PNY's Reef Cube (lots of DIY)

Discussion in 'Show Off Your Fish Tanks!' started by Pny, Jun 19, 2014.

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  1. Pny

    Pny Astrea Snail

    May 7, 2012
    I've been in the marine aquarium hobby for about six years, started with a very large tank that was converted from a fresh water planted tank. During these years I've been mostly keeping fish (FOWLR) and a few hardy coral species, always struggling with the more advanced corals such as sps for various reasons. I recently got this second tank to be able to try out more advanced reefing in a smaller tank (without ruin the bank). Here's a presentation of my progress so far. (Before reading, please note that english is not my native language)


    The aquarium, a white cabinet with a reef cube, 60x60x60 cm, is designed to be a mixed reef, as a supplement to my larger FOWLR tank that I already have. The aquarium is running on a modern version of the Berlin method, ie filtering is handled by live rock and an efficient skimmer, combined with more modern methods of phosphate absorption and dosage of carbon source. The aquarium was bought second hand and was started in December 2013 and is in operation today June 2014).

    System Profile
    The aquarium equipment consists mostly of quiet quality products; return pump and skimmer from German Royal Exclusiv, and stream pumps and ATO from Tunze. The aquarium is illuminated with LED ramp from Ecotech.

    The aquarium has a DIY sump (50x50x40 cm) below the aquarium. It has 4 sections. One large section for the skimmer, reactors and possible future equipment, a little section with a filter pad for mechanical filtration and a compartment for the return pump. The fourth section is separated from the others for ATO osmosis water. The sump was built by the previous owner.

    The ATO section holds water for about 1-1.5 weeks between refills. I refill this container manually. The water is filtered by a five stage reverse osmosis unit that produces water for both my tanks. The RO has a booster pump and is capable of generating 400 gpd. The water quality is measured with an inline TDS meter on the RO.

    The lighting consists of a first generation Ecotech Radion XR30w LED. The ramp is 130 W and has five individually controllable colors (white, royal blue 442 nm, blue 468 nm, green 520 nm, hyper red 660 nm). The light is ramped up with blue lights first and then turns into a more white light. In the evening the light is faded down to a blue light before the lights finally go out.

    A DIY STC-1000 temperature controller regulates the temperature by controlling the heater. The temperature controller provides redundancy to the thermostat in the heater and thus provides protection against accidental overheating of the aquarium at any fault in the heater.

    A 3 channel Kamoer dosing master and a 4 channel slave dosing pump is used for supplementation. The Balling method is used to provide the aquarium with Calcium, Magnesium, Alk and Trace elements. Three channels on the Kamoer dosing pump is used for the Balling salts and a fourth channel is used for carbon dosing. The carbon source (vinegar and sugar) keeps the nitrate and phosphate levels low.

    Two DIY upflow reactors with phosphate absorption media helps keeping the phosphate levels low.

    Equipment list
    Lighting: Ecotech radion XR30W LED (130W)
    Skimmer: Bubble King Mini 180
    Return pump: Red Dragon Mini 2500
    Flow: Tunze Nano Stream 6025
    Flow: Tunze Nano Stream 6045
    Flow: Hydor Koralia
    Filters: 2x DIY 1.5 liter upflow reactors
    Dosing: Kamoer KSP-F03 3 chn master + 4 chn slave
    ATO: Tunze osmolator 3155
    Temp Control: DIY STC-1000
    Heater: Hydor 200W
    Cooling / Ventilation: DIY PC fan
    RO: 5 stage 400 gpd Reverse Osmosis

    Cabinet and Construction
    The cabinet was built by the previous owner of the tank and is built with 22mm MDF and reinforced with stainless steel details. The bench is screwed, glued and painted white. The lower part of the cabinet holds a sump with all the filter equipment, and is internally sound proofed. The upper part, which is also soundproof hides the lightning and minimizes light scatter outside the aquarium. The equipment has been carefully selected to minimize noise. Fans are provided in both top and bottom for ventilation. The goal is a system that is very quiet and provides minimal light scattering outside the aquarium.

    The aquarium is drilled with 3 holes, two pipes down and one pipe up. The overflow is a Herbie type overflow made of 25 mm PVC. The return pump is spec'd for about 2850 l/h and pumps about 2500 l/h with the back pressure. I have put I piece of silicone tubing between the return pump and pipe assembly to prevent vibrations being transmitted from the pump to the tubes.

    The aquarium contains about 20 kg of live rock. Reef ceramics covers the background and hides the overflow. The bottom substrate is coral gravel in size 3-5 mm.

    The live stock is still very light since the tank was started just 6 months ago, and I still struggle to keep the water parameters where I want them to be... The fish are fed daily with a varied diet of flakes, pellets and frozen food. The corals are fed once a week with Reef Pearls and various frozen food.

    Blacktail angelfish, Centropyge eibli - (January 2014)
    Black & White clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris black - (July 2014)
    Clown anemonefish, Amphiprion ocellaris - (July 2014)
    Mandarinfish, Synchiropus splendidus - (July 2014)
    Sea goldie, Pseudanthias squamipinnis - (July 2014)
    Banggai cardinal fish, Pterapogon kauderni - (July 2014)
    Goldtail demoiselle, Chrysiptera parasema - (July 2014)

    Euphyllia sp. x3
    Green bubble coral
    Pavona Cactus
    Ricordea Florida
    Ricordea Yuma

    Assorted snails

    Water Parameter Targets
    I believe in slightly elevated Calcium and Magnesium levels to improve coral growth.

    Salinity: 1.025 (Refractometer)
    Temperature: 25.3 (STC-1000)
    Calcium: 450 ppm (Salifert)
    Alkalinity: 8.6 dKH (Salifert)
    Magnesium: 1350 dKH (Salifert)
    Nitrate: 1 ppm (Red Sea)
    Phosphate: 0.08 ppm (Hanna)
    Iodine: not tested
    Potassium: not tested
    Redox: not tested


    Tank details

    Sump area.

    Sump details.

    Red Stripe Angel, Centropyge eibli

    Euphyllia sp.

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
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  3. Zgetman

    Zgetman Ritteri Anemone

    Jun 15, 2013
    Dumas, TX, USA
    Nice write up... I love the tank setup. I would love to know how you built those reactors. I think that would be a fun project.
  4. OPForest

    OPForest Fire Worm

    Apr 20, 2014
    Lancaster PA
    Very nice. I really like the cube tanks. Unfortunately it wouldn't really fit well where I am putting my tank.

    I wish English wasn't my native language so that I could write as well as you do.
    Billme and Alfie uk like this.
  5. Alfie uk

    Alfie uk Feather Duster

    Aug 24, 2010
    Across the pond, England
    Looks a very nice setup. I used to have a 60cm cube and loved it :)

    Good look keeping the sps, hystrix and Caliendrum are good corals to start off with ;)
  6. Pny

    Pny Astrea Snail

    May 7, 2012
  7. Pny

    Pny Astrea Snail

    May 7, 2012
    The layout of my sump...

  8. Click Here!

  9. RoloSaez

    RoloSaez Millepora

    Mar 10, 2013
    Wesley Chapel Fl
  10. Pny

    Pny Astrea Snail

    May 7, 2012
    A more recent FTS...

  11. oldfishkeeper

    oldfishkeeper Giant Squid

    Aug 13, 2012
    wow! that a cool tank - I love the back wall - beautiful!
  12. Pny

    Pny Astrea Snail

    May 7, 2012
    A photo of my light setup... Its a bit different than most people use since I have a sheet of prismatic acrylic under my LED. The result is a fantastic even light with some characteristics almost as the massive T5 lights that was so popular a few years ago.

    zesty and mdbostwick like this.