OfficeReefer's Study Tank - Reefer 250 v3 Build

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OfficeReefer

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Hello R2R,

I see a lot of folks writing about their builds now, so I will share some details below. I've been in the hobby for over 15 years now. My interest all started with an investor of mine that had an impressive 120g on display at his office. At the time, I started with a 55g without overflow in my office window overlooking the freeway; however, the lighting was not what it is today, nor did I realize the natural light would be problematic. Life moved on, and eventually, nano-sized maintenance and spending were more in line with my other priorities. I went through various downsizing through trial and error, all the Fluval EVO series, all the BioCube models, and eventually settled on a Red Sea MAX Nano.

This nano was a great tank, but my family and I recently moved, and I had to have my own office with all the remote calls and conferences. This time, I was wiser, and with all the experience with nano tanks, I thought I would upscale my tank with my new home office. My LFS is a Red Sea dealer, and using the AR features with my phone; I found the Reefer 250 would be the most efficient with my existing room layout.


Without ado, here's my Reefer 250 Office Study build below! Thank you @blaxsun for the motivation to create this. :)

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My build list:



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My automation list (will be shown later):

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I know some of you are probably wondering, "If you have the Neptune Systems Apex controller and a Reefer, why not go with total customization for more components?"

Nowadays, everyone has an app for everything, and everything seems to be an IoT device wanting access to something outside your network and control. While I cannot avoid this risk entirely, it is something I chose to minimize by using only the Apex Controller and the Red Sea ReefBeat app (it could be better, I know).

The benefit to this approach is that I only have two apps to address, and I can free up some of the control of these Red Sea devices to the APC UPS connected to them for the moment. Additionally, all of these work together with the programming provided and make for a more "whole" experience. I was disappointed that the ReefMat 500 is not a "plug-in-play" as described without modification of the sump and down flow pipes. However, I chose to keep it, knowing that changing socks goes against my "minimalist maintenance" religious beliefs in reef keeping. With this in mind, I opted for all Red Sea lighting since AI lights no longer have IOTA control, and I reserved my dosing pumps for the water change features I know will be ahead and opted for the ReefDose4.



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Aquascaping and design:

After watching several BRS videos and another from Tidal Gardens, I decided that I wanted something to put on display with this tank and that a negative space aquascape would be best. There is a variant of this known as HNSA, which focuses on the habitat, but getting the right balance of this was a challenge. I started with at least 50 lbs of Marco Dry Rock and bought another 20 out of abundance in caution. While Ryan recommends plenty of rock per pound due to intentional breakage, I was able to get some decent shapes of all sizes. This made breaking it up somewhat easier. The foundation rock is a must-have; without this, one would have some challenges getting the initial aquascape balanced. Another critical item to note is that it was 90-110F this past summer, and doing this is not a few hours on the weekend endeavor.


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Here's an image before I got started and another afterwards. Most of the rock was broken up over two weekends. I didn't begin assembly of the rock until I returned home from vacation in June.
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The next part of this was not very fun and honestly, was both hot and challenging. I recommend not attempting this in summer if you can and plan this in spring or fall for best results. I also recommend putting on some music, something tropical or whatever inspires you to think creatively. While BRS recommends lots of glue and insta-set, plus mortar in the first video; the second one has Ryan using epoxy and left over marco rock dust. This is ideal and is the same method used by Than Thein of Tidal Gardens. In fact, Than has a video where the epoxy step was skipped over entirely if you are using the dust as a filler and permitting your glue to be viscous enough to set in.

Here's his video on the subject below:


Over the past four weeks, I started with a foundation and some smaller pieces, gluing them together using a mix of the BRS and Tidal methods. I used epoxy on the base pieces or those where I would have a difficult time getting the foundation to hold or where it would risk full collapse. In others, I used the Tidal Gardens method, since one has to cover the epoxy after that step and really saves time and gloves too! Be prepared to get at least five (5) or more sets of general nitrile gloves and some thicker ones for handing the rocks overall. I found that the glue recommended will eventually run all over as you handle your aquascape and you'll eventually get glued to the rock, the bottle or the fingers of the gloves themselves. This part of the build by far, was one of the most challenging and difficult parts but I now have many places for coral placement, plenty of flow and several areas for fish and corals!

While this has been a lot of fun and expense, it's time to move on with getting the groundwork ready for easy maintenance. Next up, water automation and tank cycling.
Please subscribe to my thread for updates in the weeks and ahead!

Thank you,
OfficeReefer
 
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OfficeReefer

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Here's some additional pictures of the aquascaping for your viewing pleasure. :)

My first attempt still needed more work. I didn't want to go more than 60% knowing I would have several SPS this time towards top areas and I still wanted an island of sorts for zoas and the like. While I was against doing an arch, my wife stated it would be weird since everyone looks for one in nice tanks. :rolleyes:

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In any case, I slightly modified this and added an island to it. The island shown in the front will likely be repurposed in the back. I was careful to ensure each level of branching would not over-extend itself too much or onto that of another aquascape. These rocks weigh about 15-20lbs total at this point and permit full flow with reach of 3-4" on all sides.


I'm planning this to be a mixed reef, with acros and monti toward the top and euphyllia towards the center par sides of each lamp. I'll place the acans, duncans, and similar LPS along the bottoms. I have not yet decided if I want any softies but might add one or two depending on space. I will opt for a zoantharia mix on the small island and possibly do GSP on the overflow as coraline takes hold.

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blaxsun

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Really digging the aquascaping so far! (glad I could inspire!) :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes: My fish really enjoy any small caves, crevices and overhangs so they can establish sleeping arrangements (I see you have a good half dozen or so near the sand bed so your fish will definitely be happy with those)
 
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OfficeReefer

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Well, it's been a busy past week and I really didn't have lots of time to work on the tank but I wanted to add some new pictures and add some new updates.

I changed the build from using the ArcReef Purple Helix and Pink Fusion, as both of those don't work as well as blasting live coralline I've mixed in a blender and targeting the rocks themselves. I hear this was done in the 90's before all of these additives came about and was a bonus from the main displays at Dallas North Aquarium (thanks Justin)!

The tank has been up and running now for a week with zero ammonia, nitrite was minimal after a day or so. I was shocked to find my alkalinity was lower than the mixed salt (not sure how this happened) but with the KH supplement from RS, has been slowly rising back to target of 8.4. It takes a lot of this stuff to get KH where I want it and considering there should be nothing consuming my alkalinity that I know of, other than the coralline I'm guessing, I'm going to slowly return the balance. I also set up the automatic water changes and calibrated the DOS pump, works like a charm.

Without ado, here's some pictures!

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I did add the three chromis you see in the tank as they had nowhere to go at the moment as I consolidate and seem to be quite happy. They do serve as an ongoing source for the nitrogen cycle and nitrates have been a minimal rise. I have been dosing NoPOX to keep the phosphates and these to a minimum and running the skimmer, especially after feeding.

As for the control panel, the slide-out 25 is what's supposed to fit the tank and it does. However, I did have some challenges with the gear. For one, I did need to predrill the holes and two, do consider how close you mount the ReefWave controls as I mounted mine too close at first. I'll probably be able to fix the Apex EL controller on here along with the FMM for ATK and the EB832 will have to be mounted in the upper rear of this area. I still have to fit a 5g ATO and Trident with dosing containers and/or bottles too. I'm confident this will all fit with the right planning. :)

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I also wanted to share some photos of the auto water change gear. Here's the current mess from
under my butler's sink and some of the Apex gear at work below. I still have lots of areas to tidy up but that's going to have to wait until after Aquashella this weekend. :cool:



One thing I did do was tank Randy with BRS tip on changing the direction of the DOS right pump. This is a must for calibration and not messing with disconnecting things. All one has to do is connect them them as shown on the pump and follow the auto water change task (or manual which I chose in my case). Once complete, go into the remove outlet that is created, modify it to add instead of remove, which changes the pump to the right direction. To me, I think this is easier and not sure why Neptune chose to do this backwards.

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The PMUP shown is an extra for flush and fill as I only have one tank for RODI water and must flush it after each water change. I'll probably add another ATO reservoir to eliminate that once I have everything else working as expected.

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The auto shut off valve does work but the weird part is that I think it still permits a tiny amount to leave through the RO waste (it's not connected in this image). I noticed that my Flume still reports a very tiny leak when left on, 0.02gal a minute so something to keep in mind. I do recommend having another water monitoring solution because without that, I would not have known.
 
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