jlanger's 32gal Home Office Reef Build

Discussion in 'Tank Builds' started by jlanger, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. H2OHOH

    H2OHOH Senior Member
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    Looks great. How do you like the skimmer?
     
  2. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    It's only been a few days, but my initial impression is that the skimmer holds up to my expectations.
    Since I've gotten back into the hobby about eight years ago, I've purchased three other Reef Octopus skimmers and I've liked them all. The build quality and performance of their skimmers are great for their lower price point. They're relatively easy to assemble and set up; even though the instructions are less than optimal.
    What I like about this particular skimmer is the very small footprint that fits in my small sump. Assembly was easy and the water level is controlled by twisting the red riser pipe with the air intake. The skimmer creates a great deal of bubbles for the reaction chamber and was producing a wet skimmate immediately. As with most new skimmers, there was quite a bit of microbubbles the first few days. As the skimmer breaks in, I expect those to disappear.

    Short answer:
    I like it. I would recommend it for smaller tanks.
     
  3. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Here's the first FTS of the 32gal Office Reef after the transfer one week ago.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the obligatory diatom bloom from new rock and sand as arrived.

    Last night I spent a good chunk of time placing the corals.
    I started with the leather corals to find the best location for them. Most of them seem happy with the extra room and water flow, but the toadstools are usually the last to open up whenever I do any maintenance on the tank.
    I attached my acan frags to the side of the right face of the reef. They've opened up already and I hope they really take off. It would be cool to have a wall of colorful acans on that rock.
    I placed the ricordea/yuma mushrooms in a grouping on another small rock. Same concept here; lets of mushrooms in one area.
    A mounted all of the zoanthid frags onto larger disks. There're way too many at this time to create a zoa garden while keeping an open sand bed. I am contemplating on mounting the zoanthids in locations between the leather corals to help fill in the rock with color. There are a few frags that don't look great (algae), but I'll deal with those soon. The larger palythoa colonies will stay on the sand, for sure.
    I kept the Pukani rock shelf as is. I placed it very high in the back right corner. The rock is getting overgrown by the blue mushrooms, but there are a few nice ricordea polyps on it as well.

    The fish are still doing well.
    The two Wheeler's Gobies have claimed opposite sides of the reef. There's no real aggression (chasing) by the larger goby, but they definitely won't reside together.
    The Royal Gramma will come out and swim around, but is still quite skittish when there's movement outside of the tank.
    I'm planning to pick up a new blenny soon. And I'm considering a flasher wrasse to add color and movement; and to help with the skittish gramma.

    As far as the build itself, I have a couple of critiques about the set up.
    I need to find a good solution for keeping the microbubbles from the skimmer from getting to the return pump. I don't have they available room for a bubble trap with baffles, so I need to think of an alternative method; a foam "cap" on the baffle perhaps.
    And I seem to have developed a small drip leak from my return line bulkhead. <Nertz!> I should have some thread tape somewhere to address that issue. If I can get it fixed before the house meeting, all the better.
     
    #23 jlanger, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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  4. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Three weeks since the transfer and things are progressing as expected.

    The newly added rock has triggered small algae blooms. I've upped the water change percentage and frequency the past couple of weeks to help keep nutrient levels from encouraging any further algae issues. I added about a dozen small Banded Trochus Snails to increase the clean-up crew numbers; which are actually very small.

    As far as equipment and my sump, I'm very pleased. The sump is working beautifully. The filter socks do clog up rather quickly, but my sump is pristine behind the socks. The skimmer is doing great. I still get some microbubbles released into the water that find their way to the return pump, but I'm trying a few options to see if I can limit those. Currently I have a piece of Poly-Filter placed in the return chamber that shields the return pump from water coming directly from the skimmer chamber. This has limited the microbubbles, but I'm starting to see a light cyano-like coating on my sand bed which I had gotten the last time I implemented the Poly-Filter pads.

    I have started using kalkwasser in my top reservoir. Being that the corals are predominantly soft corals, I don't have a great need for calcium and carbonate supplementation, but I am adding new frags of LPS corals that will benefit from the kalkwasser. And since I had a gallon jug of kalkwasser powder on hand, I might as well put it to good use. And since I also had some bottles of the hw Wiegandt TraceTip-1, TraceTip-2 and IodTip, I'm supplementing those also.

    Since I mentioned that I have been adding some LPS frags, I have purchased quite a few frags from AcanLord's last two live sales; check those out, there're great corals for incredible prices. I've added ten new acan frags, a small ORA Red Goniopra, a few new zoanthid frags and, since I wanted more color in this tank, I jumped on this War Paint Scolymia.

    [​IMG]

    This is my first attempt at keeping a scolymia coral. I've been hesitant to purchase one of them based on the inconsistencies I hear about their success rate. I really hope I can keep this specimen healthy and plump. Any advice from those of you that have kept them long term would be greatly appreciated.
    Just look at these colors!

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Almost been two months since this thread received an update...

    This little system has fared well over the summer. A few things have changed, though.

    I rehomed the two Wheeler's Gobies. Since they were not a bonded pair and there wasn't really enough room for the two of them, I pulled them both from the tank. I wanted to have a proven pair, so I wasn't going to try pulling one and adding another one in hopes of a bond.
    With the LiveAquaria Diver's Den Open House in August, I picked up a new pair of the Wheeler's Gobies. It's really nice to see the two fish be compatible instead of the constant bickering.

    [​IMG]

    In addition to the gobies, I added two more fish.
    I added a small Linear Blenny. I haven't kept a Linear Blenny before, so this little guy came home with us. From my experience with the Pictus Blennies, I found them to be very shy and easily traumatized by larger interruptions within the tank. Once afflicted, they would remain hidden and slowly decline in health and die. I'm not sure if they're more sensitive to trauma than other more common blennies, but I wanted to see how the Linear Blenny would fare in my tank. Since being added, this blenny is always out front and center; no hiding from him. This confidence may also have something to do with the other new addition.
    I also picked up a male McCosker's Wrasse. I've wanted to find a dither fish that would help boost the confidence in my Royal Gramma; which retreats to the rocks whenever someone approaches. Upgrading to the 32gal tank allowed me more options for such a fish that likes to swim in the open water. This fish does not disappoint! He is always swimming around and will approach you when you look into the tank. I don't think I've ever seen him dart into the rocks for cover. Even when I do water changes, he will check out the siphon plumbing and I have to safeguard him from getting too close. His behavior has done wonders for the other fish in the tank; the blenny and gramma spend much of their time being visible and active.

    [​IMG]

    So if anyone has a smaller system and is looking for a colorful and active fish, I would highly recommend the McCosker's Flasher Wrasse. The McCosker's are one of the smaller flasher wrasses so they should do well in tanks of 30gal or larger.
    Speaking of flashing... check out his fins when he's strutting his stuff; those spots turn insanely bright. He will do this periodically throughout the evening or if I'm sitting right in front of the tank ignoring him; I think he wants more food.

    [​IMG]

    I also picked up a few new corals for the tank while in Rhinelander. I brought home a trio of Biota's new aquacultured soft corals. All three of them are really nice, but one of them has incredibly long polyps that look like a willow tree. I'll get some coral pictures and a FTS taken once everything opens back up from performing this week's water change.
     
  6. Adam G

    Adam G Born to Reef!
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    Tank looks great as always! Love the McCoskers. Had one once but he jumped to his death. Would love to try another one some day.
     
  7. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks, Adam.

    Here's a FTS after most of the corals have reopened.

    [​IMG]

    The new corals were mounted today after spending the past four weeks sitting on the sand bed. Two of the new corals can be found in the center of the photo. The soft green Palau Green Nepthea is dead center and the Green Papaya Sinularia Coral is laying horizontally below. If the sinularia doesn't right itself in a couple of days, I may remount the coral so it stands vertically once more. The long polyped sarcophyton is on the right side. The head of the sarcophyton is about 1" in diameter but some polyps extend almost two inches when fully deployed; it's pretty.
    As you can see, the two stalks of the Kenya Tree Coral are getting big again. The next time I have to prune them, I'll break off the rock at the base so they'll be removed for good; they just grow too fast for such a small system. The cespitularia and xenia that are on the topmost rock in the back are also getting large enough to frag or rehome. I do admit that I like the movement provided by those corals, but the can get out hand in a small tank. This tank is also getting numerous blue mushrooms growing in various places; some are quite large!
    The acan frags are doing okay. I haven't been around much lately for feedings, but they seem to be growing. The scolymia, on the other hand, is looking worse for wear. While being gone to MACNA for five days, the coral has bleached quite a bit and looks emaciated. I've tried spot feeding the coral, but so far it hasn't really responded.
    I added three berghia nudibranchs about a month ago to help remove some aiptasia. I haven't really seen the nudis much, but I do notice the pesky anemones slowly disappearing. Now I need add a couple emerald crabs to take care of some bubble algae that is showing up.
    Overall, the inhabitants of this tank are doing very well.

    As far as maintenance and the equipment are concerned...
    I stopped dosing any additives to the tank. I found I would get slight issues with minor algae or bacterial blooms while I was dosing. Since I've stopped (I still add kalkwasser to my ATO), the tank has cleaned up rather well and the corals are still growing.
    I'm still performing weekly water changes of about 9 gallons.
    Changing out the filter socks about every 5-6 days.
    Replacing carbon every two weeks and I discontinued using the Poly-Filter pad; no reason.
    I did remove the interior overflow box and cleaned it out a couple of weeks ago. That was slick! And quick!
    I am so happy I upgraded my office system to include a sump. It has made maintenance so much easier and I enjoy the tank much more.

    Here's another pic of the new Linear Blenny.
    I love the red racing stripe that runs along its back and to the very tip of its tail.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I'll post the good news first.

    The 32gal Office tank is doing very well.

    [​IMG]

    The collection of soft corals has grown in rather well and some could use a pruning or relocation. I'm really liking the new leather corals and the fuzzy nepthea. The polyp extension from all of the corals is great. I'm thinking about fragging the blue cespitularia and moving half of it down to the sand bed for more movement down there; and to showcase the long flowing polyps. The two Kenya Tree corals are the perfect size; I wish they'd stop growing, but we know that that isn't going to happen. When they get too large, I may remove the entire coral and replace it with different; small litophyton or klyxum are on the list.
    The acan frags are holding on; which is the best success I've had with them in a long time. I should probably feed them more.
    The scoly is barely holding on. While being gone for MACNA, the coral was toppled by snails and it was upside down in the ricordea polyps; oops! I moved it to a much less active area of the tank to see if it will recover; it's not showing any feeding response so I'm concerned.
    The zoanthid and palythoa frags are growing. I'm still not sure where I plan to place them yet. I'd like to open up the sand bed, but I'm not sure about where I want to attach them to the rocks, so for now, they sit on the sand.

    I added three berghia nudibranchs over a month ago to combat some aiptasia, and it looks like they're doing a good job with that; albeit very slowly. I don't ever see the nudibranchs, but I do notice aiptasia disappearing.

    The fish are all doing great.
    The wrasse and blenny are very active and always in sight.
    The new pair of gobies are always perched on the right end of the rock work.
    The Royal Gramma is very reclusive, but does come out when I feed or approach the tank. When the fish comes out, it reminds me of those very large adult groupers; very thick and always looks grumpy.

    I've been contemplating on seeding the tank with live pods to boost the population that's already present so I can try another mandarin dragnet or get a pair of Red Scooter or Ruby Red Dragonets. LA-DD has had some pairs listed lately and I have credit available, so it's been tempting.
    I have imagined how this tank would look with one of the juvenile captive-bred Conspicuous Angelfish I saw at MACNA would look in this tank; too bad they grow up and like to eat corals.

    System wise, everything is running very well.
    I'm pleased with the overflow and sump; so much better than the AIO of the Fluval. The skimmer is doing great. I've been topping off with kalkwasser in my ATO reservoir and that has kept parameters very stable.

    My only complaint is I also have those darn blue mushrooms in this system. They're not quite as invasive as they are in my 120gal system, but I'm thinking about removing them during my next relocating session.

    All said, I'm very happy with this system right now.
     
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  9. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Holy!!! No updates on this system since September!!!
    Oh well... This will be a quick update anyways as not much has changed in this tank; steady as can be.

    Three years ago to the week, I brought home a Yellow Clown Goby that was being harassed in someone else's tank. Since my Fluval wasn't quite ready for any fish, I added the goby to my 120gal with the thoughts of catching it someday and moving it into the small tank. I underestimated how smart those little buggers are; completely avoided all attempts of being trapped. Well, that day has finally happened!
    Since my 120gal is currently being dismantled, I removed all of the fish and corals placed those I wanted to keep into a temporary holding tank. This was the perfect time to move the clown goby into the office tank where it can live in harmony with soft corals and not be tempted to nibble at any of the acropora corals.

    Two minutes in the tank and it found the perfect perch in the leather coral.

    [​IMG]

    It looks happy.
    I'm happy.
     
  10. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    As I wait to work on another update, here's a short video of the 32gal Office reef.



    Not much has changed with this system since the September update; only the corals continue to grow and get larger.
    I'm sure this tank will get much more attention now that this is my only real system running at the moment.
     
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  11. Fishfoo

    Fishfoo Junior Member
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    That McCosker's is beautiful! Great pic of him in your September update, don't know how I missed it before now. The tank looks great and packed with healthy coral. At least you have this tank to keep the itch somewhat scratched while you plan out your future build :)

    Did you ever get rid those blue mushrooms in this tank like you planned, or are they still relentless as ever?
     
  12. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks, Keenan.
    I would've loved to have been able to add a fairy wrasse to this tank but with such a small size, a flasher wrasse had to suffice; and the McCosker's are one of the smaller ones available also.
    Most of the blue mushrooms were on the rock shelf which I removed and sold. I do see one or two small mushrooms in there, but with the limited amount of light and real estate, they haven't grown at all. I am keeping a close eye on them though. I have been debating on adding some of the more colorful clove polyps (Orange-tipped, etc.) to fill in between the corals so the mushrooms have some competition.
     
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  13. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Time for a quick update...

    Since my 120gal is now torn down, sold and waiting to get picked up (thanks to the weather yesterday), this tank has gotten more attention.
    I swapped out my Digital Aquatics DP1 dosing pump for the reliable BRS dosing pump. While doing that, I replaced the small ATO reservoir with the larger one from the 120gal. I'm using kalkwasser with the ATO now and have seen a jump in coralline algae growth.
    I also started dosing the ESV Transition Elements that I was using on the 120gal; might as well not let it go to waste.
    Just this week, I started dosing Vibrant to combat some bubble algae and some other algae popping up lately. We'll have to see how well this cleans up the algae over the next few weeks.

    Along with moving the Yellow Clown Goby into the office system, I also moved two Peppermint Shrimp. I don't see any aiptasia in the tank (there were a couple tiny ones), so the shrimp must've eaten them up; which then led them to eating all of my acan frags! I had about half a dozen nice acans that were doing well and then within a day or two, they're all gone. There's a quiet voice in the back of my head that says I should've remembered that I had this happen before, but I can't remember everything. Dammit!!

    Most of the corals in this tank continue to grow and grow, so I needed to thin out some of them. The tank still looks packed and will probably require another pruning in the near future.
    While fragging those corals, I left the screen top off of the tank for a short while and, of course, the McCosker's Wrasse jumped out. I didn't notice until I found my Royal Gramma swimming around the tank. The gramma wasn't a big fan of the wrasse so it would stay lurking in the rocks all of the time. Noticing that the gramma was freely swimming around, that made me look for the wrasse. Not finding him in the tank lead to me to find him on the carpet; dumbass!

    Since this is my only tank at the moment, I couldn't attend the Spring Expo and not buy anything!!! I picked up a couple of zoanthid frags to add to the collection; not that I need more. So I picked up a small frag of Scrambled Eggs and another frag from TBall; any ideas? I haven't looked them up yet. [Edit: They could be Ultra Pink Zoanthids]

    [​IMG]
     
    #33 jlanger, Apr 15, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
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  14. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Another new addition to the office tank is this nice feathery looking toadstool leather coral.
    This coral was part of the deal that sent my Flameback Angelfish to JP's tank and the Leopard Wrasse to Will's tank. According to JP, the small coral wasn't growing much in his system but it looked great, so I asked about it for my soft coral tank. So far, so good! I really like the feathery appearance of the polyps on this coral; much different than the polyps on my other toadstool leather corals.

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of toadstool leather corals, my Linear Blenny really likes using this toadstool as a perch.
    Whenever I find the blenny on the toadstool, I am reminded of the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. "Who... R... U... ?"

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Justin715

    Justin715 TCMAS Event Committee
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    Cool update and great pictures. That blenny on the toadstool is cool, amazing shot, and agree that toadstool's polyps extended look different and quite awesome! Sure looks like a long polyp aka fireworks leather...Sarcophyton?
     
  16. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Thanks, Justin.
    It's definitely a Sarcophyton but I'm not sure what the common name would be for it.
    In fact, there's more than a handful of different Sarcophyton sp. and Sinularia sp. leather corals in this tank. The "long polyped" nomination would have to go to the Biota aquacultured coral at the bottom right of the photo; and those polyps get even longer!

    [​IMG]

    One of my favorite leathers is the Sinularia tucked in among the Sarcophytons near the bottom of the photo. The long fingers, unique peach color and the extremely tiny polyps really stand out against the other corals. The coral's texture upon first glance looks like it's rough sandpaper until you get a closer look and see the tiny polyps.
     
  17. Justin715

    Justin715 TCMAS Event Committee
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    It is very cool (sinularia). That being said that shot with all of them is amazing! All look happy n healthy.
     

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