The following pictures show the progress of my mangrove/seagrass and reef tank setup for the 2017/2018 school year. This is my first year teaching at Southwest Florida Christian Academy (SFCA) and my goal with this setup is to create a mangrove/seagrass tank (40 gallon) that is integrated with a reef tank (55 gallon) via a shared sump. I usually build refugiums for my reef tanks, but I actually want the living mangroves and seagrasses in the 40 gallon to act as a refugium instead.
A few disclaimers:
Yes, I know the tanks are right in front of windows, and yes, I know that's not ideal for an aquarium. Due to the layout of the lab/classroom, this wall was my only choice. I plan to keep the blinds permanently closed for the reef tank, but I actually want the window open for the mangrove and seagrass tank. I really want to keep things simple by using the natural sunlight that comes in from this south-facing wall. I know this will mean I'll be fighting nuisance algae 24/7, but I think the end result will be worth it.
I know there is a TON of substrate and mud in the seagrass tank. That's by design. The online research I've done for seagrass tanks has indicated that a 3-4 inch mud layer is necessary. It seems to be doing the trick, because the mangroves and seagrasses are growing.
I did not dig up or uproot the seagrass. I went to the public fishing pier at Bokeelia during low tide and picked up any rhizomes or plugs that had washed up on shore naturally. Some ultimately died but most survived and seem to be doing fine.
In the finished sump pic, one of the glass partitions broke. It was too thin. That has since been remedied.
I depend solely on donated tanks & equipment. The few items in my setup that were bought by SFCA (or previous schools) include the Bubble Magus skimmer, DC pump, and the Apex Junior controller. Thanks to the silicone seals in the 55 gallon reef tank failing a few weeks ago, the admin has agreed to purchase the Apex leak detection and ATO kits when next year's budget comes out ;-). My 55 gallon was successfully drained & resealed so I can get back to figuring out the lighting solution. Once I have the lights installed, I'll begin stocking it with fish & corals. The mangrove and seagrass tank will initially only have janitor inverts. My goal is to have seahorses in that tank, so any other fish will have to be compatible with those.
This system is only a few months old and it's far from finished, so I'll keep updating as time goes on. If anyone has any constructive criticism, tips, suggestions, etc. please let me know.