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28 gal. Nano-Cube LED rehab

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Hi everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I was given a JBJ Intermediate 28 gal. Nano-Cube LED along with it's mature live rock, some invertebrates and a disaster of a hair algae bloom. I have zero experience with saltwater tanks, so I'm learning everything as I go. I wanted to share what's happened so far, get some help identifying things in the tank, and let you know that I am open to any advice people would like to share.


The background on the tank is that the live rock, sand and inhabitants come from a 12 year old tank which sprung a leak; and everything was moved into the 28 Nano about a year ago. Survivors in the tank are 3 urchins, a sea star, 2 snails, a hermit crab, a small coral frag, and a super healthy looking aiptasia. We started by manually removing the worst of the hair algae (it was so bad it was coming out by the handful), moving the invertebrates and live rock out, filtering the worst of the particulates out of around 10 gallons of the original water, and draining and gently scrubbing the tank clean by hand. I tried to leave calcifying algae intact where I could.


So starting with a clean, empty tank: I added 20 pounds of Arag-Alive sand, all the live rock (which I just set in the sand), and a mix of about 50% filtered tank water and 50% clean pacific ocean water. This is what it looked like initially:

After the particulates settled, I put the inverterbrates into the tank, and later added a mixed dozen snails and hermits to help work on the algae. The water clarified beautifully, which is when I discovered the aiptasia (for anyone who's played final fantasy, this is definately a malboro), who thankfully had taken up residence inside a discarded shell so it was easy to remove. Next I figured out how the filtration system worked and discovered that one of the powerheads was not functioning; it's a three stage of which I replaced the mechanical filter and the activated carbon, and I was able to repair the powerhead. The Nano-cube comes with an Ocean Pulse Duo Wavemaker, which I have set on a 90 second cycle alternating the powerheads, no idea if this is good or not.


The light hood of the tank has two separately powered LED sets, one for "Day light" at 14K and a blue one for "Moon" at 465nm. Again no idea what I should be doing with these, but I currently have "Day light" running for 13 hours per day and "Moon" turned off.


I was told later on that my live rock should be making as little contact with the sand as possible for maximum water flow and to make little caves for critters, so I rearranged everything (and my wife told me I was doing it wrong several times) and finally wound up with this:

Levels tested good on the tank water, so I added a juvenile Black Darwin Ocellaris a few days ago. He is a little hard to feed (trying both 1mm and 2mm PE Mysis pellets, and I just ordered some formula 1 flakes as well) since he never sits still, but he seems to be a lot less frantic than when he was first introduced to the tank. Not sure if this is normal behavior or part of the acclimation process, but as far as I've seen he spends all of his time hugging the glass of the tank, and none of it exploring the rockwork.

On a whole, the water clarity is excellent. Hair algae is still growing noticably but not uncontrollably, though I am having to remove quite a bit by hand. One recommendation I received to help with the hair algae was to add a tailspot blenny to the tank. I've also received advice that I should add a maximum of 4 fish to the reef tank, would love feedback on that as well. Research is suggesting that I wait 2-4 weeks between adding new fish to the tank, what are people's experience with different wait times?

I just ordered a protein skimmer, is there any other absolutely necessary equipment I should look into?

Plans for future fish are currently:
1 Tail Spot Blenny (Ecsenius stigmatura)
1 Exquisite Firefish (Nemateleotris exquisita)
1 Six Line Wrasse (Pseudocheilinus hexataenia)

With the ocellaris already in the tank, should they work well together?
Any suggestions for utility invertebrates that could help out in the tank?

Also, i'm taking my best guess identifying the things already in the tank:

Some kind of tube worm?

No idea, and I haven't seen it since I took this picture


Also no idea, but it seems to be growing on the live rock


These are in several spots around the tank, and they flouresce under blacklight


Some kind of starfish? I've seen quite a few hanging onto things


This is the mature aiptasia I removed from the tank; I've only found two tiny ones growing that I was (fingers crossed) able to kill successfully.

I think it's neat looking, is there any use for it?


Bubble algae? I'm trying to remove this carefully


A neat shelled tiny snail my local shop gave me


Banded Serpent Starfish?


Sputnik Pencil Urchin?


Soft Coral Frag, but which kind?


What kind of Hermit Crab?


What kind of snail? (We call him the old man of the sea)


Sorry for all the outlinks, but photo uploading was giving me grief. Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your input.

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The tank looks good. It was good you did the overhaul and replacing the sand. 

The trapped detritus in old sand  can cause some nasty nutrient issues.


Your gha is caused from high nutrients.


Are you testing nitrates and phosphate?

Phos needs testing with low range kits like salifert or Hanna. Api is not good for saltwater as it's a high range kit. 


For the back filter chambers. If you are using filter sponges, this can be the cause. Of nutrient issues as well. Sponges trap detritus even when washed.


Most use filter floss purchased in bulk. We replace it twice a week.


Carbon bags are rinsed weekly and the carbon replaced every 2-3 weeks.


Adding small amounts of phosguard can help reduce phosphates (testing is necessary when using this) 


Scrubbing your chambers and siphoning them every few weeks is important too.



Have you seen any ammonia? 


If the tank stays stable then adding another fish in a few weeks will be ok. 


The 6 line sometimes can become aggressive in smaller tanks. 

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