SWISS1939's Reefer 170 - DSR EZ System

swiss1939

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Like most with so much time and not much to do lately, I got tired of watching tv after being on lockdown when work evacuated on March 11th due to multiple positive employees. Thankfully, if I got it, I survived it and have the ability to spend time on this as opposed to those less fortunate, and after a month of sitting at home, I started thinking about giving this hobby that I've always wanted to do, a second try. First attempt was 6-7 yrs ago when I first started this job I am currently at. That attempt failed pretty quickly as I was broke and did not have the resources or space in my apartment at the time to really take care of something like this.. especially a small 10G tank. I tried to start a reef in a 10G tank with no prior experience, and really no money for any of the bare minimum equipment. I did not have RODI, and didn't even try to get bottled water from the store. I just used tap water with dechlorinator in a bucket for a day before mixing and adding. Long story short.. that tank only lasted a few months until I put this hobby on hold for better financial times.

7 years later, here I am having just hastily purchased the tank I have always wanted, Red Sea Reefer 170, when I saw a sale on BRS this past weekend. Placed a few orders for all the equipment between BRS and MD. First boxes arrived today with the RODI unit. Still waiting on the rocks/sand/salt/equipment and tank.

Will update this thread as it gets set up and started, but figured I'd start the thread post with my first attempted tank in 2014. Frags were picked up from manhattan reefs frag swap. Tank only lasted about 5 months.

New tank equipment specs:

BRS 5 Stage RODI unit
reefer 170
reefled 90
reefwave 25
reef octopus Classic 110 space saver skimmer
syncra silent 3.0 return pump
BRS 200w titanium heater

Also ordered 40 lbs caribsea life rock, some small foundation reef saver dry rock and natural top rock (expecting more than enough left over to save for later), 20 lbs pink fiji live sand.

Plenty to keep me from getting bored for a while.

Pictures of failed 10G nano first attempt below.

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swiss1939

swiss1939

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My plan is to use Dr Tim's one and only to start the cycle with a clown. But I was hoping to get two clowns and am wondering if it is safe to get both at the same time to put into tank with the Dr. Tim's cycle, or if I should only get one first until that cycle period is over? Nothing else will be going into the tank besides rock, sand and that initial fish or two until it completes the cycle.
 

Mr_Knightley

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Welcome to Reef2Reef, and better yet back to the hobby!
In regards to the cycle, when cycling it is best not to have living things in the tank. It's been proven to not help much, and it hurts the fish as well. If you really want to get a quick (3-4 weeks) cycle, it's best to dose the recommended amount of product at first, then dosing a little bit every week after. Another way to speed it up is to buy a table shrimp from the supermarket and put that in in the beginning, watch it rot and take it out when ammonia and nitrite read zero. You can find more detailed cycling instructions in the search bar if you like.

Good luck stay safe and God bless you!
 

Devaji

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welcome back! looks like you will be off to a great start!

another vote for the fish less cycle. not to may do it with fish these days. get your scape ( this may take longer than you think) add your sand filter your water, mix it with salt add it to the tank get it to to temp then add the dr, tims he also has ammonia I have a bottle altho you can use any pure ammonia from the hardware store - just make sure it 's pure nothing else added.

get the ammonia up to are 2-3PPM and let the bac do the rest after a few days it will start to fall. keep in mind if you are using the API ammonia test kit it will always read .25

once you have 0 ammonia do it again. if your tank and cycle 2ppm of ammonia to 0 in 24 hrs your tank is considered "cycled" and you can slowly start to add live stock.
some start off with corals other a fish or two.

red sea makes some nice tanks I think you are going to love it!
 
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swiss1939

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I hear you guys on the more safe approach. In my first attempt I did it with simply shrimp in the tank with no bac starter, but some wet live rock from a LFS. It took a good month and never really felt satisfied it was fully cyclied, but that was most likely from using dechlorinated tap water.

I have been watching a bunch of BRSTV videos where they make the same suggestion as you guys about fishless cycling with bac start, but in practice actually just used a fish with the bac starter. So it seemed in my youtube research that was an unofficial but common practice going on now.

I am in no rush, so I will try the bac starter with ammonia this time. Hopefully Dr. Tims and the true RODI source water will turn that month into a couple weeks.

BTW, I have just spent an hour or so going through the Red Sea subforum on here and am a little wary now of all the negative customer service reviews and tank issues and reefled 90 power supply issues. I had been under the impression that Red Sea were great solid tanks and I will take with a grain of salt the tendency for people to more often post negative reviews online. It seems the bulk of the tank problems are with much larger tanks than the 170, aside from drain pipe issues. What has me a little concerned is the ReefLED 90 PSU heat issues.

I also realized that I might not be getting this tank for quite a while despite placing the order on BRS last Saturday, as they might have a hold on drop shipping to the NYC region as a result of the pandemic. So I will be patient and continue to prep for install!
 

Neil82

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Welcome back to the hobby! I think you'll enjoy your reefer 170. I set mine up a few months ago and I am happy with the quality and design of the equipment.
 
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swiss1939

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Everything but the tank arrived. Tank just shipped out today with expected delivery for Wednesday.

Since I have everything but the tank, I have been spending time planning the aquascape. I bought a bunch of various style rocks to hopefully get some interesting shapes other than just big blocky boulders which I was expecting from the CaribSea Life Rock. The CaribSea Life Rock did not disappoint in its boulderiness! Thankfully, I had some of the Reef Saver foundation and pedestal rock. The Reef Saver Pedestal rock was also a bit blocky for my taste, but it's a good start. Probably could use that rock in a larger tank to really get some interesting designs, but in the RS 170 it is a bit of a large chunk just sitting there.

First time for everything, and now that I've done it once, if I were to do it again from scratch, I would order a bunch of Reef Saver nano rocks and small/medium foundation rocks instead of the CaribSea Life Rock as I feel like they are small enough and the foundation pieces I think you can really get some interesting designs by using the flat side up in certain cases as if it was a shard of a rock that broke off something and tumbled to the ocean floor. As expected, the more rock you have in reserves from upgrading or getting more tanks, the more options you have available for aquascaping.

I'm completely not a fan of big piles of rocks in a tank with hundreds of various corals placed all over it in a grocery store produce section style display. My goal with this first attempt was to create a visually interesting design in terms of varied height, negative space and placement of shapes which allows for a few well chosen and placed corals of different types that can be left to grow and fill the negative space in a more natural way. With that said, I still think it is a bit chunky while at the same time not being as dynamic as I would like (currently two solid columns), but it is close enough from the rocks available which I had to hammer a bit to get some smaller chunks. From straight on it is a little cavernous and slightly too blocky, but from different angles I feel like the curves and angles of rocks with some caves/valleys for fish to navigate break up that blocky shape enough. Once the corals grow out, the front angle will ideally lose that two column appearance.

I just have the main blocks laid out the way I want, and will drill a few holes to put fiberglass support and glue all the medium chunks together. Once its structurally sound, I will go back and hammer some left over rock to get rubble for strategically filling in any seams that make it look like rocks are just placed together. Its really only that flat vertical purple rock on the left side which needs some filler on the seams between the platform rock to blend it in.

20" height 24" width, as you can see.. rule of thirds on the rock height and width was used, while trying to create some trails between rocks for fish to swim with a few small overhangs on each rock mound. Plus there are a few visual patterns on the contours of the rocks for your eyes to follow as a viewer, not just for the fish! I don't really care about the mixing rock colors as it will all get covered with life anyways, rock shape and size was more important to me.

Weighed everything I have used in the display tank and eventually in the sump. Currently there are 27.8 lbs rock in the 34 gal display tank (0.84 lbs per DT gallon), and total rock weight available between DT and Sump are 56.6 lbs for the full 43 Gal system (1.31 lbs per system volume). The unused rock for sump is all big and chunky though so I'm not sure how much of it will fit in my sump with the skimmer. I'll try to break it up a bit more, but I am thinking I might get some bio bricks and only put a few of the leftover rocks in the sump. I'll make sure there is at least 1-1.25 lbs per system volume of rock/bio brick between the display and sump.

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swiss1939

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Cause I couldn't find this specific information when I was looking for it, I figured i'd leave this here for anyone else in the future searching. Total freight shipping weight of a Red Sea Reefer Deluxe 170 is 243 Lbs.
 
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swiss1939

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Trying to wrap my head around appropriate stocking levels for fish/inverts and am curious if fish stocking levels should include inverts or not?

Currently I've found some sites suggesting 1" of adult fish length per 2 gallons of tank volume which is what I am basing my stocking off of.

So my current list of fish I would be interested in are:

2 Clowns
2 Tail Spot Blennies
1 Six Line Wrasse
1 Blue Reef Chromis

Other than that I am planning these general inverts:

1 Blood Red Shrimp
A couple emerald crabs
some electric blue hermit crabs
various snails
 
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swiss1939

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Tank just delivered now. Boy it is heavier than you might expect. Had to take sump and plumbing out of the box to carry the tank up 2 flights of narrow stairs. The stand is also a ton. Sweating bullets after doing it by myself! Now for the long slow prep/setup.
 
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swiss1939

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Had my tank set up and empty for the past month while i delayed putting water in it out of paranoia over the tank weight and potential leaks as well as some electrical power concerns with available amps for all my electronics on this breaker in living room with my 8,000 btu portable ac that draws a lot of power. Finally decided to swap my larger portable ac into bedroom which has more available power on that breaker and put my smaller 5,000 btu window ac into the living room. Gets hot and humid here in nyc summers so the ac is mandatory to keep this tank from dying. Now I'll just have to keep the living room door closed with the ac on a timer to keep just this room cool all daytime.

After all that sorted out and got over my paranoias, i started filling the tank 5 gallons at a time over the past three days about 10-15 gallons a day. Let it sit each day to settle and confirm everything level and good. It's almost fully filled up with just some water in the sump to fill up and set up the drain flow before it's finally filled and ready to go.

I also spent these past three days of slow filling with setting up the reef wave 25 trying to find a good spot for it and settings for it. I've mounted it in the back left corner vertically. One thing i could not find online but was able to figure out when setting up is the two pump sides can be aimed independently to get a little more interesting flow patterns. These are static directions you set and forget as the pump doesn't move the direction of each side, just the direction of the flow is changed through the grates that you can point in different directions. I've got the top side blowing diagonally across my tank dispersing off the main rock in center, and the bottom side aimed slightly more towards the front glass. Takes some trial and error to find the best aim and strength to keep sand from blowing around leaving bare spots.

The reef wave 25 was a pain to set up over WiFi as apparently it's got some connectivity issues with certain routers (most likely due to QoS settings in your router). My router in that room cannot turn off QoS so i could not get it set up over the 2.4ghz signal. Had to turn the WiFi off on that router and bring the rw25 controller into my other room with the repeater WiFi which doesn't have qos before i could finally get it added to the reef beat app. Once finally added to the app, the controller has no issue connecting to the original WiFi AP, so this issue only affects setup getting it connected in the app.

I've also ordered a small jebao ow-10 power head with controller to put in the other corner on right side to add a little randomness to the right side of tank as the left side near rw25 is stronger flow but once it gets past the main rock in center the flow is good movement but not very random. Both will be overpowered together so there should be some decent amount of range of movement using two random controllers to get some chaotic but tolerable flow. I also ordered a Vivid Creative Aquatics Random Flow Generator kit for the reefer return flow to help get as much randomness as possible out of the minimal amount of pumps.

Next step is to cycle with dr Tim's and ammonia, which i will follow with live sand activator and copepods before starting to slowly stock with fish and coral.

Final setup includes 20lbs fiji pink sand and 28.4lbs of dry rock in display plus another 13.2lbs of dry rock in sump for a total avg of about 1lbs per gallon of rock total system. Plenty of open space for coral to grow into with a few good hiding holes under the main pedestal rock.

Funny thing.. I'm more excited right now with populating the tank with bristleworms, live sand activator, copepods and corraline algae starter than any fish or coral stocking! I'm looking forward to a clean start with no live rock to populate tank from scratch from the sand up!


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swiss1939

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I finally filled it up so the pumps could be turned on. Now that my pump is on and sump functional, I have a few questions about sump setup and operations given I've never used a sump in all my previous tanks.

First question... How do I know the exact level for water in the sump for the stock float valve? I can take a basic guess at this and assume I raise the float level till i get some resistance and mental note where the bottom of the float valve sits at that point and try to raise the water level until it hits that mark. This seems approximate, but I was hoping there is something more to it to confirm the float level before using the ato and diluting my mix? I guess I could just hook it all up and get it functional and keep filling the ato and let it regulate itself then fix the salinity after the fact given i've got nothing in the tank but rock right now. But this seems wrong as if you have the water level in return section just a bit wrong it will either keep dumping FW in, or never add FW.

Second, related question... should I not keep other items in the return section of the sump? Right now I have a rock that fit perfectly in there just to get that much more rock in my sump.


Third question.. Ive got the syncra silent 2.0 which has exact max flow measurements for this tank of 568gph. When I initially filled it up, I had the return pump on full strength which was apparently too much cause it was draining the return section almost completely. I turned the return pump down to lowest setting which raised the level in the return section a bit. I also started with the overflow valve wide open to get the most flow returning to sump. Then I walked the overflow valve closed until it perfectly stopped gurgling, which meant the valve was mostly closed given my return pump is on lowest setting. I then stuck my hand in display to feel the flow coming back into tank from return nozzle and it is very soft/weak as expected. My question is, does this return rate matter much? Is this a bit of personal preference on how fast to cycle between sump and dt to keep cleanest or something more like preference on how strong the current from the return nozzle is? To get more flow I would just slowly open the return pump strength and conversely creep the overflow valve opened to match.

Final question for now... protein skimmer I turned on full blast to start as I was filling the sump and it just overflowed with water full in the collection cup. I have read that it takes a little while to break in a new skimmer and you should leave it on full strength, but I am wondering if this sounds normal for a break in response to be a full collection cup of water until it settles down? I do not believe the skimmer pump is too powerful for this tank but who knows!
 

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I finally filled it up so the pumps could be turned on. Now that my pump is on and sump functional, I have a few questions about sump setup and operations given I've never used a sump in all my previous tanks.

First question... How do I know the exact level for water in the sump for the stock float valve? I can take a basic guess at this and assume I raise the float level till i get some resistance and mental note where the bottom of the float valve sits at that point and try to raise the water level until it hits that mark. This seems approximate, but I was hoping there is something more to it to confirm the float level before using the ato and diluting my mix? I guess I could just hook it all up and get it functional and keep filling the ato and let it regulate itself then fix the salinity after the fact given i've got nothing in the tank but rock right now. But this seems wrong as if you have the water level in return section just a bit wrong it will either keep dumping FW in, or never add FW.

Second, related question... should I not keep other items in the return section of the sump? Right now I have a rock that fit perfectly in there just to get that much more rock in my sump.


Third question.. Ive got the syncra silent 2.0 which has exact max flow measurements for this tank of 568gph. When I initially filled it up, I had the return pump on full strength which was apparently too much cause it was draining the return section almost completely. I turned the return pump down to lowest setting which raised the level in the return section a bit. I also started with the overflow valve wide open to get the most flow returning to sump. Then I walked the overflow valve closed until it perfectly stopped gurgling, which meant the valve was mostly closed given my return pump is on lowest setting. I then stuck my hand in display to feel the flow coming back into tank from return nozzle and it is very soft/weak as expected. My question is, does this return rate matter much? Is this a bit of personal preference on how fast to cycle between sump and dt to keep cleanest or something more like preference on how strong the current from the return nozzle is? To get more flow I would just slowly open the return pump strength and conversely creep the overflow valve opened to match.

Final question for now... protein skimmer I turned on full blast to start as I was filling the sump and it just overflowed with water full in the collection cup. I have read that it takes a little while to break in a new skimmer and you should leave it on full strength, but I am wondering if this sounds normal for a break in response to be a full collection cup of water until it settles down? I do not believe the skimmer pump is too powerful for this tank but who knows!

Great looking tank startup and welcome back to the hobby!
I also have a 170 I'm getting setup but don't have water in it yet.
The only thing I can asnwer fr you I think is the Skimmer. You said you went through the BRS startup videos which I have as well. I believe they said to not run the skimmer while you are cycling the tank. I'll have to go see if I can find the video again but pretty sure it should be off at this time. Please anyone correct me if I am wrong.

Anyway Good Luck with the 170. I really like the scape as well!
 
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swiss1939

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Appreciate the positive comments! And yes I will turn skimmer off to cycle tank, was aware skimmer interferes with cycling. I am not cycling tank yet but just getting the water levels set up properly with all equipment for a day before I start the cycle with Dr. Tims. I figured I'd get the skimmer broken in and all water levels/flow settings dialed in first before starting the cycle.
 
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swiss1939

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Got the ATO filled and set up with water level in sump slightly above float completely closed position as I'm not entirely sure exactly the water level that completely closes the ATO float so I went just over where I think it is and will let the evaporation work it down to start the ATO. Salinity is slightly low at 34.5 anyways so I'm hoping setting the sump water level this way to allow evap to engage the ATO will lead to salinity settling on 35ppt at the correct water level for the static position of the ATO.

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I also played with the return pump settings to see how higher and lower return flow affected randomness in the tank. I settled on full strength return pump. It was also pretty easy to dial in the overflow valve at each of these pump settings. Overflow is really quiet. Not sure why I read so many people have issue with the RS overflow valves? Takes a fine touch but it is pretty straightfoward and easy to dial in if you are patient.

Turned skimmer off and dumped the bottle of Dr Tims in and fed the ammonia as needed for the tank, which I estimate is about 37gal total volume based on the amount of rock and sand in the tank.

Did an initial testing round prior to Dr. Tim's just to make sure my baseline levels were good.

Temp: 82.5F (no ac on, just window fan.. using this cycle time to figure out the natural temp swings without AC so I know how much I need the AC once tank is populated)

pH: 8.2

Alk: 10.5dKH

Nitrate: 0.0

Nitrite: 0.0


Already considering getting a Seneye to monitor these basic stats so I don't have to deal with testing this stuff regularly. Looking at the Seneye with a spare raspberry pi I have laying around as the web server.
 
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