65 gal Seahorse Build by MMM

matchmakersmagic

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Good morning ya'll!

I'm "new" here, former lurker (for years it seems) who finally bit the bullet and joined officially. :)

Was big time into SH's about 13, 14 years ago. This was before there were loads of captive bred options like these days. H. barbouri was the most common WC species available local to me and they quickly stole my heart. Fast forward some many years and lost all my SH's in the post hurricane aftermath and quit the hobby with a broken heart. I did dabble in reefing, bettas, FW puffers, planted tanks, etc over the years until now. I'm finally ready to get going again.

I've decided to do this tank slow and simple with not too many bells and whistles. I have a habit of quickly over doing things and regretting it.

So I picked up a used 65 gallon, stand and canopy for $100 but decided I wanted new glass.
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Ordered a new 65, cleaned up an did some minor repairs on the stand and canopy and got the new tank up on the stand in the living room.
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Got my other goodies, mostly from Amazon and BRS, and gave the furkid lots of reasons to bark like mad at the "scary package bringers". :D
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Starting details:

65 gal Megaflo Tank
Trigger Systems Crystal 30 sump
70ish lbs Fiji Pink sand by Caribsea
28lbs Liferock shapes
20lbs Liferock branch
2x Xport No3 bricks
MarinePure plate
Simplicity 120DC skimmer (rated for up to 120 gal, smaller than I wanted but fit my limited space)
Jebao CP 90 cross flow wave maker
Jebao DCS 7000 return (supposedly 1850 gph)
Relassy 300W LED light (supposedly 300W but I have no par meter and dont care enough to rent one as this will only be a low-medium light coral and macro seahorse tank and it fits in my canopy with good coverage *shrug*)

No, I dont have all the newest releases, no the equipment isnt all the most expensive brands. I don't believe in sinking more money than is necessary in this hobby on "names" and am using bargin brands I'm familiar with & used (and trusted) over the years. Sometimes it ends up being replaced with more expensive equipment if something fails but usually it's all pretty much the same in the end for me.

I'm using a 75 GPD RO/DI unit with IO Reef Crystals for salt.

I'll be honest. The liferock branch is a ***** to work with. Please excuse my french but this rock was more trouble than it was worth. Out of both boxes MOST pieces of branch and shapes came broken requiring more time for mending and unnecessary unsightly epoxy required on almost every piece.
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Trying to make even a slightly appealing scape was a challenge. I miss the ease when base rock just "comes together" if you move the pieces around enough. lol
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Meh.... :confused:

Anywho. Took a break from the rock after much frustration with the cookie cutter straight as a board branch rock to set up the hubby a 225 gal FW planted Oscar/Aggressive tank which was much smoother. :)
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When I came back to the branch rock I had come up with a concept that would require the bottom tip of the branches to be cut at specific angles so I could epoxy them together into an antler or bouquet shape that would be secured in a base of one of the life rock circles. Used 95% of the branch and had to pick up another circle from the LFS but finally got it done. Please excuse the hideous epoxy job, but at least this rock ain't budging. LOL
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With a pair antler/bouquet islands and one double arch cave piece it was ready for the tank.
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Time for the sump and plumbing. Very simple job since I had just plumbed another tank and had lots of spare parts and pipe and was going for veeeeery simple. Did have to order normal bulkheads though as the bulkhead/barbs it came with were not in the plans. Added a ball valve for a future reactor to maybe add (GFO/Carbon etc) just in case. But for now nothing is plumbed into the return.
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From here I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed some more until 99% of the sand dust was out of the sand and put it in. Made up my new SW and turned her on!
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That was 2 weeks ago. I added the recommended dose of Microbacter7 (which I'm not convinced actually does anything) and Dr Tim's liquid ammonia and am monitoring the cycle. Which.... isnt going any faster than non-bac cycling. As soon as nitrite starts to show I'm going to start ordering macros. I've cycled with them before with little if any ill effect but I want the ammonia to start being converted at least before I add macro this time.

Anyway, if you made it this far thank you for reading my journey to this point. Some future additions include chiller (after cycle is complete), reactor or two, sump light and macro additions and possible 2 part doser squeezed in there when and if needed much further down the road.

I'll post updated photos today or tomorrow but tbh everything still looks the same.

Thanks again!
 
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matchmakersmagic

matchmakersmagic

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Following. I look at the local shop’s Sea-Horse tank every time I go in, but know I don’t have the dedication to keep them!


Nice rock too
They do require a tiny bit more upkeep and attention to detail but totally worth it.

When the tank/rock fills out with the corals and macros in about a year it will hopefully be where I want it. :D
 
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matchmakersmagic

matchmakersmagic

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Love the antler setup. Seems perfect for hitches. Maybe I missed it but have you decided on a particular SH species yet?

Any plans for gorgonians?

Thanks for sharing great work :) and as always welcome to R2R!
I've got my heart set on barbouri. Always loved them and plan on 2-3 pairs.

I'd like to have gorgs and fans, probably mostly photosynthetic. Cup coral, leathers, zoas, mushrooms, possibly other monti's. It will have alot of macro in the display as well.

Thanks for the welcome.
 
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matchmakersmagic

matchmakersmagic

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My local shop hangs plastic chains in the tank..... reef-safe, and not the most aesthetically pleasing, but their SH’s are always hitched to them
I agree with you there. While the chains are very functional I'd rather have a more natural look and avoid the artificial stuff if at all possible.
 

I'm a natural blue

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Hey there, Lady! Lisa Lu here. Looks fantastic! I love the forums for showing builds. (I never finished mine here :() So refreshing to see it done by one of the pro's! Thanks for posting the link in our group. I love the way the rock scape came out, too. I know you struggled with that hard! I had several pieces of the branching and ended up taking it out eventually. I should dig up an old pic. Oh wait, it's probably here! LOL. Can't wait to see it mature! It's going to be amazing. I just know it!
 
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matchmakersmagic

matchmakersmagic

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Hey there, Lady! Lisa Lu here. Looks fantastic! I love the forums for showing builds. (I never finished mine here :() So refreshing to see it done by one of the pro's! Thanks for posting the link in our group. I love the way the rock scape came out, too. I know you struggled with that hard! I had several pieces of the branching and ended up taking it out eventually. I should dig up an old pic. Oh wait, it's probably here! LOL. Can't wait to see it mature! It's going to be amazing. I just know it!
Thank you Lisa! Glad to be here and thanks for referring me. :)

I cant wait for the tank to evolve. This is the hard part for me, the waiting out a cycle. It's certainly not the highlight. lol
 
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matchmakersmagic

matchmakersmagic

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Day 21 of cycling. Did the 2 wks of microbacter 7 with no result. Switched to a commercial bac and saw immediate results. We finally have nitrite! Almost time to add the macros and get this tank looking good. :)

Current parameters:
Ph - 8.1
Salinity - 1.024
Ammonia - 1.5ppm
Nitrite - 0.25ppm
Nitrate - 0
Alk - 9.5
Calcium - 390
Mag - 1380
Phos - 0
 

MrWheelock

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So awesome! The scape looks great, love what you did with the branch rock! Welcome to R2R, I'll be following along as my wife wants a SH tank someday. I had thought about a display fuge next to my tank, but temperatures were a concern for me. Mind telling me what you plan to keep the tank at temp wise?
 
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matchmakersmagic

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So awesome! The scape looks great, love what you did with the branch rock! Welcome to R2R, I'll be following along as my wife wants a SH tank someday. I had thought about a display fuge next to my tank, but temperatures were a concern for me. Mind telling me what you plan to keep the tank at temp wise?
Thanks for the welcome! The branch rock was a pain but once its covered in coral/coraline it will look fine. :)

The ambient temp in my house keeps the tank at about 74.5°-75.5°, which is slightly too high for SH's IMO. After the tank is cycled I plan to run a chiller to keep the tank at 72°. I could probably get the pull down on temp with a fan but the increase in evap will make the chiller worthwhile.

Definitely set up a SH tank for your wife! They are fascinating fish, she'll love them!
 
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matchmakersmagic

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So.... I'm terrible at remembering to update. My style is to kinda go along updating or adding this or that as I go.

So where did I leave off?

On December 18th I ordered AlgaeBarn's Ultimate Pack of clean macro (chaeto, ulva, red ogo, green ogo, and mystery macro). All arrived fine but the ogo's, they were already 75-80% gone with the pieces being mostly white and dead. They did send a replacement for the ogo's with my order of pods and phyto, which I placed under the Kessil H80 I added to the sump. As of today the new replacement ogo's followed their predecessors and are mostly white and nearly dead. Disappointing.

According to my records the tank is 2.5 months old so far. The tank "finished" cycling, converting 2ppm ammonia to within 24 hrs (nitrite at 0 as well), consistantly on January 3rd.

Unfortunately it is looking like no h. barbouri will be available until Spring 2020. So wait we will. This also means I get a little more time and growth in the tank before the SH's arrive. Not such a terrible thing.

I gave the cycle an additional week of good readings before adding a few starter critters:

3 juvenile red firefish
1 pearly jaw fish
10 margarita snails
10 tiny blue leg hermits

Good bad or indifferent I wanted to track how adding macro at the home stretch of the cycle would (or not lol) impact the nuisance algae. While I typically have much much worse there has been a little growth so far. Diatoms on the sand in patches and some very fine but long hair algae.

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A few days ago I bought a couple frags and mushrooms that were on sale and popped those in there too.

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Now I'm letting everything settle but so far so good. I feed the fish Rods food and add a little phyto to the tank on a semi daily basis.

When I added the fish I also installed the mini carbon/gfo reactor dialed way back in the sump. Skimmer got put on the same day. Not much appreciable gunk yet but we'll see as time goes on. After the Florida winter is done I'll be firing up the chiller and plumbing that in too.
 

Are you taking preventative measures to keep nuisance algae at bay?

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