Articles > Marine Articles > Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Marine Water Chemistry and Skimmers
Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Marine Water Chemistry and Skimmers
Published by Goldnugget on 21/04/2009 (33173 reads)

A Practical Guide to your First Orca Nano Marine Aquarium

Part 2 – Filtration, The Cycle and Basic Marine Water Chemistry

If you’ve followed the instructions in part 1 you should now have your tank pretty much ready for live rock.

For this article you will need (you should have most of this already):

  • Live Rock (~10-15kg for the Orca 550 and 5-7.5kg for the Orca 450)
  • Test Kits/Refractometer/Thermometer
  • Filter Wool/Floss
  • Phosphate Absorbing Filtration Media
  • Carbon Filtration Media
  • Coral/Aragonite Sand or Live Sand (Enough for depth of 1-2” of the floor surface area of your chosen tank)

Filtration, What Is Live Rock?

Live rock is an amazing resource. In this tank, and other Berlin system tanks like it, it will take on numerous roles; it will be our primary biological filtration media, our décor, a structural support for a plethora of sessile invertebrates and a complex network of burrows and homes for the creatures that hitch a ride from the sea to your tank!

As in any biological filter the aim is to provide maximum surface area for bacterial colonisation, this is where live rock excels as a filter media. The rock is highly porous with a truly enormous surface area for nitrogen fixing bacteria to colonise, but, it is within the rock where the magic truly happens. Live rock often contains channels, tunnels and cavities deep within it, these cavities are shut away from the rapid flow created by the waves in the sea or powerheads in your tank. In these shelters anaerobic conditions develop and support de-nitrifying bacteria. As the nitrifying bacteria on the oxygen rich surface convert Ammonia to Nitrite and then to Nitrate the anaerobic de-nitrifying bacteria continue to convert this Nitrate into Nitrogen which escapes harmlessly at the surface of the water. In effect each piece of rock is capable, in the right conditions, of supporting the entirety of the Nitrogen Cycle on it and within it, which makes this material a truly valuable resource for any marine tank.

Buying Your Live Rock

Buying your live rock is perhaps one of the most exciting and expensive stages in the development of your marine tank. Because of this it is more important than ever that you make sound choices with regards to selection and transportation of your live rock.

Some things to consider are:

  • Where the rock comes from/environmental impact (aquaculture over wild harvest)
  • How the rock will fit together/scape within your tank
  • Obvious pests
  • Price (expect to pay on average anywhere between £7.50 to £15 per kilo)
  • ‘Cured’ or ‘uncured’?

You should source ‘cured’ rock wherever possible. You may see ‘uncured’ rocks at a fraction of the price but don’t be tempted. Curing live rock is a process of maturation whereby the rock, after transportation from harvest to retailer, is placed in large vats for a number of months, any critters within the rock which died during transport will decay and produce Ammonia, the rock in effect is cycled and matured prior to sale. In this time, significant populations of reef critters and pods living in the rock will die. If you buy uncured rock this process will happen in your tank, your tank will endure a heavy cycle and significant life will be lost reducing the overall biological activity and future potential of the rock. All rock is cured at some point but much better that this is done in large industrial vats with a water volume capable of better diluting the toxins produced, than in the confines of your tank. If you truly wish to see the full potential of your live rock over the coming years then choose cured rock.

Always ask where your rock comes from, this will give you an inclination as to the quality, variety of life you will encounter on it and the nature of its harvest. Indonesian, Fijian and Tongan rock are common in the hobby (in fact the majority of live rock is harvested in the South Seas), Indonesian is reputed to be, on average, significantly more porous than Fijian, Tongan is solid, dense and stronger than the aforementioned choices. Other varieties are available but always research the nature and location of harvest. For a more ethically sound choice try to get hold of aqua-cultured live rock. This is bare, volcanic rock which has been placed in the sea, allowed to mature and later harvested, this process relieves the harmful and destructive effects of coral reef rock harvesting, expect to pay a premium for this ‘man made’ live rock.

So you’ve assessed where the rock comes from and whether it is cured or uncured, if that checks out then it’s time to take a look at the pieces of rock on offer!

Look out for obvious pests like Aiptasia (see Fig 1), Majano Anemones, large worms and pest shrimp/crabs. Also keep an eye open for beneficial freebie corals and other invertebrates. Most live rock will come with a variety of polyps and corals tucked away in crevices which will grow once placed in your tank. Don’t be afraid to take a book with common invertebrates and pests listed with pictures, once introduced to a tank many pests can be incredibly difficult to control or remove. Many pests can be hard to spot so don’t fret too much about spotting everything, a cursory glance over each piece for obvious pests would be an adequate/reasonable precaution against their introduction.

aiptasiaFIG 1) (Source)

Now consider how each piece of rock will fit together and have an idea before you buy of what your aqua-scape will look like. Get a good mix of base rock pieces (pieces with a flat edge to rest on the egg crating at the bottom of your tank, ie good building blocks) and interesting shapes/feature pieces, and/or particularly porous pieces. To save on money some keepers build the base of the display with dead ‘Ocean Rock’. This rock will eventually be colonised and become live over a number of months and years and so whilst the benefit is only seen long term it can represent a significant saving in larger tanks.

NB. – Remember to buy some of your rock as rubble (small chunks of rock about an inch square). 1kg of rubble in the Orca 550 and .5kg in the Orca 450 should be adequate. This will be used as additional biological filtration in the high flow rear chambers. A simple filter mesh bag will suffice for storage of this rubble in the rear chambers, these should be available from any good marine/freshwater stockist.

Getting Your Live Rock Home

A good marine stockist should provide you with some tubs and saltwater to transport your live rock in. It is very important that wherever possible the rock is kept underwater to avoid die off. Transport should ideally be less than an hour and the rock should be placed in a stable, pre-tested (for pH, temp and specific gravity) tank as soon as you get it home.

Do what you can to aqua-scape under water, and ensure that the rock is solid and not prone to tumble. Experienced aquarists use marine safe rock putty to bond the rocks together to avoid nasty accidents and smashed tanks! Remember to place a base layer of egg crating under the rock to provide stability and protect the pane of glass which constitutes the floor of the tank.

Once the rock is in position you can place your sand around it, ensuring that you cover the egg crating. Layer the sand to a depth of approximately 2 inches.

NBYou should now start running a lighting cycle, aim for somewhere between 8 and 10 hours a day.

A considerable amount of the life in many marine tanks and that found on your new live rock is photosynthetic; in addition there are creatures which feed on these photosynthetic organisms. Provide light to ensure that these creatures and the creatures they support thrive.

Additional Chemical, Mechanical and Biological Filtration

You are now ready to add additional filtration into the rear chambers of your tank. You should have some phosphate absorption media, some Carbon, some filter floss/wool and your live rock rubble in a filter bag.

Here is a reminder of what the chamber layout looks like:

Orca Chambers and Flow Direction

In the Orca 550 – Firstly cut a piece of filter floss to a size which enables it to run the depth of chamber 3 with a little overlap into chamber 2. Now peg the overlap to the divider between chambers 2 and 3 and press the wool flat against the dividing wall. You may need to weight the wool so that it stays weighted towards the bottom of the chamber (a plastic aquarium feeding clip is significant enough to keep the floss weighted to the bottom of the chamber and is inert so will not pose a risk to water quality). All the overflow slots in the dividing wall should now be covered with filter wool which will help to trap fine particulate matter. This media should be changed weekly; you may find that changing it daily for the first week of your setup is required (due to fine sand particles etc. after introduction of rock and substrate).

Now place the live rock rubble in the bottom of chamber 2, it should sink easily. On top of this place your phosphate absorption media, flatten this out in the filter bag provided with it so that it resembles a pancake (this media should be replaced once exhausted, regular testing will indicate when this is due), ensure the water cannot flow around it. Lastly place your Carbon (replace monthly) on top.

In the Orca 450 – Firstly cut a piece of filter floss to a size which enables it to run the depth of chamber 4 with a little overlap into chamber 3. Now peg the overlap to the divider between chambers 4 and 3 and press the wool flat against the dividing wall. You may need to weight the wool so that it stays weighted towards the bottom of the chamber (a plastic aquarium feeding clip is significant enough to keep the floss weighted to the bottom of the chamber and is inert so will not pose a risk to water quality). All the overflow slots in the dividing wall should now be covered with filter wool which will help to trap fine particulate matter. This media should be changed weekly; you may find that changing it daily for the first week of your setup is required.

Now place the live rock rubble in the bottom of chamber 3, it should sink easily. On top of this place your phosphate absorption media, flatten this out in the filter bag provided with it so that it resembles a pancake (this media should be replaced once exhausted, regular testing will indicate when this is due), ensure the water cannot flow around it. Lastly place your Carbon (replace monthly) on top.

The Cycle - Ammonia (NH3), Nitrite (NO2), Nitrate (NO3)

During transit, some live rock die off will have occurred, this is largely unavoidable, transit precautions are merely a method of reducing overall die off to maintain long term potential. This die off will inevitably create an Ammonia (NH3) spike. This NH3 spike will trigger the cycle. How long this takes will largely depend on how much die off occurred. It is possible, though unlikely, that die off is so minimal that a cycle will not occur and in effect the tank will be ‘instantly cycled’ with addition of the rock. It is much more likely however that you will soon see the NH3 spike mentioned above and a routine cycle spanning on average 1-2 months will occur (only routine testing will tell either way). The compounds you will encounter are detailed below. Only when you consistently read 0 for NH3 and NO2 can you claim to have completed the cycle. Throughout the cycle, best practice is to maintain a series of small water changes to minimise build up of NH3 and NO2 which could cause further live rock die off.

NB. – The attainment of an instant cycle comes with its own risks. Any destabilisation of the bacterial colonies in or on the live rock can leave inherent weaknesses in the biological processing abilities of the rock and system as a whole. In addition, some strains of bacteria, which we will discuss later, can by nature, be pathogenic. Damage to rock and subsequent exposure of these bacteria to the water column can present a risk to prematurely introduced livestock.

Any cycle, or claimed ‘instant cycle’ should be tried and tested. Ability to reduce Ammonia should be seen and proven before livestock are placed in the tank.

Any new marine tank should be left to mature for at least a month before contemplating introduction of any livestock, including invertebrate clean up crew.

All marine keepers should understand the significance of NH3 in marine aquaria. For mature aquaria presence of readable NH3 is (or rather should) be a rare or non-existent occurrence outside of the initial cycle.

NH3 is a caustic and highly toxic compound of Nitrogen and Hydrogen (1 Nitrogen atom, 3 Hydrogen atoms hence NH3), it is extremely dangerous to the majority of life found in the seas and can kill quickly or leave irreparable damage even in small amounts. Despite this, it remains one of the most important compounds on the planet as one part of what we call the Nitrogen Cycle, the process by which Nitrogen is captured and processed into usable forms by living organisms. It is the underdeveloped state of this cycle that causes the greatest of problems in domestic aquaria (The Nitrogen Cycle is very rarely absent all together. In new setups the absence of Nitrogenous compounds keep bacterial levels low, as the colony is supplied with more ‘food’ it can grow and support the bio load of more complex organisms).

The process starts with Nitrogen (N), one of the most common elements on the planet, we place it into the food chain when we feed our fish (Nitrogen is a fundamental building block in Protein), or when a creature dies and decays. Metabolism of proteins creates Urea, of which one of the main constituents is NH3 (NH3 is also produced by decomposers, bacteria and fungi). It is the action of Nitrifying bacteria (Nitrosomonas - note differing strains for different stages of the cycle) which convert this NH3 in to Nitrite (NO2). This reaction requires Oxygen (O2) as shown below.

NH3 + 3/2 O2  →   NO2-  +  H+   +  H2O

NO2 is slightly less toxic than NH3. In freshwater aquaria it constitutes a significant risk to the health of your livestock. NO2 converts Haemoglobin (the substance responsible for transporting Oxygen in the blood stream) into Methemoglobin which is incapable of carrying Oxygen. Obviously this presents a significant risk to living organisms’ dependant on the use of haemoglobin for respiration. In Marine aquaria the presence of salt inhibits this conversion, leaving the presence of NO2 indicative of poor water quality rather than a significant risk by itself. (However, ‘poor water quality’ poses associated risks and should be dealt with appropriately). Nitrifying bacteria (Nitrobacter) are now responsible for a further transition, converting the NO2 into Nitrate (NO3). The process of oxidation (addition of O2) continues in the reaction as shown below.

NO2-   +  ½ O2  →   NO3-

NO3 is significantly less toxic than NH3 and NO2, and in small amounts is relatively harmless to marine life. Somewhere under 10ppm in Reef aquaria (Fish and Inverts) and anywhere below 20ppm in Fish only or FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock) systems. Ideally however a reading of 0ppm or close is the optimum and certainly achievable in many systems. In the sea the presence of NO3 is negligible and so in the confines of our marine tanks we should try to simulate this level as best we can. Whilst higher levels are acceptable and in many cases harmless we should endeavour to provide the best we can and the nearest environment to the sea as possible. Frequent partial water changes are used to keep NO3 at a minimum and top up essential minerals.

In some marine tanks NO3 can be kept to a minimum by de-nitrifying bacteria (e.g. Pseudomonas and Clostridium). These bacteria can only do this in anaerobic conditions (areas starved of O2, as opposed to the earlier reactions dependant on O2). The majority of aquaria simply do not have large anaerobic pockets as this is seen as undesirable, and certainly can cause problems in some circumstances (waste products produced as a result of anaerobic respiration can be hazardous, Hydrogen Sulphate (HSO4) for example). In many live rock based systems however bacteria like this can thrive (in the depths of the rock and sand beds). These bacteria work to release the captured Nitrogen (from the NO3) and distribute it back in to the atmosphere, thus completing the Nitrogen cycle. The process of de-nitrification does not replace the need for regular water changes.

NB.–In addition to the harmful by-products of microbial metabolism as highlighted above, many of the bacterial strains involved in Nitrogen fixation can present a pathogenic risk to livestock. Pseudomonas for example often presents with higher frequency in bottom dwelling species which spend their time foraging in anaerobic patches of substrate or areas conducive to Nitrogen fixing bacterial species.

So, whilst anaerobic areas and the bacterial strains therein are beneficial to nitrogenous waste levels, there is a degree of risk in their overabundance.

The key therefore to limiting risk to livestock but maintaining efficiency of biological filtration is to stay sharp on environmental separation, keeping areas of high pathogenic risk (ie those areas directly exposed to the water column, eg. surface of substrate, surface of rockwork etc) well oxygenated and maintaining a degree of separation between anaerobic and aerobic niches within the aquarium.

It is now easy to see why such emphasis is placed on adequate flow and minimised stagnancy in aquaria.

Testing daily will allow you to track the levels of the above mentioned compounds. Once NH3 and NO2 are 0 consistently for at least two weeks (or at least a month after setup, whichever is the latest) you are ready to run one final water change to reduce NO3. Your now in a position to start adding your clean up crew (discussed in part 3), but first we need to take a look at some other water chemistry principles and the important role the skimmer will soon play in this setup.

Basic Water Chemistry

In this section I’ll try to briefly summarise what each of your test kits measure for and what the tests mean in a general sense. How each of these components interact with each other (and interact they do) is beyond the remit of this article and deserves an advanced water chemistry article of its own. The information below should be enough to give you a solid understanding of the basics.

For this we shall look at pH, Carbonate Hardness/Alkalinity, Calcium (Ca), Magnesium and Phosphate. These are the basic tests you should be running at least weekly in addition to the tests outlined in ‘The Cycle’ section above and frequent Specific Gravity measures as outlined in Part 1 of this article.


pH (Potential/Power of Hydrogen) measures the acidity or basicity (sometimes confusingly referred to as Alkalinity) of a substance on a scale of -1 (Acid) to 14 (Base), Neutral is widely accepted as being close to 7 on this scale. The pH scale is logarithmic; a reading of 5 is ten times more basic than 4 and 100 times more basic than a reading of 3 and so on.

The optimum pH range for marine aquaria is 8.1 to 8.4; reef aquaria tend to benefit from stability at the top end of this range. This is largely to do with the assumed mineral content of the water at a higher pH.

pH and ‘Alkalinity’ as discussed later (not to be confused with basicity) are involved in a somewhat complex relationship, movement of the former is often the direct reaction to movement of the latter.


The term Alkalinity should not be confused with the same term relating to position on the pH scale (referred to as basicity to avoid confusion). The Alkalinity of a substance does not in fact refer to its basicity or position on the pH scale, rather it refers to a sum of its parts working to make the solution more basic (higher pH). For example, a pH reading will detail the effect on neutral of all alkalis and acids in the solution, whereas an Alkalinity measure will detail only the substances working to make the solution more basic. For example a solution of pH 8 may in fact contain a strong acid, only to be countered by an even stronger alkali which pushes the pH up to 8. So pH doesn’t tell you at a glance how strong the alkali is merely the end result of its balance with acids.

Alkalinity is often referred to as Carbonate Hardness (Kh), the relevance of this term is due to the prevalence of Carbonate and Bicarbonate as constituents of Alkalinity (these substances being the most common alkalis contributing to water hardness). Other substances (such as Hydroxide, Silicate and Sulfide) can contribute to Alkalinity so a measure of Kh may not necessarily reflect total Alkalinity.

NB - Convenience and cost dictate that many hobby kits test only Carbonate hardness rather than total Alkalinity, however they usually succeed in giving an accurate enough picture for our needs.

So in summary Alkalinity refers to all the ‘ingredients’ of a solution working to increase basicity, adding an acid to this solution will lower the basicity NOT the Alkalinity.

Kh in seawater is around the 7dKh mark, in a marine tank a reading of 7-12dKh is perfectly acceptable.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium (Ca) is one of the most common constituent elements of sea water, representing anywhere between 10 and 15% of total solid matter contained within it.

Corals and other invertebrates harness Calcium and Carbonates to construct their skeletons, shells and homes making this element particularly important to reef systems, though its relationship with Kh/Alkalinity and the subsequent knock on effects on pH should be acknowledged and respected in any marine aquarium.

Optimum range for Ca is anywhere between 400ppm and 450ppm. Levels should be balanced appropriately with those of Magnesium and Kh/Alkalinity (within their respective optimum ranges).

NBMany marine aquarists frequently dose Ca as commercial salt brands can often be somewhat low in Ca concentration. Other keepers dose due to dense coral stocking/high Ca take up etc. It is important that Ca is not dosed to the neglect of Magnesium and/or Kh/Alkalinity. A complete dosing regimen should be implemented when required and balance between these three measures maintained.

Ensure that whenever an additive is used that you, a) can test for it, and b) understand its effect on the complete water chemistry balance in your tank.

If in doubt ask an experienced marine aquarist before using any water chemistry additives.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium most commonly piques the interest of marine aquarists due to its relationship with Kh/Alkalinity and Calcium levels (though in truth it has a large number of biological and chemical applications), it is this relationship which tends to have the greatest impact in marine aquaria.

Magnesium allows the retention by seawater of significantly higher levels of Carbonate and Calcium ions than would otherwise be possible, allowing for greater pH stability. Both Carbonate and Calcium will bond with Magnesium thus preventing the bonding of Calcium and Carbonate together and the subsequent precipitation out of solution. Magnesium is also known to attach to formed Calcium Carbonate structures to prevent further precipitation onto, or dissolution of, the structure in question.

Magnesium should be maintained at levels of at least 3 times that of Calcium (when Calcium is within optimum ranges of 400-450ppm), i.e. 1200-1350ppm is ideal.

Phosphate (PO4)

Phosphate is relatively harmless to marine life in low concentrations, it is in fact one of the most important nutrients for the proliferation of a huge range of algal and plant life, it’s absence can be a critical limiting factor in plant/algal growth.

Although posing very little threat by itself, high levels of PO4 can spur rampant algal growth, not only is this usually highly unsightly but can pose a significant threat to sessile invertebrates (the algae out-competes for nutrients and smothers the surface of corals/clams etc).

PO4 is introduced to marine tanks in a number of ways, through feeding, un-filtered tap water, poor quality salt and substrates, and poor quality additives such as pH and Kh buffers. Limit at the source by using RO (Reverse Osmosis) water rather than tap, thoroughly washing live/frozen foods in RO water before feeding, and buying the best additives you can afford specifically those which state PO4 free/low. You should also actively target PO4 reduction in the tank at all times as it is almost impossible to stop introduction altogether. This can be done in a number of ways, with both chemical and biological filtration (turf/algae scrubbers for example).

You should test for PO4 regularly, the optimal reading for PO4 is 0ppm, anything up to 0.03ppm would be acceptable but may be cause for action, anything over this requires attention.

Now run your first battery of tests and make note of them. You should at a bare minimum log each week’s results in a note book. Preferably plot them on some kind of chart or graph in order to recognise trends and calculate accurate doses of additives to counter deficits/imbalances.

The Skimmer, and Preparing the Tank for Livestock

Ok, by now you should have your tank pretty much ready for livestock. You’ve filled it with water, added your live rock, allowed the tank to completely cycle/mature and made note of your water readings and adjusted chemistry with water changes as required. If you’ve followed the instructions from part 1 of this article then the only thing that should still be un-plugged/un-used is the skimmer. You’re probably wondering why right about now?

Implementation of a Protein Skimmer, along with the Live Rock and circulation pumps, constitutes one of the key principles of Berlin filtration. Protein skimmers remove the un-desirable wastes and by-products of biological metabolism (remember earlier how we discussed that Proteins could be broken down into Nitrogenous wastes/compounds) which would otherwise build to hazardous levels if allowed to persist.

Skimmers work by streaming microscopic bubbles through the water column (an air pump creates bubbles which flow up through the body of the skimmer), as these bubbles move through the water they attain a charge. The charge, whether positive or negative, attracts a range of undesirable substances depending on the charge contained within them (opposites attract). The bubble then travels through the neck of the collection cup and bursts as it reaches the surface, the effluent carried with it is deposited within the collection cup and routinely removed by the aquarist.

Marine Skimmer

So why have I not been using this so far?! Protein skimming is only effective if there are proteins and other wastes there to skim, these wastes will only be present when there are complex organisms such as fish and invertebrates living in your tank. Using a skimmer without these wastes present will often result in overflowing micro bubbles which permeate the entire tank.

Switch the skimmer on when you have added your first livestock (discussed in part 3), the skimmer will be a little noisy for a month or so, allow some ‘bedding in’ time before you see notable results in skimmate production (remove any skimmate weekly).

Hopefully you should now have a basic understanding of water chemistry and the filtration techniques you will employ over the lifespan of your marine setup. In addition you should now find yourself in a position to contemplate addition of clean up crew invertebrates, fish and your first corals. All of this we’ll discuss in part 3!

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  • Just can't stay away

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

looking good. wish i'd had this when setting up my 450.

one comment. not sure about your chamber numbers for the 450. you say to put live rock etc in chamber 3 which is where the heater is. is that correct.



  • Home away from home

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

If chamber 3 contains the heater in your tank use chamber 1 or 4 for live rock rubble and other filtration media. My fault for talking to too many modded 450 owners for my research! Seems to be commonplace to move the heater to free up chamber 3.

The chamber setups are recommendations only, each individual setup and the variable filtration medias used would make it virtually impossible to state exactly where to put what where everytime. But so long as the media is in there and exposed to flow and positioned sensibly then it shouldn't matter too much which chamber holds what.

Thanks for the feedback though, worth clearing up!

  • Not too shy to talk

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...


Just settin up my 550. Had a 450 and there not big enough But this was a few years ago!! Just a quickie about the live rock rubble. I ditched the ceramics and you say 1kg for 550 and 5kg for 450. Have you got this the wrong way round or do i just need 1kg. Thanx for any advice an the article is great. Cheers


  • Marine  Adviser

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

hi karen, it does say 0.5kg for the 0rca 450 (i had to look closley lol!), so the 1kg for the orca 550 is correct

  • Not too shy to talk

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Hi thanx for that. Diddnt see the . B4 the 5 LOL. All salted up now so give it a couple of days then get my filtration sorted with my live rock.



  • Not too shy to talk

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Ihave a prob with my skimmer on my 550 it keeps falling appart. As soon as you try and take the cup out it comes appart from the bottom so it ends up in 2 pieces. you only have 2 move it slightly!! Is this a common problem? My 450 never did this but u end up modyfying them anyway LOL This article is great by the way waiting for part 3

Cheers Karen

  • Home away from home

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

I've never had this problem, so I looked at my 550 stock skimmer last night. It's tough to take apart and certainly wouldn't fall apart by itself. I take it you're talking about the grey base of the skimmer where the pump is housed?

Have you every stripped the skimmer down? If not it sounds like a fault and I would contact your retailer to check if it's still in guarantee.

  • Just popping in

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Hi there,

I cant believe my luck. I bought one of these tanks last year for my Husband and it has been sitting empty ever since not least due to us being complete beginners and the instructions just were not good! I am so thrilled to have found your article.

Thanks again!!

ps. Are you still going to do a part 3?

  • Home away from home

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Lol, glad it's of use to you!

Yeah, still planning to do part 3, just been a little 'sidetracked' of late!

  • Not too shy to talk

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Have the orca 450. I moved my heater to chamber 4 so I could put the lr rubble in chamber 3. However in my tank there are no slots between 3 & 4. The water enters 4 at the bottom. I have put my wool ontop of the carbon pad in chamber 3 and used an off cut of the carbon filter to hold the wool in place so it is just below the lowest entry point of the water from chamber 2. It seems to work now that i have replaced the stock skimmer with a 308 - no microbubles to attach to the wool & make it float to the top.
Thanks for the guide

  • Just popping in

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...


Many thanks for part 1 and 2 but when is part 3 coming??


  • Just popping in

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

hi i wish i,d seen this article earlier b4 i set up my orca 450 up last year but it will come in handy for my next tank which is gonna be the orca 550 i can,t wait ta get it.
one thing bothers me though i took all my media out of my tank and put live rock in 2 0f my chambers but not any kind of filter wool and i,ve had my orca nearly a year now and had no serious probz wiv it so shud i change it ta wat the guide says and change it all or wud it do more harm than good? also i changed my pump frm the original 1 that was in there which only did 750l per hr i think to 1 that does 1000l per hr is that good or not? and when i do get my 550 how long have i got to cycle it for and how do i transfer my fish over to it without harmin them in a way?sorry for all the ques i just wanna get this right

  • Home away from home

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

No, it's much better to upgrade the return pump if possible, the Orca pumps supplied as standard are a little weak.

Filter wool isn't a neccesity but helps to remove suspended particlate matter from the water as it moves through the filter chambers = Cleaner water.

How long you cycle for depends on the rock you buy and how well you transport it. Expect anything from 1-3 months until you start thinking about adding livestock. Of course you need to monitor water levels frequently.

Set the old tank up, add some live rock to the 550 leaving space for what is in your 450. Allow the new rock to mature and check for ammonia spikes, once it is cycled add your mature rock and fish at the same time. You'll need to strip the rock out of the old tank to catch the fish. The strategy you use to catch the fish largely depends on what fish you have.

Hope that helps

  • Just popping in

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

yes it does help thank you but i,m abit confused about the part wen u say set up the old tank etc when my tank will already running anyway as i have the fish in it and the part about the live rock do i add from my old tank or do i just buy new rock to put in my new tank when i get it? in the meantime could u give me any tips on how ta improve my 450 and make it better!

  • Webmaster

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

You might be better to start a thread in the Nano Marine forum if you have a lot of questions..

  • Just popping in

 Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

sorry i didn,t know u cud that thanx !

  • Just popping in

 Help Needed! Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live Rock, Basic Mari...

Hi All, First post on FK!

First off, I am brand new to marine keeping.. this article is fantastic as I have bought the Boyu 450 and it doesn't have any manual to speak of...

However, I have only just come across this article and was wondering how crucial scrapping the plastic balls and ceramic noodles is, as I have already cycled my tank for 8 weeks and my first residents were added 4 days ago, one False Percula Clown and 5 Turbo's (One was belly up, err, foot up this morning??). I have two fire shrimp on order to be collected tomorrow but my concern is that with the current setup things will be more difficult than they need to be...

Any help or opinions are welcome...

  • Webmaster

 Re: Help Needed! Re: Nano Setup Part 2 - Filtration, Live...

Hi Baumchi,

Better to post questions in the forum.. more people will see it..

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