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Old 05/10/2013, 05:47 PM   #1
o2manyfish
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o2manyfish 400g Tank, 1100g System "Built" Thread

Hello, my name is Dave, and this is my post-build thread for my 400g display tank. The good news is that this tank went up in 2006. So you won't be waiting months or years to see
how this project turns out. In fact you can jump to the finish right now and go to my live webcam and see the tank at 74.62.193.110. Lights turn on at 5pm Pacific time and shut down at
1:30am.

For those interested in the longer story, here it goes. I was born with a fish tank in my bedroom. My dad had a tank with Oscars in my bedroom as an infant. When I was 5-6 years old
my family had a couple of fresh water tanks, and my dad bought a 40g saltwater system. Undergravel filter, Silent Giant air pump pumping bubbles into the corner of the tank. Foil on the back
of the tank. Dead coral skeletons in the tank. A single 40w flourescent tube. The tank stayed tropical for about 4 years. At which point
my parents moved the family to a house on the water in Southern California. We had a dock in the back yard, and all kinds of life swimming 50' behind the house.

My father had watched an Achilles tang at a LFS for over a month. He stopped by the LFS every evening on the way home and fed the fish. After a month he brought the Achilles home.
It didn't last a week. Several days after the Achilles died, we caught a small 12" leopard shark off the dock. So that went into the tank. The leopard shark did okay for
about six months and then tore up its nose in the tank. We caught the shark and applied Methylene blue to stave off infection but after a few weeks of a torn nose the shark passed.

So my dad fed up, drained the tank, moved it outside on the patio, and we got to fill it with anything we caught off the dock. Now this goes back over 30 years ago. So salt water
was a specialty hobby, with not a lot of information, and the consensus was a 40g tank could sustain anything. We kept a smooth hound shark we caught off the dock alive for several years
in that 40g tank. In addition we had smelt, damsels, pipefish, crabs and octopus from off the dock.

When I was 10-11 I inherited my grandparents 20g show tank and started with my own tank of Livebearers. For my 13th Birthday (31 years ago) my parents gave me a 60g tall tank. The first
powerheads were just appearing in the states and the green Sicce pump was perfect for that tank.That 60g tank is in my dads office now with aquatic turtles. 30 year old tank and it's in
great shape only needing us to silicone the plastic trim back on after it was moved.
In high school I worked at the local fish store and collected freshwater angels and fancy discus.

I moved to Santa Barbara for college and immediately set up a 40g salt tank. My second year in college I started working at the local fish store and upgraded the 40g to a 100g tank.
Reef keeping was just becoming a part of the marine hobby. So I setup an aspiring reef tank of 2 tanks that were 48x12x12 that gravity fed from one to another to a 10g sump underneath.

Live rock from Florida was popular at the time. Colored mushrooms were special. Anemones and clowns and featherdusters filled the tanks.

By my 4th year of college I had upgraded the reef to a 75g show tank, with a wet dry with bio-balls, and a state of the art 5000k Halide bulb with standard flourescent and actinic bulbs.
This tank was at the foot of my bed and was one of my favorite tanks. Watching the tank while falling asleep and seeing it every morning gave me tons of enjoyment.

When I moved from college I swapped that 75g for a 125high. That was in 1992.

So now I can finally get to some photos. Here is a photo of my 125 high back in 1996.



Here was the filtration in the stand.



This tank had bio-balls, an Oceanic Skimmer, a closed loop and a motorized ball valve that switched the flow from the left to right side of the tank every hour. The screen in the
back of a stand was a sprinkler timer that I wired to turn the lights on/off in sequence.


In 2002 I had a 300g FO in my living room, and the 125 reef in what I call the fish room. The tank had been successful for many years and I reached the point where I was bored with the tank.
I went searching on the internet and came across Reef Central. I saw some crazy Japanese tanks, and started looking into keeping Acros. I started by finding frags from local reefers.
Fortunately in Southern California there are lots of great hobbyists that are willing to share their knowledge and success. I zealously had a local reefer
build me a Calcium reactor (Larry HawK)

Here was the Hawk Calcium Reactor.



Here was the tank in 2003



So I setup my calcium reactor next to my fish tank, and was discouraged by how noisy it was. I spent a portion of my college years selling audiophile equipment, and am
very sensitive to noises. My 125 ran silently. So sitting a room away watching my surround system, everytime the co2 bubble went into the reactor and hit the pump I heard the
noise and it drove me crazy. At this point I was realizing that if I was successful with SPS I wanted to put in a large reef tank.

So I figured I would start the upgrade with the equipment. And since I was so upset with the Calcium reactor I decided to put everything outside on my patio. Being a bachelor and
owning my home, if I get a bug to bust a hole in a wall, nobody questions me.

So off to find a new sump.






So I started with a used 100g acrylic tank. I have been a DIY guy with all my hobbies. My back yard is my work shop. So with some acrylic and acrylic weld I was off.









In the last photo you can see on the right side coming out of the top of the sump was a fluidized sand filter. I had been running a sand filter on my reef tank since 1994. I also had
one for my fish only tank since it's inception. I like to have lots of fish and with a sand filter the biological filtration capactity is great increased and allows for 'overcrowding' without
any filtration issues.


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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:48 PM   #2
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Here is the first generation of the filtration system finished.



I'm an addict when it comes to marine aquarium keeping. So when I came across an opportunity to pick up some frag tanks I grabbed it.

But I don't have a garage or a spare room to set them up in. So being that I live in Southern California I took advantage of our warm weather and setup my frag tanks outside.


















The outdoor frag tanks were hugely successful. The colors were fantastic. Growth in the sunlight was amazing. And the outdoor system continued to expand. I ran the outdoor tanks
from 2003 until 2006. In 2008 I was having issues with the system overall - Which I will get to eventually and took the frag tanks down to minimize system size and give me some
more control over the parameters of the system. At the height my system volume was about 2100g. All the flow to both inside and outside was handled by a single Dolphin 3600 Ampmaster,
and I used gravity to flow the water between the 5 outside tanks.


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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:49 PM   #3
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So, to keep track we are back in 2003 now. The frag tanks were doing well, and this meant that my 125 display tank was packed and over crowded.

Tank in 2003










So I decided it was time to overhaul my fish room.
While I know some people have a dedicated room for the fish, my 'fish room' just has my tank. So you understand what I refer to my fish room was originally the dining room in the house that
only had a fish tank and a couch to enjoy the fish tank. There were glass fish hung from the ceiling and some fish art up on the walls. But the fish room was/is just a place to watch the fish
tank. So I started making plans to upgrade. I was fortunate that the wall the 125 was sitting on was an 8'wall. I maximized the space of the wall and ordered a 96x33x24 Acrylic tank.


Because all my equipment was outside, I had the idea to do something different with the stand. But I didn't have the ability to build what I had in my mind on my own. So here is where reefing
buddies are amazing. I had a reef friend who I had given a Powder Blue Tang to about 9 months earlier. He is a fabricator for the special effects industry and had been hired to do
rennovations to the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco
and dissappeared for 6+ months and the Powder Blue slipped his mind. So when he was back in town I tracked him down, and asked if he could help me with my stand concept. He agreed. And
he felt so guilty about forgetting to pay for the Powder Blue that he built me the stand for costs of materials.



















Since I didn't need equipment under the stand I wanted to build a stand with a unique modern style to it. Not your typical rectangular base. So we engineered a stand with recessed legs on the right
hand side of the stand. So the tank is cantilvered out over the leg.


Here is Con and I perusing his work in my back yard. I am not the tall skinny one.













__________________
400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:50 PM   #4
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Here you can see the front right leg of the stand recessed from the front and edge of the tank
















So it was time to clear out the old tank and do some work in the fish room in preparation for the tank. A friend Chuck (moonpod) loaned me a 48x48x24 cube which I set up on my outside
patio. With a big tank out on the patio I experimented with a surge system. I wanted something quiet and effective. I also wanted something fool proof. So I started with toilet flapper designs
and quickly found reliable and quiet was not going to happen. So then I started working on a Carlson surge device. What I liked about the Carlson surge device is that there is no moving/mechanical
parts so there was nothing to fail or break. The Carlson surge works using gravity. The surge tank is a tank with a pipe coming through the bottom that looks like an inverted "J". As the water
level rises it pushes the air out of the pipe and when the water in the tank goes over the height of the inverted J pipe it creates a siphon which then quickly drains the tank into your
display tank. Using 2" pipe and sweeps insteads of elbows the flow rate was amazing in my experimental tank on the patio. However, when the air comes out of the pipe into the display
tank it creates a huge bubble belch, which is noisy and splashes. So I experimented some more and discovered that by adding a couple of inches of pipe to the outlet and serratting (cutting slices
in the top of the pipe) when the air came out of the pipe my little muffler pipe broke up the big bubbles, which quieted the noise. So I ordered a tall 30g water storage tank (30x16x30) and
decided I would incorporate a 30g surge tank off the second story balcony of my house. At one point one of the curators from the Waikiki aquarium
was visiting my house, the Waikiki aquarium is where Bruce Carlson invented the surge system design, said that my surge was the quietest Carlson device he had ever heard.

Here is a video of the Surge taken in 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcpxLCUHI1k



So then it was time to take delivery of the tank. Now as I mentioned my previous two reef tanks were show tanks (tall and narrow). My Fish only tank in my living room was 30" tall. So when I went to
pickup my new reef tank I was really dissappointed with the dimensions of the tank. The tank was squat and fat, kinda like me. But it was built, and it was time to bring it home.







So the stand was painted, never thought about powder coating, but in hindsight wish I had, and the top covered with plywood.


I wanted the exposed 4x4 recessed steel leg to be a little more modern, so the 4x4 leg that was structural I covered in an 8" steel pipe.



Now it was time to get started on the tank. I have always been a fan of a reef tank having lots of rock. You have seen the photos of my old 125 high and you can see the rock went from bottom to
top of the tank. I wanted that look as well in the new tank. But this time, after seeing the Japanese openscaped tanks I didn't want a solid rock pile across the whole tank. I wanted the right
side of the tank to be open and the left side, which hid the overflow to be a rock pile. But I am also a very lazy reefer, so I didn't want to have to clean the exposed back wall of the tank.

So I picked up 700+ lbs of flat shelf rock, and using silicone adhered it to the back wall of the tank, covering the overflow box, and the far left wall.



__________________
400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:51 PM   #5
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After the tank sat overnight on it's back for the silicone to dry, the tank was flipped onto the stand.



Here you can see the rock covering the back wall of the tank.



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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:52 PM   #6
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Now being a somewhat frugal reefer I am always looking for reasonable ways to save money. For example in my old 125 I had built an acrylic shelf that ran the back of the tank about 10" high
and 40" long to stack live rock on top of. This saved me a ton of money in live rock, and allowed for more flow through the rock pile. I was very happy with this technique and wanted to incorporate
this concept into the new tank. But with some massive pieces of live rock selected for this tank (several rocks greater than 50lbs each) an acrylic shelf wasn't going to handle it.

So my friend Con (Cmagallon) who built the stand had left me with some Fiberglas grating. Used for walkways and decks it's like mega egg crate. It's about 1.5" squares and strong enough
to support a car. So taking the scraps he had given me I built a super duty shelf to support my live rock pile on the left side of the tank. It cuts using an inexpensive blade on a circular saw
and the pieces can be adhered to each other using krazy glue, or any other reef safe adhesive. One mention, when cutting this stuff it makes a real mess, and its a nasty fiberglas dust, so
definitely wear protecting mask and eyes and work outside. Lots of friends have used this technique, and surprising there are places online which will sell scraps (it comes in 3x10 sheets for approx $400).











This gave me a super strong structure to just set my live rock upon and against. So now my giant pile of live rock is only one layer thick. So on the left side of my tank there is probably
almost 75-90g of open swimming structure for the fish. I put a pump in the far left corner which blows water underneath the rock work to keep detritus from settling.



So that handled my rock pile on the left side of the tank. Now to get to the open style aquascaping. In line with the right hand edge of the tank is my couch in my living room. So after lowering
a wall, from my couch I had a 33x24 viewing panel down the length of the tank. So I wanted a rock island that the fish could swim around on the right side of the tank. So using my fiber grating
I built a free standing island.










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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:53 PM   #7
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I built shelves and outcroppring out of the fiberglas grating so that the rocks could lock into the island to give me lots of horizontal areas for mounting corals.









In addition to the free standing island while searching for my rock for the display tank I came across a unique piece of rock. I found a pillar rock that stood up on it's own and was
24" tall. If you look to the left side of the last photo posted you can see the free standing rock going from the bottom of the tank all the way to the surface.

So now the rock was in place and it was just a matter of bringing all the corals back inside.


At this point in time I was using 250w DE lights over the tank to light the corals. I eventually ended up with 9 lights over the tank. I created a hinged structure over the top of the tank out
of 3" ABS pipe that allowed me to mount all the lights at different angles across the tank. This way I was able to properly light all the areas of the tank. This was very successful for a long time.
However, eventually keeping up with the costs of 9 halide bulbs became a pain. So I eventually transitioned over to 3 Lumenarcs with 400w 20K. Originally I was using all Helios Bulbs (starting with the
250w DE) and stayed with Helios bulbs when I switched to 400w 20k. The Helios were amazing bulbs with fantastic color and great growth. However, they stopped bringing the bulbs into the country
several years ago, and so I eventually ended up with Radiums which I am using currently.

With the tank in place I was able to finally assemble the surge tank. I used a Rio Hyperflow 32 to pump water from under the rock work on the left side of the tank (Remember this as this was a key mistake) up 14'
to the surge tank on the second story. The plumbing was all 2" with only 3 2" sweeps to come into the house and into the tank. The flow from the surge was awesome to say the least. 25+g of water dropped 12+ feet
in under 10 seconds. If you do the calculations the flow is equivalent to turning on a 15000gph pump. And that flow circulates the water throughout the 8' tank. Plus with the power of the Rio pump the surge cycled
every couple of minutes. You may think you have good frag glueing skills. But until you mount a bunch of corals in front of a 15000gph outlet you have no idea what glueing skills are


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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:54 PM   #8
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As I previously stated, when it comes to reefing I am an addict. So throughout my house there is a fish theme happening. Here was a little project I did using slumped glass. This was all scrap glass that I saved from becoming recycling.


















So after being set up for about a year and the tank doing quite well, the seams in the tank started going bad. I called the manufacturer who was local and he came out and agreed that the seams were
an issue and offerred to replace the tank.

It's not often that when undertaking a project of this size, you get a chance for a "Do Over". But now was my chance to fix all the issues that had come up in the past year. First was to have the tank
made taller for better aesthetics. Second was to have the tank built with a steel frame on the top of the tank so that it could be totally open top. And finally build a larger overflow to accommodate
the surge tank better.

In addition, when I setup the 360 I put sand in the tank, and due to my bad habits, the new tank had become quite scratched in the year it had been up. So I decided to go back to bare bottom.

I was very happy with my aquascaping so I didn't want to change anything. So on a holiday weekend I invited my local reef club members open and we had a 2 day BBQ to switch tanks. It took a little over
an hour to empty the tank of all the corals (100's) and load them into a temporary tank on the patio. The hardest challenge was getting all the sand out of the tank.

Then within a few minutes I was able to pull all the rock off the back of the 360g tank. Originally I had applied the rock to the back wall using silicone glue. But when I did that the rock was dry, and now the
rock was alive and moist. So we laid the new tank on it's back and used black pond foam to mount the damp rock to the wall. With this chance to redo the rock wall I added alot more shelves to the wall
to give it more depth and dimension, as well as places to mount corals.

We covered the rock wall with wet towels to keep it moist and let it sit overnight. The next day with the help of some strong guys we tilted the tank onto the stand and in a few hours everything was loaded back into the tank.

In planning to switch to bare bottom, I in advance cuts some sheets of black acrylic and mounted zoas on it and grew them out in the sun for a few months.

So when we set the tank back up the bare bottom tank was black bottom and covered with 1000's of zoas for a colorful bare bottom.

Corals looked great and the tank was back.

As a group of us were sitting watching the tank we saw one of my clams spawn. Lots of Oohs and ahhs, and we went back to drinking our beer and admiring our work.

At the time I had about a dozen clams in the display tank and about a half dozen 1'+ clams in my outside tank for filtration. Well once, one clam spawns, that triggers other clams to
spawn. In the morning my tanks was pea soup with a head of foam on it.

The clams devestated the system. The coral die off was horrible.


__________________
400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:54 PM   #9
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But with some more time and money the tank made a come back










So things were going along really well, colonies were growing and colorful and everything was cruising along. In March of 2007 I came home in the wee hours of the morning from my sister's wedding and opened the door of my house to
a horrible smell of dead coral. I walked in to see the tank empty of water with the lights on.



My immediate thought was that the tank had burst a seam. But there was no water in the house.

I went outside and found water on my patio. I couldn't find the source of the water immediately.

The corals all looked beautiful, they just weren't submerged and were baking under the lights.

I needed over 300g of water and quickly. So still in my tux I started with tap water and mixing salt in the sump to get water into the tank asap.



While mixing the water I noticed the exterior wall was wet. So I went onto the balcony where the surge tank is located. The surge tank was overflowing. There is a 3/4" piece of acrylic as a top for the surge tank which had been knocked
into the surge tank. But I couldn't understand why the surge tank was overflowing. It's a drain pipe. So as I am studying the pipe I see a tail sticking out of the pipe. I pulled the tail and removed a giant rat. A rat had knocked the top
off the surge tank, fallen into the tank and gotten stuck in the 2" pipe intake. When the surge pipe was blocked the Rio buried in the live rock just
kept filling the surge tank and drained the tank all the way down.

I got the tank filled up and everything looked beautiful. I then turned on the Tunze pumps and there was an explosion of color. In seconds all the color on the SPS corals exploded into dust. The corals went from colorful to bleached white in seconds.





I was devestated. I turned the lights off and went to bed. I came downstairs the next day to find 90% of my corals (all in the top of the tank) white skeletons. I sat in front of the tank in shock for several days.


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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:55 PM   #10
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I walked away from the tank for several months. The tank has auto topoff, and I just let it run. Algae covered the glass and I ignored the tank. After a few months I finally cleaned the glass and started removing the coral skeletons. I pulled out over
5 5gal buckets of coral skeletons. Some were so large they had to be broken apart to fit into the buckets. There was still a good assortment of fish in the tank and I started to slowly get back into the hobby.

At the end of the summer in 2008 the tank was looking good again. Things were chugging along well. So I decided to finish the concrete floor in the fish room.

So we grinded the concrete foundation smooth and level. We bagged the tank to keep all the concrete dust out.








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400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:56 PM   #11
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We poured a microfinish concrete top coat.





While this was going on, unbeknownst me one of the laborers took the wet dry vac which was full of concrete dust and dumped it into the outdoor sump. I have no idea what he was thinking, or why he would think a tank of water was a trash can, but he did it.
But the tank was bagged, so we had no idea what had been done. It wasn't until I noticed that the tank had a foot tall head of foam on it that the damage was done.

Massive water changes were done, but it was another disaster, losing most of my fish and corals.

The floor turned out fantastic, but the cost was astronomical.







I spent several months doing massive water changes to try to stabilize the tank, but it just wasn't coming back to life. I couldn't keep corals, and I couldn't keep but the most basic of fish.

At this point the economy took a down turn and I couldn't afford to restock the tank and restocking wasn't an option as it wasn't sustaining much life. So with a few yellow tangs and some blue damsels, I turned the tank off for the most part.I shut off
the tunzes, the lights, the skimmer, the reactors. I left the return pump on and the auto topoff and walked away from the tank. The tank 'ran' like this for almost 2 years.

Then in 2010 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Planning for my recovery I knew I wanted my tank running again in the house. The tank was a brown dingy algae den. The only thing alive in the tank was the yellow tangs and blue damsels, and some button polyps.

I drained the entire system. Caught the fish and moved them into a bucket. Then brought the pressure washer into the house and used the pressure washer to blow all the algae off the rocks in the tank. I then used tap water and filled the system back up.

I put the fish back in. Turned the equipment back on and the lights.

A few weeks later I started adding fish and corals to the tank. The fish did well but corals died within 24 hours. I spent months changing water, running filters, changing carbon, but could not get corals to live in the tank.

SPS would go in the tank looking good and in 24 hours the tissue would be hanging off the coral like a tattered flag. Softies would just slowly melt away. I tested for everything, and couldn't find any issues. Everyone I spoke with assummed it was
residual concrete dust. So I slowly started reducing the size of the system. I took my geo thermal tank offline. I took the outdoor sump offline. But no changes.

The outdoor sump had a 6" sand bed in it. So several people said that the sand bed had gone foul. So I emptied the sand bed. The fish population continued to grow but corals were still an issue.

I updated my ozone, and my UV. But no changes.

I reached out to my friends in the hobby for ideas. Finally someone asked me about my salt. I had been using a pallet of the same salt for the past couple of years.

So doing something that I thought I would never do, I went to Petco and bought 4 buckets of Instant Ocean salt and did a massive water change. A week later I added some corals to the tank... and a week later they were still alive.

So I did a few more water changes and started putting the volume back into my system. I added a 5' fluidized sand filter to my outdoor sump.



So this brings us to the end of 2011. I had a healthy collection of fish and a tank that could support corals again. 2012 was the year to stock the tank. And being a good reefing addict, that's exactly what I did.

Being eager to have a heavily coral stocked tank, I wasn't interested in frags, I wanted colonies. But the availability of colonies was not the easiest thing to come by. So I started with Maricultured corals, and lots of them.







And I kept adding more and more...






__________________
400g Display. 900g System Volume. 180g Outdoor Sunlit Frag Tank. 30g 2 story surge tank. Deltec Skimmer. Ozone. UV. 5' Fluidized Sand Filter. Kalk Mixer. Calc Rx. Radions

Current Tank Info: 400g SPS Dominant Reef
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Old 05/10/2013, 05:57 PM   #12
o2manyfish
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So in 2012 in addition to loading up with fish and corals I also wanted more control over my tank. With so much of my tank outside, I had run into the problems in the past with leaks, that went undetected and the auto topoff running to cover for the leak.
So I invested in an Apex system. My initial plan for the Apex was just to monitor the system. Initial setup was pretty easy, I have static IPs at my house so that made getting the Apex web accessible was easy for me. The Conductivity probe was of extreme importance
to me and initially it didn't work well. The probe would be calibrated and then go into the tank and have erratic readings. Neptune service was great to work with. It took 4 months and the probe and PM2 module was sent
to Neptune twice and eventually it got back to me and was usable. The Conductivity probe is not a reliable probe. So using it to control your system would be a mistake. But using it to monitor drastic changes it does exactly what I need it to do. To keep it in 'the range'
that my tank is actually near requires calibrating every 6-9 weeks.

I turned over my lights and intank circulation over to the Apex. I then used it to monitor my topoff. I was surprised to see that using a dual float switch system, my RO was turning on/off 100's of times a day. So my Apex now waits for the sump low indicator to be on for 20 minutes
before turning my topoff on. The topoff runs 5-6 times a day now. The Apex monitors sump low, sump high, overflow high, tank pH, tank ORP, tank Conductivity, tank temp, outdoor temp, pH of
Kalk Mixer and pH of Calcium Reactor.

I decided to add a pH probe to my Calcium reactor so the Apex could let me know when the CO2 was out. My Calcium reactor is buried inside a counter outside, so checking on it's status is
not regular. When I got the pH probe for the Calcium Reactor I
dropped the pH probe into my Kalk Mixer to test. I was surprised to find that the pH in the Kalk mixer was under 9 and yet there was several inches of unsaturated Kalk on the bottom of the mixer.
So I changed the pump in the mixer and went to a larger Seio pump,
and left the probe in the mixer. The pH went up for a brief period of time and then fell back down. My mixing pump was set to run for a couple of minutes every 6 hours. And I had been using
this method for many years. So I cleaned out the Kalk Mixer and added new fresh
kalkwasser. The probe immeditately read a pH of 12.4. Using the Apex to monitor the Kalk mixer I could see a little difference between when the pump mixed and as it settled out. However, after
about 12-14 days the pH started dropping again and eventually went below 8.
But a visual glance at the mixer showed it was filled with Kalkwasser. I spoke with some people and found that Kalkwasser precipitates out of solution. So after a couple of weeks it goes stale. So I started adding Kalk as soon as the pH started to drop which was every two weeks.
I was using an oversized pump to mix the solution. With the RO Topoff running for longer periods of time now, in the evenings when the topoff would now run for 20+ minutes at a time, it was adding enough Kalk to cloud the tank.
So I contacted Justin at Avast Marine about building me a super Kalk mixer using a mixing bar rather than a pump. Justin was great to work with and built me a custom 12" x 24" Kalk Stirrer.



I did add the pH probe permanently to the Kalk mixer as well as the pH probe to my calcium reactor. And now that I know within 12-24 hours when either one of these is not functioning as it should I feel much more comfortable with my system stability.

So now with everything in place and working it was time to grow and enjoy. And that is what most of 2012 consisted of, adding corals and fish, and trying to keep the glass clean.

Tank in September of 2012



















October 2012






At the end of October I decided to try an LED light on my system. For the past 5-6 years I had been running with 3 400w 20k halides. I have all the parts to install a 4th one over the tank, but my already outrageous utility bill kept telling me to hold off. So after reading
some good reviews I bought the Apollo Reef Solarblast 5000 UV. I picked this lamp because it has a $400 price point, was tested for greater than 30" spread (my tank is 33" front to back) and comes ready to connect to my Apex. So now that I have been running the LED for 5 months what are my impressions?
Well, its a good little light. Spread and penetration are good. I find the output a little too pink for me in comparison to the Radium colors I like so much. Coral growth under the LED has been good. I have both my colonies of Ice Fire Echinata, my Red Dragon, and my Leng Sy cap all under
the LED and colors are good, but not incredible. But I am not impressed enough to consider switching away from my Radiums.

In November I decided to try something new and got my first group of Anthias. A long time ago I dove the Red Sea and swam through under water caves where the roofs were covered in Anthias. After
such a memorable experience, seeing schools of thousands of Anthias I had never been interested in keeping them in my tanks. I also was aware that they required frequent feedings, and I had never
been much for feeding my tanks. So I purchased the SuperFeeder automatic feeder and connected it to my Apex and started with some Dispar Anthias. The Anthias have been a nice addition to the tank
and have been doing well. I started out with 1 male and 7 females. 1 Female didn't survive and one jumped the tank. The other Anthias split into two groups that sleep on opposite sides of the tank but
school together when the lights are on. Each group now has a male, and the two males school without any issues. In January I added some Evansi Anthias, but they are just not feeding well enough to flourish.
This past week I added some Purple Queen Anthias, and time will tell how they adjust to captive life.


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Old 05/10/2013, 05:58 PM   #13
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January 2013

























February 2013




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Old 05/10/2013, 05:58 PM   #14
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March 2013



















April 2013










And that brings us to present day. So what's next for my tank? Well I have decided to do some more experimenting with LED's. I saw the RapidLED kits and liked them and got a 24" kit to light the end of the tank that faces into my living room.

I also built a 48" Actinic LED to try supplementing the Radiums. That will get installed hopefully in the next few days. I am happy with my corals, but my tank is full and I want more, so I am going to be setting up my outdoor frag tanks again
and start growing alot more corals outside under the sunlight.

Current Fish List

Tangs 15
Yellow Tangs 9
Blue Tangs 2
Purple Tang 1
Chevron Tang 2 Juvie
Achilles 1

Angels 13
Bellus Angel 3
Golden Angel 2
Goldflake Angel 1
Multicolor Angel 1
Venustus Angel 1
Multi Bar Angel 2
Red Sea Regal 1
African Flameback Angel 2
Flame Angel 1

Bangai (1 Holding Eggs) 5
Damsels
Blue 2
Blue Saphire 7
Starki 2
Yellow Chrom 2
stegassi 1
Traceys 4
Kupang 4
Twin Spot Damsel 1

Royal Gramma 3
Skunk Psued 1
Bicolor Pseudo 1
Springeri Pseudochromis 2
Frimandi Pseudochromis 3

Wrasse 5
Lubbock wrasse 2
Red velvet wrasse 2
Yellow Coris 1

Goby - 10
Mandarin Green 1 8
Mandarin Red 1
Mandarin target 1
Firefish Goby 4
Purp Firefish 1

Pipefish (Dragon Face) 2

Clowns - 5
Percula 3
Blk Perc 2

Blenny - 10
Klauswitz Blenny 1
TailSpot Bln 2
Bicolor blenny 1
Orange Spotted Blenny (Aussie) 1
Pink Spot Watchman Goby
Catalina Goby - 2
Striped Shrimp Goby
Gold Midas Blenny

Anthias - 10
Evansi Anthias 2
Dispar Anthias -6
Borbonius 2


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Old 05/10/2013, 07:09 PM   #15
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Wow! What a ride. Well composed and very entertaining. Thanks so much for a great story.

Dave.M


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Old 05/10/2013, 07:10 PM   #16
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That's some stocking list!


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Old 05/10/2013, 07:10 PM   #17
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awesome thread and a beautiful tank man. Hope all is well with the big C.


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Old 05/10/2013, 07:41 PM   #18
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Great history of your experiences of the major advances in the hobby since the late 1970s. I appreciate your detailed documentation of this journey. Many of us look back on these rememberences and nod fondly. Thanks again.


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Old 05/10/2013, 07:53 PM   #19
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Dave.M,

Glad I could entertain you


Ace,
It's actually gone up in the last couple of weeks, but I don't count anything till after it's been in the tank for at least a month. Nothing unusual added this time. But the girl friend, who picked out the Achilles tang, and whom I gave a Red Sea Regal just loves her fire fish. So I got her a gaggle of firefish and we will see how they settle in. I also added some more Anthias.

MysticalKnight,

Thanks for the compliments. Big C is banished and I have a clean bill of health


Osteoclast,

It's been such a long road, I just wish I had taken more pictures years ago before the digital era.


Dave B


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Old 05/10/2013, 08:26 PM   #20
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Holy cow, big +1 on what a ride, I swear I felt sweats come over me whenever you had issues and was on the edge of my seat hoping that everything came back to life.

That said, a decade ago you mentioned you kept corals outside and grew them, how was the electricity to keep that going like that? I know you said it was warm, but still it had to have an effect. Also did you have large algae issues as well? I'm a little north of you (300+ miles) but I have a greenhouse off the back although the temperatures go from 50 to 110F in any given time period I always thought having a small 20-40g coral grow out flat hooked up to a 500g system would still work out.


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Old 05/10/2013, 08:30 PM   #21
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Looks good Dave
I will try to check it out in person soon


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no more hyposalinity...

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Old 05/10/2013, 08:58 PM   #22
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SFSU,

The electricity to run almost 1000g was nominal. I used gravity to flow the water through 5 different tanks. At the time I was using a Dolphin Ampmaster 3600 as a return pump and the outlet split with 1/2 to my display tank an 1/2 to the outdoor tanks. After a couple of issues with seals and restarting I switched over to a single dart pump for the return.

For chilling I buried the 400g tank in the ground. When the temp goes up a valve opens and the water from the return switches and flows through the underground tank and then back to the above ground tanks. I also supplement with a 19 dollar box fan on the surface. Evaporative cooling is extremely effective where I live. So even on an overcast and rainy day with the outside tanks I still probably evaporate a minimum of 15g a day. In the summer time that may go as high as 40+g a day. All the top off is Kalkwasser. So I am happy to evaporate more and add more Kalk to the system.

The only other expense was in each one of the frag tanks I used a RIO pump for flow. With great luck I used up flow. I put the RIO's on the bottom of the center of the tank and pointed them straight up. This create a mushroom flow that rolls across the entire tank. It also creates waves and periodically throughout the day the upflow waves will reach a key frequency (don't know how else to describe it) and create a 3-4" wave across the tank. The 3-4" waves bounce around for maybe as long as a minutes and then settle back down to a 1" wave. I am real happy with the upflow technique and use it in my main display tank as well and have two tunzes that are midway down in the tank pointed straight up.

So that's all the electricity it took to have a very successful outdoor frag system in So Cal.

Dave B


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Old 05/10/2013, 09:07 PM   #23
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Lawrence,

You were supposed to come visit this week and swap some rock....

You've got the address just give me a heads up when you want to come visit.

Dave B


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Old 05/10/2013, 09:13 PM   #24
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Beautiful setup!! Your story of ups and downs and resilience is inspiring Love all the yellow tangs and Dispar anthias.


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Old 05/10/2013, 10:54 PM   #25
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Nanook,

Thank you. Yellow tangs are great for color, movement and keeping the algae tidy. Some of mine are starting to get on the big side so if I can find a trap I will move the larger ones outside and start off with tiny ones again.

Dave B


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