Connor's IM Nuvo 20 LPS tank build

Connorw

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Hi everyone, I've been meaning to start my build thread for a while but here it is. I've lurked R2R for some time but haven't been an active poster, and I really enjoy all the content here so I might as well contribute. This is my second saltwater tank, my first was a Fluval Evo 5 that I ran for a couple years before tearing down last summer. I didn't do enough research setting it up so it was constantly a pain in the butt and I was never satisfied with it. Since tearing it down I've read build threads here extensively and did as much homework as I could to set this tank up right. For livestock I knew I wanted to have it be a LPS tank with a pair of clownfish and an anemone, and I had to have some real live rock.

Here's my equipment list
Tank: IM Nuvo 20
Light: AI Hydra 32 HD with HMS mount that I got from someone on here for a good deal
Pump: AI Nero 3 and RFG return pump nozzles
Heater: BRS 100W titanium with Inkbird controller
Water: BRS 5 stage RODI
Duetto XP Aqua ATO with 5gal hedpack reservoir
Filtration: Filter sock on one side and Purigen / chemipure blue on the other


I set up a mixing station with two 44gal brutes next to the RODI. This was a massive improvement to my previous system of buying 2.5gal distilled water jugs and mixing saltwater in 5gal buckets when I needed to do the water change. I have some cheap amazon water pumps hooked up to vinyl tube with on/off valves to transfer water between the brutes and into 5gal buckets for water changes and top offs. I purchased all of the equipment during the cyber Monday sales and started to set up in early December. With finals and the holidays I didn't have the time to start the aquarium up, so the live rock wasn't acquired until January. It was a long wait but I've learned that patience is key here.

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(please excuse the mess)

The 15lbs of KP aquatics live rock arrived 1/13 and was absolutely awesome - hitchhikers included 4 or 5 mithrax crabs, a ton of harlequin or brittle starfish, a pencil urchin, some astrea snails, and at least one pistol shrimp. I'm sure there's more hiding in there but that's what I've accounted for so far. I was very satisfied with the whole KP experience. The airport pickup was easy, the rock was packaged very well with no leaks, and was at a good temperature. I would definitely recommend it.

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I let the rock hang out and waited a week for the die off. I did daily water changes and never saw a large ammonia spike, I tested twice a day. At the beginning of February I set up my QT tank. I had some filter foam soaking in the back of the nuvo for a few weeks to establish a bio filter and added some bac in a bottle to the QT as well. I've been monitoring ammonia and doing water changes but haven't had any ammonia issues so far. I bought two fancy clowns from a local LFS with a blue/purple branching hammer, a Ricordea Florida, and GSP. Over 5 or 6 days I raised copper to just over 2 ppm with copper safe and a hanna checker and have been monitoring it since. 3/11 will be 30 days of copper treatment and I will remove that with water changes and cuprisorb and begin prazipro treatment. I have not QT'd fish previously so this was quite a learning experience and I have been following Jay Hemdal's guide. All of the coral received a CoralRX dip. I bought bayer as well but I've been a bit scared to try that, and none of my purchased coral has appeared unclean. So far the clowns seem happy and have been readily eating LRS and pellets.

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About a week after getting the clowns and first coral, I bought a handful of zoas and a yellow hammer from a local reefer, Lazy's Coral house. I put the zoas in the sand bed at first but the crabs all wanted to pick at them, so I got a frag rack to get them out of reach from the crabs. They initially picked at the GSP when I first put that in the tank but stopped after a day. They seemed much more interested in the zoas, so I'm hoping it was some sort of "oh look at this new thing" and they won't pester them once I glue them to the rock.

This past weekend I rented a PAR meter from a local LFS and got my lights dialed in. I had initially guesstimated my lights and had them around 20%. Renting the par meter was a great choice as I was able to get the entire tank into a much better range. The sand bed measured in the 50-80 region and the upper rock regions at around 150 par. I also pushed the spectrum more towards blue after watching the BRS lighting series. I have the light mounted about as high as it goes, 14" or so, and the spread of light is really even throughout the tank. I really need a better light shade but I've been putting off designing one in solidworks and 3D printing it.

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I treated myself to some more stuff during the WWC live sale so I'm looking forward to adding that in once it arrives this weekend, and I'll update with pictures. At this point I'm pretty much waiting for the clowns to finish quarantine and enjoying the coral. I've been feeding LRS reef frenzy to the tank to keep the crabs and starfish happy and to keep nutrients from being too low. Phosphates have been staying pretty low and nitrates hang out around 5-10 with the salifert test kits. I'm still waiting for the tank to mature more before I get the anemone, and I have my eye on a gorgeous gold torch at the LFS that I'm going to get as a self birthday present when that rolls around. Here are some additional tank shots:

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This has been a bit of an info dump so I will try to keep this updated with any other thoughts and new pictures, happy reefing!
 
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Connorw

Connorw

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My WWC corals arrived on Thursday, and I let them acclimate on the sand bed around the tank and glued them down today. It was my first time gluing plugs to rock so it was definitely a learning experience. I could've got a few of them a bit cleaner looking but overall it didn't come out bad. I'm really happy with where the tank is at so far, I feel I'm pretty much at the point where I'm not worried about buying anything else and get to hang out and enjoy it. I need to pick up some alkalinity and calcium tests so I can see how those start changing with having more coral in the tank - eventually start testing magnesium and ph. I've got less than a week left of the copper treatment on the clowns and am getting super excited to add them to the tank. This is the current coral list

Green/purple hammer
Gold frammer
GSP
Three ricordea florida mushrooms
Hulk and lethal leptoseris
Chalice
Regal platygyra
Three Aussie lords, berry bomb, ice flow, and a mystery one
Zoas:
Scrambled eggs
LCH chrysanthemums
Rastas
OG Sunny D's
Bam Bam Extreme
Radioactive eyes

Some current pictures
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Connorw

Connorw

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Did a small water change yesterday, looks like my parameters with salifert tests are at:
Nitrate: 10ppm (mg/L)
Phosphate: pretty much undetectable
Ammonia: <0.15 mg/L
I must say that I’m not a fan of the color matching tests. I’m not very good at discerning the different shades of various colors, but I wonder if it’s really that important when I’m already near my target values. I definitely would like to get Hanna checkers for alk and calcium here soon. I would like to try to increase my phosphates some though. I’ve been considering phyto dosing or simply increasing feeding of LRS. I’m reluctant to make any adjustments in the next couple weeks though as things will change once I add the clowns to the DT and then the tank will begin to be fed more heavily. I’ve also been thinking about getting something like oyster eggs, egg brew, easylps or something similar to feed the corals. I’m somewhat considering Red Sea AB+ but I’m not quite sure as I’ve seen some mixed opinions on that here. I figure I’ll think on the coral food for a bit longer, although I would like to get something as I enjoy spot feeding them.
 
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Connorw

Connorw

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Also, does anyone know what kind of snail this is? It seems to have a red body and a black shell that has pointy ends on both ends
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Connorw

Connorw

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This weekend marked 30 days copper at 2 ppm, so this morning I did a 50% water change on the QT and put cuprisorb in the filter. This evening it measured 0.7 ppm so I put in an air stone and began the prazipro treatment. It’s getting close to adding the clowns to the main tank!
 
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Connorw

Connorw

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Today was finally the day to add the fish! Ended up being exactly 7 weeks from purchasing the fish. I ended up only doing 2 weeks/treatments of the prazipro as the fish appeared very healthy and I couldn’t find flukes or any other sign of disease. I’ve also glued down the Aussie lords since my last update, so here are some pics. The orange leptoseris has the most visible growth so far, almost covering the plug and epoxy I’ve used to mount it. The GSP is also covering its rock but that’s to be expected. I’m going to buy my alk, mag, and calcium tests tonight too, so I’ll be able to monitor those finally. I’m going with salifert for mag and calcium but am being indecisive on whether to get a Hanna alk checker.
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Connorw

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Finally got some test kits, I decided to get salifert over Hanna because they’re cheaper and are good quality. Plus titration is a lot easier than matching colors with the cards like the other tests. Here’s what I got

Alk: 6.7 dKH
Mag: 1410 ppm
Calcium: 420 ppm

I’m using TM pro reef which has the range of 7-8 dHK, 420-460 calcium, and 1300-1400 mag. My alkalinity seems a bit lower than I’d like but I’m going to continue to monitor that and I’m considering dosing something. Otherwise everything seems acceptable. Nitrates around 5-10 ppm and undetectable phosphate, which I’m attributing to the GHA growing on the back glass. It isn’t bad yet and there’s none on the rocks, but I plan on cleaning that and the sump compartments thoroughly this weekend before it’s out of hand.

Also, I’ve thrown in the towel on the filter socks. I had three in rotation and was about to get more, but I really don’t think I’m getting them that clean with the citric acid washes. I don’t care to spend that much more effort cleaning them either. If only I had an ultrasonic bath and free acids/solvents. I decided to get intank caddies for both chambers on the left side. The new 1st compartment one replaces the sock and is completely full of floss. The second/refugium one has a 5.5 bag of chemipure blue in it. I replaced the purigen in the IM caddy as well (which is on the right side), and that has floss in it too. I had been using the tiny bags of chemipure blue in the IM caddy but the larger bag should last longer. I’m much more inclined to replace floss than I am to clean socks, so I think this will help with any needed nutrient export.
 

old salt reefer

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i use the IM filter socks-all I do is turn them inside out, rinse with tap water and then soak in 10% bleach water for a few hours then rinse in tap water again, then use them. I have 3 IM tanks and have been doing this for years now.
 
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Connorw

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i use the IM filter socks-all I do is turn them inside out, rinse with tap water and then soak in 10% bleach water for a few hours then rinse in tap water again, then use them. I have 3 IM tanks and have been doing this for years now.
That’s a good way to do it. I always had a hard time getting my desktop sized socks flipped inside out. Mostly I got sick of having to have a bucket of something to soak them in and cleaning them, the switch to floss is mostly to help make my system lazy proof.
 

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I only use the sock now right after a water change just to clear the water up quickly. Leave it in for a few hours to polish the water then go back to the blue and white filter pads in the caddy.
 
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Connorw

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It’s been a couple weeks since my last update, thankfully there hasn’t been much to report as things are going well. I’ve been testing calc, alk, and mag since the beginning of the month. Throughout the first week of April I tested regularly for alkalinity since I was worried about the low-ish reading I started with. It continued to decrease so I decided to get some All for Reef. I’d like things to be as simple as possible, so the idea of only having one thing to dose was appealing. Alkalinity bottomed out on the 9th at 5.7, and I could tell that some of the zoas weren’t happy and the acans were losing color. My all for reef arrived in the mail that weekend, so I started dosing 3.75ml daily on the 9th. Since then, my alk has continued to rise to a much more acceptable level, and calcium and magnesium have both been stable. I haven’t done a water change since last weekend and tested all my parameters today. I’ll post a picture from aqatic log of all of those. I’ve also been dosing Red Sea AB+ since the 9th, which as far as I can tell is making the corals happy. At least is isn’t bothering them and I’ve seen no increase in algae/nitrates/phosphates. I dosed 1ml for the first week, then two, and I just bumped that up to 3ml today. Last weekend I fully cleaned all of the GHA off the back glass so things look a little nicer too. I’ve been hand dosing the All for Reef dropwise with a syringe in the evening, but I don’t like the idea of having a spike in things with the addition of it all at once, and I don’t trust myself to maintain a hand dosing schedule, so I caved and bought a Kamoer X1 Pro dosing pump and Icecap 1.5 L reservoir. Those arrive on Tuesday and will be fun to setup. Things will be pretty snug on that side of the cabinet but everything should fit. I’m planning to continue hand dosing the AB+ as I don’t think it’s worth the cost to get a pump and reservoir for that when I can only have a weeks worth of fluid in the reservoir, and putting 20-30ml of fluid in a reservoir seems a bit silly. Plus it won’t be a big deal if I forget or miss a day on that. Oh, and I’m really enjoying the intank caddies. It’s so much easier to swap out floss. Maybe my better cleaning/replacement schedule with floss instead of socks is why I’ve seen my nitrates and phosphates decrease even with AB+ dosing.

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Connorw

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Ahh I’m a bit bummed out. Apparently I did a poor job measuring the space I had in my cabinet, the ice cap reservoir does not fit. I think I’m going to track down a voss water bottle and use that as a container. I’m not sure it’s worth the shipping to return the icecap to BRS, I’m thinking of just holding onto it in case I ever upgrade my ATO reservoir to something fancier that takes up less space than the hedpack. Oh well. The kamoer seems to be high quality, I’m looking forward to getting that setup. I think I’m just going to run that sitting on the bottom of the cabinet instead of worrying about drilling screws in to mount it. Something about running screws into the cabinet while my tank is sitting on it makes me nervous.
 
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Connorw

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Good news, I found a glass water bottle at the store that fit perfectly. It holds 800ml which is really all I need. At the moment I’m only dosing 4ml a day so that should last a while. My alkalinity seems to be pretty stable in the 7-7.5 range, and all the corals look happy. The pump was very easy to set up, I switched my phone over to the 2.4ghz Wi-Fi network and it only took a minute or so.
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Connorw

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Its been a while since I've updated my thread! The end of my semester was pretty busy and transitioning to full time for the summer break has kept me occupied. I'm very happy with the dosing pump. I always test my parameters after dinner, and alkalinity, calcium, and magnesium have been rock solid at 7.7, 420, and 1290 respectively. I do plan on getting something to increase my magnesium to something in the 1350-1450 range so hopefully that'll happen soon. I will likely get something to boost phosphates at the same time as that has been unreadably low with the salifert test kit. Thankfully everything has been smooth sailing without any major hiccups, although I'm beginning to suspect that my pencil urchin is nibbling on the orange leptoseris, and he's knocked a few corals off the rocks this week. He might need a new home. Otherwise all is well! I finally got some decent tank shots with my camera, and also got around to getting that torch.

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Great looking set up, you definitely scored with the LR from KP. I went with TBS, 20lbs rock and sand, very good stuff but I got more unwanted hitch hikers then good ones. A few gorilla crabs another one hiding out and getting bigger, I'll get him sooner or later. Also removed a rock that had 2 nasty looking worms that needed to be removed. I thought about it after, I should've broke the rock up and put in the middle chamber of my AIO.

Looking good :smiling-face-with-sunglasses:
 

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