laurichj's 120G mixed post build thread

laurichj

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I'm very slow with reef related things, and the tank's been up for about 18 months so I'm right on schedule for a build thread!

I setup a 65G tank about 11-12 years ago. The plan was to move that tank for the 3rd time, but I scratched the front a month before the move and hey, look... upgrade excuse. A 120 fits into the space well, so that's what I've got. Since it's already up and running, we'll go a bit backwards and here's what it is right now:

120 Aqueon 48x24x24 tank on a diy maple stand. Kessil AP 700 for light. MaxSpect Gyre 3k for flow. Synergy reef overflow feeds a diy 29g sump in a closet in a room behind the display, Jabo return feeding 2 random flow eductors and a couple fans. Run by an old ReefKeeper Elite, if it ain't broke don't break it.

Livestock is very light and mostly from my old 65: a hippo tang (10y+) and two ORA ocellaris (10y+). Newly added yellow tang and purple firefish are about 2 months in the tank now. I'll be adding fish as frags provide money. Decade old ocellaris are jerks so they're banished to the sump for now, in the next day or two I'll be turning on a 29G fuge/frag tank and moving them to that.

Coral is nothing special but too many to rattle off. Monti caps dominate currently, but I have a metallic green/pink tipped frogspawn that gets huge annually. Currently 5-6 heads since I removed ~30 a month ago. There's a rainbow chalice growing well that's probably the big $ piece now. I've had a bali slimer in a bad place for a long time, trying to get it to actually grow now and figure out what's been wrong with it. Good color, just never did much. I suspect it didn't like being right under an LED puck, looking better now that it's in much lower light but time will tell.

Cleanup: 4 very old snails (likely 5y+ but I'm not sure), a ruby mithrix, 2 peppermint shrimp (~1year), an ORA red urchin (1month), and a tiger conch (1month). Most the heavy lifting is done by asterina starfish and stomatella snails.

Filtration: 75-100# live rock, a not quite deep sand bed that's regularly vacuumed, a block of marine pure and a filter sock cleaned every 3-4 days. Skimmer, GFO, and biopellets are available but I've turned them off since the tank is at 0 nitrates and phosphates. I had a lot of N/P in the old rock that's finally been removed. About a week ago N/P went from 16 and .03 to 0, which is when I pulled the export offline. I figure not exporting N/P is better than dosing and I already feed a silly amount. At some point I'll get some macro algae to suck up any build up, or run GFO every so often.

Full tank shot is a bit old. I'd just added some tap water washed sand and it triggered some diatoms, all cleared up now.

0306201135a.jpg


Since this is a build thread, here's some building. I'm cycling a 10g coral/invert quarantine after introducing flukes on either the urchin or the conch. Never again, nothing died but the flukes have been a bugger to kill off, assuming I have. It's ready for frags but the light is delayed like everything. Here's a picture from the day it got filled.
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The other two are the stand for the fuge/frag tank. Again, old pics. It's all painted, filled and ready to go.
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It's impossible to have enough clamps.
0308201615.jpg


So I typed all this out and reef2reef went down.... so I got the fuge/frag tank running and the clowns have their new home. Over the next few days I'll dig up what paltry pictures of the build I have and get wordy again.
 
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laurichj

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I always get wrapped up in a project and forget to take pictures, but here's the stand. I like woodworking and wanted an excuse to learn mortise/tenon joints so that's the basis.

The frame is 1x4 s4s hard maple with m&t joints. The back and sides have 1/2" maple ply in a dado, the front is open for doors that I still haven't bothered making. The corners are a dado running the length. Given the width of the stock, I likely should have done a 3/8" rabbet instead but I wanted the added surface for glue. The other big mistake I made was using a dado stack in the table saw instead of a router and chisel. Had I done that I'd have closed ends and much simpler joints to cut out.

Here's a fit of the entire frame, it's upside down but the only difference is there's a dado for a plywood bottom.
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Here's the bottom glue up, upside down. There's some support underneath for a small tank or such if ever needed.
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The glue up was pure semi-controlled chaos, but here it is done. The cross brace at the top has some very ugly but perfectly functional dovetails.
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The bottom is painted with thick black paint for protection, and the sides are stained to match the kitchen cabinets.
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0611181610.jpg
 
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When I got tired of whacking a mortising chisel, I'd work on the tank. Two holes for the synergy overflow, two for the returns. This was my first time drilling, so I took it (too) slow. Came out water tight so that's all I needed.
0418181343.jpg


Back view. I like the synergy minus two stupid oversights. First is when I did the math, I measured the power off water drop to the bottom of the teeth. One of the nice things with this overflow is the removable weir for cleaning. The water drops to the bottom of the weir, not the teeth. There's enough room in the sump but it's a bit close for my comfort.

The other thing was I made the internal plumbing as directed and didn't notice the full siphon didn't go on quite so tight, so it's too high. Which means it's not silent since I can't pull a siphon without the wet non-siphon getting too much flow. I also get microbubbles due to the turbulence here, but the filter sock takes care of it.

0420181713.jpg


From the front. If you look beneath the teeth, the horizontal line marks the bottom of the removable piece, and where the water actually drops to.
0420181713a.jpg


In place, on the stand with a tired reefer napping underneath.
0611182155.jpg
 
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Live Updates

Nitrates:
NO3s are finally measurable at 1.5ppm. If I call day 0 the day where the noticeable thinning of tissue caused me to turn off the protein skimmer. Day 7 had stabilized the tissue thinning but 0 NO3, so I roughly doubled the evening rod's feeding. I do a small cube of American Reef's HPD in the morning, a quarter sheet of nori half hour or so after that and now a roughly quarter sized chunk of rods, which is a ridiculous amount of food. Day 14 was still 0ppm so I added a sizable pinch of formula 2 pellets and on about day 21 we're increasing.

In the middle of this I lit the fuge, which certainly didn't help. If it wasn't double duty as a frag and clownfish penalty box I wouldn't have.

In the meantime, my urchin and 2 tangs have removed around 90% of the very small amount of hair algae in the display. I moved some rocks with some hair algae to the fuge and they've continued to grow. I'll be moving the urchin there soon, should make quick work of them.


Quarantine: While the world is being quarantined, I might as well quarantine something other than myself. There's a new (to me) LFS in the area (Seattle Corals) and I picked up an unnamed two toned acan and a PC rainbow. Since I was looking for fish, I went down to barrier and got a spiderman acro, a sunset monti, an ORA kamohara blenny, an ORA filefish and a biota mandarin. The corals got a bayer bath, and everything is settling down into a quarantine.

0407201126.jpg


What a tiny little fish, that's a 1" plug for scale.
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The file and blenny are in great shape, eating well and fairly plump. The mandarin is skinny but starting to peck at prepared foods, alert and active. I'll have some live pods to round out the tank and provide some quarantine food soon.

The light on the tank is horrible, but it'll do. Since I "trust" the store and the breeders, I'm not medicating just observing for 6-8 weeks. As soon as the mandarin goes into the display, I suspect I won't see "her" for a few months so I want to fatten her up anyhow.
 
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I'm going to say amusingly, but it's a lot more like infuriatingly a mistake I just made ties in nicely to me avoiding that mistake in the next step of the build: Reef Crystal's alkalinity is Too dang High. Which I forgot when filling the quarantine. Turns out acro's don't like 4+ point swings. The spiderman acro frag has some stn, and everything else is a bit grumpy. Hopefully I didn't just kill them all. I'll slowly drop the alk, but not much to do now. If you look closely, when I filled the 120G I had about 50-60G from the old tank and a bucket of lower alk redsea to avoid this.

It's a bit surprising how much rock will fit into a 10g. Here's the pukani curing. I used PhosphateRX to drop the phosphates, worked great and cleaned up in under 3 weeks.
0612181137.jpg


As a bit of an aside, I've missed the liverock but not the pests so I'm going to see if I can break even making something like it. I've got 75# of marco rock coming and I'm going to soak it and light it for a few months to get coralline, copepods, stomatellas, and a solid bacterial film and then make it available.

Bit of a mistake, but I dumped the sand in first. I moved it all out of the way when doing the rockwork, but it was a pita.
0612181137a.jpg


After a long day, the move is done. The water isn't up all the way because I didn't have the sump done yet so it's below the returns. This is just a cloudy pile of rocks.
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Solidly a year before the move I added a ruby mithrix, and then never saw "her" again. During the move I picked up a rock, and there she was. Quite a lot larger. I know where she lives and she's out every night now.
0621182155a.jpg


I spent the next few days incrementally creating the rockwork mostly as shown in the first post. Next big project was the sump.
 
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Live Update

Nitrates are around 4ppm, and I've dialed back the excess feeding. Everything has responded very well, colors are back to normal and then some. Great PE on the montis. Still hunting for the right spot for the slimer. On the sand it gets great PE, but not enough light and browning/thin tissue between polyps. Higher up, no PE but good tissue and color. Moved it a few days ago to a mid tank level.

QT: fish doing well, added algaebarn copepods. Corals less than thrilled, hopefully a series of large water changes will help.

Previously on Josh Goes Insane: Sump build.

It's a very basic sump, around 29g total volume sized to fit in the closet. First time building with glass. I ordered a rim for it then found a calculator that told me I don't need one.

I took some 200 grit sand paper to smooth out the edges. I played with getting a nice edge but it just wasn't going to happen so an edge that doesn't cut me works.

Laid out on an old sheet I don't mind making a mess on. I put the tape down, did the layout and cut the tape away. Much easier than trying to lay down tape in a line.
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4 walls are up.
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Egg crate: Don't reef without it. Made a nice stand for the middle baffle.
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And my horrible seams (whatever, they hold water). I waited too long to remove the tape, it should be pulled wet. Used a carpet knife (the yellow thing) to clean them up since the blades are scary sharp.
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Next time on Josh Builds a Box of Water

As far as heading back in time, we're about up to date. The sump got plumbed in, then I redid the return manifold for GFO, biopellets and the frag tank, then I removed the gfo/biopellets...

Today, I started a phyto culture and I've got some pods in the mail to culture to make sure the mandarin gets happy. Probably won't continue to culture them after the quarantine. The frag tank is going through some uglies.
 
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Initially I just had the biopellets plumbed in, which is hiding with the skimmer in the back.

0205191546.jpg


Once the frag tank was ready, I finished off the manifold (excuse the wire ratsnest, that's on the list; and the doser has been relocated to a proper mount (after a bath in the ATO...)):
0401201818b.jpg


And then you have the tank itself, with the clowns since they were tormenting a yellow tang:
0401201818.jpg


No images of the copepod culture, but it's exploded and I'm harvesting quite a lot of pods daily (small tight nit net) for a rapidly growing mandarin. 2 more weeks and they'll be out of QT. I'll need to do a water change in it soon.

The ocean magic based phyto culture crashed, which was about what I'd read was likely. So I got a nanno disk and used some live tetra to start 2 more. The nanno (on the left, small container) isn't doing much, but it's not yellowing. The tetra (right, 2L) was 5mL in 1L of water and has done quite a lot in the 3 days between these photos:
0430201413_HDR.jpg
0503201036_HDR.jpg
 
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Kamohara blenny, filefish and mandarin added a few days ago. They got 6 weeks of observation (after a LFS done copper quarantine). Last night, the mandarin swam into the gyre pump and died :mad:. Of course, the guards were in the box still (on it now since the file fish is small enough to get sucked in). She'd be doing great too, grew nearly half an inch.

I keep crashing the phytoplankton cultures, but one of these days I'll figure it out. At this point I think I'm just not putting enough fertilizer in. I've been doing 2ml/4L Mercer of Montana and in 4-5 days it'll crash unless I split it but it never gets very dark. 1:1 into microwaved and sterilized containers. Bubbling vigorously....

I'm putting together a hanging canopy, so the display can get a pair of t5 bulbs to help with the shading. Nitrates leveled off in the mid 20s, which is fine for the display but the fuge is new and lacks a biofilm so I've added the skimmer back into the mix so I don't have to look at ugly.
 

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