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Rimless 180g "2nd child"

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Hello Everyone, 

My name is Marc and I'm addicted to reefing... Just kidding. kind of....I've been in ATX for 17 years now and been reefing for 3.5 years now. This will be my first build thread, for my first custom tank ever, a 180g rimless from Planet Aquarium. I'm mainly a lurker on here as well as R2R and reefcentral but felt a build thread would help me keep a timeline of things, as well as provide one place to seek y'alls expertise.

Quick background: I'm upgrading from a 75g standard Aqueon which was my first time dabbling in saltwater. I've experienced many, many,  equipment, aquascape, chemistry, and user errors over the tank's life and I was done putting band aids on things, hence my decision to upgrade and finally do things "right." At my tank's peak (month 12 - 24) I was able to grow LPS and several Acro frags (chips acro, tricolor valida, PC Rainbow) into small mini colonies. But when my daughter was born, I let maintenance slip and my Tunze Osmolator optical eye got covered in precipitaTe (dosing KALK from ATO), which led to a major Alk spike ending most of my Acros. So for the past 12+ months I haven't added any new corals as I decided to focus on planning the upgrade and feeding the fish. 

The Upgrade:


Here is where I am at one month in. Sorry for the shading - my other AP700 will stay on the current tank until this one is ready. Here's a few other pics of the progression of the build thus far before I list my equipment. My home has an inverted floor plan, so my main living space/street level is on the 2nd floor so I had to get structural engineers/ contractor to install 2 x LVL beams to support the weight.


20171114_215637.jpgStand from Ndstructible Welding

20171023_165523.jpgChiseled Pukani and soaked it in LC

20171120_211526.jpgDIY Plumbing Manifold


20171207_213111.jpgBehind my control Panel

20171203_172553.jpgFinally finished plumbing with no leaks.

20171214_165244.jpgTook 3 days to fill up with RODI!


Equipment List

  • Tank: 180g Rimless from Planet Aquarium (Aquadome)
  • Stand: 36" tall Powder coated steel stand from Ndestructible Welding
  • Overflow: 16" Synergy Reef Overflow drilled for bean-animal style
  • Sump/Plumbing: Synergy Reef cl-44 (44x18x18) / Drains = 1.5" , Return Plumbing = 1", Manifold = 3/4"
  • Lighting: 2 x Kessil AP700
  • Return Pump: Varios 6
  • Powerheads: 2 x Maxspec Gyre XF250
  • Skimmer: Reef Octopus SRO 3000 INT with ANC 200 neck cleaner
  • Alk Control:  TBD (Leaning on GEO calcium reactor but considering waiting for Trident+DOS solution)
  • Reactors: BRS Deluxe for GFO; Media Bag for Carbon; Undecided on Biopellets for n03
  • Controller: New APEX 2016
  • Rock/Substrate: 70lbs Pukani / 210lbs CaribSea Special reef grade
  • RODI: BRS 4 stage 75gpd
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i feel your pain, but I'm still very leary of trusting ICP. have you sent in a blank sample of just your saltwater? To a different lab? To a lab that uses a different method than ICP-OES? I know its a

IME the calcium reactor itself doesn't vary much by brand. Each reactor has a media cylinder with a circulation pump configured in similar ways. The difference between models will be chamber size and

Quick update but not.. Over the past 60 days my tank has went through puberty.. It went from diatoms -> tons of white bacteria blooms on my rock that blew off easily w/ undetectable  no3

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2 hours ago, jolt said:

Very nice, looking forward to the journey for your new tank!

Appreciate it. It feels like it has been a long journey already, the past 6 months especially,  but now the real fun begins.. Although I must admit, there's one more "teach yourself" schooling i'll need to read heavily up on and that is maximizing the new APEX controller. I'll be posting some Q's coming up soon and hope someone can help shorten my learning curve on this portion since its not my favorite haha.

1 hour ago, BobcatReefer said:

Love that inverted aquascpape double island situation!  Can you talk about how you did that?   I don't see a third support at the bottom - is it leaning on the back glass?

Plumbing and control panel look SHARP!  Well done!

Thanks. The aqua scape positioning  evolves everyday and probably won't be final for months. But I made those three major structures over several weeks. Nothing is leaning on any glass. Here are a few more pics to possibly help you see. All I used was 1/2" pvc for the base rock and driveway markers+superglue+reef putty to hold some smaller pieces together.



1 hour ago, Sascha D. said:

Great looking rock work you have there. Are you planning to add any more or are you adding a different type of biomedia?

I currently have the thicker Marine Pure Block media in the sump and have 20lbs of various leftover pukani rubble that I'll add for aesthetics. But I may look at adding another block in the sump, but besides that not much more rock.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Alrighty, quick update then a few questions.

Since December 20th, Ive been in and out of town while the tank has been cycling. I've been ghostfeeding every 3-5 days some mysis as well as adding some Aquavitro "Seed" I impulsively bought from Jake at RCA. My Deluxe BRS reactor is up and running with GFO via my manifold,  and I threw in a media bag with some GAC into my sump for ****s and giggles, since my hands are constantly going in and out at this point I figured it wouldn't hurt to keep things clean.

In addition, I also added a 40lb bag of additional CaribSea reef grade sand b/c my Gyres keep causing sandstorms and exposing my PVC rock bases. A quick random test of No3 showed 4ppm, but since I do not want to buy and Ammonia test kit just for the cycle, I am unsure how far along I am at this point. Either way, no rush for me except Im getting tired of seeing 2 tanks in the same room.

Things on my mind:

1. Getting a hang of APEX 2016 and programming outlets/code can be a pain. I'm tempted to just offer someone a flat $100 bill to come over and get everything up and running. I've called APEX and also am using their forums, but all this takes alot of time and sometimes you dont get responses for days. Either way, some things I'm trying to figure out

Q: My Varios 6 is plugged into Variable Speed Port 3(0-10v) using the ice cap controller. I've created a simple profile and currently  have it set where if my LDK  senses water, the return pump shuts off. Now..... my Reef Octopus skimmer and neck cleaner are both utilizing an EB832 outlet for now and I want the both of them to shutoff if my return pump is off. Ive tried using:  If "Varios" OFF then OFF but it does not recognize or pre-populate anything that is connected via 0-10v ports, it only seems to prepopulate items plugged into eb832. Is that normal and if so, how do I make this happen?

Q: When I transfer the old tank over I still have to hook up my Tunze Osmolator ATO unit and IceCap Battery backup to my APEX. Should these go into an eb832 outlet? Any best practices for advanced programming?

Q: I messed up my initial PH Probe calibration so had to buy more packets. There are many myths on how to best calibrate new probes, room temp, soak in water etc. Any thoughts from you APEX experts?

2. Regarding transferring over existing livestock from current tank:

Q: I have a blue Maxima clam for 3 years now that has grown well. The problem is, is it has 2-3 large Vermetid Snails and a bunch of ugly slime algae on the outside of its shell. Just for your knowledge, Vermetids are the bane to my existence and I want to risk 0% chance that I transfer over anything into the new tank. How do I transfer this Clam to ensure nothing transfers over? Can I expose it to air for a few minutes while I toothbrush and squirt peroxide on the outside of its shell? Then break the Vermetids and cover with superglue? This also applies to some corals that have nuisance algae on its base rock...

Q: To help seed pods and stuff, I've been tempted to take my sponge sitting in my current tank sump baffle and transfer it to my new tank. But would there be gametes or anything that could facilitate a transfer of Vermetids to my new tank? Is it better to just scoop up some existing sand into a bag then place in my new tank?


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2 hours ago, Good Greef said:

Q: My Varios 6 is plugged into Variable Speed Port 3(0-10v) using the ice cap controller. I've created a simple profile and currently  have it set where if my LDK  senses water, the return pump shuts off. Now..... my Reef Octopus skimmer and neck cleaner are both utilizing an EB832 outlet for now and I want the both of them to shutoff if my return pump is off. Ive tried using:  If "Varios" OFF then OFF but it does not recognize or pre-populate anything that is connected via 0-10v ports, it only seems to prepopulate items plugged into eb832. Is that normal and if so, how do I make this happen?

How does the LDK turn off the Varios?  Seems to me the key to doing this this might be related in some way ....

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How does the LDK turn off the Varios?  Seems to me the key to doing this this might be related in some way ....
My Varios' outlet programming is attached. Once a sensor (LDK1 or LDK2) detects water the port "closes."626ecc65e397203075adbdda8f5cc155.jpg

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So, I have a feed pump on my skimmer.  If the skimmer is off then I want the feed pump off.  I *think* that's similar to your goal.  Here's the code for my skimmer feed:


Fallback OFF 
Set ON 
If Outlet Skimmer = OFF Then OFF 

So you want to check "If Outlet VariosReturn = OFF"  maybe?

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Mine is slightly more complicated.  I have a button wired off my breakout box as a feed button.  That triggers a 20min off period for the skimmer w/ the defer, then the skimmer has its own 15min off from the defer.  the reason I went this route was, i wanted to trigger other things to cause the skimmer to turn off, not just feed. but i wanted feed to have a longer off period too.  Since neptune doesnt have the ability to have multiple "if's" in a statement, you end up having a mess w/ virtual outlets like this one.


image.png image.pngimage.png 

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Thanks yall.

Forgot to add, Jolt you were right. I believe I just needed to type the command word "outlet" first to pre-populate it with the VARSPD outlet name.

Anyone else have any thoughts regarding topic #2?

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So a little update, my tank has been cycling now for 3 weeks and I am about to begin my transition of livestock from the current tank. The current livestock I plan on keeping are: Female Bipartitus Female Leopard Wrasse (2.5 years old), Midas Blenny (3 yrs),  2xRoyal Grammas (2 yrs), Ocellaris Clownfish (1 yr). In addition, I am bringing over my Blue Maxima Clam (3 yrs), small Tyree pink lemonade Acro frag, Tricolor Valida frag, Miami hurricane chalice frag, Red Blastomussa Wellsi (15 heads), Purple Blastomussa Wellsi (10 heads) and maybe a frag of my huge torch coral.

Going to the Aquadome for store credit (unless anyone wants to buy them) are: YWG + Pistol Shrimp pair (2 yrs), 15+ head torch colony, 6 head trumpet mini colony, red monti cap and digitata.

Moving forward, I've researched the various viewpoints of QT/medications and can tell its a very heated, debateable topic. I am always open to hearing peoples' thoughts on things so fire away. But I am also realistic and know what is feasible on a daily/monthly/annual basis for my tank, family, living space, etc. I'd love to hear your thoughts on my  "high level" summary  plan of action.


  1. Existing Corals/Clam -> New Tank: All the corals transferring over have been scrubbed and soaked in peroxide solution for 10 minutes each day for the past 3 days. FYI - I've never been squirted by a clam in the eye until now!! All vermetid snails have been crushed then smothered with superglue. I will perform one last peroxide scrub tonight to remove as much algae as possible, then perform a Bayer Dip (not on the clam) before transferring on  to the new tank. I hope the Blastos handle the Bayer?
  2. Existing Fish and Inverts -> New Tank: This was the process that I kept flip flopping on. I've never QT'd these fish and most have been in my current tank for 2+ years. While part of me says to throw them in my 20g long QT and start medicating them, I'd really hate doing that when none of them have shown signs of ich in the past and are eating heavily. I am sure there's ich present in their systems since they've never been in QT. But this comes down to the overall philosophy I plan on employing which ill discuss next.
  3. New Fish Additions: My plan is to setup a 20g long "observation" tank that I will keep all new fish additions in for 10-20 days. From my reading, the only meds I plan on proactively using will be Prazipro. The two primary goals for my observation tank will be to ensure that all new fish are eating well (hopefully can convert most to pellets), and to observe for any signs of ich/velvet that may arise after leaving the LFS' copper laced water which often hides the symptoms. In the event that ich or velvet show up, at least the onset will be isolated to the observation tank where I can then weigh how I want to treat it, or just feed them through it and hope it builds some immunity going forward.

What are your thoughts on my plan? Starting new, its tempting to just say go and QT all the current livestock and start drugging them up to make my new tank "ich free." But the truth is, all the rigorous QT advocates admit that  it only takes one drop of infected water to introduce ich to your tank. If that is the case:

1. How do I possibly transfer over my maxima clam without bringing over any old tank water? The clam surely has some drops of water inside its shell that I cannot rinse out without stressing it to death. How do you suggest transferring over my zoa rock that is the size of a baseball with tons of porous crevices in it? How do I know swishing it around in RODI gets 100% of it. Same with inside a hermit crabs shell?

I guess that's the tough philosophical decisions I am facing. If a single drop of LFS water can make my tank have ich, is it realistic to believe that for the next several years I will never "contaminate" my tank with water perhaps stuck under a fingernail? Again - not looking for any arguments or heated debates. I'm just using thinking out loud here and am open to you experts.





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I've dipped blastos in Bayer with no issues.  Your proposed system seems reasonable, but I would recommend a longer QT observation period.  I think it can take something like 30 days for symptoms of some things to show up.   QT is a real pain in the but, and I don't really think any system is 100% pest free, but you do want to try and stop the bad ones in their tracks before they make it to the display tank.  

FYI, I've seen ich come in on frags as well as fish.  I sassume you will eventually want new frags from time to time, so give that some thought how you want to approach it too.

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I got marine velvet from a frag, that was dipped!

I'm over ich. It can hang out in my tank all day if it wants. The alternative made reefing unbearable and unenjoyable for me. I'd rather just avoid species that have very little immunity to ich, like powder blue tangs and Achilles tangs and worry about the real problems, marine velvet, brooklynella, and bacterial infections, which could kill your tank rapidly.

I do exactly as you state except slightly longer observational QT, 20-30 days. I only do Prazipro prophalatically and then observe and treat from that point. I have much lower losses in QT now and haven't had an issue in the display while massively restocking from when I got velvet and loss half my tank.

All my experiments and work going ich free were a good learning experience. Knowing what I know and what I've gone through, I'm happy with my current protocol.

That's all I have to say about fish.

Regarding coral, just Bayer dip acros and LPS, peroxide dip zoas, and inspect rocks and call it a day. If you don't trust your rocks, pop the corals off and just move them.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally getting around to making some much needed updates... Its easy to just skip the build posts but Ill regret doing so down the line!!! So a lot has happened in the past month. I've transferred all the selected livestock from my old tank and shut it all down. It was a pain in the *** to catch everything. At one point, all my LR was moved into buckets and I could not find one of the Royal Grammas. I knew it was in a dart hole amidst the 75lbs of rock but couldnt find it. When I finally gave up, I brought the rocks outside to chunk in a creek we have in my backyard. Luckily I saw a yellow speckle in a rock I was about to chunk and was able to get him out.


Livestock Transferred: Female Bipartitus Leopard Wrasse, Midas Blenny, Ocellaris Clownfish, Royal Gramma Pair/ Other: Maxima Clam, Serpent/Banded Starfish, Tuxedo Urchin,Hermits, 15 headed Torch Coral, and a few small Acro/Blasto/Zoa frags



I then received my lid from Advanced Acrylics and it fit perfectly. Only thing i would change would be making it two pieces to cover the 6 feet. One piece works but its hard to just pick up one side for a quick hand in the tank, since the Acrylic bows because its so long and heavy.


At the same time, my 20g QT tank had been setup with Aquaclear 50 and seeded with DT sponges and media which had sat in my new build sump for 3 wks.

Wave#1 "Docile" fish into QT: Red Firefish x 3, Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish x 2, Mccoskers Flasher Wrasse (Male and Female)

-Wave #1 livestock were in QT for 17 days where I fed them a mix of PE, Hikari, Cyclopeeze, and SF Bay Capelin Roe. By day 3, all were eating so I dosed a round of Prazi. I decided to transfer the Firefish into the DT a few days earlier than the rest to hopefully get them to settle in, which seems to have worked well



Interestingly though, I added a Sunburst Anthias and Wheelers Goby into my QT 4 days in but did not transfer them into the DT with the rest, as I wanted it to eat more aggressively before doing so. On day 15, I noticed the Sunburst Anthias not swimming like usual and ignored my feeding. It had white stringy poop hanging from it and died within a few hours. 10 hrs later the Wheelers Goby died also in my QT. I'm guessing internal worms, so I guess I should've dosed another round of Prazi but I am glad that the other adds are doing great. I tried a FW dip after it died but didnt see any flukes, assuming I know what flukes look like lol.






Also ordered some inverts from LiveAquaria which I never have done. Longspine Urchin was DOA, but added a few other common things like 5 Trochus Snails, 2 electric blue hermits, 2 small nassarius, Sexy Shrimp (size of a corn kernel SMH), and a controversial Strawberry Crab. I made the mistake over overloading my first tank with too much CUC at the start. Now that my Diatom bloom is in full effect, I needed to buy a few.


Next update: Skinning the Stand, Calcium Reactor quest, 2nd wave into QT, etc.

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Love the fish selection! 
Curious to see how the firefish progress, as I've seen the best way to keep 1 is to start w/ multiple.
Ive always heard that, but kept 2 for 2.5 yrs before. Although thats not considered long in reefing, we will see. So far they all sleep in the same crevice and are out and about 10x more than I expected. But perhaps that will change once I add more aggressive fish.
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Calcium Reactor thoughts/opinions are needed here. ANYTHING that will help speed up my learning curve and/or my ability to obtain one. Some of you like Ty have been very helpful over PM''s, but maybe I can take some load off them and open things up. I'll go into more detail of my coral stocking plan and timing in my next update, but for purposes of this discussion you can assume 80% of the corals will be SPS/Acros.

My Objective: To buy/build the correct calcium reactor setup up-front so that any future needed upgrades for a 180g SPS focused tank are not needed. And in the most cost efficient manner :D

Back in December, I spent a lot of time skimming through hundreds of anecdotal reviews on the various calcium reactors sold on the market. Cliff notes version is that I decided to manage my tank's alkalinity by looking/purchasing a used Geo 612/618/624 Calcium Reactor setup, somewhere on the secondary market.

Fast forward to February and I have not had any luck securing a CaRx setup. There still isn't too much of a rush, because I do not expect that I'll add enough stony corals to require supplementation for 1-2 months. But I didn't realize that shipping is not recommended for CaRx due to all the moving parts - so this eliminated the national forums from my seller supply pool, so not much inventory available. It seems like my options at this point are:

Option A: Purchase a brand new Geo 618 reactor:

The CR618 will hold 12 pounds of large grain media and is suitable for reef aquariums up to 300 gallons.

  • 6″ diameter reaction chamber
  • All cell cast acrylic construction
  • 3/8″ thick flange, lid and base
  • Key hole slot for lid removal
  • Full access to the reaction chamber
  • NEW Precision Needle Valve for fine adjustments
  • Sicce Syncra 1.5, bolts to base plate
  • pH probe port in lid
  • pH probe adapter included
  • Auto fill bubble counter
  • 11 x 10 foot print, 22″ overall height
  • Comes with tubing harness shown in picture
  • Now comes with push to connect fittings

Q: If I go this route, do I just then buy a separate regulator and C02 tank and call it a day?

Q: I know I can find a CO2 tank locally. But what kind of regulator should I get? I read of ppl saying its easy to build your own 2 stage regulator, but I'd rather buy an off the shelf one if it will be sufficient in the long run, since I'm getting tired of all the DIY at this point lol. Necessary to go with a Carbon Doser? Masterflex through EBAY? Help!!! haha.

Option B: Open up my classifieds search to other brands. I've heard Lifereef, MTC, Vertex? Others?

Option C: Scrap the CaRx and go with a dosing setup. It costs less upfront and if I eventually get the APEX Trident monitoring system it would be cool having the DOS setup sync with it.

Thanks for everyone's thoughts!



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Only suggestion i'd give is... make sure the reactor you choose uses a common recirc pump, not some inhouse or offbrand.  ie.  my carx uses an eheim1260, and i can replace it as needed easily.  if you calculate the volume correctly, you only need to "refresh" the media every 6 to 12mo.  if you go too small, it will "slush" up too quickly and be a maint nightmare.  if you go too large, your efluent flow would have to be lowered to the point it is susceptible to clogging. 

on my 180DT+, I run a "marine life aquatics CR-500"   21" x 4"diameter @ 0.15ml/min.  I use a.r.m. coarse w/ neo-mag (9:1 ratio).  apex ph settings:
If CaRktr > 6.61 Then ON 
If CaRktr < 6.58 Then OFF 
If pH < 7.89 Then OFF 
Defer 005:00 Then ON 

I have to get my #10 co2 tank refilled about every 6-9mo. (im actually due now!).  I have a backup tank (#5) to run on if i cant get it refilled that day (or its a weekend).  I use a "Milwaukee MA957 CO2 Regulator," but this isnt the best one out there.

20180205_135644 (Medium).jpg

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IME the calcium reactor itself doesn't vary much by brand. Each reactor has a media cylinder with a circulation pump configured in similar ways. The difference between models will be chamber size and quality of parts. For example, the difference between a reactor rated for 150 gallons and one rated for 300 gallons may only be a larger chamber. IMHO you won't need a big chamber unless you plan to heavily stock the aquariumThe solenoid and pressure regulator varies greatly by brand and model. I'm really not qualified to give advice on these, but I think having a solenoid with a bubble counter versus a reactor with a bubble counter is much easier to use. Here is a link to A Guide to Using Calcium Reactors that may help answer some questions. 


Option B: Open up my classifieds search to other brands. I've heard Lifereef, MTC, Vertex? Others? 

Korallin and Reef Octopus are popular brands that people in the club have had good results with. I have an old school reactor that's worked well for me. You can even DIY one!  I think that I have the plans saved somewhere if you're interested in going that route. 


Option C: Scrap the CaRx and go with a dosing setup. It costs less upfront and if I eventually get the APEX Trident monitoring system it would be cool having the DOS setup sync with it. 

I would say the most common path for people is to start dosing and then move onto the reactor when the dosing requirements becomes more than they're willing to handle. That's pretty much how I got started! There are a lot of commercial dosing mixes out there if you have a favorite brand. I see a lot of people using the BRS stuff, but I haven't tried it myself. Here is a link to An Improved Do-it-Yourself Two Part Alk Calcium Supplementation System if you decide on a DIY mix. 

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