After recovering from my Bobbit worm trauma, here's my new build.

Jonify

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BUILD INTRO: Day 15

SOOOO I started reefing about 10 years ago .. had good success with a 30G for a couple of years, a 70G for a few years, and most recently, an Innovative Marine 20G when I downsized to an apartment ... tank was stocked with softies/mushrooms/LPS and a couple of fish, doing really well. Then one night I noticed this giant a$s worm with a set of 4 pinchers in his nasty face and a white band just under his head poking around my hammer, then dart back into the rocks. I saw about 2 inches of it exposed, so no telling how long it really was. So began my trauma. I don't know how I got it (started with dry rock, Caribsea sand, dipped all my corals), but I tried to catch it for several days (set up infrared cams so I could see its activity at night, set up a bottle trap with a dead shrimp inside) and then finally got so weirded out with how smart that little sh$#t was, I paid someone to come take the whole tank down and away, far away, from my apartment. Then I burned down the apartment building, boarded a space ship, and am now living in Alpha Centauri. JK. But I've now spent about 2 years out of the hobby.

Now that I've got all that out of the way, on to the new build! It's a 5-year plan with 3 increasingly larger tanks (those details at the end of this post). Starting with a Fluval EVO 13.5 AIO Nano and stock 14000K lighting, a Fluval PS2 protein skimmer, and standard filter chamber w/ sponge (swapping out for an InTank media basket w/chemipure blue that arrives in a week). Scaped with CaribSea Life Rock and CaribSea Aragonite Hawaiian black sand. Using the Red Sea Reef Mature kit, which includes NOPOX dosing right up front, which I gather is intended to establish a more mature bacterial colony than the standard new tank cycle. Started with RO/DI water and Red Sea Coral Pro salt. Tank is in the area of a window cove that doesn't get direct sunlight.

I'm on day 15 of the program, with:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 3ppm
Nitrates: 40ppm
Salinity: 35ppm
Temp: 79
PH: 7.8-8.0
Alkalinity: 10dKH.


Not tracking any other elements until the tank is completely cycled and I begin [SLOWLY] introducing livestock. Right now I've got a very small clean up crew (3 astrea, 2 cerith snails) which have provided the only signs of life so far, and have nearly completed a half marathon around the tank searching for algae, any algae will do, or even a diatom ... poor things. Tank light is on a 10-hr per day cycle, per Red Sea instructions.

When I begin stocking, will do softies and LPS again cuz' they're pretty, and about 1 nano-tank-appropriate fish per month until I've got 3. Loooonger term plan, once softies/LPS coral begin growing in and tank matures (about 1.5 years), is to transfer to the Red Sea Max Nano AIO 20G and introduce SPS. Then 1.5 years after that, when the coral again begins filling in that tank and matures, to something around 70 gallons with a proper sump as my long-term reef. Stay tuned!

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vetteguy53081

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Problem in this hobby is that we get the " Live" version of everything to create a reef and hitch hikers are Beyond sneaky.
 
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Jonify

Jonify

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Sounds like you have a solid plan. Are you feeding the snails anything?
Not right now ... Reef Mature program has me running the light 10 hours a day, then had me drop in a small CUC a few days ago, so imagine the longer light period is to fuel algae growth for the snails to eat. I'm not putting anything else in at the moment ... trying to religiously stick to the Reef Mature program. (Except for it telling me to add herbivorous fish in a few days ... I only plan to have 3 small fish total, and an herbivore doesn't fit that stocking goal...will leave that up to the snails).
 
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Jonify

Jonify

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Problem in this hobby is that we get the " Live" version of everything to create a reef and hitch hikers are Beyond sneaky.
I think I had nightmares for a month. I went back to my LFS (whose name I will avoid sharing, lol) and told them what happened.
 
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Jonify

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BUILD UPDATE: Day 23

Got the InTank Chamber 2 media basket today, so I swapped out the foam block with that. Put some poly filter floss in the top of that chamber, Chemipure Blue in the middle, and the bio media + another layer of poly filter floss in the bottom chamber (water comes across the chambers, versus up and down, so you gotta spread the floss). I upgraded the return to a 180gph quieeeeet Sicce and added the Cobalt Neotherm 50W heater, then added the Fluval light controller to ramp up/down the stock lights on a timer, as well as add moonlight (just the blues) at night. Little tank looks so good.

I also bought a BRS doser that I plugged into a smart plug ... set it to turn on for 1 minute every day, which doses 1.1ml of NOPOX. If I need more, I'll up to 2 minutes, and so on; if I need less ... well, I'm screwed because the smart plug will only give me 1-minute increments. It does shoot me a text when it's doses on and off, so I guess that's cool.

I finished the 21-day Red Sea Mature Reef program and added an herbivorous fish as instructed--a tiny bicolor blenny. He's been grazing (on what, I don't know ... there is no visible algae in this tank, but it's still early) though he's also accepted a few New Life Spectrum 1mm pellets. Still trying to game out my coral plan, eyeing @WWC stocks every day.

Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrites: 0 ppm
Nitrates: 2 ppm
Salinity: 34.5 ppm
Temp: 78
PH: 7.8-8.0
Alkalinity: 10.5 dKH



IMG_0097.jpg
 
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Jonify

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Got a shipment of coral from @WWC !! Here are pics from being just placed in the tank, so they're a little closed up ... they're at the bottom right now, acclimating to the lighting and flow ... plan on putting the WWC Madman Austera up where the Green Birdsnest currently is ... about 250-300 PAR in that section of the rock, measured with my Seneye.

Green Birdsnest (from LFS)
Green Birdsnest.jpg


Rainbow Ricordia Mushroom
Rainbow Ricordea Mushroom.jpg


WWC Madman Austera Acropora
WWC Madman Austera Acropora.jpg


Radioactive Branching Hammer
Radioactive Branching Hammer.jpg
 
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Jonify

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BUILD UPDATE: Day 45



Alrighty, so over the past two weeks, 1) got a mocha clown, 2) added a C02 scrubber, 3) glued on 3 of 4 new corals, and 4) added a nano wave maker.

I ended up having to pause my NOPOX dosing because nitrates stayed at 0, even with a low-range test kit. Just today, they are starting to come back up (at .50 currently, and that's with very, very generous feeding of the fish and the coral). Added the C02 scrubber because tank was dropping and staying at 7.5ish for a couple of weeks (lots of C02 in my tiny apartment) and that was just too low for my comfort ... new scrubber has been in for about 3 days, and it's now up to 7.8-7.85, which I am alright with, all things considered. Here are 2 pics--one showing how it looks, hidden by the shade, and one with the shade up, so you can see where I placed it.

IMG_0157.jpg



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I also added the hygger nano wave maker to get a lot more flow, and I love it. It's tiny (although in the pics it looks a little bigger, but that's the glass scraper you see behind it ... forgot to take it out before snapping the pics.) I've got it programmed to do a rocking wave motion in the morning, then random/crest flow throughout the day, a nutrient export mode in the evening, and a more gentle program over night.

One other shot I want to show you all is my UPS battery backup setup and the smart plugs, which is how I control/schedule routines for all my equipment using the Smart Life app. But I'm waiting on some more elegant cable management pieces to come in the mail before I show you. (SPOILER: it's all located behind those two pillows on the left.)

So what's next? ~5 more pieces of coral arrive tomorrow from @WWC ... I signed up for their monthly subscription club and have no idea what is coming, but I'm excited. Checked the PAR on my stock lights with my Seneye, and getting about 250 where that SPS frag is sitting at the top, and I wrote down the measurements at different places in the tank, so I know where to place things once I find out what they've sent me.

Nitrates: .5 ppm
Salinity: 34.8 ppm
Temp: 78
PH: 7.85
Alkalinity: 8 dKH
Calcium: 495

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Jonify

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BUILD UPDATE: Month 3

Couple of hiccups. 1) a few of my coral not doing so hot. 2) chronically low Ph.

Because a few of my corals weren't doing so well, I took a look at parameters and decided that my low pH (7.5-7.7), even with a Co2 scrubber, was too much a shock for my frags and embarked on a quest to bump up dKH to a higher level in order to get to a more reasonable pH (doubling alk will add .3 to pH). During this, I was using Red Sea Foundation B to raise alkalinity, along with water changes, and I noticed that the more I dosed, the more I had to increase the next day just to hold, and the pH bump I would get after dosing would rapidly go back down, settling on an even lower number. It got to be so much that I found it impossible my tiny frags were consuming that much dKH per day. So I reached out to RHF here, and over the course of several days, came to this realization:

Red Sea Foundation B's form of alkalinity is calcium carbonate, and that was precipitating out of my tank nearly as fast as I added it; further, calcium was dropping each time I dosed. I failed to make this connection immediately because nothing was building up on pumps and heaters; however, there was a constant film of precipitate on the water's surface. I decided to try a different supplement, Tropic Marin's All for Reef, an all-in-one that includes calcium formate vs. calcium carbonate--so it boosts alkalinity over time (as corals convert it to alkalinity locally), and has the added main and minor trace elements, coral energy, and carbon dosing to theoretically truly be a one-dose-fits-all. After just one day of the recommended starting dose, my alkalinity slowly rose--and stayed--at my target. This was a win--but I noticed that at the newer higher dose, pH still wasn't coming up.

This seemed impossible. So I used several other pH test kits (after I was ADAMANT with the folks who chimed in on my thread that my tests were accurate :p) and found that no, they weren't, and my pH was actually 8.1.

I had failed to verify my low pH numbers from the Seneye slide. After replacing the slide, it slowly rose to match the pH test results the other kits showed. I am closely monitoring alkalinity and will continue to tweak to ensure it's dialed in on a solid 11 dkH (which is very close to my salt, RSCP). (I will keep dKH this high because the fact remains, my apartment has super high Co2; keeping dKH higher helps mitigate this issue, with the added benefit of increased buffering from pH swings, which should improve overall stability of the reef.)

As to why a few of the coral aren't doing so hot, I saw my bicolor blenny take a chomp out of my favia earlier today, so I now suspect he's behind this. Trying to figure out what to do about that. I will wait for a week or two at this alk and pH before I take further action with the blenny, if they don't recover.

Lastly, I might be accelerating my 3-yr plan by going ahead and setting up/maturing the 20G Max Nano, then transferring my tank over a month or two later. Upon reflection, going from a 13 to a 20 to a 70 doesn't seem very efficient, and adds an extra year and a half of instability on the road to my final 70G home. The Fluval is nice, but the skimmer is garbage (inconsistent skimming, dialing it in then waking up and it's overflowing, etc.) and the sump is too small to swap it out for something better. With my low Co2 apartment, I need a skimmer with solid air exchange to take advantage of my Co2 scrubber, as well as skim out bacteria from carbon dosing. It doesn't do that very well, and even at low carbon dosing, sometimes builds up goo.
 
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Jonify

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BUILD UPDATE: Month 5

I did transfer the Fluval 12.5 to a new Red Sea MAX NANO. And yes, the more efficient skimmer is working wonders. pH at 8.2-8.3. Will post a final update here to close this out and start a new thread.
 

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