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What's next?

Discussion in 'Marine Reef Keeping' started by dlyon101, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I haven't posted in a while, but I've got something I wanted to run by everyone. I'm relatively new to the hobby. I set my 125 gal reef tank just about a year ago. All is going ok. I've had some corals and some fish die here and there, but no major catastrophies. I did get ich in the tank, but once the two tangs that had it died I haven't had any issues. So, I just stopped trying to put tangs in my tank. For the most part my water parameters are stable. Nitrates and phosphates are an ongoing issue when it is time to do water changes and when my GFO starts getting old.

    I've pretty much got my tank stocked with the fish I like. I have T5's so I haven't had much luck with SPS corals (and haven't attempted it much). I also think I should be getting more color from the existing stuff that I have. For the most part though everything looks good and I enjoy watching the tank every day.

    I guess my real question is "what's next"? Now that everything is right where I want it I can't help but think back to how excited I was every time I'd get a new fish or a new coral or some new piece of equipment. Now I kind of just sit back and enjoy the tank and try not to mess anything up. How do you long time guys keep interested and excited in this hobby? It just seems like eventually I'll get bored just watching the tank (that's sounds stupid huh?)

    What are some of the intermediate level things that I might try? or what are some equipment upgrades that I might try now that I'm not really a "beginner" any longer. I don't have any kind of reef controller. Is that the next step? I'd also love to upgrade my lights to LED's but the only ones I've seen so far that I really like are the Ecotech Radions (I've got two Ecotech MP40's and an MP10). Three of those LED fixtures at $750 each is an expensive upgrade (and I'm not sure if I even need it considering the corals that I have).

    I'm thinking of maybe addind some kind of reef controller and replacing all of my T5 bulbs with something better like the ATI bulbs. I just need something to "tinker" with!
     
  2. Cheech

    Cheech Global Moderator
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    There's always something to do, but unless you're creative enough, you'll have to spend lots of $$!!

    how are your levels? Cal, Alk (KH), mag. you should try to stabalize those and start off with some easier corals.. See how it goes from there...

    To help out with those nitrates you can always look at Ace's journal on properly installing an ATS in your sump... I've never tried it but I have used a biopellet reactor (temporarily) to kill off some annoying algae.

    how do you level off your tank? I'm assuming you have an RODI system... maybe a fun project is installing an auto-topoff system for the sump... Isn't too pricey to setup and is relatively easy.

    Do you dose alk and cal? Maybe you can get a couple of auto dosers and work on those.


    Many people seem to be on the fence on whether or not to use LEDs. Personally I'm very happy with them. There are a couple of DIY links on here of DIY LED lighting.. Might be worth looking into that as well.

    There's always something new to learn in this hobby, it all really depends on where you want to bring it next.
     
  3. Cheech

    Cheech Global Moderator
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    By the way, we need some pics! :)
     
  4. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I'll take some pics tonight and post them tomorrow. Here is just quick list of my equipment and some answers to your questions:

    125 gal tank
    165 lbs live rock
    Trigger Systems sump (deep sand bed and chaeto in the "refugium section") The water coming in from the tank overflows goes through filter socks. They "clog" up about once a week and I have to rinse them out. Every time I rinse them out I find a ton of Amphipods and baby snails. I pick out all of the live ones and return them to the main tank.

    Reef Octopus external skimmer (skims well and I clean out a good amount of skimmate when I do water changes every other week).
    For flow I have two MP40's (one on each end of the tank) and an MP10 in the middle of the back of the tank.
    I have the Bulk Reef Supply GFO reactor. It seems to work OK. It doesn't look like most other phosphate reactors though. I have fine tuned the flow so that GFO doesn't tumble too much. I don't really have problems with algae. I get pink and green hair algae in my overflows and in my refugion on the Chaeto every now and then. I clean out a few big clumps ever other month or so. I do have to clean my glass ever three to four days. I'm not sure if that is "too much" or not. I don't really have a good phosphate test kit.

    I do have an auto top of system. I have a water supply and a drain in a closet adjacent to the tank. The drain is nice for water changes. I can siphon right out of the tank into the drain. The water supply is hooked directly up to my RO/DI system. The RO/DI output has a "Y"...one output goes into a 10 gallon trash can with a float valve and auto cutoff (this is where the ATO water comes from. I have a small power head in there to keep the fresh water moving and then the power head for the ATO). The other output from the RO/DI goes into a 30 gallon trash can which is where I make the salt water for my water changes. I usually produce the water a few days in advance and get the salinity right. There is a MAG 16 pump in that trash can to mix the water. Then I just turn a ball valve and water will pump right into my sump. The only draw back is that the MAG16 puts off a little heat. So, I can't leave it running too long or the new batch of water gets too warm.

    I dose alk with Brightwell Aquatics kH buffer (one dose per week seems to keep alk right around 9.5 - 10). I've thought about switching to 2 part or Kalkwasser for dosing, but my local Reef store doesn't really have much experience with this. So, the brightwell stuff in the bottle is what I use. It's about $10 for a bottle about once every 6 weeks.
    I dose magnesium when I do my water changes (I change about 25 gal every other weekend and I a couple capfulls of the Brightwell Aquatics magnesium then). Magnesiums stays above 1300 usually.
    My calcium is always around 500 or 550. I don't dose calcium really. It seems like the salt from my water changes does enough.

    I'm sure I've left some stuff out. I'll upload a bunch of pics later so you can see what my equipment looks like as well as the fish and corals that I have so far.
     
  5. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    Also, I don't mind spending money to do stuff the "right" way. I tried to spare no expense and do everything the best I could when first setting up the tank. The only reason I went with T5's is because the tank is kind of in an "in the wall" type of cabinet/closet. I get some circulation and ventilation but the heat issue from metal halides was a big drawback. Right now my water temp stays about 79 without the need for a heater (although I do have one in the sump. The heater is set on about 77 degrees just in case the temp drops down in the winter or something).
     
  6. Cheech

    Cheech Global Moderator
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    Regarding your filter socks, they get quickly, and I don't htink a simple rinse will really get the gunk out. I have 4 filter socks that I interchange. When three of the four are dirty I rinse them, then put them in a bucket of water with some bleach. Next day I'll add them in the washer in the rinse and spin cycle. They come out good as new.. Might be worth looking at.

    Well it seems like you got things figured out! Great powerheads! That'll be my next purchase. Unfortunately it isn't in my budget right now, but one day...

    You seem to have all the tools you need to get a serious reef tank going. It all depends on how far you want to bring it.

    There are so many goodies coming out for reef tanks, you have plenty of options!

    Looking forward to those pics
     
  7. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    Sounds like a very nice tank.

    Most tangs are fairly susceptible to ich so not really a surprise. If I had a tank your size, I would have to have a tang so if I was in your shoes, I would either setup a QT tank or look to someplace like Diver's Den to get a nice fish.

    You mentioned being unhappy with the colors of your corals. Params sound fine with the exception of the trates and PO4. What bulbs do you run in the T5s? The nutrients may be a result of the filter socks. When you say "rinse" do you mean tap water rinse? Do you let them dry out before putting them back on? Do you ever thoroughly clean them with bleach, vinegar?

    The Radions look sweet for sure but I hear you on the price! I am really liking the new Panorama Pro fixture. I have no use for 3W Crees with my shallow tank.
     
  8. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I rinse the filter socks with tap water in the sink. I never thought about the small amount of tap water that is left in them after rinsing or the fact that I'm not getting everything out when rinsing. I've always worried about putting any kind of chemicals in them. I guess I better look into that. The water running into the sump makes a lot of noise without the filter socks. So, I like to keep using them. So if I understand this correctly the proper cleaning process should be: 1) rinse them with tap water 2) soak them overnight with vinegar and water (bleach just sounds scary) 3) then rinse them out really well the next day 4) let them dry out completely before putting back into sump. Does sound about right?

    The bulbs in my T5 fixture are the original bulbs. It has been almost a year since I bought the fixture. I'd love to hear recommendations on what to replace them with and what combination of bulbs. There are 12 36" bulbs.
     
  9. tolawdjk

    tolawdjk AC Members

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    Man, it hurts me enough ot pay for replacements for my two 36" bulbs on my FW tank, I can't imagine doing 12. I would definately look at LEDs.
     
  10. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    ATI and Geisemann bulbs are my favorites for higher par and overall color. I also like to use either a UVL Superactinic (similar to the KZ Figi Purple and the ATI Purple+) to add to the reds and they are a lower PAR bulb you can mix in. If it were me I would go 4 X ATI Blue+, 1 x ATI Aquablue Special (roughly 10K) and 1 x UVL in each fixture. This will give you an overall blue color but the ABS and Superactinic will give you a crisp white and a purple/red to balance things out. Geisemann makes similar bulbs with similar names. I would not suggest replacing more than 1 or 2 bulbs at a time in each fixture. If you are using stock bulbs and they are older, chances are your PAR values are failrly low and these bulbs provide a fairly high amount of PAR and you could easily bleach your corals.

    Knowing the condition of your bulbs and the sock issue, I would start there to improve the health of your tank and improve the colors in your corals. The tap water not only could be adding some nutrients there are all sorts of other unknowns as well as chlorine which may explain some of your livestock issues. I would by 6 or so new socks and put them in a rotation. Bleach is not an issue as long as you rinse them well and let them dry out completely. Once I use the last sock in my rotation, the remaining socks soak in a bucket with water/bleach for a few days before I rinse them and dry them. Lots of people use their washing machine but I have a HE machine and it just doesn't use enough water to rinse them well.

    I know this thread was more about something fun to do next and it kinda sidetracked into this discussion but I think stepping up water changes for a while, cleaning the socks a little better and swapping out the bulbs could make a huge difference in the look and health of your tank.
     
  11. felixpaws

    felixpaws AC Members

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    I'm right there with you, on the getting bored. I set up my 75 gallon reef, over a year ago, then bought a 120 gallon plexi-glass tank, in april, set it up in May. I'm looking to upgrade to led's, and get a better skimmer, for the 75. I just bought a yellow Tang, for my 120, and I have a blue eyed tang in there, as well. I bought a yellow eyed tang, for the 75, and all are doing well, except the yellow tang. He's a little emaciated, from sitting in the dealer tank. I'm fatteneing him up, with nori, lots of formula II, and emerald entree. When I 1st started, I felt that excitement, too. New equipment, new coral, new fish, all the information to go over, and learn about. Now, I search the classifieds, for deals on used equipment. Have you checked out the back posts, on here, and other sites? There is a ton of info., and pictures to check out. I subscribe to several magazines, and I buy books, occasionally, to keep my interest. Google search, any questions, you might get. A lot of the time, when I do, I find a whole slew of new questions, that I never thought of, from simple questions, like, "What's the best color temp. for macro/microalgae?" or "Who makes the best bulbs for soft coral, hard coral, lps, anemones, and what color temps. are best, for each?" Have you tried a local reefing club? Do you frag your coral, and have you tried trading with someone, also, in the hobby? Youtube.com has some nice video's on reefing. If you search reef tank, you'll get over 20,000 video's! Ati's, I've heard, are good bulbs, and you can get them at bulkreefsupply.com, for pretty cheap. About $20 a bulb, for the 48" one's. (That's the size I use, but the 36" one's should be a bit less.) If your looking to save money, bulkreefsupply.com has 2-part, gfo, and carbon, for way cheap. I use petsolutions.com, for reef crystals. Their between $47.99, and $53.99, for the 200 gallon box, free shipping, over $49, no freight charges. All this stuff, I wish I had found online, when I first started my reef tank. I don't work for any of those companies, I just found them to be cheaper, than anyone else, with the same quality stuff. I don't use filter socks, but I understand your noise problem. You could always attach a piece of pvc, to the outflow, notching it first, with a saw, crosswise several times, to allow water to flow freely. It will exit the sides, as well as the end, reducing splashing, but not limiting flow. You can use stainless steel clamps or those plastic ratchet clamps, found on reef equipment sites. The stainles ones will deteriorate, eventually, like, mine have. You could experiment with different foods, to keep things exciting. Making your own food or trying the latest, and greatest. Led technology is geeting cheaper, and better all the time. You might be better off, getting good T5 bulbs, for now, and waiting for the technology to stabilize, a little more. That's what I'm doing(but I'll tell you, I'm getting impatient to try some of them, and will, probably, get new fixtures, this upcoming year!). I was asking myself this same question, about two or three months ago, then I realized that the hobby hadn't gotten stale, I'd gotten busy over the summer, and hadn't gotten motivated, when winter hit. Looking at the tank is nice, but that's not the only reason I got into the hobby. Incidentally, I think you have your skimmer set too low. I clean out my skimmer cup, at least, once a week, sometimes more. With a 125, you don't have to worry, about salinity swings, as much, and it really helps, with pollution, in the tank. Try going a little wetter. If your having trouble with ich, and sps, you probably, have nutrient issues, since everything else seems okay. I have T5's, and I have an orange monti, some kind of acropora, and a tri-colored birdsnest, and all are fine. Just place them up high, on the rock, and don't move them around, unless they seem to be having problems. Start, on the sandbed, and move them up a couple of inches, a week, at a time. Slow, and steady. It sounds like your not changing out your gfo enough. I change mine out every two weeks, whether I need to or not. I have to clean my glass, every two or three days, since I just changed my bulbs, a little while ago, but I use well water. You might want to step up to weekly water changes, of 10%. Glad to see you didn't just toss in the towel. I've had salty tanks, in the past, and have been a aquarium hobbyist, since I fed my neon tetras to the cat.(I was 3, and I figured, the fish looked lonely, and the cat wanted to play. Who could it hurt?) I drop out, occasionally, but I always come back, if I can. Keep looking around. You'll find some corner of the hobby you'll want to explore. You just have to be persistent, and have a good attitude.
     
  12. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I think this all sounds good. I bough one set of filter socks today and replaced the old ones right away. I'll get a few more a start a rotation as you suggested. I am due for a water change this weekend. I did all of the tests that I have and here are the params currently:

    Temp 79
    Salinity 1.0245
    Nitrates 5
    Alk 7 dKh
    Calc 550
    Mag 1600

    (obviously I got a littel crazy with my magnesium dosing and my alk dosing is behind).
     
  13. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    Here are some pics I took tonight of my tank and some of the corals etc

    Tank 3.JPG Tank 7.JPG Tank 2.JPG Tank 6.JPG Tank 1.JPG Tank 5.JPG Tank 8.JPG
     

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  14. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    Also some additional picks of my sum/refug and equipment closet

    Equip 4.JPG Equip 3.JPG Equip 2.JPG Equip 6.JPG Equip 5.JPG Equip 1.JPG

    Sorry I should have rotated some of these before posting (notice the new gleaming white filter socks!)
     
  15. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    Thanks for your posts everyone. I am going to follow the advice and just work to improve my take and make everything just right. I'm going to order new bulbs and get some more filter socks right away. Greech, when you say "step up water changes" what do you really mean? Do you mean do less water every week? Currently I make about 25 gallons every two weeks. So would that be 10 - 15 gallons every week for a while?
     
  16. Arakkis

    Arakkis AC Members

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    15 gallons per week wouldn't be bad.. it's what I'd be doing for an sps tank

    What's your phosphate at?

    Temp 79 ok
    Salinity 1.0245 Good
    Nitrates 5 <--waterchange.. reef biofuel? Fuge light out or gone bad? switch fuge lighting to 6700k cfl?
    Alk 7 dKh <-- A bitlow raise slowly to i dunno 10~12dkh
    Calc 550 <-- stop dosing calcium till 420
    Mag 1600 <-- high enough to kill bryopsis.. stop dosing this too and waterchange it out
     
    #16 Arakkis, Dec 30, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2011
  17. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I don't have a phosphate test kit. I am going to get one of those digital phosphate checkers and test it. I'm pretty sure that it is time to change out my GFO. I'm going to do a water change this weekend, dose Alk only, and change out my GFO. I am going to do 25 gallons this week since that is what I have made up already. I will check all of my parameters a day or two after that. I'll go to 15 gallons a week for while and see how that changes things.
     
  18. greech

    greech AC Moderators

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    IME, as long as alk is stable a lower number isn't an issue. If Ca stays up and you don't have preciptation the ionic balance is in place and (again IMO) there is no reason to constantly fiddle with it. Persoannally, with the number and types of corals you have, I am surprised you need to dose anything other than a little Mg now and then.

    Tank looks great. I would kill to have that setup!

    I don't know how many fish you have in there (saw the trigger, clown, foxface, what looks like a damsel and a PJ cardinal). If that's all you have you have plenty of room for more fish and if you donlt want tangs I would consider adding smaller fish like a blenny, some gobies and pistols, possible a group of firefish or grammas. Big fish are nice but the little fish that hop/hover around the rocks are very entertaining to watch and create a lot of movement.

    Tank really does look nice! Congrats and enjoy :)!
     
  19. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    Thanks for the compliment Greech. You got most of the fish correct. My favorite are the Blue Throat Trigger and the Maroom Clown. I have an Ocellaris Clown (one of a pair whose mate died), 4 or 5 Green Chromis (I was going for the small fish idea you mentioned), a Pajama Cardinal, a Yellow Watchman Goby (I got this from ORA so he's not really yellow), Foxface (I got this guy because he would eat algae off of the rocks and he wasn't a tang). I was wanting to get more of the smaller type of fish. I like all of your suggestions.

    I also have two cleaner shrimp, the Urchin you see in the pics, a Gold Banded Coral Shrimp (that I never see!), and s slew of hermit crabs, snails and a few emerald crabs.

    By the way, I just went to Bulk Reef Supply and ordered the ATI bulbs and 4 more new filter socks. I think just getting this thread going and getting active on here again has helped me a ton. Thanks to everyone!
     
  20. dlyon101

    dlyon101 AC Members

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    I received my order from Bulk Reef Supply last night. I got one of those Hanna phosphate checkers and the ATI bulbs we discussed. I checked my phosphates last night and they read 0.11 ppm. I think that is a little high, right? I thought they were supplosed to be below 0.1 ppm. I hadn't looked at my TDS meter on my RO/DI system for a while. Last night I checked it and it was reading 16. Oops! So, I changed out all of my RO/DI cartridges right away. I am planning a water change first thing tomorrow morning. I am sure that is probably why my phosphates are that high.

    On the ATI bulbs I'm going with the 4 Aqua Blue Plus, 1 Aquablue Special, and one UVL SuperActinic. I'm going to start the change out tomorrow and probably do a couple bulbs every few days. I hope the Aqua Blue Plus have some "white" to them. The picture on the box shows a blue bulb. I hope I don't have 5 blue bulbs and only one white one. I also have a UVL Aquasun that I bought only a month or two ago. I guess I can keep that one in there if the 4 Aqua Blue Plus are too blue. I'm going to give it a shot and see how it looks though. I'll post some pics once I get all of the new bulbs up and running.
     

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