Hi, Dave here, I thought that I would do some blogs about some of the things that I have been working on here at TFP. I will start with one of my projects that I have been working on this year, the remodeling of our Custom Design Center in our retail store. The Custom Design Center is our showcase of aquarium displays. We originally set up the displays about four years ago, and it is time to give them some updating and upgrading. The first tank that we decided to give a facelift is the centerpiece of this display, our 700 gallon in-wall aquarium. Originally set up as a FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock, for you non reefers) and a few soft corals, we decided that our centerpiece should be a full blown reef. Putting this display together has been a blast, we really took our time with thinking out the design, and the components to the tank, then over a period of a couple months earlier this year we got the tank up and running just prior to our annual anniversary sale this past April. Those of you who made the trip out here this year got to see the tank after it had been running for about two weeks. We had a good starting point, as we tore down the original tank, and several small reef displays in the store, keeping all the cured live rock and some of the corals, fish, and Inverts for the new tank.
The tank itself is a custom 700 gallon Oceanic that measures 120”x 36”x36”. As with all the large custom Oceanic tanks, it has a powder coated stainless steel frame, an ABS, HDPE and glass laminate bottom for extra strength, and ¾” glass panels. Ours has two rear overflow boxes, as well as 4 holes in the bottom panel for a closed loop flow system (I will cover this more in the filtration section) As you can probably guess this is a very heavy tank, I think its dry shipping weight was about 2,200 lbs when crated. Not something that you and your buddies are going to muscle into place, all moving was done with a forklift.
Knowing we wanted to set up an SPS dominated reef tank that was 36” deep, proper lighting was going to be something that we needed to take care of. The guys at Ice Cap, Inc. really stepped up and helped us make sure that our lighting was top notch, and would allow us to keep whatever we wanted. We chose the new Ice Cap 400w HQI pendant lights, the tank has six of these, and the tank also has six 39 watt HO T5 actinics. All these are powered by Ice Cap electronic ballasts.
As you can see in the pictures, there are three openings in the top of the tank, each opening has two 400w halides and two HO T5 actinics. Each set is hinged above the tank on a hinged rack system that I designed, that allows you to flip the lights up a section at a time to work on that area of the tank. This works really well, it allows you to leave the other sets of lights on so that you can see in the section that you are working on. On a tank that is 10’ long, that you need a ladder to look into the tank, this comes in handy.
There are several parts to the filtration system on the aquarium. There is a Custom Trigger systems sump and protein skimmer, a closed loop circulation system, and a 60 gallon refugium/frag/quarantine tank.
The custom Trigger Systems filtration system that we had custom made for the filtration room that is behind the aquarium is a beast. The sump measures 60”x28”x20”, one end has 4 built in filter socks. The protein skimmer recirculates on this section, so it has a constant supply of raw surface water. Then there are a series of baffles, an open center section, another series of baffles, and then a third section where the return pump draws water from. The protein skimmer is also a custom Trigger Systems design that is matched to the sump. It is a dual Beckett injector design that is 10” in diameter, and 44” tall, it works great, lots of thick dense foam. The skimmer is run by a Sequence Marlin pump, and the system return pump is a Sequence Hammerhead.
The Closed Loop system sits underneath the aquarium. There are four holes drilled into the bottom of the aquarium, one serves at the drain that feeds the pump, the other three are returns that circulate the return water throughout the live rock structure in the tank. The closed loop pump is another Sequence Hammerhead pump that puts out about 5,000 gph. Each return in the tank splits into four lock-line modular pipe sections with nozzles, which allowed us to direct flow wherever we want it. This is all hidden inside the rock work in the tank, it is hard to see any of it at all.
There is also a 60 gallon cube plumbed into the system that is used for a refugium and frag tank. This has a deep sand bed with a lot of live rock rubble on the surface, we also use this tank to house new fish before they are introduced into the aquarium.
There is also a one horsepower ESU chiller and an 80watt AQUA UV sterilizer that are plumbed into the system. The chiller, sterilizer, and refugium are all fed water from the main circulation pump.
Live Rock and Livestock
The tank has about 1,000 pounds of live rock, that is a mixture of several types of Tonga and Fiji rock. We tried to use as many really large rocks as possible, several are 70 – 80 lbs each. The live rock was strategically placed to hide as much of the closed loop system as possible, and at the same time leave a lot of open space to give it a more natural appearance. I really wanted to avoid the wall-of-rock look that so many aquariums have.
One of the other things that I really wanted to do with this aquarium was to use as much cultured coral as possible, and limit the amount of wild coral went into the aquarium. This meant sacrificing size for the initial specimens in most cases, but I felt it was important to promote aquacultured and maricultured corals where possible. Of the over 70 corals that are currently in the aquarium, over 50 of them are from a cultured or captive source. Looking at the tank it does not look like there are that many corals in there, mostly because they are all fairly small at this point.
I will try to post some more pictures of the tank as time goes on, so that you can see the corals as they grow and fill in. This was another reason that I left so much open space in the aquarium when we did the rock work, I wanted to make sure that the corals had plenty of space to grow.
There are a few more tanks that we will be reworking in the custom design center here over the next couple months, I will post some blogs about them as they are completed. I hope that you found this interesting, let me know and I can do more blogs of this type in the future.
Until next time,