Brent's Cube

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During the week I decided to put some rock together. My previous tank I bought a lot of live rock, awesome for fast cycling
but I always seemed to get hitchhikers, and I had quite an Aptasia because of it. I also had a problem with sticking the wet liverock together with putty. Total headache! This time I've decided to go the dry liverock route. I've also chosen to stick it together with white cement, much stronger than putty and it goes with the colour of the aragonite.

I used a 50/50 volume of cement to VERY course aragonite sand/shellgrit and I added some spaghetti to the mix for holes. Rock salt seems to weaken the mixture considerably. I'm quite happy how it came out! I'm curing it now in water with small amounts of pool acid to dissolve the surface cement, and expose the grit and clean the rock an open up the pores a bit. I'll cure it in a storage bin with small amounts of acid per day for the next week. Then I'll stick in a swimming pool for a month. I'll stick it back into the storage bin for a few days and start testing pH to see that all the alkalinity has leached out..

Pictures,,,,,
Right hand side

left hand side

Front

Top side
 

RiaanP

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rockwork came out nice, now to see it inside the tank.
 
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I've done a preliminary pH test, using a laboratory grade Pehanon pH test. after a week acid bath yesterday morning, I washed the rock thoroughly and placed the rock into the storage bin with fresh tap water. I expected the pH to rise quite quickly, but in about 18 hours, the pH is ~6.5, with my tap water testing at 7.0 on the test kit. I'm a little surprised, and wondering if this is correct. I wouldn't have thought that the tap water and liverock would have been that low. Possible left over acid in the rock? I wouldn't think so, as the HCl should neutralize almost immediately after coming into contact with the cement and aragonite. There is no added silica based sand etc, so I wouldn't think it could hold the acid. I also have spaghetti in the mix, so that could possibly be causing a lowered pH somehow? I did another water change after washing the rock again with tap water. I'll do a test this afternoon, and then again tomorrow morning before changing the water again.
 
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So the most terrifying moments for me is always doing the dreaded pressure test. I don't rate my silicone skills too highly, and I always seem to have to do a lot of post cure clean up work on the edges to get it looking neat. The Glue devil silicone is somewhat softer than the bostik that I'm used to, which is also playing on my mind. But...... Holding thumbs....... so far so good!

I even tested my wave maker too, to make sure the tank can handle it. I'll keep things running before emptying the tank, then I'll fill with RO and start adding salt!
My poor inmates will be able to see freedom in the distance... I do feel a bit bad about it haha.
Next is to start threading all the cables, put the covers over the polystyrene base, and get some more perspex cut to close off the sump compartment (to keep the skimmer, float switches etc. out of view...
 
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I got my salt and Red sea fiji pink aragonite today from Jungle Aquatics. Unfortunately the pack of sand had a hole in it, and I lost a few litres of water that the sand came in, but it's still wet so the bacteria shouldn't die off before I add it to the tank. I was toying with the idea of adding the sand and salt now and letting the tank start cycling without the rock. But I don't like the idea of having to move the sand to put my rockwork in at a later stage once it's cured. Besides, I still need to cable everything and put in the float switches nicely with silicone at the back; I don't want solvents in the setup. I'd rather finish DIY stuff and then get the tank going once it's all 100%. Like I said, I'm in no rush!

This weekend; the cables, return pump, and ATU system! I've also decided to get some perspex cut for the back sides of the tank that behind the perspex baffle/backplate, to hide the engine room a bit. These pieces will also go above the skimmer cup etc, to hide all plumbing. It'll all be removable for daily cleaning and maintenance.
 
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I've got all the cables sorted, with some minor things to do. The "sump or cupboard" still needs the light installed, But I'll get to that. The SAGA ATU is in, but I need to do the plumbing and get the float switches properly in place. I also need to still make an eggcrate basket for the 2nd and third compartment. I'll get to this today.

CYCLING!!!!
The salt went in the tank on Tuesday. I'm using coral pro salt, which is higher in macro elements, as I'm quite keen on the large water change method rather than dosing heavily. This may change a bit but I am a firm believer in regular water changes. Besides, a 10L water change is 25%:m23::m23::m23: Super easy and cheap.


Right, back to this week's progress.... I got quite a quick increase in ammonia right off the bat. This is quite easy to see with the reduction in water clarity, almost like someone's poured some milk in the tank. After 36 hours, it's already nearly 100% clear again, so I know the nitrifying bactaria are beginning to colonize and do some work. I've dosed Seachem stability (20ml total), and I added a small piece of prawn tail to get some animal protein into the system for the cycle to work on. I removed the tail this morning. I haven't got any of my dead live rock or sand in the tank yet, but I do have three small pieces of LR I got from a buddies sump. They're in the display now but I'll move them across to the sump today after I get the sump baskets done.

I've been running the skimmer since day one to break it in, but without the cup, so to increase ORP (I don't measure this) and keep O2 levels up. This doesn't remove bacteria as the foam just recirculates into the tank. The skimmer has taken a while to break in. Even trying with the skimmer cup on, it pissed micro bubbles into the tank. I was a bit bleak about this, thinking that I got a dud. 36hrs later, and it's nearly fully broken in, and the bubbles are no longer going into the display at all. Another day and the skimmer should be operating at 100% as it should.

The live rock seem to have cured quite fast. I've noticed quite a change in the soapy feeling I got off the rockwork the first week, to the solid rough texture I feel now. The pH and dKH has returned to the levels of the tap water that I've been soaking the rock in, so after one last test today, It'll be going into the tank. I can't wait!

I'll post some photo's of all of this soon...........
 

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Coming down beginning March... Need to do an inspection...
 
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Okay here's some photos.... The tank has cleaned up nicely. I'm happy that the water has cycled quite fast already. Once the sand and rock go in, I'll test parameters and see how things are going before adding livestock. NO2 and NO3 are looking good after the ammonia spike. Ammonia is also now at 0.

I've plumbed everything except a cupdoard LED light, and the ATU pipes and float switches. I'll do this today.

My live rock is coming on nicely, but after testing the pH, I'm still not sure it should go into the tank just yet.... Patience.... I'll place the rock once it's ready, then add sand after.

Here's the external look. Just the one conduit pipe running to the tank. Me like. The other multi plug next to the multisocket is just for general use, not the tank...
 
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Still need to get some beading to cover the polystyrene base, and I need to cover the back up with perspex. Filter baskets will be made today.
 
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Question Alert!?!? What is the most reliable heater to go with? I won't need more than 50 Watts. My tank is around 38.3L total (true volume). The climate here in Durban is so mild and I doubt we experience many cold days that would even require a heater at all. What should I be looking at?
 
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Question Alert!?!? What is the most reliable heater to go with? I won't need more than 50 Watts. My tank is around 38.3L total (true volume). The climate here in Durban is so mild and I doubt we experience many cold days that would even require a heater at all. What should I be looking at?
My 2 cents on this: Jager with a STC controller.

How is that dead rock with the cement coming along? Assume its still soaking?
 
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My 2 cents on this: Jager with a STC controller.

How is that dead rock with the cement coming along? Assume its still soaking?
Shot, thanks Adrian! I am going to buy the controller and get a small Jager. I have never boiled a tank, but don't want to either. I think the controller is a great idea...

The rock is not quite where I want it just yet to be honest. The pH is still rising, albeit at a slow rate. I need it to be 100% stable. We're getting there though. Hopefully it'll be fully ready in the next week or two. I have to leave the water to soak the rock for two full days before I get an increase of pH from 7.0 to 8.0. So it's definitely still leaching kak.
 

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