Aquarium Update

Going to be covering three weeks, as I’ve not been able to post before now.

Chemistry zero.jpg

Friday 5th evening saw the water finally complete the nitrogen cycle, with both Ammonia and Nitrites at zero and Nitrates at about 40. With the tides the way they were I planned on getting water Saturday morning (high tide 9ish) and sand and some clean up crew in the afternoon (low tide about 3ish). However, the rain was torrential in the morning. Plan B was to get some water after obtaining the sand and clean up crew, as the tide starts to come in.

My plans for the clean up crew were netted dog whelks and some hermit crabs. We managed to get five and three respectively. Since the hermits have been put in the tank at least two, maybe all three, have changed shells.

Neted dog whelk2.jpg

Hermit 3.jpg


For algea clean up I have a number of limpets that came with the rocks that managed to live through the cycle and are doing a great job of keeping the algea in check. Also one of the rocks must have had some periwinkle eggs, as there are numerous small periwinkles in the tank as well. Another critter spotted during the cycle was a tiny star fish, possibly a cushion star.

Star fish.jpg

We chose Bigbury on Sea to get the sand (and clean up crew) as the sand isn’t as grey as most of the other beaches. With only Sophia in tow, we hit the beach.

Snakelocks 3.jpg

The rock pools were covered in small snakelocks anemones and Sophia managed to persuade me to get one for the tank. After previously enquiring about how to collect them, a credit card was perfect for the job.

Shanny and Periwinkle.jpg

Sophia also managed to catch a small shanny and two common prawns. Whilst I hadn’t planned for fish and prawns this trip as they were all small, I didn’t think it would be a problem.

I also acquired some wireweed and coral weed, whilst the wireweed appears to be doing fine, any red algae seems to die off, going brown in colour.

A hitchhiker on the algae was a tiny sea hare (I believe).

Sea slug 4.jpg

A hitchhiker in the sand was a tiny chiton. It stays on the glass usually under the sand in the day.

Chiton 2.jpg

The sea hare has also been spotted moving around at night.

Sea slug 2.jpg

Sea slug 3.jpg

The following weekend (Saturday) we went to Heybrook Bay, again with only one daughter, but this time Jess. The rocks were covered with beadlet anemones which we decided we’d come back for next week, as Jess wanted another fish. The weather wasn’t great and we only managed to come back with a rockling and what I believe is bifucaria bifurcata. The bifucaria bifurcate didn’t stand well so I have it at the back of the tank between the rocks and the glass, no sure if there is enough light and/or flow here though. I also put some bifucaria bifurcate and sea lettuce in the refugium.

Since putting the rockling in the tank, I’ve only seen it out once…

Lifting rocks on gravel that were just out of the water, we came across loads of amphipods. We got as many as we could, putting most of them in the refugium, quite a few of them seem to end up in the filter sock, however I try and get them back in the tank when i change socks.


On the Sunday I got more water and picked up some some wrack (not sure exactly which kind) which had some nice red tufts of algae. However again red algae doesn’t seem to like the tank and it’s now all brown.

Yesterday I spotted some small critters in the wrack, which I’ve not been able to identify yet.

Unidentified critters.jpg

Also I spotted another tiny sea hare in the return bay of the sump, possibly travelled in from the refugium. I carefully managed to get him in the main tank onto the wrack.

Tanks shot before the wrack went in. The rock at the top was placed in last week. As it had red algae on it, I was hopeful that it might survive, but again the pink has turned brown.


Tank shot today, with the wrack. For some reason the snake locks has completed deflated.

Tank 2.jpg


Cycle Progresses and More Critters Sighted

With ammonia at 6ppm and nitrites off the scale of 5ppm, the critters in the tank still appear to be living, not sure for how long though… Nitrates are at about 10ppm, so with ammonia going downwards, hopefully nitrites will follow.

I may have overdone the food at the start (for ammonia creation) so have removed most of it now, with just the remains of one prawn left.

The latest find is this little anemone, a Strawberry Anemone maybe?



Nitrites and Algae


Day 13 and Nitrites have made there first appearance at about 0.1ppm. This may or may not of been helped along by adding some ATM Colony, two days ago.


The rocks are also seeing a fair bit of algae. Initially the algae was either a nice red or green, now it’s a horrible brown!

Some limpets, tiny snails and barnacles seem to be weathering the Ammonia (currently about 8ppm) and also this little critter:

IMG_20160108_183443 circle

Seems to just wave two “antennae” around all the time.


Cycling continues

After 5 days of having mussels in the tank and no sign of them decaying, I gave the tank an ammonia boost using approximately 2.5ml of 9.5% Ammonium Hydroxide (Jeyes Kleen Off ammonia multi purpose household cleaner). This gave an ammonia reading of 1ppm. I’ll monitor closely to ensure I don’t dose ammonia once the mussels finally start to decay. I’m now using aquaticlog to keep track of all measurements.

Tank Installed and Cycling Commenced

Tank in situ with all the "extras"
Tank in situ with all the “extras”

The tank is now assembled and the cycling process has started! Inside I have a number of large rocks that I’ll be using to create the “rock pool”. About half of them were submerged in rock pools so should hopefully be “live rocks”, the other half were below the high water mark, but dry when I collected them. I’ve located the rocks on Floplast Gutter Guard. Made from polypropylene it is less brittle than the eggcrate I had and not as deep. Not currently in any particular formation at the moment, but that being said, they don’t look too bad! Once the cycle is stable I’ll add about 2 to 3 inches of “live sand” from the beach.

Tank and rocks
Tank and rocks

The weir from the main tank flows into the sump through a 32mm Durso Standpipe. I initially had quite a gurgle from this in the sump. After a bit of internet surfing I found that a reverse Durso in the sump should greatly reduced the noise. Which thankfully it did.

Sump minus refugium and live rock
Sump minus refugium and live rock

In the sump the water from the tank flows predominately into the first bay (on the left). Here it is filtered by a 100 micron sock filter and also by the TMC REEF-Skim 300 protein skimmer. Next it flows into the centre bay. Here I have 30 litres of 25mm Sera Siporax ceramic rings, stacked in an eggcrate box. Inside the 25mm stacks I have (1 litre of) 15mm rings stacked inside. There’s also a separate eggcrate box of just (1 litre of) 15mm rings. To (hopefully) kickstart the nitrogen cycle I also added a number of pebbles from the beach. Not sure if I’ll keep these here in the long run, as there’s room for another stack of 15mm Siporax.

Sump with refugium and live rock
Sump with refugium and live rock

Wiring in the cabinet is still very much a work in progress, with cable management to be completed!

Finally the water flows into the last bay where a Eheim Compact+ 2000 pumps it to the chiller.

On the side of the sump I have a Cleartides 500 refugium. Not sure what I’m doing with this at the moment. A portion of the water from the main tank is diverted here.

For the chiller I have a Hailea HC-300A, currently set to keep the tank between 17 and 18° C. I’ll revise this as necessary depending on what I end up keeping, and how much it costs to run!

From the chiller the water flows back to the main tank. This is currently through 20mm pipework. With the three 90° elbows it goes through, I think this is probably restricting the flow quite a bit, so I’m going to re-run in 32 mm.

Inside the main tank I have two Jecod RW-4 powerheads. Not easy to see what they’re doing at the moment as there’s nothing in the tank to give indication of movement.

For lightening I have an AquaRay AquaBeam 600 Ultima assembly with an AquaRay controller.

I collected natural sea water locally and the system currently contains about 250 litres. I’m using an API Saltwater Master Test Kit (Marine) to test the water during the cycling process along with a D-D H2 Ocean Salinity Refractometer.

Current readings are: SG 1.022, pH 8.0, Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm and Nitrate 0ppm. There are four pieces of mussel in the tank that’ll hopefully start raising the Ammonia soon.

A Devon Rock Pool Aquarium Adventure

The spot in the living room that I’d been eyeing for a while has finally become free and the wife (Nok) has agreed that an aquarium would be an attractive addition to the lounge. I’ve previously enjoyed rock pooling with the kids (Sophia and Jess), so thought a native marine aquarium would be a good challenge.

A condition of getting an aquarium was that it would look good as a piece of furniture as well as an aquarium. When Nok saw the AquaOak range at the local garden centre, her mind was set!

The length I have available is about 114cm, so the Limited Edition 100cm Doors was my first choice. However this was sold out and wouldn’t be available until February 2016. My second choice was the XL Cube, however at 70cm deep this was pushing what was acceptable with Nok. With a parting comment to Nok (in ear shot of the kids) of –”OK we’ll wait until February”, I left the kids to do their work! They didn’t disappoint and the XL Cube was ordered!

Whilst there is an abundance of information on tropical marine aquariums, there is less so on temperate marine. Two Facebook groups have become my first stop for advice and questions (I will list them on the links page shortly) and it was whilst reading some of the linked blogs that I thought I’d start my own.

So here is the first post in our “Devon Rock Pool Aquarium Adventure!”