Diving The World's 80g Acro Wonderland!

DivingTheWorld

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It's the start of my first full year on R2R so I decided to start a build of my acro tank. I've had one on another forum for years which I'll link here in case you have some time and want to go back through the first 4 years of my build but I'll try to summarize a little here as well.

Where to start? I started my first reef tank when I was about 8, so almost 40 years ago. It was a 2.5g with a fish, a snail, and an urchin. It wasn't my first fish tank, but was my first saltwater fish tank. Over the years growing up, I had as many as 4 fish tanks in my room. I did everything myself, self funded from working at pet stores and paper routes. My parents didn't really know what I was doing other than being very supportive of my hobby and overflows on my carpet.

Fast forward a number of years and I got married, we bought a house, had a couple awesome kids and I started growing tired of my 29g Tru Vu I had dragged through several moves over the previous 10 years. It was time for a real reef tank! I had saved some money on the side so planned to do it right. I've found the key to reefing and a happy marriage is to not impact your family finances by the fish tank. So far that's worked out for me.

Space was limited by what the wifey approved for our family room. I stretched that a bit and ended up custom ordering a Lee Mar tank:

40" x 24" x 22"
3 Side Starphire, 1/2" glass
Black Back, Black Silicone
Rear Center Internal RR Overflow
Two 1" Drains (Herbie)
Two 0.75" Returns
Trigger Systems Ruby 30 Sump
Reef Octopus POV-DC1 Skimmer
Reef Octopus Auto Waste Collector
2 MP40w ES (since replaced with 2 MP40WQD)
2 Radion XR15 Gen 3 LEDs
Apex Classic Pro
Tunze 3155 Auto Top Off
Reef Octopus RODC-5500 Return

I custom built my stand to match the other furniture in our family room. It was my first (and last) attempt at furniture so took me almost a year working nights and weekends as I had time.

2x4 Frame
Skinned in Solid Alder
Open back with 4 flush doors (two front, both sides)
Stained in Mahogany
Interior Sealed and Painted w/White Boat Paint
Soft Close Hinges

Over the years I've made some changes as this is my first Acro tank and I've learned a lot! First is lighting. After a couple years I switched out my Radion XR15's to an ATI 8 bulb T5. To this day I think that was the biggest improvement I made with my acros. I also started off using Red Sea Coral Pro salt, but later switched to regular old Instant Ocean. I started out with a thin layer of sand but found I couldn't maintain high flow, so I sucked it out and have been bare bottom ever since. I've adjusted my parameters over time and are currently running +/- the following:

Calcium 400
Alkalinity 8.0
Magnesium 1380
Salinity 1.0264
Nitrate 4-5
Phosphate 0.05-0.08 (would like this to be a little lower)
pH 7.7-8.1
Iodine 0.05-0.06
Temp 79.5-80

I've battled demons over the years from Bryopsis (thank you Fluconazole), Bubble Algae (thank you Vibrant), Cyano (thank you Chemiclean). I found a couple Asterina stars once, but it was an easy pluck out. I've been vary careful and lucky that I've never had any coral pests or fish diseases over the years. My current dip regime is Melafix followed by Bayer.

I'm probably forgetting a million things so feel free to ask me whatever you want. I'm an open book and love to share my successes and failures to help others in this hobby. Here's a link to my full thread on that "other" site. If this is not allowed, let me know.

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2345585

And here's a few pics to get this thread started:

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R2R 1.jpg

2018-12-31 FTS.jpeg
 
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DivingTheWorld

DivingTheWorld

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Very nicely done! Happy New Year! What's the plans for 2019?
Nothing too crazy. I picked up an Apogee Meter so I’m planning to get some PAR readings for the first time. I also picked up a CO2 scrubber and plan to experiment with raising my pH.
 
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DivingTheWorld

DivingTheWorld

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So here's a PAR Map I did today for the first time. The bulbs have been running for approximately 6.5 months. I thought it might be a bit higher on the tops of my rockscape... Overall the light distribution is fairly even. I'm going to replace the bulbs tomorrow or the next day and re-map to see what I get.

2019-01-01 PAR Map.jpg
 

Alfrareef

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Looks very and quite similar to my tank. Congrats!

I also have return from Led to T5 and I’m quite happy and next move it will be leaving dosing and start a Calcium reactor. I’m going to try the PacSun approach with their small Calcfeeder...
 
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DivingTheWorld

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A couple people have asked me about my experience with Vibrant so I thought I'd share it here for all the world to see.

I had bubble algae for years and it was getting to the point where I seriously considered starting a new tank. I tried everything from Emerald Crabs (several kinds from different companies), Foxface (did eat them, but not much), Urchins, to manual removal. In the end, I was scraping out hundreds before each water change and it was getting ridiculous. I'm not one to try new things and I'm very skeptical of miracle cures that fix all the ills of our tanks, but I read dozens of threads on Vibrant and figured it was worth a shot. Worse case scenario it would nuke my tank and I'd have an excuse for a new one. ;)

I bought the Saltwater version and followed the directions. I didn't realize there was a Reef version until I had been dosing for over a month and saw no need to switch.

Before ANYONE considers dosing it, I'd suggest reading some of the Vibrant threads on the forum to understand the possible risks with dosing. ;Bookworm Specifically, some people have seen big drops in Nitrates and Phosphates which could affect coral health. For me I did not see any drops, and it didn't affect any of my acros or montis, or most of my zoas. For some reason it killed off my Fruit Loop zoas though and my BBEBs don't seem to like it. They're alive, but aren't adhering to the rock very well. Some people have complained of increased cyano. I've always had cyano in my sump due to lack of flow in my refugium section and I saw no real change due to Vibrant.

Here's the dosing schedule I used:

I started with 9ml (1ml per 10g) once per week. After a couple weeks I upped it to twice per week. Then after a couple more weeks I upped it to every 3 days. My Nitrates stayed the same (run around 4-6), but Phosphate went up a little (from 0.03 to around 0.07). I left my GFO running as normal. The bubble algae didn't start going away until I hit every 3 days. As I recall it took about a month from when I started dosing every 3 days for the bubble algae to be completely eradicated and it hasn't been seen since. ;Woot
 
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DivingTheWorld

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How can you start a thread called "acro wonderland" and I not get a tag, lol. You have some serious monti growth on the right rock! Corals look great, nice job.
No doubt you recognize a few of those corals from your tank! I finally installed my CO2 scrubber that I was also inspired to do from your thread. So far I'm seeing all positive responses. I'm gathering together some funds to put in another Bubba coral order...

Speaking of that ridiculously huge Sunset I have growing on that right rock, it was getting too close to comfort to my Vinh colony so I'm getting rid of it. It's A LOT of work, but I've already removed about a third of it. I'm removing a little each week till it's gone.
 

bubbaque

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The coral you got from me seem to be growing pretty fast for you!

Adding an encrusting monti to my rockwork was a huge mistake. I went and bought a tube of epoxy and covered it up. I still see some spots the live and I keep covering it up.
 
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DivingTheWorld

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The coral you got from me seem to be growing pretty fast for you!

Adding an encrusting monti to my rockwork was a huge mistake. I went and bought a tube of epoxy and covered it up. I still see some spots the live and I keep covering it up.
Yeah, my Montis are all from the first year of my tank when I was just trying to get sps to stay alive, lol. They do look really nice, but they don’t stop! My removal technique is all tools, cutting and scraping. I’ve done it with a few others already. Not too many left in my tank.
 
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DivingTheWorld

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Nice tank! A lot of good par info in this thread, thanks.
Thanks! The goal of my thread is to try to help others through my successes and failures. There’s a lot more info on my original thread on “that other” site. But I’ll be continuing it on this site. Stay tuned!
 
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