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Test Filling & Aquascaping The 300 Gallon Reef

By Fish of Hex on

Speaker: What's up guys, welcome back to fish a hex. In this video, we're going to go ahead and do a quick test fill on the 300-gallon tank using tap water. After that, we're going to go ahead and aquascape it, and then at the end of the video, you guys will see what the tank looks like underneath T5 lighting. Let's go and get into it.

Now when it comes to test filling, all my systems as I mentioned, tap water is really the only way that I like to go. I like to make sure that I can fill up the systems, double check for any leaks, make sure it's level completely, and then go ahead and drain the system down to maybe one or two inches, do my aquascaping dry, and then fill it up with either RODI water or tap water again.

Now I did go ahead and fill the system up with tap water originally and started the whole process after the rock was in there with salt and all that stuff. Some people like to start with RODI, I have no issues either way. Usually, if you have dirty dry rock and you haven't cured that, and then you go ahead and start with tap water, and then you add some light over your tank. That's when you start having issues, but if you have cured rock, you can go ahead and add light with just tap water and you shouldn't have any problems.

As you guys can see this sump is just about to overflow into the filter socks section, and there are four filter socks on the system at the moment. Now I went ahead and actually removed two of them, and I have some plugs that you guys will see in later videos. Basically, it deletes two of the four socks, and then I can just go ahead and change out two socks more frequently instead of four at the same time. It saves me due to my gallons per hour, which is about 2200 pounds per hour, and putting through the main display. Two filter socks, I can change out every other day without any issues, they're not overflowing or anything like that. Now that might change down the road with me feeding the fish, and having livestock in there. If for whatever reason, if two filter socks is just not enough, I can always take one of those deleted plugs out, put another filter sock in, and then run three or even run four.

Now the water is about to overflow into the skimmer section, and there is a baffle in there that dictates the water level for the skimmer section, and I have a set to about eight and a half inches, which this Niles Quantum 300 really likes to run, I'm going to go ahead and let it stay at that level, and if I have to make any adjustments, there are a couple screws you can lift the baffle up and down, adjust the water level to what the skimmer likes. Now again, you guys will see that closer in-depth when we do a complete walkthrough of the sump, and you guys will see how every aspect of this sump works. Now the far right-hand side as you guys see here is the refugium portion. I went ahead and turn the main pump on once we got the water to the point where I could actually turn it on, and that will pump some water into the refugium here, which will then drain back into the return section and go back through the entire system. Now that's going to fill up this refugium is definitely a decent size, I would say its approximately 20 ish gallons or so, or even more than that. I really didn't do the math on the dimensions yet, but it definitely holds plenty of water for the amount of macroalgae that I want to grow in this tank.

All right, now that we have test filled, and everything is working good. Let's go to move over to the aquascaping portion of this video, and get some rock in this tank. Before we get started, I just want to give a little background on this rock for anybody who's new to the channel or this series. Now, this is 200 pounds of dry pukani, which has been curing for about three months in these 55-gallon barrels. Now I went ahead and did a total of 400 gallons worth of water changes with this rock over the last three months, removing any nutrients to try this, any of that stuff that might cause excess nutrients later on for the rock. Now I definitely don't foresee any issues with it going into a reef tank and adding light immediately, and I can tell you now after adding the light there was zero issues, even though it was just T5, no LED at this point, there wasn't anything. I actually I didn't even have a diatom bloom, for at least about a week or so, then I went ahead and got a small diatom bloom, which a couple snails took care of within 24 hours, and that's it for this rock regarding any algae or excess nutrients.

Now I did go ahead and make this little PVC adapter here that will actually connect to the pumps at the bottom of the barrel, so I can go ahead and pump all this water out to the backyard, and then get it on to the concrete floor and start aquascaping. Let's us just a quick look at that little device. I probably should have made it three months earlier because it's a hell of a lot easier to get the water out of the barrel doing it this way.

Now when it comes to aquascaping, I like to go ahead and put all the rock on the floor, spread it out evenly, and just have a good look over. Basically, go around with the chisel breaking up pieces that are not worth aquascaping with. If they're really big or they're just awkward I'll go ahead and chisel them, making more pieces that I can actually look at and decide what I want to do. Now this time around, I'm going to go ahead and use the drill and these half inch acrylic rods, which I will say made my aquascape possible. If I didn't have these rods, the aquascape wouldn't be the way it is, and you guys will see here in a little bit. Basically, my whole theme is to go ahead and make sure that there's no shading for the Acropora. In my last build, there were these big SPS colonies on the top, and everything underneath just suffered when it came to light.

Now with the way that I'm going to have this aquascaping theme, there are many different pillars, and many different hands and legends and all that stuff that there's just not going to be an option for any shading, and when Acropora actually start growing out over, they're only going to shade the bottom of the tank, and you guys will see that here in a second, once we get the T5 over the system.

Now basically once I get all my pillars in the tank, I'm going to go ahead and then start gluing. Now I did do some gluing outside of the tank and with the rods, and all that stuff, and then once they're in there, I do all the final touches, and just to make sure everything is solid. Now you guys know that I have Reggie that is about two and a half, three ish feet of that snowflake, and he is a beast, he really likes to mess with rock, and you guys will see when I drop him in the system, what he does to this left rock structure, as soon as he goes in there. He actually lifts the entire rock structure off the glass and bounces around trying to fit his big fat body underneath it, and that was just because he was stressed out or scared when I put him in there, but either way, he's doing good now, and I'm just glad that everything is glued together.

Now speaking of glue, I went ahead and used about a bottle and a half of this gel super glue I picked up from Now it is a 10 ounce bottle, and I think it's about $25 or $30 per bottle, and I really like this stuff, I use it for all my fragging, and it's much nicer than going to Home Depot and buying their individual containers, or even going to the dollar store and buying all those little packs that just end up being a pain in the butt in the long run. Now it is an upfront investment, but if you are doing a lot of fragging or an aquascaping job like this, you should definitely get the bigger bottle of superglue.

Now I also went ahead and got a bottle of this accelerator that I also use for fragging, and I ended up using the whole bottle for this project, and plus some. I actually went ahead and filled it up with salt water for my frag tank, just to continue spraying now. Just note that salt water doesn't set up as quickly as the accelerator does, but it does work, you just have to hold the rock there a little bit longer. As you guys can see, it's definitely not easy to aquascape inside this 300. I was thinking about getting inside and starting to do it, but there was already a couple inches of water in the bottom, and I just didn't want to deal with that. Went ahead and put the entire rock structures in individually, and then added some extra pieces once they were in the tank just because I wanted to get the bulk of the aquascaping together outside of the tank, just to make sure that it was the way I wanted to. I didn't want to be taking rock in and out of the tank very often, just because I didn't want to take the chance of something slipping and breaking the glass. Pretty much built everything outside, put it inside the tank, and then made some minor adjustments, and added some rock to the structures to get the way I want it to look.

Once I was done aquascaping, I went ahead and let it sit for about two or three hours before adding tap water, and adding the sole. Now overall it looks pretty good. It's definitely different from what I had in the past, but I know for long-term on this tank it's going to be the best option, of course, there's plenty of ledges for Acropora and core to growing out to worry about the shading issue, as well as the bottom is very open because of the narrow basis on the rock structures, and there isn't any spots for detritus to collect. There's no dead spots in the tank at the bottom. It's going to be very easy to clean, and that's what I like. Overall, it turned out pretty good. Let's go to move over to what the tank looks like with T5 over it, you guys can get a better idea of how the aquascape actually came out.

Well here's the aquascape with just T5 lighting. Now I do have four blue plus, and four actinic bulbs, and honestly, it doesn't look that bad. I will be adding LEDs over the next couple months, and in the later video, I will discuss what type I went with, how many and how I plan on connecting them to my apex.

Now as you guys can see, the rock just sits on the bottom glass. There's nothing touching the front, the sides or the back, and that's really how I like my structures. It gives a lot of space for the tank swim in and around, and it really makes the tank come to life once it's full of coral. Also really the main reason is it's very easy to clean. There's no dead pockets or dead spots, for pockets of the detritus to sit and break down, and then pollute the tank. It all gets blown around through the powerheads. Just to give you guys a brief idea of what I'm going with, I'm going to be using four JayBo Wp 60s, which will be connected to the apex, and they'll run just like the 125 with different detritus modes to bring that stuff up into the water column and get it down into the filter socks. Now I will go into why I want with these pumps, later video, and all the programming stuff, stay tuned for that.

Overall guys, I am starting to like the aquascaping now that it has a light over it. There's much potential work, where I could put Acropora and where I can aquascape, and just I'm envisioning what the system is going to look a year from now. Hopefully, everything pans out. We get these LEDs over the tank soon, and we can start putting some coral in it.

Now if you want to support the bill, go ahead and check on the website, purchase coral, or you can go ahead and check out my Patreon either way, I appreciate all the support. If you have any questions about this setup, please let me know in the comments section below, and I'll see you next time, peace.

About Fish of Hex

Travis’ main reef display tank featuring many small-polyp stony coral (SPS) is a 300-gallon custom glass aquarium setting on a welded iron stand, both from Custom Aquariums.

"Here you will find everything you need to know to be successful in the saltwater aquarium hobby. I have several video series such as "Beginner Guide to Saltwater Aquariums", "300 Gallon Build" and "How to & Diy". I will teach you how to avoid common mistakes and prevent tank disasters. With thirteen years of experience in the hobby, I plan on sharing all of it with my subscribers. I take great pride in helping others and seeing their tanks grow into amazing works of art makes the time I put into making these videos worth it. Follow me and you will have an amazing reef tank in no time!"

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