View Full Version : Reef Tank DIY - For Dummies

09-26-2017, 05:06 AM
Hi all,
I've been stalling on my tank upgrade because I'm feeling way out of my depth (see what I did there), and I've been hesitant to start a build thread here because you're all so intimidating to a newbie like me. :mrgreen: Anyway, I thought perhaps others out there like me would be interested in something like this instead of the amazing tank builds you usually see here, so I'm taking the big leap forward.

My 75-gal tank will be 2 years old this November. I bought 2 green spotted puffers that the LFS told me were freshwater, and long story short, eventually ended up buying a used tank on CL and setting up a SW tank for them with the help of some nice folks on the Puffer Forum. I learned about live rock and mixing salt, and now I think I'm hooked. My current set-up is pretty medieval. All second-hand stuff except for the lights. No sump, hob Remora skimmer, SB Reef lights. I do a 16-gal water change once a month with buckets, and manually top off water twice a day. I do not use RODI water. (Please don't hate me).

My fish in order of when they were added: 2 green spotted puffers, YWG+shrimp pair, ocellaris clown pair, long nose hawkfish, mandarin, tail spot blenny, flame hawkfish.
Coral...a bit of everything including RBTAs (a lot of 'em), zoas, and some lps & sps.

I've been having a real blast thus far and luckily have all my original livestock, except for a lawnmower blenny who wouldn't eat and a long-nose hawkfish that jumped (RIP Lenny & Fergus:cry:).

However, I know my skimmer is barely able to keep up, I need to learn about dosing, and I'd like to set up a sump so I can have a refugium to increase pod population (for future girlfriend for my mandarin).

*note: apologies for crummy iphone pics

My immediate hurdle - I have no idea how to plumb this.

09-27-2017, 04:28 AM
My current tank:
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4426/37344077181_bf2a20f18b_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/YTYa6F)

The tank I bought: 72 x 18 x 18
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4390/37297147566_b08551daf0_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/YPPCyo)

It came with a stand. My husband stripped and reinforced it (he's reasonably handy and owns power tools haha).
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4431/36635014974_b295fc567a_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/XPj2Bd)

My immediate hurdle - I have no idea how to plumb this.

09-27-2017, 04:34 AM
Here is how it was originally plumbed:
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4395/23492856088_348404cc83_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/BMZ2CU)https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4363/23492856018_7afea2f2a7_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/BMZ2BG)

Before I go ahead and try to duplicate this, any thoughts on whether I should change anything? Any improvements I can make?

Here is the sump that came with the tank: 36 x 14 x 18
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4434/37087859910_781ff97f3a_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/YvjYCw)

It has no baffles (new term I just learned) so I would like to put some in and have 3 compartments. Kinda like this except the other way around (not my photo):
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4507/37088527390_67d38ab777_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Yvop3N)

So, I'm thinking, from left to right: skimmer, then refugium, then return.

- I would like pipes to be black instead of white as they will be somewhat visible if tank is viewed from the sides. Is it better to paint or buy black pipes? I can order from the US as I shop online frequently.
- glass baffles for glass sump, right? Where is a good place to buy the glass?

Any tips, info would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks!

09-27-2017, 04:35 AM
Thanks for your help Wardog. Sorry for all the clutter:redface:

09-27-2017, 06:02 PM
It's not a huge deal, but since you're starting from scratch I would do

Filter Socks > Refugium > Skimmer > Return.

Refugium's work better when placed in front of the Skimmer, or even Parallel to the Skimmer because a lot of the nutrients that the refugium uses to grow would be "skimmed" out if the skimmer was placed in front. Obviously the skimmer won't skim out everything, but if we're going with best practice, try and feed the refugium as much good nutrients (and pods!) from the display as possible, and then let the skimmer pick up whats left over.

Some people even T off the overflow so that the water heading to the refugium doesn't go through the filter socks. This method is to save some of those pods that are coming from the display that would otherwise be caught in the filter socks and get thrown away. Check out some of the higher end manufactured sumps from Trigger and Eshopps to get ideas for layout.

For making baffles, I had good success just going to a local glass shop and having them cut me the glass to the correct size. Just make sure you get aquarium safe silicon and be generous - remember that bubble traps are your friend.

09-28-2017, 05:32 PM
Thanks for your input philg3. There seems to be a bit of a discussion about this, and I'm going to start taking notes since my head is swirling with info. Is the layout dependent on what the refugium is mainly for, ie nutrient export or pod farm? For me, I want a place to increase pod population. I was lucky enough to get great live rock that a local reefer had for more than 10 years. My tank never had a cycle, haven't had nuisance algae issues and it's supported my mandarin for a year. However, I'd like to get a mate for my mandarin and possibly pipe fish, so my aim is to establish a pod haven.

So much food for thought. I'm finding it hard to make any decisions, hence my new tank has been sitting since June:confused:

09-28-2017, 08:19 PM
If the goal is to provide pods to the aquarium, you just have to think about it as a "refuge" where there is slower flow and no predators. Rock rubble and Chaeto will give them a place to hide and the slower flow will help them from getting sucked away into the display before they have a chance to breed.

I attached a Diagram similar to the way I had a sump setup years ago. You put the Refugium on the other side of the return pump, so both the skimmer chamber and refugium empty into the return section separately from either side. You can either T off the overflow like on the diagram, or T off the return pump back into the refugium. Either way put a ball valve after the T and you can slow down the flow into the refugium while still having a high turnover through the skimmer and the rest of your filtration equipment.

09-29-2017, 03:42 PM
Thanks for the diagram. Really helps as it's hard for me to visualize these things

09-29-2017, 06:57 PM
If the goal is to provide pods to the aquarium, you just have to think about it as a "refuge" where there is slower flow and no predators. Rock rubble and Chaeto will give them a place to hide and the slower flow will help them from getting sucked away into the display before they have a chance to breed.

I attached a Diagram similar to the way I had a sump setup years ago. You put the Refugium on the other side of the return pump, so both the skimmer chamber and refugium empty into the return section separately from either side. You can either T off the overflow like on the diagram, or T off the return pump back into the refugium. Either way put a ball valve after the T and you can slow down the flow into the refugium while still having a high turnover through the skimmer and the rest of your filtration equipment.That's exactly how I did my sump way back when. Works great for pods and you can empty the pods from the filter socks into the fuge too.

Every now and then a few pods will leave the refugium, get sucked up by the return pump and go straight into the mouth of a hungry fish in the display. It works great!

The melevs reef website also has an excellent section on sump design if you need any more inspiration.


Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

09-30-2017, 07:28 PM
Ok thanks, this sump layout might work out for me - thanks!

How much room should I allot for the return compartment? I thought it would be small as it only accommodates the pump but then I read for various reasons it's sometimes the biggest. I'd like the refugium to be a good size though.

Question: Is there a way to remove the old plumbing going into the tank? Here's the old return with the plumbing sawed off. Is it in there for good, and we have to attach new pipe to it, or is there a way to get it off?

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4384/37414896851_7a2742cdaa_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Z1e8jt)

Same question for the other 2 pipes. I guess you can see it was a Herbie system in the far corner.


09-30-2017, 10:46 PM
I always liked a bigger return section. That way there is a bit more forgiveness as far as having to top it up all the time goes.

The refugium section doesn't need to be that big, yeah it would be nice to have a whole other tank as a refugium but not entirely necessary.

Just saw through the bulkhead and then buy new ones for the new plumbing.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

10-01-2017, 12:37 AM
We'd like to put in a new bulkhead but it looks like it's glued in on the other side. I don't know if we can remove it:neutral:

11-13-2017, 05:04 AM
I finally have baffles in my sump! :happy: I went with a simple design and the husband did a pretty decent job with the silicone.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4567/26604567689_36127a07ef_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GwXn5V)

I did a water test on both the main tank and the sump, and all is well. Whew! I have to admit I was nervous filling up the big tank in the house. It was quite the job emptying it out afterward.

Now onto the plumbing. Went to JL and they had no 1.5" bulkheads in stock and no ETA for pending shipments. Then I couldn't find any pvc fittings at Home Depot - what? I thought they have everything. Will check out some other places this week.
Now I can move on to the plumbing, which is my

11-13-2017, 06:12 AM
Nice work on the sump! Did you order black pipe yet? You can get coloured pvc pipe from www.formufit.com. They supply pipe to BRS and its much cheaper to order straight from them. As far as 1.5 " bulkheads, you might have to order from BRS. A little bit of a hassle with the crappy exchange rate and shipping but what can you do?

11-13-2017, 07:12 AM
Any idea how much shipping is with them Warren?

11-13-2017, 06:13 PM
If I was to order,with my order being 49$ U.S shipping is 45 $ U.S

11-13-2017, 06:26 PM
It's just the nature of the beast with shipping. You are either willing to pay or not for a specific item. Having a PO box in Blaine can also help reduce the cost.

I would not paint pvc pipe. It always chips at some point.

11-13-2017, 10:27 PM
I order a fair amount of stuff online (pick up in Blaine) but having said that, after mooning over all the pretty colours, I decided to stick to something that's a bit of a myth in this hobby - a budget. I think I'll just paint the pipes black. No one will ever see them behind the tank and I can use the $$ towards something else (like coral!). Sigh...it's a compromise.

I do want to change this though...

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4543/38346159856_32dedf711e_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/21qw6nb)

The white part is really bugging me. Not sure what it's called, but I'll have to take out the bulkhead as it's glued in.

11-13-2017, 11:22 PM
Yes bulkheads with threads on both sides are best. unless your using slip on the inside and not gluing your standpipe or elbow. If you use slip glued on the outside and the rubber seal ring needs replacing you have to replace that whole section of plumbing.
And you wont have the cheesy white slip x thread adapter inside the tank

11-14-2017, 03:02 AM
Ok thanks for the info. I've been trying to read up on this stuff but it's hard to get a lot of detail. It's a bit of a slog going thru this learning curve but it's a real benefit to get a better understanding of how the tank runs. I'm trying to sit through the BRS 52 Weeks of Reefing, and they did mention that it's best you're able to take stuff apart for maintenance.

11-14-2017, 04:43 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about the white coupling on the inside of the tank. Within a couple months it will be covered in Coralline algae and it will look the same as the black at that time.

12-03-2017, 05:05 AM
I picked up my Black Friday skimmer purchase today! Kinda excited as this is the nicest thing I've bought for my tank. The packaging was pretty slick.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4529/38076700294_5a7aea5527.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/211H3qE)
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4584/23928496857_bb1064c354.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/CstNsD)

I really like it:) - clean lines and very solid construction. Love how smoothly the cup screws in. Well, it looks nice anyway; I'll have to wait a bit to find out how it works. I didn't want to finish up the plumbing until I was sure that it would fit, so that should be done sometime this week.

12-10-2017, 11:53 PM
Plumbing is done! We also put the top trim onto the stand so I can be sure it is all fitting nicely before the tank is filled and immoveable. I am not 100% sure that I should paint the stand black. Wondering if it will be too much of a huge black thing. However, I don't have any other furniture that is white in this room so that wouldn't look right either.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4534/38233724504_dc51affef9.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/21fzQfC)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/21fzQfC) by Magdaline Chu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/153252787@N08/), on Flickr

No more ugly white connector!
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4686/38949712711_bdb6aa649c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22kRsAT)Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/22kRsAT) by Magdaline Chu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/153252787@N08/), on Flickr

I'm not sure about the next step. I need to test if the pipes are water tight but if I fill the whole tank with water, I won't be able to push it back against the wall to its final spot. I was thinking I can just add enough water to overflow to have water drain into sump. Or is this not testing it properly?

12-11-2017, 12:12 AM
Fill it with tap water to test everything running. Also test your sump volume when the return pump turns off. After testing, add some vinegar to help remove oils and such. Run for 1 or two days. Drain it all and then push it into final position.

Also, it looks like your main drain and emergency aren't low enough into your sump. Water is going to splash everywhere.

12-11-2017, 02:36 AM
Ok thanks. Guess I canít be lazy.

Yeah I havenít attached that piece yet as I was making sure the skimmer could get in easily. You think the emergency should be lower though? I thought it should be high so the splashing if it happens will be noisy

12-11-2017, 04:06 AM
I had both below the water line in the sump. When set up properly, the main drain is dead silent. If and when the emergency is used you'll know it, as it makes a crap load of noise either way.

12-11-2017, 04:31 AM
Ok, thanks again. Iíll give it a go (she said nervously)

12-11-2017, 08:04 AM
I am not 100% sure that I should paint the stand black. Wondering if it will be too much of a huge black thing. However, I don't have any other furniture that is white in this room so that wouldn't look right either.

If your worried about colour clash that is a relatively minor problem in the grand scheme of things I have seen many people use cloth or fabric skirting to hide the colours and equipment. Primary concern should be having a running tank and access to equipment under the tank.

Other than that your build looks awesome so far keep up the good work

12-12-2017, 03:03 PM

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4540/25137873278_13c72ab40f.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EimaWf)
Untitled (https://flic.kr/p/EimaWf) by Magdaline Chu (https://www.flickr.com/photos/153252787@N08/), on Flickr

The husband told me to stop procrastinating, so I finally put water into the tank. I still wasn't sure I understood it completely but once it was running, everything made sense. I re-read the entire GMA Herbie method basic guide again and understood it this time. It did show the that the two downspouts should be under the waterline (not sure how I missed that). The main line as I have it now is probably a bit too long (?) as it should be about 1/2" underwater I think. I left the emergency for now as it was good to see how it worked as I adjusted the valve. We turned off the pump and it was all good. My husband showed a lot of interest in playing around with the plumbing - he doesn't really care all that much about the livestock haha. He also looks forward to all the clutter being cleaned up.

I'm not really a religious person but I did say a little prayer before I went to bed. And lo, there was no deluge this morning.

So I added the vinegar and will let it run for the 2 days. Then some final adjustments, clean up the back, etc. When should I be testing the skimmer. It won't be working properly when there's nothing to skim, right?

Also, the sight of all that water in the tank made my husband think about insurance coverage. Any insight into this?

12-12-2017, 04:32 PM
Main drain looks good. Definately bring the emergency below the rim of the sump. Running the skimmer now in the vinegar water will help get the manufacturing oils and dust off it. It will take a couple weeks to get it set properly once you introduce livestock. After you drain the tank don't worry too much about wiping down every last bit of vinegar water. Consider it your first carbon dose. If you speak to your insurance agent about additional protection, please share your findings with us. Not too many people do this.

01-09-2018, 06:12 PM
A new year, and new beginnings...
I thought it was a perfect time to fill the tank with saltwater:biggrin: The husband completed his part of the project by securing the pipes, adding the back to the stand and pushing the tank to its permanent spot. So now he can go back to his spot on the couch:lol:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4762/27822460079_d13d2aefc8.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Jozo4z)

After a couple of days I added my first live thing - a ball of chaeto in the sump fuge section. Hope it likes the pink light. Then I moved over a few rocks and a bit of sand. The old tank is only 3 feet away so I'm planning to move things over in stages. I'm pleased to see the little sponges and feather dusters on the rocks are still happy. (I forgot to not expose sponges to air, oops) I'm seeing the tiny white things on the glass just as I did with the old tank. Never did figure out if they are pods or what.
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4699/38891233064_5b99af2deb.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22fFJD7)

I'm waiting for my new 32" SB Reef light to arrive to add to existing one. I have saved a spot next to the sump for an ATO container but I'm not sure what to use yet.
In the meantime I am mulling over plans on how to safely catch my little pistol shrimp as he will be one of the first to set foot in the promised land.

01-09-2018, 06:29 PM
Looking good! Great idea to plan for some future adding.

01-16-2018, 10:03 PM
I finally put the skimmer in. I made a stand with egg crate & per instructions letting it run without the cup for 24 hours. I really love this thing. So red and shiny. And silent.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4676/39010112484_409dd8a0c7.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22rc2mh)

So I got a canary to test the waters as it were. I guess in theory all creatures are equal but I didn't want my own fishies to be the first in the new tank:redface:. He's a Springer damsel, so he's supposed to not be evil. Also eats flatworms should the need arise. Having said that, I'm growing fond of him already. His name is Neil. One small step for...

He's doing great. Hid for the first day & coming out to eat the next.
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4766/39010103744_d7a0d4ac9a.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22rbYKA)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4607/38821103565_9888aaffc5.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/229uizP)

01-17-2018, 01:21 AM
Lol... canary sounds more like new tankmate. FWIW... my damsel is actually pretty mellow and plays well with others. It could be that everything else is way bigger then him, but none the less he is super passive which is good.

01-18-2018, 12:34 AM
Damsels are awesome!
Until they're not!

They're some nice fish, especially as juveniles.
As they grow, most tend to become more dull and aggressive.

Best of luck with yours, I have kept a few myself.

New set up looks like it's coming along nicely!

01-19-2018, 06:35 PM
Well, this Springer's damsel is supposed to be the most mild-mannered, but who knows. All my fish are pretty assertive, and everyone treats the mandarin like he's invisible (apparently he has a noxious slime coat), so I hope it will all work out.

So far, the Vertex has been easy peasy. After the 24-hour break-in, I put the cup on and adjusted the valve per instructions, and it's been silently skimming away. I do like to look at it foaming so nicely, haha. There's only a bit of crud collected as it's only Neil and 1 hermit:lol:
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4661/39783917951_c9348c5c85.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23ByYKR)

I think the chaeto ball has grown already but could be wishful thinking. There are pods all over the fuge glass though. Very encouraging!

I pick up my lights in Blaine tomorrow, so this weekend will be the big move. I'm making plans for how to transfer things over. A little worried about the fromia as he likes to spend time on the glass and the new tank is too clean. They are supposed to eat sponges, which are all over, but I've never really seen him on them.

01-20-2018, 04:53 AM
Hahahaha you make reefing so much fun!
Following along...

01-20-2018, 05:37 AM
Iím interested in a lot of different things but I have to say this hobby is one of the most fun ever. Just now I spent 10 minutes on the floor squinting at the tiny copepods on the fuge before I have to tear myself away as the husband/kid have already started getting ready for bed.

I feel guilty sometimes as it does take up a fair bit of my time, as well as not being the cheapest hobby despite my best efforts to re-use & recycle. Everything from the old tank is being moved over, every grain of sand. Luckily so far the KISS methodology seems to be working for me, knock on wood.

01-20-2018, 05:48 AM
Thanks Shao! Howís your build coming along? Btw I bought a neon toadstool from you a while ago and I think itís splitting? Itís folding in and looks like itís forming a little frag. Chi-ching! :lol:

01-20-2018, 09:57 PM
I'm too busy watching everyone's builds, no time for mine!

Yes, the Tyree toadstool is one of my favorites and it doesn't get huge like many of the other toadstools I've had.

01-23-2018, 05:40 AM
Spent the whole day Sunday moving everything over from the old tank. Whew! My plan of having one light on each tank so that I could move things over slowly (with possibly some procrastinating) got kiboshed when the husband wired and hung both lights over the new tank (he was watching hockey & obviously wasn't paying attention).

Despite planning ahead, drawing diagrams, etc, it never works out the way you think. Once you take rocks apart, they never stack back the same way no matter what :confused: The best laid plans, eh...
For the fish, I thought I'd start with the tailspot blenny as I needed to move his shell-house that was attached to a rock, but he disappeared. Next thing you know, he hitchhiked in another rock & showed up in the new tank with a WTF look on his face. So much for acclimation. I hate to think if he jumped and got stepped on. Yikes! I got pretty frustrated at one point, but finally the rocks just fit, the sand rinsed out nicely, and everything came together.

Great thing is, everyone was accounted for including the CUC. I even found my 2 little ring cowries which I haven't seen for a year. I thought I'd lost the tiny pistol shrimp but while draining the old tank, there he was halfway up the corner silicone. The fish are a bit confused but this morning seemed to be enjoying all the swimming room. They all thanked Neil for risking his life on their behalf by completely ignoring him. He's a great addition btw, very active with awesome colour.

The coral are fine and some seemed to enjoy things being stirred up. The candy cane was brighter than ever and all the zoas looked great this morning. I had taken time to give each rock a look over & quick cleanup, so all the little sponges were exposed to the air, but so far they seem fine.

I still need to tinker with the final rockscape but the basic framework is there. Have to clean up the wires and pretty up the the ceiling plug. But it doesn't look too bad I think.

Now for the clean-up!

A new day begins:
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4603/24978863967_8dcb711ffe.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/E4id1p)

01-23-2018, 04:40 PM
The tank is looking great. I really like the aquascape. And the lights look so clean. Very good job! :biggrin:

01-23-2018, 06:00 PM
Thanks chizerbunoi :) I still need to work on the rockscape a bit and re-mount some of the coral. I was lucky that there was a light in that corner that we don't really use much so we converted it to a plug instead.

01-24-2018, 02:42 AM
Very nice clean setup! I was considering hanging my lights for my new build but was always unsure if it would look clean. Your lights being hung is done very clean and doesn’t take away from the tank at all. Great job!

01-28-2018, 07:32 AM
Thanks DKoKoMan...too bad these lights couldn't do a daisy chain so there are two cords, but I've since tied them up to look a bit neater.

So this past week, I've stolen an hour here and there to tweak the rockwork, and mount up the loose coral. There was some brown diatoms (?) on the sand mid-week but after I stirred the sand, it hasn't come back yet.

The fish are nicely settled in and happy. I recreated the caves that they like and now that the rocks are more spread out, they really enjoy swimming in the higher part of the tank as well. Pistol shrimp has reclaimed his spot under the first mountain. I was worried about the fromia but he seems fine and is as active as ever, so I hope he will stay around a while.

Bad iphone pics coming up...

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4652/26068616008_9d10294805.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FHAtjG)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4626/39908425612_8c45c5607c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23Nz7xE)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4752/39230244094_890197f7b5.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22LDfNS)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4762/39042482655_cfdb0d8c9a.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/22u3VSF)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4658/25069087577_daabd48666.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EcgCkT)

Here is what the Vertex came up with after 1 week with livestock. I'm not sure if I need to make any adjustments. It's at 50% open right now.
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4661/25069079697_60635a250d.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EcgA12)

Skimmer Juice
01-28-2018, 07:44 AM
very cool starfish you got , cant enjoy those as I have a harlequin shrimp :mrgreen: . Scape looks good and congrats on a successful tank swap

01-28-2018, 04:13 PM
Your AquaScape is very nice! Reminds me of a diving trip in St. Lucia at the Pytons. Large mountains in the ocean :smile:

Looking forward to more photos.

01-28-2018, 06:37 PM
Thanks Skimmer Juice,
And I can’t have harlequins cuz I have two puffers who love the shrimp cocktail:lol:

Thanks -that is a great compliment. Mountains were my inspiration - the classic Chinese landscape. My dream is to go diving but as I am a poor swimmer I have to live vicariously through my little box of water. I did once snorkel off a very remote island near Bali. Amazing!

01-29-2018, 07:56 PM
So I haven't put in an ATO yet. A bit more evaporation than my other tank:neutral: but so far I don't find it a huge chore. I would need a fair size container to make it worthwhile but then that would mean the risk of water on the floor. Any thoughts on this?

I thought I'd show the guys that my tanks have been set up for: my green spotted puffers. They are way cool. Smart as anything.
(You can see my modest start at a zoa rock:p)
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4648/28192867759_87a69c1f20.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/JXiPmT)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4768/39940792952_1e4cb4f905.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23Rr1ef)

02-08-2018, 03:28 AM
Two weeks since tank transfer & everything is going swimmingly :lol:

There were a few patches of cyano on rocks in the old tank which I scrubbed off before transferring, and so far nothing has showed up in the new tank. My sand hasn't looked this good in ages. It seems fish are still "stretching their legs" as it were in all the new space but they look happy enough.

I emptied out my skimmer cup for the first time. Couldn't have been easier. No drips, no mess. I wiped off the neck section - it was a thick gelatinous paste. Did I mention I like my skimmer
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4697/39408674824_2bdb95734e_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/233pL3L)

02-09-2018, 05:20 PM
I ordered some copepods from AlgaeBarn & added them to the tank, along with their ďOcean MagikĒ phytoplankton. Yes, magik in my tank - gotta be good! Itís the 5280 mix of tigriopus, tisbe & apocyclops. Lots of tiny things swimming in the bag, so hope they result in a booming population as I hope to buy a girlfriend for my mandarin one day.

The glass on sump has always been crawling with tiny copepods but I donít see too many on the DT glass. I tried shaking my chaeto ball in the DT. Any other things I can try? Or assume theyíre just all hiding in rocks? My mandarin has been getting thinner though - thatís why I decided to boost the population.

02-09-2018, 09:19 PM
Did you have them shipped direct or did you have them shipped to Blaine?

If you had them shipped direct how much was shipping?

I want to get some stuff from them as they have a good clean product.

02-09-2018, 09:51 PM
I ordered some copepods from AlgaeBarn & added them to the tank, along with their ďOcean MagikĒ phytoplankton. Yes, magik in my tank - gotta be good!

Let us know how adding phytoplankton directly to your tank affects your phosphate levels.

They say it will use nitrates and phosphates but my concern is the phytoplankton is packaged in a high nitrate/phosphate solution.

Years ago a was growing phytoplankton but found when I added it to my tank I had uncontrolled hair algae growth afterwards. So I stopped adding it to the tank and filtered the rotifers before adding them to the tank.

02-10-2018, 12:15 AM
I picked it up in Blaine. I entered a coupon code (reef2reef?) & got a little discount. Terrible communication but package was delivered smoothly & was well-insulated.

I do have a bit of concern about dosing phytoplankton. How long would it be before issues manifest? My rock is pretty clean except for one piece that was newly added. Itís showing a bit of hair algae.

02-10-2018, 02:03 AM
I would monitor any changes in phosphates.

I am currently using Reef Nutrition phytoplankton to grow copepods but not sure if I want to add it directly to my tank.

I add the copepods to help supplement my pipefishes diet.

02-10-2018, 03:24 AM
Full disclosure...I havenít tested any parameters since the transfer:redface:
Did I mention I have no instruments to test for phosphates?

Where do you buy your copepods?

02-10-2018, 05:22 AM
The only two things I regularly test for is phosphates and alkalinity.

The reason I test for phosphates is I add KNO3 to manage my phosphates and twice I have zero'd out my phosphates and fried my corals. First time really bad, second time I caught it in time.

I got my copepods from J&L (Tigerpods) and from Canada Copepods (3 different types of Copepods)

02-10-2018, 05:48 AM
I wanted tisbe pods as I think they're more suitable for mandarins, and can thrive in temps of most SW tanks. Last time, I bought Todd’s Pods, from Las Vegas. I’ve checked out Canada Copepods but their shipping is pretty high. I believe you get less pods for the dollar as well. Were you happy with the product?

I accept that phosphates is likely a factor in my tank since I do not use RODI but it has not been a big issue for me. Definitely not running a ULN SPS-dominant etc etc system.

02-10-2018, 06:56 AM
lol i recognize that tank lol, the old owner still owes me some zoas because i drilled it and built the overflow box. Looks good tho, i love the peak on the rockscape in the middle

02-10-2018, 07:07 AM
Yep, still holding water:p

Thanks, itís all held by gravity haha

02-15-2018, 06:19 PM
I thought I'd try out my husband's work camera (Canon EOS M3) so I put it on all auto settings & tried it out. Big improvement but of course I have to now read the manual so I can use it semi-correctly. Still looks very purple I think but at least it's not all a blur :lol:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4668/40286531921_aac2a85afd_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24nZ1nX)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4620/25415277987_ca4e400dd4_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EHRWG4)

And of course it helps that my dog is very photogenic. Meet Dash!
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4625/25415282507_549313a186_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/EHRY2Z)

02-16-2018, 09:55 AM
These pictures are stunning! Also who doesn’t like a puppy dog eyes photo.

02-17-2018, 12:07 AM
Pics are nice...
Really digging the RBTAs!

02-17-2018, 12:49 AM

If only my clowns felt that way - they completely ignore them and just like to sleep in the corner:confused:

02-17-2018, 01:27 AM
Short of removing the clowns and reintroducing them directly into the nems (to get them to get familiar with them and the stings)

I've printed a pic of a clown in a nem and taped it to the side of the tank. The thinking is they may learn by example.

02-17-2018, 02:22 AM
I did the picture thing before, full colour life size. Nada.
Then I thought when I changed tanks that I might do a trick that I saw on Melevís Reef, pouring them into the nems via an acrylic tube (I was gonna use a water bottle instead) but the tank transfer day was too hectic. Stupid clowns...

02-26-2018, 06:33 PM
Things are humming along. No noticeable increase of nuisance algae from adding the phytoplankton. However, I added a couple of "new" live rock when I did the tank transfer, one to the display and one to the sump, and I see that there is some hair algae on those whereas the old rocks are clean. Hmmm...

Chaeto has definitely grown, from a softball size to smallish cantelope.

I tried my hand at making some frags:mrgreen:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4747/26630026948_937259e992.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GzcReE)

02-26-2018, 07:02 PM
Just wanted to share a touching story...get your hankies out.

Last Oct, I noticed my YWG had a strange white bubble on his side. Long story short, he spent 4 long months in QT & went through multiple rounds of meds under the guidance of those more experienced than myself. Worms were expelled, improvements seen or imagined were agonized over. Meanwhile, after Snape was taken out, his significant other, Blondie (a 1" fine-striped pistol), closed up all his entrances and was not seen again. Except for transfer day, when I thought I'd lost him only to find him clinging to the corner silicone with a couple of inches of water left in the tank. I had recreated his cave in the new DT. He scooted in, promptly closed the hole with shells and disappeared again.

Finally this month, I made the judgement call to return Snape to the DT. He has not completely recovered. (Who knows why. I believe there is a parasite embedded in his flesh and will continue trying to find a successful treatment). I put him next to Blondie's hole (after removing shells) but he didn't go in. He swam around all night, clearly confused by the strange surroundings. Next morning he was under a rock at the opposite end of the 6' tank. I was sad that there was a conscious uncoupling. Then lo and behold, there was Blondie behind him cleaning out a new burrow! Wow. Somehow, after 4 months and many inches of sand, they had found each other after just a few hours! While my husband made some rude comment about what they were up to in the burrow after 4 months abstinence, I was instead reminded of my favourite love story. I only hope Snape heals in this less stressful environment.

Reunited and it feels so good...
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4648/39791201954_99043ba0d3.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23Cdj37)

Ferociously defending his shrimp:
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4672/40458667802_518037a65a.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24DcfnY)

02-26-2018, 07:32 PM
Love gobies and pistol pairs! My Yellow Watchman Goby managed to pair up with 2 pistol shrimps (came with my first 75g SW tank).

03-28-2018, 05:24 AM
A few more "firsts" for this tank...

Did the first water change! (My usual schedule being the 1st of the month) It was not too bad. I'll have to work on a few things to make it easier but not much maintenance to do at this point.

I also took my little bits & pieces of frags to JL & got some store credit. I was kinda nervous, since they weren't rare acropora from Timbuktu, but they took it. Chi-ching! So proud...:lol:

I guess I'll use some of that credit on a tang after all. I believe in keeping a balanced tank & most of my fish are carnivores, except for 2 pretty small blennies. There's a few bits of hair algae here & there, so I thought it might be good to have a tang. Narrowed it down to a Kole or Yellow. I do like the looks of a Yellow more. Any input as to which would work better in my tank?

I noticed that my bonsai was looking pale, and then the rainbow monti & stylo had some spots of STN. So I decided it was time to haul out the test kits, a couple of which are new & unopened :redface:. Good news is that the chaeto is doing its job - nitrates are zero or close to it. Anyway, not surprising that I got low readings of calcium & alk, so I guess I can't procrastinate anymore on the dosing, which is something I assured my husband would not be necessary on a "fowlr" tank, haha. I had some Brightwell Two Part sitting on the shelf so I've started that, but I can see it will not last very long. Do many of you use the BRS stuff? I'm not seeing something similar from JL, and I would like something dummy proof & easy.

Other than that, everything is going well. Interesting how the tanks have gone through all these stages. I had the invasions of amphipods and bristleworms, 3 days of pineapple sponge mania, then crazy numbers of vermetids (which just disappeared recently; I think puffers finally developed a taste for them). Now there are sponges and mini brittle stars everywhere.

Sponges are cool, and in pretty shades of pink, white, purple & blue.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4707/39590953045_ac81b492d4_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23jvZ1H)

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4613/39776376634_bee191ae85_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/23AUjZ9)

04-12-2018, 06:14 PM
I decided to order a BRS starter kit for 2-part dosing as it comes with everything I need to ease into this new experience. I've brought my numbers up over the last week or so to the desired levels of:
CAL 420 ALK 9 MAG 1350
So far I am dosing manually and actually it's been kind of fun. I'm happy to see that my rainbow monti which had lost some tissue now seems to be recovering. The bald spots are shrinking & all the edges are ringed with blue growth tissue. Whew!
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/901/40699339634_fe9c8da490_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/251sKJj)

I also had to make a new batch of food, as my fish seem to be eating more as they're growing. I hand chop mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp & squid. These guys eat pretty good, I have to say...
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/884/41107886602_e230c141ab_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25CyEvy)

I added a new guy recently - a segmented blenny. His name is Kenny, and he's grown quite chubby since these pictures were taken.
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/807/40355495254_4010abb7eb_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24u5sLW)
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/788/26193498407_346fde9359_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/FUCwvv)

04-12-2018, 06:37 PM
I love the goings on in the tank. Thought I'd share some of the antics of the various creatures...

We have to stop meeting like this...
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4716/25673127297_204f69c4ef_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/F7DuiP)

Ack, caught in the act!
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4700/26672996978_8f17100c4d_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/GD15Jf)

The lone leopard, true king of the savannah, creeps towards the unsuspecting prey...
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/898/41064473101_bafdb6ac14_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25yJabV)

Get off my house! Ouch!
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/817/40355623844_b829f25cd9_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24u6811)

What the -
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/885/41371209172_ac42b26bc1_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/262Qg8S)

No self esteem issues here
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4625/40444016832_84bb606ba3_b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24BUaa3)

04-13-2018, 02:26 AM
What are you using for a grow light �� for chaeto? Any photos of the growth? I feel like mine hasn’t really grown and nutrients are available.

04-13-2018, 03:18 AM
Did you pick up across the border, or get BRS to ship it to NW?

04-13-2018, 04:48 AM
I just bought Chinese led lights from Amazon after reading some thread that said they were the best thing ever :lol: USD8.99 for 2 shipped to Canada! So I thought why not. I only got the 12W because I thought the bulb was so close to the water surface. I guess itís not explosive growth but then again I have a fairly low bioload (I think). I had a ball the size of an orange & now itís a

04-13-2018, 05:28 AM
....large lettuce (I feel like Trump going over the tweet limit). Maybe 5 times its original size? They sell bulbs with higher wattage.
How’s your upgrade coming along? Transfer date soon?

I ship to Blaine as I do for all my US online purchases. I find I save not only on shipping but on tax/duty as they never charge me at the border. Whereas I’ve shipped to Canada before & got hit on brokerage fees, GST, etc.

04-13-2018, 07:52 AM
....large lettuce (I feel like Trump going over the tweet limit). Maybe 5 times its original size? They sell bulbs with higher wattage.
Howís your upgrade coming along? Transfer date soon?

So I finished the transfer from my 150g to my 305g. Iím exhausted from the process lol. I guess I should probably fire up a build thread at some point or at least a follow along progress thread.

04-13-2018, 01:45 PM
This thread is awesome Dash! I love the photo commentary!

04-14-2018, 02:16 AM
Thanks Myka!

DKoKoMan, I couldíve sworn you already had a tank build thread...went to check & it was about your upgrade to the 150. Good grief, is this going to be an annual thing?:razz:
Hope everything went well. Whoa 305 gallons! Would love to see that. Yeah put some photos up!

05-05-2018, 06:21 AM
I was dashing off to pick up a couple of frags from Jess when I couldn't find $5 to make the exact amount. I desperately hunted around until I had the genius idea that criminals always get and went into my daughter's scrupulously saved-up tooth fairy money. Bingo! I had a moment of clarity as I drove off: you know you've fallen down that slippery slope when you've landed with your hands in your kid's toonie jar. Oh well, it was worth it :lol:

If I get half the colour of the ones in his tank, I'll be happy.
Here they are adjusting to the conditions of my tank.
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/905/41000484445_27653aae63_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25t5cAe)

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/946/41856643182_a9f457fc33_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/26LJeKL)

I think my daughter might be on to me though. Here's the drawing she did for my birthday card last month:

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/830/28030077618_532969ca43_c.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/JGVtwj)

06-18-2018, 07:31 AM
The tank has been humming along, doing its thing. Hard to believe it's been half a year already!

I've been following my dosing regimen (CAL 420 ALK 9 MAG 1350) and coral seem to be happy. The rainbow monti which had lost about 50% of its tissue has grown it all back, except for one little spot that is almost closed up. I'm pretty amazed that the dosing impacted things so quickly. My rainbow stylo still has some little bare spots where algae has sprouted up and this seems to be impeding the re-growth of new tissue. Should I prune the dead branches or just leave them and be patient?

So I've been adding things here and there. Pretty happy about my Oregon Tort. I never thought I'd have a coral this beautiful. This is the closest my camera skills can capture the colour. It's much nicer in real life.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1731/41969569875_150445f76b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/26WH1VH)

I took some mushrooms that I didn't want anymore to the LFS. Not much there but this caught my eye. So cool! My daughter doesn't understand my enthusiasm ("it's just a blob") but I like it. Hope I can keep it alive.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1730/41059503710_650153bdb0_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25yhFXL)

Meet my little monster Stanley. JL said he's a decorator crab but I believe he's a sponge crab. He is not reef safe so he's in the sump. I just had to have him because who can resist a crab with a toupee?
Funny story...I found him a week later, sans toupee & upside down. I was sad that he was dead. I examined him (cuz he's interesting) and he was heavy and perfect. I put him in one of my flower beds. A week later, there's Stanley in the sump, toupee and all. It had been a molt! How can a molt be so perfect? Anyway, I'm picturing him taking his toupee (it's the same ball of chaeto) off the molt and putting it on his brand new head :lol:
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/969/41899815371_4df43c07f9_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/26QxvkR)

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1754/42009530444_7cd2c4f904_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/271ePP3)

My mandarin had lost some weight in the last couple of months in the old 75 gal, but has definitely fattened up in the new tank. He is also much more active and spry, zipping here and there like a ninja. I think I'm ready to get him a lady friend, but it seems there are no female mandarins around. I've asked JL to let me know if they come across one.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1722/42678421612_5805a4b7c8_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/282m4Ro)

06-18-2018, 04:46 PM
Awesome updates! That crab looks evil :lol:... maybe the chaeto is a ghillie suit I’m which he uses to ambush unexpecting prey. I love the mandarin fish! Super jealous. I tried one way back when I had my 75g but he got so skinny and eventually died. I tried so hard to keep him alive spending a couple $100 in pods added directly in but it didn’t work.

It’s nice to see yours is doing well. I’m too scared to try another one, sometimes I look at night to try to count pods to convince my wife the tank is ready. I have also heard of some mandarins eating frozen mysis (probably hard to get).

Following along! Looks great.

08-30-2018, 10:10 PM
The summer has flown by. Luckily the tank is in our basement which stays very cool so the temps have been stable.

In memoriam...:cry:
Sadly I had a couple of losses in early August. I've been very fortunate & haven't experienced this a lot, and I have a hard time with it.

Basil the tailspot. Not sure what happened here, one day fine the next missing at evening roll call. He was almost 3 years old and was mature when I got him (I picked the biggest one) so was it old age? I really would like to get another one but hate to think they have short life spans :sad:
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1752/27858581457_9347ca0ffa_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/JrLvFX)

Peach the fromia. Well, I enjoyed her for 8 months. I've tried to read up on these guys and this seems to be about the average time they last in tanks. Anyone have a different experience? Beautiful creature - hate to think we are not able to provide the environment for them to live out their natural life span? Very conflicted about getting another one but loved seeing her in the tank. Here she is taking a ride on a snail & falling off.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1768/29391438428_d92db7c92b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/LMdNEq)
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1743/40917051070_94c190cfcd_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/25kGzKL)

On to happier news...I finally got the stand doors on and painted. Went with black. Whew! Boring stuff all done.:biggrin:

https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1859/44285550562_ed3a6d3d75_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2atn2id)

Got my first (and only) tang! I was lucky and found one in perfect shape. Also just under 2.5" so the price was lower :mrgreen: He was shy for about 5 minutes and is doing very well. His personality is like the one in Finding Nemo. Very amusing despite being a tang.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1806/28392161057_03db568b7e_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/KfVfje)

I've continued to slowly add new coral and have settled into watching the tank evolve and grow. Here are some of the goings on...

Awesome new goniopora. Each little "petal" is tipped with a tiny bit of purple. (Not evident with my poor photo skills)
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1819/44010191932_98236285ed_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2a42JLC)

Btw, above monti has totally recovered since I started dosing. This was how it looked back in March.https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1898/42525699420_59ec5ec305_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/27MRjS9)

The other unhappy coral, a rainbow stylo, is almost back to 100%
https://farm1.staticflickr.com/887/40518310235_ba8269ea63_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/24JsVZM)
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1898/30466750568_a7789c2a70_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/Nqf4uU)

The Jedi Mind Trick has become a bit of a monster and I've had to isolate the rock. I've circled the original frag I bought from WarDog Oct2016.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1848/43450770545_c35f90de53_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/29cAyhi)

The Diablo has also put on good growth. Can't quite capture the colours. The entire canopy part is new growth.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1852/43428199905_aab416059b_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/29aASPk)

Rainbow Loom is almost all bright yellow (doesn't show in photo). Not sure what I can do to get pink back. Pearlberry is nice though.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1878/30466734458_b3b50b21f6_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/NqeYH9)

Cheato ball really needs to be harvested. Credit goes to Stanley's dedicated grooming. He goes over it like the Little Prince on his planet, carefully picking it over.
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1829/42543078904_a34bc71ca9_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/27Popbq)

My latest additions. So lovely. Hope they don't break my heart...
https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1820/44058479101_931b0d96ee_z.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/2a8idS2)

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer!