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JDSquared

[FTS] JDSquared's Reef City Madness

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JDSquared

I figured it was about time to stop lurking and share my progress with y'all.

 

Equipment List:

 

Livestock:

 

Corals:

 

Its a literal blank slate right now. 29 gal glass aquarium that was way too small for my African cichlids. They moved into a 60 gal new home and I've decided to finally start a reef tank. I've always wanted one but it's always been intimidating.

 

But much has improved in the 20 years since I first considered it. Information and equipment both have improved and I've gotten much more patient diligent and disciplined. Besides it's a small tank. How much equipment do I need?

 

That was meant to be rhetorical. I started lurking here last month and doing a lot of research. I really want to stay low tech. I see your tanks and think I can do it. Then I researched more.

 

I need a skimmer. And a refugium I didn't even know what that was a month ago.  And an ATO? For a small tank. Also a doser to replace the minerals I lose through the skimmer. And WTH is a GFO reactor? And I also need a sump that's almost as big as my tank?

 

Sigh. No wonder I give up without starting.

 

I don't want all that extra stuff. Tell me I can stay low key and invest my money into the right lighting and test religiously and do my water changes and still have a chance at growing good coral. I dont expect a lot of fish, but an eel would be cool. My bioload should be manageable.

 

I'm not completely a blank slate. I have a heater and a powerhead. Mixing salt tonight and picking up live rock tomorrow.  I have a refractometer coming and should order a good test lot tonight. I'll post a separate topic about lights some time this week.

 

One question I have though is about topping the tank off.  Does salt water evaporate more than fresh? I never really topped this off with the cichlids and changed 5 gallons every other week. 

 

Anyway. Thanks for reading and joining me here. I'm hoping to share lots of positive updates the next few years.

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Weetabix7

You can stay low key and invest your money into the right lighting and test religiously and do your water changes and still have a chance at growing good coral. 

 

Seriously!!

 

The fresh water will evaporate out, causing the water to become saltier as it evaporates. Therefore, you need to top off with freshwater at least once a day. 

Also, it is very important to start out with super pure clean water. 

Do NOT use tap water!!

Use either RO/DI water or do what I do and use distilled. 

 

I run most of my tanks pretty simply. 

Tank, water, LR, good lighting, good flow, and preferrably carbon in there somewhere, in a HOB is fine. 

I top off manually. 

You do need a refractometer, I have an extra used one I could sell you. 

 

Here's a great example of a very simple set-up that was well thought out and well maintained and became a very beautiful Tank of the Month: 

 

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pappadumplingz

You don't need a skimmer or fuge, as long as your bio filtration is adequate you should be fine, but a either one should be a good investment. I don't run my tank with a skimme, but I use a hang on back filter as a fuge. If you wanted to go bare minimum, you could pull the tank off with an appropriately sized hang in back filter, filled with filter floss, marine pure and carbon, an ATO with kalkwasser for top offs and dosing, a heater and an SB reefs light.

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pappadumplingz

 And I would recommend starting off with dry rock first, and then using a bacteria supplement to add bacteria to the tank. IMO I think the pests and potentially predatory animals you can get on live rock outweigh the beneficial organisms, it just creates more hassels in the long run. I decided to add live rock to my tank and now I have to deal  with a semi large bristle star and gorilla crab.

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JDSquared
39 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

You can stay low key and invest your money into the right lighting and test religiously and do your water changes and still have a chance at growing good coral. 

 

Seriously!!

 

The fresh water will evaporate out, causing the water to become saltier as it evaporates. Therefore, you need to top off with freshwater at least once a day. 

Also, it is very important to start out with super pure clean water. 

Do NOT use tap water!!

Use either RO/DI water or do what I do and use distilled. 

 

I run most of my tanks pretty simply. 

Tank, water, LR, good lighting, good flow, and preferrably carbon in there somewhere, in a HOB is fine. 

I top off manually. 

You do need a refractometer, I have an extra used one I could sell you. 

 

Here's a great example of a very simple set-up that was well thought out and well maintained and became a very beautiful Tank of the Month: 

 

 

40 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

You can stay low key and invest your money into the right lighting and test religiously and do your water changes and still have a chance at growing good coral. 

 

Seriously!!

 

The fresh water will evaporate out, causing the water to become saltier as it evaporates. Therefore, you need to top off with freshwater at least once a day. 

Also, it is very important to start out with super pure clean water. 

Do NOT use tap water!!

Use either RO/DI water or do what I do and use distilled. 

 

I run most of my tanks pretty simply. 

Tank, water, LR, good lighting, good flow, and preferrably carbon in there somewhere, in a HOB is fine. 

I top off manually. 

You do need a refractometer, I have an extra used one I could sell you. 

 

Here's a great example of a very simple set-up that was well thought out and well maintained and became a very beautiful Tank of the Month: 

 

You think my tank qualifies for May tank of the month?

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JDSquared
32 minutes ago, pappadumplingz said:

You don't need a skimmer or fuge, as long as your bio filtration is adequate you should be fine, but a either one should be a good investment. I don't run my tank with a skimme, but I use a hang on back filter as a fuge. If you wanted to go bare minimum, you could pull the tank off with an appropriately sized hang in back filter, filled with filter floss, marine pure and carbon, an ATO with kalkwasser for top offs and dosing, a heater and an SB reefs light.

My HOB is smaller than some of the SIT give tutorials I saw online. The plan was to run it with carbon and filter floss. I like the idea of a five though actually. We will see.

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JDSquared
34 minutes ago, pappadumplingz said:

 And I would recommend starting off with dry rock first, and then using a bacteria supplement to add bacteria to the tank. IMO I think the pests and potentially predatory animals you can get on live rock outweigh the beneficial organisms, it just creates more hassels in the long run. I decided to add live rock to my tank and now I have to deal  with a semi large bristle star and gorilla crab.

I'm not too worried about pests. Been hallo g on and off at my LFS a couple years now. I trust his rock. Enough.

 

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JDSquared
54 minutes ago, Weetabix7 said:

You can stay low key and invest your money into the right lighting and test religiously and do your water changes and still have a chance at growing good coral. 

 

Seriously!!

 

The fresh water will evaporate out, causing the water to become saltier as it evaporates. Therefore, you need to top off with freshwater at least once a day. 

Also, it is very important to start out with super pure clean water. 

Do NOT use tap water!!

Use either RO/DI water or do what I do and use distilled. 

 

I run most of my tanks pretty simply. 

Tank, water, LR, good lighting, good flow, and preferrably carbon in there somewhere, in a HOB is fine. 

I top off manually. 

You do need a refractometer, I have an extra used one I could sell you. 

 

Here's a great example of a very simple set-up that was well thought out and well maintained and became a very beautiful Tank of the Month: 

 

RO water all the way.  I didn't realize about a daily top off. Lol. No wonder folks use an ATO. 

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JDSquared

Live rock added last night. Answered an ad on craigslist, met him and really liked his setup. Garage full of very good looking reefs set up. Breeding tanks for clowns and a tank with drags and a tank full of rock. I got 30 pounds for just over a hundred dollars. 

 

Lots of worms and a couple snails as well as some small zoa that were clinging on I didn't notice at first. Several other crawlers I need to figure out as well. And sponge all over the bigger rock.

 

Current equipment:

150w Eheim Jager heater (new. I want to move it toward the corner)

Aqueon 500 circulation pump. (also new. I dont think it's giving me enough flow)

Marineland 150 power filter (used with only some filter floss in there. Used it to remove the sand particles. Now using it I guess for water movement.)

 

15 pounds caribsea aragonite sand

30 pounds live rock

25 gal RO water (primo) mixed with instant ocean. Diluted Now. The rock came with about 4 gallons of water. I drop acclimated the rock then used all that water to refil my tank.

 

Critique is more than welcome on any aspect. Here's pictures of my aquascape. I wanted to go taller but maybe I dont need to.

 

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JDSquared

I think I'm scaped. The freebie hitchhiker zoas are split up into the two white rock's in front.  I have a lot of space between the rock's and with the addition of a power head on the opposite side of the one there I think I can keep a variety of coral.

 

I've seen 4 bristlestars, something else I thought was a worm, might be a brittle star as well but I didn't see all the arms, one snail and another small snail type critter that has since disappeared. 

 

There's also 2 very tiny blue or gray starfish, and an opaque starfish  that was sticking to the glass but has since disappeared. I'm having fun just staring at rocks. 

 

Trying to pick out the correct lighting is annoying. My tank size is not set up for those nano boxes. I'll know it when I find it. Still waiting on a test lot and refractometer.

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Weetabix7
On 5/4/2017 at 10:01 PM, JDSquared said:

Live rock added last night. Answered an ad on craigslist, met him and really liked his setup. Garage full of very good looking reefs set up. Breeding tanks for clowns and a tank with drags and a tank full of rock. I got 30 pounds for just over a hundred dollars. 

 

Lots of worms and a couple snails as well as some small zoa that were clinging on I didn't notice at first. Several other crawlers I need to figure out as well. And sponge all over the bigger rock.

 

Current equipment:

150w Eheim Jager heater (new. I want to move it toward the corner)

Aqueon 500 circulation pump. (also new. I dont think it's giving me enough flow)

Marineland 150 power filter (used with only some filter floss in there. Used it to remove the sand particles. Now using it I guess for water movement.)

 

15 pounds caribsea aragonite sand

30 pounds live rock

25 gal RO water (primo) mixed with instant ocean. Diluted Now. The rock came with about 4 gallons of water. I drop acclimated the rock then used all that water to refil my tank.

 

Critique is more than welcome on any aspect. Here's pictures of my aquascape. I wanted to go taller but maybe I dont need to.

 

20170504_213046.jpg

20170504_213033.jpg

20170504_212954.jpg

Wow, COOL score, sounds like you got great rock!!!

One suggestion I have for you on lighting is to keep an eye out for used fixtures for sale in Hardware Classified on here. 

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JDSquared

Hitchhiker pictures.

Because I'm still waiting for a refractometer. And a test kit. I could maybe add a clean up crew but the few critters I have in there are doing okay. I think. I dont want to starve anybody.

 

I'm waiting to get a shrimp though. Anxious. But since I'm not even sure what my salinity is I'm waiting. So here's a glimpse at the tanks current residents. 

 

Jacob. A Trochus snail. I think.

 

A second shot of Jacob with a stalker behind him. Not sure what kind of snail he is.

 

Next is a third snail I found last night. I think. I pulled a but and it hung on like a snail. But it hasn't moved.

 

An asteria star. Did I spell that right? He's getting darker and hangs out only on the glass. And now the heater suction cup.

 

Not pictures are two bluish gray stars that I keep spitting on the coraline. Tiny. I'm not sure at all what kind they are.

 

Also no photos of the many many brittle stars I seen to have in the tank. 

 

Last Pictures of the zoas hanging on under my old fluorescent tube light. The light I chose is on back order. I have a couple snails out about some others. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

 

These zoa are all attached to rubble and snail shells. I placed them into the two rock's in front. Kind of wedged in the gaps. I think they will recover.

 

That's it for now.

 

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JDSquared

I had to add a new post for the zoa pictures.

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Weetabix7

Yep, I see an asterina star!!

Those actually look like Palys to me (similar to Zoas) and they will likely be fine under lower light for a bit. 

What light do you have on order?

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JDSquared

Not yet ordered. But photon v2 24" Are the ones I think I want. They are out of stock. Hoping I get an answer to my email. I am wondering if I need the 24 or just the 16 inch version. Which is in stock.

 

I also sent an email about a nano box. I think a duo is the right size. There's a flawed one available at a discount. But I don't have wifi. And I want the lights to at least go through a daylight nighttime cycle. 

 

I don't know if I like the look of kessils. No matter what size I need two. Or something that lights 20 inches in front of my tank. Tank is 30x12. 18" high.

 

So in waiting to hear from people. Rock is doing fine in the meantime. Now I have to look up palys lol. Thanks!

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JDSquared

First test results:

I know I won't share this constantly online. Just setting my starting point.

 

Red Sea Marine Care Multi Test Kit

 

Ph.    8.2-8.4

dKh.  7

Ammonia. 0.2

Nitrite.        .05

Nitrate.       10

 

Not sure why they aren't at zero. Not sure why the alk isn't higher. I also am still waiting on a refractometer. But going to go ahead and pick up some snails tomorrow. 

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JDSquared

Current scape. As well as a few snails I picked up yesterday.

 

To make notes from my other thread, everyone said not to use the API kit. So I bought a red sea marine kit. Tests for ammonia alk ph nitrite and nitrate.

 

Turns out it's a very bad kit for alk testing. I now have a pro kit coming in the mail.

 

Lights too. Maxspect Razor. 130 watt 24 inch. I'm hoping they are the right lights for what I want to accomplish.

 

Tank never went through a cycle. But I knew it wouldnt once I realized how nice the rock is. I'm picking up a fire shrimp tomorrow and once the lights get here I'm hoping to stock a fish or two.  There's a cardinal I think I want.

 

Only two weeks away from getting coral started if everything stays stable.

 

Oh one more picture of what I think is a sponge. It was more clear with green lines yesterday. An opening in the middle. I really started thinking it might be old glue so I touched it. Closed up and is staying mostly that way now. 

 

If you look above it there's some other Brown crawling big I didn't see until just now.

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Edited by JDSquared
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JDSquared

I've got lights. Heading home to go play with them. There's no user manual.

 

 

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JDSquared

Blue light special

20170516_191127.jpg

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JDSquared

Today's notes:

New equipment includes

 

Maxspect Razor 130v lights. Happy so far. I bought them used and downloaded a user manual. Used a preset program and they came on and ramped up when they were supposed to. Need to flip them over with a diagram to see if all the leds are actually working.

 

Marineland maxi-jet water and circ pump. My first power head moves 500 hog. This one is 400mpg but moves a lot more water. Now it might be too much for my tank running both. Huge too. It was available and cheap and I wanted to test it because I can maybe use it in a sump/fuge. 

 

I'm already talking about a sump when I said I wanted to stay low tech.  I dont like the hob. Just took it off when the lights came in. 

 

Added a fire shrimp. Was watching him a few weeks at the store. 

 

I'm ready for coral. But I'm still waiting on a test kit for calcium and all... And mag? I think. Still need something to check phospates I guess too. The lot is at the post office. They leave nothing at the door for me. Its annoying.

20170517_163314.jpg

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JDSquared

Got a new test kit. Red Sea reef foundations pro.

 

Results:

Salinity =   1.024

Nitrates =  20

Alk =           7

Calcium =  330

Mag =         1000

 

Forgot to check ph. That has always been 8.2 So I will wait till tomorrow. 

5 gallon water change tomorrow. Trying to wait and do it every Friday. Although my cichlid tank is high nitrate as well. I thought once a week in their bigger tank would be enough. And I did a 2.5 gallon water cha more Wed to raise the salinity. 

 

Everything's low. I'm going to have to rise. Which is okay. I planned on it. Not sure how to permanently raise the alk. Especially since my ph seems good.

I also have no idea what my iodine level is for my shrimp. And if thats included with "trace elements". Researching this weekend on how to raise and keep these levels up.

 

Also picking up my cardinality on Saturday. And possibly a goby. 

 

I have no idea what low to med flow is but I think with these two motors going I'm more of a med to high rate.

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JDSquared

It sure would be nice to watch corals grow rather than testing this tank every day. It seems like everybody's stocking their tank except me.

 

I'm growing algae now too. Sigh. Patience will be rewarded.

 

Alkalinity calcium and magnesium all climbing since I started adding seachum dry products. Calcium super slowly though. How much Calcium does coraline algae use? 

 

 I'm wondering what happens at water change on Friday. It appears my salt mix actually lowers my parameters. So I'm guessing I should mix these powders in with the salt to raise it to my tank parameters? Its a five gallon bucket. Anybody have advice on that?

 

That's it for now.

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JDSquared

Ghetto water diverter by using the Iid. Noisy but efficient.

 

Not going to post this to DIY

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JDSquared

Been a week. I finally have my parameters where I want them.as of yesterday anyway. Except nitrates. Lower but still above 5ppm. Been adding calcium. And reef builder. And magnesium. All week long.

 

Did a 5 gal mix with the last of my Instant Ocean salt and added all those to the mix to match my tank. 

 

I need to test later today and see what actually gets used just from my coraline algae. Seems a lot but I read they can use a lot.

 

And I'm out of salt. So it's like starting over. The only stuff available locally is instant ocean and reef crystals. Which I ding think I trust either. Anything I order online (which consensus says should be Fritz) won't be here by Friday water change. Which is fine except my nitrates.

 

Which technically are okay in an empty tank anyway. Then again why do I have so much in a basically empty tank? Thinking my fire shrimp craps a lot. Trying to keep that off the sand bed seems to be helping my nitrates.

 

But to get back on topic I'm probably buying water this week from my local place. Test it before and after I add it to the tank. If I like it it only runs me $10 a week. And I'm assuming his numbers will be consistent.

 

Me and my son are driving to Gettysburg next Sunday. That's the only thing that's kept me from buying Coral this week. Probably a good thing. But by Wednesday or Thursday next week I'm going to head some green star polyp in there.

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JDSquared

Ok first question: how do y'all edit your titles?

Also how do you add space and text between photos? I was going to change the title to show new aquascape pics. Anyway here is the pic. I think I'm settled mostly how I want it.

 

I'm ready for coral. I think I'm going to be fighting nitrates and algae a little while. But I think my tank is actually steady. Then again I'm leaving for four days so watch everything go out of whack again.

 

I have someone coming by to take care of the animals. The only thing I'm asking him to do on this tank is top off with the water jug I have prepared. And feed the fire shrimp. Who won't wat I think wvhile I'm gone. Lol neither does my dog but that's a different problem! The shrimp stays under his overhang and really doesn't like the and. I thought it was maybe the flow but it's the sand. So I feed him by hand or usually drop it near him. He won't venture far. He's going to have to though of he wants to eat while I'm gone. The ocean is a mean place.

 

 

Anyway I bought 10 gallons of water from the led on Wednesday. Big water change because I'm trying his water bad trying to reduce the nitrates. I'm not at home so the numbers aren't with me but everything tested low it seemed. I tested the new water before the water change and then my tank after. Which lowered a but but not much. 

 

I bought another 5 gallons today and tested it. Salinity was at 1.020 and alk was at 7.6 and calcium at 350. These all seem pretty low for 2.00 a gallon water. But I did the water change and have it about a half hour and tested.

 

The tank is good. Alk up at 8.7 and calcium at 410. Mag up to almost 1200. The calcium and mag went up since Wednesday's test and I haven't dosed all week. So I don't know lol. 

 

I leave Sunday andget back Wednesday. I'm not dosing and looking to see what drops. Raise it if needed back to these results then change 5 more gallons next Friday. Monday after that I'm getting coral. Nitrates at a little more than 5 bow too. 

 

Thanks for reading. Have a photo. I can see where my monti is going. And the branching acopora eventually on the left. There's a bunch of sponge on that island. The center ramp is for gsp and anything else that will flow in the current. The right side is a little heavy. But I still like it at the moment. Tried to make a better cave. And found a very small feather duster attached with the palys. Took a picture then... Messed it all up trying to see of I could move it. Freaked him out and the palys.. There's a bunch attached to a shell sitting on that rear rock. But I ended up moving the shell and after a bit everybody came back out and in the blue light the paly turned bright orange. So another picture coming later once everybody settled again.

 

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