Starting a Mini- Reef

Page started 10th January 1998.

 

Coming soon, pictures and details of how I construct a 24"x 15"x 12" marine system. Hopefully it is going to be based on the plenum system, filtered with live rock. UK shops say it is not possible to have a successful plenum in tanks under 100 UK gallons, in the US successes are reported in as small as 10 gallons. Who is right?? Do you have an opinion? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=Mini%20reef%20installation">e-mail me with your ideas. All pictures shown on this page can be seen in a larger size (320x 240) by double clicking on them. Please be warned that this page is graphics intensive.

 


 

STOP PRESS A word of warning for those of you looking for eggrate to use with your plenum. DO NOT go to your aquatic outlet, you are likely to be ripped off. The price for a 4'x 2' sheet was quoted as being £25.00. Look through your Yellow Pages under "suspended ceiling contractors". The same size sheet will cost you around £5.00!!!! You have been warned.

 



20th March 1999

 

 

I have recently read in an American magazine about a product called cell pore. Apparently it is a sintered glass type product which is manufactured in sheets for placing under the coral sand, or in the shape of rocks to use as décor. Apparently this material is supposed to mimic plenum conditions, so being willing to try new ideas, I have ordered two sheets. Delivery is expected to take 6- 8 weeks because I opted for surface mail delivery (much cheaper). Keep coming back for more information!!!

 


 17th April 1999

 

 

I finally started the construction process yesterday. I have got fed up waiting for the cell- pore to arrive so I had to make a decision and it didn't involve a plenum either!!! I have recently set up a marine aquarium for a customer  using a canister filter, coral sand and live rock. I am going to apply most of these principles to my small mini- reef with one major exception, no canister. The aquarium below is now ready to receive it's first consignment of ocean rock and some live rock.

 

Tank 0 Tank 2

The water parameters are 79°F (needs cooling a bit), SG 1.021 and pH 8.3. Lighting is provided by one Triton and there is also a small bubble up sponge filter at the moment, I may or may not keep it depending on how well the "reef" begins to take shape.

 


17th April 1999

 

9lbs of inert ocean rock @ 55p per lb and 5lbs of cured live rock @ £4.50 per lb have been purchased and added to the tank. 4kg of coral sand was spread over the bottom after positioning. The rock is encrusted with little feather dusters, some algae and I have seen one or two little critters wandering around. As the live rock is already cured and acting as it's own filtration system, it is now ready for some small beasties. I will however be waiting until next weekend before I add 10 red legged hermit crabs and 10 turbo snails when hopefully the water will be crystal clear.

 

 Tank 03 Tank 4 Tank 5 Tank 6


25th April 1999

 

A trip to the Coral Cave in Hardwick, Cambridgeshire has reaped some new livestock. Although it is a small tank, the conditions have settled nicely, not surprising really as there is nothing in there to add to the bio load. More miniature feather dusters have appeared on the live rock along with some interesting polyps and small shrimps. The picture to the left shows the acclimatisation process of my new arrivals.

 

Tank 7 Tank 8 Tank 9 Tank 10

 

After half hour my new acquisitions were ready for release. As well as floating the bags to equalise temperature, a small amount of aquarium water was also added to try and make the SG difference less of a shock to the animals. I have acquired two Caribbean feather dusters, caulerpa encrusted rock, coloured polyp rock, small mandarin goby, royal gramma and 6 red legged hermit crabs. Two hours after releasing the livestock, they all seem to have disappeared from view. I suppose they are busy trying to find their way around their new home. Some careful monitoring of water conditions will now be carried out to ensure that there is no catastrophic rise in ammonia levels now some livestock has been added. Feeding will commence on Wednesday with frozen brine shrimp.

 


 

13th May 1999

 

Two weeks have passed and unfortunately the gramma has passed away. A fungus infection covered its right eye and I was unable to catch the fish to treat it. After five days I found it wedged into a piece of rock, dead as the proverbial Dodo. The Mandarin is doing fine. I was informed by the shop that it was eating frozen brine shrimp when I purchased it, but I have found no evidence to prove this. It is obviously eating something which is in the tank, otherwise it would be dead by now. I have also added two more feather dusters, some polyp rock, some anemone rock and six more hermits. I have also purchased one 18" Powerglo and one 18" Coralife 50/ 50 fluorescent tube which gives the tank fantastic illumination. I shall be adding a powerhead to give some current and a new air pump as my old Whisper 500 has about had it. Below is how the tank looks at the moment.

 

Tank 14 Tank 15 Tank 16 Tank

 


15th May 1999

 

A ghost 2 air pump has been purchased along with a Aquaclear 101 powerhead for water movement. The mandarin goby has also passed on. Water quality tests okay, so I can only assume it died of starvation as I never did see it eat any shrimp. Another local shop has had some various varieties of algae which have proved to be extremely hardy and pretty, there is a red and a green version. More life is appearing from the live rock, there are little worm like creatures and some new polyp colonies have appeared. A particularly nice piece of yellow polyp rock has been acquired as well as two orange sea slugs. Algae is starting to cover the rear of the aquarium making a more natural backdrop.


19th May 1999

 

What a beautiful looking tank, even if I do say so myself!!! One of my friends has recently lost one of his four percula clownfish and the remaining least dominant was becoming a bit beaten up. Being the good friend I am I agreed to take this poor soul and offer a new home. With my clown I also relented and purchased another percula and a brown bubble anemone for their home. It has taken 24 hours for the clowns to acknowledge the anemone as a host and they are now virtually inseparable.

Tank 17 Tank 18 Tank 19 Tank 20

 

Over the past five weeks, I have carried out weekly water changes of approximately 3-5 gallons. The SG remains steady at 1.022, temperature 76°F, nitrate below 10ppm and ammonia undetectable. I shall continue to monitor this "mini- reef" and will report my findings on this page. If you have any comments you would like to make, please feel to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=Mini%20reef%20installation">e-mail me. Suggestions and criticism is particularly welcomed.


2nd June 1999

 

Okay, let's get the "I told you so's" out of the way. Everything has been okay in the tank, all readings have remained where they were supposed to. I noticed just before the weekend that the polyps weren't opening like they used to. They stayed closed for a few days so I thought about......... Protein skimming!!! I have had a Sander piccolo skimmer in my "odds and sods" box for a few years now, I never used it previously because I couldn't adjust it properly!! Anyway, suffice it to say that the skimmer is producing a yucky urine yellow substance in the collection cup. I haven't adjusted it professionally, I use the cover glass to hold it in place. At the end of the second day the polyps are thinking about opening again. Below you can see a picture of the skimmer in place and working, unfortunately the aquarium hood doesn't allow for such extras. The next picture shows the collection cup with the foam accumulating.