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Thread: What's next?

  1. #1
    Member dlyon101's Avatar
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    What's next?

    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!





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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.



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    By the way, we need some pics!



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    Member dlyon101's Avatar
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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.



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    Member dlyon101's Avatar
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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).



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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



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    Moderator greech's Avatar
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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.
    SG = 1.024-6; Alkalinity 8.3-9.3 dKH; Calcium 420; Magnesium 1300; Temp = 76 to 80; pH = 7.9-8.3. Alkalinity and calcium are dependent on Mg.

    "You can't be half a gangster" - Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire



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    Member dlyon101's Avatar
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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.



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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.



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    Moderator greech's Avatar
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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.
    SG = 1.024-6; Alkalinity 8.3-9.3 dKH; Calcium 420; Magnesium 1300; Temp = 76 to 80; pH = 7.9-8.3. Alkalinity and calcium are dependent on Mg.

    "You can't be half a gangster" - Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire



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