New 64 Gallon softy build

bigdrew

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Inspired to start this "build thread" by @Crabs Mcjones!

Re-entering the hobby after 5+ years out. Also, first time joining R2R. Excited to leverage the knowledge from the reef community on this site! There seems to be some truly unbelievable expertise on here!

So, what am I working on? I saved up for a custom built 64 gallon reef ready aquarium. I am focused on building a dedicated "softy" tank. (I had this awkward area in my house where there used to be a grill...inside, recessed into the brick wall). I purchased a custom euro-braced aquarium from glasscages.com, pre-built with a center overflow. I must say, it feels/seems extremely well built!

Below are a few pictures of the project. It has taken me about 12+ weeks to get everything setup (sump, plumbing, equipment, tank, "frame" around the tank, basement RODI water station, etc). I ran multiple tap water tests (ie. filling the tank and flipping everything to "on") to ensure plumbing wasn't leaking, return pump was properly connected, sump wouldn't overflow during a power outage, etc. Custom fitting this stuff into a brick "box" has been tough! Further, working on it under there is a challenge as well. I am also struggling to figure out a solution for an ATO reservoir (there just isn't space), but perhaps one day something will come up that makes sense.

I just started my cycle on February 4th. Used some of my brother's 10+ year old dead "live" rock and aragonite that was dried out in his basement. The only bacteria "seed" I used was a 20lb back of live sand from Petco and a few sprinklers of old fish food. Today, I finally got my RedSea test kit today and the water tested 0 for Ammonia, .2 ppm for Nitrite and 50ppm for Nitrate. It appears (knock on wood) that I am into the "3rd" phase of the cycle, which in two weeks, seems a bit quick. Hence, the knock on wood. We shall see.

I fired up my lighting schedule and turned on my skimmer for the first time tonight too. Looking forward to some diatoms, slime and hopefully some hair algae over the next few weeks! I'll keep posting my progress, if for no reason other than posterity's sake.

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Crabs McJones

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Happily flowing along :) I like that you were able to repurpose a spot in your home for this. Any ideas what your first inhabitants will be when its ready? :)
 
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bigdrew

bigdrew

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No prob! Is that a reef octo classic 150? If so I had one on my 75 gallon, it was an awesome skimmer that never gave me any problems. Unless I dosed something it didn't like and made it angry lol.
Sure is! Hopefully I don't anger him with an "bigdrew" dose of something that'll invariably be wrong! I got it during the Black Friday sale on Bulk Reef Supply's website...it was a deal I couldn't pass up. Then, I read more about "softy" tanks, which is my goal, and there are so many folks not even running skimmers. I just can't get passed that yet! Perhaps still too much of a noob to see it...makes me nervous to not have one, but my bank account would have loved to not purchase it! ;Nailbiting;Nailbiting;Nailbiting
 

christopher wainright

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Some people run them, some do not. I think it's a personal preference really. I'm one of the ones who would run one even if I could get away without it. But I know the struggle of the bank account very well lol
 
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bigdrew

bigdrew

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Diatoms are dying off...slowly fading away. Scraped the glass to get it off, but it is really going away on its own.

Added some chaeto and Gracilaria to the sump yesterday. We’ll see if I am successful in keeping the Gracilaria going. Everything I am reading suggests it is tough. I cannot give it the “tumble” method via how my sump tank works, but my flow through it is very high. Hopefully that’s enough!

Nitrates, after 1 day of the macro algae, are down to 20. Ammonia and Nitrite still testing at 0.

No hair algae or any signs of other algae yet...hoping to get some going soon!

Also, thinking about adding a fish in about a week or so. Blue jaw is tops on my list at the moment. We’ll see. I have been thinking about setting up a quarantine tank. Need to spend some time researching before I do anything.

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bigdrew

bigdrew

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PS. Sump light is on 12 hours a day, which is basically the reverse of the display light. When I first introduced the macro algaes, I left it on 24/7 for a day and a half, perhaps hoping to kickstart after the cold shipping process? It was just a theory that perhaps can’t really be tested...
 
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bigdrew

bigdrew

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Pulled the marine pure block out. Read waaaaaay to much about that stuff and the related aluminum. So many folks haven't had issues, but the folks that have? It seems to be a steady aluminum climb over a period of 6 months to 2 years and then boom, soft coral starts looking terrible.
 
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bigdrew

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A lot has happened in the past month:

1) I am keeping an excel spreadsheet with what I am doing, documenting issues and recording test results. It isn't perfectly populated, but it has helped to keep me more informed about the ongoing issues and allows for a pivot, when needed. I need to get a Phosphate test kit. I thought I bought one, but it was just the Red Sea REFILL. Whoops.
2) I have added 4 fish! (Tomini Tang, a tiny Oscellaris, Flame Hawk and an African Flameback Angel).
a. The flameback was the first purchase. Then, I added the other three fairly quickly as my Nitrate went to 0. I cannot seem to keep any readable measure of Nitrate. As a result, most of my macro algae is dying off! I figured adding some fish waste would help. It hasn't had any affect thus far. For the first time today, I am going to try turning off my skimmer. I am planning to keep it off for about 2 days to see what happens, test the water, and then I'll be at another decision point.

3) I also added one little 3 mushroom colony. It was on sale for $15.00 when I bought the last of the fish and figured I'd give it a whirl.

I am doing water changes of 5 gallons (about 7% of the "net" total water volume. I was pretty precise when I filled up the tank, which had live rock, filters, etc., already in it and thus measured the amount of water that I put in. It's almost exactly 67 gallons with the sump) every Sunday. I am changing out filter socks about every 4 or 5 days. The fish are all great, but I notice as the macro algae dies off (which I suspect is from really low Nitrate, because during the first 2 weeks, the macro almost doubled in size! Back then, Nitrate was 50ppm) the mushrooms react negatively. Once I throw away the dead pieces, the mushroom spikes back to life in about 4 hours.

I'll post a few pictures shortly...
 

Jacob Fawley

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What powerhead are you using flow? I'm currently looking for one for a similar size tank (although dimensions are quite different).
 
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bigdrew

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@Jacob Fawley im in the road for work. Once I get back home tomorrow, I’ll check and let you know. It’s not huge, btw. I think it’s only 425GPH. My return pump is large though, so I get a lot of flow with that.
 
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bigdrew

bigdrew

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@Jacob Fawley it is a Koralia 425. It doesn't produce a ton of flow, but I didn't select it for that purpose. I wanted something a little smaller. I have a VarioS-8 as my return pump, which I run on the 3 out of 5 setting. It produces plenty and in theory is intended to help keep the flow up in the sump for the macros.
 

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