Red Sea Reefer 300 G2

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brettonw

brettonw

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- Algae of various sorts started to appear through the tank (I want this, I feed the tank and it means the full life cycle is working). This was followed by a bloom of critters (copepods). The sump is full of algae (4 varieties from IPSF).
- I added a mithrax (emerald) crab, and more snails and hermits. The crab is voracious, most algae it could reach was gone within the first day. I'm considering a second one...
- With water parameters being healthy, I purchased a small yellow tang and royal gramma directly from Biota. Both were delivered with no problem and very healthy. After a bit in isolation, they went into the tank. The gramma promptly hid, then established territory in the holey rock on the left side of the tank. The yellow tang was white for the first couple of days but has been slowly picking up color. It ate all the rest of the algae the crab couldn't reach.
- I added a Sicce Voyager 3 pump to get a bit of extra flow. It's set up with 5 minutes on and 5 minutes off, and I turn it off at night. I would have added a Neptune powerhead, but the single powerhead is sold out everywhere. I already have the Apex, so I don't need the starter kit, and I don't need 2 of them...
- The calcium in the tank is already around 600, so I am using baking soda to bring up the (low) alkalinity. I bought the Hanna dkh checker, and I'm really pleased with how easy it is. I compared it to the Salifert test for reference, and they are largely in agreement. Alk started around 7, and I've brought it up to around 9 so far. I'm aiming for 11-11.5 I think. The associated shift in the type of algae growth is validation I'm on the right track here.
- I tested phosphates at 0, and magnesium at 1400. All good.
- Added a few softies, zoanthids, a toadstool, mushroom, and green star polyps (GSP). The tank is still very sparse, this is just to start generating visual interest for the housemates.
- I want to emphasize how much I hate the Neptune Apex salinity measurement at this point. I am running my tank at 80 degrees, so it's reading is way off without temperature correction, and I think it's just way off in general. I have an old pinpoint meter I trust that has TC built in, and the reading difference between them is almost 5 ppt. Adding temperature correction can only be done with one decimal place of precision, and using publicly available data I think the right linear-approximation factor is about 2.17 (I put 2.2 into the TC box). I'm finicky, I know. Anyway, I decided to go all out and get a handle on this, so I bought a hanna digital refractometer, a lab scale with .01g precision, and lab salt at 99.9% purity. I mixed my own 35ppt reference solution and compared the results across all the meters. As a result, I've added my own offset to the Apex measurement in Home Assistant - which started at -3ppt and will be adjusted over time. I've talked with Apex tech support multiple times for this issue, and the last conversation was offensive. I've already invested in this system, but I think the only feature of the Apex I can't replace with a better technical solution is the power bar with control of 8 switches each with individual power management (which I really like).
- Kind of associated with things I hate is the Red Sea water level management. The idea behind the design of the sump is that the only place the water level should vary is in the return tank chamber, and the only reason for this variation is evaporation. Unfortunately this just isn't the case. The water level also varies with minor changes in salinity or temperature (possibly because the pump reacts to these changes as well), whether the skimmer is on or not (and the skimmer changes how much water it pulls depending on whether I've fed the tank recently), and just seemingly which direction the wind is blowing (literally I can open the window and the water level changes). When the water level changes in the return chamber, it also varies in the overflow chamber of the tank. The Red Sea control valve is just not accurate enough, and I've seen lots of people replace it with a gate valve (I might do this). The manifestation of all this is that every time I stop the return pump (like to feed the tank), the return pump level is different when I restart it. I'm glad I pulled the float valve control out of the tank, working on the water level is just a hopeless way to control things.
- In Home Assistant, I've continued to adjust the ATO automation. I tried to do it based on the water level in the return pump chamber, but that just isn't working out as mentioned above. I've settled into using a constant rate and monitoring it to adjust the rate. Evaporation has been pretty high this week, around 3ml/minute. I will probably continue to fiddle with this. Wifey asked me why I am so insistent on getting control of this part, and I told her I've had tanks where things went wrong before and I don't want not-knowing to be a reason for a failure in this tank. Anyway, the Neptune DOS I'm using is by far the loudest thing in the tank.
- I bought a pretty ATO water tank, the Trigger Systems 5 gallon crystal (clear). The housemates agree this is nicer than the lab jug I was using. I was planning to mix kalk into the ATO water, but as noted above calcium is already pretty saturated...
- I have the kit to build a top for the tank. It's not a high priority rn, because the snails have been staying in the tank more as they have a reliable food source.
- I have done a bit more work toward understanding the Red Sea lights from a connection standpoint, and they are using MQTT. I have no experience hacking MQTT, but I'd still like to wrestle control of the lights from the Red Sea app.
- I had a problem with my Sicce return pump being noisy, so they sent me a replacement, along with a few suggestions for plumbing. I removed the Neptune flow meter from the output and plumbed 1" flexible hose all the way to the 5/8" line the tank supplies. I put filter foam under the pump to isolate it from the tank. The skimmer noise is much louder than the pump now.
- Finally, in the neato category, my two clowns have started into behaviors that resemble mating. I'll keep an eye on them.
 
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BR260354

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Hey brettonw, did you use any special cards for your dashboard? For some automation I can control, I will be adding an A3 Apex Jr to the mix. I can pull temperature, water level, etc. and trigger some things. I have a few Kasa TP-Link smart strips that I pulled into HA as well. I could, for example, turn on the cabinet fan if temperature hits 80.

Check out the Mushroom cards in HA. You'll find that in HACS.

Have a better one!
 
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brettonw

brettonw

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Just the apex charts card. If you don't want the control features of the full neptune, that jr may be a good way to go.

- I have built an automation to adjust the DOS rate according to salinity in HA. Right now it's just a proportional response, but I'm considering a PID or lag/lead type of controller if I can get a smooth enough signal off the salinity meter.

- I lost one of my peppermint shrimp. Oddest thing, it was preggers, but it appears it was trying to molt at the same time and literally just split itself in half.
 
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brettonw

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Curious how you solved the Protein skimmer overflow issue long term?
I set up to do a water change and decided to just run the skimmer as a way to do it. I opened the drain hose valve, put it in a bowl, and let it run. I emptied the bowl each time it filled up. I pulled almost 10 gallons of water from it this way before it started to settle down, and then it hit some sort of threshold and stopped overflowing. It's been fine since then. I don't know if there was actually something in the water, or something about the skimmer itself needing to "break in". I do still wish there was a "lower" mode on the skimmer. I still run it turned almost all the way down.
 

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Hey @brettonw, my dashboard for my tank. For the power, I'm grabbing the info from the Kasa TPLink power strips. I have an A3 Apex Jr to get the temp and pH info. I'll add more on whatever I want to see. Guess I don't really need to see the power consumption, just cool the map it out. Thanks for the tip on the apex charts.
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brettonw

brettonw

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I like putting the pH and temperature on one graph. I might steal that.

I agree, the power isn't interesting once you get a feel for the norm, IME. It will be interesting if something isn't matching the expected behavior. I think the Apex can alarm on that too.

If you're using the Apex to control the temperature, I found that I'm ok to put the same number in the upper and lower bound (80 degrees). There's enough momentum in the system that this doesn't cause unnecessary toggling, and the temperature is maintained within a tenth of a degree. I also added a filter to the temperature with a time factor of 5 to smooth that reading out a bit. HA is fairly limited on its filtering options...

Screen Shot 2022-10-07 at 3.03.33 PM.png


I also separated out my ATO tab and am using the DOS pump to directly control salinity. I found the Red Sea tank return water level varies too much in multiple ways to reliably use it to control salinity within more than 1ppt.

Screen Shot 2022-10-07 at 3.08.20 PM.png


I estimate the evaporation rate from the long-term reservoir graph on the bottom right - which is pretty consistent.
 
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