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Hey everyone! I have been wanting to setup a reef tank for many years. Recently, my work allowed me to build a reef for a display (red sea 750xxl) and since then I have been eager to start my own. As a fairly new reefer, I cannot describe how important forums like this were for me so I have decided to become part of the community and document the progress of my new build: innovative marine 30l. 

 

Today I got a shipment of supplies from BRS (love this company, see picture below)! Very exciting but still have another shipment coming next month after my rock is finished curing. I got the 30l package from BRS but upgraded the sand and several other things from stock. I will be posting periodically as major updates occur. Please ask me any questions and provide any insight you can. Knowledge is power in this hobby!

 

I also built my own stand using a vanity obtained from local hardware store and 2x4 construction. If you would like input on how to build a stand like this let me know. 

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Hi everyone (no one at this point)! There has been a lot happen to the tank. Water tested and cabinet completely finished. Another order from BRS received and reef saver going through a "cure"......On that note, I do not feel this rock requires a cure. There are a lot of mixed opinions with this rock regarding a cure but I have been measuring everything.....including heavy metals and there is nothing. On Wednesday, I will begin cycling the tank using Dr tims bacteria and ammonia for a fishless cycle. We will see how it goes! I am expecting a month. I will post some pictures on Wednesday when I get the controller installed so that you can see the final look of the cabinet.

 

One issue I see coming is the lighting. Does anyone out there have a successful schedule using ai prime hd? The recommendation from the dudes at BRS that mimic ecotechs coral lab results are wayyyyyy to blue for any visual appeal. Any help and in particular .aip files would be great.

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Looks pretty good!  I'd like to know more about your vanity re-purposing project.  Also, what type of stand top are you using? 

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Are you setting this up at home or at your work?  

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Hey everyone. It's been a while since I posted last but a lot has happened in that time. Thanks JEM for .aip file. I will certainly give them a go. I really like the idea behind the AB+ settings but my wife is not a huge fan of how blue they are. Yours seems much better to the eye. 

 

The vanity project turned out great. I simply made a frame inside of the vanity using 2x4s. So essentially the stand (besides a couple screws) can be removed without moving the tank. It is essentially a shell that supports no weight. I did spend a lot of time sealing the mda exposed sides plus I put some laminent on them as well. They should be water tight for a long time. The top is a 1" piece of plywood with a 5/8" mda top on top of that to match the vanity (local hardware store is where u can get it and the color is called java).

 

This is my at home tank and therefore I don't have the same systems as the one my work paid for. As a result I did not go with apex but instead with reefkeeper. Reefkeeper was super easy to install! I was very sceptical about the system given all the bad reviews out there but honestly, I had the system up and running in about 2 hours from start to finish and that includes calibrating the probes. 

 

Tank is now cycling. I am using Dr. Tims one and only and the ammonia (fishers cycle). Day 3 today and have already reduced ammonia to 1.2ppm and already seeing nitrates. So far I am very happy with this system. 

 

Anyway here are some pictures of the tank and stand (i think the controller/power side of the vanity turned out great). The wall all the computer and power equipment is on hinges so I can store stuff behind it plus get to actually wall outlet if I need to. Dosing pump and some additional equipment coming soon. 

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Very nice cable management. Im embarrassed to show a pic of mine.

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Sorry folks. Kids!

Edited by ReeferND
My daughter found a way yo my nanoreef account :)
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Hey everyone,

Quick update. Tank is almost cycled, it is taking me about 2 days to process 2ppm ammonia into nitrate. Going to give it a couple more days to cut that to 24 hours. Dr. Tims fishless method has worked really well, I also think the 2 week cure I gave the reef saver helped as well (total of about 30 days submerged). I did put a bunch of marine pure in the sump which might actually be creating the 3rd leg of the nitrogen cycle as my nitrates are only around 20ppm.....i am a noob but that seems low for all the ammonia I have put in there.

 

Skimmer is breaking in. The Tunze 9001 is super quiet and is pulling some stuff out of the water but not too nasty considering there is nothing in there except for my hands.

 

Big question for y'all. Has anyone upgraded the return pump? It is by far the loudest thing on the tank and I actually think it pushes too much water for this sized tank. 

 

More to come. My daughter is very excited to get her nemo soon! Great to have a kid so interested in it.

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Good evening. Not a whole lot of people viewing my thread but I will continue on. So, I now have my first corals and fish. The fishless cycle worked amazing! I was truly impressed by how simple it was and the exact nature of it. Knowing that your tank can cycle all the ammonia in 24 hrs really makes you feel comfortable adding fish. I started with 2 juvenile clownfish 3 weeks ago. As a noob, I didn't pay close enough attention to the fish. On day 2, I noticed that both had small white patches on them located near their fins. I first thought ich so I treated appropriately. Unfortunately, the last week has been horrible for the fish. The white spots got very large and never dropped off, so I ruled out ich and jumped around between lymph, velvet, brook, etc but could never put my finger on it. Yesterday, the biggest fish died. He completely lost his color and when I took him out it was almost as if his flesh was being eaten by some unseen monster. I think I have pinpointed it to fin rot. During this time, my fish important parameters were perfect (I am still measuring ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, calcium, alk, and mag every evening with read sea kits; having slight issues with calcium and mag). The other fish is now displaying end of life symptoms, though he did eat today. The only thing my lfs had was pimafix aka snake oil but it's that or nothing. I really hope the little makes it, last time I buy any fish from this lfs. I feel really bad that the fish died, was taking it pretty hard last night and thought about just not having fish....Still haven't quite made up my mind. It sucks when you put so much time and love into something to just have it somewhat fall apart....I am sure most of you have been there before.

 

Anyway, I got a hammer, galaxea, and paly from a much more reputable lfs about 100 miles away. They are doing great! Haven't shown any signs of stress but I haven't seen much growth yet (only been 2 weeks). I am having trouble keeping calcium and magnesium levels in the optimum. All suggestions out there talk about how to raise them but not how to lower them. My alk is 9, calcium is 450, magnesium is 1600. I do weekly water changes of 20% and change salts to regular IO to get params down but can't seem to do it. I plan on starting kalk once I get some more corals but I want my params in order before I begin. Has anybody out there had this same issue? Suggestions? 

 

I will keep posting throughout my experience. Hope someone put there finds it helpful.

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Sorry about the tough luck with the fish.  I am in the exact same scenario except with brook.  I'm fishless at the moment, but I'll certainly be QT'ing from here on out.  I can say that while I'm happy with my tank, their is a certain amount of "life" I'm missing by not having fish.  The longer I wait the more bored I am with my tank.  

 

Best wishes!

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Good evening, everyone. Thanks for the support Tator. The tank is completely dull without any fish and only 3 corals in it. I am running into another issue with my hammer coral. The tissue on the base is receding. The coral looks great during the day but the other night I was looking at the tank while the lights were out and sure enough there is tissue sloughing off. Could this be because my magnesium is so high? Calcium? All other parameters are great:

Temp: 78% (fluctuates by 0.1 degree)

Alk: 8.1-9.1 (swing happens between water changes)

Calcium: 480

Mag: 1580

Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 2

Phosphate: 0-0.03

 

Could it be that I do that have enough nitrates and phosphates?

 

Also, about 3 days ago, my wife sends me a text and says the tank looks "cloudy". When I get home, sure enough it is cloudy. While staring at it, I notice that I have an absolutely TON of copepods (not amphipods, my friend has  PhD in entomology and confirmed for me). Now I mean that there are so many of them, I think that is why the water looks cloudy.........when I shut the pumps off it seems like all the floating"detritus" turns to copepods. Could this have anything to do with the coral tissue problem? Are they linked in anyway? The abundance of copepods doesn't worry me unless they are sign of something going wrong. At this point, the tank is about 6-7 weeks old and even as a noob I expect to run into problems with such a young tank. Does anyone have any thoughts?

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Been following from the beginning as you have an interesting adaptation for a stand. a fellow 30L tank owner here.

Can’t say what’s going on with the pods explosion, I haven’t started a tank from scratch in years. But a 7-week old is pretty “young” for any corals, so it’s possible that the hammer is just having a bit of a tough time adjusting. It could also be related to flow. We all want that nice euphyllia movement in the tank, but they’re fairly delicate, and shouldn’t be placed in direct flow. Pics of the corals would help. 

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I’m new to this. In fact only a week old. Camping around to learn more. Please continue to update. Cheers!

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Good afternoon everyone. Corals are doing great again. I gave them both another dip in coralrx and everyone seems happy again. Hammer tissue has actually started to grow again. Can anyone tell me what type of algae I have growing here? It is brown, about a cm or so long and does wave back and forth in the flow. It is all over the rocks, sand, and glass. It is very easy to remove and when I try to grab some of it, it just disintegrates into nothing.

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great start, super interested in the stand too vs shelling out the $300+ IM wants for their stand.  great tank progress, looking to start my 30L soon

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Thanks for the encouragement everyone. It seems like you folks like the stand. I couldn't agree more, do not shell out $300 for the IM stand. It is made out of the same material as IKEA furniture and would require the same amount of work I put into mine but without the customization. Of course, purchasing a brand new vanity and immediately taking a hammer, saw, and dremel to it was a little nerve racking as well :) The swinging wall that the electronics are on worked out great. Very easy to get to all the cords behind it as well as the wall outlet in case anything should happen. Also makes maintenance of the pumps easier as rewiring isn't so much of pain.

 

Brief update. I got some more CUC and they seem to be doing a number on the algae I have. I have decided at this point to just let the tank run its course without any immediate action. I think sometimes its important to remember that the tank "uglies", though unsightly, are the start of an ecosystem and if we fudge with it too much it can cause more harm than good. So I will let the snails feast! Since I had the 2 fish die with some unknown fin condition (fin rot?) I have decided to let the tank go fallow for at least another month. During this time I am going to wait for my tank to go through this ugly stage before adding any more corals. Once I feel that everything is doing better, I will begin adding more corals and eventually fish. Definitely will be setting up a quarantine tank this time....fool me once but not twice.

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Hello everyone. Quick update for you. Algae is now almost completely gone. Came back after a 4 day vacation and everything looked good. CUC are awesome but they do keep knocking over my hammer. I should probably go ahead and glue that sucker in there. Galaxea and paly are growing like crazy. So far, I have been able to maintain params with weekly 20% water changes. Hopefully I will be able to switch to kalk (and a more stable tank) when I get some more corals. I am still thinking of having mainly lps with 2 or 3 sps in there. I am also thinking of getting a new return pump. The stock one is loud and has gotten worse. Plus, between the return and the gyre, I am running almost 40x tank volume flow.....seems high? Am I wrong? I run the gym on the pulse setting with the highest pulse at 20%, so it just alternates between 10 and 20%. To be honest, I knew it was overkill when I got it but knew I would have no dead spots and a really nice pump for when I eventually upgrade tanks.

 

Does anyone have thoughts on return pumps? I like the idea of running 2 return pumps for a couple reasons. 1) I could put my tunze skimmer in the return chamber and 2) it adds redundancy in case one should fail. However, I am unaware of a reliable pump that is capable of only 125 gph. 2 of those would get me about 10x return. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

Here are some eye candy, though the blues are hard to see through, of my favorite time to view the tank. Lunar mode with 3%blue. Hammer is pretty closed up. I did switch my lighting schedule and program. I switched to the BRS recommended settings for a softie/lps tank running ai hydra.

 

I will post some daylight pictures tomorrow. If anyone would like to try my schedule just let me know.

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very nice 30L!  how are things going with the tank lately? any new additions? 

 

despite the fish losses I'd say you're off to a great start. fish are not exactly easy, can be risky, and high maintenance. Especially when compared to keeping corals, I consider them not worth the hassle buuuut that's just me! 

 

you're right in waiting for the uglies to pass, instead of trying to rid your tank as quick as possible. diatoms get so much hate in the reefing community but you know, we have them to thank for providing ~half the oxygen we humans breathe! if they wanna hang out in my tank, fine by me. perfectly natural. 

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No complaints with my JebaoDC2000. Cheap, quiet, variable speed adj. via controller, plenty of flow. IDK about 2 pump set up options. I did it once b4 on my other tank with Sicce pumps 0.5   

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Happy to follow this thread and give you my 2 cents on reefing.

Had my years of freshwater keeping and absolutely hate snails lol.

Decided my first clean up crew was 2 hermit crabs.

just think of the long run in terms of what you want ur tank to look like. Alot of people get into the hobby and break down their tank after an outbreak of nuisance coral like zoas or palys (if u isolate, then no probs) or very aggressive corals like galaxia. The fancier corals cost more... but look better. Get frags of them... they can then grow and u can then sell parts if them off. Love ur set up so far and ur scape. Keep it up.

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Looking it all... ur equipment is second to none... and ur wiring is mint.

just start off slowly on ur lighting period... 6-8 hours is all u need. Check ur salinity regularly. Check other people’s ai prime hd settings to adjust the lighting percentage to reach the length and depth of ur tank.

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Hey! Its awesome to get some response :). So my tank is looking really good of late. I am still taking things very slow and have only added a large frogspawn (about the size of a baseball that I got from my lfs for $30....couldn't turn it down). The hammer appears as though it my produce a new head soon. That would be exciting. Thanks ClownFizz for the comments. I do check my salinity everyday but it never changes from 1.026 (gotta love the osmolator). I also check my params (calc, alk, mag, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate) every week with alk almost every day. The frags are starting to pull alk and calc from the water so it appears as though I am ready to begin kalkwasser.

 

Do any of you use kalk? So, in the beginning, I started my tank with HW Reefer and fought forever to get the params down from this elevated level (rookie mistake). I used regular IO for a while until they were down to normal levels and am now using Red Sea blue bucket. I am worried that with such few corals, using kalk will elevate my levels beyond normal and the corals won't be able to keep up with the supply resulting in super high alk, and calc. Am I over thinking this? Should I just add like 2 teaspoons to my 5 gallon ato and hope that low of concentration won't tip the scales?

 

I would greatly appreciate anyone's thoughts. Samnaz, I couldn't agree more. I am actually an ecologist  and from your response and location appears as though you may have an ecological background as well??

 

Thanks again everyone. I will keep posting updates

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Hey, awesome start then. Nah I dont use Kalk... i dose ultimate aquacare cal, alk and carbonate... based on their instructions.... 55L tank (14gals) i put one drop a day....

i have never had my water params checked out (whoops) since the start up cycle. I just dose the main 3 and also the elements (for corals) ...also by ultimate aqua care e.g. bio- enhance...

 

with not much waste and the tank not fully established... i heard that kalk can pull too much out of the water and cause more probs... if u want always underdose that overdose.

 

What i used for chemical filtration is a bag of carbon (removing all the slime and toxins that corals may produce) and polyfilter.... also marine pure blocks thrown at the back.

I use only fake rock...but i did start with live rock....

 

My corals really opened up with proper readings and esp making the right choices on what corals i want in the tank.... if i was to choose sps in my lps dominate tank...  i would be having a slime war with my lps... i only have one softie, which is a ricordea (which has had a lil pup (baby)).... softies can also damage other lps by releasing their own toxins... so choose and research wisely... luckily on my first start up i didnt need to shut the whole thing down.

 

if you feel that your corals are a nuisance....get rid by returning it back or selling it off to have something that suits you.

 

 

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Hey nice to see a fellow 30L owner on here! My tank is about medium stocked now with various coral and I use the red sea blue bucket. I definitely get a big dip in ca and alk by the end of the week if I don’t dose anything. I’ve found the easiest thing for me is to dose a few mls of 2 part 2-3 times per week. I use ESV Bionic. Also I wanted to go a bit more natural for nutrient export so I built a algae reactor and just run that, a skimmer and filter floss. I do a 5g a week water change.  Been running this way for a few months and seeing good growth and coloration out of pretty much everything in the tanks. Also I’ve been feeding rather heavy but thanks to the reactor my nitrates and phosphates have been nice and low. I’m a big proponent of feeding heavier with more nutrient export. Keeps the fish and corals healthy and fat:) 

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