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StephLionfish

Steph's 13.5 Invert Haven

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StephLionfish

After a several year hiatus from this hobby, I've decided join the Fluval 13.5g bandwagon. Along with many of you, I plan on upgrading pretty much everything in the tank, including the return pump, light, and media basket. As the title suggests, I plan on excluding fish and going invert dominated with emphasis on Sexy Shrimp, along with LPS and Softies. 

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What I have so far:

Tank: Fluval Evo 13.5g

Stand: Imagitarium 20g Wooden Stand

Sand: Caribsea Aragonite 

Heater: Eheim Jager 50w

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What I'm waiting on:

Various  items from InTank including the media rack for chamber 1 and mesh screen kit

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What I am planning on ordering:

AI Prime HD+ mount (not sure on which to get, if it matters)

Salt- Maybe Red Sea Coral Pro? Any thoughts on preferred salt? It will be my first time mixing my own!

Rock- My lfs has a terrible dry rock stock, so I'll likely end up having to order online (because 10 bucks a lb of liverock seems unnecessary). I looked into the rock from BRS, but my main concern is the size of the rocks. I saw where I can put in a request, but it seems many people still get rocks too large for their nanos. Any thoughts on online rock orders are appreciated.

Pump- I was thinking maybe the Hydor Centrifugal 300. Is it possible to have a strong enough pump in the AIO compartment that I would not need additional powerheads in the display? Keeping in mind that I don't plan on SPS.

ATO- I'm cautious towards these from all of the horror stories, therefor have never used one, but one that I've seen come up frequently is the Auto AquaSmart. 

 

I think that's the gist of it for now-- thanks for stopping by!

 

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Lula_Mae

Cute poodle! @ReefWeeds has one too. Regarding dry rock-I have ordered BRS dry rock a couple of times for tanks (I chose the reef savers rock). I put in what I was looking for-for example, my 15 that I set up not long ago, I stated that I was going for an open look with rock islands and I believe I put in the tank dimensions and asked them to please pick rock that would work for that vision. They went beyond my expectations, sending far more rock (pound-wise) than I'd ordered. You can see in my sig the rock scape I came up with, and I had one left over. They sent beautiful holey rock and I'm excited to see how the tank develops. 

 

I bought my AI Prime second hand and it came with the L-shaped aluminum mount. I really like it!

 

I've been using AquaForest sea salt version, haven't tried the reef version but it mixes nice and clean. I've seen people recently switching from Red Sea black bucket to the blue bucket (the not-reef one), I think due in part to the super-high alk it's been mixing to recently. I've also heard many people like Fritz salt. Someone else may have better feedback for you. I stuck with Instant Ocean for several years when I had just softies but wanted something that mixed up cleaner, so I tried the AquaForest and have been happy with it. I should note I don't do much testing though lol.

 

Should be a very nice build for you! I like sexies but am too worried about them eating my corals to try them lol.

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TatorTaco

Poodles!  I love poodles.  They make me so....happy.

 

You might have better luck sourcing rock from Reef Cleaners.  He's very helpful (and responsive).  Because it's a smaller company than BRS, you'll get more hands-on help and John can certainly help you pick out just the perfect sized rocks.  I bought from him and won't order rocks from anywhere else now. 

 

Shoot him a message on his website and see what he can do for you. 

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StephLionfish

@Lula_Mae Thanks for the instant reply! I can't wait to see how your tank evolves! I love the dual island look- it leaves so much room for corals to grow in every direction.

I've been keeping my eye open for a used Prime, but it looks like I'm gonna be dropping money on a new one.

I'm not familiar with that salt brand, but I'll look into it. Interesting note about people making the switch to the blue bucket.

I plan on target feeding the Sexies, so hopefully that keeps them off my corals. I haven't yet decided if I want to get any small nems for them, yet. The idea of housing a stinger that could decided to take a stroll through hundreds of dollars of corals turns me off a little, lol. :huh:

 

@TatorTaco I looked into RC! Sent an email, so we'll see :happy:

 

I had four toy poodles growing up, and the yipping and marking was insane. I got Denver when I was in my teens (showing my age :blink:) and thank God he's nothing like that- totally laid back and chill. He's even glad to have moved out of the house, and it shows every time we visit the family. :scarry: omgomgomg

 

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Lula_Mae
2 hours ago, TatorTaco said:

Poodles!  I love poodles.  They make me so....happy.

 

You might have better luck sourcing rock from Reef Cleaners.  He's very helpful (and responsive).  Because it's a smaller company than BRS, you'll get more hands-on help and John can certainly help you pick out just the perfect sized rocks.  I bought from him and won't order rocks from anywhere else now. 

 

Shoot him a message on his website and see what he can do for you. 

I don't know why I didn't even think of Reef Cleaners when I replied! They're also a good source for CUC members too.

 

40 minutes ago, StephLionfish said:

@Lula_Mae Thanks for the instant reply! I can't wait to see how your tank evolves! I love the dual island look- it leaves so much room for corals to grow in every direction.

I've been keeping my eye open for a used Prime, but it looks like I'm gonna be dropping money on a new one.

I'm not familiar with that salt brand, but I'll look into it. Interesting note about people making the switch to the blue bucket.

I plan on target feeding the Sexies, so hopefully that keeps them off my corals. I haven't yet decided if I want to get any small nems for them, yet. The idea of housing a stinger that could decided to take a stroll through hundreds of dollars of corals turns me off a little, lol. :huh:

 

@TatorTaco I looked into RC! Sent an email, so we'll see :happy:

 

I had four toy poodles growing up, and the yipping and marking was insane. I got Denver when I was in my teens (showing my age :blink:) and thank God he's nothing like that- totally laid back and chill. He's even glad to have moved out of the house, and it shows every time we visit the family. :scarry: omgomgomg

 

Yeah it seems like there were a bunch of used ones recently and now not much at all. I've seen them on eBay too, so that may be a possibility. At least they dropped the price a bit a couple months ago. Plus, buying new means you can choose whether you want black or white! I think (don't quote me, though lol) that sexies sometimes host RFAs and/or rics. I believe RFAs are generally less prone to wander than other nems, though it depends on the individual.

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StephLionfish

Just ordered 15lbs from Reef Cleaners after the fastest email reply I've ever seen. Hopefully I get some good ones!

 

The problem with eBay, in my opinion, is the bidding. I'm so not a fan of trying to outscore people over a product. TBH I'd rather just pay more for something than get all competitive with strangers. Also, the white Primes are preeeetty sexy. 

 

I've briefly looked into RFAs, but my luck is I'd get a few and my gang would just take up in my frogspawn or something <_< I don't see many Maxi Mini nems floating around, anymore? Those were all the rage right when I started tearing down my tanks.

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StephLionfish

Just ordered the AI Prime HD and mount! Slowly but surely marking things off my list. I'm still undecided on salt, although Reef Crystals, IO, Coral Pro all seem like equally good options (dare I say?). My decision on the return pump upgrade and ATO are also still up in the air. I finally have a day off, tomorrow, so I'm going to try to crush as many threads as possible and hopefully get at least some salt ordered so I can get cycling.

I've been looking at the amazing TOTM lists, and totally cried my eyes out to FlowerMama's touching story. Her gorgeous nems definitely have me extending my research. 

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ninjamyst

I love my Smart Micro ATO.  I have the fluval 13.5g too.  Great little tank.  I did upgrade everything though.  Running Nanobox Tide and MJ1200 return pump.  For salt, I actually mix 50/50 with regular IO and Reef Crystals.  Reef Crystals by itself has elevated alk.  IO has too low alk.  Mix them together and it's near perfect.  Plus it's cheaper than other salt out there.

 

Good luck with your build and keep the updates coming.

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Hannahrain
9 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

I love my Smart Micro ATO.  I have the fluval 13.5g too.  Great little tank.  I did upgrade everything though.  Running Nanobox Tide and MJ1200 return pump.  For salt, I actually mix 50/50 with regular IO and Reef Crystals.  Reef Crystals by itself has elevated alk.  IO has too low alk.  Mix them together and it's near perfect.  Plus it's cheaper than other salt out there.

 

Good luck with your build and keep the updates coming.

Do you recommend the MJ1200 or is that just what you had?

 

Is it loud, does it heat up the water?

 

I'll be upgrading my return in the next couple of weeks. 

 

Which upgrade would you do first between upgrading the return or adding an additional powerhead?

 

Thanks! 

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ninjamyst
1 hour ago, Hannahrain said:

Do you recommend the MJ1200 or is that just what you had?

 

Is it loud, does it heat up the water?

 

I'll be upgrading my return in the next couple of weeks. 

 

Which upgrade would you do first between upgrading the return or adding an additional powerhead?

 

Thanks! 

The MJ1200 barely fits in the return pump chamber and it does make a noise when it hits up against the chamber walls.  I bet if you surround it with filter pad or something, it should be fine.  I never worry about a pump heating up the water since I live in Chicago and it's not that hot year round.  People usually recommend Sicce pumps but they sure are pricey.  I don't like having additional powerhead in a nano just because it doesn't look clean so I am running just the upgraded pump.  I only have softies and LPS in mine so I can get away with it.

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Hannahrain
13 minutes ago, ninjamyst said:

The MJ1200 barely fits in the return pump chamber and it does make a noise when it hits up against the chamber walls.  I bet if you surround it with filter pad or something, it should be fine.  I never worry about a pump heating up the water since I live in Chicago and it's not that hot year round.  People usually recommend Sicce pumps but they sure are pricey.  I don't like having additional powerhead in a nano just because it doesn't look clean so I am running just the upgraded pump.  I only have softies and LPS in mine so I can get away with it.

I'll probably end up going with the Sicce 1.0 and see how the flow is and try and avoid adding a powerhead, I want to keep it all as simple as possible. We eat there close to the tank, it's on the passthru between our kitchen and living room so I really need it to be as silent as possible. I'm going to attempt keeping the stock light/hood as I'm scared something might get in the tank (cooking just a few feet away, cleaning the counters and such) plus I don't have an ATO yet, so need to prevent as much evaporation as I can.

 

Thanks for the info, btw love your tanks! 

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StephLionfish
16 hours ago, ninjamyst said:

I love my Smart Micro ATO.  I have the fluval 13.5g too.  Great little tank.  I did upgrade everything though.  Running Nanobox Tide and MJ1200 return pump.  For salt, I actually mix 50/50 with regular IO and Reef Crystals.  Reef Crystals by itself has elevated alk.  IO has too low alk.  Mix them together and it's near perfect.  Plus it's cheaper than other salt out there.

 

Good luck with your build and keep the updates coming.

Oh yes, I've been following your beautiful build for some time. I was glad to see that you scraped off the honeycomb, because that was one of the first thoughts I had. The Smart Micro is one I'm leaning towards after seeing so many people use it. There's just this gut fear of having any ATO empty my tank while I'm away. I also have seen many people mix the salt as you do, so that's what I decided on. 

Thank you for the follow! Equipment should start arriving soon, which means I'm getting close to setting up this financial disaster :D

 

@Hannahrain I'm anxious to see how you like the Sicce. If it provides enough flow and is nice and quiet I might make the splurge on one, esp if it keeps me powerhead-free. 

Cute doggo, too! What a face :lol:

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rO.oster

Love the idea of a sexy tank, shoot for a scape that makes finding them from a few different angles easy!  Looking forward to seeing what you get from reefcleaners!

 

I'd say he return pump depends on what you keep your AC at in the summer and where you live, I wouldn't want to push too many watts submersed because I live in the South, though your open top should help keep evaporative cooling ongoing.  You may need to try out the highest gph coupled with a Spin Stream type of deflector if you want to keep the clean look in the display, but still keep wattage down in case you face heat issues.

 

I've been using reef crystals for year, and my bucket and mixing pump do have that slight clay film.   I don't notice that same film in the display so idk, its never steered me wrong and for the price can't be beat.

 

Can't wait to see some shrimp tails pointing up!

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StephLionfish

Thanks for the advice! I'm pretty terrible at scaping, so we'll see how it goes. When I first purchased the tank, I'd planned on setting it on a counter that divides my kitchen and living room, but the gap between the top of the tank and the wall above would be only about 5". Would have loved to see the tank from both sides like that, but I'd rather have ease of accessibility and room for the upgraded light. 

 

I went ahead and purchased the Sicce Syncra 1.0. I live in the south, as well, though not as far down as you (Good ole TN). I don't seem to recall ever having an issue with overheating, but I'll totally keep an eye on it. 

 

My inTank order arrived today!

That's the chamber 1 media rack and mesh lid kit. Tooootally didn't know that the kit came with aluminum framing, so idk how I'm going to cut it. Mom is coming to visit this weekend so hopefully she knows what's up.

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I also decided to scrape off the honeycomb today. Way more of a pita than I thought it would be, but I'm satisfied with the result. 

Ps ninja was totally right about doing this prior to setting up the tank. S**t gets everywhere. 

 

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Another note- Something I didn't take into account is that stands are way less stable on carpet than a flat surface. (duh, I know) My mother is bringing up an old stand that hopefully is sturdier, or else I'll have to stabilize this one to the wall.

 

My rock shipment updated and claims to be here tomorrow. Slowly but surely...

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StephLionfish

Rocks arrived Saturday! Awesome pieces from Reef Cleaners; I would order from them again in a heartbeat. Just been kinda playing around with them.. Had a few ideas that I scrapped:

Dual pillar look that I was originally planning on months ago, but I decided there's not enough room on the outside of the rocks for corals

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Concave wall (although you totally can't see from the image). I've done this with three tanks already, so tore it down.

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And finally, a mini cave and an arch coming off the main structure. 

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Side view:

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A major problem with this look, however, is that unless I replace some of the rocks (and potentially ruin this scape), there's no room for the addition of live rock. I might replace one of the rocks with live, and just do a handful of rubble. Do you all think that I'd significantly benefit from using live sand instead of dry?

 

Last note-

I ordered a battery charger for my DSLR (I'd lost mine in my recent move), so I can start taking photos are aren't pos iPhone quality soon!

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rO.oster

Challenging project, good times! 

 

I would say if you seed with some form of liverock then you dont need live sand (from like Caribsea), but having the LFS grab a small handfull from thier tanks is a great way to get spagetti worms and all sorta of live stuff,,,,,  including pests too!

 

I plan on getting a golfball sized chunk of liverock out of the fish stores display or tank that lacks pest algae (bryopsos & bubble) and lacks apastatia. Then, I also plan on leaving it for a few days only and removing it to prevent any hidden pests from hitchhiking over.  I’m just after a little bacteria, copeopods, and bristleworms to get seeded.

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Christopher Marks

Welcome back @StephLionfish! Your Fluval looks sharp without the honeycomb, I didn't realize it could just be scraped off, but of course! Nice work.

 

I dig the cave and arch aquascape, you should stick with that I think. There's nothing wrong with starting with dry rock, you will just need to run through the cycle process. Seeding it with some live rock rubble is a good plan, or if you're planning on live sand, then you'll be all set. If you really want to replace one of the rocks with some nice cured live rock from an LFS though, I think the rock on the lower right would be the best candidate :) 

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StephLionfish

Thanks guys, I ended up grabbing some rubble, and settled on the latter rockscape. Tank is up and running, pics soon!

 

Unfortunately, after much frustration, I realized tonight that I'm not able to use my Prime. My phone is an old iPhone that hasn't updated in years (incapable of using new apps or the website that the Prime comes with) and my desktop is not wifi accessible. It looks like I will have to purchase a wifi adapter for it, which is under ten bucks from Wally World, but after spending the $30 on the mount as well, I wish I had just gone with a Nano Box. If spending a little more erases this frustration, then I'm all for it. Although, I have no idea how they are operated, so I'd probably end up in the same boat. Besides, I'm not sure how DrsF&S handle returns, but I have a feeling they don't refund products with opened packaging that aren't defective. 

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StephLionfish

ALSO, I tried to set my password on the prime site and now I'm just kicked out of the page entirely. I'm brought to a blank page requesting the password, but when I enter it in, the page resets. 

We live in such a sink or swim day and age with technology, and being a 21 year old with limited cash flow, I'm sinking! 

/RantOver

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Lula_Mae
On 1/15/2018 at 5:47 PM, StephLionfish said:

Just ordered 15lbs from Reef Cleaners after the fastest email reply I've ever seen. Hopefully I get some good ones!

 

The problem with eBay, in my opinion, is the bidding. I'm so not a fan of trying to outscore people over a product. TBH I'd rather just pay more for something than get all competitive with strangers. Also, the white Primes are preeeetty sexy. 

 

I've briefly looked into RFAs, but my luck is I'd get a few and my gang would just take up in my frogspawn or something <_< I don't see many Maxi Mini nems floating around, anymore? Those were all the rage right when I started tearing down my tanks.

I have a porcelain crab hosting in a St. Thomas mushroom, which vacillates between "I hate you," and "I'm cool, bro." :lol:

18 minutes ago, StephLionfish said:

Thanks guys, I ended up grabbing some rubble, and settled on the latter rockscape. Tank is up and running, pics soon!

 

Unfortunately, after much frustration, I realized tonight that I'm not able to use my Prime. My phone is an old iPhone that hasn't updated in years (incapable of using new apps or the website that the Prime comes with) and my desktop is not wifi accessible. It looks like I will have to purchase a wifi adapter for it, which is under ten bucks from Wally World, but after spending the $30 on the mount as well, I wish I had just gone with a Nano Box. If spending a little more erases this frustration, then I'm all for it. Although, I have no idea how they are operated, so I'd probably end up in the same boat. Besides, I'm not sure how DrsF&S handle returns, but I have a feeling they don't refund products with opened packaging that aren't defective. 

Oh, that stinks!  The Nano-Box I believe also runs on wifi from a phone app so you'd be out of luck there, too. :( Is there some kind of controller you can get?

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ninjamyst

if you can find an older nano-box tide with the Storm controller, that would be best.  IMO, I hate all these wifi control lights.  I love the Storm controller because it just WORKS.  No taking out my phone and waiting for the app to load.  

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StephLionfish

Yeah I hate it, too. I just went ahead and bought the adapter, though, and as far as I can see, everything is running smoothly, now. 

The rubble isn't permanent. I just threw it around in the tank to get some life in the tank. 

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rO.oster

Sweeeeet!!  Love the middle high arching ridge, gonna be good flow everywhere.  Congrats on getting wet.

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West1

Very nice start

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yoshii

Lol Steph I started following this thread a little while ago and somehow didn't realize it was you! :haha:

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