View Full Version : Newbie 75 Gallon Adventure

06-23-2014, 04:37 AM
I think it's time for me to begin my tank journal. First, I have never had a salt water aquarium. I do remember being interested in it when I was young, as I did have a fresh water aquarium, with goldfish, neons, snails etc. and remember how neat I thought the salties were. Fast forward a few decades, and more recently, a few years ago I bought a book called, "The Marine Reef Aquarium" by Philip Hunt. This got me thinking more seriously about it and now I have committed, or will be committed, once my brain explodes from all the research I've been doing for the last few months LOL.

I didn't have a perfect plan when I started, but I had an idea of what I wanted. I live in a small townhouse and I wanted the tank in my living room. I wanted the biggest tank possible and I decided the biggest I could reasonably fit was a standard ~75ish gallon tank. I also knew i wanted a sump so all the stuff could be mostly hidden in the stand. I could see it in the corner of the room between 2 sofas.

I installed an RO/DI system under my sink in the kitchen to get me started, the Auquarium II RODI system combo from Aquasafe Systems.


I knew I needed rock but I wasn't about to spend $11/pound at the LFS for live rock, so I ordered ~80 pounds of Pukani from Fijireefrock.


Then I realized I had a problem. The carpet was 8 years old and I knew if I was ever going to do the floor it had to be done before the tank went up. So my wife and I ordered a new floor.

The rock arrived and on May 1st, I put it in a 44 gallon bin in my garage with a heater and powerhead. More on the progress of the rock later.


I knew the rock could take a while to cure, and really I'm very patient with this because I also want to spread the spending out across many months. I came up with a rough estimate of 5K to get me decently set up.

I started looking for a setup. I visited many stores in Calgary shopping for a tank, stand and sump. At first I was going to buy a standard 75 gallon, reef ready tank, a proflex 4 sump, and a nice wooden stand. The more research I did, the more I realized this was not what I wanted. I was also researching how to set up the quietest system possible, and I discovered the "Bean Animal" overflow system. I knew I wanted it, and I knew I wasn't getting it from big retail LFS.

I discovered a business in Calgary called Concept Aquariums, and went on down to check out their shop. It was actually the day the floor was being installed, which went from this:


to this:


I was in there for an hour talking to Denny about all of this, and a couple weeks later I decided they were it. They currently have my order for a custom tank, sump, and stand, and they have been very friendly and helpful to this noob, and have answered all my dumb questions.


I have purchased most of the pvc fittings i think I will need for the plumbing.

The pukani took about 6 weeks to cure and is now sitting at 0 ammonia. The phosphate level was pretty high, as I suspected it would be from research, so I've been treating it with Agent Green, a lanthanum chloride product I found at Big Al's. It's sitting at about .2 ppm at the moment. I still have a few weeks to treat it before the tank is ready. I'm probably going to hose it out and dry it off because I really want to spent some quality time dryscaping before installing it. There's also some dark brown stuff appearing on it.


I know I'll have to recycle it once it's in the tank. No worries. For now it is happy in the garage.


That's mostly the story thus far. There are still many decisions to be made.

Considering: MP40, Radion Pro, Fluval SP4, Kole Tang.

06-23-2014, 05:07 AM
Welcome to Canreef! Looks like you have a pretty good start there! Good choice going with Concept, one of the best LFS in my opinion.
This is a great forum to research and ask questions. Members here are very helpful, don't be afraid to ask the newbie questions.

Keep the pics and updates coming! Seems to me you got a handle on it!

06-23-2014, 05:14 AM
+1 with concept but not with the Fluval.

06-23-2014, 05:31 AM
+1 with concept but not with the Fluval.

Agreed, Fluval belongs in the freshwater scene. Personally I would go with an Eheim for a return. Quiet and proven.

What corals were you hoping to do? Radion Pro is a pretty pricey light, some would argue that you won't get good SPS growth from it. Welcome to the LED opinion wars!

06-23-2014, 05:47 AM
We will try(Canreef) to help you as much as we can.welcome!!!!

06-23-2014, 06:24 AM
I have to completely disagree about the fluval sp4. These are new pumps that are designed for saltwater applications. It's basically a Laguna pump that has a proper stand and it uses the askol motor block which is the same motor block used in the red dragon pumps. I just put one on my new 93 gallon build , super quiet pump and puts out 1800gph at 88 watts

06-23-2014, 08:02 AM
Looks like you're well on your way! Love that new floor!

06-23-2014, 07:38 PM
Agreed, Fluval belongs in the freshwater scene. Personally I would go with an Eheim for a return. Quiet and proven.

What corals were you hoping to do? Radion Pro is a pretty pricey light, some would argue that you won't get good SPS growth from it. Welcome to the LED opinion wars!

I haven't really decided on the corals yet. Probably just start with the easy stuff. Suggestions welcome.

06-23-2014, 11:21 PM
I've just discovered that I can't edit my OP, and there's stuff I want to put in there. I don't think that's going to work for me, sorry.

06-24-2014, 02:14 AM
I've just discovered that I can't edit my OP, and there's stuff I want to put in there. I don't think that's going to work for me, sorry.

You can PM me any changes to your original post that you'd like to make. I know that's not ideal, but it is what it is I'm afraid.

07-09-2014, 02:28 AM
Hey guys, I moved my build log over to Blogger if you'd like to follow it there. It gives me more creative control. I'll continue to post the updates for you here. Please continue to leave feedback in this thread, I'll monitor it. Here's today's update.


07-10-2014, 05:56 PM

07-10-2014, 06:13 PM
I'm curious. You've cured the rock in saltwater and tested for ammonia etc.. and now you're drying the rock before you put it back in your display?

Are you concerned with getting another cycle?

I've always cured my rock and once cured put directly into the display tank as quickly as possible so I don't lose the benefits of curing it. (Literally I try and do it within seconds)

07-10-2014, 06:38 PM
The tank will need to cycle once it is all set up to replenish the bacteria on the rock and sand. I will accelerate this process with a bacteria culture and also ghost feed for about 2 weeks. Then I'll start adding the CuC after that, and a few weeks later my first fish. I'm not expecting nearly the ammonia levels that the curing process created. Should be an easy cycle.

I think aquascaping will be much easier this way if I don't have to deal with wet rock and water in the tank, since I intend to really glue this stuff together and to the bottom of the tank. I'm not really in a rush to add livestock. I need more time to sort out the lighting anyway.

07-10-2014, 08:44 PM
Ah - Good luck.

The first time I used dry rock I did a similar thing and once the rock was in my DT I still had a GHA bloom - in fact it took be about 6 months to finally get rid of it by just running a bunch of GFO and changing it every 2 weeks!

Have fun - It is always fun doing a new setup.

07-11-2014, 12:58 AM

07-11-2014, 02:04 AM
Booooooo BlogSpot!!! Pics look better on CanReef!!!

I do like where your build is going though!!


07-12-2014, 04:11 PM

07-13-2014, 06:47 PM
If I might make a suggestion - you just spent all that time and effort getting your rocks whistle clean, why not preserve it as long as possible? Ghost feeding with nothing in the tank adds lots of organic carbon and phosphate as well as the nitrogen compounds that you want. The decomposition of organic carbon encourages proliferations of heterotrophic bacteria, and in an otherwise sterile tank, there's not really anywhere for the excess phosphate to go but in to the calcium carbonate of your rock.

There is a theory out there that posits cycling a tank with an organic carbon source (be that food, rotting shrimp, what have you) can lead to a protracted period of new tank instability as the heterotrophic bacteria that consume the carbon can a) facultatively metabolize ammonia and nitrite as well as produce it and b) multiply several orders of magnitude faster than that 'true' nitrifiers like nitrosomonas and nitrobacter bacteria that you actually want to form the basis of your tanks's nitrogen cycle, competing with them both for space and resources. No one's ever done the micro-biological work on this of course, but the suggestion is that that some of the instability people see in new tanks (corals dying for no reason for months after set up, unexplained fish losses) that have 'cycled' according to our hobby grade test kits is because those heterotrophic populations can be highly unstable, and if they crash after you've stopped testing for ammonia there might not be enough of the real nitrifiers in the system to to prevent levels from fluctuating.

The 'true' nitrifiers don't need or even use organic carbon, they get their carbon atoms from atmospheric CO2, and they divide veeeeeeeeery slowly from a bacterial point of view (once every 12-48 hours vs once every 20 minutes), which is why a cycle can take so bloody long. They also don't form endospores the way many heterotrophs can (i.e., they can't go in to suspended animation when resources run out or conditions get bad), which means that unless you're buying specialized bacterial cultures that have been refrigerated along their entire chain of custody, you're probably not buying anything with actual living nitrifiers in it. All those bacterial cultures contain heterotrophic bacteria, which aren't really super useful from a tank cycling perspective.

That long novel was my way of saying that once you set up the tank and are cycling it again, you should consider cycling it with pure ammonia, which you can get at Canadian Tire, or ammonium chloride which you can probably order online. you won't be adding any organic carbon or excess phosphate to the system, so you'll only be encouraging large, relatively stable populations of the kind of bacteria you actually want. That also allows you to dose exactly enough to bring the concentration up to 2ppm ammonia, as if the levels get too high, it can actually become toxic to the bacterial species you want and encourages other, high ammonia specific species that won't stick around when the levels fall. Since nitrifying bacteria are ubiquitous in the environment, they'll show up whether you add a culture or not.

anyway, the tank looks great and good luck!

07-14-2014, 01:02 AM
This is very interesting, I will attempt to understand it better and consider your suggestion of ammonia dosing. Thanks!

07-16-2014, 05:45 AM

08-24-2014, 05:43 AM

09-03-2014, 09:17 PM

The Guy
09-03-2014, 09:51 PM
Looking good so far.

09-04-2014, 07:20 AM
Ahhhhh soooo cute! Love the pictures of Danny and Sandy. :mrgreen:

They look so happy together! :razz:

09-07-2014, 03:57 AM

09-16-2014, 02:41 AM