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Old 01/27/2019, 12:43 AM   #1
scattered
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New build - Fluval Evo XII

Hardware:

Fluval EVO XII 13.5 US gallon tank
Stock return pump
50W heater
Aquatic Life 115 Skimmer in chamber 2
Stock lights for the first few months then upgrade to AI
Jebao PP8 wave maker

For now I am using the foam block and carbon in chamber one. I plan on adding a gooseneck LED and filling this with floss, Chaeto and live rock rubble in an InTank media box.

I added 4.5 pounds live, and 8-9 base Moani rock to a substrate of Natures Ocean live sand (live or not, it is good looking sand). The total water added after was just under 10 gallons. At least two of the pieces of base I chose were still red/purple with coraline so I am hopeful that they will seed and thrive quickly.

The skimmer started pulling foam and skimate within minutes; I was pleasantly surprised. It is just after 3 hours and the tank is just about clear. I have a temporary light over it as I am waiting for a replacement for the stock LED bar from Hagen, all the original did was flash annoyingly. The light is just to be able to see and take a picture or two while I wait and see what kind of nitrogen cycle I get and for the algae cycle to take hold before I introduce the clean up crew. I am going to move the wave maker powerhead to clear out any bubbles or sand on rocks and let it sleep over night.

Initial readings:

PH 8.0+
Amm .25
Ni 0
Na 0

I have to pick up a couple gallons RODI tomorrow for top-off and to calibrate my refractometer. The water was Instant Ocean Reef Crystals pre-mixed from my LFS so I am not really concerned, just getting the baseline numbers. I expect my RODI unit to arrive within a few days so I'll be making my own by February.

This will be a western Pacific tank. For inverts I will stock a combination of Tonga conch, nassarius, cerith, Mexican turbos, margarita and trochus snails, along with a coral banded and maybe peppermint shrimp (2-3 each of the snails, one each of the snails and conch). I want to stock heavily on my vertebrates. I want a color variated clown (I would love a pair but there just isn't room), a court jester goby, and I would like to also add a green clown goby or maybe a ring eyed dottyback. I realize that is a heavy bio-load (8-9 inches full grown) and I plan on weekly water changes to handle excess nutrient export. Corals are still open at the moment. I have always been drawn to zoos, acans, and palys. I am considering a bubble tip for the clown. I will get as much aqua-cultured livestock as possible.

I plan on adding the motile inverts in a couple weeks depending on the algae cycle. At the rate I am planning, it will be early to mid March when I start adding vertebrates, and mid to late April before I add any frags. Let's hope I can maintain this pace and my patience.

I will add pics as I go.


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Old 01/27/2019, 01:19 AM   #2
scattered
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Rock

Location

Components, sand, and a gallon of water

Full of water. Not aquascaped, just a pile of rock.

Good start on foam.

~4 hours old, clearing nicely.


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Old 01/27/2019, 07:25 AM   #3
Crusinjimbo
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Great start and narrative on same. Following your progress. Good luck.


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13.5G EVO
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Old 01/28/2019, 12:12 AM   #4
scattered
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Cheers Jimbo!



I am about 27 hours in and the tank is clear. I am looking at a lot of micro-bubbles and Iíve adjusted skimmer flow and surface agitation. We will see what happens with the bubbles in the next few days and Ďreact-act-adapt-aptí from there

Yesterday ammonia tested out to .25 ppm. Same time tonight and ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are all 0.

My specific gravity is a touch high at 1.027 but I want to recalibrate my refractometer before I make any adjustments.

Ph is steady at 8.0-8.1

So far so good. I donít have another day off until the 9th so I probably canít get back to the LFS until then but I know I will be tempted to pick up snails sooner just to have something motile in the water. I will pick up some liquid food and give the tank a minor nutrient spike to see how the the biological filtration is holding up tomorrow or Tuesday.

I started dreaming about the tank last night and that is a solid bellwether...I am totally back invested in the hobby.


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Old 01/30/2019, 10:27 PM   #5
scattered
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day 4 update

Quick progress update.

Parameters have stayed solid as far as ammonia, NO2, NO3, and PH go. I have been manually adding water to account for evap and obviously that is not going to be my long term solution so I'm not too worried about the ~0.01 swings in salinity I am causing at the moment.

Monday the 28th, around 48 hours after filling the tank I saw the first microfauna - that would be the tiny star in the attachment. I wondered for a day or so if it might be a hydroid because it seemed to have legs at the 4 cardinal points of the compass, but subsequent specimens prove to be micro bristle stars. I saw a bristle worm carcass day one but no evidence of any live specimens yet. I'll take a look with lights out tonight to check. I started seeing copepods on glass yesterday. No sign of amphipods or any fun stuff like serpulids to look at yet.

I fed today for the first time. I would attribute my original .25ppm+ reading of ammonia to minimal rock die off from the time it was out of water until I had it back in tank (about 6 hours). I cut about 1/8 of a cube of SF Bay Brand Marine Cuisine. It was fun to see the tiny glass dwellers reach out and snag a bit here and there. That was about an hour ago and I will test parameters in about the same amount of time.

I'm testing daily at the same time each evening, but I have yet to test for any hardness related chemistry - mg and calcium tests are on order. I am planning on adding a dosing controller in a few weeks and I'll start a regular B-ionic treatment when I'm happy with the rest of the parameters. First to address is going to be specific gravity and that means auto top-off. I will add that in a couple weeks also.

I received my replacement LED bar from Hagen today. To my shame, the problem was entirely user error. The Jebao wave controller and the lamp both have the same DC connection (almost a 1/8" stereo plug) and I confused the two transformers. The transformer for the lamp is 13.5VDC, the transformer for the pump is almost double, 24VDC. I am sure that overloaded the LED controller and caused it to flash. I switched the power supplies and now...long story short I have two light bars. By my calculation this would be around 41W which should be sufficient. I'll have to fashion some sort of mount, I'm figuring on bending plexiglass for that. If that is not enough, the 55W AI is always an option. Oh and the Jebao is a lot more powerful than I thought with full 24VDC and I already had it dialed down.

In the past few days I have also received my thermometer (81į steady at the moment), my RO/DI (equipment purchase number 1 when I decided to get back into it), and my gloves (finally put my hands back in the tank).

I am starting to see algae, very faintly, on grains of sand and on glass.

Equipment needed - InTank media basket, dosing controller, ATO. Suggestion s on brands for the latter two welcome.

It looks like I might have this Saturday off, so maybe I'll be picking up the first cleaning crew members earlier than expected...it is so damn hard to be patient...

**I feel guilty about getting the extra light bar from Fluval/Hagen, but I know the restocking costs are going to outweigh the value of me shipping one back


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Old 01/30/2019, 10:39 PM   #6
scattered
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cleat tank, single light bar, just got fed


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Old 01/30/2019, 11:03 PM   #7
scattered
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Tonight test parameters show high ammonia as expected after adding protein to the tank. Tomorrow will be the acid test for the nitrogen cycle.


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Old 02/02/2019, 01:54 AM   #8
scattered
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Cycle update

24 hours after initial protein addition the ammonia was half what it had been, .25, and NO2/3 were both undetected. I fed about 2x the amount I had the day before.

I was out town on Friday so things changed. Lights were on for 16 hours. No harm done there, my PH even read a bit higher today and it had been slightly declining. After feeding more last night ammonia dropped to > .25 but not 0. This time I cut a third of the cube off and we will see how this settles in over the weekend.


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Old 02/03/2019, 02:24 AM   #9
scattered
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After adding a full 1/3 cube of mixed frozen the ammonia still stayed under the .25 measures but greasier that 0. The NO2/3 is still undetectable.

I added the last piece of base rock I had tonight. I figured I have room for it and I wanted to get in back in water since it still had patches of coralline color.

I played around with aquascape very little.
full tank

side view front glass

Side view side glass.

Ammonia is being processed, I add food and ammonia stays level or drops. I have yet to see nitrites or nitrates



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Old 02/03/2019, 08:56 PM   #10
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Last night after testing I added about 2/3rds of an ounce cube of reef cuisine (brine, mysis, krill, plankton, etc). I figure it is now or never - either this tank is handling introduced bioload or not. I tested around 12 hours later. PH with lights off is low, in the 7.8 range, to be expected and getting the automated dosing in place will handle the 'lights out PH drop'. Ammonia was 0ish - certainly less than .25 but I think it was detectable. Nitrites are solidly 0, and nitrates were detectable but not even 5PPM.


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Old 02/11/2019, 06:26 PM   #11
ghurlag
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Subscribed.

How's the IKEA shelf seem to hold up to the weight? I'm planning a NUVO 10g FUSION build and have considered that very shelf for a home. Thoughts?


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Old 02/11/2019, 06:28 PM   #12
scattered
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Itíll do temporarily but I have already determined to replace it.


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Old 02/12/2019, 01:32 AM   #13
scattered
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Night lights. I need to straighten out the plexiglass light bar mount, and it will be painted back. These are temporary but will do until it is time for coral (summer).

The stand definitely needs replaced, it is swaying with the wave action - I SWEAR IT IS MAN! Okay, it might be...



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Old 02/12/2019, 01:33 AM   #14
scattered
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Oh and auto top off. I will not sleep tonight.


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Old 02/12/2019, 06:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scattered View Post

The stand definitely needs replaced, it is swaying with the wave action - I SWEAR IT IS MAN! Okay, it might be...


Hahaha! Good to know!


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Old 02/15/2019, 01:58 PM   #16
RobSpeed13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scattered View Post
Cheers Jimbo!



I am about 27 hours in and the tank is clear. I am looking at a lot of micro-bubbles and Iíve adjusted skimmer flow and surface agitation. We will see what happens with the bubbles in the next few days and Ďreact-act-adapt-aptí from there

Yesterday ammonia tested out to .25 ppm. Same time tonight and ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are all 0.

My specific gravity is a touch high at 1.027 but I want to recalibrate my refractometer before I make any adjustments.

Ph is steady at 8.0-8.1

So far so good. I donít have another day off until the 9th so I probably canít get back to the LFS until then but I know I will be tempted to pick up snails sooner just to have something motile in the water. I will pick up some liquid food and give the tank a minor nutrient spike to see how the the biological filtration is holding up tomorrow or Tuesday.

I started dreaming about the tank last night and that is a solid bellwether...I am totally back invested in the hobby.


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those are the stock lights? that looks nice if it is lol


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Old 02/15/2019, 06:41 PM   #17
scattered
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Originally Posted by RobSpeed13 View Post
those are the stock lights? that looks nice if it is lol
No lol, that's a grow lamp for high yield bloom plants. The stock light bar is much more white and is only ~20W. The grow lamp was just temporary. I currently have two of the stock white light bars (I got a free extra due to user error) which will be fine until I pick up an AI HD Prime in a couple months. I am still several months from coral.


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Old 02/15/2019, 11:45 PM   #18
scattered
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Sunday perhaps I will add a couple snails, a conch, and MAYBE a CBS.

Tank is handling heavy feeding without lasting ammonia. I have fed 4-7 gram a day for a week now and the ammonia cycle feels solid. I kept lights low for a few days to give anaerobic algae a boost.

Algae is trying to get a foot hold. It is time to add a few snails and a conch. It is more important that the anaerobic bacteria get well established at this point than algae. Clean up crew can be counterproductive but I will keep heavy feeding if necessary.


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Old 02/16/2019, 01:05 AM   #19
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Old 02/16/2019, 01:12 AM   #20
scattered
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I finally painted the lamp bar mount I made. This is temporary as the WPG is too low for the coral I plan to keep. It works for now though.


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Old Today, 01:17 AM   #21
scattered
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I've ordered some inverts and they'll be delivered Thursday. I picked up the Marine Variety Pack #2 from aquariumdepot.com. It was the right amount of snails + a couple other desirables with 2nd day shipping added in. This allowed me to add the shrimp and conch. I appreciate that this pack does not come with hermits of any kind and the only crustacean is a porcelain crab, not even an emerald.

10 Nassarius snail
5 Tapestry snail
1 Tiger conch
1 feather duster
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
1 porcelain crab (I will regret it)
a dose of copepods and amphipods
a macro algae (bill of lading says MAC-BRUSH-1 - but aquariumdepot didn't have brush even listed on the macro page)

I picked up the inTank chamber 2 media box and I'll modify the charcoal foam enclosure to fit the top chamber, bottom two will be for the macro (unless I really find it display worthy), pods, and I'll likely break up one of my rocks and put the rubble on the bottom.

I'm still feeding a cube of frozen daily (~5g) and ammonia is being processed nicely. I am pulling good skimate in chamber one, and I have the foam with charcoal (no nitrate factory bioballs) in chamber two at the moment.

My copepod population is great after 3.5 weeks - front glass (if I do not clean algae) hosts dozens if not hundreds of pods so my population is good in that respect. The tiny mini bristle stars (1mm) are gaining numbers as well. I expect the amphipods/copepods from AD to really solidify the infauna population.

I am cautiously optimistic at the progress at this point. Compared to my foibles and adventures in the past this has been smoother than I expected. Enough cannot be said for starting with the cleanest of ingredients - water, sand, and rock. Do not start a tank without a RO/DI or immediate access to very clean water. Use a TDS and be certain. Despite my calls for patience and promise to myself that it would be a minimum of 3 months before adding a coral, a deal for a sexy shrimp + mini carpet anemone was really tempting. I resisted though. It will be almost 4 weeks to the day I added water, between the live rock and (maybe) live sand, my cycle was almost minimal. To the point where I can almost see adding fish within days of starting a tank.


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