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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

Like others I'm a long time lurker, so I'll try to contribute to this wonderful community. I was previously known on here are Guelphjay, but figured I should update my username as I haven't lived in Guelph for a number of years.

I've started a large tank upgrade going from a 100G display to 180G in wall. I'm writing some of this now, as some of these steps happened in the past.
I have bought and sold a few large tanks without setting them up as we changed plans a few times, plus the basement was always in the back of our mind. We didn't want to set up a new bigger tank upstairs then have to move it down later.

The major push was a decision to finish our basement. It is approximately 1,400 sqft with a nice open layout. I wanted a tank that could be a focal point of the room, which "necessitated" the upgrade. The plan is to have a mixed reef. Both my wife and I lean towards LPS with some SPS mixed in.

Background
The current tank is a CAD Lights 100G. It was my first tank in the hobby. I've had a tank upgrade in mind for a while now and collected pieces along the way. Unfortunately, it is looking like crap as I have moved it into our furnace room temporarily while the basement is renovated. The lack of space, dirt etc has contributed to lack of consistent water changes and upkeep. In retrospect we should have shut it down, sold the livestock and restarted.

older pic


New Tank
The order was placed with Miracles at the end of March for a standard 180 set up as a peninsula with starfire glass on 3 sides. Both sides and the back would be covered with black vinyl as the tank would actually be set in wall but give me lots of options if I ever chose to change the setup down the road.

Current Gear
180 Gallon Miracles Tank
80 Gallon JT Custom Acrylic Sump
LifeReef 36" skimmer
Neptune WAV powerheads
SmartATO
Apex Classic
2x TLF reactors for Carbon and GFO
10L of Siporax

Current Inhabitants
Purple Fire Fish
Sailfin Tang
Coral Beauty
Blue/Green Chromis
2x Pajama Cardinal

Next step will be building the stand. I will be using RocketEngineers design with 2x8 boards.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I used the Rocket Engineer design to build the stand. The stand is 30in tall. I originally used all 2x8 wood except for the screw strips which were 2x4. D'oh, first mistake! The sump is 17.5 inches high. AFTER the stand is fully constructed, the opening for the sump is only about 18 inches. Dammit. Not going to work at all.

I took the bottom off the stand and rebuilt the base square box using 2x4. This gave me about 4.5 inches of space to squeeze everything through once the sump was in place. Certainly not ideal, but I didn't want to make the stand any taller. I'm pretty short (5'7) and I want to be able to reach all the way to the bottom front of the tank without having to put on a bathing suit lol. There will be zero front access. *Update* This has worked really well so far. Changing the filter socks is a PIA, so I'm thinking about something to address that ie no more socks but I'm not there yet. I have a work bench behind the tank and I can reach all the way to the bottom front without issue, but I'm pretty much at my max reach. **



I ended up making a second stand that is an exact replica of the one for the new 180, despite the 100G only being 48 long. The issue is that the Life Reef skimmer will not fit under the stand and I didn't want to fiddle around trying to plumb it externally at this point. I'm going to slide the tank to one end and the sump to the other. For the time being this configuration will allow the skimmer to simply stick up through the stand beside the tank and allow me to run it as an internal skimmer.

I had to transfer my existing tank from the current location, where the new build was going to take place, into the furnace room out of the way. The entire basement was going to be under construction so I needed a safe and semi clean place for the tank. Now the hard part! Transferring the existing tank - while still running. No pictures, but I emptied the tank of probably 80% of the water. Moved all the corals so they were still fully submerged, emptied most of the live rock and left the fish. Now the new stand is a couple inches higher than the manufacturer stand which poses some obvious issues, BUT I also had to get the center return and drain plumbing across the exiting stand and over the new stands bracing without breaking them. My goal was not to cut everything out, since it was all slip-slip and glued. I didn't want to buy all new bulkheads and re-plumb.

I lifted the tank up and slid the plumbing over and off the back of the manufacturer stand. I then spun the tank so the plumbing would slide along the back then the side. Once I had slide the tank as far as possible I had to gently lift the tank up and on to the new stand so it was teetering on both. I carefully lifted/slid the tank (I was worried about the weight and angle cracking the bottom pane of glass) until the plumbing was almost against the new stand. Now another lift. I lifted the tank and plumbing up and over the rail. AWESOME! Didn't break the glass or the plumbing! This probably took just over an hour. Only down side - job is half done.

Next job - sliding the tank and new stand about 25 feet through a door and pivoting it into its temporary place. Did I mention that the floor is painted concrete. #[email protected]%. Slowly I lined the entire thing up with the furnace room door and pulled it over. This was really, really heavy and slow going. It took me about 4 hours to move this thing. I was sliding a few inches at a time with all my strength. Once the job was started it had to be finished because I was trapped in the furnace room. Zero change of fitting through the stand opening at the end, so if I needed to get out, it was breaking through a wall lol. Thankfully, everything went according to plan. After sliding into place, I filled it back up with the water that I took out.

I got pretty lazy as I was just exhausted and soaking with sweat. I only plumbed one drain. In the other drain and the return I just stuck long pieces of pipe into the bulkheads that are higher then the overflow box. I then ran a return line over the top. A bit risky, but DONE lol!

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Incorporated in the design is a small fish room. There is a weird triangle concrete protrusion from the rear wall of the house almost in the centre of the room. You can see the triangle shape on the left of the picture. It kind of makes a U shape, which will be the shape of the room. The plan is to play off that oddity (and there is plenty of building oddities in our house). We're going to carry that triangle out and square off the indent to hold the tank and small room. The door will be located inside our furnace room. It will be comfortable enough to walk behind and work on the tank as well as house some equipment. This space is really hard to describe without seeing it, but I think the plan is solid.



You can see the opening that will be a walk through from the furnace room to fish room. It's about 2.5 feet wide. There won't be a door on it because it is really small and an odd size. Plus there isn't room for a door to swing or a pocket door. We also had to change the door on the furnace room because the swing was now the wrong direction.



The stand will be built directly into the wall. ie the drywall will be screwed directly too it. We wanted the tank flush with the wall or as minimal inset as possible. All the drywall in the fish room is moisture and mold resistant like the stuff used in bathrooms. In the furnace room we used concrete board where we had the sump for the former tank, but it was huge overkill. We also decided to leave the floor in the fish room painted concrete. We decided to re-direct the savings ....notice how I didn't say 'save some money'.

 

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Discussion Starter #4
I told the guys at Miracles we weren't in any rush for the tank as we were renovating, so I didn't mind if they had to push or pause our build for important or rush orders. We could be really flexible on timing. I think this worked well for both of us because the tank was ready about 2 weeks later then Derek had indicated. Again, zero issue with that.

Miracles will deliver the tank but that is to the driveway only. You have to be able to help unload it from the truck. I have used friends lots before. A buddy and I lifted a 220 from garage into a truck (remember when I said we bought and sold a few other tanks). I wasn't worried about the weight, but the lift was going to be tough. The staircase to the basement goes in a U shape. Basically we're really limited on furniture and any sort of large object. You have to be able to get it down the first 5 stairs. Stand it on end on the landing, rotate the object to get the skinniest side going down, then lay it down on the guys below all while making a right turn. It's a biatch.

Because of this difficulty and in case of injury (tank is about 500lbs empty) we wanted pros. Based on other threads and a couple of PM's we decided on Braymore. They are piano movers, but also move other 'specialty' items. Now this is the best part. Instead of trying to schedule two deliveries, Miracles and Braymore to be there exactly on time, Braymore suggested that Miracles drop the tank at their warehouse off the 400. They would receive, unload, re-package and bring the tank out our house all for the initial quote! Derek also loved the idea because it was really convenient both in location and timing. He could drop the tank off any time the week of delivery and Braymore could schedule the drop as their delivery schedule allowed. Again, we were very flexible on timing.

Braymore schedule the drop on a Wednesday afternoon, which I booked off work. They had the Miracles packaging wrapped thoroughly with moving blankets and strapped to a cart. They had 3 guys on the truck. They were awesome. The only thing was I took the truck supervisor on a walk through before unloading. We get to the end and he says that they are only supposed to bring the tank down to the basement, but not put it on the stand. ummm WTF. I didn't even think to ask that when booking. I said 'something like lift it in its final position' to the guy on the phone. No problem though. He asked if the contractors and I could help lift if need be to put it on the stand. They all said 'yes' so that would have given us 7 guys total. Anyway. They were masters. I didn't get any pics as I was pulling out moving blankets and the cart as needed. I also helped lower the tank down the first flight of stairs to the landing. 2 guys on the bottom and another guy and I on top.

An aside....A couple days before delivery we decided to change the layout of the basement a bit. We took out a wall on the stairs that was part of a pantry. We ended up leaving the stairs with a half wall, moving the pantry back and building a play space, compete with tunnel going through the half wall into a fort under the stairs. Our son is 2 and he thinks this is dynamite.

Back to the movers. They took advantage of the wall being removed and took the tank over the side of the stairs thereby bypassing the U and making it more of an L. Again, silky smooth. Zero issues. I was VERY impressed.

Once the tank was down, they put it on the stand, no problem. Didn't need any help from the contractors or I. I did tip them an extra $50 and a gatorade :cool: each (no beers on the job). This was both for not giving me any grief for putting the tank on the stand and how impressed I was with the heavy move.

I would 100% recommend Braymore and I would use them again in a heart beat.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
I do have to take a bit of a side story and mention a couple a stupid things about our basement.

The cement floors are crazy unlevel. The guys pouring the foundation must have been wasted or on major drugs. Where the tank/stand are located, the floors are almost 4 inches off level. Once the tank went in, the contractors and I leveled with a 2x4 and composite shims. It's now 100% level.

The floors in the rest of the basement are pretty bad as well, but we didn't have the money to completely demo down to the concrete walls and pour a new floor. It would have cost a fortune. Instead we tried to a new product, which you may have seen at HD/Lowes and heard their ads on the Fan590. Anyway it is the DMX AirFlow. We dove in before all the ads, but had seen the really tall guy, Mike Holmes's right hand man, forget his name, use it. Apparently he really likes it. It has air pocket bubbles which the product sits on and allows air to flow under the floor. A huge plus is that it is really simple to install. I actually installed all the sub flooring myself. We then also put another soft vinyl/plastic (not sure exactly what it was) over the DMX AirFlow. This allowed a good deal of leveling to be accomplished. I'm really happy with the result. You can feel a few high spots with your feet, but they're all around poles or close to walls where you don't really walk.

Speaking of Poles.....for some stupid reason we have 4 ...yes 4...jack poles directly in the middle of the basement in a square shape. You guessed it...square shape, but not square. We really didn't want a closet in the middle of the room as it 1. that would be the first thing that comes to mind. Oh it's a square...build a closet. 2. Most importantly, it would cut off the view of the tank from the bar/other side of the room.



I think we came up with a pretty cool idea but it stumped the contractors a bit. We decided to make a high top bar table. It's accessible from all 4 sides to chat, play cards, drink etc. We 'wasted' a bit of money on attempts to finish the poles that didn't work out. You can see in the picture that we framed all the posts. This was all torn down shortly thereafter. A big issue was trying to square up these damn things. Initially we thought framing them out and wrapping them in something was going to be the best bet. That turned out to be incredible hard because you need finished edges on all sides.

Secondly we needed a table top that could be cut squarish. Despite all the best attempts we could not get these things square unless we wanted 12x12 poles. Yes, that is a foot in each direction to square these things. We decided to forget that and go 8x8 but a touch unsquare. With kinda square we were thinking wood was our best bet. Live edge tables are so nice, so we took a trip down to the Barn Board store in North York. Long story short, we changed our opinion after talking to the team there. Zero chance we were going to use coasters or our friends would use coasters every time you put a cup on that high top. Plus you're drinking, playing cards, spills are inevitable. BUT the team there did give us a great idea to finish the poles in Barn Board and how to construct them so all edges would be finished. Big Hat Tip to these guys because they could have sold us a live edge table, custom cut for the space.

The only option really left was stone. We put Quartz in the kitchen and were putting it in the basement bar. We like it over other stones because of the non-existent maintenance and you can get just about any colour or pattern. We talked about it with the guys doing the bar counter. Apparently no problem. I must confess we cut some costs here. We used a place in Scarborough that my parents had used for their cottage remodel. The cabinets range from cheap to expensive. They were like $2500 less than we were quoted anywhere else. We chose middle of the line. Not 100% hard wood, but not 100% pressed board. We also chose a more expensive finish because it is a wrap that has to be heat fitted, rather than a stain or paint.

Anyway, English is really tough at this place. Like only 1 person can speak to you because no one else speaks it. Stupid us decided to install ourselves as our contractors said they could do it no problem with minimal cost. The problem was that we had to pick up the cabinets. Delivery was only an option if you had them install. Long story short, we asked for 3 custom open face cabinets. Big mistake because communication was tough. They didn't take into account these cabinets not having doors, so all the uppers with doors were different widths then the ones without. Since we didn't get delivery I ended up driving back and forth a bunch of times to get this sorted out. Couple of yelling matches, but in the end they remade 2 uppers to fit the 3 open faced for no cost. However this screwed the valances on and on. The contractors were great. They made some minor modifications and fit everything together. The price was so good I would use them again, but 100% would get them to deliver and install. I could have just said no your not installing like that and made it their problem, instead of it being mine. An after thought was that since we picked up, we had to pay in full. I was sort of teetering on pissing them off so much but us having paid in full. Real fine line.

Back on track. The counter guys sent a guy to pre-measure. A week later, 2 guys show up with the high top and bar counter precut. Combined they spoke about 3 words of English. The bar was easy peasy. Done in less then 30 minutes. High Top was a different story. One of the contractors and I helped them lift the counter in place, but they didn't understand what were trying to say. We measured the pre-cut slab and it wasn't going to fit. Secondly, they are giving us directions in Chinese during the lift and we have no clue what they're saying. Bottom line, counter snaps like we were trying to telling them. It's not square, so the counter can't be square.

Zero issues. Guy calls me the next day. They bring another counter...I was not going to let them re-use the broken piece with a seam. They have it precut again, but bring some of the cutting stuff with them. The must have had the owner/master fabricator with them. They made the final precise cuts in the driveway. We helped them slide it in place. Bingo. Perfect.

 

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Super cool Jay! Looking forward to seeing fish in the new tank.
 

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This is awesome! Love what you've done! Can't wait to see it all finished

Sent from my SM-G920W8 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Remember when I said re-direct the savings....well my wife and mother in-law decided the wall wasn't good enough just painted.



I did have to choose some battles because I'd been planning on starting this tank with TBS 'the package'. That was going to cost quite a bit more then just a couple bags of live sand and dry rock.

Anyways, they found some nice wall decor board stuff at Reno Depot. It was something like $50 per case minus 20%. I could definitely live with that and it turned out really nice.

Next step plumbing the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Looks like an amazing job. Keep up the good work and looking forward to many updates
Super cool Jay! Looking forward to seeing fish in the new tank.
This looks amazing :)
This is awesome! Love what you've done! Can't wait to see it all finished
Thanks Everyone! It's been pretty exciting so far.....with a couple bumps that I'll share with the plumbing update, although they aren't plumbing related :rolleyes:.
 

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Trouble
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Your wife made an excellent call. The wall is much nicer with the panelling.
 

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So the next step, plumbing.

Pretty standard, although first time plumbing a bean animal drain. The return is 1in all the way from pump to reducer at the return lines making them 3/4. The drains are all 1.5in. I splurged a bit when I ordered the tank and also ordered Apex flow monitor.

I started with a dry fit for the overflow box plumbing. It's all 1.5 so I followed the instructions and pictures on Bean's site with the down turned 90's. Cut and dry fit it all so it should be plug and play. Start putting the pipe in the drains...#$%# The down turned 90's don't fit in together. No arrangement, even a straight emergency overflow in the middle drain, doesn't all fit. Good thing I still had a chop saw handy. Cut all the ends down on the 90's and slip it all back together. Magic. Fits like a glove.

*Update*
I changed all the overflow box plumbing based on Cheryl's MACNA breakout session. I can't remember the presenters name to give him credit, but the idea was all straight standpipes. The main drain would be completely submerged 100% of the time. The secondary drain would have a trickle and the emergency drain would be dry. I found thread to thread PVC extensions at Reno Depot in Aurora (quite good PVC selection too). I bought a 5in and two 3in extensions as well as 3 thread to slip couplers. I screwed the couplers on to all the extensions thereby giving me a way to easily adjust the height of each pipe. The main drain's coupler is screwed on pretty tight so the water stays about 3-3.5in from the top of the overflow box. This also reduces the height the water has to fall through the overflow teeth and into the box. The secondary drain is set slightly higher so only a trickle is entering that pipe. The emergency drain is set right at the height of the overflow teeth, so there is still room in the overflow box for that drain to kick in before a flood happens in the event both other drains are clogged.

I experimented with the heights a bit and closed the main drain a bit to get the overflow box level where I wanted it. It is dead silent. I mean DEAD SILENT. I downloaded a sound meter app on my phone for fun. Then entire tank, all equipment, is running at ~55dlbs. That is pretty close to most really quite dishwashers. In the picture top to bottom - Secondary, Main, Emergency drains.



This was also the first time I have used all thread x thread bulkheads instead of slip x slip. I also decided to put true union ball valves on all the drains. In the past when I want to work on the sump or move equipment around, I've closed all the drains and filled the tank. Saved me from draining into buckets etc., so I did the same on this tank.

I used thread compound instead of tape for all the joints. The plumbing went pretty easy considering the lack of space under the stand. Leak test. The only leak was in the seals for the flow monitor. The 1in flow monitor comes with adapter unions and the leaks were occurring on both sides where I screwed the flow monitor to the unions. Take that apart, add more compound...still drip....drip ....drip. Dammit. Grab wrenches to tighten. Drip..drip...drip. Jesus. Go out and buy some teflon tape, take it all apart, wipe everything down and tape it. Perfect. No leaks.



Now I come out from the fish room....mother#$%#$#. The water line is BELOW the top of the finished wall. I must confess I guessed a bit on where the waterline would be based on the overflow and I also measured on my existing tank. Miracles apparently cuts a pretty low overflow edge. It's about 2.5-3 inches below the top of the tank. That being said, this is totally my fault. I should have made time to plumb the tank to find the water line, although the construction guys work so damn fast lol.....never thought I'd say that ;).

I was trying to justify it to myself so I didn't need to pull everything down and start again. At the end of the day, it just looked like poop. You could also see back into the fish room in the space between the waterline and top of the tank. In the end the contractor had a good idea. Double frame the viewing opening. We only needed to take out the 'picture frame' around the tank and replace it with wider board and add a second layer. The 'picture frame' is now about 1/4in below the waterline so very little viewing space was lost and it was a small job. :cool:

 

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Trouble
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The presenter to whom credit should be given for the dead silent drains is Bill Wann. Aquarium Engineering.

I'm going to throw out another tidbit from Bill here, cause it came up in the post here. My DH John is also going to take credit for this idea, but you know us wives.......if it was our husband's idea, it can't be good. But if some Aquarium geek standing on a stage says it's a good idea, then it must be so.

Bill Wann does not like teflon tape for threaded connections. He (and John) are firm believers in using silicone on the threads. The idea being is that the silicone acts as a leak sealer and will squeeze into the potential openings in the threads to prevent a leak. It is strong enough to hold the joint, but not so strong that the joint cannot be opened up, cleaned and reused.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The presenter to whom credit should be given for the dead silent drains is Bill Wann. Aquarium Engineering.

I'm going to throw out another tidbit from Bill here, cause it came up in the post here. My DH John is also going to take credit for this idea, but you know us wives.......if it was our husband's idea, it can't be good. But if some Aquarium geek standing on a stage says it's a good idea, then it must be so.

Bill Wann does not like teflon tape for threaded connections. He (and John) are firm believers in using silicone on the threads. The idea being is that the silicone acts as a leak sealer and will squeeze into the potential openings in the threads to prevent a leak. It is strong enough to hold the joint, but not so strong that the joint cannot be opened up, cleaned and reused.
Hat tip to John as well. I'm really digging the vertical drains.

I was talking to Colin at Reef Boutique. He was saying the same thing. On all the tanks he builds and maintains he uses silicone on all the threaded connections. If I ever have to take them apart, I'll try siliconing them.

Side story but Colin is re-purposing the retail store. He is focusing on builds and maintenance clients. The back half of the store is being turned into a mostly an acrylic workshop. He's been building a lot of stuff offsite, apparently some really successful sump designs.

The front half of the store will be set up as individual systems so customers can see exactly what they're buying. In addition to that he is hoping to run 'classes' or information sessions where people can actually see equipment running live and learn about husbandry etc.

Wow amazing setup..following up...i liked the front panel look...cant wait to see to its full potential...
Thanks. Slow and Steady lol
 

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As you may have seen in another thread, I decided to start this tank with TBS live rock.

I've followed build threads on other sites and I really liked the look of the live rock. I also really like the idea of the aquaculture sites. Now there are some obvious downsides like gorilla crabs, mantis shrimp etc. but I was willing to live with these things if I couldn't get them out of the tank.

Second consideration was being able to bring the rock and animals across the border. I don't want to get off track with debate about the legality and CITES licensing etc. Long story short, I had zero problems at the boarder. TBS sends the licenses and receipts with the package. I handed them over at the boarder, paid a bit of duty and off I went. I did this two times as the package comes in two orders.

The first package contains all the live sand and half the live rock. I ordered the 180 gallon package - minus 25% of the rock. I really like open swimming space and I didn't want a huge rock wall. The first shipment was 13 boxes about 50lbs a piece. We got home around 8pm with all the boxes. I finished up just after 1am. All the boxes were extremely well packed. I swear to god, the person wrapping the elastics on the bags had to be the Mountain from Game of Thrones. The vast majority I had to cut off. I could not freakin move them.



There were quite a few gorilla crabs that I took out. Basically swished the bags around before opening. Once open I took each rock out and inspected it. Gave another swish around the box and into the tank it went. I then dumped the bag into my utility sink and pulled out anything worth saving. There were also a lot of bad hitchhikers that had been knocked off the rock.

I wanted the aquascape to have one large multi-tiered island and two smaller islands. The would be lots of swimming room and negative space.



Next up second shipment.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I ordered the second shipment a week later. I barely registered any ammonia spike after the first shipment. The lack of cycle was another huge reason I went with TBS. Pretty much, BAM, reef ready.

When I contacted TBS for the second shipment, I was not expecting it to be the same amount of rock again! I had them reduce the amount by half. I ended up with about 225lbs total. I was really happy with that amount. I redesigned the middle structure. It is completely hollow inside. The aquascape looks really close to my vision, and it is wife approved lol. :D I even had quite a few pieces to put in the sump.




The Package comes with your entire CUC and a few other goodies. The TBS guys were short 2 star fish, so they asked to swap them out for a few other goodies. Fine by me. I had another banded serpent in the other tank so I just transferred him over. One of the cucumbers was probably over a foot long. Hopefully the tank can sustain him.

The was another serpent star that's body was bigger then a toonie. My son loves this guy. He hangs down from the top of the big pile as the lights dim.




I also got a few more 'bad guys' that I knocked off. Couple more gorillas, another mantis and a small pistol shrimp that didn't survive the journey. On the plus side, there were quite a few baby serpent stars

 

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wow awesome cuc...love that aquascape..question i use to have a banded and a serpent starfish in my display they get big legs no punt as they grow...i didnt like the look of them so moved them to my basement sump..r u planning on keeping yours in the display...
 
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