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timeconsumer

timeconsumer's 20 long build

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timeconsumer

After many years of delaying my re-entry into reefing, I can finally say I have the wheels turning on my 20 long build. Although this was "in the works" over 6 months ago I ended up sitting on the empty tank since then. I finally have an order arriving from BRS this week which means I will finally get this thing wet!

First things first I suppose, I'll lay out my rough mission statement.

 

Mission Statement: To build a low cost (relatively speaking), low maintenance, low tech reef tank which relies on water changes as the primary form of nutrient export and low bioload to ensure its success and simplicity.

 

With that being said this is what my current plan is for equipment. Some is purchased and some is not.

  • No sump. It's more money and adds noise. While it is convenient and nice I just don't see it in the cards for right now. I might change my mind down the road and add a Lifereef overflow and do the sump thing, but for now I don't see that happening.
  • No skimmer. Same deal, they're loud and I really don't like HOB skimmers and I just don't think I'll need it with a one or two fish tank.
  • No controllable pumps, sure they're fancy and my Vortechs were very nice back on my 75g, but I'm just going with some Tunze 6015s.
  • No 2-part dosing, I'm just going to put a little kalk in the topoff water if needed.
  • T5 lit tank, what can I say they work well and a 2x24w fixture and bulbs is cheap. I'll probably add a cheap reefbrite to it just for kicks down the road for a little hybrid action.
  • No SPS. It just doesn't jive with the simple, cheap, and easy tank.
  • I'm not starting with an aquaclear for carbon or anything, but I expect I will have to get one. I don't intend to use it as a fuge.
  • Using dry rock with a seed rock from a local reefer or a local shop as well as Dr. Tim's.
  • Using Red Sea Blue bucket salt, I've used it in the past and I like it. Also using RODI water of course.
  • I haven't purchased any testing kits except for a refractometer yet. I really don't expect to be testing PO4 and NO3. I'll likely monitor the big three once I get to stony corals, and definitely monitor alk before I add a fish but for now I'm not worried about it.

 

Because of my budget and my goals this is going to be a very slow moving project. I am not looking to get this reef cycled and filled with fish and corals within 4 months. My intentions are to not have a fish in the tank for 6 to 8 weeks and not even have growing lights on it for several months. The fish will likely be something like a small Blenny or damsel. Once I have decided it is time to start adding corals I'm going to keep it very simple. My favorite corals aren't very expensive and are pretty easy to care for, like Florida Ricordea, Galaxea, Photosynthetic Gorgonians, Leathers, and Bubble Corals. I'm toying with the idea of doing some decorative macro algaes.

 

My aquascape is going to be designed with some of this in mind. I'll need a shallow area for gorgonians to have room to grow as it's a short tank. I'll need an area with good clearance and waterflow in a specific direction to account for the 8" sweepers on the galaxea. I'll need a low-flow corner for a bubble coral. And the space in the middle I'll try to fill in with tons of Ricordea and some simple zoos, maze brains, blastos, acans, etc. I don't expect the scape to look that nice early on, but when things grow in that will take care of itself.

 

In terms of looks and overall design I have a color scheme in mind but I don't know how easy it will be to stick to it. I want to use a lot of shades of blue, with some purples, and pops of orange. Luckily most of the corals I discussed come in these varieties. I don't know if any reds or greens will end up in there, but blue should be the dominant color. With that my taste when it comes to coloration of my lighting is very much towards the white end of the spectrum. My old tanks ran at a color temperature in the 12k area as I loved it to look like shallow water, so I'm thinking my two T5 bulbs will be an Aquablue Special and a Coral Plus.

 

Anyways, enough rambling for now, here's a picture of the tank after a vinegar bath. I bought it used a few months ago from a freshwater guy.

 

77R7Clf.jpg

 

The wood trim grew on me, I initially intended to paint it black but I'm going to keep it. The stand is oak, I think it must be some local who makes them because I've seen a few of these in Atlanta. It should pair well with the cheap horticultural T5 fixture I'm buying that has kind of a bronze powdercoating to it.

 

Anyways, that's all for now with this tank. I expect my rocks, salt, sand, pumps, heater etc to come in on Friday so I'll be posting in a few days as I fiddle with the aquascape a little bit. The RODI unit I bought from Buckeye Hydro came yesterday so I'm ready to begin soon. Then the goal is to have it full of water and such by the end of the weekend. I hope you guys enjoy the ride!

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timeconsumer

Wow so it's been a whirlwind of a day and it looks like it is now in the cards for me to be packing up and moving in the next 60-90 days. However it's going to be in the same city so I still intend to get this tank going and just get a cycle and maybe a fish and move it across town. This is why I went with a 20g, for this exact scenario. In other news I've been entertaining offers for some used light fixtures locally but unfortunately had to turn them down as they just don't quite fit the bill including some well-priced deals on 16" and 18" LED fixtures, but for my needs I want something closer to 24" or more.

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Lula_Mae

Tank and stand look nice! It's nice to see a nice and simple tank come to life. Following along. :smilie:

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timeconsumer
On 1/3/2019 at 7:18 AM, Lula_Mae said:

Tank and stand look nice! It's nice to see a nice and simple tank come to life. Following along. :smilie:

Glad to have you on for the ride!

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timeconsumer

Okay so the packages have arrived and been inspected to ensure safety and compliance.

 

PNlmeCj.jpg?1

mAflyCy.jpg?1

 

Let's get to opening them.

 

3usJrMd.jpg?1

 

Okay that is definitely not what I was expecting. This apparently is for my wife, and this keto stuff is getting a little ridiculous. Who orders pork rinds on the internet? We live in Georgia! They're everywhere! Right, moving on.

 

iIxrExO.jpg?1

 

So there's the pile of stuff. Going to fiddle with the aquascape here later tonight and tomorrow morning so I'll shoot some pictures of it. I honestly don't intend to spend much time on it given I expect to move in the next 90 days, but I'll play around with it a little just for fun.

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timeconsumer

1qhLQPm.jpg?1

 

I haven't used reefsaver rock before, and I ordered 20lbs thinking it would be more than enough. And I got three big pieces....guess I'll have to do some work with a hacksaw and chisel once I move into the new house in a few months because this isn't going to work.

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Lula_Mae
13 hours ago, timeconsumer said:

1qhLQPm.jpg?1

 

I haven't used reefsaver rock before, and I ordered 20lbs thinking it would be more than enough. And I got three big pieces....guess I'll have to do some work with a hacksaw and chisel once I move into the new house in a few months because this isn't going to work.

I used Reef Saver in my 15 long/IM 14.  I actually wrote in the order comments what I was looking for and they sent me loads of rock, I had a whole huge piece I didn't use (whole scape is only three rocks, which I really like--so easy to clean around and under!).  If you can get one of them broken up I think you'll be able to create something you like.  My pink streaked wrasse has loved the little crevices and caves lol.

 

Also I'm from NC and snickered at the thought of ordering pork rinds on the internet.  That's like ordering grits or something! :lol:

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Slim64684

 

17 hours ago, timeconsumer said:

1qhLQPm.jpg?1

 

I haven't used reefsaver rock before, and I ordered 20lbs thinking it would be more than enough. And I got three big pieces....guess I'll have to do some work with a hacksaw and chisel once I move into the new house in a few months because this isn't going to work.

I used reef saver in my 20 long also. And if i remember correctly i ordered 20 pounds also. I broke a few of the pieces up and still have 2 large chunks left that I didn't end up using. I just left a note in the order comments that it was for a 20 long.20181118_170747.thumb.jpg.2a1137d838fa60b73e4b46d6b6a9c3e0.jpgthis is the scape I ended up going with.

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timeconsumer

H3yPDwy.jpg

 

Alright so we got some water, a heater, and a pump in there and we have begun. I'm probably breaking some rule I don't remember and I'm just mixing the salt directly inside the display. I think it'll be fine. Once that's done I'll add the sand and start the process of cycling and such. Feels good to get this going!

 

EDIT: Also maybe I forgot what it smells like, but do any of you remember Red Sea blue bucket salt smelling like citric acid?

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timeconsumer

t0B96mB.jpg

 

Sand is in. Water has cleared up a little. Going to drop in a shrimp today and let that do its thing for a little bit. I don't intend to get much livestock in this anytime soon so my posts won't be very frequent for a while.

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timeconsumer

And I'm back! Back-ish. I don't know. IRL I'm about one month away from closing on my first house and moving across town so that will be fun. Because of that I'm not going to put anything living in the tank because it's just more trouble when moving. But either way I'm still keeping the tank fed with some chunks of shrimp and I added a piece of live rock from my LFS to get some life going and keep it cycled while I wait for everything.

 

However I do have a small update. I've got half of my lighting now purchased. BRS was having a big clearance sale on some stuff so I picked up a 24" Reefbrite LED strip which I'll bolt onto whatever T5 unit I end up buying, still not sure if I want to go 2 bulb or 4 bulb. It was about $80 for the 24" 50/50 unit and I'd guess it has maybe 24w worth of LEDs on it, combined with a cheap t5 unit I think it will be a pretty decent t5/LED hybrid fixture for not a lot of money.

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Friendly

how power efficient are T5’s? how much heat do they throw off in comparison to fluorescent or LED?

 

also, figured any more on your scape?

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Slim64684
12 minutes ago, timeconsumer said:

And I'm back! Back-ish. I don't know. IRL I'm about one month away from closing on my first house and moving across town so that will be fun.

Buying a house is funish. Signing all the papers gets old really fast, but its so exciting the first time you do it. But in all seriousness congrats on the new house.

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timeconsumer
2 minutes ago, Friendly said:

how power efficient are T5’s? how much heat do they throw off in comparison to fluorescent or LED?

 

also, figured any more on your scape?

A watt is a watt. 1w of LED is going to produce similar heat to 1w of any other kind of lighting. There are some differences in how that is radiated because LEDs do have a heatsink on top that can radiate upwards, but I can't say what percent of the electricity is converted into what kind of energy either thermal radiation or visible light radiation or what have you. I'm sure there's smarter people than me here who can illuminate (pun intended) more on that subject.

 

I've never used LEDs as primary or supplemental lighting before so I can't say how many fewer watts of LEDs for the same amount of PAR as opposed to the older lighting tech, but when comparing watts of output vs watts of output the heat should be rather similar. If I opt for a 4x24w T5 fixture (very possible) we'd be looking at around 120w worth of output from all sources combined *but* there is the Workhorse factor to consider. See most cheap T5 units like the ones I'm considering use Fulham Workhorse ballasts which underdrive the bulbs by around 25% (cheap bastards). So really I imagine peak output would be around 100w worth of lighting and the associated heat from that. 

 

So that was a lovely long winded answer that wasn't really an answer.

 

In terms of the scape. I haven't thought about it much. I never really care that much about rockscapes because the goal is to cover it in coral and have the coral become the scape. As long as there is room for coral to grow and water to move around it, I'm happy. I'll probably still fiddle with it a little once I move in.

 

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timeconsumer
8 minutes ago, Slim64684 said:

Buying a house is funish. Signing all the papers gets old really fast, but its so exciting the first time you do it. But in all seriousness congrats on the new house.

Hah, well so far I'm just glad to have found one and have my wife mostly calmed down about it now. Mostly. I told her since she got the house she wanted and I didn't get the backyard I wanted that the compromise means I'll be dropping in a 120g tank into the family room soon. She begrudgingly obliged. I'm calling that a win!

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Slim64684
42 minutes ago, timeconsumer said:

Hah, well so far I'm just glad to have found one and have my wife mostly calmed down about it now. Mostly. I told her since she got the house she wanted and I didn't get the backyard I wanted that the compromise means I'll be dropping in a 120g tank into the family room soon. She begrudgingly obliged. I'm calling that a win!

You got off better than me. We bought the house my wife wanted with the pool she had to have. I still haven't gotten the pole barn i wanted😢

 

A 120 is a whole nother animal from a 20. There is a huge difference between my 20 reef and my 65 gallon planted tanks. 

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timeconsumer
12 hours ago, Slim64684 said:

You got off better than me. We bought the house my wife wanted with the pool she had to have. I still haven't gotten the pole barn i wanted😢

 

A 120 is a whole nother animal from a 20. There is a huge difference between my 20 reef and my 65 gallon planted tanks. 

Yeah we had a 75g back a few years ago so she knows what it means. I never said 120g exactly either, I just said "big tank" so in the next few years (I'm not in a rush) I'll be monitoring Craigslist for one of those total tank sale packages in that size range.

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timeconsumer

Me again! The Reefbrite got here and overall I'm pretty impressed by it. It's lightweight, but sturdy. It doesn't get very hot to the touch. It puts out a decent little bit of light and at not a terrible color either, it's a little purple. I think given the retail pricetag of about $160 for the 24" it's a little hefty but for the $80 I paid on clearance it's a dandy little fixture. But the shimmer is pretty darn intense and has a little of that blue/white disco going on so I'm definitely looking forward to a few T5s to tone it down and make it nice and subtle. One of these 24" fixtures could probably light a 40 breeder fish only no problem.

 

I'm thinking I'll buy the 4x24w light fixture and attach this to it, but only run 3 bulbs in the T5 unit. The 4 bulb is only $90 compared to $70 for the 2 bulb. That's worth it I think for a little extra bulb combination choices. It should be plenty of light and still allow some shimmer to be visible from the reefbrite and also that will work as my dawn/dusk. I'll buy a few different bulbs to play with the combo and try to dial in the look. I'm thinking Blue Plus, Coral Plus, and GE 6500k would be right around what I'm going for, but I'll grab something like a super actinic and maybe a purple plus to play around with too.

 

Anyways, since I'm moving in a few weeks I'm not really keen to get the T5 fixture bought and hung, but I figured what the heck, let's just bolt this LED puppy to the wall and enjoy a little light for a few weeks before I move. I gotta patch holes before I leave this place anyway, what's two more? Now with that being said please remember this ain't permanent! so don't tell me about my ugly power cord and stuff, it's fine for now. So, here's the video:

 

 

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timeconsumer

Hello again lovely internet people. Not much to talk about today either unfortunately. The tank still has no livestock in it currently as I'm moving about 27 days from now and don't want to stress out any animals for that ordeal. My guess is that everything is cycled by now, but I probably should drop in another piece of shrimp just to keep the bacteria fed. I think I'll go do that now.

 

I decided since I'm pretty happy with the 24" Reefbrite 50/50 and BRS only had 2 left on the 50% closeout deal to just go ahead and buy a second one. Now I'll be perfectly comfortable bolting these two onto a 2x24w T5 unit. This should give me a a good ratio of T5 to LED (about 50/50 in terms of wattage). Only having 2 T5 bulbs to replace each year-ish will be nice too since 24w bulbs still run a good $20 each. And that means all-in for a brand new T5/LED hybrid setup I will be looking at around $275 for 100w worth of lighting (including new bulbs) that should give me good coverage for the 30" length on this tank and not cost an arm and leg in bulb replacement. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

 

As far as which bulbs to run in the 2x24w I'm a little torn. I'd like to have something to tune down the purpleish hue of the royal blue and white combo. I'd also like to whiten it up a little bit, but it wouldn't kill me if it stays the same color roughly. My thought was to try something like a Blue Plus and a Geisseman Midday (6500k). I guess I'll worry about that when the unit gets here.

 

So yeah, I guess that's about it for now. Hopefully once I'm moved in to the new place and have the tank setup I can start providing this thread with some actual interesting updates once I start adding fish, inverts, corals....and finally fix that aquascape. So thanks again for following along.

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timeconsumer

Still chugging along. Still fishless but hitting it with small bits of shrimp to keep the bacteria going.  3 more weeks until I move and I can toss in a fish. However as I wait and the tank starts getting ugly with diatoms and what have you, I'm looking at the tank today and see some algae growth on the glass and rocks. I'm thinking "Huh, strange to see the GHA phase start so soon." I look a little closer and whammo, I got myself some byropsis growing everywhere. How lucky for me.

 

In case I didn't mention it here are some of the other algae infestations I've dealt with in the past: Dinos, Neomeris Annulata (this can get really bad), Halimeda-somehow I was the magical tank it loved to explode in, GHA of course, and a few others. Now I get to add byropsis to the list! Luckily I'm not that worried about it right now so I'll just cut the lighting down and let it do it's thing slowly. If it's still there when I move (which will come with almost a 100% water change) I'll jump my magnesium up to 1600 as that seems to melt byropsis pretty handily.

 

Just another tank, just another pest algae.

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timeconsumer

I'm back! So after a long hiatus I've accomplished lots but honestly very little. Yes I know that makes no sense, stay with me you'll understand soon. Or you won't, it's not important.  Anyways here's the breakdown:

 

1) I finally bought my house.

2) I finally moved out of my old rental

3) I changed the aquascape a little

4) I bought my first fish for my birthday on Sunday the 31st

5) My light fixture came in and I got it installed

6) Life is good

 

So let's start at the beginning and work our way forwards. I bought the house, it's a good one. We closed in late February and I moved the tank from one place to the next (about 25 miles) on March 16. At that point I had been keeping the LED light mostly off to slow down the algae problem. It seemed to be working, some algae stuck around from ambient light, no big deal. When I moved the tank I ended up doing functionally a 100% water change. Other than the little bit of water I couldn't extract from the sand or rock everything went bye-bye. I refilled it with fresh water at the new house. I figure with me keeping it cycled with rotting pieces of shrimp for a couple of months I should get rid of the excess nutrients.

 

So after the move was complete I decided to leave it alone for a bit. I found some rotten shrimp pieces under the rocks when I moved the tank (that I didn't keep), and I figured the tank probably didn't need fresh ammonia for a bit, so I'd let the junk in the sand and rock settle. After two weeks I added my first fish, a tailspot blenny. I got him from a LFS for $30. He has been hiding a lot and hasn't eaten yet but I'm not too concerned, small blennies act that way.

 

Now before I added the Blenny I decided to fix the rockwork a little. Nothing too crazy, but I broke up one rock into a few pieces and shifted it around and eliminated one of the rocks. I wanted a small cave for a future coral banded shrimp, but also I wanted room for corals to grow in nice and big. I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, but to be honest I didn't spend a ton of time fiddling with it. Such is life.

 

Now right after I added the Blenny I ordered a few pieces. I got a Ranco ETC temp controller. While this isn't the common hobby item like the Inkbird I trust the Ranco better, it was a bit of a gold standard a few years ago, and it doesn't cost much more.

 

I also ordered a 4x24w Agrobrite T5 fixture. This is a horticultural fixture that I'm taking a bit of a gamble with. While I have two Reefbrite 24w 50/50 (50% white, 50% blue) fixtures I figured I'd opt for the 4 bulb T5 fixture over the 2 bulb just for flexibility in mounting options and bulb options. I'll probably only run two bulbs in it at first (once I get corals, for now just the LEDs are running) but having the option to run 3 bulbs or 4 bulbs for only $20 extra is nice. I hung the Agrobrite from the ceiling using some $8 ratcheting light hangers from Amazon. They aren't beautiful, but they work great. I might replace them with something prettier once I figure out the exact height and placement I want with this setup. For now these are great,

 

Obviously I still have a long, long way to go but I'm taking this project slowly. Reefing is a marathon, not a sprint. Hopefully in a few months (July-ish) I'll have some corals in here and be able to start really having a good time. I can't wait to get a nice aqua blue Galaxea in the spot I have designed just for its 12" sweepers and so on. I love being back in the hobby and look forward to telling you guys all about any new developments soon! 

20190402_195901.jpg

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billygoat

Glad to see the tank is settled in and on its way! I enjoyed reading your posts and feel energized by your enthusiasm for the hobby. I'm glad you're glad to be back! 😄

 

Keep us posted on your progress! I'll be following along.

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Slim64684

Congrats on the house and getting everything moved. That's never fun.

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timeconsumer

Thanks for the comments above. So I figure we'll take a moment to discuss the lighting, since people love to talk about equipment and gear and whatnot.

 

The fixture is the 4x24w Agrobrite. I didn't take it apart to see what kind of ballast it has, but I'm going to guess it's a Fulham Workhorse. Reflectors seem good, but the spacing is a tad wide IMO for reefing, this is definitely a horticultural fixture. I attached my two Reefbrite Techs with a couple of self-tapping screws directly into the housing. It was pretty simple. There is enough room around the edges to use a nut if you wanted a little extra security, I live dangerously.

 

Right now I have just one of the included 6500k plant bulbs in it. I'm not actually using it, but I wanted a gauge on what bulbs to use for the future. I'm thinking 2 aquablue specials will actually pair very nicely with these 50/50 LEDs and give me the white look I want. But I'll play around with it, maybe a Blue Plus and 6500k will be the answer. Down the road if I feel I need to use all four bulbs I'm thinking Blue Plus, True Actinic, Aquablue Special, 6500k. Right now everything is hooked up to some cheap $7 light timers, and that probably won't change. If it ain't broke, etc.

 

Here are my ratcheting light hangers, not pretty but very functional and I like the simplicity:

zvk1JZe.jpg

 

Here is how I screwed in the Reefbrite strips:

EdjtGM1.jpg

 

A shot of the underside with one 6500k bulb on:

tzhR4qO.jpg

 

The tank with just the LEDs on:

iClIMKS.jpg

 

The tank with one 6500k and the LEDs (similar to what I want my final coloration to be):

Pxb8vOv.jpg

 

Don't worry about the dirty glass, since my Blenny hasn't been eating yet I'm intentionally leaving him a salad bar to much on. This tank isn't designed to be a fancy photogenic internet tank, it's my wet sandbox. Thanks again for checking this out 

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billygoat
10 hours ago, timeconsumer said:

This tank isn't designed to be a fancy photogenic internet tank, it's my wet sandbox.

My wet sandbox! 😄 I might have to steal that one someday! That's exactly how I feel about my own system as well.

 

Some neat work you've done there with the hanging Reefbrite strips. I personally have never done anything more complicated than mount my A80 on a factory gooseneck, so I am always very impressed with those reefers who display their DIY chops. I bet you could cultivate some gorgeous macroalgae under those grow lights, if that's something you're interested in!

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