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Thread: Amphibious' 135 gal Reef

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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Amphibious' 135 gal Reef

    Some of you have been following a different thread about this project. It's time to give it it's own place on the forum.

    I'll do a full bio some other time, for now know that my experience is extensive. In the hobby for 59 years and exclusively salt for the last 38.

    The tank is a used 135 gal Acrylic with an overflow on one end. It was a clear back until I painted it blue. It has a few minor scratchs. What used tank doesn't? I built a stand out of 2 x 6s, plywood and screwed it together instead of nailing. I think the screws are more secure. I finished the plumbing 2/24/06 and filled it with water for testing. Good test, no leaks and the flow rate looks good. Of course it will be different when I switch it to salt in a few days. Right now I have a Mag 24 (2400 gph at 0 head) may go to Mag36 or different brand if these prove not to be sufficient. A 1" Sea Swirl and a UV sterilizer have been ordered.

    Here's a pic showing the tank with the stand I built.



    Here's a pic of the plumbing before the test.



    This is where the project is as of this morning. The tank is standing silently waiting to be drained, cleaned up and refilled with RO/DI water and salt.

    I subscribe to the DSB filtering methodology. I've used it successfully for years. There are critics of the DSB but, it works for me because I do something different than the traditional or standard DSB. I recently described it on TalkingReef and rather than repeat it, you can read it here - DSB thread.

    You can see a trickle filter under the tank. It is temporary. This will be replaced with a sump/refugium shortly. I didn't want to wait for a sump to be built. I removed the bio balls and will replace with LR and aragonite sand in sump area. Trickle filters have no place in a reef set-up, IMHO.

    My idea is to create a mixed reef with SPS, LPS corals, some Ricordia, zoos, clams, other neat things I can't think of right now, the usual sand bed stirrers and a few fish.

    I will update when there is something to add. Any questions?
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

  2. #2
    Master Reefer Scott's Avatar
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    Looks great Dick. Will be watching all your progress with this project. I would say I'd be taking notes...but I think I'll just bookmark the thread. :-)
    Tank setup 8-5-05
    26 gal bowfront

    click sig to see my tank and 'tankcam'


  3. #3
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Thanks Scott. I hope everyone gets some benefit from this.

    Here's a schocker, just read our well water, it reads 740 TDS. Man oh man, I'm glad we decided to drink bottled water when we moved in. We have some reservation about pesticide residue because this is an old grove. My old RO/DI takes it down to 011 TDS. I'll have to use that for now. I ordered a new unit but, it hasn't gotten here yet.

    The Durso overflow drains are in. They sure quiet thinks down. The system has been running all day without a hitch. Probably let it run overnight, drain it tomorrow and clean it up. I'm making water as fast as possible but it may be a day or two before I've got enough. I need a booster pump with the well.
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Apprentice jeepjon's Avatar
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    Love the setup, very clean plumbing! You did a great job! Love the acrylic tank...very nice. Can't wait to see when you stock it.
    -Jon

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    Master Reefer Scott's Avatar
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    Dick, I guess I'll have to read up a little more on RO stuff....don't have a clue what TDS is. Granted the RO unit I ordered (won't ship till next week I hear) comes with a TDS meter.

    I really like how you are documenting your project, both with photo's and explanations. Will be a great resource for anyone setting up a larger tank (maybe me one day). :-)
    Tank setup 8-5-05
    26 gal bowfront

    click sig to see my tank and 'tankcam'


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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    TDS = Total disolved solids. Things that cause great headachs for us. Sorry short explaination. Just walking out the door to go to Orlando for reef meeting and it's 1 1/2 hour drive. Somebody else may chime in with explanation.
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Grand Master Reefer gwen_o_lyn's Avatar
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    Excellent Dick!

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    Master Reefer Scott's Avatar
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    I did a google search too, found out what it stood for. I'll read up more later to get a better understanding. :-)

    Have a fun time at your meeting.
    Tank setup 8-5-05
    26 gal bowfront

    click sig to see my tank and 'tankcam'


  9. #9
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Thanks gwen_o_lyn

    Short update.

    My RO/DI unit is making water but, with only 40psi water pressure from the well it's like drip, drip, drip. Not quite that bad but it seems like it. I have about 4" of Southdown sand washed and in and about 3/4 full of saltwater. Finish the fill over the weekend and post pictures then.

    I have a new RO/DI unit on the way I'm going to install in the utility room with a 55 gal plastic barrell and auto shut off. I guess I'll install a booster pump, too.

    Have a great weekend everyone.
    Amphibious

    Good Luck comes to those who research and prepare.


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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    UPDATE

    I posted my plans for a DSB in this tank on another thread on TR and rather than type the whole thing a gain, I copied it here. So, if you read it before read it again or skip to the next entry.

    I'm a advocate of DSB with aragonite sand. My method is modified from the standard DSB. Most people doing a DSB put their LR right on top of the sand. IMHO, that's a mistake. When ever I've talked to some one who "tried" a DSB and would never have another, laid the LR on the sand. This causes problems in about a year or two. The area under the LR becomes stagnant from top to bottom. This leads to failure of the DSB and problems for the reef. I'm not a scientist, I can't explain it technically, sorry. However, my methedology is different and it seems to avoid the problem.

    Here's what I do. I'm going to do a 5" DSB. I'll seed it with 40lbs of LS bringing it up a bit above 5". Prior to setting my LR I'll strategicly place pieces of 1 1/2" x 6" PVC pushed to the bottom of the tank. The PVC will be drilled with holes to allow passage of water and the all important worms, pods, whatever lives in the sand. Next comes flat pieces of rock resting on the PVC. You have to be creative in placing the flat rock because your LR will be built on top of that. You can change locations as you build.

    Ok, picture the LR in place, none of it leaning against the back of the aquarium. At the top rear of the tank I have two bulkheads drilled through the top (I've used Acrylic tanks exclusively since 1974 because of the flexibility they provide.) - (You were just a little girl), oops, better stay on topic. I'll take pictures and do a progressive post when ready.

    These bulkheads hold what is essentially a spray bar but they are submerged so they don't spray. They direct a flow of water vertically down the back of the tank and the flow naturally goes under the flat rock holding the LR off the sand. Bingo, no dead stagnant areas under the LR and the area is flushed clean.

    The purpose of the DSB is to provide both arobic and anarobic areas for the different nitrifying bacteria to perform their magic. Keeping the underside of the LR health is a challange, maybe impossible long term, if the rock is on the sand. I've kept a sand bed tank for ten years with no problems using this method. The only reason the tanks were torn down was a move.

    Here's a link to pictures on my website showing how I do this and the spray bar. The spray bar doesn't show in the first picture. Scroll down, there are four pictures and you can see it in three.

    Here's the link - DSB- pictures.
    Amphibious

    Good Luck comes to those who research and prepare.


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    My tank journal Amphibious' 135 mixed reef.
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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

  11. #11
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    More update

    Tank is filled with RO/DI, IO salt and has been circulating for about 24 hrs. The DSB is about 4" and will be increased to 5" with LS. In the picture below you can see pieces of 2" PVC x 6" long. These will be trimed to 5 1/2" to keep the LR 1/2" off the DSB.



    When you can get Southdown sand, use it. It has proven to be the best for DSBs but, not readily available anymore. It seems it is no longer available at HD. I had some from WI before coming to FL. It is available in Miami by the dump truck load. I'm working on having it available through my web site.

    Even after washing thoroughly it still throws off a cloud storm. I use a large size Vortex Diatom filter to clear the water. It's faster than waiting for the cloud to clear in a few days. This was clearer this afternoon but I always stir once more to get a little more out of suspension.

    That's it for tonight. Have a good evening.
    Amphibious

    Good Luck comes to those who research and prepare.


    Our Talking Reef Forum The Cultured Reef Forum
    My tank journal Amphibious' 135 mixed reef.
    The Cutured Reef toll free number - 888 745-0449




    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Site Owner Rob's Avatar
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    Dick, its coming along quite nice.. thanks for sharing...
    Question..
    in the image above, it looks like there is a reflection on the top of the sump, do you have an "lid/top" on that??
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  13. #13
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Yes, there is a lid.
    Amphibious

    Good Luck comes to those who research and prepare.


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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Site Owner Rob's Avatar
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    ah.. ok.. at first i thought the water was right up to the top, but then after looking close i saw the water in the first chamber was too low to allow that, and then a saw a lower water line.. i was getting curious.. thanks..
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  15. #15
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Live Rock came in yesterday.

    Ordered LR from Pacific Aqua Farms, Walt Smith's stateside business. Ordered one box each of three types.

    48 lbs Fiji Premium
    66 lbs Tonga Show Branch
    88 lbs Fiji Pukani

    All I can say is AWESOME!!! I set up a trough out side to let it perculate for a day or so. Here's two pics of it in the trough. More pics when it goes into the tank.



    The first picture is a chunk of Tonga Show Branch.



    This is Fiji Pukani and is the nicest rock I've ever seen. All the rock came in very clean. It's a new setup so I could have put it right into the tank but decided to let it perculate first. I did drop three pieces in the tank this afternoon to see if the new brand of skimmer I'm trying is any good. About an hour after putting the rock in, the skimmer started to produce a nice dry foam, not enough to go into the cup yet but it looks like it's going to be a good skimmer. Maybe even a kick butt skimmer as the manufacturer insists.

    More pics as progress happens.

    Dick
    Amphibious

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    The Cutured Reef toll free number - 888 745-0449




    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Grand Master Reefer Reefbaby's Avatar
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    Hey Dick! Glad to see that your system is progressing! The rock looks awesome! Can't wait to see what all is growing on them and what little critters you've gotten as hitchhikers! :-)

    I have a question about the PVC tubing that you use below the live rock. I was talking to my friend about it this weekend...
    Do you have the tubing just standing as individual pieces? Are they standing on their end or lying down? I was thinking about trying to built a stand for the PVC tubes to stand in. I could put them in at regular intervals and then once I've got all the rock in and set up how I'd like it, then I could just remove the remaining ones that are still sticking out. I thought that I could also put in some longer tubes in order to attach rock to it to form a pillar of sorts. What do you think?
    Do you have some more detailed pictures of how you do yours?
    Christi

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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Hi Christi
    Do you have the tubing just standing as individual pieces?
    Yes.

    Are they standing on their end or lying down?
    They are standing on end.

    I think seeing how I do the PVC stands will help clear up your thoughts on yours. I'm not done aquascaping and the tank is a mess from sand clouds but now is the time to see the PVC stands.

    The PVC rock stands are very noticible here. I cut them 5.5" long for a 5" DSB. Sand is still being added and LS will be added later.




    I went with 2" PVC this time and 1" holes in the stands as shown, one on top and two at the bottom. I have more to make tomorrow and will take a pic of them before they go in the tank. Two reasons for the holes, one, the stands will be filled with sand and the holes in the bottom allow DSB worms to crawl into and out of the deeper layer. Remember, my method of raising the rock above the sand is to eliminate the inevitable dead area with the rock directly on the sand. I don't want to create dead spots in the pipe stands. Second, the upper hole, usually only one, besides being there for water flow, is for safety hideouts for little fish like blennies, gobies and such. Besides the rock holes and crevases they can choose these little nooks.

    You mentioned, Christi, in a different thread that you wanted a group of blennies. This is just an easy way to provide many hide-a-ways for them to fight over. They're very agressive at defending their home.

    More pics as I progress. Hope this helped. This gives them many choices.

    Dick
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

  18. #18
    Grand Master Reefer Reefbaby's Avatar
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    Thanks Dick! That's exactly the picture that I needed to see. Very informative. I'll try to replicate that.

    Once you've stacked up all the rocks, do you have any wobbliness? Probably not...

    Also, just so I understand it correctly. Your final depth of sand would still allow the top holes to be visible?

    Also...to the DSB...do you always put in the dead sand first and allow it to cure and then add the live sand? How deep should the layer of "live" sand be?

    Thanks Dick!! It's great to learn from you! :-)
    Christi

  19. #19
    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Time for an update.

    Christi
    Once you've stacked up all the rocks, do you have any wobbliness?
    Only in my knees. Seriously, yes, some. As you decorate, turn each rock and try to get it to "settle" in a spot. You're trying to acheave the aesthetics of a reef scene plus stability. It took me two days to pick out the rocks, both LR and dry, set them in so they are stable and look acceptable to me. It has to look "REEF"!

    I'm a collector of rocks and have an extensive collection of dry rocks. Just can't seem to walk away from good looking rocks, especially if it has potential for aquarium decor.

    Here's how silly it gets. Sue and I have been coming to FL for about ten years. Eight years ago we drove down, found the flat rocks that you see on top of my pipe stands. It's called coquina. I was so excited, we collected a bunch, stashed what we could in our all ready crowded pick-up truck, had some left over, couldn't leave them behind so, boxed them and shipped them home. When we moved to FL 6 month's ago we brought them back, of course. Is that compulsive or what? What can I say but, "I love rocks". When I see a rock that I like, I can't leave it alone. Can you? How silly is that??? A grown man, an old man, picking up rocks.

    Your final depth of sand would still allow the top holes to be visible?
    Yes. I put holes near the top and bottom for circulation and the DSB critters to crawl through. The upper holes are for the small fish to find homes and protection. There's plenty of nooks and crannies in the rock but you will be amazed at how many choose the pipe.

    Also...to the DSB...do you always put in the dead sand first and allow it to cure and then add the live sand?
    Yes. The new sand bed that you see in the pictures above and below is a favorite of DSB lovers. It's known under several trade names, Southdown Tropical Play Sand, Yardright, Old Castle, all sold as play sand. It is pure Aragonite sand collected from deep beds in the Caribbean, processed in some way to clean it and barged to FL. It could be bought for 1 cent a pound. However the company that brought it into FL is no longer in business in FL and our source dried up. I have a friend that found some in Miami and bought about 10 ton. Mine, I bought the last available, 22 - 50lb bags, from Home Depot in Madison two years ago because I new it would no longer be readily available. As far as allowing it to cure, I'm just waiting to order my LS. Finding a "good" source for LS can be challanging. The amount of live sand one needs is debatable. It's not cheap. It depends, if you are in a hurry to acheave a completed Nitrogen cycle then more is better. I will order 40 lbs for the 135 which is plenty IMHO. We have the bacteria in the LR multiplying and transfering to the "dead" sand making it live eventually. The addition of LS hurries the process along and gives you additional bio diversity. Lots of neat little critters come with the live sand.

    Thanks Dick!! It's great to learn from you!
    I believe teaching is an obligation we owe to the world. Countless people have tought me the skills I have, it's only fair for me to pass them to anyone who can benefit. Certainly, there are many people much more skilled in reef keeping than me. It's only fair that we exchange knowledge with each other. I do appreciate your acknowledgement, thank you, Christi!

    And finally an updated pic or two.



    I tend not to lean the decor against the back of the aquarium. It is more challanging to "balance" the rock and achieve stability but makes it infinitly easier to retrieve things like dead fish or whatever from behind the rocks.

    When this project was started some weeks ago, I didn't want to wait the 4 to 6 weeks it takes to get a custom sump built so I bought a ready made trickle filter. I think it's well known, but in case there's someone reading this that isn't familiar with my methodology, I'll repeat it. I'm not a fan of trickle filters. However, I had a plan to adapt and make due the TF to my methods. Here's a pic of the TF....



    What you are looking at here is a trickle filter converted to a sump/refugium. In place of the bio balls I used LR. In the sump area I put in a partition so it would seperate the Puka shell substrate from the refugium. This area is for pod production. On the other side of the partition is the sump area with 2" deep sand bed. The deepest layer is actually mud. Having a great respect for Walt Smith and his products, I decided to try his "Fiji Mud". I used 6 containers to achieve a 1" layer. Over that a 1" layer of Aragonite sand and finally 1 container of Walt's "Fiji Gold" Coral and Live Rock Supplement. If you are interested in reading more about these new products from Walt Smith here's a link to - Walt Smith.

    Another update as things happen.

    If you've read all this, you are truly hooked on reefing.
    Last edited by Amphibious; 10-09-2008 at 10:38 AM.
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Grand Master Reefer Reefbaby's Avatar
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    If you've read all this, you are truly hooked on reefing.
    Ingested it Dick! Ingested it! :-)
    "I love rocks". When I see a rock that I like, I can't leave it alone. Can you? How silly is that??? A grown man, an old man, picking up rocks.
    Oh man, you and Hannah would get along. She's going to break our washing machine someday...I'm constantly having to filter through her coat and pant pockets to get out all the stones that she collects along the way! :-)


    LOVE the aquascaping! It looks truly "REEF"! Is that tonga rock? the "antler-like" looking rock? love it!

    So, what kind of lighting are you using?

    And...the back of your tank is so clean and free of tubings/pipings/etc....just wondering, do you have an overflow box? Is that the box on the right side?

    Also, I'm really trying to figure out the best flow combi for my new system, so I'm wondering what you've got going on in yours. Do you have a closed-loop?

    sorry....I could fill the page with one question after another, but I'll take it easy! :-)

    Have a great day Dick!
    Christi

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    Grand Master Reefer Reefbaby's Avatar
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    One more question for today...do you know if Walt ships internationally? The contact link on his website doesn't work, otherwise I'd ask him directly...
    Christi

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    Master Reefer kj_yoda's Avatar
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    That aquascaping is absolutely beautiful! Keep up the great work.

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    Grand Master Reefer Amphibious's Avatar
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    Christi
    Let me check for you through my contact with him.

    Kj_yoda
    Thank you.
    Amphibious

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    Amblyeleotris randalli commonly, Randall's Goby.

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    Grand Master Reefer gwen_o_lyn's Avatar
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    That looks great Dick- it does look like Tonga to me

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    Insightful Reefer JR Aquatics's Avatar
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    Thanks Amphibious, I really enjoyed reading your thread. The next tank I am going to set up is going to model your DSB stands. Tank looks great. Keep up the good work. I will be looking forward to seeing seeing your tank mature, so keep us posted.

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