Help with unique SW build


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Okay, so this is not a reef that I am building but a closed saltwater system in which to hold shrimp effectively. I will describe my room and equipment set up and then let it loose for you experts.

First to note is that my room is in a flood zone and will flood at some time in the future. The building has flooded 4 times in the past 20 years due to surge. Since this threat is real all of my equipment has been elevated and thus, pumps must be used to both pull water from the tanks and secondary pump to return water from my home made biological filter.

My equipment:

(3) 150 gallon tubs
(1) 250 gallon bio filter tank
(1) Bag filter
(1) MRC Pro 2 skimmer
(2) Taurus VS Series pumps
(1) Delta logic AE6 chiller

The way I have the system set up is:

Water over flows into elevated drains in the tanks and goes into a bag filter, then to the first pump which pushes the water into the skimmer and then through the chiller and into the bio filter tank. The bio flter tank has a bottom drain that the second pump picks up and then sends the water back to the tanks.

Because water has to be lifted out of the tanks and then lifted back into the tanks, 2 pumps are necessary. I chose the variable speed pumps so that I can control both flows. I also have a gate valve on each tanks return feed so that I can dial in the return flow for each.

The 250g bio filter tank is over 50% filled with bio media to include bio balls and bagged up crushed coral.

I am having 100% of the water flowing through the protein skimmer.

This will be a system where the loads will vary depending on how many shrimp are in the tanks. I may have 2000 shrimp in the tanks and then go to 15,000 in one dump. I am thinking I could feed the bio filter when counts are low so that the bio level is always effective for adding the heavy loads.

This is will be a difficult system to operate due to the fluctuation in loading throughout the week. I'm hoping that the loss of $$ through the learning curve is more in line with a community college BS degree and not that of a Harvard Phd.

At this time I am in the process of building the system (90% complete) and have not started it up yet. I want to get some input and advice from you experts as I still am in a position to reevaluate equipment.

I just want to keep shrimp alive for several days in a heavy load system where the loads will fluctuate.

Let me know if you need additional details on the set up. I can post pictures later on.

Thank you.


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Manhattan Reefs
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Queens, NY
The pump that brings the water to bio filter container, can also be sprayed onto a DIY hanging waterfall type algae scrubber, directly above the container, before it drops down into the bio media.

Actinic Atoll

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You could probably manage fluctuating pollutants fairly well with carbon dosing, as I think it originated in facilities such as yours. (Large fluctuating bioloads, commercial livestock holding etc.)

As far as the pump configuration and bio-ball tank, I might approach it a little differently. Not that there is anything wrong with what you are doing, systems like this are a blank page for the most part.

Due to the two pumps and to a lesser extend the potential of flooding, I would consider raising the sump above the tank, even if it meant using multiple sumps to ease the logistics of suspending 250 gallons in the air. Or you could put the shrimp on the floor and put the sump on your stand.

Keep in mind my viewpoint is very amateur, I'm looking at the cost of purchasing and operating costs of what I consider to be significant sized pumps. This of course may not be significant to your business costs.

Individual 150 gallons systems would run well with more traditional modestly sized equipment if you changed your configuration. Also consider converting them into AIO or linked-together tanks that form a pseudo AIO where the tanks and sumps that all sit on the same level.

Also those 1500watt pumps with up to 80% power savings claims might be misleading depending on how they "dim" the motor. How much water is the 20% power moving? It's likely not 20% of specced flow if it's a traditional AC motor. Something like a Vectra pump or similar might be the way to go. It probably costs less and uses less power over all due to the way it controls the speed. (Worth looking into what kind of pump the Pentair actually is, specifically how the speed control works.)

Water flow for the shrimp, if needed can be done with cheapish wavemakers, although taking it one step further you could ditch the wavemakers for a hybrid closed loop which might make more sense depending what your tolerance for maintenance is.

The moral of my story is I think with a redesign you wouldn't need up to 3000 watts worth of pumps to move a bit water through a sump for a couple of shrimp tanks. If you have the water surface of your shrimp tank 1/2" or so higher then the water surface of your sump, you could do this with pumps from the LFS.

Perhaps your big skimmer needs a pump still, on the other hand a smaller hobby grade skimmer in each 150 gal tub would also work well. If you can do it and keep your big skimmer, perhaps that makes the most sense, just pointing out that isolated tanks with individual skimmers is another option.