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Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

2013’s first project: a saltwater mixing barrel

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As I post this our home has three different fishtanks in it comprising nearly a hundred gallons of water volume – a 75 gallon tank, a 14 gallon tank, and an 8 gallon tank – and we’ve plans to add more. You’d probably imagine that doing regular water changes would be a royal pain but for the most part it’s not that bad. The 75g and 8g are freshwater tanks which means that water changes involve slightly treated tap water. The 14g, however, is a saltwater tank. Doing a water change on that tank involves five gallons of RODI-filtered water mixed with an artificial salt blend which is supposed to replicate the minerals found in the ocean. RODI stands for “Reverse Osmosis De-Ionized” which is a filtration process which takes for-friggin’-ever but totally purifies the water. I recently purchased an RODI filter unit so I can make new water at home. Unfortunately the filter only outputs about 60 gallons a day. A water change bucket takes two hours to fill. After that the bucket has to be heated to match the tank temperature, the salt has to be added and dissolved, and preferably the whole mess gets transfered to another bucket so that I’m not mixing in the same bucket into which I’m sticking my non-filtered hands during the actual change. This part of aquarium ownership is indeed a royal pain.

Not anymore! Courtney and I have made a mixing barrel which we’ll use to store thirty gallons of saltwater at a time. Now when I need to do a water change I’ll just pump five gallons into a handy clean bucket. Presto! What was once a half-day of waiting for water disappears and a water change becomes just a few minutes of doing the actual work.

Almost all the pieces for this project. Not pictured: actual barrel.

We used 3/4″ clear PVC to create a water level viewer so we can tell at a glance how much water is available without opening the barrel.

The actual barrel: a 32 gallon Rubbermaid Brute from Home Depot. We’ve used a 1-1/4″ diameter hole saw to make the holes for the water level viewer.

The black circles are Uniseals. These things are awesome. They provide a watertight seal for non-flat surfaces like the curved edge of a barrel.

Quality control status: passed!

The water level viewer is attached by pushing it through the Uniseals.

A view from the inside.

The pump is installed and mostly plumbed. None of this is cemented together so we can take it apart if necessary.

The tap and a five-gallon bucket underneath it.

Finishing off the plumbing to let the water continuously circulate.

Water in the barrel! The hard-to-see line on the level viewer is the minimum water level – any lower and the pump would start sucking in air.

The barrel in its new home in the fish utility room.

Written by Chris

January 14th, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Im all up outta here, part 2

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In a stunning continuation to part one, I’ve recently decided that the next thing I’ll be all up outta is saltwater fishtankery. What with the moving, and the subsequent starting to save for a house downpayment, I just won’t have the cash necessary to properly maintain a saltwater tank.

That said, I’m not getting out of the hobby entirely! It’s just in my best interest to wait until I have a fairly permanent living situation and a stockpile of liquid funds to do what I really want to do – big tank, automation, underwater cameras (yes), THE WORKS.

Written by Chris

April 10th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Fish,General

Ze topoff, ze topoff!

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Just to update my previous post, the new topoff is done and operating nicely. All the pictures are up on the project page.

Written by Chris

December 8th, 2008 at 10:02 am

It’s been a while since I wrote anything, so here are some pictures

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November has just flown by without a whole lot of crazy stuff going on. You all know how it is: DST changes and hours become other hours, three entire Thursdays go by until Thanksgiving, then before you know it December.

My job continues to be great. When I started here I asked if I could have a fishtank, and the answer was “well how big of a tank?” then “sure.” Earlier this month I up and put a 2.5 gallon tank (designed by Courtney, more on that later) on my desk, and in that tank I put a betta. Between the tank and my vine, I’ve got a nice zen thing going on.

The tank on my desk. Not pictured: any work whatsoever.

The betta, whose name is Pixel because he’s red-green-blue.

My home-animals are also good. I don’t have any recent pictures of my saltwater fishtank, though I did take a couple of the cats in their new beds. They got beds because they’re now banished from sleeping in my bed due to them being hairy and shedding like crazy, which means I have to shut them out of my bedroom at night. I didn’t want them to be uncomfortable 🙂



Also, I made some Christmas earlier this week. My large fake tree from last year ended up looking odd and being a general pain in the ass, so I got a small fake tree instead.

Aww, Gromit wants to be Christmas!

I was having some serious problems getting a non-fuzzy picture of the tree.

Or non-speckled.

Written by Chris

November 28th, 2008 at 9:13 am

Current fishtank status: pretty good

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Last night I took quite a lot of pictures of my fishtank and its inhabitants. The entire set is on Flickr, but I have a couple pictures saved locally for those who do not have access to Flickr at work.

A small colony of zoanthids
A small colony of zoanthids

The full-tank shot
The full-tank shot

Written by Chris

September 4th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

A detailed posting about my fish tank

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I managed to post threads about my fish tank on two different forums but forgot about my blog.

A while ago I decided I wanted to start with saltwater reefkeeping again, so when I ordered a small fishtank for my office, I decided to salt it up. Putting it in my office, however, just wouldn’t be very practical. The tank I’m using is only three gallons, and in the dry atmosphere of a heavily air-conditioned office, it’d evaporate like crazy. That’s bad enough with a freshwater tank but it’s really bad with saltwater because salt doesn’t evaporate, so the salinity of the water would fluctuate badly. It wasn’t too bad with my 10g tank back at CSSM because I had a topoff going and there was more water mass to balance things out. Long story short(ish), the tank ended up in my living room instead.

So, with minor alterations, here’s the contents of the thread I posted on Something Awful:

I bought a 3 gal Picotope a couple weeks ago, and decided to make it a nano reef in the general style of Sandeep’s 5.5 gal with in-tank refugium. I didn’t go the full refugium route, but I really liked the idea of partitioning off the hardware with the addition of an overflow.

The bare Picotope, it’s about 11″ x 8″ x 8″.

The piece of plexi I cut for the partition. It’s 3/32″ thick, with slats for overflow and a hole for the return powerhead. It’s about to be painted with Krylon Fusion flat black and set in the tank with GE Silicone I.

The tank is masked off and ready for the equipment area to be painted with Krylon Fusion satin black. I ended up masking off the bowed part of the equipment area so I had a place to look in and make sure things were working okay.

Looking into the equipment area after the painting. The powerhead (MJ400 or 600, I forget) and the HOB Taam Rio Nano skimmer are visible here. Note the plastic screw on the skimmer – that’s not stock. I didn’t like the way it was hanging on the back, so I got some little rubber stick-on feet and fixed them to the skimmer against the glass, then used a securing screw from an old HOB skimmer to get a tight fit. No rattling = good 🙂

The tank on its stand in my living room. The lamp that comes with the Picotope is a 9 watt PC 50/50, which I may be upgrading at some point.

Water + sand + rocks from an older tank added. There are a lot of microbubbles, which will hopefully go down as the skimmer activates.

Already churning away!

For stocking, when the time comes, I’ll probably stick with ricordea and zoas.

Since that thread was posted on August 4th, several things have changed. The microbubbles did subside after I added a piece of live rock from a nearby saltwater fish store, which activated the skimmer as the tank’s cycle got started. Ammonia/nitrite/nitrate testing a couple days ago indicated that the tank is almost done cycling. It’s already pretty freakin’ alive. There’s a small brittle starfish that came in with the piece of rock, an unexpectedly large number of amphipods (which is great, it indicates a healthy tank and makes good food for things), and last night I got a margarita snail and a scarlet reef crab. I’ll be taking more pictures tonight, after I pick up the fourth season of House and ingredients for gazpacho. Busy busy.

Written by Chris

August 19th, 2008 at 9:18 am

Getting back in the saltwater game

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In yet another stunning display of how much better my new working environment is, I’ve gotten permission to keep a small fish tank on my desk. At first I was just going to keep a betta, but like usually happens, I’ve starting thinking bigger. I got Courtney a 12 gallon Eclipse for her birthday, and at that time I dragged out all my old equipment so I could give her supplies that I wasn’t using, such a big heater. Going through all that salt-encrusted hardware that I’d forgotten I owned got me yearning for keeping a saltwater tank again. At this point I was already planning on doing a tank at work, so I figured, why not get back into saltwater whole-hog?

Yesterday the new tank I’d ordered was delivered. It’s a 3 gallon Picotope, and it’s a pretty darn attractive tank in person, what with its curved front and all. Sadly, I won’t be able to reuse much of my old hardware, since this tank is significantly smaller than anything I’ve tried before. Thankfully that won’t be much of a problem. Reefkeeping technology has progressed in the last two years, and now they make wee tiny protein skimmers. Measurements given in a review on Reef Central indicates that would fit pretty well on the Picotope, and since they’re on sale for only $15, I ordered one on the theory that I wouldn’t be out much if it didn’t work for me. They make a wide range of wee tiny heaters too, which will be helpful since an office environment is not usually kept at the optimal 80 degrees of a reef tank.

So what am I going to do with this tank? I’m not sure quite yet, but I’ll definitely have time to think about it while I get all the hardware ordered and together. Reading threads on Reef Central has given me ideas for the tank layout, at least. The new trend is to hide all the hardware behind an overflow wall, which is a very attractive option if it’ll work with the size of the protein skimmer. If I go that route, I’ll have even more time to think about what to put in it, as this will require the cutting and painting and gluing of Plexiglass. Fun times ahead!

Written by Chris

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Posted in Fish,General