Zoeae in the 10-gallon Tank


I guess the surest sign that the 10-gallon is recovering is berried females and zoeae. I’ve seen both in the last two days. In this video, you can see two zoeae drifting up and down in the tank. I’m assuming that the switch to the gentler Aqualift pump system is making the difference. This tank has only one pump+filter unit. The 18-gallon has two. To make sure that both halves of the UGF are filtered, I simply take the output airline from one exhaust tube and place it in the other once or twice a month.

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Aqualifter Pump + Filter: Routine Maintenance

Airline Tubes

Check the drip rate at least once a day. Any slow-down may mean a problem with one or more tubes:

  1. Look for crimps in the airline. Replace if you find any.
  2. Look for signs of algae build-up within the tube. If you notice a small clump of growth, remove the tube and blow into one end. A quick burst of air will force the algae out.

Aqualifter Pump and Prefilter

The prefilter sponge turns dark after 2 to 3 months. I tried cleaning it, but the sponge material seems to lose its porousness and puts a strain on the pump, causing a leak. Instead of purchasing new prefilters, which could quickly add up in cost, I’ve decided to replace the sponge with carbon.

The problem is figuring out how to force the water entering the filter to pass through the carbon pellets before exiting and returning to the tank. To this end, I cut a small rectangular piece of plastic to fit inside the filter to keep the carbon section separated from the exhaust section. The theory is that most of the water entering the filter has to pass through the carbon before it can seep below and around the plastic barrier.

The plastic material I’m using for the barrier, however, is too thin and bends under the weight of the carbon, defeating the purpose of the barrier in the first place. I’ll have to come up with a stiffer barrier or a different design.

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Aqualifter Pump+Filter Change for Small Tanks

The plastic mesh didn’t work out. (See “Aqualifted 1.5 and 1.0 Gallon Tanks” and “Oblong 1.5g Tank with Aqua Lifter Pump.”) Salt creep on the mesh was bad. Decided to use the same configuration as the larger 10-gallon tanks, with the pump-filter unit in a small container above and close to the tank. (See “10-gallon with Aqualifter+Filter – Updated 3/27/17.”) So far, no salt creep problem with the pump-filter units on the 10-gallons. This unit, however, doesn’t have a drip-back safety system (see below). In case of a leak in the pump-filter unit, the water will fill the container and spill over onto the shelf. I’ll have to think of way to allow for spill-back. The top of the tank is too narrow to support the pump-filter unit.

This is the one-gallon. The pump-filter unit looks huge on this tiny tank. Note the small hole in the middle of the white container, about a half inch from the bottom. This is a drip-back safety system. If the pump-filter unit leaks, the water will drip back into the tank. This is the same system I’m using with the larger (10-gallon) tanks.

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10-gallon with Aqualifter+Filter – Updated 3/27/17

This is the 10-gallon on the kitchen counter with an Aqualifter+filter on top of the tank. I removed the plastic spacer from the glass canopy. I also removed the lighting to make room for the pump+filter unit. The slots were already part of the small plastic tray. These will serve as an overspill if there’s a leak, sending the water back into the tank instead of onto the counter and floor. Shot with X100-T with poor in-door lighting at 10:30pm. Grainy but does the job. I’ll shoot it again during the day. Settings f/2, 1/15 sec, ISO-6400.

Updated photo 3/27/17. Photo taken 3/27/17, 8:23am, f/2.5, 1/50 sec, ISO 800. Slightly smaller aperture, a lot faster shutter speed, and a much lower ISO. As an informal test, I’m using only one pump+filter on the 10-gallon and two on the 18-gallon below. The logic for two is that the UGF is split into two halves, so each side needs a unit. The logic for one is that the water in the unpumped half will seep into the pumped half and circulate. I didn’t create any openings between the two halves in the UGF so this assumption may be wrong. When it becomes clear that one is enough or two are required, I’ll make some changes.

New photo 3/27/17: 18-gallon (filled to 10-level) shot 3/27/17, 8:22am, with 2 Aqualifter+filter units. What you can’t see is the opening at the back of the canopy, similar to the one in the photos above. You also can’t see the small hole drilled into each tray to serve as an overspill back into the tank. To accommodate the Aqualifter units, I removed the back spacer from the canopy as well as the light. Photo specs: f/2.8, 1/80 sec, ISO 800.

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Aqualifted 1.5 and 1.0 Gallon Tanks

[Update 4/27/17: This setup with the pump-filter unit sitting on a plastic mesh with water dripping back into the tank through the mesh didn’t work out. Salt creep on the mesh was a major problem. See the configuration I’m using now.]

So far so good. This pump+filter on top of tank seems to be the only setup that works. In variations that had the pump+filter on the table next to the tank, leakage was a constant problem. In this on-top configuration, I’ve had no leakage problems. Yet. The opae seem to love it. They’re very active all day and night. Breeding has been taking place in the 1.5 gallon, but I think it’s accelerating under this new setup. The trickle filtering seems just about right. The 10-gallon, which I’ll be covering soon, is also set up with a single pump+filter unit on top of the tank, and it seems to be doing fine. Again, the opae are very active day and night. The 18-gallon has two pump+filter units, and it, too, is doing fine. I’ll be covering this tank soon, too.

This is a photo of the oblong 1.5 gallon.

This is a photo of the 1-gallon.

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Oblong 1.5g Tank with Aqua Lifter Pump


[Update 4/27/17: This setup with the pump-filter unit sitting on a plastic mesh with water dripping back into the tank through the mesh didn’t work out. Salt creep on the mesh was a major problem. See the configuration I’m using now.]

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Aqua Lifter Pumps for Opae’ula Tank – UPDATE 3/12/17

[Update 3/12/17 – The setup here didn’t work out. The pumps are positioned too low, reducing the flow. I moved the pump-prefilter unit so that it now sits on top of the tank. I’ll be posting photos or a video soon. In the meantime, see the video that demonstrates this placement modification on the 1.5g oblong tank.]

This the is 18g (filled to 10g) tank with AquaLifter pumps attached to both UGF exhaust tubes.

This is the 18g (filled to 10g) tank with Tom Aqua Lifter Dosing-Circulation Pumps attached to both UGF exhaust tubes. The Aqualifter will pump water up to a height of 30″. The input tube passes through a prefilter (Tom Suction Filter for Aqua Lifter Aquarium Vacuum Pump) before it reaches the pump. This prefilter serves as an external mechanical filter for the tank, the first I’ve used in any of my tanks. It also keeps the pump from clogging.

This is the setup.

This is the setup. Tube1 pulls water from the tank to the prefilter. Tube2 pulls water from the prefilter to the pump. Tube3 pushes water from the pump back to the tank. The intake water from tube1 has been biologically filtered by the UG filter. The intake water from tube2 has been mechanically filtered by the prefilter. Thus, the output water from tube3 has been biologically and mechanically filtered. Caution: be sure to monitor the tube connections. There are 5 in the line-up — and 4 of those are potential leak points outside the tank. Two are on the prefilter, and 2 are on the pump. Make sure they’re secure. I keep these parts in a plastic container just in case there’s a leak. However, this precaution is minimal. If I don’t catch the leak in time, the water will overflow onto the counter and floor, draining the tank of water.

Views of the left and right return tubes.

Views of the left and right return tubes. The flow is rated at 3.5 gallons per hour, so it’s a trickle. With two pumps, one for each half of the UGF, the rate is approximately 7 gallons per hour. The theory is that this mechanical filter, added to the UG biological filter, will help to sustain the water quality. Also, the extremely slow flow rate may be ideal for opae’ula. Flow rate has been a problem with UG air filters and powerheads for my relatively small tanks. They’re too powerful and the agitation causes salt creep, a persistent problem in my 10-gallon tanks.

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