Hornberson Reef - DSA 90 gallon mixed reef

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by wpeterson, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Thanks to @rygh for finding a home in a his 250 gallon tank for the big Dartfish. They'll be a lot happier with more swimming room and territory to burrow in.

    I added our sole remaining fish, a Bengai Cardinal back into the display and she's doing very well. ::fingers crossed:: Whatever was in our display is gone after lying fallow for over a month. We're on vacation next week but then hoping to slowly start re-stocking fish when we get back. The tank is crawling with pods everywhere without a mandarin to eat them.

    Water quality has been super stable, though Alk demand is increasing and I may need to setup my doser soon. I'm adding about 1dkh of Alk solution twice a week now. PH levels are up with my oxygen in the house with the warmer weather, 8.3 peak to 8.2 low over a 24 hour cycle with our reverse lighting in the sump.

    Corals are growing well. Early Acropora and Montipora additons are all thoroughly encrusted and growing. I've had to relocate some of the chalices to low light corners and provide more space from the aggressive sweepers that the Hollywood Stunners put out at night. The anemone is much happier with more light and less flow in the new location I moved him to.

    Everything is moving along well. I want to re-do my aquascaping but haven't had the time and patience for a project that large since the fish issues. Perhaps when we get back.
    neuro, denzil and Ahruk like this.
  2. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    Got a chance to look at the setup in person and I have to say its AWESOME! very well put together and looks beautiful in person than all the photos here :)
    wpeterson likes this.
  3. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Thanks for the kind words. I hope the chaeto from our sump does as well for your tank as it did for ours.
    Nav likes this.
  4. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    We left our tank on auto-pilot for 8 days while we took a roadtrip to the Grand Canyon and a wedding in Sedona. I'm happy to say everything is doing well when we got back. I swear there's more polyp extension and growth in the week we were gone than I've seen before. I can't tell if it's just the psychology of absence (look how much you've grown!) or if having zero hands in the tank for a week makes everything do better.

    We're going through about 1 dkh of alk and about 20ppm of Calc every 48 hours now, with larger colonies growing out of our frags. I think it's time to get our Jebao doser up and running. The ATO has been a bit flaky (fish sitter had to reset it middle of the week) and the skimmer overflowed (possibly due to ATO).

    Murphy's Law: I sold our backup ATO and now our primary ATO has been acting a bit wonky. It seems to get into a bad state and alarm about once a week, though we've been running it for 2 years now. I'm going to see if I can get some support from the manufacturer.

    Corals are doing great, our Benggai Cardinal is happy, and the Rose BTA has about doubled in size since I moved it's home to a better spot. Pictures and more updates later this week.
    jonmos75 likes this.
  5. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Pictures today after a water change, anemone is looking much happier. Acans and new acros for the grow out contests are looking good:



    I picked up a frag for myself and @jonmos75 from the CA Reef Co acro growout contest. They've been acclimated and dipped. They're currently on the sandbed to acclimate to my brighter Kessil A350s vs. the T5s they were under at the store:


    Ahruk, neuro, Nav and 2 others like this.
  6. Enderturtle

    Enderturtle Volunteer

    Your frag's looking good. Good polyp extension.
    wpeterson likes this.
  7. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I mounted our frags for the two growouts today:



    We also bought a Mandarin who's eating well:

  8. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Full tank shot from earlier today:

    Nav, Ahruk and jonmos75 like this.
  9. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    My ATO has flooded my sump with freshwater, so I bought a replacement thinking the controller wasn't working. The new ATO flooded the sump again earlier this week on Weds. Thankfully nothing above the top of the sump, but definitely 5-10 gallons too much topoff.

    I took some time to take the system apart and diagnose it and I think I figured out what's wrong. I have an AutoAqua SmartATO which uses two vertical optical sensors for level control. Because the power cord to the ATO pump barely reached the location I had it, it would get bumped and rotate the ATO unit 45-90 degrees causing the sensors to be out of position. When the unit is vertical (correct), the low level is below the high level sensors. When it's rotated sideways, those sensors may be at the same position or out of alignment. Because the unit was on the rear/side of my sump - I couldn't see it to know it was twisted. When it failed, I usually took it apart to clean/inspect it and didn't realize it was just misaligned.

    I took everything apart and re-located the ATO controller to the front of the sump where there was more play in the wiring and I could see it more easily. Fingers crossed that this resolves the issue and our levels return to normal once the excess RODI evaporates. Thankfully, with a tank this large there's a lot more forgiveness on parameters. Salinity only dropped to 1.023 from 1.025.
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
    jonmos75 and neuro like this.
  10. neuro

    neuro Webmaster

    Man I've been in that boat once, but that's one too many times.

    Glad you figured it out.
    wpeterson likes this.
  11. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    ATO is working well. @Nav and I were talking about feeding frozen food and he asked me for information about how I do it. I learned this from someone in the Boston Reefers club, but I forget who it was.

    I feed frozen food (spirulina mysis and cyclopeeze, mostly) to my tank, but find the cube sizes last me at least a week worth of feedings. I have small 1.25oz squeeze tubes which I put a cube and RODI water into to make a liquid food solution which I can then squeeze small amounts of into the tank. The tube with food is stored in the refrigerator between feedings and has a shelf life of 3-5 days.

    You can find the Gootube squeeze bottles I use on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/humangear-GoToob-1-25-Assorted-Colors/dp/B0076DNUEW

    1) Pop a cube of food out of the packaging

    2) Add cube and RODI water into tube

    3) Shake until thawed/mixed into liquid suspended food solution

    4) Squeeze small amount of food solution into tank
    neuro and Nav like this.
  12. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Our mandarin is one of our favorite fish and an animal we designed our tank around in terms of refugium and copepods/amphipods. We've been lucky to have good luck with them so far.

    I've been looking for a healthy, female green mandarin goby for quite some time to try and pair with our male mandarin. I finally found one today at Neptune Aquatics after the BAR meetup and brought her home to our tank.

    Here's a crappy cell phone picture in our acclimation vessel, totally washed out by the blue light from the Kessil's above (this was while she was doing final temperature acclimation after a slow drip acclimation):


    They are getting along well so far and it's a spectacular show of fins and plumage when they see each other. She's about an inch smaller than the male, which I've read is helpful for pairing successfully.
    Nav likes this.
  13. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    The fish are doing well, especially the new male/female mandarins. It looks like they're starting to eat cyclopeeze (frozen phytoplankton) as well as foraging for pods in the tank.

    I fell back on a cheap source of pelletized activated carbon for my reactor but wanted to use it up before I switched back to the Marineland bituminous carbon I've been using most of the time. I added 2 cups of the marineland carbon and noticed my ORP jumped up from 390 or so to 430 or so within about 24 hours - that's a nice sign of improved water quality. This is also confirmed by seat of the pants measurements like the amount of visible dissolved organic matter on the water surface being lower. I'm surprised there's that much difference in carbon types.

    I finally setup and installed my Jebao DP-4 dosing pump. I had to fabricate a mounting bracket from some cheap ikea shelf brackets. I ended up having to trim them down to fit, but now the doser sits just below the UV filter on the right side of the cabinet, just above the dosing inlets on my sump.


    I'm only going to be dosing Alkalinity to start with. I'm using a 1L water bottle as a dosing container so I can replace it instead of having to clean it. I mixed up a solution of 1L or RODI and 10 tsp of baking soda (similar to how I manually dose now). I've setup 10 doses of 10ml each every day, for 100ml total per day. This is the equivalent of <= 0.3 dkh of alk for my water volume per day.

    Overall, I was pleased with the setup and calibration on the dosing pump. However, it seems like only 2 of the 4 dosing pumps work correctly. I guess that's what you get for $75. I only need two, so we'll see how it goes.
    Last edited: May 19, 2015
  14. Nav

    Nav Director of Marketing & Photography

    When I got my first Jebao doser, 3 of 4 didn't work well... Shipped back to seller and the one I got now has 3 of 4 working so works perfect for Alk, Cal & Mag.
    neuro likes this.
  15. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster


    This was a gift and I've had it for 6 months now before I tested it out, so no luck there. I should have tested it when I first got it.
  16. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    My family and I are going away for the long weekend. I woke up to a scary surprise this morning to see our return pump had seized and we were boarding a plane in two hours.

    I frantically tore down the pump, soaked it in vinegar, scrubbed it, and rebuilt it. It's working fine and I was able to get it running. It looks like it seized overnight sometime between midnight and 7am but didn't overheat or cook the motor.

    Thank god it failed while I was here to fix it instead of a few hours later.

    I'm trying to process a post morgen on this, but here are my initial thoughts:

    - bought a duplicate return pump for easy swap for a catastrophic failure
    - more regular pump breakdown/cleanings every month
    - float switch on the sump set to alarm if triggered when return pump is powered up (to catch return failure of ATO overfill)

    I thought I was going to have to bail on our trip to save the tank, but we ended up OK.
  17. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    I think this was due to the dosing pump I added last week. The alk line inlet line is right above the return pump.

    I relocated the alk inlet hose to the other end of the sump. Hope that helps.

    I think that the proximate cause of the pump seizing was calcium deposits caused by a local alk spike. However, the root cause was likely not enough/frequent maintenance to break the pump down.
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  18. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Digging into my apex logs, it looks like the pump failed just before 5am. Localized pH spike and temp spike since the refugium lamp was on. Temperature in the display tank dropped 1-2 degrees but stayed within safe ranges.
  19. wpeterson

    wpeterson Webmaster

    Apex logs

    Attached Files:

  20. jonmos75

    jonmos75 Supporting Member

    I was in the same boat at 5am when my Apex gave me an alert and my ALD (auto Leak Detection) felt a small amount of moisture so it shut down all my pumps and sent me alerts I woke up to find the filter sock was overflowing enough to get a little water outside my sump ....got is cleaned up and back up and running....

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