Tank Hacks: Easy Upgrades for Your JBJ RL-45 Rimless Reef Aquarium
All-in-one aquariums are great because out of the box, they include just about everything you need to get your tank started. Just like a car, what comes stock with your all-in-one aquarium will work, but aftermarket modifications and upgrades can really ramp up the performance and help make your aquarium venture even more successful.
In this video we take the popular JBJ 45 gallon rimless aquarium and completely deck out the tank with high-performance gear to help inspire all of you to take your all-in-one tank to the next level.
The JBJ 45 gallon tank has some great features and looks really nice right out of the box. The rimless design, rounded corners and sleek stand give the tank a very contemporary feel. It measures 26” long by 21” wide and is 19” tall.
The internal filtration compartments are nice and large and give you plenty of room to add or upgrade equipment. I removed the black covering from the back of the aquarium simply for the sake of filming but this is a nice option because with a transparent filter compartment you can create a refugium in one of the back chambers.
The first change is swapping out the dual return pumps with a single controllable Tunze Silence Pump. We used the 1073 model which offers a flow rate up to 792 gallons per hour. This low voltage DC pump will allow us to dial in the flow exactly to our liking, increase the turnover rate through the filtration and reduce the clutter and power cords in the back of the tank. With increased turnover you will optimize water quality and help create a pristine environment for corals. Using just one pump instead of two also means one less pump to clean and leaves more room for additional equipment.
We utilize a single ½” wye fitting along with some ½” vinyl tubing to make the connection with the dual returns. We swapped out the stock return nozzles with a couple of Innovate Marine Spinstream nozzles to create some random flow patterns without using any electricity.
Now for the protein skimmer. The AquaMaxx HOB-1 is by far our most popular hang-on skimmer because it is well built, performs great and is easy to install and use. Hobbyists often consider the protein skimmer to be the heart of the filtration system. Having a great protein skimmer will help you maintain better water quality for your fish and corals.
Notice the skimmer intake is placed into the first left chamber and the skimmer return is directed into the 2nd left chamber to avoid recirculating clean water through the skimmer. This helps to maximize the amount of waste pulled out by the protein skimmer.
This 2nd chamber on the left will also house a Cobalt Aquatics 200 watt NeoTherm heater. This heater is super simple to set, has an extremely accurate electronic thermostat and the thin profile makes it easy to mount in small places like the back of an All-in-one aquarium.
For filter media, we are removing the stock media basket from the right side and installing a couple of the AquaMaxx FR-S Filter Media Reactors. One in chamber one and another in chamber two. These new reactors from AquaMaxx are the bees-knees in terms of nano filtration. They are slim, easy to maintain, and come with a pump located directly below the reaction chamber which means no additional plumbing is required. The Sicce brand pump included has an adjustment right on the side that allows you to control the flow rate through the reactor. One of the reactors is filled with AquaMaxx ROX 0.8 Carbon and the other is being filled with AquaMaxx Phosphate Out Pro which is a high capacity GFO media that lasts twice as long as regular GFO. This will take care of our chemical filtration in the tank.
For mechanical filtration we will keep the stock media basket on the left but fill it with a coarse filter sponge along with some bonded filter pad. Being housed in the media basket it will make maintaining the filter pad and sponge quick and easy.
The final addition to our filter chambers will be the NEW Micro AutoAqua Smart ATO Micro. We chose this ATO because the sensor is small and easy to place in the cluttered filter chamber. The magnetic sensor makes it super simple to install.
In all-in-one aquariums, evaporation can cause some serious problems really quick. Dropping water levels can cause micro-bubbles or even burn out your pumps. Changes in salinity can stress out or even kill sensitive reef animals and for these reasons an Auto top off system can be a real life saver and automatically replenish freshwater as needed.
Notice the sensor is located in the center pump chamber as this is the only chamber in the tank that will change when water evaporates because of the filter baffling.
We also installed the slick Trigger Systems ATO reservoir located down below the tank inside the stand for a clean look.
Now that does it for the filter compartments and next up is lighting.
We chose the AquaIllumination Hydra 52 HD fixture because it will provide more than enough light for this size aquarium to grow any type of coral. It offers excellent control features with built in wifi and a smartphone app. The unique “HD” power allotment feature allows you to get maximum output from the fixture, no matter how you set the color spectrum.
The AquaIllumination classic rail kit along with the parallel mounting kit is used to hold the light and is very straightforward in terms of assembly and installation. It only took me about 10 minutes to get the light up and mounted over the tank.
For wavemaking, we chose a couple of EcoTech Marine MP10 pumps. This gives us flexibility to dial in flow and make awesome waves and random water flow no matter how the aquascape turns out. We can also add a battery backup later to keep the water moving in case of a power outage and because the motor is located outside of the tank, we will drastically reduce heat transfer from the pump. Heat can be a real problem for AIO tanks, especially when you start adding extra equipment and additional pumps. With the use of LED lighting, a DC return pump, and the VorTech Powerheads we should be able to operate the aquarium without the use of a chiller.
Finally, the Aquascape. CaribSea is pretty much the go-to brand for sand and they offer a ton of different options. The special grade reef sand is my personal favorite and is available both live and dry.
Because I hate hitchhikers and wanted to create a unique and impressive Aquascape in the tank, I used a combination of the various AquaMaxx dry rock including the Tonga branch, Pukani and Shelf rock. It will take a bit longer to cycle this dry rock but is well worth it. Using dry rock like this avoids the introduction of pesky hitchhikers commonly found on live rock collected in the wild.
So here is our decked out JBJ 45 gallon rimless aquarium in all its glory. I know some of you are probably thinking to yourself, what about a chiller, or controller? How about dosing or a calcium reactor? Well you’re right! The fun never stops in this hobby and all of these could be added to the tank as well.
For a full list of the items we covered in this video, check out the links below:
- JBJ RL-45 Rimless 45 Gallon Aquarium and Stand
- Aqua Illumination Hydra FiftyTwo HD LED Fixture
- AquaIllumination Classic Rail Kit
- AquaIllumination Parallel Mount Kit for Classic Rail System
- EcoTech Marine VorTech MP10wQD Pump Kit
- AquaMaxx HOB-1 Skimmer w/ FREE Bubble Stopper
- Tunze Silence Recirculation Water Pump 1073.050
- Innovative Marine AUQA Gadget Spin Stream
- AquaMaxx FR-S Filter Media Reactor w/ Sicce Pump
- Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Aquarium Heaters
- Flexible Vinyl Tubing in Clear or Black
- Insert Y Fitting - 3/4 inch Insert x 1/2 inch Insert x 1/2 inch Insert
- Lifegard Aquatics Bonded Filter Pad
- AquaMaxx ROX 0.8 Carbon Filter Media
- AquaMaxx Phosphate Out Pro GFO Filter Media
- AquaMaxx Aquarium Rock
- CaribSea Aquarium Sand
If you are looking to upgrade your all-in-one tank MD has what you are looking for and feel free to contact our trained team of aquarium experts for fast and friendly support.
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