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BUILDING AQUARIUMS WITH PLEXIGLASS
CORAL GROWTH VS. CORALLINE GROWTH
ISSUE # 22 page 2
BUILDING AQUARIUMS WITH PLEXIGLASS
THIRTY GALLON CUTTING TANK
Last month, before the seminar, I received so many calls from people who were bringing new sps corals for the genetic bank that I decided to build a cutting tank for my office. This aquarium had to fit in the space between my 150 gallon reef and the wall. I decided to make the aquarium from Plexiglass so it would match the brood stock tank. I am glad I had this new tank hooked to my system because people brought us more than twenty new strains that we did not have.
|The new tank is 36 inches long, 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep. I also added a 20 gallon sump next to the other sumps in the stand below the 150 gallon tank. Part of the water from the 150 gallon reef flows into the new sump, and a Maxi-Jet 1000 lifts the water into the new cutting tank. I have added plastic racks with 1 inch holes to both of the new tanks.
The cutting tank has 2 power compact lights that Tom Frakes gave us. The lower sump has 4 - 2 foot VHO bulbs. The water enters the new cutting tank through an Ocean MotionTM wave maker that turns the incoming water in an arc. I added two Maxi-Jet 1000s to the left end of the tank.
|This tank fit into the space between the wall and the 150 gallon tank so I only had to finish the front of the stand with oak. I made the stand from 2 by 8 pine. The tank is made from 3/8 inch Plexiglass. I was an antique refinisher for 17 years and I had not built too many things since I got out of college the last time in 1984. Sally Jo had never even seen me change many light bulbs so she was quite surprised to find this new aquarium in my office on Monday. It was just a sheet of plastic when she left Friday night. I quess it just took me 14 years to get over the burn out from 17 years of making and repairing furniture:)|
Now that I have the building bug, I have started to buy power tools, and I am going to build a shop. Plexiglass is a fun material to work with, and I will share all of the new projects as I build them. The only tools you will need for the project is a table saw and drill.
|I used the extra Plexiglass to make 3 racks to hold the corals. Each rack is 4 inches wide. For this tank I just added 4 legs to racks. I made each rack 2 inches taller the one in front of it. I used a Forstner bit to drill the 1 inch holes that hold the reef plugs.
This picture shows some of the new sps corals that came in during the seminar. THANK YOU ALL for the great gifts. These corals were placed in the new tank just 48 hours after the tank was filled. Attaching a cutting tank to your brood stock tanks is one of the fastest ways to expand your new farm. The two new tanks increased the total volume of this system by over 70 gallons so the brood stock tank will be more stable.
|You can use these plans to make make any size aquarium. The trick to planning your cutting list is that you add the two thickness's of plastic together and subtract that from any place you need to.
In this drawing the front and back pieces set on top of the bottom piece so I subtract 3/4 inch from the ends. You can order the Plexiglass precut if you do not have a table saw. I always make the bottom piece the size of the finished tank. The other pieces are glued on top of the bottom piece for extra support.
As we learn to produce corals we are making our new tanks shallower because the light is used better, and we can stack several tanks on one stand. Some of our newest cutting tanks are only 4 inches deep.
1. Plexiglass cut to size
2. 4 oz. can of thin acrylic cement
3. a needle squeeze bottle
4. 2 oz. tube of thick filling type acrylic cement
5. electrical tape
6. sand paper
The small needle squeeze bottle will be used to apply the cement by squriting it betwwen the pieces of plastic after they have been taped together.
I like to use electrical tape because I can stretch it to apply even pressure as the cement dries. The tube of thick filling type acrylic cement is used to fill any small spaces left by not having straight cuts. This will not be a problem if you order the plastic precut.
The first thing you need to do is remove the paper from all of edges you will be gluing. By not taking the paper off of the rest of the plastic you avoid scratching the centers of the pieces while you are working on the aquarium. I had already removed the tape when I remembered to take some pictures;)
The best way to tape the tank together is to have a helper hold the sides while you put 3 pieces of tape under the bottom. I often do this job alone so I add the pieces of tape to the under side of the bottom and leave 1/2 of the tape sticking out. I then turn the bottom back over so the tape is laying out with the sticky side up. The best way to do taping in a hurry is a trick I learned from one of the many fine craftsmen I have worked for. With a razor blade you can make a cut across the roll of tape so that each time you unroll a piece it is already cut.
|After the tank is glued together you just run the needle bottle full of cement down each edge that you are gluing. You will see that the space between the two pieces of plastic becomes clear as the cement melts the plastic. Be very careful that you do not get any glue on the rest of the plastic because it will damage the surface. If you are making a tank with a sump it is better to practice on the sump first. The sump will not be veiwed so any mistakes you make on it can be corrected on the main tank.
It is better if you do not need the thick cement, but I often run a bead of it inside of all seems. This extra cement will fill any leaks that are caused by the uneven edges. If I am making a show tank I do not use this thick cement. The joints will very strong if all of edges are water tight.
|When the tank is sealed I add a piece of plastic that is one inch wide around the top. This piece of plastic makes the sides stronger so they do not bow when the tank is filled. You can see this top molding in the pictures of the finished tank. |
There are several ways to finish the edges of the tank. Sand paper is the safest way to round the outside edges. I use 200 grit and then finish with a 400 grit wet and dry paper. You can also finish the edges with a blow torch, but I am sure you will want to practice on some scraps first.
Let the tank dry in a warm room for 24 hours before you fill it with fresh water. If there are any leaks you can apply a bead of thick cement to the inside seam.
|There are many ways to plumb your tank. This cutting tank is in my office so I used clear acrylic tubes. I went to the plastic wholesaler and choose a piece of 1 inch plastic tube that fit into a piece of 1 1/2 inch tube. The smaller tube fit into the larger one very tightly. By sanding the 1 inch tube to a slight taper I made a good fitting. I stopped by the hardware store and found a PVC fitting for i inch pipe that fit into the larger clear tube very well.
I drilled a 1 inch hole in the back corner of the tank. This hole in the bottom was just big enough to glue a 2 inch piece of the 1 1/2 inch tubing over. I turned the tank over and glued a matching piece to the bottom. I cut the 1 inch pipe so that when it was locked into the larger pipe it reached just to the desired water level.
I used the table saw to cut 8 slots into the 1 inch stand pipe so it looked like a clock face.
|This picture shows how I added the top pieces around the inside of the tank. I made two T shaped braces from plastic to hold the new Aquarium Systems power compact lights in place. One of these lights is an Actinic and the other one is a daylight bulb that is about 6000 K.|
One thing I have to say this system of lighting is that it EASY to set up. Just take the lights out of the box and plug them in. I spent about 3 hours wiring the 4 - 24 inch VHO bulbs in the other tank. I will now be able to test the VHO - Icecap lights with the Power compacts.
You can see how I mounted the 2 Maxi-Jet 1000 power heads in the right end of the tank. All of the corals are doing very well as the next picture shows.
|These are some of the nice sps corals that we received during the seminar. We now have well over 140 types of sps corals in our genetic bank. Sally Jo and I will be taking many of these corals as gifts to the public aquariums we will be teaching at during the next 14 months.
Many of the corals we purchased last semester are now growing their forth set of cuttings. The first 2 sets of cuttings we moved to the new grow out tanks are now producing the "high color frags" that we sell. If you want to get some great stock to grow out please call Matt at 1-800-600-6163
More on building a coral farm next time - leroy
WHAT ARE CAPNELLLA CORAL? HOW DO I GROW THEM?
|CAPNELLA SOFT CORAL
This fast growing soft coral is very easy to propagate. We use plastic tanks that are only four inches deep that have a layer of small sea shells on the bittom. The Capnella is cut into small pieces and and spread out on the bottom of the tank. It takes only two days for the corals to attach to the shells. We then glue the shells with the corals attached to reef plugs.
Our cutting tanks are four feet long and they are divided into three sections. We use 40 watt lights above these tanks. We use Aquarium Systems Mini-Jet power heads and one air release in each chamber. We now use these chambers to propagate other fragile soft corals.
|These are some of the brood stock Capnella corals growing in our 120 reef. When you use these corals in a show tank it is best if you group them. The main rule of aquascaping is the same as the rule for landscaping. GROUP YOUR CORALS AND GROUP YOUR GROUPS. |
Four large corals are glued to this socket rock and it easy to remove the rock with all of the Capnella attached. We hold the rock upside down and the corals can be clipped into the cutting trays. We turn off the power head and remove the air release when we cut the corals so the cuttings have a chance to settle. DO NOT FORGET TO TURN THEM BACK ON!
|FINE BRANCH PINK CORAL STANDS OUT
The fine branches of this coral is not quite like any other in the nonconnected genetic bank. This coral is a very good seller because it does not look like other soft corals. This is one of the only soft corals that spawns in the aquarium. The young corals attach to the live rock and they grow very fast.
This is a very hardy coral and it has done well in many systems. We have had great success shipping this coral. We hang the reef plug upside down in a styrofoam ring and so far we have not lost one. We are certain this coral will be one of the best soft corals to propagate for profit. It has all of the best traits. It is easy to propagate, easy to ship, fast growing, and many people do not have it in their reefs yet.
|We are now looking for some other strains of this coral. If you have any types we do not, we will trade them for rare sps corals or some fancy Xenias. We are trading for rare corals with growers all over the country. We can send you the boxes, heat packs and bags if you have some corals we do not have. |
GARF has been donating captive grown corals to Public Aquariums. These Aquariums are preparing to put up displays using only captive corals and aquaculred live rock.
|These corals are good ones to attach to AragocreteTM live rocks because they grow so fast. We are making some rocks with several colors of small Zoanthids and two or three of these corals. One of the carals is growing in the middle of a patch of Zoanthids and they both are doing fine. We have learned that many of the soft corals are not stung on the stalk because it tends to get harder than the polyps. Are favorite combination is a soft coral such a Sarcophyton and green stars.
Experiment with this coral and then e-mail us so we can share more data on the Capnella coral. We have included instructions in this issue on making Plexiglass aquariums. You can use these plans to make your own cutting trays. We use shells, but aragonite gravel will work very well.
Coral growth vs. coralline growth and the lack of skimmers.
Home coral farming reseach report
For the past 14 months we have been doing an experiment to see how the growth of corals would be affected by removing the skimmers from our systems. We have recorded the changes and we are now adding SeaCloneTM skimmers to one half of the the systems.
We have several coral farming aquarium systems that were started in October, 1995 using various skimmers. These systems were changed during 1998 until only 2 of them had skimmers. Everything else about the systems was unchanged. These aquariums consist of seven 55 gallon, three 105 gallon, and a 360 gallon coral propagation tanks.
Removing the skimmers was expected to increase the growth rate of soft corals because we had found that the growth was often limited by lower nutrients in the water. We were interested in finding out if the sps corals would grow faster.
Results of primary experiment
Soft corals in the test systems did produce many more cuttings as the water started to load with nutrients. At the end of 10 months the growth peaked. We found that the growth rate of many of the sps corals was better. The growth of many strains of Xenia was very much better.
Second part of experiment
After the end of the first 10 months we decided to push the limits of the systems. We started feeding frozen Brine Shrimp and flake food in increasing amounts. We used as much food in these systems each week during August and September 1998 as we were previously using in three months.
We expected the color of the sps corals to turn to shades of brown as the internal algae balance shifted. We were preparing for stage two of the experiment - skimmer installation - and we wanted the nutrients to be as high as possible.
Each system was overfed until noticeable green algae was present. All corals continued to show increasing rates of growth until the algae stage was reached At this nutrient level the colors of the sps corals suffered.
As the growth of corals increased we noticed that the growth of coralline algae was slowing. The nutrient level that gave us the best production rate in all of the corals had the reverse affect on coralline production. We are certain that this was because of the increased Phosphate levels. Other nutrients may have had an effect.
Second part of the experiment
We are now adding SeaClone skimmers to 1/2 of the systems. We will continue to feed at the new rate for 12 weeks. The new skimmers are the only change we will make in any of the systems.
Assumptions we have made
Coral production can be increased by decreasing skimming and coralline growth may be retarded. The brown color seen in many sps corals may be masking of pigments by internal algae.
We are setting up tanks to grow coralline algae on our rocks and reef plugs before we mount cuttings. These tank raised live rock tanks will be skimmed more to increase coralline algae growth. Corals will be added to each tank from the same parent colonies and 1/2 of the skimmers will be removed again. We will move some of the finished brown sps corals to skimmed tanks to clear up color after they are grown to salable size. We will keep records so we can find out if this faster growth and clean up time results in more production of quality sps corals.
We have taken a set of pictures of all of the tanks we are now skimming. We will soon be able to see if this one change increases the coralline production. We may start to set up separate systems for a three phase grow out of corals.
System # 1. heavy skimming to coat plugs with
System # 2. no skimming to promote rapid
growth of cuttings.
System # 3. Skimming and adjustable lighting to
clean corals for sale --
After four years of research on small scale coral farming we believe that moderate skimming of coral grow out aquariums will produce the most balance results. Growth can be increased by using no skimmer in many systems We are certain that there are more natural food organisms in the aquariums we do not skim. This increase of food and the increases in nutrients can result in much more production.