View Full Version : 600g Lagoon Reef- New concepts and designs

06/05/2017, 11:19 AM
Hey Reefers,

As a professional athlete who's finally able to commit a little more time to the hobby due to an injury I decided to document the trials and tribulations of my lagoon and reef build. I've learned a lot in this hobby over the years and I hope to shed some light on some false concepts and things I have had to learn the hard way. Maybe you guys will catch one of my mistakes during this extensive build and steer me in the right direction as well. Since not everything in this hobby is an exact science and a lot of what we learn is through anecdotal evidence. I enjoy sparking intelligent conversations about the hobby and bettering the environment for future reefers. Things have definitely evolved in the seven years I've been reefing.

To get started I thought I'd share some pictures and videos of my prior set up. The 250 gallon lagoon held up well for years despite my constant absence. Water changes were almost never done and the tank relied heavily on natural filtration. Most of these fish were juveniles when I introduced them to the aquarium but quickly outgrew the tank.

The hardest fish to part with was a Spiny Puffer named Manatee. He was full of personality and it was like letting go of a puppy that had outgrew your home. He was tame to the point where you could pet him and scratch his belly. He lived for attention and would even spray you with water when he saw you were leaving. I had him for five years and never dreamed he would outgrow such a large tank. Manatee is currently awaiting adoption papers to Seaworld Florida.

Here's a video: https://youtu.be/i5Tf6tOVVwg

and a picture: http://imgur.com/utRDA3O

If anyone is interested here is a build thread on constructing the LED lights years ago. http://imgur.com/a/4vnQf

Despite common belief a strong population of mangroves managed to keep the nutrients low in this setup. Some issues I ran into were the rocks falling over as the roots grew and the fish eating the roots. I highly suggest using Bonsai anodized aluminum wire to direct the trees growth. I was able to get them to grow together and even act as a support system as they grew. I kept a small spray bottle of RODI water on hand and would occasionally spray the salt creep off of them. I'm fortunate enough to be able to just collect the propagules locally. Most online sellers (especially the ones in Hawaii) start these trees off in fresh water. I believe this is why many reefers struggle with this method.

I started my new setup with around 5-600 lbs of live rock to build my structures. This time around I elected to use the Haitian rock due to it's flat surfaces and shapes. I believe the older bolder designs in the past have led to some limits in flow patterns and I believe the hobby is moving towards a more minimalistic rockscape. I plan on growing a lot more coral like I had in my previous tanks. This is another reason I had to donate a lot of fish. Building a biological filtration population that could sustain that many fish would have taken a long time.


I used dry rock for a variety of reasons but I'd say the main benefits are not introducing pests into a new system and cost. In a tank this large it is really hard to catch something once it's in the system. I also planned on using a mortar and silicone system to adhere the rocks to each other in order to have a stable structure for the new mangrove roots. To be honest I regret buying live sand and wish I had went with dry. Live sand clouds up the system so badly it took days of protein skimming to remove the dust cloud. I even added the sand prior to the salt water to avoid this. IMO the best method is to use dry sand and wash it thoroughly.


This was only a few hours of skimming


This time around I cycled my system using bacteria additives. Despite the claims it is very possible to overdose these products. My cycle was dropping the ammonia added at a rapid rate and suddenly stopped when I added the powerful "turbo start" Fritz offers. What I believe happened is there was so much bacteria (it smelled god aweful) the trace elements were being removed too quickly. Once I reintroduced these through water changes and additives the cycle started all over again. I then ran into an unbalance; the phosphates would start bottoming out and the leave the nitrates extremely high. I still have this issue but I was actually able to get things going again by adding some Coca-cola to the system utilizing the sugar and phosphates it contains.

Cycling this tank was a nightmare for me. If I had to do it all over again I would use a bacteria additive based on the products recommendations and not overdo it. The system is still cycling two months later. I couldnt keep a few of the fish in holding for two long so I was forced to add a large bioload to the tank a few weeks into the cycle. I did this as gradual as possible.


I'm currently dosing Vodka, Zeostart3, ZeoBak, and SeaChem Stability in order to gain decent biological population before I start making too many changes to the system. I have the 150 gallon reef cycling as well, as soon as thats done I will tie it into this system and hopefully establish an strong bacterial population. The plan is to get to the point where I'm just using only the ZeoStart and ZeoBak as my carbon source and bacteria additive. I'm using a gallon of Marinepure spheres, the 4x8x10 block, 4 liters of matrix and maybe even some pond matrix in my sump in the future. I'm currently growing out Dragons Breath macro algae and plan on having a large enough amount in the 60 gallon refugium to keep nutrients low.

06/05/2017, 11:58 AM
wow incredible

06/06/2017, 07:31 PM
Awesome tank! What kind of evaporation rate do you see on that size of tank?

Also curious which sport you play?

06/11/2017, 09:57 AM
Awesome tank! What kind of evaporation rate do you see on that size of tank?

Also curious which sport you play?

Thank you guys! When the full system is up and running I have around 32-35 gallons evaporated a week of loss. I expect this to fluctuate a lot in the near future. I plan on building magnetized wainscoting panels around the tank. I also have a lot more flow than I had in the past. The plan is to use the new Neptune**** auto top of a splice in a jumper for the Solenoid and the pump and have my auto top off reservoir in another location. This will make it so my RODI is not short cycling and I plan to have my tank top off in intervals throughout the day.

I've also decided to start keeping my own log book of test results. I have an Apex and it has these options but I this will be another way to bring out my creative side and give me an opportunity to sketch.

This is a great logbook I found for under 8 bucks.

**** I have had all kinds of problems with Neptune products and their customer support is horrible. After hours of reading forums and troubleshooting I found out my Energybar832 was bad. I have only had it a few months so it should be under warranty right? Well it's the customer's responsibility to pay to send it to them. This also increases the turnaround time of getting this essential item you paid so much for to begin with. I have never had these problems with Ecotech. In fact, it's been the opposite. They send out a new product with a dollar deposit and I can get ahold of their customer service in minutes.

I was a swimmer, I tried out for the Olympic team last year and even had George Bush As a sponsor (amazing man). I broke my neck in the military and was supposed to be paralyzed for life. I worked for years using the pool as a median and got to the point where I was shooting for the paraolympics. I eventually healed to the point I didn't qualify for para and went for the Olympics.



Sugar Magnolia
06/12/2017, 09:53 AM
Thanks for your Military service and congratulations on your amazing recovery!!

06/13/2017, 10:12 AM
Thanks for your Military service and congratulations on your amazing recovery!!

Thank you!

Here's an updated picture on how the tank is cycling and looking.

I was able to cycle my tank quickly and start growing SPS coral at around 15 days. It took about a month to see a drop in nitrates without water changes.

Here's how I did it! (http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?p=25115415#post25115415)


06/13/2017, 01:07 PM
Here's some shots of the rockwork before I added sand and water


06/26/2017, 11:38 AM
It's time to start adding mangroves!

It's early in the season so most of the propagules collected are pretty small. I suggest starting these in some kind of substrate like Miracle Mud if your phosphates are low enough and you're not prone to algae. My tank is rather new and for my application it is best to lodge them into the rock structure securely so the roots can take hold. My rock work is set up so the tangs do not have access to the roots. With that said, it's also important to have some kind of flow for the roots that are exposed to just water and no substrate.

As the mangroves grow I plan on using bonsai anodized aluminum wire to direct the trees.


It's really hard to place coral and mangroves with the eels. I was bit yesterday. The eels do not like any changes to their rock and will defend it violently.


Before adding them to my tank I soaked the mangroves in tap water and coral dip.


They know what they did.

I added the mangroves to both of my rock structures. I hope to have them meet in the middle using the bonsai wire


If you have any questions about Mangroves I'd be happy to answer them. I have kept them successfully for years.

06/29/2017, 11:32 AM
Finally! It was time to add SPS to my system!

I'll try and get some pictures when the corals start really opening up. If anyone has experience with these corals and wants to offer any advice I'd appreciate it!

New stock list!

Garf Bonsai
Mr Packman
Blue Monster
Miyagi Tort
Red Planet
Sunset Monti
Tyree Rainbow Stylo
Tyree Toxic Green cap
ORA Red Goniopora
Shock Tart
Raspberry Limeade
Purple Cap
Some kind of Green Acropora

ORA clam
Peacock Mantis Shrimp (sump)

So far I'm really digging the Garf Bonsai, Packman, and the Red Planet. I ended up getting a copy of @WWC Radions program since they're pros over there and keep them about the same distance off the water in their farm. I had mine at 60% and they've been running theirs at 30%. I'm definitely looking into a PAR meter.

06/29/2017, 07:13 PM
wow...some day if I ever buy a house I want a LARGE peninsula tank!