93 Gallon Build: An introduction to patience...

JBKReef

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Alright lets get down to business… checking the information on my photos it looks like my journey began on June 1 of 2017, its now January 15th and as of last night the tank finally got its first fish. I thought I was time for me to get around to creating my build thread. I documented the process all along the way so hopefully this helps anyone who has the same problems I ran into or has any questions about my equipment. Here is the tank as it stands today and I’m writing this:
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This tank was to be a gift for my then girlfriend (now fiancé, more on that later) but grew into an obsession for myself. In high school she had the opportunity to do an independent study on a reef ecosystem which boiled down to maintaining and growing a 160 gallon tank. While this would have been a fun undertaking I did not have the funds or space to house such a behemoth. After picking the perfect spot and doing some research I chose the marineland 93 gallon cube aquarium. Little did I know what I was getting into…

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Here is the onboxing of the equipment and I quickly realized I was in over my head. I broke the news to her and we began the process piecing together our joint hobby. Here is a breakdown of our equipment:

  • Display tank: Marine Land 93 Gallon cube w/ overflow 30x30x24
  • Glass or Acrylic: Glass
  • Stand: Customized ventura stand
  • Sump: Trigger Sapphire Cube 20
  • Protein skimmer: Reef Octopus Classic 152-S 6" Internal Protein Skimmer
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: BRS Reactor
  • Return pump: Sicce 4.0
  • Water circulation: Vortech MP40 x2
  • Lighting (display): Kessil A360W-E x2
  • Lighting (refugium): Kessil A80
  • Auto top-off: Neptune ATK
  • Heating: Eheim Jager 150w and FInnex Titanium 500W
  • System control: Apex Jr, Inkbird Heater controller, WXM, VDM, FMM
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Now not only did my partner in crime have her independent study in high school she went on to become a veterinarian and picked up a degree in marine biology along the way… all this considered means… we had to have a proper quarantine system.

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I had just as much fun setting these guys up as I did our main display the breakdown is as follows:

  • Quarantine tanks: Aqueon 20G tall (fish) Aqueon 20G long (coral)
  • Glass or Acrylic: Glass
  • Stand: ikea coffee table and end table (lack)
  • FIltration: Aquaclear 30 (fish) Quietflow 30 (Coral – modified)
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: BRS Reactor Mini Reactor (Coral only)
  • Water circulation: Tunze Nanostream 6015
  • Lighting: Stock LED in aqueon hood (fish) Kessil A80 Tuna blue (Coral)
  • Auto top-off: DIY drippers
  • Heating: Cobal Neo-Therms 75W
  • System control: Rocketfish surge protector and timers (lights)

Another fun project I undertook in my waiting to get the aquarium up and running is playing with light diffuser… need a frag rack? Light diffusor. Protein Skimmer not sitting up high enough? Light diffusor. Elevating the PMUP to not run a concentrated Kalkwasser solution? Light diffusor. Here are my DIY racks.
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Alright and for the initial inhabitant, ladies and gents meet Alpha, the firefish. For QT we’re running two treatments of PraziPro and 4 weeks at the proper copper concentration. While we waiting for Alpha to due his time in QT (and our stand build to be modified) I took a trip down south. Visited World Wide Corals and hung out with Casper for a couple hours. This place is amazing and I can not wait to purchase some of their amazing product.

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Once I returned home, Cincinnati area, it was time to buckle down and get the tank went… but first we had to assemble some lighting and work on the aquascape. (this was one of many iterations and not the final product.) Also Alpha graduated QT and while awaiting future inhabitants moved into the coral QT which had some more enjoyable cover for him and more accurate lighting for what would eventually be the display.
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Progress was made! And the sump made its way into the stand. I worked on laying out the footprint under the tank, and tried to figure out my return manifold. This set up was a big advantageous and would eventually be trimmed down. As you can see here I have dry fitted with some regular PVC before finishing up with the always popular Schedule 80 fitting with blue PVC.

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We ran into our first product quality issue, unfortunately it was my Neptune ATK. I want to give a shout out here though to the amazing customer service they offer. After just two emails I as sent out a replacement optical censor and we’re back on our way with the build.

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Sump filled, lights wired, we’re about to get wet people. A couple shots of the check and double check of being level and having our lights up and running.

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Tragedy struck… to this point I had not made any errors that were irreversible. While assembling the last piece of plumbing, literally the last pvc cementing to be done I accidently use the wrong slip fitting for a valve and had to cut it out and reorder… $17 in replacement parts and shipping later we’re wet!

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Time to work on my birdsnest of wires and make this look a little more presentable since its in my living room. Some progress shots on the wiring. I was quite please with myself. It was about this time, second week of December I took part of the Reddit Secret Santa gift exchange. My secret santa wanted to provide me with something to benefit my hobby, it was an auto feeder. Not going to be used but it was an awesome gesture.

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As I said, at the start the girlfriend transition to fiancé, on New Years eve I proposed and she said yes.. we’re starting the process of planning our wedding and man… I thought aquariums were expensive.

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If you saw in the product photo initially we’re using the Red Sea Reef mature program, so on Day 13 (January 13) we added our clean up crew. It was such an amazing feeling to see life in the tank we had spent 7 months imagining and building. So far we have a couple emerald crabs and trochus snails.

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My first frag show! Cincy Reef hosted their 14th annual frag swap and I picked up my first pieces. I felt comfortable the Coral QT had been up and running long enough and seeded with enough biospira for months and having Alpha in there for awhile got everything ready for these guys. It was a bit overwhelming and fun to experience. I picked up a torch coral, couple of zoanthids, favia, a piece of GSP, and I have to admit a piece of LPS I’m not sure of what it is. I had written down everything I acquired but misplaced my cheat sheet. One of the zoanthis is armor of god but I can not recall the other, the mystery LPS had a name resembling “sub zero” and I thought mortal combat but I do not believe that was the actual name.

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That got us from June 1st through January 13th this is where we stand today. On Day 14 of the Red Sea program we introduced Gamma (starry blenny) and Delta (tailspot blenny) into the system. I also used the ARC coraline algae in a bottle since I used all dry rock. As of Friday we had our first color of coraline, green. This is how the tank stands today. I’ve found a great hobby, and awesome community with R2R and look forward to updating as we go.


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jsker

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Great build, Congratulation on the impending nuptials. ;Woot;Woot;Woot
 
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JBKReef

JBKReef

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Well over the past 48 hours I've lost 2 narissus snails and an emerald crab. I'm worried I may have messed up the acclimation of the CuC. They were drip acclimated however with the frigid temperatures locally lately I'm wondering if the hour they spent getting dripped cooled out the container (about a quart size) too much and then they were shocked when added to the main tank. The Trocus snails and one other emerald seem to be doing just fine. Even though I'm doing the Red Sea Mature program I might skip a step and do a larger water change. My Ammonia and Nitrite are in line with where they expect you to be however the Nitrate are still hovering between 30 and 50.
 

don_chuwish

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You certainly didn't hold back on the equipment shopping list! Nice choices.
What kind of rock is that?
 
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JBKReef

JBKReef

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You certainly didn't hold back on the equipment shopping list! Nice choices.
What kind of rock is that?
Go big or go home seems to be my philosophy...

Honestly I'm not sure, its what my LFS had on hand... it started dry and dead he refereed to it as "dinosaur bones" but thats as basic and off hand as I have.

I had it in a brute can for about 2 months with biospira and dosed occasionally with Dr Tims ammonia. I should have done more water changes with it than I did, but I think in those two months the water was switched out 3 or 4 times. It was heated and circulated using two MJ1200's. Its about 70 pounds of rock. Which for a 93 I think is a bit light but I was going for minimal rock, I have a good bit of the Marinepure biomedia cubes in the sump to provide more surface area for bacteria.
 

don_chuwish

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Interesting, they look very cool, just wondering if they're meant more for fresh water or if it even matters.
 
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JBKReef

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Interesting, they look very cool, just wondering if they're meant more for fresh water or if it even matters.
That's a fair question and I have no idea... I just assumed going with dead rock if it was seeded and cycled it would be fine. I have heard some rocks leach phosphate so who knows if this is not meant for my application.

That being said it was kept by the saltwater tanks, shame on them for confusing me. ;Bored
 
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JBKReef

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Found out what I thought was a mystery LPS is actually a Mr Freeze Leptoseris, this will more than likely not make it. I guess I made the rookie mistake of buying something I was not 100% sure what it was or the care requirements.

Mr Freeze.jpg

Happier news though the mystery zoanthid I wasn't sure about is actually an Utter Chaos...

Utter Chaos.jpg
 
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JBKReef

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I'm starting to grow weary of the Red Sea mature program, I've made it to day 18 of 22 but I'm considering doing a large water change. I'm past the point of adding anymore bacteria and only dosing the NO3PO4-X and KH CoralineGro. I dont think there would be any issue with a large water change. At this point the bacteria is not free floating from dosing a week ago and I dont think getting fresh water would do anything but help lower my nitrates.
 
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JBKReef

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A local reefer was breaking down one of the 8 tanks in his house ( talk about goals) and I picked up a couple heads of what he was selling as Frogspawn however I'm pretty sure its branching hammer.

After dipping the baby third head fell off the main two but they are both looking pretty good.

Hammertime.jpg

I think after another couple days of observation, and a final CoralRx dip I'm going to move these guys into the main display.

I've had these guys in QT under a Kessil A80 Tuna Blue; moving them into the main display with a 360, I'm hoping the similar lights and spectrum will make the transition easy.

I'm taking a vacation starting February 1st and its going through Feb 9th. I'm terrified to leave the tank for the week lol.
 

FlyinBryan

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I'm starting to grow weary of the Red Sea mature program, I've made it to day 18 of 22 but I'm considering doing a large water change. I'm past the point of adding anymore bacteria and only dosing the NO3PO4-X and KH CoralineGro. I dont think there would be any issue with a large water change. At this point the bacteria is not free floating from dosing a week ago and I dont think getting fresh water would do anything but help lower my nitrates.
I’m with you on this. Im old school, if it works, why change it. But looks like it’s your first build, so, good luck!

Thank you for sharing and congratulations on engagement, guys look good!!
 
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JBKReef

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I’m with you on this. Im old school, if it works, why change it. But looks like it’s your first build, so, good luck!

Thank you for sharing and congratulations on engagement, guys look good!!
It is my first build! Thank you. I've learned so much and there certainly would be things I will do differently next time. I love the look of the cube and it fits perfectly into the space but I absolutely hate the stand. Once I upgrade to a (insert tank size between 120-220) I will definitely make a custom stand to ensure its capable of everything I need it to.

I caved and did the large water change. I've actually done two... I think my total water volume is around 100 gallons and in the past week I've done a 25 gallon and 20 gallon water change. Nitrates were around 40 and I want to get them around 10-15 before bringing over my frags.

Tonight I plan on adding a filter sock, carbon/gfo, and starting another large water change (approx 30 gallons) I've made it through the red sea mature program and for someone who doesn't know anything about the process, and has not dosed a drop of other bacteria or ammonia, it would be good. Since I had my rock curing/cycling for about 2 months prior to using the program I think it did not work as it was supposed to. Nothing wrong with being overly cautious though.

As for some visual appeal... here is Gamma the algae hog.

Gamma.jpg
 

scott11106

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good progression, tank is coming along well.
i am building a house and adding a brand new system in my build so i will continue to watch your progression....

good job
 
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JBKReef

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Things are progressing around the 93... This week we added chaeto to the refugium and some pods from Algae barn.

AB.jpg

I was worried the inclement weather was going to be an issue but they took great care of their product. Even though it was almost freezing outside (35 degrees F) the product was on my doorstep and hovering around 60 degrees. Amazing packaging.

AB temp.jpg

After doing a 20 gallon water change on Friday, and almost a 50% water change yesterday (45 gallons) I'm moving the frags over into the DT today. I'm nervous but very excited to move this fish only tank into a reef tank. I've been ramping the A80 up over the last couple days to hope the acclamation is easy on the corals once they get into the DT. I think I will also need to scale back the MP40's the flow is kicking in the cube and after observing my blenny's struggling to fight the current in some parts of the tank I know the corals will not be happy.

Adding the carbon/gfo to the reactor the first time was not as easy as I had planned. With only a 100 gallon total water volume I only needed like a total of 18 tablespoons of media. This was barely enough to fill the reactor half full and keeping the media from tumbling and tightly packed was very difficult. I think I have the process down now however and will be smoother the next time I go in to replace it.

Finally a fun photo from the other night.... My emerald crab hiking a ride on a trochus snail... Onward noble steed!

Steed.jpg
 

Neo Jeo

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Maybe the emerald wants a snack ;)

-How is the purple hex stuff working out on your rocks?
 
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JBKReef

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Maybe the emerald wants a snack ;)

-How is the purple hex stuff working out on your rocks?
Ha, I was paying close attention making sure he wasn't snacking on the snail, he was enjoying some algae off his shell the moved on...

I'm seeing some slow growth, two spots of green algae the purple I thought I saw was driven by some beer goggles I guess. If the green takes over I will be fine with the price of the product.
 

Neo Jeo

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Ha, I was paying close attention making sure he wasn't snacking on the snail, he was enjoying some algae off his shell the moved on...

I'm seeing some slow growth, two spots of green algae the purple I thought I saw was driven by some beer goggles I guess. If the green takes over I will be fine with the price of the product.
lol & I want purple to take over. Most of the growth is purple for me at the moment.
 

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