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My First Build: Cad Lights


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Well, I have started my first build. Its wet and finally cycling...


Cad Lights 18g Mini II tank

Cad Lights PLS 50 Skimmer

Cad Lights NR-1 Reactor


Instant Ocean Reef Crystals

CaribSea Seaflor Special Grade Sand

Cobalt Neo Therm heater

Nanobox mono with Corallux Storm controller and temp probe (being built)

Apex Lite, w/PH probe

These pictures are pretty lousy, I dont have my light yet.. These are the first of many to come, so bear with me. Im not sure what livestock im going for as of yet, im still planning that out. I want color, I want flow. Probably start off with some Zoas, maybe a frogspawn. I will be taking my time with this build so updates may be few and far between, but I want to do this right and not buy a bunch of crap I may regret later.

Anyway here are some pics.



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Looking great so far, and looks like you've gotten all really good equipment from the start, that'll save you money in the long run! Trust me haha.

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How do you like the build of the skimmer and reactor?

I haven't run the skimmer yet, but it seems pretty nice. The reactor seems "faster" than I would like even when dialed down. My pellets are hydrated now which helped, but they still tumble a lot more violently than I would like.

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I know it's kind of hard to see, but any suggestions as far as coral and it's placement is concerned?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Keep us updated, look nice.


Why have you decided on the nanobox mono instead of mini ?

Please post a picture with it and installation. Are you using hang-on wire or you will have it attached to the back ?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I mounted my light with a goose neck. I have added a couple zoas and a toadstool. I plan on adding a pair of clowns in the next few weeks.. Still contemplating adding the frogspawn. Anyway, here are some lousy cell phone shots.









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I changed up my scape a bit...Had epoxy failure.... Im liking the new one better anyway.. Not a drastic difference by any means. I have added two daVinci Clowns and a narcissus snail. Everything is going well, my toadstool is growing like crazy and i am noticing that my green zoas are starting to spread as well. Here are a couple of pics of the clowns. They are juvies but I believe the one with the spot is the female as she is growing larger than the other, and is the definitely the boss.





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Good looking light. Have you been able to get your skimmer dialed in? Mine has been a pita to dial in to where it doesn't run too wet.

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Looking great man! I'm going to grab that reactor down the road I think. Does it fit well next to the skimmer? Do you have your heater in there as well? I got a eheim jäger which is like 10" tall. Should have gone with the cobalt. I'm not too sure I could fit the reactor with my heater in there.

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Good looking light. Have you been able to get your skimmer dialed in? Mine has been a pita to dial in to where it doesn't run too wet.

No, that skimmer is a nightmare to say the least. It skims wet, I come down in the morning it has overflowed, I have to adjust it every time I turn it off. I really can't stand it. The micro bubbles are absolutely ridiculous as well. I had to stick a sponge back there to stop them from entering my display. Of course cad lights doesn't want to hear it.


I had the reactor for probably a week before it sprung a leak. Big surprise, cad said it was my fault as I either didn't use pellets that were aerodynamic enough or I dropped it. Yes they really said that. Thankfully i got that via amazon prime, so back it went. I really don't see how that tank was designed for both the skimmer and reactor anyway. Between those two and the return pump there is no room for anything else, I had to utilize the first chamber for my ATO. I went with the cobalt heater and it slides right next to the return pump on the right side thankfully.


I feel thankful that the glass and silicon is nice on the tank at least.

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Good to know! Their customer service still sucks. I had to email them and call them for a week straight to get a reply. When I received my tank, 2 weeks later than the original ship date, I asked them some questions via email, and I still haven't gotten a reply. I have up and feel fortunate my tank and skimmer don't have any flaws. I just hope this skimmer works good after it breaks in.


What kind of ato do you have? That's next on my list.

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I have the 2 switch nano ATO from autotopoff.com. There are smaller an nicer ones out there but it does the job. I use it with a 2.5g reservoir and an aqualifter. I fill my 2.5 once a week. I use the glass lid so I don't get a ton of evaporation, but the tank is in the basement so there isn't any over-heating issues. The skimmer helps with gas exchange too.

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For your first build, this is a really nice build! ;)

Thank you! I tried not to cut too many corners as I know it would cost me more in the long run. This should last me a while.

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Thats how i look at it! But I do want to upgrade my tank so i can have a sump but it's alright... It will happen when my tank is overstocked lol! Hey check out my build!

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Got the Apex up and running! Loving it so far. its nice no having to unplug crap when I want to turn it off.... Pulling cords, hoping for the best, :rolleyes: Working on getting the IP cam up on Apex Fusion, so I can spy on those pesky clowns while on vacation.

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Does anyone know of a decent reactor with a small footprint? I am not going to try again with the Cad lights reactor...

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If your going to run bio pellets in the IM reactor, remove the sponges and pick up a piece of plastic mesh and cut 2 pieces to fit above and below the pellets. You can find that plastic mesh in the sewing isle or sewing store.

I believe I have seen a few people mod the phos ban reactor to h.o.b of the tank. Its not so small though. Im going to mod my nr1 reactor this weekend maybe if I have the time.

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Awesome, thanks for the info. I'm going to hold off running one for now. My water parameters are good so if ain't broke, don't fix it.


I'm loving the apex lite right now, makes life much easier. If I could only get the flippin port forwarding to work I would be able to monitor with my ip cam

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having a bit of an issue with my light this week. Ben from coralux is sending me a new controller and Dave from nanobox is sending me a new led driver. Hopefully this will fix things up.


I built a screen top, which turned out pretty nice and is helping my ph levels rise, which I need.


I ordered a tuxedo urchin, bun unfortunately he didn't survive shipping. The reef gods are telling me to skip it. I added a cleaner shrimp instead.


I'll add pics a bit later.

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new screen top i made, hoping to promote better oxygen exchange and raise Ph.



new scape:



top down, more sand real estate:




I received the new controller and new driver for my nanobox, hopefully I will be able to figure out how to get it in and running

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