First reef tank: IM sr80 aio build

jawil99

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I was in the hobby for a short while 7-8 years ago, keeping a 29 gallon fowlr tank for a little over a year. I broke down my tank before going to college, and now that I’ve graduated I wanted to get back into the hobby and give corals a shot for the first time. I bought an Innovative Marine sr80 aio tank in March 2023 and had it set up and running in April 2023. I chose to get an aio tank as my first because I wanted to keep this tank as simple as possible for a beginner like myself. My goal for this tank is to be a simple, low maintenance lps and softie tank that I can have fun with and learn about how to create a thriving environment for these animals as I re-enter the hobby.
This is the tank as of December 30th, 2023:
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Equipment:
- return pump: two mightyjet (538 gph)
- powerheads: two Nero 7
- lights: two Kessil a360x
- heaters: two eheim jaeger 125 watt controlled with INKBIRD

Filter media:
- filter floss
- purigen in one basket, carbon in the other

Salt:
- Red Sea blue bucket (dose mag up to 1300-1350; current salt bucket mixes around 1170-1190)

Livestock:
- two clowns
- one line spot flasher wrasse
- one mcoskers flasher wrasse
- one yellow coris wrasse (h. Chrysus)
- one timor wrasse
- two cleaner shrimp
- Tuxedo urchin and short spine urchin
- assortment of snails and hermits
- two conchs (at least one alive but never see it)

Corals:
- elegance, 2 hammers, torch, octospawn, Duncan, 7 acans/micro, 2 blastos (I think 1 wellsi, 1 merletti), favia, cyphastrea, Goni, 7 Zoas, mushrooms (disco, Rhodactis, ricordea) 2 leathers (no clue what types), cloves, 3 candycanes

First corals were introduced about 2 months after tank was set up. No dosing requirements so far as weekly water changes seem to maintain parameters (all parameters checked at least once a week). So far all corals have been doing great from what I can tell other than the candy canes and cyphastrea. I’m glad to be back in the hobby and am excited to learn about these amazing animals. I plan to update this thread consistently with changes, new additions, and general reef questions and conversation. I want to learn as much as I can and I hope this will help me as well as others.

Some more pics of my favorite corals in the tank and one of my blastos popping tons of heads around the base (I thought they were supposed to be slow growers)
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That's a good looking tank, looks like you're doing very well indeed! :smiling-face:

How do you like your kessils? I use the smaller ones on a number of tanks - and in my refugium. Can't beat them IMO.
 
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jawil99

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That's a good looking tank, looks like you're doing very well indeed! :smiling-face:

How do you like your kessils? I use the smaller ones on a number of tanks - and in my refugium. Can't beat them IMO.
I’m loving the kessils so far, I think they were the perfect choice for a beginner like me. Super simple to set up, quiet, and don’t give off much heat at all. And of course that shimmer is mesmerizing
 
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Since I did not make a R2R account since recent and my first post was a recent picture of the tank, I figured I would show some of the tanks progression in the last 8-9 months.

May 2023
First picture of the tank. I added first fish a couple days after adding turbostart;first fish added were a line spot wrasse as well as two black clowns and a Royal gramma (clowns and gramma died during ich outbreak, no other fish have died since). Not sure exactly when tank was first set up as I have not been good about keeping track of progress through pictures, but tank was up and cycling sometime in may. I wish I would’ve made my rockscape shorter as it has presented challenges regarding flow and coral placement. I did not realize how close my rock scape would be to the surface as I did not take into account that the waterline would not be at the top of the tank. While scaping, I knew my tank was 16” tall and my rockwork was 12-13 at the top so I thought I was good (dummy).
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June 2nd, 2023
Added a yellow coris wrasse and a cleaner shrimp (added second cleaner shrimp shortly after). The cleaner shrimp are awesome and have grown drastically, but, they are and absolute pain come feeding time for the corals. I have to give them big pieces of fish or krill to distract them but they still gulf those down quickly and are back to bothering corals (fish have also learned what the pipette means too).

August 23rd, 2023
Added first corals (2 ricordea, 1 Rhodactis, gsp, 1 leather, 1 Zoa colony, clove polyps). The leather and gsp have done really well. The leather is the only coral from this batch that has remained in its first spot. It is in the highest light spot with very high flow and loves it. This first Zoa colony I added is the only one out of 7 that won’t and hasn’t opened up. I’ve placed them is different spots, tried different dips, and nothing will get them to open. The mushrooms look great but haven’t really grown or propagated. The cloves look good but have not grown. The only coral that has remained in its original spot is the leather.

September 7th, 2023
Added added 4 more Zoas. These Zoas have done pretty well, especially the dark purple ones. Theyve produced 4 new polyps
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September 20th, 2023
Added a duncan colony.
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October 4th, 2023
Added two acan/micro and discosoma mushroom. Timor wrasse, mcoskers, and two normal clowns added around this time as well because my nutrients were bottomed out and I was dealing with Dino’s. Once nutrients were up Dino’s went away in 2-3 weeks. Nothing else was done to combat Dino’s. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about the Timor wrasse as a good pest manager. Literally the entire day all he does is hunt on the rocks and sand, way more than the yellow coris. His coloration is astonishing too
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October/November, 2023
During this time I added 3 candy canes (1 completely dead, 1 struggling, 1 bouncing back), some kind of orange favia (ID would be cool), 2 blastos (1 wellsi 1 merletti both thriving), 1 yellow goni, 1 leather (ID would be cool), and 1 more acan/micro colony. Timor wrasse, mcoskers, and two normal clowns added during this time as well because my nutrients were bottomed out and I was dealing with Dino’s I don’t know why more people don’t talk about the Timor wrasse as a good pest manager. Literally the entire day all he does is hunt on the rocks and sand, way more than the yellow coris
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November 26th, 2023
Added 1 elegance and 1 peach/gold hammer
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December 9th, 2023
Moved hammer from sand bed to rock work and noticed an area of tissue recession. Not clue as the cause but directed more flow to its area and tissue recession stopped
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December 17th, 2023
Added 1 torch, 1 octospawn, 1 hammer, 3 acan/micro, 1 cyphastrea, 1 zoa around this time the orange hammers polyps on one side only started to lose color and turn brown/grey it appears healthy otherwise and no further recession
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That’s the progression of my tank so far. I plan to add a couple more acans, blastos, and maybe more fimbro/Euphyllia. Tank seems to be in good health. All corals seems to be doing well except a recent turn of events in the elegance coral, the green hammer, and octospawn. Hammer and I to spawn are showing some tissue recession after 3-4 weeks in tank. The elegance situation is very bizarre. Will make a post soon going over that and steps I’m taking IMG_2397.jpeg
 
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jawil99

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Update: Monday January 8th, 2024
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The Aussie elegance was added at the end of November, and has looked phenomenal for over a month. Over the last 3 weeks or so, the elegance coral has slowly degraded and I am not quite sure of the issue. It started with the elegance looking slightly worse. Most tentacles would be extended but not as much as usual. Some tentacles would be super shriveled. I figured the elegance was just not fully opening as some corals do sometimes. However, this lasted several weeks. The elegance slowly looked worse and worse. Even more tentacles were super shriveled, and looks as if they were rotting (covered in slime and fungus looking stuff was on them). Some tentacles were even falling off or detaching from the Polyp. Many tentacles would have a pinched look in the middle and some would then detach.
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Since it has been about 2 weeks of not looking great, I figured I would try an iodine dip, and performed one as I always have. The elegance looked like death after this and some of the tentacles that were still looking normal just ballooned up in a way I have never seen.
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The ballooning of the tentacles went away after a day or 2 but the elegance still looked terrible. It still opens and remaining healthy looking tentacles still extend, but just not as much. There has been no improvement or degradation of the elegances health over the last week. The crazy thing is, is that there has been no tissue recession on the base. There is still a fat tissue layer on its base. The elegance also still eats. All the problems are with the tentacles only. I have ruled out brown jelly since it’s still alive, no other corals are affected, passed the smell test, and the brown substances expelled from it resemble coral poop or zooxanthellae. I also don’t think it’s ECS as I have not seen symptoms of it like white stringy mucous over oral disk and mouth, or swelling of the oral disk. The elegance looked normal apart from damaged tentacles up until the iodine dip. I’m thinking light may be an issue but not totally sure. I will move the elegance into a more shaded spot to see if it improves. All corals look fine other than a frogspawn with slight recession and a hammer that is losing color (no recession). Current state of elegance.
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Parameters:
-alk: 10.2
-ca: 425
-mg: 1275-1290
-no3: 5-10
-po4: .28
-salinity: 1.026
 
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jawil99

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Update: January 10th, 2024
Went to the lfs for flakes and ended up buying a rock with three toadstools, a green discosoma, and some type of green palys. I broke the toadstools off the rock with a hammer. The bigger toadstool partially let go from the rock but is still hanging on. Not sure if I want 3 toadstools long term so I might let them grow out then trade them in to the lfs. I did not put the palys in my tank that were on the rock. One piece of rock broke off into a nice shape so I’ve added it to my aqua scape, and will hopefully seed the tank with good bacteria and microbes. I haven’t had any aiptasia 8-9 months in so I’m hoping this rock doesn’t introduce any (probably will). This rock will make for a nice spot to make a torch or hammer garden if/when the elegance dies. I moved the elegance coral into a little more shade but it doesn’t seem to be working. Elegance coral has not improved in health, maybe a little worse. Polyps remain pretty normal but tentacles are still melting away.
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jawil99

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Update: January 17th, 2024
Removed one Nero 7 so I only have one Nero running now. Flow seems better overall with only 1 and can get a slight rocking in the corals. The elegance coral is still alive but continuing to slowly decline. Its tentacles are melting off still while there is no tissue recession on the base. Did water change today and fed corals

Parameters:
-alk: 9.7
-mg: 1290
-ca: 425
-po4: .27
-no3: 5-10
-salinity: 1.026
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