CPerry's Build Thread Waterbox 180.5 SPS Tank!

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cperry7467

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Let me start off by saying this is kind of a retrospective tank build. I started this build in March of 2020 after moving into a new house. I've had a reef tank for the past 10 years or so but this was the first time I decided to not really cut any corners and buy what I want. Anyway, 2020 may have sucked overall but from a reef tank perspective it was very generous to me. I am very pleased with where my tank is right now and I wanted to share my experience with everyone. I am going to break up the build into some sections that I'll list out below and I'll update the first post with links as I get them typed up and added. For now here is a list of topics I plan to cover and a few pictures to hold you over.

Sections
1. The move (Hint: it sucked)
2. New Waterbox 180.5 Delivery
3. Plumbing
4. Rockscape
5. Floating Light Canopy
6. Getting the tank wet
7. Stock List (as of date)
8. Equipment
9. Lighting
10. Trident Controlled Dosing (ATI Essentials)
11. Fish Room Setup
12. Other Dosing (Vinegar, Aminos, Tropic Marin Trace)
13. Auto Top Off (Apex Solenoid w/ float valve to auto refill the top off tank)
14. AWC/Mixing Station
15. Banggai Cardinalfish Babies!!!!
16. Top Lid Top Review
17. Testing (API, Hanna, ATI ICP OES, etc)
18. Growth Progression
a. CB Maleficent​
b. WD/Walt Disney​
c. CB Flaming Bugatti​
d. Pinky the bear​
e. RMF Candyland​
f. Trachy​
g. Pink Lemonade​
h. Pink Cadillac​
i. Blueberry Nasuta​
j. Red Planet​
19. Problems
a. Dinos​
b. Fish Aggression​
c. Nutrients (Nitrates/Phoshates)​
d. Trident​
e. Aquatic Life X18 w/ Hydra 32's and LED bars​
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cperry7467

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1. The Move

Starting off here is a picture of my old tank from last year. I never really mastered taking a full tank shot so here's an overhead of my SPS. The other half of the tank was nems and zoas, nothing too fancy. The SPS were definitely my pride and joy.
Old Tank.jpg

This was a 90 gallon used tank I picked up years ago to get into the hobby. We moved at the end of February 2020 just 20 minutes away into a new house where I had planned out a new build. I ordered a Waterbox 180.5 which would arrive at the end of March. I was tempted to tear down my old tank and sell everything off but I was kind of partial to my SPS so I decided to try and move it all. If I had to do it over again, I would have just sold it all.

The new house was new construction and the builder allowed me to get early access before closing to start staging some of my gear and fish. I brought over a 100 gallon rubbermaid bin and some basics to get ready for move day. The overall plan was to put the corals in a tub, nems in a tub, and fish in a tub, load them up in my Jeep and bucket by bucket fill up the 100 gallon tub in the basement and try to place the corals and nems in a place they could live for a few days while I got the movers to move the old tank in and I got it set back up. I figured 2-3 days at most in the tub would be fine.

The initial part went fairly smooth, a buddy and myself drained the tank and took all the livestock and set it up in the tubs. Where I hit my first issue was the old tank. The movers we hired sucked. Nothing went to plan and during the move they managed to bust a bulkhead in the overflow which was a major setback. The tank didn't make it into the house until 1AM or so and the movers didn't finish moving our house. Like I said, they sucked. I knew I would spend the next 1-2 days back at my old house boxing up and moving things on my own because the movers failed to. It was a rough couple of days and I fell way behind schedule on getting the old tank back up.

After we got out of the old house I finally had some time to focus on getting the tank back up, I picked up a new bulkhead at my LFS and replumbed everything and filled it back up with a mixture of fresh saltwater and water from the tub. At this point in the tub the nems were starting to move around, they weren't happy. I lost several SPS at this point due to stings which didn't surprise me too much but I was anxious to get things back the way they were in the old tank. I got my controller hooked back up and proceeded to move everything over to old tank and thought FINALLY and I made it without losing much.

I was wrong.... My main oversight was the old tank had sat for 4-5 days without water. The coralline algae on the back glass had died off but was still on the back glass. My sand while it stayed wet during the move must have had some die off as well because my nutrients went through the roof. Nitrates and phosphates were higher than I'd ever seen before and my corals looked like crap. At this point there wasn't a whole lot I could do. I saved a few minor things but lost my main WD colony and all my prized SPS. It hurt. Even though I already had a new tank on order, it was tempting to throw in the towel and call it quits.

My major takeaway for anyone reading this, if you move just sell your stuff or at least minimize what you could possibly lose. And if you try something similar to what I did, be careful with the die off of coralline and other things in your sand bed. I completely underestimated what could happen.
 
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2. New Waterbox 180.5 Delivery

I went with a new Waterbox 180.5 for the new tank and it was delivered in March of 2020. Getting a tank delivered at the beginning of COVID was a pain, the moving company almost cancelled on me and then only sent 2 guys to move it from my garage to the basement. This thing is 400+ lbs, not gonna happen. They ended up calling a supervisor over and the 3 of them managed to get it downstairs without doing too much damage to the house and only about a dozen expletives. Here are some shots of the unboxing and the guys who moved it in for me.
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The movers were awesome and what a gorgeous tank.
 
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3. Plumbing

For those of you familiar with Waterbox know that they come with the plumbing already glued together if you're using the stock sump, you just connect it up and go. I HATE having a sump under my stand so I opted not to use the stock plumbing and instead plumb it through a wall to my unfinished basement and into a sump there. I've always wanted a fish room and never had the luxury at my old house. Before my Waterbox arrived there was a deal on Trigger sumps so I went ahead pulled the "trigger" on Sapphire 34. I wanted a space for dual filter socks, a skimmer, fuge, bubble buster, and return section which this checked all the boxes for a reasonable price.

I ordered a bunch of grey and blue plumbing parts from BRS and soon realized that Waterbox uses metric plumbing whereas BRS and your typical stuff from HD and Lowes is standard. I was able to purchase some metric to standard adapters from CoralVue and converted the plumbing under the tank before it went through the wall so I could use the plumbing from BRS on the other side. I also decided to plumb in a manifold to reduce have multiple pumps in the sump for things like UV, Carbon, GFO, etc. You can also see on the primary drain I added a valve to dial in the drain and reduce noise from the overflow, it's behind the manifold.

For the return pump I went with a Hydor Seltz D 2400. Nothing too fancy or special. Overall I'm fairly happy with the setup.
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4. Rockscape

Oh rockscape... I've rebuilt my tanks 4-5 times over the years and rockscape is one area I've always sucked at. Usually I just stack some rocks together so they feel stable or make an arch here, cave there, etc. I'm too anxious to get the tank wet so I just want the rockscape done! But ultimately that leads to unstable rocks that fall or unexpectedly shift while gluing a coral. One time I almost crushed my goby gluing a coral, no joke. This time I wanted it to be different. I wanted to really spend some time figuring it out and make it something that would stand up over time. I used typical Reef Saver MarcoRocks along with some E-Marco 400 to put the scape together. When creating this scape I wanted a few things.
  1. Follow rule of 2/3rds ( I don't have an artistic bone in my body so this helps)
  2. Not TOO many rocks. I really don't like the look of tanks where it's just a wall of rocks up to the top. I want space all around my rocks for my fish to swim as well as plenty of room to scrape the glass while cleaning.
  3. Plenty of flat areas for mounting SPS higher up without creating too much shadowing below.
First attempt...
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First mistake was doing this is in the middle of our basement. The pieces of rock rubble were everywhere. You can see on the bottom I ordered some Large and Medium Foundation rocks from BRS where the bottom is cut flat. Sure it's a bit more expensive but I've never had success trying to cut MarcoRocks so this was worth it. HUGE plus, I highly recommend it. Overall this design just didn't do it for me. It was close but just kind of looked flat. I was trying to create some depth to the look but just couldn't quite get it.

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Attempt #2 was better. I posted my original to my local club and they helped me make some adjustments. Overall I am fairly pleased with it. At this point I went ahead and started using some EMarco to bond some chunks together. I wanted to make it stable but still manageable to get out of the tank down the road so I didn't bond the whole structure together.

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After getting it in the tank and filling it up I decided to add a little shelf to the left structure for more SPS frags. Don't mind the bio block in there, just getting the cycle going as it was in another tank prior.

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Lots of free space. I can add rock later if I want but for now this works.
 
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5. Floating Light Canopy

For the lighting I am using an AquaticLife X18 61" fixture combined with (3) Hydra 32HD's. T5+LED has been my go-to for a while and this fixture was a good price to go along with the 32HD's that came with the Waterbox. However, if I had to do it over again I would NOT have purchased the X18. I light to add LED strips if a certain color is lacking, like the Orphek UV bar is one of my favorite additions and of course the ReefBrite Blue XHO. That was a big appeal of the AquaticLife fixture but the X18 I guess is a ?newer? model than what I have seen others use and it doesn't have good mounting options for the LED strips which was a huge disappointment. I believe the G2 version has better options so I would recommend it over the X18. The X18 is more expensive but I see no real advantage over the G2.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about the floating canopy. I don't like hanging fixtures from the ceiling for a couple of reasons but mainly I just don't like the look. The floating suspension hangers mounted to the wall look pretty good but I wanted to try something different. I had the idea in my head for a floating canopy that could help hide the wiring and fixture, while also reducing the light bleed into the room. I went with 6" boards that were 1" thick to avoid them being too long which was a mistake. Somewhere between 8"-10" would have been better at reducing bleed but I was concerned about it being too heavy. On the back side to secure it to the wall I took a spare piece of one of the 1"x6" boards and made a french cleat. This was another mistake as it was not thick enough and it would not hold the fixture level, there was too much weight out away from the wall. A 2"x4" probably would have been the right choice. I also mounted it a little too high off the water. The PAR was fine, just cosmetically it was higher than I would have liked. It certainly was nice having all that space to work in the tank though.

Ultimately I scrapped this idea and went a different route but wanted to share my experience in case anyone else tries the same. If it stayed level and prevented the light bleed I would have kept it. This isn't a ton of detail on how this was accomplished, if you have questions feel free to PM me.
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6. Getting the tank wet

OK I'm incredibly impatient which doesn't bode well in this hobby but it is what it is. The intent is for the right stack of rocks to be anemones and hardy coral that aren't as sensitive to nem stings. The left stack of rocks will be mainly SPS or expensive coral that I don't want to get stung.

For cycling the tank I used the Microbacter Dry Rock Starter Kit which worked well. The Microbacter QuikCycl is ammonia, the Start XLM is the bacteria which I assume is concentrated to help establish your base. The Microbacter Clean I didn't realize notice a difference with it, I assume that's just other bacterial strains that help with cleaning the tank is some form. I also threw in a bio block from my old tank that was in the sump to help seed the tank. The cycle was well established within a week or so which is why I felt comfortable putting the clowns and nem in so quickly.
Sequence of events
  • 3/26/20 - Tank Installed
  • 4/2/20 - Tank Filled, No leaks or issues!
  • 4/13/20 - Anemone and pair of clowns moved in to test cycle. These were in my old system that I'm working on shutting down. Sorry didn't use a gel filter
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  • 4/21/20 - I went shopping... Bought another pair of clowns, an exquisite wrasse and a pair of Bangaii Cardinalfish
    • My daughter convinced me to get a pair of orange/white clownfish/nemos. I am going to TRY combining them with my black/white pair and hope for the best. It's a big tank, hopefully they will get along.
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4/23 - The full migration has started. My old tank is having some nutrient issues from the move to the new house so I am trying to move things to the new tank in hopes of saving some things even though the new tank isn't completely stable yet. Some pictures of the stocking are below, no filter, nothing too fancy just quick and dirty pics so I can track the health over the next few weeks.
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7. Stock List (as of date)

I had 1 problematic fish that was a Powder Brown Tang, he was a complete jerk. I tried putting him in another tank for a month, putting him in an acclimation box in the display and other things to get him to chill out. I tried the mirror method but he tried to kill his reflection so hard that he stopped eating and looked terrible so I had to stop it, which he promptly went back to terrorizing other fish. He has since been evicted.

The most recent addition is a Purple tang, very small in comparison to the other fish in the tank. Immediately the hippo tank went to it and engulfed his tail into his mouth. Followed by the Triggerfish biting his top fin. I tried the mirror method again sitting a large mirror on one end out the tank, outside of the tank, and it worked wonders. The Purple tang was free to swim around, a couple days later I removed the mirror and there has been no aggression since.

The 2 clownfish pairs have been an interesting thing to watch. The black/white pair is older, probably 5 years old now while the orange/white pair is 1 year. When I first introduced the smaller pair there was definitely some turf war going on and chasing. It got to the point where 1 orange/white jumped out but I just happened to be by the tank and saved it. I put it into an acclimation box to recover a bit and things went back to normal. Since then I haven't seen any issues with them. I also recently installed a Top Lids top to prevent fish jumping. The stay on opposite sides of the tanks. The black/white pair stay in my anemones while the orange/white stay in my frogspawn. After lights out they will occasionally sneak over to the anemones to sleep.

The only fish I've considered trying to add is a pair of mandarin. It's my favorite fish, I've never owned one and I know how difficult they can be. This tank has a very well established pod population at this point so I think they would do ok but I'm hesitant to try it. Worst case I can sump them but I hate that for such a gorgeous fish.

Fish
  • Yellow Belly Hippo Tang
  • Naso Blonde Tang
  • Purple Tang
  • Yellow Tang
  • Black/White Clownfish Pair
  • Orange/White Clownfish Pair
  • Coral Beauty
  • Melanurus Wrasse
  • Foxface Rabbitfish
  • Banggai Cardinalfish Pair
  • Niger Triggerfish
  • Powder Brown Tang (Evicted for being a jerk)
  • Exquisite Wrasse(Jumped out)
  • Flame Hawk(Jumped out)
Cleanup Crew
  • Blue Leg Hermits
  • Astraea Snails
  • Trochus Snails
  • Conch
  • Emerald Crabs
  • Nerite Snails
  • Peppermint Shrimp
  • Berghia Nudibranch
  • Sexy Shrimp
Coral
  • Mainly SPS acros
  • LPS including a hammer, frogspawn, torch, trachy, goni's, etc
  • Zoa's, finger leather, gorgonian, random other stuff
 
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8. Equipment

I'll putting a rating after each item just to give my experience with each thing.

Tank - Waterbox 180.5 (5 out of 5)

Sump - Trigger 34 Sump (5 out of 5)

Skimmer - Bubble Magus Curve 5 (2 out of 5)
Probably the most finicky skimmer I've ever owned, I know this is very popular for the price but I don't recommend it. Frequent adjustments and tuning including raising and lowering shelf to get the skim right.​

Flow - (2)Maxspect Gyre XF350 (4 out of 5)
I started with 1 thinking that may be enough but after a bout with some algae and bacteria issues I added a 2nd which has helped. The controllers on these things remind me of old school video games w/ cheat codes. You gotta up/down/left/left A+B to get certain settings. It should be more intuitive or be WiFi enabled. I use the Lunar Tidal Cycle (LTC) with a min of 80% and max of 100%. I do like the preset, works very well.​

Return Pump - Hydor Seltz D 2400 (5 out of 5)
Super quiet especially with the flexible tubing connected. I bought a 2nd one to run on my mixing station which had some issue with leaking but BRS replaced quickly and I haven't had issues with the new one.​

Lights - Aquatic Life X18 61" (3 out of 5) w/ (3) AI Hydra 32HD's (4 out of 5) w/Reefbrite XHO Blue (5 out of 5)
I don't recommend the X18 fixture, go with the G2 from Aquatic Life if you're going that route. I had to rig up the XHO which I'll show in a later post. Other than that it's fine.​

Sump Light - Started with Kessil H80 (2 out of 5), now using AI Prime Fuge (5 out of 5)
HUGE difference in these lights. The output from the AI light is significantly higher and my chaeto is growing like mad. The Kessil would grow the chaeto very slowly and I never cared for the very red light. The Prime is much whiter and brighter. Big Fan of this fuge light especially for the cost compared to others.​

UV - Lifegard Aquastep 25W (4 out of 5)
I had a battle with dinos at one point so I broke down and setup a UV sterilizer connected to my manifold. I think it helped but I think ultimately my dino's were cured by raising the tank temperature temporarily. It seems well made and I like the "stepped" design for additional contact time with the UV.​

Heaters - Finnex Titanium with plastic guard (5 out of 5)
I used to run eheim but it seemed like they broke at least once a year. I made the switch to titanium in hopes of preventing that. I have it controlled via my Apex temperature, so far no complaints.​

Controller - Neptune Apex (4 out of 5) Have had to replace 2 in 3? years
Trident (5 out of 5) Have had to replace 2 in 1.5 years. Once under warranty.​
(2) DOS Pumps (3 out of 5) Dang these are loud and my main gripe is the usage in Fusion. Can I get a "One Time Dose" task? Pick a pump, ml, start now should be super easy. Sometimes I take water from my display and I just want to pump a gallon from my mixing station over immediately.​
(2) EB832 (4 out of 5)​
FMM with leak sensors (5 out of 5) - These are neat. I had to put a paper towel under mine because of concrete floors but it's already caught my skimmer tipping over and dumping water out.​
EB8 w/ PM2 for my Mixing Station​
 
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9. Lighting

My primary lights are as follows:
AquaticLife DX18 61"​
(3)AI Hydra 32HD​
(1) ReefBrite XHO Blue LED Strip​
If you saw my previous I discussed my floating canopy that I attempted and ultimately abandoned. Instead I converted over to Aquatic Life Floating Suspension Fixture Hanger which is OK. It looks nice but can be difficult to adjust up/down. I feel like I had to tighten the bolts down REALLY tight to prevent it from accidently sliding down. Could have been made better. See picture below.
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I also mentioned previously how there really isn't a way to add an LED strip to the front or back which I know I've seen others do with the G2's. I had a leftover 48" ReefBrite XHO and I really love the blue pop it gives so even though my fixture is 61" I decided to try and add it in the mix. I ended up rigging up something temporarily, I'll have to figure something better looking long term. Ideally I'd like to have an Orphek UV bar and ReefBrite but I don't have the energy to mess with rigging something up right now. If anyone has suggestions I'd love to hear it. Here is a picture of what I rigged up. I had these laying around from HD or Lowes and decided to put them to use with a few nuts and bolts that were laying around.
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Overall PAR readings are 450-500 at the top of the rocks and 150-200 on the sand and corners. I originally tried to run this as LED only but I really didn't care for the shadowing it created and I wanted better coverage so I went with the hybrid T5/LED approach. I am running (1) ATI Actinic, (2) ATI Blue Plus, (1) ATI Coral Plus for my T5 bulbs. For the AI schedule, I am using a slightly modified AB+ program.​
Time:​
32HD's - 9AM-11AM Ramp up​
11AM-7PM AB+ Program​
7PM - 12AM Ramp down, low intensity blue​
T5's - 12PM - 6PM ON 100%​
RB XHO - 11AM -11PM ON​
Fuge Light - For the longest time I've used a Kessil H80 for my sump but recently it just doesn't seem to be growing anything. More than anything I noticed my pH dropping lower than normal which had me concerned. I was thinking about ways to bring it back up without any chemicals. My thought process was if I increase the growth rate of my fuge plants then maybe it will reduce CO2 and increase O2, raising pH. I figured it was a long shot but might as well try.​
I started looking around at lights and really paid attention to the power consumption of different lights as a way to determine light output. While it's not foolproof, while comparing LED lights the higher the power consumption the more light output I would expect to see.​
Kessil H80 @ $129 is 15W​
Prime 16 Fuge @ $209 is 46W​
So 3x the light output and I searched around for a used one that I ended up getting for $160 shipped. And the impact was felt immediately. My chaeto took off! Within a week I had to thin it out. It hasn't been long enough to really observe and see if there is a nutrient impact but growth has definitely improved.​
Regarding the pH, it really hasn't made a noticeable impact. At night time my pH will bottom out at about 7.75 and maxs at 8.05 during the day. I'm not overly concerned about it.​
 
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10. Trident Controlled Dosing (w/ATI Essentials Pro)

I wanted to spend some time on this topic because I'm now a big fan of Trident, Trident Controlled Dosing, and ATI Essentials.

Let me start with ATI Essentials Pro, I've been using this for several years and really like it for 2 part with trace elements. One of my goals has been to minimize the amount of water changes I have to do and probably the primary reason I did them in the past was to replenish trace elements. I really like ATI Essentials Pro for this reason as the 2 part contains trace. With that said, I also do ATI ICP OES tests every 4 months and SOME of my trace elements still get depleted but things like strontium and potassium seem to maintain better. Things like bromine, flourine, molybdenum, and manganese seems to always be low so I might dose them separately on occasion but ultimately I like the product.

You get 2 bottles, each 2L which is concentrated. I generally make 2 gallons diluted with RODI and use these bottles to store and use as my dosing containers. I dose roughly 80ml a day to maintain my parameters which my targets are:

Alk: 8.6
Calcium: 430
Magnesium: 1440

Enter DOS and Trident. I've been using a Trident for almost 2 years, I bought one from the first release from BRS at like 3AM. I love my Trident, it's fantastic and gives me amazing insights into my tank and when I do different things I can see the impact it has on my tank. Up until recently I've always used cheap dosers and don't get me wrong, they work fine. I've had a Jebao doser for a long time and it's never given me issues. Generally I break my dosing up into 4 times a day, so 20ml 4x a day spread out every 6 hours. I never put much thought into dosing more during lights on versus off but then enter Trident and DOS...

I decided I wanted to try out controlled dosing mainly because I'm a nerd and work in IT so automation is something I do everyday. I wanted to share my experience because I've seen a lot of questions about Trident Controlled Dosing recently and some people have a hard time understanding how it works.

1. Baseline - First thing you have to do is establish what the average amount of 2 part you dose each day it takes to maintain your tank. Ballpark, doesn't have to be perfect. Alkalinity is more sensitive and fluctuates quickly so I just used that. ATI Essentials Pro is designed where you dose the same amount of part 1 and part 2, I think most 2 parts are that way. For me it was about 80ml to maintain my Alk. Once a month something may drift a little low or high but 80ml is what I had my doser configured to dose every day. Obviously the Trident comes in handy here because you can just look at your orange graphs and how are your numbers trending? Up/Down, etc. Here is my baseline. Over the period of a week it ranged from 7.6 to 8.3.

Baseline.PNG


2. Trident Controlled Dosing Task - You need a DOS for this part and I want to explain how it works and why.
  • Step 2 - When you go through the task it will ask you what parameters you want to control such as Alkalinity, Calcium, or Magnesium but it will show the Trident names like Alkx5, Cax5, Mgx5. Since the DOS only has 2 heads, and I'm using a 2 part that combines Calcium and Magnesium in 1 solution I am just going to control Alkalinity and Calcium.
  • Step 3 - Pick the dosing head that corresponds with the parameter you picked in Step 2. For example, in Step 2 I picked Alkx5 so then I picked DOS_4_ALK which is what I named my DOS head used for Alk.
  • Step 4 - If you're thinking I was smart in step 3 by naming my DOS head DOS_4_Alk well this is your chance to rename it as the task will give you that option.
  • Step 5 - Here is the where the fun begins and confusion kicks in for some. It asks what level you want to maintain and what volume to DOS. This is your baseline that I mentioned above! For me that's 8.6 and I dose 80ml a day currently.
  • Base.PNG
  • Step 6 - You get an option to dose more during the day, less at night which I'll show what that looks like in a minute but I recommend this option. I didn't think it would matter much but I tried it out and like the results which you'll see.
3. What just happened - That's it for setting up Alk, Calcium is the same process, very straightforward. But what did that actually do behind the scenes and what if something goes wrong?! Lets take a look. On your dashboard click on your DOS or go into your outputs and find the DOS for Alk.
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Lets breakdown the graph above and what the task created for you. It created 3 intervals 12AM-7:59AM, 8:00AM-7:59PM, 8PM-11:59PM. Each interval has an amount of Alk to dose to your tank, this goes back to the part where it asks if you want to dose more during the day. You can see here that the 80ml was split into 3 intervals. Over those intervals it might dose a few ml every 15 minutes, not all at once. This next part is important and seems to be where most of the questions come from around preventing disaster.

If you click on one of the gear icons and select "Control Interval" you will see this:
1611107776025.png

This is the key to everything. You can see my target value of 8.6 with a range of +/-.40. That means as long as my Alkalinity is between 8.2-9.0, the DOS pump will dynamically increase or decrease how much is dosed to my tank. If you don't understand keep reading and stay with me. The limit is +/- 35% which is how much more or less it may dose from your baseline. In my case my baseline was 80ml which means the DOS can dynamically dose between 52-108ml every day based on the Trident readings. That's 35% less than 80ml up to 35% more than 80ml.

So lets go through a few scenarios. My Trident tests and Alk is at 8.3, the DOS will then up the amount dosed throughout the day to try and get you back to your target of 8.6. Keep in mind this is gradual and may even take a couple of days before it gets there. The DOS won't max out at 108ml immediately and cause you to overshoot or spike your Alk.

Another scenario is lets say your Alk goes outside the range of 8.2-9.0. At that point the DOS will revert back to the baseline amount of 80ml and WILL NOT dynamically increase or decrease that amount based on the Trident readings. I've seen this get a few people and they couldn't understand why the controlled dosing wasn't working or maintaining their value. One person tried to set his target to 10 while his current reading was at 8 and expected controlled dosing to gradually raise him to 10. His reading of 8 was outside the range so it just reverted to his baseline amount and was not dynamically adjusting the dosage.

Another reason your baseline is important and something you want to update every now and then as your tank matures is the limit value. Today my alk consumption is 80ml per day but in 6 months if it's up to 120ml per day and I am trying to use controlled dosing with a baseline of 80ml +/- 35% then the max the DOS can dose is 108ml per day. I could see people with falling Alk levels and not understanding why. Just pay attention to how much your DOS is dosing a day and if you notice it getting close to the high or low range consistently, update your baseline ml.

Hopefully that helps someone understand the controlled dosing better. Here is what my readings looked like over the past week using controlled dosing. Min of 8.54 and a max of 8.87, so it's maintaining my Alk very accurately.
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Overall I'm a big fan of the Trident controlled dosing and I highly recommend it. If you need any help in setting it up let me know, happy to help.

My only real feedback for Neptune would be to include in the step 7 summary to show that detail around "Alk Range 8.2-9.0", "Min/Max Dose 52-108ml", "Outside of Alk Range dose amount 80ml", etc or maybe even give an option to override the default range and limits. It would also be nice if you select the dose more during the day than at night option that we get an option to put in our light schedule. My lights don't come on until 11AM so it'd be nice if the intervals created matched that. Neither of which are a huge deal but seem like fairly easy enhancements.
 
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15. Banggai Cardinalfish Babies!!!!

I'm posting this out of order but it's relevant right now because my male just released another batch of babies over the past 4 days.

In April of 2020 I purchased some small and adorable banggai cardinalfish to put in my new Waterbox. The LFS I bought them from had them in the same tank and they were swimming around together but I had no idea if they paired up or what. This was my first experience keeping them.

In July of 2020 something strange happened. I noticed the face on one started looking very square or boxy and it stopped eating. A quick google search revealed that was common of males holding eggs in their mouth. Now at this point I had never had any fish with babies before but based on what I read online I had about 15-20 days until they would come out if I wanted to try and raise them.

Equipment Used
I purchased this breeding net which I give 4 out of 5 stars to. You'll see a lot of breeding nets with suction cups which I would avoid but this one has a thin metal strip you just bend over the edge of your tank to hold in place. The biggest downside is how small the pores are in the net. It tends to get clogged up and dirty very fast at which point you can't see into the net which is annoying. About every 2 weeks I would take the babies out and clean it really good. Overall it works well.
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For food I purchased the Brine Shrimp Hatchery dish which I give a 5 out 5. I've seen other hatching solutions using 2 liters and thing that require an airline and some goofy stuff to work and it's too much work for me. The dish is simple, you fill it up with 25ppt saltwater, put the eggs in, set it under a light and wait 24 hours. No airlines and since the brine shrimp swim towards the light you use the included sieve to lift them out of the center without any shells. Brilliant! Each batch would feed my babies for 2-3 days. I liked it so much I bought a 2nd one so I didn't go 24 hours without food. Every other day I would start a new batch in a dish which gave me a constant supply of brine. These are not the most nutritious but sometimes I'll drip some selcon on it to supplement it. I'm still looking for more nutritious alternatives that don't take a ton of work or money so let me know if you have something that has worked for you.
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Batch #1
At the time I didn't have a QT or hospital tank setup so I decided to use a breeding net in my display to keep the babies safe when they come out.

My plan was to catch the male, put him in the breeding net until the babies come out and then remove him. Well things don't always go according to plan. I chased the male after lights out with a net, eventually caught him and put him in the breeding net where he promptly spit out the undeveloped babies. Here is what they looked like:
MVIMG_20200729_182141.jpg

I figured they were dead but left them in the net for several days to see what would happen and then a teeny tiny baby was spotted.
MVIMG_20200729_182108.jpg

Here is a short video, you can see how small the 6 were. They have a large yolk sac still attached and mostly just lay on the bottom of the net. I was able to feed them brine shrimp 3-4x a day and raised them for a couple of months before I sold them to my LFS. Only 4 ended up surviving from this batch.



Batch #2

In Sept 2020 I noticed the male holding eggs again. I was really bummed out the male spit out the eggs on the first batch so I decided to let him stay in the display this time and see what happened. Low and behold about 20 days later after lights out I looked in the tank and saw multiple babies swimming around. I took a clear empty container and used it to catch the babies, 8 in all. Who knows how many were actually born. I didn't realize at this point that the male will release them over multiple nights so I didn't even check other nights. Here is a video comparison of 8 week old babies and 2 day old babies.

I mostly stuck to the same process of feeding baby brine shrimp 3-4 times a day, except for 1 experiment. I heard from a local club guy that one day found a baby in his sump that was growing just fine and he never directly fed it. I took 2 babies and put them in my sump with the chaeto to see how they would do without direct feeding. I had plenty of pods so I figured they would be fine. What I didn't expect is that after about 6 weeks, the 2 babies in the sump were 2x bigger than the babies in the breeding net that I fed 3-4 times a day!

Batch #3

In November 2020, another batch of babies. This time I wanted to try catching the male and putting him in the breeding net again. I know I missed/lost some babies in batch #2 by not doing this. I decided to catch him about 14 days after I noticed him holding eggs. I waited until an hour after lights out, put a net in the tank and then quickly turned on the flashlight on my phone shining right on him to disorient him. BAM! Right in the net and into the breeding net with babies still in his mouth! He waited about 28 days in total before he started releasing babies. The first night I saw maybe 15 or so and I couldn't believe it. I tried feeding him and he wouldn't eat which meant more were coming. Over the next 2 nights he released more and counting them was difficult so I estimated maybe 25 total. A couple weeks later I needed to count them so I could line up potential buyers so I scooped them out in a container 5 or so at a time and to my surprise there were 44. How in the hell does he hold 44 babies in his mouth?! I had to count them twice, it just didn't seem right but sure enough 44. My next challenge was coming up at Thanksgiving as I planned an out of town trip with my wife and kids for a week. The babies were being fed 3-4 times a day and would likely die if I wasn't there to feed them. I had no choice but to sell them prematurely at only a few weeks old. Unfortunately I heard back from several people where their babies did not survive.

Something else interesting in this batch was my phosphates. I noticed some SPS struggling with tissue damage only to find my phosphorus levels were at 100+ ppb which I usually keep between 20-40. I'm not sure if it was the brine shrimp or the babies themselves but it was enough to decide that batch #4 needed to go in another tank. I ran some GFO, got my levels in check and everything was fine.
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Batch #4

Immediately after batch #3 I picked up a 30 gallon used tank and got it cycling for the next batch of babies. It was Christmas day of 2020 when I noticed my male holding eggs again. At this point I plan on the babies being born around 20 days out from when I notice him holding so I expected babies on 1/16 or so. Around 1/7 I went ahead and scooped up the male and moved him to the other tank so the babies could be born there. On 1/16 I woke up to 2 babies swimming around. Over the next few days up until this morning he has been letting out more babies. They almost always gather in a corner of the tank which makes them fairly easy to scoop up. I take them and place them in an acclimation box in the same tank simply to make it easier to feed them right now. When you put the sieve in the tank it makes a big food ball so it's nice to have the babies together where they can all go to town. I have no idea how many are in there at this point, probably 40+ again. The male has started eating again, poor fella, so that means all the babies should be out. Here is a picture from this morning. I tried to make a fake urchin which I've seen others do, they don't seem to care. I guess my fake urchin skills aren't up to par lol. I put some chaeto in there from my main tank simply to add some pods for the babies to graze on and hide in.
PXL_20210121_005724166.jpg

I'll post an update in a month or so to show their progress and any revelations I make on feeding them. Any feedback or advice is greatly appreciated.
 
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Great build thread, and great setup.
I’m looking into the waterbox 180.5 as well. How do you find the stand that comes with the tank? Structure wise?
Lots of room inside, did you setup an equipment board inside?
Thanks for the feedback!

Structure wise the stand is pretty solid. It was a little challenging to put together. I put my sump and equipment behind the wall in an unfinished space. It seems very spacious under the stand but I just hate having everything under the stand. There are 2 compartments as well, one for the sump and another for equipment. Let me know if you need more info.
 

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Thanks for the feedback!

Structure wise the stand is pretty solid. It was a little challenging to put together. I put my sump and equipment behind the wall in an unfinished space. It seems very spacious under the stand but I just hate having everything under the stand. There are 2 compartments as well, one for the sump and another for equipment. Let me know if you need more info.
Thanks!
 
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