Jestersix

Michael's 168 build

Hello Everyone,

My name is Michael and this is my tank journal.

I got into aquariums in approximately 2015 when I let go of my crested gecko breeding setup and decided to move from reptiles to fish. I wanted to incorporate a salt water reef tank into my home for quite a long time, so when my remodel became a reality, I decided to start a 13.5 AIO "trainer" tank at my parents house, but for me to learn on. That tank is still running today but is another story. My general contractor/friend has installed a tank in the bedroom with a one way mirror so that the reef can be seen from both sides, but the bedroom could not be seen from the living area. Unfortunately, I could not do exactly this, but was able to find a place where the tank can act as as a visual pass through in one of the walls in a peninsula style of tank. I studied lots of systems at local stores and decided a custom tank was required to optimize the design of the house, while ensuring a clean and finished look. We decided that given the costs, and that we could fabricate mostly anything on site, that a painted steel stand would best serve the long term goals of the tank.

We measured the space we had and designed the tank that would fit the space.

I did the CAD for the steel stand, leaving ~4" of space for the ghost overflow.


20180824_160055.jpg


Crystal Dynamics was the tank manufacturer.

54X30X24_Peninsula_Ghost_1.jpg

We ordered 1/4" thick, 2" square steel tubing oversized to my house, and bribed my EE friend to come over and hook up his welder.

20181010_170838.jpg


20181010_170844.jpg


Buy harbor freight if you need it once or twice, buy better if you need it a lot. Yes, I got sunburn/weld burn on my exposed arm. But no other injuries.

20181013_153630.jpg


We used white appliance paint to coat the steel.

20181014_133858.jpg


Added nice plywood to the top and base to support the tank and the sump. We also made a dedicated breaker for the aquarium as well as 8 outlets on high gauge wire. I thought that would be enough (and with power strips, it is). Pro tip, make friends with your electrician, and tell him early what you are trying to do.

20181101_165042.jpg
20181102_124423.jpg


Now in comes the tank

20181107_181902.jpg


And apparently, you can only attach 10 files, so here we go onto the next one.
 
Last edited:
20181107_182548.jpg


Tank is in place and ready for cabinetry.

20181221_205949.jpg


Added shower pan liner to the bottom for waterproofing, because spills happen.





20181219_095506.jpg


The cabinet doors were extra from the remodel because the cabinet makers made a batch of doors too tall for the kitchen, but they worked great here. I chose to go with a crushed coral bottom and dry reef rock. The sump was made by ocean flex. I had to wait an extra few weeks because I wanted the flow to go from right to left with a front facing sump.

20181222_091448.jpg

Dec 2018

We completed plumbing using a Vectra L1 pump. I was not going to get dozens of buckets from the LFS, so here we see the middle of a two day fill of RODI. One of the LFS owners tried to sell me on needing 2x ap700's from day 1, which I bought, then returned one unopened because it seemed excessive this early, and expensive.


20181224_182921.jpg


I seeded the tank with some live rock from the previously mentioned 13.5.


20181225_151725.jpg


We wanted the bubble tip anemone out of the small tank because it was stinging other coral, so here it is with some mushrooms and zoas.


20181226_183552.jpg


Dragon Faced Pipe fish and Yellow Tail Blue Damsel

I did not know the horrors of damsels and was told that with a tank my size "things would be fine" by the same guy who tried to sell me 2x ap700's for my tank for day 1. They were wrong on this one too. My damsel was an aggressor and didn't stop until I trapped and donated them back to the LFS. I lost a few fish to what I believe was stress from this guy, because once I returned him, the mysterious deaths stopped.


20190131_125917.jpg


Here is a view from the front door. I started adding pieces I could get for affordable off of craigslist and some small frags from the LFS.
 
Last edited:
20190207_214149.jpg
20190207_121634.jpg

Jan 2019

A Vertex Omega 180I open box deal sounded like a great deal, and really it has been a good skimmer over the last couple years. I also quickly found the need for an ATO. I went for a optical sensor one as to not drill into my sump. I also knew the importance of a battery backup early on, so I ordered one, and a second one appeared, so I have 2 now. I also tried to organize the wiring, and didn't do a terrible job here.

20190120_102701.jpg


Added a pistol shrimp, who is very loud.



20190512_161410.jpg

March 2019

I knew I didn't want to do water changes on a tank this big, so I upgraded my dosing and ATO setup. I am a big fan of these Bubble Magnus dosing pumps. I set the mL/day, and it doses it in automagically (yes, magic) spread out doses.


20190210_091333.jpg



I tried some LPS and some sps frags, as well as this tube worm. You can see some red and green blastos that I also got when I got the plate and hammer corals.

20190701_083834.jpg


Added some fish and inverts.


20190703_122803.jpg


The mushroom leather came from my parents tank, and the green sinularia came from a local reefer.
 
20190207_121132.jpg

Feb 2019



20190706_110931.jpg


This pistol shrimp and watchman goby combination are extremely active, and fun to watch.

20190701_083837.jpg

July 2019
You can see the head on of my Two Bar Rabbit Fish and my Yellow Tang, these are two of my oldest fish besides the Watchman goby. Also, the blastos are not looking good (its ok, happy ending ahead)

20190812_204426.jpg

August 2019

Time to up the game again, adding a drop shelf with polycarbonate and all-thread, to my back yard screwed together dosing container shelf made from Ikea table legs and a scrap 1x4. Note that the dosing container on the right, I moved away from as the alkalinity ate through the plastic.




20191002_185133.jpg

October 2019

Learning more and adding trace element dosing with boss/sub Bubble Magnus pump configs using Red Sea A/B/C/D trace elements. After running through different bottles at different rates, I learned that these do not dose at exactly the same volume relative to each other. To remedy this, I rotate the tubes between trace element solution monthly and give a thorough RODI rinse between to help prevent precipitation. I also switched to HDPE dosing containers which would not dissolve over time from the alkalinity solution.


20191019_091410.jpg
20191019_091404.jpg


And two weeks later, I found some scrap 8020, and some more polycarbonate and made a better than Ikea shelf for my dosing containers. You can take a torch to the edge of polycarbonate and melt it to give it the finished glass look I have here. The rest of the attachment pieces I pieced together to make it fit around my ATO container, so it is supported by the steel frame on 2 sides and by legs on the other 2.


20191004_135201.jpg


Here are some anemone shrimp thanking me for the hard engineering and fabrication I put in under their home.



20191004_135123.jpg

October 2019
The Two Bar Rabbit Fish has grown a lot!
 

Neros503

Supporting Member
The tank looks great - even better in person! It’s really quite the set up from design to implementation. Excited to watch you evolve it.
 
20190813_100646.jpg

Overall shot October 2019

Getting very good coralline growth



20191020_111830.jpg

The rabbitfish changes colors and will get splotchy at times.



20191004_135118.jpg

The purple firefish are some of my favorites.


20191102_130913.jpg

Small space invader chalice, orange acan, and two zoa frags next to a neon leather toadstool and birdsnest
November 2019


20191014_092901.jpg

I enjoy watching the watchman and its paired pistol shrimp (I just heard them now)




20191120_162943.jpg

We all know this excitement

20191202_170035.jpg

December 2019
Adding a few more anemones and a gorgonian

20191219_194358.jpg

Mid December 2019
Getting some growth on the space invader chalice



20191219_194746.jpg

The sexy anemone shrimp and the porcelain crab hanging out on the carpet anemone together

20191219_194627.jpg

December 2019
 
20200126_170727.jpg

Fire shrimp can be cleaners too!



20200119_122017.jpg

Blue maxima clam

20200129_193304.jpg

Jan 2020
20200129_193312.jpg

Natural light in January 2020

Glued down the space invader chalice

20200119_122720.jpg

When you start with one Kenyan tree, you get more


20200305_183419.jpg

If you give an anemone some food...you are gonna get another anemone



20200329_090452.jpg

March 2020

Eventually, I did cave and got a 2nd AP700. I have added a small Tunze powerhead too.

20200329_105933.jpg

I cut the mounting arms short, and screwed them to a piece of wood, which got covered in black tape for aesthetics. I also installed a painted L bracket for my auto feeder. I do have a magnetic feeding ring to keep the food from going into the overflow right away.


20200329_101227.jpg

March 2020
Things are looking colorful and the fish are growing. I am feeling good enough to try some sps frags again.


20200411_200214.jpg

April 2020

Got a school of cardinal fish
 
20200411_171716.jpg

The mini carpet anemones are fun, but they walk around

20200414_165212.jpg

April 2020
The mushroom leather is growing, and I couldn't stop at just one frag rack



20200423_114204.jpg

April 2020
The cardinals like to school together and the carpet anemone is growing



20200502_112712.jpg



20200502_112725.jpg




20200502_112735.jpg


May 2020
The 3 sides of the tank

20200502_113233.jpg

Learned a neat trick using zip ties as cable orginizers


20200502_203700.jpg


More chaeto growth!!!

20200505_110042.jpg


Funny story, one of the temporary helpers at Clearwater accidentally bagged a jawbreaker mushroom in with my cheap frags. I got a call the next day and passed the honesty test, telling Joel that I had his mushroom and I would bring it back. I ended up buying a different one with a little more red in it.
 
20200509_140524.jpg

Big fish is getting bigger


20200509_141222.jpg

May 2020

I bought a frag of green and blue hammer coral at the farmers market in Feb 2020. When I went to break it from the plug, it exploded in my tank. I was able to recover some of the flesh and this is what grew back.


20200511_093951.jpg

May 2020

The Hollywood Stunner Chalice was getting too big for my mom's 13.5, so I took it into my tank. Boy did this thing eat alkalinity and calcium!


20200515_111434.jpg

May 2020



20200518_104147.jpg


Whatcha looking at!

20200627_114037.jpg


Blennies are weird, and awesome



20200524_164251.jpg

June 2020

I started getting some red cyano bacteria. I was taught about chemiclean, then I modified and I believe improved on the method. Today, I will use ~1/3 - 1/4 the recommended dose for my tank. I turn off the carbon and gfo reactor. Then I hook a tube to my skimmer and let if overflow, drain it into a bucket, then replace with salt water. My theory is that the Chemiclean is bonding to organics in the water, causing the surface tension to rise dramatically of those new, larger molecules in water. We want to get all of these bonded molecules out, so we let the skimmer pull them out the top and into a bucket. I tend to now pull 15-30 gallons out with my skimmer depending on how heavy handed I am with the Chemiclean. I would love to hear other people's thoughts on this method.

20201205_120950.jpg


Since this picture, I have gotten a larger silicone drain hose to let the skimmer empty as fast as it can fill.


20200627_124256.jpg


June 2020
I was getting too much salt creep (and maybe some actual leaks) from my bulkheads, so I added an o-ring to both sides, and a bunch of food grade silicone. Not gonna leak anymore! Also we installed some uni-strut and pipe holders so the three main drain lines are how fixed in place and bolted to the wall.
 
Last edited:
20200701_150819.jpg

Neat!



20200701_150925.jpg

July 2020
Who says I can't have any more frags

Also the space invader chalice is growing in the back.




20200701_161432.jpg
20200719_143953.jpg

July 2020
This Hollywood Stunner Chalice was getting outrageously large


My friend from work was moving into a house, so he broke down his mature 75 gallon tank. This was a great opportunity for me to get a bunch of SPS at one time, into my year and a half mature tank. He wanted to break down everything, so I got most of his fish, and all of the coral, anemones, and rocks. Here is my best attempt at getting everything into my tank to try to save what I could.


20200703_162957.jpg



20200703_164733.jpg


20200728_173515.jpg



20200704_151700.jpg


20200814_094620.jpg





20200902_212724.jpg


September 2020
Three Baby Cardinal Fish showed up in the sump!!!
 
20200903_204926.jpg

Chillin'

20200901_191531.jpg


Anemones often move and sometimes sting things I like, so when I can, I put them in jail until I can sell/trade them off.


20201112_115824.jpg

Nov 2020
The cool orange and blue zoas from earlier multiplied! The vamps are doing well too.


20201108_125652.jpg

Making frags!


20201112_115839.jpg

Nov 2020
Getting some stability in the sps, and the blue stylophora/poccilopora? (birdsnest?) is growing


20201112_115851.jpg

Nov 2020
Space Invader is growing and the anemones are huge!

20201112_115906.jpg

End Shot Nov 2020

20201112_115939.jpg

Full Frontal
Nov 2020

20201123_180505.jpg


Tank Rear Nov 2020


20201126_160626.jpg


No filters, one of my favorite shots
 
Top