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Old 11/12/2010, 07:20 PM   #51
The Velvet Sea
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I love local ecosystem inspired projects!

In college my roommate and I had a local fish only tank. We caught plenty of fish in our field ichthyology course. Instead of giving some a formalin bath, we gave them homes! Sea robins, star gazers, pipefish, seahorses, sargassum fish, toadfish. It was great fun.

I had a TA who's masters project involved the filtering capacity of oysters. He used cephalopod ink as the media being filtered (we also have a local cephalopod lab in the area that does neurological and behavioral research). My TA had no problems keeping our local galveston bay oysters alive. You might be surprised how easy they are to keep.

Good luck!


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Old 11/12/2010, 09:43 PM   #52
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This is such a cool idea! I love it. I know so little about the Chesapeake Bay, but its supposed to have some really interesting ecology going on. Apparently back in the day, the oyster beds could filter the entire volume of the water in bay in a day. Which is nuts!

The people in my lab are setting up a local biotope tank (Gulf of Maine rocky reef system). But our boss got excited and added a bunch of stuff he picked up diving (frilled anenomes, a wrasse, a bunch of different tunicates) and now the slowly evolving biotope ecosystem has been majorly ramped up. Our boss has a green thumb when it comes to keeping tanks alive though.

Good luck! Looks cool!


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Old 09/05/2014, 03:00 PM   #53
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Hi all.

Sorry for the lack of updates on this project. For one reason or another, none that you'd be interested in or that I'd care to elaborate on, this project was delayed for several years. I've been a fan of this site and have followed many threads on here even though I wasn't able to really contribute. But, I've given this project new life and hope to have things fully set up as soon as possible.

Here is my to do list:

1) complete the sump stand this weekend.
2) complete the DT stand in the next two weeks. The only things left to do are to add the front door(s), trim, and laminate.
3) build DIY base rock and associated aquascaping (more on that below), and kure the DIY rock.
4) purchase a new RO/DI unit and establish a water change/top off station
5) purchase a new submersible return pump (looking at the Jebao DC3000)
6) drill and plumb the tank, sump, and water change station. This tank has eurobracing, so I've decided on a simple new style of overflow, the H2Overflow. If I can't purchase one (new company, not sure if they're available yet) by the time that I'm ready to run, then I'll design my own version.
7) purchase a new LED lighting fixture. I'm looking at the Aquatic Life Edge 36" unit. I will start with one, then move to two if I later think that I need it.
8) purchase one powerhead, perhaps two if I can afford it. I'm looking at the Sicce Voyager 3
9) fill and test the tanks, plumbing, and water changing stations for leaks and efficiency.
10) add salt and achieve the proper salinity levels. This is a brackish system, but more on the salty side.
11) build an ATS. I don't want to skim at this point in time, so I'm trying this route first. If I need to add a skimmer, I can do that at a later time.
12) obtain live sand from the beaches of the Bay, hopefully from an area with shark teeth. I hope to have enough for the refugium to start. As far as the DT tank goes, that's a lot of sand to collect, so I'm not sure yet if I'll get it from there or try to duplicate the look and texture of what I do collect.
13) purchase test kits and cycle the tank
14) collect clean up critters and other items from the bay for the tank, not fish yet.

I hope to have all of the above done by October. If I can, then I'll try and do the next two steps also, but if not, I might have to wait for warmer weather in the spring. Most of the fish move to deeper water in the winter.

15) set up a QT tank
16) collect fish.

I'm buying all basically new equipment, or maybe used if I can find what I want, because I'm starting from scratch. A septic flood in my basement caused me to trash most of what I had previously.

MY DIY rock. This will be a DIY Oyster Reef Live Rock. I'm following the recipes found on here pretty much, 1 part portland cement, 3 parts salt, and whole oyster shells. I'm substituting the oyster shells for crushed oyster shell because I want to create those oyster clump shapes. I plan on doing sections, with some having PVC rods to create vertical relief, with the ultimate goal of looking like a real oyster reef. Creating this rock will be a slow process, because in addition to mixing whole shell into the mix and get that clumpy shape, I'll be also cementing oyster shells to complete the look of the live reef. Those oyster shells that I'll be cementing on will be in two forms, to resemble closed live oysters and open dead oysters which will be used as caves for the blennies and gobies.

Eventually, also, I'd like to collect as much compatible bay life that I can for the DT and/or the fuge, including invertebrates and maybe macroalgae.

That's the plan. Hopefully, I'll have an update by the end of the week on my new sump stand!


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Old 09/05/2014, 03:12 PM   #54
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Oh yeah, one more long term plan is to include a shadowbox background so that the appearance of the oyster reef to the viewer seems to go out into the distance. But I won't do that until the tank has been up and running.


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Old 09/08/2014, 10:47 AM   #55
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Sump stand built...finally...




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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 09/18/2014, 04:48 PM   #56
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I've decided on an external return pump, sump drilled accordingly.

Update: DT stand cabinet doors are finished and need to be painted. Things are going slow since I'm busy at work and in my home life, my family is going through some things where they need my time. I want it done, but can't...frustrating.

Question: should I paint the sump stand? I'm thinking that I should...


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Old 09/19/2014, 06:04 AM   #57
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I enjoy spending my time in the mud flats and oyster beds around Assateague and Chincoteague myself - you should have lots of interesting things in there by the time you're done. I have a few oysters, sponges, a couple types of algae, and of course a handful of grass shrimp in a spare twenty. Haven't been lucky enough to find a seahorse yet, but they're out there, too. I kind of like the model they have at the National Aquarium in Baltimore...it has the "real feel" to it.
Should be a neat project!


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Old 11/02/2014, 11:57 AM   #58
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. following


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Old 12/29/2014, 02:26 PM   #59
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It's been a while since I've updated, but that isn't for lack of not wanting to. Funding for equipment is my issue. Hopefully, I'll be able to buy all that I need in the next few months (looks like it). The good thing is that even allowing for the tank to cycle after set up, it will be at least six months before I can really collect the specimens that I need for this tank to be a success (striped blennies).

In the meantime, I've been working on the stands and also building the oyster reef itself (the aquascaping). The problem with that is that I'm picky and want it to look perfect, not just scatter some oyster shells in there and hope it looks OK. I decided to make this fish only for now and after the tank cycles and fish introduced, maybe later collect other invertebrates to complete the tank. Some will be introduced along with the fish or maybe sooner toward the end of the cycle (hermit crabs, snails, etc.).

So, at the very least, I want this to simulate an oyster reef as much as possible. I have amassed oyster shells in several ways. Some of my larger ones came from a buddy of mine that camps along the Chesapeake Bay, that came from one of his favorite restaurants. I also bought some at Wegman's and shucked them myself (nasty), and saved the oyster meat (and also slipper shell critters) and froze them for food down the road for the fish. Those dried out and stunk up my basement for a while, maybe I missed a slipper or two . Anyway, my wife wasn't happy about that. But the shells from my buddy had been outside for a long time and were pretty dry.

So, my progress on building the reef has been meticulous and slow. But, it's coming along. Having oyster shells and my ongoing projects in the living room isn't making my family happy with me, but it's a great thing to do while watching TV (putting my reef together). It's like art, to me, in a way. My next posts will be a few pics of my oyster reef progress. But first, here is a picture of an oyster cultch, basically a sub-component of the oyster bar/reef that I'm trying to simulate:


That picture is from an oyster restoration site, Barnegat Bay Shellfish Home Page: http://barnegatshellfish.org/identify_wild_oysters.htm


A cultch is simply a bunch of oysters that have settled from their larval or spat stage onto other oysters, and over time forming the reef. Actually, they attach to many other shellfish too, and vice versa to form the reef.

The picture below is from another oyster restoration site and is the one that inspired my aquascaping quite a bit, how the oysters grow in a shallow environment: http://www.naplesgov.com/index.aspx?NID=357. It doesn't matter that it's in Naples, Florida because they're the same species of oyster, and the natural reefs along the bay grow in much the same way, a shallow water environment. I've studied this quite a bit since I began this project, and have learned quite a bit about oysters, oyster reefs, and the wide variety of marine and/or estuarine flora and fauna.




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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 12/29/2014, 03:16 PM   #60
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So the first step in building the oyster reef (cultches), and to simulate it as accurately as possible is to match up oysters with matching halves. There are two ways to do this, the first is to shuck oysters, clean them out, and then glue them back together (saving the meat as future fish food). The second method is to gather oyster shells from restaurants and such (of course, with permission), and then go through them and match them up. It is a very tedious process, but can be done while watching TV. My family was somewhat annoyed by this because when you try and match them, the clacking sound is annoying, and it's not exactly a clean process. Oyster shells can be pretty dusty and dirty, not good for living room furniture . I made sure to cover the furniture and sweep up after every work session on the reef.

But, before you can match them up, you have to separate the two types of shells (left or lower shells, and right or upper shells).



In Paul S. Galtsoff's 1964 publication (The American oyster, Crassostrea virginica), he observed the following, "In C. virginica the left valve is almost always thicker and heavier than the right one. When oysters of this species are dumped from the deck of a boat and fall through water they come to rest on their left valves."

The left/lower shells most of the time tend to curve to the right when looking at the open side, while the right/upper shell curves to the left when viewing it open. But wait a minute...To make things more confusing, oysters don't always follow their own morphology rules. There are times when they don't curve at all, or now and then, you find some that curve the wrong way!

So, as I matched them up, I used big rubber bands to keep them together until I went back and glued them later.

Matching them up and keeping them together until time to glue:



After going through a ton of shells, I matched up 37 oysters. I found a few later on too, not sure how I missed them. I added another 30 oysters that were perfect matches that I bought from Wegman's. I'm not going to show pictures of the shucked ones or that process...they're still a bit stinky

So the next steps are pretty basic, wet the halves and glue them together with Gorilla Glue. Now, this is the first time that I've used Gorilla Glue, and I've read and heard about how it expands, and let me tell you that even if you clamp it, it will expand, so use sparingly. I later learned that it's great for filling gaps, but the trick is to keep it from moving from that gap while it's wet.




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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 12/29/2014, 03:24 PM   #61
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After you glue up a bunch of matched shells, use those rubber bands to bind them together. Gorilla Glue will stick a little bit on the rubber bands, but it usually comes right off. Here are a bunch of them bound, and then ready to make a cultch:



Starting a cultch, gluing matched sets of shells together...I love when there are barnacles and remnants of other invertebrates on these shells, gives it a realistic look:



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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 12/29/2014, 03:53 PM   #62
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But that isn't all. This is only the beginning. What about the little caves and crevices for the fish? The oyster reef as a reef will provide plenty of hiding places for all critters. But, if you want the fish to breed, they have preferences for their amorous activities. They breed in dead or broken oyster shells, as do some of the other species of oyster reefs.

So, back to matching oyster shells again. This time, I matched what I called "near matches" since I wouldn't be gluing them totally together. Basically, i wanted them to look like they'd match if they weren't together, but they didn't have to be exact. So, another night or two of clanking oyster shells to make my family annoyed was in order. The next step was to glue them together and create spawning habitat.

As it turns out, there was a study in 1982 bu Roy E. Crabtree and Douglas P. Middaugh, titled, "Oyster Shell Size and the Selection of Spawning Sites by Chasmodes bosquianus, Hypleurochilus geminatus, Hypsoblennius ionthas (Pisces, Blenniidae) and Gobiosoma bosci (Pisces, Gobiidae) in Two South Carolina Estuaries,", and in that study, they found that the widest preferred oyster shell gap that they found with eggs that the striped blenny preferred for the spawn was 11.9 mm. And, as it turns out, that is the same width as the end of the clothes pins that we had, and they were the perfect form for creating matched spawning oyster caves. Feather blennies also spawn in similar sized oyster shell gaps, so if I catch them, these would be just fine for their exploits.

For the naked gobies, the gap was 7.1 mm, about the measurement of the end of the plastic shims from Home Depot. And the clingfish will spawn in just about anything that they can defend from the others.

Gluing near matched halves together to make fish breeding habitat, using clothes pins as gap forms:


But, would the Gorilla Glue hold? Yes, it did:


So, the past few days I've been drilling holes in oyster shells (man, they are tough), using zip ties, and Gorilla glue to make cultches. I also made frames for the three large sections of oyster reef to support my cultches, and also to be the forms for the MMLR. I used CPVC pipe to make slide on supports for the cultches, zip tied 1/2" CPVC as a pedestal, and the 3/4" CPVC to hold the oyster cultch base to slide over the pedestal. The reef frames were formed from PVC pipe, zip ties and egg crate. When they are finished, 2 sections of reef should be about 18" or so wide, and one smaller one.

Using clamps, zip ties, and rubber bands to form cultches:


One of the reef boxes/bases...these will have glued oyster shells on them, and filled with MMLR (after I finish the cultches):


Building a cultch over the cultch base of CPVC pipe:


Coming along nicely... Starting to look like that first picture, eh? I already took one apart because it didn't look real enough. I hope I don't run out of oysters, but I have all winter, LOL!


And this was as of last night...


The tedious part is waiting for the glue to dry and hold, so you can keep building. I imagine that there are faster ways of doing it, but I'm kind of learning as I go. And, in a way, I'm almost building the reef as if oysters are doing it...and it takes time. Plus, I want it to look perfect, like that second picture above on that mangrove oyster reef.

After I'm done building cultches, they will be set aside and the boxes will be filled with MMLR and kured/cured for use in the tank. A few months of water changes, and I'll be ready to reassemble the cultches in what I hope is a set up cycled tank. So, the problem that I have with live rock along the Bay is that there really isn't any, save for cinder blocks and such, and that's not very attractive. Most of the rock are clay boulders or marl, sandstone, or other metamorphic rocks (quartz, etc).

But, while the MMLR is kuring/curing, I'll be adding other shells to the cultches/reef...slipper shells, a few more barnacles here and there, and of course, some muscle and clam shells, all found locally. I won't have to worry about much time matching them, they're a heck of a lot easier than those variable oysters!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump

Last edited by Chasmodes; 12/29/2014 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 12/29/2014, 03:54 PM   #63
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Oh yeah, I will have a QT tank for the fish, and will acclimate them to full salt water. That way, I can add more local invertebrates from saltier sections of the bay, and the ones that I'm interested in will do just fine.


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Old 12/29/2014, 03:57 PM   #64
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freaking sweet. I got to keep up with this build. We have oyster reefs like this around Galveston.


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Old 12/29/2014, 04:06 PM   #65
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freaking sweet. I got to keep up with this build. We have oyster reefs like this around Galveston.
Thanks! I've been at this for a while, but now have the support of my wife and daughter to get it up and running. The fun part will be collecting the critters! Now, if I can keep them from getting mad at me until I'm done with building the reef!


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Old 01/15/2015, 01:25 PM   #66
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I've been slowly but surely working on these. Below are my latest oyster cultches using the Gorilla Glue. I'm doing away with the egg crate boxes. But for now, they make great platforms and supports for building the oyster cultches. Instead, I'll have PVC frames to support the cultches imbedded directly in DIY live rock. I'm hoping to get to the DIY live rock this weekend.





I know that there is some spillage, but I'll wind up gluing on more oysters there anyway. Eventually, I'll have a full reef of these.


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Old 01/15/2015, 01:58 PM   #67
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Lookin' good - keep up the good work (including the research)!
Ray


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Old 02/09/2015, 09:14 AM   #68
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Here's where I am today...I've been using the egg crate/pvc box as kind of a form as I create these cultches, but it won't go into the tank as you see it above. Rather My plan is to build a PVC skeleton (still to be made) to mount the cultches on, then embed that skeleton into a DIY base rock (still to be made). There will be two PVC skeletons because I don't want to make one massive DIY rock.

So what about the gaps between the cultches? After all, i want it to look like a complete reef. I will build a duplicate set of PVC skeletons that are equal in size and shape to the ones that will be embedded in the DIY rock. I will situate the cultches as I want them in the tank on the duplicate skeletons and continue to glue oysters to the existing clutches and fill in the gaps. Then, once the DIY rock curing has been completed and the pH is OK, then I will swap out the duplicate skeleton and replace it with the DIY rocks w/skeletons. If I can get the tank set up and cycled but the DIY rock isn't ready, then I will go with this until the DIY rock is done curing, then swap it out later.

This reef will take up more than one third of the tank on the right side, and I'll have a smaller reef (one large longer cultch) in the mid foreground on the left side of the tank. I will use the same process as above for the skeleton and DIY rock concept. When looking at the picture below, imagine the two rows of cultches with no gaps and no egg crate, but not quite as much vertical relief (maybe some day, but I don't have enough oysters right now).

I hope to have all my set up equipment purchased in the next month or so, and the tanks set up and plumbed shortly after that. I need to purchase lighting, pumps, powerheads, and an RO/DI unit. It's coming along. I still have some work to do with the stands, but am not worried about getting that done just yet...soon though.

Here's the latest...I'm really happy with the way this is turning out.



Sorry it's taking so long...time and money are my issues, both I hope to resolve soon.


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Old 02/09/2015, 12:15 PM   #69
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Take your time and enjoy the build - you're going in the right direction.
Looks great.
Ray


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Old 02/09/2015, 01:01 PM   #70
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Take your time and enjoy the build - you're going in the right direction.
Looks great.
Ray
I second that.

I lived in Lexington Park for a bit. There's some pretty country down there, with Point Lookout being a favorite of mine.


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Old 02/15/2015, 07:59 PM   #71
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Thanks everyone for your support.

So the reef build is coming along and I'm going to purchase my tank equipment this week. I will be ordering my RO/DI, a pump for my return from the sump, a couple power heads and lighting.

Here's the latest on the oyster reef aquascape below. I made the bases out of cpvc pip and will embed them in concrete DIY reef rock. I laid them out on the side of my stand to finish gluing the oysters on, so I can get a sense of how it will look in the tank, since the plywood is the same dimension as the base of the tank. The oysters stand 15" tall, and the water level in the tank will probably be about an inch or two above that. I'm excited how it's coming along, much like I envisioned. It really looks much better in person than in the pics. I can't wait to see what it looks like in the tank with water and sand.

This pic is a few days old, looking down to get an idea of what the scape might look like. The front of the tank is to the right. There are some gaps that I've later filled in shown in the last two pics.


This is looking from the front view:



This is from the left side of the tank, looking down...just another angle. Lots of gaps filled in. The oysters laying out are the ones that I still have yet to glue on. The oysters will eventually be just about 3" off the bottom, just over the sand bed, at least that is the plan.



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Old 02/15/2015, 08:06 PM   #72
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I second that.

I lived in Lexington Park for a bit. There's some pretty country down there, with Point Lookout being a favorite of mine.
That's pretty near the area that I hope to collect most of my critters from.


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Old 02/16/2015, 07:38 AM   #73
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Very nice - keep on gluin'!

There are some nice sponge and sea squirts (and anemones, sea horses, blennies, shrimp, etc.) in those beds in the Bay as well - they might fill in some of the gaps nicely as you get this up and running. Looking forward to seeing some water in it, Kevin!

One thing you may want to check into with MD DNR is whether you'd need a "recreational fishing license" or some such if you pick up vertebrates such as a sea horse, blenny, or other fish. They can be sticklers as times. There's also a few "permit free" days throughout the year that you might be able to schedule around. Just a thought.

Cheers,
Ray


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Current Tank Info: 360 degree walk around 300 DD island–4 300W MarsAqua, 2 165W GalaxyHydro, 4 Kessil A350W, 2 A360WE, 3 XF150 Gyre on tidal wave cycles. Basement 150 gallon RubberMaid sump, RLSS skimmer, 3-panel waterfall ATS, Reeflo Barracuda/Hammerhead Hybrid
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Old 02/16/2015, 09:54 AM   #74
Chasmodes
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Thanks Ray! Ultimately, that is exactly the type of invertebrate life that I want once the tank becomes established.

As far as the license goes, that's not a problem for me because I always have one. I'm an avid angler (fresh and saltwater), and I've consulted the regulations on collecting both for this and also I want to set up a stream tank with darters some day. It's interesting though, that as long as the species that you collect isn't protected, they aren't concerned so much with what non-game species you collect. Most of the regulations seem to be concerned with how you collect them (legal equipment, seine size, etc.) and when. Oysters have a season though, so that would be the only thing. I don't plan on keeping live oysters at this point, but I may add one if my tank conditions are right in a few years. As far as animals for this tank go, things don't seem problematic.

I can't wait either!


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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Old 02/17/2015, 08:04 AM   #75
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I bought some Beckett's Pond Foam and will use that after the base rock is done to add the last lower layer of oysters directly to the base rock to fill in those bottom gaps. I could use the foam only now, but I need that biological filtration capability of the base rock. I need to hurry up this process though so I can get the stand finished ASAP because I'm in the process of choosing equipment. I'm kind of obsessing about this part, getting it right.

Here is my list so far:

Pumps:

Jebao DC 3000, max 800 gph at 3m head for my return pump. My head height is probably less than 2'.

Sicce Voyager 3 Stream, 1,200 gph for circulation. I may put this on a timer to simulate tidal movements...down the road.

RO/DI - looking at The Filter Guys Ocean Wave Five Stage 75 GPD. I'm on well water, so I'll need their well package and a booster pump, and a few other accessories.


Salifert test kits for Ammonia, Nitrate, Phosphate, Alkalinity, PH, and Copper (for my QT )

Plumbing parts, will hard plumb this system

Rain barrels for RO/DI storage

I am not going to start with a skimmer as of now, but may add one down the road (saving money for that just in case). One reason for that is that the fish will come frmo brackish water (on the saltier side, but not full seawater) and I'm not sure that skimmers would perform if I keep the tank at the same salinity as I collect. If I start having problems, then I'll acclimate the fish slowly to full seawater and then add the skimmer.

Lighting: Currently thinking about the Current USA Orbit Marine LED Saltwater Reef Lighting System. I will supplement with another lighting fixture too so I get full tank coverage if this one doesn't do it. What I want most is for the fish colors to be at their best, but this should cause macro algae to grow, I hope. This is where I need some advice, on what best to use for this? I like the idea of LEDs being more energy efficient, but was also thinking about a T5 fixture. Also, I kind of like the shimmering of LEDs. Since these fish live shallow in the wild, I think that would be a realistic feature of my tank.

Cost is a factor too for this equipment, so I don't need top of the line best reefing stuff since I'm not growing corals. I need good functionality and best bang for the buck.

What do you all think about my choices? What do you all suggest or recommendations if they aren't adequate? Any reviews of the above equipment would be appreciated.

I will start ordering equipment over the next couple days.


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Current Tank Info: 101g 3'X3'X18" Cubish Oyster Reef Blenny tank, 36"X17"X18" sump
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