Aaron's 'Moonhole' Build

Aaron Shapiro

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Hey all,

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So, a few months back, I started a 25g Lagoon from IM. This was my triumphal return to reefing after a false start using used gear (my IG handle is 'redoreefer' as a result). I've loved keeping this little tank, and to my eyes, it's quite healthy and successful.

However, I've tasted what can happen growing corals and selling frags... and now I want to transition the 25g into a frag tank. As a result, I need a display, and ideally, I'd like to get a larger tank to broaden my fish-keeping-options.

I've REALLY loved the shallow tank, and it's nice not to have to go in bicep deep to flip over a frag my $()@&*ing Mexican turbo lawnmowered over (love the guy but c'mon). I SERIOUSLY eyeballed the waterbox 85.3 Frag as my primary display, but they're costly, and from what I can tell, the sump is a bit of a bummer. The upside to systems like RedSea and/or Waterbox is that they come with turn-key plumbing. I've never plumbed a tank and am very intimidated to do so.

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That being said, I landed on the innovative marine 50g Lagoon EXT. Let me lay out my gear list:

  • Tank: Innovative Marine 50g Lagoon EXT
  • Sump: FijiCube Fiji-24 Advanced Reef Sump
    • This sump has a TON of cool features and is the biggest that the IM APS stand will accommodate. I may wish I'd left the room in the stand for other things, but I can just put a cabinet next to it if need be.
  • Lighting: Dual AI Prime 16's with rigid mounts
    • I really, REALLY considered something bigger/more expensive like dual XR15's or Hydra 32's. But in the end, this tank is 16" deep, and only 30x24" I think I'll get good coverage, and should be able to sustain most soft/LPS corals with the primes. When the time comes that I want to look into SPS, I can supplement it with a T5 fixture. Plus, I have an unused Prime16 leftover from a previous false start on a build.
  • Return: Reef Octopus Varios-4
    • I had initially chosen the Varios-2, but after head pressure and whatnot, I upsized. I would prefer not the have the pump running 80-100% all the time.
  • Flow: Dual Nero5's
    • I've had excellent success with these pumps once you add nem-guards to them. I'd like to use MP's, but the glass is slightly too thick for 10's and dual 40's cost a king's ransom.
  • Heaters: Two BRS 100w Titanium Heaters with Controller
    • If you folks haven't checked out the BRS controller, I HIGHLY suggest it.
  • Controller: ApexEL
    • I was super conflicted about spending the money on a controller. I've both used and not used one on previous tanks with success either way... I do, however, enjoy the flexibility it allows.
  • Skimmer: RSK-300
    • I could use some input on a skimmer rec for this tank. I love the features that the RSK series come with, but I'm worried that I'm grossly oversizing the skimmer to the tank. I do tend to stock heavily, so maybe it'll be fine.
  • ATO: AutoAqua Smart ATO Micro
    • I like these ATOs, and I had a newish one on hand. I do, however, think that if I was going net-new, I'd have opted for the Apex ATO. I'm sure it'll be fine; it's always served me well.
  • Rock: MarcoRock, both regular and foundation.
    • Ordered 30lbs of regular and 4 small foundation pieces. I also have some bits left over from a previous tank. I'm planning on doing a shallow "cove" build with two main structures and some islands. I'll have to lay it all out on a table to see it come together.
  • Sand: 40# of Bimini Pink Arag-Alive
    • Love the variety of grain structure here. Should still be able to sustain a pistol shrimp.
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I think that's it. This is going to be a mixed reef with a heavy focus on Zoa, and Acan gardens with a healthy dose of Euphys sprinkled in.

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The name "Moon Hole" comes from a diving/snorkeling spot in Bequia where I spent my 30th birthday. Some really great memories at this place. Figured it was worth the explanation as it could be taken....differently.

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I've placed most of my orders... I COULD USE SOME GUIDANCE ON SKIMMERS lol... but I will post updates as everything arrives, and I start assembling. This will be a satisfying and long process which will include moving my 25g lagoon to a different spot in my office, so buckle up.

Looking forward to any feedback everyone has!
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

Fishy65

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Sounds like you have a really good foundation and idea of what you want. I love your plan. You said you wanted to stock a little heavier with fish, so perhaps the over sized skimmer will be helpful. Can't wait to see pictures.
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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Well, the first pieces of gear came in... I got my FijiCube Sump

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And the return pump!
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Not much else to report, but I love the look of this sump, it's MASSIVE and I'm stoked on the added water volume.
 

Dilan Patel

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For a skimmer I recommend the Bubble magus line. I like the form factor and it pulls lout some good gunk in my 135. I run a skimz sm202 on my bigger tank and it works well had a couple problems with it but they were fixed.
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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I was following your 25 so I'll jump over here to your 50 as well. I hope you decide to ship your frags when it's time to sell, you have some awesome pieces in your other tank.
Welcome! We'll see what I can do, if it makes sense I'd be 100% down to ship.

For a skimmer I recommend the Bubble magus line. I like the form factor and it pulls lout some good gunk in my 135. I run a skimz sm202 on my bigger tank and it works well had a couple problems with it but they were fixed.
Wound up going with the Deltec 400i, thanks though! I'll list out some more gear decisions in the next update.
 

S.Pepper

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Gl with the build. Looks nice. I think you'll find that Varios 4 will more than do the job. I've used both the 2 & 4 and they're great. I had the 2 in my Waterbox 60.2 Marine and didn't use it over the 3 setting. I'm using the 4 in my 75G build and it's more than sufficient. Truthfully, i would have gone with the 6, but I wouldn't of had the same controllability using the Hydros WaveEngine.
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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Couple small updates... Some more gear showed up:

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I decided to go with the Deltec 400i Skimmer. Deltech has a USA dealer now that stocks their spare parts. I think this was the major holdup for them taking off stateside. These have awesome reputation, however, and I'm excited to start working with this Skimmer (and it's a DC controllable guy too)

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I also finally decided on lighting. There are going to be two Hydra 32HD's over this tank, at least to start -- if I feel the need later I can add T5's. I really wanted Radions, since they're the "new flashy thing," but I've had really good results from the Hydra on my 25, so I snaked it for this tank and purchased another new one. Two Prime 16HD's are going over the 25 soon-to-be-grown-out system.

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The next thing I did was pull out the rocks I bought from BRS. These are all their Marco Reef Saver rock. I also ordered 4 pieces of small foundation rock as well (not pictured). Just eye-balling all this I can see some AWESOME potential for the scapes. I want to go with a two-island, or maybe a cove-like scape. I'll need to lay it all out to really see.

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Lastly, I wanted to show everyone the sand I picked up. This is CaribSea Bimini Pink Live Sand. I REALLY like the grain diversity in the is sand. Should still be able to sustain some sand sifters, but looks really nice too.

Anyway, that's all. I Should have some more updates in a few days! I got the shipping notification for the tank itself yesterday! I hope everyone is well!
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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The last few pieces of gear have been arriving, and I'm really starting to get excited. I got the tracking from Innovative Marine, and I believe the tank is scheduled to deliver sometime late this week.

In the meantime, I picked up one of these:

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I REALLY wanted to try a Roller Fleece, and these seem to be like no brainers due to their drop-in nature. I had pretty much decided that this was a "later on" project, but Marine Depot put this 40 % off yesterday, so I figured I should give it a shot.

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And my plumbing showed up today! I was all but resigned to simply use white schedule 40 PVC from home depot, but last minute decided to jump to furniture grade blue piping to match the accents on my Fijicube sump. Here's to hoping that I ordered enough elbows and unions.

That's it, should see a MUCH more exciting update in the next few days as the tank arrives... IMG_2776.JPG
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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Well! It's been a busy 48hours.

My tank arrived on Friday and I hulked into it on the sidewalk to check it for damage, all was well. So my wife and I carried it inside:

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This particular 50g Lagoon EXT has a tiny scuff on the back acrylic wall above the waterline. IM called me before it shipped to make sure I'd be okay with that, and as compensation, they provided me with two ReefRack 50's, that I can use in my small lagoon once I move everything over.

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Friday evening I built the stand (aka the worst LEGO set ever made) and while it was a PITA to assemble it's a nice stand and I am happy with it.

Eyeballing the stand and the FijiCube sump I was sweating if it was going to fit or not, but ultimately it was no big deal:

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Then Saturday my Dad came and helped me plumb it.

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I was VERY intimidated by plumbing my first tank, but in the end, it wasn't a big deal and went together pretty easily. The one part that threw me was figuring out how to soft plumb the return into the bottom of the bulkhead. Here's where I landed:

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Short-run of pipe, slip x threaded coupler, threaded 3/4" barb. Then soft silicone to the Varios-4.

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Then all that was left was the ever anticipated leak test. She passed with flying colors - I'll have to play with it to get everything to quiet down, but IT LIVES. Sunday will be all about aquascaping them mixing a bunch of saltwater.

 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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The one problem I still need to solve is how I am going to mount my lights. I have two Hydra 32's with the HMS mounts. But logic would dictate the mount the lights 1/4 of the way in from each side to evenly spread the light. That would be fine on the return side, but it would require the light being mounted directly to the overflow grill on the left side. Any thoughts?

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TheWB

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The one problem I still need to solve is how I am going to mount my lights. I have two Hydra 32's with the HMS mounts. But logic would dictate the mount the lights 1/4 of the way in from each side to evenly spread the light. That would be fine on the return side, but it would require the light being mounted directly to the overflow grill on the left side. Any thoughts?

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This plus one of the rails cut down to fit would solve your problem if you don’t mind the look. There’s also a ceiling hanging kit.
 
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Aaron Shapiro

Aaron Shapiro

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To my knowledge that is the only way to get a soft line connected to pvc with regular fittings.

Looking good so far
I think you can use a spigot x barbed fitting to skip the pipe run, but this way I can swap it out if I want to hard plumb it later or change the soft plumbing easier.
 

Rob.bucek

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looks like you got a fun build project there. I was always planning on using the DI-7 in my build and just caught wind of the MD sale and scooped on up lol. I'm going to be using two but I just ordered one to be safe until i check it over. Look forward to seeing your tank come together.
 
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Aaron Shapiro

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Alrighty... So it's been roughly a week.

I finished the scape:

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Debating some more rock... but I think once this is packed with coral, it'll look nice.

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Another thing I did was repurposed a failed stand build attempt for my 25g Lagoon as an ATO reservoir/controller stand.

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My Dad and I built this to hold my 25 Lagoon-soon-to-be-frag tank... but as you can tell by the legs, I opted not to use this, but it's the same height as the 50g stand and sits next to it nicely.

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And I bit the bullet and bought the AI rail mount system (aka the WORST lego set ever), and I'm reasonably happy with it. I need to play with it a bit more.

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The cycle is also WELL on its way. I dosed the tank with AlgaeBarn's NitroCycle and then the Fritz TurboCycle 900. This Fritz bacteria is my FAVORITE bottle bacteria on the market. There's a comprehensive thread here on R2R that you can read here.

I've also started to pull out some equipment. I'll be installing my Deltec skimmer here soon (not running it for a while)

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The last thing I'm mulling over is how I want to light my Fuge. Thinking I could stick one of the IM Fuge lights to the side like this:

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Any thoughts?

That's all for now! Hoping to introduce a pair of clowns once the tests are reading clean. My LFS is holding a REALLY nice pair of Orange Storms that I'm super excited about...
 

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