Archive for February, 2009

My CADlights 39G Aquarium

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

All kinds of exciting news for the New Year: I got engaged, been traveling all over the country, reconnected with old friends, the works. But why bore you with all of that, I got a new aquarium!

For those of you who didn’t know, I was on the second round of the same 20g tank. First round blew: I was impatient, overfed and had very low quality beginner equipment. Water quality was subpar and the water circulation in the tank was not nearly powerful enough.

So I did some major overkill. I bought an external overflow, new live rock, sump and protein skimmer. I threw out the old powerhead and got two Tunze nano circulation pumps, and a bunch of PVC plumbing to put it together.

For starters, I am not a DIY person, so my first trip to Home Depot was a disaster. I was lucky enough to drag Liz to Lowes for the right plumbing equipment. Second, I made some miscalculations and the sump didn’t fit under the tank stand. I was lucky it fit behind it.

I ran this tank for six months and it was a huge improvement. Water quality was excellent, the animals I got stayed very healthy. I drasticaly scaled back my feeding which decreased algae growth and other bacteria problems. Things were going well.

My design had a few flaws, one potentially fatal, the others just a growing nuisance that finally had to be dealt with.

For starters, the sump sat in front of the fireplace on the floor without a cover. Massive amounts of crusted salt began to appear on the fireplace glass, not to mention we couldn’t use the fireplace. There was no way to elevate the sump, so I had two powerful pumps sitting against the sump walls on the floor. This created a VERY loud vibration. Also getting the water from the main tank to the sump required a 3 1/2 foot drop at approximately 300 gallons per hour. Know how that sounds? LOUD!

The fatal flaw was the external overflow. You need a way for the water to get from the main tank to the sump (filtration tank). The best (and now only way) is to use an internal overflow where the water goes through a predrilled hole. External overflows rely on a small pump to pump out the air and create a siphon so water can exit the tank and into the sump, where a pump sits to pump the water back up to the main tank.

What happens if the external overflow fails? You have a major flood. When setting it up it took 2 decent size spills to figure out the external overflow. You have to keep the tubes short and open for best performace. And you have to pray the siphon pump doesn’t die.

Not that the pump ever let me down after I dialed it in, but who the hell knows what could happen? You are depending on the cheapest type of pump known to man! As the other nuisance parts continued, a new design was in order.

After doing much research, I decided I wanted an all in one tank. Basically the tank is divided into a large display portion in front and the “sump” in the back. The sections are partioned with a piece of tall acrylic with slits at the top, just like a real internal overflow. Best part is, no leaking or plumbing!

I chose a CADlights complete system. It is a frameless glass tank totally 39 gallons in capacity. The main display portion is 31 gallons. The rear “sump” section contains room for plenty of filtration equipment including skimmer and refugium (and bioballs if you choose to go the way).

Pictures to come of my final setup, I’m at the cleanup stage!

Here is a quickie of the new tank.