zatch

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Living in a small studio apartment presents some unique challenges in regards to tank space and size. When I decided to setup a new tank, I knew I would need to build something with a small form factor while maximizing available space/water volume, so I went with a unique tank size - 74 gallon 'cuboid' (24x24x30h)

1901902-ae39a31b798ed51db3ff75e69b9b93cd.jpg 1901903-36881e5da6a21e08026bdc2e336f7fdd.jpg

Glass:
Deep Blue Professional Edge Tower 74 Rimless
24x24x30 (Low Iron Glass, Reef Ready)

Stand:
Custom 'Low' Build Reinforced 2x4 / MDF panels
24x24x30

Sump:
Trigger Systems Crystal 18 Cube Sump
Trigger Systems Crystal 5g ATO

Filtration:
Lifegard Aquatics Pro-Max 55w UV Sterilizer
Aquamaxx ConeS Q-1 Protein Skimmer
Aquamaxx FR-M Media Reactor

Lighting:
Ecotech Radion XR15 G5 Pro

Control:
Neptune Apex EL
Ecotech Mobius (Corallab AB+ Profile)
Avast Marine ATO
Avast Marine Plank

Return:
Ecotech Vectra M2 (2000gph)

Flow:
Ecotech MP40QD (4500gph)

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zatch

zatch

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I am a big time aquascaper and have spent about 2 weeks sculpting the rockwork for this tower. It is composed of reefsaver that I chiseled and dremeled into shelves, then cemented together to give it a stepped branching/tabling look. This piece is a monster - about 17hx22l and 70lbs!

Originally I was planning on just living with the white rock until cca naturally grew in, however when the piece was finally finished - with 25+ epoxy/cement/mortar joints and reinforcements all over the structure - it was REALLY ugly :confused:

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(Cemented joint, unpainted)

I decided to try coating it in a colored reef safe mortar and see how it goes, so I used my @Bulk Reef Supply customer appreciation gift certificate to buy a bucket of Marcos Rocks E-Marco-400 mortar in the 'pink' (totally purple) color. These mortars are just a specially formulated hydraulic cement with an acrylic fortifier and a non-toxic pigment added for the color, it seems like it should be a much safer more solid option to coloring rockwork than other methods.

1901982-414dfe38a29b4c0c41373ce13025d261.jpg
(Joint above painted with thinned E-Marco 'pink' mortar)

I reinforced the existing concrete or epoxy joints with the mortar as it would normally be used, then I thinned it out significantly and 'painted' it on the surface of the rock to give it a uniform purple look. While the rock was wet I dusted on more dry mortar with the brush. After letting it dry a few days, I thoroughly rinsed the structure with a pressure washer on a very low setting to help clear away any residual debris.

1901981-91f4972db81d6b93a0476f6548e7e92a.jpg
(Pore structure of the dried painted rock)

I am thus far thrilled with how it came out! Underwater, the coloration is a deeper purple, while not appearing to be 'neon' purple like some of the fake rock finishes. I am not aware of anyone else who has tried this yet for coloration, this rockwork might serve the purpose of seeing if painting on the colored mortar has any adverse effects on chemistry.

1901979-ca2c616dfc604b30854a9a4c9331468c.jpg 1901977-8073d34182cd82b532588feb24a4eea2.jpg 1901978-8c1c21bbcdb7b4e8234aa705d2b96393.jpg 1901980-13a792f49798b9ed1f1dd3a0d07268af.jpg
 
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zatch

zatch

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Just installed a MASSIVE Lifegard Pro-Max Amalgam UV 55w sterilizer. Hoping it will be especially helpful with respects to algae management with the two large windows on either side of the tank that allow some amount of ambient sunlight to hit the tank during the day...

According to Lifegard, it can handle "Algae & Bacteria UVC 30,000 µW/cm2 at 2100 GPH". I'm guessing that is because the unit has a very large UV exposure chamber and a very powerful 55w bulb. Admittedly, it is surely overkill on a system this size (Lifegard recommends it on tanks up to 350gal). At max flow in my system, it would only be moving water about half that flowrate anyways.

The unit came with large heavy duty mounting brackets attached to the housing body bolts, I rearranged them in the configuration that worked for me, then bolted them to the cabinet frame.

It runs in-line from the sump using 3/4" braided vinyl, out the other end to the tanks return bulkhead. I was worried that rerouting the return through a huge 3" UV housing and 5-6' of additional tubing/angles would be a lot for the pump to handle, but the Vectra handles it with ease.

So far I am very happy with the quality of the Pro-Max. After a simple install, no leaks or issues with it. I intend to offer more input on it after it has been in use for a while (Not currently running it during the tank cycle).

1866564-34badb779bd85592bc0313bd8fdc245b.jpg 1866565-a5de92954c5bd8a358e0454fba7de3f6.jpg
 
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zatch

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Nothing exciting to report - tank is going through a long cycle right now. Have had a few fish in my QT for a few weeks that should be ready to join the cycled DT in January
 
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Mastiffsrule

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Build sounds great. I am a big UV fan. The rock work looks good. Any full tank shots we can see and some updates? looks like a real clean set up
 
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zatch

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First batch of fish are out of QT and in the DT. There is a White Bristletooth Tang, Lightning Maroon and Lawnmower Blenny.

As I noted in some posts in the fish disease section, I picked up the Whitetail from a LFS at a discount because he appeared to have a few ich spots. Ended up being a full blown case of velvet, along with bacterial issues! It took every bit of my knowledge with fish husbandry (and there were several occasions where I expected to find him dead the next morning) but after many weeks of meds and quarantine, he made it though treatment and is doing great!

ZIMG0671.jpg
Whitetail Bristletooth Tang

ZIMG0547.jpg
ORA Lightning Maroon

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Lawnmower Blenny
 

IrishWulf

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Love the setup! Also gotta be a great feeling knowing you pulled through for that tang. How cool.

Total newb question for you! I found your build thread because I’m looking at ways to plumb my lifegard 55w. I’ve never dealt with pvc plumbing before, and the last thing I want to do is flood my house - my wife will kill me!

What piece did you use to convert that 2” inlet/outlet down to a 3/4” barb hosing? Did you pvc glue that piece into place?

Any basic level explanation or product links would be much appreciated! Google has been failing me so far, but I assume it’s more to do with my inexperience in how to name the things I’m trying to search about! Lol.
 
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Update: All of the planned fish have cleared QT and are in the tank! I splurged and added my dream fish to the mix, a Borbonius Anthias. He is a small guy, but I got him for an amazing price ($250 at harrysmarinelife.com). Cant say enough good about buying livestock from them, they are definitely my go-to from now on.

The current livestock list:
White Tail Bristletooth Tang (Ctenochaetus flavicauda)
Blotched Anthias (Odontanthias borbonius)
Lightning Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus) In the sump (was a Jerk)
Lawnmower Blenny (Salarias fasciatus)
Timor Wrasse (Halichoeres timorensis) Died of bacterial infection :( RIP

ZIMG0768.jpg ZIMG0805-2.jpg ZIMG0830-2.jpg
 
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zatch

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Love the setup! Also gotta be a great feeling knowing you pulled through for that tang. How cool.

Total newb question for you! I found your build thread because I’m looking at ways to plumb my lifegard 55w. I’ve never dealt with pvc plumbing before, and the last thing I want to do is flood my house - my wife will kill me!

What piece did you use to convert that 2” inlet/outlet down to a 3/4” barb hosing? Did you pvc glue that piece into place?

Any basic level explanation or product links would be much appreciated! Google has been failing me so far, but I assume it’s more to do with my inexperience in how to name the things I’m trying to search about! Lol.
Thanks! Its called a PVC reducer, going from 2" to 3/4" (ex https://www.lowes.com/pd/LASCO-2-in...-21dJRTTfPyj7YyJlmMaAqC3EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Yeah, I glued them once I was sure of the setup. Worse case that angle PVC piece from Lifegard screws off and can prob be replaced if the setup changes later. Good luck!
 

SteveC847

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Hey, I was looking for UV input and saw your thread. Just wondering how you are doing the quarantine. What's your setup?

Also, I plan to go the DIY aquascape route myself and jumping around a bit on white (live with it) or buy something with color applied. Just wondering have you tried or did you consider the Caribsea Dry Live Rock or their LifeRock?
 
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zatch

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Hey, I was looking for UV input and saw your thread. Just wondering how you are doing the quarantine. What's your setup?

Also, I plan to go the DIY aquascape route myself and jumping around a bit on white (live with it) or buy something with color applied. Just wondering have you tried or did you consider the Caribsea Dry Live Rock or their LifeRock?

My QT procedure involves the standard Humblefish method 'Option B', which keeps the fish in Copper for 2 weeks then into a separate tank for Prazi. It cuts a little time off the total QT and gets the fish out of copper as soon as its safe to. In the new QT tank I dose Prazi twice over a week, then if everything looks good I add the fish to DT. (I also feed medicated frozen food throughout the process).


Whenever I transfer a fish (before first introduction to QT, switch to new QT after 2 weeks, before dropping in DT) I do a peroxide bath:


I don't care for the caribsea or life rock options, because I think they look very unnatural when you see them up close. I think the coloring they use also looks -too- unnatural, almost a neon purple. What I like about the marco product is that its a dull purple, not an obnoxious purple. I would try to check some out in person at a LFS before making a decision either way. Cant recommend the Emarco mortar enough though for joining rock together, its 1000x better (and much stronger) than epoxy or superglue method.

Good luck on the tank!
 
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JumboShrimp

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VERY impressed with what you’ve done! I’ve used the E-Marco cement, so I’m following you pretty well— did you literally paint it on all over with a paintbrush to get everything evenly colored? (Looks great, no matter how you did it.) Big congrats on your dream fish, too!
 
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VERY impressed with what you’ve done! I’ve used the E-Marco cement, so I’m following you pretty well— did you literally paint it on all over with a paintbrush to get everything evenly colored? (Looks great, no matter how you did it.) Big congrats on your dream fish, too!
Thanks for the kind words!

Essentially I used the product as intended first (thicker mortar to put together joints). Once those joints were setup after about an hour, then I dilute the mixture in the mixing bucket to a fairly watery consistency, to where it coats a paint brush but isn't super thick.

I just used one of those cheap $1 paint brushes for this (don't use a nice one it'd ruin it). Paint the wet mixture on the rock, one coat is enough to give it full color. If your using limestone (reefsaver) it absorbs the purple like a sponge right away. Then I just let the whole structure dry well before introducing it to the tank!

Have not seen any negative spikes, algae or other issues at all. Since its more 'absorbed' then just a coating, there's no chipping away or wearing off either like some have reported with purple paints.
 

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That’s kind of what I thought you meant. I might pass along your tip, because I personally don’t like a lot of mish-mash rock colors— so that is a sweet way to blend them all together into the same uniform look. Other than that, just be careful over time not to overload the number of fish in a tank with those dimensions... we all are guilty of wanting that one-last-must-have-fish, right? Best wishes.
 
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So I had to unexpectedly move down the hallway this week to another apartment after a pipe in my wall burst... Not a huge ordeal, but it required doing the think reefkeepers dread the most - moving the tank.

Everything went pretty smoothly, since the new apartment was just down the hall I was able to bucket most of the water and get things setup again pretty quickly. Because I had to pull the rockwork from the tank, I decided to take the opportunity to fix a few things about it I didn't like...

1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg

I added more rockwork to the front, adding two new ledges that were just open/wasted space before. This also added a few more overhangs and a new cave at the front of the structure im sure the fish will appreciate, since there wasn't much cover before.

Used Emarco to add the rocks, and painted the new sections. Let dry for a few hours and (after nearly throwing out my back) its in the display!

4.jpg

A few tips id have for anyone trying to do something similar with their aquascape:

1) Shine a light over your structure as your building it up. There are areas of the platforms that I thought would receive direct light, but after mounting the Radion there are more obstructed areas than I thought.

2) Create plenty of hiding spaces/caves/etc in your rockwork for your fish. I didn't really think about hiding spaces for my livestock when I was constructing, and they were always crowding the one or two dark spots. I felt pretty bad every time I noticed it :(. In the future, Id give the livestock more consideration when planning it out.

3) Consider the WEIGHT of what your building and how you will logistically install/remove it! This piece of rockwork weighs about 80lbs, and with the ridiculous height of the tank, it was extremely difficult to install and (especially) remove without damaging the rockwork or tank! I cant imagine what a nightmare it will be moving when its full of corals... If I did it again, I would think about creating 2 or 3 structures that are more manageable in the future, rather than one massive/super heavy one!
 
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