So there has been quite a bit of progress on the fishtank front. Where to begin…

So we finally came up in line at Lifereef for our sump, refugium and skimmer. I had been in touch with Jeff periodically while waiting. I did plenty of measuring to make sure the “standard” measurements for what I had put on order would fit under the tank, and worry about little nuances and such until it came time to receive delivery.

As it happens, my build week happened to fall right on the same time that Reefstock happened. So Jeff and I agreed to slight delays on the skimmer and cylinders because he was short of stock, wanting to display stuff at the convention, and that he’d get back to me the week after with the skimmer. So I went down and picked up the sump/refugium first. I got the LF1-300 system for the sump. I’m just going to link to his site for the image, since I really have no trouble promoting his products. You can see an image of it here. The one shown there has the skimmer on the left there. The spigot sticking up on the far right is where the downflow from the overflow/prefilter attached. THere is another one of those on the left, hidden by the skimmer. On the bottom center you have the two external connections. One goes to the external pump that feeds the system, the other attaches to the refugium, ensuring that it is part of the system as well. Top center you have the filtration cylinders. We’re currently only using one of those to remove phosphates from the system. For the refugium, you can see an image here. The picture on that page actually shows it next to an example sump (though not my model). You can see how the hose in front would attach to the other end on the front of my sump. On the far right you can see the hint of the external pump. I’m going to see if there is a better picture of that setup somewhere on the site. Nope, though it appears I took one with my phone. Let’s see here…

Pump and Manifold

Pump and Manifold

Ok, there we go. Ok, so the right hand sump output feeds in from the bottom there, and the manifold “tree” looking thing feeds out to three places. The thing that splits in two is the returns to the tank. The second one feeds over to the canister filters, and the final one in back feeds over to the refugium.

Enough of pictures. Setup was straightforward. Documentation was descriptive, in plain language, and easy enough to follow. I was pretty insistent on trying to use the Eschopps overflow/prefilter that I had purchased months ago. I mentioned that in an earlier post. A picture of it is also shown in that post. So I rejiggered the downflows from that to connect to the new tubing down to the sump, and got that going. The documentation mentions that you need to tape wrap every single threaded join you find. Pay attention to that. It is good advice. The few small problems I had were all related to not checking the joins and finding a join that hadn’t been taped. Once everything was connected and running. HOLY CRAP. That pump is powerful. So much so that the Escopps overflow box just really couldn’t keep up. Even with both sides at full bore, I had to reduce the amount of water going to the returns just to allow it to keep up. It also is prone to weird variations in flow that prevent both of the u-tubes from really maintaining their pressure well. One of them always runs clean, the other eventually gives up the ghost and empties out. More on that in a moment. In my attempts to regulate the outflow to the returns with the ball valve(which, under normal circumstances, you should be able to do without issue), ended up with enough pressure to force a leak in one of the compression joints. I made several attempts to fix this, with Jeff’s guidance, and it ended up just being too strong. He is shipping me a new manifold shortly that will remove the compression fitting and replace it with a regular bonded join. That should be the Last Thing(tm).

Oh, and so now I have a story. Some of you may remember back about 15 years ago when there was the shooting in Columbine High School here in Colorado. Tragic stuff, to be sure. No, I’m not going to devolve into politics and such. Some significant part of those events took place in the school’s library. As you might expect, many students and staff were reticent about spending much time in the library as a result. One of teachers came up with the idea of starting a reef tank in the library in order to distract from the tragedy and get people focused on something positive. He engaged students and staff alike to help maintain the tank, and it was really successful. For some pictures of just how gorgeous this tank ended up, take a look at this thread on one of the local reefkeeping sites. Really fantastic.

Ok, so fast forward to about a month or so ago, and the main caretaker of the tank noticed that some of the supports holding the tank together were buckling or broken. After weighing the options, they chose to dismantle the tank and sell/auction off the livestock. Poke around in that forum thread linked above to see the auctions and such. Anyway, amidst all the livestock auctions, there was a post that read something like “oh yeah, and we’re going to have a whole mess of live rock for auction to whomever wants. $2/lb.” O.O!!! As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, live rock can be quite costly, even with some of the nicer, cheaper options out there. This was a steal no matter how you look at it. So I posted that I wanted as much as he had, up to about 200#. I also put in a bid on one of the nicer rocks with cool life on it, and won that one too.

So last weekend, I picked all that up, transported it back up here, picked up the skimmer from Jeff’s, and got it all put in the tank, and installed the skimmer. I also ended up picking up one of his dual outflow/prefilters, shown here. I got all the live rock in the tank. A new picture of the whole tank is shown here:

Full tank view

Full tank view


Over the last couple of days, I got the new overflow and skimmer installed and running. That overflow is a HUGE difference. I will post pictures soon that demonstrate just how much more smoothly that operates, but man… its awesome. The difference between the Lifereef overflow/prefilter and the Eschopps one is like night and day. No comparison really. The Lifereef one is up to the task, the other one wasn’t.

I believe the replacement manifold will be here in the next few days or so, and that will complete this stage in the journey. More pictures to come once I get my tripod downstairs and figure out what kind of lighting to use to take good tank pictures.

Tired. G’night…