I received a box of rocks today.

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LOVE THIS!! those are some really cool layouts. Im following. Do u have your rock curing yet? cant wait!!!
The dry shelf rock and some big rubble pieces I have will probably start curing this weekend. That will go for a few months depending on phosphates. I plan to seed that rock after it cures for a bit. Then, early spring, live rock will be ordered when the aquarium is set up and ready to go. Taking this very slowly and patiently.
 
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It has been a couple of weeks since I updated this thread. I have most of my equipment now. Tank, SB Reef LEDs, etc. I updated my first post in this thread with the equipment list. Still need the ATO and I asked for the Tunze 3155 for Christmas (I really hope my wife got it at the $139 Black Friday sale price). I seriously considered the IceCap ATO, but it is tough to beat the reviews on the Tunze. Also, the Tunze has both and optical sensor and a float switch. I am getting very excited.

I have some of the dry shelf rock and rubble rock curing. It looked clean, but there was a decent amount of organic material on it. I decided to go with a bleach rinse. 20:1 ratio of water to bleach. The smell assures me I made the right choice to bleach first. It is in a sealed container in our basement with no flow or heater. Next weekend I will rinse it and soak it in a declorinator for a bit, then months of soaking it in RODI with a powerhead to reduce phosphates. I have not measured them yet and will after the bleaching to see where it stands. Once I am a month away from actually setting up the aquarium, I will switch to saltwater and cycle the rock. I will be using 15-20 pounds of live rock too, but since I have a lot of time, might as well pre-cycle the dry rock too.
 
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Finally did a leak test today. No problems at all. About time after three weeks. Been working a ton of overtime lately including weekends, so have not had much time to get this done. All of the overtime has paid for the tank and equipment already, so that is very nice. Even had funds left over for Christmas presents for the wife and kids :)

4A34A15F-DEA3-4EDF-9C4F-B718D5D61A47.jpeg


This JBJ 30 Rimless is really a beautiful tank. I note my big hand fit easily into all of the filtration compartments. Still a few months away from setting it all up and I cannot wait.
 
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Wanted to update that after the leak test, while cleaning the tank, I discovered a small crack in the bottom glass pane. I started a new thread to discuss it and noted JBJ is replacing the tank at no cost

Bottom Pane, Scratch or Crack?

For this build thread I find there will be cases where subjects deserve a separate thread. I will link to those threads here though for those that follow.
 
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Done with bleaching. Dry shelf and rubble rock is now soaking in a sealed bucket of RO/DI water and dechlorinator with a powerhead:
AB7986BD-9731-4662-AEFF-FBCF6D0A9CE2.jpeg


Some really interesting pieces in there to augment my future live rock:
141F3E56-7FD9-44AA-B30E-A04B9D70AF7D.jpeg

7BEE887E-7D4B-4518-8A40-8FAE890D6ED1.jpeg

5D8605E9-8E04-44DF-BADE-688C9133765A.jpeg


Seems like these are more purple after bleaching which seemed weird to me. Going to move on nonetheless. Notice the gloves and respirator. I always strive to avoid poisoning myself.
FAD2E42B-1298-43E7-A6FC-137E2A63F7DA.jpeg


The rocks will continue to soak for a few months. I have not tested phosphates yet, but will soon after the dechlorinator does its thing.
 
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For anyone interested I started a thread recently where I discuss color in the aquarium. I included some of my livestock plans around the color scheme I envision for this tank.

Color & Livestock: The Aquarium as Art

 
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JBJ Rimless 30 Dimensions
When I was first comparing aquariums, one thing that was tough to find was precise dimensions of display and compartments. Many designs have changed slightly over time, probably to be a better fit for equipment in the compartments. I told myself I would post the dimensions for future searchers for whatever aqauarium I bought when I decided.

The .pdf I downloaded, which is the same manual I was sent with my aquarium, is not up to date. The display tank is smaller making the back compartments wider. In the back, the small compatments are wider making the center compartment less wide.

Here is the info and a rough diagram. In all cases the measurements are glass to glass or baffle and does not include any glass or baffle. In other words, the dimensions are all made for actual water volume. The waterline in the display and first chambers (14 7/8") is based on the dual overflow grates. The Chamber 2 and 3 return level is about 3" lower and is based on water going just over the center baffles.

DISPLAY
L 22 7/8 x W 14 5/16 x H 14 7/8 (water line)
Water Volume:
21.1 Gallons

FILTER COMPARTMENTS
Chamber 1 - Overflow (left and right)
4 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 13"
Chamber 2 - Heater (left and right)
4 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 9 7/8"
Chamber 3 - Center Dual Returns
4 1/2 x 6 7/8 x 11 3/4"
Total Water Volume: 5.5 Gallons

The Center Chamber extends at the bottom to either end of the aquarium. The height of this is 2". Many have wondered why they did this. Some have suggested it is wasted space. My guess is it allows one to change a larger percent of the water from this chamber if you do not want to disrupt the display. It also may give the pumps ample water in custom situations.


TOP VIEW
Dimensions Pic.JPG


BACK VIEW
F8F0DBC4-1418-4AA8-B13C-3686553D9D10.jpeg



STOCK PHOTOS
848059E3-A2CA-46D0-803E-73409C6A89A5.jpeg

Back.png


#JBJ

EDIT:
DISCLAIMER
THESE MEASUREMENTS ARE MY BEST APPROXIMATION. I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL "MEASURER." I NOTE THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL AQUARIUM MAY BE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT AS WELL. THE FACT THAT MINE IS OFF FROM THE OFFICIAL MANUAL PROVES THE SPECIFICATIONS MAY CHANGE OVER TIME. MY ONLY INTENTION IS TO HELP THOSE INTERESTED IN THIS AQUARIUM BY OFFERING MY EXPERIENCE.
 
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I changed out my dry rock curing water today and tested the Phosphate level with an API test kit. It tested at 0.25ppm. Lower than expected. Huzzah! I have to say the rock clearly had a some organics on it when I got it, but looked very clean otherwise (AquaMaxx Tonga Shelf Rock and CaribSea Rubble Rock). That is after a 20:1 bleach soak for two weeks and two weeks of soaking in RO/DI water with dechlorinator with a water change in the middle. I will use both the Hanna Phosphate Low Range Checker and API when I check next time. Reminder I will also be using about 15 lbs. of live rock when the time comes.

For now I am buying RO/DI water from LFS, but I did some research at local stores and the results were a bit surprising. I started a thread about my experiences which became the featured poll of the day today (thanks R2R!):

Poll: Do you Know Your TDS?


 
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I have been updating the first post in this thread with my equipment list. I will use that first post as an ongoing summary as I continue this build. Today I finally used some Christmas gift cards to buy most of my remaining equipment.

Overall I have done pretty well with Black Friday savings, other sales and gift cards. I saved 28.7% on purchases on Black Friday and have saved 26.2% overall or almost $560. I am pretty stoked about that!

I am getting very excited for this build. Once our kitchen remodel is finished in a few weeks, the tank will finally get wet.
 
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Current Results from Curing AquaMaxx Tonga Shelf Rock and Testing Phosphate with Hanna and API.

I changed out the water today on the shelf and rubble rock I have been curing. I tested the Phosphate level using my new Hanna Checker HI713 for the first time. In this post I will essentially be reviewing three products as I discuss my results so far.

Phosphate
Hanna = 0.13 ppm Phosphate
API = 0 to 0.25 ppm Phosphate

I am calling that a confirmation. API Test was not 0 but definitely less than 0.25. I can honestly say after 5 weeks I consider this rock ready to go.

I wrote earlier how impressed I was with the shapes and sizes of the AquaMaxx Tonga Shelf Rock. I can now add that the rock is very clean and cured quickly. In fact, too quickly. My plan was to cycle it for a month in saltwater after curing in RO/DI. If I start now, that will likely be about two months, but, hey, why not? I note I did not test the shelf rock Phosphate before bleaching and now that it tests so low I wish I had. I cannot say how the bleaching worked or if it was even needed at all (I assumed it would be necessary from the small amount of organics I saw).

Turning to my feelings about the Hanna Phosphate Checker HI713, I have to say I was again impressed. I had read the experiences of many others who struggled with this test kit for various reasons. Some had issues with the 3 minute power time out, some had issues with the reagent packet and the pouring, etc. having read these I felt I was prepared because of them. I found the test pretty easy and loved getting a digital readout as opposed to straining to read similar colors.

My tips for the test are:

  • Before starting the test, lightly flick the reagent packet a couple of times to settle it
  • Cut it open so it will be ready quickly for the “C2” stage
  • Push the two edges of the packet together and made a new hard seam to pour out the reagent.
  • Wear latex or nitrile gloves to avoid getting any fingerprints on the cuvette

The last thing I want to mention is my experience with API Test Kits in general. I usually test a lot with new tanks and then slow down once I feel the tank can tell me what is up by itself. After, I usually only test when something appears off.

I have always had pretty consistent results with most of the API tests. I have used Ammonia, pH, dKH, dGH and Phosphate regularly and they are usually quite consistent. By consistent I mean the results are about where I expect them to be and stay consistent when I have tested weekly.

If these tests were as useless as some claim they are, my results would have swung wildly week to week over the years and this was simply not the case. I am not saying they are the best, or commenting on their margin of error, only that they worked well for me.

You will notice that I failed to mention the API Nitrate test kit. I have used it as often as the other tests, but this kit is the one I do not find as reliable. It may be the test itself, or it may be my ability to do the test and shake the bottles the right way. Either way, when I have had results that were not believeable they were always very high readings.

I would guess most people’s issues and opinions with API come from the Nitrate kit. It is likely the most used. In my experience though, most of their other test kits have performed well over years (freshwater and saltwater).

Next step is to finally buy some salt and start seeding and cycling the dry rock.
 
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Once the tank is setup and operational, you'll find that API po4 test is obsolete. Since it can't give precise readings in the 0.000 to 0.10 range, you'll find yourself sticking to the hanna checker. Great thread by the way.
 
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Once the tank is setup and operational, you'll find that API po4 test is obsolete. Since it can't give precise readings in the 0.000 to 0.10 range, you'll find yourself sticking to the hanna checker. Great thread by the way.
Thanks! I am really practicing reefing patience with this build so far, but it is tough at times. Still waiting on my replacement JBJ 30 and then probably early March before the kitchen remodel is ended. Looking forward to posting some life in this thread, although I find rocks can be exciting too.
 

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Designing the Aquascape

My plan for the JBJ Rimless 30 is two long diagonal islands. The idea is to create nice depth and great flow.

86203095-A088-485F-BBFE-E9325593B5F7.jpeg


The purple is live rock and the grey is dry shelf rock. I used Microsoft Excel to arrange simple shapes in a kind of “Colorforms” way. I like Excel because it is easy to use and the underlying grid can be useful to approximate measurements. Each cell (little square) is 1 square inch in these screen grabs.

BA767883-5E69-41AE-AD1D-BAA992BB624C.jpeg


I have tried it a few ways and like this layout best. The room placement will make make the front and left side of the aquarium fully viewable. The challenge will be getting small pieces of diverse aquacultured live rock.

In this version I tried the limits of live rock sizes. Could it work with three large rocks? What would be the maximum size?

9115E8F8-D2CC-4763-8BCE-518A41785A0D.jpeg


I think of these images not as what I will exactly do, but as a guide to my idea. The success of the final reefscape will not be judged by its resemblance to these crude images.

Way in the future I envision the longer, taller back island will feature several different Montipora species. The shorter, front island and across the front of the tank will have LPS species. Probably no soft coral, maybe a couple of choice Acropora much later.


I added some more simple shapes to the aquascape above to help me get a feel for colors, what would fit and how I might space out some of the possible aggressors.

912FCADA-7049-4C4E-BFB6-E89C5392F885.jpeg


I will post livestock plans in a later post, but since intended livestock is important at every stage, I wanted to mention what I was thinking. Expect more on that and equipment choices soon.
This is amazing use of excel . I miss aquascaping. Im so impressed by all this.
 
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This is amazing use of excel . I miss aquascaping. Im so impressed by all this.
Thanks. I have actually been using Google Slides lately. I have a 30 minute train ride into Manhattan everyday (and back) and sometimes I will play around with aquascapes en route.

Here is an example:

shelf rock first (actual pieces I have)
233D535F-AE6F-45DF-96B1-FE883FBF7E56.jpeg


add live rock (do not have)
726D1261-92EB-4FD7-A561-7FF77BF58CA6.jpeg


one last big piece making a big cave and swim through
6468B9B5-D558-4F83-ADF0-4BEDF9423A4D.jpeg


front view
8230ECA4-390E-4630-9E69-23C5A46CABB3.jpeg


You can see the dual JBJ Rimless 30 returns at the top and the gyre on the right. Each square is 2x2 inches. I look at this more as a guide for when I select live rock as opposed to something exact.
 
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TIME WET: 2 Months

Getting Salty!
I mixed salt this weekend for the first time in years. It felt so good to once again have sticky, dry hands. The rock I was curing was clean enough after two months to switch from pure RO/DI to a saltwater mix.

A5372C5A-B57A-4310-A53E-8D8A8B72CA6E.jpeg


I got to use some of my new equipment for the first time. The BRS Four Stage Value RO/DI unit was super easy to set up and use. I had pressure at 80 PSI out of the basement sink tap which worked well. After the initial flush, pure water was coming out at 0 TDS (from 35 TDS tap). I did not mount it yet. For 8-10 gallons per week needed I may just keep it portable. It seemed quite stable sitting on the tile next to the sink.

8C58AF00-41EC-4D50-AB36-D21F8BF5DA83.jpeg


Next I busted open the LiveAquaria salt box and mixed up four gallons. It cleared up pretty fast. I calibrated the refractometer and mixed to 1.026 SG. I let it run about three hours before I added the rock.

05CAFACD-0352-42C9-B83F-A4739D9CCC6D.jpeg

C862311C-183A-41BE-B66B-08CEC670B224.jpeg


Today I picked up a piece of live rock to seed. I probably got the wrong shape and size for the purpose, but I could not resist this beautiful, versatile piece I was offered.

FEA221D4-9E3F-4C44-A057-5A5E1CCF827C.jpeg

92A3DE96-6225-4F8A-91C1-3EB147657F5E.jpeg

790B9B8E-260B-43EE-8DB4-8BB9C589620B.jpeg

D125620F-E1FC-4BD0-A4BA-BD98A50EB75B.jpeg

2 lbs., 7” x 6” x 4”
Perfect for my nano

I cannot wait to get this tank up. I am getting antsy, but staying patient.
 
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I was inspired by this thread

Family involvement in the hobby


so I decided to elaborate a bit here on family involvement with the reef tank.

Making My Tank Our Tank
My wife and kids have been supportive of our aquariums over the years. I am the experienced aquarist, but the whole family has enjoyed them and loves to watch and feed the fish. For this reef build I have planned the equipment mostly on my own. As the project progresses I am trying to get them more involved. This includes PowerPoint presentations I made, pictures and videos from the web, etc. I want to introduce my kids (girls, 10 and 7) to some basic biology and chemistry (and the physics of flow, lighting, etc. - reefkeeping really involves all of the sciences). I want them to see this as the creation of an ocean reef environment and not just a fish tank. Their main concern of course is that we have clownfish.

The Kids
My daughters are inquisitive and enjoy the sciences a great deal. They love doing experiments. I brought them along to a LFS this weekend (for the live rock chunk mentioned in the post above). I was very happy to see their reaction to a large reef display. They loved the shrimps, crabs and snails poking around the rocks the most. Even more than the big fish. I have always been most fascinated by the behaviors of invertebrates and the tiny life on the reef. It is what I enjoy most and I was glad they seemed to as well. Big fish are obvious, but spend a little time looking and what you discover in the nooks and crannies is most amazing.

I mentioned on another thread, the older daughter spent considerable time watching an abalone. She was amazed at this creature and was commenting on everything he did. The younger one tried to track the little fish as they moved around the rockscape avoiding the larger fish. We also watched a tank of eels for a while including a large snowflake.


We happened upon a tank of Percula Clowns, all about 1-1.5” that were strangely in a small tank with a larger, 3” Yellow Stripe Maroon Clown. The Yellow Stripe was extremely aggressive and basically made sure to keep the Percula all clustered to the right third of the tank. It was a good moment to explain to them a little about the fish we could keep in our tank and why.

Fish
My original plan was to have 3 fish and none larger than 3” adult size. Two Ocelleris and a Pink Streaked Wrasse. A couple of weeks ago I brought my wife (without the kids) to a nice LFS. From her input, we decided a couple additional small fish are doable if added slowly. This means though the aquascape will require a greater focus on caves, swim throughs and basic separation. I also had to spend some time explaining why a Blue Tang was not suitable for a 30 gallon aquarium:


HER: “But look, this one is so tiny and cute?”
ME: “Uggh!”


I eventually turned it around and said I would love to have a large aquarium to support larger fish (setting the stage :) ). I suggested if we have success with the 30 gallon we can always set up a large aquarium in the future.

Corals
I showed my wife many of the livestock ideas I had as we looked at some beautiful tanks. As one may expect, she had little interest in SPS. It was the flowing soft corals that really grabbed her attention. I see my plan of a mixed reef is becoming less SPS. I was able to convince her LPS like Hammers and Duncans (part of my original plan) would be better than Xenia and Kenya trees. The shop luckily had one tank that was just jammed full with Xenia to help reiterate my concerns about their growth rate. I personally plan on no soft corals at all. I am considering options to have some solid LPS movement in the tank and still keep a few Montipora and Acropora.


Invertebrates
I have been debating in my head if an anemone is a good choice for our 30 gallon aquarium. In the past I had a beautiful Heteractis Magnificent in a 55 gallon with two Clarkiis. They were awesome critters and gave me years of enjoyment. Those anemone and clown species, unfortunately, are too large for a 30 gallon aquarium IMHO.


My wife helped me through my indecision by asserting we want an anemone. We looked at some nice bubble tips which I think could work with a Ocelleris clownfish pair. I know the BTA is not a natural host for them, but I have seen it work and am willing to take the chance.

Having an anemone means I need the rethink the aquascape again. I want to keep the anemone away from the corals and on the side away from the gyre. It could move at any time still, but I can try to create a spot where it will be happy.

Revising the Plan
The SB Reef 16” WiFi is a lot of light for an LPS heavy tank, but I still intend on having some SPS and an anemone so it should work. It may be a little lower percentage than I originally planned.


The aquascape I envisioned will change though. I always envisioned it would be very minimalistic. My original plan was a long, tall SPS island at the back right and a short, but long LPS island in the front left. Here is an example of that from an earlier post.

915461E4-531E-444D-B66C-3C804FE8251A.jpeg


Now, after discussing with the wife, I am thinking about three islands, adding one for the anemone. Additional rock will actually be beneficial if we have more fish than I originally considered, but it is becoming less minimalistic.

Here is an image I posted recently of what I am thinking now (purple rocks are live rock, grey rocks are shelf rock):

821B0A51-48EB-48FB-9FE7-0A449B4191C1.jpeg


Overall, I am very excited that the family is getting involved. I know, the aquarium is not even wet yet and I am planning way ahead, but that is just the way I roll. Nothing ever goes completely according to plan, but when you have a plan it is easier to adapt to the unexpected.
 
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Ammonia Test
My rocks have been in saltwater for 10 days now. In addition to the shelf, rubble and live rock mentioned above I added one other live piece from a different source. The total is about 10 pounds now. The piece pictured above from the first LFS was basically live bacteria rock with little else. This past weekend I visited another LFS and bought a small piece that was truly live and full of life:

0884C57F-0259-41B7-A292-0B89DE71A8C1.jpeg


Last night I tested my rocks for Ammonia when I got home from work:

8057BEE9-8779-47A8-895F-8C7CD8A2957B.jpeg


I am calling that a zero. It was my first time using the Red Sea Test and it was simple. This coming weekend I will test again and test Nitrates.


It appears I had little die off from this new chunk of rock. Hopefully the bacteria and life just spreads around until I am ready for it. I may add a pound or so of GARF grunge for variety. I must say it feels great to have marine life in my home again even if it is minuscule.
 
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