My Shrimp Rack as of 7/7/07
by Ryan Wood Overview
The rack houses ( 6 ) 10 Gallon tanks as well one 29 Gallon Tank. The sixth tank is yet to be set up. Each tank has a sponge filter, the 29 Gallon has a sponge filter as well as a Rena XP1. I am using ADA Amazonia soil in four of the 10 Gallon tanks as well as in the 29 Gallon Tank. One of the 10 Gallon tanks is using inert gravel. The 6th 10 Gallon tank will be installed soon and will also have ADA Amazonia Soil. I prefer the ADA Amazonia because it lowers the water hardness as well as the PH. It also has some buffering capabilities as well. The shrimp seem to really like the ADA.
Since I live in a small condo unit I decided to put the rack inside my walk-in closet. This is actually perfect for me for several reasons including noise control, climate control, etc. It is a small closet so using a dehumidifier will be easier and more controlled. The quarters may be cramped when I am working on the tanks, but I created solutions to get around it. I left roughly 24" of height for the second shelf, 17" of height for shelves 3 and 4, and shelf 5 (the top) has about 3ft to the ceiling.
I purchased the rack at Home Depot. It was roughly $75. Unfortunately it uses particle board as the shelf bottoms. The particle board also is not reliable enough for me to be comfortable with (2) 10g tanks per shelf. The structural integrity of the particle board will also drop dramatically once water soaks into it. I purchased a 4'x8' 3/4" thick piece of Oak Hardwood Ply at home depot and had them cut it in four chapters. Worked out beautifully given the perfect dimensions i needed (2'x4'). The Oak Ply is extremely strong. It is doing great. I have kept my eye on the plywood almost every day since setup and have yet to see any bowing whatsoever. I made sure to try to put most of the weight around the edges of the board and try to take as much stress off the center. Weight distribution is critical when setting this up.
Storage Rack from Home Depot
Setup Complete Water Changes
I decided to set up an auto fill/flush system. The system I have is very unsophisticated. It only requires flipping a switch for the draining and opening/closing a valve to refill with freshwater. All I have to do is hold a tube to either drain or refill a tank. The main reason for setting up this fill/flush system is so that I don't have to manually change the water in 8 tanks every week. I also wanted to be able to filter the water as well. I thought briefly about using R/O filtration but I opted against it for several reasons: (a) I want the minerals to stay in the water (b) the Aquasoil will bring the ph and hardness down already (c) I dont feel it is really necessary. I purchased a simple GE Home Water Filter from Home Depot and use 3/8" Poly Tubing to run the freshwater line. I set the filter up in the adjacent bathroom and ran the poly through the wall into the shrimp room. Since the water is already pressurized from the tap I simply have a valve on the end of the tubing to open and close when filling the tanks. It is extremely simple and saves A LOT of time.
To drain the tanks I purchased a SEN N700GA Submersible/Inline Water Pump. I attached 1/2" Vinyl Tubing and ran the tubing into the shower drain. This pump is very powerful and can drain 5 gallons of water in about two minutes. It is so fast that I have to be careful that I am not draining too much out of the tank. No need to prime this pump, the sheer power of it just inhales the water through dry tubing. When using this type of pump you cannot have too much head length of tubing going to the pump, meaning you cannot have 15 feet of tubing going from the tanks into the pump. The pumps capacity/speed is decreased the futher distance is has to pump the water from the source.
So I drain the water by turning on the pump and holding the end of the tube in the tank, then I refill by opening a valve and refilling. A great perk about the draining system is that while I am pumping the water out of the tanks I can at the same time clean the snail/shrimp feces off of the sponge as well on the tank floor. I have to be very careful not to suck any shrimp into the tube while I am cleaning this way. The best way I found to clean the sponge is to tap it with the tube and let the waste float off of it, then suck up the waste as it is free floating. Putting the suction directly on the sponge can damage it and suck any unseen shrimp at the same time. Cleaning the floor is easy as well. You just look at the area you are going to clean before you vacuum it, then vacuum holding the end of the tube about an inch from the floor. You dont want to suck up any gravel, you just want to get the waste which is very lightweight and easily vacuumed.
Fill and Drain Tubes
Water Filter in adjacent Bathroom
Water Tap Underneath Bathroom Sink
Water Pump with 1/2" Vinyl Tubing attached.
Water Drain Lighting
I am using a disassembled desk lamp from home depot for each tank, except for the tanks on the top shelf which will have hoods instead. This I found was the PERFECT solution to my problem, which was lack of space above each tank. The lamps come attached with a metal arm that is adjustable, sort of like a backhoe. I removed the electrical wiring from the arm, threw out the arm, kept the base of the lamp, and attached the light to the above plywood using industrial velcro meant for outdoor use. Removing the electrical wiring from the arm takes some time. To remove the arm it takes 5-10 minutes per lamp since there are a lot of screws and you will have to detach the wiring from the base in order to run the wire out of the arm. The lamps cost about $15 a piece and come with a 14W CF Lamp. The lighting is perfect and the moss does very well in each tank. Also, the heat from the lamps is very minimal. The lamps are very lightweight and the velcro holds them perfectly without a problem. I was actually surprised at myself that I found such an excellent solution to the lighting/lack of space issue. I must have run back and forth to Home Depot trying different lighting solutions. This, in my opinion, is the best solution if you are using a similar setup. It allows you to get away with less space, and best of all....... you can remove the lamps since they are attached with velcro =)
Lamp Base after Arm removed. Sitting behind the tank.
Velcro Affixed to Lamp and Plywood Filtration
I currently have 5 Elite Single Sponge Filters for each tank except one 10 Gallon Tank. I will soon replace the AC50 HOB Filter on that single tank with another sponge filter. I am very happy that I decided to use sponge filters because of the minimal space required, ease of cleaning, very low cost, and for the safety of the shrimp. The 5 sponge filters currently running are connected to one Dolphin 5 Star Air Pump. The Dolphin Five Star Pump has four outlets and is inaudible. I like the sponge filters, however I may end up getting another pump since I am unhappy with the waterflow in the tanks. The Dolphin Pump is connected to a battery backup. If the electricity goes out, the battery backup will keep the sponges working. I have not calculated the power consumption of the dolphin pump versus the life of the battery in order to know how long it will keep the pump running. Due to the fact that I am in a hurricane zone I may get a bigger battery backup. The Rena XP1 is running on the 29 Gallon to give it more filtration and there is also a sponge filter in there as well in case the power goes out.
Elite Single Sponge Filter
Dolphin 5 Star Air Pump
Battery Backup Climate Control
Humidity, room temperature, and tank temperature are extremely important parameters. It is also more of an issue for me due to the lack of space in the shrimp room. The walk-in closet is a very compact space without an air vent which makes climate control a big priority. If I did nothing to assist in climate control then the tank water would evaporate rapidly, the room would be a sauna, and the tank temperature would be inhabitable for the shrimp. I already tried to not do anything and I quickly realized that something had to be done.
Right now I have a simple solution to the heat/humidity issue. I purchased four fans, as seen in the picture, to help circulate air, reduce heat from the lamps, and reduce tank temperature. These fans are very powerful and do a great job despite their compact size. The tank temperatures are kept around 74F during the day (lights on), and 72F at night. When I am not at home I keep the door open and let the air into the bedroom. I also keep my bedroom door open at the same time. This helps a lot to bring in cold dry air and lowers the humidity significantly. Since the lighting is off when I am home at night (I am rarely at home during the day) I am able to close the shrimp room door to prevent the noise from keeping me awake and still not have humidity issues in the room overnight. Soon I will vent the air inside of the shrimp room into the bathroom using a fan and air duct instead of keeping the bedroom door open. For now I just keep the fans running constantly throughout the day and night.
Fans Circulating the Air I will update my Shrimp Rack Page as more time progresses. I hope you enjoyed it.
More Pictures of the Rack....