750XXL SPS Dominant mixed-reef upgrade w/ low-maintenance aspirations + too much COVID lockdown time on hands

techdef

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Backstory
About 2 years ago my wife and I started looking for a property to build a new home. We found a lot about 3 blocks (Los Angeles, CA) away from our current home. I'm an Architect, so went to work doing what I do. New favorite client :cool: We pushed the local codes pretty hard in a few areas, one of which was having a suspiciously large fireplace in the dining room. Chimneys are allowed to project into the setbacks here. Well, the fireplace got surprisingly cut from the budget during construction but it was exactly the right size for our new Red Sea 750XXL. Imagine that. Somehow there were also dedicated circuits to the fireplace, and plumbing connections. The inspector was amused.

After we'd moved in, we put in our order for the new tank. I've learned my lesson about moving tanks (avoid at all costs, better to get a new one). The tenant at our old house was kind enough to do basic maintenance on our 120 while we spun things up and cycled. We finally decided that we'd be better off moving our creatures to the LFS for sitting while this all happened. I have to give a shout-out to Kris and staff at LAX Aquarium for awesome delivery and install, and babysitting our fish & corals. Well, the tank got setup. Everything went to LAX Aquarium and then Covid-19 hit while the tank was cycling. Needless to say, we got a very, very long cycle. Very... nothing quite like staring at your empty tank when you're locked in the house all day.

A bit about me: I started out selling fish at The Animal Hut in Washington DC back in the late 80's. My first SW tank around 2000 was a 40. It quickly was joined by a few more tanks, a clam reef, seahorse tank etc... Fun times. Then a few downsizes and nanos happened. When we moved to our previous house I picked up a 120g on Craigslist and learned a ton more!

Goals for new System
Use what good we'd had from the 120.
Low-ish maintenance (had a 1 year old, and a but in the oven when the tank was coming together).
Not move any mission critical hardware.
More volume, and more sand / negative space.
More color & life!

What
Since we already had about 5 years into our 120g mixed reef we were eager to keep the few fish, and many decent corals. I'd put in too much rock on the 120 however. It was full, and full of deadspots. Wasnt going to make those mistakes again. It also had its sump in a bathtub. That was awesome. Easiest maintenance I've ever had on a tank. Just pour in the new water & let the system overflow. That was awesome. I also had a full Apex system and 3 kessils to reuse.

The Old 120
It just so happened our previous house had a full bathroom off the kitchen. We couldn't figure out why we would ever need to shower in the middle of dinner so I knocked together a stand in the tub/shower & put the 120g in there. Sump was too small. Skimmer pretty good. Sitting on the toilet & having the tank at eye-level = priceless.

All these rocks, fish & corals went into holding. For almost 6 months.

IMG_0302.jpeg
IMG_2179.jpeg
IMG_8553.jpeg


PS: Here's the build-thread from the super cool dude who picked up this 120: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/120g-craigslist-tank-restoration.688348/#post-7042759
 
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techdef

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The New Tank
Per above, I drew a spot 7' x 2' in the new house for the tank. Its in a prime spot. Its also got a solid foundation of concrete right below. No sagging and no worries.

Much of the rest of the house (ok, all) is satin white cabinetry. Red Sea matched perfectly. I was also pretty stoked on the pre-engineered system w/ sump etc... The 750XXL was perfect, still couldnt be more please really. The build quality is superb, aesthetics a 10/10. Its also the quietest tank ever, which is incredible.

Kris at LAX Aquarium made the deal and ordered it all for me. Here he is setting it up!


















Getting prepped for this started about a year before.
Beneath the floor are sewer line stub-outs, 3/4" PVC to garage and 3/8" waterline to garage.
Also in-wall behind are dedicated A/C circuits and an Cat-6 ethernet home-run to the router for the Apex. We even drilled in some extra conduit so a chiller could be added in the crawlspace below tank if need be. Hasnt been an issue yet, thankfully.

Kris did the plumbing. I'm terrible at plumbing. You'll see that on my AWC setup.

Equipment:
Dual COR-20 return pumps
Red Sea 900 skimmer
2016 Apex
Dual Gyre-350s
Dual WAVs
5x Kessil 360we
+ some other stuff (see below)

The sump has a manifold built above one of the return pumps. That's used for bulk water changes, media reactor and future use.

I probably would have entertained one of the roller-mat filters had I known about it. I'm used to socks however so not bummed. the 4" socks are a drag compared to 7" though. Much harder to clean.
 
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techdef

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Apex Stuff
Goal here is to use as much of the Apex as possible. Especially while I had some much time on my hands! I'm a firm believer in keeping a slightly messy tank schedule. Ever since the 2000's with the IceCap controller on my VHO lighting which simulated a solar & lunar schedule its made sense to me to vary the length of day & temperature over the year. Apex does that too, though you have to do some brain damage to make it work.

After a lot of lurking and an abortive experiment, I realized I needed more surface area to mount everything than the right side of the 750 cabinet allowed. Also, I HATE having wires completely buried. Thats a mistake as much as we get tweaky or upgrade or replace failed equipment.

Here's the custom cabinetry interface I built, and a custom power-brick rack.

Power Bricks generate a LOT of heat. Goal was to get them out of the cabinet where they could breath & not stay all bunched up. Also know that every year or two one or more of them will likely get changed out...
IMG_4864.JPEG

IMG_4452.jpeg


This worked out great. Holds 8 standard power bricks, locked in place by the plug-in side of the cord. You can wind the fixed cord around the top end as cord management. I used some 3/4" MDF I had lying around. You do you.

Next up was something to mount all the hardware, but leave room for a UPS battery (which runs everything except the lights) and keep the wet stuff away from the dry stuff. Most importantly it keeps the EBs and their tangles both hidden and accessible:

Controller Board 2.jpg

IMG_4486.jpeg
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IMG_4488.jpeg
IMG_4493.jpeg
IMG_4653.JPEG


Equipment:
2016 Apex (purchased 2020)

(2) EB8s - Old versions. Reliable, cheap and half the size!

Tripp-Lite UPS. (I forgot the size, but it runs the basic equipment for about 3 hours. Only 1 of the EB8s is plugged into it. Made power outage programming that much easier when one is just off. It has all the lights.)

Apex Display

AFS

(2) Cor-20 return pumps.

(2) DOS [Alk, Ca, Mag, food (currently EasySPS)]

FMM w/ 2 Flow Sensors (1 per return pump), a leak detector, and a sensor in the ATO

LSM w/ 2 LEDs mounted to the Kessils

1-Link ('cause of the old EB8s)

(2) WAV

Trident

(2) Ecotech Versa Dosing Pumps for AWC (they're dead silent and easy to calibrate)

(3) Vertex 5L Dosing Containers
 
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techdef

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Lighting
Like Ryan from BRS, I still love shimmer. The Kessil 360we was about the coolest thing I ever saw when it came out, so I got 2, then one more. Picked up 2 more used ones for this new tank. I'd like to supplement maybe with a Reefbrite at some point for shadows as the reef fills in, but havent come up with an attractive way to mount it so I'll probably just give it a year or three and worry about it then.

My schedule is something I'm pretty proud of. Its almost impossible to share though on a forum. Maybe a time-lapse video is in order...

BRS PAR Meter rental is a great resource. I checked mine, then added the 5th light. Now they max out at 75% power. I may push that up but will do it SLOWLY...

Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 11.28.29 AM.png


The Lights are each in a separate outlet on the Apex system. They come on and go off Left to Right using the Sunrise/Sunset function. The dimming is also controlled by Profiles triggered by Sunrise/Sunset.
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 10.50.32 AM.png


What this means, is that first thing in the AM, only 1 light is on, 15 minutes later the next one and so forth. Once they're all ON the Ramp-Up profile triggers a 3-hour ramp up. Then 3 hours before Sunset, the Ramp-Down profile triggers. At Sunset the lights start shutting down from Left to Right so it really looks like the sun comes up and over the tank.

Some sample code:
Kessil_LL
Fallback OFF
Set OFF
If Sun -030/-030 Then ON
If Tmp > 80.0 Then OFF
Min Time 001:00 Then OFF

Kessil_LC
Fallback OFF
Set OFF
If Sun -015/-015 Then ON
If Tmp > 81.0 Then OFF
Min Time 001:00 Then OFF

Kessil_CC
Fallback OFF
Set OFF
If Sun 000/000 Then ON
If Tmp > 81.5 Then OFF
Min Time 001:00 Then OFF

Kessil_RC
Fallback OFF
Set OFF
If Sun 015/015 Then ON
If Tmp > 81.0 Then OFF
Min Time 001:00 Then OFF

Kessil_RR
Fallback OFF
Set OFF
If Sun 030/030 Then ON
If Tmp > 80.0 Then OFF
Min Time 001:00 Then OFF

Lite_Brite (this is the 0-10v brightness control to the lights)
If Output V_Sunrise = ON Then LtRmpUp
If Output V_Sunset = ON Then LtRampDn

Light Profiles
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 10.58.36 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-09-25 at 10.58.44 AM.png


Oh, I used a 5-way headphone splitter to bring the 0-10v signal to the kessils:

They are smart enough to regenerate the analog voltage signal when they're daisy-chained. Sadly that means that when you turn one light off (at the power supply) it stops passing the control signal and all downstream lights go dark. I'm probably not getting to full 100% power out of these, but per the PAR meter rental, that's not a problem!

Bonus of having the lights plugged into a separate EB8 is being able to clearly see what they do all day!
55A190A0-115C-451B-93FC-F11B696ED549.jpeg




'Fuge
Using the RedSea fuge chamber as designed. Its lit w/ a Tunze EcoChic Refugium Light
https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/ecochic-waterproof-refugium-led-light-8831-00-tunze.html which is doing the job quite well!
Its on its own Apex Outlet as well with a simple code of If Sun 000/000 Then Off to make a reverse cycle. That's helped stabilize pH a bit :)

52BBA8BB-E6D9-435E-A063-ED0E32BEAAB2.jpeg
 
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boacvh

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Backstory
About 2 years ago my wife and I started looking for a property to build a new home. We found a lot about 3 blocks (Los Angeles, CA) away from our current home. I'm an Architect, so went to work doing what I do. New favorite client :cool: We pushed the local codes pretty hard in a few areas, one of which was having a suspiciously large fireplace in the dining room. Chimneys are allowed to project into the setbacks here. Well, the fireplace got surprisingly cut from the budget during construction but it was exactly the right size for our new Red Sea 750XXL. Imagine that. Somehow there were also dedicated circuits to the fireplace, and plumbing connections. The inspector was amused.

After we'd moved in, we put in our order for the new tank. I've learned my lesson about moving tanks (avoid at all costs, better to get a new one). The tenant at our old house was kind enough to do basic maintenance on our 120 while we spun things up and cycled. We finally decided that we'd be better off moving our creatures to the LFS for sitting while this all happened. I have to give a shout-out to Kris and staff at LAX Aquarium for awesome delivery and install, and babysitting our fish & corals. Well, the tank got setup. Everything went to LAX Aquarium and then Covid-19 hit while the tank was cycling. Needless to say, we got a very, very long cycle. Very... nothing quite like staring at your empty tank when you're locked in the house all day.

A bit about me: I started out selling fish at The Animal Hut in Washington DC back in the late 80's. My first SW tank around 2000 was a 40. It quickly was joined by a few more tanks, a clam reef, seahorse tank etc... Fun times. Then a few downsizes and nanos happened. When we moved to our previous house I picked up a 120g on Craigslist and learned a ton more!

Goals for new System
Use what good we'd had from the 120.
Low-ish maintenance (had a 1 year old, and a but in the oven when the tank was coming together).
Not move any mission critical hardware.
More volume, and more sand / negative space.
More color & life!

What
Since we already had about 5 years into our 120g mixed reef we were eager to keep the few fish, and many decent corals. I'd put in too much rock on the 120 however. It was full, and full of deadspots. Wasnt going to make those mistakes again. It also had its sump in a bathtub. That was awesome. Easiest maintenance I've ever had on a tank. Just pour in the new water & let the system overflow. That was awesome. I also had a full Apex system and 3 kessils to reuse.

The Old 120
It just so happened our previous house had a full bathroom off the kitchen. We couldn't figure out why we would ever need to shower in the middle of dinner so I knocked together a stand in the tub/shower & put the 120g in there. Sump was too small. Skimmer pretty good. Sitting on the toilet & having the tank at eye-level = priceless.

All these rocks, fish & corals went into holding. For almost 6 months.

IMG_0302.jpeg
IMG_2179.jpeg
IMG_8553.jpeg


PS: Here's the build-thread from the super cool dude who picked up this 120: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/120g-craigslist-tank-restoration.688348/#post-7042759
That cyphastrea looks amazing!
 

boacvh

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Thanks! Its taken OVER. Just swallowed a few rocks whole and still going. I'll post an end-view shot in a bit when I can. Its like wallpaper on half the reef!
Love it. I was hoping mine would do the same on my overflow box haha. But hasn't grown at all.
 
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techdef

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Love it. I was hoping mine would do the same on my overflow box haha. But hasn't grown at all.
Give it some time, eh? This one was a bit of a creeper to get started & then just took the f off. Oh, they also dont like a ton of light when getting going. I moved the original frag to a darker spot. Doing the same with 2 more encrusting cyphastreas now. Got a branching one that's out in the light too :) JF Hot-Lips!
 

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