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Old 03-25-2010, 07:36 PM   #1
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Tank Journal - 225 SW FOWLR, Possible future reef

I can't believe it's another screwed-up tank thread! Yes, that's right, my knack for zeroing in on completely screwed up saltwater tanks has led me to a 225 Acrylic FOWLR tank in a Japanese Steakhouse - you know, one of those where they make everything in front of you on the grill and put on a show?

A former local pet store employee told me about this tank, and he moved out of town recently, so I decided to hit them up. This tank looked fine when I walked in, except that here is only a 4-5" round Yellow Tang in it. After a brief conversation with the owner, I found out that there used to be more fish, and they all died. Red flag #1. He also said that they had taken all the rocks out and scrubbed the 'red growth' off of them just recently. Red flag #2.

I poked around the system, it have plenty of flow from 2 exterior pumps and 2 large powerheads, has a decent skimmer in a large acrylic sump (40g maybe) which was packed with bio-balls. Not very much lighting, 2 x 18" Coralife strips, just enough for show.

I put in a digital thermometer while I took a water sample and was shocked. 65.5 F. When I got home and tested the water, I was not surprised to find that I had to dilute the water sample 20 to 1 just to get a reading for Nitrates - putting those between 600 and 800 ppm - and 10 to 1 dilution for Phosphates - putting those between 8 and 10, roughly. KH was 4.5, pH was 7.9, Salinity 31. That was 2/26.

So I prepared a report, turned it in, and went back in a couple days ago to finally meet with the guy who had been maintaining the tank (an employee) for the last 2 years. He was just about to do his maintenance, which included topping off with RO water from the grocery store (good!) and cleaning the algae off the interior with a long handle tool with a swiffer-like head, which worked pretty well. The problem is this: that's all he has done in 2 years. When I asked him when that last time was that he did a water change, he looked at me kind of funny. I explained that you have to remove water and put in new saltwater every 2 weeks, 4 max, and he then confessed that he didn't know you had to do that.

Suddenly, everything became very clear.

So he signed on to a total tear down. I'm going to QT the Yellow Tang at my house for probably a week. I'm going to start the tear-down likely on Sunday morning, take everything apart, bring the fish and LR home, QT the fish, clean the LR (probably with bleach to kill the cyano, I've learned my lesson) salvage the bio-ball bio community so I don't have to cycle the tank, clean the pumps, sump, skimmer, replace all the return tubing, reassemble the tank, and fill-er up. I'm going to throw out the 3" of substrate (SINCE THEY'VE NEVER VACUUMED IT) and replace with a thin layer of Aragonite gravel (I would do sand, but I think it'll just blow around) and put a few heaters in the sump.

I've been running my RODI day and night. I'm running out of buckets. I've got 22, but 6 are in use for one reason or another, which leaves me with 80g in buckets right now, and 2 x 44g BRUTE cans 1/3 full each, so I have to go get MORE buckets. I need 250g by Sunday. I get about 80-90/day out of it, so I should be fine, and in a pinch, there's Wal-Mart Culligan water.

It's gonna be fun. He's paying me 1/2 cash 1/2 gift cards. $300+ in gift cards will last about 3 meals for the family in that place though. I think we'll take the kids there ones, then go in just the 2 of us and have a bunch of saki-bombs.

Pics and status over the weekend. Enjoy!!!

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Old 03-25-2010, 08:17 PM   #2
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Japanese Steakhouse = Hibachi. I think that was the word you were looking for..

Dang.. 600-800ppm of nitrates. That honestly sounds brutal. I'll tag along and see how this all goes down. Good Luck!
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
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Japanese Steakhouse = Hibachi. I think that was the word you were looking for..
Thank you! Yes that's it. When I think of a Hibachi, I always think of something we had when I was growing up, like a mini-grill, only about 18" long...
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Old 03-25-2010, 10:23 PM   #4
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Can't wait to see pics and update And hopefully no one orders sushi in front of the fish
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Floyd R Turbo View Post
Thank you! Yes that's it. When I think of a Hibachi, I always think of something we had when I was growing up, like a mini-grill, only about 18" long...
Hahaha.. well glad i could bring my japanese steakhouse expertise to the table. :p
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Old 03-26-2010, 01:00 AM   #6
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Ouch. You have a knack for finding the most screwed up tank you can Floyd. Let's hope you can work more miracles.
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:07 AM   #7
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Do you do this as a business? Or just kind of a word of mouth.."your tanks messed up? Well I know this guy who can help"...
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:01 PM   #8
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I haven't actively marketed, I just come across potential customers. I was looking for a job and went to a headhunter office and they had a 100g that was in horrible shape, but weren't interested in my services. My first 2 customers were a Chinese restaurant that I frequent and a dentist whom I purchased a tank from, so it just kind of happened. I have lines on a couple of others too, but one big job at a time...
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:55 PM   #9
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First day - in a word, exhausting

Ok, so due to a few miscommunications, I did not get as much done. In short, I emptied the tank, removed all hoses, drained the sump and 'harvested' the LR and bio-balls best I could. I took everything but the DT and the lights home and scrubbed. I took 35 gallons of water and both fish (yes, I found another, a clown, but he was lying on his side - doing better) home and set them up in my 37 temp QT tank. Here's a set of pics

Before:







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Old 03-28-2010, 09:59 PM   #10
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And now...






And the LR after a scrub-a-dub-dub



The fish have had their first 10% PWC in 2 years, which perked the clown up right away.

The LR I soaked in FW/prime in the tub to keep it from dying off, then scrubbed the surface and refilled/prime. Hopefully the salinity change won't kill it off. Tell me if I screwed the pooch. Gotta bleach spray it and rinse tomorrow so I'm sure it really doesn't matter that much.

I have about a 5g bucket of bio-balls that wouldn't fit in the tank. I figure saving 2/3 of them was good enough to maintain the bio colony.

'Nuff
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Old 03-29-2010, 03:50 AM   #11
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Nice job Floyd.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:37 PM   #12
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Well, another backbreaking, arm killing day. I took a half day off work so I could sand out some huge scratches. I think I forgot to mention that was part of the job. Well let me tell you, I completely under estimated the time involved. Someone had scrubbed the front with a mag float and got a piece of crushed coral under it, and put about 20 1 foot scratches in the inside of the front. Also, the corners are rounded and those somehow were scratched up too. I bought a scratch removal kit that came with 1800-8000 wet dry grit, then went to Home Depot and got 400 and 600. I started with 400, and since the scratches were so bad, I ended up doing the whole front and about 6 inches around the sides (visible viewing area). That took about an hour. Then I decided to just go to the 1800. Bad idea. After 1 hour + I had made little headway in removing the 400 grit pattern. I went back to the 600 after spending about 30 minutes working on hose/sump connections (until I ran out of teflon tape) and worked that for about another hour, and that went much better. I called several hardware stores and finally found a woodworking store that had 800, 1200, 1500, and 2000 grit. I wish I had found that store first!!!! I don't know if anyone here has ever had to remove scratches from acrylic, but it is a royal pain in the arms. My pecs, triceps, and biceps are going to be rock hard by the end of this week. I've easily got 4 hours in and I've barely removed the 400 grit pattern. I still have 800, 1200, 1500, 1800, 2000, 2400, 3200, and whatever else up to 8000 to go. So that's going to tie up the rest of this week I"m pretty sure, working 2 hours a day on it. I got a better sanding block for the grit up to 2000 so that will help.

Besides that, the fish are doing well, clown is no longer laying on his side half the time, and they're eating fine. Getting ready to do the next 10% PWC, then tomorrow if the KH is up enough, I'll bump it to 20% until I can do 50% (which may be after the 220 is full, I have all 30 of my 5g buckets and 2 44g BRUTE cans full of RODI water).

I've already had a few employees ask if I'm going to make it a reef tank. As long as the owner can swallow buying a $600 light fixture, I'll do it!
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:40 PM   #13
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Nice job Floyd. Good luck getting ripped!
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Old 03-30-2010, 06:25 PM   #14
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So I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as the sanding goes, and it's not a freight train! I finished the 600 grit pattern and started on the 800 grit. I got the first pass done and got about 50-60% of the 600 grit pattern removed, and got about 1/3 of the way through the second pass, which completely removed the 600 grit for what I got done. I'll either finish off the 800 grit job tonight after business slows down, or tomorrow afternoon. I don't think I'll get the tank filled by this weekend like I was hoping, but oh well. The big sanding block really made a difference. Unfortunately, it will only matter up to 2000 grit (3 grades away) and then I have to switch to the little 2x3 pieces at 2400, which sucks. Maybe I can find bigger pieces from the place I got the kit from...

Fish are doing great, chowed through a half a piece of seaweed in the last 24 hours. Gotta test KH then another PWC.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:23 PM   #15
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Awesome. Post a pic of your new guns once your done.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:50 PM   #16
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2+ more hours of sanding today. Got through the 800 grit pattern in about an hour, having to go around a few times here and there to get the 600 grit pattern completely out. I switched up to 1200 grit and spent the next hour and got about 75% of the 800 pattern out, and it's starting to get easier. The hardest part (or rather the most time consuming part) is still the rounded corners. I figure about another 30-45 minutes the next time I'm there and the 800 pattern should be gone, then it's to the 1500 or the 2000 grit. I'm thinking the 1500, and go lightly rather than the 2000 and spend 3x longer at it. Then 3200, 4800, 6000, and 8000...and I'm done. I pray...
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:50 PM   #17
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Oh yeah, KH on the 37 QT was up to 6.7 (from 4.something) before 5g PWC last night...
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:13 PM   #18
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Be careful though... Considering what they were living in, you may have Superfish.
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:49 AM   #19
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Definatly a possiblity. Maybe the high levels of nitrates and such mutated the fish like radiation does.
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Old 04-01-2010, 11:56 PM   #20
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Up to 7.5+ today. No sanding today or tomorrow. Saturday all day until 5pm. Hopefully it will be done and I can fill on Sunday.

Water drained out of the tub yesterday so no idea how long the LR was exposed, but it didn't dry out. I put one of the big rocks on the plug and it stayed full all day. Added a power head too.
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