View Full Version : Frag Tank

08-06-2006, 10:26 PM
I would like to get a 20G long tank and set it up as a frag tang. Short of lighting, what would i need in the way of pumps. Would a powerhead or two be sufficient? Would I need a skimmer? I know I would need a heater.

In addition, what if I sectioned it in half and made one side a frag tank and one a seperat QT?

08-06-2006, 10:39 PM
cant answer....well pretty much any questions lol but i can tell you that that fish store i was telling you about here. the owner has a 20long that he has been trying to get me to buy for awhile. its drilled too. he bought it for home use but the guy that drilled it drilled it in the wrong place for his stand. i could probably get it really really cheap and then you could hook it into your sump and not worry about skimming :)

08-06-2006, 10:46 PM
I may be interested Wesley. Can you find out what size the hole(s) are and how many there are?

08-06-2006, 10:57 PM
i will find out tomorrow for you. i think there is two and they are 3/4. the tank also comes with the bulkhead. i will try and get messurements on where the holes are and everything for ya..

08-06-2006, 11:21 PM
yeah, we need some links cause i dont have any! i was just asking blubber about this last night! theres related info, but nothing step by step showing a path!
in reality it doesn;t take much, your limited by your imagination.

garf.net have some great idea's . esspecially for animals that spread across a colony!
from what i know u have to setup the frag tank with the conditions of the species in question, sps and softies have different requirement in both water chemisty & water currents! but im searching on the subject as well!
if i find anything of use i will post, but those with frag tanks already could u pipe up with your experiences

08-06-2006, 11:24 PM
I don't think a QT tank tied into the main tanks sump is going to work. But it would work well for a frag tank.

08-06-2006, 11:25 PM
Well, as you know I am still a rookie at this SW stuff, so I think I will be looking for a softie tank. That way I can keep the $$ down as bit on the lighting side. My hope is to set some frags and sell and trade them to offset equipment for my main tank. Oh yeah, and to drive my wife crazy!

08-06-2006, 11:26 PM
Actually I won't tie the tank to the main at all. Wesley had a good idea to do that with the frag tank, but I don't have the room, so it will be on the Unfinished side of the basement.

08-06-2006, 11:33 PM
Well just wondering now, but what is the purpose of a frag tank? Is it for post fragged corals waiting for them to reattach? Is it a grow out tank? An overflow tank cause the coral gods blessed you with too many corals to put in the main tank? :lol:

08-06-2006, 11:38 PM
Well, my purpose is just extra space for corals to attach and grow. Most of the time I have seen them with no sand, just a little rock for bio filtration, a glass bottom and some egg crate to get the corals up off the glass for circultaion.

Here is a link I found


08-07-2006, 09:40 AM
thanks for the link! they talk of the standard get go systems, but once again, no one really goes into to much depth! im wondering if its because simplisity is the key!
its as simple as overflows on on side, returns on the other, couple power heads, a cultivating rack for culture trays or frag cup/pegs with the usual lighting needs! the thing is to really negate your micro bubble production with these tanks!

personally my views are shifting towards aquaculture! we are serious need of a group of people promoting awareness, supply, & workbench programs for us reefers! someones got to step up to the plate & bring the professionals of our hobby to one spot!
i noted a link for future reference from last years conference, but when i lost opera browser the links were trashed along with it! this is all ive been able to recover! if u guys know where this info is please share the wealth!

Rocky Herman's Coral Farming on a Hobbyist Budget
Greenhouse applicationsTypes of greenhouse, sizes, windloads, rainloads, snowloads, extreme weather, photo-exposure, shading, space requirements, humidity & airflow, well systems & water purification methods, tank layouts, sunbeam tubes & skylights and home/garage applications. Maintenance and upgrade options.
Geothermal applicationsControlling an ideal reef climate using the earth as a heat/cooling sink, practical applications to the personal aquarium as well as on a semi-commercial level. Temperature climate of tank versus greenhouse ambient air temperatures, and automating it. BTU's of energy from the earthen soil in your areas. Evaporative cooling and humidity. Plumbing, headloss, and flow dynamics.
Propagation procedures & equipmentUtilizing horizontal growth versus vertical, necessary tools, growout tanks, frag tanks, frag trays, frag plugs, inducing self- propagation, coral suspension and utilizing directional growth, tanks, raceways, surges, calcium reactors, skimmers, and building your own equipment versus buying. Multiple systems, stair stepping-gravity feeding. Sandbeds and finding their place in your systems. Culturing liverock utilizing an environmental-freindly approach. Species tanks and sub-species tanks and how you can minimize your workload. Adaption process's from wild to captive and s acrificing coloration for growth. Coral toxins and safety handling procedures. Quarantine, UV sterilization and common pest.

08-07-2006, 10:13 AM
the purpose of a frag tank is mainly a grow out place for corals that you frag or that spread on there own. not as important for softies, but definitely can help if your main tank is small

if you are to set one up, its usually best to tie it into your existing system.
you can set it up separately but in this case you will a system with all the fixins, filtration, powerheads, heater, skimmer, lights, etc. it has to be a full reef system.

one problem that comes with a separate frag tank, is that the newly fragged coral, that has been cut up and severely stressed, now has to be acclimated to a new system. this "can" cause issues. since you are dealing with softies its probably not a big issue though. with others it can be "too" stressful

if you can plumb it into your sump, that would be my recommendation

08-07-2006, 05:39 PM
i think its safe to assume there are risks initally with attaching a frag tank to the main! if the argument is the "new" tank conditions after cutting can contribute to undue stress>then doesn't that effectivly rule the QT out ;) and even though the frags are generally small the nasties they could have brought with them from the host tank could potentially infest yours!
so with this line of thinnking would it not be best to have the system linked but shut off from the main system till u have treated/inspected/quarintined before opening the flood gates>?

or the expensive approach of setting up the independant set-ups if your serious about cultivation!

08-07-2006, 09:00 PM
Well, I need to have a seperate stand alone tank due to space, but it gives me an opportunity to upgrade my main tank, i.e. if I get a new skimmer I buy a better one and put it on my main tank and move my existing to the frag. So that is a plus.

08-07-2006, 10:42 PM
Well, I need to have a seperate stand alone tank due to space, but it gives me an opportunity to upgrade my main tank, i.e. if I get a new skimmer I buy a better one and put it on my main tank and move my existing to the frag. So that is a plus.

YEAH! thats the usual plan we take> but it also sets the ball in motion for new tanks to make use of the extra equiptment> just look at blubbers sitch! more tanks than fingers & toes! let us know how u go wildman, i'll follow your frag tank with interest!

10-05-2006, 11:06 PM
Sorry, I have more questions now. I have a chance to buy a 250 Watt pendant with a 20000k bulb for a spankin' deal. If i were to buy it, would it be better to put that on my main 65 gallon display and move my PC lights (384 watts) to the 37 gallon frag tank? Would I need actinic lights in addition to the MH?

Why do lighting answers elude me?

10-05-2006, 11:24 PM
are u not aiming for making some money via your frag tank, and depending on what species your going to frag will determin your options i would imagine.

10-05-2006, 11:57 PM
I would like to frag SPS and softies. I think I will take robs advice and just start fragging for fun. If I make a few bucks here and there, then great. Later I can ramp up if I think I can make a go at a bigger operation.

10-06-2006, 01:21 PM
your lighting over your frag tank needs to be equivalent to whats in the display tank.

one big issue people have is when there frag tank is not connected to there display or not using the same types of lighting or filtration.
water parameters and quality can vary, lighting effects can fary, and what you end up with are corals in your frag tank that dont look nearly as good as whats in the display. of course they may, but reducing these variables is something you want to strive for

10-07-2006, 03:05 PM
I understand the principal of keeping things the same, but I didn't think that if I fragged a coral, removed it from my display, put it in my frag tank that it would be much different then putting a frag I purchase or tade for in my tank. Many frags I have come from setups that are diffeerent than mine.

I am sure htere will be a break in period where the coral may be a bit stressed, but this coul be adjusted for with proper acclimation. I suppose if I use the PC lights on my frag tank the corals will adjust to the less amount of light better than adjusting to a greater amount of light.

10-07-2006, 03:48 PM
you are correct, the catch here is that when you get a frag from the store, or a trade, it has already recovered and is usually not traumatized.
when you have your own frag tank, you frag the corals from your display, then you will have to take your now traumatized coral, then acclimate it to a whole new system.

im not saying you cant do it, just that its even more stress on your corals.. thats all.. :)

10-07-2006, 06:03 PM
when you have your own fag tank, you fag your corals from your display,

are there fruity corals in a fag tank rob...lol

there was a reason i was asking if you were starting the frag tank for money or swaps, cause you'd have a strick stocking plan and the frags are less likely to make it into your display! as for the stronger light source u can always diffuse the area, but rob does raise a great point from the standpoint of your additions coming from the display to begin with!

10-07-2006, 06:16 PM
i have corrected my typos

10-08-2006, 07:42 AM

10-08-2006, 07:48 AM



10-08-2006, 02:48 PM
Why do images without a return between them not automatically wrap like text? This the post text block is more than 1600 pixels across and that doesn't count the poster column and the rest of the page. Maybe it's just my dandy MS browser...

10-08-2006, 10:44 PM
wow, i have know idea, but that sounded way cool..lol

10-09-2006, 10:20 PM
Why do images without a return between them not automatically wrap like text? This the post text block is more than 1600 pixels across and that doesn't count the poster column and the rest of the page. Maybe it's just my dandy MS browser...

bump for Rob to possibly fix.
I added returns to BB's post, a temporary solution for now.

10-09-2006, 10:33 PM
I might miss my conglomerate of a picture now though..lol, thanks Q

10-09-2006, 10:58 PM
The text block is all depending on the size of the browser. it will automaticly change the size of the box. as for the auto return when a picture is inputed, i am not a bloody clue.. :)

10-10-2006, 02:11 PM
bump for Rob to possibly fix.
I added returns to BB's post, a temporary solution for now.
this is actually by design, so you can place images next to each other, as i do in my signature.

images posted using the "attach" function will get proper thumbnails and get organized better. sorry, this si just the way the system works for right now

10-10-2006, 03:40 PM
But if i narrow my browser the images in your post wrap. I think it is because there is a space between them. V's were not spaced so like a single word it was not split?

10-10-2006, 03:49 PM
But if i narrow my browser the images in your post wrap. I think it is because there is a space between them. V's were not spaced so like a single word it was not split?
interesting, yes, i think that is the case..
in which its a browser function wrapping it, not the site..

but thanks for the info, i never noticed it before

10-25-2006, 11:13 PM
I got my frag system setup and here is a photo. 30 gallon breeder, 10 gallon sump to maximize frag space in the top tank. But I have a few questions.


Do I need to put some LR (http://www.talkingreef.com/forums/showthread.php?p=34421#) in this system? I assume so, where and how much is needed?

What are the downfalls of not skimming? I am using a HOB biowheel. I assume it will need to be changed often. I read skimming on this small system may not be needed.

Should there be any cleanup crew in there?

Do I need to cycle the system (I assume so)?

Thanks for all your input!

fat walrus
10-26-2006, 12:00 AM
I would put as much live rock in the sump as will fit. I might also put a few large suspended chunks under the eggcrates.

By keeping the carbon fresh in the Emperor, you can help ease the problem of no proteining skimming. Perhaps remove the filter element and fill the filter with live rubble. I would still advise adding a skimmer when you can.

I would include scavengers.

I would cycle the system, just take some live rock from you system.....add a couple of janitors.....let it run for a while, and joila!

10-26-2006, 08:28 AM
how much natral filtration is needed to be effective can be answered somewhere in the realm of wildmans head & fridge! why i hear you ask? cause wildmans picked up enough knowledge by now to have an overall vision, a stocking plan & a healthy dose of common sence when dealing with the nutrients he is adding to the water!!

A couple of question id be asking myself is

A) given my current space, do i have enough volume to cover the displacement caused by the rock, and further more do i believe it will be enough to handle my load!

B)is there enough clearance between the sump at the back to the shelvings above for routine maintance and the eddition of equiptments and natral filters!

C) is remote add-ons an option!

D) can i trap bubbles effectivly before the return & can i provide the correct flow rates for my animals!

E) with frags in place will cleaning detritus build-ups under my structures be a pleasure or hinderance! like wise with the possition of my sump!

F) will i have the means to become addaptable with the my system in regards to both animals & environment!

G) how , how much & where will i employ my replacement water!

u did well to get up & running wildman! in my travels on this subject ive found its better to be versitile with your thinking rather than relying solely on the "whole reef" mentality! just my few cents anyways!

10-26-2006, 08:35 PM
FW - Thanks for the reply. I have a chance at a Remora skimmer with MJ1200 used for $75.00. I think I may jump on it and that should take care of the skimmer issue.

Since your reply I am now activly looking for some local used LR, anout 15 to 20lbs

I will put some LR from my tank in there tonight to get the cycle cranking.


Little Buddy from Down Under - Thanks as well for the compliments and questions. You bring up some points I have not thought about.

A) I will see how much is displaced by the LR. I hope to get 15 to 20lbs since I will have no fish and I hop a lower bio load.

B) I am not sure what I would need behind the tank for, but The photo may be deceiving. The shelf edge is right above the edge of the tank, I was hesitant about putting it there, but it can come down with 6 screws if need be.

C) Remote Add ons? Like another tank? Only if I want a divorce :).

D) Remains to be seen. I have yet to see what a remora skimmer will put out. I have plans for a couple small powerheads.

E) Good point! I have made the far left shelf easy to pull out, but who would want to pull a shelf with frags out of the water. :eek: So, I think I may be on shelf heavy in there. If I remove one, I can slide the others.

F) I adapt quite well. I plan on only snails, and frags!

G) I have a small pico pump, so I was thinking that I would make another auto top off system to match the one on my main tank. Total cost $30.

Thanks again folks, I will keep you all posted!

fat walrus
10-26-2006, 11:11 PM

Keep an eye on your temperature. Sometimes a small surge tank can help add water volume to the system, reduce the need for powerheads, and keep the nutrients suspended for your corals. It also will create a wavelike effect.

BTW, if you read this.....can you page me? I'm not sure if my page messaging is working.

10-26-2006, 11:30 PM
only small problem is a slight loss in water height making way for the surge

fat walrus
10-26-2006, 11:38 PM
only small problem is a slight loss in water height making way for the surge

a small surge tank.

10-26-2006, 11:52 PM
Oh wise ones....

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/th_remoteImage.jpg (http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/?action=view&current=remoteImage.jpg)
Enlighten me on your surge tank idea. I understand the suspension principals, just not the design. I actually just watched a show on the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They have a cool surge device on top of the kelp tank that would be real cool to make for a reef tank.

fat walrus
10-26-2006, 11:59 PM
It works like your toilet bowl. An S-pipe. I don't know how to diagram it on computer, so if you PM me, I can send you a diagram via fax. Check out Charles Delbeek or Bruce Carlson.

10-27-2006, 12:05 AM
Got it....

Found it on http://www.petsforum.com/cis-fishnet/seascope/00SS1705.htm

I will read it tomorrow got to get to bed now... Thanks for the help!

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/remoteImage-1.jpg (http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/?action=view&current=remoteImage-1.jpg)

10-27-2006, 12:15 AM
Check this one out, even easier!

Now I have something else to play with, and I have the parts already here at the house!


http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/remoteImage-2.jpg (http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/?action=view&current=remoteImage-2.jpg)

10-27-2006, 04:40 AM
orsome wildman, its like a what>>$30 job if that! & your right, the best thing is you generally have parts like this collecting dust!

10-27-2006, 02:12 PM
They can be a bit noisy -- as in "it better be in the basement where the spouse can't hear it!", but if you have one on each end of the tank - using slightly different sized containers so they'll never get in sync with each other - you can probably get away with having no powerheads in the tank at all, just intake hoses/pipes.

fat walrus
10-27-2006, 10:46 PM
I would avoid the float valves and go with the Carlson method. I used that method more than 20years ago, and it is still fool-proof.

10-27-2006, 11:00 PM
looking at the total volume of the system does it really matter blub?
as long as the concepts sound! i hear what your saying though! the more moving parts that are eliminated the less likely something will fail

10-27-2006, 11:02 PM
Got it....

Found it on http://www.petsforum.com/cis-fishnet/seascope/00SS1705.htm

I will read it tomorrow got to get to bed now... Thanks for the help!

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/remoteImage-1.jpg (http://s73.photobucket.com/albums/i233/wildeone/?action=view&current=remoteImage-1.jpg)

I guess I should read before I post :agree: . This is the REVERSE Carlson Surge. Now to find an article on The Carlson Surge Device.

10-27-2006, 11:08 PM
Woo Hoo! That was easy!


How to Build a Powerful Surge Device
By Dr. Bruce Carlson, Director of the Waikiki Aquarium (http://www.mic.hawaii.edu/aquarium/new/index.htm)
The following is reproduced with the permission of Tom Frakes of Aquarum Systems and SeaScope, Vol 13, Summer 1996.
When we began keeping acroporid corals in 1985, we believed it would be necessary to provide significant turbulence in the water to simulate the corals' natural environment. Recent research has indicated that turbulent water is indeed vital to the health of these corals as it greatly facilitates the diffusion of nutrients and waste in and out of the corals. The problem for us was how to develop a device that provided a strong but periodic surge that was inexpensive, and most of all would be maintenance free.
Dump buckets are notoriously troublesome, requiring constant adjustment and repairs. Powerheads are generally too small for big aquariums and generally unsuitable for use outdoors. Larger pumps provided the output, but a continuous flow of water is not good for the corals, and did not simulate the natural conditions of periodic surge.
The best design to meet our criteria was an automatic siphon device which has proven to be reliable and effective and is easy build and to operate. Delbeek and Sprung (1994) published a diagram of the surge device that I have received many requests for more details, hence the publication of this report.
Before proceeding, I must acknowledge the advice of David Powell at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. When we first considered building one of these devices in 1985, Dave gave me a verbal description of a similar system that he installed at the Steinhart Aquarium. Many public aquariums use Surge tanks for a variety of applications but we were probably the first to employ one with living corals.
How It Works The accompanying diagram illustrates a 150 gallon aquarium (#4). A Little Giant 3MD pump (#6) draws water from the aquarium through a 3/4" PVC pipe (#5) and delivers it to a 35 gallon barrel which is the surge tank (#1). When the surge tank is full, the 2" diameter PVC siphon pipe (#2) is also completely filled with water and automatically begins to siphon at a rate faster than the pump is filling the tank. When the surge tank is empty, the siphon sucks air and stops. The pump continues delivering water into the surge tank and the cycle repeats itself.


Much smaller devices can be constructed on the same basic plan. Although the pump and pipe sizes have to be scaled up or down as the dimensions change, particularly the vertical dimensions. At this time all I can suggest is trial and error for sizing, although some details for larger systems are presented below.
Trouble-shooting Sometimes when the surge tank is full the siphon never really gets going. Instead, the water flows out the siphon pipe as fast as the pump is pumping the water in. To remedy this, we have placed the discharge end of the siphon pipe so that it is underwater at all times ( position #9 ). This creates a bit of back pressure in the pipe, allowing in the upper surge tank to rise a bit higher and thus start the siphon. Also a smooth bend at the top of the siphon, rather than a right-angle bends as shown in the diagram, will facilitate siphon start-up. At other times the siphon wont start no matter how high the water level is in the upper reservoir. We reason that this is due to air trapped in the discharge siphon which has nowhere to go because the lower end of the pipe is always under water. To overcome this problem, we installed a 1” PVC air-vent pipe (#3) at the point on the siphon pipe just above the highest water level in the aquarium ( at position #10 ). But this air vent may also prevent the siphon from starting and therefore a mechanism is requires to close it at the crucial moment when the siphon is to start. To avoid using a valve, which increases maintenance, we simply ran the air vent pipe back up into the reservoir tank with the opening of the air vent set just at the upper water level in the tank ( #8 ). The rising water acts like a valve to close off the opening of the pipe thus allowing the siphon to begin - presto, no moving parts !
Note: an air vent pipe smaller than 1” in diameter may work, but we find they clog too easily with salt and therefore require more maintenance. Unfortunately, once the siphon starts the air vent quickly reopens and sucks in air like a venturi. The discharge into the tank may be disturbing to aquarists who don’t want bubbles in their aquariums. This can be resolved by installing a simple flapper valve, or check valve on the air vent, but there will always be some air discharged into the aquarium.
Sometimes the siphon wont stop. A 45 degree angle cut at the intake end of the siphon pipe, as shown in the diagram, can help resolve this by allowing more air to be sucked in when the siphon reaches the bottom of the surge tank.
Drawbacks Depending on the size of the surge tank, the fluctuation in water level in the aquarium can be several inches ( 3” inches in our set-up ). We have not figured out a simple way to resolve this problem to monitor evaporation in a closed system. One possible solution would be to install a float switch in the aquarium or a separate reservoir and set it for the lowest “normal” water level. When the water level drops below that mark because of evaporation, the float switch will activate the flow of new replacement water. Of course, this will be periodically interrupted when the surge device dumps water back into the aquarium but none the less should work.
Besides space requirements, the other annoying part of these surge devices is noise. The gurgling sound when the siphon starts and sucking sound when it stops can be very disturbing - definitely not recommended for the bedroom if you want a good night’s sleep.
Applications We have a 200 gallon surge tank fitted with a 6” diameter PVC constantly filled by a 1.5 hp pump that delivers a powerful surge of water to our outdoor 7,000 gallon “Edge of the Reef” exhibit. This device has been in continuous operation since 1986 and has required virtually no maintenance except for pump repairs.


All of our outdoor coral culture tanks are fitted with 35 gallon surge tanks, while our indoor 390 gallon exhibit tank is operated by a ½ hp pump which lifts water over 6’ to a 55 gallon surge tank that delivers a powerful jet of water every 3 minutes via a 3” PVC siphon pipe. Wilfred Fong of the San Francisco Aquarium Society recently built one of these devices for his home aquarium after visiting the Waikiki Aquarium. His surge tank is much smaller ( about 10 gallons ) but still produces a good surge of water to his reef aquarium.
Our newest exhibit will have two surge tanks, both operated from a single pump and each delivering surge to different points in the aquarium. One surge tank will be 55 gallons and the other 35 gallons so that the periodicity of the output of the two tanks will vary. Occasionally they will both discharge simultaneously creating different churning of the water in the exhibit. To handle the combined output of the two tanks we will add a 150 gallon sump at the same level as the exhibit aquarium connected by a 19” long, by 2” high overflow slot to allow excess water to flow from the exhibit tank to an adjacent sump where it will be pumped to the surge tanks ( similar to Delbeek and Sprung, page 170 ). Once you build one of these tanks and learn its idiosyncrasies you will find it a very useful devise for a variety of situations requiring a strong but periodic surge of water. Best of all, once you get it started it will run forever

01-25-2007, 12:16 PM
Veriann, Fellow Auiise.
Well I am taking the plunge in Ireland and setting up a polytunnel for coral growing. Funny you say but hey what can a Aussie do when away from home - I ain't paying the stupid prices in Ireland for rock and Coral - So I will do home growen.
Polytunnel should arrive in 1 month. Will need assistance in setting up the system once it is up - I will be importing live rock as the first stage of the business to fund it all as I have mentioned.

My coral frag tanks you can see on Saltwater Life (http://www.saltwaterlife.ie) I am thinking of getting the seed stock from the UK or even heading to the USA to pop them in a bag and head home with them.

Lots to do - but saw this thread and though I would share the idea's

Happy reefing - would you believe - I don't even have a tank running. Can't wait for the live rock to start so I can start on my own tank.


01-25-2007, 02:20 PM
dang!!! these fragging facilities are smoking hot.. hehe can you guys hook us up wt some frags at "affordable and friendly" price? =]

01-28-2007, 02:41 AM
lolo i just thought of that the surge device is basically a toilet...hahaha..yeah that was kinda immature. i never knew that though, my uncle has one of those, but i never knew how it worked...