90-gallon Peaceful Reef

Soren

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CURRENT UPDATES as of 2021-03-17 10:38
Floor drilled for plumbing down to basement "fish room" (2021-03-16 20:30):
20210317_075944_E.jpg


Current FOWLR and in-progress setup photo from this morning (2021-03-10):
1615389109043.png


Backdrop outdoor posters received for mangrove lagoon and 90-gallon reef (2021-03-08):
1615302006600.png


Current Fish Stocking List as of 2021-03-11 17:42
Current planned fish list:
90-gallon reef:
1X Fiji Bicolor Foxface (Siganus uspi)
2X Darwin Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
2X Royal Gramma (Gramma loreto)
2X Sharknose Gobies (Elcatinus evelynae)
1X Rainsford's Goby (Amblygobius rainfordi)
1X Orangespotted Shrimp Goby (Amblyeleotris guttata)
1X Bristletooth Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis)
3X Yellowstriped Cardinalfish (Ostorhincus cyanosoma) or Seal's Cardinalfish (Ostorhincus sealei)
2X Scissortail Dartfish (Ptereleotris evides)
1X Melanurus Wrasse (Halichoerus melanurus)
1X Engineer Goby (Pholidichthys leucotaenia)

75-gallon mangrove lagoon:
1X Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) [already in FOWLR]
1X Rectangle Triggerfish (Rhinecanthus rectangulus) [already in FOWLR]
1X Snowflake Eel (Echidna nebulosa) [already in FOWLR]
1X One Spot Foxface (Siganus unimaculatus)
1X Pink Streaked Wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia)

~40-gallon Sump Refugium Section:
2X Janss' Pipefish (Doryrhamphus janssi)
2X Spotted Mandarinfish (Synchiropus picturatus)


Planned layout (shorter stand will be standard rather than custom-built):
90-Reef_02-01.png

1607367517683.png




75-gallon mangrove lagoon and 90-gallon display are both drilled for Modular Marine 1200gph overflows (awaiting setup and installation). (2021-01-21)
20210119_202617.jpg


Stand Frame finished and awaiting skin, trim, and countertop (2021-01-04):
90G_Stand_02.jpg

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATES as of 2020-12-07 13:00
Modular Marine 1200GPH overflows shipping soon, fish list being revised and researched, materials for stand are in my shop waiting for fabrication, most equipment is sourced and on-hand for progress over holiday break



ORIGINAL POST
After being introduced to keeping a marine aquarium with the acquisition of a 75-gallon FOWLR from a co-worker as detailed in my post in the Meet & Greet forum, I am just starting the planning phase of building a 90-gallon peaceful reef tank.
Since I am new, I am planning to start with more hardy fishes, corals, and invertebrates. Research is one thing I enjoy doing, so I will be careful and patient in the planning phase to reduce likelihood of wasted expense and failures when I am starting out.

I already have the tank (48 inches long, 18 inches wide, 25 inches deep) and stand with an open base design that should allow for a sump. There are no holes drilled in the aquarium for plumbing, so I will probably need overflow over the top, unless drilling through the glass is a consideration I take. A sump with a refugium is very likely to be included (30 to 55 gallons, not sure how to size the sump? ...is bigger better?).
80-lbs of dry rock, 40-lbs of Caribsea Arag-alive Fiji Pink, and 20-lbs of Caribsea Arag-alive Special Grade are on order so I can get rockscape and substrate ready to begin cycling in the next month or two. I am in no rush, but I would like to have the materials on hand when I am ready to start this tank, especially if there is any pre-setup processing I need to do.

This is my initial fish list based on preliminary research, and recommendations for additions, subtractions, or changes are appreciated.
Listed in approximate order of preference:
2 of Black and White Ocellaris Clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
1 of Purple Tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) [I already have this ~4-inch fish that will be transferred over from my 75-gallon]
1 of Kole Yellow Eye Tang (Ctenochaetus strigosus) or 1 of Bristletooth Tomini Tang (Ctenochaetus tominiensis)
1 of Foxface Lo (Siganus vulpinus) or 1 of Bicolor Foxface (Siganus uspi) or 1 of One Spot Foxface (Siganus unimaculatus)
1-2 of Engineer Goby (Pholidichthys leucotaenia)
2-3 of Chalk Bass (Serranus tortugarum)
2-3 of Neon Goby (Elcatinus oceanops)
2-4 of Yellowstriped Cardinalfish (Ostorhincus cyanosoma)
2 of Blue/Green Black-axil Chromis (Chromis sp.) or 2 of Yellowtail Damselfish (Chrysiptera parasema) or 2 of Blue Sapphire Damselfish (Chrysiptera cf. springeri)

Some items on this list are probably not subject to change. My favorite fish is the Black and White Ocellaris Clownfish, especially paired symbiotically with Rose Bubble-Tip Anemones. These two fish along with RBTA are surely on my list.
The Purple Tang came with the 75-gallon tank I got and is one of my most favorite fish, so I would like him to be in the 90-gallon reef (at least until he may grow too large?).
Fish from the genus Siganus I find particularly striking and interesting, so one will likely be included.
The Engineer Goby is one of my favorites also for its coloration and resemblance to an eel. I am not sure if it is better to include two or only one.
The Chalk Bass is my favorite small fish and would like to include more than one.
The other fish are just considerations for different colors or interests if they can be added without overcrowding the tank or overloading the biosystem.
I really like eels, and my 75-gallon aquarium came with a ~11-inch Snowflake Eel, but it seems they are not good to add to a 90-gallon reef. Since I also have triggerfish that are not compatible with the reef, I will probably leave the 75-gallon as a FOWLR in addition to the 90-gallon reef aquarium.

Does this seem way too heavy a bio-load for a 90-gallon tank (probably with a 30-to-55-gallon sump)? Should I remove fish or can I add fish (either more quantity or more types) to the list? What sequence should I add the fish to best aid success?

I am not really sure which corals to include, so I am open to suggestions. I want hardy beginner corals at the start and will see where I head from here in the future.
My initial research has me considering the following, though much more research and recommendations are needed before adding any:
Mushroom Anemones, branching Sinularia, Porites, Leather, Acropora (maybe too difficult?), Star Polyps, Euphyllia (especially ancora)
Corals are one category where I am very open to recommendations.

Other invertebrates, such as hermit crabs, snails, shrimp, starfish, urchins, conchs will be included for clean-up, though I am also very open to suggestions in this area and will refine considerations as I make a more specific plan for the fishes and corals that are to be included.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations, especially initial reactions to my considerations. I know this is broad right now, but I will get more specific in considerations and schedule as I progress in my research. I have been reading a lot about reefing and marine aquariums online and in books and will continue to do so in conjunction with recommendations on R2R for a practical education towards a successful reef.

Current Aquascape awaiting cementing (2020-12-07):
1607367614903.png


Cemented Aquascape (2021-01-23):
20210123_150617.jpg


33-gallon Brute can ready for pre-cycling rock, sand, and aquascape (2021-01-23):
20210123_150636.jpg


Aquascape start-cycle in progress (2021-01-28):
1612277606848.png

Kind regards,
Soren
 
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alveopora guy

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Welcome to reef2reef and congrats on the new tank! For the sump bigger is always better as it adds to the overall water volume in the tank. I’ve always tried to fit the biggest tank I can into there, but a 30 gallon would work for a 90 gallon as a sump. As for the fish I would skip on the Kole tang as I would hate for it to bully your purple tang. I would also not recommend the engineer gobies in a reef. I tried them in my 120, but they are so destructive and covered all of my corals near the ground within a day. They also get giant. If you’re looking for eel like movement you could look into the Midas Benny. Very cool fish and has that kinda eel like look to it. I would go with the cardinal fish as well instead of the damsels. Damsels are super ferocious most times, and would probably bully other tank mates in the future. You should be fine everywhere else though. Just watch out for the cardinal fish with your basslets and gobies. They have huge mouths, and I had one swallow up my male clownfish a long time ago. Good luck on setting it up! Always my favorite thing is the scaling of the tank and thinking of stocking options.
 
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Soren

Soren

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Welcome to reef2reef and congrats on the new tank! For the sump bigger is always better as it adds to the overall water volume in the tank. I’ve always tried to fit the biggest tank I can into there, but a 30 gallon would work for a 90 gallon as a sump. As for the fish I would skip on the Kole tang as I would hate for it to bully your purple tang. I would also not recommend the engineer gobies in a reef. I tried them in my 120, but they are so destructive and covered all of my corals near the ground within a day. They also get giant. If you’re looking for eel like movement you could look into the Midas Benny. Very cool fish and has that kinda eel like look to it. I would go with the cardinal fish as well instead of the damsels. Damsels are super ferocious most times, and would probably bully other tank mates in the future. You should be fine everywhere else though. Just watch out for the cardinal fish with your basslets and gobies. They have huge mouths, and I had one swallow up my male clownfish a long time ago. Good luck on setting it up! Always my favorite thing is the scaling of the tank and thinking of stocking options.
Thanks for your response, alveopora guy!
My plan right now is to rebuild the stand to accommodate an extra 75-gallon tank I have as the sump so I can include a refugium and acclimation space in the sump. I also might tie in a 20-gallon long tank alongside the sump for mangroves to help with nitrate and phosphate removal.

Now, I am leaning towards the Kole tang or Tomini tang without the purple tang in my reef tank, since the purple tang will likely outgrow a 90-gallon 48"X18"-footprint tank. I would like to add fish that can be kept for their full life in this reef tank (hopefully). This might mean selling the purple tang, but, since I already have him, I will keep him in my 75-gallon FOWLR and decide later as he grows.

I am really interested in the engineer gobies, both for the looks and for the sand-bed working, but I will have to research more about coral to avoid the issue you mentioned about low corals getting buried. Thanks for the recommendation on the Midas Benny. I will look into that as a replacement option.

Currently, my list of fish options no longer includes the damsels. I do not want to overstock and they are my least desired fish on the list, so they get bumped off. Also, thanks for the clarification on the cardinalfish. I was pretty sure the species I wanted would be compatible and not large enough to consume others on the list, but I am always open to advice.

Right now, the planning stage is both exciting and problematic. While I quite enjoy planning out the 90-gallon tank and sump, I have to deal with holding back the desire to have everything possible and holding back the desire to dream about a bigger and bigger aquarium!
 

alveopora guy

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That’s sounds like a good plan on the purple tang. Some of them can get pretty massive and they are very fast swimmers. That’s going to be an awesome sump set up. I run a 40 gallon sump on my 120 so you should be more then fine!
 
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Soren

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Right now, I am trying to make some start-up decisions.
Should I wait until I can set up the tank in my living room to add rocks and sand before starting the cycle in the complete system, or should I start cycling my rocks now in a Brute can to overlap some cycle time with planning, preparation, and plumbing time? Also, should I include a coralline starter culture (in addition to Dr. Tim's One and Only) to a rocks-only cycle in the Brute can if I go that route, or is that a waste?

I am leaning towards starting cycle in the Brute can since I still have some decisions to make and work to do on the setup and plumbing of the reef. I also have an excess of live rock for the display so some can be in the sump. Though I may want to take some time doing the rock aquascape in the display (which might undo the benefit of pre-cycle if the rocks dry), the rocks for the sump would be added directly and should help boost the cycle in the reef system if not avoiding it entirely.
 
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Soren

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I started the preliminary aquascape last evening to determine if I wanted to try to cycle just the rocks or glued sections of the aquascape or if I should wait until the 90-gallon is set up to just cycle the whole system. Finding difficulties in getting it the way I want, I am leaning toward either cycling glued sections or cycling only the left-over rock and cycling the system once set up.

One note: I plan to include some fish that need swimming room, so I would rather keep the rocks somewhat sparse in the display and can make up for biological filtration with more rocks in the mangrove tank as well as the sump.

Attached are pictures and a video (not so great but maybe better than just pictures) of my current aquascape including an image with notes added on planned corals and placement. Starred items are higher on my preference list. I would appreciate feedback on the aquascape as well as on my choices for corals and locations.
IMGP1617E1.png

The left side will be in the corner of the room. Overflow will probably be on the right-side end where the mangrove tank will be located (which will overflow into the sump under the display, sump returns to main display).
The left side is a large cave with smaller caves inside as well as a tunnel through the back. Center is an arched tunnel with space to swim through front and back. The right side is an isolated island to try to keep BTA's that I would like to have for a pair of clowns but do not want them splitting and overtaking the tank.
The left-side cave and middle arch will be nested but not attached with glue in the middle to allow for fitting in a Brute can for cycling (if not cycling whole system) and to allow for easier removal or modifications if needed in the future.

For flow, I am planning the return on the back left corner to flow across the back of the tank between the rocks and wall. Powerheads will also be used, and I plan one on the middle-left-top to agitate surface, one on front-left-top aimed slightly down across front of reef, and one on middle-back-bottom to ensure flow through the arch from back-left to front-right. I would like to create moderate flow with some surge action, but I am still not completely sure on flow. Any advice is appreciated. All powerheads will have protection over them to prevent animals from entering. I may 3D-print screens that are spaced out around the heads to achieve this.

Thanks,
Soren
IMGP1623.JPG IMGP1625.JPG IMGP1627.JPG IMGP1631.JPG IMGP1632.JPG
 

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Soren

Soren

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what's going in the sump?
sorry if I missed this in the thread but are you going to have mechanical filtration? skimmer? algae scrubber?
The sump is not completely defined yet. I have some preliminary sketches and plans, but these may change as I learn more and consider more suggestions.

Right now, I plan for the display reef to overflow into the mangrove tank which overflows into the sump. This image shows my preliminary plan with question marks for items yet to determine.
1606254758099.png

The main function of the Bioballs/Biofilter section with the skimmer(s) is to have ready filtration media for establishing a quarantine tank if necessary in case I do not want to leave one up and functional all the time.

...and I failed to include that there will be filter socks or a roller mat to catch the flow from the mangrove tank into the sump. No mechanical filtration will be used between reef and mangroves.
 
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Soren

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cool idea.
have you researched algae scrubbers at all?
I have looked into them and was not yet too interested, though I might consider an algae trough like @Paul B has if I need it beyond the nutrient uptake from the mangroves (and chaeto and/or macroalgae, if included). I am not interested in spending a lot of money, but might DIY something. My family has a lot of experience with plants, so I have a ready base for research. This is probably one of the strongest reasons I am interested in the mangroves and other plants.
 

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Hi Soren,
Impressive set up, particularly with the mangrove tank. A couple of suggestions for you to consider as you design your sump.

First, don't plan to use the sump for quarantine. Any infection or parasites on fish or coral you place there, as well as any medication, will spread to your display tank. You could use it to grow coral frags or beneficial copepods. I have successfully used the sump to isolate a fish being bullied in the display tank until I could reintroduce him.

The skimmer will take a fair amount of space and you will also likely need to modify water depth in the section where you put it to match the recommended depth for the skimmer to work efficiently. I only have a 30 gallon sump for my 125 gallon display, It is 19 inches tall but my skimmer only wants 8 inches max water depth, so I've had to design around that depth to efficiently use the available space in the sump.

Why do you intend to use mechanical filtration (skimmer and socks, roller mat ,or floss) after the mangrove tank instead of before? I would have expected mechanical filtration first so you can trap the detritus early. I don't have experience with a mangrove tank, but it sounds like an interesting experiment.

Chaeto is a form of macroalgae and you probably don't need other types in a second refugium. You might want to put the Chaeto in the mangrove tank since the purpose of both the mangroves and the macro algae is to remove nitrates and phosphates from the water column.

Put as much foam filter media into the sump as possible for biological filtration. The following website has some interesting info concerning filter media in freshwater aquariums, which I believe is just as relevant for saltwater.

https://aquariumscience.org/

A 75 gallon mangrove tank and a 75 gallon sump for a 90 gallon display tank is incredible. I wish I had the space to consider options like this.

Good luck
 
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Soren

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Hi Soren,
Impressive set up, particularly with the mangrove tank. A couple of suggestions for you to consider as you design your sump.

First, don't plan to use the sump for quarantine. Any infection or parasites on fish or coral you place there, as well as any medication, will spread to your display tank. You could use it to grow coral frags or beneficial copepods. I have successfully used the sump to isolate a fish being bullied in the display tank until I could reintroduce him.

The skimmer will take a fair amount of space and you will also likely need to modify water depth in the section where you put it to match the recommended depth for the skimmer to work efficiently. I only have a 30 gallon sump for my 125 gallon display, It is 19 inches tall but my skimmer only wants 8 inches max water depth, so I've had to design around that depth to efficiently use the available space in the sump.

Why do you intend to use mechanical filtration (skimmer and socks, roller mat ,or floss) after the mangrove tank instead of before? I would have expected mechanical filtration first so you can trap the detritus early. I don't have experience with a mangrove tank, but it sounds like an interesting experiment.

Chaeto is a form of macroalgae and you probably don't need other types in a second refugium. You might want to put the Chaeto in the mangrove tank since the purpose of both the mangroves and the macro algae is to remove nitrates and phosphates from the water column.

Put as much foam filter media into the sump as possible for biological filtration. The following website has some interesting info concerning filter media in freshwater aquariums, which I believe is just as relevant for saltwater.

https://aquariumscience.org/

A 75 gallon mangrove tank and a 75 gallon sump for a 90 gallon display tank is incredible. I wish I had the space to consider options like this.

Good luck
Thanks for the detailed feedback, @threebuoys!
To your first point, the sump will definitely not be used as my quarantine or hospital tank for the exact reasons you mention. My intention for isolation in the sump is precisely as you noted for just physically keeping fish apart to avoid aggression issues.

The skimmers I am likely to use at this point are hang-on-back type, so they do not take up any noticeable sump space but do require an over-sized stand to allow for space behind the sump and clearance around the sump for installation and maintenance. I have tried to design in enough room, but this will be pretty tight. Additional skimming may be done with hang-on-back skimmer(s) on the mangrove lagoon. Since they are hang-on-back, the water level will be quite high up the tank in order for effective and efficient skimming. I am gaining direct experience with this right now with my Reef Octopus 90-HOB on my 75-gallon FOWLR tank (which will be what becomes the mangrove lagoon).

The reason I plan for mechanical filtration just before the sump is to keep as much hardware under the stand as possible so it is not viewable. Additionally, there will be fish in the mangrove lagoon as well (fish not safe in the reef tank) that will add to the filtration need. Due to the layout, I may be adding mechanical filtration between the reef and mangrove lagoon as well just for more thorough removal of detritus. Also, the mangrove lagoon will include some fish that may consume detritus as well as engineer gobies to keep the sand well mixed and clean, so the extra detritus may not be a problem in the lagoon.

I understand that chaetomorpha is a type of macroalgae and would limit/eliminate the need for other macroalgaes or the mangroves. The main reason I may include all three is for efficiency, diversity, and because I like macroalgae but also like herbivorous fish (especially tangs and foxfaces) that would consume macroalgae in the reef tank. The other macroalgae would be for interest and for homing refugium food creatures as well as a possible place to grow natural herbivorous foods. The refugium is intended for display as well through the front of the stand, so I will make it look nice as well. There may be some macroalgae included in the mangrove lagoon as well, though I will likely have an herbivorous fish in there as well to limit algae overgrowth.

Thanks for the advice and link about bio-filtration. I will need quite a lot, since I would like as many fish as are reasonably possible in my setup.

As I found during tank stand design, I have just enough room at the end of my living room to fit this setup. I had to make some compromises in the tank stand layout and plumbing due to physical dimensional limitations of the room. Right next to where the setup will be is a closet for additional hidden storage, and the location is directly over an open room in my basement with nearby electrical and plumbing sources ideal for a small fish room and quarantine tanks.
It is certainly nice having my own house to work with in this design!
 
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Soren

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I made some updates to the aquascape, mostly because I had the original in the tank and could not find a good way to attach the rocks together. While removing the rocks for mounting, I got myself mixed up enough to just redo the aquascape altogether (and make some tweaks I considered on the original). Though the pictures do not show it very well, there is still room all the way around for swimming room as well as access to the glass for cleaning. The height of the brown paper is the approximate height of the tank inside.
1607367170251.png

I still have the cave and mountain on the left, with a cliff-faced trench in the middle, and the arch off to the right as well as including a shelfed tower in the middle toward the back. I think I like this aquascape better, both in visual appeal and for coral placement, and it takes the earlier suggestions into account.
1607367288662.png
 

quirkylemon103

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I made some updates to the aquascape, mostly because I had the original in the tank and could not find a good way to attach the rocks together. While removing the rocks for mounting, I got myself mixed up enough to just redo the aquascape altogether (and make some tweaks I considered on the original). Though the pictures do not show it very well, there is still room all the way around for swimming room as well as access to the glass for cleaning. The height of the brown paper is the approximate height of the tank inside.
1607367170251.png

I still have the cave and mountain on the left, with a cliff-faced trench in the middle, and the arch off to the right as well as including a shelfed tower in the middle toward the back. I think I like this aquascape better, both in visual appeal and for coral placement, and it takes the earlier suggestions into account.
1607367288662.png
looks good :)
 
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Soren

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looks good :)
Thanks for stopping by!
I am looking forward to getting home from work and finding the overflows from Modular Marine that were delivered today! Next steps are to cement the aquascape and get it cycling in a Brute can and prepare to drill the 90-gallon and one 75-gallon for the overflows.
The materials for the stand are still waiting in my shop for fabrication as well... I hope to have a productive vacation between Christmas and New Year's Day.
 

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Sorry if you said this but how are you running the drains from tank to tank?

What style of drains I mean?

Also don't worry about water depth when choosing your sump. You can easily make or buy a little platform for your skimmer to sit on at it's appropriate water level.
 
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