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My Story: The Petsmart 125 Special

MarshallB

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Hello Reef2Reef!

This is a post a long time in the making, and the first thing I would like to do is thank ALL of you here on R2R and the boys at BRS. My Accomplishments would have taken much much longer if it wasn't for all the experience posted here and all the knowledge that is shared through BRS TV. Again THANK YOU!

So a little about me. I've been keeping fresh water fish every since I was a kid. You know those 10 gallon tanks with the fake plants and a few molleys or gold fish. My wife bought me a 60 gallon tall aquarium from petsmart around 10 years ago on my birthday. Immediately I wanted to try something different and move on from a fish only tank. So I began planting the tank. After a year with that I upgraded to C02 injection. The tank is wonderful and the best thing about a planted freshwater tank is after they are established you really dont need to do much besides feed and clean out the canister filter once every few months. I still love this tank!

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Fast forward to February of 2019 and we bought our first house together. Around my birthday, September of 2019, we saw a 125 gallon long tank at petsmart normally $700 on sale for $300 with the stand. I knew instantly that the stand was crap. So we went to our local saltwater fish store to check out tank prices. They didn't have anything as big as a 125, and something around 100 gallons with stand and a sump were $3-5000. For that price I thought to myself I could buy the cheap tank and deck it out with whatever I want for the same price this guy is charging. So that is exactly what we did. It was not reef ready. I did some research and decided on the eshops XL overflow external box. I drilled the tank ( nerve racking ) and had to cut a bit of the brace to fit the box high enough to hide the water line. (Looks like their new box resolved this issue)

After that, the crappy stand had to go. I needed one that was sturdy, tall enough to view the tank, and with plenty of space for a decent sump. I decided on the Triton 44 v2 sump and designed my stand around it. I spent a few months buying all the tools, stain, paint, brushes, etc to build the stand and canopy with. I have not worked with wood before, but I am pretty proud with what I built. A table saw would have been a godsend.
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During this time my wife and I were talking about possibly removing the carpet from the living room and replacing it with something else. 1. Carpet in the living room just gets too dirty. 2. I wasn't comfortable putting a tank this size on carpet. Se we decided on 'water proof' laminate. ( it probably isn't fully but so far has had no trouble with getting splashed with salt water as I do maintenance ) of course we installed it ourselves.
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During this time I had been debating about what to do about mixing saltwater and making and storing RO water. It took me a month or so to find containers of a proper size without breaking the bank. I found black 55 gallon water storage containers for $125 each with lids and 1.5 inch threaded ports on the bottom.These absolutely blew anything else I found out of the water price wise. So I ordered them and began the next project. Lets just say I had absolutely 0 luck with gettting a water tight seal with threaded pvc. I had to resolve it using Teflon tape.

After watching some BRS about automatic water changes I finally decided to buy a Apex. I built the station, and ran RO tubing into the wall, into the attic, and down behind the tank for water removal, to add salt water, and to top off water. I connected the water supply to my washing machine line in the middle of the house, through the walls, and out into the garage. Automatically changing 1.5 gallons a day and using a ATO is nothing short of amazing. All I need to do is mix a batch of salt water monthly.

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As for tank equipment I went middle of the road. I found a Skimz monster skimmer on BRS open boxed ( Invoice says used on BRSTV so thats neat ). Im using a Seltz D 3200 return pump with 1 inch return piping. I really wanted to use 1 inch random flow tips but you cannot find 1 inch lock line. So I ordered a special Y fitting to reduce the 1 inch to 2 3/4 inch openings. Ran dual 3/4 inch lock lines to random flow nozzles to make sure the front and back of the tank got flow.
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I get a lot of flow out of this but I needed something to push flow from the other side of the tank. I found a powerhead on amazon by some random company called Uniclife. It's 3400 gallons with a controller. For $70 it does a great job. I have it high up in the tank but it still manages to displace the sand beneath it. The combination of this and the dual return nozzles creates some great and turbulent flow throughout the tank.


For lighting, due to my budget and how close I was to the $5000 I decided to go with 3 165W marsaqua lights. They are mounted to my canopy about 18 inches off the water. I cut 5 holes over each one in the canopy to mount to the top and provide some airflow. This makes it semi-esy to raise/lower and remove to replace if need be. Im using a kessil h380 for the fuge light.

Nearly a year later, June of 2020, I finally added sand, rock, and began my cycle. My Idea with the aquascape was to allow room for the fish to swim so I only went about mid high level in the tank with the rock. A few weeks later I added 2 clown fish Mango and Jango. Jango got sucked into the overflow and RIP little buddy. A week later I replaced Jango with Jango Jr and some clean up crew include a peppermint shrimp......

3 months later I have a few fish, 2 clowns, a hippo, a orange shoulder tang ( only tangs any lfs had in stock for about a month). I picked up a yellow tang last week and he is doing just fine in the small QT tank I set up.

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The first coral I picked up was this GSP. I know it gets a bad rap, but whenever someone comes over it is their favorite.

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After a few weeks of it doing well I decided to get something else. I found the illuminatie zoanthid on WWC onsale ( pricey little frag ) and a purple and green Favia. A month later they both were doing extremely well with the zoanthid already growing out 3 new heads.

The week before last WWC did their fire sale on here and I was lucky enough to score 5 different corals. My favorite being the Moist Favia and that's where the problem happened. That danged peppermint shrimp. The day after I added the coral they all looked amazing. The Favia had its blue filaments out. The next day I noticed half of the blue were gone. As if the insides had just been scooped out. I panicked and though maybe it was getting too much light, so I lowered my frag stand. I looked in the tank at about 10 pm that night and saw that little ******* of a peppermint shrimp just eating away at it.

I moved the frag to the otherside of the tank near the red cleaner shrimp's station in hopes he wouldn't go near it, and I tried to catch the peppermint. The first try he just ran into the net with the little food I placed in it, problem is the little dude was a great at swimming and shot out of the net as soon as I started lifting it. I tried again for an hour but he had learned his lesson. I then tried the bottle trap for about 3 days and he wanted none of it. I even put some stinky shrimp chunks I left out for a day in hopes of giving him a snack he couldn't refuse. Nope. I had to resort to ripping up the rock work to finally corner him and get him into the sump.

Without the floor, Im just at my goal of 5k in without counting fish an coral. A years worth of work and saving and I think the end result was worth every penny and every drop of blood and sweat.

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If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I look forward to the future ahead with this tank and the fun and frustration that will come with it. I am thrilled you all are here to help!
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

Mastiffsrule

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Hi,

Great looking build.

Maybe we can get a #MODS to move the thread to members tank forum section. Then just put a link to your build into your signature section of your profile and you will get a sweet build badge so everyone can check out your build.

From your other thread, your cheato may be struggling since the tank is newer and it just doesn’t have the nutrients yet to support its growth. I do not think it would be in relationship to diatoms. I would hold of on cheato grow. I would only be using a refuge light to support it’s growth. Once you need nutrient export and have the right lights it should grow on its own
 
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MarshallB

MarshallB

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Hi,

Great looking build.

Maybe we can get a #MODS to move the thread to members tank forum section. Then just put a link to your build into your signature section of your profile and you will get a sweet build badge so everyone can check out your build.

From your other thread, your cheato may be struggling since the tank is newer and it just doesn’t have the nutrients yet to support its growth. I do not think it would be in relationship to diatoms. I would hold of on cheato grow. I would only be using a refuge light to support it’s growth. Once you need nutrient export and have the right lights it should grow on its own
Good call. Yeah It was meant to be a DIY post, but then I just got a bit carried away. It is definately more fitting under tank builds. Also thanks for the advice on the Chaeto. I'm just going to let the refug be. If it dies off it dies off. I'll try restarting it in a few months when there are more bodies swimming around.
 
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MarshallB

MarshallB

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Build update!

So my plan for passive cooling for the canopy wasn't the best. I figured the 15 holes to mount my lights plus the fans from the lights would keep the canopy cool. Well that wasn't the case. With the canopy doors closed the tank would spike over 80 degrees. So I always had to leave one of the droors partly open. Today I installed a fan and 2 vents. I used the 24 volt outlet on the apex EB832. It should kick on at 80.2 and shut off at 79. I suspect it will not kick on too often now that there is an opening lower in the canopy to draw in cooler air. We will see.

For anyone interested this is what I used:
Coolerguys 120mm (120X120X38) High Airflow Waterproof IP67 12v Fan
EPBOWPT Voltage Converter DC 24V 36V 48V to 12V Buck Converter (24V to 12V 5A, 24V to 12V 60W)
Vent Cover - Round Soffit Vent - Air Vent Louver - Grille Cover - Built-in Fly Screen Mesh - HVAC Ventilation (4'' Inch, Metal - White)
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I did not center the fan in case I need to add another. With the amount of air this one moves I don't think It will be necessary.
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(Yes I had to get creative with how I mounted the lights!)

Bonus, my first BTA is settling in nicely!

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Karen00

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Wow! This is one fine setup and that stand/canopy is awesome!!! What a great deal on that tank. The shrimp story made me laugh although I have no doubt you weren't laughing at the time. I look forward to seeing this grow out!
 

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