CBO's IM Fusion Pro 50 Gallon AIO Lagoon

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Calm Blue Ocean

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So after having yet another run in with the IM MiniMax Reactor (Midsize) I thought I might be in a good mood do do a review.

Currently I'm using BRS Premium ROX 0.8 carbon, running the pump on the lowest flow setting and the reactor tube turned to the lowest flow setting. I initially set it up as shown in the IM video with two sponges on top and two on the bottom.

Pros:

1) It fits in the second chamber with room left for the heater
2) It's easy to fill and change the media with the fixed outer tube that stays in the tank and a removable inner tube.
3) It frees up the media caddy for things other than carbon or GFO, or even lets you get rid of the caddy all together if you'd rather use socks, or even drop a Tunze skimmer in the first chamber, or who knows?

Cons:

1) Difficult to make flow adjustments to the pump once it's in place (you need to pull everything out, and then the pump is suction cupped to the bottom of the chamber so even when you pull the reactor out the pump stays behind.
2) Floating sponges! The sponges do not fit snug, so they end up floating to the top of the reactor chamber, potentially allowing carbon to tumble or even escape the reactor.
3) The pump is loud! 90gph pump and it's the loudest thing in the tank. Annoying vibration no matter how I try to position it.
4) Water noise! It's only because of the first of two mods that I made that I could even hear the noisy pump over the noisy water. The reactor sits far enough above the water level in the chamber that you can hear water running from the holes in the top of the inner chamber down to the water level into the outer chamber. Splish splash splosh.

So as you can see, more cons than pros. Really to the point where I'd have a hard time recommending this reactor as is.

Fortunately there are work arounds to some of the issues!

Mods:

1) Water noise fix - This was the first thing that I really had to fix. Maybe it's not as bad with higher flow media, but the constant trickling with the carbon was a no go. Solution: I took one of the sponge pre-filters from my eFlux wave pumps and slid it over the inner reactor tube. Fit like a glove! Still allowed the tube to easily fit into the outer tube, and the sponge is course enough that it didn't restrict water flow, yet it completely eliminated the water sound! I can live with this solution. It also gives extra insurance against escaping carbon that might come from the floating sponge issue.

2) Floating sponges fix - Fortunately the ROX 0.8 carbon seems to be heavy enough to not go shooting out of the reactor at low flow settings but this still needed to be solved. First I tried doubling up on the sponges as some users suggested. Didn't work. Now I had 4 floating sponges. What I really needed was a brace, so I took a length of RO tubing that I had laying around, cut it to fit between the lid of the reactor tube and the sponges, and voila, no more floating sponges! I'm starting to think this thing wasn't designed for carbon. I'm looking into getting a proper brace made.

3) Pump noise fix - As I said, I didn't even know I had a pump noise problem until I fixed the water noise problem! This fix still remains to be seen. I ordered up a Sicce Micra pump as a replacement. I really would have preferred to find an externally adjustable DC pump so that could have also solved the adjustability issue, but if this pump is as quiet as reviews suggest, I'll be happy that I found something for around $20.

Conclusion:

While it's nice to have the option of a reactor that fits in the rear chamber of an AIO, I'm a little surprised by the number of issues I've run into using it for something so common as carbon. Maybe while running different media fewer issues might come come up. I am hoping with the mods I've made and the pump upgrade that I will find the performance to be worth the effort but only time will tell. Right now I'm tempted to go back to bags of carbon in the media caddy. Maybe I should save the reactor for some other job.

In the end, I still don't hate it. The pros are good pros! But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit disappointed and I'm glad I got it on sale.
 

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So after having yet another run in with the IM MiniMax Reactor (Midsize) I thought I might be in a good mood do do a review.

Currently I'm using BRS Premium ROX 0.8 carbon, running the pump on the lowest flow setting and the reactor tube turned to the lowest flow setting. I initially set it up as shown in the IM video with two sponges on top and two on the bottom.

Pros:

1) It fits in the second chamber with room left for the heater
2) It's easy to fill and change the media with the fixed outer tube that stays in the tank and a removable inner tube.
3) It frees up the media caddy for things other than carbon or GFO, or even lets you get rid of the caddy all together if you'd rather use socks, or even drop a Tunze skimmer in the first chamber, or who knows?

Cons:

1) Difficult to make flow adjustments to the pump once it's in place (you need to pull everything out, and then the pump is suction cupped to the bottom of the chamber so even when you pull the reactor out the pump stays behind.
2) Floating sponges! The sponges do not fit snug, so they end up floating to the top of the reactor chamber, potentially allowing carbon to tumble or even escape the reactor.
3) The pump is loud! 90gph pump and it's the loudest thing in the tank. Annoying vibration no matter how I try to position it.
4) Water noise! It's only because of the first of two mods that I made that I could even hear the noisy pump over the noisy water. The reactor sits far enough above the water level in the chamber that you can hear water running from the holes in the top of the inner chamber down to the water level into the outer chamber. Splish splash splosh.

So as you can see, more cons than pros. Really to the point where I'd have a hard time recommending this reactor as is.

Fortunately there are work arounds to some of the issues!

Mods:

1) Water noise fix - This was the first thing that I really had to fix. Maybe it's not as bad with higher flow media, but the constant trickling with the carbon was a no go. Solution: I took one of the sponge pre-filters from my eFlux wave pumps and slid it over the inner reactor tube. Fit like a glove! Still allowed the tube to easily fit into the outer tube, and the sponge is course enough that it didn't restrict water flow, yet it completely eliminated the water sound! I can live with this solution. It also gives extra insurance against escaping carbon that might come from the floating sponge issue.

2) Floating sponges fix - Fortunately the ROX 0.8 carbon seems to be heavy enough to not go shooting out of the reactor at low flow settings but this still needed to be solved. First I tried doubling up on the sponges as some users suggested. Didn't work. Now I had 4 floating sponges. What I really needed was a brace, so I took a length of RO tubing that I had laying around, cut it to fit between the lid of the reactor tube and the sponges, and voila, no more floating sponges! I'm starting to think this thing wasn't designed for carbon. I'm looking into getting a proper brace made.

3) Pump noise fix - As I said, I didn't even know I had a pump noise problem until I fixed the water noise problem! This fix still remains to be seen. I ordered up a Sicce Micra pump as a replacement. I really would have preferred to find an externally adjustable DC pump so that could have also solved the adjustability issue, but if this pump is as quiet as reviews suggest, I'll be happy that I found something for around $20.

Conclusion:

While it's nice to have the option of a reactor that fits in the rear chamber of an AIO, I'm a little surprised by the number of issues I've run into using it for something so common as carbon. Maybe while running different media fewer issues might come come up. I am hoping with the mods I've made and the pump upgrade that I will find the performance to be worth the effort but only time will tell. Right now I'm tempted to go back to bags of carbon in the media caddy. Maybe I should save the reactor for some other job.

In the end, I still don't hate it. The pros are good pros! But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a bit disappointed and I'm glad I got it on sale.
I have that same reactor and ended up taking it out. The same things you don’t like were issues for me as well but I just lived with them. What I couldn’t live with, and the reason why I don’t use it anymore, is that it would build up pressure and the top would blow off. Ended up with some water on my wall more than once. Finally got sick of it and took it out.
 
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Calm Blue Ocean

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I have that same reactor and ended up taking it out. The same things you don’t like were issues for me as well but I just lived with them. What I couldn’t live with, and the reason why I don’t use it anymore, is that it would build up pressure and the top would blow off. Ended up with some water on my wall more than once. Finally got sick of it and took it out.

Funny you should say that because I was standing there analyzing my handiwork and got thinking about the other legendary problem I've heard about...blockages...and it made me wonder what the consequences of that might be. I think you just told me! I wonder when I'll join you and get tired of trying to redesign this thing lol.
 
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Macaroni and Cheese, the Yellow Watchman Gobies with Doozer the Tiger Pistol Shrimp, being extra grumpy for the camera today.

gobies.jpg



Gary the Mexican Turbo Snail, doing the work of 1000 snails vs diatoms

gary.jpg



Roomba the Tuxedo Urchin, wearing a fashionable crown of special grade with a random shell in the middle for modesty.

urchin2.jpg



Risky, the Red Lined Wrasse, fulfilling the roll of the most impossible fish to take a picture of and full time 'pod decimator. Bonus photobomb by Amy the Mocha Clownfish.

wrasse.jpeg
 
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Wrasses are tough little buggers to photograph - they are quick and seldom stay still. I've had a few come out by shooting in continuous mode with a relatively high ISO. Just point and hold the shutter release. One of those 20 exposures might have a decent shot... maybe.

This is really an intensely active fish! Or maybe even reduce that to just intense! Constantly moving, constantly hunting. A really great addition to a tank. She swims everywhere, covering every corner and the full depth of the water. About the only time she's relatively quiet is right when she gets up in the morning, but after that, it's game on! I'll have to try getting some pictures in continuous mode. Thanks for the tip!
 
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3) Pump noise fix - As I said, I didn't even know I had a pump noise problem until I fixed the water noise problem! This fix still remains to be seen. I ordered up a Sicce Micra pump as a replacement. I really would have preferred to find an externally adjustable DC pump so that could have also solved the adjustability issue, but if this pump is as quiet as reviews suggest, I'll be happy that I found something for around $20.

Just a quick update here, the Sicce Micra (90) is true to the reviews. Almost completely silent! I'm back to the only sound coming from the tank being the air intake for the skimmer and the fans on the AI Primes. Added bonus, the Sicce suction cups don't hold as tight as the IM ones so if I want to pull the entire reactor the pump comes along for the ride and I don't have to go diving in to retrieve it. So, based on just one day of running this pump, I'd definitely recommend it for anyone needing a straight replacement pump for this reactor, or heck, anywhere else you might want a tiny pump!
 
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After seeing an article posted here about using an app to help with the color matching water test game, I thought I might do some tests today. Results...well crap! Not much for the app to do when everything has bottomed out! White is white is white.

When the heck did this happen?

Zero nitrates, zero phosphates. Ugh. I feed the living heck out of the tank. I have some mega poopers in the tank (have I told you about my Mexican Turbo snail?).

My old tank always had sky high phosphates although I did occasionally struggle with excessively low nitrates.

Nitrates in this tank have been consistently anywhere between 10 and 20 and phosphates at 0.05 with my last tests being about 2 weeks ago. Tested nitrates today with Red Sea and even tested again with API to confirm. Tested phosphates with Hanna. Definitely zero.

It feels insane to start nitrate dosing on such a young system but the word DINOS keeps flashing in front of me. The results just feel so impossible.

With specks of coralline showing up I ordered my first test corals to be delivered Friday. Something tells me they're not going to be happy with this zero nutrient situation.
 
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Thought I might be a bit overdue for an update.

Mostly we're enduring hair algae right now. I just moved almost all my snails to the worst island. The good news is that my crew does seem to eat the stuff (it also brushes off fairly easily, it just grows back just as easily), I just probably need more CUC. I do have an order of ceriths coming with more pods from Algae Barn this week. Not as many snails as I wanted but I guess I'm getting the last they have. I probably could have found what I needed at Reef Cleaners but my last package out of there was so mistreated by the USPS that I'm opting to wait until things settle down a bit in that department.

We do have some new additions that aren't hair algae. My final two fish are finally finished with quarantine, many thanks to Quarantined Fish LLC! Introducing Gracie the Pink Streaked Wrasse and Little Wing the Midas Blenny.

pink.jpg


blenny.jpg


The blenny is a bit shy still. Trust me to say it's an absolutely beautiful fish and possibly my new favorite!

Funny, I tried to build 3 islands to create territories for everyone but somehow every fish except the Pink Streak has decided to live in the same structure. Even the inverts all want to live there. Somehow all the snails even migrate there. Clearly my other islands are inadequate.

As for the Pink Streak, the tiny little thing has managed to scare my lunatic Red Line out of the area so she now sleeps where...of course under the island where everyone else lives. Getting crowded over there. And just to be clear, this move wasn't caused by aggression in any way but my Red Line is still pretty sure the tiny fish might be dangerous.

I'm really shocked at my clowns. With so many stories of clowns being bullies, mine seem to be really chill. The Midas Blenny started out living in the cave where my Peppermint Shrimps live, then moved to the apartment upstairs where the clowns live! And the clowns were like, that's cool! One day I had not only the blenny and two clowns in there but also a trochus and my Mexican Turbo. It's a tiny cave guys!

Added my first two coral frags.

corals.jpg


They've both been opening really well, even with my Red Line spinning loops around them. Going to take some time before they become part of a real environment for the fish though because the frags are super tiny. Probably time to check in at my LFS because they having things like this:

duncan2.jpg


I think I counted 7 heads on this guy and I got all that for $15. Try to find a deal like that online! I put this duncan in my 10g and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. My first coral with a real obvious feeding response. It's really hard to not start overfeeding. Definitely want to add more duncans!

I guess the last thing in news is that I finally gave the tank a deep clean last week. Not as bad a job as I anticipated. At least it didn't feel as bad as deep cleanings on the bowfront. All of the IM equipment comes apart fairly easily. I think the only thing I had trouble with was the pump on the skimmer which I never did get apart (I've heard too many people report cracking the housing so I let it be and just rinsed it really well). I gained a surprising amount of flow from the return pump which really didn't seem that dirty. I was getting an annoying ticking sound from my MP40 so it got the disassembly treatment as well and is completely silent again. Seeing how food and algae get sucked through it and shot out like a cannon, it's need for a deep clean didn't surprise me too much.

And I guess that's it. New fish are still settling in so hopefully I'll be able to get better pictures in the next few days as they come out from their hiding spots a bit more. I'm cheering on the CUC on island 3. Go snails!
 
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So I tried to order snails again. And again the USPS killed my snails. No other way to put it. Priority shipping and it took 6 days to get here. I now know what people mean when they say that there is nothing like the smell of dead snails. I should have known better than to open the box in the house. Off to open a few more windows.
 
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So I tried to order snails again. And again the USPS killed my snails. No other way to put it. Priority shipping and it took 6 days to get here. I now know what people mean when they say that there is nothing like the smell of dead snails. I should have known better than to open the box in the house. Off to open a few more windows.
That sucks. As you know I recently felt that same pain. Pouring out the dead snail soup is brutal. My IPSF order which came FedEx from Hawaii was great though. I just can’t order from anywhere that uses usps until they fix their problems.
 
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That sucks. As you know I recently felt that same pain. Pouring out the dead snail soup is brutal. My IPSF order which came FedEx from Hawaii was great though. I just can’t order from anywhere that uses usps until they fix their problems.

There was a big hole in the box. Does fragile even mean anything?

I'll be watching how your stuff from IPSF does with great interest. There's definitely something to the whole bacteria and micro fauna thing. I've been observing how my 10g with old live rock and various minor pests (and massive bristle worm population) does compared to my 50g with all new rocks. Every new surface in the 10g grows hair algae like it's a job but the old rock is completely free of the stuff. Not a single tuft. New rocks in there seem to take a couple weeks to join the program (I've added a few chunks of rubble to mount corals) but all plastic surfaces are a bit more reluctant to go algae free. My 50g is a hair algae disaster on all surfaces. The CUC is doing all they can and making some headway but I'd like to know how to safely colonize the 50g with some of the bacteria from the 10g without bringing the hydroids and aiptasia. There is definitely something different on my old rocks. For the record, those rocks went through bryopsis, hair algae, and cyano when they were in my original tank.

Lost my favorite blue leg hermit last night to a bad molt. He was probably a year and a half old, truly massive, and a model citizen. We'll miss you Humpty Dumpty.

Two new corals coming this week and two more next week. Time to get the party started. Of course they'll be sitting on frag racks until the urchin clears a spot for them.
 

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Lost my favorite blue leg hermit last night to a bad molt. He was probably a year and a half old, truly massive, and a model citizen. We'll miss you Humpty Dumpty.

Two new corals coming this week and two more next week. Time to get the party started. Of course they'll be sitting on frag racks until the urchin clears a spot for them.

That sucks man, sorry to hear. I have an electric blue (Hermes) that I've had for going on four years now. I haven't seen him in 3 weeks now. Keep hoping he'll turn up...

New corals always makes things better! What do you have coming?
 
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That sucks man, sorry to hear. I have an electric blue (Hermes) that I've had for going on four years now. I haven't seen him in 3 weeks now. Keep hoping he'll turn up...

New corals always makes things better! What do you have coming?

Hope your guy turns up ok, four years seems like an impressive age for a hermit! 'Dumpty had been part of the original CUC in my old bowfront. He was an odd blue leg because he seemed to have a preference for the biggest and gaudiest shells. Now only 4 from the original crew remain, two female blue legs and two trochus snails.

In happier news, we're up to 6 corals in the tank now. My old tank was filled with softies so I really wanted to try my hand at something different. So here's the current list (here's hoping I can keep them alive):

JF Fender Bender Cyphastrea
WWC Starburst Cap Monti
Aussie Teal Duncan
Gold Plume Sea Fan
JF Fairy Sword Sinularia
JF Mango Cooler Zoas

zoa.jpg


Previously I wasn't really interested in zoas but after having these guys just a few days I totally get it now and want more! So many corals still on the wish list. Top of the list is a really classic toadstool to occupy the space in the back corner.

It really feels good to have a few corals in the tank. The fish all seem to appreciate it as well.

The hair algae is starting to come under control. The island right in front of the powerhead is still growing the stuff faster than the cleaners can eat it. Saw Gary out there earlier this evening though, so they're trying!

Quick note on the 10g, it got two new inhabitants: A pom pom crab and a porcelain crab. Given that I've hardly seen either of them since putting them in the tank I'm really glad I didn't try them in the 50g! The porcelain crab has picked a spot on the back side under a rock ledge under the toadstool, and the pom pom hangs out mostly in a cave around the back corner. How fun. :rolleyes: I was shocked to find the pom pom attacking and eating bristleworms the first night. The dude is seriously miniscule but totally fearless, at least when it comes to bristleworms! Anyway, both super neat inverts, I just wish they'd picked spots in the front of the tank to hang out.
 

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Hope your guy turns up ok, four years seems like an impressive age for a hermit! 'Dumpty had been part of the original CUC in my old bowfront. He was an odd blue leg because he seemed to have a preference for the biggest and gaudiest shells. Now only 4 from the original crew remain, two female blue legs and two trochus snails.

In happier news, we're up to 6 corals in the tank now. My old tank was filled with softies so I really wanted to try my hand at something different. So here's the current list (here's hoping I can keep them alive):

JF Fender Bender Cyphastrea
WWC Starburst Cap Monti
Aussie Teal Duncan
Gold Plume Sea Fan
JF Fairy Sword Sinularia
JF Mango Cooler Zoas

zoa.jpg


Previously I wasn't really interested in zoas but after having these guys just a few days I totally get it now and want more! So many corals still on the wish list. Top of the list is a really classic toadstool to occupy the space in the back corner.

It really feels good to have a few corals in the tank. The fish all seem to appreciate it as well.

The hair algae is starting to come under control. The island right in front of the powerhead is still growing the stuff faster than the cleaners can eat it. Saw Gary out there earlier this evening though, so they're trying!

Quick note on the 10g, it got two new inhabitants: A pom pom crab and a porcelain crab. Given that I've hardly seen either of them since putting them in the tank I'm really glad I didn't try them in the 50g! The porcelain crab has picked a spot on the back side under a rock ledge under the toadstool, and the pom pom hangs out mostly in a cave around the back corner. How fun. :rolleyes: I was shocked to find the pom pom attacking and eating bristleworms the first night. The dude is seriously miniscule but totally fearless, at least when it comes to bristleworms! Anyway, both super neat inverts, I just wish they'd picked spots in the front of the tank to hang out.
It’s always fun to get the corals in. You’ve got a nice little list there. Can’t wait to see the pics. Hard not to get a bunch more Zoas once you get the bug. I have 8 different kinds right now and that will at least double before I finish stocking the lagoon.
 
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I've been scouring the photography posts here on R2R so that I can improve my pictures. I hate feeling like I'm not doing these corals justice. For now, though, we settle with my very amateur shots.

I posted another angle of these earlier. Our first corals from WWC. They have both now been glued down and have shown some nice growth but they're also both in spots that I can't seem to get good pictures. The cyphastrea in particular always just looks like a dark blob when I try to photograph it. Anyway, thumbs up to WWC for having one of the most reasonable shipping rates. Frags were tiny and pricy but very nice.

wwc.jpg


Next we have the corals from Tidal Gardens. Corals were packed really well and I found TG really great about answering questions. I was really impressed with the size of the gorgonian frag and my pink streaked wrasse loves to swim through it and around it. Again, pictures are shortly after adding them to the tank so they may not be as open as possible, but the duncan opens up huge now and seriously makes me think of a lion at times. Wish it had been at least two heads for the price but it's still very nice.

duncan.jpg


gorgonian.jpg


I've already posted a picture of the zoa from JF but I should mention the best part about it. 12 heads. Absolutely fantastic. The frags from JF were both a nice size for online corals and were the best packed out of the three vendors. If I was looking for something fragile I'd feel pretty confident that it would arrive in great shape from JF. This sinularia is definitely in the category of "my photography doesn't do it justice". My pink streaked wrasse also loves this coral. Says something that it's big enough for a fish to find security in hanging out around it! This picture was taken shortly after gluing it down so again, probably not as open as it can be.

sinularia.jpg



For some bonus pictures, here are some nice blurry ones of the crabs in the 10g.

Pom Pom eating a bristleworm!
pom.jpg


Porcelain crab informing me that this would be the last clear view I'd have of it
porcelain.jpg


And bonus fish pictures:

Thou shalt not get a picture of me swimming.
blenny.jpg


A rare shot where the algae is only slightly distracting.
wrasse.jpg


I'll try to get some updated shots after I clean the tank this week!
 
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Finally got off my butt and did a full set of water tests. With corals starting to go in it's about time I get the big picture on this tank:

Temp: 77F (Hanna)
pH: 7.8 (Hanna)
Nitrate: 1 (Red Sea)
Phosphate: 0.012 (Hanna)
Salinity: 1.025 (Hanna)
Alkalinity: 10 (API)
Calcium: 380 (API)
Magnesium: 1320 (Red Sea)

I'll add "ish" to some of these numbers. Probably time to upgrade my Alkalinity and Calcium tests. Happy to see Nitrate and Phosphate registering again, even if it's just barely.
 
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I was super excited about an army of snails arriving today. Whatever type of algae is running wild in my system, it is edible. I just need a few more guys on the job. Unfortunately it looks like almost none of the snails survived the trip. No idea why. The package was on time and seemed well packed. There were 5 hermit crabs in the package which all seem healthy and active, but not the species I was expecting. Time to learn about red legs and hope they are compatible with blue legs. Definitely feeling a bit disappointed at the moment. Wish I'd spent the money on some new corals and a bigger scrub brush instead. :(
 
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