Aqua One Mini Reef 120

Oropher

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Hi Folks,

NEW TANK & SUMP MODIFICATION

I started this build on Mar 2020. This is a progression after my pico tank 40L. Pico tank was my lab of getting to know saltwater reef keeping before actually pouring money into this hobby. It was difficult, lots of swing; however I managed to keep a few LPS coral and a pair of occelaris clowns up to almost 2 years.

This is the tank, cabinet and chiller (used). I put the chiller outside the room to avoid hot air from chiller getting into the room. Dimension of tank is 60cm x 45cm x 45cm, one wier box on the back left with 1 drain pipe (durso) 40 mm, and 1 return pipe (20 mm) connected to a duck bill.

This tank came with a skimmer, return pump and heater which I sold them all :p

Room.jpg


I made a mod for the sump. Completely different than the original. This is a 3 chamber sump. Front left is for water coming from main drain pipe, filter sock and skimmer, right chamber is for refugium, and back left is the return chamber. Wier box is on the back left of the tank, so I made a mod also for the downpipe, splitted into 2 : main drain to skimmer chamber and secondary to refugium chamber because I want both skimmer and refugium received water directly from MT. Water from skimmer chamber goes directly to return chamber. And water from refugium also goes directly to return chamber, not to skimmer. Hahaha, in the reflection there's my pico tank. I don't have it anymore.

IMG-20200306-WA0020.jpeg


I even put stickers on the front glass of the sump to make it looks like an acrylic sump :)

Skimmer Aqua One.jpeg
 
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Hard Plumbing

I want to have a hard plumbing system. And since the tank had already came with a DIN drain & return pipe, I had to collect other pipes, connector and accessories with the same DIN system also.
At the time I couldn't find these DIN pipe in my country, so I had to import from aliexpress.com. Bought these on 11.11 sales event in 2019, and arrived on Feb-Mar 2020 (almost 4-5 months later).
Bought a lot, hoping that they would be enough. I got a used Reef Octo return pump.

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Aquascaping

I use 20 lbs Carib Sea shape rock. It is a 4 piece purple rock in the box. This is the first build I use expensive rock ;Sorry, those rocks are too good to be broken down ;Shy
Therefore I tried to make an aquascape using only those 4 pieces (really not ideal).
My concern is the deadspot and easiness to clean detritus, because I only have 1 maxspect gyre pump and a pair of rossmont pumps with rossmont waver.
Plan is to have an SPS dominated tank, therefore I wouldn't make the aquascape to go above 50% of tank height.

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Start pouring salt!

It's the most exciting moment :p
This was Aquaforest Sea Salt and target salinity was 1.025.
I didn't know that for fishless cycle, it's better to have salinity <1.020 so the bacteria would have more energy to grow in numbers rather than spending energy to maintain their form in normal salinity saltwater.

 
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CYCLING

I did a fishless cycling, using Brightwell Aquatics Microbacter Starter XLM. Then pour NH4OH to make it 2ppm ammonia.

This was how I monitor water level in the return chamber : using scale I made from stickers. I didn't have an ATO yet.
20200328_185710.jpg



After a day then I started to get some NO2. NH4 was almost gone and there was no NO3 yet.
Salifert for Ammonia test, Tetra for NO2 test and API for NO3 test. Hahaha I came from freshwater world, and these were the leftover of my test kits.

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After 3 weeks got reading from NO2 (test every 2-3 days), I finally got 0 ammo, 0 NO2 however still 0 NO3, but got a bit of PO4.

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ADDING MORE ECOBIOBLOCKS & CHAETO

I was curious why I didn't get NO3, however I want to put some fish so cycling process would continue in more natural way (no need to drop liquid NH4OH again). Therefore I added more ecobioblocks for added bio filtration. Also chaeto for NO3 & PO4 control.

In the meantime I already setup a QT tank and put a lawnmower blenny to be the first fish in this tank. I chose this blenny because of its reputation to control algae (and there's no Tang at that time at LFS).

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QUARANTINE TANK

My quarantine protocol :
1. QT = 12 L tank or 20 L tank, equipped with sponge filter, eco bioblocks, and a powerhead. Salinity 1.020, every 2 days in the first 2 weeks --> 50% water change; then every 3 days 50% water change.
2. Acclimation, get the fish to settle with new QT, leave it without food for a day or two, then in the third day I would try to offer live food or frozen or some nori. Luckily if I could make the fish to accept pellets.
3. After it can accept any food, then my treatment begins. Starting with chelated copper, 1/3 or dosage for the first day, then tomorrow the next 1/3 dosage, then third day full dosage. My dosage is a bit lower than manufacturer recommendation. I use chelated copper because generally it is milder than ionic copper.
I use Salifert Copper test to verify copper content in the QT, because eco bioblocks somehow "absorb" copper in water (later on they will leech copper into water).
4. Everytimes I do water change, then I will add some more copper to current holding concentration. I keep the fish in the copper for at least 14 days. After copper treatment ends, then I do big water change and drop some active carbons to absorb copper leftover.
5. Then Praziquantel treatment, for this one I add an air stone. First day half dosage, next day full dosage. Holding in prazi for at least a week. Everytime I do water change then add prazi to return to current holding concentration.
6. After finish with prazi, then another big water change and then 2 tank transfers before the fish makes it to Main Tank.

Total time I need for QT is around 1 month.

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BLENNY LAYS SOME EGGS

Beginning of July and :p my lawnmower blenny laid some eggs!
I read some web article https://allpetsdirectory.com/lawnmower-blenny/, saying that breeding seasons run from Apr - June.
At least I know that my blenny is a girl. Because of there's no male blenny to watch over and fertilize the eggs, then all the eggs go to Yellow Tang's tummy, yum yum.

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DIATOM BLOOM & CHALLENGES

It's been 4 months running (3 months after I thought it was cycled and introduced new fish and kept adding more coral), Nitrate has finally been detected. It was below 5 ppm, and according to literature I read, 5 ppm was good. However this was the start of a rollercoaster ride.

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Soon after that the tank got diatoms all over the place. It was so thick on the glass, reducing visibility. The top part was srubbed before taking picture, otherwise we couldn't see anything.

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Original test frags added before diatom bloom :
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Necrosis on both monti cap, both birdnest, hydnopora. Amazing that forest fire digitata and one of acros were still alive (one acro fell down and RTN). Eventually that seriatopora caliendrum only had 0.5 cm tissue left (mid branch).

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Convict chalice (or leptoseris?) was bleached also :

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These downturn series of events were frustrating. Hobby is supposed to be fun, not depressing... however keeping a reef tank really gave the challenge.
 
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WRONG SALT MIX?

Up to this time, tank was using Aquaforest Sea Salt since cycling. This salt mix was supposed for Fish Only system (very economical), however me being cheap thought that I could get away with additives (big 3, as the need for those elements rose).

For weeks I tried to raise Mg level as I thought it would somewhat inhibit algae growth and also promote stability for Ca and KH. I had to dose 200 ml homemade Mg solution daily (1000g MgCl2 + 1000g MgSO4 in 6 liters of water) to maintain Mg level at 1400 ppm. Ca was dosed around 2-3 ml/day (1000g CaCl2 in 3L of water) and also KH 1-2 ml/day (1000g NaHCO3 in 3L of water). This wasn't right. There's no way Mg would be needed that much for a system that had just started out and also only had a few frags in it.

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And I noticed that my Duncan frag even though it had a new sprout but mature polyps were closed up most of the time. Not to mention die off in SPS frags.

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When I checked the ICP test result for AF Sea Salt, I found out that this salt had no Strontium at all. I read that Sr was needed in forming skeletal structure.
I only dosed big 3 elements : Mg, Ca, KH, no other elements were dosed. There's no way I would dose minor and trace elements at this stage.

AF SeaSalt.jpg


A friend of mine suggested to change salt mix. And after searching and comparing content, price, supply continuity, I decided to change to Red Sea Coral Pro, more elevated elements but I could use it with a bit lower salinity for each water change, so it could be as economical as the cheaper salt mix but with more reliable quality. After all it's only a 138L system.
 
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