Saltwater Build - Realistic Tide Pool

Kput

Exodon
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2020
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I know this isn't necessarily a SW forum.. and this tank won't necessarily house monsters.. but I figured some of you guys might appreciate this build. :)


I'm acquiring two 100 gallon oval shaped stock tanks to use in moving my display. I've decided to turn them into my own little tide pool.
It will be stocked with numerous inverts, mollusks, anenomes, starfish, urchins, and other animals often found in tide pools, I will try my best to closely mimic the high and low tides, temperatures, and light / heat found in natural tide pools so this should be an interesting build! Mostly starting this thread now so I can document my thoughts and progress as I think through some of these problems, and try and get some help figuring out if my thoughts make sense.


So far, I've decided I will stack the two tanks ontop of eachother, with the top acting as my "display", and the bottom of the sump. I plan to run two return pumps, and two overflows, with each of the overflows at a different height, this way I can shut off, or ramp down, one of the pumps, lowering the water level to the second overflow, and simulating "low tide". In theroy, I think I can have the two pumps running at different speeds, so when one shuts off there isn't enough flow to fill to the top overflow.
The sump will house heaters, output for my chiller, the return pumps, etc. I plan to use a rubbermaid tote with holes drilled in it, and lots of filter floss for my mechanical filtration.
Sandy substrate bottom, lots of rock stacked on the sides (probably all to one side, leaving the other open). Photos are of the tanks, and of the temp patterns I might try and follow. I'll have a couple large Eheim heaters, and a chiller to help me manage everything. Will likely use Inkbird controllers to manage temps.

I do live in Nebraska, so collecting some of the more uncommon species found in tide pools might be difficult, but I will do my best!



Here's a few issues I need to try and sort through while I'm planning this build..

While having two overflows, and two return pumps give me the high and low tide effects I'm going for?

How can I simulate "waves"? The tank is round, so mounting a couple MP40's to the side and running a mode won't be an option. Can I rig up a couples gyres to work on a rounded surface? If so, how?

How can I simulate the intense light and algae growth found in tidal pools? A lot of the species are herbivores, so it will be important to grow as much natural algae as possible. I'm thinking a large T8 setup and a long light setup, just to blast the hell out of everything.

What types of creatures should go in? Figure out a stocking list.

What type of lid? I need something to keep my tank inhabitants from escaping.

How can I screen my overflows so I'm not sucking livestock down into the sump? The tank has 2" bulkheads already, so I may stick with those for at least one of the drain and feed lines, potentially 1" for the other?

What other issues can I potentially run into here? What am I missing?

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Kput

Exodon
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2020
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Alright, well even though I'm a bit away from actually getting rolling on this, I was bored today so decided to build the stand. I debated a while on how I could make this work, to be able to have access to the sump, but still to be able to see inside the top display, as the tanks are 26" high. I finally decided the best way would be to stagger the tanks, and have the sump stick out behind the stand so I can access the skimmer, etc.
This is a budget build now, so after spending $50 on 2x4's and screws, here we are.. The hardest part was building the stand to support the weight without a back brace on the center, or wood on the bottom, I think this might be overbuilt, but that's not a bad thing.

My plans so far, are to have two overflows, rougly 8" under eachother, they will both be 2" piping, connected to ball valves, before they tee into the same 2.5" return line. They will drop into the sump, I plan on picking up a couple 5 gallon buckets, cutting the bottom out of one and tossing a "grit guard" commonly seen in car detailing in the bottom to act as a skimmer, I will fill the buckter with filter floss, for my DIY filter cup! Next up will be some live rock, followed by a skimmer. I will have two, or 3 mag drives. Two will be hooked up to two seperate returns into the tank, one will be on a timer and set up to where when it turns off, the water level drops down to the second overflow, simulating "low-tide". The third mag drive, or potentially one of the others tee'd off, will run to a surge tank (carson bucket style), above the tank. I will probably shoot for around 30 gallons, and a smaller pump to power it so I can get a nice surge every 10~ minutes or so.
I will also figure out a way to mount a gyre in the tank, and run it on pulse mode fairly strongly to imitate tide.

A few issues I will need to address.. the skimmer. Due to the high and low tides, and the surge tank, it will be hard to have a skimmer dialed in properly. I am thinking of setting up an external style skimmer (just setting it in the sump to get it out of the way) and having a pump feed it so I never have to worry about the water level issue. Second will be an auto-top off.. I think what I may have to do, is attempt to calculate the evaporation per day, and just automatically have a pump replace fresh water throughout the day...

I've found out from others that Basalt is a common rock in most tide pools, so I will try and source this for my rock scape. I'd also like to have a sand bed around 6", as I'd really like a pair of blue spotted jawfish. In the wild, they need deep sand beds, and also like to hover over their burrows. They are also used to temperature variations that I intend to try and imitate.

Lighting will be T8 fixtures, possibly with reflectors. I want a high, daylight style, light blasting the tank as it does in nature. I want to try and grow several macros, algaes, etc. all found in tide pools, and I'd love to get a lot of natural algae growth to support a large number of grazers and herbivores...


So far, the most expensive part of this venture will likely be the light fixtures and the mag drives.. Aside from that, livestock will likely be pricey as well as some of the more uncommon species will have to be shipped in from collecters.

So it begins!

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DRUKENMUNKY

Plecostomus
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Dec 25, 2018
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U can simplify the high tide low tide set up with a simple bell siphon....i would set up a low bulk head with constant return at the lowest level u want it reach and then set up a very small pump that returns at the top of tub......set the height of the bell siphon to the high tide max level and the lowest level at the lowtide. I actually would just use 1 pump for everything and t tap the return with a drip line filling the top. The water will fill to the top then automatically drain down like a tide to the lowest point. Thats the closest ubcan get imo......it would be difficult to simulate a incoming and outgoing tide . Youtube bell siphon ...its used in aquponics often to oxygenate plants roots.
 

TheWolfman

Goliath Tigerfish
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Sep 5, 2010
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No idea if this would work or not, but what if you had two stock tanks side by side with bulkheads at the top connecting the two together. Then have a pump in each tank on a timer to transfer water back and forth. The bulkheads at the top would prevent any overflows on to the floor. Ypu would need to have independent filtration on each tank though.
 
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Kput

Exodon
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2020
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U can simplify the high tide low tide set up with a simple bell siphon....i would set up a low bulk head with constant return at the lowest level u want it reach and then set up a very small pump that returns at the top of tub......set the height of the bell siphon to the high tide max level and the lowest level at the lowtide. I actually would just use 1 pump for everything and t tap the return with a drip line filling the top. The water will fill to the top then automatically drain down like a tide to the lowest point. Thats the closest ubcan get imo......it would be difficult to simulate a incoming and outgoing tide . Youtube bell siphon ...its used in aquponics often to oxygenate plants roots.
I like the bell siphon idea, but I'm only wanting the low tide scenario 4~ times a day, probably in 90 minute intervals. The bell siphon would be a bit more constant.

No idea if this would work or not, but what if you had two stock tanks side by side with bulkheads at the top connecting the two together. Then have a pump in each tank on a timer to transfer water back and forth. The bulkheads at the top would prevent any overflows on to the floor. Ypu would need to have independent filtration on each tank though.
Unfortuantely space doesn't dictate two of them side by side, plus the stand is already built :p
 

DRUKENMUNKY

Plecostomus
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Dec 25, 2018
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If u wantb4 times a day unwould just have figure out how fast to fill the water back in ....u can find drippers for irrigation that drip a certain number of gallons per hour
 
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fishdance

Polypterus
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Jan 30, 2007
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If you want to replicate natural conditions as much as possible, I would place one tub outside and connect water flow with pipes. Can't beat natural sunlight and algae for live food, water quality, fish health.

You would have to shut off the outside tub during winter if it gets cold there, depending on what species you opt for..
 

Kput

Exodon
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2020
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If you want to replicate natural conditions as much as possible, I would place one tub outside and connect water flow with pipes. Can't beat natural sunlight and algae for live food, water quality, fish health.

You would have to shut off the outside tub during winter if it gets cold there, depending on what species you opt for..
Not a great option for me set-up wise unfortunately. I also live in Nebraska, the outside tank would have to be shut off 8 months out of the year lol.
I do plan on having some intense daylight bulbs to simulate the sunlight blasting down on everything, hoping to get some good algae growth for all the herbivores I'd like to keep.
 

Kput

Exodon
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2020
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any fish or only inverts?
I have a few different ideas for some fish.
I'd like to try and track down some tide-pool native fish, sculpins, leaping blenny, etc. but understand these might be more difficult to find, especially since you can't collect from tide pools.
I'd really like to have a couple blue-spotted jawfish as well. They aren't exactly tide-pool native, but in nature they handle temp swings very well, and they enjoy hovering outside of their burrows so it could be a cool idea.

I still have a bit of research to do on the livestock itself, but I'll figure something out.
 
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