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Mark L.

An Education & New Start for "The Phoenix"

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Mark L.

I've been in the reefing hobby for about 7 months.  Before that for the past 20 years I had a 45 gallon salt water tank.  Nothing fancy, just fish, crabs and tons of algae 😉 .  Last fall, as I had been neglecting the tank and was thinking about getting out of the hobby all together I stumbled across a new-ish local fish store.  They specialized in corals and unlike another fish store in the area, seemed to really know what they were talking about and VERY customer friendly.  Talking to the owner about reef tanks he introduced me to the IM 10 and 20 all in one tanks, how they worked, what was required in reefing along with the challenges everyone here is aware of.   So I decided to decommission my 20 year old standard saltwater tank and went with the IM 10 Nano set up.  It took some convincing with my wife but we found a great place in our kitchen that we could all enjoy a new and smaller tank.  I was aware of the risks with smaller tanks as smaller = more fluctuations/chances for disaster but this time I really wanted quality over quantity.  I wanted quick and easy maintenance and not something that would take hours every few weeks to keep up.  More frequent, 10-15 min small maintenance items I was fine with.  So I started it up in Dec, got a great quick cycle, imported two of my clowns (only one stayed as they began to fight) and some crabs into the 10 gallon and off I went.

 

12/19/17

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Parameters were really stable aside from a Nitrate issue I was never able to completely beat into submission but the corals didn't seem to mind. I added a Golby with his shrimp buddy and a cleaner shrimp. I had  Zoa's, Candy Cane's, Xenia's, some leathers and a few torches including a beautiful Pink Tipped Torch at the top. I even added a nice Monti that was doing well and a small clam that took the the tank instantly.

 

5/4/2018

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The tank was doing really well.  I had even tapped down the Nitrate problem and was getting 2 weeks easy per water change.  The pictures above were from May.  Below is the tank on June 9th.

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No I did not upload the wrong picture, that is what a tank looks like after a complete (and I mean complete) crash.  So what happened.  We went on a family vacation for a week.  I had my parents coming over every other day to check on the tank and feed the fish along with adding just a little Alk ever 2-3 days to keep my levels where I wanted.  They came by on a Sunday and everything was cool.  Came back Tuesday evening to find the tank completely cloudy, corals closed up and dying.  They called me sent me pictures and I had them open the tank up to get a better look.  They found the clown dead (which is what I think triggered everything).  They got him out along with the dead cleaner shrimp and I walked them through a 50% water change (not easy with 70 year old parents).  I then called my LFS and had them come out the next day to do another water change.  By the time they came out almost everything was dead or dying but did another water change to try and salvage what they could until I got back on Sat.  When I got home EVERYTHING was gone. Not a fun way to return from the beach.  As I began to pull the dead corals out I found the dead golby under the rock which obviously continued the death spiral the rest of the week.  Devastated doesn't fully describe how I felt.

 

So why am I writing this?  A few reasons.  

 

1) For newbies -- know the risks.  Things can go bad in a hurry especially in small tanks.  I wouldn't trade my 10 gallon.  I love the size, I love where it is in our house and everyone that comes in would marvel at its beauty and just how "cool" it was.

2) Be careful with fish in such small reef tanks.  I know fish are common in this small of a tank but my clown was probably a bit big for this size and if they up and die on you --ish goes bad quick. There is a reason many contributors here have corals only in Nano's. That is my plan (at least for now) for this tank going forward.

3) Get to know and support your LFS.  Those guys were INVALUABLE in educating me and still are.  Look I buy some of my stuff online but most of my items I try to buy from them even if its a little more expensive.  If they go out of business all I have to turn to are the message boards here 😉

4) When on vacation, checking on a small tank every other day is risky (esp if you have fish).  Spend a little more money paying off the next door neighbor's kid to come and and make sure everything is alive every day.  Had I had my parents checking every day, the dead fish would have been caught immediately and a small water change would have sufficed until I got back with minimal damage.

 

And the 5th reason I'm posing is since I got into the hobby and found this forum I've loved following individual tanks progress sooooo the "Phoenix" rises from the ashes... reborn and will be better than ever....

 

6/21/2018

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Tank completely re-cycled added a nice Zoa rock and red mushroom to get things going then found someone getting rid of a cool multi-head Candy Cane Trumpet that gives some nice definition/shape and color pop to the tank.  Watching the levels closely, everything is stable right now.  I learned a lot in my first go around of what I liked and ended up not liking.  Looking for quite a bit of movement in this tank along with some different colors.  Will be doing Euphyllias, some Acans, maybe some small Duncans and my wife loves the pulsing Xenia's.   She enjoys the tank as much as I do (except I do all the work) and she has good taste in what makes a tank look good (and expensive taste as well).  I appreciate and welcome any and all advice as the one thing I'm sure of is that the knowledge on these boards is beyond anything I hope to achieve and I've learned a ton just reading and following tanks.  This community is awesome!

 

Long post but I hope my (expensive) mistakes helps others out, esp in the Nano newbie arena.

 

Mark

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Christopher Marks

Welcome to the community @Mark L.! 👋

 

Sorry to hear about your setbacks, it was really starting out on a good path. Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone here, that's what this place is all about!

 

Keep us posted on the rebirth! 🙂 

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Mark L.

Any reason not to put a rock anemone in a 10 gallon?  I know they can grow to be sizable and move around but just wondering if anyone had experience with these in smaller tanks?

 

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ReefGoat

Sorry about your crash tank was looking sweet. People say controllers are a waste of money on 10 gallons. This is one of the reasons I beg to differ. Had you had your dosing/feeding automated. You could have done a 50 percent water change before leaving and pulled your filter floss and left your tank to do its thing plus monitor it while on vacation. Then upon return siphoing out detritus from rear chambers and return floss. Rather than leaving people who had a crash course on tank maintenance taking care of your beloved reef. Do you suspect the Od'd the ALK?

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Mark L.

Ya know I thought about that, but my mom who was doing it was meticulous in her notes.  She insisted she come over, watch me do it, took my notes I wrote out, wrote her own so no I don't think she over did the Alk but its possible.  The Clown was like 7 yrs old so it could have just died or I had been bringing my PH up slowly the past few weeks to sit around 8.4-8.5 and he may have just reacted to that poorly.  I've thought about a controller and may still get one in the future.  Any recommendations to begin the research?

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Raindog3030
1 hour ago, Mark L. said:

Any reason not to put a rock anemone in a 10 gallon?  I know they can grow to be sizable and move around but just wondering if anyone had experience with these in smaller tanks?

 

Absolutely no reason not too!  The biggest one in my 20 gallon gets about 4-4.5" in diameter.  I believe the trick is to either hold them in place or use a cup (with small "breather" holes in it) to keep him/her in place until the foot grabs (I prefer to hold them, but I also don't feel the "sting")...then feed the heck out of it!  My RFA hasn't budged an inch since we placed him/her 😉 

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Mark L.

What do you feed them? How often?

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Mark L.

A few new additions over the weekend. Added a bi-color Frogspawn along with two lepto's to the side.  Also added a cleaner ship (unpictured) that is doing well.  Looking for more additions this weekend.

 

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
On 6/22/2018 at 1:55 PM, Mark L. said:

Any reason not to put a rock anemone in a 10 gallon?  I know they can grow to be sizable and move around but just wondering if anyone had experience with these in smaller tanks?

 

I have a 20 gallon and I have 3 rock flower nems. The biggest one i have is about 3in. in diameter smallest is the size of a quarter. They are really awesome and they come in some insane colors. Some of them do move though. I have one that moved around for two days before settling in and one that hasn't moved an inch since i put it in the tank. Good luck on the rebirth :smilie:

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
On 6/22/2018 at 4:22 PM, Mark L. said:

What do you feed them? How often?

I feed mine once a week and they they get frozen mysis shrimp

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Mark L.

Latest additions... an Ultra Rock Flower Anemone and I added a couple of more Zoa's in my garden.  Funny thing about the Anemone, even though I had done some research on keeping them, somehow I missed the fact that sometimes after they eat they "poop" the waste out and it looks like they are dying.  So I went into panic mode when I saw it the first time then after a looking it up found out what they were doing.  He looked fine the next morning 😉 

 

I still have a  bit of a pesky Nitrate issue.  Hovers between 10-20.  I've never been able to successfully keep this tank below 10 regardless of what I do.

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Mark L.

After quite a bit of research I added a 2 head Dendro last week.  Love the look and movement.  He opens randomly and I have gotten him to eat a couple of times already.  I know these can be a little finicky to keep so I would love any advice those with Dendro's could give.

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Mark L.

I also need input here... I need to replace the stock return pump, it just doesn't push enough flow in my opinion.  I've decided on the Sicce Syncra, just can determine if I need the 1.0 or will the 0.5 work with a spin stream?  Thoughts?

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banasophia
2 hours ago, Mark L. said:

I also need input here... I need to replace the stock return pump, it just doesn't push enough flow in my opinion.  I've decided on the Sicce Syncra, just can determine if I need the 1.0 or will the 0.5 work with a spin stream?  Thoughts?

I discovered last week that the Sicce Syncra 0.5 with the spinstream was not enough flow for my Nuvo 10 ... @Clown79 pointed out that the spinstream reduces flow by 50%. If you’re using a spinstream right now you may want to try to remove it and see if that alone corrects the issue you’re having. 

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Mark L.

Here's an update and a few questions.  The re-stocking of the tank has gone really well.  I've added some Acans, a couple of frogspawns, a black light torch a nice Hammer and 3 Duncans along with a few additional Zoa frags.  Paramaters are pretty stable, PH stays around 8.0, Alk around 10.9, Calcium will hover between 380-420 and Nitrates have been between 5-10.  I also upgraded my return pump to an Eheim AEH1002310 (way overkill as I run it on the lowest setting but it's added a lot more flow to the tank).  The issue I have is inconsistencies with some of my Zoa's.  The larger rock (3rd picture below, they all open up great but my bright green Zoa's and my Eagle Eyes have been struggling.  When they first went in they opened up great but now not so much.  I also added the Kessil controller so I do have the light changing throughout the day.  I'm thinking that may be part of the problem so I've started tweaking my light schedule (suggestions welcome on good daily schedules).  Also, my nitrates have come way down over the past month (typically over 20 to now sitting between 5-10)  What is the more likely cause (if any) for the disparity in Zoa's opening? Changing light schedule, cleaner water? More flow?

 

These are small problems I know (compared to the tank crash) but was looking for some insight...

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
3 minutes ago, Mark L. said:

Here's an update and a few questions.  The re-stocking of the tank has gone really well.  I've added some Acans, a couple of frogspawns, a black light torch a nice Hammer and 3 Duncans along with a few additional Zoa frags.  Paramaters are pretty stable, PH stays around 8.0, Alk around 10.9, Calcium will hover between 380-420 and Nitrates have been between 5-10.  I also upgraded my return pump to an Eheim AEH1002310 (way overkill as I run it on the lowest setting but it's added a lot more flow to the tank).  The issue I have is inconsistencies with some of my Zoa's.  The larger rock (3rd picture below, they all open up great but my bright green Zoa's and my Eagle Eyes have been struggling.  When they first went in they opened up great but now not so much.  I also added the Kessil controller so I do have the light changing throughout the day.  I'm thinking that may be part of the problem so I've started tweaking my light schedule (suggestions welcome on good daily schedules).  Also, my nitrates have come way down over the past month (typically over 20 to now sitting between 5-10)  What is the more likely cause (if any) for the disparity in Zoa's opening? Changing light schedule, cleaner water? More flow?

 

These are small problems I know (compared to the tank crash) but was looking for some insight...

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I don't have zoas but I do know that if you mess with the light that really makes them mad. Let your light be for now and see if they open up. From what i've heard they are a little picky at times. Too much change I think.

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Mark L.
5 hours ago, DSFIRSTSLTWATER said:

I don't have zoas but I do know that if you mess with the light that really makes them mad. Let your light be for now and see if they open up. From what i've heard they are a little picky at times. Too much change I think.

Thanks.  Does anyone know what's more important in lighting with Zoa's, the intensity or the color?

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Mark L.

Here's a bit of an update on this tank.  Everything is running fairly smoothly and the tank is completely re-stocked and doing pretty well.  Current regiment is 2 gallon water changes every two weeks and basic top offs a couple of times a week.  I added a protein skimmer (yes I know overkill but it keeps nitrates in check between 5-10 at the 2 week point on water changes which is my goal). I'm still moving corals around to find their sweet spots.  The Duncans are probably the most maddening items in the tank now.  Both are highly sensitive to what kind of flow they get.  I can move them over just an inch and they will go from completely open to completely closed.  They tend to like more flow rather than less.  Most parameters are staying fairly stable except I have to watch Alk as it's been swinging more than I like.  Still no fish but several CIC including the addition of 2 sexy shrimp (not pictured) that my wife had to have.  I had some GHA but that is getting better as well (even though I do truly have a lazy clean up crew).

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Nano sapiens

Good to see that you didn't give up after the catastrophe 👍

 

1.  It's very common to see fish (and often too many) added too soon to a new tank.  A reef aquarium needs time for the bacteria colonies to to become established, stabilized and begin functioning at peak efficiency.  Adding corals early on is much easier on the system as they produce relatively little waste when compared to fish.

 

2.  I had two Ocellaris Clownfish in a 12g for a few years, but eventually they outgrew their surroundings and had to be moved to a new home.  Having a deep bodied 4" fish die in about 10g of water volume, and not catching it quickly, would have very likely been a destructive event even for a very well seasoned tank.  Can't say why yours died, but they can live up to around 20 years or so.

 

3.  I wouldn't rule out fish in a 10g, just go with those that are small and don't have a relatively large body mass.  Certain small Gobies and Blennies are good choices.

 

4.  I don't see any mention of sand bed maintenance, so my guess is you are leaving it alone.  As the tank ages the sand bed will become less and less efficient at processing waste unless the detritus is removed periodically.  The nitrate issues that you are partially addressing via skimming are a result of this and experience with these small nanos has shown that it is likely you'll run into nasties like cyano, dinos and/or green hair algae if you don't touch it.  Vacuuming a portion of the sand bed with each water change is effective and will go a long way in keeping nitrates in check.  This will allow the system to function more effectively/efficiently over the long term (measured in years/decades as there is no age limit for a reef tank, regardless of size, when the appropriate maintenance is performed regularly).

 

Enjoy the journey!

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Mark L.
On 9/18/2018 at 11:16 AM, Nano sapiens said:

Good to see that you didn't give up after the catastrophe 👍

 

1.  It's very common to see fish (and often too many) added too soon to a new tank.  A reef aquarium needs time for the bacteria colonies to to become established, stabilized and begin functioning at peak efficiency.  Adding corals early on is much easier on the system as they produce relatively little waste when compared to fish.

 

2.  I had two Ocellaris Clownfish in a 12g for a few years, but eventually they outgrew their surroundings and had to be moved to a new home.  Having a deep bodied 4" fish die in about 10g of water volume, and not catching it quickly, would have very likely been a destructive event even for a very well seasoned tank.  Can't say why yours died, but they can live up to around 20 years or so.

 

3.  I wouldn't rule out fish in a 10g, just go with those that are small and don't have a relatively large body mass.  Certain small Gobies and Blennies are good choices.

 

4.  I don't see any mention of sand bed maintenance, so my guess is you are leaving it alone.  As the tank ages the sand bed will become less and less efficient at processing waste unless the detritus is removed periodically.  The nitrate issues that you are partially addressing via skimming are a result of this and experience with these small nanos has shown that it is likely you'll run into nasties like cyano, dinos and/or green hair algae if you don't touch it.  Vacuuming a portion of the sand bed with each water change is effective and will go a long way in keeping nitrates in check.  This will allow the system to function more effectively/efficiently over the long term (measured in years/decades as there is no age limit for a reef tank, regardless of size, when the appropriate maintenance is performed regularly).

 

Enjoy the journey!

Thanks for the comments... I haven't completely ruled out a fish later on but not now, if this crashes again soon the wife will turn on me and I'll be done. 😉 I do clean the sand bed when I do water changes and probably at least once a month stir it up a little manually just to get it the detritus in the water and into the filter.

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Nano sapiens
2 hours ago, Mark L. said:

Thanks for the comments... I haven't completely ruled out a fish later on but not now, if this crashes again soon the wife will turn on me and I'll be done. 😉 I do clean the sand bed when I do water changes and probably at least once a month stir it up a little manually just to get it the detritus in the water and into the filter.

Understood 😏.  A tank can certainly be run successfully without fish as long as the corals have a regular nutrient source to supplement what they receive from their zooxanthellae 'algae'.

 

Sounds like you are on the right track concerning maintenance.  Last thing I would add as a consideration is vacuuming underneath a base rock (any rock that is touching the sand bed) every few months as there's a lot of waste/detritus that gets sucked under rocks due to the advective flow process.

 

Here's an old nano tank maintenance write up I did a while back that might be of interest:

 

https://www.nano-reef.com/forums/topic/327364-maintenance-and-the-nano-reef-tank/?tab=comments#comment-4341239

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Mark L.
1 minute ago, Nano sapiens said:

Understood 😏.  A tank can certainly be run successfully without fish as long as the corals have a regular nutrient source to supplement what they receive from their zooxanthellae 'algae'.

 

Sounds like you are on the right track concerning maintenance.  Last thing I would add as a consideration is vacuuming underneath a base rock (any rock that is touching the sand bed) every few months as there's a lot of waste/detritus that gets sucked under rocks due to the advective flow process.

Good tip thanks for your suggestions... esp considering how awesome your Nano is 😉 

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Nano sapiens
Just now, Mark L. said:

Good tip thanks for your suggestions... esp considering how awesome your Nano is 😉 

Thanks, it's just a simple but resilient little system.

 

BTW - I added a link to a maintenance thread I started from a while back in my previous post

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skyscraper2290

Tank is looking great! Awesome to see tha you were able to stick with it after your crash and get to where you are now! A yellow clown goby might be an awesome little fish to have in there. 

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Mark L.
27 minutes ago, skyscraper2290 said:

Tank is looking great! Awesome to see tha you were able to stick with it after your crash and get to where you are now! A yellow clown goby might be an awesome little fish to have in there. 

In my crashed tank I had a golby and shrimp pair and loved them.  The issue was that they were wayyyy too active for my sand bed in that 10 gallon setup as they'd constantly move lairs.  I'd wake up the next morning and they would have dumped a ton of sand over my corals in the sand bed so I limited to what I could put down there.  I do miss them though as he they were fun to watch.

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