Brandon's IM Nuvo 40 SPS Reef

Brandon McHenry

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Hi all! So I've been thinking about making a build thread for my current SPS tank for a while and I finally feel like I'm at the point where I'd like to show it off! Below is some information about me and my tank as well as some pictures. Hope you all enjoy and let me know what you think!

About Me:
My name is Brandon McHenry and I am 27 years old. I was born and raised in Florida and I have always been around the ocean. Between boating, fishing, kayaking and snorkeling I have always had a love for the ocean and all of its inhabitants. This quickly led to my passion for reef keeping which began around 10 years ago now. To date, I have had 7 personal reef tanks from 14 gallons to 150 gallons. I am a certified "stick-head" and have been pretty much since my first reef tank. I also have a masters degree in Marine Biology from FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, FL. I have worked on marine bacteria capable of human infections, fish DNA and RNA, as well as aquacultured Florida Pompano nutrition. During my time at FAU HBOI I have also had the pleasure of designing, building and maintaining several marine aquaria at our visitors center including a Caribbean reef tank, seagrass lagoon, sponge and gorgonian reef, ORA aquaculture display and a recirculating aquaculture display with Red Drum. If you are interested in seeing any pictures from my tanks follow me on Instagram @florida_reef_keeper!

Tank:
Innovative Marine Nuvo 40 (approximately 35 gallons between the display and the back chambers)

Circulation:
Innovative Marine Mighty Jet Midsize
2 Ecotech MP40QD (anti-sync reef crest at approximately 40-45%)

Controllers:
Me LOL
No heater since I live in Florida
I use a small DC computer fan in my canopy to keep the tank cool

Filtration:
Tunze Comline 9004 DC Skimmer
Passive BRS ROX 0.8 GAC
Small ball of chaetomorpha lit by an Innovative Marine CheatoMax 18w refugium light in the back chamber of my tank
CaribSea Life Rock for the aquascape and CaribSea Special Grade Reef Sand (around 2-3 inches deep)

Lighting:
ATI Sunpower 6x24w T5 Fixture (3 ATI Blus Plus and 3 ATI Coral Plus)
12 hours total with 10 hours of all bulbs and 1 hour dawn/dusk with just two bulbs

System Parameters:
Currently Dosing BRS/Tropic Marin Hybrid Balling 3 part plus BRS Kalkwasser in my ATO

Calcium - 420-440
Alkalinity - 7.3-7.5
Magnesium - 1350-1400
Potassium - 380-400
Nitrate - 0.2-0.5
Phosphate - 0.03
pH- 8-8.5 (depending on temperature outside when I can open the windows)
Temperature - 78-80
Salinity - 35-36

Maintenance:
Weekly 5 gallon water changes with Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt (I also vacuum the sandbed every week)
Alkalinity tests every night after dinner
All other parameters tested before water changes or as needed

Feeding:
My fish are fed well! I like fat and happy fish! I currently feed my fish 4 times per day with pellets (Reef Nutrition TDO Chroma Boost Small and Hikari Marine S pellets) on an Ehiem Auto Feeder. My fish also get a frozen mixture once at night which includes (Hikari mysis, spirulina brine, ocean plankton, coral gumbo, artic cyclops, as well as reef roids, KZ amino concentrate, spirulina powder and paracoccus powder).
My corals get fed light and fish poop. (Trust me it works!) :D

Fish List:
Yellowfin Flasher Wrasse
Banggai Cardinalfish
Tailspot Blenny
Psychedelic Mandarin Goby
2 Yellowline Gobies

Coral List:
Don't judge me but I don't really do trade names so I don't have anything fancy to share with you LOL ;Hilarious. As I said I'm a stick-head so most of what I have is SPS. I have acroporas including millepora, spathulata, subtulata, secale, austera, nana and valida. I also have several montipora, encrusting and branching varieties, and birdsnest corals. The names that I CAN give you are my WWC Twig and Berries Acro, Bubblegum Digitata, Seasons Greetings Monti and both the ORA green and pink birdsnests. In addition to my SPS I have a nice zoanthid garden, two duncan corals and a nice Aussie Frogspawn that I have had for years (it has gone through a lot and survived the Hurricane Irma tank crash of my 150 gallon).

Invert List:
Skunk cleaner shrimp
3 peppermint shrimp
ORA banded trochus snails
A few Atlantic Turbos
A few blue leg hermits
Variegated Sea Urchin

Favorites:
Yellowfin Flasher Wrasse
Acropora spathulata (it's still cooking but I really think it has some awesome potential!)
Skunk cleaner shrimp

Things I've learned over the last 10 years of reefing:

- Don't discount T5s! They are a phenomenal light source and are super easy to use and almost guaranteed to lead to success.
- Use live rock and live sand! I really regret not using live rock on this build and I definitely saw the effects of dry rock in long maturation time, nuisance algae and slow SPS growth for at least the first year and a half.
- Heavy in, Heavy out! Feed your fish a ton and match your export. You can absolutely have a stunning SPS reef with little or undetectable N/P (unlike a lot of what you read nowadays). N/P are not food for corals but if you keep a well stocked tank of fat fish you will be on the way to success! Corals love fish poop! ;)
- Use strong turbulent flow! Don't blast your corals directly but water movement is critical to bringing food, oxygen and minerals to the corals while also removing metabolic wastes. The more flow you can give your coral without stressing them the better.
- Come up with a maintenance routine that works with your schedule and stick to it! This is the easiest way to prevent problems and helps you stay more in tune with your reef tank.
- pH matters! Again this is something that gets discounted a lot but I can tell you that a pH around 8.3 will give you healthier, stronger and faster growing corals. Don't go chasing pH with additives (which actually just raise alkalinity) but make use of macroalgae, kalkwasser and CO2 scrubbers to help maintain an elevated pH.
- Be patient! Nothing good comes quickly in this hobby so don't rush it! Keep your parameters stable and let time do its thing!

My biggest regrets about this tank:
- Again, not using live rock.
- Not giving myself more room on the sides and top of my aquascape. My corals are now growing out of the water and preventing me from reaching the sides of my tank.
- Not planning my coral list in advance. I had just come off of losing my full blown SPS reef and I was too excited to start getting coral into this tank. It led me to making some mistakes and losing valuable real estate to certain corals that I could do without.
- Not having a sump. Lets just say I miss a sump LOL.

Well I hope you all enjoy! And without further ado, here are some pictures!

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SamMule

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Heavy in, Heavy out! Feed your fish a ton and match your export. You can absolutely have a stunning SPS reef with little or undetectable N/P (unlike a lot of what you read nowadays). N/P are not food for corals but if you keep a well stocked tank of fat fish you will be on the way to success! Corals love fish poop! ;)
Gorgeous tank! Clearly, you have the education, background,and experience to back up your statements. Proof, pudding, and whatnot...
You touched here on something that seems to be very important, but also, difficult to get ACCURATE information about. Makes things rough on those of us that are new and still trying to learn!

So, if I understand the above statement correctly, you are saying that the amount of "leftover" N and P that we test for is not nearly as important as the amount of nutrients being imported and processed through the system.

Basically, what I am saying is that nutrient import and export should be maximized, but have to be balanced. Otherwise, it will result in either an accumulation of N and P until they eventually reach toxic levels or, they will be stripped from the system and eventually starve the corals.

Does this sound reasonably accurate? I mean... In a very basic, layman sor of way?

Sorry for the "hijack". Just seemed like a good spot to ask someone that clearly has an understanding of what the heck goes on inside these little boxes of water.
 
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Brandon McHenry

Brandon McHenry

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Gorgeous tank! Clearly, you have the education, background,and experience to back up your statements. Proof, pudding, and whatnot...
You touched here on something that seems to be very important, but also, difficult to get ACCURATE information about. Makes things rough on those of us that are new and still trying to learn!

So, if I understand the above statement correctly, you are saying that the amount of "leftover" N and P that we test for is not nearly as important as the amount of nutrients being imported and processed through the system.

Basically, what I am saying is that nutrient import and export should be maximized, but have to be balanced. Otherwise, it will result in either an accumulation of N and P until they eventually reach toxic levels or, they will be stripped from the system and eventually starve the corals.

Does this sound reasonably accurate? I mean... In a very basic, layman sor of way?

Sorry for the "hijack". Just seemed like a good spot to ask someone that clearly has an understanding of what the heck goes on inside these little boxes of water.
Thanks for the compliments! Yes I think you’ve got the basic understanding of it! There is absolutely more than one way to run a reef tank (and by no means am I saying that my way is the only way) but I think what we feed our tank is more important than what our N/P values are (excluding when they start to rise uncontrollably of course). Consider two 100 gallon tanks. One has 25 fish fed 5 times per day and undetectable N/P. The other has no fish but elevated N/P from dosing. Which system do you think would be healthier? I’d argue it’s the one with all the fish. The point is you can have undetectable N/P or 25 ppm N and 0.1 P but in both cases you should have well fed fish for the health of your reef. Does that make sense? ;Hilarious
 
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SamMule

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Thanks for the compliments! Yes I think you’ve got the basic understanding of it! There is absolutely more than one way to run a reef tank (and by no means am I saying that my way is the only way) but I think what we feed our tank is more important than what our N/P values are (excluding when they start to rise uncontrollably of course). Consider two 100 gallon tanks. One has 25 fish fed 5 times per day and undetectable N/P. The other has no fish but elevated N/P from dosing. Which system do you think would be healthier? I’d argue it’s the one with all the fish. The point is you can have undetectable N/P or 25 ppm N and 0.1 P but in both cases you should have well fed fish for the health of your reef. Does that make sense? ;Hilarious
Yep, I think it does! ;)
 
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Brandon McHenry

Brandon McHenry

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definitley following you, i've got a 40 breeder, and would love to be successfull with sps, and similiar to you, i am not using a sump! =)
Thanks for the follow! Yeah not having a sump is tricky but with enough TLC it’s possible! ;Hilarious
 
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Brandon McHenry

Brandon McHenry

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Hey Brandon,
That is one heck of a beautiful tank!!! Being able to have success in a AIO w/ sps is an achievement in itself, but to be so colorful and healthy, is next level!
Well done!
:)
Thanks a lot Perry! I’m happy people are enjoying it! I’ve been debating starting a build thread for a while but I’ve had so many people on IG ask me for one that I figured it was a good time. And yes while this AIO has been great while finishing school and new jobs etc, I can’t say that it didn’t present its own set of challenges! I guess I’m a better reefer because of that but I certainly wasn’t saying that while I was struggling! ;Hilarious
 
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