In September of 2013 we bought a house and the wife said that I can set up my 50gal after the new year as long as I took it slow and didn't get obsessed with it like I did before. I've been trying to not get obsessed but... well... it is what it is. I am taking in slow, at least I would consider it slow.
I set the tank up and did a few other things up until today.
the tank as it stands today: 4/6/14
I have a 5 lb CO2 tank with a Micromatic regulator, a lagit JBJ bubble counter, Burkert solenoid and Fabco NV-55 needle valve. The CO2 is being ran through a Cerges style reactor that isn't working as well as it did when I first built it a couple years ago. It's not diffusing as fast and I have micro bubbles which I'm not a fan of. I'll work on that later.
I also have a Hydor 300w inline heater that has been going strong for over 2 years now. A lot of people have said that theirs has failed on them and cooked their fish but I haven't had any issues yet and it keeps the water temp as consistent as an intank heater but it takes less time for it increases the temp. this is good and bad luckily once I had it dialed in I didn't haven't needed to worry about it.
I have a Fluval 405 filter that I had used for about two years. when I set it up this time I seemed to have a big issue with flow. I probably need to replace the impeller but i'm not too worried about that any more. in the picture below you can see the CO2 reactor.
I don't use the filter pump as the source to move the water anymore. Now it's just a housing for the filter media and Puragain. As you can see I have my filter outlet running though the wall. I made a big mistake when I used the hole saw by cutting the whole on the other side of the wall. I didn't realize how thin the face of the wood paneling was and now it's jacked up. I would have made the cut on the face of it but I wasn't sure exactly where to drill the hole to run the tubing into the closet. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have drilled a pilot hole on the back side of the wall and came to the front to drill the big hole. I feel pretty dumb for making that mistake but I can't change it now. luckily it's behind the tank stand and you can't see it.
I was having a big issue with surface scum this go around which I new to me. I'm not sure what is different that would cause this now and not before but it's definitely and issue. It may be the sand I mixed in with the Eco Complete. In order to remedy the situation I decided to try an inline air stone. I got the idea while I was talking to a guy on here about how he probably wouldn't be able to use his atomic diffuser. basically I told him that if it didn't work he could just build this.
it's a 3/4" 1/2" 3/4" T with a 1/2" plug. I drilled a hole for the airline tubing and attached an air stone to it. works like a charm. Not only does it produce big enough bubbles to give good surface agitation it also makes micro bubbles for aeration at night. I'll try to remember to post a video later. I was really surprised that it worked. I was expecting it to just burp out big ol pockets of air out of my out flow but it doesn't at all.
I put in an auto top off (ATO) for the tank because I'm too lazy to add water once a week or so. During the winter my tank loses about a gallon or so a day. It's not a big deal but like I said. i'm lazy. I chose this one from Hydor because I didn't have to put a bunch of stuff in my tank and it's a good price compared to what's out there. I got this for I think $80 or $90 from Bulk Reef Supply. The only thing I don't like about it is that if the pump that you use fills the tank too fast you risk over flowing before the ATO shuts the pump off and there wasn't any mention of it on any of the sites that I looked at. I didn't know it until I read the instructions. Luckily I was lucky and got a pump that works perfectly. I got a Maxyjet 1200 just because I wanted to top of the tank fast and the pump was cheap and I could use it as a power head if I wanted too.
the ATO fill tube is just a 1/2" tube running from a 5 gal bucket that is plumbed through the wall. At first I thought a 5 gal bucket was going to be overkill be as it turns out I once again got lucky and it's just the right amount. The ATO switch has 3 probes on it. The bottom one is the low water line. When the water goes below it the unit turns the pump on. The middle probe is the max water line. once the water reaches the center of it the pump shuts off. And the top one is the emergency shut off probe. If the water gets to it the unit will shut off the pump and sound an alarm. It wont turn back on until the unit is unplugged and plugged back in.
I cut the frame of the tank so that I could mount it as high as possible before it would actually overflow. I may still lower it a little but I like that the probe is black and having it as high as it is makes it harder to see in the tank. I love the mount for it. it has the newfangled magnet suction cups so even though the suction cup is a little higher than the glass it's still not going anywhere.
The picture below is what I'm calling the water closet. I have the outflow from the filter plumbed to a Japanese Iwaki 240 RXT and I can regulate the flow by turning the gate valve (red knob before it goes back through the wall) You can also so the Hydor ATO unit and the orange Home Depot bucket I use for the top off. I have a line from my R/O unit running to the bucket with a float valve so it is automatically refilled after it has been drained.
Eventually I will build a cabinet to kinda hind this stuff and give me some space to test the water and set prep my ferts and whatnot. I'm also thinking about plumbing the CO2 reactor and filter box on this side just so it's all in one spot but I don't know yet. I need to clear at a lot of the other stuff that's in the closet so that I can figure out exactly how much room I will have to take over with fish stuff. I plan on keeping everything for all of my tanks in this closet so that it's all in one place and organized. the way it's been is that all of my stuff has been in different boxes both in the house and in the garage and I drag it all out to look for one thing but I don't put it back.
The picture below is a closer look at the plumbing I have set up. The bottom line is the out of the Fluval filter there is a check valve and the ball valve below it is the line I ran under the hose that comes from my R/O reservoir in the garage. When I open the ball valve the pressure closes check valve and the pump pumps the water from the R/O reservoir instead of the tank so I can fill the tank with treated R/O water without dragging a hose through the house. Tubing for the pump is connected with a hose barb and it goes to the top line. If I open the ball valve below the hose barb for the pump return the pump will drain the tank through a line I ran to my kitchen sink. it works best when I close the gate valve at the top (red knob) which is the return to the tank. Once the water leaves the closet it goes to the CO2 reactor then the inline heater then the inline air stone and out the lily pipe outflow.
This is the drain line I plumbed under the kitchen sink. The PVC is the drain line for the tank and I T'ed it off so that I could attach the drain line for the dishwasher
Below is my R/O setup in the garage. It's a 4 stage 75gpd unit from Bulk Reef Supply with a 150 gpd upgrade which is just a second 75 gpd membrane. (The filters aren't as dirty as they look in the picture) I T'ed off the water spigot for the washing machine and it is ran to a booster pump through the R/O unit. I also have a permeating pump on the waste water line. The R/O unit feeds into my reservoir which is a 36gal Brute gray trash can on rollers and the waste water goes down the drain for the washing machine. I have a float valve and auto shutoff for the R/O unit and a pressure switch that shuts off the booster pump when the reservoir is full. In the reservoir I have a heater a power head and a pond pump connected to a garden hose.
the bubble wrap is under the booster pump because the shelf that it is on is nailed into the same studs that the wall in the kitchen is on so the vibrations where really loud. But with the bubble wrap the vibrations are not as noticeable.
I used to connect the hose to a longer one and run it through the house to fill the tank but now I have the hose connected to the line I ran under the house and up in to the closet and the Iwaki pump pumps the water from the reservoir. All I have to do is test and replenish the GH and KH.
in the picture you can see the pressure switch for the booster pump and where I T'ed the R/O line to fill the ATO reservoir in the water closet
Once I get more plants I'll be adding an auto doser for ferts. I currently have an Aquamedic but I hate it. So I may buy something else. I saw something on Ebay that looks to be a Bubble Magnus knock off. I think it's called the Bubble Magic. It's significantly less expensive compared to what i can find on the market today. I don't understand why someone would charge $400-$500 for 3 pumps that operate on a timer.
I'm also looking into a reef controller but I don't know if I can justify the price. I'm trying to figure out if the PH probe can trigger a switch between certain times of day. I want it to control the CO2 but I don't want the CO2 to be controlled 24/7
Please let me know what you think. Any tips, advice, critiques are welcome. Thanks for lookin