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ADA Zero Equipment Build - Life got in the way but I'm updating again!

Frag Factory

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Frag Factory


July 2018


August 2018


September 2018


October 2018


November 2018


December 2018


January 2019


February 2019


June 2019




November 2019



December 2019



January 2020



Current stock list:


  • Xenia - lots
  • Zoas (lots)
  • Red Monti Plate
  • Ricordea x [lots]
  • Duncan coral
  • Green Fungia
  • Mushrooms (lots)
  • Green finger leather
  • Palythoa (lots)
  • + Bunch of other stuff


Clean Up Crew:

  • 1 x Emerald Crab
  • 1 x Blood Shrimp
  • 6 x Hermit Crab
  • 2 x Trocus Snails + 3 million babies




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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Frag Factory

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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Frag Factory

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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Frag Factory
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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Frag Factory

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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Frag Factory

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. 

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Frag Factory

Livestock has been added.


Went for 2 red legged hermits, 2 trocus snails and an Emerald crab.


So far I've seen the hermits and the emerald crab actively go after the turf algea, in 3 days they have made a decent dent into it.


Also supplemented their feeding with a bit of brine shrimp.


I also picked up my first corals, some Xenia and Zoas (which looked amazing under the shop lighting, which just makes me more convinced I need to upgrade to a prime)


With all this new light I will be growing coral like you don't believe... I suspect I will need a frag rack before I know it!





I'll be grabbing some more Zoas too, I would love to carpet the left "foot" of the rock structure and wrap it around the left hand side.


The LFS also had some lovely Acans with a sweet deal if you buy two... Those will be hard to resist.


The little island at the front will be for the Xenia, although I will probably swap the piece of rubble out with one that's not as high.


FTS - July 2018



Please excuse the thermometer, we're going through a bit of a heatwave in the UK at the moment... Peaking at 28C in the tank with the windows open, might have to pick up a fan as tomorrow is supposed to be a scorcher. 

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Frag Factory

Thank you for the love guys!


I might have found a fish, my might I mean he's currently in the tank chilling out and kicking ass...


Let me introduce you all to the king of my kingdom:



I was looking for one of these for a number of months previous to setting the tank up. Always wanted to keep them and another LFS had one in, in the exact colour pattern I wanted and he was munching down frozen food like a champ in the shop, that being said I did pick up 30 feeder shrimp which are residing in my garage...


I'm majorly concerned I'm rushing things so will be keeping a strong eye on parameters over the next couple of weeks but I did cycle pretty hard (feeding the tank 1/2 a cube of brineshrimp to mimic feeding...) so I am hoping it's ok.


No regrets so far.

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Frag Factory
6 minutes ago, Christopher Marks said:

Whoa, that’s incredible @Frag Factory! I don’t know if I be ever seen one with those markings before. Taken any video clips yet?

Not yet, put him in the tank. Gave him an hour to settle to make sure he's cool and left him to explore!


Video coming soon, I find these fish way too interesting 😄



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Frag Factory

I need a name for this guy, way too much character to not name him.


Saw him walking around the rockwork this morning as I left. Guessed he was hungry, when I returned I saw him using his lure above one of the entrances to the cave 😍


I added in 4 1/2" feeder shrimp gut loaded with formula 1 pellets. He ate one out the net and got another later on. Two remaining are hiding in the corner... He will find them I'm sure.


His favourite spot seems to be right in view. This seems to be working out.


I won't be adding anymore critters to the tank and I've got my emerald crab on a power feeding diet of a formula 1 pellet a day plus frozen krill, hoping he puts some size on to stop him being a snack. He's plowing through my green turf algea so I really want him to stay and he should be big enough to avoid the menu but it's a bit boarder line. He also moves very slow and is skittish so I hope this all works in his favour.


I've also picked up a used AI Prime. Should last me a good while and seemed like a good price. This will be here on Tuesday, I'll be running the David Saxby settings turned down to 25% or so.




I've roughly worked out what I want to do with corals. The flat section to the right of the main peak will be SPS. This is my highest flow area, should work well. 


The sandbed/footing areas will be Acans and Ric's. Hoping this offers more shelter for the Emerald crab.


The peak is dying for some movement, looking at a hammerhead of some sort. Figured a few frags from the same specimen will grow out nicely. 


The left hand foot of the structure will be Zoa's. Hopefully they grow out the right hand side where my sofa is. 


There will be spaces too for other things but I want to take it slow and get the right corals. There isn't too much space to fill after all.

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Frag Factory

video of the little guy in action



This was filmed in 120fps "slow mo" mode, it was still not quick enough to really give a real view of what is going on with him.

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Frag Factory

Good news, upgraded to an AI Prime. Running the low power David Saxby settings. Love it but it's a little blue for me.


Bad news, Ike (in hommage to the mantis shrimp of the ninjafish build that inspired me) has spent all afternoon stalking my emerald crab... Rescue mission inbound.


I like the crab, he's also too big to be eaten without concerning me that Ike would be in danger. I'm going to pick up a breeder net tonight, and pick up a cheap tank and use it as a coral QT/frag tank at the weekend. I've got 3kg of LR in the canister filter I can swap out for marine pure balls, the old light is now available, pick up a heater and powerhead and he will be free. 


I tried feeding Ike two shrimp, he ate them then went right back on the hunt. He's a bad boy.




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3 hours ago, Frag Factory said:

Good news, upgraded to an AI Prime. Running the low power David Saxby settings. Love it but it's a little blue for me.


Bad news, Ike (in hommage to the mantis shrimp of the ninjafish build that inspired me) has spent all afternoon stalking my emerald crab... Rescue mission inbound.


I like the crab, he's also too big to be eaten without concerning me that Ike would be in danger. I'm going to pick up a breeder net tonight, and pick up a cheap tank and use it as a coral QT/frag tank at the weekend. I've got 3kg of LR in the canister filter I can swap out for marine pure balls, the old light is now available, pick up a heater and powerhead and he will be free. 


I tried feeding Ike two shrimp, he ate them then went right back on the hunt. He's a bad boy.




I love the AI line. Great lights. 

Also, awesome tank! I loved Innapropriate Reefer's frogfish tank and your's is looking cool.

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Frag Factory

I've been trying to grab the crab, unfortunately he's outsmarting me. Even pulled the main rock structure where he lives and could not get him out...


But I did also see him walk right past Ike with no reaction at all from him... I think that's a positive sign. If I get the chance I'm going to remove him still and return him to the store but for now that puts my nerves at rest.


To help the crab hide (is that an excuse) I decided to pick up some more corals.


A hammerhead, a small green monti cap frag, yellow/gold zoas with some weird name and an acan. I've milliputted the monti in the highest flow area, it opened right up as soon as I placed it and it should grow well there. The acan was moved by a snail so I stuck him to a small bit of rubble to hold him down. The zoas and hammerhead are just resting on the rockwork until I decide if they are happy or not.


Here's my August 1st photos 😄












Also been doing a 5 litre water chance every 3rd day to combat nitrate since the cycle. I've dropped under 10 for the first time. Ammonia and nitrite are 0, PH is 8.2ish and Kh is over 12 thanks to Red Sea black bucket... I should have gone with blue but at least this is a natural and balanced chemistry from the salt mix rather than me playing with shit and hoping it works. 


I've not tested PO4, I don't have a kit but I've had to clean the glass once since I set the tank up. There is no algea anywhere so I can't imagine there's much phosphate either.

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