Back to the Hobby after Over a Decade


Premium Member
Hello All,

I am overjoyed to be able to return to reefkeeping after an over decade long hiatus. Reefcentral was such a great asset in the past and I am looking forward to diving back in.

When I started the first time around, I was in college and had hours and hours to dedicate to researching everything reefkeeping, but these days, I fear my hours are a bit more limited and I may be coming to this a bit more uninformed, so please have patience with me. I'm sure I have forgotten a lot and that a lot has changed. With that in mind, I'd love to begin my journey on getting back up to speed.

So here is a very rough draft of my plans for my new setup. I'm sure I haven't thought of lots of other info I need to include and equipment and supplies I'll need to consider acquiring, so questions, advice, thoughts, suggestions, and comments are welcomed.

I am going with a 90G mixed reef with fish. I've done soft and LPS corals in the past and would like to try some SPS, too, with this tank. I'm aiming for my costs to be between $5K-$10K and am hoping this is a realistic budget.

- Tank "“ 90G Long SCA PNP system "“ With my limited time to research individual parts and my limited skills with plumbing, I think I'll need to go with a good all in one. As far as optional upgrades/additions available on the site, I'm not sure which I should be considering or really what some of them are TBH. The largest tank I've had in the past was a ~34g Red Sea Max so I have no experience with a sump or doing any serious plumbing. I watched an online video on assembling an SCA PNP system using the provided parts and I think I can handle it, but I'm a bit worried about whether the included items are sufficient or if I need to seriously consider some sort up upgrade on the plumbing parts. I am aware of the SCA owners thread on here, and I will work my way through it, but any tips or suggestions are appreciated.

- RO/DI System "“ 6 stage 75GPD RO/DI system from Bulk Reef Supply. This is the only equipment I've already purchased and have had set up. The unit itself is in the basement with one RO outlet plumbed into my fridge from the storage tank for drinking water along with two additional outlets (just the little tubes with the open/close valve) in the basement, one for RO water and another for the RO/DI water (for the tank). I plan on using large food grade trash bins for water storage. I'd like to set up some sort of automation for turning on and shutting off the RO/DI water production, but wasn't sure how hard that would be.

- Live Rock/Live Sand "“ I've used Tampa Bay Saltwater's "œPackage" in the past and was really happy with it and was planning on going with them again, unless there's a great reputable alternative I should be considering.

- Lights "“ I'm guessing I'm terribly out of date on this one. I've seen some info on LEDs and am very interested in this option, but based on very little research on my part at this point. As mentioned above, I'm planning on a mixed reef with mostly LPS but would love to try some SPS and maybe a clam this time around. Measurements for the SCA PNP 90G long are 48L x 18W x 24H. It seems like I keep seeing these suggestions: Kessil AP700, Radions, and AI Hydras so I plan to look into these further, but I haven't set my heart on anything yet.

That's as far as I've gotten so far on the big ticket items. I know I have a long way to go. I'm planning on starting my collection of basic supplies (salt, water tests, etc.) soon. I haven't even started considering which fish to include in my tank, but with the increase in tank size, I'm hoping I have a few more options than with my previous 34G nano. Although I do still love clownfish and firefish and will likely include them in this new tank.

I can't believe I'm finally starting this hobby up again. Fingers crossed and wish me luck.


New member
Welcome back!

I cant speak on RODI automation, as I havent done it myself, but I know lots of people do have it setup. One reason some choose not to have it automated is due to potential failure and flood. If for whatever reason RODI doesnt turn off when it should, you are looking at the flood. Some are OK with that risk, others not so much.

In terms of LEDs, it all depends. There are a lot of choices out there, It really comes down to what features you would like your unit to have. Dawn/Dusk/Moon light, 6+ channels of control, WiFi connectivity, mobile app, and so on. When it comes down to it, none of these features will make corals grow any better or worse, but for some they are a must. You are paying for features in the end, and if you arent going to use them, or dont care for them, then they are a waste of money. Even a cheap chinese black box like Viparspectra 165W will grow any coral you can dream of, but it doesnt have any of the mentioned features. Of course cost for 2 of those would be around $230 (which is what you would need for your tank) vs a lot more for Ai, Radion and Kessil. Another option to look into is Reefbreeders Photon V2+ Great unit, has all the bells and whistles, and is cheaper than 3 big ones mentioned. 1 of those over your tank will grow anything you want coral wise. 1 thing I will say is, stay away from any unit that is using 0.5W LEDs. those are nowhere powerful enough and should be used for shallow tank and low light corals only.


Premium Member
Thank you so much for the info and the welcome! I'll have to check out those lights, too.

I had a little time last night so I decided to jump online to do a little more research into my lighting options when I discovered that the gen 5 Radions have just been or are soon to be released. Here I am trying to play catch up and time/tech just keeps marching on.


Crab Free Zone
Premium Member
Welcome back.
I simply could not afford anything but Chinese black boxes for lights.
The good thing is that the results I got from the CBB were fantastic, and a bit surprised they handled my six clams, SPS, and Acros.
Three years now and going strong, not much in the special effects category, but my corals love the light.
So in the end, what would have cost me $1000, only cost me $200.
Just a thought if budget is tight.


New member
For automation you may want to look into Aquarium controllers such as Neptune Apex and GHL.

I run an Apex and are about to automate my RODI. I already have an Auto Shutoff valve fitted to my reservoir so will use that as a backup but the primary control will be two optical sensors (low and high level). I will use an Apex solenoid to control water going to the RODI and a second solenoid off a Tee between the RO and DI cartridges to run an RO flush cycle for 2 mins each time it turns on to extend the life of my DI resin. My reservoir is located outside so a failure of the inlet solenoid is not a big risk to me, but if you are worried about that you can simply fit 2 solenoids in line for redundancy.

When the low level optical sensor is opened (i.e. water drops below it) for more than 10 seconds the Apex will turn on (open) the inlet solenoid and the RO flush solenoid. After 2 mins it will turn off the RO flush solenoid. As soon as the high level optical sensor is closed (i.e water covers it) for more than 10 seconds the Apex will turn off the inlet solenoid. Should the inlet solenoid fail open then the Auto Shutoff Valve will stop the system.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


Welcome back helenjc.

I would look into waterbox aquariums too, really nice options at great prices.

Stay away from live or cultured rock and go dry rock, CaribSea life rock is a great option. Pest free and eco friendly.

For flow I would do mix of Gyre and mp 40's.

For lighting I would look into new g5 radions or hydra 64's.

For filtration in back chambers go marine pure bio balls and cheato back there. Make sure you use cheato thats pest free from places like algae barn.

If you get all Ecotech products including your return pump, the new Mobius system should eliminate need for a controller and control everything lights and pumps.

Welcome to 2020 reefing!


Premium Member
Thank you all for the replies and valuable info.

After a lot of thought, on the LEDs, I think I will probably be going with the Reefbreeders Photon V2+. I really had my heart set on going top of the line with the Radions, but I don't think I can justify the increased costs for the incremental improvement and am happy that I have a little more breathing room in the budget for other stuff. Thank you cvrle1 and Uncle99 for convincing me to go a more reasonable route.

I've never been much of a techie, but it looks like there's a lot of options out there for automation and monitoring. Kind of overwhelming. Thank you Tastee for the info on least the parts that were in English ;) I definitely have a lot to learn.

Thank you 748S911 for all the info. I will be sure to keep it in mind. I looked up the pumps/wavemakers you mentioned and they all seem to keep the display tank looking so nice and neat. And I like the easy cleaning feature. But oh so pricey. I've put them on my maybe list, depending on how much I wind up spending on some other items.

I've reached out to SCA by email to start talking about ordering a PNP setup.


Premium Member
OK, so I took a big step yesterday. I was having second thoughts on the SCA PNP system due to the MDF tank stand and had inquired about upgrading to a wood stand when I realized i don't really like the look of their wood stands. So, I checked out Waterbox (thank you 748S911 for the suggestion) and decided to go with them. Much sleeker looking, includes a plywood stand, and slightly different tank measurements, which I like, a little shorter on the height (easier to reach the bottom of the tank with my short arms) but a little more depth (or width) which the hubby likes (he would've preferred a more cube shape tank, but I like the 4 ft length). I took the plunge and ordered the Waterbox Reef 130.4 model. No idea yet on processing and delivery time.


Premium Member
I went with the black stand. I've heard rumors of very long delivery times but I'll be checking in with the vendor tomorrow. Fingers crossed.


Premium Member
I signed my freight documents for the Waterbox 130.4 today. If the timing that was given to me is accurate, I think I should have my tank late next week or early the week after that.

I've also just placed my order for TBS live rock. Unfortunately, there's quite a waiting list. Fingers crossed for good diving weather.


New member
were do a mirror build !! I have been out for about 7 years, I have a bunch of leftover rock that is dry , I will bleach and start a cycle. I am ordering a Waterbox 100.3 and will keep a mix reef with SPS. I just met the owner of Reefbuilder lights at a frag show in CT and decided to go with the Photon V2 over the other big commercial brand names as well. Lots of the people at the show love the lights, had great corals and couldnt stop talking about quality and the customer service/warranty if needed. Plus, I can get a single Photon that should support my tank/needs for approx half the cost of the AI or Radions needed (so I could use that money elsewhere as I am building all new !!)
Good luck, excited to follow your build


Premium Member
were do a mirror build !! I have been out for about 7 years, I have a bunch of leftover rock that is dry , I will bleach and start a cycle. I am ordering a Waterbox 100.3 and will keep a mix reef with SPS. I just met the owner of Reefbuilder lights at a frag show in CT and decided to go with the Photon V2 over the other big commercial brand names as well. Lots of the people at the show love the lights, had great corals and couldnt stop talking about quality and the customer service/warranty if needed. Plus, I can get a single Photon that should support my tank/needs for approx half the cost of the AI or Radions needed (so I could use that money elsewhere as I am building all new !!)
Good luck, excited to follow your build

Twins!! My thoughts exactly on the lights.

I've received my waterbox 130.4 and have assembled the stand, but with this self quarantine, I can't get another (preferably beefy) adult to help me and my husband to move the it's stuck in the garage for now. That sucker is HEAVY and we need to get it up a half flight of stairs. With delayed shipping times on everything, my other equipment is slowly trickling in so I can play a little here and there, but the main event is stuck in the garage. I've ordered some suction cup handles and dollies in the hopes those will make moving the tank with just my husband and I possible. Fingers crossed.

I did get news that Richard at TBS is back in business and filling backorders, so hopefully once he's ready to ship to me my tank will be up and running.


Premium Member
Yowza, does time fly. Thought that I'd post an update since things are starting to roll again with my tank project.

I don't know how, but my husband and I managed to get the tank up the half flight of stairs and onto the stand. Just barely. Dollies and the handles definitely helped.

Assembly of the tank stand would have been easy, except that one of the holes in the stand didn't line up. After correspondence with Waterbox, advice from other Waterbox owners, and a lot of elbow grease, I got it to a place where I felt comfortable that everything was structurally sound. I heard that this problem was not uncommon from other Waterbox owners and expected a bit more from Waterbox for the price and reputation. On the plus side, Waterbox does have great customer service and was very responsive. And of course, the tank and stand are beautiful.

I ran a leak test and all looked good.

Here is an update on my equipment list:

Return pump - Ecotech Vectra M2
Skimmer - Bubble Magus Curve 5
Water Movement - 1 Gyre XF330

Biggest change was to my lighting. Earlier this week, since I was getting back on track, I was looking online to purchase my Reefbreeders Photon V2 48" but they were out of stock at both Reefbreeders and all of my usual online vendors. So after looking again at my lighting options, I went all out and took the plunge and purchased 2 Radion XR30 G5 Blue. I wrestled for a while between the Pros and Blues and landed on the Blues. I didn't get to see either in real life, so hopefully I made the right choice. My lights are set to be delivered this coming Wednesday.

When I started this project, I was planning on a 90G and felt comfortable not having someone take a look at my floor joists based on weight and initial plans for placement (perpendicular to multiple floor joists), but after upgrading to the Waterbox 130.4 and deciding on a new location (unfortunately parallel to my floor joists and now also sharing floor joists with my husband's freshwater planted tank), I decided I should have a structural engineer take a look at the floors. His expertise cost me $750 (boo) but the recommended fix (just a support jack under the center of the beam (happens to be a double beam) that both tanks rest on in my unfinished basement) will only cost $150. If my husband or I were any handier, we probably could've managed the whole thing for just $100 and some elbow grease, but we're both clueless, and we're both worriers, so I'm glad we're getting it done right. He should be coming sometime next week to put the support jack in.

I also just got notice from Richard at TBS that he's diving so hopefully my tank will have something living in it (even if just beneficial bacteria and hitchhikers on my live rocks) within a week or two.


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New member
I would add a second membrane to the rodi unit (much less waste water) when $ allows, it's a wise choice and gives you longer filter life.

A second carbon membrane depending on your water source can take some of the load off of the DI side.

A lot is new...some stuff works, some is a waste of coin.