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SChambers

Steven's LED Biocube 32 - First Tank

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I am starting up this thread to track my tank progress. I have gotten a lot of great advice so far from y'all so I am hoping to track progress here and flourish into a really beautiful reef tank. 

Equipment:

  1. Pump: Cobalt Aquatics 30003 MJ1200 Pump 
  2. InTank Media Basket
    1. Filter Floss up top
    2. Chemipure in middle chamber
    3. Purigen in bottom chamber
  3. Powerhead: Hydor Koralia Nano 565 Circulation Pump 
  4. Heater: Aqueon Pro Adjustable Heater 150 W

Rock:

  1. 20 lbs Live Rock
  2. 20 lbs Live Sand
  3. 15 lbs Dry Rock

Livestock:

  1. Firefish Goby
  2. Chalk Bass
  3. 4 Hermit Crabs
  4. 1 Sea Urchin
  5. 2 Snails
  6. Tigger Pods 

Corals: 

  1. Torch Coral 
  2. Nauti Spiral Montipora
  3. Green Goblin Anacropora
  4. Bizarro Cyphastrea
  5. Montipora Setosa
  6. LA Laker Turbinaria
  7. Rainbow Montipora
  8. Lemon Lime Favia

Last test parameters: 

  1. PO4 - 0
  2. Mg - 1320
  3. Ca - 410
  4. pH - 8
  5. KH - 11.2
  6. NO3 - 10
  7. Salinity - 1.024

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IMG_6741.JPG

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Now would be a good time to get some PAR readings for your system.  Some corals adapt readily to changes in light levels but other corals can be pretty finicky and knowinf your PAR levels will help.  Because any change in light levels forces a coral to adjust it's photobiology I try to match PAR levels as close as possible   (Aquadome and River City rent PAR meters.)  I would also suggest getting a ICP test now as one of the benchmarks to track your system.  As another reference the ICP test results for one of my low tech systems maintained with tapwater is here.  Phosphates and high TDS are often pointed at when problems arise but my experiences pointed to other causes a long time ago and I stopped worrying about those two as issues.  Forest Rohwer in Ch. 5 of his book "Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas" explianed it pretty well in dsicussing the equilibrium of a reef ecosytem.  His book is also an excellent introduction to the various roles of Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) and it's effects on an ecosytem  depending on it's source. 

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Be cautious about ICP testing. There are some very smart people out there  (like PhD's in marine chemistry) who do not think that ICP-OES, like ATI and Triton use, has acceptable accuracy across all the elements they claim to test. A little light reading about that here:

http://packedhead.net/2015/triton-lab-icp-oes-testing-of-a-certified-artificial-saltwater-standard/

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Thanks for the link Victoly!   Unfortunately we still do not have any way to test for the types of DOC produced and how it's affecting the microbial processes in our system which my reading and experience says we should be focusing on.  ICP even with it's faults might still turn out to be a useful tool and that's why I'm looking at it.  

 

Rich Ross's Skeptical Reefkeeping are an excellent series of articles and I was disappointed when Glassbox-design removed them.  I had found some on Reefsmagazine.com so it's good to see all of them listed on packedhead.net!   

 

There's now three companies I know of with ICP test packages for reefs and I used the ATI for those interested.   (ATI has corrected one of the critisisms against Triton in that they don't list undetectable reuslts as 00.0 but as just "n. u.".)  Just like I'm check other test kits against each other I'm curious how they will compare along with other test kits testing the same water sample and as the system I linked to is in the middle of  2 moves and an upgrade to a larger system it will be interesting to see how they all compare.

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I missed these posts since I guess I forgot to click notify me of replies... Thanks for y'alls input so far. 

I will check at my next aquadome visit about renting a PAR meter. I mounted my corals this past weekend after looking up and getting some input on the light levels each require. I will post some pictures later with my next water test results. They are still alive so that is good... :) 

Is the ICP truly that useful? It looks like a 2 week turn and just from the few tests I've done so far, the results aren't stable from week to week for my tank. I am wondering how reliable the results would be... I would hate to react to a parameter that has since subsided or overcorrect and cause my tank to crash. 

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Its a level of chemistry that IMO isn't really important unless you're trying to troubleshoot bizarre issues. The average aquarist is in way over their head trying to interpret these results and can easily make things worse by going down the rabbit hole. Just my two cents. 

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3 hours ago, SChambers said:

Is the ICP truly that useful? It looks like a 2 week turn and just from the few tests I've done so far, the results aren't stable from week to week for my tank. I am wondering how reliable the results would be... I would hate to react to a parameter that has since subsided or overcorrect and cause my tank to crash. 

The reason you would do a test now is to see what might be in your water. In 6 months to a year when your tank becomes stable it might be useful to compare, now and then. Like stated above; if you have something weird going on you cant really measure it might be of use to figure it out.

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I will think a little more about doing the ICP test and might get it in the next few weeks.

I tested my tank again tonight and I'm hoping things are going in the right direction, but I don't know if it is enough.

  1. PO4 - 0 ... still 0; I tried dosing, but have not removed chemipure/purigen as Timfish suggested. If the dosing continues to not have an impact, I will try this but I don't want to run the tank for an extended period of time without these... any suggestions?
  2. MG - 1260; down a bit, but I don't want to dose any because I think it will let me Alk go up too high
  3. Ca - 400
  4. pH - 8.0
  5. KH - 10.9; down a bit from last week so this is going in the right direction
  6. NO3 - 10; no change from last week, but I don't think 10 is a bad number... is it too high?
  7. NH3 - 0
  8. Salinity - 1.024

I didn't get to working on the tank until the night lights had already kicked on so I will try and get some pictures tomorrow of the corals and the tank overall. I had a rough time getting the corals to stay with my seachem reef glue... I tried going pretty light on first application, but I had to go pretty heavy to get it to stick. I looked up some suggestions and it looks like layering with glue + putty would be better for the future. Also, my sea urchin was being a pain and kept picking up my frags and dragging them around the tank. However, they seem to be in place now and staying put.

During my water change this week, I did about half as much as I usually do and scrubbing on the algae to try and help clear that up as Timfish had suggested. I usually do a 5 gal change, but did about half of that. I think the GHA is looking better, but it is not a massive impact yet.

I also notice that I have a lot of bristle worms including quite a few babies... seems like there was a pretty big boom in breeding and now they are swarming out in the light during feeding time which I think means they overcrowded and are now having to struggle for food. Is this something I need to look into manually removing some or will this auto correct?

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PO4 is probable being absorbed to a degree by your new rocks.  Is there any way to remove half of the chemipure/purigen as an intermediate step?

The Mg is a little low, I would not let it go any lower than that, perhaps dose it up by 10 per week for a month?

NO3 should be fine but try not to let it get higher

The population of worms should regulate itself based on your feeding habits

In general, I prefer to make small changes towards goals spread over time rather than big changes, or too many kinds of changes all at once

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A little late on the pictures but here we go...

Whole Tank -

Tank.JPG

 

Chalk Bass - He did have an injury to his eye, but it is starting to recover

Chalk Bass.JPG

Firefish Goby -

Firefish Goby.JPG

Torch Coral - It got really white after my last cyanobacteria treatment, but now it is starting to get color back toward the edges. I'm hoping it colors up nicely

Torch.JPG

Nauti Spiral Montipora -

Nauti Spiral Montipora.JPG

Green Goblin Anacropora - I just noticed those black spots toward the bottom... is that something I need to be concerned about?

Green Goblin Anacropora.JPG

Bizzaro Cyphastrea -

Bizzaro Cyphastrea.JPG

Montipora Setosa -

Montipora Setosa.JPG

Rainbow Montipora - This one is hard to take a good picture of... I'm hoping it gets bit more color after I have raised it up in the tank.

Rainbow Montipora.JPG

Lemon Lime Favia -

Lemon Lime Favia.JPG

LA Laker Turbinaria - I'm worried about the color on this one... it seems really dull. The green is not very vibrant and it doesn't glow under the night lights

LA Laker Turbinaria.JPG

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Those spots look like vermetid snails.  It looks like you have them on your rocks as well in the pictures.  I would take a scalpel or knife and break them off.  In my opinion they are not a huge problem but can become irritating to the coral because they let out a little web to trap food.   You can see one of the webs in your picture.  Here's a bit more info:

https://www.melevsreef.com/critter/vermetid-worm

 

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I did not realize those were snails. I do have tubes like that extending from all over my rocks and my torch coral. It seems like there is not an easy way to deal with them. I tried breaking as many off as I could, but I doubt I did very much to impact the population. 

I also spotted some Aiptasia which I hope to get a peppermint shrimp to help deal with. I could also try some Aiptasia X if the shrimp doesn’t seem to take to them. 

I also have this soft growth on one of my live rocks that I cannot seem to identify. Any ideas? 

 

7949F87E-490B-4C69-9D8C-53E24884AC91.jpeg

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So I wasn’t able to get out this weekend due to my son getting sick. I will try and rent a PAR meter when I can, but the research I have is pretty mixed on the stock lights for LED biocube. There are some upgrade retrofits that I could get if it is not enough. 

I am not seeing any growth on the corals yet and I think I am about to have another cyano bloom. 

I ordered Aiptaisia X to deal with the pests and that should come in soon. 

  1. PO4 - 0.03
  2. MG - 1320
  3. Ca - 400
  4. pH - 8.0
  5. KH - 10.3
  6. NO3 - 10
  7. NH3 - 0
  8. Salinity - 1.024

Parameters seem to be heading in the right direction. Still trying to figure out what that growth is as well. 

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If the growth is that picture above, it looks like another anemone to me.  If it does not look the same to you as the aiptasia it could be a mojano anemone maybe?

 

There are a couple of resources for hitchhiker id:

https://critterguide.ca/category/anemone/

https://www.lionfishlair.com/hitchhikers-guide/

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Thanks jolt. 

So I had a bit of a set back today. Got home and noticed the color was looking very bad on my rainbow montipora and that my tank was super cloudy. Apparently my pump somehow got stopped up and had next to no flow going. All I did was resit the pump in chamber 3 and the flow went back to normal. All I can think is that the pump got too close to the wall between chamber 2 and 3 and it cut off flow. I have suction cups on the bottom of the pump, but they don’t stay stuck. 

Hope I don’t lose the rainbow because I really like that coral. 

7CE5AC7F-F215-4AD1-A52D-1FC791C6F5EB.jpeg

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Got out to aquadome today to rent a PAR meter. Top of my tank at the height of the highest coral I am reading 130 and then lowest coral I am reading around 75. 

The measurements are definitely not exact since this tank has a hood on and I could not get it to fully close while reading out on the meter. 

PAR does seem low when comparing it to suggested lighting levels for most of my corals so that is a bit concerning. There are a few retrofits for my tank that I could upgrade lighting with or I could look at removing the hood all together and adding lighting. Not sure what would be best or most economical at this point. 

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I agree that is low PAR for coral, but I am not sure how badly the inability to close the lid affected things.  I have no experience with biocube lighting, but hopefully someone else on the forum has more info.   I think at one time maybe @victolyhad a biocube with a light kit on it, but not 100% sure.

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You may have already returned the PAR meter but I use a metal clothes hanger and bend it to hold the sensor at teh location I want with the lid clsoed.   If you took the measurements with just your arm holding the lid up guess the majority of the PAR readings are roughly 25% low and a few might be 50% low.

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I situated the meter on the rock near coral and took the reading with the lid down, but it was propped open the thickness of the probe wire. 

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On 6/30/2019 at 7:17 AM, jolt said:

I agree that is low PAR for coral, but I am not sure how badly the inability to close the lid affected things.  I have no experience with biocube lighting, but hopefully someone else on the forum has more info.   I think at one time maybe @victolyhad a biocube with a light kit on it, but not 100% sure.

Yeah i retrofitted a stock hood with LEDs, but wasnt crazy about it. I eventually went open top and had MH for a bit and then radion. 

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Well, I am going to try a retrofit because I would really like to keep the hood on. I couldn't find a decent option to be able to keep the tank covered since it is a bow front and I am not crafty enough to make my own from acrylic like I have seen others do. I have cats and a kid and I am too scared things would get in the top if I left it open.

I also got the inTank fuge basket for the back and a LED underwater light so I can start growing macroalgae back in the second chamber. I haven't had any macroalgae up to this point, but I hope this can help my tank stabilize. I saw my fish sitting towards the top of the tank and sometimes mouthing at the surface, so I was concerned that the O2 levels in the tank might be getting low. I did a larger volume water change to help that and it does seem to have helped the fish; however, the corals up top are degrading badly.

I think the bizzaro cyphastra is lost, it is entirely white and I don't see any polyps. The Nauti Spiral Montipora is losing color by the day and the Rainbow Montipora has not gained any color back.

  1. PO4 - 0.05
  2. Mg - 1240
  3. Ca - 390
  4. pH - 8.0
  5. KH - 9.3
  6. NO3 - 5
  7. NH3 - 0
  8. Salinity - 1.025
  9. NO2 - 0

This larger water change caused my KH to drop, but so did Ca and Mg. I did a Mg dose to try and get that level up, but I am going slow with it. I think the larger water also negatively impacted my corals... Not sure how to balance this, but I don't think I can salvage the 3 that are losing colors. The LEDs won't be here for a bit and I'll need to go slow with dialing up the LEDs on the retrofit so I don't blast my corals and allow them to acclimate.

The vermetid snails are also being a huge pain... they keep latching to my corals and are all over the tank. No matter how many I break off there are more all over the place and they keep coming back.

I did treat the anemones and they are mostly gone... I missed 2 aiptaisia and I will treat again soon.

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Sorry to hear about the corals. Looking at your parameters I’m not sure what it could be. I will say I don’t like to run alk that high, but I’m no way sure that is what the problem is. 

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I owned a Biocube years ago and ended up swapping out the stock lights with a set from Nanobox. I think it was called the Retro (?). I haven't read this whole thread so apologies if this option was already mentioned.

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2 hours ago, jolt said:

Sorry to hear about the corals. Looking at your parameters I’m not sure what it could be. I will say I don’t like to run alk that high, but I’m no way sure that is what the problem is. 

Yea I'm not sure what to do... If I lose them, I am not sure how to prevent further loss in the future. I know there is a lot of factors that go into each specific coral... Amount of water flow, Lighting levels and amount of time for lighting...

I have a power head for water flow and it is the one most people suggest for the size of my tank. I'm not quite sure if I have optimal placement for the best flow or if I placed the corals properly to get the flow they like.

For lighting I am running day lights from 11 am to 7 pm and the blue lights from 7 am to midnight... this will all change when I get my retrofit though. I'm hoping the instruction guide gives a good suggestion for how to program the controller for optimal coral care.

2 hours ago, eddius-maximus said:

I owned a Biocube years ago and ended up swapping out the stock lights with a set from Nanobox. I think it was called the Retro (?). I haven't read this whole thread so apologies if this option was already mentioned.

I looked into both the nanobox retrofit and Steve's LED retrofit. Ultimately I ended up going with Steve's LED after reading multiple reviews and inputs.

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All I can say is pray to the stick gods and keep trying different things. You will hit the sweet spot eventually.

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