SkiCat's Dream Build: [Saving The] Planet 180 - Epic Aquacultured Mixed Reef

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SkiCatTX

SkiCatTX

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I got a 17 gallon LifeGard tank for QT. A 20 long just wouldn't fit in the space I have with room to work around it. I'll get it set up, and use some water and media from the cycled bacteria tank I set up in the garage a few weeks back. I have been dosing it with various bacteria and ammonia products to get it started.

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I also got started cleaning the space in the garage for a massive coral cutting session this weekend. I plan to cut up just about everything I have in the 28g JBJ first, dip, and remount all coral and frags, then split them between what I'm keeping in the QT tank, and the rest in the JBJ for now. All corals will just be on plugs on racks in the short term, no rock is moving to the new setup.

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An LFS has agreed to take most of the extra Candy Cane, Leather, and Stylo that I have. I offered to donate it, but they said that could at least give me some credit to be used later on...I figure I'll just wait a few months to use it, once they're back on their feet.

While everything is in the QT tank, I'll sterilize the JBJ and all the equipment, then set it back up and move what I'm keeping back into it. Then I'll do the same with the Waterbox 10. So, basically a 2-step tank transfer method, mainly to get rid of any pets and algae before moving them to the new tank. They can then stay there for observation until the new tank is ready.
 
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SkiCatTX

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So what are the plans for rock? Forgive me if I missed it along the way somewhere...
What great timing! That was to be my next post!

Back on page 3 or so I got my rocks, during Black Friday sales last fall...when I had a much more optimistic plan for this build...

 
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SkiCatTX

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In preparation for building the rockscape, I built a cardboard tank to the inside dimensions out of scrap. I see this done all over and it sounds like a good idea...and safer than doing it in the tank.

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Then cleaned up up the painting area and set up for rock planning.

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I set out all the base rocks I have so far, as well as the box of branch and bowl of rubble.

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This is probably enough, as I want a pretty open tank, and not too tall at the start, but we'll see. I ordered two buckets of E-Marco Pink cement/polymer, don't know how far that'll go, but I can always get more. I also have one composite rod for drilling and support. I figure I'll see how well that works, and if I even need them, before ordering more of those as well.
 
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SkiCatTX

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Switched over to some soldering. I had to add a few connectors and shorten a cable, so I thought I'd bring out the old soldering iron and try out my new hot air gun.

I ordered a few 2-pin Molex connectors from eBay which fit into the 24v Accessory ports on Apex modules like the EB832 and FMM, from here.

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These pins are so tiny I had to break out my cool Loop glasses! These things are pretty handy when working with tiny things.

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Once the pins are crimped and soldered, you just push them into the connectors...making sure to get the orientation right, and they lock in place.

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I also used a pair of male and female connectors to extend the M2 battery cable so I can disconnect it in the middle if needed and not have to unsnake the entire thing from the stand later. Cover the ends of the wire with some heat shrink tubing and shrink it...good as new. Just make sure you put the shrink tubing on the wire before you start, or you're pretty much out of luck. :)

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Next is a relay I'm wiring up to the M2 battery input in order to cut the power from the Apex. Since just cutting the power to the M2 driver will just send it into battery backup mode, and cutting the power to the battery pack just means it will run on battery. If I want to be able to turn the return pump completely off from the Apex, I have to cut the power at the output of the battery...until the CoralVue guys (@[email protected]?) figure out how to control a Vectra M2 from the WaveEngine...though at this point I'm not holding out hope...I can trigger the 24v DC relay from one of the Accessory ports as well.

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Then, there is the saltwater solenoid, which runs off 24v DC as well. This will be a failsafe for the auto water change through the DOS. Since the water source is upstairs, I don't want to take any chances the back pressure on the water will push it through the DOS. Any time the DOS calls for water during a change, the solenoid will open as well.

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And finally, the Apex solenoid for freshwater ATO, which also connects to an accessory port, but came with a 10' plus length of wire, and I only need a couple of feet so I cut out a big chunk of it (which I used for all the above connections). Good as new...

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GoVols

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Along the wall, the large white pipe is a vent for the chiller and minifridge to send hot air outside,
I'm digging the chiller vent, great thinking on your end.

SkiCat,

You have a top notch build, happy to tag along.

lol
Was impressed with your overflow test at 3,000 gph. Love this build and your flip up floating canopy is too cool.... :cool:

Just keep taking your time, it's like watching pefection.
 
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SkiCatTX

SkiCatTX

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I'm digging the chiller vent, great thinking on your end.

SkiCat,

You have a top notch build, happy to tag along.

lol
Was impressed with your overflow test at 3,000 gph. Love this build and your flip up floating canopy is too cool.... :cool:

Just keep taking your time, it's like watching pefection.
Thanks for the compliments, let's hope it lives up to the hype! ;)

One note on the vent; once I had it powered up, I did notice that the fan on the chiller generates quite a bit more air than the vent can handle, so some of the hot air will still blow back into the stand. However, since the vent has a vacuum fan upstairs, it continues to suck air out of the stand even when the chiller isn't cycling. Also, the back of the stand is open, so hot air can rise up behind the tank to the ceiling (just like the hot air from the lights) and there is an AC exhaust vent right above the tank which should help as well.

Getting very close, I was just telling the family that I'm just one fixture away from finishing the hookup behind the stand, so I should be ready to move the tank in a week or two. I'm going to wait just a bit to make sure I haven't missed anything. Also, having trouble finding someone who wants to come move the tank right now...
 
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SkiCatTX

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Last night I finished the hookup of the ATO system.

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Here is one of two Apex ATO fixtures with two sensors and a float valve. This will measure low and high points for adding fresh RODI to the return chamber.

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Fresh RODI comes in from the tank upstairs. First, there is a valve to disconnect and service, then water travels through a solenoid. When the Apex detects that it wants to add water, it will open this. Next, the tubing goes through a bulkhead into the return chamber.

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If the water in the return chamber gets too high, the float valve (which is normally open), will close and stop additional freshwater from entering.

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I use an FMM to monitor the optical sensors. The other two inputs are for another high water sensor in the sump as a backup, and as a stop for auto water change.

Note that, rather than connecting the sensor cables directly to the FMM, I got some 4-conductor audio extension cables. I'll route these through the cable raceways to near the sump. That way, when I need to remove and clean the optical sensors, I don't have to snake the cables back out. One downside is that now I have about 10' of extra sensor cable (each) to wrap up and deal with.

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All labeled and ready. They're just hanging here for now, but they'll be routed shortly.
 
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SkiCatTX

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Finally scored one of these!

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I planned on getting one for a while, but they are always out of stock, then the build took forever. I got a notification the other day that BRS had some so I figured I should grab one.

Now I just need to decide on a Phosphate and Nitrate tester. I am looking at a Reefbot (except those don't get the best ratings) or a Mastertronic (but these won't come out until at least later this summer or fall...and we haven't seen any actual reviews yet).
 
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In preparation for the mass cutting today and preparing my coral and fish for QT, I finished up the quick connects for RODI and saltwater. These two valves can add either one directly to the sump if I need some quickly outside the normal AWC and ATO, or I can connect hoses to fill buckets or QT tanks directly without needing to go upstairs to the mixing station to fill them.

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They pop right off when done, and any drips just go right into the sump, no cleanup.

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The ends have hooks and valves to turn them on and off. Clear is RODI, and green new saltwater (would have gone with blue, but I used blue for my return pipes...so my daughter decided green...)
 
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Fragging table is ready, lets get started!

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The plan here is to frag all the corals from my existing two nano tanks. I've had various tanks for about 25 years now, and most of the rock and some the sand and corals have been around for much of that time. I have managed to collect nearly every type of pest including vermetid snails, spaghetti worms, asterina snails, and approximately 1 million bristle worms ranging from 5mm to about 3 inches. There are also lots of sponges and other things that I'd like to keep, but it just isn't realistic to separate them.

So, I'm going to cut all corals that I want to keep off the rock, dip them, and put them on new plugs. They will go through a series of TTM QT passes. I'm not necessarily going to do a full multi-month QT, since I don't think I have any bad parasites like ick or velvet, though we'll see.

I'm also dipping all anemones in Revive, which is anemone safe (I've done this previously with no issues). Fish will just go into the QT tanks as well with no direct treatment, just observation since I've had all my fish for a couple of years and they currently show no signs of issues. I have a couple of conchs, which I might scrub down and check out, not sure what I'll do there. I also have a coral banded ship, so I'll just wait until he molts, then move him over to the QT tank.

That leaves me with a large bunch of things like leathers, extra turquoise stylo, and about 10 extra rainbow bubble tip anemones that I need to get rid of. Normally I'd try to sell the anemones since they're potentially worth several hundred dollars each, but given the situation we're in, I'm not sure if I want to deal with meeting up with locals, or trying to ship them.
 
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OK, the first pass of moving everyone from the JBJ 28 to the QT tank is complete and everyone seems pretty happy so far. The Acros up front have browned a bit after being ignored for a while, and then getting dipped and moved. The Stylo and the various Euphoria seem completely unaffected though.

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I don't think this particular anemone has ever been happier:

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This is what's left to go the LFS. Sorry, the tank is still quite cloudy from having all the rock removed and cut up.

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These are some of the other rainbow anemones I need to find homes for:

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And a few more in the 10g tank, which I'll move in a week or two once I sterilize the 28g and set it back up.

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That tail in the lower right corner is my Lawnmower Blenny, who has wrapped himself around the rock. His color pattern now exactly matches the rock, pretty impressive.

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There is also a Conch and Rock Flower Anemone, next to the rock covered in green mushrooms.
 
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SkiCatTX

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More 3D Printing, I've been making holders for the various power bricks. I have found that Tinker CAD works pretty well for simple designs:

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Then into CURA for slicing:

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Anything not intended for use underwater I print in PLA:

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The E-Marco arrived so I started messing with the rocks.

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Here is me just throwing a few stacks together, probably won't stay like this, but I wanted at least something to look at. This was all I could do without any actual mortar anyway. I kind of like the arches, but the big mass on the right has got to go...

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I have marked off where the overflow box is, and where the MP40s can be based on where the drain pipes and UV tubes are located behind the tank. They can be anywhere along those vertical rectangles on the back.

Here is the angle most people will see the tank, not too bad from this side.

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Here is the end view. I want to be able to see down the middle, and have flow as much as possible.

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Pretty good for just throwing it together I’d say. I’m not typically a fan of arches but that end view is super cool.
Yeah, ideally I want more branching like a tree, with just a few smaller points touching the ground and getting larger at the top. I'll try some other options. I'll have to get some supports to hold it up initially though until I glue it in place.
 

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Yeah, ideally I want more branching like a tree, with just a few smaller points touching the ground and getting larger at the top. I'll try some other options. I'll have to get some supports to hold it up initially though until I glue it in place.
For support I use scrap PVC pipe, eggcrate, or red Solo cups (got that idea from JesterSix the scape pro). Zip ties come in handy too.
 

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