My First Saltwater Adventure - 120 Gallon Peninsula

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I've been enjoying R2R for several months now as I recently set up my very first saltwater aquarium, something I've always wanted. Many of you have taught me a great deal without even knowing it, and continue to do so. For that, I say Thank You. I thought maybe it was time to do a build thread. So here it goes, starting with a brief history of how I got here.

In December of last year, my daughter came home from college and brought with her a 10 gallon aquarium, filled with saltwater and clownfish. So I blame her for my newest addiction! Without any research and no clue what I was doing, I put a few more fish in there. You experienced aquarist already know how this ends - let's just say not well for the clown and his new friends. So the research began and I quickly realized to what extent this hobby will take a person if they want to be successful - so it was game on!

I purchased a used 55 gallon tank and that was going to be my first "real" tank. Turned out I was a little hasty on that purchase as it was tempered and couldn't be drilled (obviously I hadn't gotten that far in my research). At this point, I'm aggravated, my wife is wondering if I've lost my mind and just how much this is going cost us, and my daughter is ready to get back to college, even though classes won't start for another two weeks!

Mid-January, I found a system that had been taken down the middle of last year and I bought the RR 120 gallon tank and equipment. So I bring this monster (compared to the 10) home and it assures my wife that yes, I have in fact lost my mind. However, she quickly jumps on board by saying "Wouldn't it be great if we could use the tank as a room divider, separating the dining area and the family room". Well, the game just went in to overtime and it was time to strike while the fire was hot. The wife is now excited and on board, the budget just grew a little (because she's on board) and our new peninsula build is born. I ended up trading the used RR tank with corner overflows in for a brand new 120 drilled on one short end for the peninsula set up.

I put the mistake buy 55 to work by using it to cure the 150 lbs. of now dried live rock from the other system. Scrubbed it all as best I could and started soaking it in saltwater. I'm in SW Florida so I did this inside, out of the heat. Lost a little ground with the wife due to the smell the first couple of weeks, but both the smell and my wife backed down. Now it was time for the DYI stand.

As you will see in the pictures, the stand is likely overbuilt - if I'm going to end up with water on the floor, which everyone says I will at some point, it's not going to get there because I didn't build the stand strong enough. I could lie and say I came up with the design on my own, but I based it off a design I found during one of my many midnight online searches. If I could remember, I would give the person their due credit. I adapted the design and integrated canopy to our specific needs. All panels are removable and held on with magnets, as I have a tendency to bump my head on open cabinet doors. Besides, it makes for great access. Didn't know it at the time, but it really is an asset when doing tank chores.

Jump to the first of April, the live rock has cured for 2½ months, the stand is ready, I have volumes upon volumes of printed out research, and it's finally time for water. Not wanting to use the simple wet/dry filter from the used system, and instead of pushing the budget committee for a new sump, I converted the mistake buy 55 in to my sump. I baffled off four sections - drain/skimmer, return, refugium, and top-off reservoir. Got everything plumbed and put the new live sand in, aquascaped and started filling with saltwater. At this point I was feeling pretty cocky and didn't even do a leak test with freshwater. Other than a ball valve not being tight enough, I got pretty lucky. I let it cycle for another month and a half and on May 17th, I put the first forms of life in the tank. I said this was going to be a brief history (apparently I lied) so I will wrap this up for now.

I cannot begin to tell you just how much I have enjoyed this process. Yes, this hobby can be frustrating, time consuming and expensive, but gosh is it rewarding. To come home every day and get to enjoy a little piece of the ocean right in my family room is pretty awesome. And through all of this, I now have something I've wanted since I was a young lad, my daughter graduated college, my other daughter started college, and my wife hasn't left me (although she's still pretty sure I'm nuts).

I will end this with the equipment and livestock listings and a few pictures. The first picture is my favorite - it's of me and my favorite "fish", who happens to be the one I blame for getting me in to this hobby (see above). I appreciate your taking the time to read this (assuming you've gotten this far) and look forward to any comments and or suggestions you may have.

Again Thank You for all the help you've unknowingly provided and Happy Reefing!
 
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Equipment
Tank: 120 gallon peninsula display with custom fitted overflow box by Melev’s Reef
Sand: 3-4 inch sand bed using new Caribsea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink
Live Rock: Around 150 lbs. freshly cured live rock throughout display and fuge
Sump: Converted mistake buy 55 gallon – four sections
Skimmer: AquaC EV-180 Skimmer, fed by SpeedWave DC pump
Refugium: Miracle mud, live sand, live rock rubble and cheato
Refugium light: Simple, single CFL lamp bulb (6,500k) running opposite main lights
Lighting: Two AI Vega’s colors with AI Controller, hung via EXT hanging kit in canopy
ATO: AutoAqua Smart ATO
Return: WaveLine DC12000 Return Pump, plumbed with manifold
Heater: Eheim Jager 250W
Chiller: 1/2 HP Chiller (fed by manifold)
Fans: Two small clip-ons – one blowing on DT surface, one blowing across sump
Reactors: BRS Dual Carbon/GFO Reactor (fed by manifold)
K2R Calcium Reactor (will be fed by manifold, but not yet hooked up)
Flow: Closed Loop (in lieu of power heads) with Sicce 5.0 pump utilizing SCWD Wavemaker
RO/DI: Kent Marine Maxxima system being upgraded to
SpectraPure MaxCap 180 GPD – Have it, just need to hook up
Mixing: Station in laundry room, pumps to display (no buckets)
Controller: Can’t get this one pass budget committee just yet – Neptune Apex eventually

Maintenance
  • Perform 25 gallon water change weekly, using Red Sea Coral Pro
  • Water tested every weekend and results logged
  • Protein skimmer gets cleaned during water change
  • Filter sock gets changed every other day
  • Glass cleaned with Flipper magnet daily – all three viewable sides
  • Reactor media changed monthly - Seachem Matrix Carbon and Seachem PhosGuard
  • Top of sand bed vacuumed monthly or as needed
  • ATO reservoir filled every other day, as I’m evaporating between 3 and 5 gallons per day
  • Thus far, I have not had to dose anything, but that is getting ready to change.
Water Chemistry
Parameters from the last test (and the average since cycle) plus test kit used:

Temperature 79.2 (79.2) Couple of JBJ Digi-Temps
Salinity 1.025 (1.024) Milwaukee Digital Refractometer
pH 8.2 (8.1) Milwaukee Controller (currently just used to monitor)
Calcium 420 (433) Salifert
Alk 8.3 (9.0) Salifert
Magnesium 1275 (1253) Salifert (I know, it’s a little low)
Ammonia 0 (0) API
Nitrate 0 (0) API
Nitrite 0 (0) API
Phosphate 0 (.02) Hanna

Besides the obviously low magnesium, I’m starting to notice the Alk dropping test over test. So just this week I’ve started dosing Seachem Reef Builder trying to raise the Alk slowly. I’ve also starting dosing with Red Sea Foundation C to raise Mag slowly. I’m doing this manually at the moment until it’s stabilized then I will look in to automated dosing and/or hooking up the calcium reactor. This is uncharted territory for me here.
 
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Livestock (Fancy Name / Common Name / Human Name)
(2) Siganus unimaculatus /One Spot Foxface / Mike & Ike
(1) Zebrasoma flavescens / Yellow Tang / Splenda
(5) Chromis viridis / Blue-Green Chromis / Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Rapunzel
(1) Halichoeeres melanurus / Hoevener's Wrasse / Evy
(2) A. Ocellaris / Snowflake clowns / Grey & Goose (see RBTA's name below)

Inverts (Fancy Name / Common Name / Human Name)
(1) Entacmaea quadricolor / Rose Bubble Tip Anemone / Ice (because it's where Grey & Goose Live)
(1) Tridacna maxima / Maxima Clam / None
(1) Lysmata amboinensis / Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp / Luigi (who is now afraid of Evy)
(2) Lysmata wurdemanni / Peppermint Shrimp / None
(1) Astropecten polycanthus / Sand Sifting Sea Star / None
(10) Nassarius sp. / Snails / None
(10) Cerithium sp. / Snails / None
(15) Clibanarius sp. / Crabs / None
(1) Ceriathus sp. / Tube Anemone / Mistake (long story)

Corals (Fancy Name / Common Name )
My goal here is a mixed reef, nothing particular in type or species - if I like it, I buy it, and tell my wife I traded something for it!

Euphyllia glabrescens / Green torch
Euphyliia divisa / Frogspawn (green tip and purple tip)
Clavularia sp. / Green Clove
Sarcophyton sp. / Toadstool Mushroom
Euphyllia ancora / Hammer Coral, branching
Zoanthids / Various zoas, nothing fancy (trying to create a garden) (Gorilla Nipples, Blue Tubs, Eagle Eyes, Purple Death, Radioactive Dragon Eyes, Purple People Eaters)
Palythos sp. / Frilly Purple Palys
Blastomussa Merletti / Green Head Blasto
Caulastrea furcate / Candycane Coral (yellow, green and powder blue)
Ricordea Yuma / Ricordea Yuma - Orange
Fungia repanda / Green Plate Coral, Short Tentacle
Muriceopsis flavida / Purple Gorgonian
Diodogorgia nodulifera / Red Finger Gorgonian
Sarcophyto sp. / Purple Skin Leather
Montipora capricornis / Red Monti Cap
Montipora capricornis / Idaho Grape Monti Cap
Montipora sp. / Jedi Mink Trick
Pocillopora damicornis / Metallic Green Pocillopora
Pocillopora damicornis / Bright Green Pocillopora
Pavona decussatus / Lettuce Coral
Echinophyllia sp. / Green Chalice
Echinophyllia sp. / Blue Chalice
Echinopora lamellose / Hollywood Stunner
Seriatopora hystrix / Green and Frosted Tip Birdsnest
Acropora sp. / Garf Bonsai Acro
 
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Everyone likes pictures, so here we go. Remember, although the first picture is not actually in my aquarium, it is a shot of me with my favorite "fish" and the reason I'm now in this hobby - yes, it's her fault. I'm still trying to master aquarium photography and as you will see, I haven't quite figured it out. So this is just a small sampling of what's going on so far. Still working on getting a decent full tank shot.

1.jpg


2.jpg


3.jpg


4.jpg


5.jpg
 
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Thanks James...it's been a fun journey thus far.
 
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Thanks 4sided Cube.
 
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Thank you...the Fox Face were the first inhabitants.
 

Zero Nitrates

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How do you have the calcium reactor plumbed in?
I have the same size tank and use dosing system but might have to switch in the future.
 
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It’s funny you mention the calcium reactor. Until recently, I have not dosed anything, but I’m actually getting ready to hook up the reactor. It will be fed off the return manifold, with flow controlled by a gate valve. I have the CO2 tank, regulator and everything else, just not the know-how to get it running! I say it’s funny, because just yesterday I spoke with a friend that is going to come and help get it running. Hopefully I will get lucky and dial it in to a set-and-forget system. Time will tell…
 
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Thanks Chuck...would love to see a picture of your set up.
 

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Hello and welcome to R2R. I had to laugh reading through your first post.
Your tank is beautiful and you should be very proud of your accomplishment.
And yes, it sure is addictive and rewarding at the same time. Lol!
 

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