Perseverance Reef

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One last post for today. My wife and I went to storage and I grabbed some wood. It's on tomorrow 93 degrees and all. In fact I'll do the glue up outside too.

As for the bulkheads they'll work. I believe they'll take 1 1/2" and 1 Inch. I just need the adapter for the 1 Inch and about 3 feet of the 1 1/2" pipe.

I am seriously thinking about taking a hammer to one of the bigger base rocks. One of the rocks I'm leaving alone because the damsels love the large holes in it. The piece I'm going to break up is a piece that's unnaturally flat on top and bottom. Broken up that rock will look more natural because it has a branch like structure inside. If will become a cave along with some smaller rocks I have. I am going to let those pieces dry enough to super glue them. The rest of the rocks are not getting glued especially since those rocks are in my wife's 30 gallon cube.

Things are coming along now. This has been one long hike. Thankfully I love hiking. This reef is aptly named. It's taken a lot of perseverance but it has been worth it. Sometimes a door closes but a window opens. Sometimes a 75 gallon tank springs a leak and sometimes a 90 gallon tank happens along and takes it's place. I am more grateful for it than anyone knows. Great things are coming for this tank and for Perseverance Reef.

If you have read this build journal this far I am appreciative. I hope people can learn from my failures and from my successes. I am learning myself and growing in knowledge. Reefing on a budget isn't always super easy but I love the challenges it brings especially when I learn from them and succeed. Sure I might fall a time or two but that's how we learn in part. Of course research helps more than I can express.
 
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I got the wood cut (with the exception of 4 legs) yesterday for the weight bearing frame. I got sunburned but it was worth it. The stand will be 35 1/4" tall. I was planning on 36". Silly me accidentally cut one of the 4 legs I did get cut to 35 1/4". As a result I cut the rest to that height. The inner legs as I call them will set the height of the stand. The base frame is already assembled. The frame the cube will rest on will get assembled today. If all goes well I'll be doing the glue up today too. Of course the outer legs will be cut today as well.

My wife's tank has diatoms and green film algae growing on the glass. The snail from the 75 perished but I believe the CUC is on it. I'll give them until morning. Then the snail will get taken out.

The corals are doing pretty well. I am glad I have very easy and forgiving corals. If I had acros they would never have survived all the moving around.

At least the cube's silicone seals are in awesome condition. Once this tank is set up I won't ever have to disrupt the corals or fish again (hopefully) and I can get back on the road to coralline, lower phosphates, and acros. Possibly an anemone also. I definitely want clams too. They will have to wait until the cube matures however. When coralline starts growing then I'll think about whether I want an anemone or not. The clams may come before getting coralline but not until my parameters are where they should be more or less and they stay stable.

I am excited that my wife's tank is thriving. Her dry rock has diatoms now. They were stark white when she got them. Even though most of the rock is going to go into the 90 gallon cube I am leaving some in her tank. They'll be smaller pieces but they will help my wife's rock become live. She got some sand from the 75 also so her sand bed should be live already.

I found an asterina on the glass in my wife's tank. She loves asterinas as do I. I wanted to give it to her but when the lights came on that asterina quickly hid in one of the rocks I need for my cube. When it starts reproducing enough I'll give her some.
 
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I got the frame assembled last night. Later this afternoon I'll do the glue up.

Even though it's not glued up yet it feels quite sturdy. There'll be about 900 to 1000 lbs worth of water, rocks (of which I want 75 to 100 lbs of eventually), sand, and animals sitting up there however. I want to make sure the stand is not only sturdy but I want the stand to survive for many years.

I took a picture of my progress so far. There's plenty left to do on it however. I need to cut wood for the outer legs which will be the load bearing legs. I am confident I could put my cube up there and it would be fine. It would have to just be the cube. No water or anything else could be in it. Not until the load bearing outer legs are cut, screwed and glued in place. I also need to build an extension in the back to hold the sump. Then I need to build a manifold because I want to make provisions for an ATO and any other things my reef might need.

Well now I know there are two asterinas in my wife's cube. The corals look good considering they've been in a 30 gallon cube for a while now. Same with the fish. They're doing great. They eat like pigs. I'm happy about that.
 

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I did the glue up last night. I didn't have enough wood to make the outer legs but the hardest part is done at least. So far so good.

I'm going to grab enough wood to build the platform for the sump, to get some spacers/anti-wracking in place, and for the weight bearing outer legs. With the scraps I have on hand I intend to build in supports for the manifold and outlets that will control the pumps and any reactors I might need down the road.

I am going to install 7 outlets. Each outlet will be controlled by a switch so I can turn off the pumps if needed or the heaters during maintenance. The sump's lights, dosing pumps, and reactors will also get plugged into the outlets controlled by the switches.

Last night just before midnight I saw in my wife's cube an asterina that looked like it was splitting. I hope so because I can't imagine a reef tank without them. I also want my wife to have some since she loves them.

The shrimp came out when I fed the fish. They're doing good as are the corals and other inverts.

We went shopping today and I picked up some shrimp, whiting, and sockeye salmon. I already had scallops and another bag of larger shrimp. I still need more ingredients for the frozen fish food of course. I want a tuna steak, some nori, some crab, and some spirulina depending on cost. I used broccoli florets and the fish sure do eat it so I might use it again.

On my wish list are clams, oysters, raw sardines, roe, and silversides. I'm sure I'll think of more ingredients as time goes by. I know where I might be able to get the silversides but the other ingredients aren't sold in this town. For those I'd have to drive about 2 hours.

I would like to get frozen mysis, freeze dried pods, and freeze dried krill.
 
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The cube is on its newly finished stand. I am going to do a few more things to it like making the platform for the sump and cutting and installing a cross beam. It'll serve as an anti- wracking "device" for lack of a better word. I'm also going to hang my Viparspectras from it for the sump. That said the stand should have no problem handling the literal half a ton worth of weight. The system will have a total volume of about 115 gallons when all is said and done.

Today is going to be fill day. I vacuumed all the leaves and other dirt out already. I'm going to scrub it, minus the soap of course.

Since I don't have the pipe and fittings I need yet I can only fill the tank to just below the top louvres of the overflow. The last thing I need is 90 gallons of saltwater on the floor. It shouldn't be long before I get what I need to plumb the sump.

I took some pictures about an hour ago give or take. The glass is a bit dirty but I'll take care of it before filling it. You can see the 75 next to it. It'll be going to its new home soon. The stand for the new tank is indeed taller but even so the cube just makes the 75 seem small even though it's only 2 1/2 feet long. I can't wait to see it filled!
 

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So the tank is filled. I had to shim a corner but it's looking good so far. The water is clearing but there's still some cloudiness. I finished filling it around midnight so I expect that it'll be clear by the time I wake up.

The water level in the corner overflow rose slowly and steadily. I removed about 4 gallons because I realized that the holes where the two metal screws are are not watertight. Now there's no chance of the water level getting that high.

I took some pictures of the tank now that it's filled including one I took looking up through the floor of the cube.

IMG_20220926_010320718_HDR.jpg IMG_20220926_031856124.jpg
 
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Everything has been transferred to the new tank with the exception of my candy cane coral which my wife wants me to keep. I'll transfer it later today.

I got everything acclimated although a peppermint shrimp hitchhiked on a rock that just had algae on it. I put it right in. The shrimp popped out like everything was normal. Hopefully it does well.

As for the corals I hope they all open and do well. I think they will but this is the third tank transfer since July. The good news is that this should be the last tank transfer for a long, long time barring any other unforseen disasters.

I love the room in the cube. Once my larger rocks are done cooking I'll be able to rock scape a bit. Once the fish have acclimated and feel safe to be themselves; it'll be interesting to see how the fish respond to having the same space front to back and side to side.

I have a few pictures of the cube that's bigger than life, full of life.

IMG_20220927_010628832.jpg IMG_20220927_010703680.jpg IMG_20220927_010728082_HDR.jpg IMG_20220927_010734980.jpg IMG_20220927_010646180_HDR.jpg IMG_20220927_010649914_HDR.jpg IMG_20220927_010721266_HDR.jpg IMG_20220927_010739951.jpg
 
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I was afraid of this but since the drain line was cut so close to the bottom of the cube I am going to have to risk cutting away the silicone and hoping that the half inch that's sticking out can be cemented into a coupler and that it'll hold long term. At least I know that the drain line is 1 1/4 inch.

I added an astrea snail and what is either a baby Mexican turbo snail or a margarita snail. They both seem to be doing well. The fish are happy. The corals are doing about the same as they were doing a few days ago. Hopefully they'll open soon. The xenia is pulsing away. The duncans are open almost all the way. The mushroom is closed. Things will get better though.

The biggest problem with cutting through the silicone is that water has gotten into the overflow. There are louvres close to the bottom as well as the top. If I can find a way to get and keep water out of overflow I can cut the silicone out and possibly reverse the bulkhead. At the very least I could cement a coupler to the bit of 1 1/4" line siliconed to the bulkhead on the underside of the cube. That's if I can cut enough silicone out for there to be enough line to cement to the coupler.

Getting the water out of the overflow is easy. Keeping it out is another story. I'll hopefully figure out a way soon.

This is a picture of the underside of the tank. It's the rightmost line.

IMG_20220926_031814931.jpg
 
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I figured out today that what I thought were bulkheads are merely fittings that were stuck through the holes where bulkheads should have been installed. I figured this out after 2 trips to the big box hardware store.

On the first trip I got a 1 1/4' PVC pipe, a 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" adapter, and a 1 1/2" coupler. After finding out the 1 1/4" adapter didn't fit because the outer diameter was probably 1/32" too wide. I became suspicious so I looked at the"bulkheads" on the wet side. I realized then that what looked like bulkheads actually were just a jumble of fittings.

On trip number two I exchanged the fittings for a 1 1/4" to 1" adapter. I cemented the 1" side to the tip of the fitting. I used a ton of cement. So far it's holding but it'll need a day give or take for the cement to dry.

Tomorrow I'll cut the wood I need to create a platform for sump inside the stand. I'll also make supports for the plumbing and the manifold so there won't be any strain on the fittings.

Eventually I'll buy real bulkheads but for now if my newly cemented fitting works, and it will, I'll leave it for quite a while.
 
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Last night I made a platform for the sump. Afterwards I cleaned out the sump. It's amazing how well the chaeto has done even though it's been without light, heat, and circulation for about 4 days now. What's even more amazing is that several bristle worms survived. One actually moved a bit.

The PVC joint I glued Friday night has cured quite nicely. I've attached the small section of drain pipe that leads to the sump. I filled it with enough water to cover the chaeto.

I still need to cut the pipe for the return line. There remains about 45 gallons give or take of saltwater to mix. It'll be nice to have the sump running again and to be able to fill the tank to the top louvres.

I have to nix the idea of getting real bulkheads for the system. It was brought to my attention that the holes were drilled too close together; which is why the fittings were siliconed into the holes. As long as it works well and for many years I will be very happy.
 
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I now have the sump plumbed. It was up and running briefly. Unfortunately it leaked out of the elbow attached to the fitting that goes up into the DT. I dry fit the plumbing so I could upgrade it. Since it only leaked from the one elbow I cemented it. It should be cured around 6 PM tonight.

The drain line has two holes where there were screws. I took them out because they most likely are stainless steel coated zinc. As a result I can't get the DT to keep water in the top 6 inches. It'll go down into the sump. When the return pump starts it takes half the water from the sump to get enough water in the DT to reach the louvres.

I will have to put the screws back into the drain line in order to plug the holes. I'd just replace that section of pipe but it's in there tightly. For now I'll put the screws back but I want to get nylon screws to replace the metal screws. I'm happy that the plumbing works as well as the return pump.
 
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After testing the PVC joint I made Monday night the joint I made was good but there was another leak. The fitting was siliconed into another fitting. I undid the silicone and PVC welded it in. The result was more leakage than there was. I do have a solution in mind however.

I wrapped plumbers tape around the area that leaks. It's hopefully going to function as a gasket. I still need to wrap more plumbers tape around the area where the leak is coming from. Once that's done I'm going to wrap over it with electrical tape. Then I'll pvc cement the electrical tape. Hopefully that'll be enough to keep water in.
 
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Tonight I got a Kenya tree frag and 7 asterinas from a friend of mine. The coral opened right up once it got glued to a rock. It has a hard bottom already, presumably from attaching to a very small piece of rock about the width of the stalk of the Kenya tree frag. Anyway I gave it an extended period of light. The starfish blend with the sand and there are any number of hiding places so I didn't get to see where they settled. They were doing well after acclimation so I expect them to come out overnight.

I wrapped more Teflon tape around the leaky area and used the electrical tape to keep it in place. I PVC cemented it then I used a pipe clamp right where the leak was coming from. I used a ton of Teflon tape so there would be little chance of any adhesive from the tape contaminating the water. Hopefully this works. I have a good feeling about it though. The cement is no longer tacky to the touch thankfully.
 
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Good news. The JB Waterweld fixed not only the leak which occurred at the point where the fitting interfaces with the bottom of the tank; it also made it so said fitting no longer moves if one merely touches the pipe attached to it. I need to get some more because the area that I tried to fix with Teflon tape, electrical tape, and PVC cement was coming apart. It's better this gets done sooner rather than later.

All this took a toll on the chaeto. The good news is there's still a decent bit of living chaeto. I have one light running on a 24/7 schedule. Tonight I dosed nitrate to the sump. Hopefully that'll jump start the growth process once again.

I also dosed some to the display tank. I started seeing cyano and some dinos. They haven't taken over the whole reef but they have taken over some rock that was devoid of algae. My GSP and candy cane coral have some dinos too but I fully expect to see less tomorrow.

I got two more astrea snails today so now I have three. I am quite impressed with them. They do an amazing job on the rocks. After acclimating the two new ones I put them on the rock with the GSP. The two of them should be able to tag team that rock in no time.

I am going to rearrange the rock I have so the astreas can always right themselves. It will hopefully discourage my clowns and damsels from trying to move the sand all around the tank. I'm all for them having territory/hiding places but the less sand they move. I also have a potential idea for the ultimate rock scape. It'll have to wait until after Christmas however. Still my idea requires a good bit of rock on the sand anyway so I feel I'm on the right track.

If I remember correctly astreas will breed in our tanks. Hopefully they'll do so. I have to research that though.
 
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Aside from a very slow leak (which I've been able to divert back into the sump) the third time was the charm. Up until tonight it was leaking at the rate of a drop a second at a minimum. Now it's 10 to 15 seconds per drop. As salt gets deposited where the leak is coming from over time the leak should stop completely.

I also got my lights hung inside the stand about two hours ago give or take. The way I hung them should help me to culture phyto as well as to light the sump. I'd like to culture two or three different phytoplankton species.

Today I am going to wire outlets and switches into the stand. I'll mount them high enough to make drip loops for the cords inside the stand.

When I cleaned the walls of the tank Thursday night the water looked like pea soup. In fact it looked that way until I started the return pump. Although it still looks a bit cloudy it's no longer green.

The corals are looking better than they have since I moved there to the new tank. Depending how things go today I need to prepare a H2O2 dip for the GSP. I'm tempted to try dipping the candy cane coral but I don't want to kill it. It does have algae encroaching on it however. My duncans and cabbage leather is doing great. The cabbage leather is doing especially well. It's grown a bit in size since being transferred to the cube and has great polyp extension. The xenia and mushroom coral are doing good too. The fish, snails, and shrimp are all doing great as well.

I've started dosing nitrates again. I dosed twice what I normally do since the chaeto needs to start growing again. I also need to drive phosphates down.

The chaeto looks greener than it has in a while but there was some die off. I'm going to pick off any white strands so that light gets to the healthy strands.
 
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Now that the return is running well I tackled the situation with my chaeto. It was falling apart since it had been about a week since it had light and flow. After picking out the dead and dying chaeto I still had about half of what I had before the leak.

The only problem is that it's in many small clumps. Thankfully we had some onions that were in a plastic netting. I cut the ends off to remove the copper crimping then rinsed the netting really well. A couple cable ties later I had a big ball of chaeto. Hopefully it'll grow back together over time.

Now I need to tackle my phosphates. For that matter I need to test them but I know they're sky high. Once the chaeto starts growing again it'll help big time as long as I can dose enough nitrates. Until then I have to H2O2 dip all the corals and scrub the rocks clean of algae, mainly GHA and cyano these days.

I've added some more flow but I need to upgrade the return pump. I'll probably get something on the order of 2000 to maybe as much as 3000 gph when the time comes. After all I don't want to clutter the cube with a bunch of circulation pumps. Until I have the money for the unions and other fittings I need for the manifold as well as the new pump however I'll just have to deal with the clutter. Once I upgrade the pump I want to get the manifold built and have the plumbing done once and for all.
 
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Within 15 minutes if not less of cleaning the glass I noticed that the cabbage leather was the most open I've ever seen it. I'm talking polyp extension as well as overall. It may also help that I dosed some nitrate (after seeing the usual signs of nitrate depletion in my system which tends to eat nitrates like crazy). I also decided to take pics of other corals and the algae issues right now.

Sooooo if I have sky high phosphates and an outbreak of GHA and other algaes why oh why would I dose nitrates? How do I know my system is lacking in nitrates just by looking at it?

The reason for dosing nitrates is to encourage algae to take up the copious amounts of phosphates both in the water column and in the rock. Yes it SEEMS like a slow motion train wreck in progress but the switch will get pulled just in time. Ergo chaeto in the sump and astreas literally mowing down the competition. In the process corals also get food from the waste produced by the snails and fish. Once all these things balance out and the stability we all seek happens coralline will outcompete nuisance algae big time and corals everywhere will rejoice. Especially hard corals.

So how do I know when nitrates are bottoming out? It takes a lot of observation paired with testing. Taking a snapshot of a system and a snapshot of test results at that point. For instance I'll start getting cyano then I'll notice green algae on the glass whether in the DT or the sump will start to develop holes where the algae thins and begins to disappear. I also notice my xenia gets a silvery gray color and some polyps close and stay closed until I dose nitrates. Every system is different though so be observant. It's not just nitrates that are potentially limiting however so test especially if things don't look right.

Anyway here are those pics.

IMG_20221009_204508984.jpg IMG_20221009_204414354.jpg IMG_20221009_204421853.jpg IMG_20221009_204517403.jpg IMG_20221009_204525087.jpg IMG_20221009_204530761.jpg IMG_20221009_204454677.jpg IMG_20221009_204504394.jpg
 
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The DT looks clearer and less green by the day. There's new algae trying to grow on the sides of the sump now. Remnant pieces of the algae mats that grew in the sump before now float on the surface. These have grown about 300% larger in area.

I dosed nitrates again last night. I'm going to have to get more stump remover however. Even though I've been dosing nitrates the DT is decidedly clearer.

I've been using stump remover which is potassium nitrate. I would use sodium nitrite but I actually want to encourage algae to grow (here's looking at you chaeto). Once phosphates come down to about 0.1ppm I'll switch to sodium nitrate.

The chaeto looks healthier by the day also. It's a nice dark green color. It's poking out of the netting. Hopefully it'll keep doing so. I also hope it will grow together so it forms one or two balls instead of a bunch of loose masses.

The candy cane coral is barely hanging on. I don't see it surviving but there's always the chance it bounces back. Otherwise the rest of the corals are doing well. The GSP didn't open today but just before I cleaned it some polyps opened. The algae was super thick with some GHA growing on the mat so it had to be cleaned.

A second white lamp is going out on my T5HO light. I am thinking about getting a new light rather than replacing the two lamps that need to be replaced. Also the light I have is 4' feet long and the cube is 29" long and 29" wide. A new LED light would likely cover those dimensions better, especially if I got a ViparSpectra 300W. It'll likely be spring at the earliest before I can buy another light if I even do. Of course maybe one will find its way under the Christmas tree this year.

I took a couple of pictures. The lights in the sump it make the chaeto seem whitish green but it's a very healthy shade of green. They also make it look like there are more bubbles than algae floating in the sump but it's mostly algae. The floating algae covers about a third of the surface area. I'll harvest some later today.

IMG_20221012_000408419_HDR.jpg IMG_20221012_001421165_HDR.jpg IMG_20221012_001207852_HDR.jpg IMG_20221012_001145615_HDR.jpg IMG_20221012_001151773_HDR.jpg IMG_20221012_000419001_HDR.jpg
 
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The DT still has some green algae growing on the sides of the glass but the sump's algaes are starting to really outpace the DT's. There is still a decent amount of GHA and cyano however in the DT. The cyano is mainly confined to one rock which is good. GHA is starting to grow on my GSP once again though. At least polyps are starting to come out again.

The soft corals are doing well as are my duncans. The mushroom is still doing well. The candy cane coral is basically dead. Algae is overgrowing the skeleton. I'm keeping the skeleton just in case a miracle happens but it's not super likely. The cabbage leather and the Kenya tree are growing nicely though so that's welcome news.

The shrimp are pretty happy. They've been coming out when I feed the tank and seem less scared overall. The hermits are all doing well. There are now five of them. The clowns and yellow tailed blue damsels are doing great. They're all eating like pigs.
 
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Fishy888

Fishy888

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The DT is about as clear as it can be without doing a large water change. Despite running out of potassium nitrate about 4 days ago give or take there's still some green micro algae growing on the glass.

Friday night I saw the first isopods in the cube. I saw another one yesterday. I haven't seen any copepods yet but there are definitely amphipods on and in the rocks.

Once I get another bottle of potassium nitrate I'll do a series of 33% water changes once a week for 3 or 4 weeks. The corals will need time to acclimate to the increase in brightness.

My GSP had more than half of its polyps out yesterday. There's still some GHA on it and some diatoms as well. They're not growing very fast though and the GSP still look better than they did before I cleaned them.
My cabbage leather is about to shed. It was closed yesterday. The mushroom is still doing ok. The xenia and waving hand anthellia are doing great. There are two colonies. The smaller one has taken over almost half the rock it's on. My Kenya tree is doing great also.

The animals are all doing well. I'm going to try to add more yellow tailed blue damsels but I'm going to get at least three I'll rearrange the rocks. I want to get some sharknose gobies but finding them anywhere near here will be a challenge. I'm also thinking about a coris wrasse be it red, yellow, or green. I'm definitely getting more peppermint shrimp and skunk cleaner shrimp or two although not until after the holidays. I also want an emerald crab or two. If I can I want to get at least one red one.

Algae is forming on the sides of the sump/fuge. Strands of chaeto are on the floor of the sump. They're looking much healthier than they did. The chaeto that's wrapped in the plastic netting is growing faster than I expected. There's quite a bit that has grown out past the webbing. The chaeto is a healthy dark green.

There's life in the sump besides the algaes. Although I knew there were bristle worms in the chaeto I hadn't seen them since wrapping the chaeto. Yesterday I saw one of the bristle worms on the floor of the sump. I also saw what may be a ball anemone. It could also be aiptasia. Still it's nice to see some life in the sump.

Today I'm going to install the first bank of outlets. I'll have to go get another five breakout boxes, four outlets, and eight metal outlet covers before I assemble the second bank. Each bank of four outlets will be controlled by a switch. One switch will control the pumps and any reactors I add on eventually. The other bank will be for heaters and the lights.
 
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Does it matter to you whether your fish are captive-bred or wild caught?

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