Getting back to work

Elbow is feeling better and it is high time to get back to work! I got most of this done before my injury, so I’m just catching up on the blog. The outer frame of the stand is just held together with glue and nails. That’s really not gonna cut it. I added a second inner frame that connects all of the pieces together more firmly. Then I put cross supports on the top and bottom to support the bases for the tank and sump.

Inner Frame Added

I wanted to see how the front door would look, so I went a little bit out of order and made that next. It is made out of 1×6 and 1×2 sides. I think it came out really nice. There is an 1/8″ gap between each horizontal board to allow for some air flow.

Front door

Next up are the bases for the sump and tank to sit on. These are just made out of 3/4″ pine plywood. I decided not to do cutouts for the frame in the sump so I would have a lip for a support on the door to sit on. The frame was racked by about 1/4″ which was really annoying, but thankfully easy to fix. I nailed the front edge of the base to the top of the stand and then clamped the other end to pull it straight. Popped in a few more nails and it was back to square 🙂

Bases loaded!

From here I’m going to paint the inside of the stand and then stain the outside so I can finally get the tank back on here and cycling. Once that’s all going I can finish building the doors and stain them separately.

More to follow…

Turning big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood…

With plans in hand, I took a trip to ye-old Home Depot to pick up my supplies. I needed to rent their truck, so I bought more than I needed and I also picked up some supplies for other projects. No I’m not using landscaping timbers in my build! It was hard to find enough 2×1 pine boards that were straight. I went through probably 50 to get the ones I needed.

Raw materials for the stand and some landscaping stuff around the house too.

I quickly got to work cutting everything down to size, starting with the frame boards themselves. I figured if I go a section at a time it will allow me to adjust my cuts for any imperfections along the way. I bought a new blade for my miter saw and whew does that make some smooth cuts!

I cut down all the boards for the frame first.

Once the boards were all cut, it was on to the Kreg jig for pocket screws. I put a pair on each end of the cross supports. A little clamping and a few screws later and I had four frame sections done.

Clamping one side of the frame to screw together. The bottom board was just there temporarily, that isn’t the height of it.

Things were going along really well and I was getting an hour or so in each day to get more together. After about a week or so I got the whole frame together, glued, and nailed together. There will be an inner frame to add rigidity and to hold everything together better.

Frame glued together

You know how when things seem to be going well something has to go wrong, right? Well….

So yeah, I broke my elbow. Not doing this! You remember those landscaping timbers from earlier in the post? Those were for a new swing set we got for our kids. I needed to level off a large space for it to be installed. I rented one of these bad boys to do the hard work…

It really worked well. Throws you around a bit, but it was a lot of fun. I rented a second bucket for it so I could move a ton of mulch around to get more bang for my rental buck. I changed out the bucket and went to get back on to start moving mulch around and….. I tripped and fell on my concrete driveway. OUCH!

Long story short, fractured my radius at the elbow and I’ll be immobilized for 2 weeks and then another 6 before I can really do anything with it. Looks like I’m gonna have to hit pause for a while.

DIY Stand (Planning Stage)

When breaking down my tank for a reboot, I discovered that my stand had pretty sever water damage and needed to be replaced. Originally I just wanted to paint the stand white to match the rest of the room. Since that was no longer an option, I decided to build one myself. I have 6 weeks to get this done, so it is going to be a lot of little bits of work between work and dinner most nights.

The nice thing about starting over is that I can design it the way I want it, not the way it came. I would love to have a “dry” compartment for electronics and a larger sump area that can fit my top off and dosing containers. I did some digging and found a few design elements that I liked and then I jumped into SketchUp to draw it all out.

Here’s what I came up with:

Stand Rendering

The tank is 24×24″ but this stand is 36×33″ (including the shelf on the top). The extra space allows me to create the shelf, a nice thing to have to put things down on while working, and to create the extra space inside that I need for the electronics and equipment.

Stand with Doors Removed

To maximize the interior space and my access to it, I’ve designed the doors to take up the entire face of three sides. The doors will be the skin when installed. They’ll all be held on with magnets so I can get them out of the way while working. That’s another thing about my current stand that bothers me. I have to twist and work around the doors.

Stand without the Doors

Here’s the stand without the doors. You can see on the left side there is a “dry” compartment to hold my electronics. On the right side is where the sump and all of the related components will go. As you can see, looooooots of space.

Rendering of it all together

And finally, here is everything all together. Now…. to the shop!

System Restore

Ever get to that point where you’ve just had it and want to restore things to a better time? I’m there with my reef. Since my crash in October, 2017 things just haven’t been right. Corals whither and die, algae is growing everywhere. Phosphates are out of control. I’ve tried everything, even things I don’t believe in, to try and get things under control. Algae cures in a bottle, chemicals in reactors, etc. Nothing worked. I had it and I finally said enough is enough.

That’s Not the Full Tank Shot You Want

On March 30, the tank came down. I’m going to do a full reboot and start things over again. I’m going to ditch the black sand and replace it with traditional Fiji pink or some other white sand. I’m going to keep the tank and the equipment in it, but the stand is gonna go. My plan is to cook the rock in a bin for 6 weeks and hopefully I’ll be back to clean (and still live) rock.

Breaking it down

Cooking rock doesn’t involve heat or any chemicals. It is just rock kept in salt water with a power head for circulation. I’ll run my skimmer in here to pull the junk out too. The theory is that with no source of nutrients the algae will all die off. I’ll do a water change in here every now and then to bring the phosphates down.

Live Rock Cooking Bin

Until the tank is ready to go the fish are temporarily hanging out in my old 24 NanoCube. I used water from my DT to fill the tank and a few pieces of clean rock from my sump for hiding places and biofiltration.

During the tear down I discovered that my stand had water damage and couldn’t be re-used. I now have 6 weeks to plan and build a new stand. Nothing like making a project a little more complex, eh?

Flood No More!

I have an amazingly supportive and understanding wife. She’s never said no to any of my aquarium projects. That said, I think the last time I flooded the basement making RO water pushed the limits. We have high CO2 in our water, so I need to degas it before running it through the DI stage. That means I need to fill up a bucket and run an air stone in it for 24 hours. It takes me about an hour to fill up this 5g bucket with my booster pump set to 85 PSI. I used to just set a timer on my phone and go down to the basement and shut the production off. That’s worked fine 95% of the time, but I’ve flooded the floor and my workbench at least 5 times. The last time I wound up with about 20 gallons on the floor. Whoops!

My  booster pump has a pressure switch to shut down the pump and a solenoid to shut off the water flow. There’s really no reason I shouldn’t have this set up with a float valve to turn everything off automatically. Bulk Reef Supply makes a kit with everything you need to do this for just $25. (Click Here)

In the kit you get a fixed position float valve, some rigid 1/4″ tube, a check valve and an auto shut off valve. Installation took me all of 5 minutes. Let’s review each part and what they’re for…

The fixed position float valve is very similar to how your toilet works. It is just a simple hollow space that floats when the water reaches it. Once enough water is in the bucket, the valve at the back of it closes. There are some options out there for adjustable position float valves, but don’t buy them! You’re liable to forget to check if it is tight and the valve will never shut off.

The rigid tube is fairly self explanatory. They give you plenty. One section goes between the compression fitting at the back of the valve and the output side of the check valve. The rest goes either to your DI output or your RO output and hooks into the other end of the check valve.

The check valve is important. You don’t want water to flow back into your RO system and you need it to build up the needed pressure to shut the system down when the valve closes. Make sure you have the flow pointed into your bucket.

The final piece of the puzzle is an automatic shut off valve. This closes the drain line when no water is flowing through the system. If you didn’t use this, even though you aren’t making product water you would still be putting water down the drain. This simple device senses when no product water is moving through and also shuts off the drain line.

Here’s what my completed setup looks like. You can see the output of my RO (which is connected to my TDS meter) running up to the input of the check valve (the white side). Then from the check valve into the compression fitting on the valve. (The tube coming out of the bottom goes to my DI stage after this water is degassed)

Inside the bucket is the float valve. I set it so I can mostly fill this bucket up.

And that’s it! Simple project with hopefully big and dry results.

Success!

It was a bit of a roller coaster, but all three of my new fish made it out of QT and into the DT! I was expecting some rough handling by my clownfish of the newcomers, but she’s been surprisingly tame. I expected her to bully the smaller of the two fish (the corris wrasse and the watchman goby), but surprisingly she’s been chasing the firefish off. The fish were moved into the DT 9 days ago and I’m happy to report everyone is behaving themselves.

This picture is pretty terrible (taken with an iPhone 6S), but you can see the firefish and wrasse here. The yellow watchman has set himself up a nice spot in the front of the tank (AWESOME!). I’ll snap some good pictures of them and post later.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

On 2/23 my three new fish successfully transitioned from the hospital tank into observation! This is only the second time I’ve quarantined fish and only the first time I’ve gotten fish to this stage. The last group of fish had velvet and then uronema and ultimately died when I forgot to turn a pump back on after feeding. These three came through without a hitch. I had a few days when ammonia crept up, but a 10% water change took care of the problem.

The picture above is the observation tank. It is a simple 10 gallon tank with a steel stand from a big box store. I’m using a hang-on-back power filter with a pre-seeded sponge from my DT and a Koralia K2 for flow. I built a heater controller from an Inkbird ITC1000 that I got cheap on Amazon. (I’ll post a link to my DIY on that here after I post it)

Sorry the picture above is a little dark, but this is right after moving the fish over to the observation tank. The yellow watchman goby is there too, but he likes to hide under that piece of PVC on the left. The fish came out to eat thirty minutes after I moved them.  Everything seemed to be going perfectly, until….

I noticed a fuzzy white patch on the firefish’s tail. DANG IT! It looked a lot like the infection my clownfish had not too long ago. Lucky for me I had Kanaplex on hand already and started dosing it right away. This is why we do observation after QT! It isn’t uncommon for fish to come through copper and wind up with a secondary skin infection. Treatment in observation is super easy, but it would have been a pain if they were already in the DT.

It’s a little hard to see, but watch the firefish’s tail in this video and you can see the white spots flash on his tail.

The last thing I found out I did wrong was the prazipro treatment. There’s a calculator that tells you dosage intervals and I didn’t know that. I just followed the plan of dose, waiting 72 hours, dose again, wait 72 hours and do a water change. Apparently I was supposed to dose and then dose again after 6-8, then repeat.

^– That’s what the calculator outputs. I’m going to dose Kanaplex two more times, two days apart. Then I’ll run carbon for 24 hours and redo the prazi treatment.

 

We’ve Reached Our Destination

It took 20 doses at 0.75mL, but I’m finally at 2.5ppm copper in the quarantine tank. The fish don’t seem stressed at all. Everyone is eating fine and acting normally. I am noticing Ammonia is starting to creep up. That’s expected with the high copper levels. I did a 10% water change today with water already at 2.5ppm copper. I’ll probably do another one tomorrow with the same to try and get the levels down.

The plan is to keep the fish in here at this level for 14 days. On February 23 they will get transferred in to a sterile QT with completely separate equipment and with no copper. This is sort of a hybrid between the Tank Transfer Method and straight copper treatment. If you keep them at therapeutic levels for 14 days and then move them to a clean tank it has the same effect as TTM. The fish have no parasites on them after 14 days and none are able to get to them due to the copper. Transferring them keeps them away from the parasites.

Once they’re in the second QT, I’ll observe them for another week (maybe 2) and then they will join Jaws in the DT.

It’s Copper Time!

Tomorrow is the big day! Starting to run copper.  I’m going to raise it up over the course of 10 days since wrasses are particularly sensitive to copper. People have found that chelated copper, like Copper Power and Copper Safe, tend to be easier on fish. The therapeutic range is also higher which means it is a bit harder to overdose. Lucky for me, it is readily available at most local fish stores. Chelated copper levels can be tested using API’s Copper test kit.  It can not be tested using Seachem’s or Salifert’s.

The therapeutic level for Copper Power is 2.5ppm.  Over 10 days, I’m going to raise by 0.25ppm per day.  It takes 0.5 oz (according to the bottle) to reach that level in 10 gallons of water.  On day 1 (tomorrow), I’m going to dose 0.025 oz (~0.75 mL) in the morning and again in the afternoon.  I’ll test after the first dose and in theory, I won’t see much if anything detectable on the test kit.  Repeat for the next 9 days and I should get to 2.5ppm.  I have sand in there for the wrasse, so this might take more than expected to reach therapeutic levels.  It also might get absorbed, so daily testing for 30 days is a must.

Wish me luck!

New Fish (Update #1)

All of my new fish friends have settled into quarantine just fine.  The wrasse still seems content to sleep under some bioballs at night instead of in the nice bowl of sand I made a special trip to the store to buy for him that he just ignores… ARG! The watchman goby spends all day and night between those same bioballs but pokes out and keeps an eye on things during the day. The firefish is always out and about, but sleeps under one of the PVC elbows at night.

The fish are all eating a rotating diet of mysis shrimp, spirulina brine shrimp and live black worms.

They are currently on their second round of Prazipro to prophylacticly treat for flukes or other skin borne parasites. This will continue until 1/29 when I’ll do a water change and drop in some carbon.  Then on 1/30 I’ll start the slow 10 day climb to therapeutic copper levels and then a 30 day treatment there.

If all goes well, the plan is to get them into the DT between March 18 and March 25.