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Alright, I'm up way past my bed time, but I had a project that I just had to see through. You saw that I needed to make a needle wheel impeller for the new pump to replace the high flow impeller it came with. The only purpose of this wheel is to cut up the bubbles created by the pump sucking in air from the venturi to produce micro bubbles. What do micro bubbles do? Well in fresh water, they do nothing and this was a cause of frustration for about 20 minutes testing this pump in the kitchen sink lol.
You see, I 3D printed a new wheel that was normally made for a larger pump, but I shrunk it down to 72.26% so that the OD was correct. The only thing I had to do is a little filing so that it would fit up with the shaft. And it's a good fit let me tell ya. I put it all together and I had to at least test it out. So I headed to the kitchen sink where I filled it up with hot water. I turned the pump on and opened the valve on the skimmer all the way so that the level was as low as it could possibly be. And even though I was running a needle wheel with no venturi on it, it was pushing some serious water flow for a pump that fits in the palm of my hand (pic above lol). So I took the venturi off of the stock pump which doesn't have the correct threads (they bind after the first thread, working on this) and I stuck it on the new pump. It immediately started sucking in air, but the bubbles were MASSIVE. Large bubbles mean horrible efficiency. So I played with water flow vs air flow, I played with pump speed (I can adjust this pump up and down on an 8 step driver), and every time the bubbles were massive.
So I decided to stuff the stock pump on the skimmer and see what it would do in fresh water. I had never done this before so I had no idea what it was "supposed" to look like. And this pump has 1 speed. Plug it in and it goes. That's it. So I put the venturi on it and I plugged it in with the valve all the way open. It didn't push near as much water as the new pump on full power. And the bubbles it was creating... MASSIVE, but not as many as the new pump on half speed!!! This was very interesting to me. I would have sworn that at half speed on the new pump it would be doing less than the old pump going like it does, but I was wrong.
Fine then, it's time to stick this thing in the tank and see what it can do. I did some cleaning on the skimmer and in the sump it went. Remember, I have the valve wide open so I no longer have the setting that I had it set at previously. Now, I have to set this thing up from scratch. So I plug it in to an empty power outlet on my Apex and I turn it on. I'm still at half speed (4 lights out of 8) and this thing is making micro bubbles unlike what the other skimmer has ever made. So what do you do now? You crank that sucker to full speed and see what it will do. And that is what I did. And wow, this thing was pushing some water!
I started closing off the valve to get my water level correct and the bubble production was outstanding! I sat there and played with it for about 10 minutes until I got the constant bubbles right at the base of the skimmer collection cup neck and that is where I have it sitting right now. It is going full bore, producing awesome micro bubbles and I'm going to leave it that way overnight just to see what it does. It has been years since I have had this skimmer running at night because of the massive power draw.
The old pump is a 35 watt pump, but at 120 volts. The new motor is only pulling a max of 30 watts at only 24 volts. The amp rating is higher on the DC pump, but if you convert that over to AC at 120V, you are saving quite a bit of power. So much so that it doesn't even register on my power bar that anything is pulling from it lol. So if I can run this pump at half power or about 15 amps, that would be awesome! That is just 6 watts higher than my LED lights I have in my house!
So why does salt water create micro bubbles and why are they better? And why doesn't fresh water create them? It's all about surface tension and with salt water, you have much higher surface tension. The idea of micro bubbles is more surface area for things to collect to. What we do with a Protein Skimmer Is pull out DOC's, or Dissolved Organic Compounds. Otherwise known as fish waste, coral waste, or other particulates floating around in the water column. With big bubbles, you don't have anywhere near as much surface area as you do with micro bubbles. The smaller the bubbles, the more particulates we can pick up and remove from the tank resulting in a cleaner, healthier tank. The reason fresh water only makes large bubbles, and why that is all I saw in the sink is because the bubbles were being split apart but then joining back together as soon as they left the pump. There was not enough surface tension to keep them separated.
So I now have the final piece of my puzzle on lowering my power consumption but keeping a clean tank. Now, with only 15-30 watts of power at 24 volts DC, I can keep my skimmer running day and night to not only keep the tank clean, but also provide more oxygen to the water. This in turn keep my pH more stable.
Speaking of water parameters, I did test my water today. I did a 15 gallon water change last night (I guess it is actually night before last now) and every parameter was perfect other than Nitrates, which are still hovering around 36ppm, which is quite high. Calcium was at 480 I think, Magnesium was at about 1520, KH was around 8.68 and ammonia was still right at 0.2. So KH is still a little high, but the Mag is coming down to a more reasonable range. All in all, the tank is doing great, but the pH is still low (with the new probe, but not reading much into pH anymore) and there is still algae in the tank because of those Nitrates. Oh, and the Phosphates were still at 0. I would really like to see these come up to a measurable level soon. Every tank needs a little bit of Nitrate and a little bit of Phosphate to keep things growing.
I will update you all later on how this pump is doing in the skimmer.
So I have had that Skimmer going for over a week now and it is doing fantastic! So good I was actually able to turn it down a lot so that it would skim a little more dry. so the $40 that I spent no that pump, yup, it was well worth it! I will make up for that cost with energy savings even comparing it to the old pump being turned off most of the day.
So today I'm taking a drastic approach to my algae issue. I'm sure you have noticed the red algae in the pictures and some videos that I have shared, and I have tried everything to reduce it only for it to come right back. So now I'm getting aggressive with it.
You already know about the 4 boxes of salt that I ordered. Well, I'm not liking that salt much so I figure since I already own it, I might as well use it for something, so I'm going to use it for MASSIVE water changes which will reduce my Nitrates. I'm pointing this out first because those that know saltwater and algae issues are already yelling at the screen and have already clicked on the reply box before making it this far down this post lol. Nitrates and Phosphates feed bad algae, but also good algae as well like the zooxanthellae algae that lives inside corals which gives them most of their food. It also feeds my Chaeto, again a good 'macro' algae. Simple algae also uses Nitrates and Phosphates and this algae is hair algae and slime algae. Those two are bad for a tank and can suffocate corals.
So I will be doing larger than normal water changes to try and remove the Nitrates. I have no measurable phosphates in my system so I'm actually using a food now that has a little phosphate in it in the hopes that the corals will respond to it. I'm feeding a little heavier, but with pellet food, it just sinks into the tank and doesn't go into the sump unlike flake food which will flow into the sump. So water changes to reduce nitrates is going to be done!
So what is the aggressive approach to this algae? It's a product called ChemiClean. It is a very well known and frequently used product to take care of Cyanobacteria or slime algae. Cyanobacteria is in every kind of water in the world, fresh water that you drink, brackish water as well as saltwater. But it is normally clear unless it is in a very high nutrient environment, which my tank is at the moment with Nitrates over 40ppm. So it turns red, green, brown and almost black in places depending on where it is in the tank.
So ChemiClean, I'm sure some of you are already remembering a post a while back where I said I wanted to try to combat this stuff without using chemicals. This is true, but I have done what I can and so far, nothing has helped. So the next step is a product that targets the algae specifically. If you really think about it, everything we do in this hobby uses chemicals. Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium Chloride, Iodide, Potassium, Just to name a few off the top of my head. The first one Sodium Chloride you put on your own food, it's just salt. The second two are alkalinity buffers, carbonate doesn't raise pH, bicarbonate does raise the pH, Calcium Chloride is what the corals are made of and we have to add it to our tanks to keep corals growing. Not to mention the most abundant chemical of all, H2O.
Our salt mixes are loaded with chemicals, I dose Kalk to my tank which is a Pickling Lime, so using 'chemicals' on my tank, I already do it. It's dumb to 'not' do it. And I'm realizing that. So in with ChemiClean.
So I put the recommended dose into a measuring cup. Yes, this is really all it takes.
That is 1.5cc's of ChemiClean which is the suggested dose for a 100 Gallon system. I fugure with my system, I'm either right at 100 gallons or just shy but over 90. Even still, I would rather attack this a little harder than normal rather than not attacking it hard enough.
So I poured it into the tank (I took video to be shared later) and it did nothing. I figured it would cause the wave affect like pouring water into oil, same thing happens when pouring fresh water into saltwater, but it did NOTHING. I was surprised. Then I opened my stand door to check on the skimmer.... It was over flowing in the worst way. I didn't get a picture of this because I had to immediately pull the cup off the skimmer. And this is what it looked like...
Holy crap the bubbles!!! As you can see, I no longer have filter socks on my system and if I can get away with it, I will never have filter socks on my system. But the reaction with ChemiClean that I thought didn't happen, did happen!!! And wow...
It looks like a bubble bath in my sump right now. The bubbles in my skimmer are way lower than they usually are and the foam head on teh right is massive. This I did not expect, but to be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I know now though lol.
So yea, we have bubbles. If I have to do this all over again I will anticipate this and have the skimmer ready for it. So why did I not remove my skimmer cup before? Because on the back of the package it reads "Continue using protein skimmer, although skimmer may require adjustments to prevent excessive overflow". I would have had to turn OFF my skimmer to keep it from doing this lol. Even on the lowest setting that still puts air into the system, it would be over flowing. I mean come on, look at the bubbles that were caused just by the water falling 2 inches! lmao.
So now we wait. It takes 48 hours for this stuff to complete at which time I will make the determination to either dose again, or do a 30 gallon water change and call it done. It will obviously take a while for this stuff to be removed from my system so I have a LOT of skimmer setup to do after the 48 hours when I put my cup back on. But hopefully this will take care of my algae issue once and for all!
It has been 7 days since my last post when I dosed my tank. And yes, I do have video but the ending is not the best it could have been. However, I took an even more drastic approach than I thought I would have to. The first dose that you see above is what is suggested and it is what I put in the tank. 48 hours later and it didn't look like I had dosed anything. The tank was exactly as it was before dosing. You are supposed to do a 20% water change (20 gallons for me) and then dose again. Um no, since it didn't even touch it, I just dosed it again! What's the worse than can happen... So I dosed it and I waited another 48 hours.
After this run, the algae was still red in some places, but other places it started turning grey. This chemical oxidizes the algae which is why it drops your pH and the grey algae is oxidized algae. Okay, but I still had algae. I do have enough for a third dose but quite honestly I think two is taxing enough on the tank so I decided to not do the third dose. Instead, it was time for a 30 gallon water change. I already had the water mixed up, I just needed to do it. However, I still had algae, so I decided to use this time to siphon out the algae. But even more so, the really bad rocks I'm taking out of the tank and leaving in a dark area for about a week before I put them back in the tank. This will keep the bacteria in the rock alive, but kill the algae since it doesn't have any light. So I started pulling out rock.
Of course little s**thead (male clownfish) was biting the crap out of me so I netted his ass and put him in a little cup of water while I worked in the tank. He's fine, don't worry. I started pulling out rock, siphoning rock and I even went as far as to siphon the sand with a gravel cleaner. You have to be careful doing this as you can suck up sand, but it takes the detritus out of the tank. With that done, I put some of the rock back in the tank but left the two worst ones out as stated above.
I drained the water level way down and kept some in buckets just in case I needed more than I had on hand. And I did lol. I stuck the tube from the barrel into the tank and started filling it up. Since I had multiple corals out of the water I used the hose to soak them down so they would not dry out. And yes, they are fine. Great, tank is filled now it's time to put my skimmer back online. As you saw in the pictures above, the skimmer was producing a foam that would cover the sump with a thick layer. This is because the chemiclean makes the water so cohesive that it can make bubbles quite easily. And the skimmer is made to make bubbles. It's what it does lol. So I knew I would have an issue with overflowing.
In this picture you will see my solution to the overflowing skimmer. When I did this, I had the skimmer pump set to 1 out of 8 so it was on the lowest setting I could put it on. Also, just to the right of the skimmer cup, you can see a red tube. Attached to the other end of that tube is the valve that regulates how high the water level is in the skimmer. I had it removed and had the pump on the lowest setting and was still overflowing! And yes, I knew it would, it's just what you deal with in times like this. So my solution is to, for the first time since i have owned this skimmer, remove the plug from the drain and run a hose into a 5 gallon bucket which is what you see in the picture.
Yes, the hose is WAY longer than it needed to be, but if I would have run it straight over the side it kinked rendering it useless. And I didn't want to cut this hose since this is what I use to siphon out sand from my tank every now and then. And speaking of that, I found out that my sand is about 5" thick in the back of my tank lol. That is way too thick! so I will be doing some more work with this hose lol. But, I was going to bed at this time hence such a large container.
Next day and it didn't overflow as much as I thought it would which is a good thing. So I plugged the skimmer cup, put the valve back on and started dialing it in. Today it is working great and doing what it should once again. So the skimmer is back where it needs to be.
My Nitrates on the other hand are still high so I want to do another large water change but as you can see in this picture, my DI resin (far left) is about used up (blue is good, gold or orange is bad or consumed). The other filters are sediment, carbon and RO membranes.
Well, I needed to make a full barrel of RO/DI water and with that little bit of DI resin there was no way I was going to get a full barrel, or even half for that matter. SO..... It was time to break out my new toy
My wife called me a geek over this system lmao. Let me do some explaining that most will not understand and could probably care less about. In the first picture of the filters, that DI resin is a mixed bed resin with both Cation and Anion particles. Since it is blue, the Anion is what is dyed in that mixed bed. So as it was making clean pure water, it was showing the Anion being used up. But, you have absolutely no way of knowing if you were using any Cation since it was not dyed. Well in the picture above, the far right canister is again a mixed bed resin, but this time it's the Cation that is dyed. This is what they call their "Pro Mixed Bed Resin". So in this one, I can see the Cation depletion but I can't see the Anion.
Okay, but why....? Well the other two cartridges are exactly the same as the mixed beds, but they have not been mixed and they are both dyed. On the left is an absolutely awesome looking purple Cation resin and in the middle is a very vibrant blue Anion resin. With most water, you will use the center Anion the most. From what I have been told you will go through about 4 of the Anion cartridges for every 1 of the Cation. And for every 1 of the mixed bed resin on the right, you will go through about 4 of the Cation's. So I will pretty much only have to replace the center cartridge.
But why? I know and I'm getting there. It's all about saving money in the long run. I didn't get LED lights because I like them, they save energy. But I had to spend a grand to get them. But, they have paid for themselves over the price of metal halide or even T5HO's. The DC pumps I have replaced (main pump, power heads and now skimmer pump) were all to reduce overall costs of running this tank. And again, they are actively paying themselves off. I think the main pump has already done that. Same goes with this DI resin. Since I'm only having to replace the Anion every now and then, and the other two very rarely, I save on resin. And since it is not mixed, it is cheaper than the mixed and I'm not tossing away unused resin that is still good. So in the long run, this will pay for itself. It's going to take a while though, this setup was not cheap lol.
So that is where I sit now. Like I mentioned I do have video of this process as well as some video I sent Matt while I was doing it. If you want to see it, I will see about getting it put together and making that happen. Just let me know. As for now, I'm going to keep enjoying my clean tank. Well, other than the brown algae, but everyone is going to get that when they don't have enough critters to keep the sand moving around. I'm working on that. Now it's time to go check on my barrel of water and see how it is doing...
So I was doing my nightly bristle worm catching when I noticed something move out of the sand. Granted, most of my new small Nassarius snails are active at night, but this was about 10x the size of my new snails. All I saw was a tube sticking out of the sand and just a little bit of the shell, and from what I could see, it sure looked like a Nassarius snail, but I didn't have any before I purchased these 100 small snails. So I dug him out of the sand to get a better look at him...
That my friends is a LARGE Nassarius snail. To give you a somewhat size comparison, that small dark green part just to the left of the dark hammer and just below the snail is my new snails. That Nassarius snail right there is my largest I have ever had! At first when I saw it I was thinking it was a Conch or something, but nope, He has to be a Nassarius snail from back in 2012 when I purchased my first batch! Wow.
Just finished off making my barrel of water and what I saw surprised me. The picture below is the Anion resin. When I would make a barrel of water, I would burn through about 1/4 of my resin. Well, this is the only noticeable resin consumption, the other two have no change at all. Even on this one pictured, you can just barely see the color change on the bottom. I'm loving this! Oh, and where it did change color is very thin against the outside wall so it will always change faster there compared to the rest of the canister. Can't wait to do another barrel to see what it does then!
And just for S&G's, here are two night shots of my two largest Acan's. They are hungry!
Do not buy anything from Fish-Street.com. I didn't know I was when I purchased my main pump controller, then it failed 15 days out of warranty, and they will not honor their warranty. Typical chinese screwing the customer over. Quantity over quality.
So here we go, this is the issues that I have been dealing with over the last week or so.
So I was doing my thing in the morning last Wednesday (basically drinking coffee lol). Went to the bathroom to pay rent on said coffee and when I came out, something was off. I looked at the tank and I could see the water line about 2" below the rim of my tank. This is odd, even if I shut a pump off it will not fall that low because I have a siphon break. So I started investigating why it was that low.
I open up my stand look at my main pump controller and the green light is not on. This is the AQLink A1 controller for my Jebao DCS 10000 pump. So I get my volt meter and verify voltage, and sure enough, my power supply is pushing out 24 volts just like it should. But when you plug it in, nothing. Thankfully I still have the stock controller for the Jebao pump. I put that on and the pump works fine. So I shut it off and the level only falls to about 1" below the rim which is normal. When the AQLink failed, it actually reversed the pump!!! My sump can handle all of the water that cna be pulled out of it via the outflow nozzles, but still, this should not have happened.
I contacted the ebay seller and they said what I expected, I was 15 days out of their warranty so it wasn't their problem, contact fish-street. I contacted them and typical junk chinese company, it's all my problem. My apex programming, my jebao pump, my dip switch positions, it's all my issue and their product works fine. Well, you look at the pictures below and tell me if it's my problem....
It's been over a month since my last update, and things have happened. Not with the controller, I got completely boned on that one. It's whatever though.
I started doing a water change a week for a bit and things were going okay. But yea, that didn't last long. I have went through about 80 gallons of saltwater on water changes and I even have a new coral growing which I have no idea where it came from. More on this after I know it is going to survive.
But as usual, there are some issues. Because I didn't fully understand the importance of Phosphates, I was using GFO (Granulated Ferric Oxide) to remove it pretty much religiously. Well, even though I was getting rid of all of my Phosphate, my Nitrates were getting higher and higher, hence the reason for the water changes every week. Well, having 0 of one and a LOT of the other will cause what is called dinoflagellates. We will just call these Dino's from now on because that is a pain to type.
Dino's look like brown algae, but are actually a plankton like organism. Most are photosynthetic, but some can live without light for quite a while. These pests can thrive in very low nutrients especially ultra low to 0 phosphate and high nitrate, exactly what I have. Guess what I didn't know could happen... yea.... So my tank is now almost completely brown because of Dino's.
It gets worse unfortunately. Algae eaters such as my Yellow Tang and my Blenny can get extremely sick or even die if they ingest Dino's. And guess what happened to Blenny..... One day he was fat and happy, the next day he was on the sand bed flopping around and bone skinny. The Dino's, from what I'm guessing, ate him from the inside basically starving him to death. My tang is still doing okay for now, but I'm thinking he is next, and he is my oldest fish. Or are my Clowns older... It's one or the other....
So with that I had to take some drastic measures. The only real cure for Dino's is a complete blackout of the tank for 3 days. 3 complete days with absolutely no light. No light, 99% chance they will die after 3 days. But with my luck, I will have to do a week without light to kill them.
For this one, I'm doing 3 days just without lights. If this doesn't work, then I'm covering the glass with cardboard to block all of the light and only opening the canopy to feed the fish. Yes, you still feed the fish lol.
So the tank is in a struggle mode right now. Once the blackout is done then I will do a large water change (already have 45 gallons of water made up) and clean out the sump. And I'm also thinking about dosing phosphates just to bring them up while I'm doing these water changes to lower my nitrates. If I can get the Phosphates to about 0.2 and my nitrates to about 20 I will be happy.
Lost my Cleaner Wrasse in the 3 day blackout. I think I'm going to wait for the rest of the fish to die and take the tank down. Over 15 years in this hobby and I still can't keep things alive, I'm done.
For those that are wondering, here is my saltwater thread. It appears as though I have missed quite a few updates so I will try to update this thread in the near future. But for now, I just wanted to bump this thread up for those that were looking for it.
I have gone from wanting a freshwater, to saltwater now . We are looking at the Coralife 32gal Biocube . the only thing that is a hurdle is the water. I know I'm going to have to do many water changes. it is just keeping the correct water on hand ! lots of people are telling me about a RO/DI water system on Amazon for 100 bucks. that will do 300 gallons before a filter change is needed. then add salt. I figure 5 gal water changes every few weeks ?
I would not do the systems on amazon, I would use BRS, which is the system that i have. Amazon doesn't know the first thing about RO/DI systems, BRS ONLY does saltwater. And I have been running one of their systems for about 10 years now and I have had 0 issues with it. Best investment I have made. I have actually upgraded it a few times now adding more filters and a better DI system.
As for the tank, I have thought about getting one of those biocubes and running a little tank rather than my large tank. I think it would be nice to have a tank for small or slow growing corals and small fish like the royal gramma or firefish. I would love to have a mated pair of purple fire fish with a goby/crab pair.
It would also give me a separate tank in case something happens to the 90. It's not ideal for the larger fish, but it would give me a temp backup.
Going back to the water, if you are only getting 300 gallons out of the system, something is wrong. I change my RO membrane about every 5 years, and since I'm on a well, I have to run through the sediment filters, but my carbon last quite a while. And since I'm running a triple stage DI system, I only run through Anion resin. I get about 200 gallons out of the single cartridge of Anion then I have to change it out, but I have quite high TDS in my water.
Is saltwater more expensive than fresh water? Oh yes it is. Is it worth it because of the diverse coloration and life? To me, it's worth every penny.
I am using Live Aquaria Reef Salt. I got a smoking deal on a box last year, so I purchase 4 boxes. I calculated it out that If I did a 15 gallon change a week, I would have just enough. Well, I have 2.75 boxes left lmao. Yea, I don't do water changes like I should.
And BRS have some great videos. I love their scientific videos where they try random stuff, like how long it takes for salt to dissolve, what is the best conditions for macro algae (I think they only tested Chaeto) and other things that are fascinating.
Here is the link to the salt that I use. It is not on sale right now for the big box.