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RadiKal's 100g cube build

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RadIkal View Drop Down
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Joined: February 06 2017
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    Posted: February 09 2019 at 3:50pm
Hey all!

I thought it was finally time to start a tank build thread.  A little history about me: I first started reefkeeping when I was in college.  I wanted a pet in my dorm room at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and basically they didn't allow cats, dogs, etc, but DID allow up to 55g fish tanks.  I bought a 29g eclipse system and kept a few fish and some mushroom corals.  Later, after moving out of the dorms, I upgraded to 65g tank and then in medical school, I went big with a 225g reef tank.  I matched here in SLC for residency at the U, which meant that I had to tear down my old tank, unfortunately.  It didn't make the trip out here, and I sold off much of my gear.

Now it's 4 years later and I'm finally getting back into it!  My parents had a ~100g cube, but they are looking into traveling more in retirement, so they gave it to me at a good price.  Here is the tank after transporting it from Nebraska to Utah:



Obviously needed a good cleaning!

I inherited the tank, a stand, canopy, acrylic sump, reef octopus int/ext 3000 skimmer, a UV sterilizer, a magdrive 12 return pump, and some various other smaller pumps/powerheads.

I cleaned everything using mostly vinegar and water, with some bicarb if needed.  Obviously wanted to avoid any chemical cleaners!

I picked out a nice room in the basement of my house that remains fairly stable in regards to temperature, and it's an inside room without a window so as to reduce unwanted algae growth.   The room is also conveniently located adjacent to the furnace/utility room for getting fresh water/draining during water changes.  

The next thing I wanted to figure out was my plan for a mixing system and refugium.  The sump I inherited was somewhat small, and I also wanted to increase total system water volume, so I wanted to have a separate tank for both a refugium and mixing tank.  These would be located adjacent to the tank in some cabinets.  The next step was to build the stand and cabinetry for the system.





We also started staining some oak veneer and also oak panels to use as cabinets:



Then the stand started coming together:



The left cabinet has a 20g high that serves as a mixing tank.  The right cabinet has a 20g high that will serve as a refugium.  The wife required that we put down some waterproofing beneath the tank, so we got some cheap plastic flooring from Lowes and cut that to size before putting anything in.



You can see that the fronts of the cabinets all open up with doors, and the tops of the side cabinets lift up to give access to the refugium and mixing tank.
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The wife also required that water couldn't damage the water behind the tank...

This was my solution, painters plastic stapled inside the interior of all the cabinets.  It does a good job of preventing water/splashing from getting on the walls behind the tank, but I worry that it traps too much moisture and humidity in the sump area.  Here is a picture with the plastic interior and the sump getting put into place:



I drilled a piece of acrylic at the back of the sump to plump the returns from the mixing tank and refugium.  Next was plumbing everything in.  I drilled holes through the sides of the stand and also a hole through the wall into the utility room next door, where the RO/DI unit is located.  I got a marine depot 100gpd 4 stage unit during black friday deals.

I cut some acrylic dividers for the refugium since I want to grow several types of macroalgae and put them in place with some reef safe silicone:



I plubed everything in and got the skimmer hooked up:



You can see that the skimmer has a biomedia reactor plumbed in before the skimmer.  I installed a auto top off down in the final chamber of the sump and created a custom acrylic bracket so that I can adjust the height of the auto top off.  The top off is hooked up to the RODI unit in the utility room.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RadIkal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 4:44pm
For lighting, I shopped around, but really liked the reviews of the maxspect systems.  They have a really nice day/night cycle and the reviews were good.  I haven't started growing anything, so hard to know how it'll work out in the end.  I also put in a maxspect gyre for water movement.

Next, came filling the tank, adding salt, and then sand.  I added reef crystals to achieve a SG of 1.025 and will try to maintain that salinity.  Should stay pretty consistent with the auto top off.  For sand, I used carib sea arag-alive bahamas oolite.  This is a very fine substrate, and I was worried that it would blow around the tank, but it actually has been great and doesn't move much, but does give a nice wave pattern on the bottom of the tank.  Moment of truth!







I put the bags down into the tank after cutting a small corner off the bag, turned off all powerheads/pumps, and tried to gently let the sand come out of the bag.  Well, didn't prevent clouding!  Took about 4 days to completely clear up, even with the biomagnet clarifier.  On day 3 I turned the pumps back on, and on day 4 turned the gyre back on.

While I waited for the tank to clear, I focused on some more electrical work.  I had a leftover icecap ballast, which I used to hook up the lighting for the refugium.  I also had some leftover reflectors (they were 5', I had to cut them to 2') and endcaps.  I used 24" grow lights in the purple spectrum to give both red light and blue light for macroalgae photosynthesis:







I also worked on plumbing in a manifold for the various media reactors.  Specifically, I planned to have carbon, phosphate, and a calcium reactor.  These would be plumbed into the same circuit as the mixing tank.  I wanted to be able to turn valves to turn off each reactor for changing media independently, and also needed to be able to turn valves to divert water away from the mixing tank for doing water changes.  Those two things turned into quite a complex manifold system, but we got it done.  Hopefully it continues to work seamlessly enough...



Here is the first reactors plumbed in:



Unfortunately, I don't yet own a calcium reactor, but the plumbing is there and ready for it when I do eventually get one!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RadIkal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 5:05pm

After the sand cleared, it was time for some live rock! I ordered 60 lbs of real reef live rock from bulk reef supply, bought 35 lbs of leftover rock from another reefer, and bought about 25 lbs of marco dry rock which is bleach white and located at the back underneath the rest of the rock.  I think it looks excellent with the pink and purple color, but the selection of pieces I got didn't allow me for a great aquascape:




I would have preferred more branching and arches.  But you gotta work with what you've got.

Now comes the long process of tank cycling.  On one hand this is exciting, but on the other hand it is a painstakingly long wait!

I got a bioplate during black friday sales and it came with a bottle of brightwell aquatics nitrifying bacteria:





I used Dr. Tim's ammonium chloride to start the cycling process.  I thought about putting a shrimp in there and letting it decay, but didn't want the smell.  I also thought about a sacrificial fish, but my wife basically said no creatures should be harmed in the cycling of the tank, so that was also a no-go.  Plus, I listened to a convincing podcast that said that by adding pure ammonia as a source and using a bottle of denitrifying bacteria, you avoid buildup of opportunistic contaminant bacteria.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RadIkal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 5:54pm
Here is the cycling results as of today:



pH has been fairly stable.  It started at 8.0 and went up to 8.2, backed down to 8.0 as ammonia went down (no idea if those are linked somehow?), but has gone back up to 8.2.

Ammonia was added the first 3 days until it hit 4.0 ppm, then I stopped adding.  It has slowly declined and has just hit 0 for the past 2 days.

Nitrite went up slowly but steadily starting on day 5, and it appears to just now be declining.

Nitrate followed just behind Nitrite, as expected.  I actually already stocked the refugium with caulerpa and chaeto.  I wasn't sure if it would survive the ammonia, but it appears to have done fine.  It may be serving to keep nitrates from rising too high just yet.

While waiting for cycling, I needed something else to work on, so I decided to make my own roller mat filter.  I've never had one, but everything I read on them makes them sound great: you can avoid the constant switching/washing/replacement of filter socks, and the waste doesn't sit in your tank for days until the change.  Plus if you're like me, it's usually a lot longer than days between sock changes LOL

First, I looked up common filter fleece sizes, since I wanted to be able to replace them easily with ones that I could order online. I settled on a 4" filter fleece size, and got to work designing the structure.  I ordered some acrylic and used my table saw to cut the pieces.  Then I used a hole drill to make the cuts in the plates and in the back.  I used weld-on #4 to adhere the acrylic pieces.  It's still a work in progress, but perhaps pictures speak louder than words:
















The intake is the solitary hose barb in the middle bottom.  The water then goes through the filter fleece and through the holes in the acrylic plates and drains out the outlet in the bottom corner.  Just in case the fleece is clogged and the water backs up, there is an overflow outlet higher up.



I have the motor for the filter roll, but I'm still waiting on the filter fleece roll itself.  I ordered a " 4" klir filter fleece roll " from bulkreefsupply.  Unfortunately, when it came, I realized the fleece roll itself was only 3".  It was just marketed to be for the 4" system.  So I have reordered the clarisea 4" roll, and it says on the website the roll is ACTUALLY 4" wide.  Hope it's correct, since I designed the plates 4" wide.  I'll have to return the other one.  I'll post more pictures as parts roll in.
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