Poly Filter

This piece of Poly Filter turned light brown (light brown sugar) after a few days.  Basic water tests show no ammonia, no nitrates prior to use.
Cross-section shows color all the way through.

How long should it last?  Some reports say a few weeks to months or until it turns black.  Waiting to hear from the manufacturer.

Majestic Aquariums says, “Yes it goes brown quick, replace when black”


We have been using chaeto for many years in a refugium.  For us, the finer strain mats-up, breaks-up and collects detritus, but grows quickly.  Image result for chaetomorpha linum vs. grassa


Algae and hermit crabs

Part of the fascination and education with a mixed reef system is the behavior of the plants and animals.

This system is basically a planted saltwater tank at an early stage.  A large piece of Red Dragon in the background.  In general, we don’t “fight” so-called nuisance algae and have plenty of green hair and filamentous growing.

After adding about a dozen hermit crabs to one spot on the bottom of the display tank, they quickly spread out in all directions munching away.  After about a day, 7 or so of the bunch were tightly grouped on the very top of the highest rock mowing down green algae.

How and why did they all find the same small area?  There are many rocks and plenty of algae.  Can they hear each other, or “talk” to each other?

In any event, you can see from the white area in the picture (a poor iphone pic under white/blue LEDs) that they clean what appears to be 99%+ as they go. The purple areas are encrusting coralline algae that we want.

Very nice work!  Now we just need to vacuum the hermit crab dung which is much easier than removing the algae mechanically.

The hermits were purchased from an LFS (local fish store) for <$1.00 each.

More on the 140 build stand

The stand is not perfect but it “works” in the room, so we proceed. The stain was too light, but we decide to accept it as is.

What can go wrong did go wrong. When ordering the tank, the builder said he had a stand he would “give us”, a deal that is.  We originally spec’ed  36x36x30″H stand dimensions for the 36x36x24″H tank.  A little lower than a typical 36″ height to make the display tank (DT) easier to work in.  The builder’s already assembled stand was reported to us to be 36x36x36″H  (remember those words).  The builder offered to sand and stain to suit and we accepted.

The builder matched the stain to a piece of furniture (shipped to the builder, matched and returned) from the room where the 140 would be.
A few days before delivery, one of those 2am uh ohs.  Do we have a 36″+ wide door ??? The house has front and back single wide exterior doors, but no sliding glass patio doors or wide 1st floor windows. To date, all our stands and tanks have had 24″ and 30″ longest sides.  Will the new stand (our 3rd major system) fit?  What do you think?  Of course not!  The widest door, jam-to-jam is about 35 1/2″ wide and clearly <36″.

The Lesson: measure everything … twice, don’t assume, don’t be afraid to ask everyone involved to measure … at least twice.

Stay tuned for the solution. How did we get the stand into the house?


Where to buy

Part of any system design and build involves gathering information. This process can be time consuming and confusing. Our latest 140 gallon build will highlight what to buy and where to buy as we see it.

MarineDepot is a source for both products and advice and opinions.

We have a stand for the 140

We like to take delivery of the stand first even before the go ahead for the display tank build.

This is a go/no go stage.  The stand might not look right in the room as a piece of furniture and nothing can fix the problem. It is hard to envision most any piece of furniture in advance. A tank and lights won’t make it any better. Return the stand, fix it, “eat it”, or sell it.

If this is your first system and you are not 110% committed, then consider taking delivery of the stand first before ordering anything else.

Time to look for lights for the new 140

LEDs of course.  At a minimum, we want a fixture with white chips from CREE, a full spectrum of colors, integrated tank mounts (sits on the top rim of the tank). Cost is a concern but this is not a place to skimp.

The tank and stand are about a week away, so it is time to pick a light fixture manufacturer and supplier (if the two are not the same) and model.

Please stay tuned …

For the fixture, we also want a thin, edge-to-edge (for lack of a better term) unit. For a manufacturer we chose to look at  Reef Breeders first.
The next step is choose a model.

Note that like most electronic devices these days, the maker is likely not the builder. The supplier does R&D, design and maybe some final assembly, and outsources the components and build.