Please visit our Sponsors

FAQs about Centralized Filtration Systems

Related Articles: Central Filtration Systems,

Related FAQs: 


Rotary drum filter      1/29/16
Hey Bob
Tom over at Aquascape Chicago. Been looking at building our own collection facilities in Hawaii and have come across these drum filters. Do you see them being something worth out time vs. a large pool sand filter?
<They definitely are... Highly efficient and MUCH easier to operate and maintain.
.. Oh for my skin back from digging gravel, sand et al. out of sand filters!>
Our goal is to be as green as we can be and was thinking that this spray off from the drum could be used for our mangroves to root in.
<A great idea. See the Blog recently from our visit w/ Pablo Tepoot and his Mangrove, soil-less filter sumps? Very impressive. Bob Fenner>

Fish Room... of towers and bio-balls; not a Geo. r.r. Martin       4/2/15
Hi Bob!
It's been a while! Hope you're well, and that life is good!
<Thank you my friend; yes>
Just had hand surgery on both hands, but they told me to type for pt, and I have a question to ask......
<Yikes; maybe you could be like Braz Walker (who was a brilliant fish keeper, photographer and writer; though confined to an iron lung); and key with a pencil twixt your teeth.>
As you might remember, I have a 3,500+ gallon fish room which has been running for about nine months now, and it has five systems in it.
The system I'm having a problem with is about 700 gallons (3 125g tanks and four 80 gallon systems), and I have a large tower with bioballs in it (about 12"L x 24"W x 48"H) which provides the filtration, along with a fairly good size protein skimmer.
<Mmm; I'd arrange a suitable denitrifying "mechanism" if using one of these olde technology towers, bioballs... mostly to get rid of the excess and fluctuating NO3>
I had about 40 fish in this system and received a fairly large order of fish shortly before I left for LA last week. Included in that order were big waste producers.........a 10" Queen Angel, a 8" Emperor Angel, three large Clown Triggers and an 8" Golden Puffer which I believe my employees overfed.
<Mmm; maybe; plus just the fish themselves would kick up the nitrate et al. much too fast>
When I came back my ammonia level was between .5 and 1.0 in that system, and I lost a couple of those nice fish.
<See WWM re Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate... Ridding FAQs>
I guess my basic question is (after 40 years with saltwater).........How do I avoid an ammonia spike when making big stocking additions to my systems?
<Better filtration mostly... perhaps more circulation to it; maybe the plumbing arrangement is a factor? Again, the simple reading>
Should I be slightly overfeeding to build the bacteria in the biotower, or should I have a larger protein skimmer?
<Skimmers; the larger the better are a good idea. I'd look into fluidized bed/s....>

Thanks for your input!
Seascapes Aquariums
<Very glad to share! Bob Fenner>
p.s. There's no gravel or sand in any of these tanks.
<Oh! Need to monitor, adjust alkalinity, alkaline-earth content..
Fish Room. Design and Ozone use        4/9/15

Thanks so much for your reply about the ammonia issue in my fish room.
I've taken your advice, and in my search for a larger protein skimmer and fluidized filters, had a long discussion with someone from a reputable company which also sells ozonizers, and he highly recommends one (in conjunction with a good protein skimmer), as one of the steps to help with my ammonia and nitrate issues.
<Ah yes; a worthy, worthwhile piece of kit... next, a dryer for the ozonizer>
So my question is (and I think I know the answer after reading some of your posts on it)..........would you recommend ozonization for my fish room, and if so, would you recommend a central unit which I could use for all five of the systems in my fish room, and then just put an orp controller on each of the systems (about 3,000 gallons of salt water total)?
<Yes and yes>
Thanks for your input.
<Ahh; as always, just stating what I'd likely do given the circumstances presented. ALL public aquariums and wholesale facilities utilize 03. ALL stores and holding systems I've been involved in design and operation as well. Bob Fenner>

pH Control in Multi-tank System    10/9/14
Hi Crew,
I have a unique tank scenario which is somewhat predictably creating some unique problems. I have a store with about a 2000 gallon system and 55 variously sized tanks. Most are planted with lighting and substrates
appropriate to the species stocked in each tank. The tanks all drain through filter socks into a 275 gallon sump, then through a couple 55 gallon barrels filled with Seachem Matrix, and consequently into another 275 gallon sump which holds our heaters and settles the water a bit before being pumped through TMC UV sterilizers back into all the tanks at about 6000-8000gph (back pressured by 55 ball valves at different adjustments so
it's hard to calculate).
<No other... mechanical/cartridge filtration? I'd likely add this>
The way the system is set up, water changes can only be done in about 50 gallon increments at a time so I have them on a schedule to change twice daily for a total of 100 gallons per day. I was still accumulating
nitrates and phosphates so I've recently upped that to 200 gallons a day and have yet to test the success of that change, but my question is on a different matter.
<Actually related... i.e.; by increasing your alkalinity you will very likely reduce (as in the chemical term) a good deal of your NO3 and HPO4>
Our water from the tap gets filtered via carbon and comes into the system with a high pH of around 8.0. This was resulting in some nasty strains of algae and I think stress on some fish that have been struggling in this new system (Cardinal Tetras, Blue Rams, some others). So I put added a new source supply of RO water which the system uses to perform top-off and water change when the pH is above 7.2. At first glance, I thought the new system was working great. Within a couple weeks my pH had dropped to stable 7.2 and I'd say the system was using about 50/50 RO and tap to maintain that balance. However, I'm looking for better plant growth so that I can supply customers with plant cuttings from some more difficult species in their submerged form. So I thought about adding co2 (we are currently regularly using Flourish Excel but its not really cutting the mustard).
<Again; likely at least partly related to a dearth of Calcium and Carbonate>

So I took some measurements of co2 by measuring dkH and pH in tanks with various plant loads. To my surprise the pH in all my stock tanks was 7.8+.
I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how this is possible given that I'm turning over the water 2 to 4 times per hour in each tank.
I'll also note that the co2 is much higher in the sump than it is in the stock tanks which is sort of predictable, but still surprising to me given the rate of turnover. I have a couple theories none of which I'm all that
convinced are the culprit. A. The sump is in a basement which might have higher levels of co2 in the atmosphere than on the main floor where the doors to the outside are constantly opening and closing, and thereby suppressing the pH in the sump?
<Mmm; not much suppression here>
B. The plants are photosynthesizing so rapidly that the pH can't drop?
<Possibly, but...>
C. Some mechanism in the substrate (detritus?), is breaking down at rapid enough rate to keep the pH high despite the turnover?
<The substrate/s themselves? Do you have much in the way of natural gravel, rock in these systems? A bit of Ozone/O3 produced by the Vectron/TMC UVs might be elevating the pH a smidgen>
Any other tests I can run?
<Mmm; I'd first and foremost be "testing the testers"... your kit/s it/themselves. I'd like to know separately what the GH and KH is here>

Is this a problem that may work itself out over time?
<Ah yes... the excess alkalinity should "be reduced" in time... unless you're inadvertently adding more than is being consumed by reductive processes here>
Would injecting co2 be advisable?
<Mmm; yes... given all else is "fine"...
IF it were my shop (we had three sets... I spent 14 years on the floor LFS); I'd be checking for ferrous ion as well... a common issue with chlorotic, otherwise poorly aquatic plants in captivity>
I worry about safety with the pH controller in the sump ( likely to remain there) when the pH is so different between tank and sump. Also if the pH can be so different, it seems safe to assume that my tanks with less plants may accumulate co2 whilst my original theory was that the co2 would be either gassing off as the water flowed through the socks and not accumulate and though I'd waste a lot of co2, I'd still be making it available for plants that desired it.
Thanks for your time, any other input beyond my specific questions is also welcome,
<Do you purposely add any source of alkaline earths, alkalinity here (other than the mixed RO/tap water)?
Bob Fenner>
Re: pH Control in Multi-tank System
Hi Bob,
Great to have your assistance.
<Glad to help... enjoy the modern "Sherlock" series and doing my own bit of it petfish wise on the Net as well>
Re: mechanical filtration. I just have the socks but they do get changed daily. The bio filter additionally has a large 6" thick coiled mesh filter as are used in pond filters. I also have a large carbon canister that runs
separately as needed. Anything else you'd suggest?
<Likely the 9 or more micron cartridge filters to help remove more of the muck/mulm... but, if you're happy with your water clarity... no biggie. The cartridges are a pain admittedly; requiring at least two sets, almost daily attention; more pumping, expense. And won't take out all pathogenic disease (even down to 1 micron)>
I did some more extensive testing and clearly have some issues but not the ones I originally thought. I'm blaming my pH conundrum on my pH pen which is calibrated but has a hard time reading the tank water. It instantly picks up 7.0 or 10.0 calibration solution accurately, but then won't read tank water without a battle, usually reading it around 7.8, but occasionally it reads closer to my Neptune probe which is more consistent with other testing methods and also calibrated. So I think your first suggestion, testing the tester, turned out to be the issue. Though, why it tests so sporadically in our system but tests the calibration fluid spot on every time I don't know.
<Artifactual... I'd get a cheapy Milwaukee... or just go back to colorimetric assay>

I tested sump and a sample tank separately and found them identical in all tests.
Re: Alkalinity not adding anything at present.

<I might well do so... again, the base reactions that will reduce the nutrients require these>
PO4- >5ppm (I'm not sure to what degree, as I ran out of reagent after running it through the colorimeter diluted in half and it maxes at 2.5ppm)(.4ppm in my tap water)
NO3- 16ppm
K- 750ppm (with RedSea pro test kit for reef tanks, not sure if translates to FW as this number appears a bit fishy, but maybe with the out of control phosphates, I'm getting potassium too?)
Hardness <1 dGH
Carbonate Hardness 2dKh
Ca - Undetectable (using red sea pro titration)
<Trouble... again, see the SeaChem line (real products... and miscible w/ all else you've got going):
yes; though these are labeled/for "reefs">
Based on what I'm seeing this is my action plan.
1. Increase my water changes further (at least short term) to get the phosphates under control
<Look into Lanthanum use here... once a week, pulsed>
2. Implement some preventative phosphate measure through manual detritus removal, reduced feeding
3. Begin supplementing iron to improve plant growth (and in turn hopefully further reducing phosphates)
4. Add co2 via the sump and test alkalinity (assuming here that as the pH drops the system will utilize tap water more frequently giving my co2 some dKH to convert)
Does this seem sound? Anything else you might advise?
Matt Johnson
<Just these for now. We'll be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: pH Control in Multi-tank System
Is the reef buffer vs. the alkalinity buffer from their plant or AquaVitro line preferred for any reason? I'm guessing either can be employed with success but curious as to your specific suggestion.
<Mmm; the reef product is a bit different (has more carbonate) and is cheaper in volume, per use...>
What is the best method for evaluating the quantity to dose?
<This may seem a bit wanky (because it is), but I'd mix in an ounce or two in some water and toss it in your sump
... How to relate this... the two gentlemen that were kind to be my master teachers (when I was getting my H.S. teaching credential) for chem. and physics would ask for a "pinch" or
"smidgen" of creamer, sugar when I made them coffee and tea... they penned tens of millions of copies of science texts...>
Am I shooting for a target dKH?
<A few units... again; try the ounce or two per day for now...>

What will be the impact on pH and should I adjust dose to minimize that impact?
<You may see a small run up in pH (a tenth of a point or so) initially, but it will "be gone" in a few hours>
I'm intrigued by the Lanthanum and looking forward to testing it out.
<Is a/the "magic ingredient" in commercial ap.s for eliminating HPO4 issues... cheap, reliable and safe>
Thanks again,

a fish room begins. Some reading now!      1/30/14
Dear Crew
How are you all? Well I hope? You are my go to people, and so I bring my design problem to you. I would like to design a fish room! I would like to use a centralized filtration system. My main two walls will be freshwater systems and one small wall with a cold water system.
I have never taken a project this big on. My plan is to have four tanks on each shelf (50cm X 30cm x30 cm). There will be 5 shelves on a stand. I am at a loss on how to arrange the plumbing to these tanks.
Are there any designs I can look at to get an idea of how the water should be circulated.
<All sorts... ours start here:
and the linked files above>
What size of sump would I use, which design would give the best of both mechanical and biological filtration?
 What would be the best way to incorporate uv sterilizer and a sand or cartridge filter? I'm sorry to bother you with this and I have a lot of questions but there aren't any people here you have a fish room so I can not get any help from them.
<All this is covered (and search-able) on WWM. Try look/seeing first, keep good notes, and get back w/ us when you have specific questions/concerns.
Bob Fenner> 

Retail Holding Systems- 01/15/2012
Hi Bob or other,
<Hey Matt>
I'm redoing our freshwater fish room after a fire and considering going a new direction.  Previously we have done DAS displays typically housing a couple species of fish and plants per aquarium.
<Am aware of much of the DAS iterations. Some good features, some poor>
 We dose the tanks regularly with Seachem products for the plants and some Seachem products as well for mineralization of our RO water.   I love the large viewing area and our tanks are beautiful.  I like that we can easily add and remove lighting to accommodate plant needs.  The schooling fish show extremely well in these systems. The systems are very gentle flow which seems to be enjoyed by both our fish and plants. Here are some of the problems we run into that I'm hoping to solve as we remodel:
*         Difficulty in maintaining filters - The sponges are difficult to maintain, often cross contaminate during maintenance, and the filter bays seem to accumulate unruly amounts of debris that is difficult to access/remove
*         Difficult to house/display species that we keep in lower quantities i.e. Apistogramma as they tend to get lost, yet in the divided tanks we have three times as many filters/bays/debris/problems and they jump from tank to tank anyway which is a whole new set of problems
*         Difficult to monitor water quality in so many individual systems
<Mmm, can be drilled, modified w/ plumbing, pumps to join sub systems (levels) together...>
I've been looking at some other commercial systems as well as centralized filtration which seems to get bipolar reviews in the WetWebMedia FAQ.
<Ahh, thank goodness. Really>
  Obviously, the idea sounds incredibly appealing from a maintenance standpoint and I think we'd see substantial improvements in water quality. 
However, we're purchasing $500-$700 a week (wholesale) in livestock and already just mixing a few species per tank it feels oft like Russian roulette in that if we get a batch of fish a hidden disease we put at risk the other 150 cardinals in the tank that were doing great and the whole system ends up in quarantine and it's a nightmare.  While in theory a UV sterilizer is the solution to this in a centralized filter system it appears that you have very little faith in this solution advocating quarantine instead. 
<UV can/does help... nominally... to discount spread of some pathogens, parasites... Quarantine is orders of magnitude better; but the costs involved are daunting>
While I love quarantine our incoming fish in theory, I've set it up before in the past and it seemed for our lower volume store to make the entire fish department unprofitable due to the labor involved in keeping up said system and transferring fish around.
<Yes; understood>
 To be fair the system was an after-thought and didn't have any kind of automation in terms of water change, I still feel like I would be creating all the things I hate about our individualized systems currently negating any of the benefit of centralized filtration in the main displays.
I'm not sure what I'm asking exactly, mostly just feeling a bit overwhelmed and hoping you may have some insights.
<Mmm, well; there's yet another angle you can or might already have considered, employed... and that's a drip overflow per level and bank of DAS tanks running water that's been contact treated in, and overflowing to waste>
 I know there is a lot of years of experience and changing views throughout the WetWebMedia FAQ history and I am really wondering, if you were to set up a shop today in 2013 with small volume (2500 gallons) freshwater tank section (with relatively heavy emphasis on nature aquariums) what would you be doing in terms of livestock display?
<A very, make that VERY good question. I would centralize it to extents...
w/ some, maybe half or two sub-sets of sumps for hard/alkaline OR softer/acidic water organisms... I definitely would either set up w/ the two sumps and/or add new water (overflowing to waste). I would NOT quarantine in a low volume (judging by your statement directly and indirectly from the dollars purchased per week) livestock setting, for the reasons you state. I would employ UV on both subsystems... And if I had a brackish system or two, keep these off-line. Bob Fenner>

Retail Aquarium Display Rack - Overflow to sump vs. other tanks    10/1/12
Hi there!
<Hey I'm Bob, your on-board computer!>
               I'm setting up a saltwater tank rack, with four rows of tanks by 4 columns of tanks.  I was wondering, besides affecting sump turnover rate, are there any advantages or disadvantages to having the topmost tank overflow to the one below and so on in a cascade to the sump?
<Mmm, yes... and it's a big one... disease transmission; the inability to turn off, isolate the tank/s... Don't do this>
The alternative would be to have each tank overflow to the sump directly,
<This is what I'd do... w/ UV, other filtration collectivized..>
 or some other mixture.  Another idea I had would be to overflow the top 3 tanks into the 4th tank, which would be a natural refugium / detritus collecting area, and then into the sump.  Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Multiple display tanks - using single large sump and single return pump. 12/21/11
I have 6 stock holding tanks for housing snails, crabs, shrimp, etc. for sale.  These each have overflow boxes,  and share a single pipe returning water to a common sump,  with a biotower and a very large external skimmer.  I want a single return pump to the display holding tanks in order to add heavy UV filtration to reduce cross contamination between the holding tanks.  The 6 holding tanks are  stacked 3 high on 2 racks.  What is the best way to control the flow to the holding tanks?
<A manifold of PVC pipe and fittings with individual valves per tank/cubicle>
 I am guessing a branching return pump line, with a valve for each tank to adjust each tank by the "fiddle with it method"?  If there is a more elegant solution please point me in the right direction. Thanks!!
<Please read here:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Multiple Tank Chain, pb     10/6/11
Hello Crew,
I am in the exploratory stages of a future setup and had a question about multiple tanks with centralized filtration. I would like 3 different sized tanks, say 120 gallon (fish/invert(no coral)), 300 gallon (predator), and 450 gallon (fowlr) to run on 1 sump/filtration system. I have found other hobbyists recommendations but no facts from anyone who has done this setup.
The consensus seems to be to run all 3 overflows into a main pipe into the sump, through all filtration, heater, etc. and then out 1 line that splits into the 3 returns with a ball valve adjusted to each individual tanks flow needs/water level. I understand the risks associated with this type of setup, i.e. pump failure, disease to all tanks at once, water level fluctuations. Have any of you ever tried this setup and how did it work/not work?
<Have done many times... can/does work; though as you state, the water quality/conditions in one system will be the same in all>
I also had an idea that is a little different and not sure if it would work or not. Instead of 3 return lines, what if I put bulkheads on both sides of the center tank to both the other tanks and returned water to the furthest right tank?
<Mmm, not as good an idea/utility as each system having its own valve...
You may well find that there are circumstances where you want to isolate, or increase the flow in one system vs. another...>
If powerheads were used to push water from right to left through the tanks could this work?
<Not really, no>
I know there would be more to it than that, but I just would like to know your opinions if it is a possible/viable option.
<We have a few pieces on this topic:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Multiple Tank Chain   10/6.5/11

Thanks for the quick reply. Nice to get advice from a trusted authority, you never know sometimes with the user forums on some sites.
<Agreed. Happy to assist your efforts>
I glanced at the centralized filtration info before, but thought it was only for retail applications, not home use, but I now realize there appears to be no difference.
As far as the different tanks sizes, would there be any certain arrangement needed for the overflow/return rates to be more closely matched or any other reason/potential problems?
<Just sizing of plumbing, fittings to accommodate flow (plus margin for error). Please peruse here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm
scroll down to "Plumbing">
They would all be at the same height with the sump directly underneath the center tank. I intend to purchase Escobar's book as I see that you refer many people to it for a centralized system.
<Is highly technical, but worthwhile nonetheless>
Thanks again for your time.
<Welcome. BobF>

Heating Holding Systems. 2/6/11
Hello Crew,
<Howdy Mike>
I have a couple of quick questions to ask today in regards to heating my livestock holding systems. We are looking to move our fish room to a 1200 sq/ft. location that is heated with propane.
Multiple systems for coral, fresh and saltwater fish. The systems are currently heated individually on each central system, but with the move we are going to being adding a section of individual tanks run off of a blower for some holding and quarantine for freshwater stock.
I am interested on your thoughts as to the pros and cons of simply keeping the building temp. up to heat the systems.
<Mmm, cheaper to heat the environment for the aquatic charges, not so enjoyable for humans working in the space>
Could we possibly maintain the building at 78 to 80 degrees F and be able to run the systems without heaters or would it be a better idea to just heat the systems and keep the room temp at a more comfortable temperature?
<Up to you... I'd heat the space/air>
Another consideration that I had was evaporation.
Would it make sense that we would see less evaporation by heating the room vs. heating the holding systems? Thank you in advance for your time.
<You can add exhaust fan/s (again the simplest, least expensive route), and run them on an automated basis, or just turn on for a bit ahead of entering "the barrier"... or dehumidifiers of various sorts>
Michael P. Gillespie
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Aquatic Creations LLC
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
Thank you for your quick response! I figured that heating the room would be a
good way to do it. Do you think that I would see less evaporation by heating the room?
<Mmm, yes. "All is relative"... higher humidity in the air above the water interface, results in less evaporation...>
I will also be able to vent the room and run a dehumidifier.
<And do water proof the walls... other surfaces, devices (like phones) IN the contained room>
What are your thoughts on the comfort level of doing this?
<Not hard to do... Have done so, worked inside such facilities myself... for years>
This would be open to the public and I would not want to make the heat of the room a deterrent.
Although, in New England this time of year it would be an attraction!
<Mmm, do have/run a vent during the early AM... when folks will be present; seal the place in the PMs>
In doing some research on WWM it seems as though you are not a fan of the individual tank systems.
<Not in many years, no. Too much work... and equivalents... labour, money... to do so>
Do you think that this would be a mistake to do?
<I do>
In an effort to be as efficient as possible, I was thinking that it would be good to have the blower running to power as much circulation as possible. For water mixing towers, additional filtration and for a freshwater rack system holding 24 small aquariums.
<... but not too small>
My plan is to collect my RO/DI system wastewater as I do already and use it for regular water changes on the individual tanks. I was
also thinking that this would provide some versatility in holding for water types in holding and quarantine. For example, if I need more tanks for rift lake cichlids one month and then the next month more tanks for discus, I could easily make the change for water types. Do you think that it would be worth the extra work involved?
<Don't know if I can guess what you're referring to here. I would run separate sub-systems, that are mixed, recirculated... per water types/quality. See here:
and the linked files above. BobF>
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems.
Hello Bob,
That sounds easy enough to do to make for a comfortable shop!
Thank you for sending the link. My basic idea was that I would be able to change the water type of each individual tank as needed, but I guess that after reading and thinking a little more, it does make more sense to run these as central systems as well. Multiple central systems would still be easier to maintain than a bunch of individual tanks.
<Ah yes>
It would probably make sense to still consider individual air driven filters run off of a blower for
treatment of tanks if and when needed.
<Yes... if your business volume justifies this>
Before I got the idea to run the tanks individually, I had a design for a system to be run off of a header tank. Do you have any links to information on how to set up a central system fed by a header tank?
<Mmm, do follow the linked files... B>
Thanks again for all of your help!
Michael P. Gillespie
Re: Heating Holding Systems. 2/7/11
Hi Bob,
Thanks again for all of your help! Back to the drawing board, but I think that my back will appreciate it!
Michael P. Gillespie
<I know it will. Cheers, BobF>

Heating and Filtering a Freshwater Central Filtration System  3/28/10
Hello Mr. Fenner, how does it go? Long time reader, first time writer?
<Ahh, J. You are a stranger here but once>
I've decided to start up a freshwater section for my store. After speaking on other forums with other store owners, most recommended going with freshwater tanks each setup independently of the others.
<Really? I would definitely not do this>
I was going to go this route with a blower, sponger filters, and a heater in each tank. But at the same time I'm trying to do this in the most cost effective way possible (is that an oxy moron when coupled with this industry?)
<Not at all>
so when I got to thinking, the initial expense of all the heaters plus the cost of them all running at the same time I decided the best way to go would be a central filtration system after all. The setup will be 51 20g longs sharing a 150 gallon stock tank sump. I will add a uv sterilizer to the system to help overcome the biggest con to central systems which is the spreading of disease.
The problem I'm running into is this, heating that amount of water efficiently. Obviously I don't want bunch of 300w heaters all bunched up in the sump. Slight variations in the settings on the heaters would surely leave some running with others off and it wouldn't be very effective.
Where do I find a single heater to heat this amount of water?
<These are available... I'd look at Aquatic EcoSystems site:
Second, I will go with a trickle filter for filtration
<I would not go this route...>
which will be fed by a second, submersible pump that will send water up to the top of the filter where it will simply cascade back into the sump.
This will allow me to start the lowest row of tanks slightly higher than the top of the sump and not have to worry about having the bank of tanks (stacked three high) too high for customers to peruse because I'd have to
be elevated enough to get all the draining water into the trickle filter.
Where do I find a trickle filter that would be large enough to handle the bio load? The standard sized ones geared towards the average hobbyist would be much too small.
<Please read here:
and the linked files above... and where you lead yourself>
Thank you, I appreciate all the time and effort you and your crew put into helping everyone out for absolutely nothing in return.
<Oh... I do receive the greatest amount of self-satisfaction in knowing (high confidence) that my efforts help others to be successful in their aquatic endeavours. This is value beyond remuneration>
Thanks again,
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

High Nitrates, comm., SW    3/27/10
Hi : I have not posted to the forums for some time, That being said I guess it indicates no problems! I still read the posts anyway as you are always in a learning process in this kind of hobby. I am writing for a friend of mine that works in a local pet store. He is responsible for the salt water setup.
I will give you the parameters that he has.
Nitrate: 110!
<Zounds! But not atypical in retail settings...>
P.H. : 8.0
Alk: 2.5-3meq/L
Calcium: 420ppm
Salinity: 1.023-1.024
Temp: 79-80
Volume: 290gal tanks/52gal refugium
Live Rock: 100-130lbs.
Aqua-Medic Ocean Runner skimmer 3500 with 950gal/hr.
This system is set up for retail and since inception (a few years now) he has always been faced with a high Nitrate problem. Tanks drilled and plumbed together. They use RO/DI water, I.O. salt, phytoplankton and feed about 3 times daily. The floss is changed weekly and a water change of approximately 50gal. He uses a wet/dry drip bio ball unit
<I'd get rid of the plastic media altogether... all at once... now>
in the refugium
<And add lighting, macroalgae culture here>
The fish stock is varied as you can understand on a retail system mixed with live rock and corals. Right now he is battling with fish with bulging cloudy eyes, dropsy or pinecone look and are dying off. Evaporative water is fed by an auto top of unit. As an outsider the Nitrate I would assume is the biggest issue at hand or perhaps not as the fish are dying.
<Might well be an important factor here>
Why is this system always plagued
with a high Nitrate count?
<Mmm, simply put, lots of production, orientation of the system to driving the forward reactions of nitrification, a paucity of removal mechanisms...>
Trace elements such as Strontium/Molybdenum and
Calcium are dosed regularly as directed. The system is generally not overloaded as per fish per gal. Recommendations. A quarantine tank is now being implemented for new stock; however this should have been practiced a long time ago. This still does not explain the nitrate problem. Should he be using carbon regularly or running a UV or would this even help?
<Some chemical filtrants are of help here...>
I would appreciate any suggestions you could throw my way to help my friend out.
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. Regards, Bev
<Ahh, have you both read: http://wetwebmedia.com/nitratesmar.htm
and the linked files above... particularly Sources, and all the "means to reduce" Related FAQs files. Bob Fenner>

Cycling LFS holding tanks  12/1/09
Hello crew,
Just after some advice if I may. I am in the process of building a new marine store that will be opening for business at the start of 2010.
<Ahh! Congratulations! I like to say I'd gladly shake anyone's hand who would be self-employed in this economy/system. Well done!>
I would like to get your thoughts on cycling our livestock systems so they will be ready for business in the shortest possible time. The systems them selves are about 700L each, and I plan on adding about 10kg of fresh live rock into each as well as some live sand from my established reef at home.
<Mmm, and as much already cured hard material... substrate and LR, that you can lay your hands on easily>
Ideally I'd like to be able to use these tanks about 2 weeks after I fill them, but obviously I am not going to be putting thousands of dollars of livestock into toxic systems.
<Can be done... Just place the new, for-sale rock in another system than the ones with fishes, invertebrates>
Any advise would be greatly appreciated, thank you,
<Good fortune in your enterprise/s. Bob Fenner>

Cycling Large Store Systems 9/29/2009
Hello WWM Crew!
Sorry if this has been covered previously, your website has such a huge amount of useful information that sometimes it is extremely hard to find very specific things.
<How might we improve?>
I am in the process of building a retail tropical fish store in Southern California and was wondering if you had any tips or tricks to help me have a completely cycled system for my store. I will be setting up centralized filtration(cold, fresh, salt, coral) and will have a total of about 3000 gallons spread across all of my store tanks. Unfortunately the water is one of the last things that will be going in, and if possible I would
rather not wait a month(or two or three) for my tanks to fully cycle. Now the health of my livestock is a priority but I was wondering in your experience, do you know of any ways to overcome the cycle?
I was thinking of possibly asking some of my livestock suppliers in LA if I could give them a fluidized bed filter top put on some of their systems for awhile to populate some bacteria colonies, do you think they would do this or do you think this would be adequate for not having to cycle my system?
Is there anyway around this with such a large system?
<I would go the "Blitzkrieg" route here... Use commercial prep.s ("One and Only", MicrobeLift, SeaChem's line...) AND old filter media, substrate... and a source of ammonia...>
What have you guys done when opening up a new store?
<Oh yes>
Any input would be great and I appreciate all that you guys do for the hobby!
<Welcome, and congratulations on your new store. Bob Fenner>

Re: Cycling Large Store Systems 9/29/2009

Thanks for the quick reply!
I don't think you could improve it, you've just got what seems like more raw information on your website than the rest of the net combined! It's like your website is connected directly to all of your years of experience, so much good information for the hobby!
<Thank you... I realize of course the breadth or maybe scope of our interest is large... taking in business, science, hobby, engineering... Plumbing, carpentry, electrical... diving, photography, ethical issues... And have a good working knowledge of how the materials can/might be organized... Akin to my file cabinets and hard drives... But am always open for input re further improvements>
So would you recommend one product over another, or use all of them in combination?
<I like the Tim Hovanec product (either perturbation) best...>
Also, for old filter media, I don't currently have a large enough salt water system to get older media from, I currently only have 3 nano systems in my tiny apartment all running Berlin method, what would you recommend for older media for my salt systems?
<A visit to the wholesalers... ordering a few boxes of their "best cured rock">
I have larger fresh water systems to get media off of so thy won't be a problem.
And for ammonia, I don't want to subject livestock to high ammonia and nitrite levels, so to create more ammonia what would you recommend? Raw shrimp from the market? Household ammonia? Or would it be fine to add hardy fish in along with the bacteria products?
<Endogenous or not... just not more than 1.0 ppm total free ammonia. Likely one "dose" will do it>
Thanks again for your help,
<Be seeing you, BobF>

Retail central filtration systems  9/18/09 Dear Sir, Thank you for the web site and the opportunity to ask you questions. I have not found exactly what I am looking for, but if the answer is on the web site then maybe you can direct me to specifically the area. <Will try> I have three retail stores and am getting ready to put a holding system in my warehouse. The purpose is to hold fish that are usually "trouble fish" (livebearers, some tetras, goldfish, etc.) that usually need medicating/holding prior to their intro to my retail tanks. <I do agree with your plan, the purposes you propose> Although I am a veteran at retail and have been in business 20 years, I'm not sure what the best way to build some centralized filtration systems. <There are... a few ways to go... with variations therein> What would you do? I have been thinking of about 18 -24 40 gallon tanks. Maybe 3 different systems. <Mmm, yes, or four... just for freshwater... hard/alkaline cooler water... softer/acidic more tropical, goldfish only, non-fishes (plants, invert.s)...> I will only be dealing with freshwater. I am not handy putting things together so I will have to hire it done. I want as easy maintenance as possible I just don't have a clue as far as drilled tanks, pipes and filters. <There are many good inputs here. We/you are fortunate that some of our Crew have extensive experience, current knowledge in this realm. Am going to ask Scott Vallembois in particular to respond more substantially here, as his side-company sells drill bits et al... I encourage you to read as extensively as this project warrants, keeping good notes... I definitely WOULD automate the water treatment and make-up systems (contact filters serviced by others, top-off systems that can be simple mechanical devices), to use good sized ultraviolet filters, after small pore physical... Yes, that will have to be serviced often... Look to the TMC, Vectron line... you can buy these through Quality Marine in LA...> Help. Where do I start. Hopefully you have answered this before and you can direct me to your answer. Thank you for all your help. Michael Hodges, Clawpaws Pet Shops (Pittsburg, KS, Neosho MO and Webb City MO) <Scott, your input please. Bob Fenner> <<Michael, this will be fairly straightforward once the tanks are drilled. Do check out my companies drilling video, this is a DIY way to do it, but it works. http://www.reefercentral.com/drilling_video.html It is even easier with a small wooden template/guide to drill through. You should have no problem finding someone with the DIY type knowhow to drill these tanks for you (it doesn¹t take much know how). Then it is just a matter of plumbing them together into a common sump/filter for each system. Do contact me at my bus. email: ScottV@Glass-Holes.com, we can get you set up with some bits to do the job. Also look into the filtration Bob mentioned above, as your plans come along we will be more than happy to hash out the details with you. Talk soon, Scott V.>>

Re: Please help. Svc, frag biz., centralized multiple tank system     8/29/08 Mr. Fenner, <Nate> Im pretty sure i have got the set up figured out. But i have run into a snag... The 75's i have are reef ready and therefore drain from the bottom. the overall height in my basement is 7 feet. Given the amount of space i would like above both tanks means that i cant have the bottom 75 be more than 15 inches from the ground. <A very good idea... too hard to drain... and work on... and folks feet moving by spooks fishes too easily> which would give me 14 inches of clearance above the first row of tanks and 19 inches of clearance above the top tanks. The halides shall be on the top tanks. 2x400 on one and 2x250 on the other. <Mmm, I would NOT do this... insufficient room to get in, about the tops of the tanks... Delete one row...> And so...when i have the bottom 75 15 inches off the ground...so is the drain. and the height of my sump is 24 inches. See the issue here. although the tank would theoretically drain this way, it is traveling against gravity and slowing the flow down significantly. If i were to remove the overflow and drill a whole on the top back, i could have a drain installed there but be pretty simple with a bulkhead fitting. A local LFS has their drains this way but i remember the owner telling me about having problems with flow. If i were to have a pvc-T attached to the backside of the bulkhead fitting and then have about 6-8 inches of downfall to the sump. This is all one inch pipe. <I don't like this small diameter either... Please... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm Oh yes... a bunch...> Instead of purchasing another 70. im going to use a 75 in its place to go above the sump. Have you ever used the MRC-MR-2/3R or the ASM G-5? <Am familiar... see our input re Skimmer Selection on the same Index page cited above... Not a fan of either of these knock off makes> Im debating on those 3. Im also debating on the Reeflo super dart gold or the barracuda gold. The Tunze multicontroller 7095 with 4-8 6055 Nanostream sounds nice too...What are your thoughts my friend? Thanks again! -Nate <Good gear... Posted.... Please... search, read before writing us. Bob Fenner>

Central filtration, plumbing    8/21/08Hi I have been keeping marines since the 70's and reefs since 86. <Hey old timer!> I have run multiple aquariums on a central system for many years. I will now be building a large fish room. I am going to be running 18 aquariums on a single central system. In the past I have always provided each aquarium with a individual return branched off of the main pump return line. I was wondering if you have an opinion with regards to changing this set up and instead returning the water to the top row aquariums and allowing the overflow to serve as the return to the second row and so on to the third row with this overflow going to the sump. This would be easier to plumb and more economical as well. Let me know what you think Thanks! Glen <Will make a few general statements here. Overall, I would revert, stick with your first design... for a few reasons: One, the issue of disease transmission. It's much easier to be able to assure that what is going back through your centralized filter is clean, than have water mixed tank to tank. Ditto with controlling flow to and through any given tank... What happens if you don't want so much water in a tank below, but do want it in one above? Having done these sorts of set-ups over many years time, I assure you the individual in/out arrangement is vastly superior. Bob Fenner>Re: central filtration 8/22/08 Hi Bob <Glen> Thanks for the fast response on my question. I agree with your assessment. The truth is your points are the main reason I have always used individual returns in the past, but I was looking to save some money on account of my co project which is the reason I am writing again. Of course it is not worth the few dollars in savings verses potential aggravation <We are in agreement> My co project along with the fish room is a new show tank (no I am not made of money) I was quoted a great price from a large acrylic supplier near where I live on 60 X 120 - 1 inch thick acrylic sheet. <... is this a new standard size?> I was thinking about an aquarium of aprox.10ft X 30" X 30" <... what would the bottom be made of?> This would be largest of any acrylic aquarium I have done so far. Years ago I did work with someone on a glass aquarium that was 10ft X 3ft X 3ft. Do you think 1 inch with top bracing will work with regards to bowing at this height, or perhaps I should reduce the height to 24 inches if better. <Mmm... if this "makes sense" from how it will be viewed... likely fine from walking about... vs. sitting down lower, seeing the tank up high...> Also do you think an aquarium 8ft X 4ft X 3ft is fair for a pair of Bonnetheads and perhaps a couple of rays? <Nope> Keeping in mind of course their adult sizes although they are juveniles right now. Thanks again for the great resource you provide. Glen <Welcome. Thanks for sharing. BobF>
Commercial system question... set-up, disease prevention...    7/18/08 Thank you for your time and patience and answering my questions. <Welcome> I own an retail aquatic store and we run the MARS systems with the large commercial bio-wheel and UV sterilizer. <Am very familiar> We are continually getting outbreaks of ick mainly. <Mmm, much that could be stated, suggested... the MARs systems "aren't that great"... in terms of stability, ramp-up-ability, disease-control/prevention... I would do some long/hard thinking re adding to here... at least particulate/mechanical (yes, unfortunately, filter cartridge addn. here now)> I know we should have a quarantine system, but our store is packed from wall to wall with items and no room at the current time. <... Life is a series of compromises... are you aware what you're trading? Through time?> Future plans will have one placed in a new location. <Ah, good> All of my wholesalers keep their salinity at 1.018 to help fight parasites <Or forestall losses... save money on salt...> and that is what we have been keeping ours at. However, we are having some high loss rates on our saltwater fish and my staff is saying that it is because of the low salinity. <Could be a contributing factor, but not likely in the top three influences here...> All of our other readings are great. 0 nitrates and nitrates, ect. We just keep the salinity low to help out. Is this causing our fish to have problems? <Again... in a very general sense, yes... but other issues, factors are more important. Primary is likely "just stress"... continuing from the rigours of collection, holding, shipping, starvation, "burn"... Do you want to "chat" re these? Their alleviation? Much of this can/could be addressed through "quarantine"... along with optimized acclimation protocol... variable by species-groups...> I have read before that they could do fine at this level for up to 6 months, but with my staff complaining, I would like to make sure. <... educate yourself> Another option that we tried in one of our systems, was run SeaChem Cupramine at low levels, and tested regularly. <Is another S.O.P. that is common in the trade... Not the best/better route to go...> This seemed to clear the ick immediately, but then after time the fish seemed to get secondary infections of some sort, loose their color, etc. Just trying to find the best approach. <Ahhh! Is stated... in WWM, other efforts in print by myself, others... Careful species, specimen selection, adequate acclimation, isolation of new stocks... Stable, optimized environment (including not-too-low SG)... Again, if you'd like we (you and I) can discuss how you might investigate these possibilities... Do you have time to visit out either in the west (LA) or the UK... I would have friends in the trade give you some one on one instruction. Bob Fenner> Thanks Brian

Re: Commercial system question   7/18/08 Wow, thanks for the quick response. Yes, I would love to chat with you more about this. Unfortunately, with the summer slowdown, and our recent expansion into fresh water fish, my budget doesn't account for a trip to LA or UK at the present time. But if we can chat another way, I would really appreciate it. <Oh yes... through here, the Net, email is fine... not as fast or instructive in a short experience perhaps, but useful> I've always understood that dry goods is where my money is at and the fish were break even, but I'm not even reaching the break even point yet! Thanks Brian <And... someone has to offer, sell livestock... and, this is your life as well... BobF>

Just introducing myself  5/26/08 Hey Bob, Been talking with Jason Kim from Aqua C and he said I should shoot you an email and introduce myself and my new store going up in North Park. I am opening a new LFS in North Park on 30th and University. The business name is Fish n' Frags. We will be having our grand opening on September 1st 2008, as we are currently finishing up with the build out.<Ahh, congratulations... good name... and welcome to the trade>The tanks are all being custom built by Lee Mar Pet, skimmers and reactors from Aqua C. We will have a 96" x 36" x 22" coral holding tank and a 48" x 36" x 12" grow out/frag tank. Along with that we will have 6 - 24" x 18" x 22" tanks for smaller fish and 3 - 36" x 18" x 22" tanks for tangs/angels. In researching a proper way to run a fish only holding system I'm surprised that I can't find much info. I want to only hold a small amount of fish at any given time to assure I'm only selling healthy specimen. But, with saying that, I can' figure out for the life of me what would be the proper way to set up a filtration system on this setup. <Do look over the Aquatics Business subweb on WetWebMedia.com re... a sump, mechanical filtration (likely a cartridge or two in series) and adequately sized UV is what I would go with... perhaps with at least part of it being live (a refugium). In concert with a routine of dipping bathing incoming fish livestock, this should keep you out of the copper habit... much to discuss> The coral tanks will run completely independent of the fish system, so I would like to medicate the holding tanks. Could you give me any advise as to what I should run for filtration? Should I use a bio balls? <Better to use a bit of live rock... and skip on the standing medications...> I guess I'm just stumped on how to set this up to assure I'm keeping a healthy system for the fish. Any advise or recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks Matthew Knoll <Heeeee! Have a bunch to proffer... do feel free to write, call on me if when I can be of service. Bob Fenner out at the end of Interzoo in Germany>

A question for Mr. Fenner, FW store... lvstk. sel., sys.   2/1/08 Hi Bob, <Niki> Hope this message finds you well. We are building our freshwater system and are in the process of making 5 or 6 beautiful individual rows. Right now, however, we only have one row up. The issue is that we have several different kinds of fish that require different ph and I'm not sure where to put my chemistry to best suit all of them. <Mmm, from the list provided... there are some brackish water animals... the mollies and dragon goby... that should be put in such... And some broadly more soft, acidic and harder, more alkaline distinctions you could make... Though, if there is insufficient desire/room to have more separated sumps to service them, all others (than the brackish) listed here could be accommodated in near neutral (7 ish pH) and moderately hard water... I would make a few comments... I'd drop the Chinese Algae Eater (Gyrinocheilus)... both the natural and golden variety, too much bad news with its aggressive nature... Am assuming you're aware of differences in temperaments in some of these fishes, the large size of the Pseudoplatystoma... I'd have larger tanks in the upper rows... and likely no smaller than 15-20 gallons below...> Once we have our separate rows up we can make individual systems, but in the meantime would you take a look at my list of fish and make a recommendation? The koi and goldfish are in another system, so they are not in the equation. Right now the parameters are: Temp-78.5 Ph-7.9 <Mmm, a bit high... I'd blend in some "cleaner" water here. Perhaps an R.O. device above/near the sumps...> Salinity-0 DO-101.2 <Dissolved oxygen? Is this a percent of saturation?> NH4-<.25 <Should be 0.0> NO2-0 NO3-25 <I'd keep this under 20 ppm maximum> Thank you so very much for your consideration. Warm Regards, Niki Englerth <I am going to share your list, note with my friend and colleague Neale Monks for his able input here as well. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob, it's Niki...again. NO3 in Wholesale Marine Life facilities  -11/27/2007 Howdy Bob! Well you did say I could write you when I had a question.<smile> I just didn't tell you I have aloooot of questions. Hope I'm not bugging you too bad. I have an issue with NO3 in my invert system here, <Not unusual... in a wholesale setting> and have found out that there are a copious amount of bio-balls that are in a very hard to reach place. They have not been cleaned in a very long time. I know there are differing opinions on whether or not these are a helpful means of filtration. <In a changeable, large/ish facility with vacillating bio-loads... something like them... or fluidized bed technology is really a necessity. Must have something that can/will rapidly ramp-up to convert nitrogenous wastes. Unfortunately such mechanisms overdrive nitrification... resulting in excess nitrate> I did read through your FAQs but did not find any situation that correlated with mine. I don't like them, personally, I have seen a great number of tanks in my maintenance calls that have been helped tremendously by their removal and subsequent replacement with live rock. <Yes... this has been my experience as well> I don't have any experience with such large systems like ours (8500) <Yes... gallons...> so maybe there is a reason I don't know about that keeps them here, but my suspicion is that they were just designed in the bio-ball hey-day. <This is indeed the case. I was there for all the fits, retrofits of Quality...> My question is this..should I a) Not worry about my around 35-40 ppm of NO3? <Mmm, if it were me/mine... I would try to address, reduce this... Have you spoken w/ ChrisB re your concern here?> b) Rip out all the bio-balls and replace with live rock? keep in mind the bio-ball chambers are highly inaccessible, being underneath the holding tanks. <Yes, I know... requiring the dismantling of all above them. A pain in the keester> I would be concerned with a drain becoming blocked with the live rock. c) Break down the tanks and just clean the bioballs? d) Remove the bioballs and don't add anything? or e) some really obvious solution that is staring me in the face that I haven't realized, which is why I contact the guru's A.K.A. You! <IF there were room, I'd opt for placing LR in some large container (even pressurized like a big Tahitian filter or two) outside the existing... BUT if you're going to take the invert. system apart... the addition/replacement of the plastic media for the LR in part or en toto will likely be a good route to go... and last for quite a few years...> Anyway, I have some pretty unhappy coral (but some very happy clams!). Help? Thanks...you're awesome and way cooler then a bristle worm - Niki <Don't know... have seen some very gorgeous errantiate polychaetes in my time... Cheers, Bob Fenner> to Bob Hi Bob, Thank you for your reply, and yes I spoke with Chris yesterday and he explained to me the need for bio-balls in a wholesale setting. Thanks again for your input. Niki Englerth :) <Ah, good. BobF>

Refugium for Shop Setting 09/17/07 Hello Bob and Crew. We were wondering whether we could pick your well informed brains! We are in the process of fitting out our new shop premises, and want to run a refugium on our system. The system is 1000 gallons. What size should the refugium be, and what should the water flow be over it? Thanks so much Claire <Mmm, as big as possible... and perhaps not more than 5,6 times turnover the macro-algae part... You have read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray down? Bob Fenner>

Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment   8/22/07 Dear Sir, Your site is the best I have come across on the net. I have learned lots from your wonderful Site. I have a question. Can one treat the marine fish while in hyposalinity with copper sulphate? <Can> What is the effects of copper in such a salinity. <More toxic...> Regards, Inderjeet Singh <Bob Fenner>
Re: Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment   8/26/07
Dear Sir, Thank you for the prompt reply, You have said copper can be used so should I keep a level of 0.15 mg/l as suggested or reduce it. <I would maintain this as a minimum stated concentration> Your second answer is not clearly understood by me. It will be toxic to what, the fish or the parasites.? Regards, Inderjeet Singh. <The host fishes... the lowering of spg makes copper exposure more dangerous. BobF>
Re: Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment  8/28/07
Dear Bob, Thanks again, This is going to be a bit long mail so please do excuse me I am Architect turned Aquarist, this hobby has changed my profession I am a serious LFS hobbyist doing my job for past 5 years in freshwater. <Neat! I too was self-directed to a life of enjoyment, study and sharing in our interest> Here in India Marine is not much popular. Recently I visited Singapore for the Aquarama Exhibition . <Ahh! Have gone to most of these biannual industry get-togethers> I was inspired with Marine setups and the Underwater World. <The UK co. I take it> I set up my tanks for marine and got two consignments of fish sadly all the fish died within two weeks because of Velvet. Then I started to read and browse the net and I came to WWM. This is my favourite site. I spend most of my spare time reading your articles. I now give my fish the fresh water dips and am trying to quarantine them. <Ah, good> Now I have been successful to keep the fish alive. Your site is a big Ocean of knowledge. <Thank you my friend> The reasons of my earlier question is that I am confused and not sure what method I should use? 1. Only Hyposalinity ? 2. Only Copper treatment Or 3. Both 1 and 2 ? <Depends a good deal on the species, specimens in question... For many that are sensitive or in bad initial health, neither may be appropriate... For incoming fishes, pH adjusted freshwater dips with a bit of formalin (as detailed on WWM) is my favorite prophylactic approach...> Now, the reason I am asking you the above question is that I have set up 40 tanks of 15 gallons in circulation to a common sump. All tanks are individually connected with of 3/4" pvc pipes for inlet and outlet. In the Sump the water is filtering through Ceramic rings, filter pads of different grade, bio balls. The water is then pumped back. I plan to quarantine marine fish in these tanks. <Mmm, much we should state here... each of these tanks flows back independently I hope... and you have VERY good mechanical (one micron or less) AND physical (e.g. UV) sterilization to exclude the sharing of parasites...> I read on the net that Protein Skimmer must not be used as the organic waste will remove the copper.? <Yes... w/ or w/o the waste... and the waste alone> I am using API test kits NH3, NO2, NO3, pH and Cu. Do I need to monitor anything else? What method should I use from the above? <Dips, baths... and keep good records of what species from what suppliers have problems... Arrange your ordering to reflect...> Salt used is Red Sea as this is the only salt commonly available in India. <As your business grows... do consider becoming a distributor for other brands... and product lines... Marine keeping will explode some day (and I think soon) in India> I have prepared my own Copper Sulphate solution by mixing 40 gm.s of Copper Sulphate ( Blue crystals used in swimming pools here) to 10 liters of Distilled water. I intend to use 30 ml for 200 liters to get .015 ppm reading of copper. <I would add 4-5 grams of citric acid to your mix here... much better... to keep the CuSO4 . 5H2O in solution> I want your advice for any other precautions that I should take while Quarantine. My tanks are recycling now. And soon I shall add the fish when the NH3 and NO2 readings are ZERO. Thanks once again. Regards, Inder. <I will gladly help you in your endeavours. Life to you. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hyposalinity together with copper sulphate treatment 09/01/07
Dear Mr. Bob Fenner, I was very glad to see your picture in the October issue of Freshwater and Marin Aquarium magazine. <Heeee! Got to get a newer one... for honesty's sake if naught else> In the last mail you state "<Depends a good deal on the species>" The species that I am keeping for the moment are from your good list of Butterflies, <Ahh... this family does rate quite high on the copper sensitivity scale I'm afraid> Earlier I tried keeping 8 banded butterfly <The genus Chelmon?> and it did not eat anything and finally died. Other species that I am keeping are Angels, Lion fish, Wrasse, Damsels, Triggers, Tangs and Surgeons. Do you have a list on your site for copper sensitive species? <<Mmm, yes... they are somewhat detailed by family/group as here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mardisindex.htm scroll down to the royal blue line... the FAQs after the coverage on Crypt>> "<Mmm, much we should state here... each of these tanks flows back independently I hope... and you have VERY good mechanical (one micron or less) AND physical (e.g. UV) sterilization to exclude the sharing of parasites...>" I shall now be adding 16watt U.V. in the sump (Water vol: 100 gallons) with 2500 l/h power head. The flow of the pump is 4500 lts /ht to the tanks. <I would add many more watts of UV here for this total volume and flow rate... Likely five times as many plus. Look for the Vectron (TMC) brand if you can... very reliable, service-able> Two racks with 18 tanks gross volume of 1200 lts. I shall call this as System 1. I have two such systems with 4 racks ie 36 tanks. System 1 (1200lts) and System 2 (1200lts). Here I need your suggestion. First, My plan is to have System 1 for Quarantine with Hyposalinity and Copper, if you suggest. And in System 2, Not sure yet but may be the following <Just to be sure, you have two sump systems here correct?> 1. For invertebrates, 2. Curing live rock, Or 3. Use this system for Copper sensitive fish. ie only Hyposalinity. <The invertebrates and LR should not be exposed to varying or low spg> I have prepared my own Copper Sulphate solution by mixing 40 gm.s of Copper Sulphate ( Blue crystals used in swimming pools here) to 10 liters of Distilled water. I intend to use 30 ml for 200 liters to get .015 ppm reading of copper. <I would add 4-5 grams of citric acid to your mix here... much better... to keep the CuSO4 . 5H2O in solution> Sir, I want to know that add 4-5gms of citric acid to what quantity 10 lts or to 200 lts ? <Yes> Regards, Inderjeet Singh Bansal. <Bob Fenner>

Filter Media/Large Commercial Systems 7/5/07 I just found your website while doing research on toxin adsorption. You could spend weeks here; it's great. Since I don't have that much time, could someone tell me if there are lower cost alternatives to using bulk, granular, activated carbon as a filter medium in 2,000 gallon food fish tanks? GAC must be priced for its potential to form diamonds in the future. <Gary, if this is a marine system, you may want to invest in a commercial skimmer. Prices for these are $700 and up. Here is a link to one site, but a Google search should produce many more. http://www.aquatictech.com/skimmers.htm I know of no other media that would be less expensive than carbon, Mr. Fenner may have some input here. You would get a better price per pound if you bought in bulk. You may want to contact some of the manufacturers of carbon for pricing in this regard.> Thanks. <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Gary

Increasing system volume & Long plumbing runs 1/26/07 After reading the FAQs I have decided to more that double the volume of my systems by placing a large sump and refugium in the garage and plumbing it through my crawl space back to my tank. I will be adding over 200 gallons each to my 120 gallon tank and to my 92 Corner. My main reason for doing this is ease of maintenance, system stability and reducing the risk of spillage indoors. I will have a 100 gallon refugium and 100 gallon sump. <This is a worthwhile cause. After all: The solution to pollution...> However, I need some recommendations. <Can do, pardner.> a) My 92 corner is about 70 ft (horizontal) and about 7ft (vertical ) to the new sump. 5ft of the vertical height is indoors before it gets to the crawl space and then another 2 ft drop over 70 ft to the sump. Will I have a problem in the drain to the sump? <Mmmm... Not a problem per se. You will definitely have a low flow-rate, and there is potential for a clog due to the shallow angle. I am not overly concerned for your system, as the benefits outweigh the potential problems. The reality is that there is a 7' drop, and water will flow. There are calculations available that can help with this setup, but my main focus would be on maintaining a straight and true slope, with no low spots for water and detritus to collect and cause restrictions to the already low flow-rate.> b) I do not think heat transfer will be that big an issue because of system volume and want to consider submersible first is this reasoning valid. <My opinion comes from a service-oriented point of view, but I think pumps should be reliable and low-maintenance. In many cases, that means a submersible pump can do the job. With 70' of hose and an unknown number of turns in the circuit, I am inclined to opt for a high-flow/low-speed inline pump. To address the heat-loss issue you mention, I think it is a genuine concern that two lengths of 70-foot plumbing (Vinyl or PVC?) *will* present a huge opportunity for cooling of the water. System size is a help here, but you have to consider that you may need a spare or pair of spare heaters for redundancy.> If so do you have any recommendations for a reliable, efficient, submersible pump that can pump 1200 gph 7ft vertical and 20ft horizontal through 2 separate returns (my Eheim 1262 wont handle the load unless I get an Eheim per return) <Mmm... was under the impression that you planned to build separate sumps/refugiums for each system, meaning one sump and fuge per tank. Is this a mistake on my part? You did say you would be adding "200 gallons each..."> c) Any Suggestions for raising the height of the skimmer since the Rubbermaid's are over 2ft? I have Euro-Reefs and Tunze's. <Milk-crate?> d) I would also like to have the same setup for my 92 Corner but I am concerned that by sharing one sump for two displays I could increase the chance of disease spreading if I have an occurrence. Is this concern warranted? <Absolutely warranted. *BUT*, I would remind you that under normal circumstances, with proper QT practices, you should be able to avoid undesirable vectors in your captive eco-systems. If it were me, I would research the feasibility of making two separate systems for your needs. > Thanks in advance <I enjoy the opportunity to assist! -GrahamT.>

Store filtration question  1/2/07         I was wondering if there is any reason to not use individual filters on retail tanks in a pet shop. <Mmm... mainly the time, trouble to do individual maintenance, including top-offs, chances of metabolite accumulation/toxicity problems... but there are advantages in making more specific water quality per system... and limiting disease transfer> If I have 200 10 gallon tanks, <Mmm, use 15s... can/do "hold" about twice as much as tens... and much easier to "bump up" in terms of biological filtration when adding new livestock> each with a penguin or whisper or something similar, am I missing a major drawback. Drilled tanks with bulkhead and central filtration would seem to be more expensive. Individual tank need could also be catered too as needed. Obviously noise and electricity may be the major drawback. I was just curious of your opinion. Also, this would be just for freshwater. I look forward to your response. Thanks.                                                                   Bill Blakeman   <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06 I'm having a heck of a time find info on saltwater retail systems. What I'm really after is an efficient system for growing out various saltwater marine species with low maintenance. I have a list off about 30 species which are either breedable or I'm going to make breedable. =) Do you have any info, pictures, or contacts who could help me out?? Seems like you have to be in a secret society to get info on them. <Heeeeee!> Thanks Brandon <There are a few folks that will/can fashion you such a system... or needed components for such... TMC in the UK, Advanced Aqua Tanks in LA... many others that fabricate "parts"... However, I strongly encourage you to "make your own" holding tanks themselves and devise (design/engineer) your own mechanicals and controllers... with some help... Best for you to set out, visit folks in the trade... Perhaps Dick Perrin... Carol and Craig and other folks/companies in HI... where do you live? Are you adverse to travel? Cheaper, better by far in my estimation to take this DIY route... as am sure you'll agree in the not-so-long time frame. Bob Fenner>
Re: saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06
I was going to use 130gal polyethylene troughs <Mmm, for what species? Or class of species? Fishes?> with hdpe baskets all draining to a common sump <... I would not mix the water from all...> with skimmer etc. <... skimmers on culture systems?> that would allow me to just lift the juveniles out without catching/injuries them all day. I don't wanna <...> pay a small fortune for tanks to be drilled except the broodstock system perhaps. Maybe I'll look into a retailer system for that. <A bit more delving, investigating re what has been done, is being done per the types of organisms you wish to culture... including foods... is strongly suggested here. BobF>
Re: saltwater retailer systems   11/19/06
Going to have a broodstock system and a separate grow out systems. both will have a common sump with a large skimmer and a suitable UV Species to culture will be Occellaris Percs GSM WWM tomatoes cinnamon B&Ws <Pomacentrids... can be bred in much smaller systems, grown out in the volumes you list> Various gobies which I'm hopefully more then yellow watchman's can be breed. hope to breed longnose hawks as I find them quite interesting. <Neat!> Inverts: peppermints sexy shrimp CBS Nassarius snails <Quite a project list. Excelsior! Bob Fenner>

Auto top off... both fresh and salt both  - 11/13/06 Hello, Many thanks to you at WWM for answering all kinds of questions from viewers on all topics. It has personally helped me greatly in setting up my store. <Welcome> Now that I am set up and actually selling fish (yay!), I have a dilemma I can't seem to locate an answer in a format I can comprehend. It deals with an auto top off system. This is for a retail saltwater fish system that loses freshwater water daily (due to evaporation), and we sell fish (and therefore saltwater) from the same system too. <Okay> Every day I lose about 20 gallons of freshwater due to evaporation (500 gallon system, 30 tanks, central plumbing), in addition to using about 1/2 gallon of system (salt) water for every fish sold. <! This is a lot of bagged water for sure> Of course one day we might sell 2 fish (=1 gallon of saltwater) and one day we might sell 20 fish (=10 gallons of saltwater) Here's the dilemma... I can't seem to figure out how to set up (or what to purchase) to keep the system topped off to the correct specific gravity automatically. I currently use an ATO for my freshwater fish system, but that's limited to freshwater only so no problems there. <A few possibilities> For the saltwater system, it's not the same. If I sell no fish and just evaporate, I fill with freshwater only to correct the SG. If I sell fish, I'm fooling like crazy at the end of a couple days adding some freshwater (for the evaporation part) and some saltwater ( for the fish sold part), and guessing at getting the specific gravity balanced trying to estimate how much water we "sold" that day, to keep the SG balanced. (for reference, the sump is 150 gallons, so daily top off isn't mandatory, but after 2 days I definitely have to refill it) For reference, I have a 150g saltwater container ready at all times in a separate container, as well as a container of RO freshwater. Any help would be so greatly appreciated. I can't imagine I'm the only one with this situation, but I am completely stumped here in figuring this out. Sincerely, Rich <Mmm... you need two such reservoirs... one for "just" freshwater, the other as you already have installed... and some meters For the change in specific gravity/salinity: (conductivity likely, but there are TDS, salinity... that will work) that will deliver (through their linking to/with an electro-magnetic switch (solenoid) drive/valve to add freshwater when this value changes appreciably... For the new seawater level, a more simple float valve will do... Such gear can be purchased directly from companies or wholesalers/etailers in the trade... like Quality Marine, All Seas (not a dot com) MarineDepot, CustomAquatic (.coms). Bob Fenner>

LFS business? Centralized filtration holding systems   7/6/06         I am in the process of starting a pet store. I'm looking at having around 300 20 gallon long tanks. My question for you is: how would you go about filtering the tanks? <Mmm, definitely through centralized, recirculating systems, sumps for collective processing, automated make-up...> A drain on the back of the tanks? <This or the bottoms> Is there anywhere on the web or in publication explaining this? <Mmm, a few places. Maybe start here on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/cntfiltbiz.htm and the linked files above...> I want a fresh water and a salt water central filtration system. <Mmm, need more than this/these... at least a fish and non-fish marine... perhaps a hard-alkaline fresh and softer-acidic fresh... maybe some separate, more specialized systems for the likes of Discus, Brackish, Goldfish and Koi...> I just want open tanks, not the Dutch systems or whatever PetLand or pet supplies plus uses. Any direction you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.      Bill Blakeman <Keep looking around Bill... there are a few good options for gear here... some DIY that are cheaper... Perhaps seeking out folks in your area that have actually done these installs would help you shortcut to plans, possibilities. Bob Fenner>

Need information. LFS Central Filtration Help   5/25/06 Hi, I am in the process of starting a marine aquarium .store  I was  reading you article on centralized filtering systems. You made reference to PSM/PPN  Buyers Guide Directory, Where do I get this directory <Here: http://fancypublications.com/corporate/Products.asp> or who should I call to  help me design a filter system?   <... a few possibilities... there are companies that "do this"... SeaClear, RK2... but most folks do it themselves with some more local help...> I am based in Tampa Regards, Frank Vegliante <Best for you to read a bit re... make up your own mind re the components, their arrangement... look to fit in what size space you have, are likely to have... Install yourself. Having others do this will cost a bunch more, perhaps get you things you don't want, need, nor know how to take care of. Bob Fenner>

Re: Multi Tank Systems, Size does Matter   2/2/06 Maybe I should ask another question. <Okay.> I am not set upon the size of the new tank, I could go larger. <As cliché as it sounds, the bigger the better.>   I just thought that those sizes would be about right for the three fish...lunare wrasse, snowflake eel, dwarf lion in a FO system. <It would probably be okay but that tanks size is about bare minimum, absolutely no lee-way room (no more fish).> Please correct me if I am wrong, what would you recommend for minimum tank size? <I would rather see something with more surface area than a 90, something in 125 range possibly.> Thanks! <Anytime, Adam J.>

Aquarium business   1/20/06 Dear WWM crew, <Yes> I am looking to eventually start a fish store in or around Long Beach CA and go a bit nuts with ideas about a store, even though I still need to complete a solid business plan. So that brings me to an aspect of the setup of the display systems. I would like to have at least 3 display "systems" for livestock, each which may contain one or more subsystem (i.e. maybe saltwater  system contains 2 subsystems one for corals and other reef safe critters and fish and one for the big messy predatory fish). So here goes: 1) Fresh - acidic/soft water system for south American species (mostly discus and South American cichlids) 2) Fresh - alkaline/hard water system for African cichlids 3) Marine - self explanatory, possibly the 2 "subsystems" listed above So in your opinion, how crazy do I need to be with regards to keeping all these subsystems segregated by specie needs rather than the physical location and or limits in pumping ability etc? <Mmm, definitely not crazy. RMF>> I would like to do that best for the fish and keep the fish in an environment as close as possible to the natural environment. I know too many pet stores that keep fish in environments not suited for them for the sake of ease. I would like to gain the reputation as someone who cares, because in fact, I do. Besides that, I am all about DIY. Is it worth constructing my own filtration system, shelving, and plumbing etc for each system or is it more cost effective to purchase the display setups a lot of the acrylic manufactures produce. Also, I thought about running some of the filters  in  some "primer" systems to try to get a head start in the production of bacteria to speed up the cycling process once I get ready to open the shop. Maybe I am nuts, so feel free to tell me so if need be. Thanks in advance for your help. <Paul, lets start by reading the link I've pasted.  I think many if not all of your questions will be answered here.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm  Good luck.  James (Salty Dog)> -Paul

Marineland banks in my store...Trouble..  10/3/05 HI all, I recently (February 05) bought a LFS, It has 26 (4) foot Marineland (mars) systems in it. Half are fresh the other are salt. The problem is that even with the recommended daily, weekly maintenance that they (Marineland) recommend I am suffering a great number of losses in my saltwater systems. (over 1000.00 last month) <Mmm, might be your livestock source/s, your acclimation protocol... but I am not a fan of these holding systems... too feeble filtration wise, not easily improved...> I have tried everything they (Marineland) recommended (new uv lights, CopperSafe, frequent pad changes, etc, etc). I have been keeping reefs for over 15 years very successfully, <Stores... are very different... as you're finding out> I currently have a 300 gallon reef in my store that has every kind of coral in it you can imagine including Goniopora and elegance that are both reproducing and have been for over two years, along with reproducing pipefish on a regular basis. So I am no beginner to keeping things alive, but these systems have me a wits end. So this last week I finally got fed up with them and began the 3 day task of replumbing them to a central sump, now this is where I need some advice, I am using a couple of 150 gallon Rubbermaid horse troughs for the sumps. The reason That I replumbed them is that I don't think that there was "enough" biological media for the constantly changing fish loads. <I agree> What could I use as a very large and stable biofilter? <The best... a fluidized bed... but a good deal of substrate (if you're not running copper) or plastic media will do> I am considering wool and DLS material wound tightly together in the new "sumps" to create this biofilter. Is there something you would recommend other than this? <Yes... the above... what you propose create their own problems... of nutrient accumulation, its ill effects> I am hoping to keep as much life as possible in these systems, I would love to be able to keep snails and crabs in these banks as well as fish, I am currently transshipping my fish and corals. The people I ship through have recommended that I use "QuickCure" in my systems on a Saturday so it will stabilize my systems before my shipment arrives on Mondays, <Formalin and copper... dangerous, toxic...> But I am wondering if this QuickCure is "safe" to use in a system like I have setup, <If too much... will kill your filters, livestock> I am pretty sure if I use this method I can't have inverts because of the chemical makeup of the quick cure, But it will help the fish correct? <Mmm, possibly... how to put this... humans used to treat themselves with mercuricals, arsenicals... was toxic to them, but hopefully more toxic to what they wanted to be rid of> Also could I put liverock in the sumps to help with the bioload? <... not with copper, or copper/Formalin, no> I assume not if I use the QuickCure. Is there something out there I can use that is safe for inverts as well as treat the fish I receive for disease? <No> Sorry for all of the questions but I am just a poor hobbyist who has put his entire life savings into following his dream of owning a LFS. I am in need of some sound advice from a non commissioned third party with the same passion for aquatic life...Thanks <Do you have an equity partner who is "there", on the floor? I would get one... quick... so you can invest some time learning the trade (perhaps by traveling, visiting wholesalers of livestock)... There are sections on WWM re retail, and elements like "Guerilla Acclimation" that you should read, take to heart... QUICKLY! I realize it is difficult (with day to day, moment to moment work, crises...) but you need to rid your systems of the problems they have (inherently, like the filtration... I would add substantial UV here... and a strong protocol for net, specimen container sterilization between uses...), and the infested systems as they exist (likely systematically coppering... or if more practical, bleaching/nuking and starting over... by section), and prevent new troubles (by careful buying, dip/baths, acclimation)... Not easy to do, but absolutely necessary if you're to stay in business. Look to "better suppliers" if you have doubts on this part of the equation... Quality Marine, Sea Dwelling Creatures, Underwater World... to name a few LA outfits. Bob Fenner>

Retail Fish-Only Tank And Nitrates - 05/28/05 I have a fish only tank, 150 gal. with a 2" CaribSea sand bed, PM Bullet 2 skimmer, and T5 lighting, heavily stocked. What can I do to keep my nitrates down? This tank holds fish for retail so I want to keep the conditions as best as possible. <<Mmm...gonna make a couple assumptions here. Since this is a retail sales display, reducing the stocking level is probably not going to happen, and for the same reason, adding a quantity of live rock is also not feasible (makes it too difficult to catch the fish). Depending on the grain size of the substrate in this tank and the fact that it is only 2" deep, as well as you stating the tank is "heavily stocked," I suspect this to be a large part of your problem. So...my first recommendation would be to remove the substrate to allow you to easily siphon out (weekly) accumulated detritus. Else, increase the depth of the sand bed to a minimum 4" (6" would be better) and employ DSB methodology to help with the nitrates. A simple keyword search on this site will yield much info on deep sand beds (DSB)...as well as on nitrate reduction for that matter. The addition of a sump packed with live rock and/or a vegetable refugium with a DSB, along with very frequent large partial water changes, will also help keep nitrates down.>> Should I use a denitrator coil? <<I don't have any first-hand experience with these, but my research on them in the past has shown them to be "fiddly" to get/keep working effectively and thus I choose alternate methods for nitrate reduction.>> I do not know where to find a good set of plans to make one! <<Really? A simple GOOGLE search yields lots of possibilities. A good place to start is ozreef.org>> Or is there a better suggestion that you would have? <<Yes, as stated previously.>> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks <<Regards, Eric R.>>

Retrofitting A Large System Greetings friends at WWM! <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I have a couple of issues I was hoping to get some help with. The first is a fish health issue. I own a pet store, and recently we have had a major fish loss epidemic. The two systems in question are 200g tanks (DAS). One unit is 2 75g open tanks, 50g sump; the other is a 75, 15, and 2 30's with 50g sump. I am not sure if you are familiar with the DAS systems, but we are using the stock filtration and skimmers.  These are two fish only systems, with a couple inches of sand fake corals and maybe 75 or so lbs of "reef" (dead) rock dispersed in each 200g unit. pH varies slightly always above 8.0. Ammonia and nitrites are nonexistent at all times. Nitrates stay at around 10ppm. One of the tanks was treated with copper about a month ago, which we removed with Purigen after we killed the ich.  We use carbon constantly, and do a 10% weekly water change with RO/DI water. We buy from Quality Marine, and SDC primarily. We buy more expensive higher quality stock from "good" seas whenever possible. We presently have no QT system. We freshwater dip all fish that come in. <Sounds like good procedure; a quarantine system would really take things to the next level!> Our reef tanks, and other invert tanks have been doing phenomenally (better than ever really). So the problem is this:  In the past 10 days we have lost the following fish - Longnose Butterfly, Pinstripe Wrasse, Copperband Butterfly, Naso Tang, Lemonpeel Angel, Raccoon Butterfly, Auriga Butterfly, Regal Angel (RS), Lawnmower Blenny, Watchman Goby, 5 Lyretail Anthias, Thornyback Cowfish, Red Coris Wrasse - give or take, that's what I can think of off the top of my head. <Horrible to hear.> 75% of these fish have been fat, eating, healthy and (relatively) longstanding citizens until the night that they died. There have been three bouts of death, where we lost 4-6 fish dispersed amongst the individual tanks overnight. Several of them had rather odd marks on their bodies before or after death. The Naso had large black splotches that showed up the evening before he died. The Lemonpeel had a swollen mouth, that looked kind of bruised. Many of them in their death looked oddly bruised.  I would blame it on foul play without a second thought if there was anybody left to point the finger to. Survivors include: a 2.5" Flame Hawk, a 3" Longnose Hawk, a 1.5" Porkfish, a 3" Xanthopterus Tang, 3" Vlamingi Tang, and a Lizard Blenny. Within this same time period we have had a really nasty Cyano outbreak as well, for what that's worth. I'm at a loss...and appreciate your input! <Wow...really hard to say. The rapidity with which these deaths came about makes me think that we may be looking at some sort of very virulent parasitic disease. The other thought would be some sort of environmental lapse, but it seems odd that such a large cross-section of relatively hardy fishes would be affected. The same goes for some sort of poisoning episode...Why would only a few fishes perish? I guess the other angle to take is to look at the source of the fish. Were they all from the same wholesaler? did they all arrive about the same time? Did any customers report similar rapid deaths of fishes during this same period of time? Unfortunately, you're going to have to ask yourself a lot of questions to get some good leads on this one...> Second on the agenda. I have a customer with a 300g tank that I am taking over for them. The tank is now sitting fallow while we let ich die out, but they are patiently waiting for me to "make their tank beautiful". The husband likes oddball fish, and the wife wants a reef. They are paying me for a monthly to maintain it for them, and I REALLY want to put together something that works for them. I have never had any practical experience with a tank of this size, aside from when I pulled out all their fish. <That's not a fun experience at all, huh?> Right now they have standard fluorescent lighting, 100 lbs of dead rock, 80 lbs of live rock, a modified UG filter that is drained into a Red Sea canister. It's acrylic, stand and canopy included. I pulled out a dozen or so Damsels, a mean Wrasse, and a few other fish that managed to survive their reign of terror. They said they spent 15 grand on their setup at their LFS (rip-off?). <For a 1970's-1980's type filtration system and fluorescent lighting, I'd say that they may have overpaid somewhat!> They have given me a no-limit clause. No price is too high to pay for beauty, so as long as what I'm doing is necessary...just do it and send them the bill. I really don't want to take advantage of them, and I really want to make sure that whatever I do is really the best thing for them. I have only been doing salt for a year and a half, and reef for a year. I read a LOT, and deal with many many tanks so I have a lot of progressive experience, but I still feel rather limited in my capabilities. <Well, coming here is a good start! As you are aware, we have a lot of great information on marine/reef keeping here. I think I would start by re-assessing the equipment in the system and seeing what is truly effective. If your goal is to have a mixed fish/invert system, I'd shy away from the mechanical/UG filter setup and consider a simple sump-based system, with an excellent protein skimmer. A refugium is optional, but would be a nice feature. Better lighting is in order, too. I think that you really need to sit down with the client and find out exactly the kinds of animals that they want, and design and retrofit the system accordingly. They also need to be aware that a pretty reef-type system does not happen overnight; it takes months and years to grow into something truly amazing. As you are no doubt aware, it's not possible to simply dump tons of money into a system and expect a world-class system overnight. It takes time. patience, and dedication.> Can a reef be maintained long term with only once a month for heavy duty maintenance/water changes? <It can, but you need to pay careful attention to stocking and daily husbandry, such as feeding, etc.> If so, what kind of corals would be most conducive to success and beauty on that scale? <There are so many to choose from that I can't even begin to name them here. I suppose that soft corals, such as Sarcophyton, Sinularia and the like would be a hardy bunch to start with. Do some more reading, both here and in texts like Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" and Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation"> With the tank filled, and maybe 2.5" between it and the wall...any super secrets to increasing water flow without using powerheads or moving the tank? <A manifold-type return system from a closed loop might fill the bill. There are other methods, such as using devices such as Sea Swirls to oscillate the return flow, or even external powerheads, such as Tunze Turbelles, which move huge volumes of water with little electrical consumption and minimum aesthetic compromise.> The UG/Red Sea canister combo seems quite crafty to me...but I don't know about function. There is a LOT of particulate matter casually drifting around the tank. <Sounds like it may not have been the optimal size for the system, or perhaps husbandry was not top-notch in this system. You'd be surprised how efficiently sump-based systems can remove suspended matter through simple settling within the sump, or with minor prefiltration features. Do read up on this.> Should I utilize the available plumbing for a sump, skimmer, fuge, or closed loop? <Obviously, you want to optimize what is there to save your client money, but you may need to do serious re-vamping of the system to make sure that everything is appropriate for the animals that your client intends to keep.> I will leave it at that for now...there will be more to come in the near future no doubt. Thanks for your help :) Scott Johnson Critter Cabana <MY pleasure, Scott. Sorry I couldn't give you absolute answers in this space, but I hope that some of the basic concepts that we touched on will be of use to your client. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

System for Fish at new facility Hi Crew <JD> I just moved to a new, larger facility here in Jakarta, and have some concerns over my fish system. <Okay> I sell local Indonesian fish, which are notorious for disease, purely to bring in customers. <Understood> My main line of fish however, are imports.  I hold the only valid license for Indonesia, and receive shipments from Brazil and Red Sea once a month, and Hawaii twice a month.  Most of these fish are then passed on to 2 wholesalers who distribute to a few selected shops. The rest I keep for retail. <Sounds good> I think I may have tried to be too clever when building my system for fish, and might even have overdone it. I have 60 tanks, which are 4ft by 2ft by 18 inches tall.   These are 3 high  ( 20 racks).   The back 8 inches of each tank,  is full of bioballs, topped with biofoam, and spun Dacron at the top to trap larger debris. <I do hope you watch your pH, alkalinity with all this> The water enters the top tank centre (I'm from UK),  quite powerfully, with lots of surface movement.  It then drains through the large trickle filter before becoming the water that feeds the middle tank, then filters again becoming the water for the bottom of the 3 tanks, before filtering again and going to the sump, which is full of crushed coral, biorings, and active carbon.  There is a small skimmer in the sump, but unfortunately not too effective. So you can picture 20 racks like this side by side, with 60 trickle filters, and 20 sump filters. <Yes> I designed this to stop the spread of disease, but in hindsight, and reading several articles regarding centralizing the filtration, I am a bit confused. <Go ahead> The waters around Jakarta are not good quality, and there is a lot of bacteria and I am sure, other pests. <Yes... I have been to Jakarta many times...>   I get my water from the Seaworld facility, which is known to be the cleanest, but think it is not the premium grade filtered water, but the water after the dolphins have "passed" through it. <Yes> My facility for receiving new water is 1500 gallons, which circulates through a sump, which has UV, a reasonable size skimmer, and a Sander 100mg Ozonizer running. <I would get a much larger Sander's unit... and a dryer for same> during the day, although the outside temperature is over 30 Celsius,  the open front allows for good circulation,  the water temp is about 28.....however, at night, when closed, with no air circulation, it becomes very hot in there, and the water can rise a couple of degrees overnight.  I am planning to remove the shutters, and replace with some sort  of "bar" gates, to allow better circulation. <A good idea... you don't want the temperature to vacillate more than one degree C. in any given day... If and when it's not too dear, I would invest money in an evaporative or other type chiller> I have tested the DO  at 6pp?, and believe it is ok.  The PH is always 8.1 to 8.2, zero Ammonia, and Sg of 1.022 to 24 <Not bad... would be nice to have the water a little higher in DO... 7 ppm... not likely possible at high temp.> However, I do get outbreaks of whitespot, and occasional velvet. <I do hope you have adopted, adapted a routine pH-adjusted freshwater dip/bath procedure, pH-adjusted acclimation... for avoiding these twin scourges... Please read on WWM re this issue... Easy to do, and can spell the difference between profitability/sanity and ongoing madness, losses> A friend of mine who exported fish for many years, tells me I should be joining some of the sumps together, using a bigger skimmer,...and using a "Heater" to keep the water at 30 -31 C  at all times........I need some reassurance on this....even though I tested the DO at 30 to be fine....... <Mmm, the DO is not 30 assuredly> The other thing is, the top two tanks have no substrate, but the bottom on has a little crushed coral for the wrasse etc.,....should I remove this ??? <What other source of alkaline reserve do you have? Do you monitor this? Do you sell invertebrates, particularly biomineralizing species? > To avoid customers' kids putting their hands in the water, and also to prevent jumping of fish, I built a frame for each of the tanks, which is a medium fine plastic mesh, but it is built into aluminium  ...please advise me on the possible effects of the aluminium.( no aluminum over here)  It never touches the water, it is 3 to 4 inches above it. <Good idea> I look forward to your suggestions on how I could improve this system. If I really need to centralize everything, I guess I can, although there would be a little disruption to day to day activities. regards  JD <I definitely would centralize your filtration, with large skimmer/s.... Mmm, I would rig a very large one inabouts the large sump... per sub-system if there is more than one. Do read the Business subweb of WWM re such... Bob Fenner>
Re: System for Fish at new facility
Hi Bob <JD> Thanks for the reply....there were a few questions in your responses, that I would like to answer, and also a couple of other questions I have. Firstly, regarding the pH and alkalinity...ph is 8.1 - 8.2...confess to not watching the alkalinity....must do that today....... <Yes... just as important as pH point... is resistance to change/alkalinity... commercially easiest to maintain, bolster with sodium bicarbonate> Secondly, the 1500 gallon system for my stock water is in 2 x 750 gallon vessels...My supplier here had some problems with the 200mg Sander units...would separating the 2 vessels, and using 2 x 100 Ozonizers be enough..??....what is the "dryer" you mentioned ?? I am unfamiliar with this term. <You need thousands of milligrams per hour...> Thirdly, I think I can join the 20 small systems, and make 4 or 5 larger ones....and I can use chillers....I have a design that a friend manufactures for me....can put together 1/2 HP for just over 300 bucks......I keep my outdoor ( covered) coral vats at 25 degrees C.....what is your recommendation for the fish facility, in degrees C..?? <In/about the 25 C. mark> Next....I meant the DO was ok at 30 Celsius....still reading 6. <I see, thank you> regarding Alkaline reserve, there is a lot of crushed coral in each of the sumps, but as I said earlier, I will be having the alkalinity checked in all systems today, and have the appropriate Seachem products in my lab to adjust if necessary. <Substrate is some containers/holding tanks for particular species is okay (e.g. Opistognathids), but by and large you don't want same in your filter, tank flow path... as it interferes with chemical treatment applications... I take it you're using copper in some format> I do sell a lot of corals, as I have a share in a good size boat in Sulawesi with a couple of exporter friends, so I get product the local market can't ( or won't) as 3 bucks for an elegance puts them off.....or the fact they can't keep them alive using their cheap Chinese T8 bulbs....please excuse my ignorance and give me an example or 2 of a "biomineralizing invert" <Stony corals are> So I guess my exporter friend's "heater" idea was to speed up the lifecycle of nasty things...and keep the temperature stable....and not a solution...please comment. <This looks like a fair assessment> To summarize......I need to stabilize the temperature, get the DO to 7, engineer a larger sump system.......and of course spend most of my day searching and learning from your site..( which I often do ) <Good> I know about the freshwater dip....I will be reading it thoroughly, but I guess be trying to fathom how to adjust the pH down for fish that have come in from overseas after 40+ hours in their bags...the pH is real low in a lot of cases.....then raising it up gradually.....( no mean feat with a few hundred Yellows at a time) I might need a little advice on this, and hope you can spare me a little time at Aquarama. <Do read over here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/acclimat.htm. Esp. the second piece on "Guerilla Acclimation"... something like this should become your S.O.P.> I won't be importing again until mid June, as I am the only importer, and want to "starve" the market for a while.....so my LD2 comes in...and goes out.  So I guess I have the time to re adjust many aspects of my system.........BTW....next time you plan on coming to Jakarta, you will be made very, very welcome.... <Thank you... am hopeful to make it back out to the Lembah Strait/Bitung side of Manado (Sulawesi) for diving after Aquarama> I sort of feel a little green, and hope not to be perceived as a pain in the butt.......but without people like you, and the guys on your site, sharing vast knowledge, many hobbyists would give up !! <Not at all. Am very happy to help you, your business, the trade. Bob F> 
Re: System for Fish at new facility
Hi Bob...thanks again for your reply regarding the ozonizer, and the need for thousands of milligrams.......hmmmm.....it is a 100g ozonizer, so I guess I have 100,000 milligrams, without the aid of a calculator.......if this is not enough too much please advise. <Man! I've gots to start wearing my glasses... Sorry re> This is purely for my stock of water and is not connected to the livestock tanks. <Real good> As for alkalinity....tested it...and making the adjustments needed today  <Good... can become a more or less routine item... with X amount added pretty much daily...> I use a little copper from time to time. If I remove the substrate from the sumps, what is your recommendation to have in the sump, considering that all 3 levels have quite large bio-trickle filters? <Plastic bio-media of some sort> Just spent considerable time reading your article on the Guerilla Acclimatization process.....learned a lot from that, but have a few questions......due to the time in transit to Indonesia, even Hawaiian fish are in their bags for 40 hours or more from packing to unpacking, and the pH is in the low 7's. My holding tank water is 8.2....if I trickle my holding water into the ph adjusted water.....how many hours do you think it will need....4, 6, 8 or more?.... <To be clear, I'd use an acid (can be HCl, 3 molar as Muriatic) to temporarily match the incoming bag water pH... aerating this over hours, with drip addition of "normal" pH water will raise the pH to system quality... while allowing the organisms to excrete and secrete ammonia from their bodies...> as I receive 200 to 500 fish at a time, I will utilize many large vats, so I can separate the species to avoid fighting, etc. <Yes> Also....freshwater dips?....When would you advise this? <On arrival, after acclimation... IF the animals (most fishes, though not all species) look/seem okay, able to take the (added) stress> Also....I won't be able to find Maracyn or Methylene blue here.....I can however buy Erythromycin over the counter ( strange how a foreigner can buy anything over the counter here ).....is this Erythromycin useable, or likely to have contaminants in it....also what would be your recommended dosage? <By and large I'd dispense with the use of antibiotics... Much, too much to state here, but Furan compounds can be efficacious in concentrated baths... for some conditions, most fish species. You should be able to locate or import Methylene Blue cheaply> I have to say Bob....your site has such a vast amount of very useful info, so much indeed, that sometimes I get just a little confused....hence the abundance of questions.. <I understand... and/but have thought long and deeply re how to present this information, ideas, methods... to the intended... and this is the best devised thus far> As for diving in Lembah....enjoy......wish I could, but I have a large facility that I think will be under renovation just after Aquarama........ regards JD <Someday my friend, some day. BobF> 
Re: System for Fish at new facility
Hi Bob...thanks for the swift reply........things are clearer now....except for the plastic bio-media in the sump....the back of all 3 levels has the plastic biofoam and a couple of thousand bioballs.....should I use these porous ceramic rings in the sump? <You could, but the bioballs should do it here> ....and should I ever use active carbon in there...... <Mmm, maybe... what is your protocol for water quality checking, routine water changing?> I think that the bio-trickle on each system is large, so could I get away with having only water, and a skimmer in the sump? JD <Likely so... along with bolstering pH stability for the fish systems, biomineral content and alkalinity also for the non-fishes. Bob Fenner>
Re: System for Fish at new facility
Thanks once again Bob <Welcome> I use a lot of Seachem products for coral tanks and for full fledged systems... <Good company, products> We test daily for pH, salinity, 3 times a week for Ammonia, weekly for phosphates and Calcium, as well as Alkalinity.....The test equipment we use is either from LaMotte or Atago <Very good> My corals are always in peak condition, it's just the fish husbandry that I needed to brush up on <I see> Having read and read your responses, the articles on the site, and the FAQs, I now know a lot more, and will continue to read up very regularly. Thanks again JD <Hope to meet you, get about to see your facility. Bob Fenner> 

Central Filtration Systems Hello crew,  <Good Morning> I just open a store and was having trouble with the nitrite and nitrate. I have use this site to answer a lot of my question in the past, but I have a problem that I can't seem to solve. Well let me tell you a little about the system: it is a saltwater system that have 14 - 50 gallon tanks and a sump of about 300 gallons and right now the parameter are 0 ammonia, .10 nitrite, and nitrate is off the chart, pH is 7.8 KH is 7.  I am using 3 skimmers not high quality, but works ok. And two 36 watt U.V sterilizer by Tetra. I am currently using a central filtration system that I build. Each tank flows into a 1 1/4 inch piping and flows down to a sump. In the sump I have 500 lbs of live rocks. And the system been up and going for about 2 months. The system seems to be steady right now with the nitrite of .10 and was wondering how I would be able to bring it down to 0. I [was] wondering if it would be better to increase the flow so it would be running really fast or should I slow it down. Right now it is at maximum that the piping can handle. Also I have power heads and air pumps in the sump to circulate the water in a rotating circle (OVAL) shape. If you can help me out that would be great.  <Mmmm, I'm thinking that the live rock isn't fully cured yet, but I'm sure you would be aware of that. I don't believe changing flow rates will change anything, I would want the most flow if anything. If the rock is cured then I would add some damsels into the system and jump start the system. James (Salty Dog)> >>Better to use some raw shrimp, cycle fishless - have known some who have used urine to start/spur such.  This will allow for creating maximum nitrifying populations without losing money on the fish.  However, cycling is not the problem here, this has occurred (also, know that the live rock will allow better harbor for parasitic organisms, DIS-allow copper/Formalin treatment should it be necessary - unless we're talking about an invertebrate-only system).  It is my opinion that this is the point at which large water changes are necessary, and you'll need to get the skimmers working their best, improve skimming.  You'll need to plan on future maintenance of this system, treatment for the inevitable outbreaks of disease, live rock will "hold" copper, become dead/base rock instead, re-release such.  MH>>

Central Filtrations systems Hello Mr. Fenner, <Travis> I am thinking about setting up a reef/marine store and have a few questions about the central filtration system. I am still in the planning stages but I think I have nailed down what kind of tanks I want. I will have ~600 gal SPS, 300 gal clams, 300 gal anemone tank, 600 gal LPS/softies and ~3000 gallons of fish tanks and 300 gallons of fish/invert "cubes". I will be using 4' X 8' 12" tall tanks for the corals and some combination of 8' X 2' X 18" for the fish. Anyway, the real question is can each of these systems use a true central filtration system or should the fish be on there own system? <Don't know if I'm following your question, but I would definitely have the fish system separate... even though you may well find yourself putting certain groups of fishes (e.g. centriscids, syngnathids, Clownfishes...) in your invert. systems> Should the SPS be separate from the soft corals and/or anemones as far as filtration goes? <Yes... I would do this> Are there any species of fish that would benefit from their own filtration? <Mmm, actually... yes... but... I would move these into parts of your non-fish systems... this will work itself out in time> Ideally I would like one system for low cost/maintenance but that may not be feasible. <It is not... for sure> Your guidance is appreciated. Any books you can recommend? Thank you, Travis <Hard to say w/o knowing you better... there are some engineering, design works whose content you might well benefit from understanding if you don't know the information already... I do hope you have at least one good (equity) partner for your venture... and I do encourage you to read over the materials archived on our Aquatics Business subweb: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm  I am very glad to see folks coming into the trade, building out new stores. Do proceed carefully, but know that I'm rootin' for you! Bob Fenner>

The Death System! (Not a Lucas Production) Bob, Anthony, Steve, somebody... please help! I'm a saltwater manager of a store in Texas and I and my coworkers are at our wit's end. Let me give you the run down. I've got a marine system run through central filtration consisting of four large tanks totaling @ 1000 gallons. The idea was to have a system for larger marine fish like angels, groupers, sharks, etc. It is filtered through felt bags into a sump, with a six foot tall Precision Marine protein skimmer, through which I dose ozone with an Ozotech. I'm also using a 160 watt ASM UV sterilizer. For bio-filtration I've got a six foot tall fluidized bed and live rock in the tanks and sump. Two to three hundred gallon water changes are done weekly. <Sounds good thus far> Here's my problem. Almost every "bony" fish I put in this system gets "the funk" and dies. The funk generally consists of cloudy eyes, white spots, white patches, gaping mouths, and white body film. Basically every fish within a week or so, whether they are feeding or not, just starts looking nasty and dies. And not every fish experiences all these symptoms. It may be just one or all of the above. However, rays, sharks, and eels all thrive in these tanks for months at a time, until they sell. <Good clue here> Everything else, just about every other marine fish family, dies. In desperation I looked through you guys site and found info on dipping, so I began dipping new fish. I'm using per 5 gallons one oz. Formalin, 8 drops Methylene blue, and 8 drops Stress Coat, and it's worked wonders for fish in my other systems. Loss dramatically decreased in my other systems, but not this one. <The "critter" problem is IN this system> I've tried antibiotics, antifungals, tropical science marine max, garlic, kicking, screaming... My other fish only system has the same stats of the big fish system, about the same amount of water volume, same fish suppliers, same dipping technique. The only two differences are no ozone on the other system (this was a problem way before I added ozone), and occasionally I dose copper, but not often. Typically the copper levels are below therapeutic levels. <Must be or the cartilaginous, anguilliform fishes would have trouble. No sense dosing sub-therapeutically.> I would love to try and properly acclimate all of these fish in the manner outlined on your site, but I currently don't have enough time\space to do so. And none of the other systems have their fish acclimated and I have no problems. I even went so far as to bleach the whole darn thing and start all over, filters and all. <Good idea... this is what is done even at collection facilities... in desperation with entrenched biological disease or anomalous problems> Everything in the system was brand sparkly new, nothing pre-bleaching even touched the system. For a few months it was a piscine paradise and then... paradise lost. The same crap again. What I don't understand is what is that kills all fish excluding sharks, rays, and eels? <There are a few protozoans, bacterial problems... Not environmental, nutritional... operational source.> All levels in this system test out perfect, ammonia-0, nitrite-0, nitrate<30 ppm, pH is 8.2. I'm absolutely going nuts here. Please help, if not for me, then all these poor creatures! Thanks for your help! <If it were me, mine, knowing what you have presented here, I would dump this system again (bleach it entirely), re-introduce microbes from another system to get it to cycle, and be VERY careful on introducing all new fish livestock (through the dip process)... AND might add a visit from an aquatic-minded veterinarian (are you near a public aquarium?), OR ask them to necropsy a few specimens (they'll tell you how to handle, ship them). Bob Fenner>

Large livestock holding systems Dear Bob, <Darren> I am interested in opening a large pet store in San Antonio and was wondering if there are any books on designing or building a large holding system for marine fish and invertebrates. I would like to build a flow through system. I somewhat understand the concept but I want to get everything right from the beginning and not the trial and error that I think I will experience on my own. I want the system to be around 8,000 to 10,000 gallon and on this size I am not sure what to use for a sump. I am not sure how to plumb everything. I would also like to leave the option open to add to the system if I ever need to. I look forward in hearing from you. Thanks in advance for all of your help. Sincerely, Darren <No set of instructions per se, but I do want to direct you to two sources that I would use in relating how to go about what I think you want to do: An old (1973) tome by Stephen Spotte, "Fish and Invertebrate Culture in Closed Systems" or his newer Seawater Aquariums: The Captive Environment if you can't find the former, and Anthony Calfo's "Book of Coral Propagation". With a working knowledge of the theory from these works you should be able to execute the "real world" of a centralized filtration. Bob Fenner>
Re: large livestock holding systems
Bob, Thank you for your quick response and all of your help. I was still wondering where people like yourself and all of your fiends got the experience to design such great systems. I would assume that it all had to start somewhere. <Agreed... in many cases, this "technology" is an oral tradition, handed down from folks working on projects together... picking up bits... re tools, materials, applications from others. Folks you might meet at club meetings, LFS's... other walks of life like plumbers, electricians...> The one main question that I am not sure and maybe you can tell me if these books answer it is how do I obtain a large enough sump (reservoir) for adequate water changes without having to shut the system down because the water level is so low in the sump. <There are many possibilities here. Look around on the net re large polyethylene ("chemical", "agricultural") tubs, containers... you might be able to get by with a large Rubbermaid trough... these are fabulous and inexpensive for the volume... and the fit through doorways... very important> Any tank that size I can't figure out how it wouldn't be in the ground. I guess what I am asking is with a large polyethylene water tank and gravity drain how would the water flow into the tank. I hope you can understand what I am asking and that I do not sound really stupid. I would like a similar system as to what some of the large wholesalers have that I have seen on the web but with more of the retail look out front. <I do understand... there needs to be a difference in elevation twixt the tanks and their transit volume sump... if you have lower row tanks these won't drain...> I look forward in all of your wise advice. Thanks again and best regards, Darren <Maybe wise guy advice... Bob Fenner>
Re: large livestock holding systems
Bob, Thank you for your quick response and all of your help. I was still wondering where people like yourself and all of your fiends got the experience to design such great systems. I would assume that it all had to start somewhere. <Probably from "on the job" experience... not academics, or books...> The one main question that I am not sure and maybe you can tell me if these books answer it is how do I obtain a large enough sump (reservoir) for adequate water changes without having to shut the system down because the water level is so low in the sump. <Yes... though level switches of sorts are sometimes a good idea> Any tank that size I can't figure out how it wouldn't be in the ground. <Mmm, no... the "transit volume" can be calculated or just measured by filling all up, turning pump/power off... not really a big deal... and the sump/s marked as to their maximum high level...> I guess what I am asking is with a large polyethylene water tank and gravity drain how would the water flow into the tank. I hope you can understand what I am asking and that I do not sound really stupid. I would like a similar system as to what some of the large wholesalers have that I have seen on the web but with more of the retail look out front. <A very good idea/experience for you to visit a few installations and chat with the folks there... gravity, lower position... recirculating pumps... these are all that is really necessary> I look forward in all of your wise advice. Thanks again and best regards, Darren <Bob Fenner>

Tote that load... if you can find them I read your article titled "Raceway Live-holding Systems". http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/pafarmstks.htm I have been looking all over for the polyethylene tote reservoirs pictured in the photos.  Do you know a vendor where I may acquire these? <I just spent a few minutes looking through the Net, my notes... don't see the manufacturer listed anywhere... a few years back were made in the State of Washington... there are at least two "qualities" available... and you don't want the flimsier one if you're going to fill them all the way or use them as combo stands and transit volume sumps. How many do you need/want? If only a few you might do well to look around (are you in Texas? Try Fritz Chemical... they used to have livestock distribution businesses there and likely have the totes stored or know who in turn ended up with them)... otherwise, do check with local fish stores, ask them in turn where they buy their (esp. marine) livestock... and contact those folks in turn to see if they have any "extra" totes for sale... the polyethylene containers aren't the expensive part, it's the shipping... Good luck. Bob Fenner>

Re: Raceway Live-holding Systems (totes) Yes, I am in Texas (Dallas).  I will check out your suggestions.  (Yeah, to start with I only want a few, maybe one.) <Ahh, good. These can be very inexpensive or the opposite... depending on how far away (the freight is more than the cost of the totes) and how many you want/can use> I keep running into the shipping problem...  Also the local fish stores do not seem too willing to talk about where they get their livestock etc... Thank you very much for your help!  :-) <You might try contacting some of the wholesalers in the LA area if you want to try another source... Some have new ones they sell (All Seas for instance), other folks have used ones (they're fine), for a little less... just the shipping expense... Bob Fenner>

Automatic Water Changers Greetings, I have been looking over your site since I discovered it and find it has a wealth of information about fish.  I have recently acquired a 55 gallon tank and some fresh water tropical fish, so I appreciate the mass of knowledge your site provides.  I hope I am not asking something that has been answered in your "FAQs" though I think they would be more properly titled something else - FAQ implies the same question being asked over and over and so to be answered in a single place, while your helpful section might better be called a log since it sequentially answers questions without grouping them together by subject.  Anyway I am not trying to criticize, just point out why I was confused for a little bit there, especially by questions in the FAQ in which as part of your answer you suggest reading a URL which happens to be the same one I am looking at. <Good points. The term "FAQ" is/was a matter of "convention"... though "log" is much more definitive I agree. RMF> I'm pretty much a beginner at owning fish, and so made the mistake of buying too many fish too soon for my tank.  (Buying from a discount retailer doesn't help either, they don't know what they are doing much more then you do.)  Anyways, I started out with 12 fish based on the calculations the instructions gave me (12 * 4 inches average grown length = 48, 1 inch of fish per gallon) - one fish was killed by another, one got stuck in a bubbler ornament, and two others just up and died, I'm guessing because the biological load on the tank was too great.  The rest of the fish weren't eating but I started doing daily water changes of about 10%, which for a 55 gallon tank actually works out to 4 gallons.  The remaining fish have perked right up and seem to be doing much better now. Anyway here is my question.  Returning the fish to the store is out of the question, and I don't want them to die so I am pretty much stuck with them.  But I don't relish the prospect of manually changing a few gallons of water every day or two, especially if I ever need to be gone for a few days.  So I started wondering, this "power filter" that sits on the back of the tank requires a couple of filters every 4-6 weeks, and those aren't that cheap.  Why couldn't I just set up the tank so that a supply line on my house's plumbing runs through some sort of pre-heater that also mixes the drops of water treatment, and then every day have it on a timer or something so that it (relatively slowly) injects a few gallons of fresh treated water while allowing the same amount to be sent down the drain (with a screen or something to keep the fish from being lost of course).  Such a set up would seem to be much cheaper then using a filter and would also eliminate the constant water noise (air pump noises are much more tolerable when trying to sleep).  This seems like such a simple logical solution but yet I haven't been able to find anything like this at pet stores or whatever.   From looking over the FAQs I see lots of people using sumps, but in this setup there would be no extra tank, only the pump, piping or tubing, and intake regulation of heat and water conditioning.  Am I not looking in the right place, does something like this exist, or is this something I would have to do myself?  Any suggestions or recommendations? Thanks, Michael Hello. There is a company called Aquarium Products that makes one called the Aquarium Water Changer: http://badmanstropicalfish.com/products/product_auto.html .It has been around for quite some time. Of course, you can always DIY, if you have the talent. You can do a search for automatic water changers, here are a couple of links for you to start with: http://www.netpets.com/fish/reference/thielbook/thielbook4i.html http://www.thekrib.com/Filters/water-changer.html I also recommend you do a bit of reading on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, or the cycling process in general. Follow the Beginners FAQ's at thekrib.com. Good Luck -Gwen Loiselle

Question from new retailer continued II 10/30/03 That sounds very clever, I like it.  One thing that is kind of confusing me... what is a seawater float... is this different than a regular float switch?   <ahh... my fault my friend. Not clear. Both float switches are the same... by seawater, I mean that one is hooked up to bleed in saltwater (the coarse, fast-tuned one), while the other (the sensitive slow-tuned one) simply bleeds in freshwater for evap top off. Thus a sharp drop in water level (as from sales and siphoned saltwater) will allow the seawater float switch to top of faster than the FW bleed can make a difference. And the sensitive tuned FW bleeding float can feed FW for slow evap while the SW float is tuned to coarse to even sense the slow drop in water level> And thanks for filling my daily need for Bob.  I was getting a little worried when he didn't respond within 60 seconds. <ha! tis the standard we try for <G>> Thanks, Matt <best of luck>

Centralized Filtration Systems 10/29/03 I just read your article on Centralized Filtration Systems on WWM. We are looking to open a retail aquarium store in Bombay, India. <very exciting to hear!> Since we don't mind investing a little extra money, but want to do everything right so as to improve efficiency, I think setting up a CFS is a great idea. Please can you tell me where I can get some more detailed information on setting up such a system for our store. We will be having about 30 tanks. <seek the book "Aquatic Systems Engineering" by Escobar (look on booksellers like Amazon.com). It is an excellent book about many aspects of aquarium plumbing and filtration. Technical, but very good> I don't think there is any company in India that offers CFS design and implementation services ( if there is, please let me know)  so all the help you can give will be very much appreciated. Thanks, Clive Fernandes <with kind regards, Anthony>

Question from new retailer Hey Bob, After a lot of thought, and research, I have decided to go with a custom built system rather than the D.A.S. <DAS systems are nice in appearance... but my experiences with them in the past have shown them (at least at that time) to be lacking in functionality... not able to "ramp up" quickly to larger bio-loads... their filters undersized, not easy to work on or modify.> Which means... I will have plenty of questions coming your way.  One thing I haven't really been able to find on your website is if there is how many gallon sump should be used for around 1200 gallons freshwater, and how big a sump for around 100 gallons Marine. That's it right now... but more to come, don't worry. <Mmmm, well, the bigger the better... at least twenty percent of the volume they're servicing... will you have automated "top-off" mechanisms for these sumps? I would plan on at least having faucets handy stubbed nearby> Matt Johnson <Be chatting. Bob Fenner>

Cargo Containers - 8/13/03 the link is:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm   It is the picture located under "employment opportunities in the trade" their gray plastic or polyethylene tanks. <those containers are airline cargo containers and they are being used to merely support acrylic custom raceways. I honestly have no idea where you can buy the freight containers but have heard that they are very dear to buy and ship unless you have a tight connection. Do consider some local/regional source of plastic like feed troughs, fiberglass coffin liners (seriously), etc. Where availability will be better and the cost to acquire will be less expensive. Anthony>

Finding Plastics - 8/12/03 Greetings, I have looked all over the web for distributors of the Polyethylene tote reservoirs and cannot seem to come up with a distributor/producer etc... Could you please refer me to an email or webpage or phone number in which I can purchase these tote reservoirs. Thanks Jeff <Jeff... your decision to purchase any such vessel will be significantly influenced by the cost of freight. You need to find someone close to you. Be resourceful my friend... try agricultural supply houses (feed troughs and like applications), call your local Chamber of commerce for a registry to seek regional manufacturers, look in the famous Thompson's Registry for most any conceivable manufacturing contact you can name nationally. I'm assuming you saw one you liked somewhere or talked to someone that has one you seek/like: ask the name of the manufacturer and then call them for a close distributor. Whew... and if all else fails, use: US Plastic Corp of Lima Ohio as a reference if not a source. Best of luck, Anthony>

Seeking Plastics - 8/13/03 Thanks for your reply. I checked out the US plastic Corp in Lima Ohio and checked their tote section and did not see any that looked like the same as the picture of the "fish runs" on the business section of WetWebMedia. I'm looking for those types specifically. <please advise me of what page (send the link) you saw these on and we'll do our best to ID it for you. Best regards, Anthony>

Fishroom Filtration - Central? - 8/13/03 I have a scatter of tanks including from one 100 gallon, 4 55 gallons, 4 20 gallons and 4 10 gallons.  I breed Gouramis, platies and Corydoras catfish.  I was wondering if the crew had any recommendations on a common filtering system - at least for the big tanks. <it is common and successful practice for better fishrooms to have tanks drilled and draining to a centralized sump for ease of water changes and reduced cost of heating and filtering. Each tank will still have a sponge filter or the like as an aerating feature and to serve as backup filtration. Do seek some DIY plans on the Internet for "centralized filtration" for "fishrooms". Visit some of the message boards and check with your local or regional aquarium societies too for a chance to visit another enthusiasts to see their systems... really the best way to learn/plan. Kindly, Anthony>
Re: Flow-Thru Filtration
I read your article on flow-thru filtration.  I have a question though.  How do you dechlorinate this constantly flowing water? <Yes. Unfortunately the "amount" of sanitizer (usually chloramine) administered to source/tap water is quite variable... so one cannot rely on dilution to prevent toxicity. Incoming water is usually run through a contact filter>   Currently, I am planning on opening an Aquatics Specialty store and would prefer this method if I can dechlorinate efficiently.  Also, could you please explain in more depth on how to setup such a system?  Thank you for your time. <Don't know if I follow you re "how to set-up"? Do you mean the stands? Electrical? Plumbing? Do you have a design thus far? Bob Fenner> - Jason Seymour
Re: Flow-Thru Filtration
Thanks for your reply.  I'm sorry.  What I meant was how to setup a flow thru system, just the actual plumbing part for say, ten tanks in a row.  What materials are needed? Thanks again. - Jason Seymour <Mmm, there are a few "variations" of how to do this. Please go to either the homepage of WetWebMedia.com or any of the indices and put in terms like "plumbing", "circulation", "pump selection", "sumps"... and read on. Bob Fenner>

Retail shop questions I'm starting up an Aquatics retail shop specializing in marine fish/inverts and freshwater trops. I intend to run a centralized system for the marine fish with Trickle tower, sand filter, protein skimmer and UV, a separate system for the inverts/corals with DSB/LR for the filtration on this and separate UGF for the freshwater trops to allow for differing water parameters dependent on species. <if you are running a central system then you must surely plan on having a QT system to hold all new fishes first. Else, adding new fishes every week to the central system is a game of Russian roulette with their lives and your livelihood. The UV is no guarantee of preventing disease at all. They are moderately effective under the best circumstances (crystal clean water... ozone daily, carbon changed weekly, water prefiltered before UV for control of turbidity, etc). Indeed... please consider QT protocol!> Having been an avid hobbyist for 10+ years I understand the mechanics of the plumbing for your average home reef tank but am unsure of the "ins and outs" of a large centralized system. Can you point me in the direction of a good book that covers this area ?  <yep... Aquatic Systems Engineering by Escobar> I've trawled the web without much luck and have searched your excellent site and found quite a few pointers without getting hold of a definitive "how to" guide. Should there not be such a book in existence an answer to the following questions will help greatly: <yep... Pablo's> What size holes should be drilled in the tanks for the outflow ? <dependant on desired flow rate. 10X hour minimum for central holding per tank... so... decide on tank size, X10, added altogether and find a pump and fittings to match. Very simple, my friend> The tanks will be on racking of 6ft high by 4ft long with 3 rows of tanks on each, for the inflow should the water be fed into the top rows, gravity fed into the 2nd, then the 3rd and finally by gravity to the sump or should each row be fed independently from the main pump and drained on each row by gravity to a bottom drain to finally go to the sump ? <advantages and disadvantages to all such designs. Here, it is less complicated and less expensive by not having separate feeds and drains, but is a greater risk for disease transmission. If you do not QT, I would not do this style> What size pipe work would you recommend for the input and output pipe work ? <as per pump size/water flow needed> Sorry for what might seem like basic questions but it's next to impossible to get local shops to show you their systems and I want to get everything right first time. Many thanks Bob, Brian Jones <no worries. Its just hard to be specific without much information. Do read Escobal's work first and follow up as necessary. Best regards! Anthony>
Re: shop
Business plan, yes I have done that 3 years ago for my own aquarium shop. Unfortunately my very limited budget did not allow me to stay in it. <A very usual story for oh so many small business owners.> Now is a different story. Somebody offered me to manage an aquarium shop in his hydroponics warehouse/shop which I'm doing that, everything from scratch! I have been in the aquarium hobby for 14 years and in this industry for 8 years. <Good experience!> I specialize is marine-reef aquariums, but I'm planning to have about 200 fish tanks, 140 liters each, <Liters multiplied by 0.264 equals gallons, ~37 gallons in this case.> including 32 marine tanks. 18 separate filtrations systems, including protein skimmers and ozonizers for marine sections. <This sounds like a bit of a maintenance nightmare to me, 32 tanks with 18 separate filtration systems. I would prefer just a hand full. A few fish systems, one invert system, and perhaps a few coral systems, no more than a half dozen.> Each of the 8 tanks owns one filtration system which is a trickle filter - freshwater and marine - in this stage $$$ is not the issue, I think any suggestions, tips, etc. <See above and the many articles and FAQ's in the link I sent you last time.> Thanks, John from Melbourne <Good luck to you in your endeavor! -Steven Pro>

Just a question (centralized filtration systems, marine) fwded. from FAMA I was wondering if there would be anyone interested in helping me with a question, I recently purchased, through a friend, six 40 gallon and 3 twenty gallon long tanks, built into a rack, with three forties on the bottom, three in the middle row, and the three twenties on the top. I would like to set these tanks up to house various marine inverts, fish, and corals to eventually move to my display tanks through out my house. My question is about filtration. I would like to be able to connect the tanks in a column fashion, meaning there would be the two forties and a twenty connected to the same filtering unit. I would like some advice on the most cost effective, way I could filter these aquariums properly together, I have never had any problems with filtering before, but have never tried in a series such as this. all of my previous tanks have been filtered separately. I would like to know which products may be best for my setup, but I must keep as low of a cost as possible. hoping that you understand the advice I seek, thanks for your time Jay  <Please have a read through the business sections of our site here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm and the associated FAQs file. Specific input on gear can be obtained by way of our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Bob Fenner, WetWebMedia>

Filtration question (store set-up) Needed advice on plumbing tanks for my store. I hope you don't tire of this question. Basically, 40 breeders drilled (4) tanks to each sump. I am using heavy duty shelving and plywood, total of (4) separate systems. I thought it would be easiest to plumb this way plus I like having separate systems. I am going to overflow from top (2) tanks into the bottom tanks and finally to the sump. The sump is where I am unclear. I want to trickle the water over filter floss and carbon (probable PolyFilters too) then through some media probably base rock and then a protein skimmer.  <fine for a light bio-load, but you may have to concede to extra biological support from bioballs (nitrate and all) for a heavy fish system> I am looking at the "Euroreef" you wrote about. Maybe best to skim first like you say.  <absolutely... catch overflowing water into a skimmer chamber first which then overflows into the sump> Then I want to add a sandbed and Caulerpa (plan to use 55 watt compact).  <the Caulerpa is a bit dangerous with a fluctuating bio-load as it's daily needs grow daily and consistently but your stores fish/invertebrate load that provides the nutrients changes weekly with sales and shipments... when the algae goes vegetative, you could lose everything within 24 hours> I eventually will add UV sterilizes.  <with wild imported weekly shipments...this is one of the most important devices> Is there a problem if I use a Berlin sump skimmer with it's own pump?  <yes... quality of skimmate, fluctuating sump level affecting performance, path of water flow, etc in my opinion> Instead of piping to main system? The tanks will @ 6 feet and @ 4 feet. What is best G.P.H pump and best tank size for the sump?  You need to calculate how much flow you want/need in each tank (dependant on the animals kept), then confirm that your overflows can handle it, and then multiply it out. Once you figure that out... I favor Japanese made Iwaki pumps for store use water pumps> For fresh I plan to use air bubbler sponges instead of undergravel. Which do you prefer? <totally agree... sponge filters are the best filtration!!! just a little ugly for some aquarists> Finally, where can I buy Metronidazole?  <Seachem makes it... available mail order from most any marine drygoods supplier. Do check with the advertisers on the Q&A page> I seen it for sale in pill form for people. <essentially the same, but with filler...try to find the pet dose first> I apologize for my poor writing skills. I hope I am not killing you with all these questions. I appreciate your help and your web site. It is hard for me to find knowledgeable people who are not cocky and unhelpful lol! Sincerely, BKL Ps- I hope all is well! <no trouble at all.. you will make the very best kind of retailer/aquarist as long as you are willing to continue to learn, teach and grow. Kindly, Anthony>

Dungeness crab (holding facility/gear) Hi Robert, <Howdy> Our company manufactures crab and lobster traps. We're purchasing a 12' wide x 31" high wading pool to set up as a crab observation tool. We want to watch Dungeness crab, and perhaps lobster later, as they crawl into our traps and try to get out. We make some entrance devices for the traps that we would like to observe as to their effectiveness. Our web site is www.neptunemarineproducts.com. <Neat> Any advice on how extensive of a system I will need to keep the crab alive and active would be appreciated. I suspect we would only need a couple of weeks to observe the crab's behaviour in relation to our entrances. After that, a crab feed! <Take a look here: http://wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm re centralized filtration systems in the ornamental aquatics business... same gear, principles apply... and any/all else on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com) that is linked, is unknown to you... And make it known if I can be of further help... Am tempted to suggest a "skid unit" more for the pool industry than a more expensive "live holding system" unit here... If cost is a concern... But would like to know that I/we weren't otherwise changing the test animal/prey's behavior by neglecting good water quality. Bob Fenner> Sincerely, Ed Wyman

Thanks for the Help - Rebuilding a Pet Store System Hello Bob, Thank you for your helpful response. I wasn't sure whether I would have to look for my answer on-line, so I was surprised to find your response in my in-box the next day. Sorry it has taken me so much longer to get back to you. <No worries> We had a bit of a rough weekend, ... Our local electric company was to replace the main power feeds for the building our pet store is in, ... Saturday night, sometime between 6pm and 2am Sunday morning. So, it was my job to rent, set up, and operate the generator that would save the fishes lives.  <Yikes... a big job> There I was with my spare gas can, my cot and my guitar. Of course they never showed up. I'll probably get to do the same thing next weekend. <Some fun now... not!> Anyway, back to the design of our new salt water system. Thank you for your guidance. My plumbing questions have basically been answered. The idea of leaving a "vent" tee open on some of the tank drains was a "light bulb" for me. So obvious, but I never thought of it until you suggested it. <Really does work... of course> Based on the input I have solicited from helpful souls like yourself, along with what I have read, I am proposing the following water processing flow: Tanks (20 - 20 gallon tanks = 400 gallons or thereabouts) <Hmm forties or even sixties would be better... able to maintain much more life, much more easily, less maintenance than twenty gallon marine systems> Bulkhead and drain line for each tank (1-1/2" flex, about 24" long) 3" Return line <3" return? This can be 2"... and the supply line just 3/4"... you don't need anything larger diameter... much more money for larger pipe, fittings...> Filter Sock (Recommendation? - see below) <Yes... Emperor Aquatics has the best ones> Sump section 1 (excess flow floods into section 2) Skimmer pump Venturi Skimmer (output into sump section 2) Sump section 2 (floods to section 3 if bio filter clogged) Chemical Filter (activated charcoal) Pump to feed biological filter Biological filter (Wet/Dry or Fluidized bed?) <Fluidized bed if you think you will have widely fluctuating bioloads> Sump Section 3 Heater Main pump UV filter (with parallel bypass to get correct flow) <And to maintenance the lamps, sleeves> Fine mechanical Filter (Pleated paper cartridge) <Really? Do get/use at least two sets of cartridges (will last four times as long) that you can be cleaning, letting air dry while other set/s are in use> Return to Tanks I'd sure welcome your opinion on this layout. <Sounds like it has most everything to it> Some issues I can see: I'd like to start the processing with an easy to change, easy to clean, gross mechanical filter that can run with very little head pressure off the gravity returns to the sump (about 2' of head). This might be a filter sock, some floss in a chamber or something else, .... any recommendation? <Yes... a floating "fish box" with a two layers of Dacron polyester "batting material" (from the yardage store)... this is the same material as coarse filter media, DLS sold in the trade... cut some squares, punch holes in the Styro box, put two layers of the filter media in it, and let it float in/over the return sump after the Emperor "socks" filter out the main gunk coming from the return line...> I don't want to spend the money it would take to buy a skimmer that would handle 100% of the flow. I already have the Top Fathom TF300 and a couple of Emperor Aquafoamer II venturi skimmers, rated at 400 gallons. I don't know what the flow rates of any of these units are, but from the pump recommendations, I would guess that they pass 300 gph or less. My total system flow should be around 1500 - 2000 gph, right? <Not necessarily... no sense in "over-driving" the skimmers... flow/pressure wise... do just run that amount of water through it/them that is best/rated. Look into the Euro-Reef Skimmer line when you can fit it into your budget...> I have read, and been told that skimmers won't work in parallel, <What? Of course they can/will> but this would be the best scenario for me. I would like to use skimmers that we have available for sale in the store, both as a marketing tool, and so I could have more personal knowledge of the products so as to help our clients. You recommended EuroReef, which sounds like an excellent product, but is pretty "high line" for our current business. So, I would again like to raise the concept of dual, identical, commercial hobbyist skimmers, like Turboflotors or Red Sea Berlin Classics, run in parallel. I see many "reef sump" systems that feature built-in dual skimmers, so why is it not recommended with discrete components?  <You've got me... I recommend it if a larger unit can't be afforded, it makes sense otherwise> I would run them off a single pump, headered and valved to fine tune the operation of each (Turboflotors could be in a sump section with a weir for level control) <Yes> Also, although you recommended placing the skimmer after the bio-filter, it seems sensible to place the skimmer first in the process since a portion of the organic materials it will remove would end up being converted by the bio-filter anyway. Why not give the skimmers the smelliest, juiciest swill possible? <The sorts of molecules are different, and there are other advantages to aerating the water before returning it (degassing principally)> Do you have any recommendations for chemical filtration? I was thinking of something like a muslin bag full of activated charcoal in a section of the sump that would pass full flow, after the skimmer but before bio-filtration. <Should come last... activated carbon is fine. Replace/renew monthly> Moving downstream, I have a wet/dry available. I also have a big fluidized bed filter (like 13 or 14 gallons of media). This was hooked up incorrectly and never worked properly, but since we already own it, ... would this be preferable? <Yes> It is unfortunate that laying things out in the order I have, I will require a pump to operate the bio filter. One option would be to run the bio-filter on the output from the skimmer(s), which would be more viable if I can go with the high flow, dual skimmer scenario. Do you have any other insight on this? <Yes... less pumps are better... returning the water through the skimmers is fine> And on downstream, ... Do you think there is any point to placing a fine mechanical filter after the main pump (returning flow to the tanks)  <No> This is where it was placed on the old system, and I guess it probably needed the head from the pump to operate. On the other hand, it seems like it might be a good place for things to collect and rot. Policy has been to clean it once a month, but I suspect that this has not been happening even this often. <More like every few days... a mess, and source of trouble. I'd eliminate this> And one final consideration; My thought was to split what was a poorly designed system with 650 gallons of tank space into two separate systems of 400 gallons each (I am packing in more tanks). I was hoping to have enough redundancy to: 1) be able to cross over and operate both loops off one system if a pump or other critical component goes out, and, <Just have back up gear like the main pump, unions and plug in electrics to quickly replace components> 2) cut the spread of infections from going system wide to only half the system. The negative side of this strategy is: 1) Two systems to maintain. and 2) More stuff to buy. <The systems, overall install is too small to fret about this. There is so much likelihood of lazy, accidental cross-contamination by the staff (nets, specimen containers, maintenance gear... to think to gain an advantage by separation...> I would welcome your opinion on this strategy. With so many tanks to maintain, I really can't consider separate systems for each tank, although this would be best from a quarantine perspective.  <No, impractical economically... and in view of human "nature"> I think I will maintain a half dozen or so 10s or 20s with hang-on filters for quarantine tanks. <Take a bit of time here... there are successful operations that do quarantine all incoming livestock... takes real discipline, money, space... not tens, twenties... a replicate size, make-up design about the same as the space dedicated to retail display... your livestock needs to turn about the same as quarantine interval... let's say every two weeks... to stay in business...> Feed water and change water could come from our main system. Unfortunately, because of turnover rates, new arrivals can't be accommodated in quarantine. <Then this is a decision you have made... don't waste your time on the half way quarantine scheme> "Gift fish" that we get from time to time could, however. <Do engage, adhere to a strict dip/bath procedure then... for all incoming fish livestock> Well sir, thank you very very much for your time, and for sharing your knowledge. A blessing indeed. Respectfully, John Visk <Indeed my friend, and gladly shared. Bob Fenner>

Help - Rebuilding a Pet Store System Hello Bob, I ran across your FAQs while researching protein skimmers and I hope you will be able to help me. My girlfriend has recruited me to rebuild the Saltwater system in the Mom N Pop Pet Store she has owned for about 8 months. (I am Pop) <A big responsibility. Glad to be of help> I have been reading whatever I can find, but most of the information I find is directed towards Single-Tank, Hobbyist systems. <Understandably> The existing system has been nothing but problems. The budget for this rework is not large, so I will be doing the work myself, and making the wisest use of the available dollars. We are still in the first year, paying off bills, and the guys who owned the store before us built the system in somewhat "shoemaker" fashion. <I understand> Basically, I wish to convert one large system of about 20 tanks from 20 to 40 gallons, (about 650 gallons total) fed from a single sump, into two systems, each of about 375 gallons. This scheme will allow me to shorten the piping runs, and duplicate the essential equipment (I could crossover during a crisis at reduced capacity) <Have been "there" and done "this"> The tanks are arranged in two tiers, at about knee and shoulder height. The two systems will be grouped by location, not by their height, that is top and bottom tiers will be tied together in several distinct systems. All the tanks are drilled, with 1" bulkheads in place. <Okay> There is also to be a smaller reef system, of about 200 gallons total, <Tied in with the central filtration? I'll assume this system is a stand-alone> and there is a freshwater system that will need reworking eventually, but I won't dwell on it here. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I have lots of questions, like: What size should return piping from tank to sump be for 400 gallon, 12 tank system? <At least 1 1/2 inch inside diameter.... 2" ID would be better> Should Returns from the tank drains be pitched at 1/4" per foot, More? Less? <This should be sufficient> Should Return piping be a "tree" design or a "single loop"? <Tree for cost's sake, should be sufficient> Should I be concerned with placement of drain branches on a return line downstream of other tanks? Some of the drains currently bubble and gurgle. Could this be a hydraulic issue, or should I look for clogs? <Hmm not likely... but do "Tee" down the overflows, and "vent them occasionally with a Tee open to the top...> Should skimmers be located before or after wet/dry? Should skimmers be located before or after a fluidized bed bio filter? <After my friend... or on the same collective sump... Wish I knew how to "make drawings" on this device... Please read through this section on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm> Can I run identical Venturi Skimmers in parallel to get the flow capacity I need? I would prefer to stay away from the really big $ semi custom stuff. <I understand... and no need. Do just run one Euro-Reef Skimmer on your collective sump. Their link on our sites Links Pages> What is the correct light density and color index for Saltwater, Fish Only systems? <A few watts per gallon of boosted fluorescents (CFs best), VHO next. of a CRI of at least 90...> And it goes on and on. I have a list of the equipment that is available, and I have put together some sketches of the proposed system. If you are willing to accept it, I will be happy to supply more info, and I am much obliged. If you can refer someone who is doing this sort of work professionally, I'll see if "the boss" will consider a consultation. We are in the Greater Chicago, Illinois area. <Let's just quickly go back and forth through this medium... much to be gained/shared twixt us and browsers... and will soon "know you well enough" to communicate more effectively... as you will find> I am a mechanical engineer, so I am not afraid of the technology. She thinks I know everything. What scares me is the more I read, the more I am finding out how little I know. <You are on the brink of enlightenment!> Thanks for your input, Sincerely, John Visk <Chat with you soon my friend. Bob Fenner>

Starting a New Business I'm starting up a new pet/fish store.  <How exciting! Welcome to the trade my friend> I am very interested in your recirculating systems. How do I find more out about that. <Please read over the following parts of our site on live holding systems of this type: http://wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltfaqs.htm In fact, the entire business Index on the www.WetWebMedia.com site may interest you> Like cost & maintenance.  <Have your utility company help you in choosing your pumping... very important (largest cost) to get efficiency factored in...> Which type of aquarium is better, glass or acrylic?  <Both have their merits... for areas where the ground shakes, acrylic is preferred (sez me), and also for ease of cutting, modifying... But it IS important to "show what you sell" (or hope to)... and so, if the folks in your area are entrenched in glass... Do have the manufacturer drill holes ahead of assembling these tanks for your store use.> I am trying to get a small business loan  <Have you looked into the Small Business Administration (as in the Government vs. local banks) loans?>  & it would greatly help if I knew the approx. price of setting up the systems. <Yes, a very worthwhile planning tool... as well as a spread sheet to show about what you will/hope to have going through your shop gross/net> I've been on the web for quite a few days trying to locate wholesale distributors to send me some of their catalogs. Not an easy task!  <Which part of the world are you in? Do contact the "Pet Business" magazine folks and get hold of their most recent "Buyer's Guide"... has locations, names et al. of most everyone in the industry in the West (U.S.)... and ask some not-too-close future competitor's staff members where "they get their stuff"... and contact those folks, ask them for their help... invaluable> Your web-site has been the most informative by far (THANKS!) I live in a small town, about 90 miles east of St. Louis, MO. There is only one other pet/fish store in a three county area. I've been working in that pet store for a couple of months.  <Ah, great demographics... and experiences> I'm trying to think of everything that I would need for an initial start up.  <Do write/document all this...> I get on here every night to read all about the world of aquatics & to learn all I can about taking care of the fish & the aquariums. Any info that you could get to me would be greatly appreciated. <There are a lifetime (likely more) of exposures, reflections ahead of you... with folks like myself to help guide you, and be guided. Looking forward to the involvement. Bob Fenner> Thank you, Tina Sutherland

Central System Bob, I wrote to you a couple of months ago about opening a new store in Little Rock, AR and had questions about central filtration. I am about to finish up the quarantine systems and will start putting in the central system next. I have a question about which type of biological filter would be best for it - fluidized bed or a large trickle filter. <Mmm, depends on the size of the system... how much life you're going to keep in it... and how much, how often the bioload will fluctuate... By and large the trickle filter is better... for large wholesale facilities with huge loads, variance, the fb> I have twelve 40 gallon tanks drilled to drain into a 100 gallon sump - through an Aerofoamer 848 (2000 gph) Skimmer - returned to the tanks by two Mag 24's through two Aqua UV 57 watt sterilizers. Probably 2000 - 2500 gph total volume. <A particulate filter too I hope> If I put in a trickle filter, I would have to pump the water from the sump up into it. How many gallons of bio-balls would I need? Would a trickle filter create too many nitrates? <Hmm, I would have another sump (for volume, the biofiltration and particulate filtration). Have you read through the business parts of our site? The central filtration areas?: http://wetwebmedia.com/cntfiltbiz.htm I wouldn't use bioballs, but instead a calcareous media below a couple of layers of Dacron polyester (yes, this simple) in perforated trays...> I'm also having a hard time finding a fluidized bed filter that would handle that water volume. Would a fluidized bed filter take too much oxygen out of the water? <You could build one out of a pre-made pool/spa all fiberglass pressurized filter, or a tote, acrylic or wood and fiberglass box...> Thank you for any input you may have. <Mush more to go over... wish you could have traveled about with me for a few weeks to visit other shops, compare notes... Bob Fenner> Larry McGee Aquatic Designs LR, AR P.S. I've started selling your book in my store - I can't seem to keep one in for more than a couple of days!

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: