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Jack's 75 Gallon Reef

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    Posted: June 07 2013 at 2:32pm
Hey guys, my name is Jack. I have had plenty of fresh water tanks in my day, but this is my first reef tank. 

My original plans were a little different. I was drawn toward salt water tanks by the livestock, and decided to get something that-- in the freshwater world-- is a huge tank: a 46 gallon bowfront. I got one from KSL with a stand for $30 and thought it would be perfect. The more I kept looking, the more I wanted a 75 or a 90, but my wife didn't want me to switch and spend more money.

We had to wait before we could put the tank in, because we bought our first home two years ago and have been trying to finish the basement. A few days after the carpet went in, I was itching to get water in my bowfront when I got a call from my brother. He let me know that his father in law was getting out of the hobby and no longer wanted his 75 gallon tank and stand. 

I drove out to Roosevelt where he lives, borrowed a Suburban, and brought back the goods. Thankfully, the previous owner left as much plumbing intact as possible (I'm not good at this stuff.) Talking with him after all the research I've done was like time travelling. He used fossilized coral as decoration, dipped it in bleach every week, used the largest t8 bulbs he could find, and thought it was impossible to keep corals. 

My wife and I cleaned the tank for about a week. It took some doing but we got it. I had a better sump that we hooked up, so enough blabbing. Here are some early pics and descriptions:



Here's the tank setup in the new basement. I've got a 20 gallon sump below, with about 70 pounds of rock and 65 pounds of sand. 



Here I've added the water. I have the overflow on the back running down through a filter sock and some carbon into the sump. I've got the flow at about 800gph and a heater rated for a 100 gallon tank. The overflow was really loud-- loud enough that I was like, crap, I can't have it this loud-- but I found on a forum to use some carbon sponge that won't clog, and that has done the trick. Purrs like a kitten. Or an octopus, since it's in the water, right?

I also added 20 more pounds of live sand and 15 pounds of live rock. I've had stress dreams that my arch falls over, but it is-- ahem-- rock solid.



Here's a shot with my new lights! I had thought I would have to settle for something not as nice for my first lights, but I got a great deal on some nice powerful LEDs from NSFWdave (Thanks!) and I'm really pleased with them. They are dimmable, powerful, and have both actinic and white. I have kept them off to avoid algae while cycling, although I turn them on for a second every day and say, "Cool."

I have cycled my tank with some shrimp in a media bag, and we are ready to get our first fish tonight. Due to blunt repetition, I haven't rushed anything, since 99% of posts to rookies like myself consist of "Be patient, don't rush things." To prevent those comments, I was patient and didn't rush things. I'm grabbing two Chromis after work (2 1/2 hours and counting) and then I'm just going to keep those guys and no more fish for at least a month. I'll do some more tests to make sure that my water is still good, and then I have a list of fish that I will slowly add to the community which I will link here:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pCJJ_0y7-yWfl9AJtWaGUQiQQRoxbsP1n3IoQKlh020/edit?usp=sharing

I will add some pics of the little blue/green guys tonight. Let me know what you think guys.  



Edited by 80cent - June 07 2013 at 2:33pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AcroNem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2013 at 3:43pm
I think this is awesome, great job! You called yourself a rookie but getting a 75 gallon wasn't a rookie decision. The bigger the better you are going to have an easier time maintaining water quality. My first reef was a 24 gallon Nanocube at eight years old it was tough Haha.
Congratulations on your new tank! If you ever have any questions, want help with anything or just want to talk fish I'm in the same city.
Keep us all posted this is cool.

801-850-7577 Justin
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bstuver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2013 at 4:05pm
Nice:)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2013 at 8:57pm
Here's the update-- I added two blue/green Chromis. They are doing fine, but are also enjoying the many hiding places that my rock work provides. They are small little fish, and although you can't tell from the zoomed in pic, they make the tank look huge and super empty.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AcroNem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2013 at 11:02pm
Cycling fish make most tanks look gigantic Haha. Trust me though they fill up fast no matter how big they are.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2013 at 11:45pm
Looks good. Nice looking rock.
Aloha,

I agree that patience is important, but it's not like that if you add a bunch of Macroalgae. Algae eats up pollution, keeping N levels within limits so that soft coral and more fish can be added in the first few weeks. Algae is a huge part of the natural reef environment. It ought to be used more than it is.
Within my first month of setting up my new tank from scratch, I already have plenty of macroalgae available to share with you, for this very purpose.

Mahalo,
Mark Hug
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Edited by Mark Peterson - June 07 2013 at 11:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Luv68tiger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2013 at 10:42pm
Great start Jack! Like your fish choices too!
~Michelle
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2013 at 3:29pm
Thanks, Michelle. I'm wanting to cryogenically freeze myself until I can get some corals-- I'm very pumped to get started!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AcroNem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2013 at 4:36pm
Patience is definitely key. But you've got a decent sized tank you can add Some more fish, crabs snails, stuff like that sooner than you think. The cleanup crew can happen pretty much anytime now as well as a few more small fish but your should be rock solid before adding coral. At least hard corals that is.

Always here to talk reef! 801-850-7577

Edited by AcroNem - June 09 2013 at 4:36pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 9:29am
About the cleanup crew-- what do people recommend? What have you had success with, and how do I know how much CUC to add so they have enough to eat?
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Nice work and congratz on what looks like the makings of a great reef!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ann_A Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 10:16am
Originally posted by 80cent 80cent wrote:

About the cleanup crew-- what do people recommend? What have you had success with, and how do I know how much CUC to add so they have enough to eat?


Fill this out and wait for the email, then adjust as necessary and only add a few at a time until you have more of a bioload.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 10:39am
Aloha,

It's too early for snails and hermits.
The tank is way too clean. They will starve.
In that pic of the Chromis I can see no algae on the glass or the rock. I am not even sure there is any LR in the tank. It looks like all Utah Rock or some other dry rock. If there is any LR it must have been in the dark for some time so it lost much of it's coralline algae and other life. Please feel free to correct my assumptions so we can discuss the options. Was there any LS added from a good healthy tankQuestion

Some soft coral would be perfect now. Coral are easier and hardier than fish. I wish I had some softies for you. Good picks are Sarcophyton, Sinularia, Zooanthids, Green Star Polyps, to name just a few.

As far as snails, I'd wait until next week when the brown diatom algae begins to show up. Then would be the time to get 20-30 snails. Arthuriv and Chad, both here on this forum have snails for great prices and in stock.  I have salt water Mollies that are great for eating the early algae and they are more fun than watching a snail. Sleepy

Also wait on the Hermit Crabs. Later, like in a month or two, maybe add one hermit for every three snails.

Originally posted by Jack Jack wrote:

Talking with [the previous owner] after all the research I've done was like time travelling. He used fossilized coral as decoration, dipped it in bleach every week, used the largest t8 bulbs he could find, and thought it was impossible to keep corals.
It's a little crazy that even though the hobby has been propagating coral and using LR for more than 20 years, people like this are still around.

Mahalo,
Mark Hug
808-345-1049 anytime


Edited by Mark Peterson - June 10 2013 at 10:51am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 11:00am
I have about 15 pounds of live rock and 20 pounds of live sand in there, but you're right, there isn't any algae at all, which is why I was unsure about getting a CUC just yet. It looks like I'll hold off until I see a food supply start to show up. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 12:16pm
"20 pounds of live sand"   I'm taking a guess here that it was a bag of Arag-Alive from the LFS, right or wrongQuestion

If so, for me that's not good enough. That bag has only bacteria and very little at that. There is more bacteria, bugs and worms, the crucial organisms in LS, in a cup of LS from a mature tank than in that 20 lb bag. I highly recommend adding LS from another tank. This is what I do because I just can't stand the wait. Embarrassed

Since it's already on the table, where did the bare white LR come fromQuestion

I hope you know I'm just trying to help.
Aloha,
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 10 2013 at 2:01pm
You're right. Bagged sand. I picked up the rock from a LFS as well. It's actually not white, I just have a pretty weak camera that isn't picking up colors very well. It's got green/purple areas on it. Still, as far as mature tank goes, mine is an infant, but you gotta start somewhere.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2013 at 9:10am
Ermm
Well sure, but why start with nothing and have to wait for such a long time for it to become something. I used to have a special beautiful piece of LR that I loaned out to help hobbyist's tanks acquire a good start of Coralline Algae. I prefer to start a tank with as much good quality LS and LR as possible. That means it has tons of life and algae, especially Coralline Algae. That's where the "affordable reef aquarium" can be a thing of beauty within months.

I've been away for two years, long enough for a ~75% turnover in active hobbyists. I'm seeing a tendency in tanks toward very little Coralline Algae. I'm kind of concerned about what this indicates about the hobbyist's knowledge. To me it may indicate a possible lack of understanding as to what constitutes a truly healthy reef.

I know, I'm getting overly dramatic here and perhaps overly critical, but if it continues in this same direction, it could take years for a tank to look like a reef. Sure, we can add colorful, expensive coral pieces, but the underlying aquascaping will most likely remain white and bleak. It reminds me of my uncle's tank in the 1970's. In those good 'ol days, fine aquascaping was considered to be dead white coral skeletons that had to be bleached monthly because living growth was viewed as being "dirty".

That antiquated method was still popular in 1993, when I set up my first reef tank with an undergravel filter. Thank goodness to Tim Weidauer for getting six of us together to form the club. Our goal was to learn how to keep a better reef aquarium, a purpose that is still part of the WMAS Mission Statement "...and developing natural marine environments for our specimens...".  We have come a long, long way. Smile

Aloha and Mahalo for reading my nostalgia, Embarrassed
Mark Hug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 80cent Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2013 at 11:04am
I'd love to have some coraline algae in the tank-- I think it looks great. I'm pretty tied down this week, though. If someone in Utah county has some they could spare, I'd love to add some to my tank. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akira Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2013 at 4:53am
correct me if im wrong , but coraline will come with time and stable levels of mag. cal and alk . If you want to speed this up a nice chunk of live rock that is covered in coraline will speed this up .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2013 at 8:46am
You have it correct. That is exactly my point.
I have started a new thread to discuss this.
http://utahreefs.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=64940
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