I used to have fresh water tanks from when I was 12, starting with a tiny 20L and worked my way up to 120L in the end. My dad had a 300L marine aquarium and I've always wanted to make the jump to the reef. What better time to do that than when moving into a new place.
A few basic requirements I set myself:
- Cabinet needed
- LED lights preferred
- Don't want to build too much myself, so somewhat plug and play would be good
I had a perfect spot in a corner, so was looking at a corner aquarium with bow front at the beginning, such as the Juwel Trigon 350. It's a pain to convert these to marine though, so I thought of getting a custom built one, but of course that's a very expensive option and much more risky than an out of the box solution. After some research, I stumbled across the Red Sea Reefer 350 and that seemed like a perfect fit. Having seen one in person, I pretty much made my decision. The last question was black or white, and while that's a matter of preference, the white one fit nicely along with the other furniture. It's somewhat matt and looks quite classy.
In terms of equipment, here is what my mix of research and dealer recommendations resulted in:
- Skimmer: Reef Octopus NWB-SSS 110
- Wave maker: Maxspect Gyre XF130
- Lights: Zet Light - ZS7000
- Salt: Red Sea Coral Pro / 22kg
- Sand: Red Sea Base 10kg
- Heater: Eheim 100 (mainly as a backup, rarely needed in Dubai)
- Return Pump: Reef Octopus 5500
- Chiller: Hailea 300A (in case the AC fails..)
- Chiller Return Pump: Eheim Compact 1000
- Carbon for the start: Hailea Carbon pack
- Mechanical Filter: Produc Ceramic
I also want to put some sort of controller like the Reef Keeper in, which I'll do over time though.
Once I had all the equipment, it was time to bring up one age old question - and that is "What water to use?" In the end, I went for the safest route, which is to use RO water. The downside is you need a filter system and it takes a long time to prepare the water, especially for the initial fill of the tank.
Setting everything up was relatively straightforward - but you definitely need two people to lift the tank. When everything is done, it looked something like this:
Unfortunately my Gyre wave maker broke down after just 15min. I think the controller had a short, but they were helpful and spare part fixed it.
I also wanted to hang the LED lamp on the wall rather than having it sit on top of the glass, which somewhat destroys the clean rimless look. Had the wrong hanging kit initially but now it is hanging above the tank.
The other issue was that the Reef Octopus return pump makes a relatively high pitched noise that is clearly audible and the Eheim chiller pump vibrates relatively strongly, which is also audible. Maybe they just need to run in, but that's bothering me at the moment since the rest of the tank and the flow system in the Reefer are absolutely silent.
The next step was to pick up some rock and start reefscaping. I chose Real Reef rock combined with some Fiji live rock, which was cured at the dealer. The Real Reef rock is expensive but you get great colour and shape. I used epoxy to glue some of the pieces together, but most of it rests freely. Once I was happy with the scape - which only really took 2 or 3 tries, I added sand and the final result is this.
I kickstarted the bio cycle with some bacteria solution recommended by the fish store. Initially I had planned to use natural ammonia, such as a frozen shrimp, but with some live rock being in the tank already I decided to go for the bacteria option.
Now it's time to leave the tank to cycle for a few more weeks and do regular water tests. Then I'll add a clean up crew of turbo snails and some hermit crabs. The first fish will most likely be Clowns, alongside some simple LPS corals.