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The Wife's Piece of the Reef


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Those of you who followed the build thread of my 20g know that one of the reasons I set up that tank was to help my wife appreciate the hobby. I figured this would achieve a couple of goals: 1) it would be an activity I love that we could do together, and 2) it would get her to enjoy the hobby so I could stay somewhat out of trouble for spending time and money on it. Well, it looks like I have succeeded.

She is getting ready to start her residency program and told me she wanted to have her own tank there with her. Being the ever so obliging husband, I knew there was no way I could say no. Really I was jumping for joy because it meant that I could to build a new tank, spend money on new toys, and do it all in the name of being a good husband.

I wanted to make the tank another all in one for ease of maintenance and because I wouldn't be there all the time. I remembered I had an old acrylic all in one that someone had given me years ago that was sitting up in the attic of my parents shop. I dug it out, and it turned out to be a pretty awesome tank, made by *******. Its somewhere around 12g (didn't measure it before building stuff), and the total water volume with rock is right at 9 gallons. The tank has a great little fuge area and a large sump area, big enough to fit a skimmer if I so desired, but I plan on running this skimmerless. The tank has a cool hood, although I don't have it on in any of the pictures.

She wanted to have a rock wall like I have in the other tank, which I was happy to accommodate. I have been wanting to build a rockwall using hydraulic cement because it is supposed to cure much faster than portland. I made several rocks until I was able to get the mixture just right, I learned it is very different than working with the standard portland mixture. It dries much faster and to get it to hold together, it must be mixed wetter and makes larger chunks then the dribble method makes with a portland mixture. You really only have about 3 minutes of working time (although I have heard you can rewet it, I didn't try this) so I had to work in small batches. I think it took 6 batches to finish the rockwork for the tank, but I am really happy with how it has turned out. There will be no other rocks in the display part, but I will load up the back sump chamber with live rock.

For the rest of the equipment, the tank will have a custom LED fixture with 5 Cree XPG neutral whites, 7 Cree XRE Royal Blues and 1 XPE Blue. Its all powered by a dimmable Meanwell that will just have a manual dimmer. I put the LEDs together last night to test out the color and it looks really good. I plan on building a nice fixture to house everything in this summer. The pumps in the tank will be maxi-jets since I think they are one of the most reliable pumps made, especially for the price. An MJ 400 for the return and a MJ 400 PRO for in the tank. I was able to build the rockwork to hide the in-tank pump and I am really happy with how it came out.

The tank is still just sitting at the moment as I am waiting on the rock pH to go down a bit more before I set it up saltwater and let it start cycling. As always, feel free to ask any questions of make any comments.




Here is a picture when the wall was out. This is of the backside where the rock meets the tank wall. I think it does a good job showing how porous the rock is. It is very different than rock made with portland, but I think I like it a lot.


Here is a picture of the left little rock. This shows the different texture this type of mix makes.


I plan on updating this as it goes, but it will be slow.

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That tall rock wall is awesome. Stick a magnet on the top of it and sell 'em! (I say magnet just to answer anyone's worry about it falling down)

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Got a few more things done on the tank.

First thing was getting the sand ready. We are using CaribSea Special Grade Reef Sand. It can handle flow really well and I think it looks pretty good. Takes forever to wash the sand, but it is well worth it to never have to worry about the sand clouding up the tank. I put the sand in a bucket and fill the water a couple of inches above the sand and swirl the sand around for a minute and then dump and repeat. It took doing this 15 times before the water was pretty clear. Here is a picture of the water on the tenth time:


I don't know about everyone else, but I don't want all that junk in my tanks.

I also took 3 gallons of water out of my tank and some sand to put in here to help seed the tank. Also bought a couple of pounds of pukani live rock rubble that I filled the back chamber with. Now the tank is going to sit for a couple of months to build up the bacteria population and stabilize everything before we got any fish. Here is how it sits now:


I tried taking pictures of it with the LEDs on, but my iphone is not capable. I thought people were exaggerating about how hard it is to take pictures of LED lit tanks...

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