Aquarium Design, Installation and Maintenance, Thousand Oaks, CaliforniaMarine Aquarium Maintenance and Installation, Thousand Oaks, California

How Jim's Reef Tank was re-built


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With some serious coaxing from my friend, Clayton, a year ago we decided to overhaul my Reef Tank, and it was about time too. It's ironic that being in the Aquarium Service business my own tank looked like _ _ _ _.

As you can see the coraline algae had become quite thick, and due to my laziness it required some significant work. The work first consisted of dismantling the entire system. All the fish were moved into a 100 gallon tank adjacent to the big tank.

Now the big tank was taken apart and moved out into the backyard where the coraline algae was attacked....with 2000 grit Wet-Dry SANDPAPER ! 

The second step, after the sandpaper, was to polish out the scratches and the tank....... with an electric Buffing Wheel!!!  The fellow who did all this work was 'Cande', and other than slipping with the buffing wheel and polishing his nose < lol >, he did a great job. The tank looks like new.

Now, there needed to be some modifications to the house electrical circuits to accomidate what I had planned. First was to have three new, dedicated, electrical circuits and a series of outlets added. One circuit and three outlet boxes for the pumps, another circuit and three outlet boxes for the lights, and another circuit for the chiller ( which sits outside the house ). Each circuit was 20 amps and has its own breaker.

Due to slightly limited space in the cabinet and two pumps drawing a large volume of water from the sump a new sump was designed for the tank. I knew that air bubbles from the overflow and skimmer entering the sump would be a problem so two baffles were incorporated. Each baffle would help minimize, slightly, the crashing of water. The water is then forced down under a dam ( wier ) and then up through a foam sponge ( which unfortunately floats up ).

The pumps total five < g >....
One - Iwaki 40 RLT ( Japanese ) for Filter and Chiller Circulation.
Two - Iwaki 40 RLXT's ( Japanese ) for Internal Circulation.
One - Iwaki 70 RLT ( Japanese ) for the Downdraft Skimmer.
One Dolphin 2 ( 1/10th HP ) for Internal Circulation via Seaswirls.
( Almost 6000 GPH of water movement within the tank )

One and one half inch pipes were used on the backside of the tank to draw and return the water from the tank for the Dolphin pump. Within the canopy the 1 1/2" line tee's into two 1" lines which run to two independent 1" Seaswirl units. This adds 'kaos' to the already heavy flow of water within the tank. 

Now that the plumbing was all done it was time to fill the tank. Since I am a true believer in the quality of, as well as the convienience of, real ocean water, and considering I use about 400 gallons of it a week for my Aquarium Service business, why not have the tank filled with real ocean water ! " Hey Mr Water Guy, can you fill my tank up too ? "

After the tank was filled and all the plumbing was inspected for any leaks ( I always count on at least one that I am prepared for one ), it was time to add some live rock. I had ordered 400 pounds of Fiji live rock a few weeks in advance and had it 'curing' in a pond in the patio.

Even with 'curing' the rock for three weeks the downdraft skimmer really foamed up.This unit is very, very powerful. It's Iwaki 70 RLT really jets the water down the downdraft tubes so heavily that the tubes shake.

OK, the live rock is in the tank, so what is the next step ? 

I have just added two 40 watt Actinics and two 400 watt, 11,000K, German HQI Metal Halide bulbs and ballasts ( personally I am a bit disappointed in the metal halides color as I was expecting an actual blue color but I think we have all been fooled by the american bulb manufactures....but thats another story ).

Now that the tank is running I and will be installing a Knop "D" Calcium Reactor but until then I am adding significantly high doses of B-Ionics to seriously increase the Kh and CA. shortly. One thing I have discovered in the last couple of days that my 1/4 hp Chiller is no longer able to keep up with the heat load, due to the five pumps and lights, so I will be upgrading that to a 1/3 hp unit.

As any over-eager hobbyist it was now time to add some corals < g >. Notice I said "over-eager" ? < bg >. Having three good friends ( Clayton Romie, Cameron Azad and Robert Becker ) who had well established SPS reef tanks....and add I did......... SIXTY FIVE fragments < VBG >. It took five hours to epoxy all of them into place ! 

Want to see the SPS coral fragments and their overall growth over time ?


At this time I just completed my first algae phase which was cleaned up by a large number of Blue Leg Hermits, Astrea Snails, and a few Tangs. Overall I am quite pleased with the proformance of the tank, the equipment, and how well the corals are doing. I must admit that its be a long time since I had a tank of my own....... and its nice to be a real hobbyist again < s >.

UPDATE - It is now the fall of 2000 and the tank has been running for about 8 months. a number of the corals are starting to put on some size. I have also started to add some gorgonians to the tank. to sit and watch the water movement nd the corals sway to and fro in the tank is, in my opinion, the ultimate in intent, desire, and accomplishment. here is an animated picture of the water movement.



UPDATE - after 1 1/2 years of running I have added a number of corals, lost some corals, grew quite a bit of coraline algae ( I seem to be good at growing that < s > ) and I have tried a number of new things, such as seafans and seawhips, to the tank. Here is the tank as of December 2001.



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