How long does it take?

Jose Berry

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
137
Reaction score
219
Location
United States
So this thread is a discussion based on hopes and dreams with a little bit of what ifs and the possibilities one is determined to test out if the knowledge is there. Keep in mind this, I’m no professional my ideas and opinions are my own and there for hold no factual statements so don’t get mad at me because I’m not forming to you like an algae does to a rock.

I want a large tank (who doesn't) There’s so many ways to go about it that makes it self explainable. But a few things I haven’t seen are how to go about making a self sustained tank...I mean with in time sure this is possible but for some one who is starting out how long should one truly stage his tank? How long should one take before you can just not do anything but watch the tank.

my idea, get your tank set up and plumb it what ever way you choose. Put your sand in and rocks. This is where I take a gander at possibilities and ask questions. Looking at this and wanting a self sustaining tank what do you do?

would I add micro organisms to surge the tank?
Phytoplankton? Till I have an algae bloom? Until every nook and cranny are filled? Then I add Pods to which phytoplankton becomes a good food source for... how long do I go let these pods populations explode before adding the next stages of life? When would sustaining mitosis shrimp be considered enough to where you can add crabs, snails, clean up crew what have you...and how long do you let them be there until you can get fish that can pry on them?
In the end, how long does it take to get a self sustained tank and what needs to be done to get there.
 

Peach02

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 11, 2019
Messages
1,435
Reaction score
1,558
Location
Australia
For a self sustaining tank there are different levels
A: no matianance apart from cleaning glass, refilling dosing containers and food containers

B: only cleaning glass, refilling dosing containers

C: no matinance at all

I think you are aiming for C from what you said. IMO that is impossible unless you have a several thousand gallon system, that you don’t care about the appearance of with very few fish. There are a few reasons for this.
1. Fish produce waste so you would need to have enough live rock etc to be able to fully break down ammonia nitrite and nitrate without any water changes or supplements

2. Your talking about having enough algae growing to support algae eating fish, however to have this much algae you would need more or less a algae tank with tons of bare space purely to grow algae. This would also include your glass so you likely couldn’t see the fish well

3. Fish need to eat, sure some fish eat pods but most can’t sustain themself off them, and to grow enough food that would be nutrient rich within the tank would create a huge bioload increasing the need for step 1

Essentially no I don’t think you can have a zero matinance tank however you can come pretty close

With enough equipment and time and a little luck you can reduce your matinance down to refilling dosing containers, refilling food containers, cleaning glass and if you have angelfish or tangs putting nori on a algae clip and every few months servecing equipment. To do this you would need several thousand dollars in equipment however such as an apex or equivalent, dosing pumps, probes, heaters, chillers, skimmers draining into a drain, RODI unit, auto top off, auto feeder and more.

If you are looking to have a reef tank in your home but not do much work on it, you can pay people to do your matinance for you but it can be quite expensive. But matinance is part of the fun of this hobby and this is all just my opinion, I hope this is possible but I doubt it is
 

flsalty

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 14, 2017
Messages
440
Reaction score
545
There is no such thing as a self-sustaining tank. At least not at the level of the typical display tank in the typical home.
 

BloopFish

Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
75
Reaction score
36
I've kept a 55g FOWLR outside before in Hawaii. There was no heater or light installed, just a couple of pumps. It was in direct sunlight so tons of algae grew all the time, which fed lots of little critters. I also didn't grow any types of corals because that's not really allowed in Hawaii. It was a very ugly tank, but I had tons of Hawaiian featherdusters spawning and reproducing, as well as various snails. Also had a bunch of sally lightfoots, porcelain crabs and other inverts. I also kept basically only algae eaters at the time, and only had to top off the tank for evaporation - no feeding required. The herbivorous fish were always very plump. I also even had a damsel in there for months without feeding because all of the critters it could eat from the tank. There would be times where I didn't feed the damsel for a month, and the fish were still nice and healthy. If I just installed an auto-top off, I'd basically almost never have to maintain it. I don't think you could keep many carnivorous fish in a tank like that though. Heres the catch though - it was a VERY ugly tank. Filled with hair algae and sometimes cyano. Also, the creatures that thrived the most in this tank were well suited to tide pools. Think things that could tolerate wide variation in temperature and salinity. It was a very rewarding tank because of the productivity of it, despite it being ugly.
 
OP
Jose Berry

Jose Berry

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
137
Reaction score
219
Location
United States
For a self sustaining tank there are different levels
A: no matianance apart from cleaning glass, refilling dosing containers and food containers

B: only cleaning glass, refilling dosing containers

C: no matinance at all

I think you are aiming for C from what you said. IMO that is impossible unless you have a several thousand gallon system, that you don’t care about the appearance of with very few fish. There are a few reasons for this.
1. Fish produce waste so you would need to have enough live rock etc to be able to fully break down ammonia nitrite and nitrate without any water changes or supplements

2. Your talking about having enough algae growing to support algae eating fish, however to have this much algae you would need more or less a algae tank with tons of bare space purely to grow algae. This would also include your glass so you likely couldn’t see the fish well

3. Fish need to eat, sure some fish eat pods but most can’t sustain themself off them, and to grow enough food that would be nutrient rich within the tank would create a huge bioload increasing the need for step 1

Essentially no I don’t think you can have a zero matinance tank however you can come pretty close

With enough equipment and time and a little luck you can reduce your matinance down to refilling dosing containers, refilling food containers, cleaning glass and if you have angelfish or tangs putting nori on a algae clip and every few months servecing equipment. To do this you would need several thousand dollars in equipment however such as an apex or equivalent, dosing pumps, probes, heaters, chillers, skimmers draining into a drain, RODI unit, auto top off, auto feeder and more.

If you are looking to have a reef tank in your home but not do much work on it, you can pay people to do your matinance for you but it can be quite expensive. But matinance is part of the fun of this hobby and this is all just my opinion, I hope this is possible but I doubt it is
This was very insightful and you hit the nail on the head with very delightful information. At max a 1,000g is where I would go. But what you day has me thinking and I don’t mind maintenance I just want a tank where maintaining it isn’t a job. Currently my 225 sustains 11 fish on its own and I feed them daily 3xs a day. Fish are healthy and all but curious to know if there were ways to see that the tank could balance its self out. Thank you very much for your time and your input
 

BeejReef

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
2,557
Reaction score
11,753
Location
Oxford, Pennsylvania
It might be possible to design a system that is very near self sustaining, but probably not a tank.
For example, if one were crazy enough, you could run a phyto cultivation setup, a brine hatchery, a huge refugium for pod breeding.... etc, etc. With automation, near anything is possible. Automated dosing and so on.

It's kind of a holy grail though... like NASA sized hurdle. They can't even create a sealed micro-climate that doesn't drive people crazy or leave them seriously undernourished, and they live inside, fighting to keep the system running properly.
 
OP
Jose Berry

Jose Berry

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
137
Reaction score
219
Location
United States
OP
Jose Berry

Jose Berry

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
137
Reaction score
219
Location
United States
It might be possible to design a system that is very near self sustaining, but probably not a tank.
For example, if one were crazy enough, you could run a phyto cultivation setup, a brine hatchery, a huge refugium for pod breeding.... etc, etc. With automation, near anything is possible. Automated dosing and so on.

It's kind of a holy grail though... like NASA sized hurdle. They can't even create a sealed micro-climate that doesn't drive people crazy or leave them seriously undernourished, and they live inside, fighting to keep the system running properly.
I see where your coming from, this could be possible if you had a back external room. A few tanks where these critters could live with out large threats then possibly have a timed pump or something like it that would cycle a bit of water pushing these critters into your DT tank.
 
Top