Friday, March 18, 2011

The 60-Gallon is Finally Here!

It was a long afternoon, but my 60-gallon reef aquarium is finally here! My lovely girlfriend / assistant helped out a lot starting in the three to four days before the switch. She helped run the RO/DI unit and make water for me in advance, helped me mix the salt, and today she helped me carry the buckets inside. The job didn't take as long as we had expected, but it took some planning and strategy to pull the job off, and it didn’t hurt to have a great assistant.

The first task of the afternoon was to drain my 18-gallon aquarium. I drained the water into a rubber maid tote, and I placed the live rock, coral, and my fishes in the tote. I left the heater and a power head flowing to keep everyone happy for the next few hours. In my photo, you can see that I separated the coral into a filter basket and a fish breeder I had lying around, and I separated the live rock into a “rock with coral pile” and “general live rock pile”. I have lost coral doing projects like this before, so I had to make sure I could keep the coral safe and easy to find. (Note: No corals were lost in the making of this blog update.)

After draining the aquarium, it was time to rinse off the 60-gallon aquarium and bring it in the house. We used a level to try to get the aquarium to sit as level as possible. The floor in the room is a little higher closer to the wall, so I used some scrap pieces of wood to shim the front of the tank. This worked out okay, but it left the front just a little bit higher than the back. I will have to use some ultra thin shims to level the back out just a tiny bit more. We arranged the tank, and after three failed attempts to situate it to allow enough access for the CPR overflow box, we had it positioned properly. I hung the overflow box on the back of the aquarium, and I put the sump in the stand.

Now it was time to put the live sand from the 18 gallon and add 30 pounds of new aragonite. I added the live aragonite from the 18-gallon aquarium first, and added the new aragonite on top. After the sand was in and level to my liking, I started on the aquascape (added live rock). I don't think I have quite enough rock so far, but the shape of the rock came out pretty cool. I like to go for the look where it's off a little bit to one side, and doesn't look like it was meant to be stacked. It's probably the only artist instinct I have, and to be honest it's not a very good instinct at that. I plan to purchase some good base rock and add to the rock pile within the near future. In the picture, you can see that I utilized a bucket lid to help keep the sand in place while we added the buckets of water.

Now the worst part: adding the water, one five-gallon bucket at a time. It was a long process, but my great assistant made the project much easier; sometime she lugged buckets in or would fill the buckets up for me. We developed a labor efficient routine of me lugging and pouring, and she would fill the buckets up so they would be ready when I had finished one. The routine worked out rather well! To my surprise, the filling of the tank went faster than I had imagined. That doesn't mean it was necessarily a fun or easy project that I would enjoy doing every day, but It did go by quicker than anticipated, and for that I am very grateful. In the image, you can see the tank is full, and I have placed the light fixture on. We're almost done.

For the techies, here’s some technical specs:

Well, that is all for now! Until next time...