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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Free Snails!

These pictures were actually taken during the evening of the same day the second Trapdoor snail was added.

Either they work REALLY fast! Or a more believable explanation would suggest the new snail was already carrying a couple of young!

Trapdoors are actual live bearing snails and i believe keep their young inside their own shell until they are old enough to be released by the mother snail. How they do this exactly i am yet to research, and it’s also worth noting (despite the fact that i made the “mother” association) that any Trapdoor can be fertilised or fertilise.

I caught a few (poor quality admitting) pictures of the new arrivals after watching “mum” crawl along the glass…

Baby one is near the bottom of the shot in the centre, they can really shift when they are this tiny too!

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The other one was scurrying along the edge of the sand bed…

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Since seeing them the first time, i didn't catch a glimpse the second day, possibly assuming they had been eaten or made their way into a corner or the filter, but did see one a couple of days later, albeit very close to the large “mother” snail again, could be another from the brood maybe?

Thankfully i have also found out the Trapdoors are not the prolific reproducers in the same right as their cousins such as the ramshorn and common pond snails, hopefully they will either be very slow, or at least regulate their own numbers.

And as long as their is an abundance of food for them, they should have no need to touch the living plants.

The last two days have been a bit of a banquet, yesterday a cube of Tubifex worms along with the usual Bloodworms and a couple pinches of pellets throughout the day, followed by some Daphnia, Bloodworms and a square of Nori seaweed today.

All fish new and old happily chowing down on everything to offer, should be plenty of matter for the snails to sift out during the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

PSU Frame and Ceramic’s

Acquired a few odds and ends to complete the “frame” i started for keeping the Radion PSU’s secure, it will now have a series of extension sockets for each PSU which will run back to a single plug, hopefully helping to keep things tidier still.

A bit of MDF was added for the sockets to be mounted too…

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In the end i also decided to paint it! Bring on the black gloss…

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I cant help thinking it looks a bit crap, but seeing as it will be completely out of sight and providing a meaningful purpose, I'm trying to ignore the aesthetic failure of it!

Just waiting for the paint to dry…

Also during my trip to the LFS (Wharf) i picked up a pack of D-D Aquascape Putty.

I thought it would be wise to secure the ceramic Riffsystem bridges in my aquascape, just in case! I know i will probably regret it in future if anything needs to be moved!

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Its really easy stuff to work with as long as it isn't stone cold, just kneed equal quantity's together until the two colours have completely blended into one. Then just squeeze and mould it into position as required.

With it being the coralline pink version i tried to keep it as discrete as possible…

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In a few hours it is reasonably solid, certainly more secure then the ceramics just being lodged together!

In 24 hours it should be pretty much solid to the point it can be drilled and tapped!

Again, i think i may come to regret this, but id rather not have one tumble by accident and hit the glass!

New Inhabitants!

Went to my favourite shop today, Wharf Aquatics in Pinxton, with the simple intention to purchase some frozen foods and a few filter consumables, low and behold that is never the case!

I can never resist having a little look around their livestock as its pretty much the most impressive array in the area.

I had been thinking for a while what to add into the Lido to tune it more as a community fresh water rather than a species tank for the Dwarf Puffers which will be moving on to their own dedicated system in the near future.

Seeing as they have posed no threat at all to the others living in the tank with them i decided to take a gamble and add something else with them.

My thoughts turned to Gourami’s after having years of success with them and just generally enjoying their colours, temperament and unusual features.

Looking round the display tanks at Wharf, i had the urge to buy some Pearls as i think they are a very pretty Gourami. However they do grow reasonably large in comparison to the Lidos volume.

So i turned my attention to another of my favourites, the Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) and luckily, the shop had some lovely specimens in stock with their bright blue and fire red colours looking in full health.

So i made my mind up and got 4 of them for a reasonable £20.

Here are the guys ready floating while the temp levels out…

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They have gone a little pale as you would expect, the Dwarf Puffers looked in on the commotion but soon went about their regular business.

I carried out my weekly water change, then netted each fish and gave them all a quick 20second RO dip before passing them into the aquarium. I do trust my LFS, but bio-security should always be well practiced, and i feel a quick dip should help wash away and LFS water from the fishes scales and fins after being in the bag.

As they entered the tank they all immediately had a good look round, the Puffers once again came in for a look, the stared each other out, then went their own ways.

An hour or so later i sprinkled some Hikari Micro Pellets in, which are actually a sample pack i received when i tested out a BiOrb Life in the past! I have not really had the need for dry foods in the past months as the Puffers have only ever eaten bloodworm with any enthusiasm, so i completely overlooked it!

The Gourami’s soon sniffed out the pellets and made short work of chowing down on them, shortly after they have started to colour back up and bringing back the beautiful blue and red glow. Half and hour later I followed this up with half a cube of bloodworms, primarily for the Dwarf Puffers, i normally only put a quarter in, but the Gourami’s are clearly in the know and ate their fair share of the worms too.

All good everyone seems happy so far! I will have to get hold of a few more varieties of frozen and some pellets and flake now.

Last but not least i got another trap door snail to accompany the one I've had for a couple of months or so now. The existing one has done a great job of eating algae and keeping the sand turned over, and in the rare moment i actually see it out and about (they're nocturnal), its always nice to sit and watch them go about their business.

This second one will hopefully give the original one a helping hand, as he obviously eats all he needs and their is plenty left over.

Sat in his bag ready to go…

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He did a lap round the tank, before bulldozing a small dune and getting in his shell ready for tonight!

Happy so far, hopefully nothing will turn foul before the Dwarf Puffers new home is devised.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Radion PSU’s

Had a bit of a DIY attack today…

Been wondering where to locate the Radion power supply units for the long term.

The most likely location candidate being the gap down the left hand side of the aquarium. A narrow and tricky area to work with, but when talking about a piece of equipment that will have very little manual intervention, it seems ideal to try and get the PSU’s set up down there. After all they will be safe and should be out the way of any significant water contamination.

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A few measurements and i sourced some lengths of pine that were hanging around and some brackets…

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From the bits of wood ill construct a simple frame that the brackets will then mount to and the PSU’s will have something to sit on…

I cut two lengths, the intention is the frame will sit with the design of the cabinet…

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A test of the frame and an idea of the intention…

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My woodwork skills leave a lot to be desired! But as this is out the way and wont really ever be seen again i thought why not give it a go!

Plenty of PVA into the mix!

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The partially complete frame, using pine wasn't such a good idea as it split quite easily…

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The frame resting in the cabinet, this is just for visual reference of course, it will be on the other side hidden away. Need some screws for the brackets, and will possibly paint it, I've also had the thought to add the mains electrics to the frame and then run a single plug from it. Will see how it goes…

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Woodson Install - Part 3

Only a few minor updates for now.

Decided to unbox the MP40’s just to have a look, as you do!

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Great piece of kit! Cant wait to see them in action!

Also got the OR3500 Aqua Medic pump prepped for use. I decided to bond the spout into the body as recommended by the instructions. I was told some folk don't bother as the fit is pretty damn tight, but seeing as this is its only job and i don't intend to bond hard pipe to it as i will be using a length of hose to dampen vibration, it was worth the 60 second job, plus i had scavenged some Tangit!

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Nice to see Aqua Medic appear to supply a spare impeller…

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Sat in the sump ready to go… bad picture i know…

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Hopefully my next instalment will involve obtaining reactors, plumbing, heaters and a few other ancillary items. Unfortunately i spent quite a bit on some new spectacles and my car needs new tyres! So they may have to wait until next month! Damn it!

Woodson Install - Part 2

Another item that had arrived for my reef tank is my new skimmer. The Deltec SC1455.

Here are a few pictures…

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The fully constructed skimmer…

Deltec SC1455 Skimmer

And sat in place in the sump ready to go! Nothing much to it until its full of water of course!

Deltec SC1455 Skimmer

I also put the Radion power supplies in a more temporary position as opposed to balancing them on the window ledge! This will allow me to have a play around with them a little easier and safer!

Radion PSU

Then it all got a bit nerdy!

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The Radion’s seriously are an impressive piece of kit when you finally get to play around with the properly. The software is relatively intuitive and easy to use, although i am aware EcoTech are working on a newer release of this that will have web compatibility. If memory serves me right, it was showcased at Interzoo 2012.

Great fun figuring out lighting cycles and then running test and demos. I've spent quite a few hours just tweaking and modding my light cycle to get it somewhere near for the future. No doubt it will have plenty more adjustment as time goes by! But that's the beauty of the product. There is no on and off switch forcing you into the corner. The customise options are capable of working down to every minute of the day.

I also like the layout ability to allow simulation of the earths rotation. I currently have them set on a 30minute spread so there is 15minutes between each unit. Its great watching the colours slowly sweep across the Riffsystem as the day passes by!

I also calibrated the channels…

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This is a straight forward process to get all the light channels in sync and basically set the lights at 0 intensity. Most likely through electronic tolerances they will never all be bank on 0 intensity when the controller things they are. This simple task just brings that all back into line.

I was prompted to do this after noticing that the different channels on each unit were not adjusting or switching on and off at the same rate (with a time shift of 0 on the layout settings) but with them corrected they all work in unison perfectly.

A worthwhile task to carry out and only takes about 5 minutes per fixture. I have also set a reminder task to check them every 6 months.

Finally a couple more 20k blue pictures!

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Woodson Install - Part 1

After a short wait, Billy from Woodson Aquaria made a date to pop round and finish his bits off on my new reef tank!

The day started with drilling a large hole in one of the Riffsystem plates! Felt quite daunting at the time, but this hole would provide a recess for the MP40 power head that will be residing on that side of the tank…

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The resulting hole is complete, the Riffsystem is surprisingly resilient to this kind of modification it would seem!

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With plenty of caution we slowly lowered the side plate into its final resting position..

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The adjacent back plate and weir cover was then added…

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Billy then hand crafted the joint across the corner of the weir, it is not quite finished in this image, a less uniform surface was applied later on…

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The remaining back plates were then installed…

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We then spent an hour or so playing around with the free standing structures and bridging pieces to create an interesting scape with plenty of depth. Sadly i didn't document this with pictures exceptionally well and its currently still being tweaked about slightly, but it does look fantastic!

In the mean time this is the first time i saw the hood it situ… sorry about the reflections!

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Now it was time to try the custom made mountings for the EcoTech Radion LED lighting fixtures!

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We both wanted to see them in action, so i crudely set up the power supply and bunged the power cable into the first available socket i could find.

The initial results from just one fixture made us both take a step back and say “wow!”

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These things cant half put some light out!

A few small mods to the hood were required for the retaining braces…

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This allows a simple CNC acrylic cut brace to keep the Radion’s secure for when the hood is opened…

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All three lights running together!

It has also come to my attention that the iPhone 4S has literally no idea how to adjust the white balance when the light is around 20,000k! Trust me its not THIS blue, it looks more like a very bright, clear sky summers day! I really must get my DSLR working again and get some better images for the future.

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The view from my sofa!

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A quick look at the dual hinged hood, the small flaps at the front are for feeding, and wont require you to get shot in the eye by a Radion on full power!

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The other option is to hinge at the rear for access…

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A couple more pictures at 4,300k. Thankfully point and shooting with the iPhone can work the colours out on this one a little better!

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Thanks for looking! More to follow shortly!