Archive for the ‘Aquarium Equipment’ Category

Early August Updates

Posted: August 1, 2013 in 90 Gallon Reef, Reef Angel

Well, I continue to be slammed by work, so I haven’t had as much time to be active here as I’d like. However, I am doing better on keeping up with tank maintenance.


After a couple more water changes (yay, fresh salt arrived!) I still am unable to run my primary skimmer. Even full open it overflows. Though, I can tell I am getting closer. So more water changes to get the chemiclean out of the system are needed (also running carbon, but passively since my reactor has biopellets now).  Thankfully, my backup skimmer is continuing to charge away. So it’s not going skimmer less. The wet vac makes water changes WAY easier.

The Chemiclean did exactly what I needed it to do: killed all my cyano. The positive for this is that I was worried about it taking over with the start of biopellets. The negative is that is has been replaced by some hair algae (though, I have a couple fish that munch on this stuff!).

My mixing pump (which used to power my reactor) is def too weak for mixing my large vats of salt. So I have another maxijet on order for it.  Also, my autofeeder has arrived, so I am going to spend some time next week tinkering with it before I add it to my tank (though, I did make a shelf on the inside of my canopy that should hold it well).

Which brings me to my Reef Angel.  I have had TERRIBLE luck in the past whenever I updated libraries. A big part of this is waiting forever between updating them. Well, I was adding code to turn FeedMode on at specific times to coordinate when I would have my autofeeder turn on, and decided I might as well update libraries since it’s only been a couple months.

Well… wouldn’t you know that it’s gone and screwed up my uploading again. Everything compiles and uploads… but then there is a verification error and the Reef Angel doesn’t function correctly. Thankfully I have a backup INO file that runs the absolute basic programming on my Reef Angel (ATO, LED Slope, fuge light. Nothing fancy). So at least it’s not DOA, but still annoying. Working with the guys over on their forum (SUPER helpful at least!) to get it working. But I may revert to the old libraries and hope it helps.

Last, but not least, I finally ordered some more plumbing parts for my reactor. The return tube went to the sump, but let the water fall a good 4 to 6 inches in. This created a bit of noise and salt creep. So this has been fixed. Plus I got enough to loop it out of the way for easier access to the reactor chamber.

Anyway, I feel like things are going in a mostly positive direction overall. Some coral looks stressed, some thriving. Fish are all doing good as well. Adding another powerhead when it arrives, and now I also think I want to look at adding a deeper sand bed (I have a couple spots that keep getting blown all the way down to glass!).



Posted: March 14, 2013 in 90 Gallon Reef, Reef Angel, Refugium

Well… I have had several issues with my refugium. The first being a slow leak from the bulkhead, and the another being that I didn’t allow my plumbing to be easily removed. The final issue, which was major, was a clog (snail maybe?) resulted in an overflowing Refugium. I only lost a few gallons since I caught it early (thank god for reef angel emailing warning my ATO reservoir was low… I knew something was up since I had only filled it 2 days prior) but this would be an easy way to destroy my salinity, flood my basement, and burn out my return pump.


So, my plumbing needed to be worked. No easy task.  My plan was to drill a second overflow. This would be above my overflow box as an emergency overflow. Next I wanted to fix my pre-existing plumbing by sawing enough off to insert a union right after my overflow.  I originally didn’t use a union because I didn’t want the extra space between the wall and the tank. Plus my plumbing budget was shot, and unions are like 10x the price of all the other fittings (a very short sighted decision).


However, nothing comes as easily as planned. I didn’t have enough pvc between fittings to easily insert a union. Therefore, I had to saw through a fitting to even get the tank moved away from the wall. This means that 3/4 of the plumbing I have from my fuge needs to be thrown away.

Not as much done as I’d hoped… but still a success

Luckily, I did have some success. After a hard battle, I was able to remove the silicone around my bulkhead that had been my last attempt at fixing the leak prior to redoing it all.  Additionally, I got the worst part done: drilling another hole in the glass.  Since I wasn’t anticipating need double the plumbing parts, I need another stop at the hardware store today. Hopefully I will have it all replumbed by tonight!

Pray for no leaks!

WiFi Issues

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Reef Angel

I have had issues with my Reef Angel WiFi since I purchased it. In the past (when it was on my 28 gallon), I initially had problems getting it setup correctly.  After some initial struggles, I got the WiFi to work, and it worked well for a good six months.

Then, I had an incident with the head unit needing to be replaced (my fault, ended up getting it wet). Since then, I haven’t had this thing working.  On the 28 gallon, it would randomly lose connection and wouldn’t stay connected for more than a day.  After reading the forums, I believe this had to do with me installing a windows gadget for the reef angel that was found to cause issues.

Finally, I upgraded to the 90.  And things have gotten worse. The WiFi now generally only stays connected for a matter of hours (I’ve had it range from 1 hour to 6). I thought I had it fixed when I had 2 straight days of connection. I had upgraded the firmware, upgraded the client suite, and removed the windows gadget.  However, it started crashing again. I noticed that this time, it didn’t just lose connection… but instead appears that the entire unit has shut off. There are no status lights, and it sits lifeless.

I reached out on the Reef Angel boards, and it appears that my WiFi unit is faulty, and they are going to replace it for me (for the cost of shipping). Hopefully I will have it ready to be shipped sometime in the next few days.  Let’s hope it works well when I get it back!  Also, this means that my reef stats (which haven’t been updated as regularly as they should since it keeps going on and offline) will be down for a few days.

Once again, awesome support from the Reef Angel crew!!


  • Lack of Documentation/Outdated Documenation
    • This is my biggest negative for the Reef Angel. It seems like there isn’t much documentation, or what they have is outdated. This is most frustrating in relation to changes, both to the hardware and libraries, overtime. A perfect example: I purchased my Reef Angel used. I had no idea this meant that I had an outdated Relay Box that needed an additional (albeit cheap) part to get my PWM signal for my LEDs since current Relay Boxes include it.
  • Open Source
    • Normally this would be a Pro (and, in face I list it there as well) but it does create some drawbacks. Since some of the programs that are used in relation to it are created by sources outside of Reef Angel, they occasionally cause issues. Updates to the libraries can also create issues with these programs. A prime example: I installed the desktop sidebar app. However, apparently this causes issues with the wifi, and I ended up unable to keep a connection more than an hour at a time. Once I deleted this, and updated the Reef Angel Client, all my wifi issues disappeared.


  • Open Source
    • Apart from what I wrote above, I see Open Source as a great thing. I can update the libraries as I see fit for my own needs if I wish, or create my own applications to interact with the controller. Of course, the one caveat to this is that I need to be aware of how updates to the controller’s software would interact with the custom software.
  • Versatile
    • With a little coding, you can do things that are outside the box. The Arduino Coding language is based on C and C++, making picking it up fairly easy. I have done a fair number of things that were entirely custom to my personal setup.
  • Cost
    • At the time of my purchase, it was the cheapest option that included everything I needed.
  • Support
    • Hands down, this is the best part about the Reef Angel. What it lacks in documentation, it more than makes up with in support.  They are EXTREMELY helpful with any and all questions on the Reef Angel forum. They have helped me from the simply questions to helping with complex issues.
  • Remote Connection
    • Gotta love accessing the vital statistics about your aquarium on the go!

Overall, I am pleased with my Reef Angel. I definitely would recommend it. Until my recent issues with poor documentation, I absolutely loved this thing. However, their support makes up for the documentation.  Fair warning, it’s the only controller I’ve used… but definitely so far I’ve been impressed!