Acrylic work: Tools I use...

Due to the abundance of emails, it was time to put some pictures on the site. Here are a number of items I use to build the sumps and other acrylic wares I fabricate. While not everything is absolutely necessary, I find that if you have the right tools on hand, your end result will be better. Keeping track of all these items can be a task, since they scatter during the construction phase...

What is a sump?

A sump gives you greater control over your reef or fish-only display tank. The benefits far exceed the risks, and thus most successful aquariums you'll see utilize a sump. Some even incorporate a refugium as well. Here are the numerous benefits derived from incorporating a sump into your current setup:

Ordering a Sump

You must make a series of decisions for your next sump order to meet your specific needs.  The following Q&A should help cover most points, but feel free to ask me for additional help via email if you wish.

How large should the sump be?

The bigger, the better. The larger your sump, the more water volume you’ll be adding to the total system, plus it will be able to hold excess water during a power (or pump) failure. No floods equals no wet flooring!

How do I decide the size?

Custom Nano tank with False Wall

After several years of building sumps, a potential customer asked me to build him a custom tank. My concern is always about the livestock and until then I'd never considered building a display system. He urged me to do it, not taking no for an answer. This was my first attempt.

He wanted the tank to have a black panel the full width of the tank to hide the plumbing leading to the sump and I wanted it to have an overall clean look.

Topdown Photography

In an effort to come up with a better way of viewing corals and clams from above, especially in photography, I came up with a box that keeps the camera & lens dry and gives the photographer the ability to bring out the vivid colors without the issues of wave motion or light reflections.

If you would like to purchase one, please visit my Reef Shop.

The top down photo box allows the lens to be submerged slightly, providing the opportunity for some lovely macro shots that bring out the pure color we usually can't see from the side viewing panels. After all, the lights shine downward and the color reflects upward, right?

Here are a few views of the box I built. The first image contains the extension tube and rubber boot from my camera. The camera is not available for the image because I needed it to take this picture. :)

Proper Feeding Methods

Feeding an aquarium seems simple enough. Buy a jar of flake food, and toss some in, right? Actually, that really isn’t a good idea for a variety of reasons. Hopefully you’ll find the following information helpful for your own specific needs. Foods come in many forms, including sheets, flakes, pellets, frozen, refrigerated, liquid, and live.

Flake food is convenient, easy to dose, and relatively inexpensive. A few things to keep in mind are that it should be kept in a cool dry place, not sitting on the canopy where the heat of your lighting can ruin it. Never pour the food into your tank, as an accident may occur which will dump excessive amounts of flake food into the water polluting the tank. It is better to take a pinch of food, and submerge your fingers in the water while releasing the food in the current. This will allow your fish to eat without gulping down air trying to eat from the surface. Keep in mind that flake foods are known to add to phosphate issues, so if your tank suffers from nuisance algae, it would be better to reduce the amount of flake food feedings.

Hatch and Harvest Baby Brine Shrimp

Growing baby brine shrimp allows me to feed the smaller fish in a reef tank containing large voracious tangs. Every day, one batch is added to the tank while the pumps are off. The tangs swim through the tiny bits of live food, while the little fish have their meal.

Hatching brine is easy, and doesn't cost much. The recipe is available on my site. Two hatching stations allow me to always have a new batch available daily. 

Hatching Brine Shrimp easily

Brine Shrimp hatching recipe:

  • 2 cups tank water
  • 1/2 cup RO/DI
  • 1 tsp brine shrimp eggs

Make your own fishfood

Buying frozen foods at the local fish store can get pretty expensive over time. Fish need varied diets, so rotating through separate foods each day of the week can be routine, but ask a person to do this for you while you are away and suddenly it seems overly complex.

I'd read of others making their own food, and one member showed me his. Man, it was great! Not only did he save money, but he had all the foods mixed together so that every fish in his tank got what they needed each day. So here is how I make my food. Feel free to modify it to your own needs, and pass along the information to others if you feel it is helpful.

10 Step Phytoplankton Culture

Susan did a great job putting together a working manual for everyone follow, including myself.  After a few years, that resource vanished from the web. This page was originally written by Susan J. Wilson; page last found online on Sept 12, 2006:  Contents placed on my site as reference only, and these are all her words below...