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clownfish4
08/27/2017, 03:50 PM
WARNING

This thread will be VERY slow. Read at your own risk.

Background

I've been in the hobby for 15 years now. I've had tanks ranging from 5 gallons up to 125 gallons. I've had reefs and fish only tanks and have kept species from the majority of families readily available in the hobby. Most of the tanks I've had up until this point have been very low tech, relying on simple DIY mechanisms cheap materials, like milk cartons.

My current tank is going in the opposite direction. I've decided to try some of the fancy toys and go for a sleeker look overall. I've never created a tank thread before, so I figured I would start here and share everything I've done, why I've done it, and hopefully get some constructive feedback to improve my tank.

Problems

These are the biggest problems, as I see them now. I'll reference each in more detail further down this post.

- Flow rate in sump is too low
- Light isn't controllable by Apex
- pH, calcium, and alkalinity are low (with no livestock)
- Temp probe is poorly placed
- Skimmer is difficult to dial in

Current Tank

18 L x 16 W x 12 H (~18 gallons)
Rimless
1/2 acrylic
Custom built by Advanced Acrylics

The back is a rock wall I built. This is my first time building one and I think it came out okay. I used BRS dry rock, pond foam, egg crate, and dried out Arag Alive special grade sand. The only issue I had was not getting good coverage on the foam with the epoxy, so there's still a lot of black. However, I think it will actually add some good perception of depth when there are SPS corals growing on the wall.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4340/36851323395_053f9369f1_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Y9qEyK)IMG_2866 (https://flic.kr/p/Y9qEyK) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Sump

18 L x 10 W
Rimless
1/4 acrylic
3 chambers in a u-shaped flow pattern
Customer built by Advanced Acrylics

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4392/36851021375_4e741b0988_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Y9p7Mv)Sump Design Cube(2) (https://flic.kr/p/Y9p7Mv) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4404/36851321075_8d454441e3_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Y9qDSK)IMG_2864 (https://flic.kr/p/Y9qDSK) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Lighting

AI Hydra
AI Director
16K at peak hour, slightly bluer ramping up and down

This is the only production LED fixture I have used. Before I got this I used two DIY LED pendants that were not controllable. The look in the tank is great and I love the controllability, however I do not like that it cannot be controlled by the Apex. I know the discontinued AWM module can control it, but I do not want to use a discontinued module.

I've had two issues with this light to date. The first was that the firmware wouldn't update because the original power cord for the Director wasn't sufficient to keep the device properly powered while upgrading the firmware of the light. The second issue I had was interference on the wi-fi channels preventing the light's firmware from updating. These problems are exasperated by the fact that they become problematic when the light randomly stops working, so the tank loses it's light for hours or days while trying to fix.

As I am not attached to this light, I am looking for something more reliable that is controllable by the Apex. Since everything else on the Apex is wired, I'd probably prefer a light with a physical connection to avoid issues with wi-fi or internet in controlling the light. Suggestions welcome!

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4424/36681032312_0a4cf9d0f8_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XTnSXA)Screenshot from 2017-08-27 17:47:03 (https://flic.kr/p/XTnSXA) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Water Movement

My return pump is a Sicce Syncra 2.0, 568 gph operating at approximately 4 feet of head and feeding the aquarium through 2 1/2 returns. This was upgraded from a QuietOne 296 gph pump. Both pump were chosen based on the limited size of the return compartment in the sump.

The biggest issue I have is that the flow in the refugium is too stagnant. I am considering upgrading to the EcoTech Vectra S1 DC 1400 gph pump. In order to do so, I will have to drill a hole in the side of the sump and run the pump externally, due to its size. However, this will allow me full control of the return pump through the Apex and alleviate my flow issues in the sump.

The alternative solution is to put a small power head in the refugium, but given how small it is, I do not think this is a practical solution and has fewer benefits than upgrading to the Vectra.

The aquarium has a Tunze Turbelle Nanostream operating on a wave program. I will be adding the Apex pump control module to get better control of the Nanostream, allowing me to switch from the wave action to a constant, slow flow at night.

Since the tank is rimless, it had to be thick, meaning I can't use the Vortech MP10. This is a bummer as I don't care for the cord of the Tunze in the tank.

Control

As you've probably picked up on, I'm using an Apex. This is the first time I've ever used a controller on a tank. Even though my tank is small, I decided to get the Apex 2016. The price point is reasonable for what's included and I expect it to last for many years, so it will be perfect when I upgrade my tank.

Currently I do not have any exapnsion modules and am not using anything that isn't include in the 2016. In other words, I am using it to control my power outlets and to monitor pH, temp, conductivity, and ORP.

The experience with the Apex has been interesting so far. I love the power control, being able to monitor power usage, the alerts, etc. The only thing that's been a bit tricky is the use of the probes. The instructions clearly state that the ORP probe takes a couple of weeks to calibrate itself, but do not say anything about the conductivity probe. I have not done anything to change the salinity of the tank since I added the Apex, with the exception of the minor fluctuations from evaporation top off. Yet the conductivity probe took about two weeks to reflect the actual conductivity of the tank, slowly climbing from single digits to ~35.

First Week

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4417/36017192274_34a2c74deb_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/WSHwrG)Screenshot from 2017-08-27 17:37:55 (https://flic.kr/p/WSHwrG) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Last Week

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4342/36851577725_899bdd0891_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Y9rYaK)Screenshot from 2017-08-27 17:38:26 (https://flic.kr/p/Y9rYaK) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

I also need to figure out how to relocate the temp probe. It is currently located just upstream of the heater, which is much too close.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4432/36016923254_5a4198135b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/WSG9tq)IMG_2865 (https://flic.kr/p/WSG9tq) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Stand

I built the stand myself. As you can tell, I am not a carpenter, and built this without the best tools. I'm overall happy with the way it turned out, but there are definitely some imperfections. I plan on adding a door soon and some trim on the top to hide the imperfections on the top of the panels. I may end up doing trim down the side corners as well.

Water Parameters

Temp Apex keeps it between 78 and 79 F, but the actual tank is likely colder due to the location of the temp probe. (measured by Apex probe)

pH Chronically low. I have kalk in the top off water and the pH rarely goes above 7.8. (measured by Apex probe)

Conductivity Hovers between 33.5 and 34.5. (measured by Apex probe)

ORP Fluctuates a lot between 300 and 400. (measured by Apex probe)

Nitrate 0 ppm (Salifert)

Phosphate 0 ppm (Salifert)

Magnesium 1050 ppm (Salifert)

Calcium 350 mg/L (Hanna)

Alkalinity 8.4 dKH (Hanna)

Supplements

Currently only adding kalk powder to the top off reservoir. I am likely going to use the BRS calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium powders, but haven't settled on a dosing method yet. I would like to use the Apex dosing system, but the system only has two heads and I need three. I don't particularly want to use two of them, especially if one pump won't get used at all. I will most likely use the Apex dosing system to constantly drip calcium and alkalinity and manually dose magnesium once a week.

Filtration

Skimmer Cad Lights PLS-100, 3rd Gen. I hate this skimmer. It is extremely difficult to dial in. I love that is fits in the tight space, but the foam production is not great and it is impossible to get consistent performance due to how hard it is to dial in. The output hole is so small that a tiny has significant impact on the water level. The lock knobs have to be kept tight so that it doesn't fluctuate when in use, so the only way to adjust it is to completely remove it, make an adjustment, put it back in, and wait. This process is awful.

I've been researching nano-skimmers for a couple of years and have yet to find something that I think will work better. Would love suggestions here.

Activated Carbon I will throw a bag in the sump from time to time, but do not plan on running carbon 24/7 by any means.

Stocking List

Currently the tank only has sand and rock in it. The tank will be SPS, with one clam. My plan is to only feed live foods, so the fish need to be carnivores. I also want to avoid jumpers, as I don't want to have an open top tank. My plan is to culture Tisbe biminiensis to feed the tank. I am debating whether or not to culture another species of pod, brine, and/or black woms. My only issue with blackworms is that they grow very large, so I would only be able to feed new borns to my nano fish.

For fish I am considering the following. Any and all input is welcome and I'd love additonal suggestions. I will likely end up with two or three fish total.

- Pink Streaked Wrasse (Pseudocheilinops ataenia) I love the personality of this fish, especially its constant swimming through the rock work, and it would fare well on the live diet. However, it will be prone to jumping.

- Spotted Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus) I am ONLY considering this fish as I will be adding live pods to the tank regularly. Fulfills all of the things I am looking for. Major concern is whether or not I can maintain a tank population of pods to support it when I go on vacation, where I won't be able to add pods on a daily basis.

- Diamond Watchman Goby (Valenciennea puellaris) Same as the mandarin.

- Yellow Clown Goby (Gobiodon okinawae) My main hesitation on this guy is that he won't be out in the open and easy to spot. Since I will only have 2-3 fish, I worry this won't add enough excitement to the tank.

All other suggestions are welcome. Note I do NOT want any clownfishes or damselfishes and I'd like to stick to peaceful temperments.

Conclusion

I think that wraps up the majority of it. Please feel free to ask any questions and provide any and all input. I'm hoping to make this the best tank I've ever kept.

Skyjacker07
08/27/2017, 04:40 PM
You could always add a second temp probe to the tank itself to get an accurate temp, your sump would give you a nice place to add the pods so the mandarin won't clean them out, they can reproduce there and will move to the tank themselves. I use an aquamaxx hob-1 skimmer that is an awesome skimmer, and the newer version of this is still available online, you can hang it on your sump, as to ph I've never been one to do anything to raise ph, I literally let the tank do that itself. I started my tank with a ph of 7.7-7.9 it's been up a 2 years coral in the tank for a year, it currently sits at 8.46 per my apex.

rishma
08/27/2017, 08:58 PM
Re: skimmer

I am currently using a tunze 9001 dc. I'm pleased. Easy to dial in and pulls consistent skim. I used a tunze 9004 for years but it would not work with my new tank so I settled for the 9001. In addition to working well I demand silence which is a tough request for a skimmer. Both Tunze's skimmers have been satisfactory, which is a lot coming from me.

clownfish4
08/28/2017, 05:28 PM
Skyjacker07

- I don't think I need a second temp probe on such a small tank, I'm more so trying to figure out where and how to mount it. Probe holders are relatively expensive, so I don't want to have to buy a second one just for the temp probe. I don't have my probes in the overflow box because the water level tends to fluctuate a bit. I'm thinking of either raising the intake for the full siphon or fixing the pipe for the secondary drain, which is causing enough noise to make me not want the siphon to overflow into it. If I do this, I'll move all four probes to the overflow box, but that may be unsightly.

- For the mandarin, I think keeping a solid population in the fuge would sustain it for a 1-2 week vacation, but I would likely need to increase the flow through the fuge for this to be successful.

- For pH, I think you are spot on. I expect when I start to regularly dose calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium the pH will bring itself up.


rishma

Thank you for the suggestion. I had looked at the non-DC version of the 9001 last year and found something that made it not work on my tank. I *think* the water level on the skimmer was too high for my sump, but the documentation isn't really clear on what the actual height is, so I can't verify. It may also have been a space issue with the intake attachment. I looked at the DC version and it looks like it should work. I went ahead and ordered one and will see what happens.

Indiana Reefin
08/28/2017, 09:13 PM
I have a tunze 9001 and it works great on my 18 gallon AIO. There are plenty of nano skimmers that would work better than that cadlights

rishma
08/30/2017, 04:07 AM
Let us know what you think of 9001DC

clownfish4
08/30/2017, 05:39 PM
Will do. It should be delivered tomorrow, but I probably won't be able to install it until Saturday.

clownfish4
08/31/2017, 08:25 PM
I ended up getting the 9001 installed tonight. The only issue I've had is that, while the magnet is tight, the skimmer itself is still loose on the bracket on the inside of the sump. Taking the skimmer cup off causes the body to bounce, which may be an issue going forward.

This thing is insanely quiet, especially compared to the PLS-100 it's replacing. I'll update more once I get it dialed in and see some production. It's not a tight fit in the sump, but getting it installed was a pain because it's a small area to work in. You can kind of get an idea of scale in the pictures below. The skimmer is in the back left behind the probes.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4384/36116052164_f6b1efe2bf_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/X2sd3y)IMG_2877 (https://flic.kr/p/X2sd3y) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4389/36779318322_815fdc06e1_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Y34BXY)IMG_2878 (https://flic.kr/p/Y34BXY) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
09/01/2017, 04:45 PM
When I got home today I noticed the water level in the skimmer was a bit high, so I turned the air know down a touch, and now the skimmer is not producing ANY bubbles. I turned the know up and down and cycled through the cleaning timer, but it won't bubble. There is water circulating in the chamber, so the pump is working. I removed the skimmer, checked the airline, and reinstalled it, but still no bubbles. I suspect I have a bad controller :/

clownfish4
09/02/2017, 10:04 AM
I opened the controller on the 9001 and found one of the three wires had popped out of the connector. I pushed it back on and presto, the skimmer is working again!

clownfish4
09/04/2017, 03:06 PM
Christmas started early this year. In order to setup my quarantine tank, I needed another light and ATO.

For the ATO, I ordered the ATK for the Apex to replace the Tunze Nano ATO on the main tank. The Tunze Nano ATO will be moved to the QT tank. I was using a waterproof box to house all my electronics, but it got overcrowded and hot, so I moved everything to the wall temporarily. As you can see, it does NOT look pretty. The long term solution will be to build an electronics box on the side of the stand.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4332/36222104393_f7cd805705_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XbPKFg)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/XbPKFg) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

For the light, I ordered the AI Prime HD and the 12" mounting arm. The mount arrived today, but the light won't be here until Wednesday. Gotta love Amazon logistics! Once it arrives I am going to mount it to the main tank and see if it has enough spread to compare to the Hydra. I'm hoping it does as it will look a lot cleaner and remove the need for the director. Whichever light I like least will go over the QT.

I also ordered the BRS 2-part complete 1 gallon kit. No idea when that will be delivered, but when it is, I will be able to start supplementing calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium.

Next on the list is to get the phyto and pod cultures going. I'm still designing how I'm going to set this up for the easiest use.

rishma
09/04/2017, 08:20 PM
Christmas started early this year. In order to setup my quarantine tank, I needed another light and ATO.

For the ATO, I ordered the ATK for the Apex to replace the Tunze Nano ATO on the main tank. The Tunze Nano ATO will be moved to the QT tank. I was using a waterproof box to house all my electronics, but it got overcrowded and hot, so I moved everything to the wall temporarily. As you can see, it does NOT look pretty. The long term solution will be to build an electronics box on the side of the stand.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4332/36222104393_f7cd805705_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XbPKFg)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/XbPKFg) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

For the light, I ordered the AI Prime HD and the 12" mounting arm. The mount arrived today, but the light won't be here until Wednesday. Gotta love Amazon logistics! Once it arrives I am going to mount it to the main tank and see if it has enough spread to compare to the Hydra. I'm hoping it does as it will look a lot cleaner and remove the need for the director. Whichever light I like least will go over the QT.

I also ordered the BRS 2-part complete 1 gallon kit. No idea when that will be delivered, but when it is, I will be able to start supplementing calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium.

Next on the list is to get the phyto and pod cultures going. I'm still designing how I'm going to set this up for the easiest use.


I'm enjoying your build. I think I could have gone without seeing your cords!

clownfish4
09/05/2017, 06:28 PM
I'm enjoying your build. I think I could have gone without seeing your cords!

Haha, if I have to suffer so do you! Maybe if enough people shame me on here it will climb higher on my priority list.

The heater and GFCI outlet for the quarantine tank were delivered today. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the setup this weekend. I need to install the GFCI and cut a board to go under the tank on the wire shelf.

Tomorrow the AI Prime HD will be delivered. I'm not stoked that it isn't controllable by the Apex, but the light is what I care the least about for Alex controllability, so I'm not too concerned.

The BRS additives will be delivered Friday. I love BRS, but am not happy that I got an email from UPS, after the item shipped, saying it has to be singed for. That would have been nice to know before placing the order. I'm assuming I didn't miss that somewhere on the website, but I don't recall seeing it anywhere. On the upside, gives me an excuse to work from home on Friday.

Bobbitworm13
09/05/2017, 07:50 PM
You can download an app to control the ai, that's why I may get one

clownfish4
09/05/2017, 08:08 PM
You can download an app to control the ai, that's why I may get one

Yeah, I've had an AI Hydra for a couple of years. The app works pretty well, just a few quirks here and there. I'm just trying to integrate as much as I can into the Apex. I won't be getting a Vectra because I can't integrate it into the Apex. Hoping the COR gets released soon and doesn't flop like the WAV.

clownfish4
09/06/2017, 06:35 PM
The AI Prime HD was delivered today. My AI Hydra got up to 50% at the height of the day, I have the Prime at 100% at the height of the day. Overall I like the profile of the Prime much better, but am worried it may not have enough spread/intensity for my tank. I'm going to leave it on for now and will keep it if my future SPS look good under it. If not, I'll switch back to the Hydra and put the Prime on the QT tank.

Excuse the algae, I left a raw shrimp in the tank for a week to really overdrive the nitrogen cycle.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/36678119420_868c59f6e3_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XT7X4j)IMG_2909 (https://flic.kr/p/XT7X4j) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

murphreef
09/07/2017, 02:10 PM
^ nice build

I tried the AI Prime HD on my current 25G cube tank. I couldnt stand it and got rid of it and went back to a 250W SE MH set up.

The prime as you can see from your picture does an awesome disco ball effect and it just doesnt really have that POP I see with some of the other LED units. LEDs are awesome on some tanks and set ups but I think the Prime is Blah to say the least. Love the idea, concept and usability but just in the end not the look it gives.

Keep up the work and hide them cords!

haha!

clownfish4
09/08/2017, 06:30 PM
^ nice build

I tried the AI Prime HD on my current 25G cube tank. I couldnt stand it and got rid of it and went back to a 250W SE MH set up.

The prime as you can see from your picture does an awesome disco ball effect and it just doesnt really have that POP I see with some of the other LED units. LEDs are awesome on some tanks and set ups but I think the Prime is Blah to say the least. Love the idea, concept and usability but just in the end not the look it gives.

Keep up the work and hide them cords!

haha!

I'll just crop the cords out of pics until I properly deal with them, haha. My chemicals and mesh bags arrived today. I stayed home all day because of the email I received from UPS stating I had to sign for it. The UPS driver was nice enough to get here a littler after 6 PM and not even knock, so I stayed home for absolutely no reason. I have a little bit of carbon in until my cycle finishes and I don't have any more free floating algae/shrimp remains.

The calcium, soda ash, and magnesium are all super easy to mix. My levels were fairly low:

Ca - 335
Alk - 8.2
Mg - 1065

So I added an ounce of all three (total volume is ~20 gallons). My pH instantly sky rocketed from 7.95 to 8.55. Luckily all that is in the tank is sand, live rock, and all the critters that hitched a ride. Once I get my levels where I want them I will dose very small amounts daily to maintain, which should prevent the pH swing. I am almost certainly going to get the Apex doser and slowly dose Ca/Alk over night and will add Mg manually once a week.

For the lighting I think I am going to look into a hanging kit for the Hydra. I hate the mount that sits on top of the tank. It makes it difficult to get the top off and clean the acrylic. If I go that route, I'll use the Prime on the QT tank until everything transfers over, then I'll move the prime to the refugium. That way I can fine tune to maximize the wavelengths to the absorption wavelengths of chlorophyll.

For the Apex and cords, I am thinking I will mount another piece of plywood to the side of the tank with an inch or two between. The cords will route through a hole behind the board in the side of the stand, then down. They will come up from the bottom to the front side of the board where everything will be mounted. Then I will pieces around all four sides to make it flush and seal, preventing any water from hitting the electronics if there is a leak.

I'll upload more pictures after I clean the glass this weekend and get it nice and pretty.

clownfish4
09/10/2017, 01:08 PM
The 9001 has been working like a champ. The below is about a week's worth of skimmate. I have the controller set to about 25% (the min is 20%). This puts the bubble level just inside the bottom of the cone. With it so low, I was surprised at how wet the skimmate was.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4382/36960123276_b27b002820_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Yj3hYL)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Yj3hYL) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


On Friday I dosed an ounce of Ca, Alk, and Mg. Below are the results after testing Saturday. After I tested, I dosed another ounce of each.

Ca - Rose from 335 to 340. I was expecting one ounce to raise this a lot more than 5 ppm.

Alk - Dropped from 8.2 to 7.4. This was also a surprise. I was not expecting a major drop here.

Mg - Rose from 1065 to 1080. This is the only result I wasn't surprised by.

My nitrates went from 10 to 0, without any water changes or nitrate specific filtration. My phosphates rose to .03. I will be doing a 5g water change today to start getting these back to 0. I will be adding an ounce of Ca, Alk, and Mg to the replacement water before it goes in. My expectation is that this will prevent a major pH spike, but we'll see.

The quarantine tank is also up and running. Once I get the phosphate level in the main tank back to 0, I will do a water change in the QT tank, adding water from the main tank to build the denitrifying bacteria population.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4422/36960455246_bfb79513b7_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Yj4ZEo)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Yj4ZEo) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


Now all I have left to do before ordering my livestock is to put the light on the QT tank and get my phyto and pod cultures going.

clownfish4
09/24/2017, 11:24 AM
Definitely time for an update.

My phytoplankton culture has kicked off. I am following Melev's methodology. The containers are quart sized plastic food storage containers I got on Amazon. I like them better than 2 liter soda bottles because they are flat bottomed and have very large openings. I went with an 8 outlet air pump that is rated for 400 gallons. I went this route to prevent using gang valves on the small scale, but allow for sufficient expansion when I upgrade my tank.

Now I need to order my pods. I am looking at AlgaGen Tisbe pods, but I haven't found a cost effective way to get them yet. If I order them from LiveAquaria the cost is double with shipping. I will likely end up two two strains, Tisbe and something smaller, but I haven't selected the other species yet. Shipping is still high relative to the product cost.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/37242145716_fdb323c230_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/YJXJqC)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/YJXJqC) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


In other news, I took my Tunze Nano out to clean it and when I put it back in it was a lot louder than normal. It sounded to me like the prop was hitting the casing, but when I turned it off and spun the prop with my finger it spun freely. There were no deposits in the shaft or on the magnet. I ended up ordering a 6055 because I figured it was a design issue. However, the 6055 was way to strong and the Apex can't control it below ~35%. So I sent that back and ran my nano in a bucket of vinegar water for a few hours and it seems to have resolved.

I also found that one of my return lines had no water coming out of it. I pulled the loc line out and the flow coming from the return pipe increased so much my return chamber ran dry. Turns out the check valves in the locline on both sides was super clogged. I removed both check valves and now the flow from my return is significantly higher.

With the higher flow from my return, my plan now is to turn my nano off completely at night, have it run constantly at ~35% in the morning and evening hours, and have it generate a wave during the day.

clownfish4
10/07/2017, 06:31 PM
My phyto culture was split for the second time today and is going strong. As such, I ordered my pods. I ordered the ReefGen Tisbe pods from LA. Should be delivered Wednesday. Once that culture is stable, I will order my fish. I am going to get a spotted mandarin, diamond watchman goby, and pink streaked wrasse.

I haven't fully settled on a feeding regiment yet, but I am thinking about adding pods every evening and baby brine every other morning, then dried cyclop-eeze soaked in selcon once or twice a week. I may decide to do two brine cultures and feed baby brine every morning instead of every other. I will also be adding phyto once a week.

I am waiting to order my cleanup crew until about the 4th week of quarantine, that way they will go in about a week before the fish. I will be sticking to snails only and ordering from Reef Cleaners.

Over the past week or so I have noticed a large population of the organism pictured below on my glass. My assumption is that these are harmless, algae eating flatworms. If you know what these are, please let me know.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4491/37511888066_56637ebb72_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Z9NeqN)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Z9NeqN) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

PAXpress
10/09/2017, 03:56 PM
The AI Prime HD was delivered today. My AI Hydra got up to 50% at the height of the day, I have the Prime at 100% at the height of the day. Overall I like the profile of the Prime much better, but am worried it may not have enough spread/intensity for my tank. I'm going to leave it on for now and will keep it if my future SPS look good under it. If not, I'll switch back to the Hydra and put the Prime on the QT tank.

Excuse the algae, I left a raw shrimp in the tank for a week to really overdrive the nitrogen cycle.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4391/36678119420_868c59f6e3_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XT7X4j)IMG_2909 (https://flic.kr/p/XT7X4j) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr
Looking a bit disco ball! How do you like the light so far? I'm looking at one for my nano...

clownfish4
10/10/2017, 06:35 PM
I honestly like the AI Prime. When it comes down to it, water movement will cause any light to bend. This fixture is sleek and provides a perfect amount of light for my tank, while being highly controllable. I still think the management interface could use some work, but it is good enough to get the job done.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4504/37626086571_8b1f86ce9b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ZjTwEx)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/ZjTwEx) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

And this is the wall behind the tank and the ceiling.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4489/37577365016_eec2626dc2_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ZfzPrJ)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/ZfzPrJ) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

reefinder
10/10/2017, 07:02 PM
Great set up you got going there, I am enjoying reading your thread thus far. I set up a new tank as well and I like the idea of growing your own food. Keep the post going and pics going, you are off to a great start.

clownfish4
10/10/2017, 07:30 PM
Thanks reefinder. Im very excited about this tank for a number of reasons, but the food cultures are a big part of it. Im still debating if I am going to get a shrimp. I really want a fire, but hell starve if I dont feed him. A big part of the live food is that I wont be introducing anything that will rot or add a lot of phosphates. If I got a shrimp Id be adding a small piece of raw fish or clam every few days, which I dont particularly want to do. Having only fish that eat pods will also make it so I can go on vacation without a tank sitter.

RedGabino
10/21/2017, 05:51 AM
The Vectra pump can't be controlled with Apex.
Your tank is awesome

Enviado desde mi BLN-L24 mediante Tapatalk

clownfish4
10/21/2017, 06:10 PM
Thank you RedGabino. It is very disappointing to see EcoTech moving away from a partnership with Neptune. Ever since I removed the loc-line check valves the flow from my return has been much better. I'll stick to my current pump until the COR comes out and wait to see how it does before upgrading. The only reason to upgrade is the controllability.

And with that, update time! Last weekend I picked up an ORA chalice frag, a blue acro frag, some margarita snails, and some cerith snails. I picked these up to test my tank's stability and see if I could keep them alive. So far so good, though I'm pretty sure I shocked the snails when I acclimated them. They've been very slow to start moving, but are alive and seem okay now. That said, I really didn't want the margaritas, but the store I went to didn't get a shipment in last week, so it was slim pickins. Now that my tank is stable, I will place an order with ReefCleaners.

My phyto culture is doing awesome! Today was the fourth cutting and the diluted culture is so dark you can't see through it. For the Tisbe pods, I dumped them into the half of the culture left over from the split two cuts ago. Last week I sieved them out and moved them to the left overs of last weeks split. However, this method doesn't work well as it's impossible to see them in the dark green culture to manage. Today I sieved them out and put them in their own containers with fresh saltwater. The sieve carried some of the phtyo gunk with it and I added half an ounce of phyto to each container. Now the culture is very light green and I can see the pods, several of which are carrying eggs. Now I just need to find the right amount of phyto to keep them producing.

I also changed my lighting schedule today. Before I brought every color up to 100% at 4 PM, but had the blues come on earlier and stay on later. Now I'm running 20k at 100% with a 3 hour ramp up and ramp down period.

Now some pictures to finish it off. However, 20k lights with an iPhone camera doesn't result in very good photos :/ The chalice is reddish/pink and the acro is bright blue, but you can't really tell in the pics.

Chalice - It has 4 eyes.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4484/37131989074_7eda403cc8_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Yze9Gb)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Yze9Gb) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

Acro

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4486/37793628946_723211fecd_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ZzGebb)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/ZzGebb) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
11/04/2017, 05:20 PM
The acro completely bleached and the flesh is peeling off the chalice. I am very annoyed as I have no idea what caused it. My parameters are perfect and I don't see any parasites. There are a lot of what I believe to be flatworms in the tank, but I do not think they are parasitic flatworms and I haven't seen them on the corals. Either way, I am going to wait hold off on corals until my fish go in. I'll be getting a pink streaked wrasse, which should eat all the flatworms and other critters. While I don't think parasites are an issue, I'm still going to let the wrasse go to town before coral round two.

My phtoplankton culture crashed. One of the containers went completely clear overnight. The other still had a faint green tint, which I immediately cut and put about a quarter each into two new containers. They have reestablished nicely, so I don't have to start over. Going forward I'll be using a smaller amount when I cut to prevent such high densities from forming again. I'll also be expanding to at least 4 cultures from 2.

The Tisbe pod cultures are doing well and they are reproducing like crazy. I will be expanding the number of cultures for the Tisbes from 2 to at least 6 or 8.

I am also going to start a white worm culture. I found an interesting culture from a dealer in CO called Select Aquatics. I will likely be giving them a try, as they are not the traditional white worms seen and thrive at warmer temperatures.

In happier news I got the Neptune doser. I was manually dosing my tank 3 times a day for alk, calcium, and magnesium. The doser will be handling the alk and calcium over much larger time periods and I will dose the magnesium manually once a week.

Indiana Reefin
11/05/2017, 08:47 AM
How do you like the prime? I am debating on getting one

clownfish4
11/13/2017, 08:15 PM
How do you like the prime? I am debating on getting one

I like it so far, very sleek. Ill probably get a par meter next month to check its power on the tank.

Rjukan
12/08/2017, 07:38 AM
My phyto culture was split for the second time today and is going strong. As such, I ordered my pods. I ordered the ReefGen Tisbe pods from LA. Should be delivered Wednesday. Once that culture is stable, I will order my fish. I am going to get a spotted mandarin, diamond watchman goby, and pink streaked wrasse.

I haven't fully settled on a feeding regiment yet, but I am thinking about adding pods every evening and baby brine every other morning, then dried cyclop-eeze soaked in selcon once or twice a week. I may decide to do two brine cultures and feed baby brine every morning instead of every other. I will also be adding phyto once a week.

I am waiting to order my cleanup crew until about the 4th week of quarantine, that way they will go in about a week before the fish. I will be sticking to snails only and ordering from Reef Cleaners.

Over the past week or so I have noticed a large population of the organism pictured below on my glass. My assumption is that these are harmless, algae eating flatworms. If you know what these are, please let me know.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4491/37511888066_56637ebb72_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Z9NeqN)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Z9NeqN) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

The one on right looks like the type I had overtaking my tank years and years ago. Keep an eye on their population, if they really start becoming noticeable then FWE sooner rather than later. I found hardly anything that would actually eat enough of them to make a difference, besides the nudi that's my avatar pic and that wouldn't be a good option for your tank setup.

Tank looks great though!

clownfish4
03/04/2018, 01:27 PM
Thank you Pete!

Sorry for the long break, life got in the way, as it does. I've made A LOT of changes since November. My rock and rock wall were completely covered in algae, and the rock wall was taking up too much valuable real estate. As such, I tossed the rock wall and pulled all the rock out. I also decided I didn't want to risk the flat worms, so I pulled all the sand out as well and sanitized the tank.

Starting over, I decided I wanted to go with live rock. I do most of my shopping online as the closest LFS is over an hour a way. I decided to go with Walt Smith 2.1 and it was a tossup between TBS and LA. I went with LA due to cost. Unfortunately, I made a very stupid assumption that the Walt smith rock provided by LA was live. It didn't clearly state on the website if it was live or dry, but they required two day shipping, so I assumed it must be live. I mean, who would require two day shipping on dry rock, right? Well, apparently LA required two day shipping on dry rock :headwallblue: I contacted their customer service and they were very defensive and dismissive and stopped replying after a single response. I've always had good luck with LA, so I won't let one experience stop me from using them, but that one definitely stung. Luckily I was ordering rock for an 18 gallon and not a 300.

For Christmas I got the Apex FMK and PMK. In order to install the FMK, I reversed my bulkheads in my drain. I put the 1" meter on my full siphon and the two 1/2" meters on each of my returns. Each meter is directly connected to the bulkhead.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4720/39723664575_4306e15423_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23wfawx)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/23wfawx) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I also installed the VCA random flow generators on each of the returns. These things are awesome and create very interesting effects. The T for the return pip is closer to one of the returns, so one return is pushing 95 gph and one is pushing 99 gph. The return averages about 12 gph more than the two return combined. I just split the difference and assume the flow through the tank is ~200 gph. Total system volume is about 18 gallons (display tank is 18 gallons and sump volume is about 4 gallons, I round to 18 due to displacement), so I have roughly 11x turnover between my sump and display.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4743/39908439404_d891d9e479_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23NzbDs)Apex Flow Meters (https://flic.kr/p/23NzbDs) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I haven't played around much with the PMK yet. When I get around to it, I am going to set it in a few different positions for 24 hours and graph the full daily PAR cycle for each spot.

I also moved my probes to the overflow box, which meant I had to move the light mount. I moved the light mount to the side of the overflow box so that I could still put a mesh top over the tank. The only other thing that blocked the top was the cord for the Tunze nano, but luckily the cord fit in the overflow slot, so I pushed it down. Now I just need to buy the mesh top and install it.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4799/40618931251_d46574c158_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24TmD7T)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/24TmD7T) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

In the sump I added SM Drop .2 ATS and moved the skimmer to the fuge chamber. Since I added the ATS, I'm not going to put substrate or algae in the fuge. I'll add some rock to the skimmer/overflow chamber.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4608/40618923861_4504f617a7_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24TmAVt)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/24TmAVt) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


Last week I added Dr. Tim's One-and-Only and dosed ammonia to start my fishless cycle. Here are the logs so far:

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.

I'm going to keep testing daily until ammonia tests .5 or lower, then add 17 drops of ammonia. If it doesn't drop to .5 or lower by 3/8, I'm going to do a gallon water change, then dose 17 drops.

I have some light diatom algae on the sand bed, which was expected. I left the lights on during the cycle and am going to leave them on so long as their is minimal algae growth. The ATS has been running for the full cycle.

The biggest issue I have right now is surface scum. there's a dusty/oily layer on the surface and the returns/Tunze nano aren't enough to break it up. The returns break up a few square inches each. The return with 4 gph lower volume has significantly less impact on it. I ordered 4 loc-line elbows to raise the height of the random flow generators. This will both increase surface agitation and significantly reduce the amount of water that back siphons when the power goes out. In the picture below, directly above the closest outlet, you can see a clear streak. Everything else, except an area above the other nozzle, is dust/oil scum.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4671/39908317364_dbe0a394b6_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23Nyynj)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/23Nyynj) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I have five last things to do to the physical setup.

1. I need to buy and install the mesh top.
2. I need to mount all of the Apex stuff and clean up the cabling.
3. I am going to install the COR-15 as soon as I can get one. Kicking myself for not pre-ordering as they are all sold out now.
4. Install the loc-line elbows.
5. Install a door on the front of the stand.

I've also decided to change up my stocking plan. For fish I am going to get a pink streaked wrasse and a mated pair of gobies with a symbiotic shrimp. I am also going to get a fire shrimp. For coral I am going to go predominantly SPS with a few softies and LPS, and of course a clam.

Assuming the cycle progresses smoothly I will be planning on adding fish in the next couple of weeks. LA's Diver's Den has a few mated goby/shrimp trios, so I will go with whatever the best available choice is when I order.

For fish food I plan on blending a seafood medley with spirulina, selcon, garlic, and ginger. I will also do occasional live baby brine, maybe once a week. I still need to figure out what I am going to do for vacations. I will likely get the Apex auto feeder and have it dose pellets while I am out of town, as well as ask local reefers to stop by.

I think that covers everything. Here are some more pics.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4789/40576914892_40232a1616_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24PDi7U)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/24PDi7U) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4798/40576910332_b4be303ac0_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24PDgLh)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/24PDgLh) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
03/06/2018, 06:43 AM
Got my first PAR measurement yesterday. Below is the graph for middle of my sand bed (inside the rock cove).

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4706/40611351482_c4e60dc117_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24SFMVd)Apex PAR Sand Bed Middle (https://flic.kr/p/24SFMVd) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


And her is the graph of the AI Prime schedule. The highest line is 100%.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4778/26782021538_9de7b766c3_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GNCRW3)AI Prime Schedule (https://flic.kr/p/GNCRW3) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I moved the meter to the top of the front-right rock, so I will post that measurement tomorrow.

For the cycle, 3/4 tested at 1 ammonia, but 50 nitrate. On 3/5 I did a 5g water change, which brought ammonia to 0 and nitrate to 25, then dosed 35 more drops of ammonia. Looking at ordering fish either next week or the week after, more so dependent on finding a day to work from home.

clownfish4
03/07/2018, 06:32 AM
Below is the PAR graph on top of the rock in the front right. I'm a bit surprised at the minimal increase from the middle sandbed, however it is off center whereas the middle sandbed was directly beneath the light.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4649/39776812765_e1e9bd30ce_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23AWyCD)Apex PAR Top Right Rock (https://flic.kr/p/23AWyCD) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


The cycle is still chugging along. I have some nice diatom growth. Below is the log of the cycle.

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.
3/4 - Ammonia .5, nitrate 50.
3/5 - 5g water change, ammonia 0, nitrate 25. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.
3/6 - Ammonia 0.5, nitrate 50.

clownfish4
03/09/2018, 05:08 PM
Below is the PAR graph for the top middle rock.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4794/25845452307_82560e9e25_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FnSGwF)Apex PAR Top Middle Rock (https://flic.kr/p/FnSGwF) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


I got the 4 1/2" loc-line elbows today and installed them on the returns, which reduced the flow by about 10 gph for each side. I'll post updated measurements on those once they have time to break in.

Cycle looks to be about complete. I have some breeder nets coming to hold the fish temporarily to make sure they are eating before being released and the parts to make the mesh top. Still on track to order livestock next week.

2/26 - Turned skimmer off, added One-and-Only, and 70 drops ammonia. Ammonia tested at 4.0.
2/27 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
2/28 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/1 - Ammonia tested at 2.0.
3/2 - Ammonia tested at 2.0, nitrate tested at 25.
3/3 - Ammonia tested at 1.0, nitrate tested at 25. Turned skimmer back on.
3/4 - Ammonia .5, nitrate 50.
3/5 - 5g water change, ammonia 0, nitrate 25. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.
3/6 - Ammonia 0.5, nitrate 50.
3/7 - Ammonia .25, nitrate 50.
3/8 - Ammonia 0, nitrate 50. Dosed 35 drops ammonia.

Fig
03/10/2018, 12:09 PM
How's your Prime mount? I've read horror stories about the plastic screw on it breaking/flexing and the light ends up in the tank.

clownfish4
03/10/2018, 12:36 PM
Fig, I haven't had any issues with it, but I worry about everything. For the time being I have a zip tie that wraps around the return pipe, then around the plastic screw on both sides of the mount. If the screw loosens, this should prevent it from falling in the tank. I'm still working on a long term solution. I'll also be putting a mesh top on the tank, but I'm guessing the light is heavy enough that it would break through the top if it fell.

clownfish4
03/10/2018, 06:19 PM
I was looking at Diver's Den today and saw a mated pair of orange spotted gobies with a red banded pistol shrimp, as well as a pink streak wrasse, so I decided to place my order. After adding those to the cart I looked at the shrimp in Diver's Den and found a single fire shrimp, then I saw a mated pair of skunk cleaner shrimp. Can you guess which I went with? If you said fire shrimp, you are WRONG! Never had mated anything in the ~15 years I've been reef keeping, now I'll have two mated pairs in my tank. To finish it out I cruised over to the aquacultured corals in Diver's Den and found a very intriguing chili pepper plating montipora. All are scheduled to be delivered Tuesday.

The mesh for the screen top arrived today, but the rail kit was "lost". Carrier says they delivered it, but it's nowhere to be found. The delivery notes say it was left in my mailbox, but the shipping box is 3' long and my mailbox is maybe 18" deep, sooooo I don't think they put it in the mailbox. I contacted the distributor and they shipped a replacement that should arrive Monday.

The breeder box should arrive tomorrow. I'm not going to quarantine. Yes yes, I know I should, but I've thought this through a lot and am not concerned. The breeder box will hang on the side of the aquarium submerged in the display. It has a divider, so the gobies and pistol shrimp will go on one side and the skunk shrimp and wrasse will go on the other. I'll leave them in there until they are eating readily.

Speaking of eating, today is fish food making day. I couldn't find a prepackaged medley at the grocery store, so I bought octopus, clams, and shrimp. I'm grinding those with Selcon, Coral Frenzy, Omega One flakes, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger. I will also be hatching brine shrimp.

I'll be doing a 5g water change tomorrow, and probably another one on Monday to get rid of all the nitrate from the cycle. The ATS hasn't really grown much as the fishless cycle doesn't introduce phosphate or any nutrients outside of the nitrogen cycle. Once that is kicking I'll be going ULM with minimal water changes.

Last thing to do before Tuesday is turn the dosers on. After the water change tomorrow I'll test and dose Ca/Alk/Mg to the desired levels, then turn the dosers on.

clownfish4
03/11/2018, 04:57 PM
The top and breeder box are in place.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4795/39861078605_26eefdd0eb_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23JorVX)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/23JorVX) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


The 5g water change today left nitrates at 25. I'll be doing another 5g water change tomorrow, then will test and dose Ca/Alk/Mg. Should be all set for Tuesday's delivery. One edit to my previous post, the skunk cleaner shrimp will bypass the breeder box, so the pink streak wrasse will go in one side and the gobies/pistol will go in the other.

To acclimate I built an eggcrate "table" that straddles the heater in the sump. I'll put containers with the fishes/shrimp on the shelf and drip acclimate them. This way they'll maintain temperature while the water drips in. I'll post pics on Tuesday of the process.

christiantt
03/12/2018, 09:45 AM
I like the development of the tank! And the new the rock setup is really great!!
How about the skimmer - are you still happy about it??

clownfish4
03/12/2018, 11:55 AM
Thanks Christian! I agree, I think the new rock work is much better. As for the skimmer, the jury is still out. I havent had much of anything in the tank for it to pull out, so I havent been able to really test it. Hopefully once the fish go in tomorrow Ill start getting some bioload to kick it in.

Jenyphur
03/12/2018, 12:13 PM
Love the updates...keep them coming. Can't wait to see your new additions.

clownfish4
03/12/2018, 07:33 PM
Thank you Jenyphur! It's been a long time coming. I haven't had fish in about a year and a half, so I am very excited!

Nitrate was still 25 after my water change yesterday so I changed another 5g today. Now my water parameters are:

Nitrate - 10
Calcium - 410
Magnesium - 1200
Alkalinity - 6.8
Phosphate - 0.9
Temp - 77 F
pH - 8.13
Salinity - 35
ORP - 400

I dosed an ounce of soda ash to bring my alkalinity up to 9. I'll be dosing an ounce of magnesium later tonight and throughout the rest of the week to get it to 1300. The phosphate measurement surprised me. The only source I can think of is leaching from the rock. Since there aren't any other nutrients in the water, I assume the ATS doesn't have everything it needs to start growing. Hopefully once the fish go in and I start feeding it will kick off and drop the nitrate with my skimmer.

I also started a small test batch of brine to get a baseline of how long my eggs will take to hatch. I won't be feeding at all tomorrow, but will start another batch of brine tomorrow so I have it ready for Wednesday/Thursday.

clownfish4
03/13/2018, 03:31 PM
My livestock arrived around 10 AM this morning. I made the foolish mistake of thinking I would receive four bags, one for the wrasse, one for the two cleaner shrimp, one for the gobies and pistol shrimp, and one for the motipora. I should have known better; every specimen was bagged individually, which makes sense. Needless to say, I was not prepared for this:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4782/25921061037_909879a69b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Fuydnt)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Fuydnt) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


So, what do we do when we're caught off guard, improvise! Fish went into the sump to acclimate:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4777/40750275922_19a9b6182f_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/255XPjb)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/255XPjb) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


Shrimp and coral went into a 5g bucket with a heater to acclimate:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4788/26922664368_dc373755fb_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/H24G9q)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/H24G9q) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


They all drip acclimated for about 2 hours, then I put the two skunk cleaners and the montipora into the main tank. Next I put the pistol shrimp in the breeder box and what happened, he slipped right through the slots in the bottom and was roaming between the bottom and netting :headwally: Next I put the two gobies in the breeder box, no issue there, then put the wrasse in the other side.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4783/40750274922_532d45ce67_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/255XP1W)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/255XP1W) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4779/40750274182_cba7f0dbc0_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/255XNNb)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/255XNNb) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr


About an hour later, the wrasse slipped through the tiny slits and wedged himself between the netting and bottom :headwally: So, I loosened the netting to give him some room. I put the larger goby in the main tank, though he nearly landed on the floor because he jumped out of the box when I tried to get him. Now the box is tilted on the side and I am patiently waiting for the smaller goby and wrasse to swim out. Then I'll put the pistol shrimp near the gobies.

Best laid plans always change! I'll post more pics once everyone starts cooperating. I mean, if they start cooperating.

clownfish4
03/13/2018, 06:47 PM
Everyone is in tank. The cleaner shrimp, gobies, and pistol shrimp are doing great. The wrasse hid himself away somewhere and I cannot for the life of me find him. I decided to feed today because everyone was looking so good. Everyone devoured the homemade food I made, but it wasn't enough to draw the wrasse out of hiding. Hopefully he comes out in the next day or two. The gobies and pistol made their den on the front of the back right rock, which is perfect! Here are some super fancy iPhone pics.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4782/26927025148_8b50f4b4bb_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/H2s3sh)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/H2s3sh) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4786/40754836552_04318cf690_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/256nc2J)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/256nc2J) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4779/40754836672_4ba80b1372_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/256nc4N)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/256nc4N) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4774/40754837462_73038ecc94_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/256nciq)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/256nciq) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
03/14/2018, 08:52 AM
This morning I was looking at the tank and saw these bright orange eyes starting back at me. The pink streaked wrasse has been hiding in the gobies den. Surprisingly they don't seem to mind. They have completely excavated under the rock and are popping out on multiple sides of it now. Now that I know where the wrasse is hiding, I am target feeding into the den so he doesn't starve. He is slowly starting to swim around when I am far away from the tank, but dives into the den anytime I get close. Once he warms up I'll get a pic, he is gorgeous!

Jenyphur
03/14/2018, 09:00 AM
The goby is so cute!!! I love watching them...and trying to find them. My watchman found the pistol shrimp and I haven't seen much of the duo since then. But when I feed, they do pop out for a few seconds to let me know where they are so i can target feed them. Love this little pair.

Great updates. Thanks for sharing.

clownfish4
03/17/2018, 05:04 PM
Thank you Jenyphur! My gobies do not hide, at all. most of the time they sit right out in the open on the sand bed. At night they retreat to their caves. They have excavated under every rock in the tank and move around between them. As far as I can tell the pistol shrimp never leaves the cave under the back right rock.

I cleaned the tank today and it is looking much better with all the algae off the acrylic. I got a picture of the wrasse, but it was before the cleaning. I haven't been able to get another one since. He is spending more time in the open now, but is still very skiddish. I was expecting him to act like a more peaceful sixline wrasse, but that has not been the case. He's more of a cardinal, he doesn't swim much. When he is out of the cave he just hovers and slowly jolts every now and then. I'm a little disappointed he isn't more active, but he is still pretty. I'm debating adding one more fish that is more active. I'm considering a single clownfish, but am not sure if I will get anything, or something different, at this point.

My water parameters are being a bit of a pain. My ATS has ZERO algae growth even though my nitrates and phosphates are high. The good news is there's not much algae growth in the tank either, mostly just diatoms. I'm wondering if I don't have any spores to start the growth since I used dry rock. I'm also having a hard time keeping my alkalinity up. I have my doser running at night for alk and during the day for calcium. My calcium levels are perfect, but my alkalinity doesn't want to go above 7. I've been trying to set my doser to maintain and doing manual doses to get it higher. Twice now I've manually dosed enough to raise it to 9, but two days later, with the doser running, it is down to 7. On 3/15 alk was 7.0. I dosed 1 ounce of alk and increased the doser from 5 ml to 10 ml a night. When I tested today, 3/17, it was at 7.3. I'm going to raise my alk dose to 20 ml tonight and retest tomorrow. The calcium doser is currently at 5 ml.

I'm also considering getting a second doser for magnesium, but then I'll have a fourth doser that isn't doing anything. I'm trying to think if there is something I can use it for. I'll also be using my doser for water changes going forward. Since my total volume is only 20 gallons, a 5 gallon water change causes a lot of disruption to the tank.

Here are my parameters for 3/17:
Phosphate - 0.1 ppm
Alkalinity - 7.3 dKH
Calcium - 400
Magnesium - 1245
Nitrate - 50

I'm still trying to figure out when I'm going to add snails. Since I have minimal algae growth and high nitrates, I expect they would die if I added them right now. Speaking of which, one of my cleaner shrimp died Wednesday, the day after I got everything. Everyone else is fine. The jury is still out on the skimmer. It was full of nasty stuff today, but running much too wet. I dialed it down a bit and will see how it performs now. At the very least it is creating a horrible smell, so it is definitely working!

And now for some pictures! My apologies, I don't have a fancy camera so I use my iPhone. The picture of the montipora does not do it justice. It has very bright red spots with fluorescent green all around them.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4783/26996711878_b04822f40b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/H8BcTC)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/H8BcTC) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4777/40158777864_d9fa3e2372_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24bGexN)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/24bGexN) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4784/40866980801_6b4d8e8740_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25ggXBg)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/25ggXBg) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4778/40866981411_d113c5a765_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25ggXMM)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/25ggXMM) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

ifarmer
03/17/2018, 07:24 PM
follow along

clownfish4
03/18/2018, 11:02 PM
Yesterday I increased the alk (soda ash) dose to 20 ml. It does from 2300 to 0900. Today I did a 5g water change around 7 1900. About an hour after I tested and alk was 7.9 dKH. Ill test again tomorrow with the hopes that it is 7.9. If so, Ill manually dose to bring it up to 9 and hold there.

clownfish4
03/21/2018, 08:16 PM
My alkalinity seems to be holding with a 20 ml/day dose. The biggest issue I am having now is hatching Brine shrimp. Im using the San Francisco Bay inverted bottle bases. My issues are I cant tell when the eggs hatch, so I just go with 36 hours. The shrimp fit through my Brine shrimp net, so I had to make my own sieve. When I siphon out the Brine, even when leaving several inches of water in the hatchery, a lot of unmatched eggs come out. Most of the eggs are bubbling it and sticking to the sides of the bottle and not hatching.

clownfish4
03/23/2018, 09:30 PM
Quick update:
- The COR15 showed up in stock yesterday so I ordered one. Should be here mid-next week.
- I have a major diatom outbreak (expected). Im continuing 5g (~25%) water changes until theyre gone. I decided not to get a DOS for water changes. Im just using airline tubing to siphon each at a relatively similar rate and using valves to adjust the faster of the two.
- Im going to start dosing Red Sea Trace Colors and will stop water changes once the algae subsides.
- The skimmer is doing great but the ATS still hasnt kicked off.

clownfish4
04/02/2018, 10:22 PM
The stringy algae is byropsis :headwally: I raised my magnesium so it tests greater than 1500, but it doesnt seem to be impacting it. Ill wait a few more days then try spraying it with peroxide. My COR pump arrived but will take time to plumb in.

clownfish4
04/04/2018, 06:15 PM
The increased magnesium and hydroxide had no measurable effect. I ordered some Purigen and PhosGuard since my nitrates and phosphate have been higher than desired. I'm going to run these with carbon and see if I can starve the algae to death.

The skimmer is doing well, but still too wet at the lowest setting. I raised it higher in the water column, maybe 1/4" higher than the recommended waterline level. The ATS still has no useful growth, just some light green/red algae that is so thin it would have to be scrubbed off with some elbow grease.

Diatoms are going crazy. I cleaned the glass yesterday and it is completely covered again less than 24 hours later. The byropsis is on all the rock, sand, glass, returns, etc. It exploded in a very short time. After I get the Purigen, PhosGuard, and carbon running I am going to continue 5g weekly water changes. If my levels don't drop I will do larger water changes. Once all my levels are close to 0 I will continue running the media but stop water changes and watch it, with the hope that it will stabilize.

clownfish4
04/15/2018, 01:57 PM
A week after adding the PhogGuard, Purigen, and carbon I am seeing significant effect on the algae. Before I added it my tank walls would be completely covered in diatoms a day after I cleaned them and all of the rock was covered in lush, green byropsis. Now, my walls barely grow any algae, all of the byropsis is brown and looks to be "melting", and the amount of byropsis in the tank is less than 20% of what it was. Below are some photos from today. The tank doesn't look great, but it is significantly better than it was.

Oddly enough, my phosphate only dropped from .3 to .2, but nitrates dropped from 10 to 2.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/784/41437305302_5f54451a71_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/268F2dj)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/268F2dj) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/894/39671302240_a9023aff7f_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23rBN2E)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/23rBN2E) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/891/40765969274_8bd68479e0_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/257mfpd)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/257mfpd) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/792/27608105938_5d4f6658ea_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/J4CL3w)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/J4CL3w) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/886/26608232577_983dbcae32_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Gxh9wD)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Gxh9wD) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
04/23/2018, 01:03 PM
DISCLAIMER: Ignore all the wires, I wanted to get everything in it's place before doing the cable management. That is the next project on the list.

I'm still battling some pretty bad algae problems, but I made a lot of progress in the past couple of days.

Yesterday I got the COR-15 plumbed in and mounted all the Apex units. My favorite part about this pump is that it's powered by the Apex, so it freed up an outlet on the energy bar. The COR-15 pushes the same amount of water as my old pump at ~20% power. I cranked it up to 35% which seems to be about the max my sump can handle with the filter bags in the baffles. I assume if I pulled the filter bags out I could push more through, but I'm happy with the ~210gph, giving me roughly 14x turnover. Ideally I'd like to get that up to 20, so I may try adjusting the placement of the filter bags.

Today I added a UV sterilizer. I went with the Green Killing Machine as it is a drop in and small. I have never used a UV sterilizer in my 16 years in the hobby, as I've never considered them necessary, but I'm about at my wits end with my current algae issue, so figured why not. The GKM is cheap and super simple, both of which made it worth trying, and it took the open outlet on the energy bar from adding the COR.

I'm also doing a 3 day blackout to try and kill more of the algae off and got a nice pic of my gobies sharing their den, minus the algae on the acrylic in front of them. I have not seen their pistol shrimp in weeks, so I'm assuming he may have died.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/794/27784386688_4b32b4808c_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/JkdfaN)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/JkdfaN) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/935/27784386868_9d562a89eb_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/JkdfdU)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/JkdfdU) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/937/27784386768_3a7f3b9906_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Jkdfcb)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/Jkdfcb) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/882/26785346197_d249741ed1_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GNVUeK)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/GNVUeK) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/928/41652531711_109d4dd43a_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/26sG7wt)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/26sG7wt) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/899/39845596290_57b9d615f6_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23H26zu)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/23H26zu) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
05/01/2018, 09:53 PM
Not too much to report, other than I'm still fighting a lot of algae. On a positive note, I saw my red banded snapping shrimp today, so he is not dead! Pics below. I took a video as well, but can't get it to upload. I'll add it once I figure out how to.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/871/26970676467_a755eb6ae7_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/H6iLte)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/H6iLte) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/951/40940482355_1840264879_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25nLF4r)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/25nLF4r) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/824/26970705717_af2d67b0ab_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/H6iVax)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/H6iVax) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr

clownfish4
05/02/2018, 01:23 PM
Video of the red banded snapper.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/972/41132735044_f2509267be_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25EL25Y)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/25EL25Y) by Mike Burns (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/), on Flickr