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billygoat

Billy's 40g Gorgonian Garden

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billygoat

11/1/2020

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First FTS! 9/28/20

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I've been dreaming about it, talking about it, and threatening to do it for about a year now, but the order is finally placed and the time has finally come: I'm upgrading! 🥳

 

Oh jeez Billy what did you buy?

An Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion 40 gallon AIO aquarium.

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And what did you go and do that for?

My 18 gallon Caribbean biotope has been very successful over the past 21 months, but it's starting to get crowded: Ricordea are jostling for space on the rocks, gorgonians are growing all the way up to the water surface, and shading is becoming more and more of a problem. I've found myself faced with a choice between aggressively pruning my rapidly growing gorgonians and flooding my tank with frags, setting up a second system to accommodate some of my livestock, or simply getting a bigger tank. Needless to say, this choice ended up being pretty easy to make! 😁

 

I went with the Fusion 40 because it's nearly 19 inches (48 cm) tall, affording maximum headroom for my gorgonians, and because 40 gallons is in my opinion the optimum size for a home aquarium (it's the biggest tank you can get while still being able to do a 10% water change with a single 5 gallon bucket).

 

Great. So what kind of gear are you putting in it?

Most of the equipment for this system will be transferred directly from my 18 gallon setup:

  • IM MightyJet 538 GPH DC return pump
  • EcoTech MP10 wavemaker w/VorTech battery backup
  • Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue w/Kessil Spectral Controller
  • 200w titanium heater and rebranded InkBird from BRS
  • Tunze Nano 3152 ATO

 

I'm going for the same low-maintenance plan that's worked well for me in the past, with no mechanical filtration, no skimmer, and no chemical media of any kind. 

 

Seems boring so far! Any cool new livestock in the cards?

No, actually! The entire purpose of this upgrade is to make life better for the corals that I already have. I love gorgonians, and growing huge, bushy, mature colonies of these beautiful corals is my only goal in reefing (and possibly also in life 😅). This tank will be the vessel that allows me to achieve that goal.

 

I might end up adding some new fish if everything goes well, but that is a low priority for me and is many months down the line at any rate.

 

Okay! I'm very excited, but that's all I've got for now! 😄 Pictures and all that will be coming soon! 🙏

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WV Reefer
2 minutes ago, billygoat said:

I've been dreaming about it, talking about it, and threatening to do it for about a year now, but the order is finally placed and the time has finally come: I'm upgrading! 🥳

 

Oh jeez Billy what did you buy?

An Innovative Marine Nuvo Fusion 40 gallon AIO aquarium.

BadDecisions.PNG.de553d9fcc4acddcdc27f9ef365f69c3.PNG

 

And what did you go and do that for?

My 18 gallon Caribbean biotope has been very successful over the past 21 months, but it's starting to get crowded: Ricordea are jostling for space on the rocks, gorgonians are growing all the way up to the water surface, and shading is becoming more and more of a problem. I've found myself faced with a choice between aggressively pruning my rapidly growing gorgonians and flooding my tank with frags, setting up a second system to accommodate some of my livestock, or simply getting a bigger tank. Needless to say, this choice ended up being pretty easy to make! 😁

 

I went with the Fusion 40 because it's nearly 19 inches (48 cm) tall, affording maximum headroom for my gorgonians, and because 40 gallons is in my opinion the optimum size for a home aquarium (it's the biggest tank you can get while still being able to do a 10% water change with a single 5 gallon bucket).

 

Great. So what kind of gear are you putting in it?

Most of the equipment for this system will be transferred directly from my 18 gallon setup:

  • IM MightyJet 538 GPH DC return pump
  • EcoTech MP10 wavemaker w/VorTech battery backup
  • Kessil A160WE Tuna Blue w/Kessil Spectral Controller
  • 200w titanium heater and rebranded InkBird from BRS
  • Tunze Nano 3152 ATO

 

I'm going for the same low-maintenance plan that's worked well for me in the past, with no mechanical filtration, no skimmer, and no chemical media of any kind. 

 

Seems boring so far! Any cool new livestock in the cards?

No, actually! The entire purpose of this upgrade is to make life better for the corals that I already have. I love gorgonians, and growing huge, bushy, mature colonies of these beautiful corals is my only goal in reefing (and possibly also in life 😅). This tank will be the vessel that allows me to achieve that goal.

 

I might end up adding some new fish if everything goes well, but that is a low priority for me and is many months down the line at any rate.

 

Okay! I'm very excited, but that's all I've got for now! 😄 Pictures and all that will be coming soon! 🙏

Yay!!! 😃

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Sharbuckle

Woohoo! 

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Tired

I still say maybe you ought to get a regular-sized decorator crab, if you can't easily get a micro. AFAIK, they aren't dangerous to anything except things they want to wear, and you don't exactly have a lot of tiny little easily-pulled-up frags.

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caas1496

Awesome! Can’t wait to see some pictures soon.

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billygoat

Thanks everyone! New tank hasn't even shipped yet but I'm already thrilled. Let's just hope it arrives in one piece! 😅

 

1 hour ago, Tired said:

I still say maybe you ought to get a regular-sized decorator crab, if you can't easily get a micro. AFAIK, they aren't dangerous to anything except things they want to wear, and you don't exactly have a lot of tiny little easily-pulled-up frags.

Little stuff like that may find its way in. I'm also interested in getting a basket star once things stabilize. And a Florida fighting conch... In fact, by "no additional livestock" I guess I was mostly talking about corals. 😂 I just want to make sure there is plenty of space for my gorgs to do their thing, really.

 

I promise real pictures will come soon, but here are a few first steps: this afternoon I enlisted the help of an electrical-savvy buddy to help me improve the outlet that this tank will use. We went from "a considerable risk of electrocution installed sometime in the early '70s" to "a clean, modern GFI". That's progress! 😁 Here's the before (left) and after:

 

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Tired

Oh, did someone figure out how to keep basket stars? I thought they were one of those nigh-impossible-to-keep filter-feeders. Or are you just feeling confident? 

 

You know what you need? Anemone shrimp to stand in your ricordeas. 

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kekke1082

Looking forward to following this build thread! 

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Poison Dart Frog

This is gonna be really nice for gorgonians. Are you sure you want to break down the 20 though? After all, one can never have too many aquariums, lol.

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billygoat
14 hours ago, Tired said:

Oh, did someone figure out how to keep basket stars? I thought they were one of those nigh-impossible-to-keep filter-feeders. Or are you just feeling confident? 

 

You know what you need? Anemone shrimp to stand in your ricordeas. 

You're not wrong about basket stars: I do not endorse keeping them in home aquaria in the vast majority of circumstances. I tentatively feel like I might be up to it though. I'm likely to face challenges with them, but I am interested in them as a way to expand my husbandry experience, and the fact that I already feed considerable quantities of planktonic foods (and use no mechanical filtration) likely would be in my favor. Based on observations of them I've made at work, I'd say a smaller one might be at home in the tank I am setting up here, but at any rate it's gonna be a long way off.

 

Anemone shrimp could be pretty cool too. I'd just have to make sure not to get any fish that would eat them. 🤔

 

14 hours ago, kekke1082 said:

Looking forward to following this build thread! 

Thanks! I'm looking forward to it too, honestly. The tank just shipped this morning, so it won't be long! :naughtydance:

 

1 hour ago, Poison Dart Frog said:

This is gonna be really nice for gorgonians. Are you sure you want to break down the 20 though? After all, one can never have too many aquariums, lol.

I'm not gonna lie, I thought about just leaving the 18g alone and starting the 40g as a fresh setup. I'd have to spend a lot more money to get an extra set of lights and wavemakers though, and plus I know that once you get going down the multi-tank rabbit hole there is no end in sight, so I'm trying to avoid it. 😂 Of course, there's a risk that tank upgrades could go the same way... some of the gorgonian species that I keep can reach heights of more than a meter out in the wild, after all. Might need some more space for them some day! 😅

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billygoat

How to go about transferring my livestock has been on my mind a lot recently, as you can imagine. My original plan was to just move all the livestock and rocks from the 18g into the 40g all at once, since the two tanks will be right next to each other. But after discussing the matter with my mother (who has been a career aquarist for 35 years and has some opinions about this sort of thing) and reading some tank transfer threads here on N-R, my plan has started to change. I'm now thinking about something like this:

 

  1. Add new sand and fill the 40g with fresh saltwater. 
  2. Move ceramic biomedia from both the 18g and my 4g cube into the new tank's sump. Seed the sandbed with some sand from the 18g.
  3. Move all rocks and livestock from the 4g into the 40g. Observe for a week or so.
  4. If everything seems to be going well with this test livestock, begin gradually transferring more animals and more sand from the 18g. Maybe a rock or two and a cup of sand every couple of days. Trade out maybe a gallon of water from the 40g for water from the 18g every day, to try and capture floating spores and plankton from the mature system.
  5. After another week or so, all livestock should be moved over and the transfer will be complete.

 

I feel that this slower, more gradual transfer will be safer for the livestock and will reduce the risk of a sudden crash. Using the hardy invertebrates from my 4g cube as test subjects to seed the tank and test the waters will make me feel a lot better about transferring my more delicate corals from the C-Vue. This strategy also should help prepare the new sandbed with a robust biofilter , rather than overloading the new sand with a bunch of livestock all at once.

 

Big shoutout to @Jackal227 for documenting his tank upgrade so meticulously. Reading back through his 50g thread has helped me a lot with my planning. 👍

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Tired

Seems reasonable. It helps that you don't really have to worry about fish and the bioload thereof. 

 

The only thing I can think of that might be an issue is having the sand in the 18g stirred up. If you have loads of things living in it, hopefully it's not full of gunk. 

 

My one change I would make is, after the things from the 4g are in the tank, do a big water change on the 18 and put all that water into the 40. That should transfer spores and soforth. Then you can do large water changes on the 18 a few times, in case anything nasty is stirred up from the sand, without having to worry too much about diluting the soforth in the water. 

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billygoat
20 minutes ago, Tired said:

The only thing I can think of that might be an issue is having the sand in the 18g stirred up. If you have loads of things living in it, hopefully it's not full of gunk. 

The sand is definitely my #1 worry about the tank transfer. I'm starting to lean towards not transferring all of it, or transferring it a little bit at a time. This latter option might be best, since it would allow time for any gunk that makes its way through to get processed by the new tank's biofilter before it can accumulate to dangerous levels. Moving a few cups of sand over every day for a couple weeks would probably not trigger an ammonia apocalypse... I hope. 😅

 

If it's super gunky though, I'm thinking I'm probably just going to make due with a few cupfuls, or perhaps even try rinsing it with saltwater to clean it up a bit. Once I start to move it around I should know pretty quick if it's going to be transferrable or not.

 

27 minutes ago, Tired said:

My one change I would make is, after the things from the 4g are in the tank, do a big water change on the 18 and put all that water into the 40. That should transfer spores and soforth.

I like this idea too. That's probably what I'll end up doing. I'll mix up enough water to fill the 40, then put most of it in and save the rest to re-fill the C-Vue after the transfer. That should definitely help to jump-start the resettling process. 👍

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Poison Dart Frog

I've done the ceramic biomedia transfer along with biospira in my last 2 tanks and it's worked out well. I think also Microbacter7 may help. In my 40, I went through the diatom stage really quickly and moved past it. If you're then transferring live rock I bet it will be basically an instatank and you won't even get much of an ugly stage. 

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debbeach13

Maybe to get a jump on it when you do the next WC on the 18 suck a bunch of sand out and then swish it around in the bucket dump the crappy water out and put the semi cleaned sand back in the 18.  Or vacuum the crap out of the sand and let the crap settle to the bottom of the bucket for while and pour the water back in. Just to get an idea of how dirty it is.

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Jackal227
12 hours ago, billygoat said:

Big shoutout to @Jackal227 for documenting his tank upgrade so meticulously. Reading back through his 50g thread has helped me a lot with my planning. 👍

Thank you.

 

I completed my transfer with new rock and sand but used existing biomedia.  It worked well for me and the corals all did ok (pale color but still open), but I've noticed that it still took a few months for things to mature and settle in.  I believe it was from using all new rocks.

 

With you adding existing live rock I think you'll minimize that time.  Your plan looks solid and I'm sure you'll do well with it. 

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SaltyTanks

YES YES YES YES YES!!!!! This is fantastic @billygoat! Can’t wait to see what you do with all that new headroom! 

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billygoat
10 hours ago, SaltyTanks said:

YES YES YES YES YES!!!!! This is fantastic @billygoat! Can’t wait to see what you do with all that new headroom! 

I feel the same way, believe me! I just hope everything ends up surviving the transferring process. That and I hope my tank arrives undamaged. It's scheduled to be delivered today, so we'll see soon enough! 🤞

 

The tank's stand arrived yesterday. Surprisingly enough, I managed to get it set up with only a minimum of wailing and lamentation. I'm not very good at assembling things! 😅

 

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Some very slight leveling issues with the frame, but the feet are solid and I think the mat that goes under the tank will take care of any small inconsistencies. Seems like a pretty good product I guess, although the assembly instructions could be clearer (the top would have been more difficult to secure without a drill, even though no drill is called for in the instructions). The bottom shelf is also kind of flimsy, though I imagine it will be secure enough once my ATO bucket is sitting on top of it.

 

Overall I think I am pleased with this product. Having a stand that's not made out of particle board is nice for long term stability.

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billygoat

It's here! omgomgomg

 

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Stand is ready, tank is ready, and leak test is completed. Now I am just waiting for my sand and salt to arrive tomorrow. Turns out I am really close to IM's headquarters (it's in Cerritos, which is about an hour away from my location) so the tank got to me really quickly.

 

I can't wait to mix 40 gallons of saltwater! 😅

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Tired

You know, you could always just fill the tank with water, add salt, and let its pumps mix for you. Then remove a bit of the water, set it aside, and add sand. 

 

It's cool to see them next to each other like that. I can practically hear all those gorgonians in there, excited to go in the bigger tank. They're gonna get so big!

 

Are there any Caribbean cardinalfish? I feel like you need something midwater, to swim among the gorgonian stems. If they weren't so much trouble, I'd almost suggest seahorses.

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Diamonds x Pearls

You know you done good when you gotta expand the house!

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billygoat
6 minutes ago, Diamonds x Pearls said:

You know you done good when you gotta expand the house!

That's the idea, yeah! 😅 I just hope that the transfer is not too stressful on them. The 18g is so solid and stable, and breaking that up will no doubt be tough on at least some of my livestock. But as long as I am careful and don't move too fast, I think everything is going to be okay. 👍

 

16 minutes ago, Tired said:

Are there any Caribbean cardinalfish? I feel like you need something midwater, to swim among the gorgonian stems. If they weren't so much trouble, I'd almost suggest seahorses.

There are indeed some Caribbean cardinalfish, but all of them are cave-dwellers that prefer to live in crevices and other dark places on the reef. I think this tank will not be appropriate for them, because there will be almost no such caves to hide in (there will be at least one, but it's undoubtedly going to be occupied by my giant brittle star 🙄 ).

 

I've considered seahorses as well, but their dietary requirements and general fragility have dissuaded me from keeping them. When I worked at the Aquarium of the Pacific I often observed the seahorse community tank, which featured Caribbean seahorses alongside large gorgonians that were probably collected in Florida (including several species that I keep in my own aquarium). That arrangement worked out well, but it was a 1250g tank so there were some different considerations: flow could be arranged in such a way that the gorgonians got enough of it but there were still pockets of low water movement for the seahorses to rest. My 40g tank unfortunately will have fairly good flow all around for the 'gorgs, which I think will not be ideal for seahorses. 🤔

 

20 minutes ago, Tired said:

It's cool to see them next to each other like that. I can practically hear all those gorgonians in there, excited to go in the bigger tank. They're gonna get so big!

The gorgonians absolutely are going to appreciate the space. The new tank is nearly six inches taller than the C-Vue, which is tremendous - that's like 45% additional headroom! Currently some of my gorgs have grown to the point that they are nearly touching the water surface, and when the pumps are off for feeding they protrude into the air. These purple plume gorgonians (Muriceopsis flavida) are a good example:

 

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I'm sure they will be thrilled to have the space to grow into truly mature colonies. Or at least they would be thrilled, if they had brains. 😅

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SaltyTanks
7 hours ago, billygoat said:

It's here! omgomgomg

 

IMG_1469.thumb.JPG.29633819cd795b38409643dd4929f9a9.JPG

 

Stand is ready, tank is ready, and leak test is completed. Now I am just waiting for my sand and salt to arrive tomorrow. Turns out I am really close to IM's headquarters (it's in Cerritos, which is about an hour away from my location) so the tank got to me really quickly.

 

I can't wait to mix 40 gallons of saltwater! 😅

Already looks great! And those newer screen tops look so much better. 

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billygoat
15 hours ago, SaltyTanks said:

Already looks great! And those newer screen tops look so much better. 

The prefab screen top is definitely a bonus. I figured I would have to make a new lid myself, but the one that came with the tank is actually really nice. It sits on tabs that run the length of each side, allowing it to hover inside the rim. This leaves zero space on the edges for fish to jump through.

 

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Unfortunately there has been a slight delay in my setup, as only half of my BRS order arrived today: I got the salt I needed, but my sand and new heater are running late. They seem to be somewhere in the area, so hopefully they'll arrive tomorrow.

 

I've got the first 20g of saltwater mixed and ready to go, but I'd rather add the sand first before getting the tank wet. It'll have to wait another day I suppose. Oh well! 🤷‍♂️

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Tamberav

Nice!! 

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