SCA 150 - The Biggest Upgrade Yet

BirdGuy21

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My JBJ 45 had been running well for what will be three years come November. It’s been a great first saltwater tank but I had the urge to upgrade fairly soon after setting it up. I started seriously researching tank manufacturers and equipment around this time last year and sat down to create a list of things I wanted in a new tank. I thought about what I liked about my current set up and what I didn’t like. I knew I wanted to get away from cube tanks. For me- hard to aquascape and provide depth, limited fish selection, and overall just not as pleasing personally to my eye. Two feet front to back was a must to help create depth- I had a freshwater tank that was too narrow and was very hard to scape. The tank would have to be in the basement down a flight of very narrow stairs and travel through the kitchen with a sharp turn to the stairwell. While I wanted a six foot tank it just wasnt feasible. Four foot was too short though, so five feet would have to be the maximum. I seriously considered the well known tank manufacturers- Waterbox, RedSea, and CADE. But I knew myself- while I’d have loved to have an easier time plumbing the tank and not have to worry about planning that kind of detail I would eventually have been dissatisfied. I like to do things myself and have options to select what I want and didn’t want to feel limited in what I could accomplish in my plumbing or sump selection. I wanted a solid wood stand with plenty of space underneath for an oversized sump to accommodate any future filtration needs. I didn’t want to be constrained by space like I am with the 45 AIO.

I contacted several local manufacturers in my area and got quotes and strongly considered building myself. With lumber prices through the roof at the time though I calculated I wouldn’t be saving that much money in the long run and my time was stretched thin as it was with other obligations. Plus, pricing locally was more expensive than originally thought.

Which led me to SCA. There’s a few build threads going on right now that I’ve been following intently. Tank quality seemed good and the price was reasonable. I emailed SCA for a few quotes on different packages as I didn’t want their PNP system. I wanted a herbie setup and Steve was very accommodating with all my questions about tank build specifications. So I placed my order in January of this year for 150 gallon tank and stand. I opted out of their sump for while it looked spacious I wasn’t keen on the design. I thought about redoing the layout but I can get hung up on the details so knew I wouldn’t be completely happy if I went that route. I really wanted to have space for a refugium down the road for nutrient export as well as sustaining a pod population. The sump had to have an adequately sized refugium chamber that was easily accessible and viewable. I landed on a Trigger CR44 as it checked all the boxes of what I wanted.

The tank arrived by March and what an adventure it was to get it in the house and down to its final location. The tank weighed approximately 300lbs empty and we didn’t have a lot of room to work with. In order to get it around the turn in the kitchen into the basement stairwell we had to remove the basement door, kitchen side door, and railing. It was a tight fit but we made. My house is over 100 years old so the stairwell is narrow and you have to duck at the bottom. We opted to gently slide the tank down the stairs at an angle braced against my back as I “scooted” down the stairs one at a time. One guy stood in front and provided support and the other stayed on the other side of the tank to make sure it stayed straight. Thankfully this worked out very well. Unfortunately we didn’t have suction cups so lifting it into the stand (36” tall) was a good workout.

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To be continued…
 
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting
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BirdGuy21

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I was very deliberate on selecting gear for the tank. My 45 build I purchased as a used set up including all equipment- which was a great deal, but had its own shortcomings. I ended up upgrading almost all of the gear it came with so I followed the philosophy of “cry once”. I was in no rush to get this tank up and running so I planned on capitalizing on sales as they came up. I wanted a controller on this tank but didn’t plan on getting one until much later down the road. However an unexpected sale on Apex at the beginning of the year provided the perfect opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I bought the regular Apex along with the FMK, display unit, and COR20. I really debated the controller aspect but in the end having the ability for real time monitoring and alerts for what is going on in the tank won me over.

Skimmer selection was next. I wanted a skimmer that was large enough to handle a medium to heavy bio load and DC powered. I decided on the Reef Octopus 200INT. While slightly oversized for my tank I didn’t want to struggle with nutrients as much as I did in my 45. While a refugium space was a must in my sump selection I didn’t want to have to rely on it for my nutrient reduction. This skimmer should give me the options to control nutrients how best works for the tank as it matures. Plus- I’m leaning toward a medium to medium heavy bipolar for this tank. While frequent water changes were simple enough for the 45, on a 150 would be a different game all together.

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BirdGuy21

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I spent many hours researching lighting options and went back and forth trying to come to a conclusion for what will be best for my tank. My goal with this tank is a mix reef but heavier on the SPS side. I built the first part of my aquascape toward that goal- but lighting it correctly had to come first. I am running a single Radion XR15 G4 on my current tank and while it does the job admirably, I am limited by the shadowing that’s inherent with single LED’s and point source lighting. Even with multiple LED’s I was worried about eventual shadowing and not being able to achieve blanket coverage. I strongly considered the Phillips CoralCare but the fixtures weight put me off. At the same time while my Radion has not disappointed all things considered, I became enamored with the Kessil shimmer. It makes the tank seem alive and is more reminiscent of the ocean. I like that the Kessil logic is built in so you can be guaranteed to select a spectrum that will meet the corals needs.

So I was at an impasse. Trying to avoid shadowing but wanting to go Kessil seemed incompatible on its own. So I landed on the Kessil / T5 combo. Since I had the Apex I chose the Aquatic Life dimmable T5 for the ability to ramp up and ramp down as I see fit for my tank. The Kessil’s will give me the shimmer and LED controllability I am looking for while the T5 will provide the fill light I need to overcome the shadowing. Four A360X’s should be spaced out enough in the T5 fixture to get me where I want to go.

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BirdGuy21

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Aquascape was next. I really liked the NSA style but wanted to make sure I had plenty of room for fish to hide and be comfortable. I then saw several shelf rock aquascapes that I also liked so came up with the idea to try and combine the two. The result was, I feel, a happy medium. Should be good for fish with the built in overhangs and plenty of flat spots for coral placement. Additionally, I wanted to create a network of tunnels or caves for my Diamond Goby to find and explore. I used the Marco Foundation rock to provide a secure base and the superglue / E-Marco combo to keep everything solid. I learned my lesson from my current tank where I just stacked rocks and have had to deal with rock shifts and collapses. I definitely didn’t want that happening on a larger scale with this tank. But with the flat foundation rock my goby wouldn’t be able to tunnel and create his caves.

I used Two Little Fishies Stax rocks to create pillars that the foundation rock could sit on. Since the Stax rock is flat on both sides it provided a very stable base while allowing me to elevate the structure. In doing so I was able to create tunnels with gaps in between the Stax. These will be buried under the sand but knowing how my goby likes to dig, it won’t take him long to find.

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Reef Chasers Aquaculture
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BirdGuy21

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Jumping ahead a bit with the thread progression but the transfer was completed from the 45 to the new tank last Saturday. I was nervous having to catch my wrasse as he is jumpy and very skittish. He’s actually the reason for the is upgrade. Outgrew my 45 and wanted to give him as much space as possible.

Luckily all my fish were easy to catch. My lights turn on at 2pm so I can enjoy the tank when I’m downstairs. I started the transfer process at 8am while everyone was asleep. My Diamond Goby had his cave under my main rock. He was fast asleep and didn’t move when I picked up the rock. The wrasse sleeps in the sand so I was able to scoop up a large netful, him included. The clowns practically swam into the net.

One week in and so far so good, knock on wood. Some diatoms on the new rocks but corals seem pleased so far. The wrasse surprised me and was out and about the same day. Everyone has been eating and adjusting to their much larger space. Love watching the wrasse swim around and not seem like he is cramped for space.
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IS RTN/STN MORE COMMON THAN IT USED TO BE?

  • Yes! I (and/or my friends) have experienced it more than it used happen.

    Votes: 6 14.6%
  • No. I think it's about the same.

    Votes: 13 31.7%
  • No. It's actually less common than it used to be.

    Votes: 2 4.9%
  • I've never experienced RTN/STN.

    Votes: 7 17.1%
  • What's RTN/STN?

    Votes: 13 31.7%
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