Chris's 40B Mixed Reef - The Summer Camp Refund Reef

ChrisNH

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7/31/20 - Current Tank Shot - Growing Bacteria!

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Livestock
Nitrifying Bacteria

Equipment
40 Gallon Ancient All-Glass tank
Megaflow Model 2 filter repurposed as sump
600 gph FijiCube overflow
36" Aquatic Life T5 Hybrid (LED to come)
Vertex 130 skimmer (bought used years ago)
2x Tunze 6055 power heads
2x 200watt BRS heaters (Chilly basement in winter, need the power)
Sicce Silent 2.0 return pump
BRS Mini-Reactor with carbon, tapped off return
CPR Medium HOB Refugium
Reef Pi Aquarium Controller

After acquiring a drilled 40B and sump ten years ago I have finally taken the plunge and put my tank up. I never really found good space in our small house but things changed. It was made possible by a number of things coming together: Covid keeping me home, a recent addition of a sink to the basement, a major clean out of the basement in general to create home office space, and a little "extra" cash from cancelled summer camps.

The other thing that has helped move me along is the availability of aquacultured corals. I am not a fan of pulling corals from the ocean but now I can fill a reef from Maricultured or Aquacultured corals. What a great time to be in this hobby!

My other hobbies include Homebrewing and Model Trains. Both have contributed to this hobby. My understanding of chemistry, DIY liquid management, and ranching micro-organisms from brewing, and electronics/etc from Model Trains.

Before I go any further, a huge thanks to BRS for shipping me the steady stream of supplies during the spring Covid shut downs. I know those guys were working extra hard and it is truly appreciated. There is no way I could have made this happen without them.

Stand and "Fish Area"

I built a stand using Rocket Engineer plans and painted it black. It started flat black, what I had for the back of the tank, but I eventually would repaint it a satin black, a more wipe-able finish. I will never build a wood stand again. I had endless trouble getting the top co-planar. It is not worth the frustration. I can build model railroad bench-work but this was just an exercise in frustration because of the mm of precision required and how rigid the tank is.

Part of the problem was that the top rim is not level on the tank! This lead me to believe I had everything right but I actually had created a twist as a result of using the top of the tank to level it. It is also made harder since the stand sits in a tray which makes shimming on the floor a little harder. I did eventually get it level enough that the left and right side/corners are supported to a paper width which I consider sufficient for a 40B rimmed tank but not without having to tear it down rebuilding the top after I found a lifted corner when it had water in it.

That being said, the end result was much better than any petco particle board stand. Everything I looked at off-the-shelf was way too low. This stand is 40" high and really brings the tank up. A trick in model railroading to make things look bigger is to bring them closer to the eye. That works here too.

Below is an image from my first attempt before my illusions were shattered.

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The original tank had been drilled for a single flexible pipe with a huge acrylic overflow inside the tank itself. At the time I thought it was great. Now it was an eyesore and the hole was just too small. I cut out the old overflow and I drilled the tank for a 600gph FijiCube overflow. It was a little nerve wracking but it went ok. I used a drill guide and the hole bit included with the overflow kit.

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The original hole was repurposed as a return after painting the back of the tank black.

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After I got the tank largely set up I watched the BRS360 video where Ryan installed floor in his fish room. I realized I really needed to do something to protect the basement floor and walls. Water soaks right into the concrete. Even putting aside the salt damage, it is very hard to clean and the first skimmer cup spill would be a disaster. I installed Home Depot "Starry Light" vinyl flooring, similar to "Starry Dark" Ryan used in his video but a color my wife liked better. I ended up doing 400 sq ft of basement, the fam was delighted! The whole aquarium stand fits in a 2x3 poly sump tray from NewPig that can hold 14 gallons.

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To protect the wall behind it I hung a $20 sheet of 1/8" poly from Home Depot. That worked much better than I expected. In room lighting its kind of ugly but when the blues are turned on it takes on a very pleasing reflection from the lights and looks great. It drains right into the poly sump tray should spray occur. As a bonus, it was a great way to hide cords from my lights.
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Salt Water Station
I have installed a 7-stage RODI unit. It only costs a $120 more then the cheapest unit and will save me in the long run in terms of replacing resin. I have great water pressure so even without the "water saver" I am getting almost 5gph. The water flows into a 20 gallon Brute holding container. I had started going 32->32 but the RODI bin loomed over the tank. The 20G is much better and follow's the sensible rule of not having a larger freshwater bin then saltwater bin. It has a float switch for safety. The saltwater bin is 32g, a great size for my tank.

I originally planned a 1" pipe to the saltwater tank with a Tee that had 1/2" to my sink for a hose. However, once I actually test fitted I realized it would all stick out into the walkway. I went with a modest 1/2" pipe. In a do-over I would have gone 3/4" but the 1/2" is fine. I was also going to put in a sight glass like we do for brewing but its really not proving needful. I can just peek and the float switch works great. I have a Mag pump I got with the tank I use to mix the salt water. As a bonus, it heats it!

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Aquascaping

I used 40lbs of Marco Rock, a variety of base pieces, and three shelf pieces. I made sure I had 2+ inches of space all around and try to “lift” it and make it more airy underneath. There are lots of caves and tunnels for little fish and inverts to be comfy in.

The shelves are 5, 7, and 8 inches from the top. I followed the 2/3 rule but in retrospect, with a small tank, I would make the bottom rocks MUCH smaller and bring the whole thing down 3-4". Next time... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The top half is largely rocks broken up and glued back up with rock dust hiding the glue. I tried to make some “flows” to tie it together vertically. It was a lot of fun, I am already excited to do another one in the next tank!

Below is a video of the 'scape I posted on #AskBRSTV with far more dramatic presentation then it deserves.

My Aquascape Video Facebook Link

I used 40lbs of Special Reef Grade sand, it created a depth that varies from 1-2"

Sump
The sump is a repurposed megaflow. I put in a baffle to set the level in the simmer area to 8"

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Don't judge me too harshley, I have a lot of cord management still to install..

I have a Sicce Silent 2.0 return pump, its giving me an effective gph of around 200 in my plumbing. Its a bit much, I may put the 1.5 I was getting 140 with back in.

The skimmer is a vertex 130 I got super cheap a few years ago. At the time it seemed like a great deal. The pump is a little louder then I would like. I am not currently using because no fish.. I am hoping to replace it with a DC skimmer but for now it should serve the purpose. I will get it going and tuned in a few weeks, I will update how that goes. 2mo. update, nothing but air noise now, skimming great.. wont be replacing..

The heaters are a pair of BRS 200s hooked up the crappy BRS controller which is in turn over-seen by my reef pi. I do not recommend the BRS controller on a small tank. It updates very slowly so it gets very swingy. Its not terrible and I planned on a 2 degree swing anyway but I don't like that it updates so infrequently. Fortunately my reef-pi updates every minute and will shut it down if it gets too hot. I am still putting things together but eventually the second heater will only go on if the room gets below 64.

For mechanical filtration i am rebulding the trickle filter. I have to build an acrylic tray to drop down, then it will have two grades of washable filters followed by a felt pad. I am using plastic bio balls based on the MACNA Dr Tim did recommending smooth surfaces to initial cycling and Elliot from Marine Collector's pointing out that plastic won't absorb medicines. If I ever need to spin up a QT or Med tank I can use those plastic bio balls right in the filter..

Electical & Control
Control is provided by a Reef-Pi I built myself from scratch. It manages a 10gallon ATO system (both the levels in the sump and in the resevoir), temperature in the room and tank, and a ph Probe. It also manages my lights which currently are not in use. I am something of an electronics hobbyist so this was a ton of fun and allowed me to leverage my other skills to over-achieve relative to spending on control.

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I have a more detailed post about the pi here:

I finally finished my Reef-Pi.
I will do a more detailed update here down the line. I can't emphasize enough how much I have enjoyed this aspect.

I have switchable power in the form of an ADJ rack mount. I love the meaty switches on this! It is on a 15 amp circuit with 9+ amps available after the sink sump gets it's 5.5 amps.

I have an ADJ serial controlled relay power for the Reef Pi, you can't see it.. its in the back. That is on it's own 15 amp circuit since it carries the heaters. There is a de-humidifier on that circuit too, should have 10-12 amps available.

Powerheads and Lights
I am running a AquaticLife Hybrid T-5 with 2x Blue+, 1x Actinic, 1x Coral+. I plan to add one LED pendant for shimmer and to boost the light over the SPS, probably the center of the tank so the lower ledge can have higher PAR and still provide growth space. I was going to get a kessil but I think the Red Sea 50 would actually be better for my needs and the PAR more than enough when combined with the T-5s. The money I save not buying a bracket, kessil controller/wifie/ and and extra 40 watts will let me buy a $200 PAR meter which will be far more useful! More to come..

Power heads are a pair of Tunze 6055s. I will go on about these more later but they were a cost/benefit choice. The ecotech is great but they are pricey when you consider battery backup as well. With Tunze I can use off the shelf batteries which I really like.
2x EcoTech MP10 (299 each) + Battery + spare head: $800+
2x Tunze 6055 (on sale, 170 each) + battery controller + battery: < $500

I can also aim them which I think is important in a smaller tank. I am very happy with the flow right now. I plan to do some bubble testing and will update later on my choices regarding positioning. Plus, I really like being able to use a regular 12v battery I can charge from my car if I need to. The cord thing I think is over stated. Cord on the outside, cord on the inside.. I get it.. but its not that bad where I have them given the black tank background.

My next tank may have EcoTech but these were a good choice for this tank.

Organism Plan
I have 2x Neon Gobies, a cleaner shrimp, and 5 Trochus snails in QT with Mike aka "Dr Reef" at Quarantined Fish LLC

Further stocking will include
Pink Streaked (striped?) Wrasse
Herbivore Blenny (Starry?)
??? Something else

I am also debating on bringing in Worms, mud, and what-not from Indo Pacific Sea Farm but am concerned about pests, especially where I am going to the effort to get QT fish.

Refugium
I have a Medium CPR Aquatics Aquafuge2 I got used and cleaned up. When I get that up, I will be sure to post.

Conclusion
It is super exciting to finally realize a long term goal of getting my first reef tank up. I have been reading and watching endless material about the hobby and am looking forward to making things happen! This has gotten long so I think this will get added to later!
 
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ChrisNH

ChrisNH

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pH Woes

My pH during my cycle has been running at 7.8. I decided to look into that. I tested some of the fresh salt water and it was coming in at 7.8 as well. I knew that CO2 could have an impact given the increased Covid use of the basement and it's lack of ventilation.

Per the @Randy Holmes-Farley article Low pH: Causes and Cures I took a sample of my water outside and pumped air through it using an air hose scavenged from my daughter's freshwater tank. Sure enough, 8.1. Could be higher and maybe it would be if I left it longer then an hour.
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Meanwhile, I turned on my skimmer so that I could aerate to confirm that was not the issue. No, no it wasn't, still 7.8.

As a happy accident there is a small hole in the wall of the basement near the tank where the satellite used to come into the house. I ran a 3/8 ID vinyl tube from there to the top of my skimmer.

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I will let that run for a bit, fingers crossed that I see the pH creep back up into the low 8s. If it works I will route the tubing more thoughtfully. Come winter I will need to take it off but the basement should have better ventilation then too.

This picture also shows two other things I am working on:
  • A used skimmer I got a few years ago that surprisingly looks like it needs to break in. That stand pipe is wide open. A post for another day..
  • A lot of precipitate in the bottom of the sump, maybe because of the higher temp I used for cycling (84-85 F)?

As a side project, I ordered an Adafruit CCS811 Air Quality Sensor I can hook up to one of the arduinos I have lying around so I can investigate the CO2 issue in the house and basement.
 
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ChrisNH

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TIL: My brewing refactometer has a slope misalignment

I cycled my tank at 1.017 sg, about 23 ppt, following the direction of Dr. Tim's MACNA presentation to keep salinity low and temperatures high while growing nitrifying bacteria. I have a refractometer from my brewing hobby that I calibrated using BRS seawater reference. My refractometer would be accurate, right? I knew something was up when I observed that the brix values next to the sg were not lining up like they would for salinity measurements.

I decided to do some research and found this article by @Randy Holmes-Farley: Refractometers and Salinity Measurement. In it he discusses slope error that occurs when you use an inappropriate refractometer, like one for brewing. I thought, "Hey, how bad can it be?". Pretty bad.. I measured RODI water on my refractometer calibrated with seawater and got 1.010. Ouch! On the bright side, it would have been far far worse if I had RODI as my reference. This is only an issue because I cycled at a lower salinity.

Below is a plot of what I was measuring vs what I was getting I put together with R. It looks a lot like Fig. 20 from Randy's article.

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The red line is how my brewing refactometer is measuring where 1.01 is RODI water and 1.0265 is the seawater standard I calibrated to. The error line is the difference where I measured 1.017.

If my math is right (and it probably isn't :rolleyes:) then I cycled my tank at just over 1.010 sg, or 13 ppt. Fortunately Dr. Tim said that this bacteria was good for brackish, if memory serves, all the way down to 1.007 which is consistent with what I was seeing: A good cycle.

This also explains why it seemed like it was taking a lot more salt then it should (through water change and additions) to raise my salinity. Currently I am measuring 1.024ish, or about 1.022 actual. I will continue to raise it until I hit the water standard, adding a few cups of salt a day.

Once I am up around 1.0265 the difference won't be important. I will just shoot for the target I am calibrated for and my refractometer will do its job of telling me if I am on 35ppt or not.

Good times.
 
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Wiring/Sump Cleaned Up

I finally got the wiring cleaned up a bit in the sump. I also got some holders for the return area that cleaned that up a bit too. I am not going to make any more changes until I get back from vacation.


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It still looks a little messy but trust me, it is all wonderfully organized! The power strip in the front is where I can directly control power by flipping a switch. Currently that has the return pump, the skimmer, the Reef-Pi, and the power-heads. Notably, those all go to their own circuit.

Behind it you can kind of see the serial controlled power strip that is managed by Reef-Pi. This allows Reef-Pi to control the ATO pump, the lights, the heater, and the sump light. The sump light is usually left manual but its nice to be able to turn it off if I get into bed and remember I left it on.. and it can be flipped on and off while I travel so I can see it on the Wyze camera. Down the road I will also have a dosing pump(s) here.

The power bricks for the Tunze power heads are in the upper left, held by Velcro.





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Everything has an appropriate colored wrap on the power cord:
Red - Heater
Blue - Return Pump (but not that blue tape!)
Green - Skimmer
Yellow - Lights









There are a
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few items on the other side of the electrical board. There is room here for the battery back up controllers for the Tunze power heads or for adding a
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small screen for monitoring "stuff" with the reef-pi.


My next project down here, besides figuring out the skimmer, is to add the carbon mini-reactor. It will get tapped in between these two fittings, I have 1/2" push connect T for this. The output may end up feeding my HOB refugium instead of hanging a pump for it. It would go on that space to the right.





Once I get back from vacation it will be time for fish!
 
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Screen Top Planning

The first wave of non-microbial life is arriving next week. I am getting a pair of Neon Gobies from Quarantined Fish as well as a cleaner shrimp and some trochus snails. I would wait on CUC until my tank shows signs of needing them but there is a pragmatic consideration of sharing a fedex overnight box. I will feed agae wafers my FW tank never needed. If history is any guide, there will be more than enough over-feeding for the shrimp.

The next project is to get a screen top put together before my fish arrive next Wednesday. I ordered a red sea 36x24 kit but will be using 1/8" mesh since my tank will be predominantly little fish. I trick I learned in my model railroad hobby is smaller rolling stock makes the layout seem bigger. Likewise fish I expect.

I fitted the refugium I will be spinning up in a few weeks (Medium CPR I got used through my reef club) to the back of the tank and realized I have a problem.


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I got an accessory kit which includes (doing metric conversion) a .6" and a 1.6"ish bump out. The main kit has a large customizable cut out. I envisioned the small bump out being used one side on each corner for cords, the large cut out for the refugium exit, and the 1.6" bump put for the pipe. I did not account for the two stand offs in the middle!

I am not how much those will be an issue. The real leveling is on the back at the bottom, those pins act as something of a pivot. THe idea is to have the weight transmitted straight down on the trim, not pulling out against the glass.

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Which keep it vertical on a tank with trim.

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I need to see how the pieces will fit. I may just do a cut out for the whole length along the back and put in some kind of plastic insert like there is at the back of the aqueon glass cover we have on the freshwater tank. Once I have everything available to test fit (Tuesday, nothing like last minute!) I will fill with water and see how much radial force is being transmitted through those stand offs to keep the fuge parallel to the tank. If its not to bad I may not need cut outs at all.

After the fish settle and it looks like there is sufficient deutritis in the sand bed and nutrients in the water column, the next step is to get the refugium going as well as the next level of bacteria/cuc with an order in from IPSF . I was on the fence about them but when I sent an email question about when I could consider a pinky cucumber I got a detailed response the next day. I am wary of pests and ich trophonts but I think what appears to be minimal risk is worth it to have a more "active" marine environment. Even those disgusting bristle worms.
 
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Looking good!!
 
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Carbon Reactor Added

I decided to add the plumbing for my BRS mini-reactor before I got fish so I had no pressure on keeping everything perfect. As it turns out that was wise.


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The original plan was to just add a tee I could put my npt->murloc fitting in. Unfortunately once I got it apart I realized I had never bought the tee. Off to the store.. but they did not have quite what I needed. I ended up with a bushing from HD and a threaded 3/4" tee from Lowes.

Next I realized I needed an adapter for the female barb (Out of pic toward top). Off to the store again. I had to buy two slip -> male adapters.

Next I realized I had no 3/4" PVC to build the male -> male fitting, just 1/2" and 3/4". Off to the store again.

The lesson here is get the right stuff up front and you can make the plumbing project a lot simpler. It should have taken 15 minutes if I had a threaded 3/4 3/4 1/2 tee and another male npt barb.

At this point I discovered that BRS had included a 3/8" ball valve with the kit instead of a 1/2". Now I had to add more than just plumbing or I lost too much from the return. I found once I installed the actual reactor with carbon it slowed down a lot and I got reasonable flow through the sump again.

It was at this time I discovered the skimmer compartment was HOT and had been for a while! Despite having a reef-pi I had not gotten around to making a temp probe for the sump to auto shut off if that got to hot. It was over 100 F. Fortunately I only have bacteria growing in this thing! Dosing and testing shows my ammonia processing took a hit but it is still happening. Maybe a little more then half of the previous rate. My theory is that the bacteria in the sump was greatly reduced (bio balls and other surfaces) but the bacteria in the tank, sand bed and rocks, is still chugging along. It should be fine.

There was one happy accident from this. After I added carbon, which I had not planned, my skimmer stopped overflowing. It makes me wonder if maybe there was some chemical in the water from my putting the tank up that was creating a problem. I will put off raising the skimmer and see if this change sticks.
 
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Leaky Sump?

Over the last few days I started to become concerned about water I observed wicking out from under the sump. Any leak would be a slow seep but it would be good to fix it if I could pinpoint it. Since I had do a massive water change to get rid of the nitrates from cycling anyway I decided to empty the sump, put it up, and see if I could detect any leaks.

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However there does not appear to be any moisture collecting on the seams. I dried out the platform with a fan and keep moving the blocks a bit to see if any moisture collects. I also ordered a "Replacement Pan for Midwest Dog Crates", of all things, to go under the sump so that if there is a very slow seepage I can't detect it won't rot away the shelf.


Which is a replacement pan for a 30" Midwest Kennel (The 29" one).

If all seems well, or well enough, then I will put it all back together and finish the water change.

Update: 4 hours and no drips. I will take the chance to clean it then put everything together once the tray arrives tomorrow. Chances are the water under the sump is just water from splashing that wicks under and comes out in the one spot. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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Sump Tray

The sump tray worked great. It is 29 x 18.5 and fit into my 29.5" wide opening:

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Testing over night with the sump up on blocks showed no leaks which was a big relief. You can see water wicked right under the sump again, that's just what it is. Now I don't have to worry about the wood shelf rotting out over time. I am very very happy with this tray for this purpose.

Cycle is done, my 90% water change is complete, the skimmer is running well, I am ready for fish! Hopefully I get fish soon, my vendor is not the easiest to communicate with.

Next task is a screen cover! The kit arrives today..
 
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Skimmer Fixed!

I have been having ongoing problems with my skimmer overflowing. I knew that 8" was considered optimal for the vertex-130 skimmer I picked up used a few years ago. I had an 8" acrylic baffle made that I affixed with silicone into my sump Everything seemed fine in my testing.

However, once you have flow through the sump the actual water level is closer to 8.5". This was just too much. The skimmer was that sensitive. It is exaggerated here because of the outflow from the pump which is not ideal but space is tight.

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At advice I got in the skimmer thread in the equipment forum I raised the level of the skimmer. I tie wrapped two pieces of 1/4" egg crate to make a 1/2" rise. I notched the egg crate so it would sit flush where the tie wraps were.


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Now everything is AOK. I have a range of adjustment with the stand pipe. Once I have actual fish poo running through the tank I will tweak it more closely.

My first fish, shrimp, and snails are almost through QT and will be shipping to me soon thanks to Quarantined Fish
 
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Refugium Light

I was able to score a used Tunze ecochic light for my hob refugium. It seems pretty good, light leak is not bad. The only annoyance is the white magnet and cord make it harder to hide. I do have to fill in the paint around the return bulkhead.

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Diatoms Have Appeared!

Today I noticed some diatoms (I assume) appearing in a few places on my rock. I am not using lights and don't yet have fish but life finds a way. I am glad, it means my tank is moving forward and the snails I am getting with my first fish won't starve! Unless a lot more appears I will still drop in some wafers.

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Most of the rock is still bare.

I added some ammonia yesterday to wake up the bacteria in advance of my fish shipment. That has spiked the nitrates a little, 3 -> 12ish. I will do a water change before the fish will arrive with the last of the stuff I made for the big post-cycle water change. That should help bring things in line although I am expecting it to be a total @$#t show, literally, once the fish hit the tank..
 
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Red Sea Screen Top

I completed my Red Sea Screen Top! This is a Red Sea 36x24 using BRS 1/8" mesh.

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It looks pretty good under aquarium lights.


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Because the back is so convoluted for the HOB refugium there is very different tensions of the screen which resulted in it being a bit tight in some spots and loose in others.


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However this is more of a feature, the looser netting will provide a gentler stop for the fish. There is really nothing I can do about it. On the bright side, I only had one small rip and I was able to re-do that little section.

I fitted as I went, measuring in place then cutting to length using a miter box and hack saw.

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I subtracted one mm per the directions on each side per the directions, so 2mm total. Tolerances were quite loose given that I was placing it on a plastic insert.

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I did the front first

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Then the sides. I am unable to get away with clipping the corners for cords because of the rim. I used the "small zigzag" to create a slot for cords. It worked out very nicely. I was planning on doing it differently but once I started fitting this solution presented itself.

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I then worked my way through the back measuring and fitting as I went. I ended up needing to order an extra "big" bump out.

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So in the end I used:

2x Large bump=outs (one included) and one accessory kit. From left to right below it is
Large Custom (Drain and standoff)
Large Custom (standoff)
Large Accessory (Pipe)
Small Accessory (corner)

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To fit these small bump outs I had to trim the plastic tongues of the pieces. I found that if I trimmed them by half they worked fine. In one case I needed it tighter (the second standoff) and in that case I used a little bit of CA to provide some hold.

Once the frame was done I added the net. This was a PITA but I managed without ripping. I think adding some moderate weights in the middle instead of pulling from the sides can help keep it from getting too tight. I used BRS 1/8" mesh since I will have small fishies. Do not do this on a soft surface!!! Rolling spline in will be impossible.

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There is a problem with the design of the kit. While the metal pieces have little bits that hold the spline in after it is pressed:
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The plastic corners and zig-zags do not. and the material will pop out if the net is tight. The net being tight is a somewhat inevitable thing if you are doing a lot of bump outs.

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I used some CA in the few spots where this occured but in general I think the large zig-zag is problematic. Even cutting the corners (See, I did cut corners!) didn't help.

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In the end it went together. If I was to do it over I would start wit a single spline along the back, working my way out from the middle, accepting looseness elsewhere to avoid tension there. To cut the mesh I used fresh box cutters and pressed on the outer edge. This turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. Be careful, go slow..

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There is one 3x3 gap between the outlet and the first stand-off, I made an egg crate thingy for that. I will be adding some mesh since my neon gobies can pop through the 1/4" grid.

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For tools I recommend

High quality hack saw (I used a lennox high tension saw, $25 at Lowes)
32 tpi blade (This is the "fine" hacksaw blade). I cut the lengths with the bars vertically in the miter box
Miter box
Multiple clamps (I used 4, two for the box and two to hold the piece in the box..)
Small file - small enough to get inside the pieces
Fresh blade in box cutters for cutting out the mesh afterwards.
A metric ruler (so much easier then working in fractions)

I did the project over multiple days. In part because it was time consuming to do it well, in part because I needed to order an extra large bump out. I watched a lot of videos and tried not to repeat the mistakes I saw. Make only new mistakes!

I have parts and screen to remake it if I remove the HOB refugium. In the mean time, this is the best I can do and the price is much better than if I ordered an acrylic top. Please feel free to ask me questions if you are doing your own screen top..
 
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It Is Alive! Fish Have Arrived!

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I received my order from Mike ( @Dr. Reef ) at Quarantined Fish. We had a problem where Fedex decided not deliver overnight. Mike was great working with me on that. It showed up this morning and I was able to pick it up. Everything was intact, despite being over 36 hours all but one thing managed to survive.

I had ordered 2 Neon Gobies, 1 Cleaner Shrimp, and 5 Trochus Snails. Mike sent me a couple of itty-bitty gobies as well as two larger ones. One little one didn't make it but I am still up one gobie!

Its actually pretty cool. I have what appears to be a pair of large gobies who seem to enjoy swimming in the water column and the bonus little gobie who hangs out in his little cave and darts out once in a while. It is almost like an entirely different creature.



The larger of these two guys has already eaten a little Mysis.

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Here is the little guy in his little cave. So tiny, so cool!

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Frank II, the shrimp
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Four of the snails are all stuck together. One managed to escape the cluster but three are still trying to figure it out. "Fred, get your foot out of my.."
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My process was to have minimal light at the start. I slowly added light to avoid light shock to my new critters. We decided to introduce the animals directly after floating the bags. The ammonia build up after 36 hours would be significant and we were more concerned with ammonia burn when the water was oxygenated then differences in water chemistry. The animals were shipped at around 34ppt and my tank is at 35ppt so we did not have the problem associated with a significant jump in salinity.

Update - Shrimp Molted!
Frank the Shrimp decided to Molt to kick off his new life..

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It was pretty cool watching him wriggle out of his old skin. He then promptly got stuck on the power head. I helped him out by putting it on feed more.
 
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And then there were two...
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Lost one of my new fish today. The other two had been observed eating. This one had not. While he ended up in the power head I am pretty sure this is just a delayed shipping death.

My other fish seem to be doing well. I will cross my fingers that this is the last of the fall-out from fedex delaying my package.
 
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Fish Cart

My tank is at the bottom of the basement stairs. This has worked out really well. I notice family members stopping and checking out the tank every time they come down here which is fairly often. However, there is not a ton of work space right at the tank.

Enter the fish cart.

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I wheel this out when I need to do tests or maintenance. It has worked out super well. Most of my tests are in that drawer thing on top. The ones with their own hard case sit inside the milk crate which raises the poly work tray up to a reasonable level.

If you have your tank in a space where you can stash a cart such as a dedicated fish room or a basement space I highly recommend considering setting up a cart!
 
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Copepods and Burrows

Last week I seeded my tank with copepods.

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Sometimes I think I see them. I will take it on faith that my tank is swimming with the guys. I have been dosing daily with phytoplankton too. I got these from Algae Barn. At some point I want to try RUSalty, their mix has 6 species of copepods vs. Algae Barn with 4. Still, my buying and shipping experience with Algae Barn was great.

In other news, unexpectedly, my neon goby has created an entire cave system under one of my rocks. I did not think they did this.
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When I got him (her?) he (she?) swam at the glass. Now I never see it's entire body, it acts more like an eel. In this pic you can see two entrances, there are entrances that have been dug out on all four sides. It must have found a gap not filled in with sand between the rockwork and set at it! It seems quite happy. From the side its out now it can glare at the shrimp. The shrimp wants to clean it I think but it is not in the least interested.
 
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New Light: Red Sea ReeferLED50

Yesterday I installed a ReeferLED50 I purchased as an open box from BRS. At 4.7" it is small enough to fit into my hybrid fixture when the 16" end caps are on it. The idea was to add some par to one area so i could support corals that needed more light, add some shimmer, and add more ramp up/down effects to the tank.

While I would have preferred Kessil, this light is significantly cheaper, especially when you take into consideration not having to buy a controller or wifi interface and the higher cost of the AL Kessil brackets. Because it is going into a hybrid fixture I have the ability to compensate for its shortcomings in spectrum by selecting appropriate T5s.

I had to use stainless 35mm M4-.07s with washers to mount. I need to buy appropriate 16" endcap rails, these do not fasten in but rather float on top for now. Prying the plastic lid off the LED was extremely difficult.

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The lid will press fit back on. Its not real tight but I am good with that.

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It fits in the space nicely
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And has a low profile

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The light itself is a very mixed bag. The blue light produces a gentle shimmer and an even light. Unfortunately it cannot be tuned. Its just blue. The white light is a strip in the middle. It produces a harsh, less pleasant shimmer and when turned up becomes quite ugly and doesn't blend as well, IMHO, as it would if the white lights were distributed in the circle with the blues.

They are billing this as "Reef Safe". I seems more like a justification for a cheaper LED design. To be fair, it being low cost led to it being in my fixture..

40W of my light are blue, 10W are white (Note, the LED90 is 80 and 10, different ratio). I found a 4:1 ratio of white to blue minimized the ugly shimmer while mostly matching my T-5s:

2x Blue Plus
1x Actinic
1x Coral Plus

I found I needed to keep it under 60% blue (So 15% white) to not overwhelm the T-5s. So, I am running this light at around 25 watts, half power. I think that will be appropriate. Given I should have 100-150 par all around from the T-5s I just need to make another 150-200 par in the hot spot.

In this pic you can see the "cone" such as I can do with a phone:
IMG_1570.JPG


I can slide it around a bit but I will definitely have a higher par area at the ledge directly under it.

This week I plan to order a PAR meter and a Purple Plus bulb. The par meter will tell me if this will work from a coral growth point of view. The Purple Plus will help with the lack of reds. Below is a pic with the T-5s on:

IMG_1572.JPG


Its not rubbish, and the T-5s mute the white shimmer a bit. In a way, this follows what Ryan from BRS found when he experimented with Kessils and Reef-Brites. The blue produces a nicer, smoother, shimmer.

The app itself is just "ok" it seems like I should be able to drag the points around but I am often stuck having to do direct entry. If I wanted that I would have gotten a noopsyche!

The moonlight IS nice. Its just two of the blue LEDS but it produces a nice gentle effect. Its a new tank so I only run for a few hours of "prime time" (7-9). The moonlight carries the light a little farther into the evening.

So, for $175 as a grade B open box, its not bad. I would not want this as my only light though. I will post again when I have par readings. Right now I give it an over all 3.5 *, but 4* for me given my limitations with the 16" hybrid mount (No Prime, no Radion, 4.75" width max). Will update when I have par readings.

Edit: More than once I have told my wife "I wish I had just gotten a 6 bulb T-5 and been done with it!"
 
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Nitrates? Or Not.

Today I decided to do a sanity check on the "4" ppm nitrates NYOS keeps telling me:

Nyos - 4 ppm
Salifert - 10 ppm
Salifert Sideways - 7.5ppm
API - 15 ppm

So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So far no algae, to the point that I will be putting seaweed out for the starry blenny that is arriving on Thursday. So, I will assume I am <10 ppm and not worry about it. Or, as we say in my other hobby, RDWHAHB*

*Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Homebrew
 
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