Used IM 30L Frag Tank Build

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Kylell_RC

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Hi everyone, new to R2R, currently working on a new build and was recommended that I should do a build thread on it so here's what has happened this new build so far to get caught up with the current date.

After having a IM 20 for 7 Months (yes still probably an immature tank) I've gotten to the point where I have a feeling that I might eventually need more space to grow out smaller/new frags without covering all the sides of the glass with hang on frag racks. So I started to slowly look into setting up a frag tank.
Photo Oct 21, 6 26 26 PM.jpg


[September 24 2021]
Initially I was looking into doing a 50gal low boy build cause I had some things left over (sump/skimmer/ato) from a 40gal reef tank that I used to have back seven years ago, though I've somewhat enjoyed the AIO style tanks after owning a IM 20 and the final push to doing something smaller was finding this IM 30L used for only $120. Only catch was that it was pretty bare with what came with it, no filter caddy, pump, had a lid, and 1-1/2 of the return nozzles/fittings. So dealing with this and getting it reef ready was going to be a fun challenge. During the same day I also picked up a used unfortunately desktop size Nuvoskim DC Skimmer for only $55.
Photo Sep 27, 7 32 28 PM.jpg

(Image Note: Did not initially come with the RFG nozzles)

[September 28 2021]
I gave the tank a leak test/soaked it in vinegar to remove most of the coralline algae and hardened sand. Whole tank looked nearly brand new and there were surprisingly no noticeable scratches on the glass.
Photo Nov 04, 1 07 36 AM.jpg


[September 30 2021]
The First challenge was to then get the filter section ready cause once again no filter caddy, pump, or fittings so I started with the return fittings. Though instead of buying replacements from IM I ended up just designing my own on Fusion 360 and 3D printing them out of PETG. Took a couple attempts to get them to fit correctly but in the end they all fit perfectly in the end, also printed a pair of random flow generator nozzles while at the printer. Unfortunately I couldn't plumb them all up yet cause I was waiting for a Jebao DCW-2500 DC pump to come in. For finding the pump flow rate I ended up going a bit over the flow rate of the DC pumps that came with the new 30L tanks.
IM Return Nozzles.png


[October 7 2021]
For the stand I wanted the IM 30L to match the look of my current IM 20 setup which was getting an Ikea Besta cabinet and reinforcing it with 2x4s from the local hardware store. Fortunately I managed to come across a used 48" Ikea Besta cabinet of the same color style for $120 so I ended up picking that up. During that stand run I also stopped by the LFS and picked up a couple things for this build, egg crate for the frag racks, and a single AI prime 16 HD. Back to the stand, it was pretty nice compartment wise. It had two sectioned sides with both of the sliding drawers on the bottom and larger swing out doors above them. This gave me the idea to allocate the left side for power distribution and slide out ATO reservoir, then have the right side being for controller/doser mounting and storage.
Photo Oct 08, 10 38 36 AM.jpg


[October 17 2021]
Back to getting the rear filtration section going I once gain had the option to buy a mid-size filter caddy but I once again for the fun challenge just designed my own that was somewhat similar to the inTank ones except they were 100% 3D printable. This took the longest to get right size right bit eventually I got to a working design. For those that want to make their own
here are the STL files. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5090219
30L Caddy.png
30L Caddy2.png

Photo Nov 04, 9 31 48 AM.jpg
Photo Nov 04, 9 32 08 AM.jpg


[October 19 2021]
The Jebao DCW-2500 pump finally came in so I could finally plumb up the return section with the 3D printed Fittings. While I was at it I also reprinted the RFG Nozzles in black PETG to match the black back wall of the tank. The one fitting I did buy was a 1/2" Y fitting for the vinyl tubing.
Photo Nov 04, 9 02 03 AM.jpg


[October 22 2021]
Getting an Apex was completely out of mind for this build till I stumbled across a pretty good deal for a used one. It was an ApexEL for $500 but had quite a bit more additional bells and whistles tacked onto it. Those things were PM1 with orp, PM2 with probe, Apex LDK, Apex ATK, Apex Display, Probe holder, a second EB832, and a brand new pH probe. Fortunately all the extra modules worked and were temporarily installed onto my current IM 20 to figure out how Apex Fusion works. This also further pushed me to do the electronics/controller section in the right side of the Ikea cabinet. Also in the image below you can see how I tried to hide the Apex Unit and the doser I plan to use, it's a Jebao Doser 3.4 that I got a couple months back for the IM 20 but was overkill.
Photo Oct 22, 11 16 55 PM.jpg
Photo Nov 04, 9 12 58 AM.jpg


[October 28 2021]
Now getting Into control/electronics panel side of the stand. I mounted the 2nd EB832 and a smart surge protector to the left side of the cabinet, then managed to rotate one of the left shelfs to a vertical position to become the base of this panel area which gave me the base of the front panel. Started measuring the footprint of all the things I wanted to incorporated onto the panel and started planning out where to mount them. You can also see on the left side where I have room to put a 5gal container for the Neptune ATK.
Photo Nov 04, 9 58 49 AM.jpg
Photo Nov 04, 9 58 59 AM.jpg


With all the components that I wanted to mount measured, here was the plan. Have space to mount an Apex Base unit, 3 expansion modules (PM1, PM2, and FMM), DC pump controller and the Jebao Doser. I also had the mounting points added so I can pre drill them, then mount the board onto my CNC router and have it cut out all the holes for wires and drill the component mounting points.
Control panel.png
CAM.png

Photo Nov 04, 10 36 15 AM.jpg


Panel came out surprisingly well and everything seemed to fit perfectly, I didn't transfer everything yet cause the Apex and doser was next to the 20g. There were also some cheap Ebay motion activated USB LED strips that I added.
Photo Nov 04, 10 03 05 AM.jpg


[October 30 2021]
I was looking more into the Neptune Apex system noticed you could buy a cheap tablet for it to display/control things so I found a cheap Amazon Kindle Fire and mounted it above the tank.
Photo Oct 30, 12 20 01 PM.jpg


Well, there you have it, this is what I've done with the build so far and hopefully plan to post updates on things that I do to the tank in this thread. Photo Nov 04, 9 12 58 AM.jpg
 
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Kylell_RC

Kylell_RC

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For the ATO reservoir I was originally going to to use one of those rectangular 5 gallon containers but I ended up picking up a 5.5gallon aquarium from Petco. Since there was no lid I once again had make my own, in this design I wanted to make as air tight as possible to reduce evaporation of the RODI water. To do this Instead of open holes for the PMUP wires, water level sensor, and actual water out line. I used smaller slots as close as possible to the edge of the lid for the wires and for the water out line I ended up using these nice wire bulkheads to give a nice seal around the tube. Also I wanted to somewhat future proof this lid for a potential dosing line to feed a kalkwasser reactor that I may or may not add/build in the future. For the lid I just picked up some .220in thick acrylic from the local hardware store.
Photo Nov 04, 1 06 24 PM.jpg

ATO Tank Lid.png


The lid came out pretty well for a first attempt on the CNC router and the fit to the aquarium was perfect. While That was cutting I created a small optical sensor mount for the PMUP to notify me whenever the reservoir was low on water. I still need to cut out an extended tube for the dosing line but since I won't be needing it for a while it wasn't mandatory.
Photo Nov 04, 1 49 31 PM.jpg

Photo Nov 04, 2 16 35 PM.jpg


Still needed to do cable management but the aquarium fit perfectly into the sliding drawer section of the cabinet/stand. Not sure if you can see it in the background but I purchased a couple packs of MarinePure gems and Seachem matrix to stuff into the rear filter compartment to make up for the lack of sand and live rock, 2/3rds of that bio media has been in my IM 20 for several months already and hopefully seeded with good bacteria. As a backup I did also buy some Dr. Tim's Nitrifying Bacteria and ammonium chloride.
Photo Nov 04, 3 15 11 PM.jpg


One of the things I nearly overlooked when buying a used rimless tank was the condition of the self leveling mat, after taking a look at it, the mat was pretty compressed and the edges were pretty beat up. I ended up buying a replacement mat from Innovative Marine which came in today so I flipped the tank upside down on a couch and started hacking way at the old mat with a couple of razor blades. It took a bit over an hour to fully remove and clean but went pretty well.
Photo Nov 04, 5 35 07 PM.jpg
Photo Nov 04, 6 24 29 PM.jpg

Photo Nov 04, 7 02 59 PM.jpg


Unfortunately forgot to take an image of the new self leveling mat but the new one was really nice, looked a lot thicker and application went well with no bubbles. It is close but I do plan to get the tank filled hopefully this weekend but the next big project would be to cable manage everything on the cabinet so stay tuned for that update.
Photo Nov 04, 8 48 32 PM.jpg
 
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Kylell_RC

Kylell_RC

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[November 5 2021]
Cable management went alright, only focused on the main components such as the heater, lights, and pump. I did also pre route the dosing tubes but left them partially wrapped up cause it most likely wont be used for the next 6+ months. After that I got the FMM module running for the ATO and got the reservoir filled with RODI water for the next day when I fill the tank up.
Photo Nov 06, 12 04 28 AM.jpg
Photo Nov 05, 3 08 47 PM.jpg

Photo Nov 06, 12 04 14 AM.jpg


[November 6 2021]
Went to the LFS and grabbed some pre-mixed mixed saltwater, nice thing was that they use RedSea Pro salt which is the same that I use. While I was filling the tank I was only able to get 20 gallons filled before over filling the rear overflow baffles, another thing I noticed was that the water level was around 1-3/4inches from the top of the glass which was a bit low for me. To fix this I found a 3D printed some nice baffles to raise the water level and add another 5 gallons. Unfortunately after filling the tank the water was a chilling 64F so before starting the cycle I had to wait around 12hrs to get up to temperature (82F) before adding any bacteria.
Photo Nov 08, 2 39 44 PM.jpg

Photo Nov 06, 10 12 52 PM.jpg


Once the water got up to temperature I first added the bio media compartment from my 20g and added an extra 2 packs of MarinePure Gems to the container. I'll also be doing the Dr. Tim's fishless cycle so I added the one and only bacteria and ammonia to get it all started. For the next 14 days I'll be logging how the cycle goes and probably post and update every 2-3 days on how that goes.
Photo Nov 06, 9 08 00 PM.jpg
 
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Kylell_RC

Kylell_RC

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Today marks the first week into the cycle, I've been fallowing the Dr.Tims 14 day fishless cycle and so far the Ammonia removal rate is quite slow but expected since this is a bare bottom tank. I brought the ammonia up to 4ppm and haven't seen a reduction till today, a week later which is a good sign the bacteria are at work. A thing I have noticed that I've also experienced while cycling my 20g is that I am not seeing any rise in Nitrites but seeing a slow rise of Nitrates as the Ammonia gets depleted, this could be also the fact 2/3rds of the bio media has been in the 20g months prior to starting the cycle on the 30g.

While the cycle was going on in the past week, I noticed the LEDs used to light up the cabinets on the stand would fall out due to the poor sticky side so I ended up installing these nice aluminum LED diffusers which screwed directly into the shelf.
Photo Nov 12, 10 45 48 PM.jpg


I also finally added the skimmer onto the back compartments of the AIO. It is quite undersized for this tank but hey, it was only $55. I'll have to see in the future if I'll have to upgrade the desktop size one to the mid-size one that was meant to go onto this tank. The skimmer was also powered on since hopefully all the bacteria has settled a week prior to this. Now one thing I have been already thinking of is what to add as a first fish. Yes I could go with the classic clownfish pair but I want this first fish to be something that would be a potential good cleaner for this tank algae wise. Since the tank is too small for a Tang, this might be an odd one but I've been leaning towards acclimated saltwater mollies as the first fish. Originally I was thinking of a tail spot blenny but since there isn't any algae yet I would probably add it later on during the ugly stage. Since this cycle seems to be going slow since it's bare-bottom I might just do weekly updates unless something significant happens.
Photo Nov 14, 12 20 32 AM.jpg
 
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Kylell_RC

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It's been a bit over a month since the last update and good news, the tank is cycled!
[November 28 2021]
Did a test and Ammonia was finally 0, never had a lick of Nitrite which was fine, and Nitrate was 10ppm. One thing I did different was not do a water change. I did end up scoring a second 16HD for half the price which was nice so the tank had full light coverage. That day I did toss a random zoa and GSP to see how things went, fortunately the coral was fine for the following week so I increased difficulty with a small frag of Favites.
ftsc.jpeg


[December 4 2021]
Stopped by the LFS to pick up some coral and found these nice discounted pair of Mocha Storm Clownfish, one did show some signs of signs of ich possibly from stress but stuck a UV sterilizer that I plan to keep for 6 months to keep the ugly stage down a bit and so far the signs of ich has disappeared. In the background you can see more frags appearing from slowly moving out all the frags out of my display tank. There was also a piece of live rock added that was bleaching in a bucket while the tank was cycling.
IMG_4102.JPG


[December 17 2021]
After moving most of my frags out of my display tank I finally did my first fragging session with some well overgrown zoa and Caulastrea colony. As for the ugly stage, so far it's been a very minimal amount of glass diatom and surface dinoflagellates but very little. I did pick up a clean up crew consisting of 2 turbo and 2 trochus snails which made quick work of the nuance algae. Despite this I am still bracing for a large ugly stage but nothing so far with 8ppm of nitrate and 0.03ppm of phosphates.
fts.jpeg

ftsn.jpeg


I did also finally get the Jebao doser in and installed for the future.
ftscab.jpeg


As for future updates, I'm not sure but probably just significant installations or changes. Some things like finally moving the apex into the cabinet and I did recently buy a pair of Jebao's newest wave pump (basically rip-off of the Neros) and I do want to do a review of them whenever they come in in the upcoming 1-2 moths so I guess stay tuned for that.
 
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