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Old 05/29/2018, 06:58 PM   #1
mal7887
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Tampa
Posts: 649
My Journey

I've never really shared what I have. I enjoy reading and looking at others builds so I figured it's my turn to contribute.

Collectively I've had this echo system since 2010. There are two things that I can absolutely say are true when you hear them: 1. You will start small and always want to go bigger, So start big from the beginning and 2. You get what you pay for, if try to do things the easy/lazy cheap way, it costs your more in the long run.

Phase one: The Beginning

My adventure started with a 36 gallon bow front tank. Complete with basic lighting, a HOB filter and a HOB protein skimmer. During these first few months I made every rookie mistake out there. Complete from rushing to buying the absolutely cheapest equipment possible and Buying inhabitants without knowing the care requirements, etc. I knew only basics about SW fish keeping (at least I thought I did at the time) and knew jack S--- about keeping coral. Many Hard and expense lessons learned in this faze.

My Original Setup:







These are the only pictures I could find. Thank goodness, It was an ugly setup and I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

Phase two: The rapid growth phase

Within months, I already had the itch to go bigger. I was able score a good deal off craigslist for a 65 Gallon Drilled setup complete with a canopy. This was my first time ever using a Wet/Dry setup, I was big time now! It also came with a T5/Metal Halide fixture. I would finally be able to grow those corals I keep reading about on reef central! I was dedicated to water changes (flash backs of driving to the store to buy water). I even at one point added a secondary seahorse tank that was connected to the 65. Everything is a manual task, water changes, lights, feeding, top off. I remember re-purposing a milk jug and poking a small hold to slowly add water to the tank when it need to be topped off. I started reading about this tank controller thing. I also successfully moved from house to apartment with no casualties!







Phase three: The Dream Setup
Or What I thought would be, I always want to seem to go bigger.

A after about a year with the 65 in the apartment I was able to buy a house. I dreaded the move again, but I would finally have the chance to do my dream setup, a 120 gallon tank. The move was a lot easier this time since we were able to have both running at the same time. I started investing heavily in Coral (softies and LPS) mostly. Still really excited and engaged in the hobby, very regular on maintenance and upkeep. I finally invest in my own RO system, Finally no more weekend trips to the pet store! I also finally buy an APEX controller, No more manual timers and an ATO! I also finally switched from T5's and Metal Halide to Apollo Reef LED fixtures! Still doing manual water changes and manual chemical additives.








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Matt

Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Current Tank Info: 190
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Old 05/29/2018, 07:00 PM   #2
mal7887
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Location: Tampa
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Phase Four: My Real Dream Setup

The 120 has been up and running for about two years now, with great success. Housing market is recovering and again with that comes an opportunity for a bigger house, but that also means moving the aquarium again. I find a tank that I really like at at a LFS and buy it. It's a DSA 190 Tank/Stand/Canopy combo. Again have a relatively successful move and really am able to expand and get heavy into coral. I starting making the switch from softies and LPS to SPS... Things are going great. I finally invest on doser pumps, I no longer have to manually add calcium or alk!





















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Matt

Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Current Tank Info: 190
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Old 05/29/2018, 07:08 PM   #3
Maggie321
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Looking great! Following along. I started with a 39g bowfront a year ago. Decided to jump in to a 210 gallon. It's got a fee more months of prep and planning before it will get wet though.

Maggie


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Old 05/29/2018, 07:21 PM   #4
mal7887
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Phase Four Point Five: The Lazy/what the hell am I doing with this Phase

I think at some point people get to a point, for various reasons where you are not as interested in this hobby as you once were. I had changed jobs, started other hobbies and maintenance on the tank had turned into a chore. I started to slack on water changes and upkeep in general. It finally came to head when I started loosing corals. I had to make a decision, Either I'm in it 100% or not at all. I recommit myself to this hobby. No Pictures to share from this phase, to depressing lol.

Phase Five: Another Move

I again get the opportunity to moved to a bigger house in July 2017. I am not upgrading this time so the tank will have to be moved all at once, in one day with hundreds of coolers and containers, etc. Long Story Short, the move is an EPIC DISASTER. It was near 100 degrees in Florida summer. Lost fish, Coral, inverts. I lost almost everything. It was just awful. At the end of the move I seriously questioned if I should move forward or just throw in the towel and be done. Don't know if was heat, lack of oxygen, etc.

The pictures below were taken shortly before I moved.

I let the tank sit running with just live rock and the few fish and corals that survived, A watchmen goby and a pair or Maroon clowns.

Before:









After:

All that's left after the move were skeletons...

I kept some around as decor and a reminder of what can happen in less than 12 hours if you aren't careful.
















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Matt

Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Current Tank Info: 190

Last edited by mal7887; 05/29/2018 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 05/29/2018, 07:56 PM   #5
mal7887
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Tampa
Posts: 649
Ultimately friends and family talk me into staying in the hobby. Which brings me to my current phase... today! I go back to basics, salvage what little I can and start the process of rebuilding my dream setup.

I have learned a few basic lessons:
1. Don't rush things. Nothing good happens fast in this hobby, everything bad DOES and will.
2. Don't neglect your maintenance and water changes. Either commit 100% or get out of the hobby.
3. Don't go the cheap and easiest way. It might cost less in the beginning or be faster... But Sooner or later you get bit. Either with equipment failures or death of tank inhabitants.
4. Prepare for the unexpected. Sooner or later your lights will fail, Your return pump will die in the middle of the night, Your Home A/C will go out in August, A seal will break and suddenly leak, Hurricane F---ing IRMA, Point being... have a plan when sh-t hits the fan!
5. And the biggest D'oh for me... DO YOUR RESEARCH, BEFORE YOU BUY. If you really want to be successful, Take it slow... Plan it out, research everything before you buy.

I am approaching the year anniversary of the disastrous move and I couldn't be more happy with my progress or setup.

Stock List:
- Yellow Tang
- Hippo Tang
- Starry Blenny
- 4 Lyretail Anthias
- Pair of Maroon Clowns
- Pair of Mandarin Gobys
- 2 Green Chomes
- 3 Banggai Cardinals
- Royal Gramma
- Fox Face Rabbit
- Cleaner shrimp
- Coral Banded Shrimp
- hundreds and hundreds of various crabs and snails

Equipment List:
- Neptune Apex Controller
- 4X AI Hydra 52 for tank
- AI Hydra for refugium
- L1 Vectra Return Pump
- Reef Octopus Classic 200INT Skimmer
- 2x two little fishes reactors (GFO and Carbon)
- 3X Neptune WAV powerheads
- Maxspect gyre xf250 with Battery Backup
- DOS with DDR for 2 part dosing
- BRS doser for Magnesium
- Apex Leak Detection module
- Auto RO top off direct from source using Solenoids control by Apex and Auto Water change with DOS in remote setup in garage























__________________
Matt

Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Current Tank Info: 190

Last edited by mal7887; 05/29/2018 at 08:15 PM.
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