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Skeeterific

First Reef: Skeeterific's Low-tech 38 gallon

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Skeeterific

Hey y'all! After doing a bunch of lurking on this forum and other reef sites, I thought it might be a good idea to take advantage of this awesome aquarium journal idea to document my (extremely messy) 38-gallon reef.

 

This one's going to be an awesome challenge, I'm so excited about it. I've kept planted tanks in the past, but was finally convinced to turn my empty 38 into a reef tank after working at my LFS for the past 7 months. On the one hand, what an awesome hobby. On the other hand, even with my 50% discount it seems like most of my earnings just go back to the LFS. 😭

 

Anyway, here's what I've got so far:

20180619_095506.thumb.jpg.06bbe654097ddf165a85a8e6b9fe90a4.jpg

 

One of the fun/frustrating things about this setup so far is a lot of what I have are scraps from the LFS. This has made experimenting far easier and more fun for someone with not a lot of money, since I don't have any serious investment in, say, any given bunch of zoa polyps or single mushroom I found at the bottom of a frag tank. Of all the little frags in my tank so far, I think I actually paid for one. 

 

20180619_095606.thumb.jpg.af1e7c768beed4b6a5eb59cacfa71baf.jpg

 

Like my title suggests, I'm aiming to make this setup as low-tech as possible. My filtration is live rock and sand, and a Marineland HOB. It's a good brand, but still just an HOB. No refugium, no skimmer, simple heater, one powerhead (whose brand I can't remember. The only thing I really ponied up for is the lighting, which is the new Fluval Marine Spectrum LED. I can't speak to anyone else's experience, as I'm very new at this, but so far this thing is neatoooo. You control the colors and timing of the light through an app, which makes it fully customizable for whatever livestock you happen to have. 

 

The tank is about 6 weeks old at this point, and definitely still in the yucky-looking stabilization stage. Healthwise, though, everyone is doing well so far! Current livestock is as follows:

Fish:

1 baby black ocellaris (Winifred)

2 mated royal grammas (Eggo and Eliza)

 

Inverts:

1 tiger sand conch

1 emerald crab

1 short-spine urchin

5 red-leg hermits

1 left hand zebra hermit

1 cleaner shrimp

1 Mexican turbo snail

 

Coral:

Like I said, scraps. Some bits of montipora, bird's nest, mushrooms, zoas, frogspawn, green trumpet. Definitely already seeing some growth in the bird's nests and trumpet.

 

551026900_20180619_095517-Copy.thumb.jpg.b0194aab9f627a0c053b98e6eafdf137.jpg

 

969066470_20180619_095527-Copy.thumb.jpg.29643600ca3906ba73e99bd41db6e7a1.jpg

 

Future goals: 

I absolutely love the building-up process of reef tanks. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced in freshwater. I already don't know what I'll do when there isn't anything to fix in this stupid, beautiful little box of water anymore! That said, boy are there things to fix. Parameter-wise, everything seems great, but the main thing I want to focus on right now is the rockscape. I like the two-island look to allow for more swimming space and surface area of rock, I just don't like how short the scape is right now. I'd like to really build up the rocks on the left for a taller look, with a lot of built in caves for fish, and again, surface area. But to do that I need a binding agent. I've been promised some good stuff we're going to have extra at work, so...patience! 

 

Algae is a "problem" right now, in that I'm trying not to let it smother anything living, but I'm sure the bloom will pass eventually. I plan on getting a lawnmower or starry blenny to tackle the problem spots soon. 

 

My grammas are the last issue. I got them as a mated pair from a lady who was getting rid of them to make room for other basslets. They did well at first, but now the male (Eggo) won't let the female (Eliza) leave the heater. I don't know if this is an issue of not having enough hiding spots or what, but he might have to go. It's too bad, I was looking forward to watching them spawn and maybe having them provide some fresh food for future corals. Maybe I should wait to take him out until after I build the rock up?

 

If you've read this far, thanks so much! Any advice is so so appreciated. This forum is awesome. 

 

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Skeeterific

Holy diatoms, Batman.

20180624_100709.thumb.jpg.bd674c15cbe111b7e47ae7ea974d77d2.jpg

 

The tank is having some serious uglies right now. 

20180624_100721.thumb.jpg.501a110d41febae40d24f03367c5c4ac.jpg

 

In other news, one of my frogspawn heads is dying. Not too much of a surprise, I found it half-buried in a show tank at work. Still, it looked like it might recover there for a while...oh well. At least the other head is doing fine.

 

20180624_100743.thumb.jpg.e763ad502c3b4fa22a429e5fb47efe6c.jpg

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ReefGoat

Stay on top of that GHA it will colonize your tank.  Manual remove during water changes seems to be a good way. 

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Skeeterific
5 hours ago, ReefGoat said:

Stay on top of that GHA it will colonize your tank.  Manual remove during water changes seems to be a good way. 

Duly noted! My crab and snail are trying but they're just not fast enough. At least they'll never starve!

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ReefGoat

Yeah GHA can get frustrating! I've read some people on here having good luck with Mithrax crabs, green variant I think. 

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Skeeterific

So I did a (potentially foolish) thing.

 

20180625_184739.thumb.jpg.7fcce9ab421cafb0f7b32d83fa7c0985.jpg

 

I wasn't going to get a dwarf angel ever, really, I wasn't. They pick at corals, and they can be territorial, and fragile, and cause all sorts of problems. But then I went to the LFS I don't work at, saw this tiny baby Potter's Angel, and immediately fell in love. I love buying baby fish, I think it's a lot of fun to watch them grow up. Plus, I don't have any real evidence to support this, but I kind of suspect wild-caught babies adjust a little bit better to captivity.

 

Guys, this fish is TINY. She's like the size of a quarter, a little bit smaller than Winifred (the clownfish), who's barely out of fryhood.

 

20180625_185153.thumb.jpg.5fbd312f2a28450736065f53c224ddf3.jpg

 

This is the riskiest fish I've ever bought, period. I don't have a quarantine, so I just said a prayer after acclimation and let her loose. Potter's Angels aren't cheap, and I'm still a little worried that I'm not ready for a slightly more difficult fish, I'd hate for my inexpertise to kill anything. However, I did see her eating voraciously at the store, and she's been there for a couple of weeks, and looked fat and happy. Plus, Potter's Angels are only found in Hawaii, which means collection practices are going to be much more humane, so there's less likelihood of illness and undue stress, plus the reef itself isn't harmed. I think the benefits outweigh the costs with this little fish. She's still shy, but getting a little bit braver this morning. Hopefully by tomorrow she'll feel comfy enough to start helping me with my diatom problem. 

 

No name yet. I think it's bad luck to name anything less than two weeks in. 😐

 

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER

Welcome :smilie:

I'm going to be following along good luck with the tank. Just remember to take things slow. I was wondering if you are using rodi water?

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Skeeterific
1 hour ago, DSFIRSTSLTWATER said:

Welcome :smilie:

I'm going to be following along good luck with the tank. Just remember to take things slow. I was wondering if you are using rodi water?

Thank you! Patience is definitely a virtue. Fortunately bills keep me from going overboard. ;)

 

I am using rodi, if the algae doesn't calm down in a few weeks I might look into getting a HOB skimmer.

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DSFIRSTSLTWATER
15 minutes ago, Skeeterific said:

Fortunately bills keep me from going overboard. 😉

LOL oh yeah I hear that...probably a good thing though

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Skeeterific

Just a quick update! The baby Potter's Angel seems to be fitting in well. I've got hundreds of little kissy marks in the algae on the back wall. Its good to see she's both eating and earning her keep!

 

20180627_163539.thumb.jpg.1022b32b6f7ee7b3f35a518dd9359895.jpg

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Orangutran
On 6/26/2018 at 10:15 AM, Skeeterific said:

So I did a (potentially foolish) thing.

 

20180625_184739.thumb.jpg.7fcce9ab421cafb0f7b32d83fa7c0985.jpg

 

I wasn't going to get a dwarf angel ever, really, I wasn't. They pick at corals, and they can be territorial, and fragile, and cause all sorts of problems. But then I went to the LFS I don't work at, saw this tiny baby Potter's Angel, and immediately fell in love. I love buying baby fish, I think it's a lot of fun to watch them grow up. Plus, I don't have any real evidence to support this, but I kind of suspect wild-caught babies adjust a little bit better to captivity.

 

Guys, this fish is TINY. She's like the size of a quarter, a little bit smaller than Winifred (the clownfish), who's barely out of fryhood.

 

20180625_185153.thumb.jpg.5fbd312f2a28450736065f53c224ddf3.jpg

 

This is the riskiest fish I've ever bought, period. I don't have a quarantine, so I just said a prayer after acclimation and let her loose. Potter's Angels aren't cheap, and I'm still a little worried that I'm not ready for a slightly more difficult fish, I'd hate for my inexpertise to kill anything. However, I did see her eating voraciously at the store, and she's been there for a couple of weeks, and looked fat and happy. Plus, Potter's Angels are only found in Hawaii, which means collection practices are going to be much more humane, so there's less likelihood of illness and undue stress, plus the reef itself isn't harmed. I think the benefits outweigh the costs with this little fish. She's still shy, but getting a little bit braver this morning. Hopefully by tomorrow she'll feel comfy enough to start helping me with my diatom problem. 

 

No name yet. I think it's bad luck to name anything less than two weeks in. 😐

 

Potters are beautiful! I saw it in a LFS and admired it for 2 months and one day all livestock was 25% off and I could not resist. I have it for a year and a half now and it has not picked on any corals and not aggressive at all. (And clam safe, at least for 3 days before my stupid hermit ate my clam!)

 

Yours is so cute! Didn't know they sold them so small! I have a feeling it'll grow up to be a great reef citizen!

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Skeeterific
Just now, Orangutran said:

Potters are beautiful! I saw it in a LFS and admired it for 2 months and one day all livestock was 25% off and I could not resist. I have it for a year and a half now and it has not picked on any corals and not aggressive at all. (And clam safe, at least for 3 days before my stupid hermit ate my clam!)

 

Yours is so cute! Didn't know they sold them so small! I have a feeling it'll grow up to be a great reef citizen!

Whee, thanks! It's good to hear someone else has had a good experience with one. I panicked a little yesterday because I noticed her caudal fin had a couple splits, but today it's all healed up! Very happy with this fish so far, she's adorable.

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Skeeterific

The tank is still alive! In fact, it got a rescape:

20180728_094435.thumb.jpg.e34abee7efa9b249e1545d2541f1c31d.jpg

 

I'm trying to use the space of the 38 gallons more effectively, try and make more visual interest for the fish and things to swim through, as well as leaving enough room for coral. 

 

Meanwhile, I went out of town for 9 days and when I came back everybody had ich. I think they must have gotten freaked out from not being fed regularly which brought on the attack. They started looking better after a day or so, but I don't want everything to crash on gambling, so into quarantine they go. 

 

I almost regret moving them since I had to take apart my careful rescape and freak everyone out doubly. Of course rocks I glued together came apart and wouldn't glue again, water everywhere, and one of the poor grammas spent the better part of a minute on the floor before I found him.

 

Here's everyone in the hospital tank:

20180728_094410.thumb.jpg.d95aabee78da80b18d386bc41ecf4c70.jpg

 

They're being treated with cupramine. I doubt I'll be able to get rid of them in the show tank for good, but hopefully this knocks down their population. I'll keep the quarantine up for 30 days.

 

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Orangutran

That sucks. Hope they all recover!! 

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