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Unread 07/25/2015, 03:14 PM   #1
Happyschneider
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My first reef tank build

Hi all,

I already had a brief introduction in the according thread. Now it's time to introduce my tank. But before I begin, please let me say thank you for all the information I was able to gather so far in this fantastic forum. I'm currently cycling my tank so many decisions are already made as the whole project got off the ground during a time when I could not spend so much time preparing and editing forum posts (budget reviews anyone?). Anyway, let's get it off the ground.

January 2015, I got the OK from the missus
I was always fascinated by aquariums, especially the salt water type. I never dared to make the plunge though as I was moving a lot or had no money left spending on anything else than beer (oh the student times were good). After 37 years on this wet planet, I decided to start getting some of that water into our living room. My wife and I decided that we would start with a fresh water aquarium and after a few negative experiences, we really got the hang of it. And this year, I finally got the ok to start working on a nice salt water tank for my 40th. So off I went.

February 2015, I got the jibies
When I measured the are in the living room where we wanted to keep the aquarium, I realised how much water I would bring in there! I kind of got worried and slowed down in the planning. Eventually, I decided to first go small and check that I really like the salt water hobby. I know, everyone says to go as big as possible from the beginning. But to be honest, I am rather happy about the decision. It gave me the opportunity to make so many mistakes without destroying the final thing!

beginner tip Give yourself a lot of time and help from someone with a lot of experience, otherwise I would not recommend to start off with the final thing. I learned so much and will do many things differently when getting to the "real" thing.

May 31, Off we go
Mid of May I purchased a used Juwel VISION 180. It contained fresh water fish before and needed some extra cleaning. Checked that it was tight and had no leakage and set it up in my home office. Looked great and I couldn't wait to get started.



beginner tip Take time. Everyone is absolutely correct. Time is off the essence when it comes to salt water aquariums. I got caught between business travels, friend's marriage and stress at work. So I was stressed when working on the aquarium and ended up doing things that I probably would not have done otherwise.

June 8, the first material arrived
I ordered a lot of stuff online. I try to support a local store but just did not find a trustworthy one. So I had a RO/DI system, refractometer, salt and many many water tests. All I needed now was some stones.

beginner tip If you go for stones, don't settle on the first offer you find. LS are too expensive to compromise on. I bought too much stones, of bad quality with bad shapes. At least they had some coralline on it so I expect that they gave me some benefit over dry stones.


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Unread 07/25/2015, 03:30 PM   #2
Happyschneider
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June 14, water go!
In the morning, I got myself a lot of LS form a local shop. Unfortunately, I did not prepare well enough and this is really the one thing I can give everyone on the way. Before you do anything else, get yourself a local shop that you trust and is well stocked. Especially when living in Switzerland, getting good quality LS is not so easy!

Anyway, I got myself about 16kg of LS. At the time I though it looked great as it had some reddish corraline on it and many flat stones that I thought I could use to build up and make overhangs...

I took it home and wanted to set up all the stuff.

beginner tip before you buy anything that cannot survive without water, make sure your RODI is working!

At home, I realised that the RO/DI did not have an adapter for my tap. Running off to the DIY store was fruitless (therefore I bought some other stuff, I start to understand why everyone keeps saying that this is a really expensive hobby So I decided rather to let the expensive LS die off, I fill the aquarium with normal tap water, add the salt and then keep the stones in there. I was fully prepared to exchange the whole thing once the RODI was working. So hose attached to the aquarium, and water go. One thing is for sure, tap water runs faster than the RO/DI... added salt and mixed it all with the pump (maxspect Gyre, an absolute beast and complete overkill for my small tank but I am a marketing victim, what can I say). Got salinity of 1.024 within the hour and had the temp up quickly thanks to 3 independent heaters (thank you fresh water aquarium, you get the heater back later). Finally it was time to add the LS. Obviously that was not the final aquascape, just to keep the LS happy.



You can see that the local shop also gave me a macro algae. Luckily, I posted the picture also on a local site. People there warned me that this was a Caulerpa racemosa or a similar species that might attach itself to the stone. Certainly not a problem in a sump, but I am going sump less. Here a better/clsoer view of the best:



Needless to say that I was not happy with the guy who gave it to me, although for free I have to say as well.


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Unread 07/25/2015, 03:35 PM   #3
Happyschneider
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June 23, RO/DI ho!
I finally got my act together and got an adapter which worked. Attached the RO/DI to my system and it worked like a gem (once I figured it out, can't believe that there was absolutely no description on how to use it). To test, I made a 10% water change with freshly made salt water from RO/DI. It was all looking better now. And as everyone always said don't play with the aquarium, I had to re-arrange the LS of course:




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Unread 07/25/2015, 10:27 PM   #4
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Congratulations! Now the real fun waiting begins.


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Build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2499447

Current Tank Info: 75G w/29G sump, Reefbreeders Photon 48, RO Classic 110-INT, Jebao DCT-8000, 2xJebao RW-8, 2xEheim Jager 150W heaters, Tunze Osmolator ATO, TLF GFO
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Unread 07/26/2015, 03:18 PM   #5
Happyschneider
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Thank you ZeeSparrow! It helps to be in this hobby for the long haul. I feel fine waiting forwever

June 15
First time measuring the water values:
Temp 26C
pH 8.0 (drop test so forget about that one)
Nitrite 0 ppm (I later found out that the kit is defective)
Salinity 1.023
Nitrate 10 ppm (Salifert)
The ammonium test I ordered was defective, one of the solutions was leaking already when it arrived and completely black. So for the moment I did not know where I was at but to be honest, at that stage of the cycle it is not really that important.

June 18
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrate 10 ppm
added ammonium hydroxide to kick off the cycle (ammonia read 1.5 ppm after 15 minutes of mixing)

June 21
I purchased a calibration solution which helped me understand why I did not see any nitrite. The test was wrong and I since got rid of it.
temp 27C
pH 8.3 (freshly calibrated Milwaukee pH55)
salinity 1.022 (freshly calibrated refractometer)
ammonia 0 ppm
nitrate 25 ppm
phosphate 0.66 ppm (freshly bought Milwaukee test)
So it seems as if the ammonia can be oxidised already (I did have a lot of LS in the tank so no real surprise) and the nitrate was increasing a lot. As I did not know what the nitrite was doing, I could not be sure that it is due to leakage from the stones or because the nitrate cycle really was going.


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:12 AM   #6
Happyschneider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeeSparrow View Post
Congratulations! Now the real fun waiting begins.
Thank you! I need to work through my timeline, still cycling but much further ahead than I got here. Wanted to log my advances somewhere so that I can refer to And maybe the one or other experienced reefer will have some tips along the way.


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:21 AM   #7
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June 23, first water change
10% water change.
Salinity 1.023
temp 25.5C
pH 8.3
Ammonia 0

June 27, new aquascape and complete water change
In order to get rid of all the salt water made with tap water, I removed all the stones and all the water. I used this opportunity to get rid of all the small debris that collected on the tank bottom due to the stones.

June 28, dry run for the new aquascape
I got some additional dry LS which looked much better than the LS I originally got. Much lighter and hopefully more porous. I had a dry run and rather liked the scape.


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File Type: jpg dry aquascape.jpg (57.2 KB, 79 views)
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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:25 AM   #8
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June 29, bringing it into the tank

I tried to keep all the stones wet whilst I was filling up the aquarium with RODI water over night. Let the pumps mix the water and heat it up whilst I was trying to get the aquascape ready.

I drilled some holes for the glass rod to keep the towers stable. Worked pretty well. But man it is a tough piece of work. The stones get heavy after half a day of lifting and moving. Just as well I did it all in the cellar, nice and cool down there. Unfortunately, when I transferred the stones into the tank, I did not get it as nicely as it was and it looked awful. Ran out of time and had to leave it as it was, especially as I had to go on a business trip.


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File Type: jpg wet aquascape.jpg (42.0 KB, 85 views)
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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:29 AM   #9
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June 28, microbelift to get things started whilst I was away

Just before I left to the airport, I added some Microbe-Lift Nite-Out II and Microbe-Lift special blend. Man that stuff stinks! But if it is good for my biofilm, all for it!

July 5, back from my trip, tank still here

Was hard to concentrate at the congress Thinking of my tank all the time. LAtest values:
Salinity 1.024
pH 8.5
alkalinity 7.8 (measured for the first time and seems a little low), not worrying about it for the moment as system still needs to get into a balance.
temp 28.6C

needed about 1 liter of RODI for top up
added 30ml Microbe-Lift special blend


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:31 AM   #10
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July 21, not much happening, trying to get the nitrates and phosphates down

Salinity 1.024
pH 8.3 (freshly calibrated)
temp 28.5 C
Nitrate 5 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:33 AM   #11
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July 24, started measuring phosphates

my first phosphate measuring with the milwaukee handheld meter! The gadget is easy to use, although the powder in these sachets is a pain to get into the vial without spilling it. With a little bit of practice one gets there but annoying especially, as I don't know what is in there and how toxic it might be. Also, it would be great if the machine would beep when the reading is done or at least keep the last reading so that you don't loose it if you are doing something else whilst it is waiting its 3 minutes (not 2'30'' as described in the leaflet!).

Phosphates: 0.15 ppm less than I feared!


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:37 AM   #12
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July 25, removing algae and redoing aquascape

In a painful and sweat driving exercise I removed all the stones from the tank and scrubbed the algae off. Good way to remove phosphates and nitrates from the system but man is it messy. Obviously the water was a little bit murky afterwards.

Changed about 15% water at the same time.

At the same time I cut the white grate for the stones as I did not want it to cover all of the ground.

Much happier with the scape now.


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File Type: jpg before cleaning.jpg (55.4 KB, 118 views)
File Type: jpg after cleaning.jpg (28.9 KB, 98 views)
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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:38 AM   #13
Happyschneider
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July 26, checking on my phosphates

Salinity 1.026
phosphates 0.05 ppm


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:39 AM   #14
Happyschneider
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July 30
Salinity 1.026
pH 8.6
temp 25.4 C
phosphate 0.12 ppm


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:42 AM   #15
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July 31, adding JUWEL Phorax (Bioflow 8.0 size)

Added a bag of Phorax from JUWEL which was way to big. I want to get the nitrates and phosphates a little down before I add the sand (curing in RODI water for over a week now).

At the same time I cemented the aquascape so that I can easily add sand and hopefully add some critters soon (CUC).

August 1st, Swiss National day and no phosphates!
phosphates 0 ppm
nitrates 1 ppm


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:42 AM   #16
Happyschneider
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August 2, adding sand

Finally added sand, looks halfway decent now.

Add the same time made a 10% water change. After adding the sand I need to remove an additional 2 liters of water I would estimate.


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Unread 08/03/2015, 03:52 AM   #17
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August 3, checking on my water values

Quiet a bit of phosphate still. All the other values are excellent. Adding some Bicrobe-Lift again.

salinity 1.025
pH 8.2
temp 24.8C
phosphates 0.12 ppm
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrate 1 ppm
alkalinity 6.4!

The alkalinity is quiet low, which I will observe more closely. If it doees not improve within the next week, I will start measuring magnesium and maybe calcium.

The phosphates are back up. So either there was a measuring mistakes the day before or the sand added a lot of new phosphates. Needs observation.



Last edited by Happyschneider; 08/03/2015 at 04:36 AM.
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Unread 08/07/2015, 04:45 AM   #18
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I added my first living things. Well, apart from the LR that is

some Nassarius snails, some turbo snails and some hermits. The Nassarius are absolutely amazing how they immediately disappeared in the sand. One has come out since and was checking out his new home.

The turbos and the hermits are already working and seem to have a great time on all my algae.

Unfortunately, it is very hard to take decent fotos through a bow front


Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_6737.jpg (28.1 KB, 69 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_6747.jpg (28.1 KB, 65 views)
__________________
My build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2517452

180 liter, sumpless reef, no skimmer for the moment.

Current Tank Info: Juwel VISION 180, currently only invertebrates, planning to have low bioload as I have no skimmer and no refugium for the moment.

Last edited by Happyschneider; 08/07/2015 at 05:32 AM. Reason: forgot to add the pics
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Unread 08/07/2015, 09:38 AM   #19
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Look like some very good pictures to me! I also appreciate watching the nassarius snails... In fact, I plan to order more for my tank soon!


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Build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2499447

Current Tank Info: 75G w/29G sump, Reefbreeders Photon 48, RO Classic 110-INT, Jebao DCT-8000, 2xJebao RW-8, 2xEheim Jager 150W heaters, Tunze Osmolator ATO, TLF GFO
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Unread 08/07/2015, 03:47 PM   #20
Happyschneider
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And here are some hitchhikers I just discovered. One might be aptasia? The other one hopefully is the beginning of a happy copepod family.


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File Type: jpg IMG_6775.jpg (32.7 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_6776.jpg (98.6 KB, 80 views)
__________________
My build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2517452

180 liter, sumpless reef, no skimmer for the moment.

Current Tank Info: Juwel VISION 180, currently only invertebrates, planning to have low bioload as I have no skimmer and no refugium for the moment.
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Unread 08/09/2015, 03:43 PM   #21
Happyschneider
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It seems like my alkalinity is not doing so great. Currently it is at 5.6 and I am trying to get it up again with fauna marin carbonate mix. Not really moving although magnesium and calcium are at 1245 and 430 ppm, respectively. I am adding very little doses though in order to not shock the system.

Over all the snails and crabs are doing great work. The stones already look much better and I slowly get the cyanos under control.. maybe...

I think the unidentified stuff I posted in the previous post are aptasia and I will take the stone out to properly treat it. Nothing else on that stone so I will have a go at it. If the stone survives it, I will put it back in, otherwise I will find a different solution.

I also went to the LFS yesterday and got myself the first softies Very happy and they seem to be as well, at least most of them! I got a Sinularia flexibilis, some Zoanthus, a Gorgonia and a Briareum sp. Hope you enjoy the pictures.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_6779.jpg (99.3 KB, 79 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_6780.jpg (96.0 KB, 64 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_6784.jpg (79.5 KB, 59 views)
__________________
My build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2517452

180 liter, sumpless reef, no skimmer for the moment.

Current Tank Info: Juwel VISION 180, currently only invertebrates, planning to have low bioload as I have no skimmer and no refugium for the moment.
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Unread 08/09/2015, 04:26 PM   #22
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If your salinity is still 1.023, I am guessing that is playing a part in your alk. I would raise the salinity, sounds like you're not using enough salt mix, and everything is too diluted.


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Unread 08/09/2015, 04:44 PM   #23
Happyschneider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmojo View Post
If your salinity is still 1.023, I am guessing that is playing a part in your alk. I would raise the salinity, sounds like you're not using enough salt mix, and everything is too diluted.
Thanks, I should have updated that. Salinity is at 1.025 measured with a refractometer (calibrated with reference solution). Unfortunately, I don't have the alkalinity test long enough but will check the water for water change next time to see if my batch of salt is bad.


__________________
My build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2517452

180 liter, sumpless reef, no skimmer for the moment.

Current Tank Info: Juwel VISION 180, currently only invertebrates, planning to have low bioload as I have no skimmer and no refugium for the moment.
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Unread 08/09/2015, 05:42 PM   #24
PsymonStark
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Hey, cool journal, great adventure so far!!What salt mix u using there?
There a good coral and now fish supplier here in Germany who ships throughout eu if you looking for lps a little further down the line.


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Unread 08/10/2015, 02:11 AM   #25
Happyschneider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PsymonStark View Post
Hey, cool journal, great adventure so far!!What salt mix u using there?
There a good coral and now fish supplier here in Germany who ships throughout eu if you looking for lps a little further down the line.
Thanks, definitely an adventure

I am using the hw marinesalt professional, will test kh today after making fresh salt water.


__________________
My build thread: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2517452

180 liter, sumpless reef, no skimmer for the moment.

Current Tank Info: Juwel VISION 180, currently only invertebrates, planning to have low bioload as I have no skimmer and no refugium for the moment.
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