Mixed Reef Reboot v2 (103 Gallon ) [WIP]



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Mixed Reef Reboot v2

103 Gallon

(75 Gallon DT + 28 Gallon Sump/Fuge)

Current Status (May 9th 2022): Everyone was moved over. Lost a cleaner shrimp, found him in the Jebao, not sure what happened. Added Super Blue Tang. Parameters stable, new skimmer incoming.

May 8th, 2022


I restarted my reef tank journey with a 40 Gallon Tank in October of 2020. I had a friend who was into the hobby and he was a good guide, plus of cause there is always google university. So I thought this would be cake. Cake it was not. Here we are in March of 2022 and I am in the throes of setting up a new, 75 Gallon tank. While doing this I am setting up a filtration system that I should be able to scale up to 150-175 gallons easy if I chose to go larger DT later down the road. This was spurred in part by the many lessons learned over the last 16 months. It has definitely been a humbling experience. Through the trials and lessons learned with being an amateur at the hobby I am hoping to apply them to this new build. Here is my new Mixed Reef Up-Tank journey. I will try to keep this thread updated with the equipment I'm using and progress I make on this build. I also decided to not keep any of the previous rock or sand. This means I had to restart the cycle, but am going fishless cycle this time. I'm trying to minimize the amount of risk to reintroduce some of the hardships I've had to deal with and that are still present in the current aquascape. The con, running two tanks for a while, the pro, make an awesome new aquascape from scratch.

Lessons Learned (Previous Tank and current build)

  • This hobby is really hard without guidance.​
  • Have grit, you wont get it right on the first try.​
  • You will get frustrated a lot.​
  • Get a Neptune APEX, it’s worth the investment in time saved alone.​
  • If you don’t plan for the future, you will end up wasting money in the long run.​
  • Smaller reef tanks are a lot harder than big ones.​
  • Canister filters work, but make maintenance 10x more tedious.​
  • Stability in parameters > Consistent water changes.​
  • For when you do water changes, get a submersible pump. Your back will thank you.​
  • Preventing pests without QT tank, even with dips, is really really REALLY hard.​
  • Losing livestock due to being a newbie is sad and sucks.​
  • BRS TV and R2R are the best resources avail to our hobby.​
  • Gyre pumps are not for every tank.​
  • Brine shrimp hatcheries and feeding is cake. With the right hatchery that is.​


Display Tank
  • 75gal Marineland Rimed (48.38 in W x 18.38 in D x 21 in H)​
  • 1 Brute 55 Gal​
  • 75gpd AQUATICLIFE Twist-in 4-Stage RO/DI Filter Unit​
  • 1 Waterdrop Sediment Water Filter, 50-Micron​
  • 1 HM Digital DM-1 In-Line Dual TDS Monitor​
  • 1 Neptune Systems PMUP Return Pump
  • Classic Sea Salt - Tropic Marin
  • Auqa Gadget 5 Gallon Hydrofill Reservoir - Innovative Marine (ATO)
  • 2 Vortech MP10 (Just 1 currently other off for servicing.)​
  • 2 Jebao SLW-20 Compact Wavemaker (Garbage, went through 6 (thank you amazon prime) of them and finally called it quits. Each one would eventually start a high pitch whine.)​
  • 2 XStream SDC Powerhead (270 - 2250 GPH) - Sicce​
  • 1 Jebao SCP (Retired and used for water mixing container, was just TOOOO much flow for this tank, kept making sand mountains.)
  • 1 Syncra SDC 7.0 WiFi Controllable Pump (800-1900 GPH) – Sicce
  • 1 Return Jet for 3/4” to 1” Tube - CPR Aquatics
  • 1 Deluxe CS102 Overflow with Lid and Air Pump - CPR Aquatics
  • 28gal AF-200 Alpha Fuge Sump 4th Gen - Eshopps​
  • 80lbs Fiji Pink Arag-Alive! Reef Sand - CaribSea​
  • 80lbs Marco Rock (Foundation, Regular, Shelf mixture)
  • 1 FC-120 In-Sump Protein Skimmer by Aquamaxx
  • 1 BRS GFO & Carbon Reactor - Dual with Sicce Syncra 1.5 Pump (Until the Fuge gets going.)
  • Sea Lettuce (Ulva Lactuca) in Fuge, with a mixture of smaller Marco Rock pieces and 4 Brightwell Aquatics Xport-BIO Block.
  • 2 NICREW 150W Aquarium LED Reef Light (Display, controlled by APEX)​
  • 1 Neptune Systems GRO Refugium Light
Climate Control
  • 2 Eheim Thermocontrol e125 Heater​
  • 1 Neptune Systems APEX​
  • 1 Neptune Systems Trident (Alk, Calcium, Magnesium)
  • 2 Neptune Systems EB832 Energy Bars
  • 1 Neptune Systems APEX PH Probe
  • 1 Neptune Systems APEX ORP Probe
  • 1 Neptune Systems APEX Salinity Probe
  • 1 Neptune Systems APEX Temp Probe
  • 1 Neptune Systems DOS (Dosing Alk/Ca)
  • 1 Inkbird WiFi Aquarium Heater Controller (For redundancy.)
  • 1 AX Water Level Monitoring and ATO System
  • Various Hanna Instruments Testers (Nitrate, Phosphates, etc.)


  • 1 Mexican Turbo​
  • 1 Mergerite Snail
  • 3 Nassarius Snails
  • 3 Bumblebee Snails
  • 2 Tiger Conch​
  • 6 Astrea Snail​
  • 3 Hermit Crabs
  • 1 Cleaner Shrimp
  • 1 Tiger Pistol Shrimp
  • 1 Yellow Watchman Goby
  • 2 Amphiprion percula Clowns
  • 1 Royal Gramma
  • 1 Bi-Color Blenny
  • 1 Blue Tang



Controller Settings:
  • Light Cycle Display Tank


  • Light Cycle Refugium
    Fallback OFF
    Set OFF
    If Time 18:30 to 12:30 Then ON
  • Carbon Reactor
    Fallback OFF
    Set OFF
    If Time 06:00 to 07:01 Then ON
    If Time 12:00 to 13:01 Then ON
    If Time 18:00 to 19:01 Then ON
    If Time 00:00 to 01:01 Then ON

Aquascape: I went for a negative space aquascape (NSA) using roughly 60lbs of the Marco Rock (Foundation, Regular, Shelf mixture). I broke a lot of it apart, and re-glued it together using Bob Smith Industries Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA, Bob Smith Industries BSI-151H Insta-Set Super Glue Accelerator, and Instant Ocean HoldFast Epoxy Stick, Fish Safe (HF-1).

Drain Plumbing: I bought sch40 1” white PVC from Home Depot. There are two drains. Each are setup the same, with one being slightly longer to accommodate the distance from drain to sump. There is a total of four unions, six 90* elbows, and four 45* elbows. This goes from the Deluxe CS102 Overflow with 1 Syphon based (was two syphon based drains but it wouldn't restart fast enough during power outs and I worried about flooding) and 1 open bulkhead to the AF-200 Alpha Fuge Sump. The paint came off on the back of the cabinet so while it ain't the prettiest, it sure gets the job done and keeps the Fuge light from bleeding out :)



Return Plumbing: Black Vinyl Tubing 1" ID - Kuri-Tec from Syncra SDC 7.0 to a custom HOB 1" PVC return to two 3/4” Loc-Line Modular Hose returns with 3” Flare Nozzles. It ain't the prettiest, but it sure gets the job done :)

Filtration: I'm running the 4th Gen AF-200 Alpha Fuge Sump from Eshopps. It's packed full. 300 Micron filter sock to skimmer chamber, but no skimmer yet. I've got 2 Eheim Thermocontrol e125 Heaters in there, the venturi powerhead that keeps my overflow syphon going. It also has my Neptune probes, dosing lines, and Carbon/GFO reactor pump in there. I'm running the Premium ROX 0.8 Carbon from BRS, but no GFO due to running a fuge with Sea Lettuce (ULVA LACTUCA). The Fuge is powered by a Neptune GRO light and has a mixture of smaller Marco Rock pieces and 4 Brightwell Aquatics Xport-BIO Block. The reason I chose Ulva > Chaeto was all the threads on starting up with a Fuge (this is my first refugium attempt) and just that it was easier to run sea lettuce. To prevent any of it from getting into my DT, I've got a 200 micron filter pad, and a sponge filter on the Fuge drain. I also put a piece of clear acrylic on top of the fuge, to prevent salt splash on the GRO light, due to how the sump is built. It tends to create a lot of micro bubbles on drainage into it.


Photos Throughout the Build

Photo April 21st, 2022

Photo April 11th, 2022

Photo March 3rd 2022
Last edited:


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Love, love, love your “Lessons Learned” section.
Thanks Jumbo. Considering the things I've learned the hard way, I figured I'd try and save someone else the same headaches I had. This new build is still a work in progress, I'm way behind on schedule to move the crew from the old tank to their new awesome home, but I really want to do this one right and not fast, just one more lesson learned in the hobby. :upside-down-face:

Did you start off in the reef hobby buying used equipment? Do you still use pre-owned equipment? (Choose all that apply)

  • Yes, I did start off with some used equipment. It made getting everything going easier!

    Votes: 136 40.4%
  • Yes, I did start off with some used equipment, but it was a mistake I won't make again.

    Votes: 17 5.0%
  • I still buy used equipment! It's a helpful way to save money in this hobby!

    Votes: 105 31.2%
  • Nope! Everything I used to get started was new! And I'm glad I started with all new stuff!

    Votes: 82 24.3%
  • Nope! Everything I used to get started was new! But, I should've looked around for used options!

    Votes: 33 9.8%
  • I still only buy new equipment! Lots of problems avoided that way!

    Votes: 43 12.8%
  • Other... (Post in the thread)

    Votes: 13 3.9%