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My Tropical Marine Tank II

By Ibrahim Khalil

Filtration

Since the tank started running in August 1998 three different methods of filtration were adopted. The first one was a modular system manufactured by Rainbow LifeGard. It consisted of three modules connected in series to each other. The first module performs Mechanical flirtation thru micron cartridges. Water then flew to the next Module (Chemical) which contained carbon. Finally water out of the Chemical module ran thru a 40W UV sterilizer. Biological filtration was thru a Fluidized Sand Bed filter also by Rainbow LifeGard. Although this system worked right its maintenance (especially the Fluidized Bed filter after power outages)  proved to be demanding. I felt I had to go for an alternate system. After some investigation on the internet I decided to go for a Wet/Dry filtration system. I built a 100 liter sump with a wet/dry compartment filled with bio balls. I dismantled the Rainbow LifeGard system but kept the UV sterilizer. That was my second filtration method. It worked fine. However as I continued reading and surfing the Internet I found out that there is a system where more aquarist are moving into, a simple and low maintenance system. It is the “Natural” system. It basically relies on live rock and sand to take care of the FULL biological process. While the first two systems handled nitrification efficiently they stopped short of completing the nitrification/identification process. This process to be completed needs anaerobic bacteria. To thrive this bacteria need non oxygenated zones which cannot properly exist with the other systems. The presence of live rock and a sand bed creates the ideal condition for the existence of anaerobic bacteria which can live in the deep pores of the live rock where the oxygen levels are near zero as well as in the deep layers of the sand bed. The only equipment required with this system is a protein skimmer.

I have approximately 60 Kg of live rock in my tank. To achieve effective denitrification the rule of thumb is about half a kilogram per gallon of tank water. Although the amount of live rock in my tank is less than that however as I currently have a very low bio load  ( five fish) compared to the tank size, it is working fine. As I increase the number of fish I will add more rock. My sand bed is about three inches deep which is the minimum depth to have an anoxic zone and hence denitrification. 

I have a German skimmer rated for aquaria up to 1200 liter. To achieve effective skimming the skimmer should be rated for at least double the size of the tank. So hopefully (as my budget allows) I will be upgrading to a bigger skimmer, rated for 2000 liter. In the case of skimmer I believe that the bigger is better.

Water from the tank flows to the sump thru a ¾” overflow. First it passes thru synthetic mechanical media.

The skimmer is installed in the sump. Also water from the sump is pumped to a chiller on the balcony and then back to the sump. I live on the last floor so my house becomes extremely hot in summer. Without the chiller the water in the tank can heat up to 35 deg. C. With the use of the chiller water temperature is maintained at 25 deg. C ( +/- 0.5 deg.) all year round. Water in the sump is pumped back to the tank thru a bulkhead at bottom of the tank. There is another ¾” overflow that draws the water into the 40W UV sterilizer and then back to the tank.

Continued in next page

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