Matt's Waterbox 110 - First Saltwater Tank

mjh712

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Hello and welcome to my first saltwater tank build. My name is Matt & I will be your captain on this voyage.

I think I'm going to split this adventure in a few parts. Since this is my first foray in saltwater, Part 1 will be dedicated to the 1st year. All 365 days starting with the setup and cycling of the quarantine tank; that I conveniently setup on January 1st, 2021. Part 2 will probably focus on corals, as my preliminary research has informed me the tank should be established roughly 6+ months before adding coral. Part 3 I'm hoping will be just updates on the tank. We'll see how it goes...!

A little background info. I've been keeping fish since my parents got me a 10G aquarium for Christmas. (Sometime in high school I want to say) Started off with guppies, a pleco, & a catfish (the later 2 outgrew the tank). Eventually got some Mollies, the rabbits of the freshwater aquarium, and shortly there after decided to switch it up & upgrade to a 20G long. Mollies all went to my LFS and the 10G temporarily became a betta tank. In college, I used the 10G tank my Junior and Senior years with loaches, clown plecos, & some guppies, while the the 20G was at my parents with an Apisto pair & some L129. One heater failure later :mad:, the 20g L got some new Apisto's with some Sterbai corys & I started a 55G for King Tiger Plecos. Eventually I wanted Zebra plecos, but I obviously wanted more experience before spending all that $ on fish. (Little did I know how much I'd spend on this build). Currently, I still have the L066s in my 55G (which I want to upgrade) with my discus & the female apisto is still in the 20g L with the Sterbai corys. (I believe the male passed after a move)

Anyway... I finally bought a house in Dec 2019 & decided it was finally time to venture into saltwater.
 
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mjh712

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Display Tank Equipment List

Tank: Waterbox MarineX 110.4
Lighting: AI Prime 16 (x2)
Heater: Ink Bird with 600W Titanium Heater & Eheim 300W (used when cycling, will probably get removed)
Skimmer: Reef Octopus Classic 150INT 6"
Return Pump: Neptune COR 20
Wavemakers: Gyre XF330 & Nero 5
ATO: Tunze 3155 Osmolator
Controller: Apex EL
Rock: Marco Rock (~25lbs of dry, ~15lbs of shelf, ~Xlbs foundation rock)
Sand: Caribsea Special Grade (60lbs - 40 dry & 20 arag-alive)
Media: Brightwell Xport-NO3 ~150g
 
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mjh712

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Quarantine Tank Equipment List

Tank: 10G
Filter: API Superclean 30 HOB Filter
Lights: 25W/120v Clear Marina Aquarium Light Bulb
Heater: Eheim 75W
Aquascape: PVC Piping
Test Kit: Tropic Marin Compact Lab
 
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mjh712

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Stocking Plans

Legend
In Tank

In Quarantine
No Longer In Tank

Current Stocking

Fish

Pair of Clownfish (Added 3/20/21 & Darwin 3/27/21 both from TSM)
Firefish (Added 3/20/21 from TSM)

MacroAlgae
Codium (Short) (Added 5/20 - Reef Cleaners)

Coral Frags
Neon Green Toadstool Leather Coral (Added 6/11/21)
Red Montipora
Green Montipora
Mystic Sunset Montipora
Ultra Acans
Purple Bowerbankii Acan
Tyree Blue Chalice
TSA Biolumimescence Chalice
Bling Bling Cyphastrea
JF Spitfire Leptastrea
Neon Green Hydnophora
CB The Thing
Mohawk Zoas

Inverts
Fire Shrimp (Added 3/27/21)
Red Legged Hermits (3 Added 3/27/21)
Banded Trochus Snails (4 Added 3/27/21)
Conchs (1 Added 5/20)
Astraea Snails (3 Added 5/20)
Misc. Hermits (2 Added 5/20)
Nassarius Vibex (2-3 Added 5/20)
Scarlet Hermit (2 Added 5/20)
Trochus Snails (5 Added 5/20)

In Quarantine
Melanarus Wrasse
(Purchased 4/23/21 from LFS - The Hidden Reef)
Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse (Purchased 4/23/21 from LFS - The Hidden Reef)

Future Stocking

Fish

Blenny (TBD)
Whitetail Bristletooth Tang (might try to get a Tomini or Kole at the same time)
Coral Beauty or Flame Angel (originally wanted both, but we'll see if I want to try that)
Goby (TBD - After 1 year)
Mandarin (After a year)

Anemones
RBT and/or Carpet (Hoping to add the first 6+ months in)

Inverts
Procelain Crab
Bumblebee snails
Acroproa Crab (with Acropora)

LPS
Toadstool Leather Coral
Hammer Coral
Plate Coral (On sand)
Torch Coral
Bubble
Candy Cane

SPS
Birdsnest
Stylo
Digitas
Montipora
Mythos Acropora

Old Inhabitants
 
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mjh712

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Step 0 - Setup & Installation

Quarantine Tank:
10G Aquarium


Display Tank:

175C02B2-B0E7-41AA-BCDF-3BE05130DFC9.jpeg


The Waterbox arrived on a pallet in a crate.

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mjh712

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Step 1 - Setting up Cycling the Quarantine Tank

A few days after my DT arrived, I decided it would be fun to start the QT cycle on New Years day. After work on the 31st I picked up the last of the materials I would need for the QT tank & prepared to set up the tank the following day.

I decided to cycle the quarantine tank with Brightwell Microbacter7. After months of research, I wanted to do a fishless cycle for the QT. In BRS's 4 month Hybrid cycle video they recommended Microbacter7.

I didn't want to use live rock because I didn't want to introduce anything into the tank or have to clean the live rock after the quarantine. Second, I didn't want to do a live cycle with fish as I am inexperienced with saltwater as it is. Third, I didn't have access to any established tanks that I could seed something in. Moving forward I plan on using single-use sponges to transfer bacteria from the DT to the QT for new fish.

I also began 'curing' the marco rock for the tank so it can leech out any chemicals. The plan is 1 week in tap water & 1 week in RODI water. Then I plan on doing the aquascape and putting it into the DT.
 
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mjh712

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Step 1 - Update

Quarantine Tank:
Used Microbacter 7 as directed for 2 weeks. Tank is mid cycle (Consistent results of 0 Ammonia, ~0.2 Nitrite, ~2 Nitrate). Might throw some more media in. Also ordered Dr Tim's One and Only, the ammonium chloride is sold out everywhere. Will probably throw a little bit in the QT, the rest will go in the DT

Display Tank: Still Sitting in the garage. Ordered FCHO glass suction cups from Amazon to help with the move onto the stand this weekend. (Someone on youtube with a WB180 and a R2R build thread recommended them)

Still trying to figure out what ocellaris clownfish I want to get. Debating between picking them out at the LFS (which thankfully is super low on clowns, so it's been a slightly easier wait) and getting them online (SA has some designer pairs I like, TSM is drivable but they only have a few available)

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mjh712

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Step 1 - Update (2/1/2021)

Quarantine Tank:
Week 5 of the cycle. I dosed Dr Tim's One and Only on 1/28 and added a sponge intake hoping to increase the surface area for the bacteria. Ammonia went up a few days ago, but now seems to be going down. Nitrite was about the same on Sat as the last update. (If it's pink, I don't even check the exact number (Tropic Marin compact lab)). I'll retest it tonight. Just happy that moving forward I'll have seeded materials for QTs.

Display Tank: Put water in the tank and started setting everything up only to realize I need a 3/4" barb fitting for my return pump (COR 20). Ordered it from BRS and will probably just superglue it to the 3/4" slip fitting that came with the pump. I have the heater and the Maxspect XF330 gyre running on the DT. I figure I can start the cycle with the rock and sand while I wait to get the sump going.
 
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mjh712

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Step 1 - Update (2/11/2021)

Quarantine Tank:
Week 6 of the cycle. Nitrites were off the charts, so I did two 30-40% water changes to get it back down to below 0.05ppm. Really hoping it drops to 0 this week/weekend.

Display Tank: DT is up and running, sump included. Got the 3/4" barb & spigot fitting from BRS and used Oatey Fusion Single Step pvc glue to connect to the 3/4" output fitting that came with the COR 20. Tank is cycling using Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride and One and Only, plus a shrimp for good measure. I set up the Apex EL and am in the process of connecting everything up with it. Hopefully it cycles quicker than the quarantine tank. I still have the medication period for the first fish, so I'm not worried about it yet.

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mjh712

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Step 1 - Update (2/17/2021)

Quarantine Tank:
Week 7 of the cycle. Nitrites seem stuck around 0.1ppm. (Ammonia is <0.02ppm) Nirtite was ~0.4ppm after the two water changes, but it has seemed to have stopped dropping once it hit 0.1ppm. Dr Tim's says to wait until they're both under 0.02ppm to do a water change and start adding fish. I'll see what it looks like tonight, but all the other parameters are normal.

Display Tank: Ammonia Alert is yellow! I'll probably test the rest of the parameters tonight.
 
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Step 1 - Update (3/17/2021)

Quarantine Tank:
Week 11 of the cycle. Nitrites have been going up and down, and I tried some more Dr Tim's, tried BioSpira, & added more sponge filters. Nitrites were even higher this morning...

Display Tank: To my shock, the Nitrites are 0. I had tested before and the Nirtrites were off the charts. I did a ~30% waterchange to try and get them down, but they were still super high. I had a ski weekened coming up, so I used some BioSpira before I went away to see if it would help lower the nitrites, but didn't have too much hope. When I came back and tested the water, the vial stayed crystal clear. Had to test twice & retest the QT to make sure, but it is 0ppm.

As my QT tank is still not running, I figured it be best to get pre-quarantined fish for the tank. I did some quick research and contacted TSM Aquatics. I'd originally heard about them on forums & AskBRStv, and I knew they prequarantined there fish. Also, funny enough, they're actually closer to my new place than my LFS. I was planning on doing a copper treatment and using prazipro for my quarantine, so when I read that's what they use, I was sold. After a few emails with their sales department, I placed an order for two ocellaris clownfish (one normal and one Darwin) and a red firefish. I will be picking them up on Saturday!!! Now I just need to put together the screen top I got from Waterbox.
 
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Step 1 - Conclusion?

Quarantine Tank:
I'm currently trying to figure out if I want to let it run and cycle, or just clean it and prepare it, using seeded media from the DT, for the next fish I want to add. At this point, I'm going to wait and see. Wait to see how the new fish do & wait to see if the QT ever ends up fully cycling. I guess it being bare bottom did make a huge difference vs the DT

Display Tank: Super excited it's now cycled, now I really need to get everything organized in the sump & cabinet. Next step: Starting a maintenance routine & figuring out what fish I want to add next. Probably a blenny/wrasse. Want to get more familiar with quarantining fish before going for a Whitetail Bristletooth or a Dwarf Angel.
 
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mjh712

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Step 1 - What I've learned and what I'd do differently.

Quarantine Tank:
I could have bought some live rock from my LFS, but I didn't want any hitchhikers and I didn't want to waste any live rock that I'd have to bleach/get rid of after quarantining the fish. I could have posted on my local FB group asking for seeded material, but that also could have brought hitchhikers. If I had to do it again, I might have tried that. I think I would also have done the shrimp cycle & Dr Tim's Ammonium Chloride & One and Only on the QT, as well. The freeze dried and pellet food did not allow to properly track the decay of the bacteria's food source.

Display Tank: So far so good. I think they only changes I might have done was an additional shrimp, or added another as the first is pretty much gone. All the other changes I can think of have to do with setup/installation, which I may go back and address in Step 0.

Recommendations: For anyone else getting into the hobby, I'd recommend either 1) starting your QT tank well before hand or 2) Cycle your tank and get your first fish from a trusted source .

For the first option, if you want to go bacteria cycling or get seeded material, you can always keep your fish in QT while the DT is cycling. If you do go the bacteria route, your QT is most likely bare bottom so be prepared to wait a long time to get the tank cycled. If your QT finishes cycling, you quarantine the fish, and your display tank is not up yet, there's no rush to move them over.

For the second option, just do your research; especially if your new to fish keeping in general. A premium price for a quarantined fish is cheaper than replacing livestock later.

Other Notes: I did use 1 bag of live sand for the DT (and 1 bag of dry sand), so I don't know if it was that, the biospira, the Dr Tim's, etc. It would be quite the experiment to test how each variable affects cycling a tank.
 
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Step 2 - First Fish

On Saturday March 20th, I picked up 2 clownfish and 1 firefish from TSM Aquatics. The clownfish are tiny, roughly 0.5 inches, & the firefish is about 2" in length.

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When I got home, I floated the bags for 30-45min, opened up each back, put all 3 into a 5G bucket, and began the drip acclimation. I turned off the return pump so I wouldn't drain the sump & intermittenly filled the DT with just under 5G of recenlty mixed saltwater. While I waited, I cleaned up the sump & cabinet a little, and wanted to put together the D-D Aquarium Screen Top, but I didn't have a saw. After about an hour or so, I slowly released the 3 of them into the display tank.

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The clownfish danced around the tank together, and I lowered the flow from the return & gyre. Later that night, as I was about to leave to meet up with a friend, the firefish disappeared. I was paranoid he jumped put of the tank, as the top still needed to be assembled. I searched around the tank. I searched everywhere in the tank, but he was MIA. A little while later he re-appeared. He found a decent sized hole in the base of a rock formation with no sand (I put the rock base in first, so the sand didn't fill in the rock holes there). I went to bed hoping I'd be safe from the firefish jumping one night with no lid.

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The following morning, the firefish was out in the front of the tank, swimming around without a care. However, I could only see 1 clownfish. The Darwin Clownfish must have gotten spooked and was behind the skimmer box next to the tank I had the gyre and pump controls sitting on. Quickest fish loss in my fish keeping career.

Sunday morning/early afternoon involved a trip to the hardware store, a lot of measuring, sawing, and assembling of the screen top. I still need to adjust it, as I didn't use enough net slack and the screen pulled the back section, with all the light & overflow cut outs, out of alignment leaving a quarter inch gap infront of the overflow.

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The other clownfish is still going strong, and found a spot under one return outlet where he spends most of his time in. He's eating small pellets and frozen mysis. The firefish lives in the base of the rock, it's now his home. You can barely see him from 2 of the holes in the rock, unless his tail is sticking out, as his entrance is in the back of the tank.

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This Saturday, March 27th, I will be returning to TSM to pick up another Darwin Clown & a small cleanup crew.
 
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mjh712

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Step 2 - Inverts

On Saturday March 27th, I picked up a replacement Darwin Clownfish and a small clean up crew. The replacement Darwin clown is bigger than the last one and really confident. The introduction to the other clown was peaceful and they’re getting along great. The other clown is still small, much smaller than the new Darwin, but it’s been more active around the tank. They've seem to have settled on the rock overhang & the Darwin occasionally chases the other clown and the firefish.

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For the clean up crew, I decided to start with 3 red-legged hermits, 4 banded Trochus Snails, & a fire shrimp. I originally wanted an electric blue legged hermit, but TSM sold out the morning I emailed them. I had originally contacted ReefCleaners, and filled out their custom package form. They replied in a few hours and I asked a few follow up questions. I ultimately decided that I'll probably place an order once I hit the ugly stage, but for now I just went with a basic scavanging crew. I'd highly recommend filling out the form with your tank info, looking around the internet you get a lot of varying opinions and threads with things that seem to always be "out of the ordinary" for the CUC member you're researching.
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I really like the snails, it's cool to see the shells just slowly moving around the rocks & popping up in new locations each time you look. The hermits have been fine, though I might have caught one going after a snail that was flipped upside down after I put them into the tank. It's been fine since, but I will be picking up extra shells when I order the additionally CUC; possibly before, but I can't find a pack of shells for a decent price in stock. The fire shrimp is neat and the color really pops. He just seems to spend all of his time hanging upside down on the bottom of the rock shelf.

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Currently trying to figure out what fish to add next. Want to get a tang once the algae hits, but also researching blennies and wrasses. Not in a big hurry, though. The Quarantine tank is down to below 0.05, so we're getting closer. I have media from the DT ready if needed, but at this point I'm not in a rush.
 
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mjh712

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Step 2 - Lights, Camera, Diatoms!

Started the lights about two weeks ago, ~4/4/21, since I was stuck at home (roommate had COVID). Originally had all the colors at 30%. Roughly a week later (4/12/21), brown/orange spots appeared on my rocks, sand, and glass.

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After a little bit of research, I switched over to the Pirates of the Caribbean AI Prime preset, (Downloaded the file from the AI prime FB group) and setup the Acclimation Effect for 90 days. The diatoms disappeared in most of the tank, only remaining in the area that had the worst outbreak.

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In a bit of a surprise, the fire shrimp molted. Guess I’m doing something right. First molt was ~4/4, second molt was 4/18. She’s over 2”, so I’m assuming it’s a female. I left he molt in the tank & the hermits take care of it for the most part.

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At some point I lost a snail. My guess is a hermit did it, since one, I believe, is looking for a new shell. Probably going to order some more CUC in a week or two from Reef Cleaners and get some extra shells. All the other fish and CUC are doing fine. Snails really are great at keeping things cleans.

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I have a sponge in my sump that I’m seeding, my LFS just got some wrasses in and I want to start QTing the next addition to the DT. Debating about that or ordering a Starry Blenny from Biota.
 
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Step 2 - Quarantine Time

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Took a gamble on getting some wrasses through my first Quarantine.

After an adventurous Friday afternoon at my LFS that involved someone asking an employee about getting a mandarin to go with their Dwarf Lionfish, (thankfully he steered them toward a larger goby) I picked up a ~3-4” melanurus wrasse and a 2-2.5” multicolor fairy wrasse.

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To prepare the still running QT tank, did a ~40% water change with new saltwater and a little bit of DT water. I also added a glass dish with some sand from the DT for the melanurus wrasse

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When is the last time you purchased cleanup crew critters?

  • Past few days

    Votes: 53 11.6%
  • Past few weeks

    Votes: 125 27.4%
  • Past few months

    Votes: 151 33.0%
  • Over a half a year

    Votes: 63 13.8%
  • Over a year ago

    Votes: 61 13.3%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 4 0.9%
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