SWC Xtreme HOT Review

July 19th, 2009

After months of convincing, begging, saving, and massive research, I upgraded the protein skimmer on my 40G aquarium.  I replaced my Tunze 9002 with a Saltwater Connection’s (SWC) Extreme Hang on Tank skimmer, purchased from Reef Filtration.  Luke is a great guy to work with and was great in answering all my questions.

At the beginning of this summer I decided to replace my 9002, which was purchased in February.  I didn’t feel I was getting very good performance out of it.  Dry skimming on the unit seemed useless as all the gunk would built-up in the neck and never spill over.  Wet skimming gave me an overflowing collection cup full of clear water.  The unit also sat in the “sump” section of my AIO tank, and it just didn’t have the power to pull out the big gunk, which sits at the bottom and it just a cesspool of bacteria.  Ironically the pump in the Tunze died the day I ordered the SWC and I’ve been happier with the old backup BakPak I put on in the interim.  I have a primarily SPS dominated tank with 4 fish (2x clowns, Golden Tonga Blenny and a mandarin dragonnet) with a few LPS and a zoanthid rock (maybe my favorite part of the whole tank).  I have a tailspot blenny and maybe a small school of chromis left on my fish list.  When my mother purchased an Octopus BH-1000 for her tank and performed better than anything I’ve ever had, well I guess that would be the last straw.

After looking at a ton of Octopus hang ons, I narrowed it down to the 800s, and randomly found a link to the SWC.  I decided on the SWC for two reasons: 1) bigger neck and 2) input and output design.  The last thing I want to do on a new skimmer is mod it, and cutting off pinwheels or drilling holes in the skimmer body – which it seems everyone with an 800s has to do – was not very attractive.  The SWC has a much larger neck (3″x5″, essentially a SWC 160) that eliminates the overflow story heard by EVERY 800s owner I’ve ever spoken with.

If you take a look at the input and output design of the SWC, it is just ingenious!  The preskimmer can be adjusted up or down depending on your water level.  The output bends into a bubble trap before entering the tank.  Yes the part in the tank is white and we would all prefer black, but that just means more corals to purchase to cover it up . . .

The Deltec MCE600 fell out of favor, numerous reviews I found thought it was a good skimmer but not for the money.  An ATB Multi use would be at the top of my list if I had $650 to blow.  But for that price I would just buy a bigger tank with a sump and a SWC/MSX in-sump.

The skimmer arrives Tuesday via UPS, expect much more to come . . .

Updated Tank Shots

June 4th, 2009

This is a pretty current series of shots of my tank.  Enjoy!


And now the rest of the story . . .

May 17th, 2009

So our wedding date is set, our invite list is almost complete, our house is in escrow, I figured I should post the answer to the one question I repeatedly get: how did you propose?

Now if you are getting the impression I shiver to retell the tale au contraire.  Typically the women and men adore it, not for my style but mostly because I can’t stop smiling nor can I relive the moment with any sort of pith.

The beginning of January Liz and I were talking on the computer, she was most likely working diligently while I was sorting out some medical insurance nonsense.  The wily girl mentioned how I wouldn’t be having this paperwork debacle if I were on her work insurance plan – with a big instant messaging smiley face at the end of her sentence.  Well if you know Liz and I at all we love to have a good back and forth, and I was in the middle of typing how I can just jump the gun and ask her to marry me while we vacation in Utah with her family six weeks from now.

I stopped typing and thought to myself, “Holy shit.  That’s a great idea.”  It is hard to think up a proposal plan and here in jest I brewed one up and was about to give it up for free!  I jumped onto a calendar: 6 weeks.  I could pull it off in six weeks, right?  I consulted my parents and thought it would be a pretty cute idea, snow drifts and all.  I sent a message to my boys hoping to rally them for a boy meeting, we couldn’t get together but they knew what I was up to.

So the search began and ended at Tiffany’s, I mean how can you go wrong?  A young woman named Kathryn Moore was more than helpful with my selection at Rodeo Drive.  So Beverly Hills I know.  I was ready to roll to San Diego to have dinner with Liz’s parents, call me traditional but even after 14 years of friendship, you have to get the blessing.  Bumps in the diamond road followed, my stone had been SOLD!  Kathryn was the greatest, she had an identical stone en route delivered by 3PM.

Having never purchased an engagement ring or asked for a parents’ permission to steal their only daughter, I thought a suit and tie would be appropriate attire for the day.  I dragged them to Ruth’s Chris and I don’t think I’ve seen Cathy Graham smile in front of a piece of jewelry like that before. I was pretty jazzed.  As expected, Hank asked me with a huge smile what I would do if he said no.  I didn’t think of the response then, but I should have said, “Then you’re picking up the bill.”

Just over four weeks to go until our vacation.  Four weeks of obsessively opening my office drawer looking at this beautiful ring I got for the love of my life.  By day two, I cracked like stucco in an earthquake.

I got the right answer from my mom.  What a fantastic enabler: “Well you don’t have any memories or special significance in Utah together, it’s just a trip.  A nice one, and the snow is nice, but your lives and memories now are in LA, why wait?”

Why wait indeed.  I made a late night reservation at Boa in West Hollywood, amazing steakhouse, even rivals my own personal favorite Donovan’s if you can believe that.  But Liz is no fool.  ”Honey, we don’t need to blow that kind of money unless we are doing something special.”  I forced her to plan on going without giving up anything.  Well that’s not entirely true, I am a total tease.

What an amazing place, the atmosphere was very personal and intimate, by no means a cookie-cutter restaurant.  As our meal wound down I jokingly said to Liz, “Well maybe you should go to the bathroom and there will be some champagne glasses here with a ring in one of them.”  She scowled at me and left.  I took out the ring box – which I had so slyly kept hidden even during a pat-down by my future fiancé before leaving our apartment – out from under my thigh and called the waiter.  All I did was open it.

“I need one shot of Patron silver here before she comes back, I need two glasses of champagne, but I’m not going to put the ring in it.”  He couldn’t stop laughing and smiling, it would be pretty damn cool to play a hand in something so significant for someone.  My shot of liquid steel arrived and I dispatched with it post-haste.  Liz came back and moments later two glasses of champagne arrived.  She grinned and started to inspect it, I got another scowl when she saw it contained no carbon.

We actually started talking about our wedding.  It’s come up before, it’s no secret; we live together, have a dog, and known each other more than half our lives.  At random I interjected and said I wanted to propose in Utah.  She looked kind of dumbfounded, pondering why I would mention it.  I know she did the math in her head: four more weeks.

We were always debating where our wedding would be, in San Diego or Los Angeles.  The topic came up again and I interrupted.  I said, “Before we do anything else, there is one thing I need to do in LA.”

“What?” she replied.

BAM!  I had her walk right into it.  I got out the box and opened it in front of her, “I need to propose to you in LA.”  That’s when I dropped on one knee and the grand finale . . .

Let’s just say Liz has a new favorite steakhouse.

A Minerd Wedding

April 12th, 2009

Saturday June 5, 2010

A nice change from Deputy Dog

March 26th, 2009

While I DO NOT agree with a fair number of Mr. Obama’s policies, I must say I do appreciate how engaged and intelligent he is.  It is nice to see him actually WORK and try to connect with people.  He sells his opinion with more than just simple words and his own convictions.  It is such a nice change from the with us or against us bullshit.  Oh yeah, and being able to speak complete and coherent sentences is a nice plus.

My CADlights 39G Aquarium

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.


Paris Day 7

August 30th, 2008



The intermission room.

The intermission room.

Exquisite.  The decoration and the girl.

Exquisite. The decoration and the girl.


Definitely one of my favorites of the paintings.

Definitely one of my favorites of the paintings.

Our last day in Paris, so sad.  Liz and I have had a great time roaming around a truly great city.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the pleasantness of the Parisians we have met (we all know the stereotype) and would come back in a heartbeat.  Highly recommend you come, the city is blessed with outstanding culture and an atmosphere that is especially unique.

Today we tackled the Louvre, and tackle we did.  We went through HUNDREDS of paintings, probably more like a thousand.  Early to romantic French works, Italian, Flemish bloc artists, great masterpieces from all over Western Europe.  The collection is fantastic, wide ranging and vast.  Amongst my favorites include David (I love The Death of Socrates which is at the MET, the Crowning of Emperor Napoleon is at the Louvre and another masterpiece), Ruebens (even if you don’t like how he paints women, he has a flair for the dramatic) and the landscape artists Vernet.

Mid day we figured a break from the Louvre would be necessary, so we grabbed lunch at an awesome cafe (the place was established in 1787) in the middle of a garden courtyard surrounded by government buildings.  Definitely a locals hangout, we felt so cool.  We walked up the street after lunch to the national Opera house, the same one that inspired the tale of Phantom of the Opera.  I’ll keep this description quick, but holy crap, the inside is amazing.  Just look at the pictures (when they get posted).  Apparently trying to impress the aristocracy is important in 18th century France.

Liz and I ate back near Les Halles at a butcher and had our first experience with an snobby Paris waiter (our only one in seven days!), but the excellent bottle of wine eased the evening.  The good meat didn’t hurt either.

MASSIVE amounts of pictures are soon to be uploaded at my photo album, mynyrd.smugmug.com.  You’ll find this trip under the Travel section.  I can’t wait to get back to Europe, and I highly recommend you see Paris before you die.  You won’t regret it.

I also recommend you bookmark the RSS feed on this page so you don’t have to keep checking back for updates.  Don’t know what RSS is?  Check out this link.

Au revoir!

Paris Day 6

August 30th, 2008
Pretty ridiculous, the room and the crowd

Pretty ridiculous, the room and the crowd

This is a small taste of the Versailles estate

This is a small taste of the Versailles estate

This is a small view of the main palace

This is a small view of the main palace

Hi everyone!  Today we spent our day outside of the city and took a day trip to Versailles.  We managed to hop the train sans too much trouble.  Louis XIV in the mid-18th century decided he was sick and tired of the quick hustle and dirt of the city.  So he went out to Versailles, his father’s small hunting chateau, and decided to build a city that would be the new French capital.  So some 380 million francs later, Versailles turned into a monstrosity of a palace.  It housed a ton of paintings, sculpture and endless gardens, all tended by over 20,000 palace personnel.

The thing is, it isn’t all that impressive.  The main palace complex is a display of vulgar and absurd spending; no wonder the Revolution started.  The expansive gardens at the main residence are very stiff and rigid, lots of harsh right angles and super pruning.  It is definitely an experience not to miss, I guess I was less impressed and more nonchalant about the ability of royalty to show off disgusting amounts of wealth.

The best part of the palace was the queen’s area, about a mile down the road from the main residence.  This was Marie Antoinette’s domain and it shows.  The living quarters are much more modest and nicely decorated, compared to the ungodly gold trim in the king’s residence.  Her gardens are much less harsh and more natural, what they call an english style garden.  We walked around for awhile, but to be honest at this point we were getting pretty goofy.  Lots of walking and dealing with fellow tourists all day (the walking route through the main palace area was more of a shuffle with the crowd).

After getting a solid 4 mile walking day under our belts, we headed back to Paris on a very crowded train.  We kept dinner on the cheap tonight, hitting up our local sandwich shop and packing it in early.  Tomorrow we finish the Louvre, with a visit to the Opera house to break up the constant exposure to Jesus and old European boobs.

Back in the states!

August 28th, 2008

Just landed! Complete updates en route, hope you are all well!

Paris Day 5

August 25th, 2008


See, we are vacationing together!

See, we are vacationing together!


@ the Eiffel Tower

@ the Eiffel Tower

My minions!  Let us drink to the glory of France!  Sorry kids, I’m feeling a touch benevolent after visiting Notre Dame and the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte, like I got a piece of the French in me.

We finally made it into Notre Dame.  Marie Antoinette over here was not going to wait in the huge lines we saw over the weekend, so we hit up the Gothic cathedral at 10am.  Not a line to be seen.  We cruised through the inside without hassle.  It is a spectacular space in true Gothic fashion, with amazing stained glass windows and endless vaulted ceilings.  The view from the top is magnificent, with stunning panoramas of Sacre Coeur to Eiffel Tour to the Louvre and the Arc de Triumphe.  We got delicious sandwiches on the go while on the Left Bank on our way to Chapel Sainte Germain (different one than before).  Another beautiful and classic Medieval cathedral, that has seen some interesting baptismals including the Marque de Sades. 

Our hoofed it over to the Hotel de Invalides, down the rue from Eiffel Tour.  This was a military retirement hospital and is now a military museum and final resting place of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.  The place is massive, the sarcophagus is easily 20 feet tall, made out of solid marble, being overlooked by maybe 10 lady victories, with a giant vaulted ceiling above the recessed crypt.  The guy was apparently a pretty big deal.

Next we cruised to the Eiffel Tour, the iconic Parisian landmark.  The gardens are beautiful and the lines to get up the tower are . . . long.  Long like . . . well long.  It would have taken more than 2 hours just to get tickets to take the STAIRS to the second level.  After seeing multiple views of the city, we were content to get an ice cream cone and bask in the late afternoon glow of the tower.  Sugar rush in hand, we walked up to the Arc de Triumphe.  A military tribunal and France’s tomb of the unknown soldier, the Arc is much more massive than any picture you’ve seen.  It’s size doesn’t quite strike you until you get there.  More stairs greeted us to gain top level access, and again our museum passes came in handy to bypass the line.  The interesting part of the Arc is its location, the Right Bank is a straight line from the Louvre to the new modern part of the city, with the Arc in the middle.  Sitting at the opposite end of the Louvre along the Champs Elysees is a modern day Arc that ties new to old in an interesting fashion.

Dinner was a quant little cafe near the Les Halles area, complete with background cathedral and local grandfathers harassing the bartender.  We have had an excellent time so far.  Tomorrow we venture beyond Paris proper, to what would briefly be called the new capital of France: Versailles.  Till tomorrow!