Ok, So today is finally the day. Today is the day that the 150 gallon saltwater reef project becomes a reality. After many weeks of ordering, waiting, paying, returning, reordering, repaying, returning, reordering and repaying today everything is ready to be put together and it officially becomes a reef, my own little piece of the ocean, right her in my own living room.
What, you don't think this is a big deal? Surely you don't think that you can just throw this oceanic wonder together with a shoestring budget, some water from the faucet and a few chlorine drops. Please let me enlighten you a little on the real world of saltwater reef keeping.
Steps to Building Your Reef: The first thing you will need to do is to get out your wallet, (or your husband's wallet in my case). There are so many things that you simply must have to make the little salty occupants of this personal piece of reef not notice that they have actually left the ocean that I am unsure where to begin.
Let me see, well, you will obviously need a very large glass box. In the case a glass box six foot long and two foot front to back and eighteen inches long, 150 gallons to be exact. The large glass box will need something to sit on so you will also have to get a stand and since this enormous box is going to become the focal point of whatever room you place it in (because it is HUGE) you probably will want to have your stand custom built and made to match all the rest of your furniture.
Now that the very large glass box has something to sit on it will also need a top because for some reason I guess even in the sea world the "grass always looks greener" somewhere else and without a top your sea creatures might jump totally out of their large glass box to their death and that sort of defeats the purpose of having this thing, so you will also need to have a nice custom top canopy made.
This canopy piece will also house your little pets very own personal solar system and so next you will have to "let there be lights". But, not just any old aquarium lights, no you must have this huge fixture mounted under the canopy that has three large metal halide bulbs, four very large blue actinic fixtures and ten "lunar" lights and ten “morning lights”, around 750 watts of light all total. This will help your little swimmers and corally thingys to know when to sleep and when to wake up because you are going to also have several timers which will turn on the sun, turn it off and turn the moon on every day just like God intended.
Now that may not seem like much but we are just getting started. After you have the very large glass box and the stand and canopy and lights then you will still have many things to get. You will need two or three heaters, several power heads to circulate all this water, and somewhere around 150 pounds of "live sand" and 250 pounds of "live rocks". Live in this case means that there are probably a number of strange and unusual things living in the sand and rocks. Some of them you will see immediately upon starting up the system and many you may never see, but they will be there and they will come out sometimes at night when you are sleeping and stalk the other inhabitants in the large glass box.
Okay, well on with the list. Besides the aforementioned stuff you will need all manner of chemicals (you know to make the sea critters water seem NATURAL), also there will be a sort of chemistry set, I have one side of a very large walk in closet devoted to a chemistry lab of sorts, you must also have a UV sterilizer to kill any unwanted bacteria that come from only God knows where, a RO/DI unit to make sea water because heaven forbid you put water in this large box that isn't totally devoid of any type of anything but wet stuff and then you will also need a somewhat smaller version of the large version underneath this setup so that you will be able to grow all sorts of algaes, copepods and other microscopic entities to supply your wet pet with other nutrients.
Oh yes and you must set this up, which takes approximately 8 hours for plumbing and everything. It has to set for at least a couple of weeks before you can begin to put in whatever very exotic and expensive inhabitants you have built the whole thing for.
Last but certainly not least in this initial undertaking, (if you are smart and want to protect this MAJOR MAJOR investment) you will have some type of generator system installed in your home because all of your work and money will be for nothing if the power were to go out for more than an hour or so.
But I must say, after all this I am so excited to be getting this process underway. It has been many months in the planning and I know it will all be worth it in the end. I'll keep you updated.