IM Nuvo EXT 50 Lagoon build

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QuantumFoam

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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)
(1) Twin-spot goby (added 7/16)
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 (added 7/17)
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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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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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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QuantumFoam

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The first coral has been added to the tank (toadstool). I also got the first taste of the ugly phase with a beautiful brown algae bloom. For now, I'm not doing much of anything to combat it. In the meantime, I added two turbo snails, who make quick work of the algae on the glass (not so much on the sand though). And oh man do those things poop.

I also thought I lost one of my emerald crabs, but after I saw the 'roided up beast hiding in the rockwork, I realize it was just the molt. I was surprised to see how much it grew.

 
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QuantumFoam

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Shout out to everyone who has survived the DIY lid experience. I used the Red Sea kit, and ended up buying the Zig-Zag add-on so I could run the cords through the corners. I'll likely end up getting a few more hangers for the extra support. I ended up putting one hanger on each side, and then two in the back, which sagged without them.

Getting everything cut and lined up was fairly straightforward (measure thrice, cut once!), although there are a few pieces I will shorten at some point. In particular, I realized the opening in the rear for the light didn't need to be that big, and as is, will probably interfere with the light a little bit. Getting the screen mesh in was not a fun experience. The net ripped in several places as I was using the spline roller. The imperfections aren't all that noticeable, so I'm leaving it alone. I'll definitely look for a higher quality net when it needs to be redone.
 
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QuantumFoam

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How's that radion working for you? BRS recommends one such light per 18x18 square. Does the diffuser spread the light over larger area?
So far so good! I only recently added soft corals (toadstool and GSP), both of which are at the very bottom of the tank closer to the edges, and both of which have grown and seem happy so far. I'm being purposefully cautious and working my way up the ladder of coral types, in part because of this very question---will I need two lights for more light-hungry LPS or SPS? While I can't speak quantitatively, the diffuser definitely spreads the light out over a slightly larger area, and in my opinion, makes the light distribution look more even and aesthetically pleasing. Even if I wasn't worried about spread, I would still opt for the diffuser.

I watched BRS video on the G5 Pros in which they showed the PAR diagrams for a 60 gallon cube (24" on each side) with the meter mounted 6" below the surface. The video suggested that I would be fine keeping LPS/SPS corals, but placement would need to be strategic. My plan right now is to continue forward with what I have, and reevaluate if/when I need to. I may try to get my hands on a PAR meter at some point, so I can base some of these decisions on real, concrete numbers.
 
Printed Reef - Custom Reef Accessories

pomoev

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So far so good! I only recently added soft corals (toadstool and GSP), both of which are at the very bottom of the tank closer to the edges, and both of which have grown and seem happy so far. I'm being purposefully cautious and working my way up the ladder of coral types, in part because of this very question---will I need two lights for more light-hungry LPS or SPS? While I can't speak quantitatively, the diffuser definitely spreads the light out over a slightly larger area, and in my opinion, makes the light distribution look more even and aesthetically pleasing. Even if I wasn't worried about spread, I would still opt for the diffuser.

I watched BRS video on the G5 Pros in which they showed the PAR diagrams for a 60 gallon cube (24" on each side) with the meter mounted 6" below the surface. The video suggested that I would be fine keeping LPS/SPS corals, but placement would need to be strategic. My plan right now is to continue forward with what I have, and reevaluate if/when I need to. I may try to get my hands on a PAR meter at some point, so I can base some of these decisions on real, concrete numbers.
Thanks!

I am planning to order an IM EXT 50 in the following weeks for some of my larger LPS, and also trying to understand whether I'll be fine with the two AI Primes I already have or if I'll need something more powerful.
Please keep updating the thread :)
 
AquaCave

How have you used eggcrate in or around your aquarium?

  • Aquarium lid

    Votes: 66 30.4%
  • Frag rack

    Votes: 114 52.5%
  • Skimmer stand

    Votes: 69 31.8%
  • Sump Divider

    Votes: 41 18.9%
  • Other (please describe in the discussion)

    Votes: 33 15.2%
  • I have not used eggcrate in or around my aquarium

    Votes: 56 25.8%
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