Gray's Newbie Tank Build

gray808

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Ok. Well, I pulled the trigger. Waterbox 70.3 ordered. Unfortunately, it will be mid June before it ships :/
But oh well, that lets me stagger out the rest of the purchases.
I also ordered my RO/DI system, a 28g rectangular Brute to hold RO/DI and/or mix, a couple lidded Rubbermaid bins, and a bunch of dry rock, and the RedSea Fish Pharm test kit (the one with alk, calcium, etc will be in the next flurry of purchases).

Please correct me if I am wrong: I can give the new dry rock a rinse, and let it soak for a while in pure RO/DI, then in a couple of weeks, make some saltwater, and add some Dr. Tim's, and have it start cycling before the tank ever gets here... correct?

Next things: deciding what sand I want, and what salt to use.

Pics and updates as they happen.

--Gray
 
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gray808

gray808

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I've been ordering parts in small batches while I wait for the tank.

Today feels like "the start": my RO/DI arrived from BRS today, as well as a bunch of dry rock.

A square Rubbermaid Brute 40gallon container with lid came last week, and fits smoothly in the laundry room "hole". It will hold either fresh RO/DI water, or pre-mixed salt water for water changes.

Yesterday while at Lowe's for something else, I saw they had lidded Rubbermaid Brute 44g trashcans with lids, so I grabbed one to use as a mix station. I'd been looking on Amazon, but could only find them in 4 and 6 packs.

The rock looks nice, all MacroRocks Reef Saver dry live rock 1 large rock package, 2 med rock package, some shelves, and some small. I might not use all of it: I've nearly convinced myself to order some actual live rock to supplement from Tampa Bay Saltwater.

My first test kit, cheap power heads, and some raceway for wires showed up yesterday.

2 heaters and controllers, several doo dads for cables and organization inside the cabinet should show up later this week.

Later this week, I'll put in orders for return pump, powerhead, and ATO. along with another batch of minor stuff.

I spoke with WaterBox today, and confirmed the aquarium and lights are still on track to ship June 15th. So.... closer and closer!!

--Gray
 
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gray808

gray808

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Almost exactly a month since the last post. My baby arrived today!

002-invoice.JPG




All wrapped up and shiny. No apparent damage outside. I found a little clip on the cabinet box, and the top part of the lights box was minorly crushed. No damage inside, at all.

001-crate.jpg


This is the first time in my life I've gotten a package IN A CRATE. An honest-to-god wooden crate, on a pallet.

Trying to beat the heat, I opened and checked the lights, and added them to the parts and equipment pile in the garage.

I opened up and hauled the cabinet in piece by piece, it was way too heavy for me to do it as a package. The aquarium and sump are gonna continue to sit outside, until my better half gets home; I want 2 hands on this. But, I couldn't resist opening her up and taking a quick look:

003-tank-first-look.jpg


The sump, particularly the center section for the skimmer, is larger than what I was picturing in my mind... which makes me breathe easier: I'm pretty sure I can get some sort of working refugium going in the unused space in that compartment.

Today is a fairly busy day. If I don't get to it this afternoon, tomorrow is dedicated to assembling the cabinet. I started playing with rock formations today, after the cabinet is assembled, I'll tape out the correct dimensions and get serious about it... or as serious as I can get until my AquaFix and fiberglass rods arrive later this week.

More pic to come, probably so many you get tired of them, as the build progresses.

I have everything I need to get started. Lid is a fast-follow, as I don't need it until fish get stocked. I'm still waiting on one of my test kits, but I hope to get water in it by the weekend, and start it cycling.

--Gray
 
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gray808

gray808

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Been busy (interview loops, got the job, birthdays for little ones, camping), but it's slowly coming together.

I got the cabinet assembled, shrinkwrap off the tank and sump, plumbing attached.

Return pump set up (RO Octo Varios-2, already thinking of upgrading to a Varios-4), the lights (AquaIllumination Prime 16HD Reef x2) mounted, one of the pumpheads (RO Octo Pulse 2 Wave Pump) mounted, LED striplights mounted inside the cabinet:

004-tank-top-down.jpg
005-tank-pump-controller-and-wavemaker.jpeg




006-plumbed.jpeg


First thoughts on the tank:
The display tank and sump are simply gorgeous. Truly beautiful. Setting up the plumbing was fairly easy (though, they had absolutely NO instructions other than a picture. This is one, hell, my only gripe so far: their documentation is terrible. If anyone from Waterbox is reading this, pay someone to sit down and write detailed, illustrated instructions. Yours are literally worse than Ikea's.

Case in point, the cabinet:
It is basically high-end Ikea. Once together, it's solid, and handsome. Getting it together, though? Here is the closest thing to instructions you get:

009-wb-cabinet-instructions.jpg


You do get a sheet that shows what order to assemble the pieces in, but no indication of what piece of hardware goes into what hole, how much to tighten, and in the case of rear walls, which orientation they should be in. I had to disassemble several steps to go back because I'd put the rear walls in the incorrect orientation. It would take any tech writer worth their salt MAYBE an afternoon to make a clear, concise set of instructions. No reason for their lack.

Anyway.

I'm waiting on a bookshelf with doors to be delivered, which I plan to house much of the uglier wiring, and all of the control panels. I've added eggcrate, and started adding rock:

007-roxckwork-start-top.jpg
008-rockwork-start-front.jpg


My thumb is covered in superglue.

Later today, I hope to water-test the overflow, sump, and plumbing, then spend a few hours with cardboard cutouts designing a mount for all the control boxes to install in the book case. The sump seems to be re-designed from even models shipped a few months ago. It takes up more of the cabinet than I expected... but the chambers are all a bit larger than I expected, so I think I'll be able to run a small 'fuge.

This weekend, I hope to stop by a LFS down in Redding (I'm in Ashland, OR, and the closest LFSs seem to be Redding, CA and Roseburg, OR, both nearly 2 hours away. And the only one that looks like it's is large and super well stocked is in Portland, nearly 5 hours north. If I can secure a couple chunks of live rock, I'm going to augment the Macro dry rock I have now. Either way, early next week, I'll be making saltwater and starting to cycle. I'm using the Red Sea Reef Mature Pro kit.

More later, when there is more stuff in/attached to the tank.

--Gray
 
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gray808

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Started dry-installing all the gear, and getting the cable maintenance under control. Made 44g of saltwater. Tested the overflow and all the plumbing. Then went to install the GFCI outlet... and ran into a problem.
016-outlet.jpg


The outlet has an open ground. The outlet also looks like above. So, I'm, having an electrician install the GFCI, and possibly run new Romex and isolate the tank onto it's own circuit. So, now, I have a 44g Brute filled with saltwater, plus the stand in the middle of the room, plus a big storage box with all the power cables and bricks, and can't add the rest of the water and start the cycle until that is taken care of.

But, my cabling looks pretty:
015-cables.jpeg


Sometime this week, I have a bookshelf with doors on the bottom arriving (I really wanted one from Ikea, but they wanted 250$ to ship it to me (Portland is 5 hours away), and nope nope nope. The top shelves will hold books, hopefully aquarium related, while the shelves behind the doors will have all the aquarium supplies and equipment, with one of the shelves made to hide all the wires, and expose all the control boxes.

I've finalized my rock work:
010-rocks-top.jpeg

011-rocks-left.jpeg

012-rocks-right.jpeg

013-rocks-front.jpeg


I need to pick up a pair of wire snips, and then trim out all the egg crate that is not directly supporting rock.

And finally, a quick look at the sump. I still need to organize some of the wiring, cut some ABS to shield the skimmer from the 'fuge light, assembled the acrylic breeding box I'm hoping to use to hold my cheato, and install the ATO.

014-sump.jpeg

Quick question: I have 2 Finnex 300W heaters and controllers located in the first, overflow chamber of the sump. Is it ok to have the temp sensor probes for the controllers in the 2nd chamber, near the skimmer? I really hope so, as that is really the only place they will easily reach.

Again, more as it gets done.

--Gray
 
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gray808

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I ended up re-organizing my wiring on the back, which was using some 3M zip tie holders + ties. Some of the ones that were holding multiple heavier power cords were peeling off. So, I mounted some cable raceway to the back, and routed through that, which I think is a more elegant solution.

I'd planned on finishing the bookcase wiring and control, but realized that once I had all the cables routed, I could move the tank back against the wall, and once back by the wall, there was no reason not to go ahead and finish the sand and add water.

I miscalculated how much sand I'd need, failing to account for the volume of rock that would be at the base. I ended up using two 20# bags of Nature's Ocean Bio-Activ Live pink reef sand, one 10# bag of Nature's Ocean Samoa Pink #0 dry sand, and a few scoops of Florida Keys Crushed coral scattered in a couple of areas. The intent is to have a variety of grain sizes and a couple of areas of "rubble".

It might be too much, I'll live with it a while then decide whether to pull some of it out.

017-first water.jpeg
018-almost-there.jpeg


I'm making more RO/DO now, then have to fill the sump and tweak to get my salinity correct, it's a bit salty with just the DT filled. I plan to run the powerheads, return pump, and heaters for a couple of days, then start the Red Sea cycle kit, supplemented with some Coraline-in-a-bottle.

Hopefully, I'll be able to build, finish, and install the control center for the bookcase this week.

--Gray
 
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gray808

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The water cleared quickly:
019-water-clearing--all but the skimmer running.jpeg

Sorry that one is blurry.
I have to say I really like the filter floss cups I got from Octo Aquatics, super easy to swap out floss, and it cleared the water up fast. Seriously considering having him make my lid as well.

I finished up the last (mostly) of the wiring and control scheme:
020-complete-system.jpeg

The whole shebang.

021-control-panel.jpeg

Close up of the control panel.

Right now, it's missing the control box for the Reef Octopus wave pump, I'm waiting on an extension control cable for it, so it can be placed in with the rest of them. Also, the ATO control box is upside down, also due to super short wires. Not sure how I am going to solve that little issue.

Behind the control wall, I have it rigged up to hide wires, arrange all the power bricks vertically, with some space in between and plenty of airflow to keep it cool:
022-cable-and-brick-mgt1.jpeg

022-cable-and-brick-mgt2.jpeg


Today is Day 5 of the Red Sea Reef Mature cycle, and here are (yesterday's) params:
Temp: 78.7
pH: 8.4
dKH: 10
NH3: 0.2
NO2: 0.3
NO3: 20-40. Def above the 20 color, closer to the 50 color. I wish there was a more precise method.

I ordered a new gate valve, and when it arrives, I'm going to drain the back and re-seat the primary overflow pipe, then replace the ball valve with a gate valve.

The system says CUC added in 6 day, first herbivorous fish in 10... but I think I'm gonna set up a QT first, and wait a bit, especially since COVID is causing such a lack of online selection in fish.

--Gray
 
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gray808

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Update.
Some fish have been added: 2 paired Black Ice Snowflake clowns and 3 Blue-Green Black Axil Chromis, along with some snails and hermits. The fish all get along and are a blast to watch.

I went through an initial diatom bloom, and am now a week or two into a brown algae bloom. Slow and steady. I have a Lawnmower Blenny arriving tomorrow, now that there is something for it to eat (I'll supplement as needed with nori and algae tablets).

I took apart an acrylic breeder box, and with some plasti-weld and some triagonal plastic bits from some shipping packaging, and using some of the breeder box's suction cup feet, made a little stand for my skimmer. This worked fine, until a few weeks ago when Algae Barn finally had chaeto in stock. My plan had been for the bigger breeder box to fit in the sump, next to the skimmer, and hold the chaeto, but sizing was just not right. I played around, to various levels of success, but today broke down and pulled the while skimmer out of the sump for a cleaning (nasssty). so I took the time to use some zip ties to attach the stand to the pump so it can be moved around a little easier. I also took yet another acrylic breeder box, and cut the various sides to size, plasti-welded them together, and made a little rough filter grate around the skimmer intake, hoping to keep stray strands of chaeto from being sucked up by the skimmer. It's back in the sump, with the remains of one of the bigger breeder boxes on an edge, and the cheap sump powerhead rolling the chaeto ball around.

024-skimmer stand.jpeg


025-diy-skimmer-filter1.jpeg


026-diy-skimmer-filter2.jpeg


It's amazing what some acrylic, a chop saw, some zip ties, duct tape and plasti-weld can accomplish!

--Gray
 

What percentage of blue versus white lighting do you think makes the best coral growth combo?

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