I am n00b

Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
Ok so we're in the research and planning phase of our very first marine tank and because we really enjoy the DIY side of the project we're going to be building our own nano tank and accessories "from the glass up!" Here come the questions...

For arguments sake we're looking at 3 to 4 fish, some snails, some of them long legged spidery looking critters and some softies in a tank with a 20 to 30 gallon capacity...

1. Which is better - long and shallow or narrow and tall? Which would the critters prefer?

2. Substrate - Is it safe/morally acceptable to ask a relative on the south coast to bring me a couple of buckets of beach sand? I've seen mention of playpen sand and I have a couple of bags left over that I bought at builders warehouse. I wanted to use this in my brackish tanks but it started turning black in places and was a pain in the ... to clean!

3. Skimmers - Found some great DIY plans but having never seen 1 working...
- What happens to the dirty water collected in the cup at the top?
- How much water usually collects in that cup and how often would I need to drain it?
- I've also read that it's better to pump the water slowly through the skimmer to give it more time to work - any thoughts on this?

4. Water - What sort of price can I expect to pay the LFS per liter for pre mixed?

5. Filtration - sponge + bio balls + activated carbon + live rock - anything else needed or recommended?

6. Live Rock - I've seen it mentioned that LR should take up around 20% of your tanks capacity - How would you calculate how much LR is needed? Does 1Kg of LR displace 1Kg of water etc?

Thats it for now - I'm sure there will be a lot more questions as I progress! :)

I'll work on some CAD drawings of the tank this weekend and post the results when done! I'm very much eager and excited! :)
 

Mike

Retired Moderator
Joined
12 May 2007
Posts
7,859
Reaction score
31
Location
the Motherland
Looks like i'm the only one awake so i will do my best;-

1. if you have space go as wide as you can front to back, height - 2ft (600mm)is good, it will keep your lighting requirements down a bit, length, you say you want 20-30galls well a 2ft cube would look pretty cool.

2. morally acceptible or not using beach sand, which will be full of dog/cat/human waste (of every type imaginable) would not be a good idea - the only time i would use natural sand would be from about 10 miles out and well away from any esturies or sewer outlets.

3. Skimmers, personally it's the one piece of equipment to really spend the money on, the best you can afford (you need some local help here - the only one i know is the bubblemaster - in europe we seem to have different makes) but if you can buy a skimmer that will cope with double your water volume then do it. The skimmate (the stuff collected in the cup) can be made into a fine soup just add a little garlic and oregano - good on spaghetti too

4. Again, sorry need local input, BUT buy an RO/DI filter and make your own - it's cheaper in the long run and better than the lfs will produce.

5. Filtration, lose the sponge and bio balls, just use carbon, a P04 remover (phosphate) and the live rock, LR will sort all your nitrate cycle out if spaced well and given plenty of flow.(bio balls and sponges will hamper the rock - not help)

6. Live rock - like the skimmer, this is one to throw money at, Fiji rock is the best, don't be tempted to scrimp on this, it could be the difference of a disaster and a great tank. If you have 30 galls' i would use 10 - 15kgs' of rock - that depend on the sizes and shapes of the rock fit in to your tank, bear in mind that when you but corals you will end up with small lumps of rock with each piece, so you can go a little under the 2gals for 1kg rule.

That is my opinion, but wake till the lazy sods get up and see if they have other opinions before leaping at my every word
 
Joined
20 Oct 2007
Posts
1,522
Reaction score
21
Location
walmer estate capetown
Looks like i'm the only one awake so i will do my best;-

1. if you have space go as wide as you can front to back, height - 2ft (600mm)is good, it will keep your lighting requirements down a bit, length, you say you want 20-30galls well a 2ft cube would look pretty cool.

2. morally acceptible or not using beach sand, which will be full of dog/cat/human waste (of every type imaginable) would not be a good idea - the only time i would use natural sand would be from about 10 miles out and well away from any esturies or sewer outlets.

3. Skimmers, personally it's the one piece of equipment to really spend the money on, the best you can afford (you need some local help here - the only one i know is the bubblemaster - in europe we seem to have different makes) but if you can buy a skimmer that will cope with double your water volume then do it. The skimmate (the stuff collected in the cup) can be made into a fine soup just add a little garlic and oregano - good on spaghetti too

4. Again, sorry need local input, BUT buy an RO/DI filter and make your own - it's cheaper in the long run and better than the lfs will produce.

5. Filtration, lose the sponge and bio balls, just use carbon, a P04 remover (phosphate) and the live rock, LR will sort all your nitrate cycle out if spaced well and given plenty of flow.(bio balls and sponges will hamper the rock - not help)

6. Live rock - like the skimmer, this is one to throw money at, Fiji rock is the best, don't be tempted to scrimp on this, it could be the difference of a disaster and a great tank. If you have 30 galls' i would use 10 - 15kgs' of rock - that depend on the sizes and shapes of the rock fit in to your tank, bear in mind that when you but corals you will end up with small lumps of rock with each piece, so you can go a little under the 2gals for 1kg rule.

That is my opinion, but wake till the lazy sods get up and see if they have other opinions before leaping at my every word
Hi freind what wee says his right use
a bubble master skimmer 150 by ati it is one of the better skimmer, the other skimmer that can be used is reef octopus very good skimmer the live rock i will allso say fijji and the best eragonite is caribsea live,the skimmer should be the biggest you can afford, i use the 250 bubble master and live eragonite mixed with other caribsea as well,bio balls maby to start off but i will remove it after 2 weeks and do not use sea water mix, your own mix of water is much better and use ro water with a tds of no more than between o to 10,lots of flow recommended.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
118
Location
Bloemfontein
Looks like i'm the only one awake so i will do my best;-
Well, between the late to bed's and the early to rise's (now 4:30 AM...), let's give it a go :)

... we really enjoy the DIY side of the project we're going to be building our own nano tank and accessories "from the glass up!"
As a DIY type myself, I applaud you :yeahdude:

1. Which is better - long and shallow or narrow and tall? Which would the critters prefer?
  • Most fish would prefer long and tall - it gives them room to swim.
  • If your lighting is not optimal (MH's), the corals would prefer shallow, as light penetration would be better.
  • Aesthetically you would prefer wide (and long and tall :whistling:) - a wide tank just looks so much better, provide a larger volume for the same length of tank (bigger is better...) and allows more scope for landscaping.
2. Substrate - Is it safe/morally acceptable to ask a relative on the south coast to bring me a couple of buckets of beach sand? I've seen mention of playpen sand and I have a couple of bags left over that I bought at builders warehouse. I wanted to use this in my brackish tanks but it started turning black in places and was a pain in the ... to clean!
I'm using real sea sand in my tank, and it works very well.

Real sea sand is ideal, as the particles are rounded and porous. It is also morally OK, in my opinion. Legally, I think that the collector needs a legal angling licence with "aquarium collection" (or whatever it's called...) included, although I'm not 100% sure of this (I haven't collected anything in years...).

Wee-Man is correct in being cautious about pollution in the sand, but if collected on an open beach far away from towns, holiday resorts, etc. (sewer lines !!!) it will be OK. Get your relative to collect at spring tide low tide, as deep as possible from the shoreline.

To keep the sand-living critters alive, you should transport the sand damp, but not submerged.

3. Skimmers - Found some great DIY plans but having never seen 1 working...
(a) What happens to the dirty water collected in the cup at the top?
(b) How much water usually collects in that cup and how often would I need to drain it?
(c) I've also read that it's better to pump the water slowly through the skimmer to give it more time to work - any thoughts on this?
(a) You remove the cup and throw the skimmate away
(b) Anything from 100ml to 1 litre per day, depending on your bio-load, and on how good the skimmer works. It is important to clean the neck (and cup) of the skimmer regularly (at least once per week, but every 2-3 days will be even better)
(c) Every skimmer has an optimum "flow through" rate, depending on it's design, size, etc.

Although it is quite possible to build a skimmer which works reasonably well (I've done so myself...), it is quite difficult to make it work really well, as all the variables must balance. This is one piece of equipment I would suggest that you rather buy - but buy a good one, and be prepared to pay for it...)

4. Water - What sort of price can I expect to pay the LFS per liter for pre mixed?
No idea - You will need a constant supply of RO water to replace the water which evaporates from the tank, as well as regular amounts of fresh salt water for partial water changes. I would strongly advise to buy a RO filter and make your own water from the start. This way, you will also be assured that the water quality is optimum (have known shops to sell old, used water, and to use tap water instead of RO...).

5. Filtration - sponge + bio balls + activated carbon + live rock - anything else needed or recommended?

6. Live Rock - I've seen it mentioned that LR should take up around 20% of your tanks capacity - How would you calculate how much LR is needed? Does 1Kg of LR displace 1Kg of water etc?
Agree with Wee-Man.
 

Shaun

Retired Moderator
Joined
29 Aug 2007
Posts
5,274
Reaction score
15
Location
KZN
To keep the sand-living critters alive, you should transport the sand damp, but not submerged.
Y not submerged.

DIY can be fun, just find as much info as possible.

Aesthetically you would prefer wide (and long and tall :whistling:) - a wide tank just looks so much better, provide a larger volume for the same length of tank (bigger is better...) and allows more scope for landscaping.
must agree.
 
Joined
14 Aug 2007
Posts
499
Reaction score
6
Location
CTN
Skimmer

wrt Skimmer, i have a working DIY Skimmer...

If u have the space, buy one of those marley pipes, 110mm wide and 6m long. Then put a Jebo collection cup on top and hey presto. U may have to collect the skimate on the roof?
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
wrt Skimmer, i have a working DIY Skimmer...

If u have the space, buy one of those marley pipes, 110mm wide and 6m long. Then put a Jebo collection cup on top and hey presto. U may have to collect the skimate on the roof?
I'm trying to picture 6m of marley pipe sticking out of a 2 foot nano... hmmm... wonder if the wife wants a new "skylight" in the lounge? :suspicious:

Thanks for all the gr8 input guys! much appreciated! :thumbup:

Looks like I have tons more research to do and a couple of banks to rob in order to finance this project...
 

Alan

Admin
Joined
4 May 2007
Posts
5,974
Reaction score
124
Location
KZN
IMO a skimmer on a tank this size is not 100% nessary if you are prepared to do regular fairly large water changes, there are some awsum low teck tanks out there that dont run skimmers. May be a bit fun to research some low teck tanks.
 
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
118
Location
Bloemfontein
Y not submerged.
I presume that is a question "why not submerged?" :whistling:

Because the aerobic bacteria and other life in the sand would quickly consume all the oxygen in the water, and then things will start to die. There is less oxygen in water than in air to start with, and the oxygen diffuses mush easier from a high concentration to a low concentration in air than into water.

As long as the sand (or live rock...) remains damp the critters will thus have a much better chance to survive.
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
And here we have the basic layout of how I see the tank fitting together.

Width: 62.5cm (24.61")
Height: 50.0cm (19.69")
Depth: 50.0cm (19.69")
156250 cubic centimeters or 156.25 liters, which is approximately 40 U.S. gallons.

Drum roll please...


Version 1.0! :)

Exterior glass walls - 6 mm, Base glass - 8mm, Interior dividers - 3mm black/dark blue perspex

Pumps A/B - powerheads with timer for wave motion

Comments?
 

Rory

Admin
Joined
5 May 2007
Posts
4,857
Reaction score
37
Location
JHB
Not so sure about the pre filter bit... You can put a thin layer of sponge on the top, below that just carbon and phosphate remover...

Also the skimmer inlet is really high.
 
Joined
15 Sep 2007
Posts
1,916
Reaction score
12
Location
Kei Mouth
Hmm well spoted rory, Ninja are you planning to diy the skimmer or are you giong with a bought one. If you are going to diy one it is essential you get the flow through the skimmer perfect if not you might end up not skimming your water to well.

I reckon a skimmer is something you just gotta shell out the hard earned cash for,
it is such a inportant part of our filtration you want it to work right, from the begining.
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
sounds and looks great ninja, nice graphics there, what media are you wanting to use for your pre filter?
Thanks! :)
Not 100% sure on the filter material yet but I left enough margin for trial and error! lol

Sponge - carbon - phosphate remover? Some research needed here...

Not so sure about the pre filter bit... You can put a thin layer of sponge on the top, below that just carbon and phosphate remover...

Also the skimmer inlet is really high.
I may just decide to splash out and get a Jebo quadplex skimmer since they're reasonably priced within reach of my meagre budget. Hopefully the fact that they are 1/4 of the price doesn't mean they're 1/4 as effective!

Another question if I may... Since I have plenty of well established freshwater tanks can I use media and a bit of substrate from these tanks to kickstart the cycle or are the bacteria different for marine?
 

Rory

Admin
Joined
5 May 2007
Posts
4,857
Reaction score
37
Location
JHB
Ooooooh he said the J word!

No you can't kickstart the cycle with freshwater stuff. You can try Organic Aqua B-bac or Seachem Stability. There are some other similar products that I haven't used.


Ok about the sponge. There's a lot of ideas in reefkeeping that are rather different to freshwater. This is one of them. You don't want your sponge etc to act as a biological filter. The thin layer of sponge is only to trap larger particles and should be cleaned often. The carbon does pretty much the same, absorbs a whole range of stuff. The phosphate remover is for when you get algae.
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
Hmm well spoted rory, Ninja are you planning to diy the skimmer or are you giong with a bought one. If you are going to diy one it is essential you get the flow through the skimmer perfect if not you might end up not skimming your water to well.

I reckon a skimmer is something you just gotta shell out the hard earned cash for,
it is such a inportant part of our filtration you want it to work right, from the begining.
Here is the blueprint for the skimmer I was planning to build - It's one of the simpler designs I have found. Whether it works well or not is an unknown factor...
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
Ooooooh he said the J word!
J-word = Jebo? Waste of money? Cheap cr4p?

Hey this is a BIG adjustment we talking here - I use nothing but bio sponge filtration in my freshwater tanks and they purr along just nicely. It's going to take a while to get it into my thick skull that marine and sponge don't go together! lol

Thanks for taking the time to educate me though - much appreciated! :)
 
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
118
Location
Bloemfontein
And here we have the basic layout of how I see the tank fitting together... Comments?
I would not include the two dividers next to the pumps. If you're planning to have a high water flow, there is a risk that the pumps will suck more water than can be supplied through the pre-filter assembly, and then having to flow nearly a meter in a 120mm x 120mm square "pipe".

I would swap the skimmer position with pumps "B" and "C". Even a small skimmer tube would block most of the water flow from the pre-filter to pumps "B" & "C", and you will probably find that neither the skimmer pump or the power head will work very well in your proposed configuration.

Consider having the outlet of at least one of the power heads lower down in the tank- this will improve water movement inside the tank, and should prevent detritus from settling out on the bottom.

I may just decide to splash out and get a Jebo quadplex skimmer since they're reasonably priced within reach of my meagre budget. Hopefully the fact that they are 1/4 of the price doesn't mean they're 1/4 as effective!
Rather buy a brick and put it in your filter compartment - at least it can be populated by bacteria...

As previously suggested, a Jebo's cup might be useful, but it's really not a good skimmer.

Here is the blueprint for the skimmer I was planning to build - It's one of the simpler designs I have found. Whether it works well or not is an unknown factor...
It should work reasonably well, but the wood air-stones are a pain in the little brown orifice - they block really fast, and you will have to replace them every 2 weeks or so to maintain decent skimming.

Here are some links to really good DIY skimmer advice - I just hope the links still work...

http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic46947-13-1.aspx
http://forum.marinedepot.com/Topic41035-13-1.aspx
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-08/rhf/index.php
http://www.marinedepot.com/FORUMS/Topic25344-13-1.aspx
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-06/fm/feature/index.php
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=680552
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~cap/raid/skimmers/thoughts/
http://www.hawkfish.org/snailman/diy8inskimmer.htm

Hennie
 
Joined
21 Nov 2007
Posts
14
Reaction score
0
Location
Benoni, South Africa
I would not include the two dividers next to the pumps. If you're planning to have a high water flow, there is a risk that the pumps will suck more water than can be supplied through the pre-filter assembly, and then having to flow nearly a meter in a 120mm x 120mm square "pipe".
Good advice - thank you! :)

Updated drawing...


Other than neatness, theres really no other reason for the skimmer to be in the "sump" at all so I've made a few adjustments as per your advice...

- Skimmer is now HOB (shown to the right for clarity sake
- 2 smaller heaters (200W)
- Addition of 2 float switches to kill the pumps if the water drops below seperators on either side (1 switch would do it but I believe in failsafes!)
- Outlet of pump B lowered to half tank height

Rather buy a brick and put it in your filter compartment
I read you loud and clear! :)

Here are some links to really good DIY skimmer advice - I just hope the links still work...
Great! Thank you! :)
 
Joined
15 May 2007
Posts
2,899
Reaction score
118
Location
Bloemfontein
- Skimmer is now HOB (shown to the right for clarity sake
Yes, I think that would be better. Just one warning - skimmers do overflow from time to time (spawning events, undetected death in tank, Escom power surge ...) and for this reason it would be advisable to have a "collar" of some type around the neck which could direct the overflow water back into the tank.

- 2 smaller heaters (200W)
This is very good. If one heater failed "on" it would not boil the tank, and if one failed "off" the other would still prevent the temperature from dropping very low. Two 200W heaters on a 150 litre tank might be a bit of an over-kill, though, and you could safely use 2 x 150W heaters, IMHO. I would recommend using Jaeger heaters, if at all possible.

- Addition of 2 float switches to kill the pumps if the water drops below seperators on either side (1 switch would do it but I believe in failsafes!)
I believe in K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid...), and would rather not rely on mechanical devices at all :whistling:

Is there any compelling reason why you cannot install a sump tank below your display tank? Doing so would eliminate the need for the pre-filter in your tank, eliminate the risk of having the skimmer flood your house by having it mounted inside the sump, allow you to remove the heaters to the sump as well, increase the total volume of water in the system, all for the additional cost of the sump tank's glass, and one additional return pump. :thumbup: You could then have the whole of the separator act as a weir, having it (say) 10mm below the water surface. This way the power heads won't ever be in danger of running dry. Better still, you could leave out the separator, mount the power heads inside the tank, and thus increase the display tank area.

There is a reason why *most* successful marine tanks have sumps, and I would highly recommend that you give it some serious consideration.

Hennie
 
Top