Quietman's RSR 170 Mixed Reef

samnaz

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Wish I had a success story to share with all those new hobbyists who are looking to have nice full tanks. But I'm measuring success by the fact that I'm still here. You can't lose the fight if you keep getting up off the dirt (if you haven't seen Cool Hand Luke - do so...soon).
Word. Keep on keepin on. There’s more to reefing than success. Arguably the mistakes we make are the most important when we learn from them. FWIW I always enjoy your posts and have learned a lot.
 
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Quietman

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Dino Armistice of 2020

A week after my last post without any return of dinos I thought I could proceed with restocking my aquarium. So I purchased one Ocellaris Clownfish and one Kaudern's Cardinalfish from LiveAquaria. I know I've made some semi anti-clown statements in the past (perhaps not in my build thread). But one, I also purchased a Rainbow Anemone from Tidal Gardens and how do you not get a clown. Two, I haven't reversed my thinking and selected species carefully and three, my wife really wanted one! I'll let you decide which order those reasons apply. I've only purchased one clown as I hope without mating the aggression is minimized and I did select what's reputed to be the most peaceful clown instead of any larger, more aggressive variants or 'designer' clowns. We'll see how that goes and of course I'll report.

A week after that purchase (6/13), I ordered some soft corals from Penny at AquaCorals up in Maine. A finger leather, two toadstools, a weeping willow and a ribbon fan. Quick aside, great customer service and really nice sized pieces when they arrived. I dipped, removed and reattached to fresh rubble. Glad I did, good sized bristle star hitchhiker came out. Anyway, if I want more softies, I'll definitely be going back to her. Decided I wanted to try some softies as I really like the movement and why not?

So all was going well right up until a week later when I saw the dreaded dinos reappear. No much, just a dusting, but next day was worse, day after showed longer strings and some bubbles. <Sigh>! Here we go again. Just got some new fish and corals in and I'm going to have to go dark again and who knows when this will all end. Came as close to throwing in the towel there for a few days as I have yet. So after a few days of wallowing in self-pity and filled with rage towards a single celled planktonic bacteria I decided to enter the fray one more time.

Time to go nuclear...well at least time to bring on some radiation. Bought myself two things...a child's microscope off Amazon ($39.99) and a UV light from Premium Aquatics ($144.20).

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AmScope 120X-1200X
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Aqua Ultraviolet Advantage 2000+ UV Sterilizer (15 Watt) barb x barb

If you want to feel like you're 9 years old again, buy a kids microscope and mount a slide. I could almost feel my dad standing behind me waiting for his turn to look as he did on that snowy Christmas morning years ago.

So here's what I saw when I looked in the microscope a couple days later.


IMG_20200701_135701925.jpg



Nothing fancy here taking the video and picture. Just held my smart phone camera up to the eye piece. This confirmed that yes, I have in fact been at war with Dinoflagellates. The genus is ostreopsis and species likely is o.ovatal. I say likely because not a taxonomist nor a marine biologist. Just a guy looking up stuff on the internet. Bad news is yes, this dino (I'll use the common name) is toxic - same family that causes 'red tides'. Good news is that it can be tycoplanktonic (meaning it lives partially in the water column) so I didn't blow $150 on my UV filter. Interestingly it's also known to be benthic (bottom water column dwelling) and epiphytic (living non-parasitically on another plant/organism). Why learn new words if you're not going to use them? Definitely saw those mats of dinos coming off corals and macro algae in my tank.

Interesting note. After I took the picture above, I walked away and left the light one for a couple of hours. When I came back the slide was full of dinos. The reproduction rate of these things in bright light is impressive. I've seen some statements that said they can divide every 20 minutes!

So next I hooked up my UV light.

IMG_20200725_135535351_HDR.jpg


I bought this model from Premium Aquatics for a couple of reasons. One, the calculations I did on flow rate indicated that 15W would work for both algae/bacteria (dino) which needs an 8x tank turnover in order to provide sufficient radiation dose and to keep up with the reproduction rate and for protozoa (ich) which needs higher dose (lower flow-longer exposure). This is also possible because I have a smaller tank with an adjustable speed DC pump. Larger tanks and fixed speed pumps make one UV unit impractical. To figure out what's needed, look at vendor supplied charts on flow rate/exposure rate for various organisms and do math. The second reason is size and the in/out barbs. The HOB one wasn't practical for me at all and the more traditional models took up too much space. Thanks again to Premium Aquatics (located here in the heartland of Indiana) for carrying this.

So now the results. I took quite a few pictures to see how this progressed. 3x/day (morning, noon, late afternoon) for a week intending to post them all. But well, that's really overkill. I'll post the late afternoon (when sand was most covered) at start and a week later. I could tell the difference visually by the second day. The first day looked the same (which is better than worse) but I think the flow rate was low...so I cranked up my Tunze Silence 1073.05 high as system could take to get the 8x turnover rate needed. Next day was markedly less and that proceeded for a week until all but gone.

IMG_20200702_154136949_HDR.jpg
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As I write this is almost 3 weeks later and the sand is still virtually free from dinos.

Now the reason I posted this under the title "Armistice" is that I have no illusions that dinos still exist in my system. But I've since dialed down the flow to a normal 3x turnover with no impact visually. The UV filter is still on and is inline with my return flow (all return flow goes through UV filter). But the dinos are in check and appear to be staying that way. I am also controlling my phosphates much higher (they go up to 0.30 ppm before I add Phosphate Rx and knock them back down to the .03ppm range) and nitrates are at 5 ppm. I have some very light macro algae but you really have to look for it (see the upper right pump), so I'm happy that all is in harmony at the moment.

I doubt I ever have another system without a UV filter. While my water clarity was always very high, the UV adds another level to the term 'crystal clear'. Plus I now have another tool in place for algae, bacteria and pathogen management. I admit I was a skeptic on UV, but I admit that I'm sold now and a complete convert.

This is my tank today.

IMG_20200725_135641554_HDR.jpg


There is a light film of algae on my rock surfaces. It disappears under normal lighting (I've increased light for the pic here). I left the algae on the pump as I'm dosing the lanthum chloride tonight and I want to see effect of dramatically lowering phosphates overnight on the algae.

Rubber bands are holding my frags in place for the moment. I want some growth before I place permanently.

You can see the scrambled egg zoa on the left and the purple death paly further on to the left. These and two zoas on the frag rack are all that remain of my corals from the first year of purchases. They are growing now, though and the softies and gorgonians are doing very well.

Unfortunately, I did lose the Cardinalfish. He arrived somewhat lethargic and never really ate as much as he should. I believe he was stressed by shipping and never recovered. I did not see any other symptoms of any pathogens. I am glad I have the UV now though. Just another piece of mind insurance.

Last update today is that I shutdown the Fluval V before I installed the UV and as you can see, put the gsp and xenia back in the 170 along with the goby and pistol shrimp. It developed some dino of it's own and well, that was just one too many things to have on my plate. I made some minor changes to the aquascape when did this. Brought some rock forward and put the goby rock on the other side so I could see him from my chair easier.

I'll do a more formal 'one year' post as seems to be the tradition in the next few weeks. Plus I have an ongoing story with my Apex that's finally resolved that I should update on. Just placed another order from Tidal Gardens and I'm waiting on two more fish to be in stock at LiveAquaria. Feeling pretty good about this again and really starting to enjoy the tank.

Later - Qm
 
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Long Delayed Update - Let's generously call this a one year update!

Stability achieved - for now - woo hoo! Been waiting for this day since I started. I don't mind telling you all that spending thousands of dollars just to see it all wither away while you desperately, helplessly, hopelessly try everything (TWICE!) is emotionally exhausting. I don't think patience is the key for the first year, it's perseverance. One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill - "Never give in! Never! Never! Never!" That about sums up my first year.

To summarize - things are well - no disasters since my last post! My tank has finally matured and become stable. Coral growth is not spectacular but is steady and nothing is in decline except for perhaps when a bit too close to something it doesn't like. I started seeing the promised one year stability at the one year point (coincidence? - I think not), but I didn't trust it until last month (about 15/16 month point). Made a few but important changes both due to my wanting to improve things and due to being forced to with equipment failures. I've also had confirmed some of my principles in setting this up as well as learning what I'll do better next time (UV Filter). So let's get to it, shall we? This won't be one of my meticulously dated action posts, but more a summary of what I've experienced and changed.

NOTE: I am trying to update my earlier posts with strike-throughs and an edit date and comments so any information I previously shared isn't taken as on-going. If I miss something, please let me know.

The Good - Anemone is doing great! No splits yet, but not encouraging that kind of promiscuous behavior in my family friendly tank, thank you very much. Bought some additional corals (two more softies - weak spot for Yellow Elegans. Haven't lost a coral since July - so very, very happy and looking to expand number and type to include some SPS.

Actually, I'm very happy with the growth rate of all my corals. I never wanted a growth rate that would quickly use up all room. Just a nice steady healthy growth - which i seem to have right now.

Loving the Apex. Still never bought a power bar and still don't miss it. So plffftttthh! to all those that said otherwise. It's my monitor and my monitor only. My redundancy in heater design has prevented any problems when I lost my Inkbird controller - see below. But it did save my tank from getting below 77'F when I accidently shut off the back up heater while waiting for new controller by sending me alert. Still had high temp redundancy, and I doubt I would have lost anything at low temps - but still - good to have.

The Bad - Lost my cardinalfish.....again. Second one I think, could be third. Having the worst luck with them. That was in July and I haven't replaced him/her yet. This one was never healthy appearing, listless from day one - lasted a couple months and never really acted right. The previous was killed by dino toxins (An educated guess - not going to pull a Quincy with a dead fish). I had thought I had lost the first one as well. Odd...my other fish (the ones that survived the 2020 Dino Apocalypse anyway) are doing great.

Also lost my replacement duncan - why is it my two favorites things and one of the reasons I got into this hobby - Cardinalfish and Duncan corals - that cause me so much trouble?

Also lost my cleaner shrimp - this was after everything started to stabilize so thinking old age? Maybe the murderous pistol shrimp 'The Cave Ripper' - (I need to stop watching so many British serial killer shows on Acorn and Britbox - yeah like that's gonna happen). Oh about "The Cave Ripper" - he's not so much murdering all those snails as torturing them to death - grabs a snail he likes the shape of and sticks it under his ledge as 'decoration'. Poor thing can't get out and suffocates or starves. Not sure which. So "Ripper" probably doesn't apply - more like "Smotherer" - not as catchy though.

Took down the pico within a month of standing it up. It was just one tank too many to manage (have two freshwater and the reef already). Plus - like I've said, didn't need it as a life raft anymore since main tank started being survivable.

The Different (I know it should be "The Ugly" but passed ugly phase(s) finally...I hope) - Ok, so what's different? Fairly short list.

Already talked about UV filter. Just repeat my previous and crank it to 11. I will never have a tank again without it. So much so, that next tank will have dedicated closed loop with variable flow to support exposure and flow rate needed for right sized UV.

Food. I don't think I ever went into my feeding routine (I should review and check). I was making up my own recipe of HPD, Mysis shrimp, Hikari pellets (both herb and carn), nori, Reef Chili along with Selcon and Garlic drops. This made a paste (read the HPD instructions) that I put into this little silicon ice trays. 1/2" cubes, once frozen, popped them out and stuck in a ziploc bag and kept in freezer. Once a day I'd take a grater and a frozen cube over the tank and feed them. Worked grate (get it? - crack me up)!

Mini Ice Tray.jpg
Amazon Ice Tray

But kept have a bit more algae than I thought I should. Plus about every 2-3 weeks I had to knock down my PO4 levels (I'd add Lanthanum - PhosphateRx), which worked great but thought that was a bit too often. Plus every time my PO4 drops to .03 ppm - the dinos show back up. I posted my dino control somewhere, I'll find an paste at end. Decided to try just Mysis Shrimp rinsed before adding. Phosphates became much more stable and I haven't had to knock them down for weeks now. Concerns on nutrition with just frozen shrimp so I've started to throw in some pellets soaked in Selcon a couple times a week. More on that in future post if I ever fully decide on something.

Changing heater control. The Inkbird died after only 18 months - which ok...I paid $30. Wasn't expecting years and years but that's a bit thin. So shifting to Ranco controller. Just got it today actually so this is my holiday project. I'll post more after it's up and running. Haven't changed my thoughts on how I want my tank temperature to cycle, just changing how it's done. Think it's pretty slick really and that's officially my first 'teaser' for a future post.

Changed lighting schedule for my Radion G4 Jake Adams Lighting Profile Article. Overall very happy, but I'm probably going to shorten the time up an hour or two. I've been manually shutting off at 6 pm and corals are fine with it. The full time causes algae issues for me. But love the color.

Mounting corals. I stopped using just frag plugs and started mounting the frag plug (after cutting off the bottom) to rock rubble (Marco Rock Rubble from BRS). I use Tunze Coral Gum with just a bit of Super Glue Gel. Attaches solid enough so snails and power heads don't move around, but still lets me easily pull off the rock. This allows the corals to spread out growth on the rock rubble and still be removable if needed (and it has been). This now is my default mounting for corals that need larger footprint. May not do this for SPS in future.

Confirmation (couldn't keep the Sergio Leone theme going forever, wait - maybe I can...

Confirmation, You Sucker! (yeah, that's better)
Things I'm happy I decided on and am not changing.

No refugium. No second thoughts here (other than those brought on by desperation during the dark days). Glad I didn't start - would've been that much more stuff to go wrong. My dead simple sump - Skimmer, Media (Charcoal, Phosphate control, Pond matrix) and sponges are doing well - just took a while.

Casters on tank stand - right up there along with UV filters. Never will have a tank I can't roll for access and relocation (haven't relocated the tank, but the access the couple times I've needed has been worth it).

Rock - Caribsea LifeRock Shapes - no issues there at all. Some reported leaching of chemicals, or rock dissolving after a few months. I have experienced no adverse effects I can point to rock as cause. I've even boiled some smaller pieces when fiddling with that pico. Solid as ever.

Sand - no issues here other than need to add some more after removing algae and dino mats. Looks fantastic over bare bottom. Maintenance hasn't been much at all, just a good vacuuming weekly. Plus my goby/shrimp love building sand castles around their cave.

Well that's about it for now. I'll post the heater control/controller soon (well, I intend to anyway - best of intentions and all) and when/if I ever settle on feeding regime. I'll post pics to this post later on....waiting for upload.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Dino post

-Qm
 
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CMMorgan

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The stand is on casters now!

I couldn't be more pleased! The extra 5 inches takes the stand height up to 39". I have never liked bending over to see a tank particularly when the tank is located in a place where that's going to be happening quite a bit. It's not so tall that I can't sit in front or look down on top and enjoy as well. Yes, I can reach inside the tank and touch the back bottom inside corner without any trouble at all but I am rather tall so this might not be everyone's ideal. I'm already happy with the sump area being that much higher as well. If you don't think working on something 8" off the floor is that much better than something 3" off the floor...just wait enough years and you will.

I also like what the added height has done to the appearance. Red Sea does have a beautiful product but it is designed for mass appeal, price and other common denominators focused on selling to largest population and not my particular desires. I do think however, that the added inches adds an elegance to the tank and stand it lacked before and removes any slight 'squatness' or 'top-heaviness'. Once I add the skirts (this weekend hopefully if the garage warms up a tad more) I think it's going to be quite the looker.

As far as the casters themselves...smooth and easy to operate the level mechanism. I do not expect any issues at when fully loaded. It is wonderful being able to move this cabinet and tank around to find the optimum location. Leveling is an absolute breeze. Now just to fill it and see if my design work translates well to the real world.

Before and After:

IMG_20181208_162215676.jpg IMG_20190209_113402363.jpg


So now a few notes on the build/design.

I've attached the materials and cut list for anyone wishing those details. Also included cost for materials but did not include tools in that. I used a cordless circular saw and drill (got a great deal on a Kobalt set from Lowe's for $130.00) but I did buy a quality finishing blade and a rip guide. I'm not a woodworking expert by any means but any search online will give you vast amounts of how to use tools to their best advantage.

IMG_20190209_113341766.jpg

Hint: find something to put the stand on upside down. I used a cheap dolly we have as it can move where i needed it.

So the first thing I did after measuring and cutting the main base plate was to figure out how to drill the holes to attach the stand to the plate. I knew I was going to use screw anchors in the stand MDF (it may not technically be MDF, but it is an engineered wood product so I'm using MDF for convenience) as wood screws will not hold in MDF well. Also went fairly low gauge #8 on the screws because adding in width of anchors I was concerned with splitting the MDF.

By the way - I had zero splitting in any of this work. The key? Pre-drill, pre-drill, pre-drill and go from small tiny bits up to final size in steps. Also, make sure in MDF you drill the hole a bit longer than needed for the screw (I used tape on the drill bit as a guide).

As far as lining up the holes....well luckily, Red Sea put in pre-drilled nail holes for the plastic feet: 3 on each side, 2 front and back. Take the cut base plate, line it up and use a square to mark up wood. Then just measure and transfer the outside to hole distance to the top of the plate. So what I did was mark all my drill points in the plate before doing any drilling. Then I placed it on top of the stand (on top of the bottom if you will). After lining up the position and taping it in place, I drilled my pilot holes through both the plate and into the nail hole in the MDF. Check it after each drill to make sure you're still all lined up, but this worked very well. Then remove the plate and drill the size hole you need for the screw anchor in the MDF (in steps again).

For the caster plates - I decided I wanted an additional board just to support casters and spread the load more evenly - I took my base plate and drilled pilot holes again (turn the base plate over) into the caster plates.

I then temporarily attached the caster plates to the base plates with a few screws (only part way in) so I could drill the lag screw holes through both plates. Be careful here, it's going to be close to the edge so you definitely want to drill smaller holes slowly and work up to size gradually.

Now with all holes pre-drilled comes the assembly and painting. I chose not to use glue, going to trust gravity and steel. I used the #8 1 1/4" wood screws and attached the caster plates to the base plate. No pre-drilling this time, just stayed away from edge and away from any other pre-drilled holes and screwed them in.

Did a quick putty (few tiny gaps in the plywood) and sanding job with 60 grit to knock off any rough edges. This is under the stand so I don't need to go 'cabinet grade on the finish'. Used a spray polyurethane and the remnants of my RSR170 box as curtain to apply several coats. I essentially just used most of the can which gave me about 8 light coats everywhere. Dried completely in a few days even in the cold garage.

To attach the caster assembly to the stand, basically line it up and screw in the holes (the beauty of pre-drilling everything is that this goes really quick and easy). I did put a nice bead of silicone around the stand bottom before setting the caster assembly on it. I did this for the obvious reason that if water runs down the stand I didn't want it weeping into the joint between stand and plate. Don't need to spread it out, just run a good pencil thickness bead and it'll squeeze out when you screw it together. Grab a putty knife and scrape of the excess when done. I took the opportunity to also run a bead in the stand joints that'll be hidden now to prevent any water from sump area from getting in that space. I'll also do the same from the top in the sump area itself.

Just remember with my design (see pictures), you have to use the #8 1 3/4" wood screws on the back and front as there's only one layer of 3/4 plywood. The sides use the #8 2 1/2".

Finally (other than flipping it back over) is attaching the casters with the lag screws. I used one short lag screw on each caster because in each case there was one of the screws attaching to stand very close to where the lag screw was going. You can see this is in the pics below. Erred on the side of caution and used the shorter lag screw to prevent any splitting. Used the longer lag screws everywhere else.

One last thing...after putting it all together, I realized I forgot drain holes in the bottom just in case the worst happens and I have some water leak from the sump or moisture build up. So flipped it back over and quickly drilled two drain holes. You can see the before and after in the pics, too.

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And that's how I did that.

Other hints and things I'd do different:

1) I probably would've used primer and white paint instead of clear poly. Once I had the stand in place I was thinking, "you know...that looks pretty decent 'as is' if I had just painted it and used the black casters (you can find same brand in black)". Who knew? So give yourself an option and buy black casters or paint them to some desired color and then match the wood finish. You might like it enough to leave alone...or at least it'll look nice enough so your significant other doesn't complain about the skirts taking so long.

2) Wrap your stand in some protective paper. I didn't damage it but I do have some cleaning up to do I could've avoided. Car bumper rubber strips leave a rather unattractive black mark on the white stand.

3) If you own a smaller vehicle have your home store cut the plywood sheet in 3 equal pieces, works out perfect and you'll have enough left over for the water filter stand and perhaps the ATO water container - I'll let you know.

4) I had initially planned to counter sink the screw anchors in the stand MDF as I didn't want a gap there so water wouldn't weep in if it spilled down the sides of the tank and stand (which it surely will and likely pretty often). However, I realized that this 1-2mm gap created by the lip of the plastic anchors would be perfect to allow a bead of silicone which would be much more effective at preventing water seep. Silicone will expand/contract with temp and moisture much better. That idea turned out perfectly. There is just a 1mm or less gap with silicone all around the caster plaster plate and the stand joint. You can see it in some of the pics - before I cleaned up the edge a bit. Recommend not counter sinking the screw anchor lip.

5) If you have one in your area, go to your local hardware store. You know, the kind you used to go to with your dad that had all the bins of screws and bolts and such. If you don't know what I'm talking about...that's kind of sad, but watch Gran Torino and you'll see why these places are awesome. You'll pay cents for exactly the parts you need, get all kinds of help and advice, help the local economy and enjoy a sample of the homemade pepper relish from the store owner's wife (I kid you not, and it was delicious). There's just something that feels right about the world when you walk out of a place like that. Especially the second (or third) time in the same day when you forgot something and they greet you by name...and yes, the relish was just a good the second (and third) time.

Now for the plumbing and water. Might not post much on that as it's straightforward and a lot of posts and videos are already out there for that. I don't plan on anything other than standard as supplied build for now. We'll see though....until next time.
So .... update? How have those casters held up for you? I'm starting to finalize my stand design for my 72" x 24" x 19" 127 gallon acrylic tank. Given that we are tile on concrete, there will be some leveling issues. We also want to look ahead to when we relocate down the road and how much easier it will be if we can drain the tank into Brute cans and roll that whole baby out the door. I've seen similar casters to yours on Amazon and other sites. Some are rated at 1000+ pounds each. 6-8 of those babies with a well build framework to spread the weight should be sufficient.
Would you do it again?
 
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Quietman

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So .... update? How have those casters held up for you? I'm starting to finalize my stand design for my 72" x 24" x 19" 127 gallon acrylic tank. Given that we are tile on concrete, there will be some leveling issues. We also want to look ahead to when we relocate down the road and how much easier it will be if we can drain the tank into Brute cans and roll that whole baby out the door. I've seen similar casters to yours on Amazon and other sites. Some are rated at 1000+ pounds each. 6-8 of those babies with a well build framework to spread the weight should be sufficient.
Would you do it again?
Very pleased!. To the point where I won't have a tank without them even though I don't use the rollout function all that often. Maybe 3-4 times the first few months while setting up and adjusting (and no, I didn't drain for the 6-8" I moved the tank from the wall). During that time I kept the tank on the casters so it could roll and not the feet. No issues there either. Just as solid on casters as on the feet so no hurry if you're setting up and want to keep it flexible on moving.

About the 6 month point, I extended the feet semi-permanently and only had to move once since then. Had to tighten one of my pipes from the bulkhead (did some unrelated work and caused the connection to loosen) and on the RSR that's much easier from the back for me. So instead of struggling for hours under the tank and never quite getting it, I engaged the casters, moved it out several inches, tightened it with easy access and put it all back - maybe an hour as I remember. Plus, still planning on putting down new floors sometime but moving the tank is a worry I don't have. It's similar to moving an appliance. Still a bit of a pain, but very doable by yourself (or with a partner). Compared to a complete tear down and re-build, or finding enough strong friends and worrying about stressing the tank, it's easy

One note, for longer moves (room to room) I would definitely drain at least (AT LEAST) half the tank into container and refill when relocated. The casters are smooth in operation, but the stress to the tank from that much water sloshing over a distance isn't worth saving the time to keep it full. But if you have casters down and ready to move, you can drain to Brute - move it and refill it (make sure you have hose distance to pump) in no time at all.

One thing I changed my plans on was the bottom 'wrap around cover'. I had originally planned on attaching the 'wrap' with screws and brackets and make a hinged front. But after using it for months, I've decided to keep it unattached. Just slides out on the little plastic feet (I used the ones I removed from the RSR stand). Now when there's a water spill (WC or just cleaning - not sure I'd get a rimless tank again, water spills over the top so easy - but that's a review for another day) I just slide out the bottom cover and my tank is sitting on four casters. Very easy to get to for cleaning under and keeping it dry. I'll include a pic. Bit dusty (but dry), and no I haven't painted it yet. As you can see, the foundation of 3/4" plywood and doubled up for the caster mounting worked great and still as solid as ever.

If and when I do a bigger tank, I'll very likely just use the same method and run another 4" strip down the middle for mounting another set of one or two casters - depends how big the tank is as I like the safety factor of at least 2x weight. But so far, I haven't lost one minutes sleep worrying about the design. Be aware there are cheap imitations so do your research.

Last note: I got the "finger" adjust style. I works, but is kind of a pain when under load and had to use a flat head screwdriver to help with turning the dial (leverage). I'd recommend a ratchet/wrench drive as an improvement. They have those as well.

IMG_20201230_123157051.jpg
 
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CMMorgan

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Very pleased!. To the point where I won't have a tank without them. I don't use the rollout function all that often. Maybe 3-4 times the first few months while setting up and adjusting (and no, I didn't drain for the 6-8" I moved the tank from the wall). During that time I kept the tank on the casters so it could roll and not the feet. No issues there either. Just as solid on casters as on the feet so no hurry if you're setting up and want to keep it flexible on moving.

About the 6 month point, I extended the feet semi-permanently and only had to move once since then. Had to tighten one of my pipes from the bulkhead (did some unrelated work and caused the connection to loosen) and on the RSR that's much easier from the back for me. So instead of struggling for hours under the tank and never quite getting it, I engaged the casters, moved it out several inches, tightened it with easy access and put it all back - maybe an hour as I remember. Plus, still planning on putting down new floors sometime but moving the tank is a worry I don't have. It's similar to moving an appliance. Still a bit of a pain, but very doable by yourself (or with a partner). Compared to a complete tear down and re-build, or finding enough strong friends and worrying about stressing the tank, it's easy

One note, for longer moves (room to room) I would definitely drain at least (AT LEAST) half the tank into container and refill when relocated. The casters are smooth in operation, but the stress to the tank from that much water sloshing over a distance isn't worth saving the time to keep it full. But if you have casters down and ready to move, you can drain to Brute - move it and refill it (make sure you have hose distance to pump) in no time at all.

One thing I changed my plans on was the bottom 'wrap around cover'. I had originally planned on attaching the 'wrap' with screws and brackets and make a hinged front. But after using it for months, I've decided to keep it unattached. Just slides out on the little plastic feet (I used the ones I removed from the RSR stand). Now when there's a water spill (WC or just cleaning - not sure I'd get a rimless tank again, water spills over the top so easy - but that's a review for another day) I just slide out the bottom cover and my tank is sitting on four casters. Very easy to get to for cleaning under and keeping it dry. I'll include a pic. Bit dusty (but dry), and no I haven't painted it yet. As you can see, the foundation of 3/4" plywood and doubled up for the caster mounting worked great and still as solid as ever.

If and when I do a bigger tank, I'll very likely just use the same method and run another 4" strip down the middle for mounting another set of one or two casters - depends how big the tank is as I like the safety factor of at least 2x weight. But so far, I haven't lost one minutes sleep worrying about the design. Be aware there are cheap imitations so do your research.

Last note: I got the "finger" adjust style. I works, but is kind of a pain when under load and had to use a flat head screwdriver to help with turning the dial (leverage). I'd recommend a ratchet/wrench drive as an improvement. They have those as well.

IMG_20201230_123157051.jpg
Great feedback! Thank you!! Great idea about doubling up on the 3/4" ply. Considering that a stand build leads to scrap plywood anyway... just makes good sense.
@Grill also recommended those ratchetting leveling casters. I followed his link to a brand named Footmasters. They seem to be a big player in that market. Those suckers are like $58 a piece! Yikes. Sounds like a worthwhile investment though. That's always the rub with this hobby - everything is expensive... gotta figure out where to spend and where to save. I may do a mix of the two styles, as the casters in the hard to reach - back center will be hard to access to lower the feet anyway. (short of cutting a hole in the bottom of the stand for access, which is one more place for water to escape - no thanks.
I'm following along with this build - it's been a heck of an adventure!
 
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Pictures as promised...late as expected! :)

This was just now. It's a bit thin after all that's happened. Lost almost everything...twice, but last few months everything has been finally been healthy and growing well. When I compare it to July (above) I'm very pleased. I think the only original coral is the purple paly (lower left from front). I'll have to check, maybe one of the zoas. Loving the softies but still want to add some more LPS and low demand SPS (Just wanted things to stabilize before spending more dollars).

IMG_20210103_115330634_HDR.jpg
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And a closeup of anemone and clown.

IMG_20210103_115410144_HDR.jpg
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Installed Reefbrite XHO-K15 Add-On Kit

So I pulled the trigger on the Reefbrite Add-On Kit. $180.18 from @Premiumaq. I live in state and usually get next day service, prices are always comparable, great service and well, you just gotta support Hoosiers whenever you can. There's a law or something about that...or there oughta be. And no, I don't get any special deals from them (wouldn't say no to a Hoosier club discount though, :) ). Just passing along recommendation on a good company.

Tank has always had a few shady areas and I just never seem to get my zoas to grow right. Plus I want to try SPS again and last time they struggled a bit and seemed to want a bit more light. Of course, the bigger reason they struggled was diatoms, GHA, dino and my early ineptitude - but that's well documented elsewhere on this thread.

Results - way too early to comment on coral/tank response. But it does look dang nice and really, what else matters? I was concerned how it would look due to the limited pictures of this over a RSR170 with an XR-15. Very happy how it came out. Easy install (and I have tips on that below) and obvious high quality. I can see why @Reefbrite has a following. They're definitely part of my future lighting solutions.

The 'looks' test is coming up here in soon. My wife stepped out for granddaughter birthday shopping. Yes, that's right - I picked playing with the reef tank over shopping for a Barbie Dream House. Now when it comes to giving it to her and getting the big "Thanks Grandpa!" hug, that's no choice at all!

Now where was I.....right, the big appearance test is when my wife walks in. Didn't tell her I was installing it and I removed all evidence of the work - boxes, tools, plastic bags (you know the stuff she always sees and says "been working on the tank again, hmm?"). I don't think she's going to notice it until I point it out which means it successfully integrated into the look of the tank.

On to tips and pics....

Not much to add to the instructions...clear and easy to understand. However, I didn't want to take the RMS apart and wanted to install in-place, because I'm inherently lazy....and a guy. But with tiny little machine screws and the fact you have to put the Add-On bracket under the RMS mount - things get a tricky if you're by yourself.

So I did a couple things - one - I put a towel over the tank top (have the screen top installed) to catch on dropped anything and a place to put light weight stuff, second - packing tape! Used that to hold the Add-On brackets up in place while I used one hand to hold up the XR-15 and screw it on. Worked great!

IMG_20210213_122210230_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210213_122219513_HDR.jpg
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Took maybe 20 minutes all together - wasn't timing it.

Here's how it looks installed. The profile from the front is attractive and from the side there's really nothing noticeable from the just the XR-15 being installed.

IMG_20210213_123619207_HDR.jpg


IMG_20210213_132405833_HDR.jpg


I don't have a Par meter but to my eye (notoriously untrustworthy with blue light) the shading is decreased on the lower 1/2 of the tank and definite even increase in blue intensity overall.

I also purchased the Reefbrite Inline Dimmer. You only need one as Reefbrite provided a Y-connector to only use one Power Supply and the dimmer installs just before that. By the way...I love the "snap" when the connector are joined. It's a definite positive connection and just makes me feel good to hear it instead of a smooth slide in with no feedback. The dimmer retains settings with power cycle - so hooking these up to simple timer is fine. I haven't decided yet on timer or finally getting an Apex Power bar. The XHO Add-On isn't critical equipment so it doesn't violate my principle of not putting any primary life support devices on the Apex (to minimize chances of one Apex failure taking out everything - see posts elsewhere here).

That's about it. My hunny bunny isn't home yet, so I'll post her reactions later.

Later - Qm. IMG_20210213_123629755_HDR.jpg


Update 2/15 - She came home and didn't notice the lights at all. Perfect! I thought I may use them for moonlight and save the Radion....but too bright for my tastes (not a bad thing) and I don't want to adjust the dimmer manually that often.
 
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Power Distribution Redux

A few months ago the "tank blues" started setting in. I was putting off deep equipment maintenance, had things I wanted to do the tank but just couldn't get out of this aquatic lethargy I found myself in. So a few weeks ago, I finally pulled out my skimmer for a deep cleaning. This required a lot of effort in getting the power brick and cables out of the shelf where I have my power switch. That led to a complete overhaul on power distribution and a much happier me.

IMG_20190804_185920872.jpg


The shelf when initially setup. It's also posted earlier on this thread (and subsequently edited).

It was intend to keep everything inside the cabinet and not visible and still have 'easy' access to the power equipment and cables. So while the first objective was met, the second was a complete failure. Taking down that shelf turned out to be a pain every time I wanted to do anything. You had to deal with everything up there, every time for even the most minor maintenance issue. It would drop down nice enough, but just too small a space and too many cables and bricks. Probably too many tie wraps at first, too - but I had removed all but a few and still was very difficult to remove or adjust anything.

As a couple of examples to illustrate the levels I'd go to avoid the frustration of that shelf...

When the Inkbird failed, I ended up just unplugging the Inkbird and left it in place. Swapped one heater plug to the the power bar but had to run an extension cord through the cabinet front for an extra heater in the sump. And then I left it like that for 2 or 3 months!

My Apex sat outside the cabinet in a little wall cabinet I was using to hold some equipment. It was also running directly off an outlet that I now had a multi-outlet adapter on. Yeah, it works, but hardly a slick professional setup.

And lastly, when I got my UV last year to fight my dinos (which it has been excellent at keeping under control), instead of fighting the beast on the wire shelf, I got ANOTHER extension cord for the outlet around the corner.

Obviously this built up over several months, but all due to my shortsightedness in taking appearance over functionality. I suppose you could also come to the conclusion that I'm lazy and I should've just done the work and keep things nice. Maybe this is the first post of mine you're reading, because yes, I am indeed lazy. I do not like to work if I don't have to and I'm also a proud member of the Professional Procrastinators Society (or will be as we get together and set it up - maybe next year). That doesn't mean I don't do the necessary work (I change out 2L of water daily, clean my tank weekly, feed a mix i make myself, etc). I also add top off water twice a day - really need to get an ATO. But if I can route an extension cord and put off soaking that pump in acid, I will. And yes, there will be a price down the road. I fully understand that...which leads me to the next and final actions.

The skimmer deep cleaning just couldn't be put off any longer. And well, you know how sometimes once you start - you just keep going until the world is right again. No? Maybe that's just me...pent up procrastination coming all out at once. Anyhow, soon found myself with a skimmer in the sink, the shelf removed and all the power bricks and cords beside the tank and elbow deep cleaning the sump.

IMG_20210215_114240170_HDR.jpg

Stripped down to just the essentials. Lost the RSR ATO Sisyphean Tank o' Fun, that's a story for another time - summary - it's not the tank, it's the float switch.

With that done and big 'ol pile of cords and bricks next to my tank, I put together the following solution. It's not unlike many others on here, although I am particularly proud of it. Doesn't need much explanation but if you ever have questions on why I did something, I'll be happy to share my reasons...or just make some up.

IMG_20210215_102325620_HDR.jpg
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It's not complete, more rearrangements as needed (like an ATO) but overall it's already been worth the effort on being able to add my new Reefbrite, remove the extension cords and keep my wife much happier with the reduced clutter. She was very decent about it all though. Knew I was struggling a bit with the tank, but like me didn't know why...until now. It's night and day from where I was before. It's so much easier doing the deep maintenance. Making future plans now does not start out with, "...right after I fix the electrical lay out, I'll...".

Few notes:

When using a hole saw in cheap fiber board covered in plastic - drill one side, then drill the other to prevent big chips breaking out in the plastic coating.

Same for the sawing holes. Score the outline first on both sides. Have some minor chipping you can see in the pics that was probably avoidable.

That's really about it. Took 4 hours all together but worth the effort.

The next day was cable routing and that took another 4 hours - what a mess of electrical spaghetti. But kept at it and used twist ties to keep like for like together (all the dc lines in one bundle, ac lines in another, Apex sensors separated from everything else). Used two electrical boxes I had lying around (they're called power cord mgmt boxes if you're searching). They'll fit under the tank perfect and keep any water drops off top or coming up bottom (perish the thought). Just need to redo the skirt on that side to accommodate.

Everything is labelled, bricks, switches, controllers, and outlets. Bonus to all this is that now everything is labelled my wife is much more comfortable around the tank systems. Unfortunately, I no longer have a good excuse to play "Switch Roulette". You know, the how many switches can I turn off and on before getting the one I need WITHOUT turning off the return pump.

Well, if you've read this far...hope you found it was worth the trip.

Happy President's Day!

Later - Qm
 
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Quick updates - fish loss and dinos again (but controlled)

Went through a minor round of dinos again. Cleaned the UV filter glass tube, cranked up the UV flow, dropped the lights to all blue at 6 hours a day and dosed Dino-X for 21 days. The dinos didn't have a chance to increase population to the point when it could impact any livestock. Went the full 21 days on Dino-X in hopes that it really knocks em back for quite a while. That ended 3/19 - we'll see how it goes.

Unrelated - lost my Exquisite Firefish this past weekend. Was eating just fine on Friday and active and looking normal. Realized Sunday that it wasn't showing up for feeding. It was one of the three 'original' fish. Only one left is the green chromis. (Lost the royal gramma a couple months ago after a long period of lethargy - it never recovered fully from the first big, bad dino outbreak last year).
 
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Santa-Monica RAIN2 In - Skimmer Out

So I almost called this update "Stupid Reef Hobby" or maybe "Stability is a Myth - Unless you like GHA Waving Around - Then It's Stable as Hell" but the first one sounded childish and the second was a bit long although accurate. What I should call it is..."Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me*"

So let's see where to start. The dino outbreak from last post was quickly managed (I will never have a tank without a UV filter - think I've said that before). Not sure about Dino-X - it works but it's pretty brutal on the tank - lost two softies including my long time favorite, the Yellow Elegans Toadstool. But no dinos then and still no dinos so...at least it worked. Following that though, I had a minor and easily managed (I thought) GHA outbreak. I've always had some, who doesn't, but when it's not visible I'm ok with it and I'll catch it during maintenance but after the Dino-X it was a bit more than usual.

Then I went on vacation early May - no sweat - did a good cleaning week before I left and have my Apex. So then I came home to a bit quite a bit more GHA than I've seen before waving at me (was only gone 5 days) and well, after the struggles I've had, it was just a bit too much for me and I snapped. "Fine, you want to take over the tank, who am I to stop you? I manage nitrates and phosphates to low but detectable level, I don't overfeed, do regular water changes and I remove you whenever I see you and if after all than you wanna take over and start waving your green fronds at me in victory - you win!" (so, yeah this was me talking - ok, probably a bit louder than talking - to the GHA in my tank. I also edited this as it is a family friendly board).

My wife didn't mention the tank to me for 3 days. At that point she asked me...'Are you going to clean that out?" I responded quietly "no."

Another several days she says "Well, it is kinda pretty the way it waves around...and at least it's green and not that snotty lookin stuff". I reply with a 'harrumph' (my Dad made that same sound whenever Mom mentioned something about being happy the garage had a door that closed so the neighbors wouldn't see the mess)

Another week goes by "So, how you gonna fix it?" By this point she sensed I had decided not throw in the towel. So i said, I'm thinking about going with an ATS, it costs a few hundred. And being the wonderful wife she is...she says "well, get one then", and being a bit of a smart butt she adds "I haven't seen the goby since we got back".

Decided on Santa-Monica RAIN2. Low light bleed, simple design. I like the waterfall ATS over the bubblers due to both noise and spray (both of which are manageable I grant you). Plus I like the ability to upgrade with additional light bars, which are waterproof.

So yesterday I cleaned the tank up, removed the skimmer (only have room for one or the other) and installed the RAIN2. I set it up per directions so nothing really special. This isn't a review post...I'll wait and see on that. I did finally cave and pick up a power bar for the Apex. With the lights I added and now more lights for the ATS I needed timers and while I wasn't looking for power bar, it doesn't make sense to get a bunch of timers. Still not putting anything critical on it and I bought the old model because $250 is a lot for a power bar.

I'll update as this proceeds. I'm hopeful that the fairly good sized RAIN2 ATS will out compete the display tank algae. The skimmer wasn't doing much (light tea after two-three weeks) and I had been turning it off for days at a time to get nutrients up during the dino issues without any negative effects.

So here's the ugly pictures. This was yesterday after a month of me just watching things get worse. Not proud of it, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gone through this and if you're new to hobby reading this...you should be aware of the ugly side of this hobby or maybe the human side of a hobby that routinely kicks you in the....teeth even though you're trying to do everything right.

Only loss so far was most of a gorgonian and one head of my hammer. I expect both to recover, but I won't be surprised if they don't.

Note: I still love my Tunze Skimmer and would recommend one to anybody. It's not for sale...yet.

*I liked Hee Haw!

This was yesterday just before I started in.
IMG_20210610_142828206_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210610_143707676_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210610_143717354_HDR.jpg


Post clean-up - the anemones aren't really happy.

IMG_20210611_125305276_HDR.jpg


And the RAIN2 installed.

IMG_20210610_180544300_HDR.jpg
 
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Santa-Monica RAIN2 In - Skimmer Out

So I almost called this update "Stupid Reef Hobby" or maybe "Stability is a Myth - Unless you like GHA Waving Around - Then It's Stable as Hell" but the first one sounded childish and the second was a bit long although accurate. What I should call it is..."Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me*"

So let's see where to start. The dino outbreak from last post was quickly managed (I will never have a tank without a UV filter - think I've said that before). Not sure about Dino-X - it works but it's pretty brutal on the tank - lost two softies including my long time favorite, the Yellow Elegans Toadstool. But no dinos then and still no dinos so...at least it worked. Following that though, I had a minor and easily managed (I thought) GHA outbreak. I've always had some, who doesn't, but when it's not visible I'm ok with it and I'll catch it during maintenance but after the Dino-X it was a bit more than usual.

Then I went on vacation early May - no sweat - did a good cleaning week before I left and have my Apex. So then I came home to a bit quite a bit more GHA than I've seen before waving at me (was only gone 5 days) and well, after the struggles I've had, it was just a bit too much for me and I snapped. "Fine, you want to take over the tank, who am I to stop you? I manage nitrates and phosphates to low but detectable level, I don't overfeed, do regular water changes and I remove you whenever I see you and if after all than you wanna take over and start waving your green fronds at me in victory - you win!" (so, yeah this was me talking - ok, probably a bit louder than talking - to the GHA in my tank. I also edited this as it is a family friendly board).

My wife didn't mention the tank to me for 3 days. At that point she asked me...'Are you going to clean that out?" I responded quietly "no."

Another several days she says "Well, it is kinda pretty the way it waves around...and at least it's green and not that snotty lookin stuff". I reply with a 'harrumph' (my Dad made that same sound whenever Mom mentioned something about being happy the garage had a door that closed so the neighbors wouldn't see the mess)

Another week goes by "So, how you gonna fix it?" By this point she sensed I had decided not throw in the towel. So i said, I'm thinking about going with an ATS, it costs a few hundred. And being the wonderful wife she is...she says "well, get one then", and being a bit of a smart butt she adds "I haven't seen the goby since we got back".

Decided on Santa-Monica RAIN2. Low light bleed, simple design. I like the waterfall ATS over the bubblers due to both noise and spray (both of which are manageable I grant you). Plus I like the ability to upgrade with additional light bars, which are waterproof.

So yesterday I cleaned the tank up, removed the skimmer (only have room for one or the other) and installed the RAIN2. I set it up per directions so nothing really special. This isn't a review post...I'll wait and see on that. I did finally cave and pick up a power bar for the Apex. With the lights I added and now more lights for the ATS I needed timers and while I wasn't looking for power bar, it doesn't make sense to get a bunch of timers. Still not putting anything critical on it and I bought the old model because $250 is a lot for a power bar.

I'll update as this proceeds. I'm hopeful that the fairly good sized RAIN2 ATS will out compete the display tank algae. The skimmer was doing much (light tea after two-three weeks) and I had been turning it off for days at a time to get nutrients up during the dino issues without any negative effects.

So here's the ugly pictures. This was yesterday after a month of me just watching things get worse. Not proud of it, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who's gone through this and if you're new to hobby reading this...you should be aware of the ugly side of this hobby or maybe the human side of a hobby that routinely kicks you in the....teeth even though you're trying to do everything right.

Only loss so far was most of a gorgonian and one head of my hammer. I expect both to recover, but I won't be surprised if they don't.

Note: I still love my Tunze Skimmer and would recommend one to anybody. It's not for sale...yet.

*I liked Hee Haw!

This was yesterday just before I started in.
IMG_20210610_142828206_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210610_143707676_HDR.jpg
IMG_20210610_143717354_HDR.jpg


Post clean-up - the anemones aren't really happy.

IMG_20210611_125305276_HDR.jpg


And the RAIN2 installed.

IMG_20210610_180544300_HDR.jpg

Interested in seeing the results!
 
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RAIN2 ATS Installation Results

Going to try posting pics and test results as the RAIN2 builds up the algae layer. I've also sent off an ICP test and I'll do another in a month or two to see if any changes from the ATS - supposedly it also removes heavy metals (not sure I have any but I'll find out with today's ICP).

I have done no water changes since the above 'before' pictures. I did siphon my algae into a filter sock in my sump, but didn't change out any water. I don't plan on it, unless something comes back from ICP that warrants a water change.

Edit 061821 - received
ICP results from 06/12. No significant issues noted except my interpreting reading from CA (I'll add ICP to results below)*.

Current tanks parameters:
NO3 - Nyos - 3 ppm
PO4 - Nyos - .025 ppm
Alkalinity - Hanna - 7.2 dkh - a bit low - I usually manage to 8 to 9, I'll add 10 ml today.
Salinity - Refractometer - Calibrated - 35 ppm
Temp - Apex - 80.5 (Checked with handheld)

I don't test for Ca or Mg that often. I only have softies and no coraline to speak of. From day 1 it's been 480 Ca and 1480 Mg. I use HW Marine Reef salt so suspect my high Ca / Mg with is from that and no consumption. If anyone really wants me to test, let me know. Otherwise I'll wait for ICP return.

Ok so I read that and thought..man, what a lazy reefer, the test kits are right here at your feet. So...

Ca - Red Sea - 480, ICP - 437 ppm*
Mg - AF - 1500, ICP - 1318 ppm*

No surprises...but now I feel better.

I'll post pics of the ATS screen here and edit to post going forward for the next couple of weeks. I probably won't post everyday. You'll see some on the screen now. I took some GHA and rubbed it into the screen...most of it washed off but some actually got pumped onto from my cleaning.

061121
IMG_20210611_134226870_HDR.jpg


061621 - Looking thicker along top. I expected growth to start in middle - suppose it doesn't matter.

061921 - Week update.

IMG_20210619_141619411_HDR.jpg


Current tank test results (also see post below on ICP):
Temp 77.8 - Apex
pH 8.03 - Apex
Alk - 8.3 - Hanna
Salinity - 35.0 ppt - Refract
NO3 - 3 - Nyos
PO4 - .025 - Nyos
Ca - 450 ppm - Red Sea (correct per ICP)
Mg - 1350 ppm - Red Sea (corrected per ICP)

Observations: I cleaned out the remaining algae in the tank today. I didn't get it all initially (removed 75%) because removing the skimmer I didn't want to have any spikes in nutrients. Obviously it wasn't a concern and the tank is fine. The algae in DT doesn't appear to be growing as aggressively and it looked somewhat less healthy and was much easier to remove (similar to how it acts after a Phosphate RX dose). Granted that could be confirmation bias, but hey it's a positive result and I'm taking it. No parades yet, but I'm hopeful.


062421
Thicker still. Turned off one set of lights on 6/22 after reading Algae Scrubber Reactor forum in hopes to get that middle filled in. I'll post there in a week if this work for some specific advice. Also added 4 fish (see post) which should increase my nutrients a bit.

062721
NO3 - 3 ppm, PO4 - .025 ppm, Alk - 8.8, Salinity 34.5, pH 7.98, Temp 79.2

062921
Santa Monica recommended cleaning and staying with one light and monitoring for a week to see if screen can get better coverage.

Before

IMG_20210629_114648747_HDR.jpg


After - removed maybe tablespoon of algae - I'll post in a week.
IMG_20210629_115045867_HDR.jpg


070221 - No pics, just a quick 3 week update.
Cleaned out the tank for the first time in 3 weeks. Before the ATS - the rock and sand would've been covered in algae at this point. I purposely waited a few weeks to see if things were improving. So the rock I initially cleaned on the 11th is still free of algae. I didn't clean it all then as I've stated. The remaining algae is for the most part browning up on the rock and not spreading. There is a few problem areas still - mostly on my little rock up front with the GSP. Sand bed had a little algae but easily vacuumed up. I would say I removed in total less than I did when I cleaned the RAIN2 a few days ago. So far so good.

070321 - NO3 5, PO4 .025, CA 470, Mg 1470, Sal 35, Alk 8.5
3 weeks without a skimmer and no significant changes. NO3 a tad higher, but using a fresh test kit. Pic of my tank post minor cleaning yesterday. Still no water change, I cleaned to sock in sump and not external bucket.

IMG_20210703_101524991_HDR.jpg

070621 - One week after first cleaning - spreading nicely.

IMG_20210706_101648555_HDR.jpg


071021 - Test Results - NO3 - 5, PO4 - .025, Alk - 8.4

071321 - 2 weeks after first cleaning...figure it's about 50% coverage. Been 4 1/2 weeks since installed the ATS. Still very pleased. Algae has not returned to rocks I removed it from before install. Do have some on the sand bed I'll need to clean in the next day or two, minor but don't want it to spread.
IMG_20210713_140656336_HDR.jpg

More later

071821 - Test Results N - 5, P - 0, Alk - 8.0, Ca - 480, Mg - 1500, Sal - 35, ph - 7.87 , Temp - 80.8

PO4 is now 0 with no detectable to my eyes. Not overly concerned due to continued expanding coverage of my screen and I still have 5 ppm NO3.

I cleaned the screen after the pic above - maybe a tablespoon of algae. I reversed when reinstalled to get coverage on other side - which worked. Probably 75% coverage now.

Interesting observation - I have coralline algae growing on my pumps. I've never had that before, not sure why an ATS would help coralline grow. My nutrients have always been low, Mg/Ca always high. Nothing else is different.

IMG_20210718_103042906_HDR.jpg
 
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Quick update....lost the Yellow Watchman goby yesterday afternoon. He never fully recovered from the dino and dino treatment. Plus lost his tiger shrimp buddy during that time as well and anytime he was without the shrimp he was visibly stressed. Always a favorite to watch.

I'm now down to two fish, one original, the chromis, and the newest in the clown. Both are very active and look exceedingly healthy.

I'm waiting to see results from the ICP test before making any new fish purchases.

IMG_20190812_144035775.jpg

Miss you, guys!
 
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A few notes on Temperature control and the ATS

It appears based on the temp graph below that the ATS lights adds a surprising (to me anyway) bit of heat to the system. Up to half a degree considering the 100W heater is on (78 to 80). ATS lights shut off at 0000 and come back on at 0400. Not only does temp rise stall it drops a bit. I would say, based on my experience and previous testing I'm losing about 25 watts of heat input when the ATS lights are off.

170 Temp Graph 061121 061721.PNG

So let's see if that's as expected with ATS wattage. Santa-Monica (S-M) states that one GEM5 bar (4 bulbs) puts out 20 watts. Hamza's Reef Calculators states that LED can contribute 25% of their wattage as heat so that gives us what...40 watts x 25% = 10 watts. That doesn't quite cut it with what I'm seeing. If we go a little further into S-M documentation they state that GEM5 LEDs are measured in 'real watts'.

"Each GEM5 light uses 5 real watts (volts X amps) for the power; it does not use "equivalent" watts like CFL lights do, and it does not "say" 5 watts but only use 3 watts like almost all LED grow-lights do. Because it uses real watts, each GEM5 light puts out the same algal-growth illumination that a "larger" 10 watt LED or 20 watt CFL bulb does. The GEM5 is pure deep red 660nm (nanometer), which is the primary growth spectrum for macroalgae (seaweed), and is also easier on the eyes when you have to look at it." S-M Website
Doubling my assumption on 5 watts per LED now gives me 80 watts x 25% = 20 watts of heat input. That's closer correlates to what I'm experiencing.

A contributing (and possibly more significant) factor could be how close the LED lights are to the water. Normally that's going to 8 inches above a tank, in an ATS that's 2". That's going be 8x (inverse square) which I think results in watt to heat input of 50% - my math may be and likely is in error plus we're talking percentages on watt to heat input that in themselves are estimates. So even if the real watts is overestimated by me to heat input (instead of just usable light for growth), the distance would add the same increase.

Good to know, especially as I don't run oversized heaters - just enough on heaters is how I've set this up. Mostly because I want to protect against overheating by design but also because I can quickly see a relatively minor heat input change reflected in temp response.
 
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Additional Notes on Temp Control

My ideal temperature control should result in a very smooth curve over a 2 degree temperature swing peaking in late afternoon/early evening (5 to 7 pm) and hitting minimum temperature mid morning hours (6 and 8 am). That ideally will be achieved through one cycle of a heater (on/off) once in 24 hours and without using excessive temperature control. This is to both replicate reef temperatures in nature (for more on that see earlier post) and to minimize cycling of temperature controllers.

This requires some finesse in selecting heater sizes (and by finesse, that also means buying more than just one 300 watt - I purchased (all Eheim Jagers) of 25, 50, 75, 100 and 125 wattage (only have a RSR 170) at various times. None have gone to waste though as I have a few aquariums both FW and SW as well as RODI tanks (which I no longer heat BTW).

I had to use my 75 Watt for a FW planted system so removed that and 'temporarily' installed a 100 watt Finnex with a built in controller. This was set to come on at mid range (when the 100 watt was starting to struggle) and gave me a nice smooth curve at the top. The minimum curve was still a bit sharp to my liking but it met goals of one on/off per day per heater and looks pretty good.

170 Temp Graph 041821 042521.PNG


The problem here is that it's too much heater (200 watt total can overheat my tank easily).

I've had a few ideas in my head about how to smooth out the curve more elegantly and still hit my goals. Since I've now got a power bar to support the ATS I'm trying out, these ideas become much more practical to attempt before I install the Ranco which is my permanent temperature controller.

So my thought is to use the 100 watt heater as my primary heater to increase temperature. To that I will add a smaller heater (25 or 50 watt) on a 'cooling' cycle to lengthen and smooth out the bottom curve. I'm currently experimenting (ok, I'm actually just playing around here, but what the heck if I'm not having much luck keeping corals and fish, might as well learn something about heating the tank, right?) with timing, size of heater, and set points.

Since it's June I normally would be running temps higher (close to 82) to match my seasonal adjustment, but since I'm adjusting the setups, I'm going to drop my temps a bit for now.

I'll update once I have the final configuration and a nice temperature curve to show.
 
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ICP Results

Used ICP-Analysis for my testing. This is at the 23 month point in my reef tank. I have only used HW Marine Reefer Salt and Tropic Marin All For Reef. Tank is low bio-load with some softies and LPS. W/C frequency was usually 5G/week - daily small or weekly.

6/12 - Initial test. Removed Skimmer and add RAIN2 ATS. No W/C in past month. Overall I see no issues. I am going to go back to adding very small amounts of All For Reef daily instead of weekly adjustments. The weekly isn't a big add either but the iodine is low in system so maybe it's being consumed before a week is up. It does confirm my suspicions that Ca and Mg on my Red Sea kits is reading high or I'm interpreting titration incorrectly. I was going with solid color and not when it starts to change (which I think is actually what directions say for Ca). 480 ppm RS vs 437 ICP isn't huge, but why not try to improve right? Plus the Mg AF test has you adjust titrate based on above or below 450 ppm so impacting that reading as well too. 1500 ppm RS vs 1318 ppm ICP is significant (although not in any negative way to tank at those concentrations).

Side note: also did RO - was perfect except for .07 ppm Ca. No action needed but it's nice to know the standard RO and carbon filter are fine with the 3 stage DI resin.

ICP 061221 Major Elements.PNG ICP 061221 Minor Elements.PNG
 
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Added Replacement Fish

Since the loss of my YWG and the tailspot blenny a few weeks ago, been wanting to add more fish. Both for my enjoyment and because I wanted to keep my nutrient load about the same.

Added Cardinal - again - 3 rd time lucky I hope.
Green Canary Blenny - wanted more visual impact than the tail spot.
Firefish - Replacing the Exquisite Firefish lost recently - went with plain firefish because the Exquisite while pretty wasn't very active.
Yasha Goby and Red Banded Pistol Shrimp Pair - Already have yellow with the blenny and really wanted some a bit smaller and still have lots of color. That tiger shrimp was like having a bull dozer in my tank and when it snapped, it would get your attention from across the room.
 

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