65g Dream.... errrr Reality Build

BeejReef

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Hello R2R,

A picture or two will be up tonight. Not much to see on a tank running bleach.

I have a well-used, 3', 65g tank and a standard 3 chambered sump. I've run vinegar to dissolve minerals and am currently running bleach to disinfect the tank, sump, and equipment.

Equipment... lol... 1) ASM G2 skimmer 2) two AI Sol lights 3) two Jebao RW-8 powerheads 4) 300w Finnex titanium heater w external temp setting.

Used 4 stage RODI aquired. Muni water quality report confirms pretty good water and no chloramine. New filters en-route.

So, I'll be rocking some serious legacy hardware. My big score so far is that I bought the tank from a very local hobbyist/businessman who runs a part time retail outlet out of an addition to his home. He's been extraordinarily helpful already and has saved me the small premium I probably overpaid on equipment.

Most of my supplies are riding out a UPS weather delay in the great lakes, on their way from BRS.

Done So Far
1) Spent a lot of $ on things I don't understand
2) Plumbed RODI to hpvc line in basement
3) Cleaned up tank
4) Converted from 1 pipe DURSO and 1 pipe return in overflow to a Herbie with return now looping over tank.

The Vision - I really wanted a 120g. However, I'm in the gradual process of completely remodeling our fixer upper. Will be a solid year before I've finished with all bedrooms and third floor. Strong men (not me) will have to be able to move a 70% drained tank at least 8' at some point so I can refinish the hardwood and insulate the wall. Plus, this was a much easier sell with the wife.

In the meantime, I'm sizing my purchases and plans to, hopefully, smooth the transition to a larger tank. Perhaps when demo day arrives, I'll simply use it as an opportunity to transition to a 120. I've also bought stuff that will work with APEX... someday.

Highlight!
The tank shares a wall with our downstairs bath. The house plumbing runs right under it. I WILL HAVE A DRAIN in the floor adjacent to the tank. I should also be able to snake a RODI line up to the vicinity of the tank from the basement where it is plumbed. It will probably just go to a reservoir. No immediate plans to implement ATO or ATO direct from RODI.

Basement?
Another bonus is our basement. It's a freaking dungeon and will never be anything but. No one goes down there except me. TBH, I'm not happy with the size of my sump and really want to implement a robust refugium in the basement. Atm, I'm holding off and trying to KISS, but that's a distinct possibility and I've left the tank far enough from the wall (and used unions) so I could hole saw the returns and overflow on a straight run down to a good spot.

Dreaming - (subject to change) The hope is to get to an SPS dominant tank in a year or two... still a mixed reef for sure, but leaning that way. Until my rocks age and the parameters really stabilize, I'll probably just grow mushrooms, frogspawn, beginner lps, and maybe a nem. Perhaps by late summer, I'll be ready for some SPS. I really like staghorn (for whatever reason). Hoping for a minimal rockscape with two or three dominant coral species with two or three highlight perches to showcase some vibrant color.

Next Up - Rockscaping this weekend. I have a mixture of dry and live already paid for. If my goods ever arrive, water and cycle within the week.
 
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Ron Reefman

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Sounds good... I wish I even had a basement! looking forward to the pics.

BTW, down here in Florida, almost nobody has a basement. So my wife and I use the garage for storage and the driveway for cars. We tell everybody that's not a 2 car garage, it's an above ground basement with a warehouse door!
 
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BeejReef

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Ok,

So, a quick update. This past weekend I was able to build the majority of my rockscape.

As you can see in the attached image, drilling and removing portions of the rock was pretty easy. I'm lucky to have an angle grinder, oscillating tool, rotary tool, etc. etc.,

You could have solidly counted me among those who laughed at anyone who would actually pay a premium for a rock pre-cut with a flat end. I say could have, because now I understand. Getting one side flat is no problem. Getting the opposing side flat, parallel to the initial cut, or in any way mated to the irregular shape of the piece you may want to set on it... very, very hard. I wasn't up for sacrificing the blade on my miter, and even then, securing a rock in position sounded dicey.

At the end of the day, I settled for creating nice pedestal pieces (flat on one side) and burrowing out cavities in the flat piece I intended to seat on top of the pedestals to provide more surface area for the hydraulic cement.

My biggest mistakes were 1) not buying enough rock and 2) settling for the pieces available 3) doing the work on the floor of my dining room. The room looked like I had just drywalled :)

Even so, I'm pretty happy with the results. I do plan on a good 2" sand bed, so I elected to secure my keystone pieces to landscaping block pieces with fiberglass rods, masonry bits, and hydrolic cement. This way it's modular, plus the store-bought landscaping rock seems very porous. I'm hopeful I'll get some benefit from it as well.

It's not gorgeous now, but I like that it looks pretty "irregular" and hope that some coraline will hide my lack of craftsmanship. Also, this is just the skeleton. I'll still be gluing on bits of rubble rock. I just wanted anything heavy to really be attached. Also, I still have 10-15 lbs of live rock purchased to round out the rockscape, just can't add it until the tank is wet.

My BRS order has finally escaped the weather delay. Salt, heater, testing supplies, and new rodi filters arriving tomorrow! Should be getting wet this weekend!

More updates to follow.

ty rocks2.JPG rocks3.JPG

View attachment rocks.jpg
 
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BeejReef

BeejReef

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Sounds good... I wish I even had a basement! looking forward to the pics.

BTW, down here in Florida, almost nobody has a basement. So my wife and I use the garage for storage and the driveway for cars. We tell everybody that's not a 2 car garage, it's an above ground basement with a warehouse door!
I don't even know why we have a basement. The ground does not perk and it's not uncommon for the basement to get an inch or three of water in it. Not leaking in from outside, just the water table rises during wet weather. Anything down there (including the base of the stairs) has to be supported on elevated concrete. If I stick with the hobby, it can be my own "fish room." :)
 
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Captain Quint

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Welcome to R2R @William DeCoursey.

All the info you imparted in your storyline was a blast to read and I enjoy reading on all the plans which I'd like to say sound well thought out.

Thanks for the pics and looking forward to the progression comments as well as future pics.
 
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BeejReef

BeejReef

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Hello again r2r. Another quick update.

The tank has water... actual salt water :)
It sure is a huge mental hurdle to fill it up with the real stuff, knowing that it's not going anywhere without a lot of effort!
Already regretting not having hung the lights, and who knows what else.

Had some issues with RODI. Was only getting maybe 25gpd and was painfully slow. See below
overdue.jpg

I'm not sure if that says 2001 or 2007. Either way, it was probably time. Oh the joys of "saving" money on used gear... lol.
Interestingly, of the two failed tanks I seriously looked at to purchase (my 65g is one of them) both owners were never able to overcome algae and gave up. They were both rocking seriously old RODI units that did not appear to have been maintained. A new 100gpd membrane and flow restrictor and I'm at least at 65 gpd now with 47psi in a very cold basement. I can live with that. TDS reads 0 on output and 110sh on the way in.

I also picked up a Mag 18 and a pre-plumbed 77g saltwater mixing barrel with float valve and an auto-shut off for my ATO for $90 last night. It's rated for 20' of head, so should easily lift from basement to first floor for easy WC.

The last of the water and some nice live black sand from BRS went in last night. The dry rock is already in. Had no shrimp, but couldn't resist dropping in a single piece of cat food to begin the cycle. I'll get a proper piece of shrimp today when I pick up a few pieces of live rock.

Here's some pictures. I still have some work to do on cord management. I tossed some ceramic spheres in the sump. The return is 1" pvc. It actually works out pretty well. It's nearly inconceivable that it could fall any lower in the tank that it is, and the diameter prevents it from ever siphoning. I do get a little "waterfall" noise, but it's very minimal and for the time being, I enjoy it.

The Jebao RW 8 powerheads are rated for roughly 2000 gph each, and I'm able to run them both on random at 60% without moving the sand. That works out to 37x flow when they're both ramped, and probably closer to 18-22 most of the time, not counting the return. I feel like I'm in the right neighborhood. Now, just hurry up and wait.

A fuge light is on the way. I'll fire it up in a week or three when I start seeing diatoms to try to head off the algae stage

View attachment fromafar.jpg

View attachment closeup.jpg

View attachment cordmanagement.jpg

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Captain Quint

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Beautiful William!

+1 on the old membrane. Most vendors recommend the membrane being replaced at the 2-year point. Not always the case if not stripping water all the time but it is a general rule of thumb by the vendors.

Argh on the age of that one. ;)
 
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BeejReef

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About 2 weeks and the cycle is DONE!

Was pretty stagnant with .5 Nitrite aND 1 to 1.5 ammonia for 2-3 days, then both fell off a cliff to 0 in under 24 hours. 50% wc warming up. Probly will do two this week. Nitrate 100+ easy. Haven't checked phos. It was at 3.0.... not 0.3!

Will hang and fire lights and fuge this week, once wc are done. Starting ghost feed. If all holds, snails next weekend. At a month, a small fish or two. Cool to see the skimmer running! A first for me.

Also, check out the sweet acclimation box my wife won in a raffle at a meet up 90 min away I dragged her and the kids to. Ty Billy Pipes!
 
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BeejReef

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Got a touch impatient and now have a snail and two tiny clowns. The plan was just snails, but a two hour round trip to the lfs w whole fam, and I caved to the pressure. Fuge also up and running. Chaeto was hard to come by!
 
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So, it's been a busy two weeks on the reality build.
As noted, two juvenile clowns now have a home in our dining room. Unfortunately, one seems to have eaten the other's tail fins down to the nub. Dominance issues sorted, and they're both healthy and happy. One is working on regrowing some tail.

Also, first corals are in. Just a leather and a mushroom. Trying (and failing) to stay uber patient, but chemistry has put the brakes on anyhow, and that's probably a good thing. Nitrites are detectable again and rose to 1ppm.
I was due for some bigger water changes to get phosphate and nitrate in check, so did those. Nitrite now below .25ppm. Will monitor and have prime on hand
Alkalinity is a rock at 9.2, ph is an all-star at 8.4. Still dealing with moderately high nutrients, but trending the right way.

So, the big add on is the lights. These old AI Sols are still trucking after 8 years of service to their previous owner. I had a controller issue, but seller had a spare. You can see my DIY canopy in the pics below. Highlights, the mounting arms coming off the wall are hinged, so I can raise the whole assembly a few inches. That didn't work out quite as planned bc I lack clearance to the ceiling. However, mounting the 90 degree braces did two things 1) added structural stability and 2) allows me to "wiggle" the support arms left to right a good 2-3 inches. This makes getting it all squared up MUCH easier, and I can take no credit, as it was an unintended consequence of a rushed design.

Another high point I'm proud of is the eye hooks on the sides of the support arms and top of the canopy. One person can easily lift the entire canopy and hang it directly on the support arms a good 3' above the tank for major maintenance and unfettered access... still with lights to see. I'll probably hang some decorative chain to make this even easier, and as a failsafe against wires snapping and lights landing on/in tank. Next steps will be to add some decorative trim to the top of the canopy. If you're 6' or better, you can see some of the mounts and wires above.

Also, going to add some corrugated plastic between the bottom of the canopy and top-exterior of tank, held snug with rubber bands or elastic to eliminate light spill and negate the need for a tank cover. Also want to add a diffuser, rent a par meter, and really dial it all in, but all in good time.

I'm not really enamored with the color. It looked great on the baby's bedroom door, but looks a little industrial in the dining room.

Had a scare when a drop of paint fell straight into the tank. Thought I was being so careful, but I moved the tank cover to the side I was working on painting and saw (in slow motion) a drip forming on the eye hook just out of reach from my ladder perch. Did a 40% wc (all i had on hand) and ran out and got some carbon. Everything seems fine.

Thanks for following. 20190310_130911.jpg 20190310_130936.jpg 20190310_130957.jpg 20190310_165817.jpg

View attachment 20190310_165858.jpg
 
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BeejReef

BeejReef

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Nice build so far & good job dragging the family to I assume The Hidden Reef for the meetup. Wish I could of made it since I'm only 20 minutes from it. Stay patient :)
Thank you. That's good advise. Yup, the hidden reef was a 90 min trek for us, but really a great store if you have to spend 4 hours in a pet store w a grumpy wife, an 18 mo old, and a 3yo. Between the turtles, the big fish pond out front, and the rows and rows of tanks, they stayed pretty happy. Most of the peeps winning stuff were dancing and whooping. When her number was called, my wife raised her hand like Billy was taking attendance in a HS class.. lol. They pretend to hate the tank when I have to work on it, but when the work is done and it's just humming along under the blues, I can't keep them away from it.
 
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BeejReef

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Dumpster Luv!

So, I'll post some pics tonight of my finished canopy and lights. The diffuser and acrylic arrive today. Just had to share this pic real quick.
Was thinking to myself, wouldn't it be nice if the inside of the canopy were reflective? That way, instead of simply absorbing light spill, it would redirect into my tank and be
increasingly diffuse. Maybe tin-foil would work?

Here's what I just came across walking back from lunch, sitting right on top, beaming in the sun, dry as a bone, in the dumpster I walk directly past.
20190313_141520.jpg

The adhesive backing is even still on it! Just cut a few pieces and stick it on.
 
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And I'm at the diatom phase. It's a race now. I'm literally cheering for the chaeto to get off the rail and make a strong move coming around the clubhouse turn. Really want it to beat the GHA to the finish line :)
It has roughly doubled in size the past ten days. Will it be enough? Tune in next week.

They've caked on even more since this photo was taken, but seem to have leveled off well shy of epic.

Also, full (nearly) set of parameter testing last night
Salinity 1.026
Alkalinity 9.1
Ph 8.4-5
Phos .14
Nitrate 10
Ammonia and Nitrite continue to be undetectable, so I'm retiring those kits until a meaningful livestock addition.
Nitrate is trending down over the past week and phosphate is about a third of what it was a week ago. I'd like to attribute it to the fuge, but I'm guessing those diatoms are tying up a lot of it too. Either way, I'm approaching reef-acceptable numbers, so that feels good.

I am following my ph numbers with interest. They've always been high. Seems unusual in the hobby to have high ph as an issue. Anecdotally, I've seen enough to wonder if it's a new tank thing. I'm guessing it's a good problem to have, but don't want to overdo it when my fuge really takes off, as I'll be leaning on it pretty hard.

Turbo snails are fantastic! Two of them are mowing down my sump. Will be getting another 4-5 CUC this weekend

Does anyone have strong thoughts on diatom removal? I've seen a lot of posts about "patience" and letting them do their thing. I'm just wondering if, once the growth has clearly peaked, I should manually remove as much as I can to export the tied up silicates, nitrates, and phosphates?
 

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