IDOC's First Reef Tank Build - 75g

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Idoc

Idoc

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Filled the tank and sump with RODI saltwater to a specific gravity of 1.025 with HW Marinemix Reef salt. Read good things about this salt mix...going to give it a try! Using a BRS 4-stage RODI system....this was used and came with the original aquarium setup. I changed the carbon and sediment filters...The TDS after the RO Membrane was around 1-2 TDS...after the DI Resin it was zero TDS, so no need to change those two items yet. It basically took me 2-3 days to produce all the water I needed to fill the tank and sump!

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I picked up two 32g Brute trash cans from Lowe's and used them to collect the RODI and mix the salt. The setup came with a few extra pumps...ended up using the pump to the old skimmer in order to mix the saltwater and to pump the water from the Brute barrels into the DT...worked quite well. I'll worry about a more permanent water station setup later!
 
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FILLING TANK & SUMP WITH WATER

Found some good resources on a good procedure to fill the tank and sump for the first time. Ended up filling the tank until the water started to drain into the sump. Then filled the sump up to what I really wanted the max for the sump to hold...marked this has my MAX FLOOD LEVEL. This still allowed me a few inches from the top in the 40g breeder sump.
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After turning the return pump back on, the water actually only dropped a few inches at most...with both the full siphon line and emergency lines wide open. So the system can handle the max the Varios 6 can give...but that test was only with both drains wide open, which won't be the case in a normal setup (the siphon line gate valve will probably be around half closed under normal operation). After finding a problem...noted in a later comment entry...I actually went ahead and closed my siphon line 100% and turned the Varios-6 pump up to 100% power in order to see if the 1" emergency drain line would be enough to handle the flow without overflowing the top of the DT. SUCCESS...the emergency drain line alone was able to keep the DT water level from rising over the rim! That is good piece of mind to know that if something happens the the return pump goes to 100% max flow, that I won't have a flood.

I removed most of that water out of the sump in order to get it back down to the baffle heights...and then kind of arbitrarily picked a height in the return chamber where I want to keep my water level...marked that as MAXIMUM FILL LEVEL...I guess I will set my ATO sensors to keep it at that level once I open that box! I set the return pump to the desired flow setting (actually #2 for now on the Varios-6) and removed water from the return chamber until I started to hear a suction/vortex...then added water until that stopped...marked that on the sump as the MINIMUM FILL LEVEL. Basically, I always want to keep the water above this point in the sump.
 
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CYCLING

I started my cycle on 14 August 2017...actually started before I had my sump water levels completely established...which occurred a couple of days later (16 August 2017). After putting the water in the DT, I installed my powerheads so that the water would start circulating around the rocks. I also installed a heater to get the temperature up to around 78-80 degrees. I purposely didn't add any ammonia at this point...I wanted to watch the ammonia levels in the DT for a couple of days to see if any additional organic breakdown deep in the Pukani rock would give enough ammonia to start the cycle. After 2 days, my ammonia was still at zero...so that wasn't going to work. I guess my 6 weeks of curing the dry rock several months ago (in freshwater) was good enough to breakdown most of the organics deep in the rock! I recall after only 2 days of curing that Pukani previously, the ammonia was through the roof due to the deeply embedded organic stuff in that rock!

No ACE hardware around to get the ACE Janitorial Grade Ammonia (which is around 9.5% ammonia), so I ended up finding some pure ammonia at a Gordon Food Service (GFS). I looked up the MSDS sheet for this particular ammonia and it only contained 0.5-2.5% pure ammonia. So, it took 50mL in my system to get my ammonia up to slightly above 2 ppm. I didn't want to risk going over 5ppm (and possibly stalling my cycle) since my test kit only measures to 2ppm.

I have some Bio-Spira on-hand, but prefer to let the nitrifying bacterial growth occur naturally. I'm in no hurry! I may use some later...but no need at this point. I'll probably use this to seed my QT tanks, though.
 
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QUARANTINE TANKS

I've decided to setup 2 QTs...one for fish and one for corals/inverts.

Fish QT: 10gal with Aquaclear 20 HOB filter....now that it is up and running, I think I should have gone bigger with the HOB filter. It really isn't giving much of a flow in the tank. I'll end up having to put in a small powerhead to get some flow in the tank. A couple of PVC parts have been added for fish to hide in during the process. I seeded a sponge with Bio-Spira (soaked in a bowl of saltwater for a couple of hours) and then installed into the filter yesterday. Today...added a little more Bio-Spira directly to the sponge in the filter again. Tonight, I plan on putting in 10mL of ammonia to get to 1ppm to see if the bacteria present can handle that load yet. I chose the smaller tank for fish since I plan on prophylactically treating the fish with CopperSafe and Prazipro...less cost for meds and water changes if required. Plus, I am taking this slow...only plan on one or two small fish additions at a time anyhow!

Coral/Invert QT: 20gal long tank with an Aquaclear 50 HOB filter...now wondering if I should have gone bigger with that one as well. But, I plan on having a small powerhead in this tank for increased flow anyhow. The plan is to put all inverts and corals in this tank for a minimum of 76 days prior to adding to the DT to improve my chances for a disease free DT. I'm thinking I may just keep this one up and running full time; therefore, using it later as a small coral frag tank to allow small frags to grow out some before going into the DT.

Both tanks are on the opposite side of the room from the DT...so no airborne transmissions possible. I don't have these two tanks separated by 10 feet, though. I guess I will just have to accept some risk. I could always install a small fan between the two tanks maybe...it would take a heck of a parasite to blast its way through an air vortex to get to the other tank!

The QT stand is the original stand that came with the used aquarium. It's not that attractive, but it will serve it's purpose until I can make something else more pleasing to the eye! The wife is NOT very pleased with this addition to the room...but, this is the man-cave! I can do what I want in the man-cave, right?

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Here's the final DT setup with the sump in action...minus the skimmer and refugium section completed! Those will come later... I still have to mount the doors...again, it's on my list!!! Hopefully tomorrow, I can work on setting up my controller!!! I have a 5 gal bucket in place for an ATO reservoir (food grade bucket from Lowe's)...not sure if that will be the final reservoir choice or not...might just use a small 5gal aquarium with an acrylic lid! A 10gal aquarium fits in their nicely as well...might think about using that if away on longer vacations!

20170818_210528.jpg
 
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This morning...checked on the aquarium and heard a louder than normal noise coming from the sump! Tons of bubbles entering the sump through the full-siphon line! Plenty of water in the overflow...but there are bubbles from water going over the weir? Increased the height of my emergency drain line so that there is only about a 1/4" drop...eliminated the bubbles and water noise from the overflow...but the bubbles were still in the full siphon line! Completely closed the siphon line gate valve and re-opened...saw water trickle out of the threaded connection below the gate valve! So a leak is present...but not one that is causing water spillage, thank goodness. Evidently, the full siphon line is sucking in air through that small leak due to the siphon "pulling" the water down the pipe!

So, I guess that will be tomorrow's project...fixing that drain line!!! I only used minimal thread sealant on those threads...big mistake! I'll take it apart and see if I can reseal it with more thread sealant. Hopefully the threads in the gate valve aren't damaged...hate to put out another $45 for a freakin' valve again!

Pic of the bubbles in the sump:
20170818_160749.jpg
 
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Great build thread Doc...lots of great tips for me to soak up!!!
Thanks! I'm trying to put a lot of "how to" stuff into the thread so new people have a resource and so I remember what I did if/when I go through it all again with an upgrade, lol.
 
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I am building a 40G and 75G that stand looks awesome!
Thanks! I was only able to work on it a couple hours a week usually, so it took me quite awhile to build it. But the fun of this project had been the planning, research, and actually doing it all. DIY stuff is a great stress reliever, lol.
 
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Here's the final DT setup with the sump in action...minus the skimmer and refugium section completed! Those will come later... I still have to mount the doors...again, it's on my list!!! Hopefully tomorrow, I can work on setting up my controller!!! I have a 5 gal bucket in place for an ATO reservoir (food grade bucket from Lowe's)...not sure if that will be the final reservoir choice or not...might just use a small 5gal aquarium with an acrylic lid! A 10gal aquarium fits in their nicely as well...might think about using that if away on longer vacations!

20170818_210528.jpg
Great detail and precision
 

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Hi idoc.

Good start !!

I'm starting a 70g too.

Why did you choose this skimmer if you have to lift it to give it an optimum performance. I really like the tunze brand and this particular model, but this fact makes me wonder if I should buy it or not.

Forgive my English, it is not my mother tongue.

i'll be following your tank !!!
 
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Hi idoc.

Good start !!

I'm starting a 70g too.

Why did you choose this skimmer if you have to lift it to give it an optimum performance. I really like the tunze brand and this particular model, but this fact makes me wonder if I should buy it or not.

Forgive my English, it is not my mother tongue.

i'll be following your tank !!!
@ricardh ... All skimmers have an ideal depth range where they work most efficiently. Part of the breaking process that I have researched is finding the correct depth where the skimmer works best. The Tunze 9410 just happens to work best within 5.5" to 9.4" of water. I didn't want to run my sump this shallow in order, so I built my first baffle at 10" height knowing that I could always elevate my skimmer to whatever height I needed for it to perform at its best. It's easy to raise a skimmer in deeper water...impossible to lower a skimmer in shallow water. I've only heard great comments about this skimmer, so I'm expecting excellent performance. According to the documentation, this skimmer has a patented system that doesn't allow it to ever overflow...which seems to be quite a problem with other brands during that breaking in time. Also, the Tunze says its basically an turn it on and go skimmer requiring almost no adjustments and that it will adapt at whatever water level it is placed within (as long as it's within that 5.5-9.4" range). I wish I could give you some first hand experience with it...but I don't have it up and running yet. So, I can only give information about the research I did in deciding to go with this skimmer. Post a thread on R2R asking about the skimmer from those who use it...I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the positive responses you will get.
 
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Well, what I thought were leaking threads due to not enough sealant turned out to actually be a cracked gate valve! I guess I must have over tightened the threads. A new valve is on the way! I'll just have to put up with the leaky one for a few more days!
20170820_153453.jpg
 
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Well, what I thought were leaking threads due to not enough sealant turned out to actually be a cracked gate valve! I guess I must have over tightened the threads. A new valve is on the way! I'll just have to put up with the leaky one for a few more days!
20170820_153453.jpg
You just don't know your own strength!!! Too much muscles....
 
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I loving the build , and the skimmer! I am using the same skimmer ( on my 75g build) . How long is your stand is it 60in or longer I really like the longer stand .
Thanks For the comments! The stand is actually about 69"x 26" and the tank bottom sits at 41" high. I really like the height since only standing to view the tank.

The main part of the stand is 50" with an 18.5" additional cabinet. I initially had it planned to have another cabinet on the other side, but removed it so as not to make the aquarium look small in comparison to the stand. I think now it would have been ok to have another cabinet, though. Especially since the location I ended up putting the tank was big enough to accommodate. The stand is really heavy...I skinned it in 1/2" birch and oak plywood to make it a solid piece of furniture...I didn't want the sides to feel flimsy... Especially the front with doors attached.

I'm going to plug this skimmer in one of these days just to watch it work, lol.
 

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Following along. Nice work. Just motivated me to start back on mine. I'm interested in your quarantine side as well. Can you let us know how all that works out. I'm curious about how to cycle those small tanks and the minimal filtration. How that affects everything. How often you have to check those parameters etc. I appreciate your detailed posts. I'm new to saltwater side and learning curve is steep in saltwater.
 
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One Finnex Titanium 200w heater wasn't enough to keep the temp around 78-80 degrees F without having to run constantly. Added a second Finnex 200w heater. That should be sufficient and give a little safe guard in case one breaks. I'll hook these up later to my controller when I finally get around to installing it. I think I'm procrastinating since never using a controller before and not knowing what I'm getting into! Lol.

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