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My 3 gal pico build...

Paleozoic_reefer

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Hello fellow reefers!

So I've been reefing almost 5 years and unfortunately never did a build thread and I WANT THAT BADGE! :p So I decided to finally document my salty travels leading up to this new pico build, and to make my prized "Build Thread Badge" all the more sweeter!

So in 2015 I started with a used 60 cube with a DIY sump and canopy that I got from a friend who my wife considers responsible for my salty money pit addiction. Most of the components in the tank were DIY, and I loved every mishap and mistake I made on that tank. It really made me learn the ropes for this hobby!
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Fast forward to 2018 where after lots of lessons learned and a few casualties (more corals than fish luckily...I guess :confused:) we sold our home and moved to a larger house to accommodate our ever growing kids. With the new home we decided to upgrade our tank since we now had the additional room for a larger tank... but first the 2 months of demo-remodeling had to happen before we got the new tank :mad:. So I had to move all my corals and fish to my friends house so he could watch them during the demo-remo (his punishment for getting me into this hobby) since we couldn't take the tank to the place we were temporarily staying at.
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Luckily after the almost 2 months there were no casualties and everything was ready to be moved into the new tank! I was lucky to have my LFS owner/friend get me a new RSR 350 at a great price and he even helped install it!
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Fast forward again to 2020 and things are in full swing and the tank is doing great...:D
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after a few more lessons learned, the new tank finally stabilized, and being stuck at home working and being an unpaid teachers aid/ IT tech for two kids doing online learning from home I decided to jump into the pico game (and finally get the coveted "Build Thread Badge" and hang with the cool kids on R2R!)

Two weeks ago I was give an AIO marineland 3 gal tank that I thought would make an excellent pico after some modification. I wanted to modify the tank so I could use it to display one of my rainbow nems (originally I posted here they were CSB but after further research I guess they're use var. of rainbow BTAs...) and some zoas (possibly rastas if I can find some...). The challenge for a tank this small was getting parts to fit it so I had to 3D print the majority of the parts I needed for the tank. So here is what I've done so far..
  • I found a reasonable stand on Amazon ($87) to fit the sump (a spare 3 gal that I was using for quarantining) and pico. I needed the stand to be tall enough to see the pico, but not too tall that I would need a large pump to move the water up to the display.
  • I removed the back filter chamber in the pico to allow for additional space in the display and drilled two holes; one for return and one for the drain. I printed some bulkheads and used some spare cpvc pipe I had since it is smaller in diameter and wouldn't take too much space in the back.
  • removed two strips of the black backing to make the display look a bit bigger and cleaner from the the front.
  • 3D printed some clips to hold a glass top to minimize evaporation.
  • baffled the sump, installed a fuge light
  • 3D printed the bulk heads, overflow box, and Kessil stand.
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To keep things looking clean I spray painted the exterior cpvc pipe and checked for leaks once everything dried...
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After the first water test today there were a small leak in the return pipe so as soon as that dries for 24 hrs I'll post more pics and updates on the final water test, pending aquascape, and more 3D printed add-ons that need to be printed!!
Stay tuned!!! :D 1600392027563.png
 
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Paleozoic_reefer

Paleozoic_reefer

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water test ran successfully all day today!
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I had to tweak the pump to adjust the flow down a bit. I also added an air vent to the return pipe to stop the siphoning of air from happening. After all that, the system was a quiet as a broken whistle! Tomorrow I'll add the ATO and move the system to its final spot in the house. I'll also start to add the rocks that have been cycling for a couple of weeks!
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footgal

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@footgal Still debating...with only 3 gals I think any fish is out of the question. and great minds think alike cause I was also thinking of a couple of sexy shrimp and/or a porcelain crab!
I’ve been wanting to do a pico forever! I was stuck between Zoa dominant, RFA dominant, or a neat little acro setup (would be connected to my main sump to maintain proper water chemistry levels) but a CSB... now that’s amazing!
 
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I love that you’re 3D printing all of your parts! What material are you using to print with, and what printer do you have if you don’t mind me asking?
I'm using a Flashforge Creator Pro and I'm using PLA filament...I know everyone says not to, but I've been printing parts for my main display using PLA for years and nothing negative has ever happened...so far. I do make sure that any part I print is not being hit by any tank lights to avoid any potential UV degradation of the filament overtime but other than that I personally think it's OK to use.
 
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Paleozoic_reefer

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This is SO COOL!! A CSB pico tank?! Im jealous!!! What’s your livestock looking like? Sexy shrimp and a porcelain crab?
...So...looking at other pics of CSB I think mine is jus a var. of a rainbow bta (but looks different from my other rainbow bta's?)...:(...oh well still some pretty nems though!...I'll have to edit my original post...
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footgal

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...So...looking at other pics of CSB I think mine is jus a var. of a rainbow bta (but looks different from my other rainbow bta's?)...:(...oh well still some pretty nems though!...I'll have to edit my original post...
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Yeah I don’t think that’s a CSB :(. Very pretty rainbow though!
 
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Finally got a chance to set up the pico in its final spot! I'm going bare bottom to avoid any issues plus I love GSP and I want to have it cover the floor...(not sure why there are so many GSP haters??)
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I filled the refugium with a large chunk of live rock just for the added surface area for bacteria. I'll add some chaeto from my other tank after I do a final water test tonight if things are OK. The gravity fed ATO worked well with the reservoir on the bottom shelf. I was hoping to hide it better but for now it should do.
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So some items that still need to get done:
-3D print:
Filter cup for floss and carbon
Refugium lamp shade to minimize light spillage
Sump cover to minimize evaporation
glass cover clips for display
-Frag some:
branching GPS
jawbreaker mushrooms
blastos
regular GSP for the bottom
 
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Today I finally moved some coral in the pico!! I put a frag of branching GSP, blastos, zoas, jawbreaker 'shrooms and a richordia...not the most exotic corals but they should be good to test things out for now! The sump also received a nice clump of chaeto from may other tanks.
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For the 3D printed items I printed a nifty filter cup for filter floss that slides along one of the sump's baffles.
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currently I'm printing the sump tops (need the middle and the right side left) and need to get the glass for the display later today.....
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Quick update: The pico and sump have been running for almost 2 weeks!
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everything is running smoothly, other than the expected diatom bloom. So far the biggest issue has been getting the main and return flows just right with the pump. I think I have it now just at that sweet spot where it's now quiet.
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I added a small pump in the display to increase the flow as well.
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Finally, since all water parameters have been stable I decided to add some nems from my other tank to test things out.
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Paleozoic_reefer

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Yesterday, I did a trade with a local reefer for some zoas he had posted on FB. He had some, what looked like, rastas (which I've been looking for). I told him I would give him a blastos, some frags of gsp, and two mushrooms and he agreed. When we met up for the trade, he gave me a ton of extra ones he had in the tank!! So I guess I'll be running this pico on the dirty-side to keep the zoas happy!
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Not a major update, but good for posterity. I added some sand to the pico, at the suggestion of the wife, and it looks much better! I'm still trying to find that sweet-spot for good flow and a quiet tank. I removed the pump inside the display for more space since the return pump is doing a good job with breaking the surface tension now. Nems and zoas doing well as well!
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In the sump, The chaeto is doing very well and is doing a great job of producing pods!
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Which do you prefer?

  • A few LARGE, not as colorful less expensive, coral colonies filling your tank

    Votes: 98 39.5%
  • A lot of TINY, but very colorful more expensive, frags covering the rock

    Votes: 106 42.7%
  • Other (please explain in thread)

    Votes: 44 17.7%

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