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DevFishe

DevFishe's 2.5g itty bitty Pico Reef- New Updates

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26301095169_70fb93df47_k.jpgDSC_2728 by Devon Fisher, on Flickr

 

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Hi all!

I've been browsing around this site for a while now and decided to join. I've been keeping freshwater fish for about 2 years and decided to take the plunge into saltwater about 7 months ago with a 2.5 gallon tank sitting in my closet. At the time I didn't know what a pico reef was, or anything about the saltwater hobby. All the employees at my LFS tried to dissuade me from starting with a 2.5 gallon tank, but I'm super stubborn :lol:. After browsing around online and finding as much information as I could, I started my 2.5g reef in August 2016. in the beginning I wanted to have a single piece of live rock covered with pulsing xenia, but before long I became a little more ambitious. I've made a ton of mistakes along the way- battled the typical "new tank syndrome", cyano, had to replace my petco sand with aragonite, and moved the tank several times- but here's my tank today.

 

My equipment includes: 

 

-Elite 25w heater,

-aquatech 5-10 HOB filter,

-and super duper cheap pennplex light (don't know the name, reason why my corals are brown:)

 

for my filtration I am using filter floss and seachem Matrix.  

 

Livestock: Xenia, palythoas, birdsnest, frogspawn, candycane coral, montipora, acanthastrea, zoanthids, little gorgonian, GSP, bird of paradise and favites pentagona. I also have one blue-legged hermit crab and a hi fin red banded goby. All corals are unidentified and from the "Discount" section (except the birdsnest haha).

 

Every week I change out 50% of the water and clean the HOB. I'm very much a newbie to picos and saltwater in general, so any advice would help!

 

 

 

 

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:welcome: to N-R!!!

 

I actually think you haven't done bad at all so far!! 

Sure, you've made mistakes, but judging from that pic it looks like you've learned from them. 

I think that's impressive!!

I'd say to check out Tank Threads in the Pico section and just learn from those, there's a wealth of great info here. 

I've always Reefed on a tight budget, and y'know what? 

It can be done without fancy doodads and gizmos, as long as you're willing to take the time to learn and do it right. 

 

This thread would be a GREAT place for you to start and gather helpful info: 

 

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I had a few quick questions for anyone reading,

 

First off I'm a forum newbie so I'm curious if it's best to post questions about tank maintenance, etc on my tank's thread or to just start a new thread entirely... or maybe it doesn't matter either way. Also, since my tank is a pico and all my questions are pico related, should I "move" my tank thread to the pico section? (I know I'm that new guy)  In addition, I am curious if anyone has any tips on water testing for picos- I know it's not quite as vital in picos since you change out so much water on a weekly basis, but I just want to make sure the tank water remains clean throughout the week. I've read that I most likely don't need to test for ammonia since my tank is established and (hopefully- never tested) cycled. So does anyone have any good nitrite, nitrate test kits that I could buy that are cheap? Also, should I be testing for anything else that relates to water quality? 

 

Thanks!

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Might not hurt to move it to Pico section, tho I honestly don't remember how. 

 

I'm gonna let others comment more on testing, although it's probably not a bad thing to get in the habit, for familiarity's sake and to make sure you have a good understanding of things. 

 

As for questions, I'd say ask them here first and if you don't get answers, then start a thread to specifically address whatever's on your mind. It's more a practicality thing, I guess. 

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Just uploaded new pics of the tank from my dslr, curious if anyone has any suggestions for corals that flow in the current? the left side of my tank needs more action! Plus I noticed some tips on the birds nest are bleaching, I think it's the light I'm using but if anyone has advice let me know! Not sure what the parameters are... 

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Your tank looks lovely and well-maintained. Budget reefing for the win :)

 

For a coral that flows in the current, I would suggest a Duncan or a Palau Nephthea. Both are a beautiful shade of green.

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@natalia_la_loca thanks for the suggestion! Wow those Palau nephthae are gorgeous- I definitely want more soft corals and those are awesome! Duncan's definitely on my radar too- after I get my lighting issue fixed I'm coral shopping B)

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The semester just ended recently *whew* and to celebrate I decided to spend some time and money upgrading my little tank. Right after finals I went over to the lfs and bought 3 pounds of cured pukani rock which was an astounding 20 dollars! (at 6 dollars per pound and tax). I didn't mind paying so much because this store gives me free stuff on a regular basis, so giving back was nice! I also got a carbon and phosphate-removing filter pad for chemical filtration, which I will replace every two weeks. this was also the perfect opportunity to change the placement of several corals that I noticed were unhappy before. I put the birds nest high in the tank right next to the filter output and ive already seen improvement in polyp extension in the last week. 

 

During the semester I slacked on water changes and my corals suffered. So after the lfs I went to Walmart and bought a five gallon bucket and a small powerhead. Now I can make 5 gallons of water and do 5 weeks of water changes without mixing new saltwater. Hopefully this will help with my busy schedule. 

 

Currently my goal is to keep consistent water parameters and to get a new light-  the aquamaxx nemo light is relatively cheap and has a ton of functions that I like. I also want to get a test kit soon. Further down the road I'd like to get a new heater, digital thermometer (which are surprisingly inexpensive) and find a solution to my evaporation problem. Currently I have to top off my water twice a day so I don't have salinity swings which is pretty tedious. I'm thinking the simplest and cheapest solution would be to get a glass or plastic lid. The new rock also made room for new corals, so in the future I'd like to start a zoa garden on the bottom right corner, and I actually really want to try my hand at fathead dendros! 

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So tonight as I was shutting down the tank I noticed a lot of salt creep along the seams of my tank- upon further investigation I realized that two spots on my tank are leaking saltwater. Of all the problems that can happen on a reef tank, this was definitely not on my radar, especially considering this tank is only two and a half years old (2014). this was a betta tank starting in December 2014 when I first bought it, until August 2016 when my betta died and I decided to make it into a pico reef. Luckily I have a spare 2.5 tank but I'm still really upset about the poor quality of this tank. I also think my spare is in worse condition than this one, so we will see how long that will last. Because of this I am seriously considering upgrading to a better quality tank. Being a pre-med student, I spend all my free time in the hospital or helping with research projects so saving money is an extremely long process- for the last few months I have been saving for a better light for the reef, and having to purchase a new tank would seriously put a dent in my budget. Right now I'm not sure whether to get a better tank or continue saving for that light... I have a lot of decision making to do! In the mean time I will transfer everything to my spare tank. I'll also take the opportunity to buy new sand and replace all the old sand. You never know what could happen in this hobby!

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, DevFishe said:

So tonight as I was shutting down the tank I noticed a lot of salt creep along the seams of my tank- upon further investigation I realized that two spots on my tank are leaking saltwater. Of all the problems that can happen on a reef tank, this was definitely not on my radar, especially considering this tank is only two and a half years old (2014). this was a betta tank starting in December 2014 when I first bought it, until August 2016 when my betta died and I decided to make it into a pico reef. Luckily I have a spare 2.5 tank but I'm still really upset about the poor quality of this tank. I also think my spare is in worse condition than this one, so we will see how long that will last. Because of this I am seriously considering upgrading to a better quality tank. Being a pre-med student, I spend all my free time in the hospital or helping with research projects so saving money is an extremely long process- for the last few months I have been saving for a better light for the reef, and having to purchase a new tank would seriously put a dent in my budget. Right now I'm not sure whether to get a better tank or continue saving for that light... I have a lot of decision making to do! In the mean time I will transfer everything to my spare tank. I'll also take the opportunity to buy new sand and replace all the old sand. You never know what could happen in this hobby!

 

 

 

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Wow, really glad you caught this before one of the seams actually burst!!

On the light, I don't know how cheap the Nemolight is, but this bulb for $25 will support any and all corals just fine in a tank that size: https://www.amazon.com/ABI-Coral-Optimized-Spectrum-PAR38/dp/B01LWP37SD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495535863&sr=8-1&keywords=abi+tuna+blue+par38

It can go in any regular type light fixture, I have mine in an architect's lamp, which I got fairly cheaply off amazon. 

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@Weetabix7 Thanks for the advice! I've been seriously considering the Par38 light, they looks really awesome and they're a really great price. I've also read that ABI makes pretty good lights, so maybe that's the direction I'll go. And I really like the look of the par38 aquarium gooseneck they sell on amazon. In terms of a new tank I'm thinking either the JBJ picotope or aquamaxx rimless 2.6 gallon (I think both look awesome and seem to be pretty high quality) but knowing me I'll most likely end up just using my spare tank until it leaks too haha.  

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10 minutes ago, DevFishe said:

@Weetabix7 Thanks for the advice! I've been seriously considering the Par38 light, they looks really awesome and they're a really great price. I've also read that ABI makes pretty good lights, so maybe that's the direction I'll go. And I really like the look of the par38 aquarium gooseneck they sell on amazon. In terms of a new tank I'm thinking either the JBJ picotope or aquamaxx rimless 2.6 gallon (I think both look awesome and seem to be pretty high quality) but knowing me I'll most likely end up just using my spare tank until it leaks too haha.  

 

The rimless would work with an ABI bulb like we were talking about. 

With the JBJ, you could use the fixture it comes with even though it's "just" a PC light. That light is very close to the same fixture I had over the Pico in my Sig. You could do the corals you have now just fine under it. 

You could do more SPS under an ABI bulb. Depends what you want. 

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@Weetabix7 Thanks for the advice! I've read that the ABI bulb is really bright, how high do you think I'd have to keep it from the water surface? 

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43 minutes ago, DevFishe said:

@Weetabix7 Thanks for the advice! I've read that the ABI bulb is really bright, how high do you think I'd have to keep it from the water surface? 

 

Mine is 18" above my water surface right now. 

My tank is also pretty shallow though. 

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So after I saw my tank "leaking" I let it sit for one day... and I realized that it actually wasn't leaking. I must've accidentally spilled some water the day before (even though I don't remember messing with the tank) because the areas of concern were bone dry :unsure: Little embarrassing, I jumped the gun and freaked out on NR for nothing... but lesson learned. I have been worried about the silicone on the tank because I noticed it is lifting up in some places. This experience made me realize however that someday I would like to get the aquamaxx 2.6 rimless tank- I have a lot on my wishlist!

 

So my quest for a new light continues- I've gotten a lot of suggestions which I really appreciate. But after a lot of thinking, I realized that it doesnt matter what light I have if my water is crappy, so before my weekly water change I decided to go to petco to get my water tested (my lfs is an hour away unfortunately). The petco guy knew his stuff and said my water was good! This made me think that I really should invest in a test kit before I get a light, my problem is I'm not sure what I should get. The guy at my lfs (not petco haha) said getting an ammonia and nitrite test is kinda pointless because they should be zero in a cycled tank (which is true in my tank). I also realized that testing for calcium, alk, etc is kinda pointless too because I have no desire to dose anything even if they were off. So my question is- would getting only a nitrate test be a good basic indicator of water quality? I could probably get an ammonia test kit also, or maybe a phosphate test? I'm not sure. I'm planning on using liquid API tests. I know they're not the best, but I don't need chem lab accuracy or chem lab price haha. Right now I just want a very basic window into whether my water is clean or dirty so I can work on my filtration. 

 

Let me know what y'all think! 

 

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Yes, a nitrate test kit would help you monitor whether your water is clean or dirty. 

However, you do have SPS corals, which means it would be wise to keep track of Calcium and Alkalinity. 

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So I finally got to upgrade my light, I've been saving for a while now and decided to get what I truly wanted- just so I dont end up wasting money switching more lights :lol: Now I am the proud owner of the Kessil A80!

 

Most recent pic:DSC_2647.thumb.JPG.faedceee39e6f463a8ccd6c9bf7386f5.JPG 

 

So far I've noticed the corals are doing much better, I hope to get some of their color back after a while. Now my goal is to purchase a test kit, upgrade my heater, and possibly get the aquamaxx 2.6 gallon tank somewhere down the line. I also want to get several new corals- maybe a hammer coral, and some zoas. I think right now the tank is pretty full, the corals just need to cover the rock and I think it will look much better. Time will tell! 

 

Also for some reason the pics look really fuzzy- if you click on them you get a lot more detail I've noticed. A lot of my corals are also kinda small and dont cover the rock completely. I've realized the best pico tanks have large patches of a few corals, whereas I seem to have a lot of small patches and a bunch of different corals. 

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1 minute ago, DevFishe said:

So I finally got to upgrade my light, I've been saving for a while now and decided to get what I truly wanted- just so I dont end up wasting money switching more lights :lol: Now I am the proud owner of the Kessil A80!

 

Most recent pic:DSC_2647.thumb.JPG.faedceee39e6f463a8ccd6c9bf7386f5.JPG 

 

So far I've noticed the corals are doing much better, I hope to get some of their color back after a while. Now my goal is to purchase a test kit, upgrade my heater, and possibly get the aquamaxx 2.6 gallon tank somewhere down the line. I also want to get several new corals- maybe a hammer coral, and some zoas. I think right now the tank is pretty full, the corals just need to cover the rock and I think it will look much better. Time will tell! 

 

Congratulations!!!

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2 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

 

Congratulations!!!

Thanks, I'm just really happy the corals are looking better. I honestly thought I was gonna lose the birdsnest but it looks so much better with the new light and higher flow. I hope the dead spots kinda grow back. Originally it was this gorgeous fluorescent blue- maybe in a few weeks it'll come back. 

 

@Weetabix7 I'm curious if you have any suggestions for aquascaping the corals? I think my tank looks ok (I love the rocks) but it's not quite there yet. I think the corals just need to grow and spread but I'm not sure if I'm missing something... 

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1 hour ago, DevFishe said:

Thanks, I'm just really happy the corals are looking better. I honestly thought I was gonna lose the birdsnest but it looks so much better with the new light and higher flow. I hope the dead spots kinda grow back. Originally it was this gorgeous fluorescent blue- maybe in a few weeks it'll come back. 

 

@Weetabix7 I'm curious if you have any suggestions for aquascaping the corals? I think my tank looks ok (I love the rocks) but it's not quite there yet. I think the corals just need to grow and spread but I'm not sure if I'm missing something... 

 

Y'know, it almost looks like you might have slightly too much rock. 

I'd say look at aquascapes in other people's Pico tank threads, find one or two you like and try imitating them. 

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Just saw this thread.  The tank looks great but I must say I really dig that first scape over the current one, just my 2 cents.  I had a 2.5 for awhile and it always drove me nuts how much silicone they used on the side seams lol.  I even drilled mine but I don't recommend that as they are like 1/8" thick or less, mine eventually cracked from getting bumped by my kids.  Following, this looks like a great little tank!

 

You can see why I loved your first scape, this was my 2.5 gallon that I had hooked to a sump lol.

 

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23 minutes ago, MGDMIRAGE said:

Just saw this thread.  The tank looks great but I must say I really dig that first scape over the current one, just my 2 cents.  I had a 2.5 for awhile and it always drove me nuts how much silicone they used on the side seams lol.  I even drilled mine but I don't recommend that as they are like 1/8" thick or less, mine eventually cracked from getting bumped by my kids.  Following, this looks like a great little tank!

 

You can see why I loved your first scape, this was my 2.5 gallon that I had hooked to a sump lol.

 

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Awesome looking 2.5! Yeah, the silicone is ridiculous on these tanks. I was at petco the other day  and it looks like they've improved the quality since 2014 (when I bought mine).

 

I love the arch look! I do think my new scape looks better than before tho--- but I've never had the best eye :lol:  

 

Your 2.5 looked great! and it's awesome you got it on a sump haha! I'd love to see what it ended up looking like

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