Hi, All! Having drooled over all of the magnificent reefs posted here, and having learned from those who went before me, I figured it's not a bad idea to share my own experiences in a reef journal... I last kept marine fish back in the 1980s, including a "reef" tank which held no corals, but did support a population of fireworms, along with a purple dottyback and a tomato clown who killed every other fish I tried to add. (I've kept freshwater tropicals and goldfish over the intervening period, and enjoyed the tanks at the public aquarium where I work on weekends, though . . .) I'd been lurking in reef forums on and off for years, and finally saw an opportunity to jump back in with both feet when the local PetSmart put a 65 gallon kit on sale. (Would that I had known that the glass box is just the beginning, investment-wise, LOL!) Brought the tank home shortly before Thanksgiving, 2015, and began seriously accessorizing it during the "Black Friday" sales. Mars Aqua 300 watt LED fixture Reef Octopus Classic 2000 HOB skimmer CPR HOB refugium Maxspect Gyre 150 DIY 20 gallon long sump in the stand, with fitting for filter socks, refugium (another one) and an Eheim return pump CPR overflow to feed the aforementioned sump (Should have researched more - didn't get the right hose to drain this to the sump with the first order from Marine Depot, nor did I realize it would need a little "Aqua-Lifter" pump to keep the bubble from building in the overflow. Had "U-Tube" overflow on the 55, back in the day, and it was a pain pretty much all the time.) Bottle of "Bio-Spira" nitrifying bacteria Spectra-Pure RO/DI (Should have researched more - only one chamber of DI, and I now understand that two would be _much_ better. Still learning!) 80 pounds of "original grade" "Ocean Direct" live sand (particles range from cloud-your-tank-tiny to occasional 2" long clamshells!) 80 pounds Fiji Pukani live rock, shipped damp 12 pounds of Fiji Mud - I've heard good things <shrugs> Put it all together over the week following Thanksgiving, mixing RO/DI with salt in buckets before adding it to the system, and culminating with the addition of live rock on Friday, December 4. Tested with my shiny new API kit... pH: 7.8 (It's held pretty steady there ever since - would like to raise it a couple of points, I think...) NH3 (Ammonia): 8+ - off-the-charts. Deep blue-green. Pretty color, but . . . NO2 (Nitrite): 1.0 NO3 (Nitrate): 80 No surprises here, as with that pukani dripping with dead sponges and seaweed, there are plenty of sources for decaying organics. Skimmer is pulling a chalky, muddy goop. As the tank slowly cleared over the next couple of days, I was able to arrange the liverock into a semblance of something attractive. _Lots_ of rubble in the bottoms of the boxes, which got pushed out to the sides of the tank, creating zones where the current from the pumps can hit the floor without raising the sand into a swirling whiteout. (Please pardon the crummy cellphone photos - my whole camera system is being . . . ) On Pearl Harbor Day (December 7), I did an eight gallon water change, as ammonia had been holding steady at an off-the-charts toxic level. On the following day, the ammonia reading dropped to _zero_, and has held steady there ever since. 12/13/15 - Nitrites have been holding steady at an off-the-charts 5.0+, with the solution turning purple the instant it dropped into the tube. Tonight ... tonight the reaction took a couple of moments. My hopes are high . . . 12/14/15 - The Mars Aqua light had arrived with one LED dark - after a cordial email exchange with the seller, four new blue LEDs (along with teensy resistors) were shipped from China. On Monday, Dec. 12, a roomie and I cracked open the fixture and he soldered a new LED into position. (The original LED hadn't been connected on one end.) Placed the "Zoey's Reef" sign on the light and hung it 11" above the surface. (That's how long the fishing leaders I bought are, lol!) Nitrite solution is a beautiful sky blue. Nitrite has fallen off the cliff to zero! Celebrate with me, LOL! Now, if the nitrates would kindly follow suit ... I know where a compatible pair of firefish are available . . . ~Bruce *About Zoey - Zoey Ann is my second granddaughter. She was stillborn in November of 2015.