Reef Bum

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Hello all,

I first joined the hobby in 2008 as a teenager after working hard to save up money, I ignorantly went into a big box pet store seeking a complete reef tank build. I was guided by an employee (who I found out later did not even have a fish tank) to buy a 42g bow-front tank, a hang on the back overflow system, hang on the back protein skimmer, cheap lighting system, canister filter, and many other subpar items. As with many others, I was told certain fish/equipment, etc. would always be the "best thing" for what I was trying to build, even if they were completely incompatible. The fault was my own, as I didn't do proper research. However, there was barely any good online forums and research back then. There was enough to get a decent idea of whats going on, but not info based on years of experience and newer technology. Everyone had a different opinion or solution (this kind of still applies today, but now is more science/experience backed than what you could find online 15 years ago.) I spent tons trying to make it work out, and it worked out better than it should have. I ran into every issue you can think of, but somehow overcame all of them. I had minimal losses, which the "fix" to correct them always cost exponentially more than I thought it would. I always did what I could though, to be a good steward of the hobby and not neglect the animals I bought.

I upgraded the tank to a 72g bow-front tank after finding a good used one, enabling a bit more stability as well as being able to include a bigger sump. I thought this was the one. While the tank was great and I was gaining more knowledge with everything going as well as it could, it left more to be desired. The tank had the newest metal halide/T5 combo light fixtures, deep sand bed, reactors, etc. Everything that was popular or recommended at the time. I still wanted more, something bigger that wouldn't limit me as much.

Soon after upgrading the tank, a new LFS opened up near me. This one specialized in saltwater tanks and had a large, amazing selection. A store you could actually walk into, and walk out of with anything you needed to properly set up a reef tank of pretty much any size. After going in several times, I was offered a job while speaking about my tank and took it. I was in college now, looking for work at the time, and couldn't have been more happy to work around something I enjoyed so much.

Soon after, I became a full time hobbyist. I worked on my tank at home, over 60 tanks at the LFS, and even helped people with tanks in their homes during my free time. I spent whatever free time I had researching and learning about anything I didn't know that involved saltwater or reef tanks; many of the questions I tried to find answers for came from customer inquiries and questions that I had never even thought of. I loved it- learning as much as I could about the hobby. After working in the store for a period of time, I became extremely knowledgable about most of the industry and hobby. I handled store livestock/dry good ordering, custom build jobs, management, etc. We always had stuff you couldn't find anywhere else, it was awesome. People would drive from out of state to buy a black tang, various wrasses, show sized fish, etc. Now you can find them online all over, but back then the majority of people were not comfortable buying fish online, especially more rare ones. I was dedicated to not being like the people that sold me a poorly pieced together system that would never work like it should (the 42g freshwater tank converted to a saltwater build); I kept in my mind how I only had to upgrade that system because everything I was sold was not compatible with what I ultimately wanted. I spent two times the initial cost of the build to buy items that would actually support a decent reef system, and I was frustrated. I could have invested that up front, but it cost me a lot more by doing it the wrong way first. Ultimately, I could have researched more.... But again, I trusted the employees as it was my first aquarium purchase. I used this motivation to provide the best advice or education I could for customers, enabling them to build something the right way, the first time, and the way they wanted it. Customers/enthusiasts loved it and were almost always getting addicted to the hobby afterwards.

Fast forward a couple years, I built out a cool predator tank next to the reef tank. It included a blue spotted stingray, zebra eel, harlequin tusk, lionfish, puffer, and a young bumblebee grouper (AKA Giant Grouper..DO NOT BUY - see explanation below). Some of these are not really recommended together but I had zero compatibility issues (I watched them closely). They were all donations due to the fish outgrowing tanks people had. They were from people that were sold something from places that never gave them proper education about the aquarium size needs, compatibility issues, etc. The perfect example is the bumblebee grouper I received from someone who didn't know what to do with it after it started getting so big it knocked water out of their tank during every feeding. You can buy them young, and they are a bright yellow and black fish, they look awesome. This fish is ALSO known as the Giant Grouper and can reach a length of 8 to 9 FEET and just under 900 LBS (approximate length of a Smart Car)! Why would any store sell these to typical aquarist who think it is cute/cool when it is 2 inches long?? Beats me, but I find it pretty irresponsible for them to stock any or sell them. You can blame the customer or the store- both have fault. I tend to blame a store though that would sell something to someone without the proper experience or at least forewarning of care/requirements. Yes, the customer buying something has a responsibility to do their due diligence and research, but I always remember being completely new to the hobby and relying on the "experts" in the store to give recommendations, and buying what they recommended.

A year or so later, I moved for a new job. I no longer had the time to take care of the aquariums. I sold all of my corals and small fish to hobbyists on a local forum but donated the large ones to a local city's zoo/aquarium, where I knew they would have the best environment.

I have been out of the hobby since then as the work was quite time consuming and I've been focusing on other things. I never wanted to leave the hobby, I just couldn't give it the time I needed while focusing on the work I was doing.

Fast forward to 2022- I'm in a good position to start back up and I bought a bunch of stuff to build a new reef tank. I put everything in the garage until ready to build.

May 2023- Resuming build, putting water in it as soon as RO/DI filter/Sand/Rock arrive.

Current sentiments- While I had a great deal of previous experience, I continuously learn new things about the hobby by following the threads on here. Things have changed a bit in the last decade. I've been out for a while, but the basics are similar. I'm here to refresh and learn new things, and will learn them- but I also have quite a bit of knowledge at the commercial and residential hobbyist level to provide input where it is needed.

Item list so far:

RedSea Reefer 625 G2 (It was the newest last year, now they have G2+.... I think the only difference is the ATO+. LMK if you know more)

RedSea Coral Pro Salt Mix 200g sack

3 RedSea ReefLED 90
3 RL90 Mounting Arm

ReefMat 1200
2 ReefWave 45
Simplicity 320DC Protein Skimmer
Simplicity 3200DC Return Pump

SAND/ROCK: (looking for approximately 1.5" sand bed. Will adjust as needed)
20# Caribsea Aragalive Special Grade Reef Sand
2 x 40# Caribsea Aragonite Special Grade Dry Sand
50# ARC Reef Live Rock
100# ARC Reef Premium Live Rock

2 ReefDose 4 (with 2 deluxe tube accessory kits)
Slide out control panel 60 w/ basket
Bulk Reef Supply 6 stage Deluxe Plus 150 GP Water Saver RO/DI System
RedSea Reef ATO+ Upgrade Kit
2 Bulk Reef Supply 300w Titanium Heater Elements
Ink Bird Wifi Aquarium Heater Controller - (Not the best reviews- but seems like mostly user error/not reading user manual. We'll see.... E4/E5 codes complained about are allegedly not system malfunctions but seem to be incorrect installs.)

Tropic Marin High Precision Hydrometer (Salinity tester- I didn't want to deal with calibrations/inaccuracy concerns)

STILL NEEDED (Waiting for tank fill/cycle to complete)
Battery backup or generator (for any unexpected power outages)
Medications/preventatives for QT tank or unexpected issues
Dosing necessities
Additional parameter testing equipment
Coral frag kit
QT Setup

Peace River

Thrive Master
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Welcome to Reef2Reef!!!



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Welcome back! They always come back!!! Mwuahahahahaha!


I like your equipment list. Great idea to go all Red Sea as everything is going to come together for you easily but there’s still lots of room for DIY and to get yourself in trouble.

I have the Inkbird Wi-Fi model (I didn’t like the non-Wi-Fi) and I find it easy to program and reliable but I do admit it’s my backup for emergencies.

Ironically we just purchased a small 2 cycle generator (900w) on Amazon for $150 to keep the tanks running while they turn off our power to rewire our whole home generator and it’s impressive. Won’t do our heaters or lights but the thing starts easy (knock on wood) and it runs forever on a gallon of gas.

I also use a UPS for all the tanks which gives about 20-45 minutes of battery backup (although the whole home kicks in after about 30 seconds now). If you have the space, it’s a good option if you experience frequent but short power outages.


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