My RedSea Reefer 300XL

Craig77

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This is my first post, hopefully, I don't screw anything up...

After a 20+ years away from the hobby, I have taken the plunge to get back in. As a student in the 1990's I had a very homemade reef tank--55 gallon long, with homemade stand, hood, sump, protein skimmer (out of schedule 40 PVC and a wooden air stone), etc. It was fun but awful and not at all elegant. I wish I had pictures of that setup. I was renting apartments, moving regularly, and didn't have much $$ which ultimately caused me to leave the hobby until I had a more stable location and the money to create something I would really enjoy. I'm also really happy to see how many corals and fish are available now that have been tank raised. Here is the basic equipment to start with:
  • RedSea Reefer 300XL (65 gallon with 15 gallon sump) with the RedSea Net kit for a lid. I really like the RS 300XL so far and its really quiet.
  • Two RedSea ReefLED 90. I like these, very clean look. Love the tilt up feature and the app works ok for me so far.
  • Two RedSea ReefWave 25. I like these--they are silent.
  • RedSea RSK-300 Skimmer. Haven't used this much.
  • Neptune APEX, ATK, DOS, COR-15 Pump for return
  • RODI, ATK reservoir (10 Gallon Brute) and salt water tank (44 Gallon Brute) in basement
  • FINNEX HMX TITANIUM 300 WATT AQUARIUM HEATER W/ DIGITAL CONTROLLER. I'm not real thrilled with this one, and, consistent with what I've read, it is really inaccurate--I set it to 83 or 84F to achieve 78F. I'm still evaluating how precise this controller is and if I'll keep it. Assuming it can maintain a temp, I'll keep it (with the APEX babysitting it)
  • Plan a small refugium in the existing refugium compartment in the standard RS Sump to grow Chaeto algae
  • QT tank (20 gallon long with two old biowheel hang on the back filters, heaters, and an air stone) near my RODI station
I studied the Bulk Reef Supply negative space aquascape videos and looked at what others had done with the same approach using Marco Rock as my base: How to NSA Aquascape: A step by step negative ... - YouTube

The BRS160 series, BRS 5 minute videos, and Reef2Reef were really helpful for me to quickly assimilate how much has changed in 20 years with equipment, lighting, etc.

I really liked this approach. My tank in the 1990's was basically a pile of base rock along the back wall of the tank which made it impossible to clean, had awful flow, and wasn't visually as beautiful as it could have been. I ended with a more dense/traditional? aquascape, but really liked the methodology of superglue/accelerator and the Marco cement kit. I purchased 75 pounds of Marco Rock and I broke it up as described in the NSA videos and I used the super glue and accelerator to put the rocks together initially. I used a pastry bag to inject the Marco cement in the existing holes between the rocks to minimize the amount of cement that showed and covered that cement immediately with dust from breaking up the rocks. I'll describe the approach used for the aquascape next, I attached a video showing the aquascape on my workbench prior to installation in the tank. The blue tape generally marks the perimeter of the RedSea 300XL it will go into. There are some static pictures below too since I'm not sure I understand how to upload video files effectively yet.

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Craig77

Craig77

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Aquascape Design

Materials:

Marco Rock (75 pounds), water sprayer, superglue, accelerator, paper bowls, plastic sparkling knife, plastic bag/icing bag, latex gloves, safety glasses, work gloves, two different cold chisels and a 3 pound hammer.

scape equipment.jpg


I generally followed the technique provided by BRS in the negative aquascape videos and thought I’d create something similar with twisting branches, but, once I got going, something shorter and more dense felt right to me and I created an arch and some separate islands. I’ll likely start primarily with soft corals and thing it will be a good idea to have separate unconnected rocks on which to grow what will hopefully be rapidly growing soft corals. I’m also concerned about making the structure too high—so I marked off height markers on the wall behind my work bench showing me where 1/2 and 2/3 of the tank height were. I kept nearly all the scape below the 1/2 mark and everything below the 2/3 mark to all for some growth and provide some open swimming space for fish. I broke up most of the Marco Rock except a couple nice pieces that I built off of. I used the superglue and accelerator to hold together key points and then filled the gray Marco cement into a pastry bag to inject the cement in between the rocks. I bought a bag of Marco sand to cover the cement with, but never needed it as I created a lot of sandy dust from splitting the rocks apart. I used this dust to quickly cover the cement while still wet. I used the water spray before applying the cement to wet the rocks and after to help adhere the sand to the surface of the cement. I ended up using nearly all the cement although it doesn’t show much and I used most of the rock (probably 60-65 pounds). The archway itself is a really heavy piece, but it survived transfer from the basement to the tank with the help of my family.
pastry bag.jpg
marco cement.jpg


After finishing the major shapes, I spent a lot of time superglueing smaller pieces to try and disguise the rock connections and make it look as natural as I could. I separated out the rubble based on its size which made this part a lot easier. The whole thing took a couple of weekends of tinkering.

rubble.jpg


After getting out of reef tank keeping, I spent a number of years keeping freshwater planted tanks and was really inspired by the work and photography of Takashi Amano. That was a lot of fun, and led me to purchase a CO2 system with doser that could become useful for a future calcium reactor who knows. I’m definitely more of an engineer than artist, but I tried to give the scape some slope and empty space. I also marked off the thirds both horizontally and vertically to help guide my eye toward elements in the scape. The last image is of the scape in the tank without water. I find these static images really don’t give the right perception, but, hopefully, you get some idea of what this is looking like. I enjoyed looking at others' aquascapes for inspiration. I also took a look at some of Takashi Amano's photos for additional inspiration too. I’m excited about getting some coralline algae on this thing, but there are a lot of steps before I get there. Its hard to anticipate what the growing corals will look like over time, but I think this scape gives me some options.

aquascape in tank no water.jpg


Now I need to start installing plumbing, control systems/learning how to setup and program an Apex, setup my salt water supply tank, start cycling, and get a QT setup for some fish...
 
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Craig77

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Salt tank and ATO setup

I used a 44 gallon brute tank for a salt water tank. I had some Red Sea salt from a long long time ago and figured I’d start with that. I put an old powerhead pump into the brute to help agitate things and installed a float valve from BRS to my RO unit (works great so far). I used a piece of PVC pipe to anchor the 1/4” RODI tubing that pulls fresh water from the tank. Basically, drill a 1/4” hole through a short (5”) length of PVC pipe and force the RO tubing through it. The PVC sinks and is cheap and easy to replace. This is a really nice and simple way to hold the RO line down to the bottom of the tank that I use on both my salt water tank and my Kalkwasser tank—I saw this first from AmroAzul here in which he explains how to setup a DOS for an AWC using a DOS in the basement with a particular focus on preventing back siphoning:

I’m using a DOS in my basement to pull water up to the tank (and pull water down to my sewer). I’m thinking I’ll actually pull old water from my DT to a QT tank in the basement and then actually out to the sewer. I may setup a tank in the basement to QT and/or propagate corals since I have a lot of space down there and plenty of old tanks.
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As I read from others, the DOS has no trouble with pumping water upstairs over long lengths (I have about a 40 foot lateral run and a ~8 foot elevation gain from this area to my DT). I liked the brute trash can setup for the salt water tank so I decided to use little 10 gallon brute cans with lids and identical float valves for my ATO water reservoir in the same area of my basement with a PMUP as part of the Neptune ATK. I have one FMM module in the basement and one in the sump/DT cabinet so that I can use optical sensors and leak detectors in both locations (and power/control the PMUP). I was a little worried about the PMUP making this distance and height, but it had absolutely no trouble. Most of my refills are done in a minute and I conduct them every hour right now on the sump. Its a cute little pump and its nice that you can directly hook up 1/4” RO line to it. I put a check valve (one way valve) on top of the PUMP to prevent back flow and to prevent the line from constantly draining out. The ATK setup this way is perfect so far and keeps space in my SUMP/cabinet upstairs. One issue I ran into with refilling the ATO Reservoir is degassing causing my optical sensor to think it was open erroneously. I notice I get a lot of air bubbles/degassing initially from the water coming off of my RODI unit probably because it is suddenly at a lower pressure in the tank and it is warming up which liberates dissolved gases in the water. I've seen this cause my optical sensor to misbehave and expect it would be best to more frequently add top off RODI water to that tank to minimize how much degassing occurs. Here are a couple of shots from my Kalkwasser tank based on the same 10 gallon brute container and a float valve connected to my RODI for easy refilling. I’m starting with simple Kalkwasser solution and we’ll see if two part or a calcium reactor are in the future depending on how much my tank really needs down the road.

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Craig77

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Fish from LiveAquaria.com

This is my first online fish ordering experience. I purchased 2 small oscellaris clowns and 1 orchid dotty back (all ORA captive raised) from the Florida LiveAquaria facility and 1 Coral Beauty and 1 Saphire Damsel (all Biota captive raised) from the Wisconsin LiveAquaria facility as part of a single larger order.

Ordered on a Wednesday, shipped out Thursday PM from each location. The fish from Florida arrived in the afternoon on Friday and looked great. I had two separate QT tanks (10G and 20G) waiting with a block Molly in each. Each fish was in a separate bag, packed well, and in a cooler with a heat pack.

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All were active on arrival. I checked the salinity of the water and each bag was about 27.5 ppt so I dropped the salinity of my 10 gallon QT quite a bit (from 35 to 28.5 ppt) and acclimated them all with a float method and used a clean colander to separate them out from the water they arrived in. They were all active and looking good—even eating a little frozen mysis shrimp on day 1. The orchid dotty back is beautiful. A little timid the first day, but was eating frozen mysis after a couple of days.

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Unfortunately, the fish from Wisconsin are hung up in Indianapolis (FedEx) for >48 hours at this point and I’m becoming less optimistic they will survive the trip. There are no reported weather issues and I’ve received no explanation from LiveAquaria or FedEx as to what is causing the delay and how long it will last. From searching online, it sounds like these types of delays are common now and maybe it just doesn’t make sense to even try to purchase fish via mail.

Hopefully I'll have a miraculous update on the remaining fish next time.
 
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Craig77

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Update on fish

The fish I received from the Florida Live Aquaria facility are doing well so far although the freshwater mollies I have with them have begun showing signs of ich. I plan to keep them in copper for at least 2 weeks above 1.5ppm and then I’ll move them to a clean tank and treat them with API general cure and observe them for another couple of additional weeks. All of those fish are actively eating and playing pretty nicely in the same QT/Tx tank (20G long). Thanks to all the folks that have posted helpful resources for quarantining and treating fish. I particularly found the website managed by humblefish very helpful.

Unfortunately, the fish I received from the Wisconsin Live Aquaria facility (biota coral beauty and biota sapphire damsel) didn’t arrive until Tuesday (they were shipped FedEx overnight on Thursday afternoon with an expected arrival of Friday AM). I was surprised to find they arrived alive albeit in really poor shape. I did the best I could to equilibrate them slowly to temp and perfectly match the tank salinity to the bag salinity (which was about 33.5ppt—not nearly as low as the shipment from the Florida facility which threw me off). They both arrived with what looked like enlarged eyes (perhaps due to the toxins in the bags?). The Damsel perked up for 12 hours and started swimming pretty well but then entirely lost the blue coloration and I found him on the bottom of the tank about 24 hours after arrival. The coral beauty looked more lethargic initially than the damsel, but has taken a couple of bites of frozen mysis which seems a good sign, but is still swimming a bit erratically. I’ll see how this goes, but this first experience with LA and shipping fish has been a pretty poor one for me personally. The biota coral beauty is a beautiful fish and I’m really hoping it fares better than the damsel.

After the delay in receiving these fish I started looking around and found that there were well known delays in FedEx shipping the day before and the day that my shipment initiated. For example, this website reports delays: https://shipyourreptiles.com/pages/critical-information. They specifically recommended not shipping on the day my shipment went out:
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I could not find any notice of such delays on either LA or FedEx’s websites (even after my order was stuck in Indianapolis for 4 days). I asked LA if they had similar information and provided them with the reference and was simply redirected to their arrive alive guarantee link so I am not sure if LA were aware of the delays and shipped anyway or if they do not have insight into these delays when they do occur. If I order through the mail again, I’ll:

(1) research delays myself and not trust this to LA or anyone else
(2) only place orders to go out on Tuesday or Wednesday

Thankfully, I had multiple QTs available (10 and 20 gallon tanks) and plenty of salt water prepared so that I could manage the unexpected delays as best as possible. Hopefully this experience is helpful to someone else down the road and if others have additional advice on mail ordering fish please share them.
 
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Another Fish Update

I originally planned to treat all the fish with API General Cure and observe them. I was hesitant about treating fish proactively with copper, but after finding white dots on one of the black mollies in the tank with the clownfish and orchid dottyback, copper suddenly seemed necessary. I have used copper safe in the past, but went with Copper Power this time based largely on the approach used by Humblefish. I also used this Copper calculator and a Hanna copper checker. For my setup, the copper calculator (I used 19 gallons for my 20 gallon tank) prediction for the amount of copper needed and the Hanna checker results are typically very close so it doesn’t appear that much copper is absorbing into anything in my system.

In this QT tank I have:

(1) 50W heater and 100W heater (basement setup in cold room)
(2) air pump, check valve, airstone
(3) biowheel filter (without a carbon/poly filter pad in it while dosing copper/meds)
(4) Seachem Ammonia Alert
(5) thermometer
(6) egg crate lid to prevent fish from jumping. I read somewhere that dotty backs can occasionally try and make a break for it so figured this was a good idea
(7) pieces of PVC pipe. I have found the T’s are the most popular among my fish and they have all generally started sleeping inside of the PVC pipes each night.
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So far the fish seem fine with the copper (@2.1ppm now) and are getting along surprisingly well in a pretty tight space. In a couple of weeks I hope to transfer them to a clean tank to observe them for an additional 2 weeks before starting to move fish to the DT.

The coral beauty continues to have their own separate untreated 10G tank and is eating more consistently now (Tried several things including frozen mysis, but TDO-C2 Chroma BOOST - Reef Nutrition is what works) and I’m watching this one closely to make sure it doesn’t have any issues after such a long trip and the quick loss of his Damsel tank mate.

My overall fish stocking plan is:
(1) 2 black and white ocellaris clownfish
(2) 2 orange and white ocellaris clownfish
(3) 1 orchid dottyback
(4) 1 coral beauty

Down the road I would like to get a goby, maybe a filefish, and maybe a damsel. I'm generally looking for fish that are relatively easy to care for and feed, will play nice in a reef tank, are interesting to watch/different, and will ideally inhabit different parts of the tank. I plan to pick up a pair of cleaner shrimp when the tank is more established. If folks have suggestions for fish for the tank, I'd be interested to hear them. I've never had an orchid dotty back--I really like watching him. Interesting shape, beautiful color and moves very differently from the other fish so far.
 
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Breaking in the Display Tank, First Reef Cleaners, First Corals

I’ve been cycling the display tank with some shrimp and pellet food. I’ve finally encountered brown dynoflaggelate algae. This was a real quick bloom covering everything. I kept feeding pellet food each day and turned off the powerheads and in a couple of weeks the algae bloom died down.

I placed an order for some snails so that I could run them through a quarantine and have them ready to clean up the display tank in a few weeks. I ordered:



I had these shipped by USPS priority and they arrived 4 days later. I temperature acclimated them all, dipped each snail in water from the tank (in a separate container) and placed them into a fish free QT tank. Reefcleaners was pretty generous with the dwarf ceriths ;). I dipped the Halimeda in Bayer (a fairly dilute 5 mL in 2 cup tank water for 5 minutes followed by 2 dips in clean tank water). I took some of the gravel out of my DT to make a dish for the Nassarius snails and some algae covered rock from the sump to provide some food. The dish with gravel also made a good substrate for the Halimeda. Most of the snails are already running around all over the tank on day 1 and my experience with reef cleaners was really good.

In the same tank I started to quarantine some of my first corals and a pair of cleaner shrimp from WWC. I have heard great things about WWC and my first experience with them was great. I ordered some soft corals that should be pretty easy choices for starting off. I picked up midnight daisy polyps, green star polyps with blue centers, pulsing Xenia, space queen zoos, a neon polyp toadstool leather.
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The toadstool was a really generous size and looks fantastic after a couple days to acclimate. I am thinking about attaching the Xenia, star polyps and midnight daisy polyps to the back wall on the DT. After seeing how intensely neon the green stars are, I think that might be pretty overwhelming and am rethinking this. If folks have suggestions or experience with using corals like these on the rear glass—let me know what you think. I was thinking of trying to make a few bands of different corals along the back. I’d love to let them each grow, but I’d also like to keep them off of my rock to keep them contained. Everything I got from WWC looks good. I dipped the corals in CoralMD prodip. Generally, the frags were pretty clean. I really didn’t see much at all in terms of hitchhikers but may not know what to look for completely. I removed one of the RS90 LED lights from my DT and temporarily hung it above the coral QT tank (20G long). I put a powerhead and biowheel filter on this tank as well.

Coral and invert QT:
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My hopes and dreams for the DT so far:
(1) cover the back wall with interesting soft corals/polyps
(2) a large rock entirely covered in zoas
(3) two toadstools--I really like these and hope to pick up one more--maybe a white/cream colored one. Looks like aqua corals has real nice soft corals
(4) a bubble or hammer coral
(5) monti cap--probably red
 
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If Reefing was a school what letter grade do you think you would be making?

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  • Other (please explain)

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