Stanleo's 120 gl mixed reef

stanleo

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Well better late than never. I started this build January 15, 2019 and I am just now starting this journal so I will try to give a time line with pics as best I can.

Tank is a 120 gallon standard that we got used from the LFS with the stand. 48"x24"x24".

Heater is an Eheim. Sorry I don't remember the watt.

We started it with a Fluval FX6 canister filter. And one large live rock to get the cycle going. Also we used 120lbs of live sand as we wanted a deep sand bed.

We started with a light my husband found from Japan I think that was marketed as a coral light and seemed to work well but just wasn't right. It was called a DSunY. It came in three units with four lighting channels. ONe of the units went bad after about six months. I do not recommend it at all.

Anyway, we set it up and it took about 10 days for the sand to settle. I dosed with Dr Tims and tried the rotting shrimp method for cycling. That was taking too long so I then did the dosing with ammonia. I did put in about 70 lbs more live rock at the end of January. (my husband was not happy with the 600 bucks I shelled out for that)

The LFS convinced me that I was ready for fish way too soon so I got three green chromis and 2 damsels and with in about two days there was one of each left so I took them back to the store and stopped getting advice from them and switched stores for my reefing needs. After that I learned patience would be critical to this whole endeavor so I cycled the way I have always cycled freshwater and that did the trick in about six weeks.

just filled.jpg reef new rock.jpg
 
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stanleo

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A few weeks later I was still doing a ton of research and remembering what I went through with my last reef tank using canister filters and decided that a sump was the way to go. So I spent way too much money and got an Eshopps RS-200 Sump and An Octo Classic 202-S in sump skimmer and changed it over. The tank is not drilled so I had to get an Eshopps overflow box. Took a while to get the skimmer primed but it now works really well and I like it a lot. I have decided that a sump for reef tanks is really the only way to go. Maintenance is so much easier though I wish I had done the research and taken the time to make one myself and saved about 500 bucks. I would love to get a heater that fits in the sump but all the ones I have seen are prohibitively expensive. The pump is a Current eFlux DC Flow Pump. I ran the sump with about 20lbs of live rock. This was February 17 and I hadn't gotten any fish yet.

sump no fuge.jpg sump side view.jpg sump top view.jpg
 
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stanleo

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The first fish I put in after being properly cycled and entering the ugly phase were two firefish. They did really well and seemed healthy and I had no issues with the tank levels at all. Next was a cleanup crew of 10 astrea snails, 6 hermit crabs, one emerald crab and two conch snails. This was the first week of March. I have not lost any of the inverts but sadly about a month ago I did loose the firefish about a month apart from eachother.

reef ugly stage.jpg
 
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Next I got two clown fish. Sadly, one disappeared in a day but the other is still in there. He is shy and still small but I'm hoping he will get bigger. On a whim I got a sand sifting starfish which is still in there doing his thing. In fact I haven't lost an invert yet. A lot different from the 55 gallon I had years ago in Ohio. I couldn't keep any inverts alive in that tank for the first year after I took it over.

I was going to be patient after losing the clown and wait at least a month before I got anymore fish. My husband however had other ideas. While I was at work one day he went to the LFS and came back with 5 pajama cardinals, 3 glass cardinals, and a yellow tang (his fave). Out of that group over a couple months we lost 2 of the glass cardinals.

Sometime later, not sure how long but maybe a month I ordered a long spine black urchin, 2 azure damsels, 2 emerald crabs and 6 nasarrius snails. (BTW forgive my spelling in this thread please) I thought the emerald I had gotten died cause I hadn't seen it in weeks. As soon as I put the two new ones though he came out of hiding. One of the damsels died that night but I still have all the rest.

I also got a tiger watchman goby cause he was awesome.

before coral.jpg
 
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stanleo

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My maintenance is pretty routine. I clean the filter socks and empty the skimmer every 5 days or so by running them under a hot water spray and air dying the socks.

I do 20% water changes every other week. I mix the salt (Instant Ocean Reef Crystals sea salt) all at once in a large Tupperware bin and let it sit over night with a heater and a pump for circulation.

I do have to scrape the glass every three days or so, less now.
reef1.jpg
 
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stanleo

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So it was about this time, in June that I got my first corals. Two easy ones to start, green star polyps and a leather toadstool. I'm scared to glue things on the rocks so I kept having to move them but I found spot that they wouldn't move and the star polyps grew onto the rock I laid them on pretty quickly.

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stanleo

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My next coral was a hammer coral and after that on a whim I got a bubble tip anemone. He is still alive but struggled until my wonderful husband about three weeks ago got me new lights for the tank. Remember the ones we had were crap and needed replaced so he bought two Red Sea ReefLED 90 and I love them. The tank looks great and the anemone seems so much happier with the improved light.

saltwater2.jpg
 
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So because of the new light and the fact we had 130 bucks of store credit at the LFS I decided to try my had at SPS so I got a birdsnest coral. Again, I'm afraid to glue things so I tied it down with fishing line but it seems quite stable. I also got a small xenia cause I like how they pulse.

reef 2.jpg
 
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stanleo

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So the new light spurred me to start a project I have been wanting to do, DIY refugium. I had an old ten gallon, small pump, and now a light that I wasn't using. I know its a crap light for corals but should be fine for cheato. I watched a lot of youtube videos and bought the drill bit for glass which is ridiculously expensive and got the glass cut at Lowe's for the baffles and built one. I don't know that I did the first baffle right but it is working and I have it stocked with cheato and copepods that are getting into the tank.

refugium no water.jpg refugium.jpg stocked fuge.jpg display and sump.jpg
 
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So that leads us to today. Here are the current details.

120 Gallon 48"x24"x24" not drilled
Eshopps RS-200 sump with Octo in sump skimmer and a ten gallon external DIY refugium
Light is 2 Red Sea ReefLED 90
Has two powerheads
90ish lbs of live rock total
1 yellow tang, 5 pajama cardinals, 1 glass cardinal, 1 oscalaris clown, 1 tiger watchman goby, 1 azure damselfish
1 long spine black urchin, 1 sand sifting starfish, 2 conch snails, 6 hermits, 3 emerald crabs, 10 astrea snails, 6 nassarius snails

Last test results were on Monday as follows
Salinity is 1.025
Ammonia 0 (API)
Nitrite 0 (API)
Nitrate 0(API)
pH 8.0 (API)
Phosphate less than .25 (API)
Calcium 550 (Red Sea)
KH 10 (Red Sea)
Magnesium 1600 (Red Sea)
I get these results consistently from a sample taken before water changes using RODI water.

That's it. This has been a fun (and at times frustrating) journey but as you can read, I mostly remember the fun stuff. Please let me know if there is any information I missed. Also, I take critique well especially from people who know what the heck they are doing, because I do not, like AT ALL!!!! So please, any advise is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.

corAL.jpg
 
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stanleo

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Looking the tank, sump and fuge today with a magnifying glass I am seeing copepods all over the place which makes me happy. The light for the fuge raised the temp a couple degrees so I turned off my heater. The temp at night is 77F and during the day now is 79F. I think that is ok?
unnamed.jpg
 
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Did my biweekly 20% water change today. Cleaned the powerheads. Also did my usual testing of a sample taken from the sump.

Ammonia 0 (API)
Nitrite 0 (API)
Nitrate 0 (API)
pH 8 (API)
Phosphate 0 (API)
KH 10 (Red Sea)
Calcium 550 (Red Sea)
Magnesium 1600 (Red Sea)

These are my results every time. Magnesium has me worried cause the instructions say if you use more than the 8ml of the reagent C which means that its 1600 you did something wrong and to try again. I do it again and get the same result. I have tried to the test by not capping the test tube when shaking after each drop of the other reagents and I have tried capping it. Always, I use 9ml of reagent C which if I do the calculation right puts me at 1800 for magnesium. can that be right?

I ordered better tests for phosphate and nitrate and when I get a more precise reading, I want to up those levels.

pump 1.jpg
pump 2.jpg
reef 4.jpg
 
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I got the Salifert Phosphate test kit today and just ran it. I am at .03 ppm which I am learning is right on target. Hope I can keep it there! I'm still waiting for the Salifert Nitrate test kit.
 
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Just got the Salifert test for Nitrates. It says I am at 2 ppm. So that makes 2 ppm for Nitrates and .03 ppm for phosphate.
 
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I just did some measurement and calculation and the total water volume for this system is 140 gallons. That's display, sump and fuge.
display and sump.jpg
 
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Got an external temperature control. Ketotek KT400 Temperature Controller. The instructions were confusing for someone without heating and cooling training but it's working well.

My GSP is not opening all the way. Yesterday, most of the polyps were open but today only half of them are open. It has been doing really well. There were times in the past about a month after I put in the tank that it wouldn't open all its polyps so maybe this is normal. It has been growing really well. I tested some parameters anyway and KH was 8.4 and pH was 8. That's lower than usual for KH which is usually 10.

GSP not open.jpg
 
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stanleo

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Did tests today.

pH 8(API)
dKH 7.4(Red Sea)
Calcium 500ppm (Red Sea)
Magnesium 1440 (Red Sea)
Nitrate 2ppm (Salifert)
Phosphate .03ppm (Salifert)

Temp 78 and salinity 35ppt. All the GSP are closed up today but I think its normal. I did move the flow around some so it gets more flow.

Got a rare pic of the sand sifting starfish and one of the conchs.

starfish.jpg
GSP closed up.jpg
 
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I was away for a couple days and I missed it so much!! I did the big three tests:

dKH was 7.8
Calcium was 500ppm
Magnesium 1440ppm

Decided to start dosing for alkalinity. Actually I dosed Tuesday before I left. I have a two part Seachem Reef Fusion. The second part is just for alkalinity so I just did that one. Going to test this everyday to see how this is working.

The GSP is starting to open up today.

unnamed.jpg
 

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