Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Started

I've been a freshwater aquarium hobbyist my entire life. During that time, I've also attempted to start two or three marine aquariums, all of which have met with tragic failures. My friends used to call my aquarium "The tank of death" because i'd go out and drop a lot of cash on some exciting invertebrates that would last about a week.

This time around, I believe I have enough time, money and patience to get it right. For all I know, this will be another failure but it's worth keeping a record.

This is a blog about my 75 gallon marine aquarium and the lessons I've learned about setting one up successfully (I hope).  Also, since I am an expert in Process Control Systems - such as those that run nuclear power plants and oil refineries, and I am the author of the online data logging system Nimbits : www.nimbits.com. I also intent to document how I am automating this system online.

Day 0

I first set up my tank by filling it with fresh water from the hose about 80% of the way. Leaving room for rocks, sand future critters etc. I then added the appropriate amount of Stress Coat - a de-chlorination chemical and letting it sit open over night.

Day 1

A road trip to That Pet Place in Lancaster PA was well worth it. This is an amazing pet store with Marine Biologists on staff and extremely healthy animals.  This is where the first lesson in starting a reef tank comes into play. I very much wanted to buy some exciting little critters but had to stick to my shopping list:

20 pounds of Fiji uncured live rock
5 bags of Live Sand
1 Under Gravel Filter.
2 Power Heads for the under gravel filter.
100 gallons worth of Sea Salt Mix (two 50 gal bags)
1 Hydrometer
1 High Output Florescent Lighting System  - Invertebrates / Corral need HO Lighting or more.

Getting home, I added the Sea salt to my now aged and chlorine free water until it was at the correct density. I then gave it a couple of hours to dissolve and clear up.  I then installed the under gravel filter, emptied the live sand on top of the filter, and added the live rock.

Doing it this way left me with a very cloudy tank, but I couldn't figure any other way of having the water dechlorinated before adding the sand and rock. I definitely didn't want to rinse the live rock or sand. I installed the power heads on the under-gravel filter and let things settle.

Day 2

Still a little cloudy but clearing up.

Day 3. 

Crystal clear water. Now the waiting begins.  The method i'm using to set this tank up is to ensure the lowest members of the food chain have time to get going and established before adding higher predators.  We're going to give whatever is hiding in the live rock and sand a chance to get very established.

Day 7. 

Today I spotted a small shrimp like thing running across the sand and i'm starting to see a brown algae form. Whatever is happening is showing me that things are coming to life and my water is livable.