basic.

 

Live rock and dead coral skeleton are excellent filter mediums...no worries about "not enough".  Stop trying to conflate live rock's role with chaeto's role.  All you need is live rock.  Chaeto complicates things. (It is not a bio-media and does not work that way...it is a lot more, not all of which is helpful like you would think.) 👍

 

If you sub out the chaeto and sub in a protein skimmer, I think you have a winner for a low maintenance tank.  Skimmers are a real winner in that scenario...almost no maintenance/ no overhead and they go on working like that "forever".  All the while they cannot over-filter, cannot remove any appreciable amount of "food" and provide solid aeration for the tank.  

 

Winner, winner.  Chicken dinner.

 

Goal of growing/harvesting chaeto was to ultimately reduce and/or eliminate water changes through nutrient reduction. Mainly want an alternative to mechanical filtration.

 

"Low" nutrients is whatever reduces growth of undesirable algaes/keeps inhabitants happy. However, I don't want low nutrients in the sense that there isn't food in the water column for corals. Might be using the wrong word honestly. Maybe I mean low levels of certain elements (the ones that algae likes to consume).

 

I though that water changes = reduction of nutrients in tank = reduction in food source for undesirable algae.

 

I'm confused how algae growth isn't related to nutrient levels of the tank (am I just using the wrong word?). Won't macro algaes compete for the same resources as undesirable algae, therefore reducing the amount of undesirable algae?

 

I've heard of dry rock releasing phosphorous/phosphates, but I assumed it wouldn't be an unmanageable issue. I figure dry rock simply becomes live rock over time. Do you feel like that process takes too long for the average aquarium's lifespan and will cause me problems over the longterm?

 

I definitely won't stock the tank too fast. I'll be taking things as slow as they need to go.

 

Sounds like you do and/or recommend a lot of hands on algae removal in your system? Any tips? Or could you share your maintenance routine?

 

I only mentioned iron, because it comes up a lot in threads about chaeto. NPK = nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium? I've been reading for a minute and am trying to understand. So wouldn't the nitrogen/phosphorous component come from general waste generated by fish, added food etc? I assume the potassium would have to be replenished through dosing and/or water changes. I am ok with dosing, if it leads to less water changes. Just want to understand the chemistry better/what my options ultimately are.

 

Where do you suggest I ask for help (the "better places to mine for ideas")?

 

Saving money is part of the desire for dry rock, but also I worry about introducing tons of random stuff to the tank. I've always liked the idea of mostly dry with some live to seed it, so you can control stuff better/save money. Do you mainly feel like pure live rock saves time? Or is it something more than that?

 

What are the negative aspects of chaeto you're alluding to?

 

I've done protein skimmers in the past, so I understand where you're coming from, but I'm hoping to do something a little different this time around. Of course, if I can't get things to work without one, I'll have to consider it. Definitely gives me something to think about though.

 

I will say though, I've heard people say negative things about skimmers in regard to over-filtering/removing "food". And people saying that chaeto grows based on the resources available to it, so if those opinions are to be believed, chaeto would actually be the choice that doesn't over-filter/remove "food". Not saying you're wrong, just thought I'd mention I've heard people argue both ways, and wanted to know if you had any thoughts on that.

 

Thanks for all your info, it gives me a lot to think about. Hope to hear back from you soon.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
mcarroll
20 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

Goal of growing/harvesting chaeto was to ultimately reduce and/or eliminate water changes through nutrient reduction.

But why?  That amounts to chasing numbers if there's no good reason for doing it.  

 

Nutrient reduction for no reason is a waste of time and can actually be harmful to the tank and your corals.

 

22 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I though that water changes = reduction of nutrients in tank = reduction in food source for undesirable algae.

 

I'm confused how algae growth isn't related to nutrient levels of the tank (am I just using the wrong word?). Won't macro algaes compete for the same resources as undesirable algae, therefore reducing the amount of undesirable algae?

It's just not that simple.  The hobby has had that wrong for a long, long time.....mostly (IMO) because there's a lot of folks parroting old knowledge that's based on some dubious notions.  (At least they are dubious in 2020.)

 

For one thing, you WANT algae growth – hair algae, and coralline algae in particular, but lots of others are alright too.  

 

On the flip side....no algae growth – probably no reef.  Algae and corals have the same requirements.

 

For another thing, if you were to succeed in you plan to "prevent nutrients in order to prevent algae" you wouldn't end up with no algae.  

 

This isn't a math problem where algae - nutrients = clean tank.  It's a reef.  

 

A reef is FULL of many kinds of algae and other microorganisms THAT WANT TO SURVIVE.  When you starve the tank, you simply provoke those organisms that like those conditions to bloom.  In our case of unnecessarily removing nutrients, that will probably be dinoflagellates.  Get a taste of what that has been like for others by perusing this thread: Dinoflagellates – Are You Tired Of Battling Altogether?  I opened that thread just about 3 years ago and it's almost up to 10,000 posts already.  Eek!

 

Algae control is what you want.   Not nutrient control.  

 

Algae control happens via good husbandry and your cleanup crew.  

 

Good husbandry means stocking your tank very slowly (avoid spiking nutrients levels too high all at once) as well as helping your CUC when algae grows that they can't eat.  

 

Hair algae has to be very low – almost-invisible nubbins – for them to eat it.  If it's big enough to look like hair algae to you, then it's probably already too big for them and you'll probably have to remove it by hand.  (See how-to vid at bottom of comments.)

 

CUC means herbivores...mostly snails.  Like Turbo, Astrea, Trochus, Margarita, Periwinkles, Nerites, Ceriths.  Leave the scavengers (hermits, nassarius snails, et al) for later on, and keep their numbers low vs the herbivores.

 

38 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I've heard of dry rock releasing phosphorous/phosphates, but I assumed it wouldn't be an unmanageable issue.

Aragonite works almost exactly like GFO in how it binds phosphates.  It can also release them....but you're right it's not a real worry.

 

Mostly a bogus concept linked with chasing nutrient levels.  There is no real reason to worry about phosphate levels in most circumstances.  (I'm not actually aware of any exceptions.)

 

41 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I figure dry rock simply becomes live rock over time. Do you feel like that process takes too long for the average aquarium's lifespan and will cause me problems over the longterm?

Almost without doubt...that Dino thread I linked above is almost nothing but tanks started with dead rock.

 

42 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I definitely won't stock the tank too fast. I'll be taking things as slow as they need to go.

Fish are the main "offender" in this as they are large animals that require large amounts of food on a daily basis.

 

So when the time comes, add no more than one fish at a time.  And wait for at least a few weeks/a month before adding the next fish.   (You can stock a few CUC or a coral or two in the mean time....pace their additions as well.)

 

44 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I am ok with dosing, if it leads to less water changes.

If the reason for doing less water changes is less work, then don't add more work to get that accomplished. Instead, forget about growing macro algae and focus on growing corals.

 

45 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

Where do you suggest I ask for help (the "better places to mine for ideas")?

Mostly just not where you were looking....but an affirmative answer is always better:  Here.  Books.  Reefkeeping.com.  Reefs.com's Advanced Aquarist archive.  Wet Web Media.  (It's pretty technical, and of course I'm biased, but I like my blog too:  reefsuccess.com)

 

47 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

Saving money is part of the desire for dry rock, but also I worry about introducing tons of random stuff to the tank. I've always liked the idea of mostly dry with some live to seed it, so you can control stuff better/save money. Do you mainly feel like pure live rock saves time? Or is it something more than that?

Let go of that desire for control firstly.

 

All that random stuff is exactly what makes a reef a reef.

 

You won't even remember how much you spent on rock in a few months....hobbling your effort to any degree by starting with dead rock makes very little sense...plus you miss out on 99% of that random stuff that makes a reef a reef.  (If you get really good live rock, you might not even HAVE to add anything to it there will be so much of-interest already there.)

 

If the issue is that you actually don't have the money for live, I'd suggest putting off the plan and saving up until you do.   Hopefully you're braced for a proper setup.

 

51 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

What are the negative aspects of chaeto you're alluding to?

It completes with your corals and offers little or no benefits.  Algae control?  No.  pH control?  Unnecessary.

 

Need more?

 

53 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I've done protein skimmers in the past, so I understand where you're coming from, but I'm hoping to do something a little different this time around.

Nothing wrong with different per se.  But still why?

 

54 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

I will say though, I've heard people say negative things about skimmers in regard to over-filtering/removing "food".

Fundamentally impossible.   I'd have to trace claims like this back to the origin and to confirm....and my bet is that the skimmer was never a problem and something else was going on. (Very much how the algae/nutrients and dino situations ultimately got sorted out....sorting the claims from the facts.)

 

Skimmers are at most about 30% efficient, and skimming action stops once skimmable materials fall to too low of a concentration.

 

Skimming also stops when you feed the tank due to the oils in the food changing suffice tension in the water.

 

Check out the articles on skimmer function and skimmate composition on the Advanced Aquarist archive.  (Hopefully google can find the articles....last time I checked reefs.com hadn't done much to integrate the AA archive to their site when they bought up advancedaquarist.com.)

 

59 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

And people saying that chaeto grows based on the resources available to it, so if those opinions are to be believed, chaeto would actually be the choice that doesn't over-filter/remove "food". Not saying you're wrong, just thought I'd mention I've heard people argue both ways, and wanted to know if you had any thoughts on that.

You probably already heard enough on this above, but again it's not that simple.  Chaeto is a high-demand, fast-growing algae that directly competes for resources with coral...which are low-demand, slow-growers by comparison.   Corals would lose out to algae every day of the week if it weren't for herbivory.

 

Do a little googling on "chaeto problems" and (after you're done being surprised at the sheer number of threads) look for cases where it just melts away or where it causes issues in the display tank....plenty of both issues.

 

There's also the issue of the algae dosing your tank with carbon...a natural byproduct of its photosynthesis, but it causes excessive bacterial growth of types that aren't necessarily friendly to corals.  (Corals exude their own carbons with the same goal, but only with organisms that are friendly to them and not to the algae.  Lots has been written on this in science journals.  Some are on my blog for reference.)

 

IMO the only folks who should even TRY growing macro are those folks that have MATURE reefs that have REALLY high nutrient levels as well as REALLY high feeding rates.  Even then I'm not sure there's a hard-core reason for growing it....just that it wouldn't be likely to harm the display tank under those conditions.

 

Also IMO, that's what you see in most cases where a tank is growing macro "successfully".....there's no actual net benefit to the display, but any harm is too minute to affect the display either.  IMO that's your best case scenario...but it doesn't do what you're hoping to accomplish with it.

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
On 6/12/2020 at 1:24 AM, mcarroll said:

But why?  That amounts to chasing numbers if there's no good reason for doing it.  

 

Nutrient reduction for no reason is a waste of time and can actually be harmful to the tank and your corals.

 

It's just not that simple.  The hobby has had that wrong for a long, long time.....mostly (IMO) because there's a lot of folks parroting old knowledge that's based on some dubious notions.  (At least they are dubious in 2020.)

 

For one thing, you WANT algae growth – hair algae, and coralline algae in particular, but lots of others are alright too.  

 

On the flip side....no algae growth – probably no reef.  Algae and corals have the same requirements.

 

For another thing, if you were to succeed in you plan to "prevent nutrients in order to prevent algae" you wouldn't end up with no algae.  

 

This isn't a math problem where algae - nutrients = clean tank.  It's a reef.  

 

A reef is FULL of many kinds of algae and other microorganisms THAT WANT TO SURVIVE.  When you starve the tank, you simply provoke those organisms that like those conditions to bloom.  In our case of unnecessarily removing nutrients, that will probably be dinoflagellates.  Get a taste of what that has been like for others by perusing this thread: Dinoflagellates – Are You Tired Of Battling Altogether?  I opened that thread just about 3 years ago and it's almost up to 10,000 posts already.  Eek!

 

Algae control is what you want.   Not nutrient control.  

 

Algae control happens via good husbandry and your cleanup crew.  

 

Good husbandry means stocking your tank very slowly (avoid spiking nutrients levels too high all at once) as well as helping your CUC when algae grows that they can't eat.  

 

Hair algae has to be very low – almost-invisible nubbins – for them to eat it.  If it's big enough to look like hair algae to you, then it's probably already too big for them and you'll probably have to remove it by hand.  (See how-to vid at bottom of comments.)

 

CUC means herbivores...mostly snails.  Like Turbo, Astrea, Trochus, Margarita, Periwinkles, Nerites, Ceriths.  Leave the scavengers (hermits, nassarius snails, et al) for later on, and keep their numbers low vs the herbivores.

 

Aragonite works almost exactly like GFO in how it binds phosphates.  It can also release them....but you're right it's not a real worry.

 

Mostly a bogus concept linked with chasing nutrient levels.  There is no real reason to worry about phosphate levels in most circumstances.  (I'm not actually aware of any exceptions.)

 

Almost without doubt...that Dino thread I linked above is almost nothing but tanks started with dead rock.

 

Fish are the main "offender" in this as they are large animals that require large amounts of food on a daily basis.

 

So when the time comes, add no more than one fish at a time.  And wait for at least a few weeks/a month before adding the next fish.   (You can stock a few CUC or a coral or two in the mean time....pace their additions as well.)

 

If the reason for doing less water changes is less work, then don't add more work to get that accomplished. Instead, forget about growing macro algae and focus on growing corals.

 

Sorry for the late reply, didn't have computer access until now.

 

You make some good points about nutrient reduction. I like the idea that you WANT algae growth, at least to some degree. It definitely seems natural. And I didn't actually really understand that algae/corals have the same requirements, but it makes sense, because if the corals are growing (especially fast-growing ones), they're doing the same thing as chaeto I assume (using up/reducing nutrient levels in the water, and levels of other elements). Which means maybe I can just have a soft coral display with a couple fish and not need any macro algae after all. It would certainly simplify things.

 

I also didn't realize absence of nutrients led to dinoflagellates. I've actually had those in the past, and now I wonder if I caused it due to excessive cleaning or something.

 

I also watched some videos about algae control and they gave similar advice as you about the CUC/husbandry. I think I'm getting what you were saying in your first post more now.

 

Thanks for the dry rock advice, I'll check out the dino thread too. And also the stocking advice, it mirrors what I was planning, so I think I'm good there. I've never had patience issues thankfully.

 

Quote

 

Mostly just not where you were looking....but an affirmative answer is always better:  Here.  Books.  Reefkeeping.com.  Reefs.com's Advanced Aquarist archive.  Wet Web Media.  (It's pretty technical, and of course I'm biased, but I like my blog too:  reefsuccess.com)

 

Thanks for the resources, I'll look into them.

 

 

Quote

Let go of that desire for control firstly.

 

All that random stuff is exactly what makes a reef a reef.

 

You won't even remember how much you spent on rock in a few months....hobbling your effort to any degree by starting with dead rock makes very little sense...plus you miss out on 99% of that random stuff that makes a reef a reef.  (If you get really good live rock, you might not even HAVE to add anything to it there will be so much of-interest already there.)

 

If the issue is that you actually don't have the money for live, I'd suggest putting off the plan and saving up until you do.   Hopefully you're braced for a proper setup.

 

Interesting viewpoint. I do remember getting a lot of interesting little sponges, animals, some coral, etc from the small amounts of live rock I've purchased in the past.

 

Also, luckily I do have a lot of gear still, from many years ago, but still good stuff. So I could probably afford all live rock if I wanted to. I'll have to kick it around, do some more research, and ultimately decide if I feel like it's worth it, but thank you for your advice, I just want to make sure whatever I choose I understand the benefits/consequences of that choice.

 

Quote

It completes with your corals and offers little or no benefits.  Algae control?  No.  pH control?  Unnecessary.

 

Need more?

 

I hear you. I'll probably just try soft corals at this point. See if I can do more with less, since as you pointed out, my main goal is growing corals.

 

Quote

 

Nothing wrong with different per se.  But still why?

 

First reason is, I just don't have one right now (sold it long ago).

 

Second reason is I like the idea of a simple/cleaner look (especially since I don't want a sump/would be stuck with HOB options).

 

Also, I've heard a lot of good stuff about "dirty" or more-so nutrient rich waters for soft corals, and the benefits. I see tanks where they say they don't run skimmers and it looks great.

 

I also don't 100% understand what skimmers are doing. My understanding is they remove waste/aerate the water. So in my head I assume that the waste removal can be done through coral growth (or chaeto as I was originally thinking), and aeration can be accomplished by powerheads.

 

However, I also want to better understand if the protein skimmer = less water changes. Because less maintenance obviously peaks my interest.

 

Any help on this topic would be much appreciated.

 

Quote

Fundamentally impossible.   I'd have to trace claims like this back to the origin and to confirm....and my bet is that the skimmer was never a problem and something else was going on. (Very much how the algae/nutrients and dino situations ultimately got sorted out....sorting the claims from the facts.)

 

Skimmers are at most about 30% efficient, and skimming action stops once skimmable materials fall to too low of a concentration.

 

Skimming also stops when you feed the tank due to the oils in the food changing suffice tension in the water.

 

Check out the articles on skimmer function and skimmate composition on the Advanced Aquarist archive.  (Hopefully google can find the articles....last time I checked reefs.com hadn't done much to integrate the AA archive to their site when they bought up advancedaquarist.com.)

 

Thank you for the explanation. It's hard sometimes for me to learn things in hobby, because there's so much conflicting information, I don't always know what to believe. But, I'll see if I can find those articles. I figure if I can understand the science/logic better I can weed out the misinformation easier.

 

Quote

 

You probably already heard enough on this above, but again it's not that simple.  Chaeto is a high-demand, fast-growing algae that directly competes for resources with coral...which are low-demand, slow-growers by comparison.   Corals would lose out to algae every day of the week if it weren't for herbivory.

 

Do a little googling on "chaeto problems" and (after you're done being surprised at the sheer number of threads) look for cases where it just melts away or where it causes issues in the display tank....plenty of both issues.

 

There's also the issue of the algae dosing your tank with carbon...a natural byproduct of its photosynthesis, but it causes excessive bacterial growth of types that aren't necessarily friendly to corals.  (Corals exude their own carbons with the same goal, but only with organisms that are friendly to them and not to the algae.  Lots has been written on this in science journals.  Some are on my blog for reference.)

 

IMO the only folks who should even TRY growing macro are those folks that have MATURE reefs that have REALLY high nutrient levels as well as REALLY high feeding rates.  Even then I'm not sure there's a hard-core reason for growing it....just that it wouldn't be likely to harm the display tank under those conditions.

 

Also IMO, that's what you see in most cases where a tank is growing macro "successfully".....there's no actual net benefit to the display, but any harm is too minute to affect the display either.  IMO that's your best case scenario...but it doesn't do what you're hoping to accomplish with it.

 

 

The coral competition factor wasn't something I was thinking about before. I also like the idea of CUC naturally keeping it in check. 

 

Didn't even know the thing about the carbon- another thing to read about.

 

I love the info, and your opinions are valuable to me. Trying to hear as many sides to these things as I can before jumping back into reef tanks. Thank you very much.

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav
On 6/6/2020 at 6:07 AM, Wizzy said:

I have an idea for a 55 gallon low maintenance tank.

 

No sump or mechanical filtration. Just chaeto, soft corals, and a couple hardy fish.

 

The goal would be for the growth/harvesting of chaeto to keep nutrient levels low enough to eliminate the need for water changes/outcompete undesirable algaes.

 

I would assume that since I only stocked chaeto, soft coral, and very few fish I wouldn't need to dose (except maybe iron for chaeto?)

 

I basically got the idea from the Triton method (minus LPS/SPS corals)/the BRS refugium testing series/tanks like https://www.nano-reef.com/featured/2016/brad908-r114/.

 

Thoughts?

 

 

 

More Details:

 

I am thinking of doing bare bottom, some dry rock, LED lighting, heater, strong powerheads.

 

I am worried that without sand/lots of rock the biological filter might not establish, but I was also hoping that lots of chaeto would make up for it, since all of that macro algae also has surface area for bacteria (right?). Basically just want to better understand if a very simple, very low maintenance tank would work. Really not sure though, hence why I'm here asking for advice.

One of my favorite TOTMs was softies + a sump full of cheato and some carbon. So if can work.

 

The carbon helps with soft coral toxins and DOC from the large amount of cheato. So yes you need the carbon. 

 

I like refugiums but more for all the little breeding snails and pods and brittles and strange things that live there hiding from my fish. 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
23 hours ago, Tamberav said:

One of my favorite TOTMs was softies + a sump full of cheato and some carbon. So if can work.

 

The carbon helps with soft coral toxins and DOC from the large amount of cheato. So yes you need the carbon. 

 

I like refugiums but more for all the little breeding snails and pods and brittles and strange things that live there hiding from my fish. 

 

 

 

Thank you for the excellent link.

 

DOC = dissolved organic compounds? Is that from chaeto that has died/released it's nutrients back into the water?

 

And carbon binds to DOC? 

 

Also, are soft coral toxins usually an issue? What do they do? Poison the water or?

 

And so are you saying that refugiums are less useful for filtration purposes, but nice for breeding micro fauna?

 

Thanks again!

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav
29 minutes ago, Wizzy said:

 

Thank you for the excellent link.

 

DOC = dissolved organic compounds? Is that from chaeto that has died/released it's nutrients back into the water?

 

And carbon binds to DOC? 

 

Also, are soft coral toxins usually an issue? What do they do? Poison the water or?

 

And so are you saying that refugiums are less useful for filtration purposes, but nice for breeding micro fauna?

 

Thanks again!

 

Macro can be useful for both but sometimes chaeto can be picky in some systems for whatever reason. I use caulerpa prolifica as it is easier to grow than cheato but things like microstars or pods may like chaeto more. You just have to be sure not to strip too much nutrients....so balance feeding and how much light you give the macro.

 

I believe DOC is a fancy way of saying decomposing matter of a certain size. Yes activated carbon removes it. So do skimmers.

 

Corals release toxins to inhibit other corals as they are always competing for space. I am not saying carbon is needed in every softy tank...just that I may be helpful. 

 

Also a heavy macro tank or softy tank would probably get stinky without carbon. Enough algae can even yellow the water...although not sure if chaeto does this but I know algae scrubbers can.

 

My tank may be better served without my fuge as my nutrients hang around 2 nitrate and 0.07 po4 and I feed 3-5 times a day. This is lower then ideal but I love the breeding colony of snails in my fuge and odd things that would not survive my DT thanks to my wrasses.

 

I have not seen any stress from softies at these levels or LPS though....it's actually the SPS that probably could use more nutrients as they tend to pale a bit.

 

Anywho that TOTM surely shows what you want to accomplish is certainly possible. Worse case you wasted a little money on some cheato and a light. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Wizzy
29 minutes ago, Tamberav said:

Macro can be useful for both but sometimes chaeto can be picky in some systems for whatever reason. I use caulerpa prolifica as it is easier to grow than cheato but things like microstars or pods may like chaeto more. You just have to be sure not to strip too much nutrients....so balance feeding and how much light you give the macro.

 

I believe DOC is a fancy way of saying decomposing matter of a certain size. Yes activated carbon removes it. So do skimmers.

 

Corals release toxins to inhibit other corals as they are always competing for space. I am not saying carbon is needed in every softy tank...just that I may be helpful. 

 

Also a heavy macro tank or softy tank would probably get stinky without carbon. Enough algae can even yellow the water...although not sure if chaeto does this but I know algae scrubbers can.

 

My tank may be better served without my fuge as my nutrients hang around 2 nitrate and 0.07 po4 and I feed 3-5 times a day. This is lower then ideal but I love the breeding colony of snails in my fuge and odd things that would not survive my DT thanks to my wrasses.

 

I have not seen any stress from softies at these levels or LPS though....it's actually the SPS that probably could use more nutrients as they tend to pale a bit.

 

Anywho that TOTM surely shows what you want to accomplish is certainly possible. Worse case you wasted a little money on some cheato and a light. 

 

Thank you for the explanations. I'm coming to the conclusion that some experimentation will be in order, no matter what I end up doing.

 

I'm glad I've received all these responses though, because the more info floating around in my head, the better equipped I'll be when the tank starts.

 

Thanks!

 

  • Like 2

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...