CADE user Isaac Alves (known as @theloneaquarist on Instagram) has “always had an aquarium of some sort.” Like many of us, Isaac’s beginnings in the hobby were pretty humble. As he remembers, “There was a fair at my school back in the 1st grade; it was one of those end-of-year events with fair style games. One of those games was this ping-pong ball toss. The objective was to get your ping-pong to land into a tiny goldfish bowl that happened to house a tiny feeder goldfish. Long story short, I won a goldfish, brought him home, got a 10 gallon setup and he lived with me all the way through high school.” Of course, the goldfish soon outgrew its enclosure along the way; Isaac had built a goldfish pond by his sophomore year where his pet was eventually “stolen” by birds. “But it all started with that little fish.”
Over the years, as his needs grew along with the scope of his aquarium builds, he found himself considering a CADE system. “I had a 6-year-old Cadlight 70 gallon Artisan II tank that was getting outgrown by both fish and coral. I needed an upgrade.” After 6 years with one system,” he explains, “you become very familiar with the shortcomings of certain aspects of a build. One, I wanted an aluminum stand; Two, I wanted a more functional cabinet that could last the lifetime of the display with no issues. The CADE offerings delivered on both these wants.”
“I think I initially came across the CADE aquarium brand on either Parkers Reef YouTube channel or some threads on Reef2Reef. Whichever it was, the CADE was generally written or spoken in terms of being the top-of-the-line for turnkey solutions.” He goes on to say that “CADE was always on my radar when I started seriously looking at aquarium tank brands back in 2016. The aluminum stand and the power centers were the features that I always connected with CADE.”
But those wern’t the only features that Isaac was seeking in his dream tank. He was determined to obtain something that is durable and scratch-resistant. He says he doesn’t mind acrylic sumps “because I’m banging stuff around and fearing I’ll crack something.” However, it was an entirely different story where the display tank was concerned. This not only meant that glass was nonnegotiable as a choice of material, but also that it had to be premium quality glass. “I would not consider acrylic for my display. I know I will scratch it up in no time.” He simply can’t imagine scraping an acrylic tank in the way he needs to scrape his glass tank. And yes, he even loves the uncompromising quality of the CADE sump. “Luckily, the CADE sump is made from some serious glass.”
Isaac purchased a CADE 1500 Peninsula for his upgrade. He doesn’t necessarily describe the delivery experience as ‘easy.’ He admits having some issues with the “stacked method that the CADE was shipped to me via freight from Algaebarn. This was mostly issues with the delivery company being a bit rough and tumble with the crates. So there was some damage.” That notwithstanding, Algaebarn’s legendary customer service came to the rescue. “AlgaeBarn was fantastic in shipping me replacement parts and communicating via mail and forum.” The rest seems to have been a breeze. “Once the CADE was out of the box and moved into the home, the set-up was literally plug’n’play.”
In Isaac’s view, “The tank and stand are great. The plumbing, valves, manifold, etc. are well planned. Overall the tank is thoughtfully designed and runs great. The overflows and raceway sump are silent. And I can’t say enough positives about the media basket chamber in the sump–I’m in love with this idea. I mean, how easy to just pull a basket out to rinse off media or just drop in a bag of carbon or other media, and feel confident that water will run through it.”
He would prefer that the Vortech and Vectra controllers fit between the mounting board and the glass door. Also, he feels that he could have benefitted from more wire management than is available in the current electronics section. “The two cabinet sections of the stand made to house electronics and storage are great, but I still found that some equipment like the new APEX 2016+ form factors run a bit bulky so careful consideration is needed to plan your equipment mounting and placement. That said, most of the display style controllers for the APEX, Maxpspect gyres, Kessil spectral controller and a Sicce PSK pump for a Typhoon UKD-200 Protein Skimmer, fit great on the controller mounting board.” The biggest thing he’d like to see addressed in future, refined models is sump ventilation. “The glass doors and aluminum stand with ABS plastic seals and channel covers do a great job preventing noise, but also preventing moisture from escaping. There is no turnkey way to move humidity out from the sump. So we have moisture build-up around the sump area.”
Isaac’s overall take on the CADE tank’s craftsmanship and AlgaeBarn’s customer service is positive. He asserts, “The CADE was a great value, especially through AlgaeBarn. They’ve been wonderful to deal with.” Indeed, he would absolutely look to CADE for his next build. “The quality of the glass display and the stand are definitely reasons that I’d purchase a CADE again for a larger display. Not having to think about corrosion on the display’s foundation structure is very important to me. And the use of glass on the doors keeps the entire unit looking new with a two second wipe down.” As he sums it up, “There are so many well thought out aspects to the CADE build that are not only unique but useful. It feels like it was put together by an actual reef keeper. I’m surprised other manufacturers haven’t yet copied some of these ideas.”
So, what type of display is Isaac constructing with his CADE? He’s aiming for a mixed-reef with lower-light LPS and zoanthids near the bottom and Acropora species towards the top branching upwards and out. “Since the display is a peninsula style, I wanted to be sure that I built an aquascape that ran through the center of the display. I also wanted the scape to look like it was reaching and fanning outward from the center overflow towards the opposite end of the display.” He didn’t want rock piles or ‘bommie’ style columns this time around. “It was also important that I had the opposite end of the peninsula more open so I could try to display a large anemone with clowns, but also give all the animals an open area for feeding. Keeping this area more open will hopefully allow flow to roll off the glass back towards the overflow.”
Right now, he keeps a very small community there while he allows the tank mature slowly. “I currently have my first saltwater fish, a 7-8 year old foxface followed by two clowns: A naked percula and a Wyoming White that have been with me for several years, along with a leopard wrasse that’s been with me for several years as well. I’ve been working with Jeff over at FishHotel.com to provide fully quarantined fish; so right now, I have a young powder blue tang and a six-line wrasse that are in the tank from him. Jeff’s sending me a chocolate tang (I need a bristle tooth since they clean like nothing else), a Klein’s butterfly (these guys eat Aiptasia and have great personalities) and a sand-sifting mural goby (you can’t have sand and not have one of these, and the kids love watching these guys move hermits around).
For more information about Isaac’s system as it progresses, you can read through his build thread on Reef2Reef at https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/isaacs-cade-1500s2-peninsula-reef-build.919947. “And,” he promises, “I’ll post a picture at least once a week on instagram under the @theloneaquarist account.”
If you’re a CADE owner and would like to share your CADE experiences with the aquarium community in an article such as this, please reach out to [email protected]. We’d all love to hear from you!