My first SW tank. 40b

Taborct1

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Before I start in on the SW tank as it is I think we should know a bit of how I got here. I've always been a freshwater guy and this setup was built off the bones of my first freshwater setup. Here's a few "before" pictures of the FW setup with a fry tank, quarantine tank and a guppy tank that I was selective breeding for certain traits. (The second photo comes first in the timeline).

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There was more done to it after this point but I can't find the pictures, if I even took any. Basically just added some ugly siding material that I did a poor job cutting. My bet is there are no more pictures for that reason .

Onward to the SW flu that I came down with. It started, funny enough, with my 2 year old daughter wanting to get glow decorations. Of course with me being wrapped around her finger I caved. She had picked out some that looked reef inspired. Obviously they didn't have a place in the planted tank so it hit me. Upgrade the FW setup and turn this one into a reef. Might I say that this tank now has all the attention.

I don't have many pictures of the process as coming to this forum and doing a build thread was something that just kind of came to fruition. Being budget minded I recycled the stand rebuilding it properly. The siding I used was also recycle from my grandparents recently replaced 30 year old deck.

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So far total cost... about $20 for a few 2x4s and quality screws. Now what do we need... I've got a filter (marineland biowheel rated for 75 gallon), let's replace the heater (fluval $40), going to need a reef light (used gen 2 xr30w from local page $225), hardscape (sand 40lbs bag about $30, reef rock 40lbs $55. Both from amazon) and last but not least salt ( IO reef crystals $40).

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Close to the end of the cycle (no ammonia but still a bit of nitrites) I added some fish. The fish of choice, cheap mollies. I read they could be acclimated and while true i did not have great success. Out of seven only 1 survived past 72 hours but she is still alive and eating her fill of algea. After initial cycling was complete I added my first coral and ended up going a little faster than I wanted but I've got some really cool locals that have hooked me up. "Oh your new! Here's this frag and this frag". Oh, I almost forgot the hermits!

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At this point I was about $100 in livestock (i just went in for two zoa frags... oops). This brings our total to around $510. From here on out if you all had seen my "introducing myself thread" then you have likely seen these photos, which get a lot better since my wife got a new camera for her birthday.

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I figured if I'm going to be doing a lot of talking I should reward you with a bunch of photos.

By this point I have now added a jeboa wave pump ($50) and invested in a macro elements test kit (red sea $50) which bring us to $610 total. Ouch I haven't added this up until now...probably shouldn't have done that. it just makes these past two days more painful.

After filling my tank impulsively with coral I wanted to focus on getting pulsing xenia. Besides GSP this is one of the main ones I liked for the movement it adds to the tank. Yes, I willinging planted weeds in my garden. My wife then got more interested and involved and insisted that we get fish today which leads to...

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The xenia set me back $15 for 5 heads, picked up 3 different zoa frags for $50 and then the clowns... I cant remember the exact price on them individually but the total after tax was $95. Ya, really regretting adding this up because the total is now $770.

If I could give advice that I've learned through the aquarium hobby to someone just getting started on a budget it would be this.

" Spend a little extra in the begging on things that matter. These things are the life support of your system (lights, filtration, heater ect). You can cut corners where lives don't depend on it. This will save you money in the long run when you inevitably fall in love with the hobby and take it to the next level".

The next project is a diy ATO and making the front of the stand removable so I can access the equipment that will be going under there. I'm always open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Hopefully I keep up with this and I will try to keep everyone update. Until next time... 20200625_142426.jpg 20200706140357_IMG_0182.jpg 20200706141047_IMG_0052.jpg
 
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ludnix

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Beautiful photography and welcome aboard! Your planted tank is gorgeous and you clearly have an eye for it! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress as the reef grows in! The ATO is huge upgrade for stability, it will not disappoint!
 
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Taborct1

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Beautiful photography and welcome aboard! Your planted tank is gorgeous and you clearly have an eye for it! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress as the reef grows in! The ATO is huge upgrade for stability, it will not disappoint!
Thank you and yes, I am excited about getting started on an ATO!
 
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Taborct1

Taborct1

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Little update for today. My first 2 Zoas I got have been opening and appear healthy however their coloring has lightened up quite a bit. The newest ones I got on friday are opening and retaining color so far.
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It's hard to tell since this picture was taken with my phone but the centers have dulled in color and the edges went from a nice green to a yellow with some having the tips almost white. I had these guys in the center of the tank but have now moved them into the front corner to see if it was my lighting. My favias now rest where the zoas were. My duncan was in the center next to the zoas and is doing great as is everything else. Fingers crossed these guys start to color back up.

On the bright side the molly made friends with the clowns and is showing her happiness with a smile lol.;)

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Taborct1

Taborct1

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Late night hitch hiker discovery. I gots a feather duster :cool:. I spot feed most of the corals with 6ml of phyto with 4ml dilution of tank water once a week and broadcast 10ml every other night. Hope it's enough to keep this guy going. I have considered getting reef roids to mix with it. What's y'alls opinion?
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Taborct1

Taborct1

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keep an eye on nutrient levels ,to me what you are feeding corals ,i would back off to 3 days apart,also feeding fish adds nutrients,jmo :cool:
I dont feed the molly. She has been thriving on what's in the tank but now that I have clowns... i dont test for phosphates yet but i do test for nitrates which are in line. I've been trying to feed a bit heavy since the tank is so new in attempts to "dirty it up" a bit since it was so new. Its water change night tonight so I can post my parameters later. Does phyto have a big impact?

I fed the clowns brine (and skipped coral feeding) but they kind of turned their nose up at it. I'm going to try a small shrimp cut up in very small pieces tonight to see if they will eat that.
 
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Taborct1

Taborct1

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how long have you had clowns,have they eaten at all??
I got them on saturday. I tried feeding the brine the first night and they both took maybe 1 piece and ignored the rest. Tried a bit of flake last night just to see. Wasn't much at all, probably about 5 flakes and they showed no interest at all. However I do catch them picking at algea on the glass and rocks from time to time like the molly. If they can live off that then I'll stop trying to feed but I'm still going to try raw shrimp tonight as I don't want to lose those fish. They weren't the cheapest of options. :rolleyes:
 
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Taborct1

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So tonight's water change and testing revealed a bit and something I suspected last week. After I added the first corals I immediately orded a red sea macro element test. I'm thinking I messed up last weeks water change. My log I'm keeping shows the following;

7/2/20 (day test was received)-
PH: 8.2-8.3
N3/N4: 0ppm
NO2: 0ppm
NO3: less than 1
CA: 490
KH:9
MG:1800

I think I may have messed up the MG test since this was my first time using this type of test.

7/6/20 (water in bucket check)-
Salinity: 1.026 (or so I thought)
CA:550
KH: 11.8
MG: 1800

I always use my refractometer and clean it after each use but it seems I misread it unless the salinity can still be that level while have the elements increased.

7/6/20 (tank post waterchange)-
PH:8.2-8.4
NO3: 2.5ppm
CA:520
KH:9.5
MG:1720

This is when I thought something was up because I took more care when testing yet my level were still elevated. My salinity never changes and I check it daily.

7/13/20 (tank post WC)-
PH:8.2-8.4
NO3: 2.5ppm
CA: 500
KH:10.4
MG:1640

These series of readings just seem off to me and while some of it seems like testing error I have a feeling that one water change was off. What signs would I look for it my parameters are that high? Seems like everything but those two zoas are happy and my one head of trumpet coral has recovered and grown back over its skeleton.

Sorry no pictures tonight guys.

Fishguy, I didn't have time to get to the store to get more brine but the clowns went crazy for the raw shrimp that I cut up for them. Most of the corals shot feeder out further than normal a few minutes after putting it in so if nothing else I may have found a nice treat for them every once in awhile.
 
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fishguy242

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hi i think #'s are ok,don't chase them,would lower salinity 1.024 over time gives wiggle room,great to hear clowns ate,give the problem zoas a 30 second fw dip and swish see if anything comes off ,slightly warmer than dt temp..looking for pests
 
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Taborct1

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Got some snails today to help fight diatoms and went by my coral guys place the other day. Sadly he is shutting down his operation for awhile but that means I got a good deal, maybe. I got a rock with 2 small leathers and a single stray zoa polyp along with this other thing for $30. Wouldn't mind help identifying these corals if possible.

All 3 from the front...
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And the two leathers. I think the greenish one may be a toadstool and the purple/red one is sinularia?

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Not the best pictures but what is the one brownish guy? I have some concerns with this one but I will post those in a separate thread. Most of his stuff had died and gives me a good guess as to why hes getting out for a bit. I saw hints of green and hoping he will develop some color with time and was just unhappy in his setup.

On the brighter side my problem zoas are starting to regain color after moving into lower light!
 
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Taborct1

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Everything is in to make the ATO. Just have to get some extra time and that project will begin. As far as what has changed since my last post I moved the leathers off the rock and away from each other as I was noticing some irritation now that they were under some flow. The Lobo is now starting to show some color and I added some mushrooms to the tank.

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Taborct1

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Finally took a day for my personal projects and got most of the ATO done. The whole system isn't finished but the "heart and brian" of it is.

Part list:

12v generic 30 amp automotive relay with pigtail (the brain)
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The power supply- the blood
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The pump-the heart

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The switches- nerve endings
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All components are made for 12v. Here is the unit as a whole. Its not very pretty but it gets the job done. Most of it (minus the pump and switches) I had laying around. My favorite piece was the power supply.
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The power supply has a switch inline so if I am aclimating something, or any other reason I would be pulling out SW with my filters and WM still going, I can easily flip a switch to shut the ATO off independently.
It may be hard to make out but the ground is going to the black cable (#85 of the relay) and the power is the blue (#30 on the relay).
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The next image is in a bit closer so we can get a little more detailed for you visual learners like me ;) . Here you can see on the ground (black wire) a small white wire is spliced into it as well. This small white wire coming from the brown conduit is the constant ground to the pump. The other wire in the conduit is red and is connected to the positive on the pump on one end and the yellow lead (pin 87) from the relay at the other end. That completes the top half of that mess your looking at.
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The bottom half of that is the power and coil/switching side of things. The red wire from this seperate length of brown conduit is spliced into the blue/power line and leads up to the input wire of switch #1. There are two switches to this setup. If you don't already know, this is a fail safe for if a switch gets stuck in the on position.
The white wire in the conduit is coming from the output of switch #2 and connected to the white wire (pin 86) on the relay.

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The switches themselves are quite simple. You want to connect the switches in parallel with each other meaning the output of one to input of the other. And there you have it, a diy ATO.
I will continue going into why what we did works in a second but for those that don't want to know the technical side of it this should get you through.
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Pin86 (white) and pin85 (black) are the coil wires. If you notice on the diagram they are connected. When the coil is powered through a closed circuit the power from pin30 (blue) is switched from pin87a (red) to pin87 (yellow). Basically closed coil = power to yellow. Open coil = power to red.
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Our blueprint:
Pin86 (white)= switched power (or ground)
Pin85 (black)= constant ground (or power)
Pin30 (blue)= constant power (or ground)
*note- if you flip one of the above you flip all.
Pin87a (red)= powered when coil is not. (Not used)
Pin87 (yellow)= powered while coil is.

I have a future plan for pin87a which will be a low reservoir indicator which will consist of another low level sensor and a standard 12v light visible from the outside of the stand.
Before I do the final install all the wires will be wrapped with electrical tape and tidied up a bit. I left it this way for the I instructional and for testing to make sure everything worked.
In the next post I will be showing how to make a bracket to fit your tank that will hold your switches and feed line from the ATO. This will be all by hand so you will need some tools that most of you wont have but will be a cheaper alternative to a 3D printer and uses material everyone throws away/recycles. HDPE!
 

ludnix

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Great write up @Taborct1 ! One thing I've really appreciated doing in my ATO is adding a regular manual switch so I can turn it off during water changes. Unplugging works the same or plugging it into a DJ power strip.

Have you planned any housing for the relay? Maybe a small deli meat plastic container or project box?
 
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