Home Office 40B DIY AIO Newbie Build

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Summary:
After two and a half years working from home, and no expectation to go back any time soon, I'm finally going to be furnishing my office complete with my very first reef. This will be a budget(ish) softie/LPS build with a mix of "forever" components and others I intend to upgrade in time.

Latest FTS: 2/4/2023
PXL_20230204_192853071.jpg

Equipment:
Tank: Aqueon 40B
AIO: @TenecorAquariums 40B Universal Kit
Chamber 1: @Reef Diaper
Chamber 2: BRS 100W Titanium and Tunze 9004 Skimmer
Chamber 3: IM MightyJet Midsize Return Pump
Heater Controller: Inkbird ITC-308
Wavemaker: 2x Jebao ALW15
Lights: 2x AI Prime 16HD + 3D Reefing Prime Diffuser
ATO: MagTool Optical Sensor ATO
Sand: 20lbs Ocean Direct
Rock: ~30lbs MarcoRock
Salt: Red Sea Blue Bucket @ 1.025
Accessories:
Leafgreen Solutions magnetic inkbird probe holder, Magnetic BRS Heater Mount, Emergency Bubbler

Livestock:
2x Mocha Clownfish (Katy & Wayne)
PXL_20220921_024202130.jpg

1 x Springeri Damsel (Shoresy)
PXL_20221227_042913187.jpg

1x Lemon Meringue Wrasse (Daryl)
PXL_20230204_203257200~2.jpg

1 x Royal Gramma (Bonnie)
PXL_20230204_194342752.jpg

2 x Emerald Crab (Stewart, Roald)
1 x Purple Short Spine Sea Urchin (Tanis)
PXL_20221127_195219861.jpg


Corals:
1x Duncan
1 x Toxic Hammer
1 x Neon Trumpet
1 x Steel Trumpet
1x Pink Hammer
1 x Neon Toadstool Leather
1 x Sinularia Leather
1 x JF Enchanted Forest Birdsnest
1 x Blue Polyp Birdsnest
1 x RTA Stray Voltage Goni
4 x Zoas

Timeline:
8/24/2022 - Stand and Tank Installed
9/9/2022 - AIO Insert Installed
9/10/2022 - Tank Filled
9/11/2022 - 2x Mocha Clowns added
9/27/2022 - Lights on, 28 day acclimation starting at 40%
10/1/2022 - Apex and Tigger Pods
10/5/2022 - First CUC Added
10/7/2022 - 10 mL OceanMagik Daily, Ecopods Added
11/12/2022 - Pink Hammer, Duncan, 3x Zoa, Pincushion Urchin added.
11/18/2022 - MB7 dosing started
12/26/2022 - Springeri Damsel Added




After two and a half years working from home, and no expectation to go back any time soon, I'm finally going to be furnishing my office complete with my very first reef. I've kept freshwater tanks for years, but now it is time for something different.

After watching way too many BRS videos and reading thousands of R2R threads, I think I've learned one thing for sure - everyone has a way that has worked for them, and everyone's way is a bit different. So with that in mind, I'm venturing to figure out what works for me, which basically ensures some failures along the way.

This will be a budget(ish) softie/LPS build with a mix of "forever" components and others I intend to upgrade in time. I haven't settled on livestock, but likely a beginner friendly mix of clowns, goby, long nose hawkfish, etc.

My plan is to start with a Aqueon 40B, but with a stand that can accommodate up to a 48" tank someday in the future. I ended up going for a modular kitchen cabinet. It is quite sturdy and easily handled my wife and I jumping on it without issue.

PXL_20220723_220627552.jpg


I ordered the Tenecor 40B Universal AIO, which was supposed to ship last week, but I understand they've had some delays. The plan is to put a Tunze 9004 skimmer and BRS Titanium heater in chamber 2, and an ATO in chamber 3 with a Mighty Jet midsize return pump. Tank will be lit with two AI Prime HD 16s spaced per BRS.

In the mean time, I picked up some dry rock, some black vinyl for the back and started playing around with a rockscape. I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, but interested in feedback. The goal was to provide enough surface area for corals, while still providing enough overhangs and caves for the fish.

You'll also note the Jebao 30W wavemaker on the right. Wavemaker will likely get replaced with Neros someday.

PXL_20220814_034510280.jpg


That's all for today's update. Hopefully in the next one I'll have the AIO installed, plus add sand and water. PXL_20220925_024653317.NIGHT.jpg _MG_8265.jpg _MG_8288.jpg PXL_20230204_203257200~2.jpg
 
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Nutramar Foods
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ScubaSnacks

ScubaSnacks

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Good news and bad news for this week's update. The good news is the long awaited AIO insert arrived, but the bad news is, it arrived broken. First of I'm sure many delays on this build. Jeff at Tenecor was great, and he's making sure a replacement is shipped ASAP.

PXL_20220829_222205094.jpg


Not all is lost, I put a few drops of CA to hold it together so I could make sure all of my goodies fit, and check the rock scape.

PXL_20220830_224131768.jpg


Happy to report the Tunze 9004 skimmer, BRS 100W titanium heater, and IM Mighty Jet Midsize all fit well. Also the width allows the AI light mounts to fit inside the AIO making my screen top build a lot simpler. I got worried and designed a part to go around the mount in tinkercad that works with the BRS screen top kit if anyone is interested in finalizing it and testing it.

The insert was deeper than I was expecting so I had to make some minor adjustments to the rockscape.

PXL_20220831_005056426.jpg

(EDIT: Additional photos for perspective)
PXL_20220831_005113306.jpg

PXL_20220830_214354071~2.jpg


So far I'm pleased with how it looks. I'm on work travel all next week so next update we will hopefully have water!
 
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Geebs19

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Nice build, only other comment, you rock looks really verticle, are there enough areas on the bottom middle of the tall structure to attach coral that you want? Great looking build so far.
 
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ScubaSnacks

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Nice build, only other comment, you rock looks really verticle, are there enough areas on the bottom middle of the tall structure to attach coral that you want? Great looking build so far.
This is a fair call out. It might be worth making a few rubble rock platforms that extend off the arch structure to give me more real estate. Thanks for the feedback!
 
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Lights have been aquired and fitted but will be off until after the fish in cycle completes, then probably acclimation mode. I have been watching BRS biome cycle series and think I can take it further. If pods can potentially out compete nuisance algae, I can ramp my lights which will give the pods a chance to keep up? It's definitely not going to hurt.

PXL_20220909_041932142~2.jpg


As pointed out earlier, there are some dark spots on the pillar on the right and on the arch. I'm thinking about a shorter piller in front of the right pillar leaning backwards which will also create a crevasse and adding a ledge off the arch. Once I get it filled and things are stable I'll borrow/buy a par meter (not sure about rentals in the Seattle area) to get an idea of where I'm at. Using brs profile, I should be in pretty good shape.

Replacement insert comes tomorrow. Fingers crossed this one shows up in one piece!
 
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Ok, I feel like these updates are all the same, so I'll keep it short. Over the last two days, I've spent 18 hours on the build.

AIO insert came in. It looks great, and I installed it immediately. I added the brs autoshutoff kit to the RO buddy and started making water this morning. I finished the screen top while my brute tub started to fill. 20 lbs of ocean direct sand was added, and the tank was filled. All plumbing and wiring complete.

PXL_20220911_033317337.jpg


After months of planning, it's time to pick up some clowns and start my cycle.

I'm exhausted.
 
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Checked all my numbers this morning and everything looked pretty good.

pH - 8 (marginally low)
Salinity - 33.6 ppt (likely increase slowly to 35 before corals)
Ammonia - 0
Alkalinity - 10

Drove down to Bellevue and picked up two locally bred juvenile clowns, Dr. Tims, the rock I needed for the back right corner, and some food. Picked up TDO Chroma Boost Sm., Selcon, and some gut loaded brine. I'll probably pick up some flake to increase variety.

Got home and glued the pillar on the back right while drip acclimating the babies. They've spent the afternoon exploring their new digs. They're basically inseparable, so fingers crossed they pair.

PXL_20220911_211721479.jpg


PXL_20220911_211133095.jpg


Lights out for the next few weeks while the tank cycles. Wish me luck.
 
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TheWB

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Checked all my numbers this morning and everything looked pretty good.

pH - 8 (marginally low)
Salinity - 33.6 ppt (likely increase slowly to 35 before corals)
Ammonia - 0
Alkalinity - 10

Drove down to Bellevue and picked up two locally bred juvenile clowns, Dr. Tims, the rock I needed for the back right corner, and some food. Picked up TDO Chroma Boost Sm., Selcon, and some gut loaded brine. I'll probably pick up some flake to increase variety.

Got home and glued the pillar on the back right while drip acclimating the babies. They've spent the afternoon exploring their new digs. They're basically inseparable, so fingers crossed they pair.

PXL_20220911_211721479.jpg


PXL_20220911_211133095.jpg


Lights out for the next few weeks while the tank cycles. Wish me luck.
Which lfs did you go to in Bellevue? I have a pair of clowns from SWC that are about 3 years old and they look just like yours with the black splotches.
 
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Which lfs did you go to in Bellevue? I have a pair of clowns from SWC that are about 3 years old and they look just like yours with the black splotches.

I went to SeaKing. In June they got a ball of clowns that all look like this from a local breeder. They still have about half. I linked a video of them when they first got to the shop. You can see the color in theirs better as the lights are on. They seem to have handled the move well. Both ate and are swimming well.
 

TheWB

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I went to SeaKing. In June they got a ball of clowns that all look like this from a local breeder. They still have about half. I linked a video of them when they first got to the shop. You can see the color in theirs better as the lights are on. They seem to have handled the move well. Both ate and are swimming well.
I’ve been to SeaKing a couple of times but I haven’t bought anything. I usually go to Barrier Reef in Newcastle or SWC. Had good luck with fish from both places.
My clowns didn’t start out looking that way. I believed the splotches come from hypermelanization caused by my clowns constantly being stung by the zoa/play colonies that they hide in all day. I’ve never seen other clowns that looked like mine until you posted that picture. Makes me think that maybe they were always going to look that way and it’s not from the stings after all.
 
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I’ve been to SeaKing a couple of times but I haven’t bought anything. I usually go to Barrier Reef in Newcastle or SWC. Had good luck with fish from both places.
My clowns didn’t start out looking that way. I believed the splotches come from hypermelanization caused by my clowns constantly being stung by the zoa/play colonies that they hide in all day. I’ve never seen other clowns that looked like mine until you posted that picture. Makes me think that maybe they were always going to look that way and it’s not from the stings after all.
The stings being the cause might still might be true. The owner moved these clowns into one of the frag tanks and they were all playing amongst the corals. I checked out Barrier Reef a few months ago and their fish looked good and they had some decent bargains on frags. They had just gotten in a baby octopus when I got there which was fun.
 
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The stings being the cause might still might be true. The owner moved these clowns into one of the frag tanks and they were all playing amongst the corals. I checked out Barrier Reef a few months ago and their fish looked good and they had some decent bargains on frags. They had just gotten in a baby octopus when I got there which was fun.
You could be right about the stings. Barrier Reef is usually my GoTo because it’s closer to my house. Longer trip for you from Everett. Barrier Teef used to have a tank right in the middle that was about 600 gallons and you just could not move around in that little space at all. It’s so much better now that it’s gone. They do have reasonable pricing for the most part. I missed the octopus so that’s kind of a bummer. I have no room in my tank for anything new so I have not visited a store in a while.
 
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Numbers are still good as of this morning and seachem still showing safe. Ammonia was undetectable, nitrites undetectable, nitrates we're between 0 and 2 - barely detected. Hoping to see an increase in nitrates again tomorrow so I know the bottle bac and live sand are keeping up.

Clowns seem to be doing ok. Both took food during second feeding today. One is into aquascaping as he's dug a few holes in the sand. The other is a bit skiddish and is hiding in the corner staring at its own reflection. I was maybe a slight bit concerned until it took food. I need to relax. I might be more stressed than they are.

PXL_20220912_211344915.jpg


Did a little googling and they appear to be Mocha clowns. I had been incorrectly calling them tomato clowns. No big deal.
 
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Nothing out of the ordinary to report today. Ammonia and nitrites are still 0 and nitrates maintained at 2 ppm. Some GPA is starting to show up on the wavemaker magnet. This is a good sign that my nitrate readings aren't wrong.

ATO seems to be holding as my new refractometer (was using digital before, had a panic attack, ordered a refractometer... Not ready to talk about it).

The one of the clowns (more orange face) is establishing dominance and the other (more brown) is doing the electric shake to submit. I'm expecting the aggressor to turn female. Hindsight being 2020, I should have gone one large, one small to reduce the chasing.

I'm not happy with tank flow. The clowns are having a tough time. Outside of the area protected by the rocks, they're struggling, even with the wavemaker at min flow. I purchased 2 x 10W Jebao that should arrive soon to rectify that situation.

PXL_20220911_231332544.jpg


Starting to think about my clean up crew. Based on the BRS learnings, when the lights go on, it's a good time to add pods. I'm thinking of a pod hotel and a jar from AlgaeBarn. Also thinking about how many Turbo, Nassarius, and Hermits I'll need over the next few weeks. These will increase as the tank matures.

Current stocking plan - interested in feedback on count, stocking order, alternatives, suggestions, etc.)
2 x Mocha Clowns
1 x Diamond or Yellow Watchman Goby
1 x Royal Gramma
2 x Banggai cardinalfish (paired or just a solo)
1 x Longnose Hawkfish

I also need to build my QT setup. Probably a 10 gal setup. Next fish won't be for a while so major rush.
 
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It's been about a week so I'll provide an update.

Water Params - Total ammonia has been on the rise up to about .4 ppm and Ammonia Alert started looking a bit greenish. Out of an abundance of caution, I dosed AmGuard for the last few days and will continue until total ammonia drops below .2 ppm. Everything I've read said this is fine, and I'd bias towards conservative to keep toxic ammonia down and the fish safe. Nitrites are up a tad but nitrates unchanged over the last week. Cycle is starting but slow. I'll be dosing with TurboStart 900 on Thurs to see if I can help it a long.

Setup - I'm not happy with my filtration with the Tenecor AIO. It came with what looks like pool filter balls and if they shift, the water level in the return chamber changes. I'll try a sock next. TurboStart says no filter sock for 5 days, so I'll replace with a bag of Matrix. I'll move it to below the sock once the 5 days are up. Another observation - my skimmer basically quits skimming when I soak flakes in Selcon. I guess I'll give that a rest for a bit.

Fish - The larger clown is still establishing hierarchy, while the smaller submits. I haven't seen any physical damage and both are eating well and have good colors so I'm trying my best to ignore it. I'd heard clownfish are weird, but didn't realize how weird.

Misc. - Pending the completion of the cycle, I think the next fish will be the goby (unless someone comments on the stocking order above) and I'll start QT. I picked up a 10 gal, AquaClear 50, sponge filter and air pump, ammonia alert badge, some carbon bags, Prazipro, and copper power. Just need some PVC elbows and a bottle of bacteria and I'm ready to go. Am I missing anything?

If you made it this far, here's a pic of the clowns reflecting as a reward.

PXL_20220921_024202130.jpg
 
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TheWB

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Nothing out of the ordinary to report today. Ammonia and nitrites are still 0 and nitrates maintained at 2 ppm. Some GPA is starting to show up on the wavemaker magnet. This is a good sign that my nitrate readings aren't wrong.

ATO seems to be holding as my new refractometer (was using digital before, had a panic attack, ordered a refractometer... Not ready to talk about it).

The one of the clowns (more orange face) is establishing dominance and the other (more brown) is doing the electric shake to submit. I'm expecting the aggressor to turn female. Hindsight being 2020, I should have gone one large, one small to reduce the chasing.

I'm not happy with tank flow. The clowns are having a tough time. Outside of the area protected by the rocks, they're struggling, even with the wavemaker at min flow. I purchased 2 x 10W Jebao that should arrive soon to rectify that situation.

PXL_20220911_231332544.jpg


Starting to think about my clean up crew. Based on the BRS learnings, when the lights go on, it's a good time to add pods. I'm thinking of a pod hotel and a jar from AlgaeBarn. Also thinking about how many Turbo, Nassarius, and Hermits I'll need over the next few weeks. These will increase as the tank matures.

Current stocking plan - interested in feedback on count, stocking order, alternatives, suggestions, etc.)
2 x Mocha Clowns
1 x Diamond or Yellow Watchman Goby
1 x Royal Gramma
2 x Banggai cardinalfish (paired or just a solo)
1 x Longnose Hawkfish

I also need to build my QT setup. Probably a 10 gal setup. Next fish won't be for a while so major rush.
I think your stocking list looks fine although sand sifting gobies are sometimes difficult to keep well fed in a newer setup. Not much in the way of food for them to find in the sand. I lost a pair of golden head sleeper gobies years ago that wouldn’t eat anything I tried to feed them. You might consider the gramma and the cardinals first since they will readily eat whatever you are feeding the clowns which just makes feeding the tank easier. Hope that’s helpful.
 
AquaCave

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