First Reef Tank - IM Nuvo Fusion 40

muzikalmatt

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This build thread might be a little different since I'm starting it over three months into my very first reef tank build. It'll be a retrospective at first, giving the background of how I got to today including the successes and mistakes. Then hopefully if things go well, I'll be able to give updates on my progress moving forward. Given that it's been 3 months so far and I've been moving at a pace faster than I should have, there's definitely a decent amount to get through, so I'll likely do it over several posts. So let's do this!

Background: I've been wanting to setup a reef tank for a long time but only saw it as a realistic possibility in the past year or so. I always thought it was too difficult, too expensive and too time consuming. I'm still not sure if I was write or wrong yet. :D I first began researching the hobby extensively in the past year or so; reading articles and forums, watching YouTube videos, and even visiting my locals LFS's and talking to the owners. However, I still wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger as I had a newborn and wasn't sure I'd have the time/money to devote to it. Lucky for me, my girlfriend (now fiance) must have been annoyed with how much I talked about it and made the plunge for me. She got me an Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion 40 tank, custom-made stand and Kessil A360WE light for me(us) for Christmas. Little did she know that would the beginning of both of our obsessions with this hobby.

Setup: Having the tank, stand and light I went to LFS to talk about getting the tank up and running. Despite the risk of hitchhikers, I decided to go the Live Rock / seed bacteria route since I'm impatient. (I know...nothing good happens fast in this hobby.) I bought ~30 pounds of live rock, 20 pounds of CaribSea Aragalive live sand, and the aquavitro seed bacteria to get the tank jump started. I also bought ~45 gallons of saltwater from the LFS which I transferred to a Brute trash can in the back of my subaru . I then proceeded to spill ~3 gallons in the cargo area on the way home. ;Facepalm After a few hours messing around with the aquascaping, I got water/sand in the tank and started cycling with the aquavitro.

Cycle: Using the live rock and dosing the aquavitro seed bacteria every day for 7 days straight got the cycle jump-started. I bought test kits to keep track of the cycle since I'm a nerd for chemistry and it appeared everything had cycled in a week. Having done my research, I knew it was best to cycle at least a month or more before adding fish but I only managed to make it two weeks. My tests kept telling me my ammonia, nitrites and and nitrates were where they needed to be so I went to the LFS to get some fish...

To Be Continued...

[EDIT:]

I figured I'd update the first post with current equipment and livestock info.

Current Equipment (updated 8/8/19):
  • IM Nuvo Fusion 40 Tank
  • Kessil A360WE w/ gooseneck adapter and spectral controller
  • Eheim Jager 150W heater
  • Inkbird temperature controller w/ fan
  • IM Ghost Skimmer
  • inTank media basket w/ filter floss, purigen, chemi-pure blue, and marine pure bioballs
  • inTank filter floss caddy
  • inTank refugium basket w/ chaeto, marine pure bioballs & IM Chaetomax refugium light
  • (2) Jebao OW-10 wavemakers
  • Tunze Osmolator 3155 ATO w/ 5-gallon bucket
  • ~32lbs live rock
  • 20lbs Carib-Sea Araga-Live live sand

Current Fish & Inverts (updated 8/8/19):
  • (2) Ocellaris clownfish
  • Yellow watchman goby paired with pistol shrimp
  • Firefish goby
  • Green mandarin dragonet
  • Sally lightfoot crab
  • Emerald crab
  • Pom pom crab
  • Skunk cleaner shrimp
  • Pincushion urchin
  • Feather duster (Hawaiian?)
  • Coco worm
  • (3) Trochus snails
  • (3) Astrea snails
  • (3) Nassarius snails
  • (2) Cerith snails
Current Corals (updated 8/8/19):
  • Watermelon mushroom
  • Blue mushroom
  • Red mushroom
  • Xenia
  • Platygyra brain coral
  • Neon Polyp Toadstool
  • Rock flower anemone
  • Green Ricordea Florida
  • Orange Ricordea Florida
  • WWC Mint Massacre Favia
  • Green helmet plate coral
  • Clementine zoas
  • Blue Ice Favia
  • Maroon acan lord
  • Acan echinata
  • GSP
  • Orange mushroom
  • Bubble coral
  • Red montipora cap
  • Purple stylophora
  • Blueberry fields zoas
  • Gorilla nipples zoas
  • Green birds nest
  • Green montipora cap
  • Pandora zoas
  • White rock flower anemone
  • Purple brush gorgonian
  • Metallic green star polyp
 
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muzikalmatt

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Sorry for the delayed update! It's been a hectic week, but I finally had a chance to download all of the photos from my phone so I can continue the story of my first reef tank. Here goes!

First Hitchhikers:
So while my last post ended with me headed to my LFS to pick up my first fish, I actually neglected to tell you about an important part of the story which was encountering my first hitchhikers that came in on the live rock. Being the OCD person that I am, I took photos of everything I encountered and messaged my LFS owner to try and get some insight into what I was seeing. He didn't always have a surefire answer but he was more than happy to speculate to try and assuage my concerns.

The first thing I noticed was this little fella a few days into the cycle:
0108190701.jpg
I'm still not exactly sure what he is/was to be honest. Initially I was worried it was a flatworm, but the LFS owner speculated he might be a stomatella snail. In hindsight, not knowing exactly what it was I probably should have removed him, but I didn't as I was and am somewhat fascinated by the biodiversity in this hobby and didn't want to make a knee-jerk reaction. Anyone here have an idea of what this little guy is and whether I made the right decision?

The next hitchhiker I found during the cycle is probably one of my favorite inhabitants of the tank and a valued member of my CUC: a tiny brittle starfish!
0108192249.jpg
He's a bit hard to see in this picture above. Can you spot him? If not, here's a better picture below that I got of him venturing out of the live rock at night about a month later:
0131192250a.jpg
I actually have at least three of these little guys, maybe four, and I'm pretty sure they all hitchhiked in on the live rock (or reproduced, who knows). I love spot feeding them frozen mysis shrimp as the wave their little arms out from their hiding spots. Definitely a fan of these guys.

So that was a good hitchhiker, but as it is with hitchhikers, they weren't all good. I ended up spotting an aiptasia pretty early on and from my research I knew I needed to jump on dealing with him pretty quickly lest he spread through the tank.
0108192219.jpg0108192251.jpg

Since I was still cycling, I opted to go with Aiptasia X to nuke the little guy and my gf was able to get a pretty cool picture of me getting ready to inject him. ::cue evil laugh::
19661.jpeg

Needless to say, the aiptasia didn't stand a chance. So with that guy out of the way, I soon encountered another hitchhiker, my first official coral: a palythoa!
0116191819_HDR.jpg
(Apologies for the blue hue, I didn't know anything about white balance yet.) Having setup my light and turned it on a few times just to play around with it, this little guy popped up. This particular piece of live rock seemed to teeming with life, some good and some bad. It had the aiptasia, there are several different sponges on it that are still going strong three months later, and of course here we see the first little coral. At the time I knew nothing about palytoxin and was just excited to see a "free" coral in my tank. Down the road I would learn more about these guys and try to eradicate them from the tank, a harder task than one would think.

Well that concludes this chapter of my first reef tank's back story. Hopefully, I'll be able to post again very soon and talk about the first inhabitants I actually chose to put in my tank. :D
 
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muzikalmatt

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It's been a while since I've done an update as I've busy with the baby, but I'm almost 6 months in and I'm loving having a reef tank! Instead of giving a bunch of additional backstory, I figured I'd just post some pictures and ask for some advice. I'm looking for ideas to improve things and hoping you guys can give a newbie some guidance.

  • What can I do to improve flow? I'm running two Jebao OW-10's on the lowest setting opposite of each other on the back wall of the tank. They're both somewhat aimed towards the top for surface agitation. While I don't think the flow is bad, I think the rock work blocks it a bit. I'm looking for ideas on where to move the powerheads.
  • What are some good higher light but hardy corals to put on the top rock work, particularly the bridge between the two main structures. I was thinking a monti cap or perhaps a birds nest would be goodto try out, but I'm open to suggestions.
  • Any ideas on how to transfer the orange mushroom in the lower right corner to from the frag disc to the rock work above? I want to put it next to the other mushrooms but I think its foot is attached to the frag disc itself and not any substrate or rock. Is it possible to safely remove it from the disc and onto the rock work or am I just asking for trouble trying to do that?
  • My rock work is pretty vertical on the right and left pillars, any ideas for good coral to glue against the wall, maybe something encrusting to fill the space? I haven't really messed with mounting corals with glue or epoxy yet but I have both and I'm looking to give it a shot.
  • Any ideas for good fish additions? I currently only have three: two clownfish and a yellow watchman goby. I was considering a six-line wrasse and I'd really like a mandarin goby but I'm not sure I have the tank size or pod population to support one.
  • When's a good time to try an anemone or a clam? I've read that 6 months is the minimum recommended time to get your tank properly established but are there any metrics or signs that a tank is ready for one?
Any help or advice on any of these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Current Shots (6/18/19): (water's a little cloudy from stirring the sandbed and feeding)
0618191948.jpg


0618191948c.jpg


0618191948a.jpg


0618191949a.jpg


View attachment 1105292
 
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muzikalmatt

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I removed a few questions since I've done a bit of research and sort of answered them already, but I'd love some insight on the questions below.
  • What can I do to improve flow? I'm running two Jebao OW-10's on the lowest setting opposite of each other on the back wall of the tank. They're both somewhat aimed towards the top for surface agitation. While I don't think the flow is bad, I think the rock work blocks it a bit. I'm looking for ideas on where to move the powerheads. (I also have an OW-25 I could add but initially I felt it was too much flow.)
  • My rock work is pretty vertical on the right and left pillars, any ideas for good coral to glue against the wall, maybe something encrusting to fill the space? I haven't really messed with mounting corals with glue or epoxy yet but I have both and I'm looking to give it a shot.
  • When's a good time to try an anemone or a clam? I've read that 6 months is the minimum recommended time to get your tank properly established but are there any metrics or signs that a tank is ready for one?
 
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muzikalmatt

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Here are some updated tank pics as of this week.

Full tank shot:
0807191756a_HDR.jpg


Coco worm:
0722192151a.jpg


Sally lightfoot crab, Rock flower anemone, hairy mushroom, feather duster and some GSP in the background:
0722192148a.jpg


Loving the color on this acan echinata:
0722192146c.jpg


Pincushion urchin taking some favia coral for a ride:
0807191807.jpg


Overall the tank's been doing well. After adding the Inkbird temperature controller and fan as well as starting to dose 2-part, the tank seems much more stable and happier. The tank is currently using about 0.3 dKH per day of alkalinity but I think a lot of that is coralline algae growth. Nitrates are down to 2-5ppm thanks to the refugium as well.

Let me know what you think! Any feedback would be appreciated!
 
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muzikalmatt

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Welcome to r2r. Tank is looking great. Love the aquascape and the custom stand.
Thanks! I've made some changes recently but the tank is approaching 10 months old and seems to be hitting its stride. *fingers crossed*

I was having trouble growing chaeto in my second chamber as it was becoming a detritus trap. Eventually it got so slimy I had to remove the chaeto entirely. I think the issue was related to flow through the chamber/basket, so I removed the marine pure bioballs from the bottom of the fuge basket to allow for more flow. I picked up a new ball of chaeto at my LFS and made sure to check it every few days to make sure it wasn't capturing detritus. I also decided to try out iron dosing since I'd read that it can help with macro algae growth. Given the potential dangers I was wary of dosing without testing, but I figured I could dose half as much as recommended and see if I get any beneficial results. I used Brightwell Aquatics Ferrion dosing ~1.5 mL every few days and it appears to have helped quite a bit. I'm not sure if it's a combination of the flow and/or iron dosing, but the chaeto is growing much faster, is greener and healthier looking, and doesn't appear to be holding much detritus. I've since dialed back the dosing, only adding it maybe once a week.

I also picked up the medium slim sized Reefing Art magnetic frag rack and so far have been very pleased with it. I'm keeping a new torch and utter chaos frags on it and also moved my acan echinata and clementine zoas onto it. All of the corals appear to be happy.

Here are some recent shots!

1024191927b.jpg


1024191926d.jpg


1024191926c.jpg
 
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