New FOWLR setup - UGF question

Discussion in 'Reef Fishes' started by tmaccabe, May 13, 2006.

  1. tmaccabe

    tmaccabe

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    Hello,

    Like many people, I did the impulsive thing. I bought a tank at Petco for SW use, before doing research, or finding the local gurus.

    So, now I have a setup which I hope is slightly better than the average bloke in my situation.

    26gal bow tank
    Undergravel Filter with 60lbs crushed coral (about 3-4")
    Reverse Flow power head
    Skilter 250
    20lbs Live Rock
    (1) 15watt 50/50 flourescent bulb
    2 damsels

    I just had my first bloom of brown algae and performed a 50% water change. 2 days before all levels were within specs. The tank has been operating since May 1st, 06. 20lbs of the coral were bought "live" in a bag off the shelf.

    I've just become aware of the fact that my Skilter is not favored among hobbyists, nor are under gravel filters. Sigh...

    What to do?

    I'm considering reducing my coral depth to 1 1/2 inches to increase the reverse flow through the substrate and make vacuuming more productive. Would experts agree?

    I've got a Penguin 200 Bio-wheel that I can use vice my Skilter, and I'm considering buying this ODYSSEA Pro Pak skimmer/bio-filter for use with it? http://www.aquatraders.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=108
    Would experts agree, or should I stick with my Skilter?

    Thanks.

    -Tony.
     
    tmaccabe, May 13, 2006
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  2. tmaccabe

    jhnrb

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    Advice to newbie

    Stop. Stop. Stop. Do not buy anything else at this time. Go to the helpful articles and on page one you will find some articles for the beginner and new tank setup. while you are there browse around and read all the articles that look interesting to you. once done you will have most all questions answered. if still confused then post back here in your thread with any remaining questions. until you have a basic understanding of the principles of saltwater, you run the risk of wasting you money, time, and getting fed up with the saltwater side of the hobby, however, with a little knowledge and understanding of the saltwater side of things, you will have an easier go of it and a lot of enjoyment, as well as spending you dollars wisely. so read read read for the next couple weeks and do not add anything else to your system at this time. welcome to the forum and let us know if you have any further questions. if you do not know why you are doing something, long term success is difficult, so it is my best recommendation for you to take a breath, read the articles, and then regroup with a plan that will give you the biggist bang for your bucks and create a fun and enjoyable project.
     
    jhnrb, May 13, 2006
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  3. tmaccabe

    tmaccabe

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    Here I am part way through the cycle, and I don't know if I should keep things as they are, or fix them now before I have too much cycling time invested and too much live stock to make a transition easy. Yes, I've been reading.

    A local reef guy says to tear out the undergravel filter and reduce my substrate to nearly zero. I have had problems with these filters in the past, and I know a thick bed is rather old school. Yet, I'm not doing a reef tank, that is to say I'm not buying delicate corals and species that will not be forgiving. I'm not planning on upgrading my lighting to support this.

    What about the reverse flow setup? How does it change recommended depths or people's opinions about UGFs? Is a reverse flow UGF okay for a FOWLR tank with just 20lbs of LR?

    What about the buffering capacity provided by the crushed coral? Isn't this still desirable, or am I wasting my time?

    If I am going back to my Bio-Wheel, I think that sooner is better than later. Thanks for your sage advice, but I'm looking for something a bit more specific. My failed attempt at a reef tank is what's leading me down the FOWLR path this time. I hope it's a good one.

    Thanks,

    -Tony.
     
    tmaccabe, May 13, 2006
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  4. tmaccabe

    jhnrb

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    Your bio indicates this is your 3rd attempt. your approach and setup is not one that will provide you with the needed environment to support successfully a marine habitat without some extrodinary maintenance routines. you did not say if you have a protien skimmer either. now it makes no difference to me how you want to proceed but I can tell you that if you do not take the time to understand the basics of marine husbandry you will just keep throwing your dollars away. Yes you will probably have some limited success, but for long term you will most likely not prevail. we have all been down the road you are on currently at one time or another and it would not be kind of me to advise you any different than I have. no two systems are the same and opinions are just that. what works for one may not work for another so, you will need to understand the basics in order to muttle through the many different opinions to determine which is best for you. others cannot make that decision for you. Feel free to PM me or e-mail me if you would like to discuss issues further, and I would think others will weigh in here also. The following items are nitrate traps and a hinderance to good water quality, bio wheels, mechanical filtration (not cleaned every week), crushed coral deep bed (not vacuumed weekly which precludes a heathy live substrait). good luck on your system and best wishes for success.
     
    jhnrb, May 14, 2006
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  5. tmaccabe

    tmaccabe

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    I just finished reading a couple articles that discussed reversed flow undergravel filters. Concensus seems to be that they don't work as well as theory would suggest; that the flow through them is not really enough to stop the downward creep of nasty stuff and eventual clogging.

    One person asked about a system where the water was pushed down one end and pulled up the other. Interesting. This would seem to eliminate low flow pockets beneath the filter, adding a good sized surface area for bio-filtration. If this led to no flow up or down through the substrate, would that be a bad thing? Perhaps, but what if it were relatively thin such that it could be vacuumed easily? Would this not be a safer configuration during power outages since there would hopefully not be big waste pockets going suddenly without flow? Then it wouldn't matter that upward/downward flow is not evenly distributed due to compacted areas, such as under live rock.

    It seems today that a 4" fine oolitic sand bed mixed with coral (without a UGF) is recommended because Nitrates are actually broken down into free Nitrogen, completing the cycle. Why does it need to be so deep? The deeper the bed, the harder to vacuum effectively as part of a small weekly water change. Would the UGF flow-through idea above help or hurt this process?

    Regarding a skimmer: I have a Skilter 250, but I've read that there are better options, like the skimmer/bio-filter I linked to earlier. Still looking for opinions here:

    A Skilter 250, or a Penguin 200 Bio-Wheel combined with a ODYSSEA Pro Pak Skimmer/Bio-Filter?

    BTW, the first attempt hardly counts, as it was doomed to failure. A 10gal with an anenome, clownfish, and no clue.

    Attempt number 2 was in 1997. A 20gal high sided tank with a modified Eclipse hood. I went full throttle on a mini-reef. Won't do that again. That's where I learned about using an UGF with plenty of crushed coral. Vacuuming was a nightmare. I didn't know times had changed so much given internet forums like this. There is so much more to learn. Good stuff.

    Thanks.

    -Tony.
     
    tmaccabe, May 14, 2006
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  6. tmaccabe

    tmaccabe

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    You'll be glad to hear:

    I talked with a local guru. He said to take out the UGF, but agreed that it might be an interesting experiment to try the thru-flow idea.

    Well, as I was messing with the UGF, taking out most all of my substrate, I decided to do a flow test on my AquaClear 50 Reverse Flow Powerhead.

    Results:

    Reverse flow is about half that of forward flow, even with no back pressure. I cleaned out the unit to make sure there was no blockage. None.

    Looking up thru the tank bottom I could see that the flow was not even enough to clear out the silt that was settling under the filter plate. This was with nothing on top of the plate.

    Needless to say, I yanked the UGF and I wouldn't now recommend a UGF or RUGF to anyone. I think my idea would need serious pumpage to make it even close to viable. Probably much more of a pain than anything.

    My tank now has a 2" layer (20lbs) of fine live sand mixed with crushed coral.

    I'm keeping my live rock down to an amount that can fit into a 5 gal bucket (so that I can vacuum efficiently).

    Heads up. If adding live sand to a running tank, be sure to have extra mechanical filtration on hand. The stuff foams like crazy and it leaves a ton of particles in suspension. I've got my damsels in a bucket for now.

    R/

    -Tony.
     
    tmaccabe, May 20, 2006
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  7. tmaccabe

    jhnrb

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    Thanks for the update. Glad to hear you made the right decision. good luck on your project.
     
    jhnrb, May 20, 2006
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  8. tmaccabe

    minireefer

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    alot has already been discussed here.I would the removing ugf and reducing the crused coral to make cleaning it easier.I would use the penguin and remove the bio -wheel shortly after the cycle is done.As for a skimmer the ODYSSEA Pro Pak
    idea is good and based on a CPR Bak-Pak 2.The pump on the other may be short lived,and you will need a bubble trap to keep micro bubbles out.I have using a coralife superskimmer 65 on my 29 gallon with excelent results http://hellolights.com/susknewh65ga.html you might find it cheaper elseware.You allso try using the skilter along with the penquin and what kind of muck it will pull.If it does not than look into a new skimmer.Also if you remove the rock and constantly scub it clean I would think it would not be able to provide the Bio you are looking for.Instead of removing it you could get reef janitors to keep it clean.Maybe some else can add to that?
     
    minireefer, May 22, 2006
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  9. tmaccabe

    djnzlab1

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    HI,
    If I had your tank I would find a 30 gal tank and turn it into a sump under your tank, put 5-6 in of sand and put a better skiimer on the sump, I like the marine corals they are cheaper and seem to really do some work,the 65 gal one i have is awsome.
    Let that sand do its thing maybe some small snail and some worms for the sand bed . I was amazed how efficient a simple sand sump is for fish only tanks, plus it adds water to the sysetm
    doug
     
    djnzlab1, Dec 5, 2006
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