My Acropolis

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J1a

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Thank you for visiting my build thread for my aquarium
Acropolis

IMG_20210831_190907.jpg


Acro: 1. (greek) the highest point; 2. Acropora, a genus of coral
-polis: (greek) city
This aquarium draws inspiration from the famous Acropolis of Athens. This scape reminds me of the majestic ruins on top of the acropolis, the meandering path climbing upwards, as well as the sprawling civic districts at its feet. Coincidentally, the name also can be interpreted as acropora city, a good fit of the corals home to this aquarium.

I'll start with the overall visions i have for this set up.
  • My aquarium should be balanced-minimal. There must be large open space balanced by dense growth and complex structure. There must be large organisms balanced by fine details. Although minimalist is the characteristic of this aqua-scape, the balance is the soul.
  • The feeding tube on the right side and the labyrinth on the left encourage fishes to adopt a more natural behavior. They will take advantage of the shelter in the main scape, only to venture out into open when opportunity (feeding) arises. This creates a interesting shifts in dynamic.
  • The rock work is the skeletal foundation of the main "acropolis", but I want organic growth to obscure most of it. eventually the rock should be almost invisible.
  • The tank is placed in the corner of the living room. Therefore it offers two-sided view. The aqua-scape needs to be well proportioned for both view; there should also be minimum clutter of equipment on the viewing side.
  • Uniformity is over-rated. I want to direct flow at where flow is needed; shine light on where light is needed, give food to where the food is needed. Efficiency is the name of the game here.
  • My reefing decision needs to be deliberate. if a hardware is setup in a certain way, I must be able to justify how it helps my tank to do better.
This aquarium is still work-in-progress.
Thank you for reading, and any feedback and advice is much appreciated.
 
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J1a

J1a

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This is the technical specs of my Acropolis.
Some items are modified along the way, hence the strike-offs. I will share about why I have made those changes later on in this thread. (Kind of like writing this build thread with hindsight)

PSX_20210131_110323.jpg


Display: 4.5' x 2.5' x 2.5'. Top and bottom euro-braced, Front and left view, backpack overflow on the right side, with Herbie drain.

Sump: 3' x 2'. floss clarisea-> media -> reactor chamber -> return pump

Circulation: Vectra L1 x2 as dual return pumps, which double up to create gyre flow in the DT. Jebao SLW-30 x2 x3 for random flow. All pumps are on the left side of the aquarium.

Biomedia: Maxspect Nanoplate x 8

Reactor: Skimz ZAR-157 for zeolight packed with maxspect spheres. Carbon and bacto-reef balls are used passively in media bags

Skimmer: Aqua-excel EC80

Chiller: Drop-in coil with compressor

Light: Wyatt lightworks 240W x3 x4

Dosing: Kamoer X1 dosing all for reef

Monitors: electrical probes for ORP, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrate and calcium apex system with aqua-wiz kH controller.
 
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Designing proper flow for a mixed reef has its challenges. On one hand, acropora species enjoy copious random flow; on the other hand, fleshy LPS may suffer when blasted with water. These animals evolved to make the best use of their environments. Now that they are in my aquarium, I need to try and provide the suitable flow for them.

A few consideration for flow:

1. A mixture of flow style is beneficial. Have a gentle "gyre" flow to circulate the water, and a localized strong random flow to cater to sps corals.

2. The output of a random flow pump decreases rapidly as distance gets further. That's why a large aquarium requires wavemake on both sides. I would like to keep the second viewing side clear of equipment, so something else must be done.

3. Rocks and corals create obstruction to flow. It's important to consider this effect with the fully grown colony in mind.

Presenting, the flow schematic of my Acropolis, at its inception.

Project - Drawing 13729209860535217.png

The return nozzle (red) sits at the top left side. Since the return pumps operate at constant flow rate, the continous operation generates a gyre flow (white). This flow is relatively low speed except at the water surface near the nozzle. Thus fairly condusive for lps in general.

The forward flow is far above the rocks and corals. This minimize flow obstruction and ensuring the gyre flow can be set up properly. On the other hand, the return gyre flow at the bottom is break up by the rock scape. Some will follow the contour of the rocks and form a upswell, while some will flow around the rock pillars and form back Eddie current.

Supplement this flow is a pair of jebao wave makers (blue). The operates at randome flow mode. Supplying strong and varying flow (green) to the core of the rock scape. The open rock work structure ensures the flow goes as far as possible. The strong random flow reaches about half way into the aquarium.

There is a region with relatively less flow, on the right side of the aquarium at the mid level. This is ok as it is a void space without any corals or rock work.

Overall I think the flow design is satisfactory. Do let me know your thoughts.
 
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J1a

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Flow Problem

Originally, I could achieve good flow to perfuse the corals by using entrainment flow.
Project - Drawing 11773920246288812032.png

When the wavemaker push the flow (blue) to the right, some water (green)is pulled along with it. Therefore I ensure that the flow from the wavemaker remains unobstructed as much as possible, and rely on the entrainment to ensure every part of the coral structure recieves reasonable flow.

As the acropora grow, the flow starts to become obsteucted. The open channel I relied on to generate entrainment flow is no longer sufficient.

The thing about coral induced flow change is that they do so slowly. As such, it often happen without the aquarist noticing, untill coral starts to be unhappy.

IMG_20210822_120408.jpg


I noticed my hyacinthus (red circle) starts to have less and less polyp extension, and started to see more detritus accumulated within it's branchlets. Certainly a sign of lack of flow.



Solutions

I have basically 3 options to rectify this.

1. Add an additional wavemaker on the left side, and hoping the added flow can pentrate the new growth

2. Install a gyre style flow on the opposite (right) side, to have a wide stream pushing to the left

3. Install a wavemaker on the right side, to target the weak zone directly.

I end up with option 3. Installed a small jebao wavemaker (blue) and pushes water along the arrow. It's in the shade, so fairly invisible from the front. The targeted flow show be able to provide for a lot more growth on the main structure. Unfortunately, the hyacinthus colony did not survive. However, a new colony of SSC placed at the same spot later showed very good polyp extension, suggesting that the flow is now adequate.

PSX_20211215_231242.jpg
 
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J1a

J1a

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A Really Mixed Reef

I like fishes and corals. In the process of trying to keep everything I adjusted my husbandry to attempt to provide for a wide range of animals.

From SPS
PSX_20211229_210146.jpg

(The colour improved since last picture)

To LPS
PSX_20211122_232517.jpg


And softies
PSX_20211210_084607.jpg


Not to forget clams
PSX_20210801_152133.jpg


And NPS
PSX_20211228_224456.jpg


It's incredible rewarding to provide a good living conditions for each of them. Almost like putting together a zig saw puzzle.
 
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J1a

J1a

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Oh! Quite a lot of experiment is going on.

I have been using a home made blend of freeze-dried plankton as coral feed. Phyto, zoo, and bacteria plankton. With amino acid (from silkworm pupae) and oyster protein extracts thrown in. So far the coral are growing very well (I think), and there has been little impact on my tank parameters.

IMG_20220109_135011.jpg

For instance, this is the growth in one month. If we take the green slimer in the background as reference, I would say both colonies grew at least 3/4 inch.

Oh. Next thing is, I'm starting to dose ammonium chloride to supply more nitrogen to the corals and clams. So far, so good.

Another major experiement is with light spectrum. After getting a spectrum meter, I am finally able to know what my corals are getting, and not getting. It's gonna be a long and non-rigorous experiment. But I'm keen to see how true UV light can help my corals and clams. I will update this perhaps a few days later.

Finally, a nice little viewing box for those top down photos.

PSX_20220120_191239.jpg
 
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The Non-Photosynthetics

I have been collecting some NPS corals, and tries to integrate them in to my reef scape. So far, things has been going well. In addition to seeing good polyp extension (which suggest good feeding response), I can observe encrusting (for sea fans) and new baby polyps (for sun corals).

The whole tank is broadcast fed with freeze dried plankton twice a day (before I leave for work at 6am, and in the evening at 7pm, approximately). It's also being supported by mulms produced by zeo reactor with hourly flushing.

Picture time!

PSX_20220201_214026.jpg
Alcyonium palmatus. Chilli coral. Easy to get feeding. However it seems that it can exude enough chemicals to serverly injure the corals it touches. It does open day and night.

PSX_20220201_213507.jpg
Rhizotrochus typus. Large solitary polyp. I do not target feed at all, instead, rely on the available planktons in the water column. As an experiment, I would like to evaluate the feasibility of having only planktonic feeding for this coral. It opens its polyp intermittently during both day and night.

PSX_20220201_213655.jpg
Dendronepthea sp. Carnation coral. Large contrast between extended and contracted state. Opens intermittently during both day and night.

PSX_20220201_215927.jpg
Tubastrea aurea. Orange sun coral. Mounted it inverted under a rock overhang. Exposed to very high flow, but larges under shade. Opens as the lights dim.

PSX_20220201_214156.jpg
Tubastrea micrantha. Black sun coral. It opens as the light dims. It seems that it does not extend it's polyps when there is some level of UV spectrum. It has since budded a few baby polyps.

PSX_20220201_213805.jpg
Acalycigorgia sp. Blueberry sea fan. This is a tiny nub I shared with another reefer. It has encrusted at the base. It opens day and night.

PSX_20220201_213942.jpg
Alconarian sp. Fiji multi-colored seafan (not sure about the species ID). The polyps stays open most of the time. The base encrust rapidly.

PSX_20220201_213550.jpg
Gorgonia ventalina. Purple sea fan. Polyps are out almost all the time.

PSX_20220125_212550.jpg
Primnoa pacifica. Red tree coral. It's not in a good shape. After two month of it added into the aquarium, there is finally polyps appearing.

That's all for now.
 
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J1a

J1a

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Clams

a lot of my sandbed real estate is dedicated to photosynthetic clams from Tridacna and Hippopus genus.

In fact one of the big challenge of this aquarium is to provide the clams with sufficient light even as they rest of the sand bed.

I'm happy to report the clams are growing well. It's exciting to wait till they are truely giants.

IMG_20220213_095353.jpg
Hippopus hippopus. Bear claw clam. A small speciemen, appears to be very light demanding. I have to move it a few times and finally settle it at the most intensely lit sandbed. Then I see growth band.

IMG_20220213_095329.jpg
Tridacna derasa. Smooth giant clam. A gorgeous individual. However it does seem to come with some mantle deformation near the inhalent siphon. Other than that, the color of the mantle is just buring bright. I have two other derasa clams in the aquarium.

IMG_20220213_095238.jpg
Tridacna noae. Tear drop clam. This is a fairly new addition. The copper tone is subtly interesting.

IMG_20220213_095218.jpg

Tridacna squamosa. Fluted giant clam.
Tridacna maxima. Maxima clam
The blue color of Tahitian maxima is truely legendary. I'm glad that this tiny clam is growing. The squamosa clam is growing too, and I hope the mantle color will evolve as it continues to be exposed to strong light.

IMG_20220213_100528.jpg
Tridacna crocea. Boring giant clam. I doubt at this size it will bore in to the rock any further, but having it up in the rock work with 1000+ PAR certainly make it very happy.

IMG_20220213_100502.jpg
Tridacna gigas. True giant clam. Gorgeous, fast growing, and big. It almost tripled in size within 8 months. It will eventually become the centre piece in my aquarium.
 
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Crazy Lights

I have finally finish my light collection for my aquarium with the latest addition of OR3 light bars. Let me share about how my light system changes into the current form as I try to adapt to the animals I keep.

I started running this 4.5x2.5x2.5 aquarium with two Wyatt lights. The 240w light, a local enterprise, gives good spread, PAR and value for money. Since my aquascape is offset to one side, my two light sets are offset from the centre as well.

PSX_20201003_205242.jpg


It worked well, giving corals plenty of light to grow, while largely stay off the glass and minimized algae growth. There is one problem, however. Since the light shines from the top, and shaded by the top corals and rock, the amount of light reaching the front is very limited. I dislike the pale underside of colonies; nor do I want my corals to grow steeply towards the light rather than plating out. I decided to provide an angled fill light near the front edge of the aquarium. I did not opt for a light bar or a lower powerwd light. This is because I need the fill light tobe equal in quality and quantity, so that the coral can color up evenly. 3 lights now.

PSX_20201229_143408.jpg


The addition fo the third 240w light brings a lot more color to the viewing side. But soon I encountered a new problem. As I start to introduce clams to my aquarium, it is apparent that my open sand bed 2.5' down does not have nearly enough light to support them. Solution? One more light.

PSX_20210707_121721.jpg


Moving on, the amount of light is sufficient at all depths. The coverage is good. Time to start to look into the quality of light. I become interested in the role of UV spectrum in growth and color of corals. I have since installed customized OR3 light bar, supplying 385, 420 nm radiation to the coral. The result is very obvious so far. Finally. Today the second light bar with 365 and 740nm diodes are in. My light is set.

PSX_20220402_200530.jpg
 
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