My spring break experiment


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Premium Member
Ok, so while lurking around random reef forums tonight I came up with a wonderful idea - I'm going to start a pico reef. Ok, big deal, right? It's going to be lit by LEDs! I mess around with computers quite a bit, so I'm familiar with LEDs (my computer is modded, so it's got all kinds of cool stuff in it). They're very efficient, don't put out much heat, and have the potential to be as bright as MH when the right mcd and number are used. This tank is going to be a nice little experiment. Spring break starts next Friday, so I'll be picking up the tank on my way home from MU. I'll be sure to post pics of the whole process, but in the meantime check out these threads:

That's the thread about the LED lighting.

I'd like to do a reef wall like this, but with agrocrete...can anyone point me to a recipe for this stuff?

Also, what kind of powerheads/filters would you guys suggest for such a small tank? Thanks and you can look forward to lots of pics!

Thanks Dave :)

If you read through the LED thread it states that 200-300 10,000mcd LEDs = ~70 watts of MH. I'm hoping to be able to do some SPS in this will definately be a long ongoing experiment! I found a place to get 26000 mcd LEDs, so I think it'd be safe to assume that 50 of these 26k mcd LEDs would = ~70 watts MH. We'll just have to wait and see!
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Sounds like a nice project. I've browsed a few of those types of threads abou using LED's in the past and I've always wondered what the effect of wave length is as I believe LED's have a very narrow spectrumn output.
Something to think about is that if you make the wall out of agrocrete you need months of curing it or you will have big pH issues. And that's in a big tank. In a little tank a small problem will crash it out fast.
They do have a narrow spectrum output, but in the thread I linked to they talked about using different colors of LEDs (blue, UV, white) to get a desired color spectrum or at least change things up a bit. There is one post where the author compares two pictures of his tank: one with PC and the other with LED lighting. The difference is night and day! The LEDs make the corals fluoresce (sp?) and things really seem brighter.

I think the most aggravating part for me (I'm an impatient person) will be waiting for the aragocrete to cure! My bf, an ee major at UMR, will be soldering and working with the LED aspect of this experiment, so I don't have to deal with soldering 50+ leds together in a circuit and all that goes along with that.

I need some suggestions for good starter SPS. What I'd really like to have is some monti caps growing on the reef wall with maybe some monti digis growing in the upper portion. I'll have to see how bright it is (duh) before adding SPS...but I'm hoping that the calculations in the other thread were correct. I'll start with something easy and plentiful like GSP or Kenya tree just in case :)


DrBDC, what do you think I should do for my rock wall? Another option (don't know how viable this is) would be to silicon the rock to the back wall. I would really rather not use the foam unless I'm 100% certain it won't leech anything into the tank, and I don't want a ton of egg crate showing either.
I just received a PM from the author of the LED array thread. I asked him about coral growth, among other things, and he said he's got better growth under the LEDs than he did/does with PC lighting. Thought you guys might be interested to know that :)
Ok, so here's what I decided (for the moment anyway :p ):

I'm not going to do the reef wall thing. Instead I'll be painting the background black and I'd like to do black sand as well. If I end up having enough lighting for SPS I'm going to epoxy a monti cap frag or two to the back wall and see if I can't get them to grow outward...I think that'd look pretty cool.

None of my other saltwater tanks have black sand, and since I won't need very much of it to cover the bottom I was wondering if any of you guys had black sand that I could buy off of you. I'd probably only need a few cups of it, I'm not doing a DSB or anything. Please PM me if you've got some black sand for sale :)
i made my own agrocrete rocks with Portland Type I/II by Quikcrete, and crushed oyster shells. I used 4:1 ratio. They cured for ever though. I have not tried them in saltwater though. They have been in my FW tank for over 3 months with no problems.
Someone used that foam stuff to make a background??!!! Maybe you could look into that? Think it would cure faster, she put it on eggcrate and then planned on siliconing it in.

If I can find the thread I will put it in.....
I read through the forum a few months ago and at that point no one had any problems with the foam. It's a pretty cool idea and it can look very cool. We won't know the long term effects for awhile though.
It may help with Ca but you shouldn't rely solely on it. Check with a larger landscape supply place around you. You're down in Farmington now(?) Semco in Perryille will have all kinds of limestone pavers. You can also go through the wall stone areas and get some holey limestone rubble and epoxy it all together.
I'll be in Farmington over Spring Break, so yeah, I can get it then. Good idea MayoBoy :)

Another thing I'm looking for (prematurely I know, but I like to have all of my ducks in a row) is Monti frags, either digi or caps. I'll buy them obviously, but I don't know of anyone around here that has some or what colors for that matter. Thanks in advance :)
I've got a slight update for everyone tonight.

I made the grid for the LEDs, but I still have to drill the holes. I also ordered the MJ400 for flow.