A return to the hobby build (Reefer 170)

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astiesi

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After being away from the hobby for a few years I've decided I've been away long enough and found a spot in the house for a small mixed reef tank. The footprint I'm looking for is something in the 24"x20"x20". I want a setup with a sump and some flexibility in terms of what can be added below it, all without looking to expand much outside of the stand. For perspective, here is a picture of the desired location. The door on the right is a double door to my office and the left side door is rarely opened. We've had furniture there before so not intrusive at all with that footprint.

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I also told myself that I would not buy a new tank without a proper RO & water change setup. My RO unit was in need of some new filters and a good cleaning, having made about 10 gallons a week for the last 5 years to sustain a 15 gallon FOWLR tank which houses just a couple of clowns. Here it is, new filters and ready to go, 2 tds coming out of the RO, 0 tds coming out of the DI stage.

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And finally, even with the success of my 65g going back nearly 10 years ago now, I never really graduated from 5 gallon buckets. It was this brute force method which resulted in multiple floods and the ruining of a laminate floor. This time it would have to be different. So I decided to build a proper water station, with the top container holding my RO water with a float valve and the bottom setup with a mixing pump and soon to have a hose connected. This hose will allow me to fill the tank in the house from the garage, with no 5 gallon buckets required.

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So now that my pre-reqs are just about complete (have to clean up the mix container and work a bit on the plumbing), I have started looking at tanks. I was just about sold on the Red Sea Reefer 170, as it has the perfect footprint and is a very nice setup. However, I've also seen the Waterbox Marine X 60.2, which has a similar footprint with a bigger sump. Does anyone here have any feedback on one vs. the other? Any other contenders out there with a similar footprint?

Whichever way I go I will post the equipment list here as I decide on one piece of gear vs. another. I sold most of my 65g setup so I'll be treating this as a start from scratch scenario.

Oh, and have patience as this will be a slow build.

***********************
Up-to-date Equipment List
***********************

TankRed Sea Reefer 170
Return PumpReef Octopus VarioS-2 DC Pump
SkimmerBubble Magus Curve 5 Elite
HeaterEheim JAGER 150W Heater
Heater ControllerInkbird ITC-308
LidCustom Screen Lid - An nstiesi production
PowerheadRed Sea ReefWave 25
LightingTBD
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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So I finally made up my mind and ordered the tank. I went with the Red Sea Reefer 170. I also ordered a Varios-2 to use as the return pump. First time with a DC pump so looking forward to playing with it a bit, see if they are really quieter than my old AC pumps. Cannot wait till they get here, will post lots of pictures as I setup.

Also wanted to mention, the water change center is life changing. I've been using it over the last few weeks on my little 15g and the ease at which a water change happens is unreal. Takes me 13 minutes now, no 5g buckets, no spills. Highly recommend to spend some focus there first, as it makes display maintenence enjoyable.

Any recommendations on salt? I used to swear by reef crystals but picked up a bucket of red sea salt to give it a try for the initial fill.
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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Received the freight notification that the tank has shipped. Not long now. Realizing I am still missing a ton of equipment. Guess its time to get back to researching.

Still need circulation pumps, skimmer, light, heater, and going to get a custom screened top.
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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And it has arrived...

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Packed really well, was a bit nervous about getting a shipped tank (every other one I ever owned came from a LFS). Opened it up to ensure no damage even with the wrapping and box looking pristine.

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Cannot wait to get it setup. Need to paint the area in the house where its going first so may still be a few weeks away, we'll see...
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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Time for another update.

On Sunday I was finally able to build the stand and get the tank leveled and setup in its new home. Here is a picture to document the occasion. Continuing to be very impressed by Red Sea's attention to detail. Sure beats the DIY stuff I used to work almost exclusively with.

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I did purchase a skimmer. Ended up grabbing a Bubble Magus Curve 5 Elite. Sill in the box for now so I'll report on what I think when I can finally get it up, running, and pulling out sludge.

The next issue I encountered was plumbing. I posted a thread here but could not get a clear answer, nor could I find anything on the web. Lots of mentions of the problem, no solid solutions offered. For those interested, the Red Sea 170 does come with 5/8" ID tubing and the 5/8" barb sized appropriately. Unfortunately, the RO Varios 2 pump I purchased, while publicizing 1/2" - 3/4" stepped barb, is completely incorrect in their sizing. After looking for the correct parts to make the connection everywhere, the only alternative I could find was to heat the 5/8" tubing and force onto the 3/4" barb.

I personally hate forcing things when it comes to plumbing so in comes my brother who is a wizard in the shop. He 3D printed a proper barb out of PET-G. Since I decided to go with a DC pump, I'm not going to throttle/restrict the return, so pressure isn't especially a concern. Pics below:

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Finally, I know I wanted to buy a proper screen lid for this tank to prevent my clowns (who I've now had in a FOWLR tank for a few years now) from jumping. Besides being expensive, lead time is tough on these things so again, enter the shop wizard. He looked at a few of the options out there and will build it for me using his CNC router. I've ordered the 1/2" clear polycarbonate, screening materials, and spline and should have a high end lid for less than $80 in materials. Will post pictures once complete.

Hoping to have water in it by the weekend.

Still deciding on lighting and flow, so any recommendations are welcome.
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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Quite a bit to update on.

Managed to take some time and work on my aquascape. Following my previous experience I wanted no part of simply stacking in the tank. Inevitably, I always knock something over and crush a coral. So I picked up some EMarco-400 mortar and went for it. I cannot adequately describe how happy I am with the way it turned out.

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Also found the time to rinse the sand, add the aquascape, and get some saltwater mixed and added. Again, so happy with the result. Taking my time and getting everything just how I want it is starting to pay off. Picture below with and without water.

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I am giving MicroBacter Start/Quickcycle a try as I cycle. In the past I've used raw shrimp and seeded with a small live rock, but I'm in no rush and figured I'd try this method and see how it works out.

As for the sump/equipment, I am again taking my time and attempting to really organize the cabinet. I've added LED cabinet lighting for when I'm working down there, mounted power and really put some thought into how things are wired up. So far so good.

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The one issue I've experienced through the setup this week is my stock Red Sea ATO is leaking from a seam. I've contact Red Sea today and am awaiting a reply next week. Luckily, its a very slow drip right above the ATO outlet and I'm getting higher evaporation loss than the leak so for now, I'm leaving the ATO setup. I have a few weeks before livestock so I'm sure Red Sea will make it right before then.
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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Just a quick no picture update...

It's been a week and testing isn't showing much movement. Ammonia not coming down yet. Cannot understand how some products can claim 7 day cycle while using dry rock as my experience hasn't showed any real acceleration. Maybe its the product, time will tell. Starting to question not including some fresh live rock in this setup.

As for equipment, got the ATO reservoir replaced. Red Sea support made it easy. Very good customer service.

Also got my Reefwave 25 today and installed it. Impressed with it so far, very easy to setup. So far so good. Will give my impressions on in once I get some livestock in the tank and can start visualizing the flow a bit better.

Last, I will be receiving an XR15 blue unit tomorrow to light this tank. Will finally get to see it with some lighting which is the next step. All in all, coming along nicely.
 
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astiesi

astiesi

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Just a small update but I will include a picture for the few people following along.

Received my Radion XR15 Blue unit on Tuesday (11/29) and got it mounted. I opted to go with the diffuser as I don't really love the disco ball effect. Setup was very easy, it connected via the Mobius app first try, and had it lighting the tank in about 20 minutes. While I'm not running it right now for more than an hour a day (no inhabitants yet, no reason to feed the algae), I did snap a quick picture running in AB+ mode.

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