Krash's first reef

krash7172

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3 years after starting our remodel with a built-in reef tank, I'm feeling success. I've been wanting to give back to R2R so I supported this year and decided to share my experience. I've been planning to do this for a while and just needed to get a thread started. It's actually fun to look back at the build pics. I cant put three years in one post and I don't have the time to so this will be several posts.

Here is the before with painters tape showing the plan and elevation. Lol

before.jpg
 
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krash7172

krash7172

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Initial build:

180g 6' display tank
120g 6' sump
56g mix tank
Air water ice 5 stage rodi
Custom stainless steel sink
Dual overflows with filter socks
2 return pumps
2 heaters
Eshopps skimmer
3 Hydra 26 lights
2 Kissel lights
Apex system
 
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krash7172

krash7172

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More construction details:

The cabinets are outdoor grade weather resistant material
Rather than drywall, a humidity resistant material was used like in a bathroom
All enamel paint
Vinyl floor
The vent in the floor is HVAC return. No humidity or smell :)
Washer wall drain for WCs and RODI

drain.jpg
 
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krash7172

krash7172

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I'm all-in at this point and know almost nothing about reefing, It actually went well (this is a success story). They put in live rock, sand and a few chromis to cycle. All good but now I'm alone moving forward as I had not found R2R yet. I didn't know water params, how to program my hydra lights or what my Apex system even did. I see a bunch of probes in the bottom of my sump. I did what I knew from freshwater. Clean the tank, filters and do water changes. We got fish and corals too early and many died unfortunately. I'll name some of the pests that I know that I have had and there are probably more that I didn't know: gha, rha, cyano, green bubble, red bubble (bubble algae is kinda cool imo) aiptasia, little cute white starfish. My wife and I weren't terribly happy but I wasn't going to give up. We both scuba dive and believe in diversity of life in the tank to more closely match a real reef.
 
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krash7172

krash7172

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So now I really discover corals which satisfies my green thumb. I used to have a green house but I can't have one where I live now. You can propagate coral? Mind blown. I was buying $20 frags every time I went to the lfs and placing them on my rock. Nobody told me you can glue them. Mind blown again. So now my wife is not happy that I am constantly messing with the tank. I buy a 32g biocube "play tank" / frag tank. It turns out that if your water params are bad in 1 tank you are probably not going to have success with 2 tanks. The biocube gets sanitized and my 20 yr old fresh water loach has a sweet home.
 
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krash7172

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I find R2R. This is 3rd time mind blown. So much good info. Not sure if I would have been better off finding early or after my tank had a chance to mature. Things are going generally well but I still have significant algae about a year in. This supposed to be a build thread so I decided to buy a 16g biocube and turn it into a refugium. Pretty cool actually but didn't work well. Not a major impact on DT. I drilled an overflow in the biocube and used its pump to get water from the sump.
fugecube.jpg
 
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krash7172

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Removed the chaeto and I used the 16g tank for a bit to frag and then I had aiptasia go crazy. I neglected it for a bit then there were like 30 aiptasia. That tank is gone now. I had a few aiptasia in my dt that I was using aiptasia X on but finally a file fish did the trick.
 
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krash7172

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I like the idea of biological filtration and I got an algae scrubber. I gave up on trying to turn a biocube into a refugium. A properly functioning refugium is probably better but a manufactured algae scrubber is so much easier and they actually do grow pods.
 
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krash7172

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I had kept essentially soft corals and fish until about a year ago (things that lived). Water params are very intimidating for a noob reefer and I didn't test other than salinity. From my fresh water background, water changes reset the params (mostly) and you just do that and life is good. It turns out that in the reef world, changing water monthly won't cut it. You must test for success with coral :) I kept my salinity in check and did routine water changes with rodi. Fish were happy and soft corals were fine but no luck with sps and lps were meh.
 
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The tank is about 18 months old at this point and past all the new tank uglies. I decided it was time to up my game and took a water sample to my LFS. Other than alk being low, the other params were OK. We talked about RODI and it turns out you are supposed to replace the membrane. Sigh. I also learned we had chloramines to deal with. I purchased all new filters, membrane and chloramine block. I did a couple WCs with clean RODI and started dosing to keep alk around 10 dkh. I feel like this was the major turning point for my reef. I saw results in a few weeks. The LPS started looking better and soft corals and coralline really grew. The fish even seemed more calm and peaceful. I really didn't add much to the tank for a while and had to start removing soft corals and bta's. I traded for supplies, different softies and a small acan frag that is still alive today. I stayed diligent with holding my salinity at 1.025 and alk near 10.0. I didn't change anything for about 9 months during which time I saw all pests slowly fade away and I finally beat aiptasia with a file fish!
 
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