My First Saltwater Tank Build WB Reef 130.4

hannernanner

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Let the fun begin! Waterbox shipment arrived yesterday, started putting together the stand last night. After several attempts to mount the left door so that it hung level, it still is crooked! Flush at the hinges, but leaves a pretty noticeable gap in the middle where it meets the other door. Anyone else having this issue? Reached out to WB, we'll see what they say.

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hannernanner

hannernanner

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What a weekend! Where to begin...I'm a little disheartened by all the issues I've run into so far. It just seems like one thing after another. But then, I guess it's complicated setting up an ecosphere. Also, I understand why everyone laments aquascaping now.

Spent the better part of a day organizing the cabinet of electronics and doing cord management. It's not near as pretty as some of the stuff on this forum, but I'm pretty helpless when it comes to most things mechanical/DIY so I'm proud of it.

Mistake #1/PSA: The new Maxspect Jump return pumps do not fit the flexible return line on the Waterbox 130.4. You will need a plumbing adapter, 3/4" to 1/2". I picked one up on my 5th trip to Lowes.

Mistake #2: I ordered a refugium starter kit from Algae Barn through BRS. Should've ordered through Algae Barn directly. After placing my order with BRS, I called Algae Barn to make sure that my order would be shipped out in two separate parts (the bioblocks and bacteria come first, a week later the Algae and Pods). I was told it would. Blocks and bacteria showed up Friday, Algae and Pods showed up A DAY LATER. I had just started filling the tank. I panicked, decided to fill the sump first because then I'd have a place to put the pods (the display was filling up too slowly, not enough depth). So after sitting on the kitchen counter for about 5 hours I dumped the pods into the sump along with the blocks and a bit of the starter bacteria and some phytoplankton (I heated the sump and mixed to the correct salinity first). I doubt they survived.

Mistake #3: I didn't order extra resin for the RODI unit. I picked up the 75gpd 4-stage value plus from BRS. The resin is done for already, and I haven't even filled my tank! I'm on well water, so the consensus is that there may be CO2 in the water causing me to burn through DI resin. Who knew? Now I'm stuck waiting on replacement resin before I can continue filling the tank, meanwhile trying to keep algae and pods alive in a sump without water flowing through it.

I thought I planned it out so well! Hopefully I'm getting all the kinks out of the way up front...
 

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hannernanner

hannernanner

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The Maxspect Jump DC 8K return pump I ordered from BRS was faulty out of the box. The connection between the power bar and the controller wouldn't fully connect, so when plugged in doesn't turn on the pump reliably. The junction even sparked a few times! I am so disappointed. BRS has to receive the pump and confirm that it's faulty before they'll send me another. Coralvue offered to send me a new controller, but I've asked if they will replace the product in it's entirety instead, in case the issue is the power bar side of the connection. Who knows how long it'll take to get a replacement. In the meantime my full tank is sans a return pump, so everything is on hold.

This is one of the only products I bought new for this build. It's new to the market, and honestly if I did it over I'd go with a different product.
 
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hannernanner

hannernanner

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Things are looking up! Replacement pump arrived in a timely manner from Coralvue, has been running great. The past two weeks I've seen stable parameters, my pods and macro seem to finally be happy, and I'm starting to get a little algae growth in the sump (still no lights on the display tank). After two weeks of no Ammonia and Nitrites tailing off, I'm planning on the first inhabitants going in this weekend! I've got a clean-up crew on order from Reef Cleaners. Right now it's just snails, and not so many since I don't have a ton of algae yet. I went with Cerith, Nerite, Trochus, Nassarius, and a few Bumblebee snails. Later I'll add crabs, cleaner shrimp and a serpent star.

Last week, my nitrates tested 25ppm, and this week they've gone down to 5ppm. Not running the skimmer yet, figured it must be my macro/copepods. Wondering if I even need to bother with a big water change since nutrients are in check even without firing up the skimmer...
 

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hannernanner

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My order from Reefcleaners came in on Tuesday. After overnight shipping ($40+) I figured the snails would have the best chance of survival. On arrival, I simply float-acclimated them because there were instructions in the box not to drip acclimate them...at first they all seemed to be moving and active. I put a sheet of nori on a rock and dropped it in, and placed a few chunks of shrimp around for the carnivorous snails, since I have no fish yet. One of the large nassarius snails somehow flipped itself over last night, and although I righted it this morning, I am not sure he will make it. Haven't seen it move since I flipped it over. The Trochus Snails were moving around at first, but there are now at least three that haven't moved in 24 hours. Worried about those. The small nassarius snails seem goners, except for one. The bumble bee snails have been after the (carcasses?) of the small nassarius. They've also been hanging out near one of the Trochus that hasn't moved recently...it's like a snail massacre in there...the Cerith Snails and the nerites seem to be the ones faring the best. Tested all water parameter before and after introduction, everything looks good. I guess time will tell if I just completely wasted $100 on snail mail.
 

ReefSapper

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Sounds like you are making progress, congrats! Bummer about the snails, I personally have never had luck buying the packs from those places, I do about 1/10th of what they recommend and don't add anything until I have some fish and have turned the light on, I always feel that gives them the best chance to thrive. Excited to follow along with your build, thanks for sharing!
 
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hannernanner

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Sounds like you are making progress, congrats! Bummer about the snails, I personally have never had luck buying the packs from those places, I do about 1/10th of what they recommend and don't add anything until I have some fish and have turned the light on, I always feel that gives them the best chance to thrive. Excited to follow along with your build, thanks for sharing!
Yeah I went with a fraction of what would be recommended for a 90gal. I guess maybe the shipping is hard on them, but I do like that they come from systems without fish. No perfect solution I suppose!
 

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Seems like you've done your research for sure, just ask questions if you run into a scenario you're not sure of. Many of us learned the hard way on our first couple tanks, I didn't even know forums existed when i started lol, but many here are more than willing to help so you don't have to make the same ol' mistakes (although that is the best way to learn ;)) And yes i agree with @Twoddler keep those pics coming, really like seeing the progression both in the tank and your knowledge!
 
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And with the light comes a bit of algae, but the plan is to shorten the photoperiod a bit and wait it out. Unfortunately many of the snails did not make it. A few are still showing signs of life. Fingers crossed I'll be headed down to the LFS to pick up the first fish inhabitants tomorrow! Maybe I'll pick up some more snails while I'm there, see if they fare better. Also picked up some diffusers for the radions to help blend those colors a little better.

The line down the right side of the tank is a snail trail...haha every morning I've found a Nerite somewhere outside the tank (inside the stand by the cabinet doors, on the floor!) I've banished them to the refugium for now, maybe they'll be less inclined to escape since there's way more algae down there?
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hannernanner

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My first bacterial bloom, yay! At least that's what I assume it is. Not sure what caused it. Did a scheduled water change, measured parameters the next day. Phosphorus and Nitrates were very low, so I wonder if that had anything to do with it? Seems like new tanks come across this often, so I just fed the snails a little and am waiting it out.
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Lots happened since the last update. After "waiting out" the bacterial bloom for over a month, I broke down and installed a cheap uv filter. Cleared it up overnight. I put the uv away. All was well until the next water change, which seemed to precipitate another bacterial bloom! UV is back on now.

The saddest news is that the female clown jumped out of the tank about the second week I had them. No idea why. They were the only fish so I figured waiting for my clear view lid that was on order wouldn't be a big deal. The two were getting along really well, eating well. I was devastated. Went to Lowes and made an interim lid for the remaining fish.

The tank looks so ugly right now it's really trying my patience. At first, when the hair algae came, I thought I'd embrace it as a sign of the tank maturing and it would be gone soon. My nutrients are consistently low. In fact, turns out they may be too low. Now I have what I suspect is Dinos. All of my Cerith Snails died the day they came from the rock work down to the sand. And it's definitely NOT going away. So I've ordered a bunch of stuff to dose the nutrients up (nitrates and phosphates), so silica in case raising normal nutrients doesn't work, and I'm reading the Dino thread(s) and preparing myself.

I did add the first corals to the tank a few weeks ago. The Duncan has been rocking from the beginning and is so much fun to feed! The "weeping willow" toadstool (that's what I was told it was, but I know the true ones are very rare) is so beautiful, but has been mostly retracted the last few days. No idea why. Parameters are the same they've been for weeks.

All the algae mess has me thinking I should hold off before adding more livestock. Next addition will probably be another clown so I have a pair again :/ then I have no idea. I can't quarantine at the moment, so it's hard to decide where to order fish. The stress of shipping is way more than a trip to the fish store, and apparently the main operators (like quarantinefish) are overwhelmed. Then I start looking at LiveAquaria DD and they have some stuff you can't find anywhere else! i.e. bonded pairs of bangaii cardinals. It's a mess out there. Just hope the tank starts to look better soon...
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A little elbow grease and some TLC and I'm feeling better about things already. Spent about 2 hrs plucking algae out by hand this weekend. Changed the carbon. Put the fleece filter sock in and changed it 24 hrs later. Things are looking a lot better. Starting to feel like I can hang in there until things stabilize.

I've also decided to bite the bullet and start a QT tank. I've been hesitant to buy new fish because I'm scared. Well for $100 now I feel like I can buy with confidence! The main issue was space (the 10 gallon QT will go on the kitchen table...did I mention my fiancé is the best?) but there are now 140 gallons of water in this 900 square foot house! Not including stored water haha. So this week will hopefully include an order of fish :)
 

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