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Drop-Off Tank Build – Episode 3: Aquascape + Which Heater Should We Use?

 

Last time, we asked you guys which type of dry rock to use inside our 75 gallon Drop Off Tank and the people have spoken, CaribSea Liferock will be used inside the aquarium and in this episode we are going to Aquascape the tank and get it filled up with water to start cycling.

Caribsea Life Rock is a pretty unique rock because it is infused with spored bacteria which helps kick start the cycle process in new aquariums.  It is made of real aragonite based material, does not contain cement and is very porous to provide the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and thrive.

CaribSea offers the rock in three popular styles, the standard base rock, shelf, and branch rock which gives you the freedom to create a beautiful aquascape for any aquarium. Because it is man made and not naturally collected, it is environmentally safe.

 

 

Aquascaping a drop off tank like this can be a real challenge but if you get it right, the aquascape can really be interesting and mimic the natural reef drop off zone.   I utilized a few pieces of cardboard here to get the basic shape of the aquarium.

I will admit this took me awhile to decide on the exact one I liked but thankfully these shelf pieces were cut flat on one side which really helped to get the drop off area looking nice.

I decided on a final layout and utilized some of the AquaMaxx Reef Welder to firmly secure the rocks together.

The top portion of this tank has a lip in order to hold in the sand so I was able to add sand to both the top and the bottom.  I used a total of 40 lbs of the CaribSea Aragalive Special Grade Reef Sand to fill the top and bottom portions with a shallow bed of sand.

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I mixed some saltwater in a separate container and then filled the tank for cycling. I will be adding the Brightwell Aquatics MicroBacter 7 on a regular basis through the cycling process to help seed the tank with bacteria and get the tank cycled as quickly as possible.

I calculated the total water volume to be about 70 gallons and using the rule of 3-5 watts per gallon we want anywhere from 200-300 watts of heating power.

We stock a variety of different heaters here at MD and I narrowed it down to three options.  So which heater should we use?  The Eheim Jager, Cobalt Aquatics Accu-Therm or the Hydor Aquarium Heater.

 

 

Eheim Jager heaters are classically one of the most reliable glass aquarium heaters and with the built in calibration feature the heater can be set to precisely maintain water temperatures and allows you to compensate for any sort of variance in temperature readings.

Cobalt Aquatics has produced some of the most popular heaters in the last few years and the accu-therm has gotten excellent reviews from our customers.  This economical glass heater works great, includes an easy temperature setting and has a 3 year manufacturer warranty.

The Hydor Heater is another great option because of the safety features. It is made of super durable shatterproof glass and is UL listed by design.  The smaller 50, 100, and 150 watt models are great for nano tanks because they are among the smallest in total length.

Let us know which heater you would like to see in this drop off aquarium by clicking on the poll card in the upper right corner of the video.   Then, check back in our next episode to see the heater in action and move onto the next more exciting piece of equipment, the return pump!

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