IM Nuvo EXT 50 Lagoon build

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QuantumFoam

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Location
Philadelphia, PA
Equipment
Tank: Innovative Marine Nuvo EXT 50 gallon with white APS stand
Lights: (1) EcoTech Marine Radion XR15 G6 Pro (w/ tank mount & diffuser)
Powerheads: (1) Sicce XStream SDC
Sump: Fiji Cube Fiji-20 Advanced Reef Sump
Return Pump: Sicce Syncra SDC 6.0
Protein Skimmer: AquaMaxx ConeS Q-1
Heaters: (2) 125w Eheim Jager (one in tank, one in sump)
RO/DI: BRS 6-Stage Deluxe Plus 75 GPD
Rock: 20 lbs. starter live rock from KP Aquatics and about 30 lbs. CaribSea Life Rock
Sand: 60 lbs. CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink


Livestock
(2) Ocellaris clownfish
(1) Strawberry dottyback (added 6/25)
Red mithrax crab (HH)
Urchin (HH)
Featherdusters (HH)
(HH = hitchhiker)

Wants/To-Do List
ATO - currently need to top-off ~6-8 cups each day (3/8 to 1/2 gallon)
Battery backup
Cord management - still haven't found a cabinet I like
Jump guard/mesh lid
Temperature controller - been eyeing an Inkbird for this

Story
I was in the hobby over ten years ago, and had 10g/20g reef tanks with a clown/sabae anemone and some softies, plus the regular CUC. After moving into an apartment, my tank sprung a leak and I had to give everything away, which was probably for the better because I moved entirely too much over the following 10+ years and it would have been a royal PITA (and unfair to all the life in the tank IMO). Fast-forward a decade-plus and I'm sitting watching Finding Nemo with my daughter in our permanent home, and I'm like, oh shoot, I can have a reef tank again! To make sure I really wanted to do it again, I went through all the planning with spreadsheets, researching equipment, and put the time in. Once I was sure, I jumped in!

Impressions & Comments
Apps - It's impressive how much the equipment in this hobby has progressed since I've been out of it. As someone in software, I can see a ton of opportunities for improvement in these apps, but I've been largely happy with Mobius (EcoTech) and ContrAll (Sicce). The setup for both of these apps was extremely simple, and I haven't run into any "gotchas" or any other issues. While I know the profiles in Mobius are geared toward coral growth, my eyes simply can't handle staring at blue light for a long time. To get around this, I will use the acclimation feature to temporarily lower the intensity. I know I can create lighting profiles to suit my needs here, but it would be nice if they had this out of the box.

Live Rock - The KP Aquatics live rock is everything everyone said it was and more. I went with 20 lbs. starter rock, and there was a ton of observable life on the rocks. A bunch of featherdusters, several brittle stars, two different types of urchins, a few red mithrax crabs, some snails, a bunch of different kinds of worms, etc. It was well-packaged, shipped on time, and I didn't observe any spikes in ammonia due to die off. If I could do it again, I'd spend the money and get more!

Live Sand - I used CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink, and chose not to wash the sand. I stirred it up a bunch to try to get those finer particles out. The tank was cloudy for a day or two, and now it is fine. During this time, I used filter socks with a small pore size and they did what they were supposed to do. 60 pounds was enough for ~1.5 inches all around, which is what I wanted.

RO/DI - My water pressure is just a touch over 40 psi, so I was concerned that I might need a pump. I have read that this kind of pressure can make the DI resin deplete quicker, but I'm not all that worried about that in the short-term. This gives me 0 TDS water at exactly the rate advertised. One piece of advice---get the float valve! Lessons were learned...

Salinity testing - I have a cheap swing-arm hydrometer, refractometer, and the Tropic Marin High Precision Hydrometer. I started with the refractometer, using distilled water (as recommended) to calibrate it to zero. I had a sense that something was off---the readings just felt too high. So, I went out and bought a cheap swing-arm hydrometer just as a check---that gave me an even higher reading! After doing some more research, I ended up buying 35 ppt calibration solution, which gave me the reading I more or less expected; however, I still noticed that it tended to drift over time. After some frustration, I decided to try the Tropic Marin High Precision Hydrometer. This was exactly what I was looking for... no calibration and trustworthy/consistent results every single time. It's not a perfect instrument, as you need the water to be deep enough and still enough to make a proper reading, but that's a drawback that I'm good with.

Plumbing - One of the bulkheads that Innovative Marine sent me had a bad gasket. I admittedly noticed the imperfection before installing it, and should have asked for a second opinion, but this was my first time doing any real plumbing so I didn't know what I didn't know. I noticed substantial salt creep which was a tip off that there was a small leak. I tried tightening the bulkhead a little, but there was no change. I ended up buying a new bulkhead, which lo and behold, also leaked. This time, it was not a defective gasket or bulkhead, but my own mistakes that caused the leak. Despite dry fitting everything, the new piece I put together must have been slightly longer than the previous piece, so it came off the bulkhead at a slight angle. This put enough pressure on the bulkhead to prevent me from hand-tightening it enough to properly seal it. After I fixed that, the salt creep stopped.

Heaters - Before installing the protein skimmer, I had both heaters in the sump, which I understand has some drawbacks in the event of a pump failure. To install the protein skimmer, I had to remove one of them because there simply wasn't enough room. Because of their length, they have to be installed at an angle to ensure they stay submerged. Long-term, I'd like to find something with a lower profile/shorter length. While I do believe Eheim makes a solid product, the dials on these heaters are not accurate. I've noticed 75 degrees on the heater means 78 degrees in the tank. That wasn't a huge deal when I was getting everything setup without livestock, but it would be if I had to replace one and couldn't trust the dial. That's yet another reason to get a proper temperature controller.
 
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Tidal Gardens
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QuantumFoam

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I did a pH test tonight that read 7.6. I do the test at roughly the same time each day, give or take an hour, and five days ago it was 8.2. pH is one parameter that has not moved since I started the tank, so I was surprised to see the drop. We have had the windows closed for several days due to some rain and humidity, and did a bunch of cooking today (w/ natural gas), so I figured I'd open the window and test again in an hour. While I wish I had done a second test immediately upon reading a pH of 7.6, the test I completed an hour later yielded the expected 8.2 value. I also realized that I had the powerhead off and the return pump turned down to 5% for about 20 minutes when I took the water sample (i.e. much less surface agitation).

Has anyone else seen such a drastic change in pH after just an hour of having windows open, or should I chalk this up to some mistake I made while completing the test?

(...and on a side note, I've noticed a distinct clicking noise coming from the tank over the past week. We all know what that could mean!)
 

sheeb

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Location
usa
Equipment
Tank: Innovative Marine Nuvo EXT 50 gallon with white APS stand
Lights: (1) EcoTech Marine Radion XR15 G6 Pro (w/ tank mount & diffuser)
Powerheads: (1) Sicce XStream SDC
Sump: Fiji Cube Fiji-20 Advanced Reef Sump
Return Pump: Sicce Syncra SDC 6.0
Protein Skimmer: AquaMaxx ConeS Q-1
Heaters: (2) 125w Eheim Jager (one in tank, one in sump)
RO/DI: BRS 6-Stage Deluxe Plus 75 GPD
Rock: 20 lbs. starter live rock from KP Aquatics and about 30 lbs. CaribSea Life Rock
Sand: 60 lbs. CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink


Livestock
(2) Ocellaris clownfish
Red mithrax crab (HH)
Urchin (HH)
Featherdusters (HH)
(HH = hitchhiker)

Wants/To-Do List
ATO - currently need to top-off ~6-8 cups each day (3/8 to 1/2 gallon)
Battery backup
Cord management - still haven't found a cabinet I like
Temperature controller - been eyeing an Inkbird for this

Story
I was in the hobby over ten years ago, and had 10g/20g reef tanks with a clown/sabae anemone and some softies, plus the regular CUC. After moving into an apartment, my tank sprung a leak and I had to give everything away, which was probably for the better because I moved entirely too much over the following 10+ years and it would have been a royal PITA (and unfair to all the life in the tank IMO). Fast-forward a decade-plus and I'm sitting watching Finding Nemo with my daughter in our permanent home, and I'm like, oh shoot, I can have a reef tank again! To make sure I really wanted to do it again, I went through all the planning with spreadsheets, researching equipment, and put the time in. Once I was sure, I jumped in!

Impressions & Comments
Apps - It's impressive how much the equipment in this hobby has progressed since I've been out of it. As someone in software, I can see a ton of opportunities for improvement in these apps, but I've been largely happy with Mobius (EcoTech) and ContrAll (Sicce). The setup for both of these apps was extremely simple, and I haven't run into any "gotchas" or any other issues. While I know the profiles in Mobius are geared toward coral growth, my eyes simply can't handle staring at blue light for a long time. To get around this, I will use the acclimation feature to temporarily lower the intensity. I know I can create lighting profiles to suit my needs here, but it would be nice if they had this out of the box.

Live Rock - The KP Aquatics live rock is everything everyone said it was and more. I went with 20 lbs. starter rock, and there was a ton of observable life on the rocks. A bunch of featherdusters, several brittle stars, two different types of urchins, a few red mithrax crabs, some snails, a bunch of different kinds of worms, etc. It was well-packaged, shipped on time, and I didn't observe any spikes in ammonia due to die off. If I could do it again, I'd spend the money and get more!

Live Sand - I used CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink, and chose not to wash the sand. I stirred it up a bunch to try to get those finer particles out. The tank was cloudy for a day or two, and now it is fine. During this time, I used filter socks with a small pore size and they did what they were supposed to do. 60 pounds was enough for ~1.5 inches all around, which is what I wanted.

RO/DI - My water pressure is just a touch over 40 psi, so I was concerned that I might need a pump. I have read that this kind of pressure can make the DI resin deplete quicker, but I'm not all that worried about that in the short-term. This gives me 0 TDS water at exactly the rate advertised. One piece of advice---get the float valve! Lessons were learned...

Salinity testing - I have a cheap swing-arm hydrometer, refractometer, and the Tropic Marin High Precision Hydrometer. I started with the refractometer, using distilled water (as recommended) to calibrate it to zero. I had a sense that something was off---the readings just felt too high. So, I went out and bought a cheap swing-arm hydrometer just as a check---that gave me an even higher reading! After doing some more research, I ended up buying 35 ppt calibration solution, which gave me the reading I more or less expected; however, I still noticed that it tended to drift over time. After some frustration, I decided to try the Tropic Marin High Precision Hydrometer. This was exactly what I was looking for... no calibration and trustworthy/consistent results every single time. It's not a perfect instrument, as you need the water to be deep enough and still enough to make a proper reading, but that's a drawback that I'm good with.

Plumbing - One of the bulkheads that Innovative Marine sent me had a bad gasket. I admittedly noticed the imperfection before installing it, and should have asked for a second opinion, but this was my first time doing any real plumbing so I didn't know what I didn't know. I noticed substantial salt creep which was a tip off that there was a small leak. I tried tightening the bulkhead a little, but there was no change. I ended up buying a new bulkhead, which lo and behold, also leaked. This time, it was not a defective gasket or bulkhead, but my own mistakes that caused the leak. Despite dry fitting everything, the new piece I put together must have been slightly longer than the previous piece, so it came off the bulkhead at a slight angle. This put enough pressure on the bulkhead to prevent me from hand-tightening it enough to properly seal it. After I fixed that, the salt creep stopped.

Heaters - Before installing the protein skimmer, I had both heaters in the sump, which I understand has some drawbacks in the event of a pump failure. To install the protein skimmer, I had to remove one of them because there simply wasn't enough room. Because of their length, they have to be installed at an angle to ensure they stay submerged. Long-term, I'd like to find something with a lower profile/shorter length. While I do believe Eheim makes a solid product, the dials on these heaters are not accurate. I've noticed 75 degrees on the heater means 78 degrees in the tank. That wasn't a huge deal when I was getting everything setup without livestock, but it would be if I had to replace one and couldn't trust the dial. That's yet another reason to get a proper temperature controller.
one good looking tank!
 
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QuantumFoam

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Against my better judgment, I added a small strawberry dottyback today. I'd get you all a picture, but my guy doesn't come out of the live rock long enough to snap one. Watching this fish weave in and out of the holes in the rock made me realize the tunnel system in these rocks is more complex than I realized. Anyway, I've heard some stories about these fish being little terrorists, so we'll see what the future holds.
 
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QuantumFoam

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I'm starting to plan for some simple, easy corals, so today I tested calcium and magnesium for the first time. Both are looking good. In the years I've been away from the hobby, I forgot just how much clownfish can eat, and their strange sleeping habits. I spotted the bigger of the two sleeping at a 45 degree angle near the surface last night. Such cool, albeit weird, little creatures. The purple dottyback seems to have found a nice spot in the rockwork to live and is eating well.
 
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