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Frag Factory

ADA Zero Equipment Build - First tank in 6 years!

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Hey everyone,


I decided I had too much money and have a little free time, so I'm getting back into the hobby after probably a 6 year break, with this!





And the guts of the system:



The idea of the tank was inspired by something I saw on this forum by a guy called Ninjafish who doesn't seem to be around anymore. I made a few changes such as no refugium in the canister filter and not putting the heater in the filter. I guess inline heaters were not a thing when he was around.


Things completed so far:
The tank is made up of the following parts:


Aquarium - ADA 30C. It's a 30cm cube made to a super high standard, starfire used throughout. Very high quality edges and almost no silicon.

I was going to go with a custom build but I found this on sale for less than £50 in a shop closing down about an hour from me. I don't think I could have got anything built similar to this for anywhere near that kind of money so I kind of lucked out there.


The Stand - It's DIY made from 18mm MDF. Painted up and had every seam filled in with car body filler and now they are hidden which is cool. It needs a final coat of paint before I fill the tank and get it set up (photos are tap water testing).


The stand measures 450mm square and 775mm tall. I'm really not a DIY kind of person but thought I may as well give it a go, I borrowed a friends table saw for a few hours and was really surprised by how it turned out, I'm the kind of guy that struggles with Lego.


The back up plan was using some sort of ikea cupboard but this worked out fine. The stand is deliberately oversized for a few reasons:

  1. I can upgrade to a 18" cube in the future and not worry about a new stand
  2. More room for equipment
  3. The light needed a 50mm rim to clamp to

All joints were filled with silicon, all cut seems which could not be filled in have also got a smear of silicon over them. I'm hoping this protects the MDF from any spills. I kind of wish I went with plywood for peace of mind, this might have been a mistake.


The Light - we are running a PAR38 bulb that cost £30 or so in a desk light from Amazon. I'm not sure if this will stay. The reasons for this are:

  • The bulb holder will not hold the bulb level, meaning I need to have it angled as shown in the pictures to actually keep the light level over the aquarium. This is annoying me to look at.
  • I'm not sure if the light is providing enough light. It's 54w, apparently... I'd personally have to say it's nothing like that.
  • Light spread is minimal, edges don't get much center gets everything.

I do however love the colour output, this might need more research and I'll decide what I do while I wait for it to cycle.


The Filter - I originally planned to use a Ehiem 2224 I already had from an old freshwater tank, but ended up changing it up due to lack of flow. I went with an Aqua Mantra 300 from Maidenhead Aquatics. I believe it's their own brand, for £105 it's really not a bad bit of kit. Sadly not as quiet as the Ehiem but nothing I can't live with. This outputs 1100lph before losses which in theory should provide 44x flow.


However... due to the nature of the output pointing at the top of the tank like it does the flow throughout the middle and lower levels is not too bad. During testing I threw some food in there and a lump of old ocean rock and was happy to see nothing settled on the bottom and nothing seemed to get blown around too much.


It connects to the tank through the two bulkheads you see, which have strainers in the photos. I'm hoping I can butcher them up to make less obstructive and easier to hide when I get some liverock.


For media I have two baskets to work with. The bottom one (where water hits first) will be sponges and filter floss. The second will have ceramic media to back up the live rock and carbon.


Heater - it's a Hydor inline heater, but I kind of made a mistake here too. I went for the 12mm hose model to suit the filter I originally planned but when I moved to the aqua mantra this had a 16mm hose...


I managed to fit two small lengths of 12mm host onto a piece of the intake I hack sawed up from the new filter. Fitting 12mm hose over 18mm pipe is not fun, but can be done with lots of swearing and hot water.


That's just about everything covered up to this point.


Tonight I put salt water in and the substrate, I'll be picking up rock this weekend! 😵

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Very clean, minimal. I 🙂will follow

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Impressive system you've built @Frag Factory, I love the minimal design. The canister filter and inline heater are a tidy choice as well. Can't wait to see what you build in it!


Welcome back!

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Nice to be back and thanks for being so kind.


So today I checked out a new LFS which wasn't around when I was last in the hobby. Holy shit it's hands down the best shop I've been to and it's only 8 miles from my door.


Their stock ranges from Xenia to rare Aussie SPS. From clown fish to an angel they had for £2999 which I wasn't too impressed by...




but to be honest I'm not their audience with this one.


I ended up grabbing a smart micro ATO. 23kg Red Sea reef salt. 50l of RO water and 5kg of rock plus some other odds and ends. 


Gentlemen, we have an aquascape. I shall be removing the zip tie tomorrow once the epoxy sets. Please also excuse the cloudy water.







Side next to my couch:





I'm quit happy with this, took about an hour to get everything to stick. This is 4 rocks chisseled and milliputted together and once Coraline takes effect I don't think you will know 😆


I also reworked the cabinate and electrics.



Much tidyier, I'll also be looking as adding a UPS in case of power outages I occasionally get due to being on meter electric 🙄


This shouldn't be an issue. 


I've dropped in a cube of brineshrimp to start the cycle and checkout the flow around the rock for deadspots. No huge issues could be found. 

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Went out this morning and picked up the Red Sea Pro test kit bundle


We have a cycle, little disappointing seeing as I got live rock I was hoping to only have a little cycle but no biggie, I went online and grabbed the Red Sea mature reef kit also. Figured if it's going to cycle we may as well do it right and introduce as many strains of bacteria as we can. 


Program takes 21 days. That's not bad.


Today's results:

Ammonia: more than 2ppm

Nitrite: 0.1ppm

Nitrate: 5ppm


I'm guessing Nitrate came from the liverock or possibly the salt. I'll test freshly made water too when I get to it.


I have been feeding the tank half a cube of frozen brine each day to cause ammonia, I'll be stopping that until I see it drop back to 0ppm and then commence again to simulate bioload before we add fish which will be 5 yellow tangs and a Niger triggerfish, or a pair of designer clowns (hopefully naked if I can find them). It's a tough choice 😆.


Corals will largely be zoa's, mushrooms, acans, a hammerhead, Xenia and a couple of SPS once things mature.


I'd love a RBTA too but concerned about tank size... My last one grew like a weed.

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Could you post a picture of the bulkhead that you did on the bottom of the tank? I'm assuming that you have two bulkheads fitted into a drilled bottom and this is how you run the canister? This is a brilliant idea, may have to steal it. EDIT: Actually read all the thread and saw you mentioned the bulkheads...still want a picture though haha

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15 minutes ago, ksadam said:

Could you post a picture of the bulkhead that you did on the bottom of the tank? I'm assuming that you have two bulkheads fitted into a drilled bottom and this is how you run the canister? This is a brilliant idea, may have to steal it.

Sure thing, here you go:



I got it from here:



The strainers are from the same supplier. I believe they are originally for Koi livestock tanks/ponds but seem to be doing the job just fine. I ditched the rubber gasket and used silicone on both sides.


You could do the same with regular bulkheads and a hose barb from research, I just preferred the built for purpose solution.



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Cycling is making progress.


I'm a big fan of the red sea mature kit I bought, never tried any of these "bacteria in a bottle" products. How much it's helping will remain to be seen but I've been testing everyday since the tank was set up and it really is making a difference and speeding things up.


Nothing good happens fast, reefing will teach you that but this might be the exception to the rule. Speeding up a cycle and adding to the number of strains of bacteria I have in the tank cannot hurt.


Current test numbers:

Ammonia: Estimated about 1.5ppm

Nitrite: 0.25ppm

Nitrate: 25ppm


Things are happening, the old geeky feeling is coming back 😄


I'm not dosing the Kh booster that came with the kit, the Red Sea Pro salt I got has taken care of that and I don't want to be messing with Ca Mg or Kh beyond dosing via water changes. A 50% water change each week would literally take 20 mins so why complicate things.


Looking at upgrading the light as mentioned in the OP. It's a toss up between the AI Prime, Hydra 26 or a second hand XR15 Gen 3 my LFS is using over one of the coral tanks.


Sidenote: There is also no sign of algea, I like this.

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Cycling is done! 











And not before time... I've had a couple of small turf algea patches pop up that need to be dealt with.




so I'll be off to the LFS some time this week for more RO water, do a big water change and pick up a couple of hermit crabs and see if they make a dent at all. I'd rather not go with snails just yet, the tank has no surface film at all. I don't want to starve them.

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