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Old 06/10/2017, 07:04 AM   #1
HuskerBioProf
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Husker 55g Display Refugium/Seagrass tank

Some of you may have seen my Mr. Aqua 12g long macro algae tank that was up a pitiful couple of months. I decided pretty quickly that I would rather have one one big system than 2 little systems for a multitude of reasons.

For the past several months I have been working on my new build upgrade: 150 gallon SPS display, 75 gallon sump, 55 gallon display refugium.

Here is the plan for the setup, creating a bit of a multi-habitat aquarium nook for my office:



I am not going to talk much about the main display tank in this thread. This thread will focus on the "display refugium." There are a lot of people with considerable macro algae/seagrass experience who check this subform, so I would love to hear any suggestions and advice.

Here is the overall plan:
  • I want the tank to mimic the feel of the Florida Keys patch reefs surrounded by seagrass
  • Nutrient export is not a primary concern, as I have a jumbo skimmer for the system
  • I am planning on stocking the main display with Anthias, so nutrient export would be an ancillary benefit (along with providing planktonic food for the display)
  • Deep sand bed to house mainly turtle grass, perhaps other species
    Foam rock wall in the back corner made from Great Stuff Black Foam + Rock Rubble + Sand + LEGOs (yes, LEGOs)


Equipment (so far):
Lighting: Reefbreeders Aquasanrise Plus R120
Flow: MP10wqd + return pump
Other: No reactors or funny complexities on this system; my best success with SPS (this is still connected to an SPS system) has been with simple feed + flow + skimming


This tank will drain directly into the shared 75 gallon sump. The tank will be ready to fill in the next few weeks, so I look forward to any suggestions!

I will keep this thread updated with progress on this portion of the system.


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Old 06/10/2017, 07:07 AM   #2
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A local was selling a 55g + oak stand for cheap. I thought it would be much easier than building the stand by myself, as I am already working on the stand for the main display.

I wasn't too fond of the red, though..


Sanded off the red and painted the inside with Killz. I didn't go overboard with the Killz, as the entire area under this tank will be dry dedicated to electronics.


Restained (to match the display tank stand):



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Old 06/11/2017, 08:23 PM   #3
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Foam rock structure made out of rock rubble and Legos.









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Old 06/12/2017, 07:40 AM   #4
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Clever use of Lego's, I Like.


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Old 06/13/2017, 01:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BonesCJ View Post
Clever use of Lego's, I Like.
Thanks. We'll see if it ends up looking okay in the actual tank.


I made some progress on the rock structure. The system might be ready to set up in the next week or two.





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Old 06/13/2017, 02:40 PM   #6
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Looks great!!!!


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Old 06/13/2017, 07:26 PM   #7
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Thanks. I think it will look okay when the algae starts filling in.


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Old 06/14/2017, 04:25 AM   #8
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Husker, that project is moving right along and looking good. What kind of foam did you use to make the structure? The use of legos was genius!


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Old 06/14/2017, 05:55 AM   #9
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Why thank you. The foam is Great Stuff Pond Foam (black). I have read the yellow is not as easily reef safe. It is very sticky, but I like how you can create a seemless structure instead of just a stack of rocks.


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Old 06/15/2017, 08:36 AM   #10
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Testing out the new light.

I'm very impressed with the color blending on this. I'm curious to see how it looks with water and some life.



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Old 06/18/2017, 05:48 PM   #11
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OMG! Is anyone else using Legos to create rock work? That is amazing! Theres nothing in them that can leach into the water? Thats brilliant.


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Old 06/19/2017, 12:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyH08 View Post
OMG! Is anyone else using Legos to create rock work? That is amazing! Theres nothing in them that can leach into the water? Thats brilliant.
I am pretty sure they are fine. I have seen reef tanks up with large Lego structures (like a Lego Colosseum or pirate ship). I also know they are notorious for their high quality plastics that don't chip off any colors and are completely non-toxic (kids eat these things). However, in looking around, I couldn't find them used to make aquascapes. They really work pretty well for a "rebar" for the foam.


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Old 06/19/2017, 11:24 PM   #13
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Your fake rock scape looks way cool! Legos, brilliant. How are you securing it all from floating?

Great illustration by the way. I'm stoked you're doing seagrass!


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Old 06/20/2017, 12:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hoaster View Post
Your fake rock scape looks way cool! Legos, brilliant. How are you securing it all from floating?

Great illustration by the way. I'm stoked you're doing seagrass!
I am securing it with a combo of spraying it right onto the glass (it stuck pretty well), sticking quite a bit of live rock rubble into the foam, and burying part of it under the sand. I hope that works. The sand is going to be deep enough for seagrass, so it will cover and weigh down a lot of the foam, hopefully.


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Old 06/20/2017, 02:02 PM   #15
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That just might do it! Long term though might be iffy. Buoyancy is a powerful thing. If it is attached to something under the whole sand bed, like a thin piece of plastic, you get the weight of the whole sand bed holding it down. Hard to say from here! Fill the tank with water for a while and see if it holds.

It's gonna be cool!


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Old 06/20/2017, 04:21 PM   #16
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Do you think I should silicone it to the glass? I'm not sure if silicone would bond strongly enough to the foam to be structural.


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Old 06/21/2017, 01:06 AM   #17
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It's hard to say. It may be fine as is. Throwing some water in there might give you a better idea. I'd hate to complicate your situation unnecessarily. I'd also hate to see your cool design break up. Maybe show it to a physics prof, or someone who might know about this sort of thing.

I'm almost sorry I brought it up, but I guess it's better fix things at this stage, rather than later.


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Old 06/21/2017, 08:06 AM   #18
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It isn't just you. A member of our local reef group said he had the stuff attached to his glass in a freshwater tank for a year before it fell off. I have it connected on three sides of the glass, which might help a bit. The plan is to half the structure on the left about half buried in the sand and maybe put a rock on it. It will be a fun experiment!


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Old 06/21/2017, 08:40 AM   #19
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Husker, I followed your last thread on macroalgae. My last macro tank ended up becoming absorbed into my DT and sump. Eventually, I would like to have a multidisplay system like:
60gcube--125g long--60g cube all at the same height, moving the mixed coral reef contents from the 125 into the 60s. Then the 125 will be a Fla Keys tank with gorgs, sea grasses and tanks. I am thinking of the patch reef/sea grass ecotone as well but scaped as a few coral bommies. I would also lay 3" of mineral soil (yeah, I'm crazy but that's how we learn, good or bad) below 2" of sand.

So for that reason, I'll be following yours.

- How will you import Keys life? I plan on using TBS and Gulf Live Rock and possibly augmenting with livestock from KP Aquatics and Carribean Tropicals.
Also I've built a couple rock walls. Here are some of my experiences:
- The best experience I've had is to take rock and join them into whatever structures using foam (i.e. 90% rock, 10% foam). I've found it difficult to have a mostly foam background. Sand doesn't stick around and crushed coral eventually gets picked off by inverts. One thing I haven't tried is to, after forming the foam and pressing in sand/crushed coral, lay clear coat epoxy to coat the outside.
- For some reason the white great stuff holds better underwater but tends to turn pink when exposed to light. The brown stuff stays brown.
- Adding in rock to the structure also weights down the structure and keeps from floating.
- Affixing the structure to the back wall, or multiple walls is best. I've adhered to the bottom of the tank and that doesn't hold well long term unless anchored by sand substrate or rocks.
- Silicone is a decent adhesive but best results were when I sprayed foam directly onto the glass (it also cleans up easier in case you scrap it)
- Also, let everything cure thoroughly! I was 90% done, filled the tank and found some parts to be bouyant, I partially drained, added more foam to the glass, and re-filled the tank hours later. I almost killed off coral and a fish months later when I moved in livestock. It wasn't until I drained and let everything dry that the foam's chemicals left the water.

- One example of my struggles with foam. I wanted to create a little cryptic zone I could watch life grow in. It was 4"x5"x5". Essentially a 4 sided box with bottom and side facing the glass open. I siliconed it to the bottom of the tank. The little foam box had rock rubble on the outside to look natural. Filled up water.. bouyant and ripped the sealent hold.. added 2" sand on top of the box.. still bouyant... added 8 lb of rock..stayed still, until I slightly moved one rock on top the box...

Anyhow those are my thoughts. I'd hate to see you do work just to have the sand/crushed coral coat slough off and/or the whole thing float.



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Old 06/21/2017, 08:55 AM   #20
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Also, I've heard of people using lego frag disks and racks: take a flat piece as a rack and one can snap on or off frag disks as needed.
good call on the ingenuity


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Old 06/22/2017, 08:18 AM   #21
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When I did a all foam back wall the same way on my 90 gallon aquarium I used 2 x 2 pieces of egg crate and siliconed them to the back glass first. After they cured I sprayed on the foam and it never went anywhere! Just straight onto bare glass unfortunately is iffy, the buoyancy of the foam is intense. Sorry to be a buzzkill.


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Old 06/22/2017, 09:39 PM   #22
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Thanks for the tips, folks. I will look into it and see what I can do to reenforce the structure to prevent it from floating away.


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Old 06/23/2017, 02:43 AM   #23
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As I've said, your design is cool. However, if you were to say you were going to scrap it and start all over, I would have a few suggestions. One of the best reasons to use foam in the first place is to move the rock work up onto the back wall, freeing up valuable real estate on the tank bottom, for say, seagrasses. Your design doesn't take advantage of that. In fact it could be easily done with live rock, which wouldn't have buoyancy issues, and would also be much more beneficial to your system than foam. Your design covers two third of the bottom. One good way to combat buoyancy is to tightly fit your wall between the bottom and the top frame of the tank. Other tips: push out air while it cures, voids like plastic bottle caves fill with water, rather than air, less bulky-less floaty, eggcrate makes a great, structural framework to lock the foam into. Hope this helps!


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Old 06/23/2017, 06:45 AM   #24
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The problem with doing too much on the back wall is that this is a 55 gallon and it is so narrow front to back. Part of the goal with the foam was to create a structure that I liked that fit the 55gallon footprint. I also kind of wanted to create deep sand areas without having to fill the entire bottom up with sand- the plan was to have most of the foam structure on the left covered with sand. This would create pockets that are deep enough for turtle grass with other areas only deep enough for the other genera, while conserving sand. I liked your idea of having that deeper sand bed area that you retained with rocks. The 55 gallon is only 12" wide, so these things can eat a little tricky. It needs to be 12" wide to fit into the space allotted in combo with the other tank.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I probably have a few weeks before this will be getting wet, so Ibhave time to think things over.


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Old 06/23/2017, 07:15 AM   #25
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Those are all good points I hadn't considered. Best of luck with it. I can't wait to see how it turns out!


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