JBJ 45- Low Budget and Maintenance First Reef

jcbasile

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Hey everybody,

I am going to start the thread of my aquarium and since it's an AIO, I thought this was the perfect place. About two months ago I was searching on craigslist for new aquariums, as that is what I do when I'm bored (and with COVID, there's a lot of boredom). I found an almost new JBJ 45 including two pumps, glass lid, heater and some other extras for 200$. I went to youtube to watch some videos. I found a few playlists but also EatSleepReef's amazing JBJ. This inspired me to make the switch to saltwater after about 10 years of freshwater. I went and bought the aquarium and let it sit for about a month while I meticulously planned out my pathway to reefing success. My goal is to, without cutting too many corners, make a great looking, lower maintenance tank on a budget.

Setup
After a long time of waiting, I took down my planted tank. I took a 40 gallon breeder stand I had and built a wood top with a 2 by 4 box around it to make the table wider. I put this in my house and began to setup the tank. Once the tank was in place, I decided I would go with a mix of live sand but dry rock. I wanted some beneficial bacteria to speed up the cycling process but I wanted to keep contamination from pests and anything that could cause later issues at a minimum. I bought a 40lb bag of CaribSea Ocean Direct on Amazon and also ordered 40lbs of Natures Ocean 12-inch coral base dry rock for 100$ total. After hours of research I also ordered an Ocean Revive Arctic t-247. While the light was shipping I scaped the tank. I followed the 2/3 rule for points of interest and made one side much higher than the other. The other side has an arch and I made sure to create plenty of caves but also leave about 2 inches around scape so I could run a glass scraper. The tank currently has a 50w heater ( a bit small IMO) and two random return pumps which I am looking to upgrade by buying a single better one. Here is what it looked like.


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Cycle
I had originally planned on cycling the course of a month or two by dosing with ammonia and letting the tank do its thing. BUT, my 95yo grandmother took great joy in watching the freshwater aquarium fish, and without them she was getting bored/complaining a lot. It was about 3 weeks into the cycle and the tank had already taken the ammonia dosing back to zero ppm, so I decided to somewhat controversially add a bottle of Tim's bacteria and buy a hardy clownfish. I know this isn's the world's best plan for the fish in terms of stress but I had to do something. I bought a 30$ snowonyx clownfish (named Willard) on craigslist (ironically from the same person I got the tank) a day after I added the bacteria. Long story short, he is still with us and the ammonia never went above 0.2ppm, so I think that was okay. It has now been setup for almost two months and seems to completely be cycled at least at a beginning level of course.

Livestock
A week after I added the clownfish, I decided to add some corals. I bought a random zoa colony for 10$ at my LFS along with with a pulsing xenia frag for 15$. I put the zoa on the lower left rock and the xenia on the rock in the sand-bed that can be removed as I know they spread like weeds and want to be able to remove it if needed. Two weeks after that, I bought a GSP frag for 15$ from another LFS and a 5 headed green candy cane from craigslist for 15$. I put the GSP on the bottom to acclimate and turned attention to the candy cane. The long stalk of the candy cane appeared to have lots of growths on it and when I dipped it, as I have with all the corals, lots of living things fell off. I know that isn't necessarily bad, but the white dot growths on it scared me. I decided to cut off about 3 of the 5 heads that I could and glued them to frag plugs I had from the other frags. It was nerve racking but they seemed to turn out okay. I put them in a low flow low light corner of the tank to recover. After a few days I glued the GSP to the back wall as I have always wanted to get that to takeover it completely. In the last couple of days, I added a royal gramma and he is also doing really good. I thought I was done until I saw a pretty big duncan colony being sold for 40$ on here and I couldn't pass that up. I got it and it's doing great. Last time I went to my LFS for saltwater I also bought 10 hermit crabs as a clean up crew.

Here is the tank now:



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Problems
I have only run into two bigger problems so far. The first was an outbreak of what I thought was some sort of bacteria/algae? It started taking over the rocks when I was running the lights before cycling (dumb, and I started running a cycle without the lights after that). It was gross but also syphoned right off when I did some water changes so that turned out to be no big deal.


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The second was after about a couple of days with the clownfish in it the tank got somewhat cloudy. I assumed this was also a bacteria bloom as a result of having nitrates and phosphate in the water. So, I just waited. I did a water change and waited for the tank to clear up and sure enough, about 3 days later it did. Reading around on here, I saw a lot of advice on don't over react quickly and also don't unnecessarily stick your hands in the tank. I took that and it worked out well. As of now, the tank is running great and everything is going well.

I will continue to keep this thread updated, and if you made it this far haha thanks for listening!!
 
BRS
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jcbasile

jcbasile

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What have you done for filtration? What type of things do you have in the compartments? Are you using the media baskets that came with the tank or upgrades?
For filtration I have been using the standard baskets that came with it. Both have course filter floss in the top compartment and bio balls in the lowest compartment. In the middle, one side has a bag of carbon and the other has finer filter floss. The middle compartment houses the return pumps and the right chamber also has a heater in it.

I just found an old aquaclear filter box and ordered a grow light so I will be building a HOB Chaeto box in my next update later this week.
 
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jcbasile

jcbasile

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Great start.

When your budget allows try to upgrade the return pump, it makes a huge difference.

:)
Definitely on the list of sooner rather than later! I also just noticed a decent amount of copepods in the tank. Any concerns or is it just part of the cycling process as the nutrient balance gets figured out?
 

Tahoe61

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Copepods are good. :)

I had this tank for a couple years, my only real complaint is flow through back compartments.

MarineDepot used to have a nice youtube video focused on this tank. Check it out if you have not. It is called Tank Hacks and Easy Upgrades.
 
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jcbasile

jcbasile

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Copepods are good. :)

I had this tank for a couple years, my only real complaint is flow through back compartments.

MarineDepot used to have a nice youtube video focused on this tank. Check it out if you have not. It is called Tank Hacks and Easy Upgrades.
Great, just checking!

So far I agree, the flow rate is slow and it seem to pool in the return boxes but I also don't think the flow is great.

I have watched that video and just ordered a single, cheap-ish large pump. That video has some great tips! Once I can upgrade I will get a pump with much more control-ability, as I know that's the best option.
 
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jcbasile

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Update 1: Chaeto Reactor

I noticed that some algae was growing in the tank, and since I am not running a protein skimmer (yet) I decided to use what I had on hand to make a DIY HOB Chaeto refugium.

I already had an AquaClear 30 that just needed some tlc. After cleaning that I ordered an ACKE LED growlight off Amazon for 25$. I then taped that to the back side and surrounded the filter with duct tape to cover the excess light.

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I added a piece on the side that I folded on itself so it was no longer sticky. This acted as a viewing portal. I realize it looks a bit low grade, but I think it will get the job done nicely.

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Finally, I added a piece of egg crate with a filter bag cut and hot glued to the edges to keep the chaeto from spilling into the filter compartment.

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This is what it looks like on the tank. It is so far working great, and since I put the inflow in the far left, it is increasing the flow through that overflow intake which is great. I currently have the lights scheduled from 10pm-5am but if anybody has any better suggestions I would love to hear them!

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Welcome to R2R, nice looking tank ! How does your grandma like the tank now? :)
 
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jcbasile

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Nice. Does the led get hot? What setting are you running your lighting at?

how is the gsp doing glued to the back of the tank?
That is a good question I didn't think about until my dad pointed it out. Since I am only running at night I think so heat might also act as a buffer for the tank since the heater needs to be upgraded. I put a temp probe in the chaeto filter and I am going to test it out to see though. The LED also only really has one setting so I could look into doing some modifications to add adjustability but none currently.

The gsp is doing alright, definitely growing but yesterday it was closed all day so not sure what happened. It isn't the best quality frag so I may look to swap it out.
 
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jcbasile

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Welcome to R2R, nice looking tank ! How does your grandma like the tank now? :)
She loves it! The hermit crabs add a nice touch of motion but she still asks every day when a new fish is coming. Now I am telling her not for a while but she, and I, are really enjoying it.
 
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jcbasile

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Update: Sorry it's been a while! I went on a two week social distancing trip and left the tank with my sister. She is a college sophomore and incredibly detail oriented. I explained to her how to do everything except a water change and did a 50% one before I left so I figured it would be fine. I expected she would do a good job and boy was I wrong...She did an amazing job, honestly better than me! Here is the tank currently (second pic is my favorite coral, the duncan)
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I just bought some rasta zoas from another reefer on here and will update with how they do soon as well. I made a DIY frag rock to hold in at the bottom before I move it to its real place. Here is the dipping process, along with pruning some bubble algae that I found and possibly an Aiptasia. There are a few of them in the tank and I am removing them as the come up but some are in hard to reach places.
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Overall the tank is doing great. The chaeto algae HOB filter thing is growing chaeto like the weed it is. There is beyond too much so I'm upgrading to an Aquaclear 50 instead of 30 tomorrow. Up next on my list of things to do is build an auto top off system with two switches for redundancy, frag the couple of zoas I have and put them on a frag rack, and buy a fan/inkbird to control temperature better.
 

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