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Office Adventures with the Red Sea MAX Nano

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OfficeReefer

 This last weekend, I made the plunge for a new nano tank. With the current situation, I have more time in my home office than usual and really became dissatisfied with my current setup, a newer 14g Biocube. I've been in the hobby for awhile now so this will be my third tank and I really wanted something top notch. Knowing that I still wanted something in the nano range of 100L/25g, there really isn't too many choices and I wanted to grow my skills with SPS corals. My previous Fluval Evo 13 was decent as the upgrades were available for lighting and the tank was somewhat rimless but ultimately, I knew I needed more. I looked at the IM Nuvo series, certainly a fine choice but the current supply chain left me with partial options and upgrades, then I came across the Red Sea Nano Max. I was totally sold after watching several members setups and thus, here I am on this journey with all of you.

 

 This past week has been a real beast for me at work therefore I apologize for not getting to post more as I first started the journey. I did a decent amount of searching before I came across a decent price for the tank and stand from Bay Bridge Aquarium in Oakland, CA for just under $1100 with tax and shipping included. In my previous setup, I went with CaribSea's Special Grade reef sand and found while it was entirely resistant to clownfish and power heads blowing it everywhere that it wasn't as great at keeping clean. I didn't want to have the same issues so I went back to their Fiji Pink which IMHO, really looks the best if I didn't want to do bare bottom. For the reef rock, I had pukani in the previous tank and barnacles with other softies in the current BioCube. I didn't like the challenges of removing pests and constant rinse and repeat for the new rock so I opted to scape something, perhaps more like a monument or statue with dry reef rock. After looking at my options, I ended up on 25lbs from ARC Reef in Florida via Amazon. They did really well and actually shipped far more than I was expecting. Here's the pieces I started with and the dual headed statue aquascaping design

 

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Knowing that I would have some challenges with dry rock and that I wanted to ensure both accuracy and consistency in testing, I purchased the HIREEF Test Kit from Hanna Instruments. In addition to proper introduction of nitrifying bacteria and Coraline algae growth, I opted to try the Red Sea Reef Mature Starter Kit. After watching some recent BRS.tv Investigates I learned a lot about salt; how different brands have different purposes, store differently along with dissolve differently made some interesting insights into my choices of salt. I also wanted something that would store well for automation in water changes and be easily available. For this adventure, I chose Instant Ocean's Reef Crystals as they were in many cases the best or second to best performer for storage and efficacy. 

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 To make this journal a little more concise and exciting, I opted to set the salinity at 1.024 knowing that my office gets a little warm 78-80 during the summer and I'm defaulting to the ATO that comes with the MAX Nano. It's a decent ATO but only holds 0.3gal so I wanted to ensure if it did ever run low, it would never run over 1.025 in all likelihood before I or someone else returned to address the matter. I will be discussing automation systems like the Apex solution and one that I'm designing later on in the journey. I've also started cycling the live rock and the tank with the lights off for the past week, allowing minor break in of the provided skimmer. So far, it seems decent and I suspect it will work out just fine. 

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 After adding sand and fresh RODI on source, I added some frag plug for future planning of corals and set the dry reef rock in the tank. I hoped I would get the older AI Prime HD light as I was able to download the app with no problem of course but I ended up with the Red Sea ReefLED50 and Reef Beat app. It's ok and so far isn't terrible, I'll know more once I determine what network traffic it sends and if it has any API or other means of programming and telemetry. I hoped to have a power head with the same vendor, but the Nero 5 seems overkill for the volume of the MAX Nano and I've read reviews of issues where it defaults to certain options which would overwhelm the tank. I also looked at the Red Sea Max Reef 25 gyre power head but at 10" I find it to be both an eyesore and waste of space. I knew that all of the options had to have some sort of an app for any hopes at integrating them together with automation and left with little other choices, the Hydor Koralia Akamai was right on spot. I also came across the newer Jebao version of their dosing pumps which appear to be an improvement from the previous model and it too, has an app for ease of setup and control. 

 

 So here we are into Day 1 of the Reef Mature Starter Kit. I'll update everyone tomorrow once I get the bacteria started and parameters measured. I've also got the light setup and running on 10h per the kit therefore once I get the measurements, I'll keep people posted. Appreciation to all for checking out my journal and I hope you will enjoy this as much as I hope to in the near future.

 

Thank you again and be safe!

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mipster
2 hours ago, OfficeReefer said:

 

 So here we are into Day 1 of the Reef Mature Starter Kit. I'll update everyone tomorrow once I get the bacteria started and parameters measured. I've also got the light setup and running on 10h per the kit therefore once I get the measurements, I'll keep people posted. Appreciation to all for checking out my journal and I hope you will enjoy this as much as I hope to in the near future.

 

Hey, you might want to read my thread for my experiences with the red sea reef mature system starting with dry rock. The system is really designed to mature live rock to make it more stable, the system doesn't work as designed with dry rock.

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dnadrifter

Looking forward to seeing this progress.   Looks like you are semi-local.   For some reason reading about a tank that is within driving distance seems more relatable.  haha.

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Daan6661

I like where this is going

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Daan6661
2 hours ago, mipster said:

Hey, you might want to read my thread for my experiences with the red sea reef mature system starting with dry rock. The system is really designed to mature live rock to make it more stable, the system doesn't work as designed with dry rock.

I have had the same experience with my old 350.

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OfficeReefer

Thanks @mipster I too had a feeling it was for such and it takes quite awhile to get your dry rock to be reef rock. In my first tank many years ago, I started with a 55g and a big arch semi wet from FL. I didn't know jack back then and went the damsel route waiting probably three months of so to get any proper growth. I was using PurpleUp at the time, basically the KH Gro included with the kit and wasn't really using the best salt (basically regular Instant Ocean). I had no protein skimmer and I had it near a window facing the freeway on the 2nd floor of my office at the time. Let's just say that was a great learning experience. 

 

Nevertheless, I expect 1-2m cycle time and theoretically I can introduce my fish well before that. Thank you @Daan6661 on your feedback with the product. I was already going to need something to start the Arag-Alive bacteria and whatever "might" remain well inside the rock should hopefully get the cycle going. If not, I'll consider minor dosing of ammonia or perhaps something that sheds like shrimp to jump start it. I'm glad to know I might be running into mixed results here. 

 

Well so here's my tests from the following evening and again those today. I'll keep everyone updated each week as the tank matures. I think the patience is really one of the most important parts of this hobby, especially when you reap its benefits.

 

Day 1

------------

1.024-1.025

76.6F

7.3pH

9.5 dKH

 

Day 2

------------

1.024

77.5F

7.5pH

9.3dKH

NO3 14ppm (looks like I might have to either build or pick up a Reef Bot sooner than later...)(I really dislike the manual shake and bake kits....)

 

And now a nice preview of what I hope will become a beautiful SPS tank...

 

IMG_2335.thumb.jpg.64a325faf82f4897298fdb0d4cdf81f5.jpg

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OfficeReefer

Hey Nano-Reefers,

 

 It's been a busy few days and I've had a few requests for updates to the office adventure! As previously mentioned and considering the point brought up earlier by @Daan6661 and @mipster, I decided to reorganize the Red Sea Reef Mature Kit schedule. In doing so, I realized that I would likely run out of Red Sea NO3PO4-X and experience unbalance if I didn't make more adjustments to the suggested routine. The first was the ongoing dosing suggestions and the recommended lighting schedule. I've since changed to very moderate dosing of some leftover coral food and lowering the lighting to 5% overall (which is currently set at the 18K 100 Blue and 50% White). 

 

 In regards to lighting with the provided ReefLED50, I've had a few challenges with its availability. I've been using this for two weeks now and I've been prompted about being disconnected at least three times with a final SMS about the matter. The design of the ReedLED50 appears to powered by an ESP8266 from Expressif (See more details here https://www.espressif.com/en/products/socs/esp8266/overview). One observation I made is the ReefLED50 will at some point become disassociated with the access point (or router) in the office. The device remains powered on but is not accessible (neither for adjustments nor telemetry). As for the Reef Beat app, I suppose it works however there is certainly room for improvement. I found that manual adjustments to light level and schedule were not UI friendly and it would be nice to have more control over the spectrum. After quick paring again via my phone and the app, I was finally able to properly set my lights and mirror it to the current lunar schedule ramping up from 5% over the next 60 days.

 

 The other accessories in the tank have been great and worked entirely as expected. For one, the protein skimmer has been very effective and will over skim without issue. Some have commented it was noisy, however I did not find it of concern. The automatic top-off that is supplied with the unit functions well but one does need to fill the reservoir every other day to ensure it will not run empty. I suppose another extra day is possible in colder climates but keeping a fresh one (1L) litre of RODI water seems adequate for now but I plan on adding another in the near future. 

 

 Enough about the tank, now the water parameters and some new pics!

 

1.024 SG

76.6 F

7.3 pH

9.0 dKH

Ca 501

PO4 0.38 ppm

NO3 12ppm

 

 IMG_2346.thumb.jpg.26b6d243186b97c3cb5942fd7b1adf53.jpgIMG_2349.thumb.jpg.ccb5d948d57c63cadd8536eee2bf4b9d.jpg

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 I last dosed for NO3PO4-X seven (7) days ago and I plan to resume after a 10% water change. While I'd like to think I see some growth, I presume it more probable to be a minor case of cyano or dinos. 😞 After the water change, I expect to retest again and consider introducing a minimal cleanup crew as the parameters improve.

 

 While, the new Jebao pump is still making its way through customs. I did however receive the new Aqamai KPS!!! 🙂 They say appearance is everything and from first impressions, it's a step up from the older Koralia Nano designs. The powerhead has plenty of adjustment for flow, is rated 370-1050 gph and supports tanks with half inch glass. The app has plenty of options, including different schedules for flow, type and feeding. The wireless unit is somewhat large but appears it can be hidden away from view. Other than what you see, I haven't yet had the chance to observe how the device works and what possible automation options exist. Here's some pictures of the unit below.

 

IMG_2352.thumb.jpeg.057a6d9b3ed8f3182660a27dcc7c5bbd.jpegIMG_2358.thumb.jpg.fb0c60c60c336d86103923033b0f3539.jpgIMG_2359.thumb.jpg.e3d740ef1026b509770666c05fb2b194.jpg

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 Lastly, the next topic requires a post on its own and as such I'm going to end this one on a quick note. This past week, I also received everything required to build my new IoTa device (a term of Neptune Systems) for aquarium automation! I really wanted to go with an Apex solution. It was turnkey and honestly, for most reading this - unless you have some time to spare and a reasonably large amount of skills (or network with such), options outside the ReefPi are little to none. The majority of automation options available seem to focus on lighting and water flow, along with the "unique" connections for the big name brands. In light of this, I opted to design my own but with more homogeny between brands and with a focus on cutting edge technologies, such as those by GHL and Xepta.

 

Thanks to all following this journey and stay tuned for the next update! 

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OfficeReefer

Hello Nano-Reefers!

 

 It's been a great week for the tank and we are starting off June with a sign the tank is closer to being "reef ready". There has been some unexpected setbacks however, the first being the previously mentioned hopeful Aqamai KPS. I was simply not able to get this working. The pricing of the smart powerhead is reasonably inexpensive compared to the other options considered, the AI Nero 5 and Vortec MP10. The powerhead was affixed to the magnetic base and connected to the supplied smart controller then powered on with ease. It was fairly straightforward to get the app running however once connected, I was unable to access the powerhead as it was greyed out and the controller led blinked red. The documentation both online and provided was not very helpful and even after a reset of the device, I ended up returning it.

 

 I've been observing the tank and keeping lighting slowly ramped up to the 18K Full Blue and Half White setting on the Red Sea ReefLED50. Additionally, I've performed another water change to bring nitrates down as they had actually increased over the week. I did notice what might have been a brief amount of cyanobacteria on the glass and substrate several days ago, however it has since passed with the current lighting shown below. I'm thinking of introducing a select clean up crew and readying some corals shortly so it may be prudent to reconsider the lighting schedule and acclimation. I had another instance of the Red Sea ReefLED50 disconnecting over the weekend and read several reports of users having seriously overheating power supplies. Fortunately, I can attest that I did not find my power supply to be near the 200F reported in threads. 😲

 

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I also realized I needed to get a proper quarantine tank going because I really dislike long term battles with pests and other unwelcome tank inhabitants. It just so happened I had (or thought I had) the perfect tank. Years ago, I had purchased a Fluval Spec 2g pico setup with nothing but softies however the lighting used was prone to GHA. While I eventually gave up on that concept at the time and with my budget, it seemed perfect for the task. However, all these years had rendered the pump inside the tank non-functional and since I needed to get the cleanup crew ready, I went ahead and decided to get the newer version, the Fluval Spec III or 3g.

 

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 I also opted to upgrade to the Fluval Sea 25K 50w nano lighting with bluetooth and add a more functional MJ Mini 404 adjustable pump from Cobalt Aquatics. One can clearly see the size difference between the two and the smaller makes and perfect acclimation tank too! As a bonus, I think I will also add a smart plug with the pump to make it Alexa compatible. ☺️ 

 

 As for the current MAX Nano, it's looking really great. There is biofilm and algae present on the back wall including reef rock (minus glass using the Tunze Care Nano Magnet). I did end up cleaning the supplied filter sock with an RO rise as grey gunk that once previously filled my skimmer the week prior was present. I also received the Red Sea Net Cover 42080 Kit however I have not had a chance to assemble it. The included ATO has been adequate however it does get warm in my office during the day in the summer. I ended up purchasing a more practical option, the crystal acrylic 5g reservoir from Trigger Systems. It fits nicely under the tank and while I feel I could use the 10g, I know I'm going to need some space for my automation. Here's the latest photos and parameters (note the heater was turned off). 

 

SG 1.024

TMP 74.9 F

PH 7.36

ALK 9.1 dKH

PO4 0.05 ppm

NO3 0.50 ppm

 

IMG_2394.thumb.jpg.df58e398e6ee71acd78abd13f7300c96.jpgIMG_2395.thumb.jpg.03cf01fa3f129b4b7a133c184fba98f7.jpg

 

Some astute readers might have noticed the units sitting in the corner. I mentioned previously that I really liked the solutions from Apex and I found my Hanna Instruments were both accurate and easy to use. However, what I didn't like was going through a whole battery of them needed to maintain the water necessary for a stunning tank when I can't really dedicate much time to it. I have two of these with a variety of water tools and water laboratory reagents, etc which fit everything quite tidy. 

 

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Most reefers know that regular testing, interpretation and application of water results is the best recipe for success and the hottest products talked about in the hobby right now involve automation. I think I'm going to enjoy the Apex EL with Trident and I think it will be interesting to reverse them. While I had hoped for an ION Detector, I really think the best water and aquarium automation solution isn't even on the market yet. If we take a look at what the Trident tests for Ca, Mg and Alk above along with the expenses of reagents, it doesn't seem like the best option (at $22.50 monthly) due to availability and expense of reagents.

 

 In retrospect, I don't know that I always would test Ca or Mg provided my alkalinity was stable based on my last reading of Ca. This is what made me like the KH and ION Director. I too looked at the Alkatronic and found they are also working on a similar concept. These function because there is a relationship between pH and alkalinity, which it seems these companies have figured out using sensors instead of colorimetric tests. Despite my purchase of the Apex EL and Trident, I felt this summer would be a great time to share a robotics project with the kids and could also just may be, your new controller solution too.

 

 I looked at some IoT electronics which would fit my business and technical project requirements. At first, I decided to design something similar to the Reefbot, then simplified it to a design much like the Trident. After playing with the mechanics of many reagents, the time and possible wear didn't appeal to me as before. I then considered an entirely new design, something like the KH and ION Director together, with a cloud-based controller that would be simple for anyone to buy, build and run. I didn't want hardware that might be too DIY for some or run into issues with software libraries so I limited my design to what I could find on Amazon or in Azure. My initial research began with three designs that others had reversed, one likely the prototype for the Reefbot and another, someone whom ripped apart a printer with a hanna test kit and pumps, an interesting design by Robogardens whom open sourced a water testing unit. I liked that it could be 3d printed and had COTS solutions anyone could purchase, but even I found that the materials shown may or may not be available. There was also the case of the unit not being able to dispense powders and I didn't like using API test kits. In all my years of engineering, I truly felt there was something better and after reading up on the manufacturers of sensors used in the Alkatronic, I came across a VERY special Pi hat that one can simply attach to their Pi 3 and with some quality UI, logic and cloud connectivity - this Tentacle T3 by Whitebox Labs with sensors from Apera and a Smart Surge Protector or UPS can replace an Apex for $350 and it will forever be yours, with no fees attached and in theory, seamlessly operate any of your smart aquarium devices with the same precision.

 

Here's a speak peek at some photos of the combined Apex-like, KH and Ion Director-ish device and components below.

 

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 Well everyone, it's been a long post and I've got an Apex Trident to assemble and some code to start reviewing for this project. I'm thinking I may test it on the Pico tank and my unit supports Temp, pH, Conductivity (Salinity) and ORP (if desired) and would be good to see how it fluctuates. I'm also curious if I can get it to control the pump and lighting. In any case, have a great week everyone and I look forward to sharing the next update of this office adventure!

 

 

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OfficeReefer

Hello all, I'm back. I apologize for a lack of what has been going on. I've been too busy training people from a respected company to perform the work I paid them to do and eventually gave up and went for a full on promotion elsewhere. I never thought I would be interviewing in a suit in my own home office. I also never thought I would be asked about this aquarium during the interview and specifics of it! 😃

 

Anyway, back to the tank! It's been a rocky couple of months. I ended up adding a few LPS and some "expert" level additions, specifically a red gorgonian and red knob sponge (may work.. may not). I've been able to "maintain" a small red gorgonian in my quarantine tank which really has little but a hermit we affectionately refer to as "Mr Crabbers".  Because of this, I thought I too could do this in the larger but it's really been a rough matter. I think we all want low nitrates and I wanted to do some cheato method but there is simply not enough space in the back of the MAX Nano. I have since added the Neptune ATO and Trigger Systems 5g reservoir, along with the Trident for regular testing (may end up getting ION Director as I really want to auto test nitrates). I now @Metatrone-oz did something cool with theirs but they are probably cheato farming at this point (I'm guessing here). I really think that I "should" be able to dose this one out accordingly. I think earlier back, I mentioned ordering one of the new Jebao WIFI dosing pumps. Not a fan of it at all. It's a questionable device and does work I suppose but the app is not easy to use and is potentially collecting clipboard and other telemetry. It took until almost a month after my last post for that pump to arrive from CA, because it was sitting in customs from the China Post (I get that part). Once it arrived, I then found out that the app is not compatible with newer versions of iOS too 😕 I had it set to dose NoPox along with Red Sea 3 part and some of the corals have grown, some not so much. I expected to miss the GHA and did until the dosing pump failed to work and we all know what has to happen then. It's been a slow clean up but I have had good success in battling it. In late July, I attempted two SPS before the dosing pump failure and lost a monti. The hammer coral has gone nuts wheras my acan and Duncan have barely grown. 

 

 Also, I found my dosing was too much and mg too high due to my new understanding of salt. I spent a few evenings reading about salt, the BRS videos and other comments and I found that one shouldn't use Reef Crystals and dose. I'm making the change to Tropic Marin Pro and may, may not change to the All in Reef solution, continuing NoPox. For what it's worth on the ArcReef rock, it takes FOREVER to get any reasonable Coraline algae on these if you aren't wanting to add anything but what's on the snails shells into the tank. This has no doubt also added to the challenge of keeping GHA away. I'll post some pics later today when time permits.

 

General parameters of the water from my own readings and the Trident (which is not spot on BTW) over the past three months is as follows:

 

Temp 76-79F

Salinity 1.024

pH 7.6-7.9 (This seems to be related to my ph Sensor. If I recalibrate it goes up about 0.2 and stays that way for a week or so. Not impressed.)

Ca 460-513 (This is the most current reading from the Trident today, Hanna is probably 20 so so ppm lower)

Kh 7.7-8.2 (This reading too is not accurate, going to have to calibrate the Trident or reach out again to Neptune as Hanna is towards lower end)

PO4 0-0.3 (I haven't had high phosphates or nitrates since Jul)

NO3 4-0.5 (Same comments, been low for months now)

 

Besides replacing the dosing pump, along with the Tunze corded powerhead - what do you all think I could do to improve Coraline growth? Open to suggestions from all.

 

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OfficeReefer
On 5/12/2020 at 12:26 AM, Daan6661 said:

I have had the same experience with my old 350.

You were spot on sir... not easy with dry rock either....

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OfficeReefer
On 5/11/2020 at 10:18 PM, mipster said:

Hey, you might want to read my thread for my experiences with the red sea reef mature system starting with dry rock. The system is really designed to mature live rock to make it more stable, the system doesn't work as designed with dry rock.

Yeah the reef mature system didn't do much in my case but add more nitrates to those already present from being essentially a FOWLR tank all these months. Even after restarting it though, it doesn't support the dry rock I purchased from ArcReef very well at all.

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