Simple but already over budget 40 gallon apartment reef ;)

i_declare_bankruptcy

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I wasn't planning on getting back into the hobby this quickly but I can't help myself. Back story:

I had a 525XL previously at my home in Denver, CO. I just bought that house and the tank was only a year old but really starting to pick up. Anyways my heart decided it wanted to be back in Dana Point/Laguna Beach, CA and that I needed surfing in my life again so I sold the tank and moved. It was sad to see all that effort go but it went to a great home (if the buyer is reading this please post or text me :) ). I'm now renting my house in Denver and living in an apartment in Dana Point. So no big tanks and nothing that needs crazy maintenance since I won't really have a good easy maintenance setup.

Original plan was for a small 10g IM tank but the sizes kept going up as I started thinking about how realistic it would be to keep a tiny tank stable with an inconsistent maintenance schedule.

so here we are. Hopefully I'm picking up a tank this week (36" x 15" x 17"h) with matching stand and canopy!

I just ordered all I need to get started, way over budget of course. I sold everything when I sold my 525XL because downsizing into an apartment is difficult and I didn't want to move it all across the country. So I had to get EVERYTHING:

4 bulb 36" ATI T5 with Giesemann bulbs (not supposed to be mounted in a canopy but we will see)
- Super Actinic
- Aquablue Azure
- Aquablue Coral
- Actinic Blue x2 (in case it's too white with only one)
Aquamaxx HOB-R refugium (a spot to put the heater and grow chaeto) -- I want to mod this as well to accept filter floss so I only have 1 thing hanging on the tank
BRS 75GPD RODI
Salifert tests
40lbs Marco Dry Rock
Tunze 3155 ATO (it's big but I feel safer with the redundancy vs the nano)
150W Neotherm
Icecap 1k gyre
Oolite sand
+ the random odds and ends you need for maintenance

Since I don't have a tank yet, here's a pic I snapped at one of my favorite spots:

AN1A2554 by Andrew English, on Flickr

AN1A2555 by Andrew English, on Flickr
 
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i_declare_bankruptcy

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Looking good brother! I'm way over budget on my 40 breeder build too. That's always the way it goes. Trying picking up some used stuff here and on Letgo. Its saved me a few Penny's lol :)
Do you have a build thread? I want to peep your setup!
 

Hemmdog

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Hemmdog

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Yew!! Looks awesome.
F6651415-EBF9-4321-ABEC-9C9338CDD6FF.jpeg


I bought a Merrick ultra joe and I’m pretty psyched on it!
Nice! I had a al merrick flyer for like 15 years! Amazing boards. Mine is a Lost but shaped by this super famous shaper in Tahiti, made me a custom when I was there on my honeymoon.
 

HudsonReefer

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Do you have a build thread? I want to peep your setup!
I’m currently in the process of building so the system isn’t complete yet. I just finished drilling the side but, I’d love for you (and anyone interested) to check it out and share your thoughts! Type in the Search: 40 Breeder peninsula- project Dreadnought. It should come right up
 

i_declare_bankruptcy

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Got the tank up and running after a lot of trouble. The original tank I purchased had warped trim, making one end of the frame not completely touch the stand (even when filled). The store I purchased from accepted the return, but not without the guy going "I've never seen one of these fail, ever" -- that stuff just makes my blood boil. Like, how would you know? And also have you been on the internet where people actually report this stuff? He then went on to say "I guarantee you all these tanks are like that" -- yeah right! I brought my 4' level and went through two tanks before I found one I felt safe with. When I returned the warped tank he asked for the warranty card. I threw it out. Thinking about that on the way home, I realized he asked because he was probably planning on selling that tank. Man that grinds my gears! Also my aquafuge came broken :( but that was a blessing in disguise as I found the Aquamaxx version which looks significantly better so now that's hanging off the tank :)

Getting the tank set up was a pain as a one man job. I bought six buckets and mixed them each individually (took hours lol), then pumped the water into the tank, etc. My impatience at this point was flaring up as I had planned to have the tank setup long ago before the setbacks. All good.

Oh yeah, I decided to plasti dip the tank and left side black to look nice (and help with ambient light), and I also went through with my plan to cut the canopy and rest the fixture on top. It looks pretty good, but definitely was a hack job on my part.

Pics!
Poor UPS guy. 40lbs sand, 40 lbs dry rock + a ton of equipment.
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

RODI station (need to clean it up and get it looking nice). The Y with valves is nice for apartment life where I don't want to modify anything.
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Painting the back and side
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Test fitting the Aquamaxx HOB fuge
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Before filling
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Filled!
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Time for a beer :) (edit I realize I took this pic earlier... must have had two beers today lol)
Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr
 

i_declare_bankruptcy

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Tank is settling out and looking nice. I added a Seachem Tidal 55 HOB filter just for running floss and carbon since I couldn't get that going in the hang on Fuge. I may not run it in the future, but it's helpful for now to clear the dust in the water column. I stabilized parameters, added BioSpira, and added a maroon clown and diamond goby the next day.

The maroon is intended to be the focus of the tank and is still a juvenile, so I'm not worried about it being the first addition to the tank. Won't be many other fish in there anyways because of my filtration setup.

Since the fish were added early I have ammonia tests and a badge going with water on hand to be safe. Though from experience the BioSpira and live sand allow you to get going early.

One thing I'm struggling with is patience with corals. My reasoning is that I'm experienced in keeping the water stable and know what I'm doing in that regard; why wait? With Reefapalooza coming up it's going to be a struggle lol.

Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr

Untitled by Andrew English, on Flickr
 
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i_declare_bankruptcy

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Yes! I added quite a few corals to the tank and I'm already seeing pretty good growth on my easy SPS corals and my LPS. I'm keeping this a relatively low-effort tank so I can focus on astrophotography, surf photography, and surfing, but so far I'm seeing great results with my hands out of the tank! (who would've thought ;) )

I do water changes once every two weeks now, and I don't sweat it if I forget. I removed the refugium and just have an HOB filter on there with floss and a tiny bit of carbon.

I just have to dose alk so far, everything else is kept in line with water changes.

I swapped the lights from the T5's to the new AI Primes. I gave T5 a second shot (tried them on my old tank too) but they're just not for me. The Primes with diffusers really look great over the tank, they're affordable, and have just the right light for what will be an LPS dominant tank.

I added an MP40 and MP10. It was quite the investment but the more powerful but diffused flow had a noticeable affect on all my corals and everything is looking better. The icecap gyre was frustrating to use and did not have the configurability (seriously they missed the mark with the controller) that I wanted. IMO the VorTech products are way overpriced, and if there was an alternative I'd choose that. They are noisy, the controller is awkward to program, and they have no adjustability. But they do provided a nice wide gentle flow, and they look nice in the tank. It's amazing what us hobbyists will pay for, but I don't hold these products or EcoTech Marine in high regard based on my experience with these products. There's just nothing else like them on the market so they win by default.

I think as the tank matures and that sandbed matures I'll need to look into adding better filtration, but that should be a ways down the road (keeping a lightly stocked tank) and I'll likely be in a different tank with better filtration at that point. I'm just enjoying the simplicity for now!

I really hope to purchase a townhome/house down here in SoCal which will allow me to get a better tank. I'm eyeing the NUVO 112/150 tanks for their epic dimensions.... one can dream! The purpose of this tank is mainly to keep the bacteria and cycle going as I transition my living spaces (came from Colorado).

IMG_1785.jpg

Powerheads need cleaning oops.

Stock list:
3 Firefish
2 EZ SPS
Goniopora
2 Torch
2 Mushrooms
2 Blasto colonies
1 Frogspawn
1 Rainbow Acan
1 Gatorade Zoas
1 Green BTA (jerk moved to the back of the tank)
1 GPS island in progress

Moving slow with the stocking progress ... haven't added anything in months. Just keeping it simple for now.

Shout out to AquaSD for selling super healthy corals. I was impressed when I drove down to visit!

I removed the maroon since it terrorized the anemone when I added it (typical)
 
Last edited:

i_declare_bankruptcy

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Well, the BTA didn't make it. Not sure why, it looked healthy and was feeding but I found it one day melting in the sand. Was healthy the night before. Looked healthy at the store too, so I'm wondering what I did wrong.

I put together some growth shots over a period of 4 months. The corals in the pics were all added a few days before the first picture so they probably took another month to get settled and start growing. I'm really seeing the progress now though.

So far everything is going pretty well (aside from losing the BTA which was a bummer). There's a ton of flow in the tank and I think it has hampered some of the LPS's growth / PE but it's helping me keep the maintenance down. I do water changes every 2-3 weeks and don't test often. Keeping a light bioload and so far so good. Since things are starting to actually grow now I'll need to step up testing and start keeping the params more consistent soon.

Nov 2019
nov.jpg

Mar 2020
mar.jpg

Comparisons (sorry about the quality they're just crops from the previous two photos)
growth4mos.jpg
 

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