This is a question I was asked the other day by a colleague of mine who is considering starting a soft coral aquarium and is currently in the planning and research stage.
I have been helping him out as much as I can and offering advice as and when required. I could go and just tell him everything he needs but I feel that it is better for someone to learn the various aspects themselves rather than be told what to do. I have guided him a few times when he went off track though!
Anyway the aquarium he is thinking about is a L shaped aquarium which he is thinking of putting in his cinema room.
Being an L shaped aquarium this is going to bring about it’s own challenges two of which I belive are going to be water movement and lighting. He has already decided upon T5 lighting and I have guided him into researching closed loops. He was originally going to use power heads which although I am not a great fan of them I did not want to push this onto him. I was talking to him about closed loop circulation and the benefits it provides and he seemed quite interested in it. Time will tell what he chooses.
Another aspect with is being L shaped is the sump. He was thinking about having a custom L shaped sump built at the same time as the display aquarium but once he got the cost he quickly changed his mind. One of the questions he asked me was if the sump has to be an aquarium.
Well no it doesn’t. You can use anything for the sump as long as it is classed a food grade. What this means is that it is safe for food to be stored in. A food grade container will not leech anything out into the saltwater as this would be detrimental to the water quality if not eventually lethal to the livestock.
I helped him design his sump and he is looking at two sumps – whether he chooses to use aquariums or not we will have to wait and see. One of the sumps is going to house the equipment as well as a deep sand bed, the other which will be connected via tank connectors is going to be a refugium. The overflows have been designed to flow down from four areas of the display aquarium and the plumbing designed to that it feeds multiple areas. One goes to the skimmer section and the other three using tees flow to the refugium and the deep sand bed. The water from the protein skimmer exits into the deep sand bed area. The beneift of this is that the deep sand bed area received dirty, unskimmed water as well as water which has been skimmed.
Effectively what he is planning to have in sump number one is a protein skimmer section, a deep sand bed section and a return pump/heater section. The other sump will house purely the refugium.
In the display aquarium as said he is planning on keeping soft corals and some fish. His children really want to keep shrimps, crabs, starfish etc so I am sure that some of these will soon appear when the tank is up and running.
As said he is still in the planning/research stage so I have no idea how long it will be until he is ready to purchase everything and start putting it all together. I am positive that I will get lots of questions and I am happy to help.
I will have to choose some corals that I can propagate from my aquarium to pass on to him when he is ready.
Interesting Reading From Across The Blogosphere
What is a Sump? – The list of equipment that can be added to your aquarium is long. Most of it is designed to be functional, and therefore not pleasing to the eye. This extra, but often necessary, equipment clutter can be hidden from view in the sump. …
More on Sumps – With a sump, water over flows the show aquarium, drains through plumbing, and collects in a second aquarium (the sump). In order for the overflow to work, the overflow device has to sit some depth into the show tank. …