View Full Version : Ben and Rosies 300g 4x4x2.5

01/06/2017, 03:40 PM
Hi All,

My partner and I are relatively new to this game - we setup a AquaOne AquaReef 395 about 18 months ago with a bunch of fish and a mix of soft and lps coral and quickly became addicted. We had the usual learning experiences with whitespot, water quality, quarantine etc but over the last 6 months or so have enjoyed a relatively stable tank.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/2p9NHayiS9yA1WeHVeRcg2rAHIudlAUOulU8tPDJxXaA9IITF92cYp6TEu4fLF3WcXpzRdkBO9FjQUHpzUKNBgOBiE6NU7Z2DjsV CMBsDbaJAzw7AVZ_wKBwhKwakV19F5XeO63BjauhgVo59fxmOnzSoOgevhdFPYj2zJGQifMVXlruP7zSNg2Hoh0sbZsdUct4W-qKKE3amsSBvi6Pc2kL813nsasdUCuqx1Y9kI8G47wWRjNCzNR5tEb3DdMLyrstRFOZsnSXGGRnWq7xPC0Hr-qQ9iFcszVKoNGHdReteZITAn5mGnnotLQf64Zwgc3_uJ8gyp-fb6u9vlNxmMAnC6DfU4JGsa4Wr-4DUPP7rsI-u2PK2K3UVoOyjZWw_9aq8xGC1I7lrSnMA_rxeDXbewSrzWTXa1GjhMhm88Bjb6AToy25iedReAg41U3h8ZPctpyskQQ5ASjYbANR JZ86fZZjq5nAm9lktd4K8L_jxBP1Pvb1iOPKECQfKkhdCIBZXOTfbbR95A6s0EK3aHCBBbIeG73chEwIcXDu5TmYMruSjOC-W7nP0zdkwRQtjUAgepDaAVrg5PL2B-AdggL0LyubeZvQ6u9mR0ZTwzhDEUeEAt-e=w2934-h1652-no

We currently have a mix of LPS and SPS and are favouring SPS going forward. From a fish point of view, we have the following:

Gold Flake Angel - Apolemichthys xanthopunctatus
White Tail Bristletooth Tang - Ctenochaetus flavicauda
Nigricans / White cheek Tang - Acanthurus nigricans
Redsea Sailfin Tang - Zebrasoma desjardini
Leopard Wrasse - Macropharyngodon meleagris
White bar Mystery Wrasse - Pseudocheilinus ocellatus
Fireball Angel - Centropyge aurantonotus
Redstripe Hogfish - Bodianus sepiacaudus
Lawnmower Blenny - Salarias fasciatus
Tomato Clown - Amphiprion frenatus

And also have a Lennardi Wrasse (Anampses Lennardi) -

And a Sohal Tang (Acanthurus sohal) in Quarantine waiting to go in but will probably now move the wrasse and leave the Sohal in Q until the new tank comes online.

We have reached the limit of our current tank and as there is more coral and fish I want to get we though it was time to upgrade.

Last week, we slapped down the deposit for a 4'x4'x2.5' custom tank :) I took some inspiration from what seems to be a fairly famous tank out there - Scott and Tammy's 4x4x2 tank -



And also a friend of mine who has a 4x4x2.5 (albeit empty at the moment).

The tank we have ordered is 15mm opticlear glass all round, eurobraced with an external rear overflow / weir. I went for the extra half foot of depth over the usual 2' depth as I wanted the extra water volume and also the extra height for something I want to do with the scape'ing (will talk more about later) .

The tank is about 4 weeks away at the moment but in the meanwhile there is a heap of work that needs doing. I started off drawing the tank and sump up in Fusion360 -

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/BuISmGaSVGvoToXHYZ2y0vTcfunyBWabUPbG75BVA3-1NUpoO5NLzHXffT6PCbmNr8_fnmYXLlCIq8pknk7u6adtS77o0CkP9fR6SKckjI8K6Em12dcSyexiaNEiFK-MjH_B4U5HNzQxMvSVYm4qTIO5yE6xIJxJRDYNViMwTHzjzINQUhWKuw7ak9NHnz2XnLaxAgAZ0lxIsCMN3G_O3ij8TbiFCbp0Y_9 yMAHFj805YGdJYYU0M7l21Tj2UN2kas8h_WPmEsa8SiGnd_lRVJp-UGQz-HLB-ZTKc5EMlP-Gm6_QsxQGeJkpQqgiKgSuN0eIYi_8G5WCbAAAVmRt-ze6iX9Iw5yOn8cEEjjftm5MqZTWEeH7adiRE5n0EULymppqLjJ3UdGgP9HD2IwG50mxwT5ExkrARfk12MYhE5mzcIrg3QFmINCYy iHDIEIBGRU2rXE3hhcf3xWzcCX6i-P7WWViPtjgdG_LyZpbZIC2GBLXT8PJaFpufXXPi65WIpwH-wZOzKk_GodDTLb3x8DNKQlRLyBlaRCL4NoqT47kLqAqzSN0dwA7Yk4dou6eMcenPWxZOSddm9HeN9Ky4UvkXN5JZjsFmwpnUVTPS OrNxqsxNwqt=w1842-h1696-no

Which you can play around with in 3d here -
https://myhub.autodesk360.com/ue29b68e7/g/shares/SH7f1edQT22b515c761e024241282a477d9b?viewState=NoIgbgDAdAjCA0IDeAdEAXAngBwKZoC40ARXAZwEsBzAOzXjQEMyz d1C0A2CAVggGMALIwAmAWgDMAdhEAmMYIAcggEZiVEXPzEBOXEtEQYOiFMFoAvghhQJizlNk7FPKYuMmes%2BILezbPIo6OlKcfI KygvASMDDQUjCCELISOhKCnIk88E6y0Kk6nPaCxkYuObJesJzBxlI6lXbwMD6cYVBFPL4wEg5hivBi0BC8MLI1PDGV8MO8I0qKsu 7TQ1DzwY6TJfVFUtkgAPYIJZxQITowjs5xiRWnbYIhihJ2IWODgiVQPJxKEG8uAozZrAiAgsEgBCQxAIYAAXThQA

Whilst we are waiting for the tank to be built, I will be making the stand which I will weld up with steel and use urethane coated doors which will attach with magnets similar to the AR395 setup but before I get started on the stand I need to get a skimmer sorted. Due to the extra half foot of height on the tank, we want to try and make the stand as low as possible but the skimmer is going to be the limiting factor here. I have decided at the moment to go for an external recirc skimmer which narrows down my choice a fair bit so at the moment am waiting to hear back re availability on a Reef Octopus and also pricing on a Royal Exclusive however I think the latter is going to be way to expensive for me to consider.

Once I get the skimmer sorted and tank built, I am also making my own dosing pump, system controller / automated monitoring, controlled power board and at the moment what looks like a zeo reactor (may go bio pellets yet but lets see what happens) with a combination of arduino, raspbery pi, 3d printing and acrylic tube etc so there is plenty of work to do in the next 4 weeks to get everything ready once the tank arrives.

RE lighting, we currently have 2 x Maxspec Ethereal's which have been doing a great job on the current tank so have decided to go for 2 more of those for a total of four on the new tank (we are not going to keep the old tank running) - they seem to have good depth penetration which we will need for that extra depth in the tank and I like the control software etc.

Return pump will be a Vectra M1 and for a little while I considered moving the Ethereal's on and getting 4 x new Radion G4's as well as some Vortech QD's then using ReefLink to control it all but I just cant justify the added expense at the moment - the Ethereal's are doing a great job and the existing Jebao power heads are doing a great job at a quarter of the price of the QD's.

The aim is to keep everything within the frame of the tank - ie there will be no "reef support room" etc, everything to run the tank will be in the stand beneath it. I want to run the largest possible sump I can fit in there so have gone with a 4x2 foot sump which will leave me another 4x2 (it will actually leave me with 4x2.5 as the external overflow goes back an extra 6 inches and I will extend the base of the stand that far) for skimmer, chiller, ATO, controller etc which will be a tight fit but it will all go in.

RE fish, we will not be aiming to add too many more but have already decided to add a Conspic Angel (Chaetodontoplus conspicillatus)

A Femenus Wrasse (Anampses Feminus) which will look nice with the Lennardi wrasse-

And some small schooling fish but not sure what yet. There is also scope for a Interruptus Angel at some point in the near future but lets see how things go!

Re the scaping, I am thinking of putting a flat rock shelf covering a good percentage of the base of the tank about 6 inches off the base (supported by rock pillars) and then building some rock forms up from there - this has 2 advantages - 1) it gives us more rock volume and 2) it raises most of the part of the tank that we need to work on by 6 inches making it easier to reach anything. We went live rock for the current tank but have had issues with a few hitchhikers and as I want to do a complete dry build first of the rock work live rock would not last so have decided to go with real reef rock and some other "non-live" reef rock my LFS is recommending and will then put some pods etc into the tank that we want in the to keep the system going.

We are both pretty excited with this project and looking forward to the work over the next few months - it will likely be 2 months before we see water in the tank and another month + before we move fish and coral over but I will definitely keep this post updated as we progress!



01/08/2017, 12:32 AM
It would seem some of our pictures are not sharing too well, I have moved them elsewhere and you should be able to see them here (it also seems I am not allowed to edit a post so cant fix the image URL's

Here is our existing tank

And here is a drawing of the new tank -
Screen Shot 2017-01-07 at 9.10.26 AM.png

01/08/2017, 12:33 AM
Grrr, I will get this right at some point - being able to edit a post would really save some extra posts here . . .

Here is the drawing of the new tank -

01/08/2017, 12:44 AM
Just when we were getting excited about the new tank on the way, disaster strikes! We had a power outage for the first time ever today which resulted in the existing tank going about 7 hours without power which resulted in us losing our Gold Flake Angel, Candycane hogfish, Brazillian Fireball and Mystery wrasse :(





So it looks like not only will be bringing on a new tank in the next couple of months but we will be restocking :(

01/08/2017, 10:02 PM
Some forward progress on the new tank, got the drawing for the stand finished off and have ordered the metal to make it which will be delivered this Friday.


The top outer beams are 50x50mm 4mm wall thickness as are the uprights on each corner, the rest is 50x50 2mm wall to keep weight down - total weight will be about 80kg for the stand and have gone with hot dip galvanised tubing (which will be fun prepping for the welds!) so wont need to powder coat it.

The main square of the stand is 1220x1220 and the stand is 700 high with an extra 150 off the rear as the tank will have an external overflow so thought I may as well use the space under the tank for something (dosing tanks etc)

01/15/2017, 07:14 PM
Well we have had our first setback - it turns out the mob the tank was ordered through will not be able to deliver until late march / early April (knowing how these things go, that actually means late April) - we were expecting to have the tank in the next 2-3 weeks so this is a bit of a let down.

We are travelling in the middle of the year for 5 weeks and I dont want to leave a 2 month old tank in the hands of a carer so delay is a bit of a problem - off to find another tank builder now.

02/16/2017, 06:50 PM
Well there has been a little bit of progress. The tank is being constructed at the moment and we should see it in the next 10 days or so. Meanwhile, work has been progressing with the stand -


That is it all mocked up. I have got the top hoop all welded up but it has just been too damned hot the last few weeks in Sydney to cage myself up in the garage and weld so I am hoping to get the rest of it finished next weekend just in time for the tank.

We also picked up the new skimmer the other week -


A shiny new Reef Octopus Elite 200. This is a nice bit of kit I have to say, the finish is amazing, the electrical's seem great and that pump really looks like it will do the job - time will tell though.

We also picked up the rock the other day -


I was originally going to go for RealReef rock or other non-natural rock having decided against live rock for a number of reasons - 1 I didn't want the hitchhikers and 2 I wanted to do a dry rock build and trying to do that with live rock is not possible so after speaking to the LFS, we decided to go with this stuff. I cant remember what it is called but man is it porous! It is almost like a pumice stone . The flat pieces for the base shelf were not quite what I wanted but will do the trick ( I was hoping for some larger flat pieces)

The base layer of rock will be supported on stilts about 6" above the base of the tank with sand underneath and the 2 rock structures on top of it. There will be a number of gaps in the base allowing fish to go down to the lower sand layer etc and about 6" clear of the glass on both sides and front - the rear will butt up with the back of the tank.

We have lights, pumps etc ready to go, just need to finish off some of the DIY control electronics I am working on and get the tank and we are all go!

02/26/2017, 11:20 PM
Well it looks like we are set for more disappointment.

We had engaged Western Sydney Aquariums to build the tank (this was the second shot after the first failure). We spoke to them back in Jan and explained that we had some deadlines that needed to be met due to some other things happening and they said that they had the time to build the tank, there would be no worries and that it would be ready by the end of Feb.

I had checked in the other week and was told all was on track and that glass was expected in last week and that they would be on it right away so was looking to be on track.

Then yesterday, I get a call from them informing me that they couldn't build the tank now and they were refunding my deposit. Apparently some other customers had changed their minds and caused some issues and rather than tell them that their changes and issues would delay their builds, the builder decided to let those issues impact his other customers and decided to drop our tank the week before it was meant to be delivered.

We have now been through 2 tank builders and been trying to get this sorted out since mid December last year to no avail. All we have done to date is be messed around by tank builders who seem only capable of wasting weeks of your time.

We are assessing what our options are at the moment but this latest setback and time wasted is causing some grief so not sure if we are going to be able to get a tank up and running before September now.

03/06/2017, 02:43 AM
Well it looks like we have managed to get this build back on track (well, a few weeks behind but much earlier than what we were looking at) - we bit the bullet and went with a Lang (think it is actually Leng) tank. I got a status update last week and glass was ordered and on its way and we are expecting it to be built this week and pickup next week after curing. It has cost us almost twice what anything else was going to cost but everyone seems to be confident that it will a) be on time and b) they are the best built tank around.

With the tank expected in the next week, I pulled my finger out last week and finished the stand -

The perspex sheet that is sitting on top in the picture will be used as a base for all the rock work - it will be suspended about 6 inches above the sand and then the rock work will sit on top if it completely covering it - we are still deciding on wether to have a flat shelf or a sloping front to rear shelf - the latter will allow the rock work to merge into the sand work but I like the idea of having a subterranean level for anything to go to (fish to swim to, starfish etc) so we will have a play with it once the tank turns up. The sheet is 6 inches narrower than the tank in all dimensions and we ware thinking that the rock work will go back to the rear wall leaving about a foot at the front of the tank.

Work is also progressing on a few of the custom jobs I have taken on such as a dosing pump -


I decided to go for the compact version on the right - both of them have a recess at the rear allowing them to hang over the glass of the sump. I had it printing perfectly on the 3d printer but then we had the power in the office turned off about 2/3's of the way through the print (due to some cabling work going on) which killed the print so I will have to kick it off again tomorrow.

Software is also progressing as well as monitoring - I will post some screen shots of the UI tomorrow.

Thats it for now, it feels good to be back on track and we cant wait for the tank now!

03/16/2017, 04:20 PM
Things are getting real!

We have had confirmation that the tank and sump will be right to pickup tomorrow! After the best part of 4 months we are finally going to get this tank.

I picked up a bunch of stuff yesterday in preparation for the tank:


2 pieces of 20mm styrofoam to go under the tank plus a whole bunch of plumbing fittings for bulkheads, manifolds and everything else (still need to pick up PVC tubing)


(Sorry for the dodgy photo) - 3 x Marin Pure blocks plus a bunch of RedSea filter socks which will be explained in a sec

I also put the skimmer together and placed it under the stand just to see how it looked.
Due to the extra height of the tank (2.5' / 760 high) we have tried to keep everything else as low as possible. Due to the reduced height of the stand and the large skimmer, we had to go for a 350 high sump (would have liked to have gone 450) and most filter socks are designed for 450+ sumps but found that RedSea do a shorter sock for their systems so grabbed them.

I also today finished off the dosing pump -

I have designed it so that it will hang over the side of the sump and there are 4 tube holders integrated into it. I used 4 of the cheap eBay peristaltic pumps coupled to an Arduinio micro and some circuitry to control the pumps. The arduino is then hooked back via USB (for both power and control) to a RaspberryPI which acts as the brains of not only dosing but all other control and monitoring aspects of the system. Next job will be to complete the controlled power board.

Thats it for now, hopefully next post will be a pic of the tank in situ :) and then the real fun begins. . . .

03/18/2017, 06:46 AM
After almost 4 months and 3 tank builders, we finally have our new tank!

We headed over to Lang's workshop early this morning to pick it up. When we got there, Lang was applying some some last minute finishing touches to the tank :


He was not happy with some of the silicon so cleaned it up before we got there. It wasn't long before he had it ready to present to us:


After a quick look around the tank to make sure there were no scratches and that everything was as designed, we got it loaded up and ready to go:


I arranged for a few mates to come over and assist and a couple of guys from Reef River Reptile came over with the required tools to move the tank. I whipped the front door off the house quickly and before we new it, the tank was sitting in its new home:


Along with the tank, we got a new sump made up:


After a quick cleanup, we finally got to admire the handiwork that Lang had done. The silicone work is flawless as is the glass work and there is a lot of little things on this tank that really impress. He was quite chuffed with himself when we picked it up and you can see in the work he does that he is very passionate about building top quality tanks.

The tank is euro braced (it is 4x4x2.5) and the front brace is set down 5mm so that when you are working on the tank, and water you drag with you gets caught on the brace and doesn't drop down the front pane of glass. With the bevelled edges and silicone work, the 5mm drop is almost imperceptible to the eye:


All the edges are reenforced with 10mm strip as well but with the black silicon you cannot really see it and the tank really has the feel of looking at TV screen:



As we wanted the maximum possible scape'ing space, we went with an external, coast to coast weir that will be running a Bean Animal 3 pipe overflow and 2 returns:



Once the tank was up and everyone had left, I jumped in and gave it a quick clean and the proceeded to get to work on the plumbing. I have made decent progress so far having completed the 2 returns and manifold and will hopefully tomorrow complete the overflows and the rest of the under-tank plumbing leaving only wiring to get the tank up and running. I will get some status update pics tomorrow to show how the plumbing is going.

It is a huge relief to finally have the tank here and I have to say it looks great, Lang has done a great job on it and it really is hard to fault but now the real hard work begins with getting it plumbed, wired etc and then scaped and stocked! Let the fun begin!

03/20/2017, 04:50 PM
Got all the main plumbing done yesterday - return lines, manifold, pump and BeanAnimal overflow.


We also started playing with a trial run of the scape


The piece of supporting perspex will come out and have the backing paper removed and will also have some holes cut in it for both circulation and to allow fish to swim between.

More to come later this week :)

03/20/2017, 05:12 PM
We had a play around with the first dry run of the scape last night and got all of the rock in -






We are pretty happy with it so far. It will all come out again and the backing paper on the perspex will be removed and some holes will be cut in the perspex to line up with some cracks in the rocks to allow water flow and fish to swim through. We are also thinking of trimming hte perspex back a bit and trying to "disrupt" the edge so it is not as much of a straight line on.

03/21/2017, 06:00 AM
You appear to be well on your way to getting the new tank up and running but you have not mentioned how you will protect it from the same sort of power failure that decimated your last tank.


03/21/2017, 07:30 AM
The tank, scape seem to be progressing. The skimmer cup seems awfully tight. Is there room for cleaning and maintenance?

03/21/2017, 09:03 AM
Really nice! Beautiful Tank!

03/21/2017, 12:56 PM
You appear to be well on your way to getting the new tank up and running but you have not mentioned how you will protect it from the same sort of power failure that decimated your last tank.

Hi Dave,

I have a new 2.2kva ups sitting here ready to slot in under the tank. Once i have everything wired up i will do a test run and see how long it lasts. If i am not happy with the run time then i have found a 6kva deisel generator that is auto start and will get it wired into the house :)

03/21/2017, 12:59 PM
The tank, scape seem to be progressing. The skimmer cup seems awfully tight. Is there room for cleaning and maintenance?
Due to the extra hight of the tank (2.5 vs the usual 2 high) i tried to keep everything as low as possible so yes there is onky just enough toom for the skimmer. There is ebkugh room to get the cup out and also get the entire skimmer out - the sump is only 350mm high for this reason - but yes it is a bit tight so what i am going to do is take the bit of board off that is above the skimmer and cut a whole out above the skimmer - thos will give an extra 50mm to play with, not much but every little bit counts

03/21/2017, 09:56 PM
Wow your build is amazing so far, I love the quality on that tank and I can't wait to see it full. I really like DIY and saving money so I wanted to pick your mind alittle about the doser you made. If you wouldn't mind could you give a bit of detail on how exactly you put it together and what all your had to purchase (what pumps, circuitry, etc.), a diagram would be cool if you have one but you deffenetly don't need to make one just for me haha. Also would it be possible for me to get a copy of the file you 3D printed? I have access to a 3D printer but no particular skill in creating the model plus using yours would mean the pumps and everything would fit for sure. Sorry to intrude on your thread but it just looked like to good a way to save $$ not to ask about haha. Happy reefing!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk

03/22/2017, 10:12 PM
Wow your build is amazing so far, I love the quality on that tank and I can't wait to see it full. I really like DIY and saving money so I wanted to pick your mind alittle about the doser you made. If you wouldn't mind could you give a bit of detail on how exactly you put it together and what all your had to purchase (what pumps, circuitry, etc.), a diagram would be cool if you have one but you deffenetly don't need to make one just for me haha. Also would it be possible for me to get a copy of the file you 3D printed? I have access to a 3D printer but no particular skill in creating the model plus using yours would mean the pumps and everything would fit for sure. Sorry to intrude on your thread but it just looked like to good a way to save $$ not to ask about haha. Happy reefing!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk

Am happy to share the details / drawings etc but will likely start a thread on DIY forum when ready.

03/23/2017, 04:58 AM
Am happy to share the details / drawings etc but will likely start a thread on DIY forum when ready.
Cool, I look forward to it.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk

03/30/2017, 11:50 PM
Hi All,

Has been a lot of work done between the last post and now.

After doing a couple of dry runs with the rock work, we got everything how we liked it so I then proceeded to mark out some gaps in the rock work on the acrylic and cut out those areas to allow some water flow and fish to swim between layers. Then finished the acrylic off by flame finishing all the edges to give it a real clean finish - note to self, take the backing paper off prior to flame finishing the edges next time!


Prior to slotting the rock work in for the last time, we covered the base with black sand - we thought the black contrast will pop the colours a bit more. We went with CaribSea Arag-Alive sand -


Rosie sorting the sand out - great to have a tank you can get into!

On Sunday night we began the lengthy process of filling the tank with RO water -

It was great to finally get a wet tank!!!!!!!!

By Tuesday morning, we still had a while to go!

Whilst waiting for the tank to fill, I got the reactor plumbing finished off -

And Tuesday afternoon we were almost there -

Man did that phase take a while! It is amazing how long the surface tension kept the tank from spilling over but when it finally did, it was a relief, but we still had to wait for the sump to fill. By 10pm that night it still had not but it was not far off so I turned the water off and was up again early Wednesday morning and got it going again. Within an hour, we had a fully wet tank and had the pumps running!


I currently have the pump set to turn over about 6000 lt / hr and man does it create some throughput through the sump.

During the week, I managed to snag an APC 7922 Switched PDU for a good price so decided to grab it instead of making my own controlled power board so the next job was to begin the wiring. I moved the APC 2200 UPS under the tank and connected up the PDU along with some of the ancillaries - still need to mount the PDU and start tidying up the cabling etc which will be a job for this weekend but off to a good start -



It looks like I have hit the 10 photo limit so moving onto the next post . . .

03/30/2017, 11:50 PM
cont from the last post -

And one of the things I got cabled up was 2 of the new lights, there are still 2 more to go on which will come over from our other tank once we have the coral migrated.


When looking at the tank like this, we are really happy with the way the Floating Reef has come up and how the black sand works! Even Edna our Cockatiel approves (top right corner)

During the week I also picked up a rare yellow Yuma Ric which will look great on the black background -


Also also a pink Yuma which our Tomato Clown managed to photobomb -


We are now 3 days into a Dr Tim's cycle and if everything goes to plan we will start moving fish in next week and then coral in a couple of weeks. Still a lot of work to do with cabling etc which will hopefully get done this weekend.

03/31/2017, 10:34 AM
I have to say I absolutely love the floating island idea, and the holes in the acrylic to match. Very unique idea and it looks fantastic! Great job.

03/31/2017, 10:38 AM
Why are the rocks up in the air?

03/31/2017, 01:17 PM
Why are the rocks up in the air?

The main reason - why not?

The other reason - the tank is 2.5' deep so to make it easier to reach everything we spaced the rock work up about 6inch

03/31/2017, 03:16 PM
Very interesting build! I was thinking with the floating island you could really blast the flow under and around the island to prevent detritus build up. But with sand you can't really do that. Looks cool though and will definitely make it easier to reach in.

04/04/2017, 05:29 AM
Wiring and all things electrical are progressing. Last weekend I got started on the main wiring, getting the PDU, a few of the power bricks, the main cable runs and 2 of the lights in.



I managed to find some black wiring conduit (which is surprisingly hard to find here for some reason) which just happens to be the same height as the gap above the euro bracing on each side so I ran a strip between each of the lights and also down the side of the tank to hide the light cables and also the power head cables.



The PDU really is making life easy as far as connecting everything and also controlling it.

And until tonight, all the cabling was nice and tidy but I added to heaters, a Raspberry PI, an Arduino and a Wi-Fi access point into the mix and need to go and tidy that up now.


On the software front, I could not get the heaters in until I had got the Arduino and Raspberry talking to each other with a Atlas Scientific RTD temp probe and circuit. I have spent the last few nights stuffing around with processing serial messages and then interfacing with the PDU over SNMP and finally got all that working tonight which was a relief. Basically, the RTD board is hooked up to an Arduino board which takes a sample every 30 seconds then pushes it out over Serial. The Raspberry connects to the Arduino board via USB / Serial and then there is a java app that consumes the data and figures out if the temp is to high, too low or just right and then communicates with the PDU over the network via SNMP to turn the appropriate ports for the heaters on and off.

I have also got logging of temp and a few other things working and am also working on the dosing pump control interface which should be done later this week.



The tank is cycling at the moment - we went with Dr Tims but it seems to be taking a few days to kick in, hopefully any day now it will be cycled - fingers crossed.

04/09/2017, 08:58 PM
There has not been a whole lot of progress to update on of late. We started a Dr Tim's fishless cycle 14 days ago and since then we have not seen Ammonia drop.

On day 1 we put in a 16oz bottle along with an extra 4oz bottle and added 300 drops of their ammonia chloride and then left the tank for a couple of days. On day 3 as per the instructions we added another 300 drops and then left it to simmer again.
The next day I started taking tests with a API Ammonia test kit and got a reading of 2ppm so didnt add any more Ammonia, expecting it to drop off by the next day.

Next day came around and we are still reading 2ppm - oh well, must be a slow starter, wait another day.

Every day since then, we have been getting a reading of around 2ppm on the API kit - I thought there must be something wrong with the test kit so took a water sample to the LFS and they got a reading of approx 0.25 on a Salifert test kit - YEY!!!!! Ammonia is down!

At this point, I was in 2 minds about putting some fish in there to keep the cycle going or doing the last phase of the Dr Tims and adding another 300 drops and then waiting until Ammonia is down to 0 - I decided on the latter and as it seemed my test kit was a dud, went out and and picked up a new RedSea Ammonia test kit. Get home, test the water again with the RedSea kit and it is reading about 1.2-1.5ish - ***????? I grab the API kit and test my other tank and it gives a reading of 0 (which it should!) so the API kit seems fine. Run a test again with both kits and still get a reading of approx 2 on the API and 1.2ish on the RedSea so it would seem the Salifert kit at the LFS was a dud - lucky I tested again instead of putting fish in.

We are now 13 days into a Dr Tim's cycle and am still getting 1.2ish on the RedSea kit - here is the test from this morning:

2 days ago I also added another 2 4oz bottle of Dr Tims One and Only.

The tank currently has 3 x large Marine Pure Bio blocks, 16 x small (2inchx2inch) MarinePure bio blocks and approx 85kg (190lb) or Marco rock along with approx 30kg / 65lb pf CaribSea Arag-Alive Hawaiian black sand. We filled the tank up with RO with a 0 TDS reading all the way through along with 40kg of AquaForest Reef Salt.

Speaking with Dr Tim and the local importer, they are saying they think the CaribSea sand is causing ammonia and also pointing the finger at the AquaForest salt saying it will be leaching ammonia. I kind of get it about the CaribSea (it is a live sand and anything that is live can become dead and hence decay and cause ammonia) but also think that if it were the cause, why are we not seeing spikes, why are we seeing the exact same reading day in day out - ammonia does not go up or down so I am thinking there is something else wrong.

Now I understand that the first 2 rules of marine tanks are "Be Patient" but I spent a lot of money on a few bottles of "Dr Tim's Dont be Patient" so am starting to get a bit frustrated with this process. Hopefully any day now we start seeing ammonia drop.

04/11/2017, 05:55 PM
Yey! we finally have a cycle going. Took a reading last night and ammonia is down to sub 0.5 and nitrites are up over 5ppm so just need to wait now for the nitrites to drop and then look at a water change to clean up the resulting nitrates and then we can get some fish in - any day now.

04/23/2017, 01:56 AM
There has been a lot of progress over the last few days.

Ammonia hit zero about a week ago but Nitrite was still up pretty high so we decided to wait it out. I gave up on the testing for a few days and then Thursday did a test and whalla - Nitrite is down to zero. Next test was Nitrate which was down to 6ppm - Yey, not only can we get fish in there, but we can also start moving some of the coral in.

Easier said than done! We have been trying to catch the fish out of our old tank for a few days now. So far, we have managed to catch the Tomato Clown, Leopard Wrasse and Lawnmower Blennie, with the 2 tangs still to come.


I started moving some of the rics over, initially placing some on the sand - man I do love the contrast the black sand gives to the colour of the rics, but then decided to move them up on to the rock work.



I also moved a couple of rhod's over and some duncans.


I am really going to enjoy this rock when time comes to start moving and putting in SPS - all the holes and texture make it so easy to place coral!

On the tank setup from, things are still a bit of a mess underneath as it progresses. I picked up a Tunze 3155 Ozmolator and 60L acrylic tank for ATO the other day and that quickly went in - I had planned on making my own ATO but got a good deal on this pair so thought what the heck.

I have also moved the heaters over to a solid state relay instead of being driven off the APC Switched PDU - the PDU has mechanical relays in it and after logging the on off events, I realised that there was a switching event on the heater circuits every 6 or so minutes and that the mechanical relays would soon wear out. So I knocked up a SSR circuit and added a second Arduino to the mix and made some software changes and now have the heaters being driven on a SSR - the added benefit is it also allows me to move the heaters off the UPS - the heaters are the single largest power consumer in the whole tank so moving the heaters off to mains power will massively extend the run time in the event of a power outage (it does not get that cold where I am and I would prefer to have a cooler tank that is circulating for a long time than a warm tank that is circulating for a very short time) .

The control side of the system has had a few updates both software and hardware wise. There is still the Raspberry PI main controller but there are now 3 arduino boards interfacing to it over USB / Serial. The main board is running all the Atlas Scientific probes on a Whiteboxes Tentacle Shield / Board. The board is running Temp, Salinity / Conductivity, ORP, Dissolved Oxygen and PH. I did a full calibration on all the sensors but I think the conductivity is reading a bit out so will have to do it again.

The sensors are all located in a little quad bracket that I 3d printed the other day.


The second arduino board is for the heater controller and any other general purpose IO I may need down the track. I have a couple of float switches I need to wire in which will be done on this board as well as a few solenoids etc for water changes still tho come.

The 3rd arduino board if dedicated to the dosing system. There are currently 4 channels running on it but I have enough IO on the arduino to wire in many more if needed.


I spent most of the day testing and fine tuning the dosing system, making sure all the math was right as well as getting the UI done.


The UI allows you to set how much you want to dose per day on a per pump basis, calibrate each pump, say how many times a day you would like to dose (taking the daily dose amount and dividing it by the number of times a day) and also prime the pumps. After a lot of testing, I sent it live today with AquaForest Component 123+ , the 4th channel is free at the moment.

In addition to dosing, the tank is now live with AquaForest Zeo, Carbon and Phos (had to go FaunaMarin on phos as the AF stuff is ludicrous expensive when you can only get the 5lt bucket) so will keep a close eye on it and see how things go.

Next step will be to clean up all the new wiring that is underneath as well as make up some cases for the various control boards.

04/23/2017, 01:56 AM

Last but not least, a few cleanup crew went in - we picked up a couple of sand sifting stars, Nas snails, throchus snails and a coupe of hermit crab - we will add to all of these over the coming weeks as e increase the load on the tank.


For the moment, we are just going to focus on getting the last fish out of the old tank and moving the coral over and then we have a bunch of fish in quarantine that will be going in in about 2 weeks.

05/02/2017, 06:01 PM
It has been a busy few days once again, moving fish and coral over as well as getting some new coral for the tank.

We got the Tomato Clown, Leopard Wrasse, Lawnmower Blenny and Sailfin Tang moved over pretty quickly but the Nigricans Tang proved to be very difficult to trap. We tried a couple of different traps but he was too smart to go all the way in to any of them. Last night, we finally moved the last of the coral from the old tank tot he new tank which meant we could break up the rock work - I moved it all into one corner of the tank and 2 minutes later after a bit of chasing we managed to net the Nigricans and get him into the new tank.

Next step on the fish front will be to move the guys who are in quarantine over. There is a Sohal Tang, pair of Kuiters Leopard Wrasse and a Colini Angel who will be ready to move over at the end of this week - am really looking forward to seeing the Colini in the new tank especially with the rock shelf setup we have which should create a great environment for him.

Last but not least was the addition of some new coral. We are going to try and take it slow on this front, with an approach of getting smaller pieces and letting them grow into the tank which I feel gives a better look and feel down the track but means your tank looks a bit barren for a while.

Here are a couple of the new pieces we picked up -




The last piece I saw on Saturday in the store and decided against getting, but couldnt stop thinking about it all night so went back out Sunday and grabbed - it is the coolest lavender / purple colour and for a monti has the greatest patterning on it I have ever seen I just had to have it!

I also broke out my DSLR with the macro lens on it and got some close ups in the new tank -







05/02/2017, 06:03 PM
This 10 image limit is a pain . . . .






We changed over to AquaForest Probiotic salt last weekend also and have had a bit of a bacterial bloom since the change (did a 10% change) and just waiting for that to clear up and will then get some whole of tank shots :)

I feel now that we finally a tank up and running - there is always plenty of work to do but it is a little less stressful now, especially that we have got the fish over!

Rene Obergfell
05/02/2017, 06:24 PM
is that black sand?

how do you like it?

05/02/2017, 07:44 PM
is that black sand?

how do you like it?

Yes we decided to go with black sand - we had seen a LFS try it in a nano tank and really liked the contrast it provided - it seems to make all the colours look much more vivid.

We went with CaribSea Hawaiian Black Arag-Alive sand - for no particular reason than it was all we could get in black - it caused some issues with cycling which eventually sorted them self out.

Now that it is in, we love it, we do not have much coral down in the sand yet but between the fish and the coral that is there to black really does provide that background you want for a colourful tank.

Rene Obergfell
05/02/2017, 08:02 PM
I'm really thinking on it. I've used white for 15 years....
I want a change.
Is it hard to keep clean?

Your system looks incredible!
Incredible piece of furniture

05/02/2017, 08:27 PM
I'm really thinking on it. I've used white for 15 years....
I want a change.
Is it hard to keep clean?

Your system looks incredible!
Incredible piece of furniture

So far I dont think it is any harder to keep clean - the process of cleaning is the same and to be honest you see less on the black sand so it doesn't look as dirty - you just need to make sure you clean as you normally would.

With that in mind though, and due to the way the rock work is, we have a couple of small power heads down low in the tank to keep water circulating over the sand and through the rock work overhang, have added some sand sifting star fish (2 so far, more to come) and will be adding a number of gobies to the tank to keep the sand turning over and clean. As there is no rock work resting on the sand, the gobies can go to town and do what they want with the sand without upsetting the rock work.

Thanks for the praise! :)

05/10/2017, 11:30 PM
Here are a couple more close ups of some coral we added the other day. It is slowly starting to come together.


05/11/2017, 12:07 AM
Also have a couple of front shots - the great thing about a 4x4 is that there really is no front, there are 3 in our scenario :)


And also got this one which was very happy with -


I had done a test with a RedSea kit and couldn't believe the result, then our Hanna Checkers turned up and gave the same result, now just need to make sure we keep it there! Someone has mentioned that I should look at getting a Phosphorous test kit which you can then apply some math to to get more accurate / low range results with so will need to look into that.

05/11/2017, 05:56 AM
Great looking tank! I love the dimensions and the floating island. The black sand really gives the tank some depth. Great job!

05/12/2017, 11:49 AM
I love your set up!

05/16/2017, 01:04 AM
I finally pulled my finger out over the weekend and got down to the hardware store and picked up the materials for doors for the cabinet / stand.

I have kept it pretty clean and simple in line with our old AquaReef 395 with the simple clip on / magnetic panels - went with 16mm MDF and will epoxy paint them.

I got them cut to size over the weekend and in place, just need to sand and paint now.


I will hopefully get that finished this week and then the stand is finished, leaving some cabling work still to go underneath.

We also received a delivery of 18 aqua cultured SPS frags from Sustainable Reefs the other day -


I dont have shots of them in the tank yet as am still deciding on where all the final resting places will be which should also be done later this week but man, are there some great colours here! Here are the samples from the supplier -


We are pretty much fully stocked on the coral front now (a couple of more deliveries coming later this week) - we have taken the approach of mainly getting smaller pieces and frags and then letting them grow into the tank rather than getting large colonies so now it is just a waiting and maintenance game.

Will get more pics of the tank once all the coral is in its spot and also when the doors are painted.

05/16/2017, 09:31 PM
So how do you like the Ethereal LEDs? I saw them at MACNA, but finding it very hard to find anyone who's using them on tanks. Plenty of reviews from aquarium blogs but those you have to take with a grain of salt anyways

05/17/2017, 02:07 PM
Thought I read somewhere about various probes and temp sensors being too close to skew readings (interference maybe)? I know my 2000 model Neptune back with the X10's stated this. May not be an issue now.

Nice tank btw.

05/17/2017, 06:16 PM
So how do you like the Ethereal LEDs? I saw them at MACNA, but finding it very hard to find anyone who's using them on tanks. Plenty of reviews from aquarium blogs but those you have to take with a grain of salt anyways

They have been really good to date Mike - we had 2 of them on our old 4x2 and we loved the look of them - the mounting system is nice and clean and works with euro braced tanks well. As far as lighting for coral goes, they were really good too - we had great growth and coloration on all coral including SPS - I cant compare them to any other lights as I have not tried too many others but we were happy enough to go and double down and put 4 of them on the new tank.

The control app is pretty good and lets you control setup some nice light profiles and also comes with some good base maps to start with. Hard to fault really.

Lets see how they go in this tank though - it is a bit deeper than the old one and a bit more SPS dominated. Time will tell .

05/17/2017, 06:18 PM
Thought I read somewhere about various probes and temp sensors being too close to skew readings (interference maybe)? I know my 2000 model Neptune back with the X10's stated this. May not be an issue now.

Nice tank btw.

I used the atlas scientific probes with the Whiteboxes arduino board which includes electrical isolation on each individual circuit which is meant to remove this issue - I did however calibrate and test each sensor in isolation and then in the complete setup and there does not seem to have been any skew of readings so the isolation seems to be doing its job.

And thank you :)

05/17/2017, 06:47 PM
love the cube

07/08/2017, 05:36 PM
Here is a quick video update on the tank after a couple of months. We havr been battling various algea and cyano issues and also had a alk ossue which led to some drama with sps but we feel we are getting on top of things now.


11/24/2017, 02:52 PM
link doesnt work

11/25/2017, 08:19 AM
Great looking tank !
Sea Dwellers

11/25/2017, 10:58 AM
Great looking tank! I like the elevated rock, but am curious as to the flow you have under there. Is it significant enough to prevent excessive build up of debris?