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Setting up a Monaco style aquarium
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2007.04.14(Sat)22:09    Post subject: Setting up a Monaco style aquarium Reply with quote

Here's a little rundown of a 60G. Jaubert/Monaco style aquarium I am currently setting up. I won't go into the theory behind this method of filtration right now (you can google Jaubert/Monaco saltwater aquarium filtration for details) as I first want to document the actual physical set up of the system. After that I will get into the theory perhaps. For anyone interested I am basing this set up on the design model presented by Julian Sprung.

A while ago I envisioned a tank that would look something like the drawing below (originally planned as a 140G. seahorse tank). The tank volume has changed but I hope that the depth of my 60G. will accommodate a Monaco system and allow me to finally create this tank..



Here's the undrilled tank 48"L X 12"W X 21"D. It is an awkward size for a conventional reef (too tall and skinny) but the depth becomes an asset in this circumstance.



Using 1/2" PVC I created a plenum space support that will hold an eggcrate (suspended ceiling light diffusing panel) base.



Onto the support I placed the eggcrate base covered with fiberglass window screen material (to keep the substrate from falling through).



Next I add 5 -7cm of crushed coral substrate. Lucky for me I have a lot of this stuff sitting around!



On top of this layer I add a second sheet of fiberglass window screen. This will keep burrowing fauna from disturbing the substrate below it.



On top of the screen I add another 5-7cm of crushed coral bringing the total depth to at least 10cm. In my case I have added a lot more than that to accommodate the rolling contours I wish to create.
Time to fill er up!

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SLACkra
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Location: Perth, Western Australia, Australia

PostPosted: 2007.04.14(Sat)23:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting dale. couple things I think should be discussed are the plenum and the rolling contours. plenums to my understanding have been found to be rather a waste of space. as the majority of the bacteria live on the surface area of things in the tank instead of in the water. Also won't the rolling contours eventually smooth out and create a flat sand bed?

However with marine there is definatly more than one way to skin a cat, I am interested with how this system goes.

atm reading through:
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/sept2002/feature.htm

An issue with this hobby is its hard who to believe. Dr Ron Shimek says
Quote:
There is absolutely no need for any subsurface sand structure such as a "plenum" or shelf. In fact such structures will reduce the sediment volume that is available for the bacteria.

in his article on deep sand beds. While this article http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/sept2002/feature.htm says that plenums are useful.

Andrew
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Psyfalcon
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Joined: 14 Feb 2003
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: 2007.04.15(Sun)0:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Get to the theory already.. why should this be better than a normal DSB? The gravel is supposed to support all the nitrification too, without the help of pumps, filters, ect?

It certainly seems good for a lagoon tank.

I REALLY like the second layer of grating though... a cichlid proof denitrifier? Some work might be needed to keep the gravel clean though.
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2007.04.15(Sun)20:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a link to an overview by Julian Sprung. By reading it one will get a feel for the function, benefits and limitations of the system.
http://www.advancedaquarist.com/issues/sept2002/feature.htm
(Yes, it is the same link that Andrew offers above!).

To answer some Q's:

I don't know if the plenum is a waste of time or not. I am doing it as suggested in Sprung and Delbeeks text so I can eliminate any variables. If I didn't add the plenum and encountered problems with denitrification down the road I would never be able to determine if that act was a contributing factor otherwise. In any case it can't hurt and it did offer a nice DIY project.

The substrate size is 3-5mm crushed coral - not sand (as recommended in the overview). It is very stable and the contours should stay put as long as there are no large sand sifters present.

Using Dr. Shimeks observations in this regard (along with many other experts in the field) can be confusing for many people when taken out of context. Of course I have complete respect for his knowledge and experience but he is very biased (in a good way) towards deep sandbeds and their functions. The processes of a deep sandbed however, are NOT the same as a Monaco system so the observations regarding one may not necessarily apply to the other. When regarding the viewpoints of even the most knowledgeable hobbyists one must always put their opinions and observations into context.

I don't know if this set up is better than a normal DSB. Better is a very subjective term. Better: at processing waste, at growing pods, aesthetically, at denitrifying, economically, for bottom dwellers, high bioloads, certain species?
My goal is to create a very simple, low tech/maintenance, light bio load tank. Perhaps a DSB might also achieve those goals but that is someone elses project I'm afraid.

Yes the substrate (and the microorganisms contained within) acts as the primary nirtification/denitrification filter. Waste is broken down (nitrified) in the top aerobic layer and denitrified in the lower anaerobic layer/plenum.

A Monaco style tank can be as simple as the proper substrate set up, little to no LR and a simple airstone bubbler. However, the limitations are:
Extended maturation time
The need for seeding a variety of microorganisms
Obeying the light bioload rule.
Breaching any of these protocols would probably result in tank failure. In my case I am rotating about 100lb's of mature LR in and out of the tank to seed the substrate and I am using two small Hydor powerheads to create a whirlpool effect for circulation.

Here's a 75G. holding tank with some of the LR (bartered for labour tearing down a 125G. reef)



And the display (geez, I think I better work on a background soon).

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Psyfalcon
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Joined: 14 Feb 2003
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: 2007.04.16(Mon)19:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't seen this, what would be an appropriate bioload for this sort of tank?

Compared to Live Rock based tanks, although those typically use a protein skimmer, and the basic ones here do not require that.

Also, without the forced water movement of a ugf setup, it should be lower still?
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dale
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Joined: 10 Jan 2005
Location: Abbotsford Canada

PostPosted: 2007.04.16(Mon)21:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure what the actual limit would be (one would have to slowly load a mature set up and monitor the water parameters until tank stabilility began to suffer) but it would be lower than all of the active filtration methods you've suggested.

The Jaubert/Monaco method in its pure form is a passive form of filtration. Waste is decomposed and nitrified in the aerobic zone by the micro organisms in the substrate and further denitrified by bacteria in the anaerobic zone/plenum. The waste/molecule movement is by micro organisms (top zone) and diffusion (lower zone) only. The bioload must not exceed the speed at which this process can occur or excess nitrates will begin to accumulate. One can reduce the load on the substrate by running a skimmer or other forms of active filtration but in this case I am attempting a very low tech tank.
Here's a shot of the tank now. I am continuing to rotate LR in and out and eventually will settle for two or three pieces only. The carbon is just for the set up stage and I will pull it and the two powerheads down the road. Water movement will be by one or two airstones. The lighting is by a Coralife 2X28W T-5 strip light (10,000K and actinic).
For inhabitants I plan on some soft corals, inverts and pipefish.


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