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Enigma's 10 Gallon Build


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#1
Enigma

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Hello :)

I have been compulsively devouring the information on this forum since Saturday evening. I might have been better off if I had found it 24-hours earlier, though (we'll see).

On Saturday morning I started my first ever saltwater build. I've had a couple of freshwater aquariums in the past, and they have always been epic failures due to severe algae blooms and crazy nitrogen.

I never planned to do another aquarium: ever. I do use aquariums for open plant terrariums, however. I was offered a FREE 150 gallon tank, and I accepted the offer before I realized how big it was.

Oops. Hubby and I could be stacked one on top of the other and buried in it. I didn't know this until it showed up in my living room.

During the course of pondering what to do with the beast, I discovered the breathtaking world of saltwater reef aquariums. Wow! I decided that I should get my feet wet with a much smaller tank and work up to the 150 over a course of years. I opted to use a spare 10 gallon that I had laying around (the plants that were in it had outgrown it and been moved to a 20 gallon).

Saturday afternoon I picked up a bunch of stuff and put her all together.

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Hubby and #2 son (who is three) complained that it was boring. They begged me to put something in it. I agreed to some fake corals (thinking that they won't interfere much with the initial processes, and they would give me an idea of how much space I have to work with and how to work with it).

So, off to the aquarium supply shop again . . . with my three-year-old in tow. Do I need to describe what a disaster that was? Maybe what I endured is best captured with a photograph:

Posted Image

I think I may humour my boy too much. And, it most certainly is not going to stay that way (though my boys find it much more agreeable now). My goal is pretty "zen."

Oh! He wants Nemo in the tank. But, Nemo would need a family member there so he wouldn't panic the same way he did in the dentist's office. If he can't have Nemo in the tank he wants a . . . shark.

I must admit I've got a bit of a sinking feeling at the moment.

Starting Equipment:
  • 10 Gallon Leader Tank
  • Glass Top
  • Fluval C2 Power Filter
  • Hydor Theo Submersible 50 Watt Heater
  • Coralife 11 Inch Mini AquaLight T5 HO (6W 10000K & 6W Actinic)
  • Koralia Nano 240gph
  • 8.75 lbs Live Rock
  • 15 lbs Aragonite Sand

My one BIG mistake is that I filled it with a combination of tap and springwater. :( I hope that the HOB filter will compensate for this.

Kh is very high at 20. Calcium 450. Ph 8. Salinity and temperature are going well so far. No nitrogen yet.

Present Equipment:
  • 10 Gallon Leader Tank
  • Egg Crate Top
  • Hydor Theo Submersible 50 Watt Heater
  • Coralife 20 Inch AquaLight T5 HO Fixture (10,000 k 20W and Actinic 20W)
  • Koralia Nano 425gph
  • 10 lbs Dry Rock
  • 15 lbs Aragonite Sand
  • Rapids Pro Overflow Box
  • 2 Marineland Moonlights
  • Grounding Probe

Sump
  • Aqueon Proflex Model 3 Sump (with refugium)
  • Hydor Theo Submersible 100 Watt Heater
  • Eheim 2000 Compact Pump
  • 8 lbs Live Rock

Present Livestock:
  • 1 small Mexican Turbo Snails
  • 3 Nassarius (Vibex?) Snails
  • 3 Green Chromis (very small)
  • 1 Pom Pom Crab (Hitchhiker . . . put in refugium)
  • 1 Blue Legged Hermit Crab (Hitchhiker . . . put in refugium)
  • 2 Zoa Frags
  • 1 Blastomussa wellsi frag
  • 1 Kenya Tree

Edited by Enigma, 18 April 2012 - 01:56 PM.


#2
nhart608

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Welcome to reefing.

What are you planning on stocking with eventually?

#3
Enigma

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Welcome to reefing.


Thank you :)

What are you planning on stocking with eventually?


I have a definite affinity for soft corals, and that is where the bulk of my interest is. I'm trying not to get too hung up on those, though.

My plan (for the time being . . . based on the tiny iota of knowledge that I have), is to see where I can comfortably keep the water parameters without too much messing around, and then stock according to those. I don't want to try to force something that will require loads of effort and time (two kids, husband, full time+ engineering job, dog, rabbit, 100 house plants, and a summer veggie garden).

I'll stock the "clean up crew" based on what I learn here (and what turns up in my rocks). The fish added will be based on the water parameters, the clean up crew, and my three-year-old's opinions will weigh quite heavily: as long as what he wants will do well in the tank, that's what I'll get.

I may not be able to stock anything until the fall, depending on how often top ups are required. We have an RV and do quite a bit of weekend camping in the summer. I'm pretty sure I'm going to need a sump, or at least a top off system.

Evaporation is not too bad so far, but based on what I've seen the tank absolutely must be topped up once every 24 hours (I've been doing it once every 12). Being that our house is so incredibly dry (forced air furnace running full time, and with no humidity control), I'm pretty pleased with the way it is going. The evaporation over the course of twelve hours swinging salinity out by about 0.001%. The heater is doing a good job of managing the temperature of the tank.

And once again, thanks for the welcome! :)

#4
nhart608

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I made a simple ATO by taking a clean one gallon milk jug, feeding airline tubing down the hollow handle of the jug (for tube stability) to the bottom, attaching a plastic airline valve to the other end. After filling up the jug with RODI water, placing it above the tank (I have a metal filing cabinet right next to the tank) and attaching the tubing to the closest outer side of the tank with a suction cup tube holder, you remove the valve, start a siphon, replace valve and adjust the drip rate into the tank.

I only need to refill the jug once every 4 days, and while I have to tweak the drip rate every couple of days as the water level in the jug drops (and variances in evaporation rate), it keeps the tank water level pretty even and is far easier than topping up manually once or twice a day. Also evens out the salinity since it's a continuous drip. Not to mention my "system" cost less than $2.00.

P.S. I also have a standard 10 gallon

Edited by nhart608, 22 March 2012 - 05:25 PM.


#5
FlCandy

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LMAO Nice! The fake corals make it POP! :P

Okay so you should get a pair of Occ Clowns! Tanks bred are nicer and less aggressive.

Looks like it is going to be awesome once you can put real corals in there!

#6
Enigma

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I only need to refill the jug once every 4 days, and while I have to tweak the drip rate every couple of days as the water level in the jug drops (and variances in evaporation rate), it keeps the tank water level pretty even and is far easier than topping up manually once or twice a day. Also evens out the salinity since it's a continuous drip. Not to mention my "system" cost less than $2.00.

P.S. I also have a standard 10 gallon


That is a great idea. Thank you :)

LMAO Nice! The fake corals make it POP! :P

Okay so you should get a pair of Occ Clowns! Tanks bred are nicer and less aggressive.

Looks like it is going to be awesome once you can put real corals in there!


:lol: My little man is really enjoying it in its present condition. The fake corals glow in the dark. :lol:

I've ordered some more rock for it. It is reef rock that is mined from a dry inland reef somewhere here in Canada. I'm not happy with the look of the live pieces I picked up (rubble from the bottom of the virtually empty bin). The rubble had been in the tank at my LFS for months. The good news is that it should be pretty pest free. It is working its magic on the tank: I've got pods. :) Once the new rock arrives I'll make an attempt to actually arrange the rock in the way I would like it. Hopefully the live rock I've got will do a nice job of seeding the dead rock.

I've also picked up a second light the same as the first. I've replaced the 50 watt heater with a 100 watt (and dropped and smashed the 50 watt: my first fatality!).

I haven't done any tests since the weekend. I've only been monitoring the salinity and temperture. I was thinking I should test the water tonight, but hopefully it can wait until tomorrow night. I've zero motivation to actually get it done right now.

#7
FlCandy

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That is a great idea. Thank you :)



:lol: My little man is really enjoying it in its present condition. The fake corals glow in the dark. :lol:

I've ordered some more rock for it. It is reef rock that is mined from a dry inland reef somewhere here in Canada. I'm not happy with the look of the live pieces I picked up (rubble from the bottom of the virtually empty bin). The rubble had been in the tank at my LFS for months. The good news is that it should be pretty pest free. It is working its magic on the tank: I've got pods. :) Once the new rock arrives I'll make an attempt to actually arrange the rock in the way I would like it. Hopefully the live rock I've got will do a nice job of seeding the dead rock.

I've also picked up a second light the same as the first. I've replaced the 50 watt heater with a 100 watt (and dropped and smashed the 50 watt: my first fatality!).

I haven't done any tests since the weekend. I've only been monitoring the salinity and temperture. I was thinking I should test the water tonight, but hopefully it can wait until tomorrow night. I've zero motivation to actually get it done right now.



If it's been in there for months you may not have a cycle! It was cured if it was in there and obviously has life on it.
Give it a week and if all is well and reading 0 you can add your CUC in small amounts. Watch the Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate during that time as it could spike a little in response to the new bio load

I would almost bet you will have no cycle. ;)

#8
nhart608

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If it's been in there for months you may not have a cycle! It was cured if it was in there and obviously has life on it.
Give it a week and if all is well and reading 0 you can add your CUC in small amounts. Watch the Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate during that time as it could spike a little in response to the new bio load

I would almost bet you will have no cycle. ;)


I did not have a very long cycle either. Had excellent live rock from my LFS with some coralline on it. Ammonia "spiked" at 0.5 and was down to 0 in less than a week. Took me a little more than another week to get the nitrates down to 10 with some water changes. Added a cleanup crew 16 days after set up.

#9
nhart608

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Oh, hopefully this will be some motivation for you. This is my tank which turned one year old on 3/10/12. And I avoided epic disasters, so you can do it!
One_Year_Anniversary.jpg

#10
Enigma

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I am hoping to avoid a brutal cycle. Hubby actually sent me a text a while ago to tell me how good he thought the water and tank looked.

I am going to do all of the water tests tonight, so I'll see what's going on. I would like to add the CUC soon (getting bored and want something "real" in there), but the tank is only a week old as of tomorrow.

Oh, hopefully this will be some motivation for you. This is my tank which turned one year old on 3/10/12. And I avoided epic disasters, so you can do it!
One_Year_Anniversary.jpg


Very nice! The rock looks great. Mine has some good stuff on it, but only in very small places.

The LFS got a whole pile of new live rock in a couple of days ago (from Fiji) and it is covered in coralline and is simply gorgeous. It was very tempting to pick up a piece, but the assistant manager advised me that it was not cured, and I should avoid it if unexpected and harmful aquatic creepy crawlies worry me: as the chances of getting something in a rock from the batch was pretty high.

#11
nhart608

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It's part of the excitement and part of the danger of using live rock. What hitchhikers will show up.

I've been pretty lucky to date. Only got one palythoa hitchhiker (just above and to the right of the multiheaded acan on the left side of the tank) from the rock, but have had others from frags and the chaeto I put in. But only one bad so far, a small bunch of colonial hydroids. They are in a cave in the rocks and don't seem to being growing because they hardly get any light down there, so I'm just leaving them be. But coral frags do have hitchhikers so it's a good idea to do a coral dip prior to putting them in. Same with fish, but using a freshwater dip.

#12
Enigma

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Here is how she looks today. I'm not 100% happy with the rocks yet. Some of the live rock will be removed (and used to seed the second tank that I've started), and a little more dry rock will be added.

Posted Image

I've added 5 pounds of dry rock, two little Mexican Turbo snails (who are being supplemented . . . as the tank is very free of algae), and five Nassarius snails (Vibex, I think).

Posted Image

I've switched back to a 50W heater, as the 100W cooked the tank. I've switched the powerhead to the 425 gph Koralia.

I believe I have one chiton. I've seen pods. I've also seen an itty bitty shelled thing (snail of some kind?). I definitely have red tree foraminifera.

Salinity and temp are holding pretty even. I need to do my water tests tonight to see how things are going. I've had no nitrogen, nitrates, or phosphates up until now, but I expect that has changed with the increased bio-load.

#13
banshee

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Nice start! I would have been sorely tempted to dive right into that 150G! I wish we had the room for something like that!

I got our kids a GloFish tank for their glow-in-dark and fake coral amusement. Saves my tank from having Sponge Bob characters all over! ;)

#14
Enigma

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Nice start! I would have been sorely tempted to dive right into that 150G! I wish we had the room for something like that!


Sadly, the 150 does not hold water. :tears: Thankfully we were able to test it outside!

I'm over it, though. I'm thinking one of those big AIO units is the way to go for me.

I got our kids a GloFish tank for their glow-in-dark and fake coral amusement. Saves my tank from having Sponge Bob characters all over! ;)


Awesome! Those are very interesting to watch.

#15
TimberC

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Your new set up is looking good! What are you going to put in there as far as fish? I would personally have two small fish in a tank that size. More fish = more bio-load so I would stick to two small fish.

I would personally get a better light fixture. A T5 fixture would be great for this little set up. It would not heat up the tank and it would make the corals pop really nicely.

#16
Enigma

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Your new set up is looking good! What are you going to put in there as far as fish? I would personally have two small fish in a tank that size. More fish = more bio-load so I would stick to two small fish.

I would personally get a better light fixture. A T5 fixture would be great for this little set up. It would not heat up the tank and it would make the corals pop really nicely.


This tank was going to have two clowns. It might be the other tank I've started that gets the clowns, though. This tank is in our bedroom, and the other tank will be in the living room. I think our little guy would enjoy the clowns more in the living room. I'm a little undecided on what will go in whatever tank doesn't get the clowns. I'm thinking that the non-clown tank will get three really little fish.

I had thought about moving to a different lighting system. In the photo I posted I've only got one of the lights turned on, but I actually have two of them (the spec sheet is here: PDF). I am going to build some sort of support/stand for them, as they do heat up the tank and they don't sit particularly nicely up there.

This tank might be getting a sump, in which case I'll build the sump to utilize the Mini Aqualights. Then I'll purchase a nice fixture for this tank. :)

#17
Enigma

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Using the API tests:
Ammonia .25
Nitrites 1
Nitrates 0
Ph 8

Everything else was fine (best kPh yet, at 13). I'm not worried about the change in values that I've had (I expected that). I'm confused about the lack of a nitrates. I've read that the API nitrate test is fussy, and I've been shaking it for what seems like an eternity. I'd like to see the ph a little higher.

The tank inhabitants seem okay. The Nass snails are very active, and they've done a good job on the sandbed since this morning. I was expecting them to spend more time buried. I'm pretty sure they aren't whelks.

The Mexican Turbos are amazing little cleaning machines. I put out double the nori this evening. It'll be interesting to see how much of the stuff they'll eat. I'm hoping to get one of them into the 12 gallon I've started in a week or two, but I don't have the actually cycling yet: there is no organic matter in it.

#18
Enigma

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I've now added four more Nass snails, and three very small Green Chromis.

It was supposed to be five more Nass snails. But, one of the snails turned out to be a blue legged hermit crab in a Nass shell. If it had been a red legged one, I might have put it in the tank. Instead, it was put in my little 2 gallon. I told it that if it adapted to that tank I would take care of it, otherwise it could die and I would feel no remorse.

The Nass I had weren't doing quite enough for the sandbed (the Mexican Turbos poop a LOT!). Hopefully these additions will help. I've noticed some very interesting behavior in the Nass snails. They seem to be very competitive amongst each other. There is plenty in the tank for them, but two or three snails will wind up wrestling each other. They will also chase each other. The instigator seems to be the smallest of the bunch. Have I a Nass with Napoleon syndrome?

I'm learning quite a bit about the Turbos, and I've decreased the tank temperature to 77-78F to accommodate them a little better. I was sure they were going to die, but now I think they were just stuffed on nori and having a (two day) nap. One is very active again today. The last one to pig out is still not moving much, but I'm pretty convinced that once the glow of its last feast wears off it'll be roaming the tank again. I've made a mental note to supplement them less.

The three little green Chromis were added to "test" the tank, so to speak. Or, I suppose it would be more accurate to say they were added to test my fish keeping skills. If they don't die (either by my hand or by each other: which I realize is a distinct possibility), the survivors will be moved into another tank, or be passed on to someone else. They are ignoring what I'm feeding them (Nutrafin MAX) and are gulping down the "snow" in the water.

Water parameters are very good. In the interests of full disclosure I should make it clear that the tank has been dosed with nitrite reducing bacteria. I don't plan on using it forever: I figure I will slowly wean the tank off it. Dosing the tank was a preemptive strike against what I figured two dead Mexican Turbos would do to the tank while I was at work.

I ditched the API nitrate test and purchased an ELOS one. Much better!

I'm feeling pretty optimistic about how this is going, today. :)

#19
Enigma

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I tried to take some decent photos, with my good DSLR.

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#20
Enigma

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Posted Image

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Next time I'll clean the back of the tank before I take photos. :o

#21
Enigma

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Both Mexican Turbos are cruising around the tank. No more nori for them until tomorrow. They need to do their jobs for a bit, first.

Kirby regularly hangs out on the glass.

Posted Image

Rainbow sticks to the rocks.

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The fish are impossible to get good shots of.

#22
Enigma

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I don't have any more new and decent photos of this tank, but there have been some changes.

I purchased a Kenya Tree frag last week. It wasn't attached to anything, so when I brought it home I dabbed a bit of frag glue on it, stuck two toothpicks in it (couldn't get one all the way through) and used a rubber-band to attach it to some dead rock. Then I dipped it. I don't remember off the top of my head what kind of dip I used . . . but it was mixed with tank water (not a FW dip).

Posted Image

It seems quite happy. :) I'm thinking the toothpicks are not going to be possible to extract, so I think I can just cut them off and leave a bit inside the coral.

I did discover what I think is a pyramid snail in the tank. :( I had it with my forceps, and then I dropped it and couldn't find it. I had really hoped to have a small clam in here, but it looks like that isn't going to work.

I have wound up with two crab hitchhikers. One is a pom pom crab, and the other a blue-legged hermit crab. They are both in a "breeder tank" which is hanging off of this one. I do not want anything with an exoskeleton in this tank!

This tank is getting a custom refugium for live rock and chaeto that will sit behind the tank, which will be built by Red Coral here in Calgary. I'm very excited. :)

#23
nhart608

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Looks like the kenya tree has rebounded quite well. Live corals are more fun than those first "corals" you had, eh?

#24
Enigma

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Looks like the kenya tree has rebounded quite well. Live corals are more fun than those first "corals" you had, eh?


The Kenya Tree is doing very well! It has since been moved, and the toothpicks and rubberband have been removed. The toothpicks slid right out no problem.

:lol: My bestie collected all of that plastic stuff last night: to put in her Hubby's 55gal freshwater tank. She figures it needs some colour. I wonder what he's going to have to say about that? ;)

Two days until I take my plans (which I drafted in MicroStation) for my refugium and frag tank to the tank builder. I can't wait! I'm pretty pleased with what I've drawn up. I'm really looking forward to sharing the photos and plans when they're done.

I've ordered a new light for this tank, as the two 11" ones I've got for this tank will be used on the refugium and frag tank.

#25
Enigma

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I've made some major changes to this one, and I feel as if I'm finally on track!

Crummy BlackBerry photos:

Posted Image

Two zoa and one blasto frag:

Posted Image

The chromis:

Posted Image

The sump:

Posted Image

All of the live rock has been moved to the regugium in the sump. A large piece of dry rock has been added to the display tank. The lighting fixture has been changed on the display tank (20" Coralife with one actinic and one 10,000K). I added some LED moonlights, too.

The only issue is that I can't fill the tank beyond where it is. The overflow needs quite a bit of wiggle room to prime itself. In the event I fill the tank higher it overflows when the overflow box kicks in again. At least the sump gives me another 15 gallons of water, so the effect of a little less water in the display tank is more visual than anything else.

All specs are good, with the exception of nitrate which is still about 0.5.

Hubby is going to build me a stand so I can rig the sump up underneath the tank.

Unfortunately, the custom refugium and frag tank are on hold. This sump was an unexpected gift from hubby.