Getting a Saltwater Aquarium Up and Running:
Once the stand was built and put into place, we put the tank on top (which was quite heavy I might add), and leveled it using composite shims. We used composite shims so they would not compress with the weight of the tank. 75 gallons of water, plus the 16 or so gallons in the sump is roughly 760 pounds, which is a pretty good reason to make sure the tank is level.
The sump Andy built was placed in the bottom of the stand. The sump’s purpose is to provide the tank with various types of filtration, add top off water to the tank, and to house equipment such as heaters. The skimmer was placed in the far left partition of the sump.
In short, the protein skimmer, also known as a foam fractionater, is used to remove organic compounds from the water before they decompose. This is done by water moving into a chamber and being introduced to fine bubbles, where proteins and other organic compounds are then attracted to the bubbles and float to the top of the chamber as a foam where they are contained and removed. Our skimmer needed to sit about 4 inches higher due to the design of our sump, so we placed the skimmer on top of PVC piping and a cut piece of fluorescent light egg crate diffuser.
The second chamber is for our refugium or “fuge”. A refugium is an additional biological filter that is used to grow beneficial plants that can reduce nitrates, as well as house some animals that provide food for the main tank’s inhabitants. We also have a heater in this chamber. The water temperature of a saltwater aquarium is ideal between 78-82 degrees Fahrenheit.
The last chamber holds the return pump, which pumps water back up to the main tank.
Water was hauled from our basement in 5 gallon buckets from our RO/DI system and put into the tank and sump. We are happy to say there are no leaks! We have tested the equipment and everything seems to be working properly. Over the next few days we will decided on types of live rock, where to buy it, and either go pick it up or have it shipped to our house. More on that later!