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Asting's 5.5 DIY AIO


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latest FTS. 3/8/2012




I'm just getting back for my spring semester, and I'm working on getting a tank set up. It'll be an all in one with minimal maintenance

Now for the details:



  • Nova Extreme 18" 2x18
  • Rio taam 200+ (for return pump
  • Locline return, splitter, and nozzles
  • 5.5g AGA tank
  • ATO kit from www.autotopoff.com
  • no name 50w heater
  • Home Depot timer
  • Misc fountain pump for ato
  • 38 cup food container for ato
  • Optima Vision RODI
  • 2x tiny 2gallon buckets for water change
  • Mix of test kits.
  • NEED 15/16-27 male to 3/4" male adapter
  • a display area cover to prevent jumping and minimize evap.



  • 8lbs of dry rock from Bulk reef supply (loving the looks of this rock so far!)
  • 20lbs of Live sand (not going to use all of it)
  • Aussie Duncans
  • Cheato
  • LR rubble
  • Ocean reef bucket of salt
  • planned: reefcleaners kit
  • planned: red banded hi fin goby
  • planned: Pistol shrimp to be friends with said goby
  • planned: Misc Zoas, some frogspawn or hammer maybe?


So as far as setting the tank up, i really need my faucet adapter, but in the mean time I have to apply more krylon fusion to the dividers, and silicone everything in. Then I want to paint off the equipment area of the tank (like 1/3 of the front and back and 1 side).

I plan on painting and siliconing tomorrow, but productivity might be limited because my girlfriend's getting in so I'll try and finish before she does.


After all that's done I'll get this thing wet and going!


Now for the fun stuff:


The tank: in location




So much misc stuff:





The false wall, front and back.




and I'd like to apologize for the low quality of the first few pictures, but I'm not going to be dragging a dslr out for equipment shots. I'll save that for the livestock later. My phone is much more convenient.

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Thanks. I'm painting the walls now, which is a tedious process when in a dorm and the temp is 20 degrees.

Here's a little breakdown of the plumbing parts (minus the 1/2" flex tubing to the pump and hoseclamps).


From left to right:

1. 1/2" schedule 80 male elbow

2. 1/2" thread x thread bulkhead These are the next two pieces as one is the nut and the other the threaded outside part

3. 1/2" locline-npt connector. One end locline, the other is threaded.

4. 1/2" locline y splitter

5. 3 segments of 1/2 locline on each side.

6. 1/2" locline nozzle


(cross posted from the thread where i asked help with the plumbing)


I got 4 nice pieces of rock from BRS, and am only going to get 2-3 in. I wan to build some height to it, but i feel like I won't have much sandbed room. I'll play around with it and see what I can do later. At any rate, I should have tons of spots that are nice and high and will get plenty of light.

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Isn't that an AGA tank? Not ADA?


Still, Looks like it's coming out fairly nicely. Tagging along. :)

Yeah my mistake. Fixed. Too many TLAs.

I tried the siliconing today, and it wasn't quite as clean as I would've liked. Still, if it doesn't leak I'll be calling it good and moving on. I tried the tape technique, but it still slid a bit from side to side (like how it was angled). pics to come. The back is also a mess of silicone, and I didnt tape back there, because it won't be visible when I'm done.

Well Everything is all set up. I'm waiting on it to cure and dry, and also on my faucet adapter. I'll pick up some teflon tape in the mean time and get the plumbing situated (assuming it passes my water test later).


Overall I'm pleased, but the seams are definitely not completely clean. I also need to take a razor to clean up the excess which got on a little bit of the glass. I used the tape technique but the seams got bad because I only have one baffle so the false wall wasn't completely perpendicular and had a bit of freedom. At any rate, it won't be enough to bug me, and I'll do better on my next tank I'm sure.


The paint turned out rather clean except one tiny part that chipped when i pulled the masking tape. I may redo it later, but it's good for now (and it's damn cold outside).


Don't mind the silicone bits that are rubbed on the false wall or bottom. Once I can water test I can really get that stuff out.

Some snapshots:





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If you want to prevent chipping while using painters tape, take up the tape very slowly and get your fingers as close as possible to the paint line. It takes more time but it won't chip. A good tape to use is Frog Tape.

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If you want to prevent chipping while using painters tape, take up the tape very slowly and get your fingers as close as possible to the paint line. It takes more time but it won't chip. A good tape to use is Frog Tape.

Okay thanks. I'll keep that in mind for my next build, or may rebuild over the summer (painting was difficult enough in the ~20degrees that it was outside). It's not too bad on the one side, just one small spot on the (now) back. The silicone is what's pretty bad. The problem was that the divider acted as a fulcrum for the false wall, so a second piece to temporarily hold it in place would be helpful. Even the silicone isn't that terrible, so I'll be fine with it.





so updates:


First, the bulkhead I have has messed up threads. It got stuck on the wall and after about 2 hours of messing with it and trying various things I wrapped the outside in duct tape (giving it a larger circumference and thus more torque can be easily applied). I managed to get it off, but it got stuck when I was trying to get it to fit better by tightening and loosening it. It's definitely a thread issue, as I'm not crossthreading. The nut was probably on the low range of tolerance and the bolt on the high end. I also think it's funny that everyone suggests hand tight, but hand tight would've been about 1/2" from the wall.

BRS is taking care of me though, and sent out a new bulkhead. Hopefully I'll have the plumbing going saturday.

I'm still waiting on my faucet-hose adapter so I can use my rodi.


I also am going to call about my light fixture, as one of the bulbs jingles like it's broken and doesn't turn on unless I tap the top. It's a brand new fixture so they should replace it.


I did decide on a rock structure and put my sand in. I'd like to apologize for the smudgey glass, but meticulously cleaning it at this point is foolish as it's just going to get water marks when I add the water.



I know the silicone is pretty excessive on the one side, but after a small leak (a few drips an hour), I wanted to get it sealed up.


But here's what I've got going. Once I get my plumbing fitted I'm going to glue the rock structure down. I've got a couple inches of sand, with eggcrate at the bottom supporting the rock. This should be enough for the little red banded hi fin goby i want and the pistol shrimp.

The fact that the rock and sand are a similar shade is a little confusing, and I got some sand on the bottom of the rock. Once I had the water the sand should smooth out a tad.


Okay here's another update. I got the new bulkhead, so I'm just waiting on the faucet adapter.

Everything is all plumbed up. The only thing I need to figure out at this point is my ATO. It doesn't fit in the chamber because the bulk head sticks in more than i thought it would:



Here's the scape with the loc-line



It does stick out a bit more than i realized, but eh it should be fine. I really want to spread the flow. I may get a bigger nozzle and remove the y at some point, but for now it's good. The flow direction isn't anywhere near final, and will depend on how it actually plays out.

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So I get my faucet adapter in today, which means RODI WATER!


Without further delay: Wet.


Side 1



Peninsula view



Side 2






ATO setup *note the hole in the top of the tube above the water level to prevent siphoning the aquarium out*



ATO resovoir and pump (it works fantastically)!




I can't wait for the sand to clear.

I'll be getting some LR rubble this friday, and probably some cheato.

I'll be getting my goby in 2-3 weeks when I'm cycled and stable, and will probably pick up a tester coral then (before I blow $125 on mrcoral). I'm thinking xenia or hammer/torch (because mrcoral doesn't have those).



EDIT: and some morning shots with clearer water.




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looks real good! that's my favorite AIO look, and your scape is killer too! oh and i found another fish store in akron...idk how far out of your way that is or how you'd get there but if you get a vehicle or someone to take you you should check it out. it's called captain larry's aquarium. it's a hole in the wall place and it's actually in a neighborhood lol only in akron(or Ohio) but they had an amazing selection of coral and they looked really nice...the best part was how low their prices are...my new favorite place lol

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looks real good! that's my favorite AIO look, and your scape is killer too! oh and i found another fish store in akron...idk how far out of your way that is or how you'd get there but if you get a vehicle or someone to take you you should check it out. it's called captain larry's aquarium. it's a hole in the wall place and it's actually in a neighborhood lol only in akron(or Ohio) but they had an amazing selection of coral and they looked really nice...the best part was how low their prices are...my new favorite place lol


I'll have a car in just over 3 months so I'll be giving all these places a look. I'll probably be starting a 20L AIO at that point too :P


As far as the tank, I've got my cheato, lr rubble, and am starting to see some diatoms. I really like the flow I'm getting, but the locline is rather bulky. I might scrap the split and get one large nozzle.

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looking really good man

Thank you very much!


SO i also got a duncan saturday, and did a ~15% waterchange (.75 gallons). It's probably more like 20-30% because of the volume displaced by rock and sand, but whatever.


The duncan took a few days to adjust to the flow (and I had him in the rock, which was too much flow), but it's looking great. It's got 10 mouths, but I don't think that counts as 10 heads. I'll start feeding it soon, as soon as i get my forceps and syringes. I think that amazon order must have looked strange. I ordered 3 different forcep sizes, syringes, and superglue.





It's on the sandbed like 1/2" from the glass so the glass isn't completely out of focus and it's a tad dirty :o

Day 1: PO'd






Today: Better IMHO






Over the weekend I also talked to the LFS about getting a red banded hi fin goby and they seemed to get them all the time. I'll wait a few more weeks I guess.


I'm also planning on getting coral from mrcoral, but I want to wait for the valentines day sale, which has been really good in the past.


I figure if I'm going to pay for shipping, I should get the minimum amount for free shipping (which isn't really free, but absorbed). You know what I mean.

I'll probably start with a bunch of zoas and acans.

I'm thinking about an australian reef biotope, but will probably just get what strikes my fancy.

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I have never felt like a such a creeper.


So this showed up today.


"But it's for my saltwater pico aquarium!" "Yeah. that's what they all say. Save it for the judge."

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Looking good. Are you going to hide the sump/back chamber behind something?

Also, update an FTS in the first post by editing.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but yes, the chamber is hidden. All of my equipment goes in the back. I'll take a shot of the backchambers (with cheato and lr) the next time I turn off my pumps. The flow is too much otherwise to take the shot.


So some updates:

First, my duncan has an additional 2 heads already (from 9 to 11). I've been feeding brine shrimp every other day with a syringe and they're loving it. They're also coloring up. When I bought them they were the largest frag, but had the last color. that seems to be changing.


Note the heads all around the bottom of that large one, and the ring of color around the mouth.


Also, tons of diatoms have formed. I'll be ordering my CuC tomorrow or tonight probably. I've got a tiny bit of other algae growth, but expect some blooms of other various stuff.


I also made my MrCoral large order. I've got 19 frags coming in on the 16th. The success I've been having with my duncan makes me think this will go well. I also did a WC friday.

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Its looking good! Keep us posted!




So my duncan is getting larger and larger every day. I think it'll grow onto some of the LR soon from where I have it positioned.

I'm also really excited about getting my mr.coral order in next week. Hopefully everything is as described on their website and AOA. I've got 19 corals coming in, 2 tiny sps (just because I've never kept it really), a bunch of acans, a pagona cup coral, and a bunch of zoas.


I also ordered a cheap digital thermometer that should be coming in tomorrow or so. I added my second heater because I'm paranoid that one of them doesn't trigger. They both seem to be acting the same, but I'll pull one when I can verify the temp on the heater t-stat is right.


I got my stuff from reefcleaners today too.

It's like the snailpocalypse.



Here are all 14 of my snails. In reality, I counted over 110.



and a few more photos:



Duncan while it eats, and arrows to the new heads.







Here's a shot of the duncan out and about


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Not that anyone will care, but I spent some time finding the urls for my orders and organizing a spreadsheet describing everything.


Doc here

It should be some good stuff. I hope I get some decent freebies.

Oh I forgot to include the extra coral from posting on facebook. So all in all, 19 corals coming thursday.

For those too lazy :P


Here are the photos from mrcoral (i think a few might be slightly different photos since I grabbed them). the vast majority are WYSIWYG.














And the last one. I'm not sure what it is, LPS of some type? It's called the jackal.


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i like your aio. The 5.5g looks best as a peninsula (imo). I've been rocking one on & off for the last 3 years.


Good luck

Thanks very much. It's such a small tank, I figured peninsula would give the most viewing.


I'm at a conundrum now. The 30 Long FW tank I had is getting upgraded into a 90. My congo tetras will be so happy. I had planned on using my stand from my 29gal tank to get a 20L and putting my girlfriend's turtle on the bottom part.

Now the question, should I sell the 30 and get a 20L or just keep the 30? I plan on doing another AIO build, and will be using the same aquastyle lighting for either. I'm thinking 20 at this point, just because it'll be easier to do w/c on, and slightly smaller. I have a stand for the 30 which is pretty nice. It'll need new paint, but that's not a problem. I'll probably add some shelves too. Other than that, I have koralias for circulation. I'll need a new heater either way.



On another note, I got all 19 pieces of my coral in today. 1 or two bags were really murky and didn't look too good, but I'm hoping they'll pull through, or I'll be calling in a few days if they don't open up. I'll get some pics later, as I run a late light schedule and they were just opening when I left for class. They really fill up the sandbed though, and I'll get to gluing in a few days. Three or four arrived off their plugs, but that was quickly corrected with super glue.

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Okay, so a few things.

First, Photos.

I didnt take photos of everything, but most everything is pictured. I have stuff all down the sides, and it's hard to get a good shot through the glass at an angle on some of the stuff.

Crappy FTS

















And these guys, I have no idea what they are. First, my 2 sps freebies. Know any names?Aquarium02-3.jpg



And this one, which isn't opening. Clove polyp?



And i think this was a lps freebie. Any clue as to the name?






As far as updates I left out. First, the duncan came with some Bryopsis Pennata. Bad deal. I pulled a bunch off, and am going to scrub it tomorrow if it's still there.


I also picked up a digital thermometer and swapped in a spare heater. Temp stays between 79.3 and 80.3 all day. So solid.


I am going to pick up my hi fin goby this weekend, and a pistol shrimp. By then i'll have moved some of the coral up.

Also, I'm thinking a clown goby as a second tiny fish. I change water each week, so I think quality won't be an issue. I'm not sure about this though. I just want something with some water column movement.


I've had a snail that keeps escaping too. I've thrown the same damn snail in like 5-6 times. Each time, i figure he's dead, but he's gone by the time I look back. My girlfriend says I should stop fighting natural selection, but i think he's a fighter.


Finally, I swapped out my carbon and chemipure. I figured It'd be a good time to do so, to protect the coral and all.

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