Woody's 4x3 150g Innovative Marine Build

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I kept a reef tank in the 90's and early 00's. Almost a year ago my wife suggested I get another fish tank for my birthday and we maintain it as a joint hobby. I'm semi-retired now and it seemed like a good way to spend time together. We bought a 25g IM AIO and we were off to the races.

About a month in we decided that we liked doing this so we ordered the IM 150. We actually wanted a peninsula tank but after walking around the house with huge cardboard boxes mocking up where the tank would go we agreed we didn't have a good spot for it. The IM150 is 4' by 3' so it's peninsula-like enough for us. We aquascape it with the idea that the 3' side panels are almost as important as the 4' front.

Stealing an idea from BRS, I bought some PVC and we used it to mock how the aquascape would look. This is what the working space looked like.

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We bought the rock from Addictive Reef Keeping. It was clean but it was really solid. Each rock took a lot of work to make it porous enough for fish to swim through. Also, a lot of what we removed would have likely turned to silt in the tank. This is where I wore my hands away beating on rocks until they were light and airy.

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My wife tends to builds creative habitats for fish to live in and for corals to be mounted on. Everything I made is a variation on the AT-AT Walker from star wars. :)

The tank didn't turn out exactly like this but this general idea of a fairly open middle, shelves for them to hide but still be seen, and flow everywhere around corals basically held true.
 
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Next we put the rocks in salt water, added a heater, and started to cycle them. Even though I used bottled bacteria it took 45 days to cycle. Normally I'd be a bit impatient at such a long nitrogen cycle but since we were waiting for the tank anyway it didn't matter.

The 150g tank took almost seven months to get to me so by the time we moved these rocks we had two fish, a refugium, countless brittle stars, bristle worms, copepods, etc. in there.

It helped that we swapped a rock with the 25g display tank to seed it.
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I also set up my mixing station. It's overkill for a 25g tank but it was nice to have. It's great to have fresh and salt water on hand for dipping, acclimation, etc. I copied designs I saw online. The only real contribution I have for people is that a 48" tray from amazon meant to sit under a dog's crate is a great thing to put under the station. So many times little drips or spilled salt just dropped onto the tray with no floor damage. It's nice.

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A more current pic would show the quick attach fitting between the pumps for my hose. It makes water changes and ATO fills easy.
 

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Looks really cool, it’s exciting setting up a new tank. Looking forward to seeing progress on it
 
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Fill up day was pretty exciting. It was actually two days. I had 60 gallons of salt ready and 60 gallons of fresh ready to be made. However, the third batch of water had to be produced overnight.


Equipment list for those interested:

Red Sea 600 DC Skimmer
Red Sea 1200 fleece roller
Red Sea ATO
Neptune Apex Pro Controller
Neptune COR20 return
Neptune Trident
Neptune DOS
Neptune AFS Feeder
Neptune WAV (three of these)
Octo Varios6 UV/manifold pump
57w Aqua Ultraviolet UV Sterilizer
IceCap 36xl Reef Sump (58 gallons in theory)
3x200w Aqueal heaters (I love these heaters)
Inkbird heater control for backup
2xA500x Kessil Lighs
48" Aquatic Life Strip lights

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I've been doing a ton of research on establishing a biome. I brought over rocks from my 25g tank, I made my curing tank a fish tank, seeded from the display tank I had running, added ocean direct sand, and I added almost every snake oil you can find in the industry.

I know full well that the real trick is to give it time. Still, if there is any advantage that this tank doesn't have it simply because I didn't think of it. It's kind of nice to see starfish on day 1 while I'm still waiting for the silt to clear from the water.

FWIW, we did let the silt filter before adding the rocks. This is what was kicked up by wiggling the rocks into the sand.


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Is 150 gallons too small for a pair of mollies?

They had the tank to themselves for about two days. My wife and I really like these two. It's interesting, how much we like a fish/coral and how much that fish/coral costs have almost no relation to each other. Some of the stuff we really enjoy are $15 mollies or digitas and some are pricey wrasses and acros.
 
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(Excuse our mess) My wife spent days mapping out every coral's light and flow requirements. I can barely put into words how it warms my heart to see her research and plan this sort of thing. She's really taken the lead on the livestock, mostly. I'm the equipment and chemistry guy. I also like the livestock but we each have our specialty.
 
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Moving day!!!! Because we knew the 25g tank was due to be replaced it was overpacked with frags that barely had room to grow. That meant we had at least 50 corals to move and remount. It was a big day to get about 80% of it done and a lot of the work still bled into day two and three.

She killed every vermetid snail and bristle worm that she could find. I actually like the bristle worms but it's not a fight I need to fight. I'll win regardless. lol

Her rain boots imply she expected more spillage than I did. :)
 
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This is from 12 days ago. I'll have to get more flattering pics but nobody will be impressed with a tank filled with 1-2" frags. The doors are still off the stand because we're doing daily cable management and equipment fiddling.

The current fish stock list is:
2x Sailfin Mollies
Yellow tang (Biota)
Tomini tang
Striped Blenny
Cleaner Goby
Gold Lined Rabbitfish
2x Ocellaris clownfish
Firefish
Fairy Wrasse

We also have a midas blenny, hector's goby, and 2 female sailfin mollies in quarantine waiting to move over.

A few weeks from now we'll have three Bellus Angelfish from Marine Collectors in quarantine but right now they are simply on order.
 

Gumbies R Us

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This is from 12 days ago. I'll have to get more flattering pics but nobody will be impressed with a tank filled with 1-2" frags. The doors are still off the stand because we're doing daily cable management and equipment fiddling.

The current fish stock list is:
2x Sailfin Mollies
Yellow tang (Biota)
Tomini tang
Striped Blenny
Cleaner Goby
Gold Lined Rabbitfish
2x Ocellaris clownfish
Firefish
Fairy Wrasse

We also have a midas blenny, hector's goby, and 2 female sailfin mollies in quarantine waiting to move over.

A few weeks from now we'll have three Bellus Angelfish from Marine Collectors in quarantine but right now they are simply on order.
Tank looks great!
 
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The tank is about 3 1/2 weeks old now but the remnants of the clean up crew from the 25 gallon tank needed reinforcements. My wife carefully inspected about 150 snails and hermit crabs for hitchhikers.
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We also saw that one of the acros was brown in areas where it got too much shade. We moved it to the center of the tank where it gets light from every direction.

We don't know exactly what kind of acro it is. If you do, let me know. For now we just call it "Fat Bottom".
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Looks like a nice work station for the tank, love it
 
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I like the idea of long LED strips showering the tank with light from every angle. However, my wife and I didn't love the way we could see the diodes when sitting in front of the tank.

I spent an hour whipping up a prototype hood in the shop yesterday. I think it worked out well. It will probably stay on there longer than a prototype quality unit should. :winking-face-with-tongue:

It cleans up the look a bit while also making the tank easier to be around.
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Ignore the glare, I have the door open on the other side of the room.
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In other news, I have a yellowtail wrasse in QT/observation waiting to move to the main tank.
 
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Love the tank, that IM 150 is on my short list for it's awesome dimensions. And I love the floating hood you guys made. But what I'm really jealous of is having an enthusiastic spouse, my wife thinks the tank is pretty and that's as far as she goes.

I'll be following along with this one for sure.
 
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what I'm really jealous of is having an enthusiastic spouse,
It is nice. She's been doing cable management under the tank all day. She's slow but it's better than doing it myself. :)

I think she hoodwinked me. The first tank was "my" birthday present. I should get her a dirtbike as "her" present this year. :upside-down-face:

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Looks good! I’m in the process of building a 200 INT from Innovative Marine. Got water in it today, and failed the leak test. Lol. Just a small little dribble on the pump return bulkhead. Easy fix. Looking forward to seeing how yours moves along. I like what you have done with your lights.
 

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