Whisk's Aquapod 24g Nano Reef Journal

Discussion in 'Tank Journals' started by Whisk, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    This will be the ongoing thread of my Aquapod 24 gallon aquarium from the very start of setting up the tank. I have had four years of experience with freshwater aquariums. This will be my first time at keeping a saltwater nano reef setup. I hope this joural will help all newbies out there like myself and hopefully answer some questions about start up with the AP 24.

    October 26, 2008

    I always liked the appeal of a nano tank. Small and contained, its perfect for the condo I live in. I looked at the Aquapod 24, Biocube 14, and the Nano 24. I went with the AP because most people who had one were very happy with it, the tank was structurally reliable, it had the ability to be modded, and the price was $50 cheaper than other comparable tanks. I decided to stick with the stock hood lighting because I have cats. After about a month of deciding which Nano Aquarium I wanted, I took the plunge...

    I ordered the AP 24 online from Dr FosterSmith, the price was great, it was $100 cheaper than my LFS. I was a bit worried about ordering online though as I have heard and seen many stories and pictures of the AP arriving in the mail broken. The website I ordered from has outstanding customer service so if it did arrive broken, I knew I would be taken care of. After patiently waiting for a week, it finally arrived on my doorstep.

    The shipping box I thought was pretty well packaged. The Aquarium was in it's factory sealed box and put inside another brown box, and then put in another brown box with stryofoam. Tripled boxed, nice! I had high hopes it would be not shattered.

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    I opened the AP box and I was surprised it was not broken! (whew!) Of course I took it out and inspected it all over looking for signs of cracked glass. I was pleased to see it had survived the shipping. I tested the lights and they worked fine. The cooling fans were a little louder than I thought. The tank came with sponges, bioballs and ceramic media all which I took out of the tank (i wont be using them). It also came with a loc-line Y splitter nozzle for the return. Now with the tank secured, I decided to take the next step.

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    My girlfriend and I decided we wanted a nice stand that wouldnt look like an aquarium stand since the tank was going in our living room. We found a nice stand and color that we liked that actually looked like a piece of furniture and decided to order that. It was a bit more expensive than the other stands but we took the hit because why go with something we wouldnt be happy with? The stand was also made for a larger tank than my AP, so I felt a little more comfortable with the extra support.

    EcoCube espresso stand $199
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    I also went ahead and got some additional supplies from Dr FosterSmith, Target, and Home Depot.

    -Maxi-Jet 1200 $18
    -Visi-therm Stealth 75w heater $15
    -Refractometer $27
    -Korailia 1 $28
    -GFCI pigtail $20
    -Two outdoor heavy duty timers with 3 prong cord $10 each
    -Belkin 8 outlet surge protector $25


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    I also decided that I wanted to start on the mods for my AP. This included an eggcrate media rack that would fit into the back chamber of the AP. The eggcrate I found was at Home Depot in the lighting section and it went for $10. The actual eggcrate is plastic found in lighting fixtures. In this case, it would become a nice rack for placing items such as filter floss, chaeto and bags of chemipure, carbon, etc. The sheet of eggcrate was a lot bigger than I thought.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunatley, I didnt have a dremel tool to cut with so I just went with a standard pair of scissors and a pair of pliers to break off broken ends of plastic. I took measurements inside the back chamber and started to put the rack together. My plan was to have three shelves. I kept the middle shelf off for now until I know the size of the chemipure bag I plan to put in. Using non-toxic superglue, I glue the pieces of cut out eggcrate together. After letting it cure, I found the rack was sturdy and strong.

    [​IMG]

    I also wanted to upgrade the stock powerhead to a Maxi-jet 1200. I heard this pump was more reliable and ran cooler than the stock pump. However, the suction cup legs attached to the maxi-jet would not fit into the back chamber of the AP. I had to cut off the left and right legs and use the center for support. Two suction cups would be on the center. I used an exacto knife to make some cuts and was able to bend and snap off the legs. The return hose was also too big for the maxi-jet, so I found an adapter at Home Depot (in the sprinkler section) and silcone glued the piece on that would fit the hose)

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    The AP has two cooling fans. These fans come on when the Daylight bulb is turned on. My plan was to turn on the Actinic lights an hour before the Daylights and turn the Actinics off an hour after the Daylights. That would mean the actinic lights would be running an hour before and after without the cooling fans. I've heard from other AP users to swap the Daylight and Actinic bulbs in the their fixtures so that when the Actinic bulb comes on first, the cooling fans would too. So I went ahead and swapped the bulbs.

    [​IMG]

    I was done for the mods I wanted to do for now. I decided the next step was to build the stand and get the electical grid set up with the drip loop. I created a simple diagram in photoshop of what I wanted to do.

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    Having a GFCI was a must!!! This device would save my life should something ever should happen with electricity getting in the water and I put my hands in. I plan on getting a ground probe as well, this way the GFCI will trip immediately when a problem develops with any equipment.

    The drip loop would be easy, I could place the surge protector on the inside of the aquarium stand and feed the cables through the hole on lower back wall of the stand. I knew it would be dry and safe from water damage here. I could also hang up the timers too. With this setup, I felt comfortable I would be safe.

    *Some people suggest having two surge protectors and two GFCIs in case one of the GFCI trips while your away from home. The other surge protector with half of the other equipment would keep going and keep your tank going with lighting and flow. I decided I would do this setup later for when I plan on being gone for a long time*.

    [​IMG]

    I now decided it was time for the freshwater and equipment test run. This would allow me to check for any possible water leaks in tank, equipment failures, and to wash and pick up any factory dust particles. I went ahead and filled the tank up with faucet water and turned on the equipment.

    FTS
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    Close up
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    Eggcrate rack with temporary sponge to collect dust and other particles
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    So far all is going well. No leaks, equipment is running fine. I am using a Hydor Flo on the return that a co-worker gave me instead of the Y splitter nozzle. Until I get my live rock setup, i'll use the Hydor Flo for now and it seems to circulate the water in all directions. The surface skimmer seems to be working fine and the water is flowing into the sponge. I will let this run for a day or two and will empty it out.
     
  2. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 1, 2008

    Woot! Here we go! My LFS has a sale this weekend on LR and no sales tax, so I jumped on it and decided to start the tank a week early. It was deal I couldnt pass up and would save me about $60. I took the time yesterday to buy 25 gallons of saltwater and let it circulate and warm up overnight to a nice 78 degrees. I tested the gravity of the water @ 1.024 with my refractometer. I also bought a 20lb bag of Nature's Ocean Live Sand and added it this morning before I went to the store. I heard decent things about this brand and the substrate was the right kind of texture I wanted.

    [​IMG]

    As suspected the water got cloudy when I added the sand and this would make it hard to aquascape. Hopefully it would clear quickly.

    [​IMG]

    I then headed to the LFS to pick up a net, some RO water, and the Live Rock. I was in no rush and I took my time picking out some pieces from their large bin. I knew that I wanted some big pieces at the bottom for foundation, with flat tops to them so I could place other rock pieces on it. I grabbed about 3 big ones, a few medium ones and a couple small ones. The owner of the store pointed out a small rock with a feather duster on it so I grabbed that too (FDs are one of my favs. Not sure if it will live or not since the tank is just starting but if its free, worth a shot). When I was placing the rock in the box, a small crab fell off. Seeing the crab and feather duster gave me a good feeling these rocks were not duds and they were full of crazy goodies!!! After I was done selecting, it came out to 26lbs of LR.

    Live Rock
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    Hitchhiker crab (freebie)
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    When I got home I took the time to place my rock. The water was still cloudy but I tried my best to work with it. I knew I could always come back and rearranged it when the water cleared. I placed the big pieces on the bottom and pushed them into the sand so they just about touched bottom of the tank. I heard critters would burrow under rocks so it was important to place the rock deep in the sand. I fooled around with a couple of shapes and found one that I'll stick with for now. I threw the crab in there and he crawled under a rock. Not sure if he'll live or not or if he's a good or bad crab to have but we'll have to see. I think thats what makes part of having a tank fun. Something that Forrest Gump may say, "Life is like a saltwater aquarium, you never know what youre gonna get".

    I turned on the powerheads and the water began to circulate. I positioned the korailia 1 to a spot I think would work for now. There seems to be a counterclockwise flow in the tank right now, we'll see how that goes. I turned on the actinic lights for now so I could see the work I did.

    [​IMG]

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    About 30 mins later I definitely notice the water slowly starting to clear. I also saw the feather duster out of his hole. I have the rubberband around his rock for now so I know which rock he is on when I'm arranging.

    Feather Duster
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    After about an hour I turned on the daylights so I could get a better look at the tank. Still cloudy but a little clearer.

    FTS
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    Moonlights
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    So far, this is only really the first day. Tomorrow I'll be taking my first tests and will post the results then. For now, enjoy the pics.
     
  3. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 2, 2008

    Today the first thing I noticed was the water had cleared up a lot and I decided to rearrange the rock a little bit, but not much. I also did my first tests with some temporary test strips until my test kits arrive on Tuesday. Here are the readings.

    Temp: 78
    Salinity: 1.024
    ph: 8.2
    Ammonia: .25
    Nitrate: 0
    Nitrite: 0

    Here are some new pictures. The one rock that had the feather turns out to have like 5 feather dusters in it, two big and 3 small.

    Feather dusters (black and striped)
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    Brown feather duster (on a different rock)
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    FTS
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    Some of the LR I got had some mushrooms on it, nothing special, but will at least give me something to look at until the tank is ready for zoas and other soft corals.

    LR with shrooms
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    [​IMG]

    After I was done arranging my rock, I came back like 20 mins later to take a look and someone came out to say hello. Can you spot him?

    [​IMG]

    Here's a hint.

    [​IMG]

    He's very, very small. The good news is the LR I got was definitely loaded with critters. I wonder what else I'll see. I saw the crab again last night crawling around on a rock. I'll keep him for now until he becomes a problem. I'll be testing my paramaters again on election day (go Obama!) and will update if anything new arrises.
     
  4. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 6, 2008

    Latest test results

    PH 8.2
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrites 0
    Nitrates 20

    I have noticed a growth of red "things" on my rocks. Looks to be red bubble algae. Here's some pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]




    November 8th, 2008

    Raw shrimp in 3 days now.
    Ammonia 0ppm

    So, the red bubble algae issue...I went to the LFS today and asked them about it. They took a look at the pictures I took and got really excited about it! The manager said it was rare and if I wanted I could return the rocks the algae was on they would gladly take it back for a trade! (He was very eager to get it). The guy there said they would grow it and sell it and like I said, he was quite excited about getting it. He told me it was a good macro algae but I told him i didnt want it taking over my tank.

    So I thought about it and I made the hard decision to trade the rock back for different LR. It was hard because those 3 rocks I traded had mushrooms, tubeworms, featherdusters, bristleworms, and a small crab living in it and the rock shape was the best shape I had in the tank :cry:

    I felt instantly relieve in my attempt to be rid of this nuicance algae and to get a clean slate. All I can hope is that this red bubble algae does not appear again and that I made the right choice giving up those rocks. Only time will tell. Hopefully none of the spores got loose.

    The new LR I got today was similar in shape and color/condition as the rocks in my tank that didnt have the algae growing on them. It was obvious the rocks I gave up that had the red bubble algae were different both in shape, color, and you could tell there was tons of crap growing on it. So I picked rock today that strayed from that. Hopefully I am lucky and free from it. Cross your fingers. Here are some new pictures of the new rocks added. The media bag you see contains the 3 day old rotting raw shrimp.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 11, 2008

    Tonight I added the fuge rack, basically another eggcrate mod with a fiberglass screen that covers the holes to keep chaeto contained while allowing water in. Essentially, I have created a 3rd chamber in the back of the Aquapod for the fuge. It's not the best mod as it was hard to work with and fit properly, until I come up with another solution, it will do. Here are a couple pics. We'll see how it works for now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 15, 2008

    test Results

    pH 8.2
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrites 0
    Nitrates 5 or 10

    I plan on going to LFS today to double check water tests. New pics, brown is starting to appear on the sand and rocks. And bugs and hair algae on the glass!

    *Update*

    LFS Test Results
    pH 8.0
    Ammonia 0
    Nitrites 0
    Nitrates 0

    Guess its time for a water change and beginning CUC tomorrow!


    mmm diatoms
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    bugs and young algae hairs!
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    boring clam came out to peek!
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    mmmm fuzzy raw shrimp
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    FTS
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  7. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 16, 2008

    Clean up Crew day at the LFS! They were unfortunately out of nassarius snails. Next time I go I'll also keep an eye out for a fighting conch.

    Here's what I got today for a beginning CUC:

    5 Cerith snails
    2 black turbo snails
    4 mexican red legged hermits
    1 peppermint shrimp

    Welcome Home
    [​IMG]

    Party on the bisma rock!
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    say cheese!
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    turbos at work
    [​IMG]
     
  8. reef89

    reef89 Guest

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    nice tank its looking good...how much was everything besides the live rock, live sand and live stock. i just dismatled my 55 gallon tank :-[ to down grade to like a 24 gallon aquapod or biocube.
     
  9. jellygeee

    jellygeee Guest

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    Looking great. Thanks for keeping us updated with all the progress shots.
    Looking forward to more updates =)
     
  10. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    [quote author=reef89 link=topic=5164.msg66794#msg66794 date=1228244730]
    nice tank its looking good...how much was everything besides the live rock, live sand and live stock. i just dismatled my 55 gallon tank :-[ to down grade to like a 24 gallon aquapod or biocube.
    [/quote]

    thanks.

    -Aquapod 24 $170
    -EcoCube espresso stand $199
    -Maxi-Jet 1200 $18
    -Visi-therm Stealth 75w heater $15
    -Refractometer $27
    -Korailia 1 $28
    -GFCI pigtail $20
    -Outdoor heavy duty timers with 3 prong cord $10
    -Belkin 8 outlet surge protector $25
     
  11. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    [quote author=jellygeee link=topic=5164.msg66801#msg66801 date=1228246361]
    Looking great. Thanks for keeping us updated with all the progress shots.
    Looking forward to more updates =)
    [/quote]

    thanks, i appreciate it! This isn't my main blog site, but i do like to post here for fellow Bay Reefers to see!
     
  12. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 23, 2008

    I rounded off my CUC today. Here's the total CUC in my tank.

    5 cerith snails
    5 nassarius snails
    5 red legged hermits
    2 black turbos
    1 Trochus snail
    1 Peppermint Shrimp

    Here's a few pics I think you will enjoy.

    Peppermint peek-a-boo
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    Trochus with chaeto antlers
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    interracial snail love
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    Feather Dusters with red legged hermit
    [​IMG][/QUOTE]
     
  13. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    November 29, 2008

    Well, I havent been on in a couple days but I thought I share the news. While I was at the LFS, they did not have any fighting conch for sell. I told the guy there I needed something that would clean the sandbed and I told him everything about the tank so far. He was an honest guy around my age and seemed pretty knowledable. He recommended a sand sifting goby of some sort and I think the impulse bug bit me. I was excited about getting my first fish so soon (I hadnt planned on getting one until after xmas). My sand bed was getting really bad and I heard good things about gobies doing an excellent job moving the sand around. So I went with a Diamond Watchmen Goby.

    [​IMG]

    I must say he got up and running pretty quick and in a matter of hours he was already sifting sand around by the mouthfuls. By morning the sandbed was already starting to look better. He is a shy fish and is only about 3 inches long. Any sudden movements will cause him to zip away to his little hole that he has dug out. Luckily, he is not shy when it comes to feeding time and comes out and will greedily eat anything that comes floating by him.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  14. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    December 1, 2008

    The last couple days, one of the fans in the Aquapod has been acting funny, making strange noises almost like the fan is spinning against the plastic. Hoping to fix it, I unscrewed the plastic splash shield and air blasted the fan, figuring dust may have been causing the noise. Nope, that didnt work. I tried several other possibilities, flipping the fan around, not screwing it so tightly in, none of them worked. Cheap fans.

    After some research I bought two Silenx 16db 18cfm fans. I had to cut the wires to the stock fans and silenx fans and twist them together. I couldnt directly plug them in because the power plug from the stock fans could not be removed from the circuit board because it was glued down. So wiring them together was the easiest option. I plan on writing a blog soon to discuss how to do this in detail. It wasnt hard, but the Silenx fan wires are not color coded and figuring out which wires connect to the stock fan plug was a pain, especially since the original plug was two wires and the Silenx has three. Anyways here are some pics.

    Removing stock fans
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    Equipment needed for mod (two Silenx fans, wire cutter/stripper, eight 4 x 1-1/4'' screws, eletrical tape)
    [​IMG]

    Wiring Silenx wires to original stock fan plug (notice the noncolor 3 wires, one of them isnt used)
    [​IMG]

    Finished! Two new Silenx fans installed!
    [​IMG]

    The new fans are so much more quieter and seem to push as much air as the old ones. I definitely recommend this mod especially if the fans are too loud for you.

    Also, I picked up a couple coral frags over the weekend to get me started. Enjoy the pics!

    Purple mushrooms gets a warm greeting from a cerith snail
    [​IMG]

    Tree Leather
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    Diamond Watchman Goby
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    hitchhiker mini brittle star
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    FTS
    [​IMG]
     
  15. mckevinfang

    mckevinfang Guest

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    FINALLY GOT TO MEET YOU IN PERSON TODAY ;D

    WHAT DID I MISS AFTER I LEFT?? :-

    IT WAS NICE MEETING YOU FROM SWF TO BAR LOL KEEP IN TOUCH LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR TANKS COMING ALONG :D
     
  16. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    good to meet ya too. You missed the raffle, which was pretty cool because there were a lot of winners that got to go home with some cool frags and other products. Some folks were multiple winners too. There was some cake that was passed out and after that everyone said their goodbyes.
     
  17. Whisk

    Whisk Guest

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    December 13, 2008

    Small update.

    I went to the Bay Area Reef club today and met a few local folks and got a feel how the club was. Seem like a nice group of folks who were happy to share their saltwater stories and frags. I met up with McKevinFang there, nice to meet ya man!

    I stopped by the LFS on the way home and they had a small frag of frogspawn which was cheap and small and just the type I been wanting so I couldnt pass it up. Also picked up a 2nd thermometer, a coralife digital. Here are some latest and greatest pics.

    FTS
    [​IMG]

    FTS actinic
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    Purple Mushrooms
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    Tree Leather
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    FrogSpawn
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Spirorbidae
    [​IMG]
     
  18. mckevinfang

    mckevinfang Guest

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    AWESOME PICK UP
    LOVE THE TANK
    I WISH I STAYED A LITTLE LONGER
    IT WAS NICE MEETING YOU
    CANT WAIT TO BE AN OFFICIAL MEMBER IN JAN.

    SEE YOU AROUND RYAN
     

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