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Returning to the hobby after 15 years - 75g

aerofly0610

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Hello R2R peeps. I am returning to the reefing hobby after 15 years or so. I have 3 young girls that love animals and this might be a good learning experience for them. I decided to put a 75g tank in my basement home office that my wife and I share. So the journey begins!!

Here is my plan, in no particular order
-I picked up a Marineland 75-gallon tank and stand for $260 on sale at PetSmart's. A reef ready tank that size would be over $700 locally and even more in shipping if I ordered online.
-I decided on a 29g sump since that is what fits in the stand and I am getting a DIY kit for the baffles (ebay jax.racks).
-The sump will be feed by an overflow box so I will need to drill the glass (nervous about that). Can NOT worry about siphon breaks on HOB and flooding.
-I ordered a modular marine 1600 overflow box which will drain down to the sump, be here in a few weeks I guess
-Return line will be a 1" bulkhead and I will make a custom spray bar for inside the tank. The idea is to make the length the width of the tank and drill two rows of holes at different angles relative to the tank side.
-1-2 powerheads depending on the needed flow. They will have wavemaker like controllers on them.
-1" PVC pipes will be painted flat black
-The back of the DT will be painted flat black
-I am buying a RO system for my bar then will tee that off and add a RI canister. I'll get a really long line to bring over to my tank when I need to refill ATO tank
-I will add an extra RO tank(s) so I have at least 10% worth of RO water ready for water changes
-It looks like I can fit a 5-gallon bucket for use as an ATO res to save $$. Please note the location where the tank is most likely won't have access to water lines.
-The sump will be filled with algae barn bio-bricks, macroalgae, and copepods
-A protein skimmer will be in sump if I get one
-I am using dry rocks and dry sand to save money and to not deal with unwanted livestock. I plan on scaping the rocks with acrylic rods and superglue. I will elevate the rocks to the depth of sand.
-80lbs of dry rocks and same for dry sand, can add more if needed
-I can add a single live rock from LFS then dose with bacterial and coraline boosters
-LED light with auto dry/night cycle
-The sump will have LED light that came with the stand (if that isn't good enough for macroalgae I will replace it)
-after tank cycles, my first livestock will be copepods from algae barn (its a tank starter kit)
-next phase of livestock will be CUC verts
-first fishes will be cleaners
-clownfish and tangs
-also want to do a mandarin dragonet once I am sure I can keep it happy
-other reef safe/compatible fish, might just make a list with pictures and have my girls pick some out
-add coral once I feel comfortable with the environment
-anticipating may take 6-12 months to get this all done
-anticipating total budget to be about $3k depending on coral

Totally open to feedback!

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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Still researching parts and what I want to do. Overflow will be here in a few days. I’ll drill the tank and paint the back black then. I’ll then start laying out my plumbing.

I did pick up a drinking RO system for my bar and kitchen fridge. I’ll add a RI stage for filling my reef. That comes in a couple days. I don’t think I can run a line to where my reef will be. So I’ll probably use an ATO res and fill it with a long hose when needed.
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Not much progress this week, have a newborn to help the wife with. But I got my tank drilled. I think I was as nervous drilling that tank as holding a newborn haha. I was sweaty by the end. Modular Marine 1600 over flow temp installed. Also a 1” return bulk head. I’ll clean the glass up and get to the plumbing next week hopefully.

I went ahead and braced the stand a bit. I am sure the store stand is fine but I feel better with more wood on it. I picked up some black enamel to paint the back of the tank. Should fit that in soon.

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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Back of DT and Sump painted black. Overflow and bulkhead installed. Plumbing is installed. Need to put the baffles in the sump yet. Pump comes in a few days and after that is in I can do some leak testing.

Dry rock came in. I’ll be drilling the base and put the up on stilts. It’ll be fiberglass rods and pvc sections as feet. Then I’ll use the rods to attach rocks on top of the base. I ordered 120lbs so hopefully that is enough. Dry sand comes this week as well.

Under the stand is getting really cramped lol. I need to find a low profile LED grow light. Still open to suggestions on that.
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ReefGrammie

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Welcome back, and great work so far!! I hope your girls help with the tank. I started my first FW tank when my boys were just 3 years old and they loved it! We moved on to a saltwater tank when they were teenagers and they stayed involved with that build, including some of the neighborhood kids! One of my 30-year-old sons can't wait to start a tank with his son. He's 8 months old and my son took him to his first LFS this weekend. The love of fish/tanks carries on to the next generation!
 
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Dry rock came in, so I drilled the bottoms and put in my diy stilts. Sand also came in so I put that in the tank. It’ll take me a few days to fill it since RO output is 50gpd and I’m only filling while home. Had to redo the plumbing in the overflow. Also had an issue with it leaking from between the tank and box. Final fix was a thin film of silicon grease.

I decided to run dual heaters, those come in a few days. Once the tank is filled and heated I’ll get started on cycling I think. I am still looking at lights and power heads. I got a cheap 10g kit for my QT tank. I’ll set that up soon.

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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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ok, the tank is filled and the pump is running! I went with a Jebao DCP-6500 which does 1700gph and is adjustable (FYI I can't even hear it running!!!). I turn the thing on full blast and dialed in my overflow. It was a pain to get the overflow quiet but I did. Lesson learned use gate valve instead of a ball valve that likes to get stuck. Running 1700gph is pretty loud in my sump so when I dial it down to 50% the tank is dead silent. I went with the bigger pump should I need the high flow in the future.

Unfortunately during my playing around with the pump and valves, the pressure caused my return baffle to pop free. So instead of draining my tank, unhooking everything, and fixing my sump, I came up with something creative. I used egg crate sheets to make a cage in the refugium area which mechanically is holding the baffle in place. It leaks of course but my main concern is keeping sand out of the return pump. I made the cage an inch short of the entire area creating a gap between it and the intake baffle. This gives me a spot to shove filter floss or media bags. I'll wait until the tank is stocked then I might put some siporax in a bag in that spot. I did include 3 outlets from the return in a manifold should I ever need any reactors. Oh and pay no attention to my crappy silicone job... I was dumb and had the DT all plumbed in before I finished my sump. So I was trying to run the beads in a very cramped area. Another lesson learned, have the sump ready before you place your DT.

Not pictured but I attached the LED bar that came with the kit to the bottom of the slats underneath the tank. I also mounted my power strip to the top right corner in the back.

Ok so the heaters are working on heating this thing up, might take a day or so (temp placed in the tank until my sump is finished). I'll put sand in my sump and maybe some rubble if needed. I plan to grow macroalgae as well as stock copepods. Salt comes on Monday, so I'll mix it in the sump. Once the salinity and temp are dialed in, time to kick start the cycle! After that, I will plan on adding copepods and inverts. Still looking at lights, powerheads, and ATO. I am leaning towards Orbit Marine IC PRO for lights and matched powerheads since there is an included wavemaker controller. ATO I am thinking of a pet food container and a Tunze for the controller.

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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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I added 10lbs of live sand to my DT to get things kick-started, along with some bottled Bac. But I hit a snag. I overshot the ammonia. Everything is off the charts. Plus I found out my refractometer was 10ppt too low so my salinity is way high. Not a good start to my cycle. Time for a big water change! I guess I'll post once my cycle is done and I can start adding copepods.

On a side note, I did find out putting filter floss between the intake baffle and the egg crate wall works fantastically. It filtered out all the fine sediment from adding in the live sand in about a day. Added a bag of carbon in the return pump chamber to clear the water a bit.

Throwing up a pic because if you are like me and want to see progression via pics instead of reading a wall of text, here yah go lol

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nickkohrn

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Welcome back to the hobby! You're off to a great start. :)

I just finished plumbing my new frag system, and I, too, used a Modular Marine overflow. I opted for the 1,600 GPH model on my 40gal breeder so that it can handle all of the flow I will ever need. It's such an incredibly quiet overflow once it's dialed in, as you stated.
 
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Welcome back to the hobby! You're off to a great start. :)

I just finished plumbing my new frag system, and I, too, used a Modular Marine overflow. I opted for the 1,600 GPH model on my 40gal breeder so that it can handle all of the flow I will ever need. It's such an incredibly quiet overflow once it's dialed in, as you stated.
It took me a bit to get everything balanced out but yes the overflow is completely silent for me. Same with the pump. The most noise I have is a trickling sound coming from the return pipe breaking the surface. Very happy with that since I sit next to it all day. The only gotcha I have on the overflow is the drain holes are too close and I had to stager my unions, but that's so small of a thing.
 
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Welcome back, and great work so far!! I hope your girls help with the tank. I started my first FW tank when my boys were just 3 years old and they loved it! We moved on to a saltwater tank when they were teenagers and they stayed involved with that build, including some of the neighborhood kids! One of my 30-year-old sons can't wait to start a tank with his son. He's 8 months old and my son took him to his first LFS this weekend. The love of fish/tanks carries on to the next generation!
My oldest keeps asking when I will be putting in fish. I keep saying we have to wait for it to be ok for the fish so they don't get sick. I told my wife that I will have to take her to the LFS when its time for fish, otherwise we may have a meltdown.
 
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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Looking good. Welcome back. I’m back after 18 years (maybe even longer actually). Good bunch here. Exciting isn’t it. Planning to build a monster myself. Don’t expect to move again so why not. Happy reefing.

Impressive build on the house. Looking forward to seeing the tank in its glory.
 
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aerofly0610

aerofly0610

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So the 30g water change helped. Ammonia was too high and stalled the cycle I think. So now the tank can process 10ml of 10% ammonia hydroxide. The nitrites where off the charts but now seem to be coming down. So I think the cycle will be good soon *fingers crossed*. I have another 30g on stand by once the cycle is done.

I’ve been having to do manual top offs so I figured now is the time to install the ATO before evaporation becomes an issue. I used a tunze osmolater and a pet food container which holds 8 gallons. Seems to work well.

I think I’ll be getting pods soon if the cycle is done soon.
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aerofly0610

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I found out my check valve on the return is stuck open and I didn't plan ahead for replacing it. Also, the spray bar bottom holes allowed too much water to drain back into the sump. I had made the calculations for the overflow, but not the spray bar, DOH. So I made a new one with just a top row of holes, which is just a tad higher than the waterline. I had to cut my return pump from 1600pgh to 800gph otherwise it was waaaay too loud.

I drained the tank about 30-40% to do the switch out and seal it with silicone, so that means I did a large water change. Levels looked good so I put an order in to algea barn for the ecopod pack as well as some pom pom. Threw the pods in the DT and the pom pom in the fuge. Also ordered my CUC from reefcleaners.com, those come in a few days.

I was having problems with the ATO creating a siphon and filling way too much in my sump. I figured out I had to have the exit of the tube higher than the waterline of the top off tank. Even though I put in a big loop that is higher. So no biggie, I just hear a big squirt when it turns on.

I got my QT tank setup and stabilized. So I might take the eldest daughter to the LFS to get a couple of fish. They will be in QT for a few weeks at least.

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aerofly0610

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CUC from reef cleaners should be here Wednesday. Power heads are in, lights should be here soon. I went with the orbit system so hopefully it works out.

I got the qt tank up and running. Brought the 5yo to the LFS to pick out some fish. Well I had to guide her into picking easier fish. She wanted a puffer and a grouper lol.
We got 2 clowns, a damsel, and a fire goby.

Unfortunately qt isn’t going well. Lost the goby in 24 hrs and the damsel is barely holding on. I have a thread going in the treatment sub forum and people are helping me out.


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aerofly0610

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I picked up a hanna checker for Cu testing, MUCH better than API test. Damsel is still alive for some reason, hope he lasts until I get them into the DT. Should be at 2ppm soon, then starts the 30 day CP treatment. I'll do general cure after that.

My lights came in but the package was missing half the parts. Got bit by the 3rd party amazon seller scam,,, ugh. Current-USA was kind enough to ship out the parts. Those should come soon.

The CUC is in from reef cleaners. Too many critters to count but the ones that where just a few were the right amount. I got a bag of pods that looked like it was just a bag of algae/plankton. Couldn't tell if there we pods in it. Oh well, we shall see.

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Sorry for the haze, I got saltwater on the outside from getting these guys in. Need to clean the glass.
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Only 30 minutes later and its a snail marathon!!

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