Gablami's Reefer 525 Build

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Gablami, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Yeah, that's a lot of shrimp. :eek:
    But it does not matter. Almost anything works.
    Just track the levels, and when ammonia cranks up, pull them out.

    Yes, programming Apex is a lot easier if you know how to program in general.
    But hey - this is silicon valley - go learn to program!
    You have a month to kill waiting for cycle.

    I notice a lot of threaded PVC fittings. Those tend to leak or crack, so be careful.
    My preference is to use silicone glue and gently hand tighten. Glue dries for a good seal, but it does not stick to pvc, so still comes apart easily.

    Glad to see you ditch the brass. I assume that hose clamp is stainless?
  2. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    If not, I got these plastic hose clamps from my local Ace hardware. They sell them individually for about $1.50.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Thanks for the input guys/gals. What's the drawback to leaving the shrimp in until it's turned to nothing? Or just shell? Wouldn't that just produce more ammonia and feed a bunch of bacteria making more nitrite and then more of the anaerobic bacteria (which is what we really want)? If I cut the process off early by pulling the fish, am I short changing how much nitrifying bacteria I get in the end?

    Or does high levels of ammonia and nitrite actually impede nitrifying bacteria growth? (That doesn't really make sense to me, but maybe some can explain why.)

    Rooster, I'm less of a planner and more of a doer. Pros and cons to each. Plus, I was on a staycation, so had lots of time.

    Rygh, I threaded them in pretty tight with sealing tape. And used the standard primer and pvc cement on the rest of the joints. I would imagine that's pretty indestructible but maybe salt water will mess it up. Will keep an eye on it. Edit: oh, you're saying that the silicone glue works better than the thread tape. That makes sense. Well, it was super easy to put this plumbing together, I can always do it again one weekend.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  4. Vhuang168

    Vhuang168 Supporting Member

    Lots of ammonia will eventually turn into lots of nitrates. Unless you want to do a very large wc before adding fish or an even larger wc before adding corals or an almost 100% wc before adding sps, take the shrimp out if you see ammonia levels go past 2ppm.

    Too much nitrite and/or nitrates can also stall the cycle out.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    At 4ppm+ your cycle can stall and never finish. Also precision ammonia level is useful to be able to test the "strength" of your cycle. For me if tank can bring 2ppm ammonia to nitrate within 24 hours then it is solid.
  6. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    Nice build - makes me want to rip out my tank and start over........almost :).
  7. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Thanks Apon.

    So rooster and vhuang, I have no idea who's right and I'm sure there's lots of ways to skin a cat. I was advised by the owner of Neptune's to take 1/2 lb of shell on shrimp and drop it into my tank. Turn off the skimmer, turn up the temp, drop in a whole bottle of bacteria, and wait until the shrimp are all gone, shell and all. Wait for algae to grow. Then do a massive water change, at least 50%, and add CUC, usually around 3-4 weeks, and then coral at 8 weeks, fish at 10-12 weeks. Just wanted to give that perspective. I like the idea of testing the strength of the tank with ammonia conversion to nitrate over time though.
  8. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Since you are seeding the tank with a decent amount of bacteria, it probably can keep up with the decomposition rate of the shrimp. Robert must have done the same sequence many time and the the decomposition rates / bacteria multiplication rate line up. One thing to watch for is if you have a bad bottle of bacteria as they are fairly sensitive product. This would allow ammonia level to raise quicker than it BB keep up. So it would be good to monitor ammonia anyway. I'm paranoid-data-person so I generally like precise numbers ;p
  9. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    I'm a "cover all my bases" person and just ordered another bottle of bacteria on Amazon. Can't have too much bacteria right?
  10. robert4025

    robert4025 Sponsor

    Ideally, you want to prolonged the addition of fish for as long as possible. I would highly recommend waiting til at least the 16th week to do so. Take your time with fish. They are bio-load nightmare, compared to corals.

    Your tank total volume, I think is about about 150gal? Based on a one shrimp per 20gal of water, roughly about half a pound of shrimp is right. Those shrimps should be completely decomposed by the 4th or 5th week. At which time, your nitrite should be unmeasurable but expect nitrate to start climbing or reach steady state. A 50% WC then should set your baseline levels to within acceptable range for basic corals for the next few weeks. As long as you go fishless for the next couple weeks, your corals should be pretty happy while you can take your time waiting for the tank to continue to mature. Remember, on the grander scheme of things, your tank will take about 1 to 2 years to reach full maturity so until then, take things slowly and be ready for the unexpected issues.

    If you have further question, you know where to find me. Otherwise, I think you already know the folks here really knows their stuff...

    Good luck and welcome to BAR!
    Gablami likes this.
  11. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Thanks Robert. You know where I'll be Saturday morning. Get ready! Lol. Place is starting to smell fishy...
  12. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Every other day or so I've been testing my ammonia levels. 2 days ago I got some detectable ammonia at 0.15. Today I checked ammonia, nitrite and nitrate and to my surprise, I've already got nitrate 5 days in! I'm at 25. I know I'm supposed to compare from the top, but my lens focal distance was too long cause I happened to have a 50mm prime on my camera and was too lazy to change lenses.


    I guess I don't really know what to expect, but for some reason I thought it would take longer. My ammonia is at 0.25 and my NO2 is at 0.5.

    The shrimp still have a long way to go until full decomposition, but it's on its way. It stopped smelling a few days ago. Since I don't have anything else interesting to photograph, here's what a shrimp looks like after 5 days at 84 degrees.

  13. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Nitrites actually can show up pretty quick. Nitrosomona bacteria reproduce pretty quick compared to nitrobacter. I read that it takes half the time to double nitrosomona bacteria colonies.

    It took me about the same amount of time as you to start seeing nitrites and 2 weeks into my cure/cycle to start seeing nitrates and then until day 31 for the nitrites to finally go to zero. Although I did it without any bacteria additives. Curious to see what you cycle timeframe looks like since you did use bacteria supplements and see if it's shorter.

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  14. RandyC

    RandyC Supporting Member

    Oh and one cool thing about when the nitrites dropping was it was pretty much overnight. Went from 5ppm to zero overnight between day 30 and 31!
  15. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Wow, maybe it doubled again round that time. Yeah I'm wondering how long it'll take too. The slowest growth would seem to be in the beginning of each phase. Adding bacteria would seem to cut those early days out and jump into the exponential growth phase further down the line.
  16. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Alright, time for another update. Not a lot of progress on the chemistry side of things. Ammonia at 1.0, Nitrite at 0.5 and Nitrate at 10. Shrimp are starting to look pretty decomposed. We are now at 1 week mark of the cycle. I had ordered a second bottle of Tim's One and Only Nitrifying Bacteria when I first started the cycle, and I never used it. So I dumped that in for good measure.

    I spend a good amount of time organizing my stand this weekend. Found some black shelving at Home Depot and made a little stand for the side cabinet. Finally organized my cables. Here's a before and after:

    DSC_0224.jpg DSC_0387.jpg

    Of course, it's not comparable to the masterpieces that I've seen out there. But it serves my purpose. I did drill some screws into the rear cabinet for the energy bar, but the rest of everything is held up with 3M velcro tape. Strong stuff. I'm just imagining moisture seeping into those screw holes and decomposing my whole stand (me and my imagination). I heard from Robert at Neptune's that Apex is coming out with an ATO kit, so that'll probably go under the shelf. The one that comes stock is tiny and I'm refilling every 3 days or so. Would like it last at least a week.

    I setup a cable channel in the back of my sump compartment, and finally got my Apex probes calibrated and in the right location. I'll probably move the skimmer to the left so as not to have the skimmer right next to the probes (read the bubbles can distort readings?). In front of the skimmer and LR, planning for a fuge. These guys ( do ship to the US; has anyone ordered one or seen one in person?


    One of these days, I'm going to redo the plumbing with gate valves. I guess that's it for now. I put velcroed some LED lights at the top of the cabinet and secured the wires with extra clamps so they don't fall into the water.

    Have another question, after the shrimp are all decomposed and my cycle is completed, if I don't add something in quickly my good bacteria start to die, right? Once I start seeing some algae, I was going to slowly start adding some CUC. Is that going to provide enough nitrogenous waste to keep things going? Thanks, in advance, for answering this newbie question.

    Take care, guys and gals. See ya next weekend.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
  17. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Spent the past few days looking at UV sterilizers. Was getting excited about the Emperor Aquatics Smart 25W, but was having trouble figuring out how to fit it into the reefer sump. The sump leaves literally no room for anything in the same compartment. I'm wavering. Instead of a UV sterilizer, I might just have a really strict quarantine. Any thoughts?

    Also, purchased the pre-made reefer baffle from Reef Dreams in the UK. Following two photographs taken from their website at I'm excited to receive it and will post once I get it. Couldn't find anything like it stateside. I know I could have made my own, but I wanted it to look slick...I'll admit it.

    Baffle 1.jpg
    baffle 2.jpg

    Once again, not my photos. From their website. Planning for a chaeto fuge, bare bottom. Preordered a Kessil A80 to light it up. Saw it at Neptune's, looks like a thin little hockey puck. I was originally thinking the Kessil H series grow lamps, but I wasn't crazy about the purple light.

    In other news, my ammonia levels are coming down, nitrite is holding steady and nitrates are creeping up. Once my ammonia and nitrite are at zero, and my nitrate is holding steady, will do a big 50g water change. Went to Neptune's today and even though it's early, bought 5 snails and 5 hermits, and will start ghost feeding. After 1.5 weeks, my jumbo shrimp are almost gone. Robert and his crew (James and Andrew) were awesome as usual, gave me lots of tips, and even hooked me up with some leftover coral fragment they were gonna toss! I'm thinking it's too early, but they said it might live, so why not give it a try! So here it is, my first coral. Please live!!!

    RandyC likes this.
  18. roostertech

    roostertech reef noob

    Coming along nicely. On UV sterilizer, BRS did a good video on it.

    I think I would go with drilling the ATO rather than split the sump for fuge. Dan's reef(YouTube) used the same baffle, you can see it in his earlier video of his 525xl.
  19. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    Opinion: UV sterilizer is a waste.
    Not enough dwell time / energy to kill ich.
    Kills free floating algae great, sure, but that is not really a reef tank problem.
  20. Gablami

    Gablami Supporting Member

    Yeah I saw the BRS video. I'm starting to really like that channel. Enjoy watching Ryan evolve from his early days with long hair and awkwardness, to his present day look and enthusiasm. I think he looks more healthy. Oh, and the reefing information is good too.

    Rooster, thanks for pointing me in that direction. I saw some of Dan's reef youtube videos but I never went back to watch his early posts. You, my friend, are truly a reefer 525 compendium of online information.

    I saw the post here on BAR about the ato conversion. That's like a 5 gallon fuge (edit: 4 gallon). Didn't think that was big enough. What else are you going to put in that skimmer compartment?
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016

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