Possum Wrasse Penthouse: IM 50 Lagoon EXT Build

saltcats

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Background

Figured I should stop procrastinating this build thread!

The lagoon series have been my dream tanks for a while - I love a non-standard shape; but I didn't have any serious plans to get one any time soon. Last April I got my first fish for my little IM 14 nano - a possum wrasse - who according to all my research should be great for a nano build!
Well. It very quickly became clear that he needed more space, but I was already dearly attached to him and didn't want to pass him along to someone else. I started looking at an upgrade, and the way aquarium math goes... "I could get a 20 gallon peninsula for this price, but then it's really only a little bit more for the 30... and if I'm spending *that* much I may as well just do the 40..."
Luckily the AIO option on the lagoon tanks stops at the 50, and that was where I settled, too.

(Although you may notice from the title that I did not end up going for the AIO :face-with-tears-of-joy: I wanted this upgrade to last me a long time, and a sump seemed like the obvious choice for flexibility down the road. So here we are!)

Equipment:
- IM 50 EXT Lagoon with RFS 22 sump, white APS stand
- ReefBreeders Photon v2 pro 24"
- 2 x 100W Eheim Jager heaters running on 2 Inkbirds.
- Kamoer F1 dosing pump
- DIY media reactor for carbon

Livestock:
Fish:
- 1x Yellow banded possum wrasse (Rutherford) - this whole tank is for him!
Coral and Inverts:
- 1x Candy cane pistol shrimp
- 2x RFA
- 1x Florida Ricordea
- Duncan
- Acan
- Favia
- Assorted zoanthids (I have a problem...)
CUC:
- 1x blue leg hermit
- 6x Astraea snail
- 5x Cerith snail
- 2x Nassarius snail
 
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saltcats

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Setting Up The Tank

Step 1 was building the stand. I love the look of IM's white stands, it's so modern and clean looking with white sand in the tank as well.

I was a little apprehensive having seen other people's comments that the instructions were very poor and the stand was hard to build; luckily it wasn't too bad. Definitely could do with adding some more detail to the manual though!
Especially about putting the doors on; there's no guide to where they should be attached top and bottom so it's really trial and error to get them to fit flush without a big gap in either the middle or the sides. Seems it would be very easy for IM to just add a sticker marking the alignment point.
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Once it was put together (and tentatively in place), we brought in the sump. Surprised me how heavy it was, especially after how light the stand is!
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The sump by itself is pretty much the biggest tank I've owned at this point, so I'm very excited. The quality of it seems really nice as far as I can tell with no frame of reference; I like the inclusion of holders for cables, and ports for dosing lines to be secured in.
I think the chamber for the heaters could be improved though, as it's a very tight fit to get your hand in, and a pain trying to get the heater suction cups to stick on without much working room. Especially knowing how likely they are to fall off and need reattachment down the road...

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Ended up moving where the tank would be located in the room (I preferred the first location but the rest of the household did not...) and got the plumbing attached, with some difficulty. Picked up this little cabinet which is the perfect size to hide my ATO reservoir, since it won't fit in the stand with the sump.
At this point I'm playing phone tag with my LFS trying to schedule someone to bring the tank into the house. Eventually though, they call and ask if they can come by the same afternoon; I'd hoped to get the mount for the light installed first but I don't want to risk getting stuck waiting for weeks more so installation time it is!

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Lights, Power, and (finally) Water!

I still couldn't fill the tank yet, between needing access behind it to install light mounts and power bars, and some work being done under the house that needed to set up fully before I added 500lbs of saltwater on top...

Figuring out how to hang the lights was my next big challenge. I knew I didn't want a back-of-tank mount since I wanted a tightly fitting lid; my planned stocking includes a lot of jumpers (possum wrasse included!) and without an internal overflow or AIO chamber there was nowhere to attach it.
Additionally, the dimensions of the lagoon tank made this more challenging, since it is wider front to back than a lot of comparable sized tanks. A lot of mounting options I came across only extended out 12"; I needed 18" from the wall to get centered over the tank.

I considered hanging the lights from the ceiling; I'm not in love with the aesthetics of it, especially on a shallower tank like this where the cable is so long, but it seemed the simplest option. Reefbreeders includes a steel cable for hanging with the light (love that mounting options are just included in the price and not an addon!) but it's about 10" too short for my setup... I'm guessing it would be just perfect if I had a standard 24" deep tank rather than a lagoon.
We debated if it would look okay to have a carabiner join at that point and the last 10" going up to the ceiling as a separate piece of cable; we debated if we felt confident creating a secure attachment loop in a new piece of steel cabling.

I also strongly considered building a rack from 1040. I like the look of it, and the price is good, but I didn't feel confident I could put it together securely, and figuring out how to actually attach the light to it was still an issue.

I finally ended up coming across some powder coated steel hanging basket hooks on etsy, which were the perfect dimensions. I really like the slightly industrial look they have! I got lucky and my tank location happened to be centered on 2 joists, so attaching the brackets securely was very simple.

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And finally we have light! :D
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I mounted 2 power bars vertically on the wall behind the tank; each outlet has its own switch, which makes it so easy to manage my gear. We installed an outdoor weatherproof cover over the outlet back here as well, as an additional layer of protection against any splashes.
I started with grand plans of beautiful wire management but it is, tragically, a tangled mess back there right now... Project for the next rainy day :p

And with that, everything I needed to do behind the tank was complete, and I moved on to the fun part - playing around with rocks!
This is what I ended up with - I knew I wanted 2 islands, with a canyon running between, and a lot of caves and overhangs for my wrasse. It also needed to look good from the front and the right side.
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I left a lot of open space in the scape to allow for adding the rocks from my existing nano tank when I moved it over.

Took me a couple days to get the 40lbs of special grade sand washed (I bought dry, not live, since I knew I wanted to rinse it anyway, and I'd be seeding it from an existing tank). I'm glad I did though, because the tank cleared up within an hour of adding water.
I think I only ended up adding about 40lbs total of the 60lbs I had available; I'm aiming for a decently deep sand bed to accomodate a pistol goby pair, and perhaps a jawfish.

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Initial fill with RO water - I ended up with 38 gallons in the display and 12 in the sump to get me to a perfect 50 in total.

Added in an entire bag of IO salt - my first time mixing my own salt, since for my nano I just buy it premade... and WOW it takes a long time to dissolve!
Somehow despite my calculations (since the IO instructions are for 1.023 or thereabouts?) I ended up overshooting and getting 1.030... but at least too salty is easy to fix.

The tank came up to temperature and salinity 1-27-24. Time to let it run for a bit so I'm comfortable with how the system works before I start transferring livestock!
 
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saltcats

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Moving Day

I got IM's mesh lid kit for this tank... I love the way it looks but the instructions were deeply lacking and it was not fun putting it together. The rails weren't bad to cut, although there's a very small tolerance between not fitting on past the tank seals, or being too small and the support lips not catching the glass and falling in.
It really skims past "insert the splining" too - we actually ended up using a rubber mallet to force it in, since it's a non-standard spline and would not go in by hand.
I swapped out the supplied mesh for a finer one I already had; I plan to keep some small gobies and I've seen tales of them jumping out through 3/8" mesh before!

With the lid put together, the tank was finally ready to move over the occupants. No pictures of the process as I was focussed on getting it done quickly... I had a bit of a bubble algae problem in my nano at this point and I wanted to remove as much as possible before transferring the rocks.

FTS 2-22 (Day after moving)
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I ended up just putting the birdsnest on the sand to start with, since the moving process had taken a while and I was concerned with letting my fish get settled in.

One of my RFAs was attached to the rock already and very easy to move... the other one had decided to go for a wander not too long before the move was scheduled, and I had to pry it off the tank bottom with an old credit card. Much scarier for me than I'd hoped, but it seems to have gone well, and it attached back on the original rock where I put it quickly.

My wrasse spent the first day or so mostly just hanging out on the left side of the tank where he'd gone immediately. Eventually, he crossed under the big arch, and discovered how much more space he had now!
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For some reason I seem to have lost all my ceriths in the move. Not really sure why that'd be? Both nassarius snails and all 6 astraea had no issues, but all my white ceriths burrowed into the sand and never showed back up.

Some of the rock pieces didn't fit in the display, so I added them to my sump. Hopefully pods and other helpful critters will appreciate the habitat!
 

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I’ve got a pair of them you could always try to get him a partner! They kinda do their own thing but every night they link up before lights off and do a little dance together all around the tank. Pretty cute
 

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I love Possums!! Ive had my yellow banded for like almost 6 years now, i took him over after a friend broke down his tank. he had him another 2-3 before i got him. Originally it was a pack of 3 of them that all hung out together, but one got killed by a clam snapping shut of its head, and the other died of old age about a year or 2 ago.

AWESOME fish!!
 

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I love Possums!! Ive had my yellow banded for like almost 6 years now, i took him over after a friend broke down his tank. he had him another 2-3 before i got him. Originally it was a pack of 3 of them that all hung out together, but one got killed by a clam snapping shut of its head, and the other died of old age about a year or 2 ago.

AWESOME fish!!
i also love the possum wrasses. the yellow banded i ordered from LA the first year i became a reefer and it never took to frozen/pellets/flakes. it only ate pods which quickly became expensive. ultimately perished :disappointed-face:

seeing this thread makes me want one again
 
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Nice tank! What did you do to support under the tank? Just curious why it was needed.
We had a support column installed in the crawlspace under the tank. Probably overkill but the joists in that room are at their maximum length for their size... And as it turned out one of them directly under where the tank would go was cracked anyway!
 
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saltcats

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your yellow banded thinks you should add the tanaka possum wrasse, and the pink streaked wrasse as tank buddies
I love the tanaka, my LFS had one in a few weeks back, barely even an inch long. He came right up to the glass when I was looking at him, so bold!
I’ve got a pair of them you could always try to get him a partner! They kinda do their own thing but every night they link up before lights off and do a little dance together all around the tank. Pretty cute
I love Possums!! Ive had my yellow banded for like almost 6 years now, i took him over after a friend broke down his tank. he had him another 2-3 before i got him. Originally it was a pack of 3 of them that all hung out together, but one got killed by a clam snapping shut of its head, and the other died of old age about a year or 2 ago.

AWESOME fish!!
I've been really tempted to get him a possum wrasse buddy, but it seemed like mixed reviews on if they'd actually get along or if they'd fight.
i also love the possum wrasses. the yellow banded i ordered from LA the first year i became a reefer and it never took to frozen/pellets/flakes. it only ate pods which quickly became expensive. ultimately perished :disappointed-face:

seeing this thread makes me want one again
Rutherford only ate live brine the first month I had him, and then once he switched over to frozen mysis he refused the live brine anymore... He's so picky. Took most of this year before he'd accept LRS or other frozen blends.

He goes through little phases as well where he won't take much frozen that I offer; I think he's finding his own stuff? He's in one right now... not taking more than 1 piece of mysis, but acting lively and normal otherwise so I think he's just after pods.
 

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Yeah I’m with you on that. Mine were sold as a pair but I would be unsure of buying another random one to pair up
 
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A Bumpy Start

The tank looked so good for about a week... and then the brown slime that I was really really trying to convince myself was just diatoms started looking suspiciously stringy and bubbly.
The corals all stopped opening up as well, and the tank was just generally kind of sad. Microscope confirmed the presence of ostreopsis dinos (3-9).

I dealt with (suspected) dinos once or twice before in my nano but they'd resolved within a week or two with nutrient dosing and water changes. These ones were obviously more persistent, and had already killed off my green birdsnest, so I picked up a UV steriliser to try to prevent any more casualties.

It did work wonders although it was not a pretty mounting setup (I had the transformer for the UV sitting in a casserole dish on top of my sump, in case it got hot...). Took about 2 weeks for the dinos to clear up fully, and the corals began opening again.

They weren't the only thing happy with the new conditions, and GHA took off with a vengeance. I actually have 3 or 4 distinct types in there right now.

Round 2 (4-7)

We hit another road bump (my fault entirely) - my phosphate doser ran out for a few days without my noticing, and a new type of dino moved in. Small cell amphidinium this time, growing on top of the GHA. Thankfully I hadn't actually taken my sterilizer offline yet, so with resumed phosphate dosing and some daily turkey basting to encourage them into the water column, they were resolved pretty quickly. At least they weren't so bad, my corals never closed up during this outbreak.
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There was no sign of them by the 13th, and I was glad to finally take the steriliser offline and not have a pump right in the front center of my display anymore.

During this time, I also added my candycane pistol. So happy she decided to dig her home near the front where I can see it!
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And with that, we are caught up to present day at last.

The tank is absolutely covered in algae right now, my next battle... but as I tell myself every day, at least it's not dinos!
 
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saltcats

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Finally brought my Hector's goby out of quarantine last Wednesday; he seems to be settling in great. As soon as I released him into the display he began picking at the sand and actually didn't explore more than that first corner for the entire evening; too busy eating!

My possum wrasse is .... not thrilled to have a roommate for the first time. It sounds like just normal 'new introduction' displaying though I think, not actually anything concerning?

He puffs up all his fins and thrashes his tail at the goby when he encounters him, but I haven't seen physical contact and the goby is hilariously unbothered. Half the time he doesn't even stop picking at things in the algae while Rutherford is doing his best to look big and scary.

As far as I can tell also, he only seems to be aggressive when someone is near the tank. I can watch him from across the room when he doesn't know I'm there and I'll see them near each other with no issues, but if anyone approaches he gets feisty.

I added pods Friday, and trying out dosing live phyto also. Hoping to maintain a good population for the little guy, and perhaps help with the hair algae issue too if I'm lucky? Not too worried about the Hector's eating; he's plumped up nicely for me in QT since I got him back in January, and he's eaten Masstick and frozen pods.

Speaking of hair algae... any suggestions? It's pretty bad. I have 4 more hermits ready to be added, planning to do some manual removal also. Is this just part of the uglies? I am seeing spots of coralline growth scattered throughout the tank which I'm very excited for, since it never really took off in my nano (I've had incredibly low nutrient issues the entire lifespan of that tank).

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saltcats

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For that level of hair algae, I may consider hydrogen peroxide.

If you want to go natural, try an urchin.
An urchin... I have been on and off with the idea of one. Kind of really wanted one when I upgraded to the bigger tank, but then I'm scared of it shifting rocks? Mine are pretty secure by the "hand wiggle" test but only a couple of them are actually epoxied together.

Thanks!
 

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