Using a $10 indoor/outdoor digital thermometer, I sealed the probe in a weighted test tube
to give me accurate tank readings any time I need them. The display even has a light option!
The taller unit (behind) is a pH Pinpoint Monitor to constantly report pH levels.
This is a 110v A/C fan that Hamilton Technologies sent me to cool my hood. Instead, it fit
nicely over the return section of my sump. It is plugged in and quietly runs 24 hours a day.
Live Phytoplankton is very expensive to buy, but growing your
own is pretty easy and much cheaper.
Flame*Angel from ReefCentral.com has an excellent page that I followed to get my own culture started.
I store it in the fridge, shaking it once a day to avoid settling. New batches are ready on a weekly basis.
Image A: The items needed from Florida Aqua Farms
Image B: Starting the culture from scratch.
Due to numerous inquiries, instructions are below.
To start off from scratch, fill up two bottles completely, stopping about 1" from the top. It should be saltwater that is 1.019sg - using a refractometer would be ideal.
Using a full disk of Nanochloropsus from FloridaAquaFarms.com, you would scrape the green algae film into your bottle after it has soaked for 24 hours.
Add 1 ml of Micro Algae Grow, also from FAF.
Image A (above) is the stuff I ordered (note I only got one disk, but you should order 2)
In Image B (above) you can see what I was doing. I put 1/2 the disk in each bottle, but I think it would be better to use 2 disks -- one disk per bottle, as recommended by Susan (Flame*Angel).
Set the bottles up with the rigid tubing going to the base of the bottle. It should bubble gently, and not be a rolling boil.
Lighting should be on for 16 hours a day, then in full darkness for 8 hours. I have mine culturing in a closet where it isn't annoying. The first picture in this section shows how the culture bottles are set up in a bucket. I only make two bottles each week now, not three.
In 7 days, it is time to split this culture.
Two new bottles should be filled half way with 1.019 sg saltwater plus 1 ml Micro Algae Grow.
Pour your full bottle of phytoplankton through the rotifer screen (or a couple of coffee filters if you don't have that) into a clean container. Now pour that phyto into each bottle filling them both up to within ~1" from the top.
Those bottles are now ready to go into your station, starting the process all over again.
The other bottle you cultured should be run through the screen and then poured into a new clean bottle. This must be stored in the fridge and is ready to feed to your tank every other day. I pour about 1 cup in my 29g and 2 cups in my 55g. (If you've never fed phyto before, feed less at first, ramping up the amount over a period of two weeks, to allow your tank to adjust to the new feeding.)
Refrigerated phytoplankton should last at least one month. I use up almost one bottle a week, so about once a month I have one bottle too much, which I give away (and accept a small donation for the grateful reefer occasionally).
You need to shake the stored bottle daily to avoid the cells settling to the bottom of the bottle. Otherwise they will smother each other and die.
It is important to keep everything clean to avoid contamination, including the rigid tubing that pumps air into the 2-liter bottles. That is why I keep using new bottles (rinsed out coke bottles) rather than reusing the same bottle it was just cultured in. You can clean the rigid tubing with vinegar water (or rubbing alcohol), or simply replace it with new tubing once a month. If you reuse your tubing, check the end to make sure it hasn't become clogged.
Feel free to ask if you have any more questions.
Hatching Brine Shrimp from eggs takes about 48 hours. Feeding them immediately to the tank provides
the most nourishment, because the yolk sacs are still attached. Even though tiny, everyone devours them!
Brine Shrimp hatching:
Here's the recipe:
2 cups tank water
Half of this is portioned to my 29g, the other half is given to my 55g. My 29g is heavily populated, and my 55g is about the same population in a larger amount of space and water.
I've ordered two hatching stations from BrineShrimpDirect.com along with a fine net for rinsing. Pictures to follow.