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#1 dojo

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 07:38 PM

I noticed today that there's no posts at all in this section yet, and it happens that I've got a relevant topic for this section thats been burning in my mind for a few months now and i think could do with being a discussion on it's own. After several conversations with the brothers grim and after gaining some inspiration from the Tongen branching rock in my own tank and also after reading a few different posts now on this forum from fellow reefers who seem to be having great success with it, I have decided to go over to the plastic and pearls method "copyright" hahaha.

Who out there is already doing it? what details of the process haven't been documented yet? what are the benefits? what are the potential drawbacks? is this method sustainable long term? and if it is, what are the systems main and not so main requirements?

These are just a few questions to get the ball rolling of which I'm sure there are many more, a thread also needs pics as well as all the other various forms of documentation for instance I'd like to see some macro's of Jas and Linz's cryptic zone as well as any images relevant to the topic that anyone else might want to share.

One more thing, I'm considering a bare bottom with the pearls and plastic and would like to hear peoples ideas and views for and against before I make it a reality. Come on gents lets hear your insights.

#2 Blacktip

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 09:25 PM

I dont run it but if I was starting again I would along with plastic pipes for coral mounts. I dont know a huge amount about the pearls but it all sounds good so will be interested in the thread.
IMO bare bottoms look pretty bad in a short period of time. I've always had a love affair with DSB's but I've fallen out of love with them as I cant ever get then to work properly. I'm now going with a shallow decorative layer of sand.

#3 ANDYG

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 11:02 PM

I went over to this method in April this year, removing about a third of my rock and replacing it with a tree like structure of plastic pipe,mounting the corals in holes/slots or tying on with cable ties. (see my thread on members tanks- recent pics show both structures).

I found the nitrates & phosphates gradually rose probably due to the fact I've got quite a few large fish in the tank and feed quite heavily, I have quite a good growth of Cheato in the sump, so the rise could have been due to the fact I've removed a third of the live rock . I therefore invested in a gyractor running pearls putting in 500ml, which I set up in June.Since then the nitrates have come down to between 0 and 0.2ppm and phosphates were still rising so I set up a phosphate reactor running Biophos 80. The phosphates are now stable at 0.2ppm, I've been advised it takes a while to work will come down very gradually.

2 weeks ago I took out another third of rock and relaced it with another plastic tree structure. I have now got about 10-15kilos of live rock in the system orignially stocked with approx 45kilo's.

Benefits
1. Better flow rate around the corals, no dead spots
2. no build up of detritus
3. In the long term you won't need renew the live rock when it begomes clogged up with coral growth and calcrous algae, when it will then create dead spots and become anaerobic.

Drawbacks
1. With the bioload I have I don't think you could run this sort of system without pearls.
2. You may need to upgrade the skimmer, as IMO I could have run a skimmer designed for this size of the system, it probably wouldn't have coped, I'm probably over skimming but prefer to err on the side of caution.

I can't see how this can't be sustainable long term, but as I have only had it set up since April,so I haven't had enough time to say either way. It isn't to everyone's taste but I like the look of it, the fish have plenty swimming rooom, there's loads of room for coral growth.
I can see this as biodiversity, as I see it, rock doesn't grow but we need it to build our replica reefs.
Why do we need it?
Reefs are not all rock,!
What's the difference between plastic pipe and a metal shipwreck, corals grow on both.
Why deplete the natural reef (sorry if i'm treading on toes) by taking out live rock there is an alternative.

The only limit to this type of system is your imagination, the design is yours.

Trev has gone down the complete plastic route,( hopefully he will come back with his views,) whereas I have kept the centre of the tank as rock as I like the way the corals have grown out, if it all works out I may change to all plastic.

I could probably ramble on for ages but I'd just get carried away (or as Ang says I should be or put away) .:sign_lol:

#4 dojo

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:14 AM

It's interesting also to think of the methods we can run along side the plastic and pearls to compliment it, Andy has LR, alge and Phos remover is anyone running a P&P only system ? are there any other add ons that work well with this method? what are the naturally occurring benefits? like the cryptic zone for instance. Thanks for the responses gents lets keep this going and PICS PICS PICS : )

#5 TrevC

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 07:09 PM

Set my tank (now on its 3rd re-build) up around the same time as Andy, except I had decided to go down the "no rock whatsoever" route.

I had always suffered with a gradual build up of both Phosphate and Nitrate as my previous tanks matured at around 18 months.

I put this down to the rockwork!

As Andy said the rock will eventually become anaerobic and all that lovely nitrobacteria will die off as the rock become "clogged".
This then starts to create problems.

One way around this is to remove some of your rock and "flush" and re-seed it. Quite a few of our American brethren are doing this and over a year or so you should have "re-juvenated" all of your rock.
This has its drawbacks in that you need a frag tank to keep your precious corals in while you are "re-juvenating" your rock and you are continually moving and re-scaping the tank.

After some lengthly chats with Lindsay and Jason about how well their large SPS tank is doing after around 5-6 years, without the addition of any rock at all; I decided to try.......Plastic and Pearls!

Again as Andy has said the only limits to this are "your own imagination". You can make it as complicated or as simple as you like.

Any Plastic pipe will do, and you can mount the corals directly to it or peg them in as I have done.


My sump remains the same, except for the addition of the "Gyractor"

I have to say that my Phos and Nitrate readings are almost undetectable; in fact I have the luxury of being able to feed the tank quite heavily to even get the various algae to grow!
I feed 2-3 scoops of CV every day now and only back off when the algae starts to get annoying.

PICS, PICS, PICS...................

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TANK 48 x 24 x 24

NO LIVE ROCK WHATSOEVER

VORTECH MP40
2 x Tunze Nano

48 x 18 x 17.5 SUMP
NO LIVE ROCK IN HERE EITHER!
SCHURAN JETSKIM 150
SCHURAN JETSTREAM 1 Ca REACTOR
"GYRACTOR" running "BIO PEARLS"
EHEIM 1262 RETURN PUMP

FISH AND CORALS SUPPLIED BY
JASON's AQUATICS


#6 ANDYG

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:31 PM

Looking good Trev, it'scertainly grown since the first pics of small frags on pegs when you set it up.
The corals definately like growing on plastic.

It'll be good to see what itl looks like in the future.

#7 Blacktip

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 10:37 PM

I'm experiance similar issues at 2 years. Not so much nitrates and phosphate but there is something building up in the water that is causing problems and I'm putting it down to the DSB. Once that is removed I'm intersted in seeing how the system goes. If there is no improvement I'll give the pearls a go.

The pipes, in my opinion, look ugly but I can truely see the potential and look forward to seeing these tanks growing out.

How do the pearls work out cost wise? Do you ssave on Carbon and phosphate remover?

As to J&L's system I guess it is a bit easier keeping the corals without a mass of fish to feed? Having said that I know they feed their corals a lot so maybe not a valid point? Do you run pearls on your system Linds?

#8 dojo

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:30 AM

Thanks for the update Trev, judging from the pics pics pics all is going very well indeed!! are you running alge in your sump? how deep is the sand bed in your display? and how many pearls in the gyractor? any other details, hiccups ect. Please keep the updates coming they'l be valuable and important information to this thread for sure. Blacktip, I have to say that in my experience the pearls plus gyractor win hands down over other media and reactors they are both cheaper and far easier to control and maintain. absolutely no drawbacks!!

#9 lindsay

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:19 AM

I like this thread because it not only shows a very different take on a coral tank with the use of plastic instead of rock but will over time show how pearls perform.As said above we don't have any rock in our coral systems,we had a small amount for a while but only to aid the seeding process and was then removed.There has been points made above about the decline of a tank around the 2 year time period which may vary for others depending on tanks size,coral growth and fish stocking levels,this could be what many call old tank syndrome.The systems we run do appear to have what looks like a cryptic zone under the racking where light is limited,i think this is the case because detritus collects here but over the years never increases in depth but shares the same area with Tunicates and Sponges and other growth forms,i will try to take some pics at some point.
The subject of bare bottom tanks crops up on many forums from time to time and opinions vary,for me i think it would be better to run a tank with a 2 to 3 inch coral sand bottom,not the very fine sand but a little more course.There are a few reasons for this,its somewhere for uneaten food to become food for macro life and i think that a tank with a sand bottom is a lot brighter than one that is bare bottom so its possible a percentage of reflected light is lost when a tank is bare bottom.It is also possible that the sand acting as a home for macro life maybe of more importance if the tank has no rock but uses plastic instead.
The benefits.
Freedom to create a reef limited only by your imagination,as said above.
Its easier to remove problem algae from plastic than it is from rock.
Better flow spread with bigger open areas,possibly the same for the amount of light that corals will see.
With more light,space and flow corals will get the chance to grow bigger,for some reason i have found that they love to grow on plastic.
The possibility of a cryptic zone in the plastic tubing,you will need to drill wholes for this to happen.
The idea that its you maintaining the water that the corals are living in without trying to rectify any problems the rock is trying to give you at the same time.
I will add this point and it is only what i think and possibly not what others will agree on,discuss lol,Pearls in balance will out perform rock when it comes to processing nutrients esp when over stocked as is often the case.
Drawbacks.
Getting the balance right when using Pearls etc.
The look of plastic until corals take over.
Like all filtration processes that have a high bacterial population care to make sure the supply pump is always on and performing well.

Any of the above is open for discussion,debate lol and i am sure there will be more to add later,great thread.

#10 TrevC

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 09:47 AM

Hi Blacktip, yes I have to agree that the pipes do look ugly (for now), but I am looking ahead to the 2 year point where corals will have to be "harvested" to keep them in check and most if not all of the pipe work will be covered.
I chose to start the tank off with only small frags (more of a challenge) rather than larger colonies. My vision of how the tank will eventually look is much farther into the future than most people’s visions of their tanks when they first set up.
It would be all too easy to set the pipe work up then "hide" it with large corals.
I believe that this hobby should be challenging.
All too often I look at tanks that have been put together "quickly" giving a nice lovely display, but, hey you might as well put a picture on your wall, if all you want to look at every day is a tank full of corals.
Don't get me wrong, we all want a lovely looking tank, for me it's all about "how" I get there, not how "fast" I get there!

I do have a sandy bottom of around 1.5 inches in the display tank and a small DSB around 2 foot square and 2 inches deep in the sump. I am also running Chaeto but due to the efficiency of the pearls the Chaeto struggles. But I figure I may as well leave it there, it adds diversity to the overall filtration system. It is also "full" of pod life!

Cost wise the pearls are as cheap as good Phos media and carbon, but last a lot longer! I am running a shade under 500ml.

If you look at Jas & Linds SPS tank you will find a lot of fish!
And I believe they are very well fed. Along with the coral food additions I would say it is a "heavily fed" tank.

Dojo, I hope I've answered a few of your points above.
And I agree with you that the Pearls plus Gyractor for me work better.

I am not very good at updating threads and remembering to take pictures, but will try to do monthly updates as a "New Year Resolution",.....promise!

Lindsay..... It is all about "balance!"

As I said before to work out if the corals are getting enough food, I feed the tank until algae starts growing. This way I know that the corals will be getting enough food. I then back it off to control the algae.
Why wait until your corals start to "tell you" that they are struggling!
A wile back I had some die back on a purple monti which I initially put down to Nudis.

Wrong!!!!

All down to lack of nutrients.


TANK 48 x 24 x 24

NO LIVE ROCK WHATSOEVER

VORTECH MP40
2 x Tunze Nano

48 x 18 x 17.5 SUMP
NO LIVE ROCK IN HERE EITHER!
SCHURAN JETSKIM 150
SCHURAN JETSTREAM 1 Ca REACTOR
"GYRACTOR" running "BIO PEARLS"
EHEIM 1262 RETURN PUMP

FISH AND CORALS SUPPLIED BY
JASON's AQUATICS


#11 Blacktip

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 09:35 AM

Was thinking about this last night. How do pearls work - I assume they are aerobic? also, as coraline algae and coral grows over the tubes blocking the holes, will the water inside the pipes turn anoxic?

#12 dojo

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 10:37 AM

I believe pearls to be a carbon source for denitrifying bacteria added to which the bacteria also requires both Po4 and No3 to survive, Tony (Karnivor) is the man to answer all pearl questions really though, but as far as plastic tubing getting clogged - I will when constructing my plastic reef make sure the holes, slots and other exit points are big enough that they never clog. Also thought just now that you could incorporate a few places on the structure where periodically you could attach a flow pump and blast it through, nothing to aggressive just enough to clean the space inside the structure (just an idea).

#13 ANDYG

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 11:25 PM

HI BLACKTIP
When I made up the plastic fittings I put enough holes and slots in so that I shouldn't have an issue with it becoming anaerobic, the ends on some of the branches are left open so that some flow from the mp40s travel through it. Inside the pipe work is a cryptic zone which contains fan worms, sponges brislte worms etc. If the holes do block just scrape clear unlike rock were you would have to remove pressure wash and start again.

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#14 Blacktip

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 05:24 PM

Well I just ordered my reactor and pearls should be here by the weekend. Once my sump is empty of algae and rock I was wondering what to put in the sump? Was thinking of using something like egg crate mounted vertically and at right angles to flow to encourage sponges and bi-valves. Any other ideas?
Cheers

#15 lindsay

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:48 AM

I was also thinking it would be a good idea to state how many fish and gallons,liter of water you all have along with how much pearl media you are running to help others who wish to use the pearls.This may help when trying to get the correct balance with the process,ie too many pearls and you may find yourself feeding heavy to keep corals and pearls fed.
I know this has been covered in some of the above posts but i would like to think this thread will grow as your tanks progress so any info on your progress with the pearls is likely to help many who wish to use them.

#16 dojo

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 09:36 PM

In response to Linz, 500 ltr system, 30" of fish and 400ml of pearls plus on the feeding front I'm adding 2 blocks of frozen a day three level t spoons of CV and 2 t spoons of something else. Blacktip, I still have algae in the sump and a little rock still in the display. Levels today 2 no3 and 0.01 po4.

On the plastic front I've played around with different ideas in terms of structures for supporting the coral and am still not totally happy, I'm working on something a little more arty and natural looking if thats at all possible PICS PICS PICS coming soon.

#17 lindsay

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 12:13 AM

With regards to the pearls its the media volume that i think is worth a mention,when you look at how exact a zeo reactor and media set up is put into use on a tank and how much to dose and so on it makes me think that pearls being as effective as they are could also do with peoples impressions on the media volume,ie too much media could mean feeding above whats needed to keep corals and the pearls happy.For me its finding the right balance with the right amount of media,perhaps once the right amount of media is worked out then it maybe a case of turning off the reactor and marking it so as to be able to maintain this amount of media with ease.
A bit like a phos reactor,too much media and you run into possible lack of phosphate problems,but in this case it could lead to a lack of nutrients within the tank.

#18 dojo

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:21 AM

With regards to the pearls its the media volume that i think is worth a mention,when you look at how exact a zeo reactor and media set up is put into use on a tank and how much to dose and so on it makes me think that pearls being as effective as they are could also do with peoples impressions on the media volume,ie too much media could mean feeding above whats needed to keep corals and the pearls happy.For me its finding the right balance with the right amount of media,perhaps once the right amount of media is worked out then it maybe a case of turning off the reactor and marking it so as to be able to maintain this amount of media with ease.
A bit like a phos reactor,too much media and you run into possible lack of phosphate problems,but in this case it could lead to a lack of nutrients within the tank.



#19 dojo

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:34 AM

Exactly what I've done Linz except I have marked the reactor in two places, with a MAX line and a MIN line. The minimum line is the point at which after numerous tests the PO4 started to climb again and the max line is the most pearls I can use without causing the nutrient levels to fall to low. It takes some time and quite a few tests to work this out but in the long run it gives you the peace of mind factor, saying that I still think that as the corals and fish in the aquarium continue to grow the nutrient levels will be susceptible to fluctuation.

#20 lindsay

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:43 AM

Exactly what I've done Linz except I have marked the reactor in two places, with a MAX line and a MIN line. The minimum line is the point at which after numerous tests the PO4 started to climb again and the max line is the most pearls I can use without causing the nutrient levels to fall to low. It takes some time and quite a few tests to work this out but in the long run it gives you the peace of mind factor, saying that I still think that as the corals and fish in the aquarium continue to grow the nutrient levels will be susceptible to fluctuation.

Sounds good but i think this is where i would do things a little different,i would base the media volume on the nitrates and not the phosphates and once i got to a stage where the nitrates are sitting at about 2 to 5 and the phosphates at around 0.02 probably with the help of a little phosphate media in a reactor with normal fish and coral feeding i would call the system as a whole balanced.




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