85 Gallon CADE 900 S2 Build

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JoeinLA

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Hello All,

After reading and getting help from so many of these threads, I thought I’d post my own. Below is a summary; I’m happy to answer any questions regarding any aspect of this. I’m thinking I might update this from time to time as things develop – if anything more as a diary of how this all progresses.

Equipment:
  • Cade 900 S2
  • Radion XR30 with track mounting system
  • Jebao DCP-10000 (originally had 5000, which is now just in storage as backup)
  • Reef Octopus Regal 150SSS Protein Skimmer
  • GHL Profilux 4
  • Helio 400W Heater
  • BRS 7 Stage RO/DI filter
  • Tunze Ecochic Refugium light
  • A very large number of additional bits and bobs
Received pallet on 12/7/21. Aquarium set up and filled on 12/8/21. Cycling of the CADE took 10 days using bateria and live sand (I think it actually took longer than necessary b/c the live sand added some more ammonia than I “needed”, and I went thought a few very large water changes correcting this).

Aquascaping was much more involved that I anticipated. It’s interesting to see the evolution of my aquascaping skills looking at my early pieces vs. the most recent piece that I’m still trying to get installed (it’s tall so I decided to use acrylic rods and then also ran out of mortar). I suspect the aquascape will be an ongoing project over the next few months.

Initial inhabitants were 2 clown fish. A small ball of Cheato was added 12/27/21. Two fire fish and a frogspawn coral were added 1/2/22 (this forum seems to advise against 2 fire fish but the LFS said it would be no problem and, at least for now, the two seem like good friends). A watchman goby, pistol shrimp, 2 dancing shrimp, and 5 nassarius snails were added 1/8/22. Two jars of Ecopods and 2 jars of 5280 pods were added last night, 1/10/22. Two mandarin gobies are an absolute must, but understand that that's a longer term goal. Beyond that, a jawfish of some type (really like the blue dot but understand the difficulties there so likely will go with yellow headed), a fire shrimp, cleaner shrimp, and a baby blue tang (understanding that we may need to trade it back to the LFS once it gets too large) are on the list.

I’m running my own “custom” light settings: 75% on the purple/blue side, and 50% on the “green/red/white” side, from 8:00 to 10:00 with a 6 hour 100% period (of the 75/50). My wife and I aren’t fans of the super-blue look of any of the templates. Lights were essentially kept off until we got the frogspawn coral; I was/am hoping to avoid the ugly phase.

I’ve been grossly overfeeding over the past 10 days or so to ensure that all the new inhabitants are eating properly. I think the protein skimmer and the little ball of Cheato are keeping up; and I’ve been shooting for weekly water changes (last one was 1/6/22 and I plan on doing a 10% change this weekend on 1/15 or 16). Testing as of just now shows dKH 7.0, phosphate 0.0, Nitrate 6.2, using Hanna checkers. These numbers have been very consistent via daily testing over the past week (I’m running out of reagents). I have Salifert Calc and have Aquaforest Magnesium test on the way; not sure either is really needed for now. Phosphates are at 0 to 0.03; not sure what’s going on there but I read that dry rock can absorb phosphate initially. Nitrate seems to be holding steady; I’ll ascribe that to the Cheato. Though, for both phosphate and nitrate, I may not giving everything enough time and perhaps this almost daily testing is unnecessary (or perhaps wasteful). I have temp set at 77, and salinity currently is at 34-ish. I was keeping it at 35 early on, but went to 33 for a little bit, and am currently thinking that 34 is a good compromise. It does seem to fluctuate +/- .5 throughout the day and I haven't gotten the salinity for each water change nailed down.

Near term, I need to (1) install the some GHL float switches and leak sensors, (2) keep working on aquascape, (3) do some serious cable management; and (4) try to figure out a better set up for the Cheato (the CADE sump is a bit small and I’m not sure I’ve got the Cheato set up in any kind of optimal way and it doesn’t seem to be really growing very much).

I’m hoping to add no more fish for a month or so to let things settle down. May try to add some easy corals though.

Here’s a pic of the tank as of today:


IMG_0378.jpg



Thanks for reading. Please feel free to ask any questions – hopefully I can provide a fraction of the help that other build threads provided to me.
 
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JoeinLA

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Ask and ye shall receive...

Closer pic of tank. I haven't vacuumed the sand so algae is starting to grow on it. Currently making some RODI water to do a water change tomorrow and will try to clean up the sand.
image4.jpeg


Close up of Frogspawn Coral and Dancing Shrimp (there are two that live on the coral).
image0.jpeg


Pic of Cabinet. The LED light isn't actually that bright, but it works well enough for now. The protein skimmer was at 9" so I made a stand out of just egg crate material. There's algae growing on the inside from the refugium light, so I need to clean that up as well. I didn't do anything re: the water level in the sump - that's just where it ends up so I hope I set it correctly. The drain and return pump are set just right so there's no noise. The loudest thing is actually the fan on the Radion XR30 and then the protein skimmer. There's almost no water noise.
image3.jpeg


Top view of sump. It's a bit small. I put my small little bit of Cheato in a media basket and made an egg crate top to keep the Cheato from flowing out of the media basket. The Cheato isn't doing that well, so I got some CheatoGrow, and I ordered a much larger ball of Cheato from AlgaeBarn (along with more copepods - i really want to get those mandarins :). If anyone has any suggestions on how to set up a refugium in this fairly limited space, I'm all ears.
image2.jpeg


As stated above, any suggestions for improving the setup are very much welcomed!
 
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JoeinLA

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Just as an update:
1. Been trying to figure out how to best set up the refugium/Cheato. Currently, I can't figure out how to get a ball to spin, and my last ball of Cheato wore down to just a nub, so I ordered the "large" size Cheato from AlgaeBarn and put it in an 8" eggcrate cage where the media baskets are supposed to be. I have a wave maker set at 100% full time to give the Cheato more flow. I've also been dosing Brightwell's CheatoGrow, but my tank is getting cloudy and I'm wondering if I'm feeding the wrong stuff. I've also lowered the timer of my refugium light from 12 hours to 8 hours.

2. I ordered another set of 4 Ecopods as well, so now I've dumped a total of 8 jars of pods into the tank. This time, I used a turkey baster to try and seed the copepods directly into the sand and also on the rods. I've been using ~20mls of the OceanMagic at night as well, and plan on continuing until my current bottle runs out. I'm not sure if the OceanMagic is contributing to the cloudy water.

3. Phosphates continue to be at 0.00. I've tested up to 0.03, but it then just goes back to 0.00 the next day. Nitrates are also very low, just tested at 3.3. My understanding is that the marco rock is absorbing the phosphates and that the Cheato is also taking up phosphate and nitrates. I'm concerned with dino's from bottoming out phosphates and nitrates, so ordered Brightwell NeoPhos and NeoNitro to try and get the Phosphates and Nitrates higher.

4. I keep playing with the Protein Skimmer. I'm pretty sure the 150 is too big for my current bioload and I'm getting very, very wet skimmate running the pump at full and having the gate valve open. I've lowered the pump to 3 (out of 5) and used the gate valve to get the general bubbling to just before the skimmer cup so that it foams over only now and then. I've done this before and had the cup hit the float valve as well, so I'm still trying to figure out optimal settings here.

5. Except for the pistol shrimp and the watchman goby, all fish, snails, shrimp, and my one coral are accounted for and looking healthy/happy. I see the pistol shrimp only indirectly via his digging but have seen him a couple of times darting out to grab some food that's fallen near one of his openings. I haven't seen the watchman goby in 4 days now, so I'm not sure if he made it. The goby was hanging out, albeit timidly, the first few days he was in the tank but then he just disappeared. I'm hopeful he's just hiding since my water parameters seem good (and redox has remained stable ~300-325).

6. Current plans are to try to allow the tank to stabilize somewhat while I try to get the phosphates and nitrates up. I'm not sure how long before the marco rock is done absorbing phosphate. Everyone seems very disappointed when I tell them it will be weeks or a month before we add anything new to the tank (though we might add another piece of coral just to keep things lively).

7. My wife commented on how maintaining the tank is much more work than she anticipated. I told her that it's just b/c we're still trying to get things settled and b/c we're new at all of this so we'll be terribly inefficient as we figure out our systems/procedures.

As always, any comments/thoughts/suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Pic of tank as of now, in all its cloudy glory:
IMG_0389.jpg
 
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JoeinLA

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Update. I'm learning that it's easy to say that "everything good that happens in a reef rank happens slowly", but it's a very different thing to live it :p

1. The goby is alive! It was, however, living in my sump's return pump section. I only saw it because I was fiddlng around with my GHL probes, and saw a flash in the corner of my eye. Fast forward an hour later and my return pump removed and my sump a mess otherwise, but we managed to snag the slippery little ******* and put him in the main tank. He was eating very eagerly. I hope he learned his lesson...

2. I was out of town for the week, so I bought a Wyze 3.0 camera to look into the sump area. Long story short, my wife ended up learning the intricacies of balancing the drain flow and the return pump speed. It did not, however, help that I apparently closed off the ATO feed for some completely inexplicable reason before I left. Thank God I had both ready salt water and ready RODI water. I'd love to find out some way to monitor how much water the ATO is putting into the system, but not sure how to do that...

3. Before I left, I, again for some inexplicably unwise reason, bought a purple firefish, some Astreaus snails, more Nesarrius snails, a Tonga fighting conchk and 3 small coral frags. One of the Asteasus snails didn't make it the week, but the 3 that did are amazingly clean eaters; their perfectly white tracks across brown algae is a thing to see :p The fighting Conch is my wife's current favorite because, as she puts it, he does some serious work.

4. Before I left, I went with the Mobius Radiant lighting plan on a shorter schedule, and also set the light for acclimation mode , both to avoid burning the new coral frags and also to see if that helped with the cloudy water. All in all, not sure if this helped, but it didn't seem to hurt anything.

5. The Frogspawn coral looked really, really good when I came back. My wife was doing 1/2 a cap of NeoPhos and 1/2 a cap of NeoNitro, and when I came back, water tested 6.9 Alk, 0.04 Phosphate, and 5.5 Nitrate. Cheato looks good, but there's brown algae EVERYWHERE. The water got slightly less cloudy, but not cleared.

6. Of course, we went to the fish store to "look around", and we ended up with more Astreaus snails (for a total of 10 now), a second fighting conch, and a Sebae Anemone. My wife really wants the clownfish to have a host. From what I've read, the Sabae Anemone can be hard to take care of, but the guys at the fish store seemed to feel that it would be fine in my tank. They haven't led me wrong yet, so I'll trust them on this one. If the clownfish don't take to the Sebae anemone, I'll likely see if the fish store will take him back.

7. I've ordered a cheap Jebao CW-36W UV sterilizer from Amazon to try and clear up the tank water and kill the brown algae that's everywhere. I also ordered a Icecap 4k Gyre and Hydros Wave Engine. I'm starting to get annoyed enough with the GHL complexities that I'm willing to take a look at the Hydros system and since I needed a controller for the gyre anyways, it seemed like a good chance to see what the Hydros system was like. I'm also hoping the wave engine will work with the Jebao return pump.

8. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how "powerful" the GHL system is. It's just too much of a headache to figure out how to get it to work that I'm willing to just use it for monitoring for now. Maybe an Ion Director and/or GHL Doser will force me to actually figure out the system, but, at this point, I'm starting to feel like the GHL Profilux was just a waste of $1k.

9. Immediate projects are to (a) figure out how to customize the top cover of the tank - the CADE comes with a set of add'l aluminum and corner pieces, which is amazing (another major thumbs up for the CADE), and (b) set up the float switches to turn the return pump on/off for both the sump return section and also for the water level in the overflow section. Major challenges are (i) making sure the Sebae Anemone doesn't die (or burn my other corals), (ii) clear up the water, and (iii) get the brown algae under control.

I'd paste some pictures, but the tank is kind of ugly now... :p
 
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JoeinLA

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Installed a Jebao CW-55 UV sterilizer yesterday afternoon (I cancelled the CW-36 and upgraded to the -55 since it was only $19 more). It was powered up at 3:45 in the afternoon. Later that night, I blew off as much of the "ugly brown algae" (which turns out to be dino's) off the rock as I could in a few minutes. The tank is CRYSTAL CLEAR this morning. It is unbelievable how fast the UV sterilizer worked.

The install was entirely kludgy - I just inserted it between the return pump and the return line, no messing around with flow or anything. here's a pic of the tank in its current condition. My original thought was to just use it for a few days/weeks until the water cleared up and then take it down, but given its effectiveness I'm wondering if I should give it a more permanent install. It's really big though, so I think it will have to be plumbing vertically to keep it inside the cabinet.

I'm going to try and blow off as much of the dino's as I can over this week and hopefully that will clean up the rocks and sand, but, again, my mind is completely blown by how amazing the UV sterilizer is working.

IMG_0398.jpg
 
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2 week update:

1. Been trying to get a handle on phosphates. I was running at 0 phosphates, so I was dosing NeoPhos. Phosphates got up to the 0.06-0.07 range; Phosphates suddenly jumped to 0.11, 0.14, and then 0.16. I believe it was because we added a piece of supermarket Nori (human food that we had laying around). In any event, I've been spending the last week or so trying to get them down to the 0.05-0.10 range. I performed a 20% water change, and have been feeding less. This morning, I tested at 0.10, so I think we're making progress.

2. In connection with all the phosphate testing, I've begun to get a good handle on the "swings" of the tank, which is pretty neat. I lose about 0.02 phosphates over night (presumably due to my poor dying cheato still clinging to life), nitrates drop by about 1-0.5 per day, and alkalinity rises about 0.1 per day. I'm very much looking forward to getting an ion director - the calcium and magnesium tests are cumbersome enough that I don't really bother. Given my limited livestock, I assume, rightly or wrongly, that these aren't particularly sensitive right now.

3. I did get a 3D printer (Ender 5 Pro ~$320 on sale), and can think of a million uses for it. My first "project" with it has been to design a refugium section. Hopefully that will save my poor cheato. When I bought the CADE, I had read concerns re: the sump's setup/size. I must agree that it's a bit on the small size, or, at the very least, it would have been nice if the Protein Skimmer and Media Basket areas had been better set up to include a dedicated refugium area and maybe only 2 media baskets. But that's just my very noob take on things, so who knows.

4. I haven't figured out how to plumb the UV sterilizer. I don't think I'll end up putting in a second line and am thinking of just continuing to plumb it in between the return pump and the tank return. I can't seem to find the right fitting for the union so as to replace that bottom piece of plumbing that has the manifolds (I assume I'm using the right terminology), so I'm thinking of just using hose line and installing the UV sterilizer vertically in the "dry" half of the cabinet. Another negative to the CADE is proprietary (uncommon-in-the-US) plumbing hardware. It seems like I'd have to essentially replace it just to re-do a section of it.

5. Also, I added an Icecap 4k Gyre with a Hydros WaveEngine. I'm getting a bit put out by the GHL and its complexities, so figured I'd see what the Hydros system is all about. The 4K is, however, WAY TOO MUCH for my tank. I'm using it only in the 25-35% range (can't go below 25%, it seems). It certainly was less of a headache to set up but, ultimately, wasn't necessary less effort. I'm assuming the reef tank controller market isn't large enough to justify a budget that polishes things to an apple-like level of user friendliness. Without a doubt, however, the Hydros interface is MUCH MUCH more "modern" than GHL, though so far, I feel like it still requires a certain amount of effort and research to actually figure out how to use (no different in that respect than the GHL system).

6. Otherwise, everything seems well. I had some concerns re: the purple firefish and a poster here thought that it was being bullied. My wife reminded me that we moved some rocks and that the purple firefish had been "caught" underneath so maybe that was the source of the bruising. It did heal up, and we continue to see no signs of aggression - if anything, they all seem quite friendly, with the purple firefish being the bravest of the three.

7. We're on a mission to get the clowns to host the sebae anemone, so we bought a Nyos bubble trap and have been trying to get the fish to become accustomed to it. It's been in the tank almost 2 days, and so far, no dice. But our plan is to catch the 2 clowns (or perhaps only 1 and maybe that can teach the other one), and put it and the anemone into a colander until they get connected (saw this on the youtoobs).

8. We've given up on trying to get the watchman goby and the pistol shrimp to pair up. the Watchman Goby has set up post around the little hole in the bottom "split" of the far left tower rock, and the pistol shrimp has set up shop in the second rock tower (we only know he's alive because we see the signs of fresh excavation each morning). I'm somewhat tempted to get another pistol shrimp and "tube dump" it to where the watchman goby lives...

9. The tank has definitely been taking over everything - the living room and our time (and budget). But it's been a great adventure and very much worth it.

Tank this morning:

IMG_0435.jpg
 
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MmeAssoc

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Great build thread! Following with close interest - I've definitely had some of the same experiences as you (live sand delaying the initial cycle, brown algae on the rocks), and reading how you're resolving these issues is really useful.

Interesting to see the fuge setup - I had been worried it would be tight in the media basket section.

I'm keen to hear how your firefish all go together over the longer term - I love firefish, and would really love to add a purple or a helfrichi, but I've been nervous about introducing any aggression into the tank with my existing red firefish.
 
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JoeinLA

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Re the firefish, they definitely seem like good friends - all 3 essentially sleep in the same burrow (we have a pic of the 3 of them sleeping together that's neat - I'd post it but it's a terrible photo b/c it was dark and the angle of the camera makes the glass refraction really bad). But we did add the 2 red firefish at the same time, and the LFS said the two were getting along fine; we added the purple firefish about a week later and it was larger than the other 2, if only slightly. But, again, so far so good. I'd very much like to add a Helfriesh and maybe another purple, but reading all the horror stories here makes me think I'm just lucking out here and that I shouldn't push it - heh.

Re the Refugium, I've been having a real problem keeping the Cheato alive. I've tried Cheatogro, which seemed to only encourage all the other algae to grow, and am now dosing iron (but very little b/c it's not clear to me how "safe" dosing iron is). So far, no dice. Reading up on getting cheato to grow, I'm thinking I made a big mistake by trying to grow Cheato too early in the tank's life... Right now, I'm trying to 3D print what I hope will be the first "wall" in a makeshift refugium, so if that works, I'll definitely post something here about it. I've been "trying" to print this for the past two weeks, but, yeah, 3D printing is a thing in and of itself, I'm finding.

As a further update, a week ago, the Sebae Anemone was looking like it was on the verge of death, even though just a day before, it seemed to be well enough and ate some shrimp. We took it back to the LFS and they said they would try to nurse it back to health. We stopped by yesterday, but the guy that was helping us wasn't in that day, so we're not sure the status. We're guessing, however, that it isn't good news... I read that you're not supposed to get anemone's early on, but the LFS did say we could keep the Sebae - this might be their first piece of "bad" advice...

We've never been able to get the yellow watchman goby and the pistol shrimp to meet up either, so another disappointment in the symbiotic relationship arena. We did find the pistol shrimp in the sump this morning (just as the goby had disappeared down there as well) - we're taking this as a sign that they are, in fact, birds of a feather. My wife caught him while I was asleep and was hoping she and I could somehow force the two together, but the pistol shrimp escaped her trap and found a new burrow on its own. Oh well - hopefully at some point they'll find each other.

We also installed a Co2 Scrubber last Thursday and we've seen Ph hit 8.45 but is now holding at approx 8.25-8.3. I'm guessing the media is getting used up and needs replacement. I'm a bit surprised that it gets used up so quickly and I'm wondering what the longer term expense of that media will end up being. If I can get our 3D printer to actually work (that's a whole different story) and I can print a recirculating top for the protein skimmer. I have seen a drop in alkalinity (down to 6.5) since starting the Co2 scrubber, which I'm taking as a sign of greater growth in the tank. In response, I started dosing AFR. We'll see how things go. I'm also considering another salt, since I've been using Tropic Marin Pro and that mixes to an alk of 7 and it's also out of stock at BRS.

The tank overall looks really good - we keep monkeying around with placement of rockwork, gyres, etc. I'm sure we're touching things a bit too much, but the tank really has become a bit of a fixation for us, at least for now anyways.

Quick iphone shot:
IMG_0474 (1).jpg
 
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JoeinLA

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One other thing to add here: There seems to be a fairly meaningful difference between the Hanna Phosphate checker and the Phosphorus checker. As an example, 2 nights ago, Phosphates were 0.08 and Phosphorus showed 14 (which converts into ~0.045. Last night, Phosphates showed 0.06 and Phosphorus showed 15. All results were in the margin of error either way, but if you're shooting for what I understand as the "magic range" 0.03-0.05 phosphates, it seems like the Phosphate checker is too inaccurate for that level of precision...?

This hobby seems to be either a godsend or a curse for anyone with even remote OCD...
 
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