Deep Reef - A RedSea Reefer 250 and Covid

Deep

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I have been in this hobby for about 12 years. This is my fourth tank and only the second one with a real sump. When I setup this tank in Nov 2019 I had no idea how Covid would completely screw my initial setup and most of my life stock. More on that in a bit, but the setup today is very different from how it was a year ago ( all thanks for Covid)

(Tank Dec-2019)
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Tank is a red sea reefer 250( 60 gallons) I bought from a another reefer in Nov 2019. He sold it to me with his rock which I kept as is. I added caribsea sand before cycling. For lighting I started with 2 Kessil A360W.

For filtration I used filter floss that I changed often and a Nyos Quantum 120 skimmer.

ATO was a Tunze osmolator with a 25 litre reservoir ( I never used the stock red sea ATO reservoir).

Given I was living in the equator, I was running a Chiller ( a Teko).

For flow I had a maxspect Gyre , 2 Jebao SLW and one Nero 5. After cycling the tank in December I added fish and corals. The idea was that I would set it up as a mixed reef. I stocked up with 2 picasso clowns, a purple tang (with HLE), a foxface, a bicanthus Angel, a fang blenny, a lawn mower blenny, a royal gramma and a purple firefish. I know thats a lot of fish for a 60 gallon !!

For corals I had some frags of SPS, some decent size wild colonies of sps, ultra acan, one maxima clam and seal hammers and torches.

I was dosing Aquaforest 2 part using a Kamoer dosing pump.

(Purple tang with HLE - Dec 2019)
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Since I was planning a trip end of february for a couple of days, I bought and setup an APEX 2016 EL to primarily monitor PH and temperature. Also hooked up my wavemakers to it so they would stop when the autofeeder came on.


Also bought an Alkatronic and set it up to test Alk 3 times a day. The trip end of February was uneventful, the tank did well in my absence. The ATO,the auto feeder etc seemed to work well. So I was lot more confident about my next trip.


So on the 11th of Mar I needed to travel out of the country for 5 days. The number of covid cases in SG was still very low. But everything escalated in the next couple of days after I left the country. SG shut its borders quickly and pretty quickly I realised there was no going back very soon. It turned out that it would take till the beginning of July when I could go back to SG. So 5 days away from the tank had now become 4 months.


(Tank Feb -2019 - stocked with SPS colonies - too early I know !!!)

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But very soon SG restricted any movement completely so he could not step out of his house. I then asked an LFS if they could go over and they did ( for a lot of money) on one occassion. They topped up the 2 part ( 1.5 litres) and the Alkatronic reagent as well as topping up the auto feeder. But again SG became very strict about movement of people and even the LFS said they couldnt go after that.

So then I asked an acquaintance in the same building if they could just go every 2 weeks and top up the ATO and the feeder. I had a large box of distilled water bottles delivered to my door which they could use. I also had cameras delivered and they were kind enough to set it up in front of the tank.

But there was a lot of Alkalinity swings because the 2 part was not topped up on time. I could see on the camera that most of the SPS had died. the clam was dead and so were the acans. By june, there was only 2 hammers and a Scoly and some zoas alive. But almost all the fish survived until then. So I considered it a miracle. So in June I had approvals to get back to SG and start quarrantine. Restrictions on movements were no longer so tight so my LFS asked if I wanted to get a service done before I landed in SG. I said yes - but in hindsight, given most corals were lost anyway I should have not asked the LFS to do a service.

So the guy that they sent did a great job, but forgot to turn on the chiller as he left. After a few hours I got alerts on my Apex that the temperature was rising. So I reached out to the LFS, but by the time they had the guy go back it was already a few days. All the remaining corals ( Hammer, Scoly) were dead. Also the bicanthus Angel died. But I am sure the apex saved the rest of the fish so I was thankful.

(The Tank on 8th July - all corals were dead except for the Zoas :) )

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(Fishes that survived - Purple tang - 31 Jul 2020 no signs of HLE). Copperband was added new.
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(31- Jul malnourished firefish that survived and the foxface)

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So I finally get back to my tank in July ( after a 14 day quarrantine in a dedicated facility) and am determined to fix what I can and get the tank back on its feet. You can only imagine how much I had missed the tank :). All the fish were skittish - they hadnt had a human near the tank everyday for the past few months, so I had to get to know them again. But I was glad I was back.

I tested my parameters - all the numbers were through the roof. Nitrates were close to 100, Phospates were more than .5. I removed the rock, removed dead coral skeleton, emptied out most of the water, rinsed the sand and filled it up with fresh salt water.

One of my Kessil lights stopped working so I decided I would try something different. In July ordered a Giesemann Spectra ( T5 and Halide combo). I opted for a 250 W SE 14.5 K bulb. 3 T5 bulbs were blue and one was purple but the T5 output is very low on this fixture. The lights would arrive in August.

I decided I wanted to just stick to SPS this time around but first I wanted to get my water parameters in a good place before the lights arrived in August. I started running a GFO reactor with rowaphos, ,Tims NP biopellets and started dosing nopox. In a few weeks, I had phospates under .1, but my nitrates were still reading more than 50 ppm. Clearly the low phospates were preventing the nitrates from falling further. Someone recommended Orca Nitraguard Titanium. A product that would help reduce nitrates irrespective of what Phospate levels were so I gave that a try. And it worked exceedingly well. In a couple of weeks of starting to use that ( as directed with an airpump) the nitrates fell below 10 ppm. So at this point my tank was ready for some corals.

(21-Aug 2020 - new lights and corals)

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My Giesemann Spectra had arrived, so I set it up along with the one remaining Kessil on one side. So I was running LED, T5, MH combo - I know crazy right !!

At this point I had still not stopped running GFO, Bio-pellets, no pox and the Nitraguard Titanium. That was a mistake. So the Nitrates hit zero and I got Dinos :(. At that point I decided deal with the Dinos but also decided to remove the GFO reactor and bio-pellet reactor, stopped carbon dosing and setup an external refugium with some chaeto in a small 5 gallon tank.

Over 2 weeks I started vaccuming the sand every day into a filter sock in the sump to remove the dinos. In that process I also removed a lot of the sand itself. Infact ever since I decided I wanted to keep SPS I had wanted to go barebottom but I was always worried if that would adversely impact denitrification etc. So by the time I had dealt with the dinos I was bare bottom. I ran a small 11W UV as well as dosed Phospates and Nitrates during that 2 week period. The refugium was also running 24*7 and the chaeto grew quickly to compensate for the lack of GFO, Biopellets and carbon dosing.

Tank as it is today - mostly Acros, some frags and some colonies.

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Deep

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So for filtration currently I run a Clarisea SK3000 for mechanical filtration, the same NYOS Quantum 120 ,Skimmer , the external refugium (8 hours a day) . Also carbon dose occassionally tropic marin Np bacto balance.
My current parameters are :
Alk - 8.5
PH - 8.2 to 8.3
Cal - 420
Magnesium - 1320
Nitrates < 1
Phospates - 0.05 to 0.1
For flow I run an MP40 at 70% reefcrest, a Gyre , 2 jebaos and one Nero 5. Going barebottom means I can have flow at the bottom level as well as the top.
 
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Deep

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External refugium - running chihiros LED lights on top and Santa monica submersible LEDs at the bottom

This photo was taken on 21st Sep before adding the submersible LEDS at the bottom. Also initially I (stupidly ) experimented with a pump pumping water out of the tank into the sump and another pumping water back in from the sump but it ended in a mid night disaster with water all over the floor.
I soon removed the pump and replaced with a eshops HOB overflow with a U tube that works very well.

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Deep

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The refugium light spectrum -

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PAR at the top and the spectrum from the Giesemann 250 W 14.5 K MH bulb


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Since October 24th I have replaced the 14.5K bulb with a BLV Nepturion 20k bulb. I like the bluer bulb better, but the PAR is lesser by about 100


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Deep

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Added a madagascar half banded Flasher Wrasse (Paracheilinus hemitaeniatus) today. Shes a female and had only arrived at the LFS. Took her a while but shes eating frozen Mysis now. Such a relief. I was taking her out of the fish bag with my hand and putting her in the acclimation box, but she slipped right into the tank. I was hoping the redsea 8 line flasher doesnt chase her too much. There was a lot of chasing but looks like its died down now after 6 hours.
Hope I can keep her alive and see her transition into a beautiful male.

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powers2001

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@Deep wow you're from Singapore. I've heard a lot of good things about your county. Our countries have good relations with each other and your primary language is English too!!!! I love your tank I have a Reefer 250 too. See my build thread. Following.
 
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Deep

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Man the covid mess would have made me give up in your situation. Props to you for pulling through and turning things around. Tank looks great!
thank you. Yes never thought I would be able to keep anything alive, but most fishes survived so I am thankful for that.
 
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Deep

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@Deep wow you're from Singapore. I've heard a lot of good things about your county. Our countries have good relations with each other and your primary language is English too!!!! I love your tank I have a Reefer 250 too. See my build thread. Following.

Thank you. Your build thread is great, love the attention to detail. I wouldnt be able to manage such detail.
 
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Deep

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Replaced my Eheim 9 W UV with a Deltec 20 W UV. Its sitting on the floor on the side of the tank. I have a pump with a flow rate of 400 L/H through the UV. Thats about 1.5X times the tank volume which I think should be good for Algae control. The additional heat generated is an issue though and my Chiller struggles a bit when the halides are on- but I did expect this. I have my Apex switching off the UV if it gets beyond a certain temperature (26 Deg C).


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Deep

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Also the MDF on the redsea cabinet doors are coming apart at the bottom due to water damage I guess. Wondering what will be the best way to fix this ? Also if I had to make new doors - should I just buy MDF and apply a water proof coat ? Sorry I am not very good at DIY.

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Do you have a build thread or tank journal here on R2R?

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