Lifegard Aquatics 7.4g Pico Build "The Burry"

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Let's try shorter, more frequent updates :)

I tore the tank down for maintenance yesterday... that kind of thing is easy to do when the tank is that small, and all the rock work is glued together and on stilts. I glued down a bunch of new corals, and took a look at a problematic powerhead (that saga continues - the manufacturer is sending me a new one). It's a good opportunity to suck a bunch of stuff off the bottom glass and do a large(er) WC.

I also glued in a drain plug that I printed. It plugs up that bottom drain hole, and is 1mm shorter than the glass thickness so it doesn't protrude into the filter chamber, allowing me to slip in my media basket (which I also installed). We'll see how all of that goes in time, but so far so good.

I started feeding the tank after I discovered the sexy shrimp chowing down on my new corals. They really did a number on my birdsnest and stylophora, plucking polyps out and even eating the tissue off of the skeleton. Now that they're being fed, that behavior seems to have subsided. The next task will be to figure out how little feeding I can get away with. I initially tried small sinking spectrum pellets... they were very excited at the smell, but when they get a hold of one they usually let go in a short 10-20 seconds. I've had to resort to frozen food...

Here are some pictures I took tonight. Everyone seems to be relatively happy following the big shake-up yesterday... and I hope that over time, with the shrimps being less voracious, things improve even further.

PXL_20201122_230245382.NIGHT.jpg


PXL_20201122_230258303.NIGHT.jpg
 

Ranjib

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Dude , the tank already looks superb. The glass bed encrusting is an awesome view :) . I’m thinking of moving in it of benepetit to just reef roids. I might have missed it , what are you feeding the shrimps ?
 
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Dude , the tank already looks superb.

Thanks :) I'm pretty proud of it considering it's barely 4mo old

I’m thinking of moving in it of benepetit to just reef roids. I might have missed it , what are you feeding the shrimps ?

I've found reef roids to be too homogeneous in particle size and ingredients. I prefer foods with a mix of a bunch of stuff in it. I use BRS reef chili from time to time as it has a wide variety of particle sizes, which helps make sure that all my corals get something they like.

Of course, these things are not ideal for the shrimps. As a matter of emergency (my corals are being eaten!) I have switched to Rods Original. A tiny piece about half the size of a pencil eraser is enough to do the trick. Even the mini maxi gets in on that action. Rod's was by far the favorite in my other tank.

Those two bed encrusting will meet soon and the cyphsatrea will win over the monti (?? Green yellow one ) . Create a rock or bench like thing , shadow is the best separator

Yea :-/ it has happened quicker than I thought. The green/orange/yellow one is a sun king psammacora. I like it a lot :( maybe I should pop the frag off the glass and move it elsewhere.

I'm not sure if shade will do it since cyphastreas usually do ok in low light. Maybe I will experiment with the rock positioning a bit. In the end though, the goal is to cover as much of the bottom glass as possible with coral
 
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I have just setup the little brother to this tank, the 3.8. I am loving it so far!

Cool! Are you doing a build thread for it?

Some quick updates on the burry. Plugging the drain hole has stabilized the water level (and in turn, eliminated my salinity swings). I printed a drain plug and superglued it in.

The media basked seems to be doing well. With three filter pads, it is definitely overkill! I haven't yet changed any (they're still looking OK) but I'll pull them out this weekend and have a gander.

I was away for 5 days or so over thanksgiving. In that time, the sexy shrimp have really done some damage to my SPS. The hardest hit is my purple stylophora - they have been picking polyps out of it :mad:. I have started feeding a little more rod's food, once every other day, making sure each shrimp gets a big chunk. If I can't fix their behavior, they will have to go...

PXL_20201202_182726706.MP.jpg


The other corals, including my acros, seem to be pretty happy. Maybe it's the food, maybe it's the increased salinity stability... probably it's both :)

I'll post some more pictures in another few weeks.
 

Willz

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Any updates? My wife just got the 8.3g tank. I wished we could have held off and bought a brand that had a larger rear chamber.

I see that you were able to fit the Sicce 1.0 in. I was hesitant to order it until I saw this build and that you have had success with it.

However, after reading about you having hassles with salinity due to the overflow design I’m on the fence about it again.

I really like your media tray and the custom plug. If you or anyone that sees this post has a 3D printer and wanted to make some cash I would be willing to pay for you to print one out and mail it here. DM me.
 
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Hi @Willz!

Any updates?

Sorry for the relative silence :( work has gotten super busy, and this poor little tank isn't getting the attention it deserves. It's up and running still, but with a touch of STN on some of the SPS due to WC neglect. I may need to sell the whole system soon :(. Otherwise, everything is running great, with the exception of the powerhead system.

I see that you were able to fit the Sicce 1.0 in. I was hesitant to order it until I saw this build and that you have had success with it.

However, after reading about you having hassles with salinity due to the overflow design I’m on the fence about it again.

Yea... Sicce is hands down the better pump. But you will need to rig up some kind of flow restrictor beyond what it comes with. The key with this tank is to not worry about return throughput - focus on turnover in the display itself (i.e. powerhead number and placement). Throughput through the return and filtration is going to be slow, but it is what it is. It's not too bad, if you have powerheads to stir it all up and keep it suspended.

I really like your media tray and the custom plug. If you or anyone that sees this post has a 3D printer and wanted to make some cash I would be willing to pay for you to print one out and mail it here. DM me.

I'd happily print this for you for free, but alas I have no time :(. You may need to scale it down a bit, maybe 98% or so, I think I noted that in the post. I received a notification that there's a new 3d printing forum here. I already shared the necessary file on my previous post, so I might recommend you go there and see if anyone would be willing to print it for you.

Good luck! Please let me know if you have any more questions or if I can help further. Happy reefing :)
 

Willz

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Nice. I wound up buying the InTank media basket for the first chamber found here:


I would still like to get something slightly springy to plug the bottom hole you have had issues with. Something like a runner O-Ring to really plug the hole. Or a rubber “cork” that would plug in there and stay.

We have added a Tunze nano Ozmolator for evaporation. We also bought 2 Kamoer Nono-dosers from BRS since we have some LPS a and SPS. I’m waiting for the little acrylic storage vessels for alk and calcium to add them to the system.

I am tempted to add another smallish tank behind the DT with a HOB an overflow and small pump so that we can add a skimmer and refugium and just have a little more real estate for doodads and gadgets. The 2” depth of the filter chamber is certainly a challenge to work with.

Good luck with your tank and thanks for your insight! Hope you don’t have to get rid of it, but I understand if you do :)
 
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Nice. I wound up buying the InTank media basket for the first chamber found here:

Cool! I don't remember seeing that option from InTank back when I printed my basket, nice to know that there's a commercial option. Next time :-D

I would still like to get something slightly springy to plug the bottom hole you have had issues with. Something like a runner O-Ring to really plug the hole. Or a rubber “cork” that would plug in there and stay.

I printed a plug with a wide fringe and a truncated trunk so it wouldn't stick into the rear chamber... I applied super glue to the fringe and trunk, and held it in place for a few seconds. Haven't had a problem since.

I am tempted to add another smallish tank behind the DT with a HOB an overflow and small pump so that we can add a skimmer and refugium and just have a little more real estate for doodads and gadgets. The 2” depth of the filter chamber is certainly a challenge to work with.

I'm convinced that my little tank would survive very well with what it's got, and bi-weekly to monthly 2G water change, _if_ the ATO had kalkwasser. IMO that's the major missing piece for me. I bought the kalkwasser but haven't put it in yet because I read that it can eat through the plastic ATO container I have currently. Need to figure that out I guess..

I have a very small goby, two sexy shrimp left, and a dozen or two corals. I feed a small pinch of frozen rod's food every 2-3 days. Nitrates and phosphates stay pretty low. The only real problem is keeping up calc and alk (hence kalkwasser). I think it's totally possible to keep SPS, LPS etc including acros, in this tank with very low overhead if done well. No skimmer or fuge required :-D. IMO, anyway.

Good luck with your tank and thanks for your insight! Hope you don’t have to get rid of it, but I understand if you do :)

Thank you! I hope this has helped. I'm getting ready to leave here, and my family will need to take care of the tank. Despite its current state, it's become clear that perhaps my family doesn't want the responsibility of caring for a whole "world" - if something were to go wrong, they'd be very sad about it.
 
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Long overdue update!

A couple months ago, we moved away from the place I had this little tank. I passed it off to my family, to whom I gave a book and a crash course on reef keeping.

Before I left, I moved the tank and I also put the original stand together. I didn't have time to do all the modifications I had planned... oh well. Here's a picture, the plan is to smoke/paint the glass in the front so you can't see in. You can also see the battery backup that I finally hooked in.

PXL_20210321_140620513.jpg


Prior to leaving, I had been struggling to keep the alk up. I was doing weekly water changes (~40%) and manually dosing. The plan was to switch to kalk, but I learned that I can't just keep it in any container. So I bought a new ATO reservoir - a large one, that we could use with the kalk. This reservoir is 5 gallons, we fill it to 4 and that lasts about a month, maybe a hair less.

My family is still working on dialing in the kalk dosage. I guess this tank is relatively high demand due to the small water volume.

PXL_20210321_140537468.jpg


You can see a bit in the above picture how I wired everything in. Switched outlets on the left, controllers on the right.

PXL_20210321_140605417.jpg


PXL_20210321_140554297.jpg


The tank itself is doing really well (I think :-D). When I left, there was noticeable growth on even slower growing corals like the pachyseris and astreopora. I imagine that as soon as we get the alk dialed in, things are going to really take off.

Sorry for the terrible lighting on this one. I took it a couple months ago, right before I left.

PXL_20210322_153948485.jpg
 
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Update time!

The tank has been under my family's care for almost four months now. Happy to report that they have ramped up very well in their reefer skills :) and the tank is doing great! Here are some recent pictures

7a45a4105d9058a98b5ce1c2efad0796f7a5236b-24.jpg


7a45a4105d9058a98b5ce1c2efad0796f7a5236b-14.jpg


I think the tank is doing really well. There is some great growth all around as you can see. The acros have colored up a bit, and the stylophora has not only recovered but is growing and has much better coloration.

The tank is fed twice a week. Nitrates are practically zero, which has made the zoas tough to keep. Sexy shrimp have learned to eat from the target feeder but still steal the corals meal once that runs out ... Par for the course I suppose.

Biggest Problem as of Now

The biggest problem encountered so far is alk/calc consumption. Turns out, small water volume plus handful of stony corals equals high demand :).

How high you might ask? Well, the maximum kalkwasser dose doesn't get there. Unfortunately, I think that means we have to resort to daily two part dosing. I was hoping to not have such complication on a tank this small, but it's clear that I've significantly underestimated the LPS/SPS demand in the context of the water volume. Even with biweekly 40% water changes, alk can drop into the low 6's (dKh) fairly quickly.

In the meantime, my family has been manually dosing on almost a daily basis trying to get control of Alk/calc and also understand the consumption rate. We've got a couple BRS 1.1mL/min dosers (which we clocked at approx. 1.8mL/min), and some red sea reef foundation 2 part. They've done some testing and things are looking pretty good so I hope that the tank will be on the dosers in the next couple weeks.

a812e767ee830c014b8f435519aad0f0a7804363-14.jpg
 

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Whoa. dude this is looking epic. I think the tank has hit the right balance. The bottom encrusting corals looks stunning. Are they fighting for real estate? Do you see any cyano or any other decaying matter in the line where two corals are touching?

Your family did a fantastic job :) , hi 5 to them
 

Karl Sanders

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Nice. I wound up buying the InTank media basket for the first chamber found here:


I would still like to get something slightly springy to plug the bottom hole you have had issues with. Something like a runner O-Ring to really plug the hole. Or a rubber “cork” that would plug in there and stay.

We have added a Tunze nano Ozmolator for evaporation. We also bought 2 Kamoer Nono-dosers from BRS since we have some LPS a and SPS. I’m waiting for the little acrylic storage vessels for alk and calcium to add them to the system.

I am tempted to add another smallish tank behind the DT with a HOB an overflow and small pump so that we can add a skimmer and refugium and just have a little more real estate for doodads and gadgets. The 2” depth of the filter chamber is certainly a challenge to work with.

Good luck with your tank and thanks for your insight! Hope you don’t have to get rid of it, but I understand if you do :)
Hi Willz
I just started cycling the same tank. I also have the intank media basket. I'm having the same issues with the overflow and built in sump water level because of the drain. Have you found a fix.
I was having a heck of a time finding a protein skimmer that would fit. I finally settled on the Aquamaxx HOB bullet. I haven't started it yet because I want to get the sump issue settled but it fits hanging on the back in the middle compartment. You need about 3 1/2" clearance on the back of the tank but it actually looks really sleek and like it was designed to go with it. Probably more than needed for a tank this size but it seemed my only option.
 
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I'm having the same issues with the overflow and built in sump water level because of the drain. Have you found a fix.

Pretty sure the fix is to plug the drain and ensure the return flow is low... Which means you'll need one or two power heads in the display
 
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