I made the decision to switch from Salinity back to Instant Ocean salt. I buffered the new water to raise the calcium and magnesium to match the levels I'm trying to maintain. The alkalinity is higher than I want so I adjusted the setting on my dosing pump to compensate for the difference. It should be pretty easy to stabilize all the levels in a relatively short time. I also cleaned out the algae reactor for the first time a couple days ago. It was packed with Chaeto and doing a great job keeping nitrates and phosphates stable in the range I wanted. I did see a small jump in phosphates afterward so we'll see if they come back down once the Chaeto starts growing again. I'm really pleased though with the performance of the reactor and the overall results.
View August 27, 2017 16:49
I made some changes to the lighting today. For some time now, I have been thinking about switching back to the standard TIR lenses and raising the light to get extra spread. Well, it's done. I used a PAR meter to determine how high to raise the light. I am getting the same values at 100% intensity and 18" above the surface with the standard lenses as at 85% and 12" with the wide angle lenses. While the PAR values are virtually identical from surface to substrate, the appearance is noticeably different. It does seem brighter and there is more shimmer from surface ripples. I'm going to give it a try for a little while and see how the corals respond.
View August 8, 2017 13:18
A quick update on the algae reactor after 6 days of use. I've had some problems getting the o-ring to seal. I tried silicone grease and while it's not dripping anymore, there is some salt creep that keeps forming where the two flanges come together. I'm going to try a new o-ring and see if that works. There was also an increase in nitrates and phosphates after canceling vinegar dosing, but now they seem to be starting to come back down. The chaeto is definitely starting to show growth so I'm going to continue testing to monitor progress.
View July 31, 2017 20:47
I finally ran a fresh air line to the skimmer today. I've been battling low pH for a while so after reading an excellent article by Randy Holmes-Farley I decided it was time. After a quick trip to Lowe's for supplies and 15 minutes of work, it's done. Hopefully this will solve my low pH problem. Next project, run new dosing lines to the Innovative Marine probe holder.
View July 30, 2017 13:47
The algae reactor is up and running. The build was relatively easy and took about 30 minutes to complete and program the Apex to control the reactor and lights. The lights are set to turn on when the light cycle for the display ends and turn off when it starts. I used the following parts:

- Deepwater Aquatics Quattro media reactor
- Tunze Silence pump (1073.008)
- Nexlux LED grow light kit (YPL0025)
- 1/2" black flexible vinyl tubing
- 1/2"x1/2" elbow fitting
- 1/2" black PVC electrical tape
- 3" ball of Chaetomorpha

I am also no longer dosing vinegar as a carbon source. Up until now, dosing vinegar had kept nitrates and phosphates in check but should no longer be needed with the algae reactor on the system. I guess we'll see what happens.
View July 25, 2017 17:19
Changed to an Eheim Jager heater and lowered the programmed temperature to 77.0-77.5°F. It took some time to calibrate the heater and set it at 78°F then programmed the Apex to maintain the desired temperature. I also setup the new Energy Bar so the VorTechs will work with the APC battery backup. Next project is to build an algae reactor.
View July 22, 2017 00:45
Finally got around to installing a few upgrades. My original Radion G2 has now been upgraded to a G3 Pro. It was really easy to do using the EcoTech upgrade kit and only took about 10 minutes. Both MP10wES VorTechs have now been upgraded with new Quiet Drives. This took a little longer since I did both at the same time and had to do a factory reset in order to get the ReefLink to find them. I also added a Neptune EB4 energy bar to expand my available outlets for the future. Next up is the heater upgrade and an algae reactor build.
View July 20, 2017 09:17
I finally replaced the original temperature, pH, conductivity, and ORP probes for the Apex. While they did last more than 3 years, it was getting more difficult to calibrate the conductivity probe. I also replaced the probe holder with the new Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget Custom Cradle.
View June 18, 2017 23:06
I took a water sample to the Virginia Aquarium yesterday to have it tested. The results were pretty close to what I expected, except for salinity and alkalinity which were quite a bit lower. I'm not sure why, although the temperature of the sample when they tested it was higher than when I collected it by 1.8 degrees C. Next time I plan to test the water right before I collect the sample and do a comparison. For a $5 donation though, it was worth it to see how close my results are to those from a water quality lab.
View August 20, 2014 18:01
I cleaned the pump and outer tube for the media reactor yesterday and it turned out to be a big mistake. The pump needed routine cleaning, which was fine, but I probably should not have touched the outer tube. I cleaned the brown film on the inside of the tube not thinking it would be an issue. Now there is a little spike in nitrates from 4 ppm Sunday when I did a small water change to 12 ppm today. I should have know better but I won't be doing that again.
View August 19, 2014 21:42