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Dejavu's Cubic Adventure

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 6:02 pm
by dejavu
I know I haven't actually formally introduced myself to the members of this board, so here's a little about myself: I a 21 yo student studying BEng Bioinformatics & BSc Medical Immunology & Microbiology at UNSW. I have always been passionate about nature, and nature photography is my favourite escape (some of yous would have seen the photos in the photography forum already). My family used to have a large FO tank when I was a kid, but in those dark ages of home aquaria, we had more death than live fish.

At the end of 2005, I was given 2 female fighting fish after they finished using them for behavioural studies at uni, this had me interesting in the little biospheres that we are able to create in our homes. So that started the reseach. Two month later, I finally took the plunge and started shopping for equipment.

I was shipped a Resun Hydrometer by accident from The Age of Aquariums. To Ben's generosity, he said to keep it. So, I am going to give it away to other "budding reefers" who might not have the $$ for a refractomer. It's free to anyone who's willing to pay shipping. RRP$14.95.

This is my plan:
* Tank is 30x30x35cm (WxLxH) cube
* AquaClear 70 HOB filter modded into a refugium + surface skimmer
* AuqaPro 50w mini heater (sits inside the AC70)
* AquaClear 50 powerhead
* AquaMedic Oceanlight 150w HQI 20K
* 4Kg of live rocks
* shallow sand bottom
* Hagen Master test kit
* 2Kg of activated carbon
* Refractometer
* lots of corals (stocking list is still under debate)
* 1 single fish
* shrimp(s)

I would like to thank Ben from Age of Aquariums for his great customer services and great prices. The packaging was awesome and efficiency unparalleled.

Task 1: Modifying the Aquaclear 70 HOB filter into a refugium
Firstly, I removed the plastic filter media tray, and cut it apart. I used a blade because I couldn't justify paying for a Dremel. The bottom piece is going to be used as a grating across the filter's return to prevent things in the fuge from going into the tank (i.e. Caulerpa).


1 of the sides is cut so and glued to create a baffle between the pump area and the fuge.

This is then glued in all the way to the bottom:

From the top it looks like this:

A hole was drilling into the plastic cover of the filter to allow the heater to go in. This heater is a mini sized one, it's only about 2/3 of the normal length of a 50w heater. Only 10cm needs to be submerged.

Everything in, water test!

Surface skimming attachment:


FTS (full tank shot):

The tank is currently sitting on my computer table. I still have to order the light. I am just waiting for some ans. from Simon and Rosalie of OceanReef Aquariums. Currently I am planning on attaching it to the underside of the furniture that goes over the top of the tank. Hopefully it will fit.

Any comments/critiques will be greatly appreciated!

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 6:45 pm
by ribbon
wow :clap:

That HOB filter mod is a great idea esp. in a tank thats so cramped for space. Love the surface skimmer too. What are your plans for your single fish?

PostPosted: Thu 19 Jan, 2006 7:38 pm
by exiled_infidel

Its funny but about half a year ago i ran i think exactly the same tank! Its the same size and has two curved sides but i used an AQ300 on it.

Hope all goes well, cant wait to see this turn out! :cheers:

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 12:07 am
by dejavu
Its funny but about half a year ago i ran i think exactly the same tank! Its the same size and has two curved sides but i used an AQ300 on it.

Yeah? I was going to go with an AquaOne Mirage, which is a shallow tank but ended up with this one because it's just too nice! I guess we both got good taste then?! :roflmao: Just joking!

Not sure about the single fish yet. Love to have a dwarf lion (Dendrochirus biocellatus) but I think this tank would be too small.

I have found a Mandarin (Synchiropus Splendidus) that's already eating prepared food, but I am sure it would be sold by the time my tank is done cycling :(

UPDATE: The tank is now populated with approx 4Kg of live rocks, aquascaping is almost there, but I couldn't see what I was doing, so I am sure it would be changed. Found 2 hitchhikers already, there's a small brittle star that's doing circuits around the tank, there's a tube worm of some sort, some pink sponge thingy and some sorry looking xenia.

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 12:46 am
by exiled_infidel

I found the tank too small (and i wanted more coral) so i had an upgrade.

The tank had a nice sized yellow coral goby (about an inch) and it looked too big for the tank. JMHO though, so im quite a bit sure a dwarf lion would be a bit of a squeeze :poke:

If youre really sure that the mandarin is living off prepared food (and is fat and healthy), why not buy the guy and ask the LFS nicely to hold the fish, maybe a small deposit in order?

Another alternative you might find nice is some of the glass scavenger shrimp (go catch some by hte coast) or if youve got cash to burn sexy shrimp. Both are nice and active, pretty and perfectly sized (i dont like the looks of the coral goby he was just too big).

Alternatively, if youve got lotsa mullah to burn then get a pair of harlequins (maybe $400+).

Just some thoughts.

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 6:05 am
by bill
more pics with the LR please!

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 1:03 pm
by dejavu
I just ordered the light from Chris of Nanotuners. I got myself an AquaMedic Oceanlight 150w HQI with mounting legs. It should be here in a few days, I can't wait!

I will take some photos of the aquascaping when I get home tonight, hopefully the water would have cleared up nicely.

For the impatient ones, here's a photo of what it would look like.

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 1:15 pm
by exiled_infidel

Where are you getting your lights from? Are you importing it? I was thinking of getting a 70watt halide for my bigger tnak but im not too sure now.

PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2006 2:35 pm
by dejavu
yes I am importing the lights from the US since they are not available here in Australia, and I can get it from there shipped with the legs for the same price here without the legs.

I am going to run it off a transformer for now, and change the remote ballast to an elec one later.

PostPosted: Mon 23 Jan, 2006 1:45 am
by dejavu
Here's the aquascaping. My apologies for the cloudy water, the LFS only just got these LR, so plenty of die offs :( but also lots of interesting critters

A red sponge. I got about 4 of these, they close their tubes when disturbed.

A clam of some sort. He's very shy, and will close if there's change of light intensity. If anyone has any info on this little critter I would really appreciate it.

Will try and locate the brittle star so I can get a photo, and there are also a few feather dusters (red and white).

I had to adjust the rocks a few times because the PH was blowing the sand everywhere. Now it's all good with the PH on full.
Any comment/critique appreciated.

PostPosted: Mon 23 Jan, 2006 9:01 am
by bill
noice! its so cute

PostPosted: Tue 24 Jan, 2006 11:41 pm
by dejavu
Thanks :cheers:

I received the AquaMedic Oceanlight 150w HQI with AB 20K bulb today. Very attractive lighting fixture, everything is of decent quality, I wouldn't exactly call it precision engineering, but then again I am not willing to spend $2000 on a single MH :konk:

First impression on turning it on is the lound humming coming from the magnetic ballast. Now, I used to have a Cisco catalyst 5000 running in my room, which sounded like a few old aircon units! So my tolerance is pretty high! I think I will invest in a eletronic ballast... man this is chewing holes in my wallet.. and I thought photography was expensive!

I really like the color of the light, and will post many photos of the setup for the benefit of anything else thinking about this setup. Also, I think I need a chilling solution of some description, am thinking of CookWork's IceProbe at the moment, I could plumb that into the HOB fitler. What do you guys think?

Also, I got sick of the smell of the curing live rocks, so I scrubbed them all down in buckets of water (all correctly balanced of course), and hopefully this will help it cycle fast. 60% WC tomorrow.

I promise there will be photos ;)

PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2006 2:55 am
by dejavu
Some update: The scrubbing of the rocks turn out well.





PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2006 12:45 pm
by [Huhness]
the light looks great its all coming together nice!

what are you going to be keeping in the tank..??

also with the light whats the temperature in the tank..??

PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2006 3:01 pm
by Tone
Absolutely beaut! Love the filter mod and the neat little light fitting!

Tone :clap:

PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2006 3:40 pm
by dejavu
[Huhness] wrote:the light looks great its all coming together nice!

what are you going to be keeping in the tank..??

also with the light whats the temperature in the tank..??

Thanks a lot for the encouragement!

The plan is to keep mainly corals, maybe some SPS in the future when the tank is mature enough and I am confident in maintaining stable parameters.

As for things that can move, this is my list of considerations at the moment:
1. a few sexy shrimps (these guys tops the list)
2. coral banded shrimp (maybe), the aggression is a concern
3. small star
4. Tridacna Crocea (I believe this is the smallest species)
5. 1 or 2 hermits as cleanup

Funny you asked about the temperature, at the moment the tank is still cycling, so I am not running the lights at all, don't want to feed algae. I am not sure how hot the tank will get, but it will overheat. I am ordering a CookWorks IceProbe off Ebay and plumbing that into the HOB filter to chill the tank. It has 50W of chilling power, which should be enough for this tank. There's no plans for a temp control unit for the chiller yet, I am sure the heater + light will balance the chiller. I am going to plumb it into the lid of the HOB filter.

Draws 12V DC, ~50W of cooling power, able to cool 40 liters by 4 to 5 degrees C.

Think that will cool it enough?

PostPosted: Thu 26 Jan, 2006 3:42 pm
by dejavu
Tone wrote:Absolutely beaut! Love the filter mod and the neat little light fitting!

Tone :clap:

Thanks Tone :) I appreciate the nice words. Still waiting for tank to cycle out, it should smell much nicer than :nut:

PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2006 3:11 am
by Flipturn88
You take some amazing photographs! :bow: Clearly you have admirable skill.

The tank plan sounds great--I can't wait to see how it turns out. Sexies are a must in small tanks. They love to hang out (and wag their rear) on anemones, but due to the size of the tank and the other planned inverts, mushrooms may suffice.

Keep up the great work, and please keep us updated!

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 2:41 pm
by coralline
:withyou: very neat - will be following this one!
are you going to use a background?

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 4:34 pm
by dejavu
Thanks Kayla for the encouragment! I love the looks of sexy shrimps, and have seen a pair at the LFS, but they are pretty rare here IMO. Hopefully when the tank cycled, they will still be available.

Caroline, currently I have no plans for a bg yet, but I am considering a dark dark blue one, perhaps removable. I'll see ;)

Current tank specs:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 1.6mg/L
Nitrate: >110mg/L
Phosphate: 2.5mg/L
pH: 8.2

I have installed a 8cm fan to blow across the water, it seems to counter the halide's heat pretty well. I've installed a "quick release" system for the fan so it can be removed when I need to take the light off for tank maintenance. Some photos will be following soon!

The little hitchhiking clam has moved out of his little den, and is now hanging out near the top, right in the path of the powerhead, smart little fellow :bow: fan worms are popping up everywhere, some with very funky "fans", and I spot a few tiny apstasias too :furious:

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 5:22 pm
by exiled_infidel

Kaylas right, sexys are amazing in a baby tank, tehyre really nice with their tail bobbing and little dancing movements. You could try to get them to host a fluffy morph; just like a tiny anemone in a tank that size.

Alternatively, you could get a pair of anemone shrimp or crabs, ive seen the former for about $20 online (, and tehyre quite dainty too.


PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 6:16 pm
by coralline
dark blue would be nice - if you install actinics a black background would also be effective especially if you have alot of corals in there.

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 6:46 pm
by ATJ
dejavu wrote:...currently I have no plans for a bg yet, but I am considering a dark dark blue one, perhaps removable. I'll see ;)

Note that a light coloured background will result in more light in the tank through reflection. A dark background will absorb more light. It may only amount to 10-20% difference, but every little bit counts.

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 7:50 pm
by dejavu
HTH: Yes! I saw a nano at a LFT here in Sydney, and I instantly fell in love with them! I shall do some research and see what would be a good environment for them. I was considering an invertebrate only tank, but am hunting around for a Mandarin that's already on frozen diet.

Caroline: I don't think I will run actinic, it would be nice for the dawn/dusk effect though! The MH that I am currently using is 20K, so plenty blue. Hey, I took at look at your nano diary, how's it coming along? You should share some new photos of the tank, I would certainly be interested! I read that if you feed your sun coral light no tomorrow, they reproduce very fast ;) obviously not recommanded!

ATJ: Thanks Andrew, that is one fact most would be forgotten about, me included! However, due to the small tank size, the light pnuches through to the sand very well. After looking at the tank for too long, I can close my eyes and still see it :nut:

Right now I am just puzzled why my nitrate is off the test kit's scale :( I cycled the tank without the lights, and I don't see any algae, but do have tiny little macro algae popping up here and there. My tap water is 0 everything, and is neutral in pH. My theory is that there are still some die offs (definitely some from a recent sponge death), but the nitrifying bacteria colonies are well established enough to convert all the NH4 to NO2 and NO3, thus no NH4 reading, but high NO3 conc.

PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 10:35 pm
by coralline
will post some new pics tomorrow when the lights come on but nothing much has changed - I did a big clean up today as I'm still fighting a losing battle with algae. Still have issues with stray voltage post water changes so considering what to do about that. your nano is is close to what I was planning for my next one - but now thinking big, not sure.

good luck with it all and keep the pics coming.

PostPosted: Mon 06 Feb, 2006 2:55 am
by dejavu
Here's a small photo update:

The feared apstasia:

Unknown organism/sponge of some sort:

Closeup of a macro algae's leaf:

Pearls of the Sea - the gaseous product of photosynthesis

PostPosted: Mon 06 Feb, 2006 3:14 am
by tiGs
how is it you made a thing as horrible as aptasia look pretty.... now there are going to be aptasia sympathisers "guard take im out the back and shoot him!"

PostPosted: Mon 06 Feb, 2006 3:46 am
by majesticangelfish
Awesome photos mate, Please keep posting! :clap: :clap:

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2006 5:50 pm
by dejavu
rulz1234 wrote:how is it you made a thing as horrible as aptasia look pretty.... now there are going to be aptasia sympathisers "guard take im out the back and shoot him!"

:roflmao: I certainly hope not! I would thoroughly enjoy the day when they are big enough to nuke.

PostPosted: Tue 07 Feb, 2006 5:56 pm
by majesticangelfish
Try some Joes Juice :thumbsup: Kalk never really worked for me...