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Heinz 57


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It’s a 57 gallon tank and I happen to enjoy ketchup. So what if I like ketchup on my hot dog.


This will be my second saltwater aquarium. My first is nearing 1yr old - a 20 gallon mixed reef with 2 fish, softies and a few LPS. Overall I would say it’s been a challenge but one that I’ve enjoyed, despite the hard lessons. The 20g started with live rock from a local reefer who was taking down a reef tank. The fish all looked healthy and happy. The guy had around 2,000 gallons of aquariums in his basement. Saltwater, freshwater, sharks, stingrays, fish I've never seen before... and he was selling some live rock from a running tank that he was breaking down and supposedly moving the fish to another tank to use this tank for something else. Who knows. The rock looked beautiful in pictures, and in person so I bought about 15lbs transported it home, 30 mins in a bucket with saltwater and started my first tank with it. The tank was immediately cycled. I added 2 clowns but a month later they both died of what appeared to be velvet. They had been happy and healthy in my LFS's 3,000 gallon reef for a couple months before I brought them home so I am doubting that they had velvet prior. Did it come in on the live rock? Still not sure what happened. That was not easy losing our first 2 fish a month in. Next came the common pests...aiptasia, flatworms, etc which I've kept at bay by adding shrimp and fish that eat them. I always wanted a goby/pistol shrimp pair after seeing my friends' 10 years ago but haven't been able to yet. There are a few other fish I would really like to keep.


Let's go back 2 years...1 year before my first reef tank...

During Covid my company found creative ways to fill our schedules with study tasks to compensate for the time saved not commuting to the office and client meetings. God bless residential broadband Internet and Microsoft Teams *sarcasm. But we did burn a LOT less fuel. 


Homelife wasn’t exactly easy. A couple years ago we found out my wife has lupus, or some AI disease and our daughter spent the first two years screaming it felt like. Then Covid. Thank God for our Nanny who has been with us for 3.5 yrs; and job stability. I’ve kept working full time and my wife has also kept her same work schedule - 3 days/week. 

It's been tough adjusting. I am no longer venturing about the Midwest (not that it’s the greatest place on earth, but hey), meeting new people and seeing new things. I am at home...in my beautiful office...with my beautiful family…all day, every day… which sounds great...sitting in front of a computer most of the day. Something was missing. I needed something else to my mind busy, and unlike networking and telecommunications, I can spend hours studying marine aquariums without becoming bored.

The new setup will be a Fiji cube 57 gallon - 36” long, 24” wide and 16” tall. I found a great deal from local reefer who changed his mind on his plan for his next tank and sold this tank brand new still in the box for a fraction. I am still working on the custom stand and equipment list, but I did also acquire a Neptune Sky light for an extremely reasonable price - about what I was planning for spending on 2 AI Prime 16's. It sounds like the Neptune will provide excellent coverage for this tank, and room for growth, should I feel the need to venture into new corals such as SPS.


If you've made it this far, thanks for following along. Hopefully I can keep the sad stories to a minimum but just wanted to share some background. Happy reefing!



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Hope you like the light! Haven't found anything out there that mimics its look (except of course the coral care it was based off of..) i'm a big fan of mine

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Thanks @Jaren45. I was just looking at your IM 30 thread. Ton of great info there so thanks for sharing the ups and downs.

Wondering if you've ever tested PAR from the Neptune Sky. I would like to rent a PAR meter when I get everything set up. 

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Currently working out a solution for the stand/cabinet. A friend of mine who is a retired carpenter built me this cabinet last year with the intention of using it for my 20g cube.






I decided to put the cube on my desk instead and I love having it right next to me. So I still have the cabinet, but it's only 21" wide (deep) and the 57g tank is 24" wide. My plan was to build a 3" extension on the back of the cabinet with the necessary vertical supports to match the footprint of the tank, but the carpenter doesn't think the stand is strong enough to support the tank. The cabinet is all screwed and glued 3/4" birch plywood. Another hurdle is that the shelf would need to be removed to accomodate an appropriate sized sump. The shelf would need to be cut out. From what I am reading, 3/4" plywood, if built correctly, should be able to support the 57 and sump but the carpenter isn't comfortable with it. So he is working up a quote for a new cabinet. I can definitely use this cabinet in another room of the house. The money I saved on the tank and light should more than compensate for the cost of a new cabinet but I am still not thrilled about it. Also really anxious to get this setup rolling but I don't want to rush anything.

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  • 3 months later...

The carpenter agreed to attempt to modify the cabinet to accommodate the new tank and sump. He said he'd start working on it this week. He's been prioritizing other projects which he was up front with me about 2 months ago, I told him I wasn't in a hurry since I was still researching and acquiring the rest of the equipment for the build. If for some reason the stand doesn't work out I decided I would buy the stand designed for this tank from Fiji Cube ($700, ouch!). In the meantime I've been acquiring the equipment, taking my time, looking for deals. Recently I bought 45lbs of BRS Marco Rocks reef saver dry rock from a local reefer on the FaceSpace who started to cycle it and then cancelled his project because he lost interest. He also threw in 40-50lbs of dead live rock that he had in his tank for a few years and a 10 gallon bucket of CaribSea sand from his decommissioned DT which has been rinsed. He thinks the sand is CaribSea Fiji Pink but wasn't 100% sure. I am going to bleach and cure the dead live rock that was in hiS DT and has tons of organics on it. Not sure if I will end up using it. The 45lbs of new-ish Marco rocks don't have much of anything on them, so not going to bleach it, but I will cure it, monitor ammonia and phosphate and do weekly water changes until phosphates drop off. Unsure if I will use the sand but it looks just like the CaribSea Fiji Pink sand (I actually purchased 3 bags from Petco that I have on hand). Even if I don't use the old dead rock or used sand I still feel like it was a great deal for the Marco rocks alone (a $135 value for $50) not to mention 2 nice 10g brute trash cans. I am going to take my time on the aquascape and break up a couple of the pieces and glue together my dream aquascape. I want a couple over hangs and possibly a canyon and plenty of hiding spaces and interesting structures for the inhabitants, but still getting ideas for the scape.



Fiji Cube 57g int

Sump: Fiji Cube 20g

Light: Neptune Sky

Protein skimmer: Eshopps S-120

Powerhead: ReefBreeders Reef Power RP-M V2 (2600 GPH)

Return pump: Coral Box DCA3,000 (800gph)

ATO: ReefBreeders EXO

Temp controller: InkBird ITC-306a

Heaters: 2x200w Hygger


Possible inhabitants

Clownfish pair

Melanurus Wrasse

Yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp

Diamond goby

School of green chromis?

School of cardinalfish?


Royal Gramma?





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  • 2 weeks later...

Meant to post this before the aquascape sneak peak....The carpenter modified the stand and extended it about 4" deeper. He did a great job and added extra support. I load tested it for a week with 725lbs of basically everything I had on hand...weights, water, sand...and it held up just fine! Estimated tank weight is 650lbs so I am confident the stand can support the weight. So now I am designing the aquascape.




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  • 2 weeks later...

Aquascape is coming along. Finished the plumbing and currently leak testing in the garage. Ran into a couple plumbing fitting issues but I think I finally have it figured out. 






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  • 3 weeks later...

Began cycling 2 days ago with Microbacter QuikCycl and Start XLM. Estimate total water volume of 60 gallons (tank 45 after rocks/sand and the sump is around 15). Ammonia measured right around 2ppm, tested with RedSea and API. Specific gravity 1.015 and temp 85 F per Dr Tim’s recommendation. First time starting a tank with dry rock/sand. Should be interesting. I will be adding rubble (bio spheres) from my other tank’s back chamber (no photosynthetic pests) and pods to add biodiversity after the tank is cycled. 


Dove into the Coralvue Hydros line…Control 4, XP8 power bar, ATO, temp sensor, level sensor, pH probe and rope leak sensor. Right now I have the temp sensor in the sump chamber where drains from the tank. PH probe and water level sensor are in the skimmer chamber.


I think I built the rock structures a little too high. One is about an inch from the surface and a couple of the others are 2 and 3 inches below. But for water changes it is nice being able to take 15 gallons from the sump without lowering the water level in the DT. The rock structures are made up of 5 total pieces so easy to remove if necessary. Looking forward to getting cycled and adding livestock.


Before getting my diamond goby in the 20g I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to add a 2” deep sand bed, but he keeps it so clean, it’s amazing. I’d also like to get a wrasse eventually so the sand bed should work well. I am a bit worried about the sand blowing around too much when I add the powerhead. It’s the Fiji Pink sand. Using the Special Grade in the 20g and it consists of larger grains.






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Day 4...Starting to see Nitrites. Mr API thinks ammonia came down by 1ppm but Mr RedSea begs to differ. They came to mutual agreement on nitrite.



     RedSea 2ppm

     API 1ppm


     RedSea .3ppm

     Nitrite API .25ppm


SG went from 1.015 to 1.017 in 4 days from evaporation so I figured it was time I get off my lazy @$$ and set up the Hydros ATO. It took a 30 seconds to add to the Hydros app and has been working perfectly all day. Still need to position and secure the Hydros rope leak detector. Here's a FSS (full sump shot) with 5 gallon RODI reservoir and ATO and messy cabling 😂

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10 hours ago, Jaren45 said:

I love my sky! Closest thing i've seen to t5's so far. Looking forward to seeing it stocked

Coming from AI prime 16HD on the other tank…this light is much different. Much whiter light. The wife said she wasn’t a fan of the larger form factor of the light and thinks it’s distracting 😑 I tried to explain how this light is good for the health of the corals and provides minimal shadowing and just so happens to be a perfect size for the footprint of this tank… Maybe it’ll grow on her. I think she’s just used to seeing the AI prime on a dark blue background of the desk so it provides minimal contrast for the light housing and arm. Im thinking some wall art above the tank would help and she agreed. I told her she can choose as long as it’s a picture of fish and/or corals 😂 She just laughed.

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Ammonia has been 0 since 9/5. Nitrites are still around 2. On 9/8 I went ahead and added about 20 bio spheres (the porous rocks, not to be confused with bio balls) that were in the back chamber of my 20g AIO to the sump of the new tank to aid with beneficial bacteria and bio diversity. Hoping this will help the cycle finish. It’s been 15 days since starting.


I decided to try different lighting as I just wasn’t happy with the look of the Neptune Sky. It was very T5-ish which I just wasn’t a fan of. It was a very flat blanket of light with no contrast or shimmer. Sorry @Jaren45. I started doing research and decided on 2 Kessil A360X’s. Found a local reefer on FB marketplace selling 3 A360X’s literally 2 miles from my house. He used them for 2 months and his tank shattered during a rowdy party and he decided to sell everything 😧 Dude has a 300 gallon freshwater tank in his family room with a couple massive arowanas and a peacock bass. Oh and a 700whp Lexus IS F. He clearly likes to spend money lol. Told him I only needed 2 lights…He’s like “I have too much stuff and just need to sell it, make me an offer” so I got the 3 lights, Kessil spectral controller, and some other random items including a brand new unopened Aqua Maxx T1 calcium reactor and 2 unopened BRS 1.1ml 2 part dosers…….for $650. Definitely hit the jackpot. I may use the dosers as I’ve been manually dosing 2ml alkalinity per day on my 20g but I’ll probably sell the calcium reactor as I don’t intend to need one anytime soon. Reminds me I haven’t tested calcium in a while.


Decided to mount the lights to the back of the stand with the extension arms. Like the cleaner look and this way I don’t have to deal with cut outs for the lid. Very happy with how everything looks and turned out. The contrast and shimmer the Kessils provide look great in my opinion. Since I don’t plan to have wall-to-wall coral and wanted to create shaded habitats for the critters I think this will work out great. 





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