Friday, January 09, 2009

No News is Good News: Updating the 54-Gallon Tank

(The happy family: two clowns, orchid dottyback and the flameback angel.)

I hope everyone survived their holiday season and can now starting focusing back on their tanks. Right now I think is the hardest time in keeping a reef tank for me. I am not speaking in regards to economic times or anything along those lines, I am talking about the age of my tank and what I have in the tank.

(Brown "sticks" in the tank. Just waiting for them to color back up as the system matures.)

Why is this you might ask? I am one who loves to build systems (designing the plumbing layout, hooking up the equipment, etc...), stocking the tank and all the other hands on aspects in setting up a tank. But where my tank is right now, it doesn't need my hands in it. The fish are good, the corals are good (small, but I want to leave them space) and things are running smoothly. So mostly all I can do now is add supplements, feed the fish, do water changes (yes I actually enjoy these) and watch my corals grow (I wish they would grow faster so I could start fraggin them, LOL). In otherwords be patient and enjoy the tank.

Patience has always been what I preach to people I speak with when talking about setting up a tank and letting it establish itself, but one I have a very hard time practicing. There has to be something I can tweak on my system, right? Unfortunately for once I actually planned things fairly well and realistically nothing needs tweaking. Well except for the fact that the powerhead that I was using to feed water to my algae turf scrubber (ATS) broke and I am using an underpowered pump that I had laying around, so the screen is not getting fully covered in water (notice the area devoid of algae due to lack of water flow).

Ahhhh...something I can tweak. I need a new pump (just ordered a new Maxi Jet 900), so why not redesign the whole ATS. The way I have it currently set up is not conducive to cleaning or ease of maintenance. So back to the drawing board I went, what can I do to make this system work better. With the limited space both within my sump and under the tank I had come up with something that would fit nicely into a small space.


After a little (ok a lot) of staring at the space under the tank I thought an L shaped sump would be perfect. One side could house the "normal" sump while the other side is used for the ATS. So I drew up some nice plans, did lots of measuring and contacted AquaC to see if they could make me an L-shaped sump. The plan looked flawless and would make my sump so much nicer and easier to work with. Then after a little more staring I wondered if the L-shaped sump would fit through the doors in the stand.

Hmmm...how to try this out? I know, I will make a cardboard cut out of the footprint of the sump and try it out. Boy am I glad I did that. There was no way it would have fit through the doors, I would have had to taken the whole tank down and put it in through the top of the stand. Something I wasn't willing to do. So I emailed AquaC back and let them know I had to go on to plan B.

(Pink milli frag, water is cloudy due to stirring up of sandbed.)

Plan B is I will still use the existing sump and add on a secondary sump (complete the other part of the capital L). The idea is the secondary sump will hold the ATS and will gravity feed water back into the sump. I resent the plans to AquaC and they are in the process of making this for me as I type. I am hoping to have it before the end of the month so I can start messing around with my tank more.

(Cleaner Shrimp just hanging out.)

So until then all I can do is sit back, dose some AquaC Complete to help keep my alkalinity and calcium in line and enjoy the tank. Once the new and improved ATS is up and running my next task will be to find the last fish to put in the mix...the research will begin very soon.