Anthony’s Red Sea XL 300 build - Mixed Reef

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anthonymckay

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1/2/2023 - FTS
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After ~10 years with a biocube 29, I decided I wanted something bigger. Up until about 6 months ago I had lost interest in the hobby for a few years. For at least the last 3 years I did nothing more than top off the tank (it was fishless at that point). Now I’ve relit the fire and found a deep interest in the hobby again. I started whipping my biocube back into shape. The included siphoning out the 10y/o sand bed, and replacing some of the rock that had become completely covered in orange mushrooms. Added a couple fish, and started adding some small frags.

7/31/21 - The day I decided to revive my tank…
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That same tank today
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During this time I knew what I really wanted was a bigger tank. A few months ago someone in a local Reefer group listed a Reefer 300xl for sale at about 50% of the new price. I jumped on it immediately! It was pretty filthy when I picked it up, but got it looking new again pretty quick

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Now I just needed equipment for it. Over the next few months I managed to grab a couple used Kessil a360x’s for a good deal, and bought a pair of Nero 5’s. After some more research I decided I wanted to go the roller filter route, so I picked up a Clarisea sk3000 along with a red sea rsk300 skimmer. Everything arrived last week, so time to start getting things ready!

First job: modifying the sump for the roller filter. That process has been covered on this particular sump quite a few times in these forums, so I'll leave out those details. But overall it was pretty easy and took about an hour tops.
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The wife at this point let me know that she wasn’t too excited about the black cabinet going into the living room. So… gotta make it white!
Spent the past few days in the garage painting and sanding the stand.

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Next up I’ll be modifying the plumbing for the roller filter. Waiting on an order of adapters and pvc pipes/fittings for this. Will update when that’s done.
 
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anthonymckay

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I ended up being blocked for about a month on progress due to the metric to standard adapters being out of stock everywhere I looked. FINALLY got ahold of some and was able to get my roller filter plumbed. Nothing fancy with my plumbing. Was initially gonna do the return as well, but decided to just soft plumb for now to the OEM return line. For now I don’t actually have any reason to customize the other OEM lines other than for aesthetic reasons. (though I may still do that eventually...)

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Now that that is all done, I took the sump back out for a final cleaning with citric acid to get all the old calcium and such off.

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Next we moved everything back out to the garage and connected the pump and the rest of the plumbing to do a leak test. So far so good! I’ll come back to this in a day or two and if everything looks fine, we’ll start moving the old tank and putting this one in its place to get ready for the transfer!

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Had a bit of a delay due to a knee injury that prevented me from being able to move the aquarium back into the house for a few weeks, but I finally pulled off the tank transfer this week. Learned a few lesson's in the process for the next time I have to do something like this.

Emptied out the old biocube... The end of an Era. This thank has been running for well over a decade now and been through many ups and downs. Will probably keep this around to use as a quarantine tank out in the garage maybe?

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All my live rock, corals, and fish in buckets and bins
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New aquarium setup in the living room. After moving it in here my wife and I decided we didn't like it here... of course.

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So I moved it to the back room where I have my racing simulator. Of course upon moving it here, I realized that I now had the space for an EVEN bigger setup.... I'll give that a few years though to keep my wife form killing me.

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I found it far more convenient to filter/mix the majority of my new saltwater in the display tank itself (along with an additional 30gal's in the other Brute bin). Some people said not to do this, but at the end of the day... it's just a big glass box and I'm used my same mixing powerhead and heater, so no chance of damaging any of my actual display tank equipment. It worked out great, no harm no foul..
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Finally ready to start the transfer. I added all the old water from the BioCube along with new sand, and all my old rock. I then drip acclimated the bucket of coral/fish and transferred them to the new tank as well. Water was cloudy for the rest of the day due to the new sand settling.

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The next morning, the water has cleared up. Corals are slowly opening up, though some are still a bit unhappy about all the stress the past few days. Will continue to monitor everything for the next few weeks.
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Shot inside the cabinet. Skimmer is still breaking in, and the wiring is a rats nest for now. Will clean that up once I build a little wiring cabinet to go inside. Funny, I've been in this hobby for 10 years, but due to running an AIO biocube I've never had a sump or skimmer before. This aspect of the hobby is all new to me.
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Another day later, and more things are starting to open up. Planning for this rock island on the right side to be a colorful zoa garden. I also made a trip to the LFS and picked up a couple new fish to keep the clownfish company (a bicolor blenny and a six line wrasse) as well as a couple new zoa frags. Planning to pickup some more rock to fill out the vertical space a bit more. My biocube always looked packed with rock work and coral. Now it looks like hardly anything is in there.
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anthonymckay

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Added some more rock work today to fill out the vertical space and did some rescaping. Took the opportunity to take the existing live rock out and chisel off all the orange mushroom corals that had been overtaking the previous tank. Left one small rock island covered in them, though I’m debating removing that as well.
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anthonymckay

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What process and paint did you use for the while?
Just some satin white rustoleum spray paint from the hardware store. Would spray a coat, then sand, then coat, then sand, etc. Did about 3 coats that way. Also removed the doors and did them separate, and taped off the black foam top and all the cabinet openings.
 

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Just some satin white rustoleum spray paint from the hardware store. Would spray a coat, then sand, then coat, then sand, etc. Did about 3 coats that way. Also removed the doors and did them separate, and taped off the black foam top and all the cabinet openings.

thanks I was wondering how you did that too. came out great.
thinking of adding the same tank to my line up.
is that the RS 300 or 600 skimmer?
what heater did you go with?
 
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thanks I was wondering how you did that too. came out great.
thinking of adding the same tank to my line up.
is that the RS 300 or 600 skimmer?
what heater did you go with?
Thank you. I was really unsure about the white, but as usual the wife was 100% right on that call, haha.
Skimmer is the 300, heater is just a 300w BRS titanium heater.
 

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Thank you. I was really unsure about the white, but as usual the wife was 100% right on that call, haha.
Skimmer is the 300, heater is just a 300w BRS titanium heater.
hows the 300 working for ya? I am so mental about what skimmer to get for this build...haha
has the BRS heater been working good for you? that was my 1st thought but then started to see ppl reviews of them some just stop working??
 
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anthonymckay

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hows the 300 working for ya? I am so mental about what skimmer to get for this build...haha
has the BRS heater been working good for you? that was my 1st thought but then started to see ppl reviews of them some just stop working??
So far so good? But it's only been a week on a more or less new tank, so I really have zero reference as this is my first time I've had a tank that needs a skimmer. The heater is also only a week old, so we'll see how long it lasts. I always keep backup heaters on hand so if it ever fails it shouldn't be an issue.
 
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Quick update. Tank has been up and running for 2 weeks now. Most all the corals are doing great except for my Montipora Setosa frag. It has started to bleach out, and the polyps are closed most of the time. Not a huge loss, as it was a free frag someone gave me a while ago, but still not happy to lose any coral. Been running tests every other day to monitor my nutrients. Phosphate has shot up to 0.26 at it's highest... yikes! Down to 0.19 after this weekends water change. I've stopped feeding AB+ for now, as I suspect that to be the culprit. Nitrates have been slowly climbing. At 5.5ppm after today's test. Considering adding a carbon and GFO reactor if the phosphate levels dont start going down as the tank establishes itself. Ph and Alkalinity have been fine. Ph 8.6 pretty consistently, and Alk has been dropping about ~0.1-0.2 dKH per day. Researching dosers and controllers to start dosing something to keep the Alk consistent.

I badly wanted to go to the Coral Farmers Market they had in my area this weekend, but I'm trying to hold off from throwing a bunch of new coral frags into the tank till it's a bit more established. The new fish from last week have been doing great. Healthy feeders, no one is bullying anyone, everyone is happy.
 
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I caved yesterday... I made a trip out to a nearby shop with an amazing selection of coral and picked up a few new ones to start stocking the tank. The tank params have been looking good, and my corals have all been looking great (my forest fire digi even started getting it's green color back!.

Two new gorgeous torches! Not sure what types they are (if you know feel free to share), but the front one has 8 heads on it. Extremely full and flowly. The bright green one behind it has 2 heads and some pretty long tentacles. Really in love with both of these! Fit in quite nice with my jester coral up above them.

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Grabbed this nice looking small Acan colony
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Some type of millepora frag... My yellow clown goby has immediately taken a liking to it. Pretty sure he's gonna be getting the boot real quick as he's already trying to nip away at the flesh.
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And last but not least, a couple Scolymias
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After the yellow clown goby pretty much ate most of the living tissue off my Mille I was finally able to trap him in a bottle trap I made (plastic water bottle with the top cut off and inverted and some food inside with the mille frag). Gave him away to someone in my local Facebook reef group. I was fragged off two tiny pieces that still had living tissue, so we'll see if they make it.

Aside from that Mille frag, everything else has been doing great. Starting to see some things from the old tank coloring up in ways they hadn't before! In particulare my oldest zoa colony that was always kind of dull brownish purple has starting showing a speckled pinkish mouth and reddish florescence on the tentacles. My forest fire digitata has continued regained the bright green in its tissue. These never did great in my old tank for some reason. Also starting to see coraline growing on the newer rock in the system. I took some time last night to do some cleanup and scrape all the pink diamond and blonde zoas that had previously overgrown onto my frag rack and glue them to a few plugs. Removed some bubble algae that had started to pop up here and there on some frag plugs, etc.

Now onto the not great updates:
The arrival of hydroids on a colony of blue eyed blonde zoas, as well as on the far end of my small frag rack. The blonde zoas seem to be a tad unhappy about this. Doing some research on how to address these pests, hopefully I can find a good solution.
(had to take this while the lights were off, hard to get a clear photo of the hydroids as they're so tiny)
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In the past few weeks I've started having a mild cyano outbreak in various areas of my sand bed. Started dosing microbacter7 daily in hopes I can get that under control along with my weekly water changes and sand bed vacuuming.

The bi-color blenny my 4 year old daughter had picked out and named Morty died. He was doing really well since we'd got him, eating lots, etc. Then then a few days prior to his death I noticed he wasn't really feeding much (usually he was pretty aggressive with feeding and would have a nice fat belly each day). Then in the morning I see him at the bottom of the tank looking pale and breathing quite hard. Within a few hours he was dead and floating around with a sucked in belly. :( My daughter took it quite hard and broke my heart when she started sobbing and saying "I miss Morty". I told her she should draw a picture of him to remember him and she spent the next hour drawing a really awesome picture that cheered her up. It melted my heart and I hung it up next to the aquarium. ❤️

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New additions:
Found out about a new reef shop in my city and stopped in there this week and grabbed a couple new frags (Small zoa frag, another riccordea, and another acro frag). Really great to have a good shop about a mile from my house. Previously I was driving about 30+ minutes to one in a nearby city.
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What are some of the challenges of reefing with a cube?

  • Swimming space for fish

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