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Gweeds 'challenge' tank...

Discussion in 'Large Tanks (101gal+)' started by Gweeds1980, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    Right, here we go with the tank thread then... grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy the ride :)

    I'll set the scene to start... my then girlfriend (now wife :)) hated my tank. She has a completely disabling phobia of snakes and all things that look like them (worms, eels, bits of rope, oddly twisted branches laying on paths... you get the picture).

    I had my tank set up as an Amazon biotope and she could barely bring herself to look at it, mainly due to the 8ft twisted branch that ran the whole length of it. She claimed she couldn't tell the difference between what was a stick and what was a fish and the whole thing was 'murky'... I'd spent months getting the water nicely tannin stained lol.

    Fast forward 4 years and we move house... the tank comes out of storage and we have the conversation which goes something like this:
    Me: so, the tank is in, I'll get it set back up over the next few weeks.
    Wife: you can only get it running if it's going to be a Nemo tank.
    Me: reef tank you mean... no way, far too expensive and I don't have the time.
    Wife: well, then you best get rid of it...
    Me: ok, ok, reef it is.
    Wife: good choice... it'll look lovely. When you say expensive, what are we talking? £500, £1000?
    Me: ha ha, oh. You're serious. No way, not to grow SPS (the nice ones that look like painted twigs) that you want...
    Wife: ok, so how much can you do it for?
    Me: £2500.
    Wife: ok, deal.

    A few days later...
    Me: look, that £2500 isn't going to get me anywhere with this tank... have you seen the price of lights nowadays?!?!
    Wife: if you can get it running with those twigs for that amount then we can put a bit more towards it then.

    The 'challenge' was set...

    Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode... including such things as tank specs, equipment lists, photos of cyano and bryopsis and... sps being grown for under £2500... maybe, or maybe not.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
  2. doug_amanda

    doug_amanda Admin Staff Member

    Apr 23, 2011
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    Looking forward to the next episode, pictures by the way are mandatory:)
  3. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    Right, where were we? Scene and challenge set, I started to scour ebay, gumtree, back of the sofa etc for equipment...

    Tank specs and original equipment list:

    Tank: custom built 1000 litre (99" X 26" X 26") with corner weir. 200 litre sump.

    Filtration: LR, refuge with DSB and caulerpa. TMC v2 skim 1000.

    Return: red devil dc4000
    Flow: 3 reef octopus 6000lph wavemakers
    Lighting: 2 reefbeam UK 120w leds.

    The tank was up and running... I picked up about 120kg of LR for only £95 off eBay to start... it was a right mess, full of rubbish and I believe the main reason for the problems which arrived down the road.

    First fish in were my regal tang, a pair of maroon clowns and my Orange shoulder tang.

    I invested another £80 on a 120 litre tank and stand to run as a QT. This came with a black box led, so I moved one of the reefbeams into the sump to grow the caulerpa.

    I started ***ing carbon (vodka) in an attempt to bring down nitrates and phosphates (nitrates were 400ppm at one point lol).

    A few softies were added and it ran fine, albeit not very good looking for a few months... then the problems started...

    Cyano appeared, followed swiftly by bryopsis on a pretty epic scale. Just before this I'd added my first LPS and a couple of monti frags...

    I lost all the setting up pics due to a phone incident, so earliest pics are from this most ugly of stages...

    I almost jacked it in, but after seeking advice I had a plan...

    I knew from my own background that cyano is impossible to destroy in totality... it's always there. My nutrients were feeding it so I had to get them under control and then set about killing off what I could.

    I started using NSW for WCs at thus stage, which I believe helped massively with the biodiversity. My intention was to introduce as much bacteria as possible to try to get something which would outcompete the cyano. I needed food and shelter for said bacteria too. I added a 3 stage fluidised reactor running biopellets, gfo and carbon, I stopped ***ing vodka, moved over to microbacter7, added 2 20000lph wavemakers to increase flow and started chucking in stuff from the beach to boost bacterial biodiversity. I also added a massive UV... a TMC pond UV rated for 45000 litres! At night, cyano breaks away from the mat to populate other areas and it's during this free floating time a UV comes into its own.

    I noticed a slowdown in the cyano growth pretty quickly and no3 and po4 shot down to sensible levels (I was changing gfo daily at one point as my po4 was at 3.5ppm!!).

    At this point I nuked everything with h2o2 in a big way... I removed each and every rock individually and soaked it for an hour in 50% h2o2 of the high strength variety (35%) and 50% tank water... at the same time a manually removed all the bryopsis I could find and started ***ing h202 to the DT to kill the cyano.

    Some pics showing progress in the same part of the tank below...

    I had finally beaten both the curses...

    I added another 100kgs of LR, which was decent rock this time and more corals...

    Once the cyano and bryopsis was under control and nutrients down to a decent level, my monti actually started to grow!

    Total spend at this stage was about £1200... I added the cost of the tank and stand (£1250) and was successfully growing sps for under £2500 including the cost of the tank and stand which I'd already had :)

    Challenge complete!!

    Showdown talks with the wife ensued and she agreed that I could dust off my wallet...

    So in short time I added / replaced:
    TMC v2 skim 1500, with an eheim 400 air pump to improve efficiency.
    Cleartides NP350 biopellet reactor. I filled up the now empty section of the 3 stage with more GFO.
    Jebao dct6000 return pump.
    Jebao cp-55 crossflow pump.
    Auto aqua ATO with a 70litre RO reservoir.
    STC1000 temp controller.

    Lighting was still an issue though... you can see in the pics how useless the lights were... after much research I decided to go against my gut which said 2nd hand hydras and opted for 2 new Evergrow IT5012 units. I honestly couldn't be happier with the new lights.

    The plan is for this to be a true mixed reef, with sps dominating the 'reef crest', lps in the middle and softies around the bottom. I have intentionally made one end more turbulent than the other so I can have as many different corals as possible, I will also be adding a H. doreensis nem to the lower flow end soon.

    So, current livestock list:

    2 x maroon clowns
    3 x humbug damsels
    Orange shoulder tang
    Regal tang
    Yellow tang
    Powder blue tang
    Heni butterfly
    Coral hawkfish
    Coral beauty
    Caribbean blue bass
    Yellow coris wrasse
    Green wrasse
    Cleaner wrasse

    Mobile inverts
    3 tuxedo urchins
    Tiger cowrie
    Red starfish
    Emerald crab
    Acro crab
    2 orange lipped conch
    Blood shrimp

    Kenya tree
    Finger coral
    Various monti digi and caps
    ...and a lone acro frag :)

    That's it for now... somewhat epic post, apologies. Next up will be what makes my reef different... namely immunity, parasite resistance, biodiversity, feeding and my back to front QT protocols :)

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
  4. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    Right, here we go... the controversial bit.

    I love diseases and parasites in my DT. There we go, I've said it.

    Shortly before beating the cyano and bryopsis, I bought a yellow boxfish. He was awesome... loved him. He grew and grew, ate all the feather dusters and munched his way through vermetid snails (I know, who knew?!). However, I wanted more tangs and frankly the possibility of the boxfish getting upset and killing everything scared the bejesus out of me. So I moved him on to a friend... he was collected (and here the key to the next issue) by my friend with his own net... a few days after, I had a breakout of ich... it transpired that my friend had bought his QT net and without thinking we'd used that to catch the boxfish... seems it had cysts attached.

    I lost a wrasse and a yellow tailed damsel and then the spots vanished and all seemed well... I really didn't want to rip down my tank to catch the fish and go fallow so I decided to ride it out, sort the bryopsis and cyano and then worry about the ich after.

    At around this time I became acquainted with Paul Baldassano via one of the US forums... Google him if you don't know who he is.

    I read and read and tried to apply some of my own knowledge to the ich problem and eventually settled on turning my tank into a more managed version of Paul's. I dubbed it the 'immune reef'.

    In a nutshell... fish have natural defences to disease and parasites, but those defences are not maintained in aquaria because fish are not exposed to the same pathogens.

    The idea is to expose fish to those pathogens on purpose and to encourage them in the tank, whilst also providing everything the fish needs to be able to fend them off. It's a good idea to limit the number of parasites too so fish don't become overwhelmed in a closed system.

    Diet is the most important part of the immune reef... particularly bacteria and omega 3 in the diet... omega 3 (DHA) is effectively a poison to parasites. When fish are exposed to parasites they will boost the amount of omega 3 in the fatty subcutaneous layer to prevent burrowing in the skin. Without omega 3 in their diet, they can't do this.

    So here's what I did...

    Made my own food, I included only fresh ingredients (with the exception of some nori sheets) and left bones, eyes, heads, skin etc in. I blitzed a load of seafood, seaweed, nori and omega 3 capsules up in a blender and then froze it... this is fed twice daily, along with live blackworm and whole mussels in the shell. I wallop the shell with a rolling pin to break them a bit and I leave the shells in the tank, I'll have to clear them out one day... but I quite like the look atm.

    I also cranked the temp up to 81/82f to imitate the reef and to speed up parasite lifecycles.

    I changed the pump on my UV to a very slow flow of 1500lph, as opposed to the max 180000lph as per the manufacturers. The high exposure rate meant free swimming parasites would be limited in numbers.

    Two final things needed sorting... how could I introduce diseases and parasites without just chucking in an already suffering fish and how could I get new additions to be as immune as my existing stock?

    With a little thought and some odd looks from my LFSs I managed to get hold of a dead lionfish, who had succumb to brook... i took a few clippings of affected fins and threw them in my sump... one clown had heavy breathing for a few hours, but that was it in terms of symptoms... a success!!

    I froze the rest of the lionfish (less the spines!) and added it to my next batch of food :)

    For new arrivals, I have turned conventional wisdom on its head... my assumption is that new arrivals have no diseases and no immunity. For the first week I just feed the same as the DT and use NSW for WCs. Week 2 I place a couple of rocks from the DT into the QT, this starts to introduce the parasites from the DT. Week 3 I start to use DT water for WCs, this introduces a further small number of parasites from the DT. Week 4 I observe... if any symptoms appear, I turn on the UV and feed more heavily and then observe for a further week.

    As soon as they have had 7 days with no symptoms, they go into the DT.

    So far I've had a coral beauty, cleaner wrasse and powder blue tang through this process and all are happily in the DT and symptom free.

    In my opinion, parasites and diseases are an important part of the reef ecosystem and should be embraced as part of our living, growing, healthy reef systems.

    But as I said in my intro thread... I'd ignore my advice if I were you ;)

    In other news, today I made my lone acro frag a little less lonely and bought the most stupid thing I could find in my LFS...

    There's a few shots of my sump area if that sort of thing does it for you :)

    Comments and reactions encouraged as are questions :)[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
  5. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    Oh, and some pics of the golden being made... had to resort to frozen prawns this time....points if you can spot the salmon eyeball ;)[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
  6. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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  7. rabster

    rabster Registered

    May 24, 2017
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    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  8. les

    les Registered

    Sep 14, 2011
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    Very interesting and will follow your progress.
    I speak Paul B regular on the US forums and we have shared similar views and methods for some years. I also make my own foods and yes add fish oil containing omega 3 to the foods I feed. However I only add the oil after I have defrosted the food, I defrost enough food to make up around 3 days worth of feeding, (I feed heavily 3or 4 times per day) I then add 4 capsules of the fish oil and allow it to soak into the food for at least 30mins stirring the lot before the first feed. I don't use UV, I don't believe in it's use or need for it but I d use Oxdators which I have done for around 26years. Since I have been doing the above I have not had a single serious outbreak of disease. I say serious outbreak as I am certain I have introduced the likes of white spot many times mots recently with a couple of Royal grammas that had a couple of spots on them. The RGs flicked against the rockwork etc but within 48 hours the had gone and of course no other fish showed any sign of the disease. BTW I also add commercial frozen foods like brine shrimp, mysis, lobster and oyser eggs, rotifers and some coral powdered foods to the mix and let the fish oil soak in then add a small amout of tank water giving it all a good stir.

    I make up 3 days worth of food in an empty pot and this is what it looks like ready to feed.

    Food prior to adding a small amount of tank water and fish oil

    Fish oil with omega 3

    I have just completed doing a "how too" in the DIY forum on how I make my own foods here http://www.thesaltybox.com/forum/ta...diy-foods-marine-fish-corals.html#post1615414
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2017
  9. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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  10. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    doug_amanda likes this.
  11. Gweeds1980

    Gweeds1980 Registered

    Apr 16, 2017
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    I've been running a diary thread for my feather star on another forum (bad TSB member... wrist slapped) and thought I'd post a bit of info here too, for anyone stupid enough to try to keep one.

    First up, don't buy one! I've got the red feather star (himerometra robustipinna)... which is one of the more difficult species (none are easy though!).

    I knew their reputations but just couldn't resist having a go... I will say that they are very, very hard work.

    First up, feeding. This seems to be the biggest problem with these animals in captivity. They require food to be available 24/7 and won't just accept any foods... they won't even accept most filter feeder foods, phyto is useless, they are carnivores. Food needs to be the right size, specifically up to 50 micron. I have a doser set up to help this and currently feed the following (all mixed together):
    5 - 50 micron golden pearls
    frozen L-type rotifers.
    Diatoms (Thalassiosira weisflogii and T. pseudonana)
    Powdered Paracoccus bacteria (a feeding response stimulant)
    Reef Blizzard-O

    A feeding response can be seen when I feed my own homebrew food too, but I can't be sure of the particle size as it's just crudely blitzed in a blender.

    Next up is flow... an upwelling, pulsing flow is important... without suitable flow, the crinoid cannot feed, so even if the water is full of suitable food, it will likely starve to death. I use a gyre on pulse mode and a strategically placed 6000lph wavemaker to generate the pulsing, upwelling current.

    Nutes: it goes without saying that ammonia and nitrite is not good... neither are nitrates. From what I've read, nitrates at about 20ppm will rapidly kill. Mine fluctuate between about 5 and 10 which seem fine. I keep my skimmer on 24/7 which strips food from the system, so I dose food 24/7 too, directly into the return chamber, post skimmer. It's a huge waste of food, but it keeps nutes down and food available.

    I'm not sure if there is any benefit, but I use NSW for WCs and I have a lot of breeding activity in my tank... fish and inverts. I believe the larvae / gametes help in feeding crinoids, but I can't prove that.

    Tank thread :)
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