The JLP Reefer 250 Experience

AquaCave

The JLP Experience

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Hello,

Wanted to post this up to catalogue progression of my Reefer 250. I want to first acknowledge that I’m guilty of “doing too much, too fast”. Some parts of this almost feel like a confession as I reflect back on these first stages of building my reef.

Fortunately, things seem to be going well. The R2R community has been an incredible resource during the short time I’ve been able to call myself a participant in this hobby. Setting up the tank and trying to understand the chemistry has been such a joy.

First Fill Date: 10/12/2021

I actually had a Reefer 170 that had been up and running for a week with pre-cycled live rock and live sand but I immediately realized I wanted something larger. So I picked up the Reefer 250 and transplanted the rock/sand/water to the tank. I had also dumped some Fritz bacterial starter in the 170. I didn’t have a dedicated RO/DI unit and my LFS of choice was closed to I spent the day driving to a further away LFS to fill jugs and get the tank running. I even resorted to picking up some Imagitarium pre-mixed water from Petco. I’m cringing as I type this.

Unfortunately I don’t have my parameters written down from this time but my ammonia was near zero and nitrite/nitrate negligible so I added two clownfish on 10/14. About a week later I added few coral from the LFS (green hairy mushroom, a couple mushrooms, and zoa). I had a starry blenny on my stocking list and my LFS happened to have one…he came home with me as well.

I also had set up 2 QT tanks housing a McCosker’s flasher wrasse, Tomini tang, and coral beauty. My thought was that by the time I finished QT the DT would be ready for additions. The coral beauty never ate and declined almost immediately upon being quarantined. The wrasse and tang appeared stressed and were not eating. The coral beauty passed away 6 days into quarantine with no obvious signs of infection. At this point I was panicking, and stumbled on some threads describing that there were some reefers who bypassed quarantine.

While I truly wanted to be a reefer who quarantined everything I also felt like the new crew was declining from stress. I bit the bullet and moved the McCosker and the Tomini to the DT in the evening. Almost immediately the tang was picking at the live rock and the wrasse at some nori. I did not experience a significant bump in ammonia/nitrate and the crew looks happier than ever. Zero signs of infection so far.

Ultimately, my goal is to have a SPS-heavy tank so I’m steering toward that. I swapped out my ReefLED 50s for two Radion XR 15 Pro’s. One was acquired from a local reefer who also helped me out with a great deal on some SPS frags so I have those mounted in the tank as an early experiment to see if things fly.

Equipment List:
  • Tank: Red Sea Reefer 250 V3
  • Lighting: Radion XR 15 Pro Gen 4 x2
    • Running default SPS AB+ protocol
  • Flow: Red Sea ReefWave 25 x2
  • Return Pump: Sicce Syncra TDC 6.0
    • Running this at max flow
  • Heating: Eheim Jager 250W (overflow) + 150W (sump) controlled by an Inkbird
  • Skimmer: Red Sea Skimmer 300
  • Doser: Kamoer X1
  • ATO: Reef Breeders Exo-ATO connected to a 10 gallon Brute container next to tank
  • RO/DI: Spectrapure 90 GPD
  • Refractometer: Red Sea (Milwaukee digital on the way)
  • Mechanical filtration: polyester fiber in the two filter basket slots with one chemi-pure blue 5.5 oz bag
Feeding/Supplements/Salt:
  • Ocean Nutrition Formula 1/2 (every other day)
  • LRS Herbivore Frenzy (nightly)
  • Coral Frenzy (every ~3 days)
  • All-for-Reef
  • Red Sea Coral Pro Salt (starting later this week I will switch to Tropic Marin Bio-Actif salt)
Refugium:
I started with the AlgaeBarn refugium kit and added the mud and was gifted some caulerpa
  • Chaeto/Caulerpa
  • Miracle Mud
  • Marinepure cubes
  • Adding 15oz phytoplankton daily
  • Refugium light: Tunze Eco Chic 8831 (a little too long but works well enough)
Testing:
  • Red Sea Multi Test (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, pH)
  • Calcium (Hannah)
  • Alkalinity (Hannah)
  • Phosphate (Salifert, ULR Hannah)
Livestock:
  • Clownfish x2
  • Starry blenny
  • Tomini tang
  • McCosker’s flasher wrasse
  • Peppermint shrimp x3
  • Reefcleaners 55 gallon snail/hermit clean up crew
Livestock goals:
  • Yellow Coris Wrasse
  • Melanarus wrasse
  • Coral beauty
Short-term goals:
  1. Stabilize parameters
  2. Organize power cords
  3. Obtain a lid
  4. Take some pictures for this thread
Medium-term goals:
  1. Finish stocking the tank so I can turn my attention to coral
  2. Set up an AWC system (lugging the 5 gallon buckets up and down from basement is painful)
Closing thoughts - the tank has been great so far and my livestock has done nothing but thrive. I don’t expect the SPS to survive given how new my tank is and my inexperience but we’ll see. Hopefully the tank will mature/stabilize and I can begin more permanent additions.
 
Reef Chasers Aquaculture
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The JLP Experience

The JLP Experience

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First fill:
65577268465__CE298B37-7884-422F-AD09-338FC2252DBB.jpeg


Clown crew:
IMG_9056.jpeg


Early days:
photo.jpeg


Starry blenny ("The Inspector"):
IMG_0028.jpeg
 

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Jeffcb

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First fill:
65577268465__CE298B37-7884-422F-AD09-338FC2252DBB.jpeg


Clown crew:
IMG_9056.jpeg


Early days:
photo.jpeg


Starry blenny ("The Inspector"):
IMG_0028.jpeg

Great start . Tank looks good. The Reefer 250 is a nice size tank. I really enjoy mine. It is best to be patient and go slow but sps is very hardy. Just make sure you have surfactant nutrients for them. I made the mistake of keeping my tank to clean or nutrient free and ended up with a bacteria bloom and corals bleaching. Good luck and keep posting. Following
 
Top Shelf Aquatics
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Installed the Adaptive Reef Controller Board this evening. I really wanted the American DJ power bar to work out so I modified the controller board. My wife is the wood worker so she made the cuts. Like how it turned out. Was a pretty tight fit and needed to add some spacers. Using some of the cut out controller board we made a small shelf for the X1. I need to figure out a cleaner way to run that tubing.

I'm going to just end up with a cabinet for outside the tank to run the lighting and power heads to. Way too crowded to fit everything under the tank.

IMG_0171.jpeg
IMG_0180.jpeg
IMG_0174.jpeg
IMG_0176.jpeg

IMG_0179.jpeg
IMG_0182.jpeg
 
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@The JLP Experience Good to see another reefer with a Red Sea 250. I’ve got one myself.
Great start . Tank looks good. The Reefer 250 is a nice size tank. I really enjoy mine. It is best to be patient and go slow but sps is very hardy. Just make sure you have surfactant nutrients for them. I made the mistake of keeping my tank to clean or nutrient free and ended up with a bacteria bloom and corals bleaching. Good luck and keep posting. Following

Thanks to you both. I think I actually had done too good a job with nutrient removal (phosphate 0, nitrate 3). I had two chemi-pure bags (one in each filter basket) but dropped one of them to see if I can bump things a bit.

I've got two questions:
1. Do people place anything in the first sump chamber (where the water initially drains in from the DT)? I feel like it's such nice real estate going to waste but at the same time I've got enough flow going through there that no detritus is collecting.
2. I have the gyres at a 90 degree angle to one another on the far right of the tank. I'm thinking I'll just arrange them like top left in this photo. Any strong thoughts on optimal placement for turbulence given my rock layout?

1635903821301.png
 

Jeffcb

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Thanks to you both. I think I actually had done too good a job with nutrient removal (phosphate 0, nitrate 3). I had two chemi-pure bags (one in each filter basket) but dropped one of them to see if I can bump things a bit.

I've got two questions:
1. Do people place anything in the first sump chamber (where the water initially drains in from the DT)? I feel like it's such nice real estate going to waste but at the same time I've got enough flow going through there that no detritus is collecting.
2. I have the gyres at a 90 degree angle to one another on the far right of the tank. I'm thinking I'll just arrange them like top left in this photo. Any strong thoughts on optimal placement for turbulence given my rock layout?

1635903821301.png
I don't have anything in the first chamber. Don't see any reason why you cant. I do have some blocks in the fuge.

I also use the top left pump placement. The two sides of the Reef Wave can be adjusted at different angles. I pointed the side near the front down ward and the back side slightly up to agitate the waters surface.
 
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Moved the gyres to face each other from across the tank. I like this a lot more since I'm able to run both at full power on a wave sequence. Combined with my return pump running at full capacity I'm going to conservatively estimate that I've got about 3000 GPH in a total volume 64g system so that puts me around 46GPH turnover which I'm happy with.

Ran some parameters this AM:
Nitrate ~4 (Red Sea)
Phosphate 0 (Salifert) - Hannah ULR should be arriving today
Calcium 456 (Hannah)
Alkalinity 12.4 (Hannah)
Magnesium 1350 (Salifert)

These are with RS coral pro salt and 10mL dosing of All-for-Reef. Going to drop the AFR to 5mL daily and hoping to have tropic Marin bio-actif in my water changes in a week or so.

My Radions are running a modified SPS AB+ from WWC that allows for 12 hours of light total so I can actually see the tank a bit when I get home. 35% intensity ramping up to 70% over 4 weeks. Trying to find a PAR meter to borrow for better testing.
 
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Made the switch to TM bio-actif in a large water change. Got my alkalinity down to 8.7 from 12.4. Then added a bunch of new coral on racks after that.

Also managed to find a couple diffusers for the XR 15s. Got a hold of a PAR meter rental and established the following gradient throughout the tank.
SPS AB+ 100% diffusers.jpg

SPS AB+ 100% diffusers side view.jpg


Pretty happy with these values, I think it'll let me put my more PAR-hungry Acropora at the very top and stratify down with other SPS. Plenty of good PAR at the bottom for some other coral for variety.

Will be performing daily alkalinity checks with the addition of new coral and the new salt to help dial in my all-for-reef dosing.
 
Corals.com
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Switched out metal clamps around the return pump for plastic snapping pieces. No leak. Looks good.

Installed one of these Defiant WiFi/Bluetooth Plug into the controller board space to create a 16 hour photoperiod for the refugium.

Checked all my parameters today. Keeping a close eye mainly on the alkalinity to determine if I need to slow down the AFR dosing.

Salinity: 1.026
pH: 8.1
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0.025
Nitrate: 3
Alkalinity: 9
Calcium: 491
Magnesium: 1410
Phosphate: 0.02
 
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Just a couple updates for today:
  • After using some epoxy to weld some of the live rock together in the tank my skimmer was going crazy. The other thing I observed was that my alkalinity bumped to 9.2. So I did a 10 gallon wet skimmate change where I dropped the ATO into a 5 gallon bucket of freshly made salt water and let the skimmer do it's thing.
    • The great thing about the RSK skimmers is the valved drain hose. I started the skimmer off lean (all the way negative) until that outflow slowed down and I continuously dialed it to a more rich setting until I had drained off 10 gallons total. This was enough to get my skimmer working like normal again.
    • I took advantage of this time by shaking out my chaeto/caulerpa and stirring up everything in the sump with a turkey baster. Much cleaner!!!
    • The best thing about this is that after the change my alkalinity was back down to 8.8.
  • I don't know whether it's the ChaetoGro or switching to a 16 hour photo period but the chaeto and caulerpa in my refugium look much happier. I threw a snail down there to take care of some of the hair algae that was building up on the wall.
Coral and fish all look happy at the moment.
 
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@The JLP Experience brilliant how you did a wet skimmate water change with your skimmer and ATO pump.

I'll probably rig up some kind of AWC system in the future but for now I'm probably going to use this method for all my water changes. I like to change out about 5g per week and I have an extra 5 gallon container designated for "dirty" water and it's the perfect height for the skimmer to drain into.

Before, I would use the python device that hooks to faucet, which works really well, but I would always drain too much and have to mix more salt. This is a mess-free and much more accurate solution. Plus, it's very satisfying to dump out 5 gallons of skimmate.
 

powers2001

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I'll probably rig up some kind of AWC system in the future but for now I'm probably going to use this method for all my water changes. I like to change out about 5g per week and I have an extra 5 gallon container designated for "dirty" water and it's the perfect height for the skimmer to drain into.

Before, I would use the python device that hooks to faucet, which works really well, but I would always drain too much and have to mix more salt. This is a mess-free and much more accurate solution. Plus, it's very satisfying to dump out 5 gallons of skimmate.
@The JLP Experience just think how many times of filling and dumping out of a collection cup of skimmate enough times to equal 5 gallons! That’s a lot of water cleansing.
 
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Update overall things going well. Trying to decide how much to read in to certain parts of my Triton testing. I posted this in the chemistry forum:

 

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@The JLP Experience here’s a bioplate PolypLab just came out with. Could be Aluminum free?

I ended up taking out the blocks altogether and threw in some live rock rubble. I doubt it’s doing much but makes me feel better.

my poor wife had to get a phone call from me asking if I could bring home a RTBA. That’s now sitting at the bottom of the tank…

hopefully the video attaches. I’m titrating my flow to keep it happy and attached to the rock island I made for it for as long as I can
 

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powers2001

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@The JLP Experience here’ a magnetic nem bowl I bought from Aqua Rocks Design. Then I had Printed Reef 3D print for me a screen lid that snaps on to the bowl. It keeps the nem in there until it anchors its foot then you remove it and hope the nem doesn’t wander.
923133F4-4301-4E06-8F15-E04964EFA791.jpeg

87DDAEAA-BA91-46CD-A0BA-1F7E9581735E.jpeg

905CB218-1FFE-432F-B27E-E08EC43A8F2E.jpeg
 
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