Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
I have been wavering for months on whether this build warrants a R2R build thread but after pulling the trigger over the weekend on a pneumatically actuated salt doser setup for my mixing station, I knew that exchanging ideas and advice related to this project would be highly valuable for myself and others. Since this is my first post, I will provide a bit of background on myself and the build, then get into the fun stuff (scroll down to big bold line to skip to the fun stuff).

I have been following R2R silently for about seven years now, having spent dozens of hours perfecting hypothetical build designs for systems of all sizes that never came to fruition. I became so obsessed with the idea of a 400 gallon reef tank at one point in 2014 that I actually leased an apartment based (partially) on the fact that it had a PERFECT wall for an 8ft tank – concrete floors in a converted 19th century factory in downtown St. Louis so I knew the weight wouldn’t be a problem; the intended tank location was immediately next to the entry for maximum wow factor, and it backed up to the walk-in closet of the guest bedroom which would have been the fish room. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that I did not want to live in St. Louis for more than a couple of years so I squashed that plan but continued to live vicariously through all of your awesome build threads.

I am an advanced open water diver and have been obsessed with water and the ocean my entire life. I’ve had several freshwater tanks throughout my life while acknowledging that I was settling for something far less than what I really wanted. I am not an engineer or computer programmer but I’m a lifelong project enthusiast who frequently got in trouble as a kid for taking apart the family computer just to see if I could put it back together. I self taught VBA, python, and a little C++ and R to design a pretty complex GIS program a few years back just for fun. My dad was an electrician long before I was born but I grew up holding the flashlight while he and his contractor friends fixed everything around their houses and places of work. In short - I just like to build s**t and, for someone who puts on a suit every day, I think I’m pretty good at it.

Fast forward to October 2019. I now live in a 1-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan and still fall asleep reading through R2R on my iPad or watching BRS TV on a weekly basis. My girlfriend, who doubles as a lovely roommate and fish parent, gifted me with a 30 gallon all-in-one tank as a birthday present. She had NO idea what kind of chain reaction she set off. We set up and cycled the tank over about 8 weeks, added a clean-up crew and a couple of clowns and all was good going into Christmas. Unfortunately, one of the clowns brought in ich and with most of my prior research focused on equipment, I did not catch it early enough to save them. I tried reaching out to the LFS that sold us the live rock, sand, CUC, and clowns, but got no response. We left the tank empty of livestock for about six weeks while I was traveling for work and thinking about how to proceed. My lease strictly prohibits large aquariums but since we are on the ground floor of the building, I checked out the lateral supports in the basement and discussed the possibility of a larger tank with my landlord. He approved us for a display tank up to 100 gallons and I was off to planning my (mini) dream system.

COVID-19 era notwithstanding, I work crazy long and unpredictable hours (randomly ranging from 70-110 hours / week with a lot of last minute travel). This means my tank must be able to be remotely monitored and should be as automated as possible. I need to be able to put off almost any task for at least a few days becomes sometimes I’m only home long enough to shower and go back to the office or get on a flight. When I was living alone, this made me think getting a reef tank would just be irresponsible because I would never be able to keep up with maintenance or react to problems quickly enough. Now, however, if something were to come up that required a water test, water change, or other basic reaction, my girlfriend would be able to take care of things until I have the time to implement a longer term solution. On top of this, I’m a bit of an automation nerd and just like the idea of applying IFTTT methodology to everything that’s feasible / economical.

With all of this in mind, I reached out to several tank builders for quotes for a 100 gallon tank that fit the required footprint (48” x 21”) – more about this “requirement” later. I went through about 10 quotes (incl. one from Reef Savvy) and ultimately decided to go with Patrick at Coast to Coast aquariums for several reasons which I’m happy to get into if anyone is interested. Bottom line was VERY high quality tank, proximity (he’s in NJ), and lead time (~2 months at the time of the quote). By this time, it was mid-February and COVID-19 was heating up. I was traveling on the west coast and considering backing out of the build due to potential backordering of parts, but once I returned home and went through a couple of days of working from home, I needed a project...

BACKGROUND OVER - BUILD STARTS HERE

EQUIPMENT OVERVIEW:

  • Display Tank: 100 gallon C2C custom tank (48” x 20” x 24”) w/ 3 panels of starfire and black bottom/rear. Rear ~20” external overflow set up for bean animal
  • Stand: DIY with 1.25”x1/4” angle iron, 2x6’s, and Canadian birch plywood
  • Sump: Bashsea smart series 3015 (really wanted larger signature series but this is the only size I could make make sense for my sump cabinet size)
  • Return Pump: Abyzz A100 (wanted dual returns but couldn’t make it work with sump size. I figured the most reliable option is best in the absence of redundancy). Also planning to run chiller, reactor manifold, and any future additions from this so I wanted extra flow capacity for growing room
  • Mechanical filtration: ClariSea 5000 – hard plumbed into primary drain
  • Biological filtration: 4” bio block + ~100 lbs of live rock and TBD lbs of live sand. I am planning to use the ~40 lbs of rock from my established 30 gallon and I have an additional ~50 lbs of live rock in 5 gallon buckets with some small pieces from the established tank. Also added a bit of Dr. Tim’s to the buckets of new live rock though I’m not sure if this will be helpful at all.
  • Skimmer: Reef Octo 150SSS (again, size was a big factor here, might upgrade this down the road if not performing)
  • Flow: 2x Vortech MP40s
  • Media Reactors: TBD
  • Heater: 2x Cobalt Neotherm 300w
  • Chiller: JBJ ¼ HP
  • Additive Handling: Probably 2-part using the DOS, though I haven’t decided on this yet
  • Lights: T5/LED hybrid – 4x ATI 48” (2x coral plus, 2x blue), 2x Kessil 360x, + Apex moon lights for fun… all mounted on aquatic life dimmable fixture
  • ATO: Neptune ATK
  • AWC: Neptune DOS
  • Automation/monitoring systems: a lot, Centered around Apex but quite a bit of DIY… will list out later in the thread where relevant

DESIGN:
I have been using an app on my 12.9” iPad Pro called Shapr3D for all of the design and planning. Given the very little space that I have for everything, I had to plan it all down to the cm before pulling the trigger on anything. For example, I had an entire alternate plumbing plan where the skimmer was a few inches higher and all of the return plumbing was running externally. There’s very little room for error with a sump cabinet this tight. I have no “real” autoCAD experience but I love the app and would highly recommend for those looking to work an on iPad (not Mac, and not iPhone – requires apple pencil).

This design has been a work in progress for a few months of course but has not changed much at all in the last ~6 weeks. It has served as an incredibly valuable set of instructions while piecing everything together.
Note that I will likely move reactors from above the sump to the area to the right of the sump along with dosing containers.
100g design - front (closed)

100g design - front (open)

100g design - rear



STAND:
One of my girlfriend’s few requests for upgrading the tank was that we continue to use the same antique bar cabinet that was barely supporting our 30 gallon tank as the stand for the new tank. I reached out to a few local aquarium builders and carpenters about retrofitting the cabinet to support 1,500+ pounds and none were willing to take on the job for a reasonable price. I decided I would take it on myself and took off researching how to essentially build my own stand skeleton and use the existing cabinet as a skin such that it looked mostly like the original piece of furniture from the outside once finished.

I used 1.5” x ¼” angle iron supported by 2x6 lumber around the perimeter to build legs for 5/8” sheet of birch upon which the cabinet’s original top would rest. I’m planning to place the tank on top of a sheet of foam, on top of the original cabinet top, but all of the weight gets distributed down through the 2x6’s, then dispersed across a piece of solid birch to make sure it was as evenly distributed as possible on the floor. I covered the inside with 1/8” plywood and we painted everything with white FlexSeal rubber plaint everyday for about 2 weeks to “rubberize” everything in the sump cabinet. I kept some on hand and painted the inside of the holes for plumbing, etc. to keep the clean look and keep from scratching plumbing or shorting out wiring on the plywood. Using the faces of the antique drawers with magnets superglued on the back attaching to the angle iron was completely unplanned but turned out awesome. I’m fairly confident and proud of the final solution but looking for any critique, suggestions, or questions before the tank actually gets here.

30 gallon birthday surprise:
A598858C-281D-46D5-8A72-1F670BAEE2E9.jpeg

picture of the original cabinet cracking under weight of the 30 gallon tank:
Original cabinet cracking under weight of 30 gallon tank


Old 30 gallon setup on original antique cabinet - no support

72584886-657C-4627-B77E-176DF54A0DE4.jpeg



Walking home from Chinatown with lumber/plywood:
CD494573-007E-42E1-BC8B-9EB79FEE5762.jpeg


Destruction and rebuilding of antique cabinet:
9F290345-980E-463B-A061-69F4C01409C0.jpeg

A1F6A365-C3DE-457B-B70C-B254BAA0C8F2.jpeg

DB777F1F-25AD-4C05-8E8F-D0F901BB95C4.jpeg

0325E829-8CFB-42E7-B3CE-5E128BE49BC9.jpeg


E41A0B78-9361-4A3E-B3C2-14C6C0AEBD20.jpeg


Structural integrity test with a little help from a (terrified but trusting) friend:
1ADD38E4-DCE7-484C-8C9E-B6652783755D.jpeg


A1E391A5-DBCB-4E89-8B03-0F57F9FD4B96.jpeg


PROGRESS TO DATE:

Before I dive into tons of detail about the mixing station and automation setup, here’s everything else cataloguing the build and bringing you up to date while I wait on the tank to ship (ETA mid to late May).

Peak ****show:
426603CD-3E67-49E4-8A53-B2ED3B900772.jpeg


86C7F3CC-FFD5-428B-9AE3-65916009BC3C.jpeg

D6A29912-A5EC-4F9B-A2BF-90938FD970E9.jpeg

B1F5DCB4-0E55-4723-83DA-A3290860A515.jpeg

B59C1177-9987-4C01-B1A5-15D9809BFC98.jpeg


First plumbing test (left side):
















Patching up the switch board to the breakout boards with 18 gauge thermostat wire (great for the breakout boards bc you can get it in a set of 8 with 8 different color wires):
CD7E1390-B380-4624-A4C1-BD67B47EFE12.jpeg


FW test of the plumbing:
image.jpg


portrait/tall view (current state):
image.jpg
 
Last edited:
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
ATO / AWC:

In my mind, the first step to automating maintenance is getting rid of 5 gallon buckets and saltwater mixing. I would love to have dual 100 gallon water tanks set up in my garage as a mixing station but a single garage space in my neighborhoods leases in the thousands of dollars per month so its just not an option. Instead, I found a small area of unused space under my cabinets, accessible by sliding out my dishwasher. I added a length of flex hose onto the dishwasher so it could pull out a bit further and voila, I had a tiny space to build a mixing station. Dimensions of usable space are appox 26”D x 20”W x 34”H. It gets pretty hot and uncomfortable working down there but it gets the job done.

Here’s a picture taken from where the dishwasher normally sits, with only RODI mounted and one of two plastic containers in place.
B5E1AA93-AA08-4199-8039-23EEC6C7FAB9.jpeg



ATO: I’ll get this out of the way first. I’m using a 30” tall x 4” diameter glass vase (~1 gallon) with some optical sensors to hold RO water and Neptune ATK in the sump to handle top off. I’ve read that the DI lasts longer when used for shorter durations (20 minutes or less), so I think the small size of the reservoir should only benefit my RODI unit. I’m using a the Neptune PMUP to get the water out of the vase which pumps water at only a slightly faster rate than my RODI unit, so I have to pump water from the RO reservoir for > 30 minutes (with RO simultaneously refilling) before it runs completely dry and I have to wait for the RO unit to catch up.

Here are a couple of pictures of the current (embarrassing) state of the RODI situation to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. I will post additional pics of the RO container when I remove the SW containers this weekend.
504C6D74-DEED-4079-BC1F-13722F85C737.jpeg

EBA8FD63-425C-4BA4-ADDC-236075EDF72B.jpeg



Plan A: Initially, I planned to use two stackable 17 gallon HD rubber maid type plastic containers. I set that up for my 30 gallon tank in the fall of 2019 with a good RODI, some float valves, float switches, cheap powerheads, sub pumps, and a few relays and it worked fairly well for my 30 gallon.

Plan B: I came up with a plan for my 100 gal system to use a tall, narrow vase for RO water while utilizing both plastic containers for saltwater. The idea was that the top container would be used for mixing and once the salinity stabilized within a range, a solenoid would open allowing the water to gravity flow into the bottom container, stopped by a mechanical float valve. Once the top container fell below an optical level sensor, it would alert me to add another dose of salt to the top container (but the full bottom container still provided me with at least several days of lead time before it was really necessary). After setting this up somewhat successfully using Apex valves and a breakout board, I decided there were too many points of potential failure and that I was still going to be pulling out my dishwasher WAY more than I want to. I was already waking up in the middle of the night and running into the living room with a flashlight to check for water on the floor and I hadn’t even installed the tank yet… not okay.

Current setup:
9BE1E2C6-224E-438C-B28E-18F0B7BBF852.jpeg



Plan C (it’s a long one but I think it will be worth the read): For 5+ years I have imagined a mixing station that would not only mix the saltwater, but add the salt automatically on an as needed basis to an endless water source. This is obviously doable with an auger-based feeder unit mounted above the SW reservoir, but nothing like that is going to fit in my sub-counter mixing station. Additionally, feeders in the category for something this small are generally for pharmaceutical or industrial applications and range in the thousands of $$s which is not justifiable to me for a non-permanent mixing system of this size. I think I might have cracked the code by designing a pneumatically actuated “knife valve” to control salt dosing into a much smaller saltwater mixing container which sits directly beneath a salt reservoir. I found a 12 gallon rectangular (to optimize use of space in the cabinet) plastic container with a full-drain bottom at only a slight angle (so as to not occupy more vertical space below the salt holding tank than necessary). I’m going to build a stand out of 2x4’s and 1/8” angle iron on casters with a cutout for the bottom drain. This should allow me to easily slide the salt holding tank out from under the cabinet and top it off with salt every few months. My hope is that after working out the setup and initial kinks, the salt refill coincides with regular maintenance of the RODI, pumps, etc that are part of the mixing station. I have also ordered a 6 gallon tank that will sit below for saltwater mixing. The idea is that the RODI will keep this tank at a constant level with a setup similar to that of an ATO and I will use Apex PM2 probes to monitor salinity. Once salinity falls below a set range for [let’s say - 60 minutes?], the Apex will provide 24v power for a couple of seconds to a pneumatic relay which will instantly open the knife valve sitting between the salt holding tank and the mixing container, then slam it close. Of course, I’ll set up alarms to alert me of salinity in “dangerous” ranges (maybe < 34 or > 36). The same trigger will also automatically stop AWC operations when outside the safe range. This will prevent the Apex from dosing my sump with highly concentrated water in the event of a large clump of salt preventing the valve from fully closing thereby overdosing salt or in the event of the Flow of salt becoming clogged entirely. I expect the dosing action to occur several times throughout the day, which I have been lead to believe is actually better for the saltwater than making a huge batch once a month then slowly drawing on it for AWC. I have ordered all of the parts for this so I will likely start assembling and testing over the next week or two and will update here on how it all works out for me.

D1A0B38D-7A1F-4C88-99E1-5ADCD8D1ED10.png


Here’s a view from beneath. Little box in the back is the always-on circulating pump for mixing container. I ordered a Hygger off Amazon. We’ll see how it goes...
07779AF9-C336-40A5-B2A1-E32F89AF2ABC.png




Much more to come on the actual automation plans as we progress but I’d love to hear any questions, concerns, or general feedback on all of the above!

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll follow along!
 
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
EE514D54-FF4A-4FFC-8BF4-FA2354AD9BBA.jpeg


BE2CA3D3-B0AD-4DAA-B258-2A49601411A1.jpeg


Knife valve and solenoid valve came in yesterday. I hooked up an air compressor made for airbushing (~60 PSI, ~50 decibels) and a small tank used for air horns. The tank is slightly unnecessary as the pressure built up by the air compressor is enough to actuate the valve open and close but I’m hoping (1) that the tank provides consistent pressure on the closing action so as to prevent a chunk of salt getting stuck in the valve and (2) to reduce the frequency of the compressor kicking on to rebuild pressure.

I hooked up the solenoid the the 24v output on the FMM in my mixing station and it worked perfectly. I’ll probably use a combination of defers and OSC functions in the Apex programming to essentially evaluate the salinity reading in the saltwater mixing tank every ~30 minutes then (f salinity is slightly less than ideal) power up the air compressor, wait 30 seconds, then actuate the knife valve open for some short amount of time before slamming it closed. I am hoping to be able to maintain salinity +/- 0.5 ppm with this method, fingers crossed.

The lumber for the stand arrives in a couple of days so once I have the cart built for the salt holding container, I’ll start testing it all out.
 
Lazys Coral House
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
The lumber came in last week so I was able to build the cart for the salt holding container and start testing pneumatic valve with the mixing station.

The building of the cart went exactly as planned and (almost) everything fit perfectly. I didn’t account for the height of the 2” PVC 45 degree elbow and the knife valve so it was actually a little too low to get over the opening of the water mixing container. I added a couple more sheets of plywood under the salt container and that raised up the valve just enough to clean the opening of the mixing container.

I’m going to have to play with the delays in the apex code as there is a significant delay from the time salt is added to the point when it is fully dissolved and and read by the salinity probe. I ended up with 5 gallons of 70ppm water in my first test run due to this oversight. I have a few ideas to get around this issue - primarily coordinating salt and RODI additions with AWC times (maybe alternating days?). The most important thing is that the cart effortlessly pulls out of the under counter compartment, holds 2x 5 gallon buckets of Red Sea salt, and fully opens/seals solely 100% autonomously. It’s all fine tuning from here...

522FFE1C-6530-4C8C-A79B-E33E9B0CE72F.jpeg 222F168F-4791-44F5-A9A0-29A5B36D52BC.jpeg A8BAB7E8-2EB8-475B-8902-46DCB152ECEE.jpeg 90861A95-DB10-4854-A400-BD5F2FF66498.jpeg EAF81DD2-7D1E-4B99-87DD-D63C7D77DC6E.jpeg
 
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
Quick update - I ordered more live rock and sand over the weekend and I received finished tank pictures from C2C yesterday. Tank should be shipping out early next week.

I’m planning to use the ~40lbs of live rock from my existing 30 gallon, plus another ~50 lbs of new Marco rocks which I’ve had in saltwater for about 2 months now. But I ran across the real reef shapes package last week and couldn’t help myself so I guess I’m mixing colors for rock now. My thought is that the scape is going to look bad for the first few months anyway so it shouldn’t matter in the long term.

Any thoughts or experiences mixing Marco rocks with real reef? How long did it take before you couldn’t really tell the difference?

03BCFD73-EF57-4BCF-9E2E-AF370DBCEF1A.jpeg D4C508CA-1E57-46EB-86C6-0626D43D90FE.jpeg
 
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
So it has been a while but I have an update...

I left NYC for about a month (most of June)... partly to escape the lockdown and riots, but mostly to go to the USVI and do some reef research. I went on about 10 dives and came back with plenty of inspiration to get started on the aquascape and stocking list. After returning, I commandeered my coffee table and started aquascaping. I wanted something that looked like it could be found naturally but was visually striking at the same time.

After some issues with UPS delivery, Patrick at Coast2Coast came through and had the tank delivered middle of last week. The tank itself is beautiful. This is my first custom tank but I can’t imagine better craftsmanship. Truly a work of art.

It took my a couple of hours to get the plumbing finished and set up the bean animal. I did a freshwater plumbing test with return at 100% for about 48 hours while I finished the aquascape. I made sure both sides of the return plumbing could handle 100% of the return. There were a few minor leaks at threaded points but nothing that a ton of teflon tape couldn’t patch up. I had severe issues with flow through my chiller due my downsizing of pipe through the chiller bypass. I had planned to use 1/2“ tubing and 1/2” apex flow meter through the chiller and hoped to maintain similar flow to both sides by throttling down the ball valve on the opposing side’s return plumbing but that turned out to be a completely flawed theory. With the Abyzz running at 90% and the right side turned off completely, I was only getting about 200gph through the the chiller. Once I figured out that it was the tubing and pipe size, I ripped out the flow meter and replaced it with some extra 1” tubing which worked fine. I’m now doing about 700 gph through both sides at 80%. I have no way of determining flow on left vs right since I didn’t have an extra 1” flow meter but the output from the locline looks pretty close.

After learning Marco cement by trial and error, I decided to cement the final, most extreme piece after placing the base in the tank (it broke twice while trying to transfer it to the tank). The product itself is amazing, I was just a little too excited to move the pieces and keep adding to the scape. Best advice I can give in hindsight - one joint = 24 hours.

Two days of RODI filling later, the tank was full (and cloudy). I got the salinity right and ran it for about 24 hours with the filter roller on before adding the Dr Tims. Started cycle on Sunday. I also included about half of my live sand from the 30 gallon (still less than 8 months old), several live rocks from the old tank, and used live arogonite to supplement. I’m curious to see how long the tank takes to cycle given all of the bacteria working in its favor.

I’m now working through some small Apex programming bugs but nothing major. I planned to use the cycling period as the time to work out all the automation kinks, so I’m not too worried about it. The largest issue I ran into was completely underestimating the wattage of my battery backup (new one on the way). If both heaters turn on at the same time, the UPS beeps for about 30 seconds then completely shuts down.

The tank is now clearing up and I’m focused on stocking strategy. Could really use some help on this front as I have my “dream list” but now weighing the pros and cons of certain diets, figuring out compatibility, and trying to figure out the right order in which to stock. Including the “dream list” and some of my comments / questions below. Would really appreciate any advice on compatibility and/or ordering. Do I need to make sure that any of these are the first 1 or 2 fish in the new tank to make sure there aren’t aggression or stress issues down the road?

  • Pair of clowns (likely extreme Picasso)
  • Twin spot goby (orange spot as alternative)
  • Goby / pistol shrimp combo (can I have 2 gobies?)
  • Set of zebra bar dart fish
  • Tang(s) - is 2 too many for 100g? Any specific preference between these if I have to chose one?
    • Red Sea Sailfin Tang
    • Chevron Tang
  • Wrasse - do I need to stick with one species? Do they need to be in pairs? Considering:
    • Flasher Wrasse (2F + 1M)
    • Halichoeres wrasse
  • Blue green Chromis (Should I be thinking about other or additional chromis?)
  • Flame angel (or coral beauty) - from what I’ve read, it’s basically a 50/50 shot when it comes to being reef safe. I think I’ll take my chances to start since I don’t have any coral yet. If they’re a nuisance, I can figure it out from there
  • Royal gramma
  • Gulf signal blenny (recommend other/additional blennies?)
  • Jawfish (thinking blue dot or chinstrap - okay w. Gobies?)
  • Blue spotted puffer (is this ok w/ corals? Ok w/ tank size?)
  • Jewel damsel and/or sapphire damsel
  • Mandarin Dragonet (I know... since I dont have a refugium for pods, I’ll only do it if I can get a captive bred fish feeding on pellets . But I Really love this fish so I dont want to get other livestock that will preclude me from getting one in the future)
  • Boxfish / cowfish - probably my favorite on this list but also the one that makes me the most nervous. Are there particular species that work best in a smaller (100g) reef tank? If I introduce them early will that help prevent stressful situations?
  • Harlequin Shrimp (i know, another crazy one) - I love the way they look and think the ~weekly starfish feeding might be a fun recurring event (kind of like feeding a snake?)... would love to hear anyone’s positive or negative experience here. I live 4 blocks from LFS so I’m confident in regular access to starfish without having to maintain them myself.

Any other must haves that I’m missing? Does this feel too heavy in the bottom of the water column? Any absolutely not?

Here are some progress shots!

59585A3F-1AA4-47CA-8B0E-7EB219185BCA.jpeg 645EAF85-4EA8-4D37-8555-D20F514966BC.jpeg BBBC3CC8-009D-41D1-90E4-6DDDA0455DE9.jpeg 7DD6BE72-3B6B-48A1-90EA-419205B0F612.jpeg 6C3CC187-6929-4CED-95FB-1B452BCC1325.jpeg 67E9D252-96E5-488B-AF98-4C3E5A83BCE3.jpeg 794868D0-3B72-4205-8032-5D70AA333C76.jpeg
 
Corals.com
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
So we’re about a month into the cycle and I think I’m close. Have been testing 0 (or less than 0.1) ammonia for about a week now. I have a small clean up crew working on the algae and I added a jar of copepods about a week ago to get a good population established. As I have been thinking more about my stock list, I have come to realize that a strong, sustainable copepod population will make my life infinitely easier... and now I have really started to regret not incorporating a refugium (before I’ve even added a fish).

I was saving the small space to the right of my sump for dosing containers and reactors, but I’ve been strongly considering building a ~10 gallon refugium there instead and trying to fit some ultra thin dosing containers behind the stand. HOWEVER (enter R2R community and request for advice...), I’m also strongly considering ditching the dosing AND the refugium and going with a Pax Bellum + Calc reactor. The only thing holding me back is the lost perk of hosting a healthy microfauna population in a traditional refugium. I’ve seen people say their algae turf scrubbers are full of pods... can this also happen with a macro reactor? Is it enough to make a difference or am I just overthinking all of the microfauna stuff to begin with?

I know I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit but, as you can probably tell from the build, I’m one of those guys who loves the equipment almost as much as the livestock and I want to make sure I’ve thought through all the alternatives for these last few big pieces before I commit. There’s no room (literally) for mistakes or extra equipment.

I’m including some updated pics too (though still pretty boring). I spent a while using the Apex PAR meter to see how my lights were working just for fun. Larger size #s generally mean the reading was taken closer to the front glass.


A54BEC61-C3FD-446F-A36E-B747675E4974.jpeg
F2241B66-55E4-4248-90F4-C1EC7F4AE4EF.jpeg
2E8EE8C6-A8BC-49A9-A3EC-088D660F7EA1.jpeg
44FAD31F-2C26-45C8-B5A9-0DFF60941A92.jpeg
 

Rjukan

Day Dreamer
View Badges
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
822
Reaction score
2,397
Location
Staten Island
Awesome, the amount of thought and effort you put into this system is really impressive. I absolutely love how the stand came out. What you did in order to work around your space constraints... man, finding that spot behind the dishwasher was crazy. Is the dishwasher back in there then, up to those bins? In a later post it looks like it's in a different spot.

There is so much info to unpack, I'm lost when it comes to the compressor and the automated salt dispenser. All in all it's looking great, have to be really pleased with your work so far. Well done.
 
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
Awesome, the amount of thought and effort you put into this system is really impressive. I absolutely love how the stand came out. What you did in order to work around your space constraints... man, finding that spot behind the dishwasher was crazy. Is the dishwasher back in there then, up to those bins? In a later post it looks like it's in a different spot.

There is so much info to unpack, I'm lost when it comes to the compressor and the automated salt dispenser. All in all it's looking great, have to be really pleased with your work so far. Well done.
Thanks man, really appreciate that. I haven’t been able to show it off to people due to COVID so it’s nice to have others seeing the progress on here.

The dishwasher and sink meet at a 90 degree corner in my kitchen so if you pull out the dishwasher, you can access the empty space in that corner. I designed the whole thing so that the dishwasher can be slid in and out perfectly without touching any of the mixing station gadgets.

I am only now realizing that the Apex salinity probes have a massive margin of error so it’s not as precise and automated as I wanted but it still beats 5 gallon buckets. I have just been removing ~1.5 gallons everyday with the AWC and have to watch my DT salinity manually to determine if I want to refill with saltwater @ around 40ppm or RODI. If I want saltwater, I just leave everything as-is. If salinity in the DT is creeping up, I’ll switch off the new saltwater switch on the AWC and let the ATO fill in the water that gets removed. I think I can still accomplish a long term vacation eventually by setting up a large reservoir or mixed 35ppm saltwater in the middle of my living room and rerouting the DOS to pull from that while I’m gone. All in all, the pneumatic valve idea worked out but still some kinks to figure out.

Thanks for reading through!
 
OP
Andrew_NYC_Reef

Andrew_NYC_Reef

Community Member
View Badges
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
32
Reaction score
42
Location
New York, NY
Hey, any updates? Hope all is well.
Hey, thanks for checking! Nothing too exciting but progress nonetheless...

After we talked about all the algae in my ugly phase I started tooth brushing it off about twice a week - have probably spent ~10 hours cumulatively brushing away algae. BUT after the first week, I started to see tiny specks of corralline coming in and noticed the ugly algae was increasingly slow to return. So i kept at it and now all the rock is covered in a very light pink layer of coralline. At this rate, I think it’ll all be full-on purple in a matter of weeks. I’ve been able to maintain 440+ calc and 9.6 dKh so I’m sure that’s helping...

Despite the nuisance algae being less of a problem, I still can’t get nitrates off zero so I’m starting to get a little worried. Last night I switched my skimmer from 1 hour on, 1 hour off to completely off... I haven’t tested yet but I’m already seeing some algae bloom on the sand floor so something is happening. I’ve been feeding reef roids a couple of times a week hoping that might give me a spike in nutrients in addition to making the frags happy

I lost my birds nest frag and I’m not entirely sure why though I knew it was a huge gamble putting it in such a young tank. Everything else is doing fine with the exception of my clove which started looking troubled a couple of days ago. Its arms have become skinny and theres some weird dark stuff accumulating at the base of it. The polyps are still extending but not firmly open the way they used to be. I’m confused though because completely new polyps are still forming on the base of the frag plug despite the distress in the center of the frag. I’ll include some pics below and would welcome any thoughts...

I added a blue dot jawfish from TSM about a week ago and he has been tunneling away through the sand and rock work... super cool fish I just hope he gets over the shy phase eventually and starts coming out more. Over a few days, I dropped the temp of the tank a couple of degrees since I know they generally like colder water. Now holding it between 77 and 78

I think i finally figured out the exact number of seconds for the knife valve to open to create a batch of saltwater without me having to manually override the pumps to balance out the salinity. Going on the third consecutive day of completely automated salt mixing and dosing so that has been awesome.

Overall, feeling pretty happy with the progress but think I need to get a good stock of fish working for nutrient cycling before adding more coral. I want to get some swimmers next so looking at dartfish or maybe a wrasse as an addition next week. Right now I’m thinking once I get nutrients elevated a little and stable, I’ll probably shell out and buy one or two impressive colonies so it doesn’t just look like a frag tank

Here are some pics from tonight! (The last three are from last week)

78920AF2-8E75-4F64-8378-A89DE256D9D5.jpeg 85363AF4-8255-42C5-ACBD-A91B12AFE424.jpeg 71933C17-A282-4A33-A971-D0C111CB313D.jpeg 266866E5-6B5A-4D4C-B2B5-E857C3252231.jpeg 0A1D96DB-12AD-4B58-8298-CD234B1314CE.jpeg 6FDD0A8A-A2CC-436A-AA90-F6565D76EAB5.jpeg A7D8747E-258F-4E33-9E33-68854E1DC76E.jpeg 61F5E3D1-3049-4A23-9835-DC604F751715.jpeg F4DCA1B3-AEFD-4740-ADAB-C2BF30B8B2B6.jpeg 8696F1B0-4C9A-4C29-8437-4BC33E176A0B.jpeg
 
Shop Online with Zoanthids.com!

How do you feel about showing off your tank to "non-reefing" guests?

  • I really enjoy it

    Votes: 17 25.8%
  • I like it if they are interested

    Votes: 35 53.0%
  • I really don't care either way

    Votes: 7 10.6%
  • I don't like showing my tank to people who don't understand it

    Votes: 1 1.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 6 9.1%

Online statistics

Members online
2,135
Guests online
5,163
Total visitors
7,298

New Posts

Top