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My first - 20L


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#1
JulieR

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Hi Nano-reefers :) I've been lurking/reading/absorbing for awhile and it's finally time to make my own post. I bought this 20long earlier in the fall, during one of Petco's $1/gallon sale, and it's been sitting empty for a few months until I decided what to do with it. I've been into freshwater for years, and currently have 4 FW tanks of various sizes, from 3G up to 56G. I almost made this 20G another FW tank, for tanganyikan cichlids, but I'd rather have a bigger tank for that endeavor. I'd been reading up on SW on and off for the past year, year and a half or so, and decided now was as good a time as any to take the plunge.

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Equipment etc.
-AquaClear 50 filter
-AquaClear 50 powerhead
-ZooMed Powersweep 212
-Marineland Visi-therm 100w heater
-Lighting: Temporarily borrowing a light from a 29G freshwater, a coralife 30" 2xT5HO. Permanent lighting coming in the mail, hopefully arriving on Monday. Coralife Aqualight 30" 2x65w CF (actinic/10k) - How does this sound? I should be able to grow a decent selection of corals, yes? I wanted the lunar aqualight with the lunar LEDs, but I guess that's been discontinued.
-Red Sea Hydrometer and Red Sea Salt
-About 25# of bagged (non-live) aragonite sand
-20# of base rock
-two pieces of live rock, maybe 5-10ish lbs?

Oh, one thing that's been bugging me is the hydrometer. It seems like the reading changes if I move the powerheads in the tank (which I've only done twice so far, trying to decide the final placement for them still), or the hydrometer itself. I was going along great with a good SG reading, then I moved the hydrometer to the other side of the tank and suddenly it's off the charts high. :/ I changed out some water to get it back down to an acceptable SG reading. Then a few days later I moved the powersweep slightly and the hydrometer's reading drops way down. Still on the charts this time, but still. What? One thing I thought about was that when it would have these weird swings, I had the hydrometer pushed down to the sand bed and maybe water wasn't flowing through it properly, since there's an opening at the bottom? So finally today, I messed with it a little more and it's (as you can see in the picture) no longer against the sand bed, allowing for better flow, and it's giving me a normal reading. Hopefully it's an accurate as well as stable reading.

I set the tank up on the evening of December 28th, so the 29th is its first full day of running. That makes today day 12. The cycle is going slow... basically getting the same readings every day so far. I added the live rock maybe on the 4th day? Today I went out and bought a raw shrimp to try out that trick. So in the picture, you can see it in some pantyhose, floating by the filter output on the left side. It grossed me out when I was putting it in :lol: I don't eat seafood. I hope the shrimp helps the cycle along.

PH: 8
Ammonia: Ranges from .25 to 1. Today it looked to be at .25.
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Temperature: 77
SG: 1.023

Some hitchhikers that came in on the LR include what I believe to be: 2 small nerite snails, 1 small cerith snail, 2 stomatellas, a nice looking nassarius snail that I saw the first couple days, then saw once more recently but doesn't show up often, and finally, what looked like a small white brittle sea star - about the size of a dime. That one wasn't moving much and I haven't seen it since the first night. There's also some little white clam looking thing, but it's wedged down in a nook and I haven't gotten a super good look at it.

I've had lgreen's nano fish stocking guide open in a tab kind of permanently for awhile now, haha. I've been mulling over what I'd like to stock the tank with, but nothing is set in stone yet. Definitely a clown or two. I saw some perculas and ocellaris side by side just at Petco recently (the perculas were actually cheaper than the ocellaris! $17 vs $19. Isn't it normally the other way around? The oc were tank bred though). I liked the look of the percs a bit more. I also really like the look of maroon clowns, but are they more aggressive? Probably some sort of goby as well, maybe a YWG? I'd like something with interesting behavior. They had a scooter dragonet at Petco (not getting one of those, too difficult for me for now) and I fell in love with its behavior. I'd love something that scoots around like that. The pearly yellowhead jawfish has stuck out for awhile for me now. How appropriate would one of those guys be? Difficulty level? Plus the royal gramma is often listed as a good beginner fish, and I wouldn't mind having one of those if they're a good easy fish. What do people think of them? Damsels are cute but I worry about their aggression. The dominos are my favorite but how bad can their aggression be?

My potential reef stocking list is even more vague than my fish list. Some general things that I like the look of: zoanthids, monti caps, mushrooms. I love the look of birdsnest but how well would that do with my lighting? And I think I've seen some people recommend frogspawn for people wanting an anemone look. How difficult are those and how much room would they need to themselves?

My fish and coral lists are definitely just some thoughts, I don't plan on taking one of everything I listed and dumping it in the tank, haha.

Any thoughts, input, suggestions are more than welcome!

Here are a couple extra pictures I took after I got the live rock. Some hitchhikers!
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I really like this snail.

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One more picture. I just took this one a little while ago. He made an appearance! I think he's grown since I got the live rock.

Edited by JulieR, 20 September 2011 - 07:30 PM.


#2
LITHreefer

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Looks like your off to a good start! Enjoy how clean it is right now if yours goes anything like mine you should have diatoms start turning everything a nice ugly brown haha. I also know that refractometers are a lot more accurate then hydrometers but cost a lot more. I also did the shrimp trick and within a day my ammonia was up to 2.0 so i took it out.
Your wish list for fish is also about the same as mine lol 2 Clowns and some type of goby and maybe 1 more nano.

Again lookin good so far!!

#3
JulieR

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Thanks Lithreefer :) Glad to hear someone else say it's looking good! For some reason I keep worrying that I'll make some glaringly obvious mistake.

And it's really cool that we're both setting up nearly the same projects, at the same time! I would have gotten my tank filled on the 26th too if it hadn't been for a really bad snowstorm here. Those couple extra days were killing me! I just wanted to get it up and wet so it could start the cycle and I could sit back for awhile.

I saw someone mention on another thread that you can get refractometers for cheap on ebay. I was thinking any refractometer would set me back at least $100 or so, but I took a quick look on ebay and there are some around $20?! Makes me wonder if they are legitimate. It sounds too good to be true. I will have to consider it though. It might just be a really good deal.

I'm excited about the shrimp jumpstarting the cycle, since I've had very minimal ammonia so far and I'm ready to get this thing going. I know the shrimp has only been in the tank for several hours now, but I wanted to test for ammonia again just now and it looks like it's up to 1ppm. Hooray!

#4
driftsaru

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:welcome: fellow 20L reefer :D

Cant wait to see how this will turn out.

#5
swayd

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:welcome:

Yay another 20L woohooo

#6
LITHreefer

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Hey yeah your right I just looked on ebay and yeah not to pricey but who knows how good they are. And yeah thats pretty awesome we're starting pretty much the same set up at the same time haha and yeah about 4 days ago my ammonia peaked at 2.0 not very high but today I just tested and it was down to 0 with my nitrites up to about 2, so the cycle is moving along! Hope it goes well for you too!

#7
JulieR

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Nitrites! We have nitrites!

Ammonia is up to 2ppm today and nitrite is at .25ppm.

#8
LITHreefer

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haha YAY omgomgomg

Do you have any nitrates? Just curious because I seem to have them at about 5 since i got this test kit a week into the cycle.

#9
JulieR

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Oo just tested for nitrates. I was on my way out earlier, so I just quickly tested the other two. Nitrates look to be either 5 or 10 ppm. I swear the colors look identical on the little chart.

Also - the tank STINKS. Smells like dead fish. Well, dead shrimp, really. Luckily I can only really smell it when I'm hovering over it.

Lights didn't come today :( It's been a week now. I'm slightly worried, only because they didn't give me a tracking number (shipped fed-ex). I've ordered from other places and anywhere that ships fed-ex always gives me a tracking number. I mean, they were shipped from one side of the country to the other... I hope they arrive tomorrow.

Edited by JulieR, 10 January 2011 - 06:47 PM.


#10
JulieR

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I forgot to say this in my previous posts, but thank you for the welcome, everyone! As I've browsed around n-r, I like the looks of the people here. You guys all seem like a good (and entertaining, haha) bunch :D

Readings for today:

PH: 8
Ammonia: 4
Nitrite: 1
Nitrate: .5
Temp: 78
SG: 1.024

I think I'll take the shrimp out today. The pantyhose are starting to look a little fuzzy where the shrimp is laying, blegh. Guess I'll be throwing that whole thing out.

The water has been getting a little hazy the past couple days. Not cloudy, I can see front to back just as well as when it was crystal clear. But... it's blurry? Probably just the cycle.

I have a 20H freshwater planted tank right across from this tank, and it's been a little neglected since setting up the 20L, oops. It has two t5s on it and it has become algae city. Guess I should spend a little time on that today. :blush:

EDIT: LIGHTS ARRIVED AS I WAS TYPING THIS. I haven't opened the box yet but I will right now and update with pictures! omgomgomg

Edited by JulieR, 11 January 2011 - 12:08 PM.


#11
JulieR

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There's only one power cord :rant: The site said there would be two power cords, and even on the box it says that there are supposed to be two cords. Except, that part on the box is covered up by a sticker to blank it out. Grr!

Other than that, it looks pretty good.

#12
captainbastard

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Lookin good so far, my first tank was a 20L also, it's an awesome size tank. IME I would move up to the AC110 and convert it into a fuge. When I did that with mine I had sooo many pods everywhere. Good luck to ya!

#13
Wilioli

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hi! tank looks great, ur off to a great start!

About the hydrometer -- I'd maybe check sg outside of the tank.. Fill the hydrometer with water and let it settle out of the tank, and then move powerheads and do the same thing again. hopefully the sg will be the same -- my guess is because ur hydrometer is in the tank, any change in current affects the reading...? just water flow pushing the dial up or down...

And cheap refractometers.. lol, i might be biased.. I got one cheap -- used.. Those things can be calibrated, so thats a good side to it -- found out that my hydrometer was off by .002, which is quite a lot! I thought I had things at 1.0026, but the refracto was reading 1.0024... I think its a good investment

Good luck on the tank, i'm new to saltwater as well.. well to fish tanks in general.. will be following

#14
mrbigshot

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looks good, my 20l is the sump now lol
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#15
JulieR

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CaptainBastard - Hmmm... I'll definitely keep that in mind. Especially if I ever eventually decide to try a dragonet.

I do have this little red sea deco filter kicking around in my supplies ( http://s.petco.com/A...3077388330C.jpg ) This thing. It came with one of those 6.6G acrylic bookshelf tanks I got awhile back which is currently empty. I was thinking of using it as a chaeto chamber, possibly.

Edited by JulieR, 11 January 2011 - 01:09 PM.


#16
Deano

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:welcome: 2 N/R and the 20 Long club. I have a Chiclid tank as well but once you get bitten by the SW bug you will find yourself spending more time with the SW then the FW.

I would suspect the reason your Hydrometer changes when you move the PH is the water flow is getting inside of the meter and causing the needle to move up or down. Kind of like a wind sock in the air. It has nothing to do with a change in the actual SG.

Edit: Guess I should have read the thread better because Wilioli already addressed this issue.

Edited by Deano, 11 January 2011 - 03:37 PM.


#17
nebthet

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:welcome: TO N-R and to the 20L club. I have one myself and it just hit it's first week of cycling and I am getting some what close to the same readings that you are.

You are correct in regards to the API nitrate test kits. The colors for 5.0-10 are identical, at least to my eyes as well.

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Nebthet's 20L led lit pygmy clown reef

My Photography Thread:- Canon T1i, 18-55mm lense, 100mm 2.8 macro & 75-300mm USM III lenses.


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I feel like a mushroom. its dark and this tastes like sh!tty crackers.


#18
d9hp

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Sounds like you're right in the middle of the cycle! Congrats on the tank and welcome to N-R.com
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75g FOWLR

#19
JulieR

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I think I've fixed the problem with the hydrometer. I found a spot for it where it doesn't waver at all. Good! I'm guessing it was a problem with the powerheads blowing current at it, messing around with the pointer.

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:lol:
The fishiest corner of my room. A fire hazard for sure. Should probably clean up that pile of cords.

Some readings for today:
Ammonia: 2
Nitrite: 1
Nitrate: 20
SG: 1.024

Does that sound about right? I forget if ammonia is supposed to go down gradually or if it's supposed to make a sudden and complete disappearance. Could be that I just didn't wait long enough for it to color up, though I did give it a good while as I went to do other things.

#20
cameraman_2

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Welcome to Saltwater. I use to have all Cichlids. My sister has my Polits in a 29 gallon and my Sister-in-law has my 55 gallon tank full of them as well. We moved to Dallas and I couldn't bring them with me. So last summer I finally brought home my little 6 Gallon and restarted my SW tank. Your tank is going to look awesome and I love that size for SW.

#21
JulieR

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I hope I stay put for awhile. I can't imagine having to face moving all of my tanks. We've moved around the country before with just the 29G and the fish all packed in tubs, but that was just one tank. Right now I've got a 56G filled with some of the less aggressive mbunas. Yellow labs, rusties, socolofi, yellow tail acei, maingano, plus a single red zebra and one (my avatar) who is probably a C. afra of some sort.

Actually, in the last picture I posted, the small tank by the floor is a sort of nursery for some yellow lab fry. I have this one lady who insists on holding permanently, to the point where she'll get emaciated and I'll have to pry the babies out of her mouth. Not something I like doing, but I've had to do it twice now. Last time, none of the babies survived and I'm guessing it's because she held them so long. This time, I wasn't expecting any to survive, I just wanted to get the mother eating again. That was maybe three weeks ago. Yellow lab mom is rounding out nicely again, I see her come out to eat every time I feed them. And I've got 13 hardy, healthy babies.

Edited by JulieR, 12 January 2011 - 04:44 PM.


#22
JulieR

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:naughtydance:
Today's readings:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0

Not a day too soon, either. My tank desperately needs its clean up crew.

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Here's a picture I took a few days ago of one of my hitchhikers:
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#23
Bishop

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Liking what I see. Recently started a 20 Long myself to get rid of a 14g cube and 10 gallon standard. Also needed a use for a good 30" fixture that came off my 36 gallon which now has halides. Now that I have halides, I would never turn back... absolute love.

One issue I have with your tank is the hydrometer. is it fine to just leave them under water like that? As for the cheap Ebay refractometers, I ebayed one for about 30-35 after shipping and love it. Seems to be very accurate and is so much better than dipping a hydrometer.

#24
LITHreefer

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Tank is looking good!! Movin along just like mine haha I also just added some cuc, only 5 snails and 5 hermits so far. Don't seem to be helping the diatoms though. What kind of CuC you think your gonna go with?

#25
JulieR

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One issue I have with your tank is the hydrometer. is it fine to just leave them under water like that? As for the cheap Ebay refractometers, I ebayed one for about 30-35 after shipping and love it. Seems to be very accurate and is so much better than dipping a hydrometer.

Hm. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be left in the tank or just dipped periodically for measuring. The suction cup on it made me think it was supposed to be left in. But I'll take it out and rinse/clean it off now if it's just meant for dipping.

Got some CuC now :happy:
Including hitchhikers, I've got:
4 nassarius snails
1 large cerith snail (Maybe an inch and a half long! I was thinking they were much smaller because of the one tiny cerith looking hitchhiker)
2 dwarf red tip hermits
1 banded trochus snail
Assorted hitchhikers including at least two tiny nerites, one tiny cerith, and two stomatellas.

I was trying to look around at other people's threads to get some good ideas on a cuc for a 20L. Of course, when I actually go in search of this kind of information, I can't find it, lol.

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I am loving this trochus snail. Besides being very attractive, it's also doing a good job of cleaning. In the past hour, it cleaned the surface of that one rock that it's on. It had been as algae-covered as the rest of the rocks. I'd like to get more of these guys, as long as there will be enough algae for them.

I don't want astreas, because they flip over and can't unflip. And I don't want turbos, because they get to big, right?