The Long Story of my 180G Upgrade

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
This is my introduction to this forum as well as a place to post my progress so far. I've always loved fish tanks, starting as a kid with gold fish, then older with some neons, and tetras, when I moved in my home after college a work friend gave me a used 45 gallon 4 foot tank. I successfully ran that for about 4 years with various tetras, a pleco, and a red Lego submarine. I added a second 30 gallon tank later in a finished basement that house various other fresh water fish but mostly neons, angel fish and some guppies. Then back during the fall of I think 2014 I went to Disney with the family and due to a heater malfunction my tank dropped way below a tolerable level and I lost most of my fish. I was completely heartbroken, my 9" almost 5 year Pleco survived the freeze but died a few weeks later due to a un -diagnosed white slime that appeared and wiped out the rest of my tank. Meanwhile my brother had purchased from Goodwill an identical 45 gallon 4 foot saltwater setup, that he attempted to setup once, a few years back, but gave up on it before he even started a proper cycle, then broke it down and never used it again. Taking this opportunity that I had, having a empty tank. I bought off him the complete setup, which was really just an hang on overflow box, 2 chamber sump, return pump and some small accessories. I did some research about saltwater setups, but clearly not enough. My first several months were very touch and go, I'm not proud of it, but I take complete responsibility for the deaths of my first 10 fish at least, and 2 corals. After finally really digging in, using youtube, watching the BRS160 setup I finally started to make some progress.

I don't follow a lot of the traditional reefing rules or practices, mostly because I had to keep my budget under a realistic limit, and make some really common sense calculations to me. First rule was, keep maintenance to as low a possible, second only add something if I can determine if its really needed, third don't make unnecessary changes. This influenced my logic in that I wanted to go LED lights only, no RODI water until I could afford it, and price shop for everything like mad. I know this might sound crazy, but for almost 2 years now I've run my tank on well water alone. Water coming into the house does go through a 5 micron sediment filter and a water conditioner, but nothing else, no treatment, no other chemicals, nothing, and I never do routine water changes. After I got past the 6 month mark I could definitely see progress, I made a few friends via coral sales with craiglist, they not only sold me great coral that I was successful with, but helped me with used equipment that they had graduated off of. Around 9 months I had a major set back that I learned a lot from. I had a very aggressive green algae bloom. Although I had had red algae issues before it, those either resolved themselves, or my cleanup crew would get beefed up and they'd take care of it. But this green algae was bad. It clouded up the entire tank, and 2 20+ gallon water changes, my first ever didn't resolve it. What did.. was a $35 Chinese UV/carbon filter off Amazon. At the 1 year mark I made a decision. I was going to do a tank tear down. The biggest reason I decided to do so was I that for all the years the same exact tank was setup in the same area I never had anything against my back wall. It was basically covered with fake plants so you couldn't see the drywall, but with my saltwater tank and my basic 3 rock setup, seeing my tan drywall and many cords behind it was just horrible. So one weekend my mom took my kids off our hands and my wife and I transferred all my live rock, water and fish to some large totes and I set them up as a mini aquarium in our kitchen, in the process of cleaning the tank, crushed coral and etc, I noticed a obvious loss of water pressure. My well pump had died. So after digging around in my backyard for over 12 hours to find, my 'un-locatable' buried artesian well. It was found, replaced and hooray! I had running water again in my home. I was then able to finish cleaning the tank and sump, paint the back, get everything set back up and return my livestock and rock back to the tank. Everyone lived, I was very happy with how the tank back turned out.. although pro note.. use black duct tape any place where equipment touches the back to avoid scraping off any paint.

After this I was finally able to upgrade and got a used 65G Coral Life skimmer, added a DIY ATO setup, which was a godsend for maintenance. Started adding more coral, but really settled out on additional fish and about a year later still happy with my success.

The next part of my adventure happen much sooner than expected. Around September of 2017 I sat down with the wife and we had a conversation about the tank. I gave her the option, and explained my points. The tank had been successful, but I could see the limit to what I could do and wanted to upgrade, I was willing to wait up to an additional year until the money worked out, or I could get a crazy good deal, or possibly spend some incoming tax return money. The decision was made, the upgrade would happen, the family loves the tank, its something we all enjoy, financially its not crushing, but of all the things I could do with it, it was ok.

As I began to scour Craigslist and the new Facebook market place, I saw a few hits, but nothing that really hit me. I wanted to go 6 to 8 foot, at least 24x24. Obviously reef ready was preferred but if I had to do overflow box I was ok with it. I was only ever expecting to find a tank, and if it was used and I had to build a stand, plumb it all myself, build a custom sump, anything and everything I was prepared to do. I was all ready to go all in. Then I saw the ad on Facebook that would control every action, all my free time, and basically everything I've done for the last 3 months. FOR SALE... 220 AND 160 Gallon tanks, and stands, and equipment $800. Not only did I have sticker shock.. but the location..only 30 minutes from my parents place, a mere 1.5 hours total away. So we made a fast decision, I reached out to the seller, arranged a time after church on a Sunday and it couldn't have worked out better. Dropped the wife and kids off at my parents on the way for some family time. And off I went. Arrived onsite to find it was a normal Bi level, near a well known local tourist place in central Snyder county Pennsylvania. The seller actually worked for Weis trucking, had a nice chat, that kinda ended on a downbeat. I guess through him getting older, kids in college, going through a divorce, he just gave up on it. And by giving up on it, one day a few years ago, simply turned it off. Just turned off his surge protectors, and let it all dry up. I hope he at least took his fish out, but I found multiple dried up feather duster corpses, and giant clam, coral, it was just about gut wrenching to see it. The tank, the equipment, everything, covered in salt and sand, and terrible shape. But I took pictures, did some research quickly and made a decision. If you read one of the above lines, yes you read it right, he had a 220 and 160 gallon tank for sale, and I rationed with him, that no one, including myself could possibly want both tanks at the same time that didn't have some acute mental issues. But I would absolutely take the 220 tank, stand, sump, skimmer, UV, all the pumps, heaters, accessories, lights, ballasts, RODI system, and about 40 pounds of salt off his hands for $500, he asked for $575.. I agreed, actually ended up paying $580 since ATMs only give out 20s.

The following weekend I arrived back to collect my goods. I engineered and assembled onsite a 2x4 framed dolly with casters to set the tank on. After I unloaded at least 100 lbs of sand, and probably 200 lbs of 'dry' once live rock. I had rented a 9 foot U-Haul van, and taken a friend from back home with me, onsite my brother was visiting and another hometown friend stopped by as we lifted it off the stand, set it on my dolly and wheeled it out the door, onto a deck and onto the van, then stuffed it full with all my wares.

You'll see from the pictures that I spent the next 3 weeks, leak testing the tank , cleaning all the equipment, leak testing some more. I was able to get a discount 8 foot counter top at a building supply store which I then built into my table in the basement, and I began the plumbing. After a 5 day pre-planned trip to California for a wedding I was back and working on the project. Within a week my stand was delivered by a longtime construction/wood working friend. My existing tank was moved into our bedroom to make room for the new tank. I reinforced my floor as well to compensate for the weight based upon my friend's expert advice.

The following week the tank got moved in, overflow and plumbing was finished and after a few bumps, adjustments, and multiple Lowes trips I had successfully had a multi day complete leak test done at temperature.

Then the hard stuff started. As you may guess, I'm a tech, I'm a guy that likes to fix things, to solve problems, who likes to do research, experiment and build stuff. All that was kinda over now. Now I had to make it look 'pretty'. It hadn't occurred to me at this point that eventually I had to tackle what was this tank going to look like. In my previous tank I had basically bought the largest, overpriced dry rock I could get a hold of, and put random coral on it, then later.. move that coral if it had issues, or later I replaced some of my rock with larger rock. My current design of 3 rock island wasn't going to fly with a 7 foot 180 gallon tank.. and yeah its 180.. not 220, but that's ok, its freaking huge. So while I extended my fresh water test I went about curing my rock, which had never occurred to me and clearly extended my timeline I had in place for finally getting this tank started up. I took a few really new steps I never even though I'd run into which involved, bleach curing my rock, multiple rounds of cleaning, and a entire weekend of building rock. Most of the structures I've built I'm really proud of. Some are just Cemented with Nyos cement, others have some rods and cement depending on what I ended up doing. The overall design, I wanted to make it look like a rising and lowering wave, going from high to low, from left to right. Now my focal piece lovingly named “wang rock” kinda stands out but that's ok. Its clearly unique. I plan on adding my existing 3 large rocks in between all this when I transfer everything over. I'm hoping I don't have anything fall apart in the future, we'll just have to see. So now that that part was over, it was time to drain, add the sand, and salt it up. I had never done live sand before, previous tank was crushed coral, which I liked just fine, but since I really wanted a sand sifting goby for this tank, as well as a real 'coral' looking tank, it had to be sand, and since live sand on amazon beats anything else I could find I started out with 2 40 pound bags. It took over 4 days, even with 70 gallons of RODI water ready to get the tank full enough to start up the system. I ended up adding an additional 40 pound bag to get some more volume of sand in the tank and I think after dusting off the rock work it looks pretty good. After 2 or 3 days of just running the system, I added the Bio Spira, and 2 tiny damsels, which were the only cheap fish I could find at the most convenient LFS store that day, and some food, and here I am over a week later, tank looks good, added a group of 5 green chromies which school together nicely but are impossible to see against a black background without my overhead lights and occasionally disappear completely in the rock work. Salinity looks good, ATO keeping the system in check, all my readings look good. Even read my readings on the old tank for the first time in over a year, and even with no water changes, topping off with well/sink water, and the skimmer had to be removed because I couldn't extend my ATO when I moved the old tank, is still looking good, levels all stable. Now I've had some hiccups, I knew I'd need a new heater, so I purchased one, and since my sump is rather small 22.6 gallons full, so probably 10-12 normal, my existing 350 watt titanium heater wouldn't do. I installed a new Finnex HMX 500 watt in the sump and put the 350 in the tank, which worked.. kept a stable 78.1-78.4 consistently, but realized that was probably dumb so I swapped them around. Had 4 actual 'water' events, where my overflow wasn't keeping up with my incoming return. Noticed after 2 events that I actually dumped some water, I was loosing my siphon. I know over the tank siphons aren't popular anymore, but I purchased a new CPR CS102 which with a heisey overflow I think was my best possible option. One reason for going this way, was I simply didn't want to drill this tank. Its a old tank.. only identified as possibly a Marineland generic model from 1998, tempered, nor non tempered, by the time I orchestrated another team of people to help me flip the tank over, buy the tools and material, pray I didn't break the tank, it was just too much for me to think about doing. I ran a tank for 2 years with a overflow pipe, this setup would be better and with some good alarms and automation I'd be just as good off. So that's what I did, the King of DIY youtube series led me to build a really accurate low/hi float sensor alarm for the tank, I plan to build another for the sump and later for my ato container. I know Santa won't bring me a Neptune Apex, but I already know how I'll rebuild the system with a breakout box and commands to really take care of things.

One thing that caused my problems is that the airline connector that's used to prime the siphon for the cs102 has to be capped in normal use. Now if you're using a venturi pump connected, or the Toms auto lifter, that's what's used, But I hadn't quite figured that out yet. So I used a simple airline twist valve to close the line, now that worked perfectly the entire freshwater test period of about 3 days. After I converted to saltwater, I replaced it with a check valve, now I thought this would be a improvement, less error prone to use in case I had to prime the siphon, and also I could plug it into an existing wave maker I got with the tank that had a venturi built in. But 2 days in I had a water event, restored the tank, tried again, 2 days in, no spill, but siphon had leaked and my alarms went off, saved not having a water event, but still a problem. Found out 2 things, the wave make I had, the venturi fixture was the wrong size, it was too big, used a smaller one I also had received, it worked correctly, now for a day I had gone back to the twist valve just to test, but I added the check valve back in in case of a pump failure it would save me for a few hours, and without it I can't use the wave pump as it was designed to constantly keep the siphon. The check valves are more of a rubber stopper type, not a spring, I assume if I find a higher quality spring model, that would be better, but again if the venturi pump itself is working correctly the check valve only needs to step in in case of a power loss, and only a power loss during the time between now, when I don't have a Apex, because later, my Apex will be able to detect a AC loss, and shut the return pump off when either it detects AC loss, or the float sensor is tripped.

But these are technical challenges. I wanted to post here for awhile, but posting takes time, and the time I have has been dedicated to design and building, and testing, and cleanup. But now I'm on the home stretch, I'm simply waiting maybe 1-2 more weeks for the cycle to age, I'm terrified of leaving the tank home alone during our Christmas visit overnight to my parents. Since its been setup It hasn't been home alone for more than 4 or 5 hours. I'll reread all my chemicals again, but I added some live rock and simple coral pieces from the old tank to help out, I'm pretty sure I'll be fine. Once the old tank is empty, I'll move over my bio balls to the sump. It will remain as a old wet/dry setup, with skimmer and UV for a few months, I plan on building a customer acrylic sump myself, including a refugium, mostly because I have to. My custom dimensions of my table, and manifold have limited my options. Plus if I can't do it myself.. why even do it at all? I'll include some better pics in the future, I really would love some suggestions on specific coral and where to place it. Again that a 'design and pretty' thing, I love the care, the maintenance and the routine, the artsy side, that I'm not good at. I plan to be patient with adding fish as well. I know I'm required by my children to add 2 new 'pretty nemo like' clown fish to replace my cinnamon clown, and a 'dory”. But I'm ok with that. Again your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. If you've actually read this whole post, I applaud you.



Equipment list

Tank = 7”, 24x24

Custom stand, will have sides, and 2 x 15” doors on front

All plumbing 1” Schedule 40 PVC, some reinforced 1” Vinyl

Lifeguard QL-40 UV Sterlizer

Amiracle 22 gallon sump

Finnex HMX 500 watt heater & 350 Watt titanium

Terminator II skimmer
View attachment 636251 View attachment 636251 View attachment 636251 View attachment 636252 View attachment 636253 View attachment 636254 View attachment 636255 View attachment 636256 View attachment 636257 View attachment 636262 View attachment 636263 View attachment 636264 View attachment 636265 View attachment 636266 View attachment 636269 View attachment 636270 View attachment 636271 View attachment 636274 View attachment 636277 View attachment 636251 View attachment 636252 View attachment 636253 View attachment 636254 View attachment 636255 View attachment 636256 View attachment 636257 View attachment 636262 View attachment 636263 View attachment 636264 View attachment 636265 View attachment 636266 View attachment 636269 View attachment 636270 View attachment 636271 View attachment 636274 View attachment 636277 View attachment 636251 View attachment 636252 View attachment 636253 View attachment 636254 View attachment 636255 View attachment 636256 View attachment 636257 View attachment 636262 View attachment 636263 View attachment 636264 View attachment 636265 View attachment 636266 View attachment 636269 View attachment 636270 View attachment 636271 View attachment 636274 View attachment 636277 View attachment 636251 View attachment 636252 View attachment 636253 View attachment 636254 View attachment 636255 View attachment 636256 View attachment 636257 View attachment 636262 View attachment 636263 View attachment 636264 View attachment 636265 View attachment 636266 View attachment 636269 View attachment 636270 View attachment 636271 View attachment 636274 View attachment 636277

View attachment 636278

20171015_135207.jpg


20171015_135214.jpg


20171022_150715.jpg


20171022_150719.jpg


20171022_150723.jpg


20171022_172748.jpg


20171022_190237.jpg


20171024_173321.jpg


20171028_105025.jpg


20171107_180938.jpg


20171115_121311.jpg


20171119_081142.jpg


20171119_081210.jpg


20171127_190241.jpg


20171202_132218.jpg


FB_IMG_1511097061428.jpg
 
Last edited:
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Well the day finally came, after working through the Holiday's I was finally able to get back home and continue my next stage. Everything tested out good the previous Friday , and right before the transfer. So I moved over my live rock from the previous tank, and all my livestock on 12/28, 2 days later, everyone's doing fine. I did end up purchasing another 500W heater, which really took care of my temperature issue, although its keeping tank water a little lower than expected, I've found setting those heaters higher just won't keep the temp up and is just wasting electricity. Don't have it in the budget yet to upgrade my lighting yet, so I have to settle for my retro 2/3 tank light solution for now. The new year will hopefully bring me new lightning, finishing the stand, a Apex Neptune, a Calc/Alk/Mag test kit and probably 2 part dosing. And of course more fish and coral, but I'm probably going to wait at least a month before adding any more livestock.

20171230_102522.jpg
20171230_102531.jpg
20171230_102535.jpg
20171230_102540.jpg
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Got the new lights hooked up on sunday. They're the new dsuny wifi model, 3x 54 cm panels, built the rack with black pipe. Might need to raise them. Running them on the preset winter profile with the simulated lunar cycle. Also added 2 ocelarius clowns, and niger trigger, and a lubbocks fairy wrasse. Also got 4 more emerald crabs, 5 red leg hermits, giving my new coral some acclimation time before deciding where to put them.
27752250_2227137623970416_1223011191584566710_n.jpg
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Also just bought and started doing 2 part dosing.. Never did it in my old tank, thought its time. Have a Hanna checker for Calcium, and Saifert for Alk and Mag. My intial reading were 206 calciu, 6.4 on alk, and on the mag test i didn't really show up. Used the BRS calculator, but was scared about adding so much of the 2 part on one day to bring my levels up, thought it would be smarted to do it over the course of a couple days. I saw the note too to never raise your mag more than 100ppm in a day, plus it'll take a ton of mag to get it up to 1300 anyway so I'll start easy. Added 7fl oz of calc and alk, and 56 oz of mag. Rested results today, now I realized I did my calc test yesterday wrong, reread instructions watched a video, test now showing 555.. soo gonna leave that alone, and retest tomorrow, everything is alive and ok, so I'll probably wait for it naturally to come down. Alk was now at 8.7 again will leave alone and retest tomorrow. Mag is still unreadable.. or super low, added 40 oz of solution, will recheck tomorrow. Use the calculator to figure out that my calcium was probably at 500+ before I read it wrong, then dosed more which I probably shouldn't have. I guess its possible that since my mag was so low the calcium I had wasn't being used correctly since the overall chemistry was wonky.. we'll see how it looks tomorrow and make adjustments.
 
https://www.omegasea.net/
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
I wanted to update this after being picked as a 365 featured tank. Since my last update I've had a lot of updates and changes, first real system change was I re-plumbed my external skimmer so that instead of using a separate pump to take water out of the skimmer I'd use a port off my manifold. In concept a great idea, it allowed me to position things better, get the skimmer out of the way, reduce some plumbing and I got the flow into the skimmer just about perfect. But the big downside is I lost a lot of flow upwards into my tank. Well, that leads us to upgrade #2, I've always been interested in RFG nozzles, and as soon as I saw them up on BRS I had to get them, it allowed me to fix some plumbing issues upstairs converted over to loc line, and added the RFG nozzles. They work.. kinda, but due to my reduced flow not getting what I really want to out of them. So this is clearly putting me on a path to upgrading my return pump. My other awesome addition, is after a bonus pay at work I finally shelled out the cash for a 2016 Apex. This was a long time coming, and I had finally made the decision to go for it, since my total livestock coral and fish value was approaching the cost of a Apex it made sense to add it, and this summer I have several trips planned that will keep me away from the home for more than a day so the Apex to me well worth it. After remounting it at least 3 times, rerunning the cabling, buying a suitable rack, fighting with the salinity probe over.. and over again. I finally after about a month have things tuned in. This past weekend picked up a used display module and I'm happy to report I have my own ATO solution setup, float sensors on my tank, sump, and even basement drain sump, web ported camera setup and its all working well. In between all this I got stupid, made some careless purchases of fish and in the end, killed a yellow tang, powder blue, convict tang, then about a week later, killed a flame angel and a sailfin tang. It was my fault, I got careless.. wasted alot of money and killed some beautiful fish. Never again. I setup a 30 gallon QT tank, got it cycled and ready to go, it helped me sort out my salinity issues, transfer some water effectively. And as of today I've had a sailfin tang, in there and healthy for about 8 days, and have another flame angel and ignition anathais for about 4, but they're all playing nice, eating well, and generally being great, so I plan to keep them in there for 4 weeks, no sign of ich, but then into the DT tank they'll go. Another task I undertook, understanding that I've kept a pretty good log of purchases/changes and additions of all tank related things, including livestock and coral, I finally realized.. I needed to better identify my coral on my rock itself. So after some hand tracing were made, I compiled a list and map of everything in the Tank. I'm now setting at 37 different varieties of Coral.. One thing I didn't know was in Fusion was the imbedded logging stuff. I think that's terriffic, but I think what would be even better would be a coral placing and identify function. Where you can take a picutre of your rock in the tank, then imbed it into Fusion, then maybe have drag and drop icons to identify your coral.. HINT HINT NEPTUNE, if you use my idea.. I'll demand swag.
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
20180528_125901.jpg


Finally got the enclosure for the stand delivered and installed, needs some silicone, but cosmetically its done. Well I should pull the light rack off and paint it, but that's a large project. Also upgraded my return pump from the original AquaMaxx Magnus VSG-6000 to a Jebao DCP-10000. I had really undersized the original pump on head lift and overall GPH, so the upgrade was needed, especially after I re plumbed the external skimmer off its own pump and onto the manifold taking around 400GPH off the top of my overall flow. I also swapped out the return heads from the standard fan type to the RFG nozzles that BRS started selling, they need 600GPH minimum and I know I wasn't getting anywhere near that so a upgrade was necessary. I also had an unfortunate death. Bart II, my niger trigger decided to hop out. Not sure why, as he was well fed, happy, and had no issues being picked on by anybody, It could have been the sail fin tang but I never saw them in competition for anything. So on came Bart III this one was from that Pet place, was much larger, and overall I like his personality more, he hides aot, but always comes around for feeding time, he does less of the 'shooting back and forth' from side to side as Bart II did, but overall I'm happy. To reduce a jumping incident for around 2 weeks I had my outer wave makers pointed upward for increased surface tension and I believe that caused one of my SPSs to die. Really unhappy about that, but I haven't lost hope, although mostly white I still see some color. So I'm hoping with the increased flow of the return pump upgrade and the wave makers back in their normal position it may have a come back. I'm going to give this a minimum 2 weeks to get settled in, then money dependent its time for more fish and coral.
 
Mega Meltdown After Sale
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
I definitely had some setbacks in the livestock department. For a friend I helped take down a 80 Gallon 4 foot tank that a previous friend wanted to take down. Since the new friend's only experience was poorly taking care of a over complicated 14 gallon nano tank that just killed things non stop I agreed to help do the tear down as well and house all the livestock until they set this tank back up in their home. I had setup my 30 gallon QT setup a few months before so it was ready to go, I upgraded the flow and filtration and successfully kept all those fish alive for about 5 weeks until I delivered them back, only a sexy shrimp didn't survive.. or at least couldn't be found. Honestly I was really bummed because I only lost track of him about 3 days before the transfer. Due to the friends experience, and goals with their new tank, I kept a Royal Bi Color Gramma, and a Bagnai Cardinal, both were huge, and probably wouldn't have done well going back to their original tank, especially since my friend had his own plans on restocking that tank. Anywho, 2 new fish for me, they're doing great. Also got some of the equipment, since the tear down including all equipment, and it was a massive, excessive haul of stuff. So I came home with 2 great Jebao wavemakers, a TW-40, that replaced my chinese AC wavemaker one one side of the tank, and a small Sw-25 that worked perfectly in the QT tank that replaced both the little AC ones I had in there, overall a great reduction in power, and much better and varied flow. After running the big one in the DT for a week, I realized, and it shouldn't have been a suprise that the Jebao controllers are junk, don't hold their settings and overall aren't great. So I ended up getting a PP-25 for the other side, bought the Jebao adapter, and went nuts, I have multiple programmed profiles, for night/day/dusk dawn, everything, still having issues getting them synced correctly, but other than that they're great. I also finally took everyone's advice and bought the 12v adapter for the Apex since I have a large UPS on my power bar. I now have all my unessential equipment going into a low power mode during AC outages, and can get up to 2.5 hours of run time off my UPS. My other set backs were buying another yellow tank from a tank tear down, he did fine for almost a week, then showed up dead, he was hiding the last 2 days before his death, he was eating, didn't appear to be getting bullied, but that's what happened. I bought a impulse Foxface Rabbitfish this weekend, he's in QT now, he'll only have about 1.5 weeks before we go on vacation so I'll have to put him in the DT before then. Also have someone interested in selling a Chevron Tang, again, I feel reluctant getting a new fish too close to a vacation. But fish like this are too hard to pass up when they're priced right. Here's some new pics of equipment setup.

20180722_183010.jpg


20180722_183028.jpg


20180722_183117.jpg
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Well decided to add some updates. Upgraded from my original sump to a 100 Gallon ADHI sump. This required me to drill new holes in it, then after a few weeks re-plumb my manifold, which actually encouraged me to re-tune my skimmer which is now performing much better. The main goal of the sump upgrade was to not only increase water capacity, but to add a refugium, which I did. I bought a weird cheap grow light off amazon. It may get replaced, but its a neat light for now, the chaeto is stable but not necessary growing. I visited FishofHex who's about 35 minutes from me for it, as well as picked up some really nice coral. At the Lancaster frag swap, I picked up more coral that's in my QT tank along with my new fish. Sadly I lost ANOTHER YELLOW TANG.. and my Longnose blackfish I got at the swap. I need a total clean out of the QT tank, but need to get my remaining Blue Tang and Flame Angel out first, but also to do that I need some angry fish removed from the display tank, mostly my 2 largest Damsels that have become a issue, and possibly the sailfin tang. I'm thinking of turning chamber 1 of the sump into a isolation area with hopes to reintroduce the Sailfin later and I really do like him. I have a 2 chamber reactor coming my way, in which I will be adding carbon and GFO, as I've started testing for phosphates and they're really bad, which is the most likely cause of my lack of coral growth. A large water change got things lower, but no where where they should be. I'll upload some new pics soon.
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Oh lots more has happened, I'll post pics at home, but since the swap alone, the refugium has been implemented, then refined it some more. I got that used two chamber reactor plumbed in and online, its doing its job and driving my phosphates down well. Picked up a ALK Hanna Checker as well, should have waited for the Black Friday sale, but oh well. After having FishOfHex over to Par out my lights we found them sorely ineffective, not very diffuse, and PAR was quite low. I simply can't justify buying 3 Radion 15s, or 30s, and already have close to $400 invested in my existing setup, added 3 more panels seemed like the most cost effective option at this time. I contacted the seller and they gave me a decent quote, I waited on it for a few weeks and noticed they had a sale over Halloween on their ebay packages. I contacted them again and they lowered their price a little more, so I jumped on it and got 3 more panels. They arrived within a week and that saturday I had them hooked up. I had another side project of connecting up a EB4 I got used under the Display tank to have direct control over my heater, lights, siphon pump and wave pumps, but the EB4s power monitoring is sorely lacking compared to my EB832, I used an extra plug in the 832 to monitor the EB4s and all downstream power use, but it was constantly putting that outlet in alarm so I separated the heater off by itself direct to a wall outlet. Black Friday hit me hard this year, since Neptune stuff only ever goes on sale at this time, I jumped on a second EB832, and some coral food, and bone cutters from BRS. Amazon had a marked down 'used' Jebao DCS-15000, which is what I should have bought instead of my DCS-10000 for $100, which is the same that I paid back in May, so I bought that too, I'll end up using the 10k most likely for a backup. I also committed to another 32 gallon Lowes trash can and setup a easy water mixing station. I ended up doing another water change, and have my phosphates down below .25 now, the Salifert test is subjective at best but the colors are definitely lighter than what I started with. Algae Barn also had a nice sale, so I have more pods coming, and phyto, and some free promo baby brine. To round it all off, Live Aquaria had their cyber monday sale and I have several new fish coming my way headed to QT. I was able to move my blue tang and flame angel up into the display, the tang was doing great but the angel was hiding all the time. I pulled my sailfin out ahead of time and he's sitting in a sump chamber in timeout. FishOfHex came back, we PARed out the lights again and found much better results, getting almost 700 at the water surface, getting 500 on the tops of my rocks, even getting down to 250 at the bottom directly under the lights, behind and in front of them getting much less, but since my 2 trouble damsels were such a pain to get out we pulled almost all my complex rock structures out, got the damsels out, then placed the rock back, putting my ideal pieces directly in the lights in the best places, and placed my other low light pieces with existing corals in places where they would still be fine under lower lighting. I finished placing my remaing corals from the swap. Some are doing fine, others I lost, I shouldn't have kept them in QT as long as I did, as my QT light isn't sufficient, but its something I always drag my feet on. Overall I'll upload pics as soon as I remember. But this weekend all my new parts should be in, thursday new fish come in. I did receive my new Flipper Max last night, and man.. is it worth it. The Flipper did a great job on the old tank, but the new one having 1/2" glass just wasn't cutting it. The Max is HUGE, and requires cleaning your glass to be a 2 hand, almost full body job, but about 1 pass is all you need to do a better job than any magnet cleaner could do, I've figured out how to detach it without crushing anything to get it to the side panels, I always want to be careful about my seams, but it does a great job. Just remembered, FishOfHex again commented my fuge light just wasn't cutting it, my chaeto is surviving but not growing and its color isn't great. So I decommissioned my amazon grow light I had been using, got a simple $6 clamp light from Home Depot and a 5k daylight flood light LED. its been on 24/7 for a few days now, haven't seen any great changes yet, I might mess with the height a little but I wanted to see some better color before trimming back the time. Growing some bad algea now, but I moved another rock in that had a emerald crab on it that refused to jump off, so now he's got the biggest buffet he could ever hope for.
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Don't have pics, but I made it through the Holiday's. I had off between Christmas and New Years which allowed me to spend some quality time with the family and the tank. I did alot of maintenance, the bad over this time was, lost my Copperband Butterfly, but I'm pretty sure he died of poisoning that happened when I was trimming some Zoas. Also my water conditioned failure, when I moved into my house in 2006 I had a late 80s softner and conditioner, I had my water tested then and it was fine as far as I remember, but I don't think it was tested to the full gamut I can test for now. Well in a year I broke the softener doing some maintenance, so I just removed it. The conditioner was working as far as I know up until the week before Christmas, but I doubt it was doing much, well it started to leak so I bypassed it, and started getting quotes for a new water system. I got my water tested for hardness and bacteria, which my hardness tests ranged from 12-18, so it definitely needed a softner, and my bacteria was 3, so as the Cumberland County Water authority advised me I had "biologically unsafe water". We've only been drinking it that way for 12 years. So last week I got a new water softener and UV system installed which includes 3/4" pex plumbing now before it goes into the houses existing 1/2" copper. I also replaced some bad valves. Once I add the drinking water kit to the RO system, I'll repurpose the nice 1/4" line currently going to the fridge and redirect it to the RO system feed. I'm really thinking about getting the RO buddy. After I replaced my 5 micro carbon block with a cheaper amazon alternative to the BRS one My output TDS went from 12 down to 3. That's without having to use resin, since its a additional cost I saw no reason to add it since the water to me is 'good enough'. I sent away for a ICP test, results were suprisingly good, although I have high arsenic, which I need to research, and take action. But I'm really happy I showed 0 lead and copper. Its been awhile and I've made alot of changes, Chaeto still growing like crazy. Cleaned up and replace all the water in my QT in anticipation for the frag swap in Lancaster this weekend, I'm taking the whole family this time. I hope to just look at softies, hammers, zoa, and cleanup crews, I'm definitely missing some fish, but that all depends on selection, if they don't have what I want I'll be ready for another live aquaria purchase. Making water now, and salt, I plan to do some big maintenance probably tommorrow to be ready for new stuff after the swap. Also for christmas my brother got me a submarine drone for the tank. Its awesome to drive around, the picture and movie quality isn't great, unfortunately it requires me to turn off all my water movement but still fun to use.
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Its been awhile, project updates and changes include, changing out RODI filters, as well as house filters and salt in the conditioner. I finally got my nitrates and phosphates in check so I took the GFO offline a few weeks ago and levels are staying the same. Almost ready to make new 2 part, I've been using the same gallon mixes from almost a year ago, dosing 2 part I'm only doing 30ml a day, and keeping my alk at 8.5-8.7 depending on when I test, my Jebao 4 pump doser hasn't skipped a beat, I'm using the 4th pump as a scheduled ATO for my QT tank, its not perfect, but keeps it relatively good during the week, and on weekends I correct it. I added a really neat PTZ camera on the tank upstairs that does a much better of giving me a front facing pic on the tank, and moved my previous camera down to the sump table. I ran additional leads for my leak detection system. Corrected the plumbing on my sink downstairs so I'm less worried about leaks and can use the cold water line as well, I may never be able to fully correct the drain due to the nontraditional plumbing methods I use. But its functional and doesn't leak. I built an additional shelf for all my testing equipment and supplies finally getting it all collected and much more organized. I met and purchased a lot of fish and equipment from a R2R memeber in Philly that had to do a complete tear down, so I'm really setup for the future. I added an additional 2 Jebao OW-40s to the sides of the tank. Unfortunately I tried using them with the same Jebao variable speed adapter I have my existing 2 pumps on, and they sadly do not work. It looks though that Jebao heavily updated the controllers and they've stayed synced for several weeks now and I haven't had and issues, I have them on a alternate de synced wave pattern that I'm turning up over the next several weeks. I reran my feed line for my RO system so now its plumbed directly off the PEX coming off my new water system, so its in contact with much less of my older copper/brass plumbing, haven't seen a direct relation to TDS, I probably need to replace my membrane, and 1 micron filter soon, as I'm only making 3-5 TDS water on a good day now, which without Resin I think is pretty good since I'm starting with 300+ TDS well water. I bought a collection of 5 fish from a new supplier, NY Aquatics, 2 days after I had them in QT I noticed what another member identified as velvet for me, I started copper, but less than 24 hours later my moorish idol was dead, and the blue streak cleaner wrasse was shortly after, the remaining 3 are fine, they have another week to go, then I'll assess and transfer if they're ready.
 
OP
Joshua Kerstetter

Joshua Kerstetter

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 2, 2017
Messages
208
Reaction score
229
Location
Carlisle PA
Current stock list.
Original fish include
Lubbocks Fairy Wrasse
Longhorn Cowfish
Yellow Tang (Hawaii)
Blue Tang (Indonesia)
Sailfin Tang
Chevron Tang
Flame Angelfish (Christmas/Marshalls)
Coral Beauty Angelfish
Haitian Reef Anemone (Caribbean)
Indian Ocean Lyretail Anthias, Male (Maldives)
Saddle Valentini Puffer (Indonesia)
Ocellaris Clownfish
Blue Yellowtip Damsel
White/Black Striped Damsel
Black Yellowtip Damsel
Foxface Rabbitfish
Banggai Cardinalfish
Algae Blenny
Royal Gramma
Diamond Watchmen Goby
Neon Engineer Goby x2
Tail Spot Blenny

Anenomes
Haitian Reef Anemone (Caribbean)
Green Mystery Anemone
Rock Anemone x6

Invertebrates
Mexican turbo snails
Astraia Snails
Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Sri Lanka) x 2
Banded Coral Shrimp (Cebu/Indonesia)
Sally lightfoot crab
Fighting Conchs
Pistol Shrimp
Numerous other snails, hermit crabs

In Refugium
Gold engineer Goby
Pincushin Urchin
Emerald crabs
Numerous pod varieties from Mike's Phyto, and Algaebarn
Growing Chaeto and Sea Lettuce

The 'New' batch
Melanarus wrasse
Hawkfish
Convict Tang
Yellow Tang
Lavender Tang
Yellow Eye Kole tang
Atlantic blue Tang
Chocolate tang
Scribbled Rabbitfish
Springeri Damselfish x2
10 mexican turbo snail

In QT for another 1-2 weeks
Purple Tang
Niger Trigger
Dispar Anthias
 

How many ways are you filtering (natural & mechanical) your aquarium?

  • 0 (I think it's possible)

    Votes: 2 0.4%
  • 1 - 2 ways

    Votes: 114 21.8%
  • 3 - 4 ways

    Votes: 268 51.2%
  • 5 - 6 ways

    Votes: 112 21.4%
  • 7 - 8 ways

    Votes: 21 4.0%
  • 9 - 10 ways

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • 11+ ways

    Votes: 3 0.6%

Online statistics

Members online
1,672
Guests online
4,442
Total visitors
6,114
Top