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Fulltang's long journey to a custom 3 gallon jar


fulltang

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fulltang

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm a DIYer at heart and I enjoy that process. I'm sure that much of what you see here could have been avoided by going with a small AIO tank, but I wanted to do something different. We'll see if this backfires as it's my first reef tank, but fingers crossed!


Around 3 years ago I was ready to set up my first tank - a Fluval Evo 13.5. I was nearly ready to add water, auto water change configured, custom stand build, etc, but had to move shortly thereafter. My new place was going to be much smaller, meaning no place to put the stand I had built for the 13.5g tank.

Fast forward a year.. having already been considering a jar, not only for the interesting aesthetics, but also the potential to rip clean and just generally less water to deal with. I decided to go for that instead as my new place had a little snack bar, perfect for such a tank!

I ended up purchasing a Reefsmart light (intended for use with the Anchor Hocking 2g jar), and again was just about ready to add water. This was at the same time as the PG&E power shutoffs in Northern CA, which seriously put me off from setting up an aquarium of any kind. I told myself that if by the next year there had been no PG&E outages for a extended periods of time, I'd pick it back up.

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During this period of de motivation, I decided to implement a reef-pi and Kasa power strip in place of the Inkbird setup. Said to myself, might as well monitor temperature swings in my jar as my home insulation isn't the best. Sure enough, my little 10w heater wasn't keeping up in the coldest months and indoor ambient temps would get over 82 during the summer. This further demotivated me as I don't have central AC.


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After staring at the Anchor Hocking jar for literally a year I just could not get past the lack of clarity. I delved deep into Google trying to find a clearer alternative that would work with the Reefsmart light, no such luck. I came across a single mention of the extra large snack jar available at CB2 in a post over at nano-reef as a potential candidate. From the product photos it looked crystal clear, and slightly larger in diameter. Despite some lines visible from production and few other imperfections, the clarity was night and day in comparison to the Anchor Hocking in person.

I resolved the diameter issue by designing a simple 3d printed reducer ring. I'm not very happy with the finish of the ring even after smoothing it out and painting it, so I'll likely to another version that will also extend down past the water line.

 

 

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Now to address the heating and flow. After extensive research, I decided to use a canister filter for both flow and heat, with no intention of using it for filtration (although I have that option, probably just carbon).

I found the Oase Thermo 100 canister filter which has an option to install a heater directly into the canister itself - perfect! I liked this as it would clean up the display and would allow me to use a higher wattage heater. Ordered the Thermo 100 and quickly realized that the flow was way too much for such a small jar, its physical size would also make the whole setup very ugly.

I stumbled on a post in the freshwater community stating that the smaller Oase 60 (and it's much cheaper clone the ZooMed 10) uses the exact same blanking panel as the Thermo 100! Meaning you can use Oase's heater conversion kit intended for the non Thermo 100, as long as you can find a heater identical in diameter to the Oase and short enough to fit in the smaller canister. Bam, problem solved.. well, almost.

I am a paranoid person by nature, so the idea of using a canister filter sketched me out with their leak potential. After some brain storming I decided that a kitchen container to house the filter would kill 2 birds with 1 stone - leaks and aesthetics. Another step towards leak prevention/containment is ensuring all plumbing connections are made inside of the container. I hated how the stock hosing looked, so I ordered some acrylic tubing intended for PC cooling and bent up some custom lily pipes. Finally, I added a very simple leak sensor on the outside of the filter's container connected to the reef-pi.

I was able to fit a 50w heater in the ZooMed, and the flow looked good enough for me. After running it through its paces, my water temps stayed pinned at 77 despite ambient air temperatures of 58 during the morning (for science!)
 

I haven't had many hot days to address over temp issues, but I did add a small USB driven fan on a Kasa smart plug, controlled by my reef-pi. I did some short tests and it looks like it does drop the temp by a few degrees, which may be enough. This is something I'm still not confident on, so I'll have to adjust on the fly. I also ordered some 25c phase change material to throw under the tank as a test.

Fast forward to Thursday of last week, my 3lbs of the Australian live rock from Unique Corals arrived and it's currently curing in a 5 gallon bucket!
 
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My rock is in quite a few smaller pieces, so I'll have to figure out what I want to do for an aquascape. I ordered a few sealed magnets from KJ's, so I might actually create a few live rock shelves. Still unsure what I want to do in regards to stocking, but definitely coral and inverts only, I'm thinking a RFA centerpiece with sexy shrimp would be awesome.
 
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I'm stoked with how it's coming out thus far, need to do a bit more cable management, but it'll be viewable from almost 360 degrees which I don't thing I could have achieved with a traditional tank.


Finally, I just want to thank @brandon429 for constantly fielding my questions and guiding me and so many others, I probably would have given up without his help.

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NanoGrant

This is a fantastic project! 

 

Your DIY skills are top notch, and the custom pipes you made look amazing. 
 

How do you find the reef pi? I had been thinking about setting one up.

 

 

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brandon429

This looks like a very clean laser sharp build, excellent diy skills/ you've secured perfect rock it's literally dinos- preventing rock of the highest caliber i think this is going to work great!

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fulltang
14 hours ago, NanoGrant said:

This is a fantastic project! 

 

Your DIY skills are top notch, and the custom pipes you made look amazing. 
 

How do you find the reef pi? I had been thinking about setting one up.

 

 

I appreciate that!

Regarding the reef-pi, if you're on a budget and want to add in some control + metrics gathering, I think it's a no brainer. The io.adafruit integration is really nice, you can pipe temperature/ph/etc data live to a dashboard so that you can monitor things away from home. The Reef-pi is providing basic on/off lighting schedule, heater, leak sensor and fan control via Kasa powerstrip + smart plug for me, and it can do more than that. I have some basic IFTTT automation configured as well, for example if my temp is over 81 send me an alert via email, turn off the light and turn on the fan. Obviously there's a DIY component to the pi, requiring some soldering but it's fairly basic and there are tons of guides out there. I do think that people are now starting to sell controllers based on the Reef-Pi, like this one: https://www.robo-tank.ca/

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fulltang
11 hours ago, brandon429 said:

This looks like a very clean laser sharp build, excellent diy skills/ you've secured perfect rock it's literally dinos- preventing rock of the highest caliber i think this is going to work great!

Thanks Brandon! The rock is getting there, less smell each day. I've been doing 100% water changes since Thursday, so I'll likely continue with that for a while longer since it's only 3 gallons. Fwiw I've had an ammonia badge in the bucket and it's never moved from the safe zone as far as I can tell.

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fulltang

Put the first bit of my live rock in my jar! Got the big chunk in and stack it on one side and created a cute little arch.

 

Waiting on some algae id on the other pieces: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/live-rock-algae-id.900176/


I'm planning on adding one branching piece on the right to create more of a cove, and then magnetizing the other branching piece for some verticality. Doing everything I can do create an interesting scape without breaking the rock up.

No orange filter yet so this is under whites, but kinda cool how it looks entirely different based on what angle you're viewing from! I haven't decided on a primary viewing angle yet, but the nice thing about a jar is that I can just rotate it :).

 

Please ignore the dangling temp sensor, I have all my wires ripped apart right now.

 

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A lot left. I think I'll be able to magnetize at least 2 pieces and I might just chunk up one of them to toss in a rubble. Not ideal but I'm definitely not throwing it away!

 

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fulltang

Thanks! Broke up and hacksawed some rock, now I have some cool magnetized shelves! Waiting on more glue to magnetize the fingery piece in the lower left, added the rest as rubble that will be used for frags eventually. Also added a cable raceway to clean everything up.

 

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Bonus, pods!!

 

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brandon429

Now that looks great, every piece can be lifted out for future guiding when / if needed, your tank is now immune to any form of takeover or invasion to loss across the entire spectrum of possible reef invasions. Not that you won’t have to work at times, especially when stocking (imports) begin, but the invasions simply can’t win now.

 

access x will = not possible to be invaded, ever, at all.  

 

somewhere in a galaxy very nearby a 150 gallon reef owner with a glued, fixed, locked in scape is hating the hobby and it’s litany of invasions, that’s a fact

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fulltang
Posted (edited)
On 3/22/2022 at 8:06 PM, brandon429 said:

Now that looks great, every piece can be lifted out for future guiding when / if needed, your tank is now immune to any form of takeover or invasion to loss across the entire spectrum of possible reef invasions. Not that you won’t have to work at times, especially when stocking (imports) begin, but the invasions simply can’t win now.

 

access x will = not possible to be invaded, ever, at all.  

 

somewhere in a galaxy very nearby a 150 gallon reef owner with a glued, fixed, locked in scape is hating the hobby and it’s litany of invasions, that’s a fact

 

Sitting at the bar here having just completely adjusted every rock in my tank with a long pair of tweezers having some small tank thoughts..

 

Another pro of a pico is that in case of emergency, long term power outage or vacation, one can take the jar over to a family/friends house with an air stone and heater without it missing a beat. Hell, to make it even easier you could transfer everything, sand included, to a 5 gallon bucket with a cheap Amazon gooseneck just to make it easier to carry. 

 

Having these options in the back pocket really eases the fear of the unknown and feeling like you need triple redundancy for ever bit of gear.

 

On another note, magnetized another chunk for use as a frag shelf. Was playing around with them and realized that I can move them side by side, creating 1 or 2 larger shelves! Another benefit is that depending I can create shade on the main rock, depending on where I position those shelves.

 

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Close to ordering a small clean up crew while simultaneously window shopping ultra RFAs.. but seeing this pod population explode, the rock starting to color up and generally looking more alive has already given me some satisfaction :).

 

 

 

Edited by fulltang
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less than bread

Very cool. So many options for a full 3 dimensional view. I love when tanks take advantage of not only vertical and horizontal space, but depth space as well. Makes the tank look larger than it actually is.

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fulltang

Do you all think this cuc is too much at this stage?

 

5 x dwarf cerith

3 x Florida cerith

2 x virgin nerites

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M. Tournesol
27 minutes ago, fulltang said:

Do you all think this cuc is too much at this stage?

 

5 x dwarf cerith

3 x Florida cerith

2 x virgin nerites

Yes. Maybe you should go for 2~3 dwarf cerith for a start.

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fulltang
1 hour ago, M. Tournesol said:

Yes. Maybe you should go for 2~3 dwarf cerith for a start.

 

Will do. John from reefcleaners actually recommend 5 dwarfs, 4 Florida's and 4 virgin nerites after giving him dimensions and photos of my tank so I just wanted to double check, seemed like a lot without supplemental feeding?  

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HookedOnAquariums
13 minutes ago, fulltang said:

 

Will do. John from reefcleaners actually recommend 5 dwarfs, 4 Florida's and 4 virgin nerites after giving him dimensions and photos of my tank so I just wanted to double check, seemed like a lot without supplemental feeding?  

Yes. Not to bash on reefcleaners but their air more on the side of add more than you need and what makes it makes it approach to cuc. IMO I don’t add any cuc until I see algae and know what kind it is. Just to make sure I’m not overdoing it. But if you want to I would see no harm in a few dwarf ceriths

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fulltang

Yeah, I think I'll just order a couple dwarfs. I see some algae in my rocks now and it's very, very porous so I think the tiny guys would get in there pretty well. I do hear reefcleaners tends to throw in more than you ordered, but they have the lowest minimum order for invert vendors. $25 minimum + $14 priority shipping. Kinda sucks for only a couple snails, but I suppose that's a small tank problem 🙂 

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DevilDuck

I love reefcleaners, but yes their recommendations lean toward way too many snail for a new tank. With that said dwarf ceriths are really really tiny, six of them would disappear even your jar. All mine ended up being eaten by the marginella snails.

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fulltang

Got an orange filter for my phone! The rock is starting to color up a lot, I definitely thing it's time to order a small CuC

 

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fulltang

Water change day! 6 days since the last.

 

Parameters (taken just before 85% wc):

 

Salinity: 1.026

Ph: 7.8

Alk: 8.3 -> 8.45

Nitrate: .5 -> 3

Phosphate: .07 -> .16

 

Relatively big phosphate jump, but there have been big changes visually to the rock this week. Basically jumped to life with the pod explosion, visible coralline recoloration (I think) and some brownish algae growth. 

 

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Running some carbon and a small piece of filter floss in the cannister.

 

I'm also playing with this phase change insulation material that I got from Reef and Find. Really curious if it will do anything, and if it does I'll figure out a better way to conceal it.

 

https://reefandfins.com/online-store/ols/products/pcm-sheet-for-temperature-stabilization

 

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fulltang
47 minutes ago, less than bread said:

I would think those sheets will help a lot with temp for your set up. I could see a cold counter sucking a lot of heat out. Great idea

Apparently they're "phase change" material, the spec I believe is 78f, so it'll be interesting on how it works out. Truthfully I don't know how this stuff works. I don't think having the rubber mat in-between will have a negative affect but I honestly don't know.

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fulltang

Random pico thought: I wish there was a pico appropriate urchin, they're so dang cool.

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M. Tournesol
2 hours ago, fulltang said:

Random pico thought: I wish there was a pico appropriate urchin, they're so dang cool.

Maybe go for a Cypraea/Monetaria annulus (gold ring cowrie). they are the coolest of my snails.

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