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Full Biological Filtration System Tank(s) Build.

Discussion in 'Expert Info' started by wyofish, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    Ok so I have been contemplating this style of aquarium for a some time now, and since I will be living in Colorado for the next foreseeable future, I think it is time to try it out and share my successes or failures with y'all. I have been following a friend of mines 40gal breeder tank build for a while (I don't have a link to his thread), and find his success with full natural filtration to be a foreshadow into the future of advanced reef keeping. I know the practice has been around for many years with Leng Sy revolutionizing the refugium, but I think it is time for more attention to the natural order of biological filtration. Since I don't have any blueprints made up with the design of the system I will have to explain it the best I can in words. Even though this thread won't have questions per say, feel free to read all of it as a giant question.

    The system will be divided up into four separate containers varying in size with the smallest tank acting as the coral reef. The first tank will simulate a mangrove forest estuary where freshwater tank waste water will top off the entire system. This tank will fluctuate in salinity and nutrients consistently during the day, but in theory should stabilize before it reaches the coral tank. This tank will have its own canister filter to aid in some gas exchange, and have a small return pump from the sump supplying it with saltwater like mini tides. As top off water is added into this container it will start overflowing the container more aggressively into the following container that has a deep san bed and macro algae. BTW the first container will be mud, rock, and sand. The second container will have no return pump supply from the sump to help level out nutrients from the top container. As the water chain reaction continues from the first container into the second container, it will again spill into the third container that contains a deep sand bed, sponge, gorgonians, some soft corals, aiptasia or rock anemones, and more macro algae for a final nutrient scrub. I hope that by the time water reaches into the third container nitrates, phosphates, and other macro nutrients will be consumed like a natural lagoon. A more aggressive powerhead and wave makers will occupy this container to synthesize fore reef currents. Continuing the process, water will reach the final aquarium and sump that is a full mixed reef with everything you would expect to see in a display tank.

    So that is the beginning idea, as it becomes more detailed I will update with pictures and build details. This is intended to be more of an experiment more than anything, so if anybody has thoughts, concerns, or additional ideas let me know! Can't wait to get up to Colorado and meet all y'all!
  2. BrianH

    BrianH Prawn M.A.S.C Club Member ex-officio

  3. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    So this is the first organism going into the top tier of the system. Its hard to tell, but the tape in the back is reading about 43". Hopefully it can export some nutrients. Im going to try and track down some other mangrove species and turn it into a mixed mangrove estuary.

    Attached Files:

  4. SynDen

    SynDen Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C President M.A.S.C Webmaster

    Sounds great, and a very similar concept to what I am planning with my big tank build, so curious to see this one in action.
  5. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Cool concept. I'll be following along. That is an awesome mangrove. Did you grow it from a propagule?
  6. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    Not sure I am following here. Will RODI be added here, or water from somewhere else?
  7. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    All the water top off will come from a storage container of aerated waste water from my freshwater systems diluted with RO/DI water. I use RO/DI for all my tanks and then add nutrients back into it. And to answer your other question, yes, the mangrove was grown from a pod. It is pushing seven years at the moment. It was kept in relatively small confinements so the canopy had to be trimmed constantly. Hopefully I can provide enough space to allow more growth in the leaves. I also hated pulling dead leaves out of the tank, but maybe with this attempt at a full bio system, I can let them decompose.
  8. BrianH

    BrianH Prawn M.A.S.C Club Member ex-officio

    What nutrients are you adding to your RODI water?
  9. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    For my freshwater systems- potassium, iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and various trace elements. In fact I have ground up small SeaLab28 blocks and added small amounts to my freshwater for trace elements.

    And to my saltwater- salt mix, usually red sea coral pro, or tropic marin pro reef. Then various amounts of calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, iodine, strontium, and other trace elements.

    Hopefully most nutrients will be absorbed by the marine plants. Iron should be used up by halymenia sp., sargassum sp., and mangrove(s). In fact I might add extra iron doses. Extra magnesium for sure used by the mangrove(s). phosphorous by all organic plant matter. Trace elements dispensed through other organisms. Rock should neutralize the slight acidity to the water helping buffer ph, and release extra calcium amounts feeding halimeda sp..
  10. BrianH

    BrianH Prawn M.A.S.C Club Member ex-officio

    I am following the river meets the ocean thought process for sure. It is my understanding that in nature for the most part these areas are coral reef free because of the high nutrient (decaying organic matter,phosphates and nitrates as coral growth inhibitors) load in the water. Your plan then is to then remove these by biological (algae/plant) uptake. It seems like an added complication unless you are doing it to prove it can be done (which would be awesome!) What kind of corals are you planning on?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2015
  11. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    To be completely honest, Im hoping to prove that other benefits happen with the river "meets the ocean" style aquarium. I theorize that more zooplankton/phytoplankton will be produced to help feed coral. And on that note, I might consider turning the third container into a soft coral bed with NPS corals. The fourth container or display aquarium, will hopefully be adorned with various corals represented by as many species as possible. I think I will only add frags and monitor their growth.
  12. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    I think I have to change the river idea. I think it will be best to refer to it as forest runoff water instead of a river. I won't be adding tons of sediment into my mangrove container, just nutrient rich water.
  13. halmus

    halmus Cuttle Fish Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C Secretary

    Following along. I am looking forward to seeing your results. That's an impressive mangrove!
  14. flyfish

    flyfish Amphipod M.A.S.C Club Member

    This sounds pretty interesting.What part of Wyoming are you moving from?We moved down from there 4 years ago.There are some pretty cool folks down here
  15. Miah2bzy

    Miah2bzy Barracuda M.A.S.C Club Member

    Following along, really like the concept and looking to see it in action!
  16. MuralReef

    MuralReef Shark Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. MASC Vice-President

    That is an awesome tree! That's what I'm hoping to see in the build I'm currently working on at my school.
  17. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    I'm from Casper, and since you lived in Wyoming you know there aren't many options for reef tanks. I live in Az now, where there are a lot more options. I am very excited to move to the Denver area, I've heard nothing but great things about the reef community.

    I hope we both have success in are endeavors. I wish that I had a teacher like you when I was in school. More hands on experience with natural organisms should enhance interest from your students. In high school I used to come down to Boulder for the Ocean Bowl. Fun times back in the day.
  18. Balz3352

    Balz3352 Marlin M.A.S.C Club Member

    Interesting, very interesting! Following along
  19. wyofish

    wyofish Registered Users

    So as I've been thinking about this system, I've realized that the ratio of tank volume to biological load has to be constant with nutrient export. There is going to be a minimal fish load, but I think inverts will pose a slight problem to my system in waste production. I want there to be a large volume of micro algae removers and detritivores, but small waste producers. All I can think of is the standard snails and crabs, but also want to consider starfish and cucumbers. The only problem with both the latter, is there success rate in closed systems. Can anybody provide possible information on success with both groups of inverts? I think that linckia stars are out... so that leaves sand sifters, fromia, brittle, and nordia stars, and most cucumbers are equally challenging as starfish. What do y'all think?

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