Red Sea 525xl Ultra Low Maintenance Build

arking_mark

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
575
Reaction score
369
Location
Potomac
Hello fellow reefers. While I've been reefing for almost 30 years, this will be my 1st build thread as I build out my dream tank.

The goals for this tank are as follows:
1. Mixed reef
2. Ultra low maintenance (ULM)

Constraints:
A. Tank will be in a small 6x6 office nook
B. Closest and only accessible water will be the master bathroom

***Running decisions/build list***
1. Red Sea 525xl - best tank for space
2. Trigger Platinum 34 sump - built in roller mat for no sock maintenance
3. 3" sand bed of Caribsea Pink Fiji sand due to great grain size mix
4. Mostly NSA reefscape with some saved choice pieces from old tanks and accumulated Marco rock
5. Vortech L1 for 10x turnover - DC motor with easy wifi control and lower power consumption; easy Vortech battery backup (Turns out 525xl stock plumbing only handles about 4x turn over; my hard plumbing of return with elbows and 3/4" tubing reduced that to about 2.8x)
6. 2x ReefWave 45 Gyre wave makers - fewest pumps that can be hidden high up on back wall. Fewer pumps equals least maintenance
7. 3x Kessil a360x with arms, wifi dongle, klink connectors, and narrow reflectors - dead simple control, hidden wires, with enough par/pur for a mixed reef
8. AquaticLife Twist in compact RO/DI - easily fits under sink and easy twist replace filters.


I'll start with tank selection and why I chose the Red Sea 525XL.

Lets start with space. Wall to wall there is 82" with a maximum depth of 29.5". However, depth is the greater contraint because it would only leave about 57" for desk and chair space. To keep things comfortable with enough clearance, my maximum depth is more like 24". Given this space, a custom tank wasn't needed as Red Sea, Waterbox, and Planet Aquarium all had sizes that could fit. I initially settled on Planet Aquarium due to their cabinet quality and ability to substitute a Trigger Platinum Sump that uses a roller filter and no socks (ULM).

The day I was ready to purchase, I had to finalize tank size. I was initially going to go with 4' tank and leave myself with plenty of room on either side of the tank. As I really wanted to have tangs, I knew I had to go larger. So I then thought, why not use all the space and go 6'. Then I remembered the bigger the tank, the more work and expense it is. So I decided to split the difference and go 5'.

But in the end, the Planet Aquarium tanks would take up slightly more space than 24" of depth I wanted to give, while the 525xl with the Trigger Platinum would cost about the same and only take up 22", and so a last minute switch was done.
 
Last edited:
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting

Biglex

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 28, 2017
Messages
189
Reaction score
136
Awesome looking forward to your build! I did a low maintenance but high tech route on my redsea 450. Check out my build
1110409F-4FD0-4FE6-A846-2A12FAA51E65.jpeg
 
OP
arking_mark

arking_mark

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
575
Reaction score
369
Location
Potomac
So let's talk ultra low maintenance, as that really drives the rest of the tank decisions. ULM to me, means simplify, reduce, and eliminate maintenance tasks.

Philosophically, all maintenance leads to your tank providing ideal conditions for your inhabitants. What exactly these parameters should be has many differing opinions. I'm old school and will make my goal to emulate natural sea water and reef conditions.

A natural reef has:
Sand
Rock
Flow
Light
Temperature
Saltwater (See http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-05/rhf/)
Fish and Coral

Starting with sand, I believe a deep 3" sand bed helps with biological filtration and is part of the natural habitat for fish, coral, and invertebrates. It's also no maintenance with sand sifting gobies and CUC to keep it clean. I briefly looked at bare bottom...but felt it would actually be slightly harder to keep clean and looking nice. Oolitic sand is nice, but ultimately too fine and creates a mess for many years. I have found Caribsea Pink Fiji to be my perfect mix as its very small grained and looks almost as smooth as oolitic.

Rock is a definite must for a reef tank and while there are several choices out there, in the end (if you're successful) it'll all look good covered in coral. Being in the hobby for 30 years, I basically saved a couple choice pieces and accumulated enough Marco rock for the tank. I'll be going mostly negative space aquascaping. All rock has been bleached and is now being seasoned in containers. Current tanks are running fallow do to an unfortunate cross-contamination from my observation tank. Rock requires no maintenance, so no real decisions here.

Flow is simple and I'll go with 10x turnover circulation pump from the sump and powerheads that can emulate reef flow. Pump maintenance consists of periodic monthly cleaning with citric acid and a brush. Minimizing maintenance means having as few pumps as needed. Additionally, I prefer not to see or hear them. It came down to the vortech MPs or a Gyre style pump. Ultimately, I ended up going Gyre (2x ReefWav 45) because I could place them high on the black back wall and get more distributed flow. I think I would have needed 4 MPs and they would best mounted on the side of the tank in plain sight. For the circulation pump I went with a Vortech L1 due to the ease of having a Vortech backup battery and the fact that I found it used at a great price.

Lighting, surprisingly, ended up being a no-brainer for me. I went with 3x Kessil a360x because its the easiest to set up. Kessil lights always put out near optimal usable light for the reef. All you need to do is set intensity and color to your eyes' liking. Also, the way it shimmers with no disco effect looks the most natural to me. For mounting, I went with the arms as it allows me to hide all the cords. Maintenance consists of periodic cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a duster. The Kessil pucks seem to be the easiest to remove that I have found.

Temperature control will be done with a Teco tk-1000. It heats, chills, has wifi control, and is one of the quietest around. I'll also throw in some backup heaters in the sump. Just requires some periodic dusting for maintenance.

That takes us to sea water and maintaing that at natural levels...and then to fish and corals. Which are larger topics I'll cover later.
 
OP
arking_mark

arking_mark

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
575
Reaction score
369
Location
Potomac
Let's talk saltwater or at leat dealing with salinity. Reguarless of almost all other decisions, you will need to maintain salinity by replacing water lost to evaporation. There is not a lot of choice here. You need a source of clean h2o and you can either manually replace the water or use an ATO. Your options for clean water is buying it (distilled or RO/DI) or making it yourself. Let not belabor the point, buying and storing clean water is more work than having an RO/DI system that just requires (usually yearly) filter replacement. and an ATO is also a no brainer. But for ULM, connecting your RO/DI to your ATO = no maintenance work. But how do you do this right? Attaching anything to an unlimitted supply of h2o is a recipe for disaster.

Here is my build for the RO/DI ATO:
1. AquaticLife Twist in compact RO/DI installed under my sink; easily fits and makes cartridges easy to replace.
2. Flow-lok leak detector to provide mechanical shut off to RO/Di in case of leak in cabinet
3. Plumbed a 1/4 inch tubing from under sink to behind the bathroom door. Then plumbed the line of 1/4 inch tubing through my closet to behind my tank. Just a couple of drywall holes with plates...went high up and they really aren't noticeable.
5. Went with a single 5gal Bashsea ATO container for the RO/DI reservoir
6. To the Bashsea, I added a vertical mechanical float valve and a RO/DI Flood Guardian - RODI Auto Shut Off Solinoid. The mechanical float valve is the backup incase the electronics fail.
7. I'm using a Tunze Osmolator for actual top off.

So at this point, I have a very low maintenance ATO. Basically, set it and forget it. But wait, the goal of the ATO is to help maintain salinity. If there were no aditives or water changes or salt creep, the ATO would be enough. So really, I would need to periodically measure my salinity and adjust it either by adding more h2o or saltwater. So this is not quite ULM. To go ULM we need to add a couple more items and automation. I'll save this for another post, but I went with GHL for the automation.

The other items are a salinity measuring device and a supply of saltwater...and this leads up to automatic water changes.

I was looking to minimize water changes or possible go without water changes. From a ULM perspective, no water changes would probably be preferable, but I think a supply of saltwater actully simplifies maintenance.

So let's talk water change vs no water change in my next post.
 
OP
arking_mark

arking_mark

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 2, 2016
Messages
575
Reaction score
369
Location
Potomac
Water change vs no water changes. Let the debate begin...and end with it doesn't matter. Why you ask? Well, what equipment would you save? You need a source of saltwater to fill your tank, I already showed having RO/DI makes for ULM. And most no water change systems still need a water change when something goes wrong and you need to quickly adjust parameters back to norm. Additionally a source of saltwater can be used to keep your Salinity from drifting. So whether you do water changes or not, a source of saltwater is an essential tool.

Ok. How do you go ULM?
1. Minimize water change
2. Very small footprint
3. Mechanical and electronic redundancy against water accidents
4. Only maintenance is adding salt once a week and pushing a button

Makes this ultra low maintenance!

To minimize the need for water changes I decided to go with the Triton dosing method which I implemented with the GHL KH Director and a GHL 2.1 Doser. With this, I figure I only need to change out 12% of my water or less per month or about 17gal.

In the end, this is what I came up with for ULM AWC:
1. Adding an additional 1/4 tube saddle drain for tank waste water
2. Plumbed 2 additional lines of 1/4 inch tubing through my bathroom and then through the closet to behind the tank.
3. Installed 24"x12" Elfa shelving behind the bathroon door for equipment.
4. Went with a single 10gal Bashsea ATO container for the RO/DI AND fresh saltwater with a heater and Tunze nanostream 6020 for mixing. It is dead silent! This sits underneath the shelving.
5. To the Bashsea, I added a vertical mechanical float valve and a RO/DI Flood Guardian - RODI Auto Shut Off Solinoid. The mechanical float valve is the backup incase the electronics fail. (Same as ATO)
6. Then I automated this by adding GHL float sensors, PowerBar, and a Maxi doser. The Maxi dosers provide precise high-speed metered water exchange and are on a day schedule due to the fact that they aren’t silent…they are not loud either. One Maxi takes water from the Bashsea and adds it to the tank while the other take water out of the tank to the waste.

So here is how it all behaves:
A. The Maxi does small AWC throughout the day
B. When the low water sensor in the Bashsea is triggered, the Maxi is turned off, and the RO/DI Flood Guardian turned on. It takes about 1.5 hours to fill the Bashsea, as only about 8 gal can be filled with the float valve and I leave 2 gal so as not to have to turn off heater and Tunze pump.
C. GHL notifies me when the sensor was triggered
D. At some point, I just add salt to the Bashsea and hit the Maintenance button on my GHL which is basically a two hour delay for turning the Maxi back on. This gives it enough time to properly mix the salt.

So with this setup, I only need to add salt and push a button about once a week.

One caveat is that the GHL is not the easiest to do automation with and took some creative thinking to do this.

I'll cover salinity drifting next.
 
Last edited:
Lazys Coral House

How many tangs (surgeonfish) do you have in your reef tank?

  • 0

    Votes: 224 23.0%
  • 1

    Votes: 217 22.3%
  • 2

    Votes: 174 17.9%
  • 3

    Votes: 132 13.6%
  • 4

    Votes: 80 8.2%
  • 5+

    Votes: 141 14.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 6 0.6%

Online statistics

Members online
2,409
Guests online
5,933
Total visitors
8,342
Top