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Coral Vue Hydros

Budget 5 gallon pico *Six Year anniversary*


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I have had a 15 gallon nano for about 8 months now with good success. I got the bug to try a pico with a 5 gallon minibow setup I got off of craigslist a while back for 20 dollars.

5 gallon minibow
cheap hob filter to run carbon and some filter floss and at current
50 watt heater
all for 20 $

5 gallons of saltwater (I am going to try using the zero water pitcher to filter tap water)

sand---free left over from my first tank.

20 watt 50/50 power compact bulb 20$

6 pounds of fiji live rock 40$
two blue leg hermits hitchhikers -- :)
I also has a single polyp of my yellow polyp break off and self frag in my 15 gallon so in it went.

So 80 Dollars so far but it is my birthday present to my self.

I am thinking of mushrooms, zoas, maybe a peppermint shrimp and a clown goby or neon goby.

Update 10-21-12

The 20 watt PC was not really doing it for me, so in the spirit of this budget build. I tried to do a Low budget DIY LED upgrade. I bought a Hybrid 8000k / royal blue 10 watt and driver off of ebay for 17 dollars. I had a CPU heat sink. I soldered it all up and cleared out the hood and installed. I think it went well. It had to do it all over I would by a 3up 1 x 4500k / 3 royal blue chip from Steve LED for about the same price. Not bad for about 20 dollars.

More even light with no dark side. Seems brighter. It is bluer with a hint of purple. The zoas are much more colorful and are more open and are no longer reaching toward the light.

With DIY LED 10-21-12



Wave Point 16 Watt LED

FTS 12-7-13




2 years old  (8-14)





Now 4 years old. (10-16)




 Here is my tank at Five years  !!!! (7-29-17)




My little reef is now six years old  still going strong.  😀


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The 20 watt screw in light is honestly not bright enough at least in my tank. I am not running a reflector and with the hood design it is somewhat dark on the right side. The zoas are open but are obviouly straining toward the light. I am planning on a led upgrade in the near future. :)

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As far as commercial products go, a PAR30 or PAR38 over a 5g minibow would probably be ok (a PAR38 might even be overkill). LEDTRiC makes a nice PAR38 full-spectrum bulb, and I've always been partial to the mix of LEDs you can choose for a PAR30 bulb over at BoostLED (not full-spectrum, but you really can't do full-spectrum with a PAR30).


If you go DIY, look into the DIM4 running 4 chains of three LEDs each as follows:






Total cost will be about $75 for a PAR30 + socket, $110 for a PAR38, or $120 for the DIY solution (which also gives you a lot of control over color temperature and a really cool sunrise/sunset timer; but of course requires soldering).


Not entirely "budget" no matter how you upgrade the light. Sadly lighting is expensive. I do think that what Weetabix suggested is worth a shot too--a reflector will be a lot cheaper than any other lighting upgrade, and might get it done for zoas and shrooms anyway.



Edited by uglybuckling
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This is how the tank looked at the end of december.



The Xenia is very pretty but grows like a damn weed. LOL. I had to cut the xenia off the top of the rock because it took over the whole top and was killing off my zoas. I still have thexenia the is on the side of the rock. I will post updated pics soon.


This is a low maintenance tank. I scrape the sides with a magnet twice a week. I do have this hard brown algae that is hard to get off the cheap plastic without scraping. I top off every 2 day and change 2 gallons every other week.


Update coming soon.

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