my 180g tank build when returning to saltwater hobby

Fish Think Pink

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Like many of you, I started with a dream. Previously I had 5 saltwater tanks but when life happened sold tanks and fish. Memories of those tanks as well as any scuba or snorkeling would fan dream of returning to saltwater tank hobby. Those original fish only tanks were decorated with dead/dry corals, many from my parents trips to Florida Keys most winters while I was a child. I hung onto those corals, shelved in boxes in my parents' basement. Early 2019 those corals made their way to me in Texas, and dream took on more urgency. I joined local DFWMAS. I bought fish and coral books trying to replace what I used to have. I made my fish list. I dreamed more. In 2020 we completed remodeling enclosed porch off back of home. I set return to hobby target of Spring 2021.

My local DFWMAS club sales forum included a complete tank setup sale from someone leaving hobby. I bought it. November 11, 2020 used a DFWMAS partner LFS to relocate tank, fish, anemones most water & all to our home. This first photo is eleven days after move on November 22, 2020 once water parameters, coral, 13 anemones and my 2 fish seemed stable.

180 tank setup 11-22-2020.JPG
 
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Fish Think Pink

Fish Think Pink

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As soon as the tank went in, my next priority was water changes plan. We also bought his RO system. We bought a large plywood board from local home improvement store, found wall studs, and mounted plywood to wall. This is my RO system:

We plumbed RO system into washing machines plumbing, then patched up drywall behind washing machine. We bought a stand to hold water tank from local home improvement store. We added a hot water heater pan with a water sensor alarm. There are better/fancier alarms than mine, but it gets the job done.

Ashamed to admit my water alarm 'water dog' Watchdog Water Alarm goes off most weeks so I've got to begin turning off water making when I have "enough" and not try to get as much cleaned water as I can.
 

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Fish Think Pink

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Fast forward to now, and just received my water sample results I mailed for analysis. Only surprise is salinity report, so we'll get a local independent validation, then adjust. Also going to order some solution to recalibrate my Milwaukee MR100ATC Salinity Refractometer. Third, going to stop my rare iodine supplemental dosing for inverts. Finally, silica not unexpected given what is going on right now with some diatom algae in tank (will keep up with my airline tubing siphoning out diatoms & its bound silica)

We couldn't ourselves find cause for hammers dying other than peppermint shrimp, shrimp are now gone but not before lost 4 hammer corals. Remaining 2 hammer corals haven't yet returned to fluffy selves. Can't say I have hammer garden with just 2 remaining...

Otherwise, nothing out of the ordinary which gives us some peace of mind. Including March 2021 photo of tank (before peppermints eating hammers)

Water Test Results from Mail Order - 2021-05-05.jpg 180g whole tank on 2021-03-01.JPG
 
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Once I had tank in and water figured out, keeping tank clean was next priority. Researched online how people clean their filter socks. Read how top loaders could damage or be damaged by filter socks. Fast forward to now and have front load washing machine and have tried washing filter socks in front loading washing machine, but two things bother me:
- residual soap from earlier cleaning perhaps getting on filter socks
- leaving residual algae in washing machine from cleaning filter socks

As long as weather is nice (no active lighting/hail/thunderstorm), I use my washing station I developed. I'm a believer of use what you have, and I had two plant stakes unused.

Version 1:
- Poked plant stakes thru fence and into ground for stability
- Put a filter sock over plant stakes
- Used hose with nozzle on jet

Version 2 (worried plant stake(s) might poke thru filter sock)
- Bought 2 1/2" pipe caps & short length of 1/2" PVC ($3 for all 3 at hardware store)
- Cut PVC in half
- Put pipe cap on each half
- Put PVC half with pipe cap over each plant stake
- Put a filter sock over plant stakes
- Used hose with nozzle on jet - BETTER & current configuration in use

1 Below is a picture of the plant stakes covered by PVC half with pipe cap, plus hose

2 Below is a picture of dirty sock

3 Below is a picture of half clean filter sock (side view)

4 Below is picture of drying rack - yep just another unused plant support trellis I had handy.

If it is raining when I am washing socks outside, I do bring filter socks inside to dry in shower. I've also learned not to leave them drying when Spring pollen is going crazy, as I end up washing the socks again and bringing in to dry without pollen

While I've used my front load washing machine to wash filter socks, I'll stick with outside cleaning described above version 2 as washing machine did seem to make the filter socks 'fuzzier' (I did wash 2x - 1st with little bleach, then 2nd time to remove bleach and perhaps any soap left from earlier clothes cleaning before sock washing). I worry extra wear and tear from sloshing around will cause earlier failure, but I have no foundation for wear worry. There was a lot of 'banging' sounds as the plastic rim on filter sock is not removable. I'm hoping filter socks last as long as possible. I do have 4 pairs of filter socks (I have dual returns, so two in use at all times) and eventually they'll wear out.
 

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