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hyoib

Another Fluval Evo 13.5 reef project - Alk Dosing calculation advice?

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So starting this thread a month into starting but better late than never. After 15 years keeping Lake Malawi cichlids I have decided to start a thread for my first attempt into reef keeping. 

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Got my Fluval EVO 13.5 from my LFS on the 5th of January 2018, bought it with the PS2 mini skimmer. I know there have been bad reviews but this is all a learning curve for me and decided to give it a go.  Here is my initial set up done in January.

 

Used 10kg bag of fiji pink live sand (+2kg of dry crushed aragonite) to get cycle started along with ATM colony. 10 kilos of reef saver rock from LFS. Decided to buy RO water from LFS and mixing up to SG 1.025 with iQuatics Ocean Reef Pro Coral Aquarium Salt, as you can see plenty of sediment in the water column (I may have forgot to rinse the crushed aragonite). 

 

Started a fishless cycle with raw prawns. Ammonia spike at 1 by day 4, before settling to 0 by day 11. Nitrites zeroed out by day 14. Challenged the bacterial filtration with another raw prawn after this but no further ammonia/nitrite spike only nitrate. Cycle completed! I had been using the API reef test kit and Salifert ammonia/nitrite test kits but decided to ditch these for the Red Sea test kits. More expensive but easier to read and I feel more trustworthy.

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Added some Nassarius snails a few days after cycling (21st of January) followed by some hermits and Astras snails (ammonia and nitrite still 0), nitrate 20ppm after water changes. Decided to upgrade the return pump in preparation as the stock one has some crappy flow. Went for Sicce syncra silent 1.0 in an attempt to appease my girlfriend by keeping the tank as quiet as possible. 

 

Got first fish (randalls Goby) on the 24th of January. Wanted to wait longer but I never see them in my LFS and didnt want to let this guy go to anyone else. No spikes in ammonia or nitrites after adding him and got a Randall's shrimp a few days after. They quickly paired and live in a cave under the rock column on the left hand side. Unfortunately I can't get pictures of the randall shrimp as he's pretty camera shy.

 

On 8th of Feb i added a pair of juvenile ocellaris clowns. The guy in the LFS was trying to sell me a beautiful pair of Picasso clowns for £150 but i couldnt quite justify the cost on my first attempt at reef keeping. 

 

Noticed my dKH and calcium was a bit on the low side (dKH 6.5, calcium 390ppm) with the salt mix I was using so started dosing with red sea foundations kit to get levels up. Wanted stable parameters for when i added coral, levels steady at dKH 10, calcium 450ppm. 

 

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So after telling myself to wait as long as possible before adding any coral to the tank, i couldnt resist some zoas in my LFS. I had been testing my parameters daily and everything stable. Protein skimmer was working pretty well so i started dosing some NOPOX to get levels nitrate down. Dosing 1ml every day and nitrates were sat at 4ppm, Phosphate was 0.02 and steady. Filling skimmate cup with tea coloured skimmate every 3-4 days. Doing 5 gallon water changes twice a week and titrating calcium/alkalinity with water changes with reef foundation (will probably switch salt mixes when this runs out).

 

Anyway added my first coral on the 14th of Feburary (some zoas), before adding some more zoas the next two days and a xenia frag which was a bargain at £5. Dipped them all in Seachem reef safe and fresh water prior to adding to the tank. Also the Sicce Silent 1.0 return pump was not silent, making a loud rattling noise so switched to Eheim compact 1000 which is pretty quiet.

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So this brings us up to the last few days.

My parameters have been rock solid steady for the last few weeks, My magnesium is a little high, but i think this may be the salt mix. Not worrying about that too much at the moment.:

 

NH4 - 0

NH2 - 0

NO2 - 4-6ppm

PO4 0.02-0.04ppm

Alkalinity 10dKH

Calcium 450-470ppm

Mg 1540ppm.

pH 8.2-8.4 (depending on time of day)

SG 1.025

 

My girlfriend has been begging me for some more movement in the tank and from what i've seen around I love euphylias. Anyway I took a risk yesterday and got a green torch coral (at least i think its a green torch coral). Its settled in really well and has been getting some great polyp extension. Will keep a close eye on parameters over the next few weeks to ensure everything going to plan. Buying corals is so addictive and im having to stop myself buying something everytime i go to the LFS.

 

I've had some bright green algae on the white parts of my rocks. Not sure what it is? its hard to scrub off and the glass has been pretty much algae free.

 

The glass doesnt look clean in all the photos but thats all the copepods on the glass that i added to the tank 6 weeks ago. I thought the randalls goby would eat them, but hes much keener on Mysis shrimp. 

 

My plans for the next few months:

 

1) Update lighting - The stock lights aren't great for coral coloration. I am not too pushed about growing SPS yet and I dont want to remove the Lid from the tank as I like the look of it. I was thinking of adding some 5-6000K white light LED strips and actinic strips I've seen on amazon to the lid. I've seen this done on another fluval EVO 13.5 thread and I like the look of it.  Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

 

2) Fish livestock - I think I'm done with added fish for now. I dont want to push myself anymore in terms of nutrient input as want to push myself with coral husbandry.

 

3) Thinking of getting a cleaner shrimp for more tank movement? Would that be compatible with a randall's shrimp?

 

4) Coral plans - Thinking of eventually adding different torch corals to the rock column on the left of the tank, also like the idea of an acan garden at the front of the larger rock feature. Other than that I have no idea what to place on the large rock feature and it's quite a large part of real estate. Welcome to ideas. Not in any rush to add anything else to quickly.

 

Anyway would appreciate input/advice on build up to know and will try to keep thread updated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, hyoib said:

. Decided to upgrade the return pump in preparation as the stock one has some crappy flow. Went for Sicce syncra silent 1.0 in an attempt to appease my girlfriend by keeping the tank as quiet as possible.

 

37 minutes ago, hyoib said:

Also the Sicce Silent 1.0 return pump was not silent, making a loud rattling noise so switched to Eheim compact 1000 which is pretty quiet.

Damn! That sucks to hear, I was going to upgrade the stock pump to a Sicce Silent 1.0 this weekend, I am not too fussed by the stock return pumps current noise but I definitely don't want something that is noisier!

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12 minutes ago, M-A-T-T-Y said:

 

Damn! That sucks to hear, I was going to upgrade the stock pump to a Sicce Silent 1.0 this weekend, I am not too fussed by the stock return pumps current noise but I definitely don't want something that is noisier!

I think the issue is it’s just slightly too big for the third section of the sump, it fits in there but it’s a tight squeeze at the bottom of the third section where the baffle is. Then with the vibration of the pump it makes a loud rattle. The eheim compact 1000 is smaller and is very quiet 

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44 minutes ago, hyoib said:

I think the issue is it’s just slightly too big for the third section of the sump, it fits in there but it’s a tight squeeze at the bottom of the third section where the baffle is. Then with the vibration of the pump it makes a loud rattle. The eheim compact 1000 is smaller and is very quiet 

Fair enough, I have heard some people say you can wrap air hose around the pump purely to go between the glass/walls and the pump, therefore reducing vibration noise issues. In your experience do you think that would've made it quieter, and would it still fit?

I have easy access to buy a Sicce Silent 1.0, Eheim Compact 1000 on the other hand is a bit more difficult to find here.

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2 minutes ago, M-A-T-T-Y said:

Fair enough, I have heard some people say you can wrap air hose around the pump purely to go between the glass/walls and the pump, therefore reducing vibration noise issues. In your experience do you think that would've made it quieter, and would it still fit?

I have easy access to buy a Sicce Silent 1.0, Eheim Compact 1000 on the other hand is a bit more difficult to find here.

Possibly or some tank safe foam pads, it fitted in pretty tight though so may not be that much room. If you end up going for a sicce 1.0 let me know how you get on. It may just have been the one I bought.

 

ive seen on here some people using a tunze return pump but I’m not sure on what model it was unfortunately

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4 hours ago, hyoib said:

I think the issue is it’s just slightly too big for the third section of the sump, it fits in there but it’s a tight squeeze at the bottom of the third section where the baffle is. Then with the vibration of the pump it makes a loud rattle. The eheim compact 1000 is smaller and is very quiet 

 

I second this. Nice to know I'm not the only one noticing this problem. I also noticed the dial on mine is extremely difficult to turn. 

You're satisfied with the eheim?

I like my AI Prime HD for lighting, but if I had a little more money to throw at my tank, I'd have gone with a Nano Box. I'd say many people on here would agree. 

Awesome scape btw, I love the open feel. Following along!

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I love cleaner shrimp

 

and I have seen people keep cleaners and Randall’s together 

 

23 hours ago, hyoib said:

    

3) Thinking of getting a cleaner shrimp for more tank movement? Would that be compatible with a randall's shrimp?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So I got paid from work today and had the day off. Got my arm twisted in the LFS to buy this stunning golden nugget chalice coral. I wanted to do something similar with Montipora eventually and make a plated ledge but I couldn’t resist trying it with this guy. I looked at a few different chalices but this one looked the best under ‘white lights’ Let me know what you think.

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the tank looks good, much better than mine that only has two coral frags right now

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Quick update for this week. 

Additions this week...

1) Cleaner shrimp - love the movement he gives to the tank, although hes a little s**t at stealing food from coral.

2) 2 x Acan colonies - Not sure on the specific names, girlfriend picked them for the colours. I've noticed the orange/red colony doing slightly better than the violet colony. The polyps are fully extended on the orange/red colony but not seen much from the violet one. The violet colony was on the sand bed so i've moved it up to the middle of the tank to see if it improves.

3) Duncan coral - again the girlfriend picked them for the movement and colours. I accidentally dropped it when taking it off the frag plug onto the carpet (doh) but its recovered really well. No lasting damage.

 

General update

 

I'm pretty happy with how everything is looking so far, as I've filled in the right side of the tank. 

 

Bad news though, I noticed that some of my radioactive dragon eye zoas werent fully opening and i think i spotted some zoa pox on them. Unfortunately, furan-2 is prescription only in the UK so I've had to order some from the states which won't be here for 2 weeks. I've done a couple of reasonably strong iodine dips of my zoa frags and they seem to have responded to it and are opening more. I'm not quite sure how it got in as I was sure to dip all my frags in iodine prior to being added to the tank.

Also, one of my clowns is looking pretty beat up (see photo below), he's eating well but looking pretty sad and faded in colours a bit. I've been feeding the tank more to reduce any aggression so hopefully he will pull through.

I've been dosing NOPOX and skimming with the PS2 mini skimmer, really impressed with it at the moment. My nitrates are never higher than 3ppm and coming down, and phosphate is never higher than 0.04 (red sea test kits). Also my tank is consuming about 0.8dkh per day (I've had a fair bit of a boom of coraline algae which i think is what's using it all up), so i've been dosing 4ml of red sea foundations B which is keeping my dkH stable around 10.0-10.5. Calcium is being consumed at 5ppm per day, so again dosing some red sea foundation on alternate days for that. 

 

Current tank parameters:

 

Ammonia - 0

Nitrite - 0

Nitrate - 3ppm

Phosphate - 0.04ppm

Magnesium - 1600ppm (i know its high, I've not added any supplement but i think its the salt im using 'iaquatics').

Calcium - 450ppm

dkH 10.3

Salinity 1.025.

 

Also I found a deal on gumtree this weekend, a seneye reef for £50! Picked it up tonight so will try get some PAR readings on the Fluval stock lighting sometime this week after work.

Here are a few photos of the tank this week, all taken on my iphone 7+

 

 

 

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Spotted a hitch hiker crab about a week ago, unable to ID but it looked like a gorilla crab. Tried bating a trap for a week but all I caught was hermit crabs, anyway I saw a molt today and decided enough was enough...

 

took out my big section of live rock where I know it lives and turkey basted the rock with some RO water. Nothing came out, about to put the rock back in the tank but thought I’d check underneath it and there he was hiding beneath it.

 

heres a photo of  the offending crab, looks to me like a baby gorilla crab but I’m not 100% sure.

 

What do you all think?

 

Anyway, hoping I don’t get a mini cycle now as I squirted my rock with RO water, don’t want to kill all the good bacteria in it. 

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looking awesome that mate 🙂

 

It's really good to see nice progress with this tank, i'm about 2 months into the same tank, theres certainly some good ideas and tips here.

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Sorry for the delayed update. Been very busy with life.

 

The tank is still up and running. Had an ongoing battle with cycles of red slime algae and hair algae which is somewhat under control. Ive stopped dosing any NoPox now and just relying on weekly 25% water changes.

 

My chalice coral never took off after adding it to the tank and I wasn't able to save it. I've decided to old off from adding another one. Also I lost several heads on one of my acan colonies. It is down to 1 head from 7 but going to see if it will recover.

 

New additions in the last few months: orange ricordea mushroom; green frogspawn and two new acans.  Lots of growth of zoas and my torch coral I think has split into two heads. Its always fully extended though so i can never see its mouth!.

 

Anyway let me know what you think!IMG_7237.thumb.JPG.0f3df575fab3692a5abf15a3000afd4d.JPGIMG_7241.thumb.JPG.f07e482a79eb87d0bdfeaa51ae5ed1cb.JPGIMG_7253.thumb.JPG.814d3813a655ecd494eb76938cc4cd6a.JPG

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After several months of suspicion I finally found another pesky gorilla crab in my tank hiding in my rock tower. Wasn't able to get him out the rock, but was able to get him with a skewer to make him no more. My cleaner shrimp got him out and did the rest!

 

Hopefully there wont be any more!

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Great looking reef! You made a good move moving that Xenia into it's own rock far away from the rest 🙂

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1 Year Update!!

 

So its been about one year since I set up this tank and what a journey its been.  My first dabble into salt water, and I don't know why I waited so long. It brings so much to the aquarium hobby and keeping coral (and keeping them happy) adds another dimension.

 

Big issues this year have been  battles with dinos, hair algae and cyano bacteria. I lost two fish, one clownfish who was bullied to death and a Randall's goby who jumped through the tiniest hole in the canopy. In terms of coral, I only lost one frag (a chalice coral), whatever I did could not make it happy. However, I think the most important lesson I've learned is to keep persisting and keep doing the basic things.

 

I started trying to be clever with carbon dosing NOPOx, but that just precipitated the start of my algae issues. Now my maintenance involves just doing a weekly 10 litre water change with Red Sea Coral Pro. With these water changes, my nitrate levels run around 2 ppm and phosphate run around 0.04ppm.

 

 

Equipment:

 

Stock lighting

Koralia hydor 900 powerhead

Interpet 50W heater.

Return pump - Eheim compact pump 1000

PS2 mini-skimmer. - no longer using, although still sat in chamber 1.

DIY media rack - Running Seachem phospguard, Seachem denitrate, Seachem matrix carbon, filter floss, red sea reef spec carbon.
Red sea coral pro salt.

 

Current stocking

 

Fish

 

1) Randall Goby

2) Black and white Ocellaris Clownfish

3) Orange and white Ocellaris Clownfish.

 

Invertebra

 

1) Cleaner Shrimp

2) Randall's Pistol Shrimp

3) 2x Hermit crab

 

 

Soft coral

 

  • Various zoanthid - Fire and Ice, Radioactive dragon eyes, green bay packers and a blue variant. Excellent growth in last year
  • Orange Ricordea Mushroom
  • Red Mushroom - very recent addition.
  • Pulsing xenia - Excellent growth in last year.
     

LPS:

 

  • Various acan lords - Done well all but one colony which lost all but one head on one frag when a crab turned it upside down in the sand whilst I was on holiday.
  • Torch coral (green with white tips) - Gone from 1 to 3 heads.
  • Green frogspawn - Gone from 1 to 2 heads.
  • Candy cane - Recent addition, 4 heads at present.
  • Duncan coral - One new head in last few months.

 

So whats the plan for 2019??

  1.  Improve alk/calcium control - Have noticed recently that my dkH is running down to 5.8 d Ca down to 375 by the end of the week. Going to start dosing calcium and alkalinity daily/every other day to see if I can keep dkH around 9 and Ca around 420.
  2. Better growth of LPS - Had some success, but want to see plenty of new head growth this year.
  3. Consider trying of SPS?

Anyway hope you enjoy the new photos below...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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