Mike and Ashley's 150g reef tank (our first)

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by WCKDVPR, May 31, 2017.


    WCKDVPR Guest

    Hi All,

    I wanted to thank all the members that provided insight and will continue to do so going forward in making our endeavor a successful one. So very excited to be building a reef tank with my daughter. This will be built around a Crystal Dynamics 150 gallon tank (60" x 24" x 24"). It is Eurobraced with a 20" Synergy overflow.

    I have ordered a bunch of stuff and it has started arriving, so I thought I would get this thread going and hopefully gain additional information from experienced members as this progresses. We are open to all suggestions and advice, thanks!

    So far, we have the following:
    • RO/DI system with reservoir tanks for RO/DI (65g) and Salt water(105g) and a Sicce 3.0 for moving water from the RO/DI to the Salt reservoir and for stirring the Salt water
    • Tideline 48 sump - wanted the biggest that would fit. Looked at the CL-44, but there was a 2-3 month lead and I couldn't wait.
    • Apex controller
    • (2) Apex WAV powerheads
    • Apex ATK (I think I may have received one of the first ones)
    • (2) BRS single reactors (one for GFO, one for Carbon)
    • (2) Finnex 500W heaters
    • SRO 3000INT protein skimmer
    • Varios-8 return pump
    Tank and stand are set to arrive on Tuesday.

    Still undecided on what to do for lighting..................our plan is to start with (hopefully) the easier lifeforms to maintain and then progress as we gain experience, so we will want lighting that will grow with the tank. Looking at staying with LEDs as it will be in the family room where we hang out a lot, so heat is an issue. Thinking maybe 2 Kessil AP700s. We like the natural looking shimmer (without color separation on the sand) and two should provide good coverage for the length tank. Open to input, thanks.

    We have some ideas for what we want in aquascaping and looking at probably doing Macro Rock with emaco (first time for everything). Our whole family scuba dives, so we are going after something natural looking to us (whatever that means). I may just get in contact with Jestersix. The Eurobracing may make that a bit interesting (4" all around, making the top width opening only 16" to drop something through).

    Any thoughts on sand? We will be enjoying the capabilities of the Apex/WAV, so the size should be compatible with a decent amount of flow/waves without moving it around.

    Thoughts on the best way to start the cycle? Thinking Dr. Tim's One and Only.

    Reactors, do people just drop their reactors in the protein skimmer chamber and let the reactor water returns dump there as well? They have nice mounting brackets, but I have seen them just sitting in the sump on a number of tanks (to maintain water temp?). FYI - I am going to plumb the reactor inputs off of the return line.

    OK, this is a build thread and the tank isn't here yet, so I installed the reservoir tanks. We just received the RO/DI, which will be mounted to the wall behind the small tank. About 6 feet to the right in the picture and through the wall is a bathroom where I can access the water outlet and drain for the RO/DI system. Using the clear hose I can pump either RO/DI or Salt water out (e.g. to a 5g jug and haul it over to the quarantine tank) and it has a hose fitting on the end that I can connect to a garden hose and drain either tank. I plan to drop the Apex ATK pump into the RO/DI tank and run that to the sump for ATO, though it is about a 40 foot run either though my wife's office or outside in some protective PVC tubing (worried a bit about freezing the water in the line if I run it outside, as it sometimes gets cold enough at our house). One of these days, I'll get an auto water exchange up and running from the Salt water reservoir following the ATO line.


    As for inhabitants - we would like to do an anemone with a pair of clowns, and then choose suitable other critters (been looking at all the various compatibility charts). Would like to do some additional fish, invertebrates, and corals. Totally open to suggestions.

    Seems like a good place to start, we'll continue to post updates, pictures, and most assuredly questions.

    Thanks everyone!

    Best regards,
    Mike and Ashley
  2. scuzy

    scuzy Supporting Member

    Good luck with tank. Can't wait to see.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
  3. Newjack

    Newjack Supporting Member

    Pm me when your tank is ready. I have a tank full of RBTA captive splits for over a decade. I would be glad to donate to you and your daughter for the anenome part of your inhabitants to get you started.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  4. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Wow 1kw heater. Hold cold does your place get? For my 140g system I have a pair of 150w with the 2nd one only kick on if the first one is unable to maintain temperature and that almost never happen.

    For sand, I used Caribsea seaflor special grade reef sand and really like it. It is coarse enough that the WAV doesn't blow it around. I do have spots where the flow pattern carved valleys into.

    IMO, best way to start cycle is to get a small rock from a tank that you trust and chuck it in there. That would seed your pod at the same time as bacteria.

    For livestock, if you like a ton of activity, a big school of lyretail anthias and a bunch of flasher wrasses.

    Pretty sweet mixing station.
    Ranjib Dey likes this.

    WCKDVPR Guest

    Thanks All,

    Newjack - I'll definitely ping you, thanks!

    Phoung - in winter at night our house drops to 63-65 F (my wife likes it cool at night). I wanted to be able to run off one heater and effectively have the other as a backup. BRS suggested this power rating and the cost delta for more wattage is pretty small.

    I've heard good things about the Special Reef sand, so a likely choice. We should get the dry sand, as we don't want to introduce anything unknown, correct? As far as how much (lbs), there are calculators and "recommendations" from distributors ranging from 75 lbs to 200 lbs all for a 1" bed in a 60" x 24" area. Hmmm. Anyone have some insight there on how much to get of this sand? Is this available locally at a good price to avoid shipping expenses, or is it cheaper to order online and pay shipping?

    Guess I need to find a rock I trust to throw in the tank :)

    Can't wait for the tank to show up and walk through our plumbing schematic before I order all the parts.

    On the mixing station, looking forward to the day we get the auto exchange running off of it. I figure it should be pretty simple just running a pump with dual heads (easiest way to match flow rates and ensure both run at the same time) one in and one out off of the Apex for X amount of time per day. Seems much more cost effective than some I have seen (Litermeter 3 with slave pump, calibrating flows, shut-off redundancy, etc). If you just have one pump running two heads, there should never be a fluid volume issue unless you blow one line.

    Best regards,
  6. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Great to hear about the new tank, first timers too! 150gallons is very impressive as a first tank. I would be interested to see how that Synergy overflow works with that eurobracing, like how do you possibly clean it out, etc.

    Lighting: LEDs are a good choice, they allow the greatest of flexibility as far as color spectrum that YOU want without having to test various bulbs. High end lighting like Ecotech Radio, Aqua Illuminition HydraHD (same company owns these two), or Kessil are all good choices, but Kessils will be a bit different than the other two as far as the light that is delivered. You could also go with a bit more budget lighting like Maxspect which gives you the ability to control a spectrum, but is a bit lower in cost to the others. The only problem with using LEDs is there are a lot of options to choose from, and ultimately it's what do you feel comfortable with.

    Marco rock is a good choice, last like you want to do is introduce an aiptasia or other nasty that will a persistent pest in your tank for all of eternity. As for the aquascape, don't be afraid to use your own imagination. Tape out an outline of your tank on a piece of cardboard , and just go to town. While there are those who say the "rock wall" look is horrible, it's your tank, what you decide looks good is what looks good. Just some things to watch out for, don't get too close to the glass as you want to be able to get a hand or magnetic scrape between them so you can clean. But most of all leave room for corals to grow, this is probably the hardest part to do because you have to envision where corals are going to grow, how high, etc. so it's like drawing a picture but then leaving out at least half of the picture, not an easy thing to do for everyone.

    Putting reactors in the sump chamber, or any chamber really is fine. You'll be taking off your return pump so just make sure that 1) you have a strong enough return pump to hand everything and 2) have a valve for each reactor so you can control the flow individually, and 3) make sure the reactor can be disconnected easily for maintenance, servicing, etc. The main reason people put them in the sump area though is when they open take a top off or something they don't have to worry about making a wet mess.

    There literally are hundreds of little things you want to think about, and most of which we all forget about in some way, when setting up a tank, so feel please keep asking questions. There are at least a half dozen different ways to do anything related to this hobby, so if you don't like something (due to cost, complexity, etc) think about doing it differently.
    Coral reefer likes this.
  7. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    on sand you can get it from Dr Foster smith 40lbs bag for ~$40 with free shipping.
  8. scuzy

    scuzy Supporting Member

    What skimmer are you planning on using?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    WCKDVPR Guest


    We went for a 150 as it should allow us some volume for stability (so we can make minor mistakes as we learn and hopefully not kill everything), we have a nice space for it, and we wanted options on what we can put in the tank.

    As for the Synergy, the weir is held on magnetically, so it pops off for easy cleaning (or I hope it is easy cleaning)

    Front Overflow Box
    20″ x 1.35″ x 5.75″
    2 x 1.5″ ABS Bulkheads (Fits up to 5/8″ or 15 mm Glass or Acrylic tanks) *** Can be special ordered for up to 1″ thickness***
    Removable Magnetic Weir (Only overflow design available with this feature, Allows you to clean the teeth on the weir with very easy removal)
    1.5″ Water level

    Rear Box 20″ x 4.375″ x 7″
    3 x 1.5″ ABS Bulkheads for easy removal and replacement
    3 Pipe Full Siphon Overflow capability!
    Removable Black Polycarbonate lid (reduces noise, eliminates salt creep and light from entering the rear box)

    Yes, lighting has so many choices. Been going to all the LFSs looking at what each LED manufacturer looks like. Good to know on Drs for the sand.

    I got a big DC pump, so it should run the reactors fine. Good thinking on opening the reactors and not leaking water everywhere. In the sump they will go! I'll be putting in lots of unions and valves.

    Best regards,

    WCKDVPR Guest

    We have a Super Reef Octopus 3000 INT
  11. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Looks like a nice start there.

    In regards to the sand, I used 60# of sand. 30# of it was Tropic Eden mini flakes and the other 30# was Tropic Eden reef flakes. If I was to do it over, I would do it with all reef flakes since it's a bit larger and can stand more flow in a predominantly SPS tank. The 60# of Tropic Eden got me an average of 2.25" depth throughout on my 30x20 footprint. The footprint is about 1/2 the size of your tank, so you can go with 2 bags and see if that'll work for you.

    I also wouldn't run the carbon/GFO reactors initially, especially on a new setup. They tend to strip the water too much during the early months of a tank start up and can prolong the maturing process for the tank. Bring them online as needed.

    WCKDVPR Guest


    Thanks. We were trying to make informed decisions, hopefully we didn't run too far astray on some things. I was going to inquire about when to start running reactors, so that is good advice. I don't want to get behind and start chasing things, so with that in mind, when would be a good time to bring the reactors online?

    Regarding rock, I have seen people put they rocks on pvc and acrylic bases, as well as set it directly on the tank bottom. Any recommendations there and why someone would do one or the other?

  13. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    When to bring reactor online - when you feel that your water change routine can't keep nutrient (nitrate/phosphate) in reasonable level any more.

    As for rock, i put mine directly on the glass. Our tank glass is pretty strong, especially when sit on proper support. This is a good demonstration
  14. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Each tank is different and each person's take is gonna be different, but from my standpoint, I'd say that it would be months before I would even consider running either reactors if at all. GAC (carbon) is useful for when you're trying to polish the water since it strips odor, discoloration, as well as any chemicals in the water, regardless of whether or not you added them yourself. It has a wider application vs. GFO, which is for the most part used for control of phosphates, and in certain applications deliberately used to remove tin and iron.

    As for rocks and how they're laid out with PVC, acrylic bases, acrylic rods, zip ties, and etc., that's gonna be dependent on what kind of scape you're trying to achieve. Most that run any of those or a combo of those are usually running bare bottom tanks, where the rocks are either sitting directly on the glass or are sitting on starboard. They're mostly used for creating bonsai looks where ledges and overhangs are being created and they're used to add leverage and support for those pieces. Emarco, nyos cement, and even two part epoxy are also used to attach rocks to each other. Nyos and two part can be used submerged and emarco does better when it's a bit on the dryer side. Use Emarco if you're playing around with rockscapes to secure the rocks to each other. After the rocks are in the tank, then you can consider Nyos or another binder as needed for any adjustments or additions.

    WCKDVPR Guest

    Thanks, that is great advice.

    Any good suggestions on how to easily cut the rock (prefer not to drill a bunch of holes and chisel).

    Best regards,
  16. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Band saw? Good for cutting flat base that face the glass
  17. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Yup, it's real easy to give advice and spend the money of someone else who you don't know :D
  18. Wlachnit

    Wlachnit Vice President

    It was great meeting you and your daughter a couple of weeks ago at the meet.

    I use an angle grinder to cut rock when I want a clean cut. If it's a jagged cut, then I use a cold chisel or a hammer claw. Some rock such as pukani breaks really easily while others such as BRS dry rock takes a bit more effort.
  19. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Only if you've already spent yours first. :p

    I've only used a cold chisel, rock hammer, and the good 'ole sidewalk to break rocks apart. Gives the rocks a more natural look, although sometimes the break aren't where you want them to be. BRS rock is probably the hardest of the bunch as Will mentioned.
  20. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    I'm a fan of Caribsea special grade sand as well. Live sand doesn't contain critters, it's only seeded with bacteria to help start your cycle. You'll get more for your money if you buy dry sand though.

    For rocks, I'm a fan of BRS pukani dry rock. Very porous, light and reasonably priced. You'll likely need less total weight than other rocks because of size to weight ratio. It's very dirty (seems to come pretty much straight from ocean and left to dry) so it needs to be cured beforehand (took me 31 days to cure and cycle in a bin in the garage).

    I didn't use anything to start my cycle or bacteria to help it along. Pukani rock provided all the ammonia I needed to get it going. If you choose to go with a dry rock that's cleaner, you can use raw shrimp to get it going, but I prefer using something that's measurable. I used ammonia cleaner from Ace Hardware to check my cycle after it was done (once cycle is done, 2ppm of ammonia should be processed within 18-24 hours). Dr. Tim's also has and ammonia chloride.

    I started my GFO and carbon from the start along with a fuge (with chaeto) - then I added bio-pellets, which hurt me a bit. Because of all this, I was running an extreme ultra low nutrient system that paled out a bunch of my acros because of they were malnourished. Problem was fixed with a lot of extra feeding and acropower. I mounted my reactors on the side of cabinet over the sump mostly because of lack of space in my sump, I don't have a problem with water spillage, but that's because they're over the sump. Even if I had a bigger sump, I'd rather keep them out of it. More room for a bigger fuge or for frag space.

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