AIO 50gal - the Boon Lagoon

lex8

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I’ve wanted a saltwater tank since I was a kid, and I finally made it happen just in time for my birthday.

New to all of this- all advice is appreciated :upside-down-face:

Boon Lagoon Est. 3.14.2024

as of 3.20.24 :
bl-32024-full.jpg
bl-32024.jpg



TANK / STAND​

Tank: IM Fusion Pro 2 - 50 AIO Lagoon
Stand: IM APS Stand

WATER​

Ro/DI: BRS 4 Stage Value Plus 150GPD
Red Sea Salt Mix
Python No Spill System, 1100GPH utility pump

AQUASCAPE​

Rock: Aquacultured Live Rock, KP Aquatics, 30lbs
Sand: Carib Sea Arag-alive Reef Sand, 25lbs

LIGHT / HEAT​

Light: TBD
Heater: MQ Titanium Alloy 300W

FILTER MEDIA / RETURN PUMP​

Using IM’s stock stuff for now:
  • Filter Caddy
  • NUVO Fiber Balls
  • Carbon Pouch
  • Filter Sock
  • Might Jet
 
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lex8

lex8

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I didn't start this thread until a week after I filled the tank, so I'll catch you up on my journey through today.


Last year, I began seriously considering starting a tank. I'm not at all an impulse buyer, so it took a lot of day dreaming. After 4 months of looking at inspo pics and budgeting, I spoke to a friend who enthusiastically encouraged me- it was the push I needed.

As soon as I decided I was going to go for it, I dove into researching. Another 2-3 months of reading, learning, planning and finally...bought my Innovative Marine 50gal Lagoon. I kept gathering information and planning my build up until it arrived- just before I left on a long vacation :face-with-spiral-eyes:

Spent my vacation doing more dreaming and planning so I can hit the ground running when I got home.

3.11.2024 - setting up
- confirmed the floor was level where I wanted it.
- built the stand (IM APS), it was pretty easy to build, and looks nice in the living room. My favorite thing is that there are doors on the front and both sides.


bl-31124.jpg


Some say having it near a window isn't ideal, but I don't have a windowless option. Also, I like the idea of seeing natural sunlight hit the tank every now and then.


3.13.2024 - aquascaping

- Picked up 30lbs of live rock from Phil at KP Aquatics. Great service, beautiful rock - highly recommend.

kpa live rock.jpg


I had previously decided I wanted to build an aquascape (bc I watched that BRS video - iykyk), so I already had 10lbs of Marco rock at home. I put the live rock in a 10gal holding tank and got to work.

bl-aquascaping.jpg


I figured I'd build out the base structure with the Marco rock, then start adding the live rock. Everything I read assured me that as long as the live rocks were kept wet, it would be fine (It wasn't. I'll get to that) I had a large spray bottle with saltwater that I used to spray down them down as often as possible.

It was exciting to see all the life that hitchhiked its way to me - so many cool critters! They were exploring and there were taps and clicks coming from the tank.

kpa live rock-critters.jpg


I worked on the aquascape until I was satisfied - about 2-3 hrs. I had two structures with arches, caves, overhangs... the works. I was proud and tired as it was now close to midnight.

bl-aquascape-2.jpg
bl-aquascape-1.jpg


The mortar I used said to let it cure for 1-2hrs (it starts to work within 15mins, and will continue curing underwater for 24hrs). I stayed up watching a movie and spritzing the live rock every few mins. By the end of the movie, the mortar still seemed pretty wet :thinking-face: It had been almost 2 hours. I decided to let it set for another hour and more accurately target my spraying to let the mortar joints dry. I made myself some dinner and watched an episode of The Sopranos.

1.5 hours later, the mortar had dried a bit more but still seemed soft to the touch. It had been almost 4 hours now. I figured it is made to cure underwater, so this must be it. I decide nervously to try putting it in the holding tank. I carefully lifted the structure and it held. I lowered it into the water... and there it went. Almost every joint came apart. I felt defeated, and decided I would put it all in the holding tank and get back to it in the morning. I did a 50% water change and went to bed.


3.14.2024 - tank is wet!
The next day- my birthday- I woke up to a dreadful sight. The tank was terribly cloudy, and the one star I saw didn't look well. I quickly pulled my stored salt water, rinsed the rocks off one by one, and put them into another container with the rest of the saltwater I had on hand. Many stars and crabs were already gone :disappointed-face: Why didn't I just put my rocks in the tank and worry about aquascaping when things were stable?! I blame the BRS video.

I got to work making more salt water.

water station.jpg


- Added the 10lbs of sand to the tank (Carib Sea Arag-alive Reef Sand)
- Filled with 20gal of saltwater, and moved the rock into the tank

bl-31424-fill.jpg


Big ups to Python- I have a white rug.. I did not want any major spillage. Their No Spill system was a breeze to use, and thankfully didn't add any extra stress to my already angry tank filling.

:downcast-face-with-sweat: a humbling day. It had been a crash course for tank set up, and underscored the need to be prepared. Even though I knew that as a newbie there would be mistakes, for some reason I thought I would fill the tank, add my lovely live aquascape, and there would be instant harmony..haha!

I threw an ammonia alert badge in the tank- we were in the clear. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I got ready for bed.

For what its worth: I was still having fun.


3.15.2024 - cycling
-Filled the last third of the tank

I got live rock hoping to not have a long cycle, and I guess that went out the window with the aquascaping disaster- the alert badge was reading toxic levels of ammonia.

I started testing the water with the API kit.

temperature25 c
salinity40 ppt :face-with-monocle:
pH8.4
ammonia2 ppm :flushed-face:
nitrite0.25 ppm
nitrate0 ppm


3.16.2024 - I saw a large brittle star crawling out of a rock..something survived.
temperature26.6 c
salinity37 ppt
pH7.4 :face-with-monocle:
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0.25 ppm



3.17.2024- I heard tapping coming from the tank.
temperature27.1 c
salinity35 ppt
pH8.2
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0 ppm :face-with-raised-eyebrow:

3.18.2024- A crab! Life!
temperature27 c
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0 ppm :face-without-mouth:

- The ammonia alert badge in the tank has been reading < .05 ppm since 3.16, while the API test is saying 1ppm. I decided to test with Red Sea kit to confirm one or the other.

3.20.2024 - this morning
temperature27 c
ammonia2 ppm :confounded-face:
nitrite0.2


It doesn't matter how many times they tell you, sometimes you have to experience it for yourself- PATIENCE is the name of the game.

-
 
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lex8

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A few new things today..
  • More life! Crab has been out and about, found a couple feather dusters and a worm.
  • Brown algae (diatoms?)
  • Nitrites went up
  • Nitrates showed up!
bl-32124-brown algae.jpg


Ammonia is still 2 according to Red Sea- API shows 1, and the Seachem badge holding strong at about .05 :face-with-raised-eyebrow: Last night, I took it out, cleaned it, and tested it in RO/DI water to see if it's working- seems to be fine.

I'm visiting a new fav LFS (Reefs Edge) while in Pompano on Saturday. Will get them to test my water to see what they get.

PXL_20240321_162042377.jpg


3.21.24 - nitrates
ammonia2 ppm :confused:
nitrite0.5 ppm
nitrate2 ppm :grinning-face-with-big-eyes:
pH7.8
 

Al Alvarez

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I didn't start this thread until a week after I filled the tank, so I'll catch you up on my journey through today.


Last year, I began seriously considering starting a tank. I'm not at all an impulse buyer, so it took a lot of day dreaming. After 4 months of looking at inspo pics and budgeting, I spoke to a friend who enthusiastically encouraged me- it was the push I needed.

As soon as I decided I was going to go for it, I dove into researching. Another 2-3 months of reading, learning, planning and finally...bought my Innovative Marine 50gal Lagoon. I kept gathering information and planning my build up until it arrived- just before I left on a long vacation :face-with-spiral-eyes:

Spent my vacation doing more dreaming and planning so I can hit the ground running when I got home.

3.11.2024 - setting up
- confirmed the floor was level where I wanted it.
- built the stand (IM APS), it was pretty easy to build, and looks nice in the living room. My favorite thing is that there are doors on the front and both sides.


bl-31124.jpg


Some say having it near a window isn't ideal, but I don't have a windowless option. Also, I like the idea of seeing natural sunlight hit the tank every now and then.


3.13.2024 - aquascaping

- Picked up 30lbs of live rock from Phil at KP Aquatics. Great service, beautiful rock - highly recommend.

kpa live rock.jpg


I had previously decided I wanted to build an aquascape (bc I watched that BRS video - iykyk), so I already had 10lbs of Marco rock at home. I put the live rock in a 10gal holding tank and got to work.

bl-aquascaping.jpg


I figured I'd build out the base structure with the Marco rock, then start adding the live rock. Everything I read assured me that as long as the live rocks were kept wet, it would be fine (It wasn't. I'll get to that) I had a large spray bottle with saltwater that I used to spray down them down as often as possible.

It was exciting to see all the life that hitchhiked its way to me - so many cool critters! They were exploring and there were taps and clicks coming from the tank.

kpa live rock-critters.jpg


I worked on the aquascape until I was satisfied - about 2-3 hrs. I had two structures with arches, caves, overhangs... the works. I was proud and tired as it was now close to midnight.

bl-aquascape-2.jpg
bl-aquascape-1.jpg


The mortar I used said to let it cure for 1-2hrs (it starts to work within 15mins, and will continue curing underwater for 24hrs). I stayed up watching a movie and spritzing the live rock every few mins. By the end of the movie, the mortar still seemed pretty wet :thinking-face: It had been almost 2 hours. I decided to let it set for another hour and more accurately target my spraying to let the mortar joints dry. I made myself some dinner and watched an episode of The Sopranos.

1.5 hours later, the mortar had dried a bit more but still seemed soft to the touch. It had been almost 4 hours now. I figured it is made to cure underwater, so this must be it. I decide nervously to try putting it in the holding tank. I carefully lifted the structure and it held. I lowered it into the water... and there it went. Almost every joint came apart. I felt defeated, and decided I would put it all in the holding tank and get back to it in the morning. I did a 50% water change and went to bed.


3.14.2024 - tank is wet!
The next day- my birthday- I woke up to a dreadful sight. The tank was terribly cloudy, and the one star I saw didn't look well. I quickly pulled my stored salt water, rinsed the rocks off one by one, and put them into another container with the rest of the saltwater I had on hand. Many stars and crabs were already gone :disappointed-face: Why didn't I just put my rocks in the tank and worry about aquascaping when things were stable?! I blame the BRS video.

I got to work making more salt water.

water station.jpg


- Added the 10lbs of sand to the tank (Carib Sea Arag-alive Reef Sand)
- Filled with 20gal of saltwater, and moved the rock into the tank

bl-31424-fill.jpg


Big ups to Python- I have a white rug.. I did not want any major spillage. Their No Spill system was a breeze to use, and thankfully didn't add any extra stress to my already angry tank filling.

:downcast-face-with-sweat: a humbling day. It had been a crash course for tank set up, and underscored the need to be prepared. Even though I knew that as a newbie there would be mistakes, for some reason I thought I would fill the tank, add my lovely live aquascape, and there would be instant harmony..haha!

I threw an ammonia alert badge in the tank- we were in the clear. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I got ready for bed.

For what its worth: I was still having fun.


3.15.2024 - cycling
-Filled the last third of the tank

I got live rock hoping to not have a long cycle, and I guess that went out the window with the aquascaping disaster- the alert badge was reading toxic levels of ammonia.

I started testing the water with the API kit.

temperature25 c
salinity40 ppt :face-with-monocle:
pH8.4
ammonia2 ppm :flushed-face:
nitrite0.25 ppm
nitrate0 ppm


3.16.2024 - I saw a large brittle star crawling out of a rock..something survived.
temperature26.6 c
salinity37 ppt
pH7.4 :face-with-monocle:
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0.25 ppm



3.17.2024- I heard tapping coming from the tank.
temperature27.1 c
salinity35 ppt
pH8.2
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0 ppm :face-with-raised-eyebrow:

3.18.2024- A crab! Life!
temperature27 c
ammonia1 ppm
nitrite0 ppm :face-without-mouth:

- The ammonia alert badge in the tank has been reading < .05 ppm since 3.16, while the API test is saying 1ppm. I decided to test with Red Sea kit to confirm one or the other.

3.20.2024 - this morning
temperature27 c
ammonia2 ppm :confounded-face:
nitrite0.2


It doesn't matter how many times they tell you, sometimes you have to experience it for yourself- PATIENCE is the name of the game.

-
You're well on your way to creating a beautiful little ecosystem. I have all tha confidence in you. Well done
 
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lex8

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Not much going on with the tank. Been staying busy researching QT tank setups. Also, thinking about finally pulling the trigger on an ATO


From this morning - patience, young grasshopper.
temperature26.8
ammonia0.4
nitrite1
nitrate5
 
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lex8

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I haven’t updated in a bit for fear that the monk-level patience I have acquired for this cycle would dissipate.
You all know what’s been going on anyway: top off, test, stare and furrow eyebrows, scratch head, get back to work, try to sleep, repeat.

But we’re close, people- progress has been slow, but certain.

About a week ago, I ran across this post while perusing the noob forum and thought this was a perfectly good thing to fuss over while my tank continues doing its thing. I checked my water levels in the filter chambers and sure enough, there was way too much water. The water wasn’t falling into the first chamber, just floating over it into the next just like OP had. Could this be the reason my ammonia hadn’t dropped as expected? I took out about 2.5 gal of water, and turned the pump back on. Looked good, except when all the water from the pump chamber was pushed into the DT, that Mighty Jet started to dry heave. I Added back between .5 - .75 gal of clean salt water. (It wasn't that straight forward of course. Add a little water, pump on, observe, pump off, add more, repeat).

Before this water level enlightenment, the Red Sea kit hadn’t read anything below a 2 (Seachem ammonia badge was still holding steady at 0.2) The next morning, a break through! Red Sea got 1.2. I took out the old API kit to get another data point, and it read 0. Has anyone ever noticed that the API kits call for filling their test tube up to the line- which should be 5mm- but when you fill with a 5mm syringe it is over said line? Maybe this is why API test results aren’t reliable? Idk. It gave me a 0 which matched the Seachem badge. Every day after that it fell a bit more. ((thank you @travisandsuch ))

I read somewhere that you can be smart and water your plants with tank waste water. Obviously that's meant for freshwater, but I didn't realize that until I watered a bunch of my plants with the water I removed from the tank. No complete casualties, but lots of leaves lost

Since reducing the water level, keeping my salinity in check hasn’t been easy. It’s been a struggle to identify exactly how much to top off. Sometimes it’s right, but will be very high by the next morning. I finally caved and got an ATO. Tunze Osmolator- the r2r community seems to unanimously agree that this is the one. It gets here tomorrow.


3.24.24 - are we there yet?
ammonia1.2
nitrite1
nitrate5
acidity7.4


In the meantime, I’ve been setting up a quarantine tank
  • 10 gal aqueon - with lid
  • Fluval HOB filter, sponge and filter floss
  • Plastic trees and a hide-away tube
  • Air stone strip
  • Copper power
  • Separate net, cleaning, and feeding tools
qt- filter.jpg
qt-33024.jpg


I have it set up in my office, which I’m happy about- it’s where I originally wanted my DT until I was convinced I needed a couch to relax and enjoy it. (I haven’t found that to be true yet. I tend to like being up close and personal- a rolling stool would be just fine). It’s a good spot for keeping a close eye on new additions.

I’ve read up on a few different methods for quarantine. Anyone have strong opinions? What was your first fish? What about inverts? Did you start with coral? So many paths!

I’m pretty sure I will be starting with a yellow watchman. I’ll quarantine that little guy for a bit, and if he’s all clear I’ll get a pistol shrimp and release them together into the DT.

A couple other things I’m eyeing:
  • Pincushion urchin
  • Toadstool leather coral
  • Green Cabbage leather coral

4.2.24 - today
ammonia0.2
nitrite0 ✨
nitrate5
pH8
dKh8

bl-040224-side.jpg
.
bl- 040224.jpg



I haven’t done nearly enough research on additives and dosing. I think it’s time to venture down that rabbit hole. I just ordered a test kit for Calcium, Magnesium, and Alkalinity to start.


Other unanswered questions/wonderings:
  • Should I add a bowl with some sand for the watchman QT? I've read they can stress without it.
  • The Python no-spill tubing is way too long. I want to cut it and fit it onto another siphon for quick needs. How can I make sure it fits just as tight when I do this (it has ridges on the end where the connector fits)
  • It's unfortunate that Aiptasia is a 'nuisance'. I find it beautiful, and love that it hides when it senses something close. There's a few on the live rocks. I've heard Berghia nudibranch is the way to go here.
 
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lex8

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Crab looks suspect. Hairy legs. Beware the gorilla crab...

Whoa, thanks! I don't see those oversized dark claws, but he does look like some of the pics in search results. I will definitely catch him to get a better look.
 

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