Back At It Finally - Waterbox 170

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Scott MacDonald

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I’ve waited too long. I left this hobby in roughly 2007 only to come back to it in 2019.

Hello Everyone,

This is the start of my build thread. My reefing story will come at the end of this post. For those who just want the technical details and pics, here is my plan for equipment and process. It was inspired by BRS and Waterbox. Comments and suggestions are welcome - I don’t pretend to have this entirely figured out.

Update Full Tank Shot:
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Tank:

SPS-dominant (really mixed) tank with a sizeable number of fish
Waterbox 170 4.5

Pumps:
Neptune Cor-20
Echotech MP40 (x3)
2 heaters on BRS controller (BRS 300w and Finnex 300w)

Lighting:
Aquatic Life Hybrid
4 Kessil A360x
4 Blue Plus ATI T5

Automation:
Neptune Apex
Neptune modules: ATK, WXM, Solenoid, AFS
Neptune DOS/DDR X2
Neptune Dos for AWC
Neptune Trident

Filtration:
Nyos 160 Skimmer
Kessil H380 Tuna (Refugium Light)
Carbon (as needed - bag in sump for now)
R/O Unit: 5 stage from BRS

QT Tank:
20 gallon
Aqua clear 300
Maxi-jet 1200
Sponge filter

I literally had no equipment leftover, so I will be placing a dozen orders or so to get this done. That part was more than fun.

Current Fish:
Green Chromis (x7)
Picasso Clown
Blond Naso Tang
Yellow Tang
Blue Jaw Trigger
Six Line Wrasse

Corals:
TBD SPS (I live near Cherry Corals and a few LFS, so will look to them based on availability)

Algae Barn:
1-2 Macro Algae
Copepods
Plankton

—My Background—

I started off in this hobby when my brother asked me to babysit his saltwater aquarium (this was around ‘96 or ‘97). He literally brought it over and dropped it off. I was a teenager and was totally fascinated by it - I thought he would never come back to get his 40 gallon tank - it was mine! He had fish, some of those barnacles, and an anemone. Looking back - obviously he too had no clue how to keep these animals alive. Well, he came back for his tank. I was so disappointed, but luckily my father was too. At my age, my father’s financing was required. He went and bought “us” the same 40 gallon setup. I was hooked! That soon turned into a 90 gallon tank that was pretty much Fish Only. The next upgrade was to a 180 gallon FOWLR. By this time, I had gotten pretty good at FOWLR with all of my fish surviving for years and years.

Then life hit me and I needed to travel for work. I also got really into budgeting and felt I needed to get myself into a better personal financial position as well. Given my time away traveling, my fear of leaks, and my drive towards financing, I sold my 180, the fish, and ALL of my equipment. It was tough to sell everything, especially some of the equipment that was in great shape. I remember thinking, “I should save this last final piece of equipment - a heater/chiller controller, it’s in great shape and I’ll use it again.” Nope, sold that too.

Approximately 12 years later (May, 2019) I got the itch back. I was speaking to an active hobbyist and was telling him that there were a few advances that I’m waiting for in this hobby for me to get back in. For me, they were: automation, open tank, less energy, less noise, and a modern look. He sort of sparked this crazy idea that I could get back into this. I work in technology, so I feel like this helps me to figure out which gadgets are actually going to help. I began researching and was instantly blown away by Waterbox. This was a tank that my wife could agree to being an awesome showpiece to place in our home.

After countless hours of research, I cannot believe what I was finding! The Neptune controller, it’s dozens of add ons, cloud connectivity and alerting. Waterbox with its modern design and to be honest, I liked how they kept their buying process simple with recommended top tier lighting, pumps, and filtration. Then echotech with their vortex with a battery backup, oh man, this just sent me over the top! LED lighting and DC power could help me justify a purchase based upon lower electrical usage (I estimated at the time that my 180 gallon with FOWLR cost roughly $75 per month in energy). Equipment aside, the biggest difference since I left is how the industry has moved towards setting standards and agreeing to generally accepted principles. Nothing was exactly new to me, but the labels and agreement showed me that this hobby has matured substantially since I left in 2007. This was most obvious after watching countless BRS episodes.


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The Waterbox showed up with ZERO damage. Our only surprise was the black interior of the stand. This was a recent update that took me and my LFS rep by surprise. Thanks to reef2reef.com where this surprise had already been documented.

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Tidal Gardens
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Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald

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Update (ok honestly some of these events happened weeks ago, so please play along):

Stand, sump and tank setup. Filling with R/O water from the basement. Luckily you will notice that the walls provide plenty of space on the sides for viewing, but more importantly for tank access. The fact that the walls block a direct view down the back of the tank was key as well. I have roughly 5-6” between the tank and the wall. This will help with the Neptune AFS (since the USB cable sticks out pretty far) as well as getting back there for cord management.
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Tidal Gardens
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Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald

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My first big dilemma was on skimmer placement and I’ll get to that in a moment. I selected the WaterBox Reef Pro series based on the fact that the tanks were a tad bit larger than the Waterbox Reef series AND they come with a compartment for a refugium. I was reading a lot and watching BRSTV and it seemed like the optimal replacement was skimmer ahead of the refugium. Inside the sump of the Waterbox 170, the refugium and the skimmer basically share a chamber. So you could have a large, single chamber or divide it based upon a black divider that they included. The intention was that the refugium should go in the first half of the divided chamber and the skimmer in the second. The refugium chamber was not as wide, but it was much deeper. The second half of the chamber was a better depth for a skimmer controlled by a baffle that was about 8-9” deep.

The image below is the stock image from Waterbox (hopefully it’s OK that I posted this, but it’s great for context). The second image was me placing my skimmer in the refugium chamber. Ultimately, I will move the skimmer back to the 2nd chamber.

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Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald

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Nice looking tank Scott. I have the same tank and started it 03/19/19.
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Awesome! I like the fish selection - I too will be posting my red hawkfish and purple tang!

I love the tower on the right hand side of your tank - looks awesome!

How are your corals doing and how long did you wait?
 
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Awesome! I like the fish selection - I too will be posting my red hawkfish and purple tang!

I love the tower on the right hand side of your tank - looks awesome!

How are your corals doing and how long did you wait?

Thanks man
I’m really proud of the tower. I built it out in of 9 pieces of rock. Used JJ weld and crazy glue to hold it all together. Im calling it Torch Tower. It took me over a week just to come up with the landscape.

I started adding zoa’s, torches and hammers about 2 1/2 weeks in. Not all at once. I’ve been adding every couple of weeks. You know, work in progress. Most every thing has come from lfs, living reef Orlando, WWC, Top shelf aquatics, World of reef. I live in Orlando, Fl and we have lots of great places to spend money. LOL

I started with clowns on the 5th day. 2 gladiator, 2 platinum and 2 black ocellaris. The next week I got Deadpool “red hawk” LOL and the week after that yellow eye kole tang. I added the purple tang about 6 weeks ago. He is Very healthy and friendly.

All the clowns got along great for the first four weeks and than one of the platinum’s jumped out. That sucked, and then a week later one of the black ocellaris jumped so I ordered the new Pisces EXO lids from ClearView lids. While waiting for the lid to come in one of the gladiator’s jumped. Everyone always appeared to get along. Any way the lid came in last week so jumping ship won’t be an option.
 
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Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald

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Picture of my new lid from ClearView Lids.
Thanks for sharing a pic of your lid - I really need to consider one. What would you say were the pros and cons of your purchase? Do you leave it on all of the time?

Also, do you think that you will stick with 3 Hydra 26s?
 

MW319

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Hey
I leave the lid on all the time just so I don’t have to worry about any more fish jumping out, Specially Deadpool. He likes to hang on to the return spouts and sits/hangs on to them all the time. I noticed that he also likes to sit on the seaweed clip so I leave it in the tank and just move it around so he doesn’t get bored. I’m also hoping it might slow down the evaporation but I doubt it will. Fill my ATO about every 4 days or less.

I like the Hydras and haven’t had any issues so I will be keeping them. I’m still messing around with the intensity. I can’t figure out how to upload any posted light schedules that I have found. I saw you work in technology so I’m sure your probably LOL at me.
 
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Scott MacDonald

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My quarantine tank is setup. Ok let’s be honest, I am anxious to get fish. I have filter media that’s been seeded and I’ll be adding some ammonia and Microbacter 5-6 days before any fish arrive. My quarantine plan is largely influenced by what I’ve read up on, but I must admit that it will be tough to stick to the full quarantine timelines that are laid out for fish and corals (76 days!).

Here is a pic of my quarantine setup and I’m using my refugium light temporarily. I’ll be buying a permanent light for this tank as I want to quarantine all corals.

Items:
20L tank
Sponge filter (seeded) and Mag1200 (a bit too powerful)
I am experimenting with the MP40 but that isn’t permanent
Aqua clear 300
100 watt heater
Seeded dry rock
Egg crate
Kessil 160 (temporary)

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Scott MacDonald

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Also, I’m working on my aquascaping. The finished produce is at the bottom at I’m really looking for any tips or slight improvements if you have any!

I chose the dry rock route and I cannot say that I’m fully excited about how it worked out at this point. I tried several methods including Gorilla super glue, JB Weld - Waterweld, and silicon. I may have to revisit this at a later point to get to where I want it to be!

Items Completed:
- Finished adding R/O water and brought it up to 34 PPT
- Installed the lighting that came with Waterbox (3 x AI Hydra HD 26)
- Setup Cor 20 Return Pump and dialed it in to 30-40%
- Added 2 Ecotech MP40s
- Decided to go bare bottom so that I can rump up flow.

Seeded Rock thrown into tank:
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General Aquascape Plan:
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Final Product (ignore the sandy debris):
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Looks a little better in B&W:
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AlexKintner

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I have to say, I'm really intrigued by the Waterbox 170.

I thought I was set on the RS 425, but I could really maximize my available space with the 170.

Interested to see this build progress. You're off to great start!
 
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Scott MacDonald

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Finally got around to my AlgaeBarn order and my coralline algae in a bottle. I went with the 5280 pods, phyto, and sea lettuce for my order (at the time they were our of Cheato plus it’s suspected that sea lettuce is a bit more appealing to tangs).

I also went with the Kessil H160 Tuna Flora for my refugium.

After watching BRS episode #9 on the BRS/WWC method, I’m happy with my decision to go with a refugium. I plan to have a lot of fish and want to make them fat & happy. However, long term, I question whether I will want a refugium once my tank is established (2 years+).
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Hello everyone, I’ve been making some progress and I need some expertise here related to tuning my refugium. I’m looking for advice on Nitrate and Phosphate levels. For background, I’m loosely following the BRS / WWC method who suggest that in year 1 to keep levels low, but not zero.

I’ve added several fish including clowns, several chromis, tangs, a blue jaw trigger and a red hawk fish.

The dry rock is covered with a thin layer of what I believe is Green Hair Algae, but the tang gang has it covered. In addition, I’m waiting for coralline algae to grow (I used two bottles of ARC reef and have had lights on in the tank for about 7-8 weeks - any day now....).

Phosphate and Nitrate were higher than I initially wanted in year 1 - in early July, the Phosphate level got to .4. To keep nuisance algae growth down, I ran my refugium with a Kessil 160 Tuna Flora Refugium light for 12-16 hours. It worked, it brought nitrates and phosphates down to levels not detectable by test kits (Hanna ULR and Red Sea Nitrate). My sea lettuce from Algae Barn has taken off from the beginning and has almost filled up the refugium chamber.

To prepare for corals in the next month or so, do you suggest that I go with Option A or Option B below?

Option A - scale back the hours of my refugium until levels of Nitrate and Phosphorus are detectable? I feel like this is the right choice, but it will require corrections as my level of feeding will vary depending on what I’m feeding for the week.

Option B - Let the refugium keep levels undetectable and assume that N and P generated during the day by the fish is enough for corals. In addition, this will help control nuisance algae during this initial year (keep in mind that I’ve got a bare bottom tank so they say year 1 is tougher).

Thanks for any input! Let me know if there is more detail that I need to add.
 

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Hey Scott just read through your post im almost in the same boat never had a BB tank before but if your lvls are undetectable how long are you running the skimmer for i have chosen to only run mine for about 6-8h a day. some people completely take them off line. But if you have hair algae then you have N and P just the algae is up-taking them. i sugest running the refuge light for as long as your display lights are off. Helps with the PH a lot. Just remember with BB the first year is the hardest but less chance of outbreak later down the road. i know i didn't answer your question just my 2 cents from experience. Good luck
 
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If you did attempt to breed fish in your aquariums, where would you start?

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