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Starting a new 10 gallon.


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I am starting a new 10 gallon tank. I want to keep two clown fish with an anemone, live rock, and hermit crabs. I have already purchased a Skilter 250 for filtration and skimming. I am planning on using 10 lbs of aragonite fiji pink sand for the substrate. I am also planning on using around 10 lbs of live rock. My main questions are about live rock and lighting. I am not sure what type of live rock to get or how much lighting I will need for an anemone. Will I be successful with only 40 watt compacts, or will I need 96 watts or greater? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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I’d recommend a minimum of a 30 gallon tank with metal halide lighting for the livestock that you describe. However, I also feel that anemones should only be kept by advanced reef keepers.


So you are getting a 10-gallon tank, and want to keep two clownfish; they would have to be True, False, or Black Percs (even then, I’d recommend at least a 15-gallon tank, but others have done two Percs in a 10-gallon before).


Without the anemone, lighting is not as important; 40W PC lighting is adequate for corals without strong lighting requirements, but 96W PCs will support more types of corals. For a fish only tank, I’d save the money and stick with the 40W PCs.


10 pounds of LR is light and two clownfish is a pretty heavy bio-load. I recommend getting 15 to 20 pounds of LR (the type is really not that important, but Fiji LR is fairly popular and readily available at most local marine stores).

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Thanks for the advice seabass. I know that a 10 gallon can create some problems. I chose the 10 gallon because I live in an apartment and I already have an extra one sitting around. I have been a successful freshwater aquarist (also 10 gallons) for over a year with tetras and dwarf cichlids (Kribs). I have always been interested in marine tanks, especially reef tanks. I have been researching this tank for about 5 months. Why would it matter if they where true percs? I have heard that true percs are wild and they are a bit harder to acclimate to tank conditions. What do you think?

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I recommend a mated pair of tank bred Ocellaris Clownfish. In general, Amphiprion ocellaris (Ocellaris Clownfish or False Percs) are more hardy then Amphiprion percula (True Percs). In addition, Ocellaris Clownfish do better without a host anemone, and tank raised specimens are readily available at most marine stores.


However, tank bred True Percula Clownfish are also available. The stripes of tank-raised True Percs are often irregular. In general, tank bred fish are hardier, less stressed, take better to prepared foods, and are often more tolerant of other fish.


Black Percs are usually Amphiprion ocellaris from Australia, but a line of black captive bred Amphiprion percula has been established in Puerto Rico.

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Thanks for clearing that up for me seabass. You seem to be very knowledgable. I have been researching for a while, but I am still a couple of months away from starting my nano. I want to be absolutely positive I have everything I need to be successfull from the start. What is your take on suppliments for corals? I am always very leary about putting extra chemicals in my tanks. Oh, by the way, I saw your tank. It looks amazing. I put it on my desktop as inspiration (and something good to look at). Hope you don't mind. Later.

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:blush: Thanks!


My take on supplements:

I’m not opposed to dosing, but you need to be very careful when dosing elements. Don’t dose unless a reliable test kit indicates that you should; then continue to test and monitor the results. Even if you are testing for the element that you are dosing, you might not be testing for other elements that are affected by dosing the original element. For example, dosing calcium can affect pH and alkalinity (and calcium levels are affected by magnesium and strontium). Be careful when dosing; overdosing is typically much worse than not dosing at all.


In general, partial water changes replenish consumed elements (and buffers), dilute harmful or excess elements, and help to balance your water chemistry. This tends to work fairly well, as quality salt mixes like Tropic Marin and Instant Ocean contain the necessary elements and buffers for good water chemistry. Unnecessary dosing can put your water chemistry out of balance.


Livestock, skimmers, and carbon can all remove beneficial elements from the water. Weekly partial water changes can be enough to replenish them; however, as you keep more corals, they will tend to consume more calcium than weekly water changes will replenish. A good way to maintain your calcium level is by using 2 part calcium buffer systems, like B-Ionic (which is what I use).


New salts are now being introduced like Tropic Marin PRO-REEF, which has added calcium and magnesium. In addition, its buffering system and pH level have been formulated to help accommodate the use of calcium supplements. These might prove to be very beneficial in maintaining proper levels.



Many dosing products contain multiple elements due to how they impact the level of a particular element. Other products assume a general consumption rate for a typical reef and try to develop a supplement based upon that assumption. Most of us are not testing levels for all of these elements (like iodine and magnesium), or the elements that can be affected by them. Over dosing something like iodine can be very dangerous to a reef, and nano tanks amplify the problem due to their small water volume.

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What about using the 10 gallon you already have as a fuge, and get another 10g, a 15g or even a 20g as a main tank to give your chosen livestock a bit more tank room. 20g long, with the 10g as a fuge under the tank, in the stand would be pretty nice, and should be within the common allowed tank size of an apartment, if thats even a problem here.

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Thank you everyone for the suggestions. Daemonfly, the only reason I am dead set on a 10 gallon is because I already have the tank and the stand, and because I live in a small apartment with no room. I currently have a 10 gallon planted freshwater tank with tetras and kribs. It was a small struggle to clear that with the landlord so I know I won't be able to have a larger tank at this time. Believe me, as soon as I settle down in one place for a while I will definately getting at least a 55 gallon. For now, 10 gallons are the most logical.


Now, about dosing. I think I will stick to the weekly water changes for now. I have already purchased a Skilter 250, a hydrometer, and a test kit. I am about to go to the LFS and purchase the aragonite sand. What tips can you guys give me on the actual set-up on the tank? Should I just start with the sand and the saltwater and add the live rock later or is it best to do all of that at once? I should probably wait until I get my lighting down. That is the most expensive part and I would rather get a lot of lighting so I won't be limited on what I can and can't keep.

I was looking at this one. What do you guys think? http://store.yahoo.com/lamps-now/201xcoaqpcho.html


If I purchase the moon light I should be okay right? Should I get the legs or just place it on top of the tank. If I get the legs I will need a glass top correct?


Thanks again to everyone who has replied to this thread. I really appreciate this community of nano reefers. You guys have helped me grow a lot in my knowledge of nano reefs.


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In regards to the lightning, I have the coralife unit you linked to on top of my 10. I also have the legs and use no glass top (atleast for now). I think its a good unit.

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Should I just start with the sand and the saltwater and add the live rock later or is it best to do all of that at once?
I would start with the sand, water and salt. Get your salinity and temperature right, then add the rock- this will avoid killing everything on the rock by putting it in freshwater.


I should probably wait until I get my lighting down. That is the most expensive part and I would rather get a lot of lighting so I won't be limited on what I can and can't keep.

Good thinking. Patience is the most important thing in this hobby and you seem to demonstrate a lot of it. You're definately on the right track. Continue learning and planning and things will turn out well. Most people rush out to buy everything they think they need, only to find out they have to spend twice as much to upgrade later. The 96w PowerQuad will definately do the job and is very common here. Personally, I prefer units with 2 seperate ballasts so actinic and daylight can be switched seperately. I personally use the Coralife 24" 2x65w on my 10g. It is great, but it does stick out a bit on either end. I prefer the units with the legs, but be forewarned- the legs break easily if you put any weight on them. You may want to buy a spare set if you decide to go this route. Either way, I wouldn't recommend a glass top, especially on a tank without a sump. It'll prevent gas exchange. I prefer to use the plastic "egg-crate" that is used on commercial lighting. It allow light and gases to pass, but keeps your fish in the tank.
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Where can I get some of that egg crate you speak of. You also said, "Personally, I prefer units with 2 seperate ballasts so actinic and daylight can be switched seperately." Why is this important? Also, I was wondering if my Skilter 250 would be efficient in filtering the tank and moving water. I would rather not take up more room in the tank for a power head, but if it is necessary then I will. I want my tank to look as natural as possible, like I just took a picture of the ocean and put it in my living room.

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I have the same light fixture as you are thinking of getting hotsax. The only difference is that my light fixture is a 30 inch long fixture. I have a 20 gallon long reef tank. My lights are 2 65W per bulb and they work great.

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I set up a 10 gal in June with a Whisper 4 power filter as a refugium and found that wasn't nearly enough movement, I've since added 2 Maxi-jet 600's on a Natural Wave power strip and find this to be just enough motion as the ph's alternate flow. The corals and plants have responded very well to this. If I had room in the tank I would add another small power head because the wave-maker power strip has another wave plug in but I don't think I can fit another thing(mechanical) in the tank and still have any room for the fun stuff(corals)! :) You can see pics of my tank here http://www.nano-reef.com/gallery/showphoto...&cat=500&page=1


Good luck and enjoy! :) Lana

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Where can I get some of that egg crate you speak of.
Like Daemon said, you can get it at HD or any other hardware store. It usually comes in white or silver, but if you can find black, even better.


You also said, "Personally, I prefer units with 2 seperate ballasts so actinic and daylight can be switched seperately." Why is this important?
A couple reasons. You can set the actinic to come on an hour before and go off an hour after daylight. This simulates dawn and dusk and that way your tank doesn't go from complete dark to full daylight instantly.


And also, many corals look awesome under actinics only. The actinic light causes some corals to glow very brightly. I like it much better than daylight.


Also, I was wondering if my Skilter 250 would be efficient in filtering the tank and moving water. I would rather not take up more room in the tank for a power head, but if it is necessary then I will.
I would personally add at least one powerhead. I like a lot of flow in my tank. I have a 10g with 2 powerheads that each put out 180+ gph and a fuge return that adds another 90-100gph of flow.
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I've had a problem with my powerhead because I feel that it has too much power. My tank is a 20 gallon and I have a penguin powerhead. It seems to throw too much bubbles into the tank making it seem that it looks as if my sand is being picked up. I really dont like the way it looks. Hopefully it will get better.

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Thanks to everyone who has replied to this thread. I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I understand that the two ballast system would be better. What if I bought a moonlight? I've seen them at the LFS for $19.99. Currently I have a nightlight in the room with the tanks. I am using this because I currently have a 10 gallon planted tank with kribs in it. These Kribs can't take sudden changes of light. It scares them and they won't mate. I usually leave the room lights of for thirty minutes before and after the tank lights go out.


I think I will definately add a powerhead. I was also thinking about adding another small power filter so I could have one on the left and right side of the tank. Will that create enough movement? Thanks again everybody! Later!

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The Skilter pumps 250 g.p.h. and a small pump like a Micro•Jet 450 will pump 47, 79, or 117 g.p.h. That should be plenty of flow for a 10-gallon tank. Instead, I might even consider putting the pump on a Natural Wave Timer to vary the flow (or have two pumps alternate). On my 7-gallon, I had an HOB filter and used the wave timer for my pump. In addition, I put the pump on a regular automatic timer to leave it off at night (currents are a little less intense in the ocean at night and I figured the fish could sleep a little better).


If I had a choice between two ballasts and one, at the same price, I’d choose the two ballasts, but it isn’t a huge deal. The moonlight creates a cool effect, but they are definitely not required (it looks like the 3/4 W LED option only adds $15). I feel that they are more for viewing than a benefit to your livestock, but you are right, the sun doesn’t just turn on or shut off, and it is less stressful if the change is more gradual. However, your nightlight should be adequate.

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  • 11 months later...

It's been a while since I've posted anything about my 10 gallon nano. Work got crazy, I got married, I moved into a house, yadayada. Anyways.


I'm still working on getting that 10 gallon started. I've been reading a lot about different set ups. I read one article about deap sand beds with live rock and no power filters. Just the live sand, rock and power heads for water movement. Has anybody else had success with this?

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DSB's generally don't work too well in small tanks. They depend on various little critters that live in the sand. Many of those critters won't go anywhere near a hard surface (ie. the glass). Because of this, the outer couple inches of your sand bed is pretty ineffective. In a 10g, this only leaves a very small amount of effective DSB.


However, you can run a shallow sand bed, or no sand bed with live rock, and not need a power filter. Most people here don't use a filter. 1 - 1.5lbs per gallon of live rock and regular water changes should be sufficient. You do still need flow though. A couple small powerhead should do the job.

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Sweet. Then I will go with a shallow sand bed. I've got everything I need now except for the light. I will be ordering that hopefully within the next couple of weeks. I'll keep everyone posted and pics will come after set up.

In the mean time. Does anybody have any suggestions on what I should stock it with. I know I would like to have one clown fish and some crabs. What kind of crabs are best and what else would go well with a clown fish? Thanks.

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