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Fluval 13.5 NooB Journey *July 2018 Update*

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Greetings from Ohio!  A friend of mine has an elaborate large scale reef set up and his Instagram posts has been the reef bug that bit me!  I am just starting out my research and I have narrowed down to the fact that I want to start this adventure in a nano set up.  With Christmas looming I have requested the Fluval Sea Evo XII which I am confident will be unwrapped on 12/25/17!

 

I want to do as much research prior to diving into this and that has led me here.  I want to take my time, learn everything that I can prior to even opening that box.  I hope to learn from the mistakes others have made and take things slow.  

 

My goal is to have a simple reef set up with a combination of coral and eventually a few fish.  

 

Right off the bat in Addition to the kit itself I requested the heater, protein skimmer, and a small circulation pump.  My initial thought is to use live rock, live sand, and the pre-mixed nutri sea water.

 

I look forward to learning from you all!

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12 minutes ago, ThisPlaceIsAPrison said:

Greetings from Ohio!  A friend of mine has an elaborate large scale reef set up and his Instagram posts has been the reef bug that bit me!  I am just starting out my research and I have narrowed down to the fact that I want to start this adventure in a nano set up.  With Christmas looming I have requested the Fluval Sea Evo XII which I am confident will be unwrapped on 12/25/17!

 

I want to do as much research prior to diving into this and that has led me here.  I want to take my time, learn everything that I can prior to even opening that box.  I hope to learn from the mistakes others have made and take things slow.  

 

My goal is to have a simple reef set up with a combination of coral and eventually a few fish.  

 

Right off the bat in Addition to the kit itself I requested the heater, protein skimmer, and a small circulation pump.  My initial thought is to use live rock, live sand, and the pre-mixed nutri sea water.

 

I look forward to learning from you all!

:welcome: to Nano-Reef!  This is a wonderful, engrossing hobby.  I am still learning after 9 years!  I feel like a noob too most of the time. :lol:

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Hello! I also have the Fluval Sea Evo and I love it however I did end up doing a lot of upgrades to the tank and what started out as 'only' a few hundred bucks has turned into well over $1,300 lol its very addicting. Before I started I did a ton of research as well, and I started with this book which I will recommend to you as it was a great tool in getting the basics down: https://www.amazon.com/Nano-Reef-Handbook-Chris-Brightwell-ebook/dp/B004WKVVDO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510252419&sr=8-1&keywords=nano+reef+guide

 

Welcome to Nano-reef!

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From one noob to another: Welcome to reefaholics! 😂👌 Looking forward to learning through your creations.... Post often! Cheers!

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1 hour ago, aerotiy said:

Hello! I also have the Fluval Sea Evo and I love it however I did end up doing a lot of upgrades to the tank and what started out as 'only' a few hundred bucks has turned into well over $1,300 lol its very addicting. Before I started I did a ton of research as well, and I started with this book which I will recommend to you as it was a great tool in getting the basics down: https://www.amazon.com/Nano-Reef-Handbook-Chris-Brightwell-ebook/dp/B004WKVVDO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510252419&sr=8-1&keywords=nano+reef+guide

 

Welcome to Nano-reef!

Thank you!  I just placed an order for this handbook!

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Welcome!

 

Cant wait to see pictures of what you create! Take your time, ask lots of questions we all love to help people. Happy reefing!

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4 hours ago, ThisPlaceIsAPrison said:

My goal is to have a simple reef set up with a combination of coral and eventually a few fish.  

 

This brought the lulz! Enjoy your new obsession, er hobby.

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Welcome!  I also have the Fluval Evo 12 / 13.5 tank and love it.  I did upgrade the light and the stock pump but there are plenty of members here that kept it pretty stock.

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3 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

Welcome!  I also have the Fluval Evo 12 / 13.5 tank and love it.  I did upgrade the light and the stock pump but there are plenty of members here that kept it pretty stock.

What did you replace the stock pump with if you don’t mind me asking? I took apart mine and removed the sponge as i read that increases the flow a bit but I’m curious as to what other people have

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Welcome to Nano!

 

The evo is a nice tank. Some do upgrades while others keep it with stock supplies.

 

The one thing you will want to upgrade is the filtration. Making or buying a media rack and using custom media will be much more beneficial than the stock sponge etc.

 

I've used Fiji pink sand. It's a nice sand.

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Thanks everyone for the support.  I assume I can get away with the stock set up as far as filtration goes, at least as a starting point?  I hope to trust in the manufacture that it should work successfully up to a certain point.

 

My next point of research is what water to start with?  I want to use premixed either the typical store bought versions available online.  I’m lucky enough to have a reef store nearby, and I’m guessing they sell ready to go water by the gallon?

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The filtered natural seawater acceptable.  Good reef salt mixes tend to have elevated levels of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium (which are consumed by stony corals).  Eventually, you'll probably want to switch (they tend to be cheaper too).

 

Water from a local reef store may or may not be OK.  If I were getting freshwater from them, I'd buy a handheld TDS meter and check it.  In theory, it should be undetectable.  However, it might have 1 ppm TDS  (maybe even as much as 2 ppm from exposure to air and the storage container).  Distilled water is also good to use.

 

Your own RO/DI unit is the cheapest and best water you can use.  I get that you might not want to start with one.  However, it would save you money in the long run.

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18 minutes ago, seabass said:

The filtered natural seawater acceptable.  Good reef salt mixes tend to have elevated levels of calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium (which are consumed by stony corals).  Eventually, you'll probably want to switch (they tend to be cheaper too).

 

Water from a local reef store may or may not be OK.  If I were getting freshwater from them, I'd buy a handheld TDS meter and check it.  In theory, it should be undetectable.  However, it might have 1 ppm TDS  (maybe even as much as 2 ppm from exposure to air and the storage container).  Distilled water is also good to use.

 

Your own RO/DI unit is the cheapest and best water you can use.  I get that you might not want to start with one.  However, it would save you money in the long run.

Thank you!  Great advice, I think I will start with the boxed water to start and get cycled up.  I will then invest in RO/DI for water changes and top offs.  I was going to go with this water due to the apparent value:

 

https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/imagitarium-pacific-ocean-water?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=1o2&scid=scplp2426291&sc_intid=2426291&cm_mmc=PLA-GG-_-PTC_P_SUP_PLA-GG_FY17_SCShopping-Desktop-_-Non+VIP-_-92700026557130980&kwid=p26557130980&device=c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAlpDQBRDmARIsAAW6-DMI0xdwDbMZOA82dTMsJwnT02sKtwmXy6bKGbkOLHSiDNoCrVcIv5caAtQqEALw_wcB

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Welcome to the obsession! Sounds like ur doing it right. Lottsa research BEFORE you "dive" in. Nano's can be challenging, in that you have to stay more on top of the water parameters than with larger systems. I've had my 14g AIO up for 2 years now and I'm still learning, mostly from my own errors. My wife sez I'm obsessed, but I prefer to think of it as diligent. This is a great site. Lots of friendly help and great information. We're all noobs at some point. Even with 47 years of saltwater keeping behind me I still make rookie mistakes. Don't be afraid to ask questions. We all want to see you succeed. A few recommendations: photo document the journey from day one, you'll be glad you did. Keep a paper log of water parameters, additions, losses, ect. ( I had a computer log, but a computer crash cost me 11 months of information. Paper doesn't crash!). SERIOUSLY consider setting up a quarantine tank for any fish you may want. It's much easier to deal with a potentially sick fish in a QT than in your display (figure ANY fish you buy is suspected to be sick). They're stressed from shipment, and the store you buy them from is more interested in selling them than treating them. It doesn't have to be a large tank. I use a 5g Marineland Eclipse that I have running continuously, and have yet to lose a fish to illness. Some people just set up a 5 gallon bucket with heat, flow and some sort of filtration, but I look at it as getting to set up and maintain another tank. Told you i was possessed. Go to a couple of your local fish stores (try to avoid the chain stores for livestock) and get to know the people there (good neighbor policy), before you get going. A consistent customer will get their undivided attention (believe me), and they will help with any concerns or questions you may have, plus you may get some pretty good deals out of it. Also, consider joining your local reef society. It's usually free, the members are always willing to help, and you can get some nice frags at bargain prices, sometimes for nothing! Just remember: the reason there is a hole in the top of the aquarium is so that you can throw money into it! ;) Looking forward to your posts.

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3 minutes ago, Oldsalt01 said:

Just remember: the reason there is a hole in the top of the aquarium is so that you can throw money into it! ;) Looking forward to your posts.

Good stuff!  Thank you for the tips, the above cracks me up!  Great tips on a QT tank.  I really want to get the reef established before introducing fish.  I hope that I can be patient in that regard.  I'd like to get coral going and introduce inverts during the first 6 months or longer but I might be kidding myself.  

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20 minutes ago, ThisPlaceIsAPrison said:

Super convenient, yes.  Good value, not really.

 

Making your own RO/DI water costs about $0.05 a gallon.  I'm guessing distilled cost roughly $1 a gallon.  Salt mix costs less than $0.40 a gallon.  So I figure you wouldn't pay more than $1.50 at most (and less than $.50 a gallon if making your own).  So $1.50 * 5 = $7.50 at worse.

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Once your ammonia/nitrate cycle has finished you'll begin to see algae, dino's, or cyano growing on your rocks, sand, ect. This is called the "ugly period" but it's a normal part of the process. Consider using "dry rock" rather than "cultured" rock as it won't bring in any unwanted hitchhikers. It can take a little longer to cycle the tank, but if you use a product like Dr Tim's bacterial additive (or any of the others) they can shorten your cycle time considerably. Once you enter the "ugly period" and your water parameters are settling down, it's time to start looking at a cleanup crew. Your LFS will have these, or you can go to a site like "Reef Cleaners", or others, to buy a crew dedicated to your size tank. John at RC has been a great help to me and I still have some of my original CUC (snails, hermits) from 2 years ago. Another suggestion: if you see a fish or coral that catches your eye, do some research to find out compatibility, needs (foods, tank size, peacefulness, etc,) BEFORE you buy it. Good research will pay for itself in the long run. Don't buy on impulse. And don't be in too big of a rush. Reefs are a process that, if rushed, can lead to disaster and a lot of wasted money. Remember, there is a lot of conflicting info out there, which can be confusing. Something that works for one person may not work for another. If I have a question, I generally post it and get a consensus before I do anything. And yes, some of my questions have been, uh, not too bright shall we say, but I have never been ridiculed or talked down to by the members (well, once, but he was an idiot), and their info has always helped me fix a problem.

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4 hours ago, ThisPlaceIsAPrison said:

I go to Petco for hardware (nets, algae scrapers, siphons), sometimes fish food if I have a fussy new arrival, and sometimes for chemicals if my LFS is out of something I need. NOTHING ELSE! I buy my water - both saltwater and RO/DI from my trusted LFS. I KNOW they clean their filters regularly and that my water is consistent with specific gravity, alk, Ca, ect. Besides, I can hang out and talk reef tanks with the owner. Once ur ready to go, invest in quality test kits. Salifert, Red Sea, to name a couple, are excellent. Hanna makes assorted electronic checkers (I just bought an Ultra-Low Range Phosphorus Checker, and so glad I did!), but they run about $50 a piece. API makes adequate kits for fairly cheap, but their phosphate test kit in the Reef Master kit is high-range (they don't tell you that). You need a low-range kit to adequately test for phosphates. Took me forever, thanks to some input from Seabass here on this forum, to discover my phosphates were 10x what my kit was showing. THAT little bit of info, or lack of from API, cost me at least 5 frags of various zoas I was trying to keep. I hope all this info isn't putting you off reefing, although if you've been bitten by the bug NOTHING anyone will tell you will make any difference.  :rolleyes: LOL

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5 hours ago, Oldsalt01 said:

Once your ammonia/nitrate cycle has finished you'll begin to see algae, dino's, or cyano growing on your rocks, sand, ect. This is called the "ugly period" but it's a normal part of the process. Consider using "dry rock" rather than "cultured" rock as it won't bring in any unwanted hitchhikers. It can take a little longer to cycle the tank, but if you use a product like Dr Tim's bacterial additive (or any of the others) they can shorten your cycle time considerably. Once you enter the "ugly period" and your water parameters are settling down, it's time to start looking at a cleanup crew. Your LFS will have these, or you can go to a site like "Reef Cleaners", or others, to buy a crew dedicated to your size tank. John at RC has been a great help to me and I still have some of my original CUC (snails, hermits) from 2 years ago. Another suggestion: if you see a fish or coral that catches your eye, do some research to find out compatibility, needs (foods, tank size, peacefulness, etc,) BEFORE you buy it. Good research will pay for itself in the long run. Don't buy on impulse. And don't be in too big of a rush. Reefs are a process that, if rushed, can lead to disaster and a lot of wasted money. Remember, there is a lot of conflicting info out there, which can be confusing. Something that works for one person may not work for another. If I have a question, I generally post it and get a consensus before I do anything. And yes, some of my questions have been, uh, not too bright shall we say, but I have never been ridiculed or talked down to by the members (well, once, but he was an idiot), and their info has always helped me fix a problem.

I'm using dry rock for budget reasons, but I prefer live rock for the biodiversity.  I'll trade off a few unwanted hitchhikers for the increase in tank life and diversity.  I feel like my dry rock tanks are having issues getting off the ground and settling in lol.

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26 minutes ago, Lula_Mae said:

I'm using dry rock for budget reasons, but I prefer live rock for the biodiversity.  I'll trade off a few unwanted hitchhikers for the increase in tank life and diversity.  I feel like my dry rock tanks are having issues getting off the ground and settling in lol.

I completely understand, and if I had to do it again, I would probably go the live rock route. Oh, wait. I DID. Had to strip down and sterilize my tank after a HORRENDOUS Bubble Algae outbreak (my fault, I didn't check a frag plug carefully enough, and by the time I realized my mistake it was too late), and got some cured rock from my LFS on a swap for my BA infested rock, which he fed to his tangs. So, yah I agree, but as a first-timer in the "hobby" I was suggesting dry rock to him as a way to start slow and avoid issues like GHA, Mojanos, Aptasia, ect.    "Nawth Cackalacky", indeed! I LOVE IT!  :lol:

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