A Newbie's Tale: 32g reef build/journal

Iamgarrett

New member
Because this seems like a great way to both get vital feedback and log this aquatic adventure.

Day 0: Planning & Prep
Feedback Greatly Appreciated!

The Tank

I have an LED Biocube 32 received as an early Christmas gift, along with a matching stand and a couple other goodies.
I don't want to make any significant modifications to the tank (no cutting, no drilling, no swapping lights/fan, etc.)

It is located in a corner in our dining room, which has low traffic and only minimal/indirect sunlight.

The Lighting

The LED lights on the Biocube are pretty, but from what's described on the box and I can find online, they will limit my coral options. One solution is to upgrade the lights...but I think I'll just stick to stocking corals that are good with low-medium light. Here are the PAR descriptions on the box:

MO6nJAFl.jpg
u70gEH9l.jpg


It has a built in timer system with settings for full daytime, a "color enhancing" sunrise/sunset (with 30 min gradual on/off), and a blue light "moonlight" (with 60 min gradual on/off).

I currently plan on timing them on the following schedule:

6am - Moonlights on (fully on at 7am)
8am - Sunrise/set on (fully on at 8:30am)
9am - Daylight on
6pm - Daylight off
7pm - Sunrise/set off (fully off at 7:30pm)
9:30pm - Moonlights off (fully off at 10:30pm)

Note: This is based on my understanding of how the on/off timers work. We'll see if I'm right.

This comes to 9 hours of ALL light, 16.5 hours of *some* light.

The Filtration

The Biocube comes with an integrated wet/dry filter system. My goal is to have the most filtration reasonable without making any physical modifications.

In the intake section, I plan on putting the BioCube Protein Skimmer (also gifted) as well as the heater if I can find a suitable one that fits.

In the basket section, I will continue to use the BioCube Filter Cartridge, and then use the shelves in the following order: filter floss, ChemiPure Blue, Chaeto, and then bits of live rock at the bottom. Here's a picture:

uFBP4Bll.jpg


I figure I'll start on Day 1 with the live rock in, then once ammonia shows up add the cartridge, filter floss, and ChemiPure Blue, then once nitrates arrive add the Chaeto and start running the mini light opposite the tank lights.

Keeping the Chaeto on the shelf should make it easier to cut back when (if?) it grows.

The Stocking Plan

Aquascape

I'm going to be using all live sand and live rock.

Thinking 2" thick live sand. I really don't want to mess around with drills, pvc, glue, epoxy, etc. for the rocks. So planning on some good ol' organic tetris stacking. Put the base rocks down on the bare bottom, add sand, and build up remaining rocks from there. I have some thoughts about general layout but mostly it will really be dictated by the size and shape live rock I end up with and how it will be most stable.

And I plan on building it with my magnetic algae scrapper on hand to ensure there's room for it.

Janitorial Staff

I'm uncertain about quantities. Also very open to reef-safe suggestions.

Almost Definite:
Randall Pistol Shrimp (x1?)
Peppermint Shrimp (x2-3?)
Banded Trochus Snails (x3-4?)

Also Thinking:
Blue-legged Hermit Crabs (x3-4?)
Cerith Snails (x8-12?)

Coral

Two big limits here: what can thrive (or at least survive) with the stock lights, and what my LFS has in stock.

I figure due to the lights I'm going to be sticking with mostly softies. But I'm open to any and all ideas. Bonus points if they're native to Indo-Pacific region.

Current shortlist:
*Zoas
*Hammer Coral
*Mushrooms
*I would love a plate coral/fungia just worried about light

Fish

You gotta have fish.

Shortlist (after cycling):
*Randall's Shrimp Goby - Amblyeleotris randalli
*White-belly Wrasse/Yellow Coris Wrasse - Halichoeres leucoxanthus


Other thoughts (if bioload good after 6+ months):
*Bicolor or Midas/Persian Blenny
*Common Clownfish (x2)

Maintenance Schedule

Here's my current maintenance plan:

DAILY:
* Check water level/top off with RO/DI as needed
* Check temperature
* Check skimmer
* Basic visual inspection of all livestock and systems

WEEKLY:
* 3-5 gal water change (10-15%)
* Wipe all surfaces with clean and damp terry cloth
* Inspect filter system, replacing media and trimming chaeto as needed

MONTHLY:
* Replace airstone in protein skimmer
* Rinse and clean sponge
* Disassemble, rinse/clean and wipe all parts of pump and impreller.

Shopping List

What am I forgetting?

In no particular order:
* Water heater
* Test kits for all the things
* Hydrometer (do I really need this if I only ever buy premixed?)
* Mini Light for my micro-refugium
* Magnetic Scrubber
* Thermometer
* Filtration Media (filter floss & Chemi Pure Blue)
* Terry Cloth
* Powerhead (500-700gph)
* Handled algae scrubber
* 1-2x 5 gallon food/aquarium safe buckets
* Pitcher
* Small and Medium fish net
* Tongs
* Turkey Baster
* Hanging Rack
* Lazy Susan (for storage)
* Water additives (?)
* Gloves

Final Thoughts

I really would love any feedback possible. Also going to be spending a lot of time going through other similar established builds on the forums and reading as much as I can.

When making livestock suggestions, bonus points for anything native to Indo-Pacific region. Aside from thematic considerations, I figure it should be easier to please everything if they like the same/similar conditions.

I know this is probably boring for most people but thanks for taking the time to read through this and hopefully let me know your thoughts. I do plan on continuing to update this thread as things progress.
 

jmcdaniel0

New member
Looks like you have a solid plan. I would skip putting live rock in the back chambers. It is just going to create a cleaning nightmare.

Otherwise, I think you will be off to good start. I look forward to seeing your tank develop.
 

Scurvy Dawg

New member
I would scrap that sponge between chamber 2 and 3. It's not needed and will only cause problems down the line.

I know you said you want to keep the wet/dry filter stock, but I would swap it out if you can. A media basket that forces all the water flow through a smaller area is much more effective. In the long run, it will be cheaper anyway because those filter cartridges are not cheap.

You will need a device to measure your salinity even if you buy pre-mixed water. Don't skimp out a one of those cheap floating arm type hydrometers. They are very inaccurate. You can pick up a refractometer on-line for around 20 bucks.

Also, don't use any filtration during your cycle phase. Waste of money and it slows down the cycle process.
 

Iamgarrett

New member
Thanks for the feedback. Minor updates to plan:

* Dropping the Biocube cartridge because I ONLY hear bad things about that. And when everyone agrees on something (a rarity) it's smart to sit up and listen.
* Similarly I will invest in a refractometer from the get-go.
* I've been sold on the InTank media baskets and refugium basket. Should hopefully be available by the time I'm ready to add media.
* Since I want to have a mini fuge with Chaeto I'm keeping the sponge. But I'm gonna get a second one and rinse/dry/swap them out weekly.
* I'm sticking with live rock in the back chambers, and if I later throw it away after going through cleaning I will send jmcdaniel0 a $20 gift card to the lfs of his choice lol.


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Seattle_Reef

New member
Very well-planned, well done! I'm a molecular biologist by day, and I like the scientific way that you are going about this. I have a 32 cube as well and I'm running the Coralife skimmer in chamber 1. I have a heater in chamber 1 too, as your planning. I'm using a Finnex 100W heater and it fits nice. I like it because the controller is outside and well done the cord.

As someone else said, get rid of the black sponge between chambers 2 & 3. That just restricts flow and is a place for detritis and organic matter to accumulate.

I like the aquascape - I'm jealous!
 

Seattle_Reef

New member
Very well-planned, well done! I'm a molecular biologist by day, and I like the scientific way that you are going about this. I have a 32 cube as well and I'm running the Coralife skimmer in chamber 1. I have a heater in chamber 1 too, as your planning. I'm using a Finnex 100W heater and it fits nice. I like it because the controller is outside and well done the cord.

As someone else said, get rid of the black sponge between chambers 2 & 3. That just restricts flow and is a place for detritis and organic matter to accumulate.

I like the aquascape - I'm jealous!

Forget the comment about the aquascape, I was thinking of the other recent post with a new 32, hehe. I'm sure yours will be great too!
 

Blitz132

New member
As someone else said, get rid of the black sponge between chambers 2 & 3. That just restricts flow and is a place for detritis and organic matter to accumulate.

What would you guys use beside the sponge? I to plan on using the 2nd chamber with the InTank Fuse and having Chaeto in it. I heard that if you don't use something between chamber 2/3, then you will clog your pump?
 

jmcdaniel0

New member
Thanks for the feedback. Minor updates to plan:

* Dropping the Biocube cartridge because I ONLY hear bad things about that. And when everyone agrees on something (a rarity) it's smart to sit up and listen.
* Similarly I will invest in a refractometer from the get-go.
* I've been sold on the InTank media baskets and refugium basket. Should hopefully be available by the time I'm ready to add media.
* Since I want to have a mini fuge with Chaeto I'm keeping the sponge. But I'm gonna get a second one and rinse/dry/swap them out weekly.
* I'm sticking with live rock in the back chambers, and if I later throw it away after going through cleaning I will send jmcdaniel0 a $20 gift card to the lfs of his choice lol.


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HAHAHA I love it. It was just a pain for me to keep clean. the InTank Basket is the way to go for sure, glad you decided on that. They are kinda expensive, but the fit and function is second to none. I am in the process of rearranging my media basket to hold a nice wad of chaeto in there.

Have you thought about how you will light your refugium?

I am considering just dropping one of these in the back with the chaeto.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Q2W4X76/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1FY6ETTEX30C
 

ReeferGrower

New member
What would you guys use beside the sponge? I to plan on using the 2nd chamber with the InTank Fuse and having Chaeto in it. I heard that if you don't use something between chamber 2/3, then you will clog your pump?

Im wondering the same here as we both plan on running similar setups.
 

Iamgarrett

New member
Regarding the sponge:

My theory is that it only becomes a problem when people don't swap it out regularly with a spare. Every time it looks gunky or every water change (whichever comes first), the plan is to take it out, rinse out thoroughly, and let it dry out while replacing it with the other one. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

It's worth the extra work to avoid replacing the pump regularly due to Chaeto bits.

Question: Has anyone who swaps out their sponge had the same detritus issues?


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bo0sted2g

New member
looks like this is going to be a good build! I'll definitely be following along.
I am currently in the process of getting my tank up and running too. I am hoping to get my cycle going a few days after christmas. Waiting on my heater and refractometer to come in the mail and then we are good to go!
 

ReeferGrower

New member
Thinking is about all I can do this week.

I was going to go with Coralife's mini light but most of the reviews I saw talked about bulbs going out as frequently as every few WEEKS.

So, now I'm thinking this instead:
http://drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=28241


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Ive got a small 36 bulb led light coming from ebay with suction cup mounts. Ill post pics if it seems like its going to work how I plan.
 

rajilnaja

New member
I currently have a plate coral and an elegance coral on the sandband under the stock lights. However they have both been in only about a month and a half, I've seen growth on the elegance coral. I hounded corallife for info on the lights and they advised I should be getting almost 400 Par in the top couple inches of the tank, currently have some monti in that range and a birdnest a little lower. Its only been about 3 months so far so no long term information yet.
 

Iamgarrett

New member
I currently have a plate coral and an elegance coral on the sandband under the stock lights. However they have both been in only about a month and a half, I've seen growth on the elegance coral. I hounded corallife for info on the lights and they advised I should be getting almost 400 Par in the top couple inches of the tank, currently have some monti in that range and a birdnest a little lower. Its only been about 3 months so far so no long term information yet.



Thanks for the info! How's the plate doing?

I took photos of the PAR charts from the box, the numbers drop fast as you go lower in the tank and farther from the center.


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ReeferGrower

New member
$13 led refugium light. Goes from bottom chamber just to the top of the next one up. About 9" total lighted length. Seems like it should work well.
 

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Iamgarrett

New member
Day 1: May the Cycle Begin

So....some financial delays left the empty aquarium sitting there for ages, but I've FINALLY got it started up.

Not much to report yet, naturally. Here are some cell phone photos of the rockscape. I still need to level the sand out a bit better, and the darn sensor for the heater refuses to stay put. Getting a powerhead this week. Mostly it's not just patience and watching for hitchhikers for now.

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