Paul's Red Sea Reefer 425xl Build

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PRock

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Finally taking the dive into salt. According to my other half I've been talking about building a saltwater system since we first met over a decade ago. She finally go fed up with me just talking about it and started working on getting me a tank for xmas last year, but the more she found out, the more she realized that I needed to be involved to make sure it really was my tank with what I wanted in it. So after spilling the beans and telling me that I wasn't getting one because of this, I took everything she had gathered and started to dive in seriously myself, because if she had decided that it was put up or shut up time, who am I to argue with a wise woman? I spend most evenings now reading about saltwater and fish and coral husbandry, so much so that she's taken to teasing me that she's caught me looking at "coral ****" when she catches me checking out corals or fish online. :)

Fast forward a bit after a bunch of research and reading here and various other forums, watching videos, etc, I hit up the local PetCo during their $1/Gallon sale and bought myself some 20g tanks to setup as my QT/Hospital system, which, currently look like this mess:

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Currently each of those tanks consists of:
  • a Hydra Aquatics Sponge Filter
  • a Eheim Liberty HOB Filter
  • Half of a MarinePure High Performance Biofilter Media Plate
  • a Seachem Laboratories Ammonia Alert
  • a Tunze Osmolator Nano
  • a Cobalt Aquatics 100w Heater
  • a Hydor Koralia Nano Powerhead
  • some PVC, because every QT tank needs PVC for things to hide in (or so they tell me)
  • some Generic digital thermometers to sanity check what's in the heater
  • a Aqueon Glass Lid
In addition, in a supporting role I have
  • 5g HDPE bucket as my ATO reserve
  • a Kessil A80 for the top tank with the corals
  • a Kessil H80 for the bottom tank for some display Algae I'm planning to eventually add to the main system, plus this will probably become my Fuge lighting
  • Kessil Spectral Controller X (which will also run my main tank's lighting...)
  • an Aqueon QuietFlow Air Pump to keep the sponge filters going
  • a Seneye Reef to keep tabs on temp, PH, Ammonia etc.
  • 2 44gal Brute Containers to hold my RO/DI and spare saltwater
  • AquaFX Barracuda RO/DI system
  • Red Sea Blue Bucket Salt
  • Red Sea and Hanna Test equipment
  • An Eheim Heater for heating the RO/DI or saltwater
  • A Cobalt Aquatics MJ1200 to stir and pump the RO/DI and saltwater
  • A small pharmacy of fish/invert medications from the various QT and disease treatment threads for "just in case" reasons.
  • Various cleaning and scrubbing and wiping up things.
Both of those tanks were cycled with Bio-Spira and Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride following a fishless cycle protocol from Dr Tim's website and then continued to be monitored for several weeks before anything interesting got added. If you squint, I'm sure you notice some frags in there. FYI - WWC frag plugs just barely fit in 1cm "egg crate" grids. AquaSD frag plugs don't. Modifications were required & real frag racks are on order... Anyhow, as I'm currently planning to run the 76+ day QT schedule for inverts and coral, I don't feel so bad about having things in there already, considering that my DT is currently sitting up on it's end next to me:
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In addition to the Red Sea Reefer 425XL (black), my parts list is currently as follows:
  • 2 Kessil A360X + mounting arms
  • 2 AI Nero 5 Powerheads
  • 2 Cobalt Aquatics Neotherm Heaters
  • Hydor Seltz D Return Pump
  • Red Sea RSK 300 Skimmer
  • Reef-Pi (still under construction)
  • ReVolt Aquarium Grounding Plug
  • AutoAqua Smart AWC Touch
I still need to get my aquascape (this weekend I hope), the GFI plugs installed, finish up the Reef-Pi, assemble the stand, plumb everything, start the cycle... Then I need to start thinking about what to actually put in there! I know I'd like some nice algae like Blue Hypnea and Dragon's Breath in the DT, probably Sea Lettuce in the refugium to help with nutrient uptake and for a place for pods to hang out. I'd love to eventually have enough pods to support a Mandrin, and I've already been told by the wife that I must have clowns. Other than that, I'm open to suggestions. Shrimp/Goby pair maybe? Have plenty of time to figure that out I think.
 
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And then trouble. Had a flood. The wife woke me up to inform me that there was a puddle in the basement by all the aquarium stuff. First thing running through my head is that one of the storage containers had a leak or worse, one of the QT tanks has a problem. Nope, totally not the cause. My sewage discharge pump failed and flooded a storage room, the utility room, the hallway and into my den. So that was fun to clean up. Now we're looking at possibly having to rip up all the carpet down there (which is where I want to put the tank) so the build's on hold until we get that all figured out/done. :(
 

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And then trouble. Had a flood. The wife woke me up to inform me that there was a puddle in the basement by all the aquarium stuff. First thing running through my head is that one of the storage containers had a leak or worse, one of the QT tanks has a problem. Nope, totally not the cause. My sewage discharge pump failed and flooded a storage room, the utility room, the hallway and into my den. So that was fun to clean up. Now we're looking at possibly having to rip up all the carpet down there (which is where I want to put the tank) so the build's on hold until we get that all figured out/done. :(

Sorry about the backup. On a good side at least it was not the build you are doing. Your plans look well thought out.

My first thought if you have not already done so is call insurance. It sound like it was a fairly large area. If not, at minimum I would gut any area that got wet down to foundation and clean with an anti-microbial. Even if was clean water and not dirty, unless completely dried it is gonna mold. And if dirty.... eww. Plus you get new flooring.

Keep us updated
 
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Sorry about the backup. On a good side at least it was not the build you are doing. Your plans look well thought out.

My first thought if you have not already done so is call insurance. It sound like it was a fairly large area. If not, at minimum I would gut any area that got wet down to foundation and clean with an anti-microbial. Even if was clean water and not dirty, unless completely dried it is gonna mold. And if dirty.... eww. Plus you get new flooring.

Keep us updated

Yeah, we're stripping all the carpet out, cleaning, laying down a marine grade plywood platform for the tank, then putting in a waterproof floor. Once that's all done the tank build will begin again.
 
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So with all of the bits and parts and shipping boxes holding the stand and rock and equipment I ran out of space for things in the room where the aquarium is going between the couch and the TV, so the obvious solution is get rid of some of these bigger boxes and the easiest way to do that is to build the stand of course. Grab the other half and a screwdriver, lay everything out, use sticky notes to label everything, and over the next 2 nights (and some new bottles of wine for her as thanks) the stand lives! Was pretty straight forward to assemble all the way up to the point where you need to install the "bottom" shelf of the stand and attaching the doors. Leaving that bit for when I finally have the floor done and ready for the tank. So, progress?
 
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Well dang. Brightwell XPORT-PO4 media works REALLY well. Corals were looking good last week, big happy polyps extension, but the one of my montipora frags was looking a bit odd (lost some color and wasn't really showing polyps) but the other 2 I have were fine, and I had a test acro coming during the week so I did a 20% water change (like I normally do), changed my carbon filter in the HOB, and ran my tests. 1.025sg, PH at 8.18, Alk at 7, Temp floats between 77.0-77.5, Nitrate at 15, P04 at 3 after the water change. So I picked up some Brightwell XPORT media and added 4 of their small little 1/2 inch cubes of XPORT-NO3, XPORT-Bio, and XPORT-PO4 to the HOB. Got the new corals in, floated the bags, drip acclimated them according to directions, did a CoralRX drip and a RO/DI rinse, set the lights on Acclimate mode, and added them to the QT tank Friday morning right after they arrived. Saturday morning I did a 20% water change like I normally do on weekends (0TDS RO/DI mixed to 1.025sg with red sea blue bucket). Came down to check on things, and the Acro is 85% white?!? I mean, I heard these things melted when they were unhappy but dang! Other things in the tank look pretty ok, but I grabbed the test kits and started testing things. Salinity is 1.025sg, Temp is 77.4 (seneye), PH at 8.14(seneye), Alk at 7.5 (Hanna), Nitrate 2 (Red Sea), PO4 0.00 (Hanna). Double checked the PO4 with my Red Sea kit, same result 0. I'm guessing it just didn't like my params and almost no nutrients, and bailed? I've yanked the XPORT-PO4 blocks because leaving them in there is just going to cause me problems. I haven't tested Ca or Mg yet, but would those being out of whack cause an acro to just bail like that? Should I have kept the lights up? Any advice would be awesome.
 
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dang, haven't updated in a month. Need pictures!

Other half and I decided to save ourselves $1200 and DYI the floor. Ended up going with a vinyl plank floor because it's a basement, it's easy to install, it doesn't look half bad, and most importantly, it's waterproof!

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It's stupid simple to install, so we put down a few rows at a time in the evenings, and saved the tricky cuts for mucking about on the weekend. Discovered that of course, the room isn't a rectangle, it's a rhombus, so things don't line up exactly, but that's totally expected. Took us a couple of weeks of faffing about in the evenings and weekends but we finally got all of the floor and quarter round down and furniture back in place.

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And then back to working on the stand near where I want it.

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And then last night, the tank finally made it on top of the stand!

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Once we get all the feet leveled and locked I'll put in the bottom of the stand, the sump, and start plumbing :) Water soon!
 

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That floor looks great. A friend of mine did almost that same thing.

What was the yellow under? I want to do that but I am on a slab in NC and worried it would be too hard and cold on the feet.

You like it so far? It does really look good
 
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That floor looks great. A friend of mine did almost that same thing.

What was the yellow under? I want to do that but I am on a slab in NC and worried it would be too hard and cold on the feet.

You like it so far? It does really look good

Same basic thing here - it's the concrete slab foundation in the basement. The yellow stuff is an underlay barrier (SmartCore Underlayment from Lowes), it's mostly some additional waterproofing and they claim that it also helps with insulating the floor, deadening sound, etc. Depending on the flooring you're using it may or may not be required as part of the install. The flooring I used (Home Depot Lifeproof) didn't require it, but because I'm installing on a concrete slab I like the extra bit of redundancy and thermal protection because I don't want an ice cold floor in the winter. It's not as soft as decent carpet to walk on of course, but it's not as hard or as cool as the bare concrete or a tile floor is, it's somewhere in the middle. I really like it and my wife (who was on the fence when I showed it to her) absolutely loves it now that it's installed.

If you're thinking about doing it, I'd highly recommend something like this, it's really easy to cut and install - basically score with a utility knife and snap for most straight cuts, but one big gotcha that I'll warn you about now is when you need to use a power tool to cut this stuff, do it OUTSIDE with a mask/eye protection. I used a dremel to do a bunch of the intricate cuts around stairs and doors molding and things like that, and it throws a super fine vinyl dust EVERYWHERE. We cut two pieces down in the basement with the dremel and spent the next few days cleaning the dust up as it settled, it was a major pain in the butt.
 
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So everything is assembled, sump's in the stand, doors are on, skimmer, heaters (I've got 2 for redundancy, doesn't everyone have 2 now days?), refugium lighting all setup, ATO installed, both Nero 5 powerhead's mounted, drain and return plumbing all put together EXCEPT... no one around here has 1" silicone or vinyl tubing for linking my return pump to the return plumbing unless I want to buy 50+ ft. I need about 20 inches. Checked the hardware stores, local plumbing supply, no joy at all. So, BRS to the rescue, 2ft of 1" silicone tubing, some acrylic rods for the aquascape, and some Dr. Tim's Ammonium Chloride should show up this week and I can finally get the entire plumbing loop finished. Now I just need to finish making up all the water I'm going to need, put the aquascape together, mount the lights, mount all the electrical equipment and make sure the grounding probe works, program all of the controllers, configure my reef-pi (including giving them more code to integrate with my Seneye), add the bio bricks to the sump, (Brightwell stuff is much sturdier than the Marine Pure...) and other filter media to the media cups (XPORT-Bio, XPORT-NO3, some polyfill) and then I can start the cycle...
 
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So the last of the parts showed up... and I have the wrong size clamps for the silicone tube... so I have no return plumbing still! BRS immediately hooked me up however and new clamps are on the way (along with a Kalk stirrer that I just HAD to get so I could get free shipping... you know how it goes...). However, even though I don't have a return pump, there's water in the tank, almost up to the overflow. Had to test out my Nero 5's after all. Started adding some bacteria and Ammonium Chloride to the tank to at least start the cycle for the main tank. Hopefully the new clamps will show up Tuesday, and I'll get the sump up and running finally so I can start the real cycle.

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Youre getting there. Tank coming along nicely !
 
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What's the main reasoning/reasons behind why you, personally, change out your water? (PICK TOP 2)

  • Reduce harmful waste and nutrients

    Votes: 155 79.1%
  • Clarity (replace yellowing water)

    Votes: 24 12.2%
  • Replenish beneficial trace elements

    Votes: 140 71.4%
  • Meter salinity

    Votes: 11 5.6%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 14 7.1%
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