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Cultivated Reef

Newbie CadLights 8gal


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First I want to thank everyone who contribute to this site. This has been a huge resource for me.


So, I have been wanting to try salt water for some time now. I have had fresh water tanks for many years, but was always discouraged due to the popular belief they are a ton of work and very difficult to maintain. Well after reading this forum for a few weeks, I got the courage to dive in! I was initially looking at the biocube lines of tanks 14 or 8 gallon. until i went to my LFS and they turned me on to the CadLights 8gallon. Well my wife and i really liked the modern look of the CAD over the Bio Cube, so out comes the credit card. Starting out I have got the 5lbs of live sand 7.5 pounds of organic live rock (calcium rock cured at the LFS). 15lbs of instant ocean, and RO/Di water in two 5 gallon buckets. Oh by the way, all acronyms learned on this site!


Here is pictures of the tank. I am still not sure what my next steps will be after the tank cycles. I am definitely looking for suggestions! I am thinking of some soft coral, and possibly 1 or 2 fish, what do you think?






My wife brought out some white pourus rock that we got from hawaii. Will this be ok to put in the tank? If so does this effect how long it will take my tank to cycle?

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Tank needs to cycle. I don't exactly know where the rock came from exactly? Did you pull it straight for the ocean? Was it dried out? It should be safe.


If the rock was dried out and cleaned then it will have very little die off in the tank in my opinion. That makes the cycle take much longer because there is no food for the bacteria to use to start the nitrogen cycle. Best bet to make sure you get something going on is drop a piece of table shrimp in the tank and let it decompose to start the cycle.


Test the water levels and you'll note the cycle as ammonia becomes nitrites which becomes nitrates. Do weekly water changes to keep the nitrates in check. After a while you'll probably have a brown diatom bloom too.


After you get some consistent levels it's time for a clean up crew. The best way to determine what crew to use is John from reefcleaners.org. Theres a link for custom crews and he'll contact you on the best critters.


Let them clean up the tank and let it chill for a while. Not sure how big of an effect a CUC will have on the nitrogen cycle, but I'm pretty sure huge spikes don't come from them... Once you are sure you are maintaining good levels of A, N, N it's time for the next step.


Either fish or corals. I added corals first. Some simple brown zoas to make sure the light can grow corals. Cadlights seems to be a crap brand in some fields and amazing in others. They are all talk and sometimes no walk. Luckily I have the zoas opening up. So thats good for the light. (I have the exact same tank with a few mods. Yet again add some and monitor levels. Always give time for the bioload to be under control by the bacteria.


Fish and shrimp imo should be last. With shrimp you can use alot of cool ones like skunk cleaners or blood reds. Fish is another story... It's a small tank. I lack fish but I have a huge thread in this forum discussing what fish I should consider. Ideally go with small gobies if you want multiple. Clown gobies are legit fish. Shrimp gobies with a pistol shrimp are unique and fun to watch. Yellow tailed damsels may be ok if they are kept alone. Clownfish... clownfish cause huge arguments everywhere. If you want a clownfish I'd suggest a max of one... but recommend gobies.


I have the exact tank as you... feel free to contact me as much as you want. I am newer to saltwater.

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Excellent reply, thank you! The Rock from Hawaii has been dried out for many years, and was pulled straight from the ocean, but it is only about 1-2lbs. I did start with 7.5 lbs of live rock form the LFS, so i hope the cycle doesnt extend by too much. Have you added any fish in your tank yet?

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It's a small tank so I'm doing as much research as possible regarding fish habits before I purchase any. I love Yasha Hase/Pistol shrimp pairs, but that's about 70$. In this size of tank you need to be more concerned about cool invertebrates than fish because it's a tight fit. You probably saw Igreen's guide to nano-reef fish... probably follow that. You could fit a clownfish... but I am learning that its debatable whether it'll outgrow it. I'm probably going to go with a Yellow-Tailed Damsel. They stay about 2.5".

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Awesome, looking forward to seeing what you go with.. I like the idea of the goby and shrimp, just not sure how much action they will have in the tank. Definitely something to look at. Anyways I am only 4 days since set up, and the ammonia level is at 1ppg, so still in cycle infancy

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