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Mr. and Mrs. Nugget RSM Tank Build


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#1
mrnugget

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Day 1

After a couple of months of research and planning, the tank is set up and running. We decided on the RSM 130L (34g) because of the clean look, and the 'all in one' aspect appealed to my partner in this project, Mrs. Nugget. Being the chemist by training, and a stickler for details by nature, she's a good offset to my rather impulsive and 'do it myself' nature. I'm also the one more likely to look to the forums for answers and information, she's more 'book driven.'

It makes for an interesting dilemma - go with what she knows from what she's read, or go with what I've read online? You'll see in this thread some of those items (some sooner than later), but keeping the peace has it's price.

So, I've read many of the threads on this topic (including StevieT's mega-thread -- very helpful), and at the same time, got a few books for mrs.n. to 'edumocate' herself - The Conscientious Marine Aquarist (Fenner); New Marine Aquarium (Paletta); and Marine Fishes (Michael). Between the two of us, even after a couple months of this, I don't think either of us feels entirely 'confident' in what we are doing, but as noobs go, this is probably as good as it's gonna get.

Having kept a 10gal freshwater tank for a couple years, I have some ideas on cycling and the importance of water changes (especially in a smaller tank), but there are so many more variables in a marine tank, we are going to try (against my nature, but with hers) to go slow in this build.

Let's start off with a problem: the lack of highly-regarded LFS in this area. Yes, I've found a few, and heard about more, but for every good thing I hear, there are at least 10 bad reviews. So, I'm still looking. My preference would have been to start the tank with liverock and sand from the LFS, to start to build the relationship, but that didn't work out.

So, with the tank scheduled for delivery yesterday, I went ahead and ordered the liverock and sand from Premium Aquatics, as they have had some good reviews on this forum. 1 20lb bag of the Arag Alive Western Carribean; 1 20lb bag of the Arag Alive Special Grade 1-2mm. For the liverock, went with 20lbs of the Fiji and 20lbs of the Timora - both cured. With 2 day shipping, I'm expecting a little die-off, which I'm hoping is enough to start the cycle for the tank.

Last night, when setting up the tank, I realized that one of the two T-5 CF bulbs is not working. I haven't heard back from Red Sea on it yet (assuming they are bailing the Gulf of Mexico out of their Houston office), but I'm hopeful they will send a replacement. Meanwhile, I'm hoping having only 1 fixture won't hurt the cycle.

Today was water day. Before anyone starts, let me point out that this is peace-keeping point 1. According to Mr. Fenner, using tap water is perfectly acceptable in a reef tank, "in spite of what you might hear from others regarding RO/DI," provided you age the water appropriately. So, tap water and the Red Sea salt mix went in this morning, and have been circulating since. At the time this peace-keeping decision was made, I had already ordered the LR / LS, so I've got to figure out how to deal with that - because I don't think Mr. Fenner would think that 24 hours was the appropriate aging.

I have a few shots of the set up, with water becoming salty, but haven't figured out how to upload/attach pics yet... will work on that later today.

So, other than adding 5 tangs tomorrow, is there anything else I should be looking at? (j/k)

Thanks for listening!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#2
StevieT

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:welcome:

Pics pics pics !!!!!!!

I must advise you not to use tap water, it is just asking for trouble. No matter how long you age it, you will never be able to remove what is bad in it. Phosphates, metals etc. At the least please get a TDS test done on the water. There are so many threads on why not to use it, including horror pictures of tanks full of algae.

Copper is DEATH to corals, so watch out. Many try to skip this major step, they try and save a few dollars by not investing in a RO machine or buying it. Some do alright, some have a really crappy experience.

My first reef tank was started on tap water, it turned green over time and I was having a tough time keep corals becuase of the metals in the water.

Saving $1 but keeping $2000 in corals just doesn't make sense to me.

look into hosting your pictures on photobuket, then copy and paste the [img] code, simple easy and lets others see your pics in the thread without clicking on them.

don't worry about the light, it is not part of your cycle. The bacteria in the rock does not need light. Some limit their photo period during the cycle to control the algae outbreak, which with tap water may be abnormal.

oh yeah...


is this the 130D ???

#3
mrnugget

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StevieT-

Thanks for the welcome!

Nope, don't think it's the 130D - looks like the plain ol' 130. Which is fine for me anyway... who needs the new stuff, really?

On the water, I think she's coming around.. maybe just second guessing the book finally. We were talking today about installing an RO/DI unit in the 1st floor bathroom (not much room under the kitchen sink). Right now it's a toss up on the next equipment upgrade - $150 for the RO/DI unit, or $150 for a Tunze skimmer. Interestingly enough, it wasn't the performance issues that got her considering the replacement skimmer - it's the noise. This stock one is LOUD. So, will likely need to pick one or the other...

Along with the liverock and livesand coming tomorrow, I have a couple of other toys - a refractometer, and the Koralia 2. Just in trying to get the salt dissolved in the tank today it became clear there are some 'dead zones' without enough circulation, so I'm glad to have that extra boost. There is still a little bit of salt - or other material - around the bottom of the tank, we'll see what's left by morning. I was either really smart or really stupid in using warm water for the startup - on one hand, it was supposed to help dissolve the salt better, but on the other hand, I'm still waiting for the temp to come down from the mid-high 80's. Cool night expected tonight, should be down by morning.

More stuff expected tomorrow: Pinpoint thermometer and API test kits (Marine and Reef). Also expecting my chemi-pure and purigen in the same shipment - just need to figure out when to add them, and where they go in the back of this thing.

I did have one 'what the heck' moment this afternoon when I heard some dribbling noise at the back of the tank... had the skimmer running (partially to get the salt moving and dissolved, partially to remind Mrs.N. why a replacement skimmer will be oh, so much quieter) and all the requisite micro bubbles, and realized the pump compartment wasn't getting good flow to it...as a result, the two pumps were sorta cycling water into the tank, which was masked by all the bubbles anyway. Over in the skimmer chamber (right below the comb) I have the black sponge on top of the skimmer pump, and the white pad on top of the black sponge, which brings it just below the comb opening. Seems like the sponges were getting sucked into the skimmer pump, because when I pulled the white pad up a little, the flow restarted and all the rear chambers seemed to balance. Didn't make any further adjustments, but I'm a bit worried it will get sucked in again.

Looking forward to some aqua-scaping tomorrow, unless I decide overnight to keep the rock in a bucket for awhile to 'age' the tank water. At this point, I think that would be of limited value, but open to suggestions. Since we're not going to do corals for awhile, I'm hoping my post-cycle water changes will help (eventually) replace the tap water with better stuff, and sometime after that it should be safe enough - and stable enough - to move on. Meanwhile, I am prepared for (and sorta expecting) a 'hairy' cycle, which will likely be the closest I can come to an 'i told you so' moment while still keeping the peace, and grinning to myself while I crawl under a bathroom cabinet to install an RO/DI unit.

So, tomorrow the rocks (Mrs. N. has this idea we will use zip-strips to hold the rocks together, I'm hoping to do without that hassle) and then the livesand... and then we wait. And take pictures.

Thanks again!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#4
StevieT

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Ok a couple of things to think about on the purchase of new equipment. I would think the RO machine is a higher priority right now than the skimmer. Durning your cycle, the skimmer doesn't need to be running, it can be counter productive. You are not going to catch much with any skimmer until the tank is stocked with fish, for the mean time, a skimmer can be put off.

Also, you can get RO/DI water at walmart or grochery store, they sell it out of those machines and costs something like $0.40/gallon. I used to truck over to the grochery store every other week with buckets and fill up, that was before gettting RO delivered.

So if you want the RO/DI, put off the skimmer, the tank will be fine, you can get it after you stock up.

The stock skimmer is soooo loud!!! I sure don't miss that noise in my office.

On the sponges, trash that white sponge, it is filter floss and will only cause problems. If you want the benifits of filter floss, pick some up, and replace every 3-5 days depending on how much it clogs up.

You are putting your sponge too low. It needs to be just under the intake grate, you are sucking it into the skimmer pump which means it is much too low.

I don't even use those sponges any more, they just trap crap and can cause levels of nitrates to rise. I use floss, then chemical medias in my basket.

#5
mrnugget

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Think I've figured out the picture taking / photo bucket / posting thing...we'll see.

Just a couple for now....

First shows position of tank in kitchen, you can see from the reflection it is opposite a small bay with a sliding glass door and two windows flanking. Lots of morning sun in this room, but shouldn't be too much directly on the tank, except maybe at sunrise. It's more or less central to the main living part of the house - on one side is the kitchen, on the other is the family room. A real centerpiece.

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The second shot is the requisite FTS, although it should be called the ETS at this point.

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StevieT - thanks for the input and the tip on the RO/DI water. Haven't seen it at WallyWorld around here, but haven't been looking either. I will now, at least until I can get an RO/DI unit set up.

Debated on whether I should put off adding the live rock for a few days, but it doesn't sound like a few days is going to help much anyway. As an alternative, and trying to address the immediate problem of chlorine and chloramines from the tap water, I did dose the tank with AquaSafe (have it from the FW tank), and I can tell you without a doubt - DON'T run the skimmer with the AquaSafe dose! A mountain of foamy, watery bubbles, which I hope will subside in time - I haven't dared turn the skimmer back on again, not that I need it for awhile anyway.

Still waiting on the delivery trucks...will post my Day 2 update when that stuff is arrived / in.
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#6
mrnugget

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StevieT-

Thanks for the advice on the RO/DI vs. skimmer - I agree, and I think I have a weekend project to look forward to.

With the skimmer pump turned off, it seems like the black sponge and white floss stays high in the first chamber. If I turn on the skimmer pump, the sponge and pad seem to get sucked down into the skimmer pump. Since I'm keeping the skimmer off for now, not an issue. I need to make a trip to wally-world for a few things:

Turkey Baster
Arm Length Gloves
Polyfill batting (filter floss)
...and look for the RO/DI faucet!

More pics tomorrow, the rock is in the tank, but not aquascaped yet. Had a bit of an issue with the refractometer, think that's going back. And that Koralia 2 is bigger than I had pictured...but does seem to move a lot of water.

More tomorrow....
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#7
snowlancer2720

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how'd you get that table and those chairs in there? very unique approach to aquascaping :P :D

good luck with it and :welcome: !

#8
mrnugget

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how'd you get that table and those chairs in there? very unique approach to aquascaping :P :D

good luck with it and :welcome: !



Thanks, gives a whole new meaning to "All in One" I'm still getting the hang of the picture thing, my wife is the photographer in our house, i'm just a snapshooter.
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#9
mrnugget

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Day 2 and Day 3

Missed a day in there somewhere, but do have some pics to prove it happened!

As always, the live rock seems to arrive when you have no time to play with it, so I did my best to get it all into the tank, with plans to return to it on Day 2 and do some aquascaping. My partner, on the other hand, had different plans, so aquascaping didn't happen until the evening of Day 3.

Good news - there is nothing wrong with the refractometer, except for my communications difficulty. Along with the device, I followed the recommendation to get a reference sample for use in calibration. Of course, I failed to mention to my resident scientist that the reference sample was separate from the device itself, so she followed the directions to calibrate (which assumed you were using RO/DI water) but was using the marine standard instead. Had a hard time getting that sample to 0. Figured it out (mostly on her own) and proceeded to hand me my deserved verbal beating as she recalibrated and checked the tank -which was right on at 1.025

So, here are some shots with the rock dumped in, and some close ups of what we had to work with:

FTS Day 2:
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Rock Closeups - Some BIG pieces! Didn't look like we would be able to fit it all in...

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In the end, only had to take a hammer to one humongous piece which was not very well balanced in any orientation, but came away with a few very nice pieces that fit into the puzzle. We went back and forth between trying to do the layout in the tank, or on the table, but in the end we ended up putting most of the key pieces together on the table, lining them up, and making sure they would fit with some space between the glass. Once in the tank, I filled in some gaps with smaller pieces, but on a whole it knits together very nicely, and seems pretty stable without glue or cable ties. There is only one point that is close to the back glass, but the rest has some room for scraping, etc.

After all the rock was in, added the live sand, and let the whole thing settle for awhile. These pics were taken this afternoon (Day 4), but technically they represent what was done as of last night. Might have some tweaks to do later.... Tip for those who are doing this: take your Koralia out before dumping in the sand. It just got in the way as I was trying to get sand back in the corner. Was easy enough to clear it out (and all pumps were off for the moving/dumping), but was just one more thing to worry about.

My chemist is getting her log book all set, so starting soon (tomorrow) should have water parameters to report as well.

Close up left front
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Close up right front
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Left end view
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Right end view
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And the FTS:
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mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#10
StevieT

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wow, that thing is going to look great in your kitchen!

Did you ever find the RO water at walmart? It is ususally in the food section, it is locally farmed out, mine has a culligan machine. It is a fill yourself station. Good option when you don't have a RO/DI filter.

I notice surface film buildup. YOu water level is too high for the RSM. You need to lower it about 1/4" bellow the black molding, you will see the water line when looking at the tank. If that doesn't help suck it up, raise the intake grate about 1/4" as well. It took me some time to play with it, but after I found that sweet spot, it was all good in the hood.

Is that a pool I see in a reflection? looks inviting! B)

#11
Dooderino

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Is that really 40lbs of rock? Glad to see you have a partner. My other walks right past and sometimes she might stop and say, "What's that?"

Welcome to the SW addiction.

#12
mrnugget

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wow, that thing is going to look great in your kitchen!

Did you ever find the RO water at walmart? It is ususally in the food section, it is locally farmed out, mine has a culligan machine. It is a fill yourself station. Good option when you don't have a RO/DI filter.

I notice surface film buildup. YOu water level is too high for the RSM. You need to lower it about 1/4" bellow the black molding, you will see the water line when looking at the tank. If that doesn't help suck it up, raise the intake grate about 1/4" as well. It took me some time to play with it, but after I found that sweet spot, it was all good in the hood.

Is that a pool I see in a reflection? looks inviting! B)



Found gallon jugs of both RO water and DI water at Walmart, $0.74 / gallon. Went with the RO, since the DI didn't indicate how it was filtered (just that it was steam evaporated for the DI process). Good enough to use for the first few water changes, but I think the RO/DI system is gonna be in before too long. And since I have a few weeks before the cycle is done, I may even get it done before then.

Thanks for the reminder on the water level, I noticed it when I placed the rock and sand, but hadn't lowered it. When I did this afternoon, the pumps started sucking air, so I actually had to open the comb a bit. Seems to be skimming pretty well now, no more surface film. I'll probably play with it some more until I'm satisfied I'm getting the best surface movement without choking the pumps.

Yep, getting kinda late in the pool season here, but we get the occasional 85degree September day... nice! I might post a pic of that later.... or you can keep picking it up in the reflection!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#13
mrnugget

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Is that really 40lbs of rock? Glad to see you have a partner. My other walks right past and sometimes she might stop and say, "What's that?"

Welcome to the SW addiction.



Yep, really is 40 lbs of rock. There were a few pieces that I would call light, but most (even the small ones) were heavy. In the un-scaped picture, it's hard to see but the rock is from glass to glass, front to back... After scaping, I've got a small amount of rock (rubble, really) left over - no more than a couple of pounds. The box weighed in at 46 lbs according to UPS.

Does it look like it needs more?
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#14
mrnugget

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Day 8

Relatively quiet few days, although I did hear back from Pinky at Red Sea regarding the bad bulb yesterday. At least I'll have that resolved in the next day or so.

Water parameters have been stable, my resident-chemist informs me:

SG - 1.026
Ph - 8.2
Ammonia - 0
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 0

Temperature seems to range from 79 - 81,depending on time of day and lighting. The low temp was this morning (cool nights lately) and the lights were off all night. I adjusted the heater up just a hair, we'll see if that helps tomorrow morning.

Not too much happening in the tank, other than some algae forming on the glass today, and fuzzy stuff on the rocks. Eight days in and no ammonia or nitrates, have to wonder if there is anything alive in there, or even anything decaying. My partner isn't too keen on the 'dangle the raw shrimp' idea, so we'll probably give it a few more days to see if the cycle starts on its own.

I made a few adjustments to the koralia and pumps, the output was moving the sand into dunes and away from the front glass. Other than that, been topping off the tank with RO water, and leaving it alone.

No pictures today, but if the stuff keeps growing on the rocks and glass, I'll post some tomorrow for the experts to review.
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#15
mrnugget

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Day 18

I can understand now why patience is a key part of this hobby...

Since the last post, the water parameters have stayed constant - 0 for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrates; 8.2 for pH, and the salinity has been between 1.025 and 1.026 depending on when I top off.

As reflected in the last post, had a pretty good diatom bloom going there for awhile, but it seems to be turning the corner now. Added some snails 5 days ago (2 turbos; 3 astreas; and a fighting conch), and they seem to be getting a handle on the brown stuff. The turbos are only out at night, and the astreas seem to work the day shift. The conch has started (as of last night) to dig into the sand, so I take that as a sign it's finding less to eat on the surface...

Along with the diatom seems to be a little bit of green hair algae, some strands on the glass and some rocks, but nowhere near to the degree of the diatoms.

On the plus side, some of the rock which did not originally show much coraline is now starting to turn purple, and some of that nice color is returning to the fiji rock.

I've gotten rid of the white pad filter that came with the system, and I am now using polyfill batting - small handful stuffed on top of the black sponge, which I've positioned just below the comb. As a result, the polyfill is screening the comb somewhat, and I've had to open the comb to avoid the pumps sucking air and filling the tank with microbubbles. It seems like this is a balancing act that's going to go on for awhile, or until i get the skimmer upgraded and steviet's media rack in place.

I'm scratching my head a bit about the lack of nitrates - with the snails working overtime, and what appears to be snail poo littering the sand, I expected to see at least SOME level, but so far nothing. With nothing else running by way of filter (no chemi-pure or purigen yet), I guess what nitrates there are must be feeding the algae.

I've got a couple of identification challenges I'm working on, which will be easier once I post pics. One looks like some seaweed - looks like about 1/2" long blades of grass on one rock. Another looks almost like white roots of some kind, seem to be growing outward from a single spot on the liverock.

Still haven't installed the replacement bulb yet - don't see the need with the phantom cycle theoretically underway. Starting to worry about the heater, though - with fairly low ambient temps lately, I'm seeing a wider swing in the high-low temps during the day/night. As low as 78 degrees, and as high as 83 degrees this morning with no lights all night. I've got a note into Pinky on that one.

That's it for now. Would like to take some pics and post, but getting the room dark enough to avoid reflections has been tough. Maybe tonight.

Thanks again to StevieT for the continued mentoring and advice!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#16
mrnugget

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Day 21

Not much new to report, except for all the water chem results, and pics.

ph = 8.2
Ammonia = 0
Nitrite = 0
Nitrate = 0
Calcium = 520ppm
KH = 125.3ppm
phosphate = 0.5ppm
SG = 1.026
temp = 82.8

Still having some temp control issues, but Pinky is sending a replacement heater, so we'll see if that solves it. Also had the Mighty Mite RO/DI unit show up today, but was kinda expecting to have to do a water change about now...but with the numbers above, don't really see a need.

Having a small issue with micro-bubbles, seems to be kind of sporadic... just a burst every 30 seconds or so. I'm wondering if I should raise the water level a bit, since it seems to be worse before I top off, and better just after.

I posted a question in the beginner forum about stocking suggestions... not in a rush, but I do have a 9 year old eager to see something other than snails.

Anyway, on to the pics...starting with a 'what the heck is this' question...

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A few more shots... not sure I've got the hang of the picture taking, but at least got the room dark for these...

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And the FTS:

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mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#17
mrnugget

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Day 40

Well, been awhile since I've updated, not that the thread's been that busy anyway...

Did the first water change two days ago. I had been waiting to see the nitrates come up (not running any chemicals, but don't have much bio load either), but they have stayed around 5 - 10. When testing a broader set of stuff late last week, showed pH up to 8.6, so did an alk test and that looked low... figured it was time to put in some fresh water and salt mix.

Other struggles this month have included temperature (and temp monitoring), and lighting. First the lighting - had a problem right out of the box with one of the two PC bulbs, which Red Sea promptly replaced. Since the tank was cycling, didn't see the point in putting the replacement bulb into the fixture - more light = more algae. So, when adding a coral a couple of weeks ago, figured it was time to get both lights working. Was surprised to find out the bulb was fine, but the fixture must have a loose wire - sometimes the one bulb would flash, other times it would need a good 'whack' on the lid to power on. Some diagrams from Red Sea in hand, I think I got that solved - both lights working now.

The first Red Sea heater seemed to have a problem holding a consistent temp - would run through an 8 degree range from coldest to hottest. I don't mention the temps, because I have my doubts as to the thermometer readings, but I'll get to that. Red Sea sent a replacement, which while better, would still result in a 5 degree swing. On advice, broke down and bought a Stealth heater, which was installed late last week. So far, the temp has been rock-steady.

While replacing the heater, decided to first calibrate the new heater in a bucket of water. I found with the Red Sea heater, setting it at 76 would show up as temps of 83 or 84 in the tank. So, invested in a $2 mercury thermometer, along with a cheap CoralLife digital. Turns out the Pinpoint I've been using has been reading consistenly 5 degrees higher than the mercury or the CoralLife. Good to know.

The livestock currently in the tank consists of:

1 Fighting Conch
2 Turbo Snails
3 Astrea Snails
4 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
1 "Freebie" Hermit Crab - small

1 Star Polyp (?) with neon green center

The coral was a bit of an impulse buy - my son decided he really liked the green center - and at the time the parameters seemed pretty stable. Other than a brief low ammonia spike (could have been from adding empty shells for the hermits), haven't seen any ammonia or nitrites at all.

The hermits have been interesting - never having kept them, it turns out 3 of the 4 decided to molt within a week of joining the tank. One refused to go back to his old shell, prompting a frantic search for replacement shells. The LFS guy was nice enough to provide some freebie astrea shells, etc, but these crabs are more 'turbo snail' sized. My wife found one conch shell at a local mart, bright white and seemed a bit big - about 3" long where the old shell was about 1" or so. Turns out, the hermit went for the large shell, and is now towing around this bright white home that looks like a Volkswagen Beetle towing an RV.

The fighting conch disappeared for awhile - dug himself into the sand and didn't reemerge for almost a week - but is once again patrolling the sand. With the hermits doing the molt thing, and the conch disappearing, along with the ammonia reading, we were thinking something had died. As of today, all creatures are accounted for.

With the coral, I tried placing it on one side of the tank, but it didn't seem to open up as much, so moved it back low and somewhat shaded on the right, and seems to like it there fine. Looks like new polyps growing, and the ones that were on the frag seem to be bigger. As a bonus accidental frag, when I moved it a small piece must have come off, because over on the left, there is a tiny 4 polyp frag in a crack in the rock and it seems to be doing well also. I haven't adjusted our photo-period yet, still doing 7 hours, but it doesn't seem to be hurting.

With the heater issue fixed, and the Tunze skimmer waiting to go in along with StevieT's media rack (when it arrives on Monday), hopefully the hardware issues are all resolved. Going to check the water parameters later today, and if they look good, we should soon be adding our first fish - a firefish of some variety - and I'll be on the lookout for some good starter coral frags. My wife is eager to get some fish in the tank, I'm more keen on the coral side, but I'm willing to wait to make sure it stays in balance.

Trevor is enjoying the hermit crabs (more interesting to watch than the snails), but he seems to have a special interest in the colorful corals. We'll have to keep an eye on him - the two of us in a store with frags might become a problem!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#18
StevieT

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Monday!

#19
mrnugget

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Day 52

Since the last update, got the Tunze 9002 skimmer attached to the StevieT media rack (what a great fit - slides right in!) and loaded the rack with ChemiPure, Purigen and some filter floss on top. Temp has been rock-steady with the new heater, and other than some excess noise from the 'optional' fan and an occasional rattle from the pumps (haven't figured that one out yet), all looks good.

After the water change mentioned above, alk and calcium were still reading a bit low, and pH had stayed up near the 8.6 range (think it dropped to 8.4 with the 5 gallon water change). So, this past weekend after the 2nd 5 gallon water change, started dosing buffer and calcium. I had been having some great growth on the coralline front, but it had started to recede in some places, so upping the calcium seems to be the right way to go. Test showed calcium levels at 380 before dosing. Now there seems to be more purple growth on the back glass and Koralia.

Ammonia and Nitrites have been 0, and Nitrates were between 2.5 and 5 according to my resident chemist (prior to adding the chemipure and purigen) Let me say the water clarity improved greatly with those two additions!

Since the polyps, snails and crabs all seem to be doing well, decided to add the first fish yesterday - a purple firefish. Picked up some life krill along with some frozen Rod's food, and the firefish was already gobbling up the krill shortly after entering the tank. I tried to drip acclimate, but I clearly need to work on my technique. In the end, did the 'cup of water every 15-20 minutes' method for a couple of hours, until I doubled the water volume in the temp container. Floated for temp, and then tried to capture the fish with a net to release into the tank without mixing the LFS water with mine - fast, slippery and sneaky SOB. Once in the tank, the firefish immediately found a nice hole in the liverock and had claimed his new cave. As I said, he did come out to eat last night, but haven't seen him this morning yet.

With only 1 fish, I'm not stressing too much over feeding yet (only plan on every other day for now), but it's a bit staggering with the number of food options and opinions. I haven't seen too many pods in my tank naturally (a few), so adding more as a self-sustaining food source is appealing. Rod's food looks good for both fish and corals, but there are some other options recommended at the LFS as well. The live food I think is at most a temporary thing - just as the fish acclimates. I have the extra in a bucket of salt water where I've been storing my extra liverock rubble. I'm open to suggestions.

I'm eager to get more corals in the tank, but the budget-master has requested a moratorium on spending for awhile (I think all the start-up credit card bills arrived). It would be great to get some colorful frags started (simple stuff like nuclear zoas), but it will have to wait awhile.

I'll try to get some new pics up later today / tonight. Didn't realize I hadn't posted one with the polyp yet!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#20
mrnugget

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Finally got to take some pics tonight...

Coralline on back glass and plastic
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Blue Leg Hermit
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Purple Firefish
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Star Polyp and Firefish
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Full Tank Shot
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mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#21
kveille

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Nice Pics. I am leaning heavily towards getting a purple firefish myself.

#22
mrnugget

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Nice Pics. I am leaning heavily towards getting a purple firefish myself.



Thanks... seems to be a good first fish. Was a bit worried it would hide out in a hole all the time, but it rather likes to hang out at the front to the tank all day, only darts into its hole if there is alot of movement near the tank.

Looking at the pics, I'm still trying to figure out how to avoid the algae below the sand line... scraped with a razor blade on Sunday when I did the water change, but the yellow (and some green) algae is back by Thursday night. Maybe more cleanup crew... we'll see.

Thanks for checking out the thread!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#23
mrnugget

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Been awhile since I've updated, thought it was well past time but finally got some pics to post.

As of 10 days after joining the tank, the Purple Firefish is no longer with us, not sure exactly what happened. Was fine one day, next day wasn't coming out or eating, and by the next, was food for the crabs. Speaking of which, the blue legs turned out to be a bit too aggressive anyway, attacking and killing the fighting conch. So, the large blue legs were replaced by a number of tiny blue legs, and I also added a bunch more clean up snails to make up for the stuff the large crabs were keeping down. All told, the current cleanup crew is:

2 Turbo Snails
6 Astrea Snails
6 - 8 Nassarius Snails
6 Florida Ceriths
A whole bunch of dwarf ceriths (too many to count)

Ran into a bit of a problem with bryopsis as well, with patches on the sand bed as well as two of the liverock pieces. Fortunately, the liverock piece with the biggest patch was right on top, so the quick fix was to stick it in the freezer. The clumps in the sand were scooped up as best I could, but it's impossible to get it all. In a few days, the patch on the lower liverock was growing pretty well, and there were new patches in the sand bed. A more drastic approach was called for, so I raised the Mg levels using Kent Tech-M from 1100ppm to over 1800ppm over the course of two weeks. Within a week, the bryopsis was struggling, and by the end of the next week it was gone. Over the past several weeks, I have been gradually lowering the Mg levels through water changes (down to about 1500ppm now), and no new growth (other than some hair algae, but that's small and unrelated).

The star polyp is still a little stressed (seems a bit bleached and not quite as full), but has bounced back over the last week or so. Just prior to finding the bryopsis, I had added a zoa frag with two different color zoas. Again, during treatment the colors seem a bit bleached, but it has added quite a few polyps all around the edges.

Last week, I added three new frags to the tank - a favia, a caluvaria and another zoa. They're relatively new, so not much happening on the growth front. I did start feeding the tank (small spoon of Ocean Nutrition coral food) every 3 days or so, but I think it's too soon to tell if the corals like it yet. The nassarius snails like it - they come swarming out of the sand bed when the food/water mix hits the water.

I've been a bit reluctant to add another fish after the purple firefish, and with the Mg treatments going on, didn't seem like a good idea anyway. Now with the parameters getting more in line with 'normal,' I guess it's time to give it some thought again.

Well, some pics for the curious...

Star Polyp and the newest Zoa. Polyp has climbed onto the adjoining rock.
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Zoa frag with two different color zoas. There seem to be some 'uncolored' polyps in the center, don't know what those are.
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Favia Frag
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Solomon Islands Calvularia
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Unidentified Critter - Ideas?
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Front Left of Tank - for placement perspective
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Full Tank Shot - Jan 6, 2009
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Thanks for visiting!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max

#24
StevieT

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Nice update!

Posted Image

It is a mushroom of some kind. It actually may do pretty well there with the amount of light/flow I can imagne it getting. It will split off into more in due time. They are easy to care for.

Are those snails all over your sand?!

#25
mrnugget

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It is a mushroom of some kind. It actually may do pretty well there with the amount of light/flow I can imagne it getting. It will split off into more in due time. They are easy to care for.

Are those snails all over your sand?!


I thought it kinda looked like a mushroom.... some neat purple and green color to it. Don't have any of those yet, so it must have come in on one of the other corals.

Yep, those are dwarf ceriths, I suspect a good number of now-empty shells at this point. I got a shipment from John and reefcleaners, was supposed to be about 12 but he kindly doubled it.... and when there was a problem with the heat pack in that box, (lost some florida ceriths in that shipment) he reshipped the entire order, doubled again! So, there were probably 48 or so dwarfs in total, but I'm sure not all have survived. Just haven't cleaned up yet - hard to tell the live ones from the dead ones they are so small. Also figured I'd move some over to the 10 gal QT tank I am going to set up shortly once I'm back in fish-mode.

At lights-out, they climb the glass.... I think it's kinda cool, wife is still thinking it's creepy.... an army of tiny snails slowly climbing up from the sand, swarming upward on the front glass.... if it keeps me from having to clean the glass so often, I'm all for it... they hang on the sand while the lights are on, just looks a bit.... crowded.

Thanks for checking in!
mrn

Our 34g Red Sea Max Tank Thread
Mr. and Mrs. Nugget's 34g Red Sea Max