My first saltwater reef tank (suggestions/help appreciated)

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Lavey29

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I finally got the skimmer to start working more normal. Since the tank was new and in the cycling process, I wasn't running any chemical media. I added a Maxout bag to a filter cup and the skimmer seemed to calm down and run more normally.

I also added a little to the rock scape. I think I'm done now. What do you guys think of the overall look to work with as far as future coral placement and space for livestock?
 

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T-J

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You're going to want to put some hose clamps (plastic ones) on those connections. Also, don't put your faith in the check valves. Make sure you have enough room in the sump for the tank to drain into, and have a backup plan to prevent the tank from draining into the sump.
I don't use check valves, since they're known to fail. I have room in my sump, and I also drill a small hole into each return line, just under the surface of the water level.

IMG_1036.jpeg
 
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You're going to want to put some hose clamps (plastic ones) on those connections. Also, don't put your faith in the check valves. Make sure you have enough room in the sump for the tank to drain into, and have a backup plan to prevent the tank from draining into the sump.
I don't use check valves, since they're known to fail. I have room in my sump, and I also drill a small hole into each return line, just under the surface of the water level.

IMG_1036.jpeg

Great suggestions, I am getting hose clamps today. I like your redundancy approach. I'm not quite sure what the drilled holes do in the return line? I figure if the check valve fails, I will get maybe 2 gallons into the sump. The power went off on Monday and everything worked fine with virtually no change in water levels.
 

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Looks good. Glad you got skimmer working better. Be advised skimmers tend to over flow during filter sock changes. So I recommend dumping cup before you change socks.
 
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Looks good. Glad you got skimmer working better. Be advised skimmers tend to over flow during filter sock changes. So I recommend dumping cup before you change socks.

Good info, thanks. Typically how long should it take for your cup to fill if the skimmer is working properly? Maybe 5 days?
 
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T-J

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Great suggestions, I am getting hose clamps today. I like your redundancy approach. I'm not quite sure what the drilled holes do in the return line? I figure if the check valve fails, I will get maybe 2 gallons into the sump. The power went off on Monday and everything worked fine with virtually no change in water levels.
The holes break the suction, so the return lines won't drain your tank. If your check-valve fails, the water will drain through that line until it gets below that lines intake level. Depending how deep you have the overflow or return lines in the tank, they will drain to the lowest one.
Also, do you have any shut-offs on those lines? You'll want to make sure you can turn off the line in case you have to do repairs or maintenance. You'll definitely be doing maintenance on that check-valve over time, as they get gunked up...hence failure.
I just noticed that's your main return pump. I see it goes into a larger pipe that looks like it's also connected to something else. What else is on that return pump line?
 

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Good info, thanks. Typically how long should it take for your cup to fill if the skimmer is working properly? Maybe 5 days?
Depends on skimmer size, tank size and bioload. For you, it shouldn't be filling as you have zero bioload.
 
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The holes break the suction, so the return lines won't drain your tank. If your check-valve fails, the water will drain through that line until it gets below that lines intake level. Depending how deep you have the overflow or return lines in the tank, they will drain to the lowest one.
Also, do you have any shut-offs on those lines? You'll want to make sure you can turn off the line in case you have to do repairs or maintenance. You'll definitely be doing maintenance on that check-valve over time, as they get gunked up...hence failure.
I just noticed that's your main return pump. I see it goes into a larger pipe that looks like it's also connected to something else. What else is on that return pump line?

It's plumbed per Red Sea specs instructions. Below is a pic of the stock set up. The check valve was installed in the return line for safety as you already noted. The gate valve on the left is my primary water control device. The overflow pipe in the DT sits about an inch higher then the primary down water pipe to the sump.
 

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Added the Banshee 10g top off tank. Pretty cool design. Should last more then a week to.
 

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Well, I am on day14 of my tanks initial fishless cycle. I used the Dr. Tim's stuff to initiate the process. Ammonia levels drop to 0 over a 24 hour period but my nitrite levels are staying at 1 on the Red Sea color chart. Should I just let it continue to do its thing or perform a water change to help the process along? Should I introduce a chemical product that helps reduce nitrite and/or nitrate?
 
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Well, nitrite dropped significantly now to 0.1 which is a good sign. Will see if it hits 0 tomorrow and then check nitrate level. Probably a 25% water change after that then hopefully our first fish.
 
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Well, I have had 2 Clownfish, 2 cleaner shrimp and a banded coral shrimp in the tank for several weeks now and everything is going well it seems. I added a IM Helio dual 200w heater unit to the tank with the controller and have had some small issues with it but got great service from the company who are sending me out a new controller. Strangely my Tunze ATO controller keeps flashing its greenlight also and I am not sure why. I plan to add a Royal Gramma and a Whitetail Tang at the end of June. I have been keeping the lights off so far because there is no coral in the tank yet but may add the fist pieces next weekend so I am sure some algae issues will develop once the lights come on. I have space for a small refugium in the sump but only have rock rubble and marine pure balls in there right now. Would like to try and grow some macroalgae but I guess I need to wait to see what the nutrient levels in the tank look like when I get more fish and coral to know if it will be effective.

Any advice moving forward now that the tank is fully cycled and appears to be supporting livestock ok so far?
 

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I don’t think this was mentioned but your ATO is setup incorrectly.
You need to have the ATO Level Sensor and float switch in the last chamber with the return pump- this is also the chamber to place your fresh RO water in as well. Otherwise your return chamber will continuously run dry, and you will burn out the new pump. This will also stabilize the water level in your skimmer chamber to stay at the level which you set it.
 

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Suggestion : run your lights at 30% Schedule for a week at minimum before adding livestock to see what might pop up... algae outbreak.. yadda yadda - it’s much easier and safer to try your hands at correcting these issues when there is nothing to care for in the tank via livestock
 
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I don’t think this was mentioned but your ATO is setup incorrectly.
You need to have the ATO Level Sensor and float switch in the last chamber with the return pump- this is also the chamber to place your fresh RO water in as well. Otherwise your return chamber will continuously run dry, and you will burn out the new pump. This will also stabilize the water level in your skimmer chamber to stay at the level which you set it.

Good observation and it was brought up to me previously. The LFS that helped me set everything up placed the sensor and ATO return in the second chamber as you observed and he said it will operate fine there but when I tried setting the Vectra pump to 50% it did empty its chamber and started to run dry. I keep it at 35% now. I have been watching the full sump water level continuously since day 1 and it seems to remain constant in all 3 chambers and I am really focused on the pump chamber especially. I will probably move it though just to be safe and have it placed properly. Not sure why the LFS guy set it up like he did.
 
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Suggestion : run your lights at 30% Schedule for a week at minimum before adding livestock to see what might pop up... algae outbreak.. yadda yadda - it’s much easier and safer to try your hands at correcting these issues when there is nothing to care for in the tank via livestock

True and I agree but if I add some corals while starting my lighting schedule wont the corals use the nutrients that may promote algae also? Yes, starting lower intensity it best to.
 
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I don’t think this was mentioned but your ATO is setup incorrectly.
You need to have the ATO Level Sensor and float switch in the last chamber with the return pump- this is also the chamber to place your fresh RO water in as well. Otherwise your return chamber will continuously run dry, and you will burn out the new pump. This will also stabilize the water level in your skimmer chamber to stay at the level which you set it.

The LFS that set it up is a vendor for Red Sea. They said this is how they typically set up an external ATO. I am going to contact Red Sea directly and inquire from them...
Thanks for the heads up.
 

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The LFS that set it up is a vendor for Red Sea. They said this is how they typically set up an external ATO. I am going to contact Red Sea directly and inquire from them...
Thanks for the heads up.
The ATO must be in the return pump chamber... really no way around it. I have a RSR XL200- similar but smaller sump. I have a Varios 2 running at 80% with the water 1-2 inches above the actual pump, and the same ATO you have locked in. It runs flawlessly and I keep my skimmer level at 8.25” - no variations unless I perform a water change, but I turn it off prior. This move also allows you to water change without the sump going low triggering the ATO, and in your case you would have to turn off the ATO in its current location due to it dropping below the eye and adding RODI to the system - or when you plug it back in and it sets up to prime the pump again. I do my water changes from the sump - cleaner that way. Also swap out the chip inside not to alarm when the float switch is triggered so it doesnt annoy you when performing water changes.
 

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You can take your skimmer out and run it in a bucket with water and citric acid solution to clean it of any oil residue from manufacturing process. I stated citric acid because it won't harm your pump's impeller unlike vinegar.
 
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