Post image for Kevin’s Custom Marine Aquarium Build: The Tear Down

Kevin’s Custom Marine Aquarium Build: The Tear Down

by Kevin Kohen on July 22, 2010

Well some projects take a bit longer than expected, and this holds true for the removal of my 120 gallon mixed reef aquarium and installation of a custom built 180 gallon aquarium in my office! Finally, after many months of waiting, the prefect day was set aside for the tear down of my 5-year-old 120 gallon. Having done this more times than I would like to admit over the last twenty five years, one can learn a great deal from mistakes made in the past. I was determined this time to have the current project go down without a hitch. Organization and planning the tear down is the key to ensure the speedy and safe removal of the animals. The very first step in the process was to determine a plan of action followed by the compilation of a list of items that could or would be utilized during the tear down so things would go smoothly and quickly.  

Some of these necessities that I utilized during the project included:
12 Towels – Water spills are inevitable.
4 – Five gallon buckets for the removal of the substrate.
4 – Eight gallon plastic flats to hold corals and inverts removed from the aquarium.
2 – Utility carts with wheels to transfer the corals that are held in the plastic flats so they can be rolled away without breaking one’s back.
1 – Fifty-five gallon trash can on wheels- to place the base rock into so it could be transferred easily.
1 – Twenty-five foot drain hose to physically drain the aquarium water.
50 gallons of pre-mixed seawater to keep the aquarium running for as long as possible during the removal of the corals.
1 – Hack saw to dismantle any PVC piping that cannot be removed by a PVC union fitting.
2 Pairs- channel lock pliers to disassemble true union ball valves or unions.
1- Set- frag snipers to cut apart any smaller corals.
1 – Ladder.
1 – Foot Stool.

And last but not least – a few warm bodies to help physically move the aquarium once it is empty!

The Aquarium Before (left)

The Aquarium Before (left)

After opening up the entire top of the canopy and removing the 8 bulb T5 lighting system, it was off to the races! It’s pretty amazing to see how this 5- year-old aquarium had taken off growth wise, as the corals were very lush and dense. Utilizing a T5 lighting system on an aquarium with SPS corals demands that the light be installed very close to the water surface, so I was never really able to view how large most of these corals actually were. Viewing them from the top down however gave me a much better idea of what I was working with.

Top left of tank

Top left of tank

Top right of tank

Top right of tank

Big colony from the aquarium

Big colony from the aquarium

Above is one of the larger SPS coral colonies that occupied a substantial amount of room on the left side of the aquarium. This coral is called Neon Green Birdsnest – Seriatopora guttatus, which started as a 1-inch coral fragment. The colony had been unintentionally fragged over the years when performing maintenance as it’s inevitable to break off small branches (or even large chunks!) when siphoning and cleaning coralline algae from the glass. If you look closely, you can see how these corals naturally grow over the years. It’s perfectly normal for old growth at the bottom, which receives no flow or light to die off, but it will support the new growth at the upper portions of the colony.

Another HUGE colony from the aquarium

Another HUGE colony from the aquarium

Above is another HUGE colony from the aquarium. This monster occupied the entire right hand side of the display and is actually five species of corals that have all grown together forming one large mass. The species include: Orange and Green Birdsnest Coral – Seriatopora caliendrum, Pink Thin Branch Birdsnest Coral – Seriatopora hystrix, Pink and Green Birdsnest Coral – Seriatopora stellata, Yellow Scroll Coral – Turbinaria reniformis, and Miami Orchid Staghorn Coral – Acropora formosa.

Finally almost empty!

Finally almost empty!

After removing all of the corals and invertebrates, it was time to move onto the live rock and fishes which were out of the aquarium in no time! Total tear down time from start to finish was a little over four hours, which just goes to prove with proper planning and being organized, having all of the appropriate equipment out and ready to go, tearing an aquarium down is not that big of a project!

Stay tuned for the next segment with the NEW aquarium build! Coming soon and you won’t believe your eyes!
Share

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:


About the author: Kevin earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Wright State University, and is an avid marine life photographer, lifelong aquarist, and marine fish enthusiast. He has worked in the aquarium industry since 1983. He launched the LiveAquaria.com web site in 2000 and designed and oversaw the installation of the Drs. Foster and Smith Aquaculture Coral and Marine Life Facility, which opened in July of 2005. Kevin is currently the Director of LiveAquaria at Drs. Foster and Smith. See more articles by Kevin Kohen.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz M. July 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

I’m surprised nobody’s commented on your corals yet. I’m not a fish person by any means, but those corals are beautiful!

blake rainey February 11, 2011 at 5:37 am

wow that is very impressive, keep up the good work. maybe one day ill have an aquarium as beautiful as yours

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: