Wave Rider's Lush Coraline Rock Reef!

waverider

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Hey everybody!

My reef has been up about 2 months now and its coming together nicely. Just started adding corals so I thought it would be a good time to start recording progress as it continues to evolve. I'll save you all the boring photos of cloudy water and cycling so we can get right to the good stuff! Let the fun begin!

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My wife and I just built a new home in July and I always wanted a Reef Tank in my office, but with all the expenses associated with building a new home, two kids and a dog.... anyway I was capricious and just decided one day to buy a tank. My local petsmart had a 65 gallon with stand for $250 and I jumped at it. However, I made the mistake of not buying a reef ready drilled tank -and long story short- I went through all the trouble of buying an overflow box only to find the glass on this tank is Tempered. Bummer. I had already bought a sweet Trigger Systems Saphire 26 sump and reef octopus classic 110 skimmer (both of which I have to sell now) and built a new heavy duty custom stand wired for electronics. What a downer, so I reconfigured my plans for the tank to be sump-less and its going great, and looking great. Im running a huge Canister filter with Bio Media, Activated Carbon...etc...-that I clean every two weeks during water changes and I built a hang on back refugium with Chaeto and Pods and a 24 watt UV sterilizer in tank that I put in for a few days after every water change. Then the UV comes out and I dose Brightwell Aquatics Bacteria supplement or Vibrant in an alternating pattern.

The cycle went by like a breeze. I kick started my cycle with 3 clown fish -Larry, Curly and Moe and used Dr. Tims One and Only. 8 Weeks later the tank is running great. All my readings are at or near zero. Lets see the pics!

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The Rock is the showstopper in my opinion. My LFS "Salty's of Lake Norman" (thanks Ryan!) hooked me up bigtime with this gorgeous Coraline encrusted rock bursting in shades of purple, pink, magenta and red for $8/pound. I had bought 40lbs of CaribSea dry rock but when I saw this rock it was a no brainer. The best decision I ever made. No wonder my cycle was so easy and the system looks as good as it is looking only 8 weeks out. -Its the Rock!

So I laid the rock out to feature a cave with 4 branches. I did not use any epoxy or glues. The rock locks together like Legos and sit deep into the sand bed. Its stable. And I leave it be.

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Multiple Islands for Isolated Corals -Around the cave i placed islands for placing corals that I want to isolate. Like my GSP seen in the foreground left and my Xenia on the far right. I know how everybody feels about Xenia and GSP but for a new reef they are great hardy corals and ideal to kick start the "life" in your system because they are so hardy and fast growing. Any case, I isolated them and can easily remove them and their entire island any time.

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GSP went in about a week ago. I moved him from a much larger rock to this island, simply because I think the larger rock is better saved for encrusting corals -Acans... Monty...etc..

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My clowns. Comon. You knew there would be Clowns. -Larry, Curly and Moe. They've been through everything since the beginning and are doing great. I feed them by hand with an eye dropper and they eat right from the dropper like little babies. So far for food I am using LRS Reef Frenzy and Pisces Mysis Blend. Note that Moe's middle stripe pattern is a tad unusual. (hes the one in the back on the right).

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Rasta Zoanthid on Lush purple encrusted live rock. -In about a week now and doing well. I just ordered a pair of AI Prime 16HD LEDs that should be here over the weekend as I've begun adding Corals I figured it was time to buy the lights. Right now I am using a cheap white LED strip that came with the tank. I cant wait to setup my ramping light schedule and enjoy all the new color.

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Another small colony of Zoanthids. I dont know what type of Zoa this is. If you have any idea what these are please comment and let us know. Also, bear in mind they are sitting under cheap white LED. Once I improve the color spectrum and put some heavy blue and ultra violet on them Im certain they will come to life with entirely improved color and pattern.

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Fruit Loops Zoanthids. On a price of magenta, purple and red coraline algae encrusted rock.

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Neon Dottyback.
I read that Neon Dottybacks are aggressive and very territorial. So far he has been an ideal community fish. I've seen him be mild aggressive at feeding time, but nothing to cause harm to any of his tankmates. For hours at a time I would notice I could not find him anywhere in my tank, until I caught him disappearing into a hole in one of my larger pieces of rock. Apparently there is a chamber inside there and he has several ways in and out!

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Added some Astrea Snails the other day. Only three, because I like to add life in small quantities over time... While you can see some green algae growing on this rock, I have yet to see any algae breakout. The combination of healthy rock and Vibrant must be working because I haven't experienced the "Ugly Stage" -yet? !!! So far over the first 8 weeks I've only done 2 water changes. 15 Gallons each time. The last one (second) was like two days ago followed by the tanks first dose of Vibrant.

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Diamond Goby. This guy clouded up a sand storm something fierce his first night. But within 48 hours he had chewed through my entire sandbed and the water was crystal clear. Gave me a horrible scare that my tank might never be clear again, but he worked through all the duest in my sandbed litterally in two days! With him doing such a great job of managing my sandbed I wonder if I will ever have to vacuum out my sandbed. I have no plans at this time for adding any crabs because I dont see any utility they will offer the tank, and would merely create more bio waste in my system. We'll see. What do you guys think about hermit crabs or other crabs in a 65 gallon system that already has a Goby and a Scooter Dragonet?

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Scooter Dragonet A rare glimpse of him flashing his fins. This and my Goby are all I plan for in terms of bottom feeders. I enjoy watching my Scooter scoot around on the rock. I've read they are carnivores and he loves to feed on Mysis shrimp that falls to the bottom, but I swear I also see him nipping at algae on the rocks. Whenever I add a new coral he immediately comes to investigate and will nip at algae on the plugs.

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A nice shot of one of my clownfish. The sandbed is 20lbs CaribSea Arag-Alive Bahama Oolite (fine), 20lbs Arag-Alive Fiji Pink and 40lbs CaribSea Ocean Direct Caribbean wet live sand.

*The little black specs are all that's left of the original Hawaiian Black sandbed that I stared with initially but then removed the second day. I just had a total change of heart the second day after I setup the system and decided against a black substrate. It was a big pain in the butt to drain the tank, put my water into garbage cans, shovel out 40lbs of sand and start over, but worth it. Set the ship on right course from the beginning, learn as you go and correct your mistakes. There is alot to learn in this hobby and early on I found I had to turn the ship around because I had second thoughts on many of the choices I made. But everything has worked out great and my tank is establishing in a good direction now.

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Xenia. Hey, I like the waiving hands thing it does. And its a hearty fast grower. Im keeping it isolated.

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Refugium. I built a hang on back refugium out of an aqua clear filter for Chaeto Algae and Pods. Its running silently and exporting Nitrates and Phosphates.
Since I've been running it my Nitrate and phosphate levels are practically undetectable. I've been running it for two weeks now. I started with a golf ball size piece of chaeto which grew to the size of a softball over two weeks running lighting 24/7. The light Im using was $11 on Amazon and features white and blue LEDs, a timer and a dimmer. For the time being Im running it 100%, 24/7. Its bonus that the light has a timer and a dimmer should I want to cut back on Nitrate and Phosphate removal. I know most of the corals Im keeping like nutrient rich water. -And my AI Primes are on the way, so I want to see how my system improves once I add the Primes.

Also, I did not add any rock, sand or rock rubble to my refugium for fear that it would become a detritus trap and another maintenance chore. I haven't added Pods yet, but plan to on my next LFS visit.

What are your thoughts on just using Chaeto and Pods in a refugium? Am I correct that rock and sand will merely be a detritus trap" -I cant see any reason how a small amount of additional sand or rock in my refugium filter will benefit me when I have 50lbs of rock and 60lbs of live sand in my tank, and also run ceramic bio media in my filtration.

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The light Im using to grow Chaeto. Only 3 watts power consumption and 7.5 inches long. Comes in multiple sizes with timer and dimmer. Easily fits in a refugium or HOB filter.
$11 on Amazon:

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Filtration For filtration -since I tried running a sump with external overflow box and could not stand the sound of it, nor sleep well at night fearing a flood- For Filtration I am running a Fluval 307 Cannister filter with Ceramic Bio Media, Carbon, and Floss, I change it often. I may experiment with adding GFO or ChemiClean Blue to it at some point. But for now all my levels are undetectable. Im running the HOB Cheato refugium and going to add Pods, and finally I run this UV Sterilizer in my tank for a couple of days after doing a water change. Logic behind running the UV after periodic system maintenance and water changes is I see that as a time where detritus, algae, bacteria or some unknown invasive organism may be stirred up and enter my system. I also view periodic maintenance -while necessary- as a time that is undoubtedly stressful to my livestock and exactly when they are most vulnerable to a parasite.

I know many frown on sump-less systems -and Im already eyeing two reef ready systems: a Red Sea 150 complete system, and alternatively an SC Aquariums 150. Thats gonna happen. Meanwhile I figure Im culturing the livestock for that eventual system in what I have now and really enjoying it. Its sump-less but I've got flow, refugium, a cannister and a UV and with regular water changes all is good. System is a Soft Coral Reef and my chosen Corals so far all seem to be doing well.

Happy Reefing and thanks for allowing me to share my experience in the hobby with you and looking forward to reading all your comments and learning from the experience and knowledge you all share!

-JT
 
Fritz
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waverider

waverider

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New AI Prime 16HD's arrived today! Its Christmas in my house tonight! Looking awesome just using default full spectrum at 20% power. There are 7 settings using the built in button -Moonlight, Actinic Blue, and 5 intensity settings for white. I have them on the first setting for full spectrum. -Just for the moment. Tonight Im going to start working up a custom spectrum and lighting schedule with a ramp up period. Fun! Fun! Fun! -So many reasons we're in such a cool hobby!

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Budmans

What types of R2R interview articles are you most excited about?

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