DiZASTiX - A Tank for the Road

DiZASTiX

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My name is Spike. This is the story of reef keeping with a jet setter lifestyle.

EPISODE I: The story begins with keeping a reef while traveling heavily, and leaning on an enthusiastic partner and plenty of technology to ensure operation while I'm away three days every week.

EPISODE II: My story continues after a hiatus in the hobby. Months have passed, and I moved into a new hotel in Santa Cruz as a resident. This story is the journey of how I build a 13.5 gal Fluval EVO reef in a hotel.


1 / Room for Standing

This is the photographic diary of how I created an aquarium that traveled with me until it finally housed corals, fish, and invertebrates. Having moved a lot for work, I put my former tank aside; but, with encouragement from others, I re-entered the hobby. I began purchasing a 30 US gal acrylic aquarium, manufactured with the most precision, from Advanced Acrylics. The size would later prove to be both a blessing and a mistake. Almost immediately, the aquarium was too small. However, still living in temporary housing meant a large aquarium had difficulties. In any case, I had begun to construct a wooden stand, after some consideration as to type of material: as someone with an academic background in mechanical and aerospace engineering, aluminium was the preferred material. However, 2-by-4 wooden beams might be easiest for construction--or perhaps not, as I didn't own a saw. Fortunately, Home Depot had one, and having a blueprint in hand, and a list of cuts, I was able to get all the cuts I needed without physical labour on my part.

IMG_0411.JPG


Having precut pieces afforded me the second advantage: I drive a Fiat Abarth, a very small car. A full length 2x4 beam doesn't fit in an Abarth, but precut pieces do, with the hatch shut.

Once home, I assembled the pieces. The cuts were mostly consistent, surprisingly, and the stand was as sturdy as can be. I wanted something that was tall enough to fit all the play things, tall enough to be viewed standing, and short enough to be viewed sitting.

IMG_0415.JPG


IMG_0417.JPG


We picked a place for the aquarium and the stand, and matched the colour against the colour of the wall from the living room and the cabinetry from the kitchen. It turns out that several coats of white primer was just what the doctor ordered.

IMG_0425 copy.jpg
 
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Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
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DiZASTiX

DiZASTiX

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2 / Water, Water Everywhere

Not taken, unfortunately, are photos of leaks. The wet spots can be seen on top of the filter sock holders, and the collection bowl. It was one of those slow leaks: a drop every half minute or so. Moving the tubes around caused the leak to become better or worse, depending on how it's moved. Tubing has its advantages, but plenty of disadvantages, and having learnt how to plumb with PVC, I'd pick PVC. I swapped around the tubing to get rid of the kinks and magically, the leaks stopped. In this photo, I haven't yet bought all the equipment I need, like a serious skimmer. Instead, there's a HOB skimmer sitting in the sump to act as a placeholder.

IMG_0429 copy.jpg


At the very least, the theory of plumbing was correct: I used a Beananimal setup.

IMG_0428.jpg
 
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DiZASTiX

DiZASTiX

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3 / Water and Electronics

One of my most beloved activities is tinkering with electronics, which isn't surprising, given my academic and professional backgrounds. At first, I wondered how I'd fit one or two Neptune dosing pumps (DōS) into the cabinet. Sometimes, for the relationships' sake, it's very important that things fit within the confines of the cabinet. Concordantly, it was important at first that the ATO reservoir fit within the cabinet; this would later prove insufficient.

IMG_0523.jpg


Installing the Reef Octopus skimmer was exciting: when I first began the hobby over a decade ago, never did I imagine that one day my skimmer would be an IoT device. Also, that is definitely not water on hardwood floors. No sir. I picked an OP skimmer because I wanted something that had Neptune APEX integration functionality. I also wanted something that would afford me the opportunity to expand my setup, such as adding an additional display tank and possibly two more sumps but using the same skimmer.

IMG_0548.jpg


At first, I shoved everything into the cabinet. Here, we have a metaphorical buffet of Neptune and Varios devices, including a pair of DōS dosing pumps (the second pair is mounting near the top of the cabinet). There's also a DDR reservoir. I don't find the optical sensor to be particularly useful; instead, I think what is useful is the APEX Fusion tile that shows the remaining amount of dosing liquid.

IMG_0591.jpg


Despite fitting everything, including a chaeto reactor, into the cabinet, the girl wasn't pleased at the sight of total disarray; also, the ATO reservoir lasted only 2.5 days. After much deliberation, she approved using a Rubbermaid container under one of the side tables as a larger ATO reservoir.

IMG_0626.jpg


It had benefits too: now there's a shelf of sorts underneath the side table for Crash the Cat's grooming needs. The surround speaker helps hide the ATO reservoir.

 

TheEngineer

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2 / Water, Water Everywhere

Not taken, unfortunately, are photos of leaks. The wet spots can be seen on top of the filter sock holders, and the collection bowl. It was one of those slow leaks: a drop every half minute or so. Moving the tubes around caused the leak to become better or worse, depending on how it's moved. Tubing has its advantages, but plenty of disadvantages, and having learnt how to plumb with PVC, I'd pick PVC. I swapped around the tubing to get rid of the kinks and magically, the leaks stopped. In this photo, I haven't yet bought all the equipment I need, like a serious skimmer. Instead, there's a HOB skimmer sitting in the sump to act as a placeholder.

IMG_0429 copy.jpg


At the very least, the theory of plumbing was correct: I used a Beananimal setup.

IMG_0428.jpg
That's cool. I don't think I've ever seen a tank with the overflow teeth cut directly into it.
 
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DiZASTiX

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That's cool. I don't think I've ever seen a tank with the overflow teeth cut directly into it.
I really like the way it looks as well. I think it's a nice clean appearance, and the thick overflow teeth are very rigid. The thickness also helps prevent jumpers by just that much, although I've already lost two yellow watchman goby out the side, so it's either time to get a top or time for a new kind of fish.
 
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DiZASTiX

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4 / Water Management

In starting the reef, I thought about how I'd manage the water--the philosophy of reef keeping. In the past, I kept all sorts of corals using the tried and true traditional techniques, but reef keeping is a hobby, and with that, personal growth is an important component. With that, I decided to make my life difficult by devising a methodology that takes pieces from various other methods:

  • Aquaforest Probiotic Method
  • Aquaforest Balling Method
  • Zeovit Method
  • Ozone Generation
  • Chaeto Reactor
  • Algae Scrubber
  • Automation
  • Accurate and Precise Testing
  • Triton Method
  • No Water Changes Method
IMG_0982.jpg


I tested frequently. Alkalinity four times a day. Calibrations once every four weeks. Salinity daily. These are to get good data points, which would later be helpful in diagnosing tank issues months later. It's also to make a fun photo.


IMG_1038.jpg


This photo should show 4 pairs of Neptune APEX DoS dosing pumps. The dosing configuration is:

  • Pump 1 - Aquaforest Component 1+
  • Pump 2 - Aquaforest Component 2+
  • Pump 3 - Aquaforest Component 3+
  • Pump 4 - Zeovit Pohl's Xtra Special
  • Pump 5 - Zeovit Amino Acid LPS
  • Pump 6 - Zeovit Coral Booster
  • Pump 7 - Zeovit Flatworm Stop
  • Pump 8 - Aquaforest NP Pro Liquid Bacterial Growth Polymer
Dosing is life. Dosing is fun. Even manually dosing is fun and acts as a venue for me to interact with the aquarium:
  • Aquaforest MicroE Elemenents
  • Aquaforest Pro Bio S Probiotic Bacteria
  • Aquaforest Amino Mix Amino Acids
  • Aquaforest Vitality Coral Vitamins
  • Zeovit Zeospur Macro Elements
  • Zeovit Pohl's Coral Vitalizer
  • Zeovit Zeospur 2
  • Zeovit Bio-Mate
  • Zeovit Amino Acid Concentrate
  • Zeovit Sponge Power
  • Zeovit Zeofood 7
  • Zeovit Zeobak Microorganism Solution
IMG_1094.jpg


Here, we have:

  • Reef Octopus Regal 200SSS Space Saving Protein Skimmer
  • Reef Octopus VarioS-2 (Reactor Pump)
  • Reef Octopus VarioS-6 (Return Pump)
  • Chaeto Reactor (DIY using Somatic UF-1)
  • ClearWater CW-100 Algae Turf Scrubber
  • Zeolite Reactor (Somatic UF-1 containing Aquaforest Zeo Mix zeolites)
  • Neptune ATK (ATO kit)
  • Neptune DOS x4 (x8 dosing pumps)
  • Finnex 300W Titanium Heating Element x2
  • Ozotech Poseidon 220 Ozone Generator
 
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NY_Caveman

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4 / Water Management

In starting the reef, I thought about how I'd manage the water--the philosophy of reef keeping. In the past, I kept all sorts of corals using the tried and true traditional techniques, but reef keeping is a hobby, and with that, personal growth is an important component. With that, I decided to make my life difficult by devising a methodology that takes pieces from various other methods:

  • Aquaforest Probiotic Method
  • Aquaforest Balling Method
  • Zeovit Method
  • Ozone Generation
  • Chaeto Reactor
  • Algae Scrubber
  • Automation
  • Accurate and Precise Testing
  • Triton Method
  • No Water Changes Method
IMG_0982.jpg


I tested frequently. Alkalinity four times a day. Calibrations once every four weeks. Salinity daily. These are to get good data points, which would later be helpful in diagnosing tank issues months later. It's also to make a fun photo.


IMG_1038.jpg


This photo should show 4 pairs of Neptune APEX DoS dosing pumps. The dosing configuration is:

  • Pump 1 - Aquaforest Component 1+
  • Pump 2 - Aquaforest Component 2+
  • Pump 3 - Aquaforest Component 3+
  • Pump 4 - Zeovit Pohl's Xtra Special
  • Pump 5 - Zeovit Amino Acid LPS
  • Pump 6 - Zeovit Coral Booster
  • Pump 7 - Zeovit Flatworm Stop
  • Pump 8 - Aquaforest NP Pro Liquid Bacterial Growth Polymer
Dosing is life. Dosing is fun. Even manually dosing is fun and acts as a venue for me to interact with the aquarium:
  • Aquaforest MicroE Elemenents
  • Aquaforest Pro Bio S Probiotic Bacteria
  • Aquaforest Amino Mix Amino Acids
  • Aquaforest Vitality Coral Vitamins
  • Zeovit Zeospur Macro Elements
  • Zeovit Pohl's Coral Vitalizer
  • Zeovit Zeospur 2
  • Zeovit Bio-Mate
  • Zeovit Amino Acid Concentrate
  • Zeovit Sponge Power
  • Zeovit Zeofood 7
  • Zeovit Zeobak Microorganism Solution
IMG_1094.jpg


Here, we have:

  • Reef Octopus Regal 200SSS Space Saving Protein Skimmer
  • Reef Octopus VarioS-2 (Reactor Pump)
  • Reef Octopus VarioS-6 (Return Pump)
  • Chaeto Reactor (DIY using Somatic UF-1)
  • ClearWater CW-100 Algae Turf Scrubber
  • Zeolite Reactor (Somatic UF-1 containing Aquaforest Zeo Mix zeolites)
  • Neptune ATK (ATO kit)
  • Neptune DOS x4 (x8 dosing pumps)
  • Finnex 300W Titanium Heating Element x2
  • Ozotech Poseidon 220 Ozone Generator

I bet you like spreadsheets. :)
 
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DiZASTiX

DiZASTiX

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5 / Poison Water

Now it was time for everyone's exciting pastime of watching rocks cure. Of course, these rocks were dry rock. They've been dead rocks for a decade now, because that's how long I've been out of the hobby. Organic material survived within the rock, and created an ammonia spike, which was what I wanted. Alternatively, I'd need chemicals, or edible shrimp, and I wasn't about to use a sacrificial fish, even if I'm not a fan of blue damsels. I just don't get their appeal.


View attachment 763519
IMG_0617.jpg


View attachment 763520
IMG_0619.jpg
 
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DiZASTiX

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5 / Automation

Automation I've discovered is one of those things that people either love or hate, and I love it. I'd think it's difficult to be in any tech or engineering field without enjoying automation--and if that's not the case, certainly let me know. Working in intersection fields of security and AWS (cloud) consulting, automation has been a godsend. I can't stress enough how much time it saves in the industry. So too it saves an incredible amount of time in the hobby for me, and helps me keep up with tasks.

Just look at that single pane of glass dashboard!!

upload_2018-6-11_2-39-26.png


And just look at all those IoT devices!! Because, when 3 sets of dosing pumps aren't enough, I had to get another set!! These are of course, as with the other, older photo, tucked away behind one of the Barcelona Chairs. (She didn't mind how they looked, but she minded how they sounded, so I stopped using one of the pumps as a metered ATO. It was neat to see how much water I had left in the reservoir. Now, I'll just have to rely upon weekly refills with water level sensors. Oh, woe is me.)

IMG_1115.jpg


As always, if you like, don't forget to smash that like button, and to keep up with the latest updates, subscribe by clicking "Watch Thread", so I can earn a Reef2Reef Golden Coral Award!! Actually, a golden coral just means high nitrates. Maybe that's not so great.




upload_2018-6-11_2-53-51.png
 
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6 / A Three Month Tank Is Okay for SPS

IMG_1221.jpg

Aussie Highlighter


Thanks for the likes, @NY_Caveman and @TheEngineer !! Today's update is about the types of types of corals I intended to keep. Previously, I discussed how to keep the parameters at the correct levels, and admittedly, things didn't go smoothly at first. These initial updates are centred around topics, and not necessarily in a specific order. At first, I knew I would be dosing; however, I didn't know I would require so many dosing pumps. While it's true I don't absolutely need that many (eight dosing pumps might be construed as over the top), but it certainly is fun.

At first however, to control pH, I used kalkwasser, which proved to be both effective and deadly. Many reefers seem to warn against using kalkwasser for pH tuning except @Randy Holmes-Farley , and that was good enough to me to start dosing kalkwasser; however, of my own fault, I incorrectly programmed the APEX module--tantamount to a decimal point error: what I believed to be 5 seconds of kalkwasser delivered via a top-off pump every 3 hours, was in fact every 3 minutes, and my alkalinity rose to over 14 dKH:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 5.34.25 PM.png


Unsurprisingly, SPS bleached left and right. With time however, alkalinity dropped of its own accord, and today, alkalinity sits around 7.5 dKH in line with the recommendation for Aquaforest Probiotic Method (a ULNS method), with a recent drop off, which seemed to sit alright with the corals:

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 4.48.59 PM.png


I discovered for myself the secret to success--and if not that, at towards success: more sensitive SPS corals require alkalinity that satisfy several conditions, including a maximum that goes nowhere near 14 dKH, a reasonable daily range, and a value commensurate to nutrients. Once my alkalinity came down and was relatively stable (mine had been bounded within the range of 7.9 to 8.1 dKH for most of the week until today, for some unknown reason. In keeping with this strategy, I'll continue to monitor my alkalinity with a very high frequency, to not only get the best understanding of the situation at hand, but also that vis-à-vis changes in other parameters and situations.

And with that knowledge, and by learning new things daily, I've been able to keep more sensitive SPS corals alive in a relatively young tank.

IMG_1199.jpg

Unknown LPS
 
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7 / Water Tests

IMG_1238.jpg


I recall Jason Fox saying: "Don't wait a month to test your water. It's been wrong for 3 weeks." Partly due to obsession and partly due to neuroticism, I test my water at least daily, except for alkalinity, which I test at least twice a day--unless I'm tuning alkalinity, in which case I might test more than that. This week, my goal has been to increase phosphates from 0.00 (Hanna Tester reading) to something less than or equal to 0.04 ppm. Using @Randy Holmes-Farley 's method, I ordered a brick of disodium phosphate from Amazon, and with the help of http://www.theplantedtank.co.uk/calculator.htm , I was able to compute that 1 gram of disodium phosphate dissolved into 500 mL H2O yields a solution that will raise the aquarium water of an estimated 40 gallons by 0.01 ppm of phosphate--in theory. In practice, I added 3 mL of my concoction, waited eagerly for an hour, tested using my Hanna Tester, and blinked blankly at a reading of 0.00.

Randy was kind enough to explain that rocks and sand will absorb the phosphate, so this isn't one of those situations where less is more. More is less. Add more. And with more--50 mL of my concoction and 3 hours later, I registered a reading of 0.03 ppm. I added another 1 mL of the solution, to counteract carbon dosing and algae turf scrubbing. It may seem strange, but the goal is to raise phosphate to defeat nitrate, which is starting to exceed comfortable ULNS zones.


Nitrates: 16-32 ppm - RedSea Pro
Phosphates: 0.03 ppm - Hanna Checker ULR
Salinity: 1.027 SG - Milwaukee
Alkalinity: 7.6 - 7.7 in 24 hours; 7.4 - 8.1 in 1 week - Hanna Checker
Calcium: 645 ppm - RedSea Pro
Magnesium: 1440 ppm - RedSea Pro


Seemingly frequently, my salinity will drop, which I'm sure is due to my current dosing of "bacteria in a bottle," causing my skimmer to skim wet. It's not in accordance to the ZEOvit method--both the ZEOvit method and Aquaforest method suggest skimming dry. However, I don't think this urgent situation counts, since reduction of ammonia comes first (currently reading between 0 and 0.2 ppm, measured by RedSea). Of course, I add salt to raise the salinity, since it dropped to 1.025 SG; however, I inadvertently added too much salt, and now my reading is 1.027 SG, which is still okay. The key really is that the corals look happy.

Alkalinity also dropped for no apparent reason. However, adding RedSea black bucket raised the alkalinity level up to the nice middle ground around the 7.6 range that I wanted anyway. I'll be using Aquaforest Probiotic Salt for situations where I don't need to raise alkalinity. I bought it with the mindset that I would have a higher nutrient level, like I used to, back when I kept softies, LPS, and a few SPS. I didn't know I would want to go for ULNS at the beginning. Now I own a big bucket of expensive salt!!

IMG_1194.jpg
 
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8 / The Great Escape, or How 86 Cute Corals, 2 Fish, and a Coral Banded Shrimp Live in a 16 Gallon Trigger Sump



With the leasing office needing access to the fake wood floors, I had to move all the corals and other animals to a new home. My father also said something: "没有什么战时的", which more or less translates to "there's nothing temporary." He disliked the idea of "let's temporarily do this or that." Whatever he did, he did with intent, with purpose. This tank did not reflect those ideals, and days and weeks passed, and flooring work ever came, and I started to enjoy the idea of having another tank in the bedroom. Then again, a tank that was really a sump wasn't such a ridiculous thing, was it? Perhaps it was better though, to spend the two $50 from the LED lights toward a Kessil AP700. I'm a huge fan of Kessil. I've used an a350w for years. It's been great.

But then worse news came, and I'm now moving. Perhaps it was a good thing I emptied out the big tank after all. Buying another 50 or so frags from the WWC sales event? It wasn't a great idea. Nor was the Coral Club thing on top of that. But I didn't know I was moving until two days ago.

Naturally you'll want a comparison of my setups. Both are linked to a single Neptune Apex unit. Each additionally has its own Seneye system.

  • Total system volume: 40 gal
  • Lighting: Kessil a350w
  • Skimmer: Reef Octopus SSSS 200 INT
  • Zeolite Reactor: Avast Marine - Vibe 4L
  • ClearWater ATS
  • Flow: Strong return pump flow coupled with Tunze Turbelle 6105
  • Thermostat: Neptune temperature probe
  • Heater: Finnex Deluxe Titanium 300W x2, one set to activate at 25 C, and one set to activate at 24.9 C.
  • Calcium Reactor
  • Self-manufactured NO3:pO4-x
  • Autowater Change

  • Total system volume: 16 gal
  • Lighting: 140 W WATT Shine x2 ($59.99 each on Amazon.com)
  • Skimmer: Reef Octopus 200 EXT
  • Zeolite Reactor: Media Bag
  • Lots of different kinds of uncommon seaweed under 100W Easy Bright Grow Light Bulb ($23.99 on Amazon.com one-day shipping)
  • Flow: Reef Octopus VarioS-2 with Tunze Nanostream 6025
  • Thermostat: Neptune temperature probe
  • Heater: Finnex Deluxe Titanium 300W x2, one set to activate at 25 C, and one set to activate at 24.9 C.
  • Balling 3 part
  • Self-manufactured NO3:pO4-x
  • Autowater Change @ 4.1% daily

Some of my corals today. It's 16 gal total (maybe 17 gal considering the size of the skimmer). The LEDs are about 1/2 m away from surface of water:











 
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Hemmdog

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8 / The Great Escape, or How 86 Cute Corals, 2 Fish, and a Coral Banded Shrimp Live in a 16 Gallon Trigger Sump



With the leasing office needing access to the fake wood floors, I had to move all the corals and other animals to a new home. My father also said something: "没有什么战时的", which more or less translates to "there's nothing temporary." He disliked the idea of "let's temporarily do this or that." Whatever he did, he did with intent, with purpose. This tank did not reflect those ideals, and days and weeks passed, and flooring work ever came, and I started to enjoy the idea of having another tank in the bedroom. Then again, a tank that was really a sump wasn't such a ridiculous thing, was it? Perhaps it was better though, to spend the two $50 from the LED lights toward a Kessil AP700. I'm a huge fan of Kessil. I've used an a350w for years. It's been great.

But then worse news came, and I'm now moving. Perhaps it was a good thing I emptied out the big tank after all. Buying another 50 or so frags from the WWC sales event? It wasn't a great idea. Nor was the Coral Club thing on top of that. But I didn't know I was moving until two days ago.

Naturally you'll want a comparison of my setups. Both are linked to a single Neptune Apex unit. Each additionally has its own Seneye system.

  • Total system volume: 40 gal
  • Lighting: Kessil a350w
  • Skimmer: Reef Octopus SSSS 200 INT
  • Zeolite Reactor: Media Bag
  • ClearWater ATS
  • Flow: Strong return pump flow coupled with Tunze Turbelle 6105
  • Thermostat: Neptune temperature probe
  • Heater: Finnex Deluxe Titanium 300W x2, one set to activate at 25 C, and one set to activate at 24.9 C.
  • Calcium Reactor
  • Self-manufactured NO3:pO4-x
  • Autowater Change

  • Total system volume: 16 gal
  • Lighting: 140 W WATT Shine x2 ($59.99 each on Amazon.com)
  • Skimmer: Reef Octopus 200 EXT
  • Zeolite Reactor: Avast Marine - Vibe 4L
  • Lots of different kinds of uncommon seaweed under 100W Easy Bright Grow Light Bulb ($23.99 on Amazon.com one-day shipping)
  • Flow: Reef Octopus VarioS-2 with Tunze Nanostream 6025
  • Thermostat: Neptune temperature probe
  • Heater: Finnex Deluxe Titanium 300W x2, one set to activate at 25 C, and one set to activate at 24.9 C.
  • Balling 3 part
  • Self-manufactured NO3:pO4-x
  • Autowater Change @ 4.1% daily

Some of my corals today. It's 16 gal total (maybe 17 gal considering the size of the skimmer). The LEDs are about 1/2 m away from surface of water:











Looking great!!
 
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DiZASTiX

DiZASTiX

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9 / Corals in a Hotel

Prelude. When I moved to a hotel in Santa Cruz from Virginia, I stored everything, including reefing gear in a storage unit in Va. However, not long after settling in Cali, I couldn't stop browsing on BRS, R2R, WWC, and Battlecorals. And eventually, enough was enough. This is is the continuation of my adventure, and how I've been keeping cute corals in a hotel. I hope you enjoy scrolling thru what I think to be a fairly unusual story =o)


1580631123604.png


It's totally different. Unlike an apartment/flat, where one is slapped on the wrist harshly with a potential eviction for violations of lease, I can't even imagine how a "minor leak" would be handled by the hotel management. It would be epicly bad. That means a big tank won't work (too high profile) and a sump introduces risk that I can't manage.

What animals do I have to keep? I remember Austin Lefevre saying something about corals and fishies not being Pokemon: "you don't have to collect them all." After a lot of window shopping therapy, I devised this list from WWC, Battlecorals, and Aqua Lab Aquaria (San Jose). It's quite challenging, because the tank isn't quite what reefers typically use for these kind of coral friends, but it will absolutely do:
  • Fox Flame
  • Pro Corals Superman Table
  • Reef Raft Rainbow Loom
  • Boso's Dingleberry Defuego
  • WWC Toxic Aussie Slimer Acropora - $69
  • Aussie Golden Torch
  • WWC Coral Club (15 corals)
  • WWC OG Bounce Shroom
  • Green Star Polyps
  • Pink on Green Toadstool
  • Randalli Shrimp
  • Yellow Watchman Goby
  • Fire Shrimp
  • Giant Crocea
  • PJ Cardinal
  • Seahorse
The intention is to use a WAV1 pump in a 13.5 gal display, and I'm not sure how to balance the ultra high flow strategy for the acropora with the needs of the seahorse and goby and pistol shrimp, who might take offense to such an environment. I will have to think.

Water Production. My water measures over 400 TDS with a TDS stick, which is consistent with Santa Cruz's water quality reports. I estimate that's at least a 5 stage job, maybe a 6 even, but a 7 stage system would mean the RODI device would fit neatly into my closet into a neat shape. That's important, because that's a heavily-trafficked area, and I know I'll get annoyed from the DI canisters getting knocked over when I go to grab shoes.

1580627774278.png


I put a valve here, which is how I connect the cold water line to the RODI unit in the closet. When I'm done making RODI water, I disconnect everything and place the valve in the back, where it won't be inadvertently turned on by housekeepers.

1580627800941.png


With a triple DI canister set, the RODI system fits in the closet nicely. I'll need a better system for shoes. For the waste water side, I place the line in the sink. The water pressure is low, but it seems that the evaporation rate on a Fluval Evo 13.5 gal is really low, on stock config. I'm upgrading a lot of it, but even so, I can't imagine having to make water more than once a week, so it's not a nuisance.

I use the salt bucket as the ATO reservoir. My salt is mixed in the tank for about 35 ppt (we're supposed to use ppt; Randy Holmes-Farley says so =o), but with the extra undissolved salt bits on the bottom of the tank, within a few days, it really crept up to 36 ppt (35.7 ppt by Apex salinity probe), which isn't a big deal.

Shopping List:
  • BRS 7 Stage Pro Plus 200 GPD Water Saver RODI System
  • Tropic Marin Pro Reef Salt

I chose the Tropic Marin salt brand because Ryan @ BRSTV recommended it highly with the pharmacy grade qualities. From prior experience, I had the best success with it; also, the "pro" version with the lower Alk is perfect for Zeovit system (though even the higher alk ones might do as well).

Display Tank. And here it's time to put together the tank itself. I chose the Fluval Evo 13.5 gal to give me a bit more volume for the kind of rocks I like, and the aquascape I had in mind. Also, I'm going to be attempting to grow acropora from Battlecorals and chalices and golden torch from WWC, and a kewl clam from where I can find one. Volume is important, but too big, and I risk issues with management or the people living under me.

Shopping List:
  • Fluval Evo 13.5 gal
  • Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155 Auto Top Off
  • BRS 100 W Titanium Aquarium Heater System
  • Neptune Apex Controller System
  • Brightwell Aquatics Microbacter7
I talked to the people at Tunze before, and they were super awesome. I own something like four Tunze Osmolators now, and that's the ATO that's best for me. This size "ATO magnetic puck" thingy with the sensors fits perfectly in the third water chamber with the return pump for the Fluval tank. Admittedly, I got lucky there.

There's a heater that works with Fluval, but when I saw this product at BRS, it was the obvious choice, even though it's a tad bigger than I thought, and won't fit in the last compartment in the Fluval (it'll fit in the second or first compartments, which is fine). I used to keep a heater controlled directly by Apex powerstrip and temperature probe, but Terrence at Neptune has advised us to strongly avoid that setup (as it prematurely wears out the relays in the powerstrip). Instead, I let the aquarium heater system handle the switching, and then use Apex to provide a backup. There. Two levels of redundancy.

Configuration:
Apex Temperature Probe: Min 23.9 C, Max 27.8 C
Apex Heater AC Socket: On Temperature 25.5 C, Off Temperature 26.1 C
BRS Heater Controller: Set 25.0 C
Ambient: AC set to 66 F

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I love the IoT nature of Neptune Apex, so even though I own a Neptune Apex Classic, I found an excuse to upgrade to the newest Apex (and another excuse to eventually get the Trident). I have an old iPad Mini that doesn't work well for anything, even reading PDFs, so I use it as a display for Apex Fusion. Like Ryan said, for some people, the technology is part of the fun of the hobby. And it's true.

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Zeovit. I love Neptune's DōS. It's really good, and I own several of them in my storage unit in Virginia, but here, a BRS 2-part doser will do. I just need it to dose ZeoStart. All the other KZ blue bottles I love I'll dose by hand. Vinegar and vodka concoctions are excellent, as is just vinegar. In fact, even dosing sugar packets has worked well for me in the past. But ZeoStart has higher potency, which means it takes up less space. Space is highly limited in a hotel room.

Pumps
  • BRS 2-Part Doser - 1.1 mL/min
Calcium Reactor. I think dosing things like Aquaforest Component 1+2+3+ is excellent, as are other balanced systems like Tropic Marin's original Balling system. I think when comparing such a system to a calcium reactor, I expect the outcomes to be quite similar. I don't like kalkwasser, because it doesn't work with my travel. I really love the calcium reactor made by Reef Octopus. The pumps are fantastic and easy to clean, and I love that they're smart pumps. The Geo Commercial calcium reactor is of course, probably one of the best ever made, but a hotel room is no place for a Geo Commercial calcium reactor. But I still reached out to Geo for the nano version of it, which will be fantastic. I really like the Kaomer dosing pump (to adjust the effluent). I think it's easier to adjust the Kaomer than the adjusting the Carbondoser, in that if I make too big of a change, I know exactly where the fallback is on the Kaomer (because it's digital). But I heard there are at least three ways to adjust a CaRx, so at some point, I may try the other two ways. Also, I like knowing the pH in the CaRx, so I need an extra pH probe, but because I have two probes on Apex already, I need a Neptune PM1 module.

Shopping List:
  • Kaomer FX-STP Peristaltic Continuous Duty Dosing Pump
  • Aquatic Plant Life Carbondoser Electronic CO2 Regulator
  • Geo Nano Calcium Reactor
  • BRS Double Junction Lab Probe
  • CaribSea Arm Reactor Media - Extra Course
  • Neptune PM1 PH/ORP Probe Module
Foodstuffs & Dosing. I don't think feeding corals is critical. But I enjoy it, and a lot of these things seem to make positive changes. For instance, once I started feeding acans, they seemed to get bigger. And KZ Coral Vitalizer seemed to make the new frags open up within a few hours. Sure, they might have opened up then anyway. Who knows. I agree with Ryan @ BRS though: I don't think using garlic is beneficial, and other things seem to work just as well as far as getting animals to eat.
  • BRS Brine Shrimp - Freeze Dried
  • BRS Mysis Shrimp - Freeze Dried
  • BRS Reef Chili Food
  • PolypLab Reef-Roids
  • American Marine Selcon Concentrate
  • Aqua Edibles Super Eggs
  • Nyos GoldPods Liquid Plankton Concentrate
  • KZ ZeoStart 3
  • KZ ZeoBak
  • KZ Coral Vitalizer
  • KZ Zeovit
  • KZ Amino Acid Concentrate
  • KZ Amino Acid Concentrate LPS
  • Piscine Energetics 1 mm Saltwater Fish Food Pellets

Test Kits. I test for Salinity (Apex Probe, Milwaukee Refractometer), Alkalinity (Hanna Checker), Phosphate (Hanna Checker), Temperature (Apex Probe, BRS Controller Probe), Nitrate (Red Sea), pH (Apex Probe), ORP (Apex Probe). Maybe I'll buy a third Seneye for this tank, but testing for ammonia isn't too critical. Though having a second way to measure pH is nice.

I noticed that I never really needed to test calcium or magnesium, because Balling and CaRx kept things in balance. I also noticed that ammonia isn't that useful either, when there's enough bio-ceramics. I use a lot of ceramic material for bacteria to grow on, and that strategy worked really well with the little tank from before.

Shopping List:
  • Red Sea Nitrate Pro (NO3) Test Kit
  • Milwaukee MA877 Digital Refractometer
  • Alkalinity Colorimeter DKH HI772 Hanna Checker
  • Phosphate Low Range Colorimeter HI713 Hanna Checker

Welcome to Santa Cruz, Animals. On day 3, I added a ball of GSP and a toadstool from Aqua Lab Aquaria in San Jose. It's a great LRS, though they're still growing their reef section. It's more focused on planted tanks right now, but they're building a frag tank as we speak, and I'm very excited about it. I checked with the owner, whose name I shamefully cannot recall at the moment, the parameters in their tank. TL;DR: well within 0-acclimatisation parameters. I grabbed the ceramic plug and shook vigorously for a bit and looked carefully to see what was lurking about (though at the store, I looked under the rows of frag racks to see if there were pests). It looked fine, so I drained the bag in the sink and plopped the two frags in their new home. They were all closed up at first, but a day and half later I took these photo:

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Thanks for skimming thru my story. =o)
~ Spike (DiZASTiX)
 

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