Newbie help!

Muttley000

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Hey everybody!

I'm a high school teacher in DFW who recently had someone offer to donate their mixed coral tank setup to my classroom! I'm really excited about this, but I desperately need some help figuring out what I have and what I need to do in the immediate future.

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The setup is a 90 gallon with a side overflow and sump with a reservoir and ATO under the cabinet. I haven't gotten the tank moved from the donor's house into the school yet, so I'm trying to plan ahead for that. The current owner has had the tank in his home for 20 years, so it's well established. Unfortunately, he always paid someone to care for it, so he has no idea exactly what he has, or what condition the equipment is in. Or even what equipment he has.

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I'm not sure what the two rusty boxes mounted in the cabinet are, but they're attached to the electrical cords running to one of the reservoir compartments. I'm assuming it's a heater of some sort? Speaking of heater, the owner doesn't have a thermometer and doesn't monitor the temperature for changes.

The protein skimmer doesn't look like it's pulling much stuff out. I'm guessing the rag looking things are the filter socks (in need of a good clean). I didn't get any photos of the ATO.

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Now for the questions:

The tank's dimensions are a bit unusual, and it was sitting on a built-in cabinet in the home, so I'll need to get a stand made. Any suggestions for what to build/how to set it up? I'll hopefully be working with the shop teacher at my school to get something built.

Can anyone help identify the equipment I have in the photos? I'd really like to be able to figure out what I'm working with.

When it comes to moving the aquarium, I know the super basics (move as much water as possible, keep temperature as consistent as possible for liverock/corals/fish, make a diagram of the rock setup to make your life easier when reassembling, have saltwater already mixed up at the new location). I'm still hoping to find someone in a local club with some experience to come help out, but so far I haven't had luck finding anyone, so there's a good chance I'll be the most experienced person in the room during the move (god that's terrifying). Any advice there would be greatly appreciated.

Overall, this aquarium has a ton of potential, and is gonna be amazing once I give it some tlc. I'm expecting I'll come up with way more questions in the near future.

Thank you so much for the help! I'm really excited to be here :)

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Welcome to R2R!
 

P-Dub

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Welcome! You have a project on your hands there. You said that the tank is on a built-in and that you will need another stand. This poses a bit of a first hurdle. What is your time-line in getting the tank out of its current home and into the school? What will happen to the system during the summer break? Do you have funds available for this project? Do you have a local reef shop near you and near the school? How much time do you have to invest in the move and setup and maintenance? Have you done some research here on R2R?
These are just a few of the questions that initially need answering and let's see if we can move you forward from there.
 
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bearlytame

bearlytame

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Welcome to R2R! It defiantly needs some TLC. Thanks for being a teacher and taking on this responsibility of caring for a reef tank. What a great learning experience for your students and school. I would read all you can on the forums here and like others have said, find a local reefer that may offer you help. Where are you located?
I'm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area!
 
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bearlytame

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Welcome to Reef2Reef! The country needs more teachers like you, bravo for trying to broaden your students minds with a reef tank setup.

There is a reef club called DFWMAS, maybe @Opus can help find some members that would be willing to donate some time to a good cause.

Thank you!! Any help is good help, as far as I'm concerned :)
 
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bearlytame

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Welcome to R2R.

Another suggestion is to get anything that has rust on it out of there. Replace the power strips and hinges. Make sure that the system is plugged into GFI plug outlets in the class room for safety. Check the cabinet for water damage and such;) If the cabinet is in good shape, I would suggest add some type of vent to the cabinet, since there is so much moisture trapped in the cabinet that is causing all the rust

The cabinet it's currently on is part of a built-in in the owner's house, so I'll be building a new cabinet from scratch. Luckily, that means I can make it how I want it to be, and put in plenty of ventilation to prevent the rust and mildew. Good call on the GFI outlets, I probably wouldn't have thought of that.
 
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bearlytame

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Hey Teach, Welcome to Reef2Reef!

I see a lot of folks have offered some good advice, that is what we do here. I think you are going the right direction, but I must ad some caution, ( I do emergency response for my day job, I'm in Paradise Ca for the next month.)

A 20 year old tank can be a delicate thing. The silicone seams do seem to be holding up, but if those seams fail that water will create an administrative nightmare in your classroom. I pray that you are on the first floor, and that your floor has a drain in it?

Not to dampen your enthusiasm, but to encourage you to get experienced help, (even professional help) moving this aquarium from the home to your classroom. It needs to be drained (obviously) and all the rock, livestock, sand, ect. removed from out of the tank before it comes carefully off that stand.

The new stand needs to be leveled before you put the tank on top and fill it, but transporting the tank needs to be done with care to ensure that none of the edges get bumped or chipped. In fact, if there are chips in that tank the act of transporting it could easily cause the tank to break.

I am stopping now, because no one likes this much negativity in a post. I'm way over the limit, and I do apologize for this tone if it does not seem encouraging. I am not trying to discourage you at all. Move it carefully and it can give you many more years of service. Besides, you may already know some of this? So consider this post a "just in case" because I see a lot of disaster posts on here after these moves.

I would plan on upgrading a lot of the equipment. I bet there are folks on here who can help you with this. Good luck and again, Welcome to Reef2Reef!

If I were closer to you I might offer to help. I get Sundays off. :)

Hey, I appreciate the constructive negativity haha. I didn't even consider the age of the silicone holding everything together. I am on the first floor, and I'm planning on placing the tank near the floor drain in my room, so if everything goes horribly wrong, at least I won't destroy the rest of the school.
 
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bearlytame

bearlytame

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Welcome! You have a project on your hands there. You said that the tank is on a built-in and that you will need another stand. This poses a bit of a first hurdle. What is your time-line in getting the tank out of its current home and into the school? What will happen to the system during the summer break? Do you have funds available for this project? Do you have a local reef shop near you and near the school? How much time do you have to invest in the move and setup and maintenance? Have you done some research here on R2R?
These are just a few of the questions that initially need answering and let's see if we can move you forward from there.

The current owner is in the process of moving, so I'm trying to have it moved by the end of March at the absolute latest. I have consulted with our shop teacher, and he is willing to build a stand for me, so hopefully that will be done in time for the move. I have some funds, but it's not a huge amount, and I'm restricted to the approved vendors of the school, which there aren't any reef shops on that list. Anything that I can't get at say, home depot or walmart, I have to order through a school supply store which has a huge markup, or I have to buy with my own money. The school supply store has testing kits, small aquariums, salt mix, etc. But if I need to replace big parts of the equipment, that will be on me. I need to contact a reef shop nearby (I believe there's at least 3 within a 20 mile radius). I've taken care of a reef tank before at a former job, but I was just feeding, monitoring water levels and salinity and keeping the temperature in check. That being said, I'm a quick study when it comes to learning new animal care stuff (I'm a former zookeeper), and I have no problems coming in over breaks and in the summer to do water changes and check up on things. I'll be enlisting the administration to help with feeding and keeping the glass clean during the summer months. I'm also hoping to purchase a smart sensor system to help with water monitoring during the summer months, just in case something happens. My biggest concern is with the aquarium equipment itself, recognizing when it isn't working correctly, and being able to fix the problems when they occur.
 
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P-Dub

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The current owner is in the process of moving, so I'm trying to have it moved by the end of March at the absolute latest. I have consulted with our shop teacher, and he is willing to build a stand for me, so hopefully that will be done in time for the move. I have some funds, but it's not a huge amount, and I'm restricted to the approved vendors of the school, which there aren't any reef shops on that list. Anything that I can't get at say, home depot or walmart, I have to order through a school supply store which has a huge markup, or I have to buy with my own money. The school supply store has testing kits, small aquariums, salt mix, etc. But if I need to replace big parts of the equipment, that will be on me. I need to contact a reef shop nearby (I believe there's at least 3 within a 20 mile radius). I've taken care of a reef tank before at a former job, but I was just feeding, monitoring water levels and salinity and keeping the temperature in check. That being said, I'm a quick study when it comes to learning new animal care stuff (I'm a former zookeeper), and I have no problems coming in over breaks and in the summer to do water changes and check up on things. I'll be enlisting the administration to help with feeding and keeping the glass clean during the summer months. I'm also hoping to purchase a smart sensor system to help with water monitoring during the summer months, just in case something happens. My biggest concern is with the aquarium equipment itself, recognizing when it isn't working correctly, and being able to fix the problems when they occur.
Hmmm. I have moderate to high concerns about your absence during the summer months. Add to that, the tank will need to be in a location where there is constant environmental control. In other words, assuming that it gets or can get warm during the summer months where you are, it will need AC on, almost all the time. You will use a heater, preferably two, to maintain the temp. A reef can better handle cooler temps but the heat is a killer. I, personally, would not want to be away from my reef for any longer than 7-10 days and that is with full Apex control. I, as well as most any reefer here, dread vacations even with full Apex control and monitoring. When you are absent for any appreciable amount of time is when things go wrong, Murphy guarantees this fact. I monitor my reef daily, in person. It really needs that kind of attention. Things can go south in a hurry even with you attending to your reef daily, just peruse the "tank emergency" thread.
I like that you are motivated to take on this project and applaud your desire to teach our children about the reef but we don't want to give them a first-hand experience with failure. That kind of teachable moment would come at a cost, not just monetarily but at the life of your reef's inhabitants. You may want to stick with fish only and stock with hardy, captive bred, and inexpensive fish. Even so, our job is to keep things alive and thriving. Not to be a Debbie downer but I'm just not certain that you have the resources, both time and material, to take this on, at least with the existing inhabitants and time constraints you are dealing with, IMHO...
Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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