EcoTech gets in on the dosing game, Unusual coral spawning event and Just Do It (yourself) Reef News edition. This week Jeremy is getting the big tank squared away and raising the salinity. Peter battles on against algae outbreaks. All this and more on Episode 75 of the Reef News Network!
Peter: The Versa Utility Pump is Ecotech Marine’s first entry into the world of precision peristaltic dosing pumps. Ecotech has mastered the science of creating water flow inside the aquarium with their Vortech Pumps, they’re building the standard in high performance centrifugal pumps with the Vectra, so it’s only natural that Ecotech designed a dosing pump system of their own in the Versa.
Jeremy: A phenomenon that makes coral spawn more than once a year is improving the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. The discovery was made by researchers investigating whether corals that split their spawning over multiple months are more successful at spreading their offspring across different reefs.
Listener Call: Rebecca called in to ask our advice about moving a tank.
Main Topic: DIY can be fun and help save money and when it comes to the aquarium hobby there are endless numbers of DIY projects from the simple to the extremely advanced. Today we are going to discuss a few of our favorites that cover all bases of skill and ability. As with everything in this hobby there are a million ways to do a single thing and DIY is no different, what we discuss here is by NO means the only way to do these projects and there are endless amounts of resources from YouTube to forums to help you get ideas and find how tos.
CAVEAT: Please understand is not responsible for any failed DIY projects, attempt any and all of these at your own risk!
1. Water Making Station: for most people water changes are imperative for a successful reef tank, having premade salt water and a surplus of fresh can prove invaluable for water changes, ATO containers and spare water for dipping corals and fish.
a. Method to be used: Brut Can
b. Required Equipment: 2 Brut Cans(size based on amount of water you make), various pvc pipe and fittings(size based on size of cans), pvc glue, 3 valves, RODI float stop(optional),Uniseal bulkheads(size based on plumbing size), external pump, remote plug
c. Setup: 1 can for fresh, 1 can for salt, both cans plumbed to pump with valve in between each can and pump, pump outlet to top of salt can with T and valve in between. T has valve attached and either threaded or quick connect fittings for fresh or salt output. RODI can be plumbed directly into fresh can with float valve or run into can when needed.
d. How to use: RODI water is pumped into fresh can, water from fresh can be pumped into salt can for mixing through the use of valves and pump. Once water is in salt can, RODI can be isolated and then recirculated to mix salt. Hose can then be connected to outlet T and pumped into containers or directly into tank. Through the use of valves both fresh and salt can be isolated and pumped out of system.
2. Invert/Fish Trap: Everyone gets a jerk invert or fish, while commercial products exist they are often pricey and sometimes complicated, while certainly better for inverts than fish this simple bottle trap can prove effective to get rid of that jerk crab or fish.
a. Method to be used: Plastic bottle
b. Required Equipment: Soda bottle(size depending on what you are trying to catch)
c. Setup: take bottle and cut top off, invert top and using reef safe adhesive glue the top inverted into the bottom creating a bottle neck into the larger body of the bottle.
d. How to use: Place food of choice into the container and fill with water. Submerse and place in area that invert or fish frequents, check regularly.
3. Sump from Tank: Sumps are very desirable for a successful reef tank, not only does it add water volume it allows you to hide or run various pieces of equipment such as skimmers, reactors and pumps. Inaddition you can utilize sumps to help breed pods and deal with nuisance algae through a refugium. Sumps can get costly fast but don’t need to be cost prohibitive to get the benefits of having one
a. Method to be used: Standard tank sump
b. Required Equipment: Off the shelf tank of desired size for display, baffle kit(various sellers available), glue/silicone, filtersock holder or rollermat(optional)
c. Setup: determine the layout of the sump you want, most are simple 3 chamber setups(inlet, skimmer/fuge chamber, return chamber), some kits include a filter sock holder(if not they can be purchased separately or this is a good opportunity to use arollermat). Using 2×4 scrap build 2 L blocks ensuing they are square to be used as baffle holders for gluing. Measure and mark where each baffle will go and begin your glue up. Put baffle into tank where it will be glued, add a dot of silicon to bottom of tank and insert first L bracket and bring it up against baffle. Ensure it is in right location and straigt and then add drop to base of tank and add second racket. Once held in place you are ready to glue up the sides. Run a bead of silicone up each side where baffle meets tank wall, using a wet finger or caulking tool run it up along the silicone to create an even and clean bead of caulk. Let dry for appropriate time and them pop out the brackets, clean up any silicone on base of tank and seal in bottom of baffle. On pieces that require a gap for water to run under, make a spacer of appropriate height to place under to hold off bottom. Rinse and repeat panel by panel until allbaffles are in and sealed. Let all silicon fully cure before use.
d. How to use: Place sump under tank and plumb drain pipe into the drain chamber(into filter sock or rollermat), install required or desired equipment(heater, skimmer, pumps, etc), plumb return pump to return line, fill and test levels for power outages.
4. APEX Automation(Cabinet lights, Fans, any on/off): APEX and controllers in general are one of the best pieces of equipment you can get for creating automation and adding safety nets to your tank. Through the use simple logic and switches you can easily automate anything from tank stand lights, fans or anything else that requires on/off actions.
a. Method to be used: APEX fusion
b. Required Equipment: APEX, break out box, required switches(float, pressure, push) whatever you want to automate (for this example we will talk about adding lights to turn on when you open your stand door).
c. Setup: Install magnetic switches on your stand doors, if you have 2 doors, switches can be wired in series to only consume 1 breakout box port. Enter APEX Fusion and find the breakout box switch port or ports(be aware these may be hidden in the unused port setion) click on the lock icon on your Fusion dashboard and drag the correct module widget to your dashboard. Clicking on the setting (gear icon) button you can use the drop downs to select the functions(such as If Door OPEN the ON) define the ON plug on your power bar and then plug lights into the proper port on the powerbar. Ensure you set the FALLBACK to OFF and Set to OFF, save all your configs and test!
d. How to use: Simply open door and lights should come on, close and they should go off.
5. Algae Reactor: Reactors are becoming far more widely available commercially but is still a fun DIY project if you are the tinkering type! While there are many different way you can build and do this project we will cover just one particular methodology in this discussion.
a. Method to be used: Repurposed media reactor
b. Required Equipment: Off the shelf up flow media reactor like 2LF phosban reactor, waterproof LEDs(spectrum is debatable so research to see what you want to try, but common practice is more reds than whites), various plumbing bits and power head if manifold is not available.
c. Setup: Using a hot glue gun, start by gluing the dead end of the LED strip to the base of the reactor, begin to wrap the LEDs in a spiral manner up the reactor. Glue every couple inches and try to keep the gap to around an inch and even all the way up. Once you get to the finish the wrap along the op edge and attach your end plug and seal with shrink wrap. Plug in and test to ensure your LEDs work properly, if lights are too intense a dimmer can be put in line and if you are extra techie you could make them dimmable through a voltage regulator module attached to your 0-10V port on your controller(this is too advanced for this discussion). At a basic level you can put LED plug on timer or configure a plug on your controller to simply turn on and off on a schedule.
d. How to Use: Plumb reactor to power head or manifold, ensure to add an inline valve to adjust flow to get turnover rate dialed in. Add water to reactor(remember to have fresh salt water ready for this), add your seed macro to reactor, plug LEDs into controller or timer and turn on pump or open manifold to start flow. Monitor growth and adjust flow and or lighting as needed until you see solid growth. Be sure to check regularly and empty as needed.
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