Biokabe's Run-of-the-Mill 55g Mixed Reef

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by Biokabe, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    At long last, at the behest of no one, I will finally start the build thread for my 55g reef.

    I've been reefing for about ten years now. My first real reef tank was an old Oceanic 29g Biocube, which I started at my fiancee's apartment. Through many ups and downs, that was my reef for about 7 years, until my now-wife and I bought our first house a couple years ago. Thus was born this tank, in late 2017.

    FTS 3-14.jpg
    The tank's specs, as of 3/15/2019:

    • Tank: AGA 55g
    • Stand: DIY 2x4 stand
    • Lighting: DIY LED array (2x Saltwater Aurora Pucks from RapidLED), 2x Kessil A160WE (w/ Spectral Controller)
    • Internal Flow: 2x Maxspect XF230 Gyre Pumps
    • Overflow: Skimz OM2500 HOB w/ Tom's AquaLifter pump
    • Return Pump: Syncra Silent 2.0 (568 GPH)
    • Sump: Trigger Crystal 30 (1st chamber Refugium, 2nd chamber skimmer, 3rd chamber return)
    • ATO: Tunze Osmolator 3155
    • Refugium Light: Tunze 8850.00 Full Spectrum Waterproof LED
    • Dosing Pump: Aqua Medic Reefdoser EVO 4
    • Skimmer:Reef Octopus 110 Classic
    • Heaters: ... some heaters that I've had forever. Will soon be replacing one... nothing wrong with it, just as a preventive measure.
    In the interest of not making an enormous opening post, I'll put the livestock pictures in the next post. So, I close with a few other pics of sections of the tank. Enjoy!

    Left Side 3-14.jpg
    Right Side Close 3-13.jpg
    Center 3-14.jpg

    Flametail 3-15.jpg

    Pink Skunk 3-15.jpg
     
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  2. ndrwater

    ndrwater Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Great start on the build thread!! Keep the updates coming!!
     
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  3. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks!

    Now to the current inhabitants of the tank. Although I lost most of the coral from my BioCube (I'll cover that in a future post), I still have three of the four fish that were in that tank when I made the switch. The current finned inhabitants are:

    Flametail 3-15.jpg
    Flametail Blenny
    No reef tank is complete without a blenny of some sort. I'm especially fond of flametails; I once had one survive a heater failure that left the water at 98 degrees and killed literally everything else in the tank. Love the personality, and I'm rather fond of the smooth color gradient when compared to the sharp color transition of the more common bicolor blenny. This isn't the ultimate survivor that outlasted the apocalypse of the other tank - that blenny died about three or four years ago - but out of respect for its predecessor, I felt compelled to add this guy to the tank shortly before we moved. He thinks that anything that comes out of the feeding tube is his... whenever I try to feed the corals, I have to make sure he's good and distracted. If I don't, he'll hover at the mouth of the tube and steal anything that comes out. He'll watch it as it comes down the tube too.

    Pink Skunk 3-15.jpg
    Pink Skunk Clownfish
    I have a visceral dislike of most things Disney. Thanks to Finding Nemo, it was years before I could even stomach the idea of putting a clownfish in my tank. When I finally convinced myself that I could, I had to compromise and make sure I didn't get one that looked anything like a stereotypical Percula clown. I decided to pick up this guy at my LFS' semi-annual sale about four years ago. Maybe five. The old man of the tank, he can be a bully when roused to it, but usually he's too chill to be aggressive. He used to attack my hand whenever it was in the tank, back when he was in the BioCube, but he hasn't done that at all since moving into the larger tank.


    Chalk 3-25.jpg
    Chalk Basslet
    Chalk basslets don't get nearly enough love. The last of the BioCube fish, I've had him about three years now. When his stripes catch the blue LEDs just right, he practically glows. Deep orange, electric blue, purple highlights - if they photographed more like they look in motion, I think these guys would be far more popular. A little bit of a bully, he calms down once he has some food in his belly. A little bit greedy, he sometimes tries to take food pieces as big as his head. Silly fish.

    Carpenter's 3-25.jpg
    Carpenter's Flasher Wrasse
    The shyest fish in the tank, he's been in for about a year now (picked up last April). I say shy, but mostly it just keeps out of the way of the other fish. It cruises around the tank with its own agenda, boldy darts in to the group to grab a tasty morsel at feeding time before retreating to its own corner to enjoy its catch.


    Ruby 3-25.jpg
    Ruby-headed Fairy Wrasse

    Picked up at the same time as the flasher, it's probably the friendliest of the fish, and definitely the hungriest. It always comes up to greet its impending dinner whenever I take the lid off the tank. It's probably the biggest fish and wants to make sure everyone else knows it. Never nipped at anything, but he does like to throw his weight around. One thing he does not like, though, is my phone. He'll hover in a perfectly photogenic pose for the longest time, but the second I try to take a picture, it's off behind a rock, up at the top of the tank, hiding behind the overflow box... anywhere but where the camera is. I think his coloration gets a bit washed out in the LEDs. Bright red head, blue body, green flanks, lighter blue underbelly. I stopped by my office on the way home when I picked him up, and for some reason my boss insisted on naming him Maverick. I don't really think of my fish as having names, so I always have to remember who she's talking about when she asks how Maverick is doing.

    And of course, no reef tank would be complete without corals:
    Goni Bird Acan 3-13.jpg Pipe Organ 3-14.jpg three acro 3-13.jpg Upper Right Left Side.jpg Scoly Acan Acan 3-13.jpg Left side 3-25.jpg

    Still getting started with most of these, and there's more that I haven't linked yet. A complete list, as near as I can remember:

    3x Platygyra (Lavender, Multicolor, Einstein's Electric)
    1x Goniastrea
    2x Ricordea Yuma (blue-green, rainbow)
    7x Acan Lords
    1x Scoly
    1x Christmas War Coral
    2x Bird's Nest (neon, unlabeled)
    6x Acropora
    2x Pipe Organ
    2x Goniopora
    1x Cyphastrea
    3x Zoanthids
    2x Frogspawn
    1x Trumpet
    1x Psammacora
    3x Chalice (When Worlds Collide, Strawberry, Moondrop)
    1x Acan Echinata
    1x Pavona Cactus

    I'll eventually have individual pictures of all of those... but for now, this has gone on long enough!
     
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  4. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Well, a couple new additions and a loss. Plus a whole bunch of new corals.

    First, the new additions! The first one, I actually added a while ago. I was at my LFS, Barrier Reef Aquariums, about six weeks ago to pick up some more Reef Frenzy. I'd been feeling that the tank was a little underpopulated, so I took a gander through their new arrivals.

    Lubbock's Multibarred First Look.jpg

    Some firefish, a six-lined wrasse... and what was that in the back? Looked like a fairy wrasse of some type, but I hadn't seen that particular coloration before.

    Short version, he came home with me. According to the LFS, he's a multi-barred Lubbock's fairy wrasse. Seems to be a color morph that's fallen out of collection over the past few years, though maybe I just hadn't paid attention to them before.

    Lubbock's Acclimating.jpg

    And here he is, getting ready to go into the tank. I let him acclimate nice and slow, probably about an hour to an hour and a half. The other fish, especially the other fairy wrasse, lunged at him a little bit, but no actual nipping. Turned off the lights to let him settle down for a little bit, and he found himself a refuge underneath the lip of my overflow. He stayed up there for about a week, gradually getting bolder by the day. Thankfully, he was eating from day one. These days, he gives himself the run of the tank, and he's chosen a nice little cave for himself underneath one of my rocks.

    Lubbock's In Tank.jpg

    The pictures really don't do him justice. His main body is a nice, rich purplish-orange, fading towards a more lavender hue along the belly. The stripes along his back and tail fin are a solid black, and he has subtle stripes along his sides. Not a terribly expensive fish, not going to be winning any awards for dazzling color patterns, but definitely worth consideration.

    Also added in a sea cucumber, a pincushion urchin, a bunch of corals and a sand-sifting goby. Pics of all soon, but I didn't take any when they first came into the tank. Urchin gave me a bit of a scare when I first got him... ordered it in from Pacific East, and the water was super cloudy when I took it out of the box.

    Cloudy Urchin.jpg

    Didn't move at all for the first 30 minutes or so of acclimation. Finally, just when I was sure it was dead, it moved just a hair. Pretty soon, it was slowly scuttling along the acclimation box. So I was cautiously optimistic, but then I noticed a couple of dropped spines after I put it into the tank. Over the next day or so, it lost pretty much all its spines, and for the second time I was sure I'd have to be pulling its corpse out of the tank soon.

    But, three weeks later, and it's still going strong. The spines are regrowing now, and it now makes regular circuits around the tank, picking up hats as it goes. It's only grabbed a coral frag once so far, but I have had to rescue the occasional hermit from its grasp.

    And now for the sadness... about two weeks ago, the flametail blenny decided that it had had enough. Usually I just come across their bodies in the morning, but we actually saw its end. Still don't know what happened to it, if it was just old age, disease, or an injury... probably never will know. We were in the kitchen, near the tank, when we heard a soft "plunk" from the tank. My wife looked over and the blenny was just going nuts, swimming erratically every which way. At first I thought it was trying to snatch some algae off one of the gyre pumps, but after a second burst of energy, it settled to the bottom of the tank. It was still breathing, but no movement. I covered it to protect it from curious hermits, in case it just needed some time to recover... but after several hours, it was clear that he had swum his last swim.

    So, for just the second time in over a decade of reefkeeping, the tank has no blenny. So we have a sad.
     
  5. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Time for another full tank shot:

    Full Tank Shot 4-30 #1.jpg

    Huh, that doesn't look right.

    Full Tank Shot 4-30 #2.jpg

    That also doesn't seem quite right.

    Full Tank Shot 4-30 #3.jpg

    Oh. Yeah. Right.

    So eating dinner tonight, and the cats started giving the tank a weird look. A moment later, heard a dripping sound. A moment after that, a trickle sound. Run over to the tank... water trickling out of the bottom everywhere.

    Finally I was able to isolate it... the seam in the back left corner (right underneath the overflow, coincidence?) had given way, and water was slowly draining out. Thankfully we were home and sitting basically right next to it when it first started, so I was able to get right on it. Unthankfully, there's no saving the tank.

    I had a spare 20 long from when I thought I would make a sump out of it, and my Brute container can also hold 20 gallons, so I let as much drain down to the sump as possible, filled up the two containers I had, and pulled out the rocks, corals and fish. I also have a spare 10g tank in the closet, I'll probably pull that out tomorrow to mix some fresh saltwater in.

    Obviously a major disappointment, and I fully expect to lose at least some of the livestock. Sadly, it happened too late in the day to get any kind of replacement started, so we'll see what tomorrow holds. My wife and I briefly toyed with the idea of just washing our hands completely, but we've been at this for ten years... I don't think we could just walk away like that.

    I have some money saved up in my New Tank fund, so we'll use that to get the replacement and maybe some upgrades to prevent such a thing from happening in the future, or at least to give us notification if something like this happens when we're not around. Would have rather kept that money for a bona fide new tank, but c'est la vie.
     
  6. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Well, the first two fish losses came yesterday. The ruby-headed wrasse and the pink skunk clown didn't make it.

    Corals are dying at a predictable rate. Not looking good.

    After deciding that I would set everything up the Right Way this time, I laid down some foam on the stand before placing the new tank on it. Big mistake, as I was an idiot when designing the stand. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided on the dimensions I did - maybe it was a concern about getting a sump in the bottom - but the stand was wider than it should have been on top. Basically, there was no way to set the tank down and have it rest on both the front and rear support beams. So, put down the foam, put down the tank... and by the end of the first day, it had developed a noticeable and alarming lean from back to front.

    So, that was fun. Drained the tank, re-set it on the stand to correct the lean, but it was obvious after a few hours that we would end up with the same problem in the other direction. So a new stand was required. Building one would have taken too long with things already starting to die, plus I didn't trust myself to not design it stupidly, so down to Petco for a steel stand with leveling feet. So that was fine, except that the inner pocket on the bottom was nowhere near enough to hold the sump, so had to build out a platform on the bottom to hold the sump. So now the sump can sit down there, but now it's raised the level of the sump relative to the tank, so it's off to redo the plumbing.

    Still need to get that up and running and then replace the one light... should all be taken care of today, my LFS has the Radion XR15 in stock, looking at the PAR tests from BRS it looks fairly comparable to the light I lost.
     
  7. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Things have stabilized now, I think the losses are over.

    FTS w Stand 5-14.jpg

    Here's the new set-up. Steel stand, dead-level. The ATO reservoir (AKA super-fancy 5-gallon bucket) can now live on the stand, but now there's no room for the power in the stand. Well, after what happened with the last tank, I didn't really want anything with electricity directly under the tank. $15 bookcase from Amazon now serves as the power center, power strip attached to the back of the stand on the far side from the tank. Dosing pump now level, above the water level of the sump. Thankfully, the ATO and the dosing pump didn't actually get immersed as I feared they had, so all I had to replace was the light as far as equipment goes.

    FTS head-on 5-14.jpg

    I think I had a bit of a mini-cycle after finally getting everything into the new tank... that, plus the extended lights-out, ended up costing me upwards of 20 coral frags. Most of my Acros died - just left with a single yellow anacropora, and the remnants of an ORA Blue Voodoo that I had trimmed before everything started. My favorite millepora didn't make it, I lost at least three of my Acans, both of my pipe organs, two of my three platygyras, and (most likely) my scoly. My lobo is on the rocks, but looks to be recovering. Both echinatas survived, and my goniopora looks like it might make it.

    Frag Rack Mid 5-14.jpg

    Frag Rack Left 5-14.jpg

    Left side 5-15.jpg

    I did have a really pleasant surprise yesterday though! A couple days ago, I noticed that the Lubbock's wrasse didn't come out for food. He's always been really good about eating, even when he was brand new, so I immediately thought the worse. Throughout the next couple of days, my wife and I both watched for him, but to no avail. No sign of a body anywhere - the CUC wasn't gathered anywhere, and there was no dried-up fish anywhere - so I figured, either he died in the night and the CUC had already finished with the body, or he managed to jump out of the tank despite the lid and one of the cats had an expensive treat.

    Sitting on the couch yesterday, I saw a little flash of movement from the sump. Thinking it was maybe the peppermint shrimp I'd sent down there months ago, I wandered over to check. And... it was the Lubbock's.

    I'd had the overflow comb off of the box for a little bit just to raise the water level in the sump while I was prepping for my first post-disaster water change (ended up having to send some water down the drain, so I didn't have as much in the tank as I typically did). I hadn't yet verified that the ATO was functional, so I was just trying to nurse the water level along for another day until the make-up water was ready. So, he'd apparently found the unprotected overflow, swam into it, swam under and through the first wall, under and over the second wall, and down the pipe to the sump, where he'd been living for the past few days. A quick netting later, and he was back where he belonged.

    We'll do another water change tomorrow, and then the day after my LFS is having a nice sale, so hopefully we can replenish some of what was lost.

    Mid-left 5-14.jpg

    Full Left Side 5-14.jpg
     
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