Aquarium Setup • Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Fri Mar 19, 2021 12:12 pm

I'm picking up a cheap 100W aqueon just to keep the sump cycling while I search for something hopefully better for the full setup. I wonder if there are any options other than "aquarium" marketed heaters? Would something like this be an option if one were inclined to DIY a custom setup? https://www.mcmaster.com/4668T54/ (more expensive, but would it also be more reliable as it would be "industrial grade"?)

Also had a brief, "I'm an engineer, what would I design that could be better?" moment. My first thought was probably some kind of an induction heater rather than resistive. Turns out there are some patents out there already. So makes me wonder why they're not already being developed and used?


In other news, I stopped adding ammonia at what I think is about 1ppm (and the calculations assuming 5mL of 2% ammonia solution support that). My 5yo picked the same color block on the card so that's my 2nd opinion haha. I'm just going to keep the ammonia light for now. I can increase the bioload once a full cycle is established if I want to once fully set up.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Fri Mar 19, 2021 5:22 pm

Oh, so much to unpack and answer in this one. I'll start going from the point I have it in my brain. Then I'll post that, reread everything, realize I didn't say a whole bunch of stuff and make another post. Rinse and repeat probably also!

2 heaters. your prediction is exactly what you want, actually. I have one set four degrees higher than the other. It is then always on. This means that it has a MUCH higher service life and much lower likelihood to fail. It's just on and dumping heat into the tank. It's why it's undersized. The second is the one that cycles all the time and it keeps your tank the correct temperature. This makes the second much more likely to be the one that fails. It's like the sacrificial anode on a boat motor or water heater. Cost of doing business - maybe $3 per month?

On heater controllers, the idea again is that you set it high so that it's always on. I did not put one on for two reasons. 1. Like you're discovering, I'd need two. 2. The ones that I was looking at had an alarm intended to tell you your heater element broke. It does this by going off if the controller never reaches the set temperature. Therefore, if I were to use it the way I outlined, it would be going off. I gave up and ordered two small heaters.

If your engineer brain itches, look into Positive thermal coefficient heaters. Tech has been in use for a while in other industries and it just making it's way into the aquarium world.

As for my tank - given the amount of things I have dumping heat into it, I have zero problem maintaining temp.

10 Foot long 410 gallon display. Peninsula configuration with the overflow against the wall and the tank sticking out into the room as an architectural element. I convinced Mama to let me split it with an aquarium instead of just building a wall which I was capable of doing and would have cost almost nothing. She's a VERY good wife :D
Dims are 120x30x30. 15 inch canopy, 42 inch stand.
My sump is split into three compartments attached by bulkheads to get proper flow through all my media. The Bean Animal overflow (1.5 inch) goes into a compartment with 4 7" filter socks. Then through there into the media compartment. 48x19 run 10 inches deep. The third compartment is for the pumps - 2 85W simplicity 3200 DC pumps. I have them turned down and just measured the current today. They're running at a constant 60 watts submerged. There's about a 100w heater always on right there.

Pumps push directly into 36W UV sterilizers. Also always on - see cycling heaters breaking. Same thing wearing out UV bulbs. Turning them on and off all the time wears that stuff out. Then up the the room end of the peninsula. Given head loss estimations, I believe I'm moving about 3,000 GPH through the system. The pump compartment shares a box with an ATO Reservoir. The sump, all together, is about 9 feet long and has a total water capacity of 117 gallons plus ATO res.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby DJRansome » Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:51 pm

Did you look at the fish room suppliers for heating solutions? I like the individual Aqueon heaters tank. Or the Hydor inline heaters for the show tanks.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Fri Mar 19, 2021 11:04 pm

DJR, you mean like heating the room rather than the tank? That's not really a good option where I'm putting the tank. This is the aqueon I picked up today to keep the sump cycling. Image

Strum your setup sounds impressive. I'd love a tank like that. 8' is the biggest I can go without punching a hole in my house somewhere, and that may even only be if I assemble on site in the basement. Someday...

What you say about heaters is what I remember. Its the cycling that causes the failures. Constant on isn't suppose to fail or at least lasts a lot longer in theory. I suppose in theory heater #2 in your scenario might even cycle less often than a single appropriately sized heater would I guess. And in the event heater 2 does fail, heater 1 is theoretically still pumping some heat in to hold things over until getting a replacement. I remember I did account for my pump before too. Not sure the wattage it puts out but yeah a submerged heater whatever wattage goes in has to go right into the tank as heat. My pump is advertised for efficiency and low heat. I remember chuckling about that thinking why would anyone care about efficiency when it's all going to balance out on the heater anyways? I guess maybe for a cold water setup.

Speaking of my pump... sigh... going to need a new impeller at least, if not a whole knew pump. When I went down to put the new heater in, the pump was making a loud buzzing/rattling noise it wasn't making yesterday. I assume it's something with the impeller but I guess I can't really rule out something on the motor side. Something weird with the impeller, one of the impeller channels is narrower than the others. In the thicker wall in between that channel and the next, there is a pocket with something wedged or glued in it. I did a quick tear down to see if I could notice something causing the rattling and picked at that piece and it broke right off :oops: . Guessing it's maybe what's used to balance the impeller? In any case, it'd gone now and the rattling/buzzing didn't get any worse when I turned it back on. Flow still feels strong and since it's in the basement and not bothering anyone I left it on.

Given the prices I'm seeing for replacement Rio hyperflow 32HF impellers, anyone got recommendations for submersible pumps in the 1500GPH (at 4' head) range?
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby DJRansome » Sat Mar 20, 2021 9:29 am

No heating the tanks. I am not recommending anything, I chose not to use a system but go individual in my fish room. But FYI there are vendors that sell fish room supplies and systems rather than individual tank equipment.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:53 am

DJRansome wrote:No heating the tanks. I am not recommending anything, I chose not to use a system but go individual in my fish room. But FYI there are vendors that sell fish room supplies and systems rather than individual tank equipment.

Ok cool, I'll do some searching. Thanks
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Sat Mar 20, 2021 11:40 am

Thanks, I must be honest, it is an impressive system. It was one of my main quarantine projects, and it got pretty weird. Super long story really short - We decided we'd do it in July (I drug my feet as I didn't really believe she would be OK with it). I started doing a ton of research, we knew we'd be doing Mbuna. At the time, I had no tanks and had been out of fishkeeping for 10 years. After I had ordered the main tank, and started quarantining fish for it in smaller tanks, I realized I was probably in over my head and searched desperately for the answers I needed. Sometime soon, I'm hoping to put together a thread on building the 410 Malawi Reef.

In my searches, I found really great information in a lot of places I didn't expect. One was Bulk Reef Supply, or BRSTV on YouTube. In a system this large, I'm taking a TON of queues from the reef guys. Want to know about overflows, search the reef forums. (Bean animal, FTW, BTW). Want to know about good pumps and water circulation - go to the reef guys. In a reef, folks are often running so much equipment that heat is actually a problem. In the old days off incandescent lighting, chillers were much more popular and necessary. The lights would overheat a tank, so on the salt side, folks are really concerned about efficiency and heat because the systems are so tight.

Another is Aquariumscience.org. I absolutely love this site. It's the best place I have found on the internet for information on freshwater fish keeping. Many people hate it. Read it anyway. For illustration purposes - see if you can find the article on UV sterilizers. This article discusses science. Things like molar doses of radiation. The sterlizing effect of ultraviolet light, and established principles in photobiology. Then, for comparison, find any other discussion of UV sterilizers in aquariums anywhere (including BRSTV) and they get it WAY wrong. They discuss things like "Dwell time" and other marketing terms that mean nothing. Nobody has yet to be able to show me how to calculate dwell time in my sterilizers, but I can absolutely tell you how much radiation things passing through it receive.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Sat Mar 20, 2021 11:55 am

For your pump, check out the simplicity 2100DC. Judging from the chart on my box, it looks like that one would be putting out 1,300 GPH at about 5 feet. It's controllable, and you can turn it down. Also, because it's DC, I THINK that a battery backup is possible that will run one of my pumps for a full 24 hours for about $300 in parts. For comparison - a UPS power supply with an inverter will run at about 8 hours tops, mostly due to the inverter converting to AC. I proved the concept with a bench power unit, not I'm just waiting on batteries.

For Noise - "Dead Silent" was a design requirement. I got it. The AC pumps have that 60 cycle hum like a Stratocaster. It causes the vibration and the humming. There is no cycling on a DC pump, so they are just a low "Whir" sound. I'm running two of the biggest ones simplicity makes, and I can still hear my brand new fridge in the other room. If you're familiar with an electric trolling motor on a boat, it's like that. Just a silent whir through the floor. Then I isolated the pumps from the plumbing with flexible silicone hose (Thanks BRS) and found a silicone honeycomb trivet on Amazon to set the pumps on to isolate them from the floor.

DC pumps are also adjustable, spin up slowly on start up, and have a pause for feed button that I just love. $136 online. I didn't look at the hyperflow impeller, but that pump is $190? geez...

I learned about simplicity from the LFS guy. I was going to buy an Ecotech Vectra L2 ($479) and he turned me on to simplicity. Drawback was that Ecotech has their own battery solution made to work with the pump, but I think I've gotten around that by building my own. Whole thing will save me about $700 over Ecotech!
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Sat Mar 20, 2021 12:00 pm

Oh yeah, I'm bad at this. I meant to write about heaters too. I'm feeling the reef guys right now. I have only had the main system running for two weeks now, so I'm still dialing in heaters. I think I don't need heaters :) :o

I finally finished the chore of covering all the containers in the Sump, and the lack of evap cooling made me jump 2 degrees! I had been running at 82 and turned the heaters each down about 4 degrees. They were set at about 80 & 84. House is 69 overnight. It's still running at 80. I have not seen the heaters on since I turned them down yesterday.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Sat Mar 20, 2021 9:54 pm

I'll check out that pump recommendation, the flow and price point seem right. Fortunately power has been pretty reliable in my neighborhood. Buried utilities. Never lost power more than a couple hours since moving in. So not too concerned about battery backup. I don't really need silent in the basement, tho I do plan to move my office down there so too much noise might get to me. But when I was down there the other day, when the furnace kicked on it drowned out the pump noise. Mostly just want something that's current tech, reliable and will last.

I will check out the flexible silicone hose you mentioned too. Not super happy with inflexibility of "flexible" vinyl tubing. I did find some 1-1/4" corrugated (smooth ID) clear vinyl tubing for my drains tho that's an improvement from the plastic corrugated tubing I used last setup for the drains.

I bought the rio 32hf in 2010 for $97 from big al's. I think it's just not made anymore so parts and any remaining pumps are expensive now.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:29 am

That sounds awesome. The silicone had to be ordered and was expensive at like $6-10 per foot, but it's really flexible and seems worth it.

I have never lived in a place with power as dependable as I have now. All the lines in my end of town are buried. I have lived here for 10 years, and we believe we have had the power go out twice since we've moved in. The longest was just this year, and it was under 9 hours. And THAT'S the reason it's such a big deal to me now. The power doesn't go out, so it's never top of mind. Which means my generator is not maintained. Which means I would not be able to get everything up and going quickly, because it's not all in the "Quick-draw" position. What that means is that IF the power goes out anywhere near me, there are going to be a TON of people trying to figure out their emergency situation - because IF the power goes out here, it's generally because something went really wrong with the main lines and it will be a while before it's on again.

Since I know myself, and I know I'm lazy and stupid, I'm building the backup now. So, the power goes down and I have literally a whole day to get the carburetor cleaned on the generator and siphon some fuel out of the boat (it's always fresh, she gets run a lot), and get it up and running. I know I'll have to do all this for my generator, because I'm stupid and lazy, so it won't be ready. Or what If I'm on vacation? Batteries now give me a day to get home then.

There was a gigantic storm that came through the PNW last month. I saw people posting on Facebook about losing 400 fish when the power went out. What a devastating loss... I'm just trying to make sure that I take care of that now while I'm thinking about the tank. Mama loves her fishies, she'd be very sad if something happened to all of them at once because the power went out, and we weren't around to deal with it. Perhaps it's the magnitude of my project and how long I've been working on it, combined with the storm, have me a little spooked.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:59 pm

Pretty sure there was a time when I ran this tank at my old place where the power went out long enough I was siphoning water from my sump into 5g buckets to pour back into the display just to keep some circulation going. If you can share any info on how your battery backup system is setup and wired in I'd be interested in checking it out.

Solid recommendation on the simplicity 2100DC. Just arrived today and I had it swapped in and running in about 15 minutes. I also snagged a silicone trivet since that seemed like a pretty good idea too, but honestly not sure I even need it. That pump is more than quiet enough for me. The electronics over by the breaker box and furnace on the other side of the basement buzz louder. I'm going to hold off on silicone tubing. IIRC my overflows are going to be louder than anything else anyways.

I purchased a 300W Eheim Jagar heater with the pump. Longer than I was expecting but it should still work at an angle on the end of the sump next to the pump. It won't work vertical or horizontal. If not by the pump, I'd have to fit it in on the tank return side. Just need to run it in the full setup to validate the temp can't get too high if it fails on. As long as it can't kill fish if it fails on, I think I can deal with finding an emergency replacement in a reasonable time if/when it does ever fail.

No change on the nitrogen cycle yet, all ammonia still no nitrite. Not really unexpected as it's only been 6 days since I started adding ammonia. Planning to clean and do my test fill on the 125 in the garage tomorrow. Need to start on that utility sink too. and running the drain line for the drip system. 10 more days til I have the tank in the basement. got some unexpected car work to do this weekend which will eat one of my working days :(
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby nathanieltyler90 » Fri Mar 26, 2021 9:33 am

Welcome back. How many bioballs are you adding in the tank? I have a 50g setup and am thinking of moving from ceramic rings to bioballs.
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby Rhinox » Fri Mar 26, 2021 5:50 pm

nathanieltyler90 wrote:Welcome back. How many bioballs are you adding in the tank? I have a 50g setup and am thinking of moving from ceramic rings to bioballs.


Thanks. Currently 300 1.5" bioballs from aquatics experts. They came in a zippered mesh bag which is kinda nice for ease of maintenance. But I'm thinking about building a egg-crate (light grid) box so I can put them in loose without them scattering around the sump. I think I'll be able to fill the "chamber" (not really a chamber just the space between foam panels) more efficiently. Right now there is space around the bag where water can flow without passing through them. If I do that, I could probably buy another set of 300. Also may bubble in some air under them as well.

But, for my setup I could probably lose the bioballs entirely and just add another 4" block of foam. The foam has more surface area anyways, and I'm not utilizing the bioballs in their most efficient configuration either (above the water level for "wet-dry" inducing extra oxygenation). The benefit, apart from media redundancy, is that I can scoop some out and toss them in a HOB if I need to set up another tank for isolation or quarantine in a hurry (may be likely to happen with all-male stocking).

IIRC, I didn't really like the idea of ceramic media because the pores can clog easier, and one thing I'm hoping to achieve is to reduce the time I need to spend on maintenance. Theoretically more surface area per volume than bioballs though (I think).
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Re: Setting my 125g back up after 9 years stored in garage

Postby SenorStrum » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:35 pm

I'm really glad you like the Simplicity pump! My case is a little different than yours, I felt a very slight vibration through the floor (My tank sits on wood, yours on concrete slab, I'm guessing). I think the vibration was actually a harmonic difference between the two pumps, and the trivets helped with that, anyway.

About egg-crate: A solution I came up with is to use Matala Mat instead. It's rigid, comes in 1.5 inch wide sheets, and can be wedged into a sump as a divider wall to hold things instead of egg-crate, plus it adds a lot of bio-media surface at 170 ft^2/ft^3. I have a cubic foot of K1 sandwiched between these two layers, like you're mentioning with the bio balls. This is temporary and will be removed. I cycled the K1 in the garage a lot like you're doing with your sump, but in the end I decided that having it fluidized was too noisy, and so I'm switching over to foam. Again, I'm using the Matala to hold up multiple layers of 2 inch foam. I consider it a Hamburg Matten Filter type sump, which leads me to my next point - I would go with extra foam over extra bio-balls. I do use the cycled K1 like you're mentioning though. A media bag full of that makes anything fish safe immediately.

I read aquariumscience.org. Then I read it again in its entirety. And then I got rid of all my ceramic. I advocate for everyone to do the same and the reason is very simple - no matter how great it is at the start (This is even debatable) after a very short time, you're left with nothing but the surface area to grow bacteria. The pores simply clog. If you don't believe me, get any piece of ceramic media that's been in use for more than a month or two (fully cycled) and you won't be able to blow any air through it. Do you think water is getting through that to the 170,000 ft^2/Ft^3? It may technically exist, but it's practically worthless. I use it now as planting media for pothos in HOBs.

As for the battery backup, my batteries arrived yesterday. I'll try to build it this week, and share a wiring diagram once I prove it works. I'm all talk at this point :)
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