Shallow 80g Mixed Reef NSA Build

Smoke-Town

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Hi from NY. Figured I'd start a build thread as this system has been running for just over half a year now and seems to finally be in balance.

Specs:
80g glass rimless 48x24x16"
30g acrylic eshopps sump
2 Ai Hydra 32's
ACKE grow light
Theiling compact rollermat
Jebao SOW-8 wave pump
Old Eheim return pump
Old Atman return pump
2 little fishes media reactor
4 gallon ATO

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November 2020 build start. Daphne told me the skimmer wasn't going to fit. She was right.
 
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Smoke-Town

Smoke-Town

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So this tank originally came with a corner overflow and return line but the guy I bought the tank from decided to remove that and add this overflow on the side. I always wanted to try a penninsula tank which this will become once I move to the new house up the road in a month or so.

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So this leaves me with 2 bulkheads for return lines which I took advantage of since I'm currently using 2 of my old AC pumps I had stored away... they have to be 7-10 years old now so 2 made me sleep better at night just in case.

Next is the sump... dealing with this narrow tall sump is less then ideal but like many things in this system, is good enough at the moment but will change when I move. I had to cut a big rectangle out of the first baffle in order to fit the rollermatt in. Worked out pretty well... and was able to mcguyver some plumbing in the super narrow space between the roller and the sump ceiling. It's surprisingly easy to disconnect despite the lack of space in here.
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The 2 return pumps and the fuge light are on a remote control so I can pretend I'm high-tech... Also makes my water changes more manageable.
 
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Smoke-Town

Smoke-Town

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So after I situated all that stuff it became rock time. I love building and changing aquascapes. Always been a fun outlet for me. Im also a bit of an artist and love making clay sculptures so when I happened upon this Negative Space Aquascape theory and style, it just spoke to me. Art and rock combined... love it. So I started collecting a few hundred pound of local dried live rock and started making a mess.

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I made 2 structures but decided to just use the one at the beginning trying to go for a minimalist zen look and figured if I could add the other if needed or sell it if I didn't.
 
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Smoke-Town

Smoke-Town

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So the tank was filled January 15th 2021 with my old 5 stage Typhoon rodi and tropic marin syn-biotic salt and Fiji pink sand.
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5 days later I added Dr. Tim's One and only and picked up 3 Caribbean blue chromis and 2 clowns... one DaVinci and one mocha storm.
I also started dosing microbacter7 as I've never started a tank without live rock before and was concerned about proper bio seeding.
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Smoke-Town

Smoke-Town

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Parameters all seemed stable over the next month so I decided to add a tester coral... I chose a Duncan Frag. This was my first favorite coral ever and I still love them and they're very hardy and if something is wrong with the coral, it's easy to spot just walking by the tank without taking a deeper look so it's a perfect choice for a tester coral imo.
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1 headed duncan with 6 baby heads added on February 25th
 
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Smoke-Town

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On March 3rd I added a sailfin tang and a cleaner shrimp as well as relocated a bangai cardinal from my gf tank to mine is he was being beaten up by her other one. Also added another rock for more habitat for future critters.
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Smoke-Town

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Also on the 3rd I built another little NSA habitat piece that may or may not be temporary.
This mini-scape didn't use marine mortar. It was small rock pieces and super glue only. I figured this would be a good way to just see how long superglue can last. The individual rocks aren't heavy, but they do defy gravity and are hit by decent water flow so we will see how long it lasts. My bet was that I could have it covered with coral before it falls apart. Time will tell.



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Smoke-Town

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On March 8th I added a green birdsnest, purple stag Monti, green spongodes Monti, orange leptoseris, frogspawn, orange and red favia, red acan, green lord, and green pavona.

Also threw in an rbta from the other system and a couple snippets of GSP to mount on my new mini-scape.

Also added a bottle of ecopods and pink/purple coraline bottles from algae barn and one more little habitat rock for future fish.
 
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Smoke-Town

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Everything seemed to be going well...nitrates and ammonia steadily reading zero the whole time. Picked up some marine pure and chaeto sometime in late February. Chaeto was growing and being exported... occasionally running carbon to help with clarity... saw my phosphates peeking to about .25 and decided it was a great idea to add gfo as I was still stuck in the past chasing zeros.
This choice did not work out well for me...
 
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Smoke-Town

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March 16th I have dino outbreak. It's on the sand rocks and glass. Dissipates into the water column at night. Stopped running media. Blacked out the tank for a few days. No luck. It just reformed when he lights returned. Raised temp to 82. No luck. Got rid of the chaeto as it was starting to fall apart anyway as any available nutrients were being sucked up by the dinos. Tried dosing vibrant for a couple weeks and more microbacter7. No luck. Started raising magnesium as well. Did 30 percent water changes twice a week, blasted the rock with a little pump and excavated the big dyno clumps of sand out. No luck. Kept coming back.
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By the 20th my anemone who had split into 2 were both receeding and pale. My green slimer acro that I forgot to mention earlier was bleaching out and dieing... as was the purple staghorn Monti and the birdnest.
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Fealt like I needed more microfauna to help compete with this disaster so on the 28th I added 20 pounds of ocean direct sand and the second rock sculpture I had.
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I did notice a couple velvety red cyano patches in the midst of this brown gooey death... and I was rooting for it... I figured the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
So I tried the "dirty water method" and just let the tank go in hopes it would self defeat or naturally balance out.
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Smoke-Town

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After the water cleared from the new sand, it seemed hopeful. There were less dinos in the water column so clarity improved. Figured I was perhaps i finally had the upper hand in this war and I'd just keep up the routine..
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It's now may 21st and I'm still fighting it. On a positive note, green calcaereous algae was forming on the original aquascape in a couple spots. And I noticed the first tiny spot of coraline growth on my glass. All nutrients at or near zero even with heavy feeding and my rollermatt off so no filtration really.. and fairly heavy feeding. The corals mention earlier are now but distant memories. The lps and gsp still seem healthy but very receded. Pavona, leptoseris and Monti spongodes starting to bleach a little.

June 11th and this stuff is back in full swing. But appears more cyano red then dino brown and all my remaining coral have one foot in the grave now so I went for the nuclear option and tried some chemiclean and wow did that make a difference. After 48 hours the rock and sand looked as white as the day I added it.
Added some Neo phos and neo nitro and switched to 10 percent water changes weekly
 
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Smoke-Town

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So it's been a month and a half since then... everything seems stable and under control. Dinos seem to be gone or dormant or whatever and cyano builds small patches in the sand over time if I neglect vacuuming the sand. But that's fine. corals are coming back to life and growing.
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Smoke-Town

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We are moving to our new house a 1/4 mile up the road in about 3 weeks so long as we hassle. Got a lot of demo, flooring, and painting to do before the big tank move operation begins.

This tank will become a penninsula and the aquascape will be rearranged to its final orientation. I'm working on building the stand now... well i built the frame of it anyway. Been busy between work and working on the new house so stand time and resources have been put on the back burner but will hopefully have a little time this weekend to move forward on it. Can't wait to have a tall stand with head space and no center brace. And will be ditching this tiny sump with a 40b. I picked up a couple used ones for next to nothing so I need to clean one up and address some potential silicone issues.

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Smoke-Town

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Thanks man! Yes it was very frustrating getting the mortar to hold properly on the vertical connections... also had to use lots of supports during the glue phase and couldn't do all glue then all mortar. Had to go back and fourth every few sections. It was worth it though. It's fun building these. Definitely will make more in the future.

Rockwork is the most custom part of our tanks these days besides plumbing... and most tanks these days come with pre-cut plumbing now too.

Can't wait to have the penninsula setup so I can rearrange these a little
 
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ying yang

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Also on the 3rd I built another little NSA habitat piece that may or may not be temporary.
This mini-scape didn't use marine mortar. It was small rock pieces and super glue only. I figured this would be a good way to just see how long superglue can last. The individual rocks aren't heavy, but they do defy gravity and are hit by decent water flow so we will see how long it lasts. My bet was that I could have it covered with coral before it falls apart. Time will tell.



20210227_155419.jpg
20210227_155437.jpg
20210309_152118.jpg
 
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Smoke-Town

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Thanks. And haha. Nope didn't make a rock man on purpose. That "eye" is actually a little chamber with crystals in it that I discovered after smashing the rock. So I put it on top but can't really tell at all anymore

 
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Almost done working on the house to the point where we can move in. Finished the upstairs bedrooms and bath, and downstairs living room. Finally can work on my fish tank bar room.
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This is where the tank is going by the end of the week
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If you were to give yourself an OVERALL reefing hobby grade what would it be?

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