KJoFan's SCA 150g Build

KJoFan

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I haven't done a build thread on my last few setups because they usually just end up stalling out at some point. So, I wasn't going to do one for this build either but this is my biggest (and best?) build in my 10+ years on the hobby. Why not share it with the community?

Anyway, after selling off my 120g awhile back and downsizing to a couple smaller tanks (and just generally getting a bit weary of it all) I was ready to upsize just a bit. Around Thanksgiving of 2016 I purchased a 66g SCA tank and stand thinking this would be the ideal size, not too big, not too small. I'm sure you all know how this story goes. My wants and needs outgrew the 66 quickly so in November of 2017 I jumped on a tank/stand/canopy deal for a 150g eurobraced setup from SCA.

SCA Starfire Eurobraced 150g
Trigger Triton 44 sump
Reef Octopus Varios 6 return pump (should have gotten the Varios 8)
Lifereef 24" skimmer with Waveline 10000 II DC pump
2x Reefbrite 250w MH pendants w/Reefbrite XHO LEDs
2x Tunze 6095 powerheads
GHL Profilux 4 controller
GHL Profilux 2.1 doser

Delivery day:



I got a few of my co-workers to stop over and help carry the tank and stand into the house. We didn't have suction cups (I wish we had) and I warned them that as soon as we got into the house the tank would fog up so be sure they had a good grip for the 7 steps down to the lower level.

They did great:



The tank in place and it's predecessor off to the right:


Tank inhabitants temp home on the left:


That last photo was taken on December 22nd. The list of fish in that tub included (as my memory serves):
- Potter's angel
- Potter's wrasse
- 5 or 6 Rhomboid female wrasses
- Kole Tang
- pair of Blue Star Leopard wrasses
- pair of Wyoming White clowns
- Biota Coral Beauty angel
- Biota Court Jester goby

Over the course of the next week to 10 days (over Christmas when I wasn't super attentive to the tub, but threw in some food daily) all fish died except the leopard wrasse pair. I can only assume Velvet as I didn't notice ANY symptoms of illness in my brief observations. The clown pair were the last to go and I did watch them start to breathe heavily and get skittish but at that point I just was done with it all. The leopards however never skipped a beat.

More to come!
 
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Brew12

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Sorry you lost the fish, but I can't wait to see what you do with the tank!
 
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KJoFan

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Ok moving right along. Shortly after I got the tank delivered I took all my dry rock from various other past tanks and started to cook it up in tubs with saltwater, heaters and powerheads. I topped them off from time to time but otherwise left them alone. At some point midway through I changed their water and dosed some lanthanum chloride to pull phosphates out if there were any.

In the meantime, plumbing. Nothing fancy, but it works:






After plumbing was completed, time to start the fill:


I bought brand new Special Grade sand, but didn't bother (read: too lazy) to rinse it. I don't really recommend that. It took forever and a day to clear up.


I swear it took two weeks to clear up enough that I could start scaping. My goal with the scape was provide a lot of coral real estate, but keep it fairly low such that sps colonies have room to grow and/or I can build up the scape if I need more real estate. I don't enjoy the aquascaping process. I can have a good idea of what I want, but my execution lacks. So, to start I just threw my cooked rock in to see what pieces seemed to fit best and wait for inspiration.

So..the hodge podge went like this:



I wanted to implement shelf pieces in my last build and did use some smaller pieces. I had this huge shelf piece you see above that I thought might work in this tank, but I just can't seem to use them in any way that seems natural looking to me, so I ended up not using it at all.

In the end this is what I came up with:





In the meantime, I parted with the surviving leopards, started up my IM Lagoon 25 to hold remaining corals and QT them for a minimum of 6 weeks in case Velvet was actually the culprit. I didn't want to contaminate the new tank, plus it wasn't ready for livestock but I need to get the tub out of the way.
 
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KJoFan

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After I got the scape how I wanted I used some Dr. Tim's One and Only to get some bacteria colonizing. I let that sit for a day or so and then added plain ammonia to help build up that nitrifying bacteria. At some point in here I also started with some Prodibio Biodigest to diversify the bacteria. Ammonia levels dropped and I dosed some ammonia again and kept up with a couple vials of Biodigest. Once ammonia dropped to zero again I deemed it time to add life.

Since I had decided all other tanks were coming down, that included the IM40 on the upper level. So, the snowflake clown pair went into the 150 and the six line wrasse went into the frag tank for pest control. The clowns are jerks so...I might have made a mistake there, as they've now had probably two months of just them in the tank, I am worried about adding new fish, but we'll see.

Now, I'm not sure if i overdid it with the bacteria or what, but I ended up with this thick ugly mulm all over my rockwork:





It didn't appear like diatoms like I'm used to seeing anyway, it was just thick brown...sludge. It's now mostly gone thanks in part to snails and time. Some of it would just kind of flake off and disintegrate and leave stark white rock beneath it. Weird. I've never had that happen before.
 
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KJoFan

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After the brown mulm mostly went away and the fallow period for the corals had ended (around the first of April) I moved a few things over from the frag tank.



Euphyllia:


Blastos and Leptastrea:


Lighting situation:



Hodge Podge Z & P garden that hopefully will fill it as it may:
 
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In the meantime after years of a couple Brute cans and a Python and pump I moved back and forth between cans for a water storage system I decided it was time to upgrade. Mostly because the difficulty of the existing setup ended up deterring me from doing regular water changes because the setup just wasn't ideal.

So...one day I came home from work to this:



Which, with a little work turned into this:


Now, the only thing still not ideal is draining the old water from the tank, but with a python and pump it works alright. The central pump in the station works well for re-filling and transferring water. I put a bit of hose on the barb out front for easy re-fll of top off container and filling buckets if needed. I'm really happy we made the upgrade and wonder why we waited so long!

However, all was not well. I was struggling with sps in my frag tank, even though it had long established rock in it and everything else was fine. Some sps would practically RTN as soon as they hit the water. Nitrates were and continue to be on the high side (25 ppm usually) but that alone should not cause the RTN. Alk was stable around 7.5 via dosing so I didn't think that was it. I had one of those ATI ICP tests I hadn't used so decided to take my sample of RO water (from the top off container under the tank) and a sample from the frag tank and send it in. Results came back showing metals in both the tank water AND top off water. Granted, my DI might have been at end of life or a bit beyond when I took the sample and it had since been changed, but I was on the hunt for the cause.

The float valve in the RO holding tank:



And magnet from ATO sensors in the main tank:


I am hoping I found the culprits. I purchased some Cuprisorb a couple weekends ago and added it to both tanks in hopes of removing the metals from there. SPS was moved to the main tank when I just was having no luck in the frag tank and they seem to have perked up some, though they along with the leptastreas have really paled in the past couple weeks, I don't know why though. :(

Of course both 55g storage containers were full when I discovered the test results so I've continued to use the water up and let the Cuprisorb hopefully take care of anything unwanted in there. I pulled the float valve right away and have at least re-filled the freshwater tank, so I'll probably wait maybe another fill or that tank before I send in another test and see where I'm at.

My booster pump has also been leaking for awhile and seemingly on it's last leg, it finally quit all together this past weekend. I have a new one to replace it, just need to set it up.
 

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How are you liking the reefbrite fixtures? I just saw them for the first time at RAP and was amazed at how cool the 250 ran.
 
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KJoFan

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I really like them. They don't get super hot to the touch and the ballasts stay very cool as well. We'll see once summer comes (if it ever does!) if temps climb at all, but the tank is in my lower level so I don't anticipate many issues.
 
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I'm setting up the same tank and my last purchase to get everything running is the lighting. I live in South Florida but those halides really had me thinking.
 
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KJoFan

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I'm setting up the same tank and my last purchase to get everything running is the lighting. I live in South Florida but those halides really had me thinking.
Are you planning for the canopy too or not? If not you’d probably be ok. Or could add a simple fan to blow across the surface or one down in the sump to cool the water. I don’t see much in the way of water temp increase so far.
 

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Nope open top, so it's still a possibility. Leaning towards a 8x80w ATI and dual reefbrites but I do love that halide shimmer. Nice tank by the way, makes me want to get the boys over and get mine upstairs! Cannot tell you how much I'm dreading that turning staircase...
 
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KJoFan

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Nope open top, so it's still a possibility. Leaning towards a 6x80w ATI and dual reefbrites but I do love that halide shimmer. Nice tank by the way, makes me want to get the boys over and get mine upstairs! Cannot tell you how much I'm dreading that turning staircase...
ATI's are nice fixtures, you can't go wrong either way I don't think. But, you're right, a little shimmer sure is nice. Good luck with getting the tank in place, these things are not light!
 
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Finally hung my fuge light tonight, five days without light on the chaeto was probably long enough....




This is the light I picked up: Growstar UFO LED
I might have overdone it getting the 300w version vs the 150w version but time will tell. I figure I have a pretty large refugium area to light and most recent findings have shown that chaeto likes strong light, and so it was.

The chaeto doesn't have much room right now as I have a basket of Aquaforest Life Biofil and a basket of Siporax in there already.

The idea is to remove one or both of those baskets if the chaeto can take hold and keep nutrients down. If so, I'll also stop the ** NP-Pro and Pro BioS probably.

But, did a test of nitrates today. 10 days ago nitrates were at 25, tonight, 10, maybe less. So the current method is working. I'm a little scared to "fix" what isn't broke but I think a fuge is more beneficial overall, especially as I'm aiming for Leopard wrasses down the road.

The odd thing is that I'm experiencing some paling of my sps and I'm not quite sure why. My bioload is low and they don't even get fed daily, but according to tests, nutrients are there. Alk was sitting at 6.9 last night. I bumped the doser slightly to try to bring it up. I'd be happy with that sitting around 7.5. Regardless, the reason for the paling is not obvious to me.
 

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What's your po4 at? I have this exact problem, got no3 down to 5 and po4 bottomed out causing corals to pale in color. Im starting to recover after beginning to feed twice a day even with only 2 fish and dosed some neophos. Po4 went up to .02-03 and corals are starting to look better.
 
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KJoFan

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What's your po4 at? I have this exact problem, got no3 down to 5 and po4 bottomed out causing corals to pale in color. Im starting to recover after beginning to feed twice a day even with only 2 fish and dosed some neophos. Po4 went up to .02-03 and corals are starting to look better.
You know, I considered checking it but opted not to because the Hanna test takes more time than I had patience for tonight. lol I should check it though just to have an idea.
 

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What's your po4 at? I have this exact problem, got no3 down to 5 and po4 bottomed out causing corals to pale in color. Im starting to recover after beginning to feed twice a day even with only 2 fish and dosed some neophos. Po4 went up to .02-03 and corals are starting to look better.
I also suspect this is the problem. My tank does the best when I can keep NO3 over 10ppm and PO4 over 0.04ppm.
 
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KJoFan

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I also suspect this is the problem. My tank does the best when I can keep NO3 over 10ppm and PO4 over 0.04ppm.
I'll check PO4 today when I get home. I actually was surprised to see NO3 at 10 (maybe less), as the last time I checked it was 25. But, I have added a bunch of ** Life Biofil and my Siporax has probably kicked in by now. Maybe I'll pop on over to the ** forum for some guidance on how to proceed, since I am wanting to transition to chaeto.

When I check PO4 later I'll report back.
 
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KJoFan

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Also, let it be known over my 10+ years in the hobby and countless other tanks over that time I have NEVER had low nutrients, in fact, just the opposite. I need moar fish!
 
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