Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'll have to eat cup o' noodles for the next couple...

I pulled the trigger and got the new AquaIllumination Vega Color LED lights! I won't bore you with unboxing photos or specifications that you can find online, but you can see below how I mounted them to my tank. I got two Vega Color fixtures, one EXT hanging kit, and three 6 inch EXT rails from my favorite one stop shop, Marine Depot.

What attracted me to the AI Vega Colors is its design, different mounting options, and its ipod looking controller. While I don't like the touch sensitive buttons on the controller, it is very easy to setup and have everything running in a short amount of time. More on my controller settings at a later time, here are some photos of the LED fixture mounted above the aquarium.

A quick Google Sketchup as I wanted to see how it would look like mounted on the tank with the exact dimensions.
Side view showing the EXT rail with hanging locking clamp and cable
AI Vega Color fixtures linked with the center 6 inch EXT rail, and one on each end for the hanging kit.
Top view of the hanging kit and EXT rail
While these Vega Colors provides a nice spread with its 80 degree optics, it doesn't blind me or the camera when looking up at the fixture.
I have these mounted about 12 inches above the tank. I prefer hanging fixtures above the aquarium as it gives me control on the light spread and it gives me plenty of clearance when working on the aquarium.
Top view of the connected AI Vega fixtures with the 6 inch EXT rail.
Frontal view of the 36 inch long aquarium with the AI Vega lights. AI sells two different hanging kits, one for EXT rails and one for without. My light hangers are mounted and positioned for my old T5HO light fixture. Since I am unable to reach the mounting hardware in the back with the aquarium filled, I decided to keep everything as it is and just buy additional rails to hang it. So without the light hangers looking funny and pushed in, I got two EXT rails and mounted the hanging kit to them so everything looks flush.
Shot of the aquarium from a distance to give some perspective of how tall everything is in the living room.
Photos taken with a camera phone. Come back soon for new exciting updates!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New shelf aquascape and update!

Current tank shot as of April 2013. Note to self: Quit messing with the tank! I've rearranged the aquarium too many times that I keep stressing the corals and fish. I'm finally happy with the aquascape and layout, and I will finally let the corals grow in peace. I had several corals brown out AGAIN as they were already recovering, but I know they'll bounce back in the following months.
I got rid of all my live rocks back in January. This is what my tank looked like while I planned and prepared the new aquascape. Biological filtration is from the Seachem Matrix stones as seen in my previous post. I didn't post any updates because I wanted to make sure I didn't wipe my tank.

Without having to rely on live rock as my primary source of biological filtration, I only used what I needed to make the aquascape look exactly like how I wanted it. My new aquascape is only about 25 lbs total. As you can see in the corals, the color and growth were recovering nicely, but then I stressed them out again as I kept rearranging the aquarium. Some of these corals had some really good color before they browned out from the constant stress.
I broke base rock, then epoxied them together to try to make some artificial tonga branches :)
After searching and shopping for the right shelf rock, I decided to go with the "Real Reef Rock" shelf rock. This rock allowed me to create a very interesting overhang. This rock isn't as heavy as base rock, as it is flat and pretty solid.
Used 10 lbs of base rock as center weight, then I started epoxying the shelf rock onto it.
Used some of my handmade branches to hold the shelf in place while the epoxy cured.
Mounted some branches to the top of the center rock to add some layers.
View from the back side
Large shelf is now freestanding and now appears like its "floating". I epoxied a smaller shelf on the right side, and continued to add more layers to the center piece.
I used four 4oz tubes of the Two Little Fishies Aquastik Red Coralline Epoxy for this entire project. I love this stuff as you just mold it like clay. Some of the reviewers on this epoxy say that it only sticks to your fingers and not onto the rock. Well here's a tip, wet your fingers as you mold and it no longer sticks to your fingers!
Third shelf rock added to add more layers. Epoxied more branches towards the front of the base rock to give me more room to place corals.
Back side view showing no support for the shelf. It's all held by epoxy!
Another angle of the finished center piece. The whole thing measured 27 inches long and 14 inches at its widest point. The shelves are about 12 inches wide.
After moving all the corals to a separate container, the new aquascape was finally placed in the aquarium as one entire piece.
Perfect fit as it gives plenty of real estate for corals while having almost no deadspots with water flow.
Keep following for some more exciting updates coming soon!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Update: Removing the live rock and livestock

Live rock just removed and corals broken off of the rocks. Lots of detritus kicked up after removing the rock. It's mind boggling how much detritus the rock traps.

Live rock was tossed in a tub until I could get the rest of the corals, inverts, and other stuff off of the rock. I've got this rock dried up in my backyard now and hopefully it will be used again in a future tank.

Corals and livestock moved to other tubs while the tank is cleaned.

Used an entire bucket of salt for this weekends tank renovation.

With the live rock removed, I needed something the corals could sit on. I decided to go with the CaribSea Special Grade Reef Sand because the grain size. It is big enough not to cause sand storms, but fine enough for burrowers and sand shifters. I bought this sand from Marine Depot.

I just love the size, color and texture of sand. In the past I had always used sugar-sized sand, but now I prefer and recommend the Caribsea Special Grade Reef Sand.

This sand needed a lot of rinsing otherwise it will make your tank look milky and cloudy for days.

Cleaned the tank and scraped all the glass panels with a razor.  The pre-rinsed sand was added with new clean saltwater. The tank cleared up rather quickly in just a few hours. I probably would of had to wait a couple days for the dust to settle if I didn't pre-rinsed. 
More coming soon! I've got to spread it out or I'd run out of content! :D

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Biological Filtration for Rem's Reef!

Marine Depot Triple GFO and Carbon Filter media reactor. Pretty universal as it can be used for many applications. Since I no longer have live rock in my aquarium, I am using this reactor for my biological filtration with Seachem Matrix stones.

Seachem Matrix 2 Liters used in my aquarium. Seachem sells bio media as Matrix and Denitrate. What's the difference?  Matrix can be used for a wide variety of flow rates and is comparable to live rock. The Seachem Denitrate should only be used with very slow flow rates for anerobic bacteria to reduce nitrates.

Rinsed the stones, then soaked them for 24 hours in saltwater and Seachem Stability

The matrix comes in various shapes, colors, and sizes

I used Seachem's Stability to soak the Matrix rocks. I got the idea of soaking the bio media directly from Brightwell Aquatics as they recommend that you soak their X-Port Bio media for 24 hours in Microbacter7 prior to using them in the aquarium.

Popped off all the plastic screens and removed the paper filters since they're not needed with the Matrix stones.

Filters removed and plastics screens placed back in the caps

2 Liters of Matrix fills up all three cartridges perfectly

Powered by Cobalt Aquatics MJ900, but I could have easily gone with the next size down.

Placed the biological filter behind the sump.

Photo of the sump. Missing from the sump are my two reactors for carbon and phosphate that were being cleaned while picture was taken.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year! 2013 Updates!

Happy New Year! Welcome back folks for some exciting new Rem's Reef updates! My New Year's resolution is to post more so here we go! Things have been doing really well in the tank. Part of not posting updates for the past several months is that I wanted to see how my tank responded to the changes before I posted them online. Plus, I needed a short break as it was too much aquarium stuff, especially after getting home from a long days work. Weekends and free time were spent away from all the reef nerd stuff!

So what's new? A lot has taken place in Rem's Reef, but the biggest change is that I have removed all of my live rock! What is this non-sense you say? The rocks were taking up too much space in the aquarium and I wanted to go with a minimalistic look for 2013!

Besides that, what really made me put in the time and effort to redo everything is that I had a really bad aiptasia breakout. My aiptasia experience was even worse than the dreaded pulsing xenia that kept coming back, but this time the aiptasia kept coming back with more friends! I even had multiple baby aiptasia sprouting on frag plugs! I think the higher water flow rates and maybe the regular dosing allowed them to rapidly spawn in my tank. In any case, I have removed the pest and my tank has been aiptasia free since November of 2012.

How did I even get the aiptasia in the first place? I have always been careful introducing new things to the tank, but when I was given an acan to babysit, the aiptasia hitchhiked and quickly multiplied in my tank. It goes to show that careful visual inspections and dipping are not enough, no matter the size of the coral or frag. Quarantining corals is what I should have done in the first place, even it was just for a few days. The aiptasia would have expanded and I could have killed it right away.

This acan, which has been named the limited edition "JBJCAN", is now one of my most prized possession, so Jason if your reading this.. NO! you can't have it back! it's mine now!

Moving forward.. Rem's Reef is no longer bare bottom! With live rock removed, I decided to add dry sand to give the corals something to sit on. My biological filtration is now taken care of by Seachem Matrix stones which are housed in a Marine Depot GFO 3 canister reactor! I've added two pieces of Cerameco rock which has added some depth to the aquarium. Ok, enough of the jibber-jabber, I'm working on the new posts with details and pictures. Stay tuned!