If I build it, they will come

Joekovar

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So originally I had this idea that I was going to build a stand that would contain a cracked bottom pane by bailing water from below back up top. Then, I realized my tank is tempered, and the whole bottom would just blow out. So, although the drain and pan are part of the stand now, I abandoned that idea.

I ended up trying out doing my own main structure. I didn't just want a pile of rocks, and I originally imagined these columns as being sponge like, but I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them now. I'm just kinda winging it. I think I'm going to end up with a pile of rocks in the middle to give fish somewhere to hide.

Tank seams make me really nervous, and when I saw clear drywall corner protectors at Home Depot I decided to go ahead and reinforce my corners now. I also liked the PEX tube supports for my braided line.

Two pumps handle water. One in the large column up top that a float switch kicks on just long enough to start a siphon, and the same pump in a 10G below that constantly puts water into the two smaller columns where it overflows into the tank. (except when the other pump is on, then it momentarily shuts down as the float switch doubles as overfill protection for the return pump) All 3 columns are sealed off from the main tank and weighted down, so I don't have to worry about a siphon ever pulling out more than 2.5G of water, which there will always be room for below.

Still working on reducing the gurgle effect when the large columns tube breaks siphon. I just need a pair of hose clamps for a check valve on the return line so that stops siphoning when the pump stops. Again, there's room for the water that's siphoned, but it's loud when it breaks.

With the exception of my heater, everything is and will be DC powered. Being a fire alarm technician I have access to power supplies with all sorts of protections built in as well as a nearly endless supply of sealed lead acid batteries. I'm using a 24VDC 10A Altronix notification appliance power supply, and buck converters to step down to various voltages for the various things. It all looks messy right now, and I'm using the power bricks that came with some of the equipment for testing purposes. I plan on cleaning that all up tomorrow.

My brother-in-law owns a cabinet shop. Once I get everything else done I'm going to make removable panels to wrap the whole thing in.

Still not sure what I'm actually going to put in it yet. I've still got a decent wait on the portland cement to stop spiking the PH I think. Then from there it's going to be a pretty good wait for actual saltwater to cycle properly. So I've got plenty of time to see what kind of zones there are in there, and research things that will thrive in those zones.


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Joekovar

Joekovar

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Ended up adding 4 more buck converter channels, for a total of 8 variable voltage channels. Got a powerhead to move the water around while this cement cures. (still no salt in the tank) Waiting on a Phosphate checker to arrive as the cement's been submerged for a few weeks now and pH isn't rising as fast as it was at first.

I've got two small DC pumps, the powerhead, two small lights, and a 5V control circuit running on this power supply now. I'm waiting on a "Sonoff 4CH Pro R2" to get here which I'll use to control the lights via Google Assistant. I'll have 2 spare channels on that Sonoff which I'm not sure what I'll use for yet. (DIY algae scrubber maybe?)

Also added an ammeter so I don't have to take everything apart to keep track of actual power usage. It's definitely nice not having a bunch of wall wort transformers taking up outlets. Especially considering they were getting warmer than I'd like.

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Joekovar

Joekovar

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Added Dr Tim's one and only and some ammonia last Sunday. pH has been stable at 8.2, my odd white carbonate growth on the cement stopped, and ammonia is slowly but surely going down. Looks like I've got about a week left.

I think I've found a good LFS nearby, they've got a lot of recent photos and what looks like a pretty broad selection online so I'm stoked about that.
 
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Joekovar

Joekovar

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So, I tried using one of the seachem ammonia alert badges to monitor ammonia this whole time. It was light blue for awhile, then stalled on green.

I've got undetectable nitrates 2 weeks in.

I think I missed a decimal point somewhere. The badge says light blue is 0.2ppm aaaand as I read I think I was supposed to keep it at 2.0ppm.

I added enough ammonia to kick it back to kind of a medium blue, but I have a feeling I'll be adding some more bacteria in the morning...
 
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Joekovar

Joekovar

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Saturday I picked up a couple bottles of Microbe Lift Nite-Out II and started adding an oz and a half daily. I've also got some Microbactor 7 I'm going to switch to when the nite outs gone, for a total of 3 Bacteria sources.

I also picked up a pair of clownfish.
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I watched the 10 or so they had together at my LFS for awhile before picking two.

These two never nipped at any of the others, and the others left them alone.
They've didn't get more than 2" away from each other the first day I had them. The next morning they were on opposite sides of the tank. I think they just lost each other over night though, because they've stayed close to each other since then.

They seem to be doing well. I'm giving them frozen fish eggs in the morning, then pellets in the evening, and they scarf down both.

Smart little buggers, they've found a spot in the middle of the tank where the flow brings the food right to them.

This afternoon I got some chaeto, sea lettuce, pom pom, and red ogo from Algae Barn, but I think I'm going to skip adding the ogo because I think it'll clog things up.

So far so good.
 
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Joekovar

Joekovar

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Picked up some rock from a LFS this morning.

I didn't like how anything stacked on the left, so I just smashed one into rubble and went for a rubble pile to cover the concrete base, and give little critters some cover.

The stuff on the right however, I'm hoping to eventually get an anemone to park itself on. I intentionally left a couple of cups in the rock facing up for this purpose. Though, it'll probably just decide to attack itself to the back side of that column on the right...

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Joekovar

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Twice this evening I've looked over to see my larger clown dart at the smaller one, then he turns on his side and wiggles like a fish out of water.

Had a bit of a scare yesterday. Watched my pH tank from 7.9 ish in the morning to 7.32 in the afternoon. Opened the windows and dropped a couple air stones in the DT. It recovered by this afternoon so I took the stones out and repositioned my wavemaker to create more surface aggitation. Not sure what happened, but I did add macroalgae below and new rock in the DT within the last week. Keeping an eye on it. Fortunately I have no corals yet.
 

reef lover

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Thats normal for clowns. Id say your ph dropping has alot to do with house being closed up thus time of year. You can always run your skimmer air intake to fresh air to compensate for it.
 
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Joekovar

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I setup a makeshift skimmer to get a better idea about how they work before going out and buying something I don't completely understand.

The trick was using a Dremmel tool to sand out the rim inside of the 3" to 1-1/2" reducer so the pipe could slide all the way through. I could use a an air tube valve or two to control the bubbles.
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Joekovar

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Added a small bicolor angel Friday in anticipation of an algae bloom. It seems happy, typewritering across the tank pecking at rocks with the current then going up and zipping back to start over again. I'm aware they tend to pick at corals, and I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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Looking around today I noticed a lot of tiny white tube worms with fans out. I came across a brown one that looks suspiciously like aiptasia, so I added a couple peppermint shrimp, who seem to appreciate the undersides of the ledges.

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While I was at the LFS I saw a purple foot green bubble tip anemone. I also saw a rose bubble tip, but it was just massive...
So, I figured aiptasia is technically a type of anemone, and if it can take hold maybe a bubble tip would be happy.

I spent awhile with my hand kind of cupped over it untill it grasped the edge of the crevice I'm hoping it will stay in. It's since pulled itself into the crevice and bubbled right up. The clowns haven't found it yet.

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I'm definitely done adding things for awhile.

I think next I'm going to take one of the 10G out from below, and setup a water proof compartment to relocate the electrical to, then think about decorative panels for the outside.
 
MotorCityCorals
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Joekovar

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I feel like I won the anemone lottery.

It hasn't budged at all since it went in Saturday. Spread his foot out to get a nice solid grip inside that crevice, puffs right up when the lights come on, deflates halfway through the day, puffs up again about 3/4 of the way, then closes up when the lights go out.

Clowns haven't figured it out yet, which is probably for the better. Gives the anemone time to get established, and hopefully fill the rest of that crevice before they beat it up.

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Joekovar

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Picked up a skunk cleaner shrimp this afternoon.

Aaaand, they had a male Yasha shrimp goby for a great price, so, I now have a Yasha and a red pistol shrimp.

It took almost no time for the pistol shrimp to evict the bicolor angel from one of the caves it frequents. The Yasha is currently hiding in some rocks close by. Hopefully waiting on the shrimp to finish burrowing.
 
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Anemone is still staying put.

I picked up a Duncan awhile ago, and it appears to be growing a new head from the base.

My nitrates are finally manageable.

I've added a blue Midas blenny, a pair of bar Gobies, and a yellow watchman goby.

The blenny has claimed a dark ledge for itself up high. Likes to dart out for food then right back to the ledge.

The watchman was picked up today. The Yasha ended up hiding and I thought it'd paired with the pistol shrimp out of view, so I didn't notice it was starving until it was too late. I'm a little more confident about this little guy, when the bicolor angel nipped at it, it fought back and the Angel's left it alone since.

The bar Gobies added some movement to the otherwise dead open space above the anemone. They took over the pistol shrimps original burow, and they seem to have gotten the clowns and the blenny to venture out a little more.

Picked up some bright orange zoanthids. 5 heads when I got it, and 3 more have already started showing color.

Added a couple of Florida ricordia that got beat up a little trying to get them in a good spot. I ended up stacking some rubble on either side of them.

I ended up with 3 for the price of 1 rhodactis mushrooms, Forest fire. They're going to have their rock island covered in no time by the looks of them.

Also added some Hollywood stunner and mystic sunset montipora to sides of the two smaller columns. The stunner is down current from everything in the tank so I'm not worried about it stinging anything.

Let's see.

Added a few assorted acans to the shelves of the large column. A feather duster worm. Found a pom pom crab. Picked up a purple and green favia today, along with a red/teal blasto head.

All of my shrimp have molted, the cleaner has twice.

Also, I had to whip up a trash master 5000. Let's me blow stuff out of crevices and stir the sand up. It's just a cheap DC water pump, air hose, and a PVC shoe molding.

So uh, I kinda jumped to 26 different species in this tank now...



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Joekovar

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I did some maintenance after posting this, and discovered that the insides of my two smaller columns, having a smooth flow of water in them and being right under the light, are inadvertently working as algae scrubbers.

I might have to experiment with using uptight columns like this down below, because it's as simple as using a toilet brush and 5 seconds to pull all of the algae out.
 
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Joekovar

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Yasha goby starved to death.
1 of 2 bar gobys got chased out through a gap in the top.
Midas blenny found a way into the overflow and lost a battle with a siphon pump.
Anemone is pretending to be an ostrich, and likely not going to make it.

Clowns are happy.
Bicolor angel and the skunk cleaner have become friends.
Mystic sunset montipora and green digitata are noticeably growing.
Orange zoas have 3 new heads.

I've started doing weekly 20% water changes from the LFS to counter what I think is alkalinity creep from the cement structure.
 
MotorCityCorals

WHAT DOES THE TERM "GOOD WATER QUALITY" MEAN TO YOU?

  • Your aquarium water is in acceptable ranges measured by consumer level water tests

    Votes: 107 43.7%
  • Your aquarium water is in acceptable ranges measured by ICP type testing

    Votes: 37 15.1%
  • Your aquarium water is good based on how your corals are growing and look

    Votes: 149 60.8%
  • Your aquarium water is good based on how little nuisance algae is growing

    Votes: 47 19.2%
  • Your aquarium water is good based on how it looks to you

    Votes: 36 14.7%
  • Other (please explain in the thread)

    Votes: 6 2.4%
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