If you thought that the lighting for Joe Yaiullo’s 20,000 gallon reef tank is eclectic, just wait until you get a load of the various filtration devices that are employed on this behemoth reef aquarium display. From filtration devices, to protein skimmers to various types of chemical medias, the 20K reef tank at Long Island Aquarium employs the whole gamut of different techniques to keep the water clean and clear, healthy and presentable.
By far the best and largest single device that is in use on the giant reef tank is a huge protein skimmer that Joe built himself, with very simple venturi injection protein skimming principles, same as what you might expect on a skimmer from nearly 20 years ago, except scaled up to humongous proportions. We don’t have exact specs on the multi horsepower pumps in use on this aquarium, or how much air draw this protein skimmer sucks in, but we did take a look at the collection cup and the giant heaping mound of skimmate is all we really need to know about this skimmer’s everyday performance.
Also employed on the largest reef tank, is a nice generous dose of O3 ozone, a technique which works particularly well with venturi injection skimmers. On this tank 1000mg of Ozone is added per hour by a 4-cell Eclipse4 O3 generator – one thing we liked about talking with Joe about his Eclipse 4 is the regular maintenance he performs on the O3 generating cells and how important it is to perform preventative maintenance on equipment like this and other devices to keep them in peak working order. The Ozone really helps to clear the aquarium water, especially with such a heavy fish load and Joe can tell if the ozone is not getting into his skimmer properly as the tank will begin to show a yellow discoloration to the water within three days.
You might be surprised to learn that this is not the end of the 20K reef’s protein-skimmer related filtration duties. As if the homebuilt venturi and the heavy duty ozone administration wasn’t enough, there’s also another protein skimmer in use, a large dual 6ft ETS downdraft skimmer which is there for redundancy, and also to serve as a more dedicated vodka dosing location. Of course the addition of Vodka to the tank, somewhere around 250ml per day, is experienced throughout the entire aquarium but by using both the super dry skimming of venturi, and the wetter skimming of downdraft skimming, Joe can really suck out the wastes accumulated by bacteria feeding on the liquid carbon from the Vodka ethanol.
The Vodka / liquid carbon dosing regime is only one of the many techniques that Joe uses to combat nutrients in this very big reef tank.The heavy lifting of removing phosphate is performed by generous additions of Lanthanum Chloride, a common chemical additives for use in swimming pools that is excellent at binding and precipitating PO4.
But the use of LaCl can only reduce PO4 levels so far, and this is where phosphate removing medias can get the phosphate levels down even further. In addition to a typical media reactor using copious amounts of Phosban GFO, there is another dedicated media reactor by Deltec, a 6ft tower specially designed for fluidizing media which is currently using a high-capacity phosphate absorbing resin by Blue Life USA.
The final aspect of the ‘filtration’ used in this ginormous reef aquarium mesocosm is a home-built dual-chambver calcium reactor that is powered by two blueline pumps, one for each chamber. The Heavy duty calcium reactor design is mighty useful for keeping up the alkalinity, but Joe also doses gallons of kalkwasser to the reef tank as well. The kalkwasser is mixed with a little bit of vinegar to add in the calcium dissolution and to buffer the extremely high pH of fully saturated calcium hydroxide.