The new desert reef build thread

azbigjohn

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Well, here we go again. This will be my second reset after letting my tank get away from me due to life getting in the way. This is going to be a total tank reset, as I have traded in my former tank, and, with the blessings of an incredibly understanding wife, the purchase of a new (to me) 210 gallon tank. I have promised to myself to make sure I do this right, not to rush anything, and to quarantine anything that is going into the tank. It was my failure to carefully observe the frags going into my tank that caused the aptasia outbreak of biblical proportions that caused my last tank to be shut down.

You can read about my previous tank at my last build thread, documented here: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/azbigjohns-slow-going-desert-reefs.247013/

First, the basics. New tank is a new (to me) former custom build. Itis a 210 gallon all glass rimless tank, supported on a custom steel stand with nice wood doors framed out on it. I documented on the previous build thread that I was concerned that the original owner ran a single overflow and a single return out of the center-drilled overflow. I have had snails crawl into my overflow before on a previous build, so I wasn't comfortable with that. The stand is set up to have a peninsula tank. but the tank isn't one. All plumbing was in the center. I drilled a new return line on the peninsula end, and will run the return from that end, with a Maxpect Gyre on the other end to create good flow.

Now, finally, some pictures:
This is a shot of the stand, with a glimpse of the tank on the floor. This is where the tank will go (where my previous tank was).


As you can see, there is a weird area the previous owner had a 6" space between the one door and the ground. Not sure why, but I figured I would just screen it in, and add it as an airflow spot. So I made a custom screen for the spot, and will put computer fans behind it to add some airflow in teh sump at all times:


All the corals I could save from the previous tank (I didn't have a ton) are sitting in my "frag tank" made from an old Cardiff tank I had:


All my old rock is baking in the Arizona sun, ready to be powerwashed of every last trace of aptasia. I am debating acid-washing it as well, just to get it back to pristine, since I am going to have to cycle it anyway.


With the help of several local club members and my son and son-in-law, we muscled the 400 pound tank onto the stand this past weekend, and I am ready to begin plumbing: (under the stand you can see the 80 gallon tall I am using for the sump, my ATO reservoir, and the new aragonite sand ready for rinsing.) You can also get a glimpse of the Quarantine tank and all of my previous occupants, as they go through a QT protocol recommended by our R2R experts!


I will be adding pictures and documenting as I go, so that I can document my progress, and you can all keep me honest about doing things the right way!
 
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azbigjohn

azbigjohn

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Moving forward with my plumbing. I have set up all my plumbing with full unions so that they can be disassembled and cleaned (another thing I overlooked on my last build.) I am letting all the glue dry (and watching the SuperBowl) so I plan on filling it with tap water for a leak test tomorrow after work.

Here is a shot of all the plumbing from a distance:



The side cabinet that runs along the side made the plumbing for the return pretty straight forward. I am running a Sicce Synchra 5.0 as my return. Here is a weird angle from the top that shows the entire run of the return. Only one 90 degree angle, so I hope to get some good flow. Once it enters the bulkhead, it immediately hits a locline splitter, and divides into two 3/4" locline pipes:



My curiosity and concern with this plumbing is if I will be able to run a single full siphon drain, and use the second one as an overflow/emergency. I have a ball valve on the one line to dial it down, and I have both a solid cap, or a cap with a hole, depending on what I find out with my leak test. I will either use is solid cap if I manage to support a full siphon, or I will use the cap with a hole drilled in it if I end up running dual Herbies. Here is my lower plumbing: (you can;t tell from the picture, but both tubes will end 1" below the water line)
 

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Following! This is going to be great!
 

jsker

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I would say the 6" grate/space is to let air circulate under the stand so that moister will not rust things. That is a great system.
 
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azbigjohn

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Well the build is slowly continuing. The sump I am using is used, and I wanted to be good and sure it is watertight, so I filled it up to the very top (80 gallons) and am letting it sit for 24 hours to make sure I have no drips or leaks... Here it is after 12 hours:


One of the driving forces behind taking down my old tank (which led to the new tank) was an aptasia infestation of biblical proportions. Using a "Rock Reincarnation" post from another forum, plus a lot of advice from a post by @Randy Holmes-Farley I have been soaking my rock in a 1:10 bleach solution for 24 hours. I bought some Sodium Triphosphate powder to create a dechlorination solution to soak them in. Here is the first half of the rock drying in the sun after the bleach bath...


And here is the second batch in the 55 gallon drum with a powerhead and bleach, ready for its 24 hour bath. (looking at the photo after I posted it, I added more water to submerge the last rock, and then covered it to keep the animals out of it!) Once all of the rock is out, and dechlorinated, I will be doing an acid wash...


I also ordered 50# of Marco Rock, and am looking locally for some more baserock, as this tank is much taller than my old one...
 
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azbigjohn

azbigjohn

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Well, today was a busy day, and the big step of the leak test for all of my plumbing is complete, and I am happy to say that first try, no leaks!

First order of business was to finish my bleach wash of all the rock that I started yesterday. After rinsing really well, and drying in the sun, I set up a heavy dechlor solution using the directions in one of Randy's threads, I then soaked all the rock in the dechlorinator solution. They all came out not smelling of bleach, so hopefully that was a success. I don' t have any pictures of that.. (sorry, I am trying to take pictures of everything, but I got so busy I forgot!)


Then on to filling the entire tank for the first time, and leak testing all of my plumbing! It takes a LOT longer than I thought to fill a 210 gallon aquarium (that has no rock or sand in it) all the way with a garden hose! Here it is about 3/4 the way full!


And here is the exciting point! Water has reached the overflow, and is cascading down into the overflow for the first time!!!


Now my big question on this tank was if I was going to be able to run a full siphon, sort of in the vein of the Bean Animal style, without having all three drain lines (as I was limited by the center overflow). I had my double Herbie overflows set up, and had one cap without a hole, with ball valve on the line, to give it a shot. I also had a replacement cap with a hole drilled if it didn't work out...

After a couple minutes, and playing with the ball valve, after cranking the line about half shut, I was able to achieve a full siphon, which quieted the drain down quite a bit... Here is a top-down shot of the overflow... I still have some waterfall, as I have about 2" of water drop down to the drain level...


And here is a shot of the drains into the sump after getting the siphon tuned in... No bubbles to be seen, and it is running full flow... There is hardly any water coming down the second line... I turned the pump on and off several times, and it takes about 2 minutes for the siphon to form and quiet down, but it does it every time...
 
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azbigjohn

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Today was the end of my "Rock Reincarnation" project. All of my old rock had been bleached, and dechlorinated, and was sitting outside drying and airing out.

I got a smaller bucket, and mixed up batches of a muratic acid bath as discussed in one of Randy's threads, and acid-dipped all of my old rock. Then neutralized the acid with baking soda, and then rinsed it all off.



One of my challenges is that some of my old rock ended up being lace rock rather than traditional reef-rock. After teh acid dip, it was pretty obvious which ones were lace, and which ones weren't...
Pile One:


Pile Two:


I have a busy week with work, but the next step is building the rock structures, then rinsing and adding the sand. Sadly I probably won't get to it until next weekend!
 
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azbigjohn

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The past few weeks have been crazy between work, and life in general. I had planned to have everything done, filled and cycling already... alas the best laid plans...

Had to redo my return setup. I had too much loc-line, so after a bunch of good advice in the reef discussion forum, this is the new in-tank return plumbing:


After getting all my old rock cleaned, a load of new rock from Marco Rock, and some Marco cement (awesome stuff!) I have my rock work in place.



Rinsing and placing sand is tomorrow's plan.

What do you think of the layout? I have probably 75 pounds of rock in the sump, too
 
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azbigjohn

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Wow, I'm behind on updates!

All Fish survived QT medication without a problem, and then my Canary Blenny went psycho, killing my firefish, yellow watchman go by and ultimately died as well. Still don't know what happened. They were out of medicine in good quality water, waiting for their new home.

Wanted to build up a solid bacteria population, so put a large fresh shrimp in there 3 weeks ago, and added some bacteria. Pulled the shrimp last week, and it processes any additional ammonia rapidly. Going to do a big water change tomorrow to drop nitrates, and probably move the fish in.

Also dropped the rock down a little based on feedback, installed my lights and my Gyre. I updated my firmware on the Apex Jr., installed it, and everything is moving along!

 
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azbigjohn

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Well, the building up the bacteria continues...

Prior to a water change this evening, my parameters were:
SG : 1.026
pH: 8.1
Alk: 8.6
Ca: 440
Mg: 1320
Ammonia: 0
Phos: 0.25
Nitrite: 1
Nitrate 25.0

I plan on starting GFO in a reactor this weekend. I did a 10% water change today (I only had 20 gallons of saltwater ready due to water changing my frag and hospital tank) and plan on doing another 30% or so change tomorrow to work on those nitrates and nitrites.

Also got my heater (which never gets used in AZ) and my cooling fans up and hooked up to the Apex Jr.

Here is the Full Tank Shot looking rather empty, but moving along slowly and surely:
 
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azbigjohn

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After a couple large water changes and adding chaeto to the fuge, I have been keeping nitrates in check.

So, the "old timers" from my previous tank went into the new tank yesterday!

They are making themselves at home already!
 

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The system has really taken shape. Great work on the aquascape
 

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Your tank is looking great. I read through the thread, and not sure if i missed it, but what's the plan for the tank? Mixed reef, Softies, Fish only? Which ever way you go with it, your off to a good start.
 
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azbigjohn

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Your tank is looking great. I read through the thread, and not sure if i missed it, but what's the plan for the tank? Mixed reef, Softies, Fish only? Which ever way you go with it, your off to a good start.
It is going to be a mixed reef.

I often joke I should change my screen name to SPSKiller, but I am going to try and have some success with all kinds of corals in this reef, just growing slowly from frags into a full blown mixed reef hopefully!
 
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azbigjohn

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Not a ton of updates going on. I have officially entered the diatoms stage, as the rock and sand are getting covered.


The next addition of inhabitants are chilling out in QT, a group of 5 Bartlett Anthias and a Kole Tang. All are eating and handling coppersafe well.
 
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azbigjohn

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It has been a while since I have updated my build thread, but really not a ton going on until recently.

Still going through the uglies... diatoms and some algae. Can't wait for my Kole Tang to be done with QT in 2 weeks. Here's a full tank shot so you can see the brownness...



I lost 2 of the 5 Bartlett Anthias in QT, but the other three are growing and coloring up nicely.



The Kole Tang is eating and doing well in QT, but is very camera shy...

I just added in my dual reactor with carbon and GFO on the main tank, as I haven't been able to get my phosphates below 0.2. I am sure I have some leaching from the new rock. Cheato is growing great, and I've given some away already.
 
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azbigjohn

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The local club had a frag swap last weekend, and I got a few good deals. Now that my levels in the big tank are where I want them, I spent most of yesterday dipping the frags in Coral RX, getting them ready, and mounting them in the tank.

Was excited to see all of them open and showing nice polyps today! I am monitoring my alkalinity, calcium and magnesium every day this week to try and figure out my daily dosing needs. One of my other purchases last month was a Bubble Magus doser, so I am looking forward to automating that.

Here are a few pics of my frags hanging out:

 
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azbigjohn

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Today was a big day, as the four fish in quarantine for the last 7 weeks got transferred over last night (to get the lights out period to look around and get comfortable.)

Woke up this morning, and everyone was happy and healthy. The Anthias were happily waiting for breakfast (I swear I saw smiles!) And the Kole Tang was scraping algae off the rocks.

No aggression from my clowns, which is always a worry, and to too it all off, the Anthias seem to be serving as dither fish for my bicolor blenny who has been out of his hiding hole and swimming all over the tank today.

Here is a couple pictures of the new inhabitants.


 
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azbigjohn

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Wow. 3 months without an update!

Summer hit the budget pretty hard, so nothing terribly new going on with the tank. Despite being meticulous with my inspection and QT of all frags, I ended up with some bubble algae and an aphasia. I just got the aptasia with aptasia X and will watch for more closely. All fish are doing well. I took some updated pictures of some of my frags growing out: (should mention my flow is off in these pictures)

Love this giant mushroom. Probably 5" across and beautiful colors-
20170923_150809.jpg


Closeup of my growing zoa garden-
20170923_150928.jpg


Some frogspwn and trumpets-

20170923_151032.jpg


Some SPS I haven't killed yet-
20170923_150823.jpg

20170923_150853.jpg


Last but not least, my Acans, Duncans, and mushroom rock-
20170923_150830.jpg

20170923_150833.jpg

20170923_151040.jpg
 
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