YA40BBTBA (Yet Another 40 Breeder Build Thread - but Aquaforest!)

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gbru316

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Not going to ramble on too much here -- but if you're curious about my reefing past and current motivation, it's in my bio.

This tank has 3 main goals:
1. Satisfy my desire for an SPS garden
2. Entertain and educate my young children
3. Provide leverage for a (much) larger tank utilizing point #2 above (because I'm convinced that besides sharing a mutual interest, the best way to gain a spouses approval is kids)


I lied a bit. Here's a slight ramble. We moved cross country from Central PA to the Space Coast of Florida (just like everyone else, it seems) and purchased our "forever" home here. Finally with some extra time, extra space, and extra income, I'm back in the game.

To start with, I found an old 40 breeder setup on FB marketplace for $400. Tank, stand, 20L sump, CPR external overflow, Gen 1 Radion XR30, OG Vortech MP40 (non-W), heater, return pump, Reef Octo Classic 110INT (sans pump), and misc aquarium odds and ends (net, tubing, some fittings, etc). I thought it was a pretty good deal, all things considered. I'm fairly handy, so as long as everything was in mostly working order, I figured I'd fix it and upgrade when it breaks for good.

Turns out, the XR30 fan was inoperable. At least partially a result of the decade or so of caked dust and detritus on the heat sink and fan blades. No biggie, $15, a soldering iron, some Q-tips, brushes, and rubbing alcohol, and 30 minutes of my time, it's near good-as-new. But it's in a room with 14' ceilings, so hanging wasn't an option. The LFS owner -- who is pretty awesome in most ways -- said that there's no way a Gen 5 RMS would work for a Gen 1 XR30. Crap. I bought it anyway and figured I'd just have to 3D print an adapter bracket. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the Radion XR30 mounting config hasn't changed since the mid 00's.

I've typed too much without a photo and probably lost half of you already. If you're still reading, here's my daughter "using" a 10x loupe to check out "bugs" in the temporary 20L (set up to start cycle while the 40b was coming together):
checking out bugs.jpg


The skimmer pump was easy to procure, since the company still exists. Though my first attempt at ordering it failed because I totally guessed on skimmer model and ordered an Aquatrance 2000S instead of 1000S, and didn't realize it was too large until many months past the return date. Oh well, no one ever complained about having a spare pump, right?

Next was aesthetics. While the stand is a very nice custom piece built by someone who obviously knows their way around basic woodworking tools, the stained wood just didn't go with our "country coastal (maybe? I don't even know, that's my wife's thing). I really couldn't care less, but my wife... well... you all know how that goes. So I hit it with a TSP solution, scuffed it up a bit, and coated it with white semi-gloss. She's still not 100% thrilled with it, but it's acceptable to her. I'd like to take credit for making it palatable but given the interest of my kids in the project, I'm pretty sure she'd have accepted some 2x4's laid on top of cinder blocks if it got the kids excited.

Next, the sump. What I purchased as a sump was an empty 20L. No baffles, no inserts, nothing (unless the permanent marker lines drawn on the side by one of the previous owners showing target water height count). Well, that wouldn't do. So a trip to Home Depot (ok, 3, because that's how DIY projects go), and an evening later and I've got a basic sump with glass baffles. So now I can keep skimmer level constant and use an ATO.

Not it's final iteration, but good enough for now. I'll overhaul it when I get around to buying and setting up an Apex. Pay no attention to that misaligned right glass baffle. And for the safety nuts -- all power strips are secured with both velcro AND zip ties to screweyes sunk into the cabinet. Drip loops have been implemented where needed, and I've got both homeowners and life insurance so we're all good.

Do take note of the 2x BRS basic media reactors: 1 for GFO (BRS bulk) and 1 for GAC (BRS Rox 0.8). Both are Tee'd off the return pump line to minimize unnecessary "stuff." You might also notice 3 drain pipes -- I'm running a beananimal in a Modular Marine 800 GPH internal overflow -- because who uses external these days? Blasphemers and heathens, that's who.

sump.jpg


I fully expect that thermometer to fail within 3 weeks. I've used them off and on for 2 decades now. I refuse to buy a decent thermometer, and at this point, it's purely on principal. I'll make Coralife rich off my thermometer purchases and I just don't GAF anymore.

So, to formalize an equipment list:
1. 40g Breeder
2. Ecotech XR30 - Gen 1 on natural lighting schedule
3. Aqueon 2400ish LPH return pump (??? came with the tank and still works)
4. Reef Octopus Classic 110INT skimmer
5. Ecotech MP40
6. Ecotech MP10 (had this left over from previous tanks)
7. Unbranded basic heater
8. 2x BRS basic media reactors
9. Modular Marine 800 GPH overflow box
10. JBJ ATO w/aqualifter
11. Top-of-the-line thermometer


Here's a FTS, optimized for visibility (I swear I wasn't drunk when I took this photo):
FTS2.jpg


And here's a non-optimized FTS:
FTS3.jpg



You probably notice some livestock. More on that later. First, want to discuss philosophy. I've always tried to reef as cheaply as possible. I'd like to say I enjoy DIY (and I truly do), but much of that was money. FIrst, I was a teenager. Then, I was just starting out in life. THEN, I was expecting a child. Not this time. So I wanted to follow a bright, shiny, easy-to-implement "method," cost-be-danged. But which one? Trident, Zeo, Balling, 2-Part, Red Sea has something I think, I don't even know. My LFS runs Aquaforest. And with those shiny purple bags, it seemed to fit the bill. So AF it is. I'll be using the entire product line. I started out with Reef Salt, but I might switch to probiotic at some point. I've got most of the line purchased, just need a few more containers of snake oil and a jar of hopes and dreams and the lineup will be complete.

I got a small box filled with a few hundred dollars of aforementioned snake oil earlier today, so I used some of the "totally-not-Walt-Smith Mud" Mud and dosed my tank:
mud dose.jpg

Pretty sure I heard Zeppelin's 'Dazed and Confused' coming out from the rockwork.

Anyway, livestock.
I made an oops. A big oops. A $60 oops. Which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but I let my kids excitement get the best of me and added a Tiger goby and Ocellaris about 2 weeks too soon. I knew it was wrong. I knew it wasn't ready. I convinced myself that with enough bottled bacteria and a piece of actual LR or two everything would be fine, because lol @ API ammonia test results, amiright? It wasn't. Goby died within hours, Ocellaris made it overnight. Kids were heartbroken. Dad was busy looking for a concrete wall to plow into at full speed. (ok, maybe not. But I felt terrible).

So we waited at my insistence, and when the coast was clear (3-4 weeks) we added another Ocellaris and a Scooter Blenny. Ocellaris is "Nemo" (obviously) and the blenny is "Oreo." We've also got a handful of red banded Trochus, 10 blue leg hermits (probably a few less, I've seen some empty shells), a giant emerald crab named "Emerald" (yay, creativity!) and some nassarius. And a bunch of Tisbe pods I bought from the LFS. The pods were added before the original fish fiasco and survived.

I tried to steer the boy away from the scooter blenny because I was concerned about the pod population and long-term viability by adding it so early. But this little guy chows down on frozen food, so I figure it'll be fine. There are enough nooks and crannies for the pods to survive and reproduce.

I also added some coral: A capnella sp (that I'm going to hate myself for in a few months), a rainbow monti, an orange and green porites, and a reverse superman monti. Oh, and a lobophytum frag that is on it's way out already. Which is probably for the best. I can't imagine combining leathers and SPS in a 40 is going to benefit anyone -- I just wanted some frags. I'm sure y'all understand.

So anyway, LFS owner seems to think I won't have success with a decade old LED fixture. To which I replied "sounds like a challenge, to me!" So here's my PAR values, at "high noon" at 70% program intensity:
PAR Values.jpg


Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Should certainly get the job done.


Now here's the part where I tell you I'm a bajillionaire and I'll be buying gold plated pumps and lights and diamond studded powerhead guards and the works. Seriously though, I do intend to dive into the automation deep end, and that's going to revolve around an Apex. Well, I should say, Apex brand most-things. DOS dosers, Trident test controller, Sky light, etc. I also want to switch over to Tunze Nanostreams for the Apex integration. Given the smaller size of the tank, minimum flow rates of the other Apex compatible pumps are a bit high to achieve a high dynamic range. With the Tunze, I can go anywhere from 200 gph per powerhead to 1400 or so. I figure 2 should do just fine.


So, um, that's that. Expect more $5-$10 frags, probably on a weekly basis. And some more fish soon -- maybe a Cherub angel and another Ocellaris tomorrow. Then a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp. And maybe a pink streaked wrasse. Once things are stable, I'll head over to WWC and pick up some dream frags -- GARF's Bonsai being one of them (was my desktop wallpaper for a while when I was a teenager).

More photos to come, though probably not for a little while. The dinos -- they be raging. But when I get around to it, the next photos will be better quality, too. Just need to dust off and charge the D810 and clean the 24-70 f/2.8 and 105mm f/2.8 micro-nikkor. And plenty of trials and tribulations. And maybe even some success! Who knows?!?
 
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First trial/tribulation:

The lobo that said "F YOU"
dyinglobo.jpg


PE was great the first few days. Then it looked like this overnight. I made an amino acid solution with some tank water and AF Aminos and dipped it for 15 minutes. Doesn't seem to have helped. Still going downhill.

I've tried more light, less light, more flow, less flow, nothing halts the cancer. Maybe (probably) I should just try nothing and leave it the hell alone for a bit. It's currently sitting on the sand at about 100 PAR, in a moderate flow area.

If it gets 50% rotted/necrotic/weird, I'm tossing it.
 
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Update:

Lobo wasn't improving, removed yesterday during weekly maintenance. Yesterday, added a Cherub Pygmy Angel, Yellow Watchman Goby, Ocellaris Clown, and Skunk Cleaner Shrimp.

Testing yesterday showed PO4 trending in the wrong direction. No doubt due to overfeeding. I've adjusted my feeding routine and will be removing uneaten food after 5-10 mins going forward. I turn off my return during feeding, so it's fairly easy to just grab a net and scoop out excess food.



Here's my master log, containing test results, dosing/feeding/maintenance schedule, notes/observations, costs, wish list, etc. It's a living document and will be updated regularly: YA40BBTA Master Log
 
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Chrisv.

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Not going to ramble on too much here -- but if you're curious about my reefing past and current motivation, it's in my bio.

This tank has 3 main goals:
1. Satisfy my desire for an SPS garden
2. Entertain and educate my young children
3. Provide leverage for a (much) larger tank utilizing point #2 above (because I'm convinced that besides sharing a mutual interest, the best way to gain a spouses approval is kids)


I lied a bit. Here's a slight ramble. We moved cross country from Central PA to the Space Coast of Florida (just like everyone else, it seems) and purchased our "forever" home here. Finally with some extra time, extra space, and extra income, I'm back in the game.

To start with, I found an old 40 breeder setup on FB marketplace for $400. Tank, stand, 20L sump, CPR external overflow, Gen 1 Radion XR30, OG Vortech MP40 (non-W), heater, return pump, Reef Octo Classic 110INT (sans pump), and misc aquarium odds and ends (net, tubing, some fittings, etc). I thought it was a pretty good deal, all things considered. I'm fairly handy, so as long as everything was in mostly working order, I figured I'd fix it and upgrade when it breaks for good.

Turns out, the XR30 fan was inoperable. At least partially a result of the decade or so of caked dust and detritus on the heat sink and fan blades. No biggie, $15, a soldering iron, some Q-tips, brushes, and rubbing alcohol, and 30 minutes of my time, it's near good-as-new. But it's in a room with 14' ceilings, so hanging wasn't an option. The LFS owner -- who is pretty awesome in most ways -- said that there's no way a Gen 5 RMS would work for a Gen 1 XR30. Crap. I bought it anyway and figured I'd just have to 3D print an adapter bracket. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the Radion XR30 mounting config hasn't changed since the mid 00's.

I've typed too much without a photo and probably lost half of you already. If you're still reading, here's my daughter "using" a 10x loupe to check out "bugs" in the temporary 20L (set up to start cycle while the 40b was coming together):
checking out bugs.jpg


The skimmer pump was easy to procure, since the company still exists. Though my first attempt at ordering it failed because I totally guessed on skimmer model and ordered an Aquatrance 2000S instead of 1000S, and didn't realize it was too large until many months past the return date. Oh well, no one ever complained about having a spare pump, right?

Next was aesthetics. While the stand is a very nice custom piece built by someone who obviously knows their way around basic woodworking tools, the stained wood just didn't go with our "country coastal (maybe? I don't even know, that's my wife's thing). I really couldn't care less, but my wife... well... you all know how that goes. So I hit it with a TSP solution, scuffed it up a bit, and coated it with white semi-gloss. She's still not 100% thrilled with it, but it's acceptable to her. I'd like to take credit for making it palatable but given the interest of my kids in the project, I'm pretty sure she'd have accepted some 2x4's laid on top of cinder blocks if it got the kids excited.

Next, the sump. What I purchased as a sump was an empty 20L. No baffles, no inserts, nothing (unless the permanent marker lines drawn on the side by one of the previous owners showing target water height count). Well, that wouldn't do. So a trip to Home Depot (ok, 3, because that's how DIY projects go), and an evening later and I've got a basic sump with glass baffles. So now I can keep skimmer level constant and use an ATO.

Not it's final iteration, but good enough for now. I'll overhaul it when I get around to buying and setting up an Apex. Pay no attention to that misaligned right glass baffle. And for the safety nuts -- all power strips are secured with both velcro AND zip ties to screweyes sunk into the cabinet. Drip loops have been implemented where needed, and I've got both homeowners and life insurance so we're all good.

Do take note of the 2x BRS basic media reactors: 1 for GFO (BRS bulk) and 1 for GAC (BRS Rox 0.8). Both are Tee'd off the return pump line to minimize unnecessary "stuff." You might also notice 3 drain pipes -- I'm running a beananimal in a Modular Marine 800 GPH internal overflow -- because who uses external these days? Blasphemers and heathens, that's who.

sump.jpg


I fully expect that thermometer to fail within 3 weeks. I've used them off and on for 2 decades now. I refuse to buy a decent thermometer, and at this point, it's purely on principal. I'll make Coralife rich off my thermometer purchases and I just don't GAF anymore.

So, to formalize an equipment list:
1. 40g Breeder
2. Ecotech XR30 - Gen 1 on natural lighting schedule
3. Aqueon 2400ish LPH return pump (??? came with the tank and still works)
4. Reef Octopus Classic 110INT skimmer
5. Ecotech MP40
6. Ecotech MP10 (had this left over from previous tanks)
7. Unbranded basic heater
8. 2x BRS basic media reactors
9. Modular Marine 800 GPH overflow box
10. JBJ ATO w/aqualifter
11. Top-of-the-line thermometer


Here's a FTS, optimized for visibility (I swear I wasn't drunk when I took this photo):
FTS2.jpg


And here's a non-optimized FTS:
FTS3.jpg



You probably notice some livestock. More on that later. First, want to discuss philosophy. I've always tried to reef as cheaply as possible. I'd like to say I enjoy DIY (and I truly do), but much of that was money. FIrst, I was a teenager. Then, I was just starting out in life. THEN, I was expecting a child. Not this time. So I wanted to follow a bright, shiny, easy-to-implement "method," cost-be-danged. But which one? Trident, Zeo, Balling, 2-Part, Red Sea has something I think, I don't even know. My LFS runs Aquaforest. And with those shiny purple bags, it seemed to fit the bill. So AF it is. I'll be using the entire product line. I started out with Reef Salt, but I might switch to probiotic at some point. I've got most of the line purchased, just need a few more containers of snake oil and a jar of hopes and dreams and the lineup will be complete.

I got a small box filled with a few hundred dollars of aforementioned snake oil earlier today, so I used some of the "totally-not-Walt-Smith Mud" Mud and dosed my tank:
mud dose.jpg

Pretty sure I heard Zeppelin's 'Dazed and Confused' coming out from the rockwork.

Anyway, livestock.
I made an oops. A big oops. A $60 oops. Which isn't much in the grand scheme of things, but I let my kids excitement get the best of me and added a Tiger goby and Ocellaris about 2 weeks too soon. I knew it was wrong. I knew it wasn't ready. I convinced myself that with enough bottled bacteria and a piece of actual LR or two everything would be fine, because lol @ API ammonia test results, amiright? It wasn't. Goby died within hours, Ocellaris made it overnight. Kids were heartbroken. Dad was busy looking for a concrete wall to plow into at full speed. (ok, maybe not. But I felt terrible).

So we waited at my insistence, and when the coast was clear (3-4 weeks) we added another Ocellaris and a Scooter Blenny. Ocellaris is "Nemo" (obviously) and the blenny is "Oreo." We've also got a handful of red banded Trochus, 10 blue leg hermits (probably a few less, I've seen some empty shells), a giant emerald crab named "Emerald" (yay, creativity!) and some nassarius. And a bunch of Tisbe pods I bought from the LFS. The pods were added before the original fish fiasco and survived.

I tried to steer the boy away from the scooter blenny because I was concerned about the pod population and long-term viability by adding it so early. But this little guy chows down on frozen food, so I figure it'll be fine. There are enough nooks and crannies for the pods to survive and reproduce.

I also added some coral: A capnella sp (that I'm going to hate myself for in a few months), a rainbow monti, an orange and green porites, and a reverse superman monti. Oh, and a lobophytum frag that is on it's way out already. Which is probably for the best. I can't imagine combining leathers and SPS in a 40 is going to benefit anyone -- I just wanted some frags. I'm sure y'all understand.

So anyway, LFS owner seems to think I won't have success with a decade old LED fixture. To which I replied "sounds like a challenge, to me!" So here's my PAR values, at "high noon" at 70% program intensity:
PAR Values.jpg


Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Should certainly get the job done.


Now here's the part where I tell you I'm a bajillionaire and I'll be buying gold plated pumps and lights and diamond studded powerhead guards and the works. Seriously though, I do intend to dive into the automation deep end, and that's going to revolve around an Apex. Well, I should say, Apex brand most-things. DOS dosers, Trident test controller, Sky light, etc. I also want to switch over to Tunze Nanostreams for the Apex integration. Given the smaller size of the tank, minimum flow rates of the other Apex compatible pumps are a bit high to achieve a high dynamic range. With the Tunze, I can go anywhere from 200 gph per powerhead to 1400 or so. I figure 2 should do just fine.


So, um, that's that. Expect more $5-$10 frags, probably on a weekly basis. And some more fish soon -- maybe a Cherub angel and another Ocellaris tomorrow. Then a yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp. And maybe a pink streaked wrasse. Once things are stable, I'll head over to WWC and pick up some dream frags -- GARF's Bonsai being one of them (was my desktop wallpaper for a while when I was a teenager).

More photos to come, though probably not for a little while. The dinos -- they be raging. But when I get around to it, the next photos will be better quality, too. Just need to dust off and charge the D810 and clean the 24-70 f/2.8 and 105mm f/2.8 micro-nikkor. And plenty of trials and tribulations. And maybe even some success! Who knows?!?
I enjoyed reading about your build. I too am using my current tanks to teach my young kid (about many things) and to justify a much larger future build. Looking forward to your posts!
 
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Almost 3. Loves to help push the Hanna checker buttons! How about you?

Our daughters are about the same age -- she turns 3 in August. She doesn't help a whole lot but she loves to look at the fish and inverts. Our 8 year old son is a bit more hands-on. He helped set up the aquarium. He smoothed out the silicone when we were building the sump, measures salt for water changes, helps with water testing, etc.

We're heading into Orlando this coming weekend for something unrelated, but I told him we could swing by WWC (and maybe Living Reef and Top Shelf Aquatics if there's time. We're on the lookout for a pink streaked wrasse and a yellow clown goby to round out the finned livestock.
 

Chrisv.

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Our daughters are about the same age -- she turns 3 in August. She doesn't help a whole lot but she loves to look at the fish and inverts. Our 8 year old son is a bit more hands-on. He helped set up the aquarium. He smoothed out the silicone when we were building the sump, measures salt for water changes, helps with water testing, etc.

We're heading into Orlando this coming weekend for something unrelated, but I told him we could swing by WWC (and maybe Living Reef and Top Shelf Aquatics if there's time. We're on the lookout for a pink streaked wrasse and a yellow clown goby to round out the finned livestock.

That's awesome! My son turns three in August too. Never too young to get them started.

I was about 7 when my dad helped me set up my first marine invert tank. We collected an octopus from the tide pools in southern ca.

I've been looking for a pink streak for ages. They seem unobtainable!

I noticed that you had some nice baffles in your sump. It's good that you taught your son to smooth out the silicone when you put baffles in a sump...like a decent human being. lol
 
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That's awesome! My son turns three in August too. Never too young to get them started.

I was about 7 when my dad helped me set up my first marine invert tank. We collected an octopus from the tide pools in southern ca.

I've been looking for a pink streak for ages. They seem unobtainable!

I noticed that you had some nice baffles in your sump. It's good that you taught your son to smooth out the silicone when you put baffles in a sump...like a decent human being. lol

An octopus would be cool, though as I'm sure you know they tend to be escape artists. When I worked at a LFS, we'd keep them in those plastic fishbowls with a net stretched over the opening and held with a rubber band (with an airstone for water movement in and out) all submerged in a larger tank. We'd even get blue rings in every now and then.

I've been considering following PaulB's lead and heading to the beach for some local flora and fauna. Water temps here are in the 70's to 80's year round, and there are some rocks on the closest beach (15 minutes) that are exposed/submerged depending on tide. No doubt that I could find some pods and stuff to add to the tank. We'll certainly take the fishing rods along, too.
 
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Some updates/observations:
  1. Seems like I've got a low level bacterial bloom. I've been dosing 2 drop seach of -NP Pro and Pro Bio S daily. I might need to reduce that to 1. It could also be a result of overfeeding, or a lack of surface area for the bacteria to settle on. I've got an 8x8x4 marinepure block coming on Thursday. I also reduced feed volume. If the bloom is still present in 2 weeks, I'll reduce the -NP pro and Pro Bio S.
  2. The polyp retraction observed on my sunset monti seems to correlate with ABEV dosing. PE is normal the following day.
  3. Ph has been low. BRS CO2 scrubber and media arrive this week.
 

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An octopus would be cool, though as I'm sure you know they tend to be escape artists. When I worked at a LFS, we'd keep them in those plastic fishbowls with a net stretched over the opening and held with a rubber band (with an airstone for water movement in and out) all submerged in a larger tank. We'd even get blue rings in every now and then.

I've been considering following PaulB's lead and heading to the beach for some local flora and fauna. Water temps here are in the 70's to 80's year round, and there are some rocks on the closest beach (15 minutes) that are exposed/submerged depending on tide. No doubt that I could find some pods and stuff to add to the tank. We'll certainly take the fishing rods along, too.

Yeah mine ended up moving from the coldwater tank we built for him to an adjacent tropical tank. Ate most of the fish. Cool biology!

Some updates/observations:
  1. Seems like I've got a low level bacterial bloom. I've been dosing 2 drop seach of -NP Pro and Pro Bio S daily. I might need to reduce that to 1. It could also be a result of overfeeding, or a lack of surface area for the bacteria to settle on. I've got an 8x8x4 marinepure block coming on Thursday. I also reduced feed volume. If the bloom is still present in 2 weeks, I'll reduce the -NP pro and Pro Bio S.
  2. The polyp retraction observed on my sunset monti seems to correlate with ABEV dosing. PE is normal the following day.
  3. Ph has been low. BRS CO2 scrubber and media arrive this week.
Curious to see how the scrubber does for you. I've always been tempted to try one but I never have. I'm so sure that my pH is low in my current tanks that I don't even want to test it. If I observed it I would feel compelled to fix the problem! Do you have a controller up on this set up yet?
 
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Curious to see how the scrubber does for you. I've always been tempted to try one but I never have. I'm so sure that my pH is low in my current tanks that I don't even want to test it. If I observed it I would feel compelled to fix the problem! Do you have a controller up on this set up yet?

I'm curious, too. And what you said is absolutely how I operate -- if I notice a deficiency I feel compelled to fix it. The tank isn't in it's permanent location yet as we're doing some major renovations within the next year. Once those are done and the tank is permanently emplaced, I'll probably explore bringing in outside air. Though that might bring it's own challenges given I'm in FL. Some kind of air exchanger might be needed to prevent the external air from heating the tank too much.


No controller yet, though I'm working on it. My program at work is behind schedule and they've offered incentives for working extra hours for the next 3 weeks (started 3 weeks ago). I'll use a portion of the incentive to get started with an Apex/Trident package. I'll probably wait a bit to add the 2x DOS since SPS load is pretty light at the moment.
 
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Curious to see how the scrubber does for you.

I installed the scrubber at 2:00 pm yesterday afternoon at a Ph of 7.71.

I tested Ph at 9:30 this morning and Ph is 8.00. Light's have yet to come on, so photosynthesis isn't contributing to the Ph rise.

I'd call it a success.
 

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I installed the scrubber at 2:00 pm yesterday afternoon at a Ph of 7.71.

I tested Ph at 9:30 this morning and Ph is 8.00. Light's have yet to come on, so photosynthesis isn't contributing to the Ph rise.

I'd call it a success.
Nice! I know it will be a pain to do it, but you should keep an eye on pH for a while to see how long the reactor media lasts.

Is yours hooked up for recirculation or just on the skimmer intake?
 
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Nice! I know it will be a pain to do it, but you should keep an eye on pH for a while to see how long the reactor media lasts.

Is yours hooked up for recirculation or just on the skimmer intake?

I've got a Ph pen I bought for other hobbies that I'm going to monitor with. So far, Ph has been pretty stable at 8.0, give or take a tenth or two. Eventually, the Apex will make it easy to monitor.

I just have it on the skimmer intake. Not sure if I'll recirculate down the road or not. I guess it depends on how long the media lasts.
 
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Stopped by WWC's Winter Park store today in search of a Tiger pistol shrimp. No dice. But Top Shelf Aquatics had one. Didn't take long for it to start burrowing, now we just have to hope our YQG finds it. Also picked up a green monti cap frag.

I think I prefer Top Shelf's showroom to WWC's. We still need to visit Living Reef sometime - I'd like to add a digitata and seriatopora (BoP) and see how things go before adding acros.
 
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Ran a few tests tonight to see where I'm at as far as stability:
NO3 - 9.3
Ph - 8.1
Salinity - 35 ppt
Alk - 7.6
PO4 - 0 ( :face-with-open-mouth: )

Turned off flow to the GFO reactor to bring PO4 back up. Also starting to raise Alk up to 8.0 using Aquaforest KH plus.



Tank shots with the DSLR (as promised):
Full Tank Shot


Green Monti cap


Sunset Montipora


Lemon the Yellow Watchman Goby

capnella
Oreo the Scooter Blenny
capnella.jpg
 
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Walked into my LFS today and the owner was cutting up frags. I was always curious about where his cheaper/smaller frags ($5-$15) came from -- found out he has 2 large grow out tanks in the back room. He was fragging a M. spongodes when I arrived. I was tempted, but I think I'm going to wait for them to encrust a bit before buying one.

But I did buy a Jedi Mind Trick, a clump of zoa's, and a favia frag today. All small -- I prefer to watch the growth process. Buying colonies is cheating :)

I found out he keeps his Alk between 8 and 9. So I'm going to have to raise mine a bit further. I've already seen positive results though -- noticeably better PE on the rainbow monti overnight just from raising it from 7.6 to a bit under 8.


The tiger pistol shrimp and YWG have paired off already. We came home from son's soccer game early this afternoon and he ran to the tank to check it out. He was so excited to show us the YWG hanging out beside a piece of LR and the shrimp pushing sand out directly next to it. I admit -- it is pretty interesting to watch.
 
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It’s been about 2 weeks since my last update, but there have been some rather large changes.



First of all, I picked up an Apex, Sky, Trident, and 2x DOS. Honestly, this combo has been the best reef related purchase I’ve ever made. It wasn’t all puppies and sunshine – had to figure out how to deal with measurement discrepancies and calibrations between measurements (Hanna vs Trident vs Kit), and I’m sure I still have some tuning to do with the Sky, but overall I’m super happy with it. Pay no attention to the rat's nest - I've been looking for my large bag of assorted zip ties for 2 weeks now, and I refuse to buy more because dangit, they're around here somewhere.

Apex.jpg


Regarding measurement discrepancies and calibrations, I kind of gave up. Chasing numbers is a fool’s errand. There’s always going to be sources of error, tolerances, and the magnitude of retrograde Mercury is in, so (after blowing through the cal solution and a bottle of Fauna Marin reference solution), I settled on normalization instead. What I mean by this is that the most important thing is how the tank looks. Associated numbers are more for us to keep consistent. So I measured alk/cal/mag with Hanna checker, Salifert kit, and Aquaforest kit (respectively) and used those numbers to calibrate the Trident to my tank water. And after doing so, a test performed immediately after the tank water calibration returned almost exactly the actual parameters. That’s good enough for me.

So I’m sitting at:
Alk: 8.5 dKh
Mag: 1350 ppm
Ca: 575 ppm (yes…575. Read on for why)
No3: 5.5 ppm
Po4: 0 (just turned off the GFO reactor entirely)
GlowyFTS.jpg


I’m following Aquaforest’s Component 1+, 2+, and 3+ method, which is a revised version of the original Balling method. However, since I just started this dosing about a week ago (and added a bunch of SPS/LPS corals), things are still unbalanced. Both in the dosing volume, and the ionic balance. The Ca+ and Mg+ are just to “level set” the ionic balance between Alk, Ca, and Mg. Once the system finds it’s ionic balance point, I’ll only need to dose Component 1+, 2+, and 3+. Currently, I’m dosing about 6.5 mL of each part over 70ish small doses throughout the day. I don’t have the space for each jug of additive, so I found a decently priced combined 3 “jar” acrylic dosing container on Amazon. Each chamber holds 1.5L of additive, and I added a standalone 4th 1.5L container for Trident waste.

dos dos.jpg


I’m also very happy with the CO2 scrubber. Does a great job at keeping Ph >8.0. I've had to chance the media once. It's pretty obvious where that occurred (the most recent high spike was from water change).
scrubber.jpg


ph.jpg


New additions:
1. Unknown cyphastrea from LFS with 2 hitch hikers
unk cyphastrea.jpg


2. Jack-o-Lantern Lepto from LFS
jackolepto.jpg


3. unknown monti from LFS (mystic sunset?) - the bleaching was present when I purchased it. It was the only one he had, figured it was cheap enough to take a risk
monti.jpg


4. Green psammocora from @TopShelfAquatics (their in-person 10th Anniversary sale was this weekend)
green psammy.jpg


5. Bubblegum digi from TSA
bubblegumdigi.jpg


6. "misc" acropora (first acro, didn't want to gamble a ton here) -- any ideas?
miscacro.jpg


7. Hollywood Stunner chalice
hstunner.jpg


8. Mystery acro (TSA had $40 mystery coral grab bags -- son really wanted to use his money on a coral because "he could get one work $900"... I made no promises that I wouldn't kill it) -- Snozzberry maybe?
tasteslikesnozzberries.jpg


But wait, there's more! Yesterday was also @REEFTIDE Summer Clearance live event -- and I got home just in time to "work some OT" ;) I'm not big on purchasing coral online, but shipping was only $20 for FL residents so I figured if I could find a few frags, I'd give it a shot. Ended up buying a few more than "a few" but my wallet barely broke a sweat so I'm pretty happy about that. I'm currently waiting on:
1. Southbeach cyphastrea
2. watermelon psammocora
3. zodiac zoas
4. pandora zoas
5. aquaman montipora
6. JF Sector 001 favia
7. encanto favites
8. looney tunes stylophora
9. sticky punch cyphastrea

Oh, remember that 575 Ca measurement? So my tank was reading a bit lower than I wanted for Ca and Mg. I decided to address this early one morning about ¼ of the way through my first cup of coffee (mistake #1). The doses required a full bottle of AF Mg+ and about ¼ bottle of AF Ca+. I dosed Mg+ first – dumped the entire bottle right into the sump. Sat the bottle down on my desk, stepped away to deal with kids, and came back to grab the Ca+. Only, it was empty. Turns out, I dumped the entire bottle of Ca+ in the tank, instead of Mg+ (mistake #2). OOPS! Ah well, I don’t need to adjust Ca in water change water anytime soon. I did my weekly 10% change this morning and Ca fell to 525.

Overall -- This has been, by far, the easiest tank I’ve ever maintained. I don’t know if it’s the water volume (all previous tanks were smaller), or the Aquaforest method, or the Marinepure block, or just the sum total of my experience. But it’s true. I have yet to have a significant algae bloom. I haven’t had any issues keeping nutrients under control, despite 2x daily feeding of 0.5 mL mysis, 0.5 mL artemia, 0.5 mL vege and 0.5 mL plankton elixir – PLUS whatever I feed the coral at night (and I feed something most nights), on top of 3x weekly phytoplankton additions. I’ve had a bit of cyano on the sand, but nothing that doesn’t disappear with a quick stir. And by typing this, I'm sure my tank will look like this next week:
oops.jpg




More photos to come once the Reeftide order arrives. For now, time for the night feed. Gotta keep that chalice fed so it keeps it's tentacles to itself. That's how it works... right guys? right?

coralfood.jpg
 
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I've always had some concerns that the alkalinity data for my tank has some error. I fixed that tonight.

The Triton, with the Neptune calibration solution, measured my tank at 7.1 dKh. My Hanna checker measured 8.5 dKh. I put more trust in the Hanna than the Trident, so I calibrated the Trident to my tank water after using the Hanna for alk, Aquaforest Mg, and Salifert Ca test kits.

The Salifert Alk kit that I bought arrived today. I mixed up some 8.0 dKh reference solution (per @Randy Holmes-Farley's instructions, baking out sodium bicarb, mixing 10g of the resulting sodium carb with 1000g RODI, then mixing 15.1g of that solution with 984.9g RODI).

The Salifert kit tested right on at 8.0 dKh. The Hanna rested at 7.7.


I've been dosing components 1, 2, and 3 at reduced amounts to lower Alk a bit in light of my low-to-zero phosphate to prevent alk burn. I thought my tank was at 8.2 dKh, but with Salifert, it's at 7.7 dKh. Still acceptable, but I don't think I want to let it drop any further.

I'm recalibrating the Trident with corrected numbers, then I'll lock in Alk at 7.7 dKh using Trident controlled dosing and monitor parameters and coral health.




I've been having some trouble dialing in water movement -- MP10 on one side and MP40 on the other. It's a bit too unbalanced for my liking. My goal is a balanced setup so that I can get a true back and forth while utilizing as much range of the pump output as possible (I've limited the MP40 to about 35% right now). To fix this, I placed an order for 2x Tunze 6040's, 1x Apex VDM, and the associated Tunze VDM cable.

It was a tough choice. I do like the Vortechs as a product, but the current lack of current and ongoing Apex integration support is a deal-breaker for me. I've never used any Tunze products, but from everything I've read over the years -- you can't really go wrong with them. And with the Tunze solution, I'll have anywhere from about 10x turnover to 67x turnover.


At this point, I can't really think of any pressing major equipment purchases. Eventually, I'd like to replace the return pump with a DC pump, and skimmer with a recirculating model with DC pump. But those are far from priorities since I doubt I'd see a significant improvement in my tank from them. There are a few other Apex modules I'd like to add (flow monitoring, leak detection, PAR sensor, ATO)-- but they're mostly all quality-of-life improvements. First up will like be flow monitoring so I can dial in GFO reactor flow rate and have a known rate to keep PO4 constistent.
 
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