New Gyre Pump is Amazing!

I wanted another wave pump for the 75. I wanted more dynamic flow patterns in the tank to keep growth patterns more symmetrical. I would have considered another Gyre 130, but they don’t make the small one anymore (even though most people who use it don’t have it set higher than 50%, even on a 75!). the other wavemaker/controllable options were so expensive it just didn’t feel right. I finally stumbled upon the Jebao/Jecod CP-40 on Amazon. They are basically a knockoff Gyre pump. I was very hesitant because this one was $85 or so whereas the Gyre were well over $200. I was convinced it would prove to be a bust, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway. If I can find some good, cheap options for you guys, I want to.

When I got it in, I accidentally had it upside down when I first started it. Its default is 100% flow. So that end of the tank instantly became a black cloud of sand being blasted all over. In fact, after I got the pump turned off, I found sand on clams over halfway across the tank! So the flow is good. I turned the power down to 50% and set the wave duration as short as possible. I instantly got great, surging waves action throughout the entire tank. I never got this result with the Gyre. I am sure I could have tweaked it more and gotten it, but it was much easier and more effective with this pump.

I actually prefer the cheapo controller over the Gyre’s. The Gyre’s looks nicer, but it is much more of a hassle to program. With the cheapo, I can just turn the dial to adjust wave time, or press a button to adjust flow. That’s it. With the Gyre, you have to enter settings mode, and then go through each setting available. In addition, with the Gyre controller, you can’t just set the wave time. You have to make an adjustment and then the lights go on and off to show you the amount of time. So if it is set to two minutes, you have to stare at it for two minutes waiting for it to change.

Coral Frag Grow Rack Added to the Reef System

I always wanted to have some space to grow out frags in one of the smaller tanks on the saltwater system. I tried covering the bottom of a 10 gallon with tile frag plugs, but a lot of debris collected between the frag tiles. It was also difficult to get good flow (or I was just too lazy to try). I either had too much in one spot, not enough throughout the tank, or both.

I ended up moving all the rock in the 40breeder to each end, adding some damsels, and installing a PVC and eggcrate frag rack in the middle of that tank. This seems to be the best so far. I still need to get a better pump, but I think this will work. (Update: I got a small Jebao pump and it is working very well.)

The idea is that when I buy a frag of something, it will first go to this tank to grow out. Once it is large enough, I will frag it into a few pieces. One will go in the display, one will be held to grow again, and another one or two will be sold to make back the money spent on the original frag. If this works out well, I may be willing to spend some money on higher end corals with the intention of actually growing them for ‘profit’. I doubt I will ever make back all the money spent on this system, but anything to offset this hobby helps.

coral frag growout tank

The Bristlenose Plecoes in the 300 Gallon are Breeding!

I noticed a few weeks ago that there are baby bristlenose plecoes in the 300! I think there are at least two batches in there now. They seem to be settling in well enough, some are already significantly larger than the second batch and happily munching down on algae in the open. Given the water changes and feeding, I’m not surprised. If anything, I’m surprised I haven’t seen breeding in the checkerboard barbs, rosy barbs, or the scissortail rasboras. With all the live plants, any babies would stand a much better chance of survival.

How to breed bristlenose plecoes

Upgraded the Sump on the 300 Gallon

I have always had issues with the filtration on the 300 gallon. For some reason, the pond bead filter just doesn’t seem to perform the way it should. The water has always had clarity issues from particulates. This has been extra frustrating because I am so used to working with canisters and have never had to deal with inadequate mechanical filtration.

When the water first entered the sump, it entered a section about 5″ wide or so with a foam block in the bottom that the water had to pass through to get to the K2 tumbling media section. The problem was that the foam block would become saturated pretty quickly and then the water would bypass the foam block (within days).

I ended up removing the first baffle and installing a plastic 3-drawer organizer raised up by PVC pipes. I cut the bottom out of two of the drawers and put eggcrate down. This way, the media is held up by the eggcrate, but can still drain very easily. I skipped using the third drawer just because the water level in the sump is too high and it would be submerged.

I am now experimenting with the best filter medias. I started with just some polyester quilt batting, but this was clogged up in about a day. I have also tried a dual density filter pad, but the finer section was too fine and also clogged up very quickly. Currently, I have some course foam in there that is approximately the same pore size as the foam block I had before.

I think the basic design I originally had works well in general, but on a 300-gallon tank with a lot of community fish and some very large fancy goldfish, one foam block simply wasn’t enough. Perhaps a wider section with three or so foam blocks laid side by side would work while not clogging in less than a week.


This worked well, but simply wasn’t enough to handle a 300-gallon tank. They clogged way too fast and the only media that was coarse enough to not clog too quickly, was too coarse and simply didn’t filter enough. The same concept on a much larger scale would probably work very well., as would 4-6 filter socks.

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The quilt batting after 24 hours:
Best filter media for freshwater sump

Published Again!

PUBLISHED AGAIN!!! The November 2016 issue of Practical Fishkeeping has my article on how Hole in the Head (HITH) and Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE) are not the same, their causes, and treatments.

Make Your Own Live Rock

If you want some very specifically shaped live rock and can’t seem to find the right pieces anywhere then making your own may be your best option. Obviously you will still need to get some actual live rock to seed any rock that doesn’t start as live rock. If making your own rock sounds like the option you are looking for here is a great article on it:

We Shouldn’t Buy Banggai Cardinals Anymore

This is a very sad article. Banggai cardinals are endangered because the hobby’s demand is insatiable. This is not a case of habitat destruction or climate change. This is directly the aquarium industry’s fault. The demand for banggai cardinals is more than the wild and captive breeding combined can keep up with. We are making this species extinct. Even if you buy captive bred that just means there are that many fewer non-wild fish available and someone else will be buying the wild caught ones, so you are still part of the problem. I won’t be buying any more. The only people buying fish in this situation should be people ready and actually capable of breeding them. Other than that, until the entire supply is captive bred, we shouldn’t be buying them.

Click here to read the full article.

Carbon Causes HLLE in Saltwater

This is a very good and important read about carbon directly causing HLLE is saltwater. Keep in mind this is saltwater, not freshwater. In freshwater there is HLLE (not caused by pathogens) and HITH (caused by pathogens). Although carbon has been known to cause HLLE in freshwater this is very rare. Water quality and food quality are almost always the cause of HLLE in freshwater.

Click here to read the article.

75 Gallon Reef Added to Saltwater System

I wanted a reef tank again and already had my saltwater system running, although I wasn’t doing much with it. I added a light to one of the 10 gallons and got a few frags but it wasn’t enough. I had an extra 75 sitting around (the one that was supposed to be the sump on my 300, but Marineland doesn’t know how to make stands that fit proper sized tanks in them) so I used that.

aquarium articles how to setup saltwater fish tankOriginally the saltwater system consisted of a 40breeder, four 10 gallons, and a 40breeder sump. The skimmer is an AquaC EV-240 spray injection protein skimmer. The refugium light is an LED from eBay for growing ‘indoor plants’ so the color is perfect for photosynthesis and it is very intense.

To prep the 75 I drilled the drains (2x 1″) and return (3/4″), painted the back black, installed the bulkheads, and siliconed in a couple overflows. This is by far my favorite type of overflow. You drill it so it is where you want and the exact size you need. But instead of an ugly strainer or open PVC elbow, you get the nice clean look of a built-in overflow.

aquarium background painted drilled bulkheads

aquarium fish tank overflow box

I built the stand. It includes a rack to hang lights. This design would work perfectly if it needed to house the sump too, I just happened to not need that since it is on the system.

Aquarium fish tank stand homemade diy 2x4

aquarium fish tank light rack

aquarium wood stand diy homemade

build aquarium stand

The paint is an indoor/outdoor latex so it should be relatively durable when exposed to saltwater.

Aquarium stand with light rack

saltwater fish tank setup

Plumbing went almost perfectly. The angled part of the drain is a tad too short so I almost couldn’t get the drain pipe into the sump. I also had to turn the return bulkhead so that the tubing wasn’t pressed up against the drain pipe.

plumbing aquarium fish tank

saltwater aquarium system setup

aquarium setup filtration system

plumb aquarium sump filter

reef refugium sump aquarium

The flow from the sump was actually too strong. The water level in the tank was too high. Fortunately, the Gyre pump is more than enough flow for the entire tank so I was able to cut back the flow from the sump without issues.

I used the same black sand I used on my last reef (Estes Marine Sand), so the black on black look should look really good and help all the fish and corals really stand out.

how to setup aquarium fish tank reef

The good thing is I already had the main saltwater system running and all the live rock, so I was able to start stocking immediately.


  • Gyre XF130
  • Rio 32HF Return Pump
  • Estes Marine Sand
  • MarsAqua LEDs from eBay
  • Aqueon Pro Heaters
  • AquaC EV-240 Spray Injection Protein Skimmer
  • eBay LED “Indoor Plant” Refugium Light

Stock so far:

  • Xenia
  • Green Rhodactis Mushrooms
  • Lavender Birdsnest
  • Green Birdsnest
  • Green on Blue Lillian’s Montipora
  • Derasa Clam
  • Rose Bubble Tip Anemone
  • Yellow Tang
  • 2x Banggai Cardinal
  • 3x Lyretail Anthias
  • 2x Purple Firefish
  • Royal Gramma
  • Fire Shrimp
  • 2x Cleaner Shrimp

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reef coral fish tank clams

More updates to come!