The following pictures show various stages of construction of the sump, lighting fixtures, canopy, and cabinet where most of the equipment is located. I am lucky to have a closet behind my tank that also houses some equipment.
I did not have a digital camera during very early building stages of my reef system and hardware so some of the images on this page are not great quality when enlarged from thumbnail, but you get the idea.
The lighting consists of an IceCap 660 Ballast with 4 x 110W URI VHO Actinic Blue bulbs and a dual PFO 400W Ballast with 2 x 400W MH Iwasaki 6500K bulbs. The color is a little yellow for my tastes but the VHO does help somewhat. I may try the 10,000K German 400W MH bulbs in the future, that remains to be seen..
Here is a view of the IceCap 660 ballast installed on the back of my canopy. It fit perfect and since the wiring could only go so far this spot worked out great. The ballast is housed in the heat dispersion plate, although it does not get that warm.
The PFO dual 400W ballast is a rather large beast. I am lucky to have a closet behind my tank that I house the ballast in. I set it on a piece of 1/2 inch plywood so the heat dissipates on the wood instead of the carpeting. it gets warm but not that bad. There is a slight hum to the ballast, not noticeble unless I realy stick my head in the closet. Runs great and fires up without a glitch everyday.
Completed lighting setup
Upclose view of IceCap fan and endcaps for VHO bulbs.
Early stages of wireing VHO lighting
PFO dual 400W ballast
The canopy is made of light oak and has a hinged front door that opens up making feeding and tank maintenance easy. The back of the canopy is half open. These pictures show the early stages of installing flashing, two 4" IceCap fans, and the lighting. The views are from the back of the canopy and the protective packaging material is still on the canopy so we could work on it, drag it around, and what not without scratching the finish. I was not thrilled with the hinges on the canopy, they appear to be brass and are already showing signs of minor corrosion from the salt water after only four months.
The sump was a DIY project that caused me some real headaches. I took an old 30g tall acrylic aquarium and came up with a simple design based on designs I saw on various DIY links. I divided the aquarium into three sections, put in three bulkhead holes and added bulkheads. One bulkhead feeds the external skimmer pump, a Little Giant 3MDQX-SC, another bulkhead feeds the return pump,. a Iwaki 30RXLT with Japanese motor, and the third bulkhead is for return line from the skimmer. The problems emerged when I attempted to put in the acrylic divider sheets. I had measured in one spot thinking the aquarium was even. That was a mistake. The aquarium walls were not even front to back. There was a 1/4" difference up the walls. My friend suggested getting 1/2" strips of acrylic cut and and creating a groove on the aquarium walls to slide the sheets into. The 1/2" strips took care of the gaps and the dividers were put in. While fairly water tight there is some leakage around the dividers. This poses no problems. I made the middle compartment into a refugium with 3" sandbed, live rock, and macroalgae. There are lots and lots of wonderful critters in the refugum and these will feed my mandarin dragonette pair when the tank can support these great little fish.
Sump in building stage, not the return bulkhead and acrylic strips with dividers that create baffles in the third compartment.
Front view of sump almost copmpleted.
My cabinet houses the sump along with two pumps, a skimmer, a wavemaster pro, and a calcium reactor a la geo. These pictures show the setup before water was put in the system and prior to the addition of a calcium reactor made by George Weber, aka geo. He makes great quality calcium reactors for very reasonable prices. If you have interest in one of these calcium reactors you can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org . George makes dual and single chamber reactors, I required a single chamber reactor due to space constraints in my cabinet. I have a great skimmer from LifeReef, the VS2-24" model. This skimmer skims an incredable amount of gunk every day. Not only that but Jeff at LifeReef was very helpful and responsive to my emails. Customer service goes a long way with me. It is fed by a Little Giant 3MDQX-SC pump and returns into the refugium section of the tank. The Wavemaster Pro is a nifty device that gives the powerheads attached to it a somewhat random on off cycle at different strengths. It has a night mode where things calm down a bit and a feeding mode. Great little device.
LifeReef VS2-24" skimmer, it kicks butt.
Sump, Iwaki pump and return lines. tight fit.
Full view of sump area before calcium reactor addition.
Single chamber calcium reactor made by George Weber.
Here is a cheap little nori holder I made out of PVC pipe. With this holder I never have to put my hands in the water to clip nori into a clip. I also can take it out of the tank when everyone is finished grazing. There is still a bit of nori under the rubberband as I have not cleaned it yet, This is fresh out of the tank.
Right side of sump and calcium reactor hooked up and running.
The picture to the left is my geo single chamber calcium reactor up and running. From what I understand Goerge has made imprvements to this design. I am very happy with this setup and it is working like a champ. It is hard to see in this small picture but in the full view you can get a better idea of how I set it up. The co2 bottle has the regulator attached upside down, it was just easier to tighten with the solenoid out of the way. The solenoid is the square piece attached to the left side of the regulator. It is hooked up to the pH controller which is sitting in the bottom of the stand in the foreground, the balck box. The pH controller is nice in that it controls how much co2 to dispence into the reactor based on the range of pH values one imputs into the controller. Currently I have mine set for a pH of 6.42 as a low and a pH of 6.62 as a high. This means if the pH of the effluent(the product dripping out of the calcium reactor into the sump reaches a pH of 6.4 the controller will shut off the co2. When the pH of the effluent reaches a high of 6..62 the co2 is kicked back on via the solenoid. The solenoid is also nice in that if the power goes out to the entire system the co2 will automatically be shut off. The geo reactor is fed water from the sump via a little powerhead I had sitting around. This is the 3/8" tubing you see coming out of the sump and winding its way to the reactor. A mag2 pump is sitting behind the reactor, so you cannot see it, as a recirculating pump and the blue airline is hooked up to the needle valve carrying co2 into the bubble counter. The bubble counter is the little attachment on the body of the calcium reactor that holds regular water and allows the co2 to travel into the system via an airline leaving the bubble counter with a check valve on it so no water backs into the bubble counter from the reactor.
This shows how I setup up the return line for the effluent from the calcium reactor back into the sump. Dr.Mac gave me the basic idea and I found what worked best for my sump. It is really quite simple and inexpensive(we like inexpensive). I found a little plastic tray and a small plastic water bottle at the local Rite Aid. I was able to easily set the tray in my sump on top of the pvc return line from my skimmer. The plastic bottle is cable tied to the corner of the tray while the tray is at a slight angle. The effluent line is at the top of the picture held in place by a little suction cup. The effluent drips out into the plastic bottle. The pH probe is sitting in the bottle and records the pH of the effluent. The effluent overflows the plastic bottle and flows into the tray and then into the sump. i don't have to worry about the pHprobe ever getting dried out, even with a power failure and the effluent is suspended above the bottle to let any excess co2 escape. The larger water line(with algae in it) you see to the right in the back of the picture is the overflow line and the 3/8" line in the foreground is the water line from the powerhead to the calcium reactor, as described above.
effluent drip system
The wavemaster pro attached to the underside of my stand.
Regulator up close, showing solenoid and needle valve hooked up to blue co2 airline.
Here is a simple DIY kalkwasser dripping system. I bought a 2.5 gallon gasoline can from the local hardware store and drilled a small hole about 1.5" from the bottom (this leaves the kalk gunk on the bottom that you don't want dripping into your tank). I inserted the IV drip line that was generously donated to me by a fellow reefer online. I just snipped off the right amount of line needed and have myself a nice little dripper that fits in my stand setting on my sump. I am able to control the drip using the IV roller that is hanging in the picture from the airline for a nice and slow drip rate during the night hours. This should help the fluctuation I am having in pH readings from day to night, despite having the refugium lit on a reverse cycle from the main tank.
Do It Yourself Kalkwasser drip system. Very simple and cheap
I moved the above DIY kalk dripper to my 40g tank and purchased this very cool NURCE auto top off system from Aqualan .This is model D which enables me to add kalkwasser in my top off water if I want to. This model holds 23 gallons of top off water. I keep the NURCE unit in the closet behind my tank. I drilled 2 holes in the wall to run the line into my sump. The pictures to the right are the lines running through the wall (nice holes huh?, I think a little putty job is in order) and into my sump. The "U" bend is already getting caked with kalk after only 1 week of dosing. I will have to scrape it soon or possibly remove it. This is a simple system that requires no mechanical parts at all. It replenishes top off in small quantities so salinity does not get affected so much. I love it and wish I'd had it for the past 10 months. Easy to use and easy to set up.
NURCE model D filled with kalkwasser.
These are the lines coming through the wall and into the sump for the Nurce top off system.
Here is an up close shot of the NURSE top off system where the water enters my sump/refugium. Unfortunately the top off water has to enter into the refugium section of my sump based on where the unit is located in my closet.
9/6/02- Broken $100 400w MH 10K Ushio bulb. OUCH!!! I suspect I may have done this myself when I opened the canopy and the top slipped and landed hard on itself rattling the bulbs. Unfortunately I did not notice the problem until I got home from work and some corals look to be UV light burned. We shall se what they can do to repair themselves. Hardest hit is my open brain coral.