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22g MrAqua Apex Nano (5/29 OASE Added)


BadCrab

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Slow and steady.

I previously introduced myself in the first post of my 5g FW Pico.

I'm using an old Mr Aqua 22L. I'd like to have something easy to maintain and also serve as an Apex testing environment during work hours. Armed with a handful of equipment put into storage a decade ago and a budget spinning out of control, I set the tank up opposite my desk. I will be using a used A2 Apex Base Unit.
 

22g SW Reef Nano

Current Equipment List (Updated 5/29/23)

  • 22g 35.5x12x12 Low-Iron Glass Aquarium
  • Caribsea Special Grade Substrate, Caribsea LifeRock Nano Arches
  • Neptune A2 Apex w/ EB8, FMM, WXM, & VDM
  • Ecotech Marine Vortech MP10ES w/ RF Module (x2)
  • AquaIllumination AI Sol Blue w/ Serial Data Cable (x2)
  • Ecotech Marine Radion G4 XR30
  • OASE BioTherm 350 w/ JARDLI Lily Pipes

 

Current Livestock List: (Updated 5/29/23)
Coral:

  • Zoanthid & Palythoa (Multiple Varieties)
  • Ricordia florida (Multiple Varieties)
  • Antillogorgia (2 Varieties)
  • Sacrophyton
  • Briareum

Feature Inverts:

  • Porcelain Crab (Petrolisthes galathinus) 
  • Striped Cleaner Shrimp (Lysmata amboinensis)
  • Saron Shrimp (Saron marmoratus)
  • Rock Flower Anemone (Phymanthus spp)

Clean-Up Crew:

  • Banded Trochus Snails
  • Dwarf Cerith Snails
  • Virgin Nerite Snails
  • Ox-Tongue Nerite Snails

 

Thread Links:

Current FTS (Updated 5/29/23)

 

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Current Apex Dashboard (Updated 5/29/23)

 

 

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Along with the Base Unit, I'll be using an EB8 (to be upgraded to EB832,) VDM (w/ 3 AI Sol Blue,) WXM (w/ 2 MP10s), FMM (with a modified ATK setup), and eventually a Trident. In the future, I'll likely add one or two DOS modules as well. The AI Sol Blues were from AI's remaining stock at the tail end of the Sol era, were used by me briefly, and then neatly packed into storage so they're almost NOS. I'll likely only use two on this tank. The MP10s are a similar story, although these are missing their wireless chips, I'll have to install old RF modules to make them controllable through the WXM.

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Substrate and rock was the first purchase (from BRS.) 40lbs of CaribSea Arag-Alive Special Grade along with a set of CaribSea Life Rock Nano Arches (4 total.) I added the substrate, water, and MP10 allowing the tank to clear overnight.

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Definitely Iwagumi inspired!
The freshwater guys are a good decade ahead in hardscape theory, thanks to Amano.

I've been steadily but slowly getting things together for this tank over the last week.

The first update is the installation of an Apex ATK. One unassuming upgrade you can make to this system is attaching an optical sensor to the pump and a product from Harrys Aquatics makes that a simple task with an attractive mount. Harry Singer has been making 3rd-Party products for the Apex for a long time now - you're probably familiar with the popular break-out box line he's responsible for from Adaptive Reef.

 

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I also modified the water outlet on the ATK's Sensor Block. Neptune recommends removing the entire float valve assembly only in situations where it can't be used (like an AIO chamber where it won't fit.) Their suggestion is to secure the line from the pump using the thumb screw. Instead, I sheered the entire valve assembly off. I think this gives a cleaner look (but isn't reversible without purchasing a new float valve assembly.)

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Additionally, I was able to add a second MP10 and upgrade both Vortech drivers with wireless modules enabling control by the Apex through a WXM. Thanks to a member on another reefing forum who provided the WiFi chips quickly, safely, and at a very fair price. The new WiFi chips sold by Ecotech Marine are Bluetooth for control with Mobius or the upcoming MXM (neither of which I have,) so finding these New Old Stock or harvesting them from donor units was my only option.

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With them both connected to the tank, I was able to dial in a resonant ("standing") wave which will be my primary flow pattern going forward with the tank.

 

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I've also added the lighting. Thanks to ATAquariums for having EXT Tank Rails in stock - something that AquaIllumination discontinued years ago - and providing them to me at a very reasonable cost shipped from NY. Can't say enough positive things about my interaction with Jose there. The Tank Rails arrived with very minor damage (all I could ask for in overstock from a decade ago,) and after a quick filing on one rail, they were operable and ready for installation.

I'm not a particularly handy person, which is why I bought into the EXT Rail system all those years ago. The installation was dead simple. I attached a board behind the tank for extra stability, marked and drilled pilots, then attached the rail mounts and slid the rails into place.

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I started installing the Adaptive Reef Controller Cabinet to house all of the equipment but found that I needed more.
Currently waiting for a second shipment from BRS with another panel from Adaptive Reef that I'm hopeful will attach seamlessly to the existing cabinet.
Also waiting on an EB832 (using an EB8 until then,) and considering migrating the system from the A2 Base Unit to an A3 Junior (I prefer the housing more aesthetically.)

 

 

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One of my local reefing clubs is hosting an auction event I plan on attending today.
Hoping to pick up an appropriate first coral like a leather, zoa, or mushroom.
I'm excited to catch up with people in the hobby I haven't seen in years!

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@Lebowski_ I think in general soft corals are a little more resilient in less mature tanks.

I ended up buying four lots at the auction, all Zoanthids.  
Because I pay attention, I accidentally bought 2 lots of Rastas. :coolguy:
Grabbed a few polyps of Bob Marleys and some LA Lakers (that still haven't opened)
I mangled a couple of polyps getting them onto the rockwork, but I'm not interested in seeing plugs so it had to happen.

I was near an LFS yesterday and stopped in - they had dwarf trochus snails, so I got three to start the crew.
Once the tank is rolling I'll make a reasonable order from ReefCleaners to fill it out. 
I'm trying to be very deliberate about everything that gets added to this small tank - including the clean-up crew.  It is likely to consist almost entirely of smaller snail species.  Don't trust a crab (except me!)

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mitten_reef
On 4/21/2023 at 10:19 PM, BadCrab said:

The first update is the installation of an Apex ATK. One unassuming upgrade you can make to this system is attaching an optical sensor to the pump and a product from Harrys Aquatic makes that a simple task with an attractive mount. Harry Singer has been making 3rd-Party products for the Apex for a long time now - you're probably familiar with the popular break-out box line he's responsible for from Adaptive Reef.

ya know he's on here as @HarryPotter right?   

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I did not know that, although, I guess I'm not surprised.

One thing I'm continually reminded about is how small this little thing of ours is.
The best products and services in this industry still come from ambitious and passionate hobbyists. Reputation has weight and your actions have an almost karmic ripple effect across the community.  It lends itself to accountability and authenticity.  All that to say, I don't know Harry - I don't think we've ever met at least - but his actions and contributions precede him.  If he ends up reading this though; Thanks for making cool shit!

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NoOneLikesADryTang
18 hours ago, BadCrab said:

One thing I'm continually reminded about is how small this little thing of ours is.

This is so true. 
 

As a matter of fact, not to get all creepy on you, but I’m pretty sure we were at the same place, last Saturday afternoon. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to come introduce myself (what can I say? I’m popular! Kidding…mostly.) I noticed a couple new faces, but didn’t get a chance to come over to that table until after the meeting was over and I think you had left. You might have met the tank keeper though - she definitely disappeared a couple times. 

 

AZ Frag members unite. @ef4life @EfrainChicagoDeepdish 

 

This is a sweet tank! Looking forward to what you do with it. I love your scape. 

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10 hours ago, NoOneLikesADryTang said:

I’m pretty sure we were at the same place, last Saturday afternoon.


Yeah! I was the lanky tattooed guy doing my best Normal Human impression.
I'm really looking forward to getting to know everyone.   Some of the faces have changed, but the same welcoming and supportive community I moved away from a decade ago seems alive and thriving.

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Let's Talk Controllers 

The controller cabinet project has expanded, and the end goal is nebulous. 
Here are my current thoughts:

I have 1 Adaptive Reef Controller Cabinet, with a Trident Faceplate.
That takes up half the cabinet. I'm going to need either another cabinet, a controller board, or both.

I purchased the Neptune-specific controller board, hoping to take advantage of the EB832 and Base Unit cutouts.
However, reflecting that the controller display will be a primary feature of the system, I decided to upgrade to an A3 Apex Jr.
This is my favorite base unit, aesthetically.  Its only major missing feature is an ethernet port, but every other feature could be added with the appropriate module in the future.

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Unfortunately, the Jr is wider than the A2/EL/A3/A3L Base Units - just enough so it doesn't fit in the Neptune Controller Board.

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Adaptive Reef has teased some new controller boards with a May date - including an A3 Jr board.  So this rollercoaster ride is on hold until one of those boards materializes.  I'll use the A2 Neptune board for another project (there's always another project.)

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I'm anticipating this configuration (I have everything ready except the unreleased A3 Jr board)
AR A3 Jr Board + Cabinet + Neptune Sign
A3 Apex Jr, EB832, VDM, FMM, WXM, Trident, BoB, 24v Alarm, Tablet Display
ABU: Temp & pH Probes, Solid Surface Leak Detector (In Cabinet, next to Trident), 1 Open Port
FMM: PMUPv2 w/ additional OS-1, ATK Sensor Block, 1 Open Port (Another Leak Detector?)
I'll hide the MP10 Controllers (1 has no LED) 


I've also paused configuring any additional automation because I anticipate moving everything to the new base unit before Summer proper.  When we (inevitably) have to move this tank into a new home I will be drilling it, adding a sump, and a second controller cabinet or board to accommodate additional equipment (& DOS for AWC);

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I am lamenting the lack of mechanical filtration in this tank.
My view is being spoiled by surface oil and free-floating cat hairs!
Until it can be sumped, I'm exploring small internal filters.


I am particularly interested in Tunze's 'Comline Multifilter' line and ordered a 3163 today for the shallow reef.
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I struggled to decide between the different models, but both the 3162 and 3163 have cutouts to add both a glass heater and osmolator sensor (while I'm using the ATK for top-off in the reef, I'm also considering one of these for the FW tank.)  I ordered a 50w Jager (the largest NA heater that will fit) which is certainly better than the no-heater currently in the tank.

 

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On 4/30/2023 at 6:18 PM, BadCrab said:

I am lamenting the lack of mechanical filtration in this tank.
My view is being spoiled by surface oil and free-floating cat hairs!
Until it can be sumped, I'm exploring small internal filters.


I am particularly interested in Tunze's 'Comline Multifilter' line and ordered a 3163 today for the shallow reef.
comline.thumb.png.531e84165ac328985de0bc9ce2896e7a.png


I struggled to decide between the different models, but both the 3162 and 3163 have cutouts to add both a glass heater and osmolator sensor (while I'm using the ATK for top-off in the reef, I'm also considering one of these for the FW tank.)  I ordered a 50w Jager (the largest NA heater that will fit) which is certainly better than the no-heater currently in the tank.

 

I have always been curious about a fully filtered tunze aquarium the comline fliter on the left and the doc skimmer on the right!

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I'm not saying that adding the XR30 to this tank caused the algae, but we now have algae.
Enough to justify a small order from ReefCleaners.

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We're doubling our Dwarf Trochus and adding a group of Virgin Nerites (beautiful shells) and a much larger group of Dwarf Ceriths.

I have never had Ox Tongue Nerites before so I ordered them as a curiosity, but I expect them to behave like a Nerite.  So I'll be picking those off the floor, I'm sure.
Lastly, I ordered a small group of Porcelain Crabs - there's a bunch of overhang rockwork I think they'd do well in.  Since there won't be fish in this tank, I want as many interesting invertebrates to watch as possible.   I plan on putting a spotted porcelain crab in once there's a suitable coral host, too.
  

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The Comline 3163 arrived today, and I got it set up in the tank... Only to find it didn't really fit.  

I run the waterline a little low in the tank because of the standing wave, and even with most of the substrate pushed out of the corner the water barely entered the surface grill. 
The filter was also thick enough to require the MP10 be moved off-center, and the flow direction nozzle wouldn't stick on.  I gave up on it.  It's a nice-looking filter and the heater integrates well - I'll use it on another project someday in the future, I'm sure.

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So I turned my attention to its little brother the Comline 3161.
While the 3163 & 3162 are both 10" high, the 3161 is only 6.9" - it should fit the verticle space well and it's a full inch thinner so the MP10 should be able to stay centered.
Instead of ample room for a classic glass heater, however, this filter is limited to using thinner non-standard heaters with a maximum rated power of 25w.  Enter the Sicce Jolly.  This combo could work, although it is very clearly underpowered.

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I'm also considering, instead, the Sicce Shark 500 and a separate heater.  I like that the Shark is a simple rectangle and uses magnets.  A decade ago plastic heaters were just getting hot (heh,) but now it looks like IM is making waves with their mini titanium heater systems (Helio) which have quite a nice magnetic mount and glowing reviews.   While the Apex is more than capable of keeping a heater in control, I don't think any level of redundancy in a reef tank is "too much."

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Ultimately, if I want to keep a clean aesthetic the system will need to be sumped - but that's a project that will have to wait until we buy a house again (hopefully later this year?) 
Would anyone like to share their opinion or experiences?  BRS has a very limited selection of internal filters, unfortunately.

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50 minutes ago, BadCrab said:

IM is making waves with their mini titanium heater systems (Helio) which have quite a nice magnetic mount and glowing reviews

Add one more to the rave reviews. I love my Helio. Temp stays within a 0.5 degree band. I put the remote sensor in the first chamber of the overflow, and the heater in the return chamber. Does a great job monitoring and maintaining the temperature. It also has a built in flow alarm that I didn't know about. I shut off my return during feeding the other day and it started beeping. The error was for "low flow detected", so it can now double as an alarm for a bad return pump if it ever goes out.

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Lebowski_
17 hours ago, phinatic said:

Add one more to the rave reviews. I love my Helio. Temp stays within a 0.5 degree band. I put the remote sensor in the first chamber of the overflow, and the heater in the return chamber. Does a great job monitoring and maintaining the temperature. It also has a built in flow alarm that I didn't know about. I shut off my return during feeding the other day and it started beeping. The error was for "low flow detected", so it can now double as an alarm for a bad return pump if it ever goes out.

I am not a huge fan of the Helio, and I've seen quite a few people on R2R who also don't like it, but it's hard to argue that it's a great option for nano tanks. Just don't trust their tank specs and always oversize.

 

@BadCrab I would love to seea video of the flow! This build is so exciting.

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Agreed, I would be going with the 100w (there's significantly less enthusiasm over the 30w "mini" version - although I'm sure it's still an improvement to a preset stick like the above sicce)

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Band Hunter
On 5/1/2023 at 7:03 PM, MLS_Reef said:

I am currently running a Tunze 9004 DC and a Sicce Shark Pro 900 on my 40 Breeder.

 

Seems to be working well.  You can see my setup in my Large Tank Journal thread.

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I was reading through @The Rainy Day Aquarium's 6g Long Journal late last night (I wish I had more time in the day to just read the journals here...) and I was reminded that you can use lily pipes and a canister with saltwater. 

So which canister would I consider?
Spending so long as a service tech, I'm partial towards Fluval canisters.  But Fluval canisters are notoriously irritating to convert to lily pipes because of their non-standard tubing.
Canisters are not popular in saltwater reefing, and since BRS is primarily aimed at that market their available selection of canisters is disappointing.  I've always appreciated both HOB and canister filtration - I think they're not given a fair shake by most reef aquarists.

BRS has got Aquael's Ultramax series and both Sicce's Ekko and Whale lines.  Really, the Whale is the one I would consider from these choices.  The cost, with my discount, makes it a very attractive option.  On the other end of price, I could purchase an Oase on Amazon.  This, like the previously attempted Tunze Comline + Eheim Jager combo, would cover heating as well. The Oase has a pre-filter - but if I'm down there cleaning a filter, I might as well open the can and clean the thing... right?  People really praise that feature but I'm dubious.

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With any canister, I'd want to use lily pipes.  There are short versions intended for nano tanks, and JARDLI makes a very affordable pair of 17mm glass that are only 6.7" tall including stem.  A pair of quick-release double-taps and we're getting pretty expensive, though.  This is before considering I'll eventually want two sets of tubes, pipes, and double-taps to make maintenance easier.

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So that's where my head is at. I'm leaning towards biting my cheek and ordering the Oase - if it doesn't work out in the reef it could be used on my newest FW project instead of the Fluval 106 I had set aside for it.

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  • BadCrab changed the title to 22g MrAqua Apex Nano (5/29 OASE Added)

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