Erk's Attempt at a Reef

Discussion in 'Member Tanks' started by erk, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Well, it's about time I created a tank thread for my aquarium. I've been apprehensive about posting anything as I was waiting for the tank to age a bit. Then I ran into some issues and now, finally, I am ready to share my reef tank.

    A little about myself:

    I am a Mechanical Engineer working on my graduate degree in Electrical Engineering. I work for a defense contractor in the DFW area. I'm engaged to a beautiful woman who is also my best friend. She doesn't mind my obsession with aquariums as long as I keep the mess to a minimum.

    Initial Design:

    What I wanted was a tank without a center brace, but with a frame. I would say that the rimless aquariums scare me a bit and the eurobrace aquariums are expensive and larger than I have room for. Therefore I settled on the 40 breeder. For the sump, I wanted something larger than the DT and with enormous room for an unlit refugium. I was able to snag a standard 55 gal for free and converted it into a sump.

    Below are images from Creo 2 of the full assembly.
    assy doors closed front.jpg assy doors closed rear.jpg assy doors open front.jpg
    sump view.jpg

    Filtration:

    When I first started this hobby 4 years ago, I went the conventional route of running carbon, GFO, lit refugium, etc. I eventually learned other methods that allowed me to utilize less equipment, and I used that knowledge in designing this aquarium.
    First, the only "reactor" I run is a zeovit reactor stuff with Brightwell zeolites. This isn't for the zeovit method, but because it is a safe haven for bacterial growth. Second, I run a large skimmer. It is the PM CV626 venturi skimmer. I love it for the tall reaction chamber. Consistently pulls out waste material. Third, I dose vodka. I used to dose vinegar, but I was dosing too much to meet the demands of my tank. I love fat healthy fish. And last, I have ~20 gal refugium filled with rock. Tons of seasoned rock from my first tank that ran for 2 years that I transferred to a holding tub and continued to keep running. There is so much rock, it can't even all fit underwater.

    With this method, I can keep nitrate and phosphate nearly undetectable. Actually, as I found out later, I have to continuously feed the tank else my nutrients drop too low and I start losing corals.

    Lighting:

    I purchased an 8 bulb T5 grow fixture from Amazon and retro fitted it with two Lumia 5.2s. I suspend the fixture about 10 inches above the water. At the water surface, this gives me about 500 par with ~250-300 par at the top of the rock my SPS sit. The sand bed ranges from 50 par to 150 par. This gives me tons of places to arrange corals depending on light requirements.

    Flow:

    I use a Gyre xf150 for flow in the display. It pulses every 10 sec at about 40% power. I recently purchased a TI BLDC motor controller that allows 5V PWM control. I plan to use this to control the Gyre and generate more natural flow patterns.

    Controller:

    My own design. A Raspberry Pi 3 communicating over serial to an Arduino Uno. Took this route because I had analog sensors and didn't want to buy new digital sensors. Was cheaper to develop my own ASCII serial communication between the two boards. I wrote the main controller code in Python and it pulls data thru various APIs. I use this to simulate cloud cover and moon phase, and will eventually use it for tidal info and to vary dawn/dusk times.

    Equipment List:

    Sicce 3.0 return pump
    Vertex 1.5L Zeovit Reactor
    PM CV626 Venturi Skimmer powered by a pump I can't remember the name of, ;Facepalm
    Gyre xf150
    Two Eheim Heaters
    Couple Hydor Koralia nano powerheads for sump chamber circulation
    Lots of DIY other stuff. I can explain more in detail if there are any questions.
     

  2. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Fish:

    Halichoeres melanurus
    Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis
    Cirrhilabrus lubbocki
    Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis(this guy is a real pain, but I've had him for over a year)
    4 x Neopomacentrus bankieri(these guys spawn constantly)
    2 x Chromis viridis
    Ecsenius bicolor
    Centropyge bispinosa
    Zebrasoma flavescens

    Inverts:

    Stenopus hispidus
    2 x Mespilia globulus
    Echinometra sp. (in the sump)
    Ciliopagurus strigatus
    Several Paguristes cadenati
    4 x Astraea tecta
    And tons of other worms and such. My sand bed is covered in spaghetti worms.

    Corals:

    These are what I know off the top of my head:
    Rose Garden Mille
    Cliff's Acro
    Tierra Del Fuego
    Boom's Deep Red Acro
    Boom's Creme De Menthe Acro
    Couple Aussie frags from PEA
    Green/orange Astreopora
    Various acans, micromussa, and favia
    5 different gorgonians(these are my favorite. My oldest is ~4 yrs old)
    Neon green toadstool
    various zoas and palys
    WWC Fanta Chalice
    Radioactive Lizard Skin Chalice
    ORA Frogskin Acro
    Tricolor Valida
    Sun Coral
    Blue Ricordea that I've had forever

    Current Parameters:

    Alk: 8dkh
    Ca: 452 ppm
    Mg: 1340 ppm
    NO3: undetectable
    PO4: not measured
     
  3. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Now for some pictures. I know that is what everyone wants to see.

    These are the total tank shots. Fish and coral images to follow.

    FTS.jpg

    FTS_angled_wide.jpg tank side.jpg

    FTS2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    NY_Caveman, andy71, najer and 2 others like this.
  4. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Some fish shots. I need to get better shots of the other fish before I can post them.

    Chromis viridis.jpg

    I love this wrasse. He isn't afraid of anything and ate dry food instantly.
    Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis.jpg Cirrhilabrus rubrisquamis_2.jpg

    When I first bought this tang, it was near starved to death. Now, about a month later it has put on a decent amount of weight. Still, I won't be satisfied until it is too fat to fit thru the rocks :p.
    Zebrasoma flavescens.jpg

    This is one of 4 scissortail damsels. They are continuously laying eggs and the broods are enormous. I estimate a couple hundred eggs easily. They do this about every other week. Probably laid at least 5 broods so far, if not more. Thankfully they aren't terribly aggressive.
    Neopomacentrus bankieri.jpg

    This shot is a bit blurry, it was the best I could get of this little punk. This is a mean wrasse, but so full of character and attitude. The recent change into full mating colors is probably because of the rubrisquamis and because I hung a mirror on the side of the tank to reduce aggression. This wrasse is even more beautiful in person.
    Cirrhilabrus rubriventralis.jpg
     
    Chasmodes, Tahoe61 and Sabellafella like this.
  5. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
  6. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Found that the scissortail damsels laid another brood. Typical sized. The eggs are very small and transparent. Almost looks like fuzz on the base of the rock. I believe they laid the eggs last night as they were not there yesterday.
     
  7. sneub

    sneub Active Member R2R Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    236
    Location:
    US
    Looking great, well done!
     
    erk likes this.
  8. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Day 2 of scissortail damsel spawning. The eggs are slighting larger and small black dots can be seen inside the eggs. This is the first time I've documented their spawning and I never realized the fry develop this fast. The male(going by fishbase page) is very aggressive to any fish that approach the overhang the eggs reside under. But oddly enough, he doesn't chase any one fish very far.
     
    sneub likes this.
  9. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Forgot to update this thread yesterday with documenting the spawning of the scissortail damsel. Late last night, most of the eggs are gone. They appear to have hatched. There are a handful of eggs remaining, and have very large black larva/fry in them. I can't see if they are moving with the naked eye. I'm a bit surprised though. I thought the development period would be a full week. Unless I missed the initial egg laying, the time to hatching is about 3-4 days. Incredibly fast. I don't run a filter sock, so I'll need to check the sump with a flashlight to see if any fry have survived from the multitude of previous spawnings.
     
  10. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    A short video I created from macro clips I shot in my tank.

     
  11. najer

    najer Valuable Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Messages:
    1,268
    Likes Received:
    1,314
    Location:
    England Earth
    Very nice. :)
     
    erk likes this.
  12. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    That is the first video I've ever made using video editing software. Was trying to create something a bit more polished. I'm happy with it for a first try. Let me know what you think I could do better!
     
  13. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Did my weekly testing and my calcium consumption is increasing. Went from 452 to 433ppm Ca in 6 days. Alkalinity dropped .4dkH. Increased ESV B-ionic 2 part to 10ml per day. Need to dose 13ml of part A to bring it back up to 8dkH. Dosed 7ml tonight. Good to see increased consumption, but also worried since I will be out of town periodically during the holidays. Just hoping the tank stays stable during that time.
     
  14. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Came back after a week long trip and the tank still looks good. Coral growth rate is increasing. Increased my ESV two part to 11ml per day. Going to be away for another week without someone around that knows reef tanks. Hopefully everything continues to do well. Did notice that my skimmer decided to overflow. I have it going to a reservoir with an auto shutoff. Not sure why or what caused it to overflow.
     
  15. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
  16. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Just bought a Nikkor 200mm f4 micro lens. One of the best macro lenses available for Nikon users. Sadly, the ebay seller was less than truthful and the lens will need a good cleaning/repair before I can use it. Still, not bad for $400. At least the optics are good. I will try to take some images of coral with it later this week.
     
    najer likes this.
  17. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Added an LED light to my rock refugium. Not for macros, but to grow hair algae and such. It will be food for the organisms that live in the sump. I also hope it will keep the nasties from growing in the DT. Only time will tell.
     
    Chasmodes likes this.
  18. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    Approaching the one year mark for this tank. Wish the progression was more impressive, but mistakes were made. Just happy that things are really starting to take off. Had a bit of a hiccup during the holidays. Was gone for two weeks and came back to stalled growth, but got things on track quickly. Did my weekly water change/testing today. Decided to take some images as well. Enjoy!

    Latest FTS:
    fts 1-2018.jpg

    Blue/Green Acro:
    Starting to encrust and deepen in color.
    blue green acro.jpg

    Brownie Acro:
    This is a close up of one of the frags I made from the brownie colony I got from Boomcorals.
    brownie 2.jpg

    Here is a frag that I hope to turn into a nice colony. I really like the deep green color of this coral and the blue highlights it tends to get in bright light.
    brownie.jpg

    Creme de Menthe Tenius:
    This thing was unhappy for a short while, but is continuing to change colors. The polyps are turning a yellow/green color and I really like it.
    creme de menthe.jpg

    Aussie Millepora:
    This is a frag I got from PEA many months ago. It encrusts super fast. What amazes me is how the color keeps changing. The skin went from brown to deep purple/red to now a pink/purple. The polyps used to be a maroon/red color but now are turning teal or something. It is always shaggy. Love this mille and can't wait to see what it finally settles into.
    hairy mille.jpg

    Tierra del Fuego:
    This guy encrusts very fast and the colors are awesome. Still keeping the bright pink and neon green color. It's also very happy and hairy all the time.
    tierra del fuego.jpg

    Neon Toadstool:
    For awhile I wondered if I should keep this toadstool. Always afraid it would become a monster and a pain. Yet as it grows, it continues to amaze me and become ever more beautiful. Took this shot and was really happy with the outcome. Might become my new wallpaper!
    neon toadstool.jpg

    Random Paly:
    This is a paly that grows way way too fast. I saw a polyp blowing around the tank and decided to glue it down to a plug. That was a couple months ago. It went from 1 polyp to 5 in about 3 months. Still, it is pretty.
    unknown paly.jpg

    The Ever-Changing Acan:
    This thing must be confused or something. When I bought it, it was mostly brown with some green. Then it became all green. Then it developed white stripes and now those strips are turning orange or red. It grows incredibly fast. I see new polyps on it all the time. From 5 polyps to probably near 30 in about 4 maybe 5 months, maybe less. I'm terrible at guessing time. I just keep feeding it and it keeps growing. I just hope it doesn't start saying, "FEED ME, SEYMORE!"
    acan colony.jpg

    The Fat Yellow Tang:
    When I got this guy, he was not healthy. So skinny. Now, I think I'm starting to see rolls, :D. Just happy to see that he/she is gaining weight and keeping it on. The top layer of sand has a nice mat of algae in it that the tang continuously grazes on. Keeps it nice and short. Means I don't have nice white sand, but I'm fine with that as long as the tang has a steady supply of food to eat.
    yellow tang in the zoa garden.jpg

    ****************************************************************************************
    Finally, some pics from my trip to Bosque del Apache NWR. My father and I are big into wildlife photography and had planned this trip several months ahead of time. These are some images I've edited so far. Can't wait to go back!

    Dancing at Sunset
    dancing at sunset.jpg
    A pair of Sandhill cranes dancing/showing off in the setting sun.

    A Bald Eagle Losing Its Lunch
    bald eagle running with meal.jpg
    To have the privilege to watch an encounter between a bald eagle and a pair of golden eagles was amazing. Capturing it with a nice camera was even just phenomenal. This bald eagle caught a small duck/waterfowl and was eating it on its perch in the middle of the lake. Then two golden eagles decided to take the kill from it. Never seen anything like it before.​
     
    mdbannister likes this.
  19. erk

    erk Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    379
    Location:
    DFW
    I'm trying to decide if I should setup the 20 long I have as a sea grass flat with mangrove or a freshwater planted with mangrove. The argument against the sea grass flat tank is the difficulty in finding sea grass. Not a lot of places have it in stock or don't have the shorter species of sea grass in stock. I'd like to do the sea grass tank and keep some pipefish and/or other docile fish/inverts. The other idea would be to use a type of macro algae, but I really would prefer to avoid them. They can be difficult to keep under control and require a lot of pruning. There is also the risk of it going sexual. Open to ideas.
     
  20. mdbannister

    mdbannister Ahh...the Reef Life Staff Member Team R2R R2R Excellence Award SCMAS Member Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2012
    Messages:
    20,654
    Likes Received:
    10,943
    Location:
    Ontario, California
    Looking good! I'm loving the photos!!
     
    erk likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page

Loading...