DIY Fan

Last week I made an upgrade to the fish tank that has been a long time coming. I had been running the tank (which includes fish, corals, snails, crabs, shrimp etc.) on a Coral Life Compact Florescent (PC) fixture that really was never up to the challenge of providing lighting for what I am trying to grow in my 4′ glass box in the dinning room.

I ran across this fixture on craigslist for a price I couldn’t turn down.

The upside of the new fixture is that the T5 bulbs produce a higher output of light per watt that can be more effectively reflected by individual reflectors above the bulbs, due to shape differences from the PC bulbs. Also, there is a greater variety of bulb colors available for T5 fixtures (currently the six bulbs are from front to back: purple, blue, white, blue, white, purple) The difference just in brightness is instantly noticeable.

The downside is that the PC fixture had LED moon lights (four of them that ran 24 hours a day and made the tank looks sweet at night) and integrated fans which where a plus for cooling the fixture.

I solved the first problem by adding a 36″ strip of LEDs into the front edge of the fixture.

From Fish Tank

This worked great. It is actually a bit too bright, and I need to remove some of the LEDs to reduce the brightness. I tried taking pictures of the corals at night under the LEDs and my phone can’t pick up the glowing effect of the corals under this light, the reds, greens and yellows are amazing, they literally glow at night.

The second issue, the lack of fans, was a bit more serious. I have done some reading, and it turns out the actively cooling the T5 bulbs can double the life of the bulbs (at $20 a bulb, this is a big deal). I found some awesome advice and followed it.

I started by removing the bulbs and aluminum reflectors from under the fixture. Then I measured and cut two holes in the top of the fixture

From Fish Tank

I ordered two clear fans with blue LEDs and individual speed controls. I pointed one fan to blow cool air in, and one two blow hot air out

From Fish Tank
From Fish Tank
From Fish Tank
From Fish Tank
From Fish Tank

I seriously cannot believe how nice it turned out. I took a light fixture that was purely functional, and made it something special.

The State of the Fish Tank

From Drop Box

full tank

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left side

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middle

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right side

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sun coral

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top down

From Drop Box

what’s going on under here?

The tank looks 100% better than it did just a few months ago. I couldn’t be happier with the way it has progressed. It has come a long way.

Fish Tank Saga Continued…

We left off with a beautiful display tank (DT) and some fishies with Marine Ich… What we have now is an empty DT, and a Quarentine Tank (QT) with some fishies undergoing Hyposalinity Treatment.

What I had to do, due to the nature of the parasite, was remove all six fish from the DT and relocate them to a bare bottom QT with no invertebrates of any kind. I then reduced the salinity from about 35% (a specific gravity of 1.024) to about 14% (specific gravity of 1.009). The fish are able to tolerate this change for a few months with little negative consequences. The Ich however, cannot live in this hyposaline environment. Corals, snails, coralline algae and everything else that makes a reef a reef could not live in these conditions either.

I went out and a 55 gal aquarium (seen above) and introduced the fish to it, I used filter media from my old tank to help maintain the biological filter and a functioning nitrogen cycle. What I didn’t account for (a mistake I won’t be repeating) is that the hyposaline solution would kill off the beneficial bacteria in the filter, necessary for breaking down uneaten food from Ammonia to Nitrite to Nitrate. What I have now are dangerously high levels of Ammonia that are requiring obscene amounts of water changes (salt and deionized water are not cheap).

Aside from my ammonia spike, the fish seem to be doing well. The Hippo Tang (yes, the one that looks like Dori) was the only fish showing visible signs of infection (tangs are notorious for Ich), but any fish in the tank will be infected if even one fish is. She is no longer bearing any visible signs of the parasite.

From the time the parasite became visible (about two days after I purchased her) she started hiding anytime I was in the room (even if I peeked around a corner). Yesterday, she was showing no signs of white spots and continued to swim freely even with me in the room. I thought this was a really interesting observation. Something about the infection was causing her to hide almost all the time. Now that she looks to be recovering, she is swimming freely. Very cool.

The extended hyposalinity treatment (4-6 weeks…at least 4 weeks from the last white spot) will break the cycle of Ich in the QT. Because the parasite cannot survive without a fish host (shrimps, snails, crabs and live rock don’t count) the cycle will be broken in the DT as well, as it will be fishless for at least 4 more weeks.

The lesson learned here (one I should have learned years ago, but like I have state previously, I had the tank, but never did it right) is that I will never bring home a fish, invert, piece of live rock or anything else and place it immediately in the DT. Everything (even a snail, because the water is came in with could be carrying Ich) will go through a 4 week QT. Any fish will be run through hyposalinity. Any Inverts will go into QT with no fish (which could act as a host for parasites) for at least a month.

What this will do is slow down the process of adding to the tank, but will force me to be patient and careful with what I add. The tank has come a long way in a short period of time.