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el fabuloso

El Fab's Simple Guide to Pico Tanks

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Awesome work El Fab!! Thanks so much for this useful guide!

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fab, have you considered adding a section on protien skimmer units like the Rio Nano skimmer. I am running one on my picotope, and I love it. Not everyone uses a fuge, so it might be a good idea to include something about it?

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Nice! I am learning alot from this thread as well. Is simply Fabulous :happy: Thanks for sharing! A great thread!

 

Just some questions and oso some of my pointer :happy:

 

1) For pico tanks, as I noe most pico runs without a sump, so when doing Water Change, how do we go about doing it?

Do we just do WC from the tank itself? Cos I noe that some corals and rocks can be scape quite high near the surface. So when we do WC, wouldn't the rocks or corals be expose? :huh:

Or maybe we shouldn't stack or scape too high near the surface for pico? :blink:

 

2) Some or most pico doesn't have an overflow, so I think the a surface skimmer can help clears the water surface as well. I think some HOB filter does have a surface skim. When the surface of the water is crystal clear, lights wouldn't be block by the floating debris. :happy:

 

3)Another very important point imo is dosing in a pico, cos the water volume in a pico is small, any little amount can have a very big reaction. So everything that puts in it should have a 'Less is More' rule :happy:

 

Above are just imo. Cos I never had any experience with a pico at the moment. :happy:

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1) For pico tanks, as I noe most pico runs without a sump, so when doing Water Change, how do we go about doing it?

Do we just do WC from the tank itself? Cos I noe that some corals and rocks can be scape quite high near the surface. So when we do WC, wouldn't the rocks or corals be expose? :huh:

Or maybe we shouldn't stack or scape too high near the surface for pico? :blink:

2) Some or most pico doesn't have an overflow, so I think the a surface skimmer can help clears the water surface as well. I think some HOB filter does have a surface skim. When the surface of the water is crystal clear, lights wouldn't be block by the floating debris. :happy:

3)Another very important point imo is dosing in a pico, cos the water volume in a pico is small, any little amount can have a very big reaction. So everything that puts in it should have a 'Less is More' rule :happy:

1) It's ok if the rocks are exposed during a water change. There are plenty of reefs in which corals are exposed to the air during low tides with no ill effects.

2) Surface skimmers really aren't all that necessary.

3) You don't have to dose in a pico.

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1) It's ok if the rocks are exposed during a water change. There are plenty of reefs in which corals are exposed to the air during low tides with no ill effects.

2) Surface skimmers really aren't all that necessary.

3) You don't have to dose in a pico.

 

Wow, thanks travisurfer for the quick reply. Lol! This shows tat I dun have any experience in a pico. :P

 

Yup, what you have say are very true as well!

I think what a pico needs most is a regular water change :happy:

Cos with regular water change, you dun have to dose anything and wouldn't have any or much floating debris :happy:

 

As least what I have voice out are some things that many would like to noe as well :happy:

 

Hi Lalani, not at the moment but I might be learning for future use :P

Edited by j'field

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Awesome information... very informative.

 

I really like the idea of a small pico tank. I was lost during the AC70 fuge instructions after you cut the media baskets into three separate pieces. I'm definitely gonna have questions if/when I get to that point. Haha. I do like the idea of the fuge though.

 

Nice job and very well done. What a great idea for a sticky! :happy:

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So I just started my pico almost a month ago i used a old hob filter for a fug but it isn't very large. So I am going to cahnge it to a ac70. In your tank did you alter the flow at all and if so how much. Also is the ac70 enough flow by itself or do you have a powerhead in it as well.

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Part 5: Setting Up Your Pico

 

CIMG2814.jpg

 

Setting up a pico is surprisingly simple and straightforward. The previous three parts to this guide provided a long list of tools and supplies although most of them—depending on the tank you choose—will not be required in the initial setup. If you decide to go with a custom AGA tank you will need to choose your light fixture and setup your filter and/or DIY mods at this point. If you're setting up a pico kit, the tank should be good and ready right out of the box. However at this point you should have a pretty solid plan in terms of the type of lighting and equipment you will be using down the line. A JBJ Picotope will be used for this guide given its popularity although the same steps can be applied regardless of the type of tank and setup you decide to go with.

 

You will need the following components to get started:

  • Tank (including light and filter)
  • Saltwater
  • Live rock
  • Live sand
  • Heater
  • Powerhead
  • Spray paint (optional)

Once you've gathered up all the different tools and components required to run a pico, you're finally ready to put it all into action.

 

 

Step 1: Prepare the tank and all the equipment

 

CIMG2758.jpg

 

Rinse out the tank, filter and all the equipment that will go inside the tank with tap water. If you want to spray paint the back of your tank, do so now. Run a water test by filling the tank with water and check for leakage.

 

 

Step 2: Assess your live rock

 

CIMG2767.jpg

 

No matter where you get your rock from, it should smell clean and fresh. Clean the rocks by scrubbing them while at the same time inspecting for any unwanted hitchhikers and removing any visible debris.

 

 

Step 3: Arrange your rockwork

 

CIMG2774.jpg

 

Fill the tank halfway with saltwater to prevent the rocks from drying out as you're working and decide where you want to place the heater and the filter.

 

CIMG2773.jpg

 

It will take some time to find a layout that you're happy with and be sure to inspect your layout from all angles. Also make sure that your rockwork is sturdy and secure.

 

 

Step 4: Add live sand

 

CIMG2776.jpg

 

Once you're happy with your rockwork, add live sand. This is a messy and cloudy process that will make it difficult to see what you're doing so you will need to frequently view your progress from outside the tank.

 

CIMG2777.jpg

 

Add in the sand one small scoop at a time and spread them evenly between the rocks as best as you can until you get the desired depth. Anywhere from an inch to an inch and a half of sand is a good amount.

 

Step 5: Power up

 

CIMG2780.jpg

 

Fill the tank up and plug everything in. Cloudiness is normal and should start to clear up in a few hours. You may need to manually remove the excess layer of foam on the water's surface. Chemical filtration should only be added after the tank has finished cycling. Until then, filter floss is all that's required to trap suspended debris, which you will need to replace frequently until the tank has completely cleared up.

 

 

Step 6: Add powerhead

 

CIMG2808.jpg

 

Add the powerhead once everything has settled. The increased flow will help minimize the growth of diatoms and any other undesirable algae. Unless there are photosynthetic hitchhikers on your live rocks, a full photoperiod isn't required at this point and should be kept at a minimum to discourage algae growth.

 

TIP: Spray-painting the back of the tank is a common method for concealing the backside of the tank and is strictly a matter of personal taste. Although this may seem like a minor modification, be aware that some studies have shown considerable difference in the amount of light reflected between tanks with the back spray-painted and those without. Though the effects may be negligible it is still worth noting considering the irreversible process. Make sure to read the article, A Look at Backgrounds: To Paint or Not To Paint to help weigh-in on your decision.

 

Now that you're set up you must test your water parameters closely to monitor your cycle. Cycling is an important process that can vary from one tank to another, depending on various factors such as the quality of rock you're using. In the next part we'll cover cycling and what you need to look out for to get through it.

 

 

Stay tuned for the next installment: Cycling

Edited by el fabuloso
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*yay!* :)

 

That is awesome!!

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Thank you for this comprehensive guide. I think you'll have a cult following soon if not already. :D

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very nice guide for anyone coming into the world of pico reefs.... or just for us commandos of the pico world to read for fun. ;)

 

good work el

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Well done! Great information and nicely written.

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Well written and informative... thank you!

 

Now I want to run out and buy a small tank rather than building my own... or alter my 20 gallon into a prototype of what I actually want to run... actually that's not a bad idea ;)

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Hi Fab,

 

First i want to thank you so much for your inspriation with the pico tank. I"m following your advice step by step and tomorrow i'm about to attempt to modify a AC70 filter. Before doing so, i have some questions i hope someone can help me with as this is my first saltwater tank.

 

I purchased the marineland shatterproof mini heater, 10W. This is what the store recomended for the pico but will this be a big enough filter since i'm using the AC70 mod? Can i still place this type of heater in that filter.

 

When setting up the tank, should i just use the stock filter at first and then add the AC70? I noticed in your sample you are using a powerhead and the stock filter when you first set it up, do you plan to add the AC70 later. Since i would rather not purchase a powerhead, should i just get things going with the AC70? Is there additoinal info i need to know if i'm starting with the AC70?

 

Will you be suggesting what other filter media should be put into the AC70?

 

Perhaps your going to get into these topics with your cycling post. I'm being patient with this so I may wait for that post before doing much else.

 

thanks again!

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Wow :bowdown: Great guide - This persuaded me to buy a Pico Tank omgomgomg

 

Hope to see the final part of your guide up soon. Where is the Cycling guide I cant wait :scarry: LOL

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First i want to thank you so much for your inspriation with the pico tank. I"m following your advice step by step and tomorrow i'm about to attempt to modify a AC70 filter. Before doing so, i have some questions i hope someone can help me with as this is my first saltwater tank.

:welcome:

 

Glad to have you in the pico club! Most people reserve pico setups for advanced hobbyists but I've helped people who are completely new to saltwater setup pico tanks with great success. Just follow along and I'll do my best to help out!

 

I purchased the marineland shatterproof mini heater, 10W. This is what the store recomended for the pico but will this be a big enough filter since i'm using the AC70 mod? Can i still place this type of heater in that filter.

That heater should fit in the AC70. But more importantly you should assess the ambient temperature in your room. If there's too much of a swing in temperature then the 10W heater won't do. Otherwise it should be fine as long as the temperature is even throughout the day.

 

When setting up the tank, should i just use the stock filter at first and then add the AC70? I noticed in your sample you are using a powerhead and the stock filter when you first set it up, do you plan to add the AC70 later. Since i would rather not purchase a powerhead, should i just get things going with the AC70? Is there additoinal info i need to know if i'm starting with the AC70?

 

Will you be suggesting what other filter media should be put into the AC70?

If you already have an AC70 filter then by all means use it! Otherwise the stock filter is enough to get things running. The only reason I recommend using the stock filter at first is to try and keep the process simple and less overwhelming and because some people prefer not to upgrade at all which is fine. You can setup the tank with only the stock filter and nothing else but you could have a tough time dealing with diatoms and nuissance algae from not having enough flow. So you'll definitely want to get an AC70 right away if you're completely against adding a powerhead.

 

As for filter media, there's only so many options you can put in the filter—Chemi-Pure, Chemi-Pure Elite, Purigen, various forms of carbon, etc. Purigen and Chemi-Pure Elite are good and personally prefer the latter especially now that they have them in half-unit sizes that will fit in the filter without going through the mess of opening the bag and divvying it up. Some kind of filter floss to trap detritus and the ubiquitous chaeto and you're good to go. The use of live rock rubble is a hotly debated subject and personally don't recommend it although I have a couple pieces of rubble in mine but I only have them for fragging corals and are not expected to serve any filtration purposes.

 

Wow :bowdown: Great guide - This persuaded me to buy a Pico Tank omgomgomg

 

Hope to see the final part of your guide up soon. Where is the Cycling guide I cant wait :scarry: LOL

Great! I plan to take over the world with picos. :lol:

 

I know I've been lagging behind and a lot of people who were following this from the start are now caught up so I gotta get the cycling portion up. I'll try my best to get it wrapped up and posted by this weekend. ;)

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Thanks El Fabuloso ... the best pico reef guide ever :bowdown::happydance:

Edited by Sembarcj

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Wow, this is a very nice write-up on the guide. Thanks Fab for your dedication and many inspiration on showing the rest of us how to become a successful reef pico keeper! i don't have a thread yet but i need to get that thread up so i can join in the club with you all. i been doing alot of research and homework. i have a 3 gallon tank running for quite awhile now along with a little yellow tailed damsel just like yours. :P Im not quite sure what i am doing or using the right dose or supplements but Can you make your guide on a daily basis on how and what to dose or supplement or adding Cal/ Alk that you are using and what you are feeding the tank to maintain a healthy and coral growth. What time of the day do you do? When? and can you give us a list of the dose and supplement? if you don't mind that i asked a noob question. but just want to make sure we all can become a successful reef pico keeper. thanks once again.

 

-davit

Edited by d'Espresso

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You should definitely start a tank thread so we can check out your tank. I will go over some basic simple maintenance when I get to that part but I probably won't go into details with my own personal routine as it will vary depending on your setup and what you have. If you want you can check out my tank thread and check out the details of my weekly maintenance.

 

I'm extremely behind on this thread and I know a couple of people are now in the process of cycling their tanks and are waiting for the next installment. Feel free to PM me directly if you have any questions or concerns and I will do everything I can to help. :)

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This is great and has inspired me to setup a nano. I am up to the tank cycle this weekend. Don't think I can wait for your words I'll go it alone and then read about my mistakes and probably have to do it again the correct way.....

 

AC70 words.....I did a test run of the tank and filter. I did not really understand this (in red below) as I thought it was all about power failure and decided to ignore your advice. Until it happened first hand when I removed the flter. Maybe you could reword the sentance.

 

 

3. Be sure to compensate for the added water volume. An AC70 fuge can add up to half a gallon of water to your tank. In the event of a power failure or should you need to unplug the filter, all the water in the fuge will be flushed back into the display tank and can cause the tank to overflow if the water level is too high. A good way to prevent this is to fill your tank up to its maximum capacity before powering up the filter. Mark a line once the fuge is up and running and avoid topping off above that line.

 

In the event of a power failure about 1" of water from the filter will syphon back into the aquarium. Should you need to remove the filter and lift it off the tank all the water in the fuge will be flushed back into the display tank through the intake tube and can cause the tank to overflow if the water level is too high.

 

rob

australia

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I just wanted to say as a newcomer to reefing this thread as well as the thread for your pico have been a HUGE help & inspiration! With out which I think I would have chickened out on ever getting a tank. I should be getting my LR and LS later this week or this weekend so let the cycling begin! Well my tank may have cycled before you get that part up but, at least I'll be able to yell at myself for dumb mistakes...

 

I do have on question though...

 

Do you do water changes during the cycling?

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Thats what im talking about, awesome thread , packed with how to information. all picos bow down to el fabuloso, for he is king of the pico.

 

i recently bought two of them basically for storage of my livestock. was goin to donate both of them to friends when i was done. one friend bought a 8g bio cube and then i found this thread. already ordered myself a ac70 along with a light upgrade.

 

Thank you el fabuloso ,pico king

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