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Oli's New Fluval 13.5

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Hello All, 

 

I'm newish here, but I have been really enjoying reading though various tank journals and articles on here whilst planning my tank. 

 

This is my first marine tank so I would welcome any advice anyone has for me.

 

As I have said in the title the tank is a 13.5 gallon fluval sea evo and I have some real reef rock and dry sand in it. I filled it with salt water I bought from the LFS, I plan to buy some salt and use RODI water from the LFS in future but until then I will keep buying the ready mixed salt water from the shop. 

 

I am using Fluvals bacteria starter following the instructions on the bottle and have one of the API marine test kits in the post, hopefully will arrive tomorrow. 

 

The plan I have created from advice I have seen on here and from talking to the staff in the fish shop is once the cycle has completed (hopefully only a couple of weeks) is to get a pair of blue legged hermit crabs to start off my clean up crew, and as long as things remain stable follow it up with a small pair of clowns the week after. I am not a big fan of snails and don't want to put things in the tank if they are likely to be eaten so I think I would like to use a tuxedo urchin to replace snails in the clean up crew.  That is likely to be it for animals and will be introduced over a matter of weeks. 

 

I am keen to have corals in the tank too, and would be interested in any advice on when its best to start adding them? I am thinking after the crabs whilst being aware not to add to much to the tank at any one time. 

The corals I am keep to add at some point are: 

Pulsing xenea 

A torch

Kenya Tree

Some brightly coloured zoanthids 

 

I'll add some photos from my phone after this of my scape, I have struggled with getting something that looks good from both sides with it being a peninsula tank. 

 

 

 

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Photo of each side. Sorry they arnt great the reflections on the back of the glass are tricky

IMG_20180717_211726.jpg

IMG_20180717_211622.jpg

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Yay! New tanks! Welcome to the dark side lol. I have the evo as well as my first saltwater tank. Right now, it's just over eight months old.

 

As for corals, I would stay away from the torch in such a small tank unless you are prepared to frag it or give it away once it grows. Euphilia (torches, frogspawn, hammers), elegance corals, etc. are prone to sending out sweeper tentacles that will sting and kill nearby corals.

The kenyan trees and pulsing xenia are known to self-propagate, dropping limbs and encrusting over things respectively. Both are good beginner corals but again beware of them spreading fast and taking over without maintenance.

 

I successfully keep hermit crabs with my snails by asking for empty shells at the LFS and having a variety of sizes. You'll need to have a bunch of empty shells regardless the crabs might kill each other for their shells or simply die due to a bad molt. I would say to go with snails instead of crabs as snails will be able to clean both the rock and the glass but to each their own. Since you're looking into an urchin, the glass shouldn't be too much of a problem, but it might start picking up corals and debris with its spines and won't be able to fit into tight spaces. Each has their own downsides.

 

What type of filtration do you have in the back? I would get rid of the foam block they give you; it builds up debris and becomes a nitrate factory. With such a small tank, look into filtermedia like GFO, phosgaurd, carbon, etc. to help maintain water parameters. You can also turn one of the chambers into a mini refugium with some macro algae like chaeto or dragon's tongue.

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Hello and Welcome

 

Tank looks good. I like the rockwork.

 

If you used real liverock that was wet from a tank, you likely will not have a cycle, possibly a tiny spike. 

Liverock thwt is established only will go through a cycle when there is die off, which requires the rock drying out.

 

I have had a lot of success keeping hermits with snails. Hermits will go after a  snail that's not well and they prefer certain snails for the shells.

 

Providing them with food and shells prevents them going after snails.

 

Urchins are harder to keep in nano's. They require a lot of algae and some only eat certain types of algae.

Some will eat supplemental seaweed while others starve to death.

Be prepared that they often knock over corals and often get decorated by objects in the tank.

 

 

What type of filtration are you using in the chambers? The sponge is not beneficial in SW.

 

 

Do you have a powerhead for in the tank?

 

 

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Nice scape!  Everything you have planned is realistic.  Although, I agree the torch is tough in a small tank.  Frogspawn and hammers are actually a little easier, especially in tight quarters.  

 

I too keep snails with hermits.  I have had snail only clean up crews in the past and the attrition wasn't much different than if I mixed the two, so I figure the hermits may not be the real issue.  Hermits are nice in that they'll eat leftover fish food, whereas the snails will only go after algae.  At the same time there are a lot of places snails can go that hermits can't (glass, powerheads, return nozzles, etc)  

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Thanks for all the great advice! I like the idea of the torch as it has so much movement, but swapping it for a hammer will give a similar effect. Regarding corals, are there any of the flat plate type corals which would be suitable for this sort of tank, or are they all SPS? 

 

I got both of the intank media baskets for it with the tank (thank you eBay!) but at the moment I have the media basket in section 1 with some filter floss at the top for the water to poor through and nothing else. I have some of the carbon bags similar to the one which would have come with the tank originally which I plan to put in the middle chamber when I get some livestock in the tank and in the bottom chamber I will put some of the fluval biomax pellets in the bottom as soon as a media bag from amazon arrives.

 

I have my heater in the second chamber and then the pump in the 3rd at the moment as the heater didn't fit in the 3rd with the pump without having more sticking out of the top more than I would have liked. 

 

I am planning on getting a powerhead, something like the hydor koralia 900 for the tank before I get too many corals in - just hasn't happened yet. Do you think there is a big advantage of getting a wave controller for it with a tank this size to mix the flow up even more? 

 

Another thought I had today is as I used dry reef rock and dry sand do I need to add anything to feed the bottled bacteria that I have been adding? I am conscious there is nothing in there creating ammonia other than the dried bits of plant that were on the dry rock. 

 

My test kit arrived today so I get to have fun trying that out and seeing where things are this evening - I know the cycle will barely have started yet but the scientist in me wants try to try plot a graph of the parameters as they change. 

 

Thanks again for all the advice. 

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Controllable powerheads are great in that you can dial them in to the exact speed you want.  However, they aren't a requirement.  

 

As far as an ammonia source I just use bottled ammonia from the grocery or hardware stores.  you want to be sure it doesn't have any soap or detergent added but that can be confirmed just by shaking the bottle and seeing if the bubbles created from shaking linger for more than a second or two.  You could also throw a little food in the tank, although this takes a couple of days to really start breaking down and producing ammonia.  

 

Do a Google search for "fishless cycle" and you will find plenty of writeups on adding ammonia to the tank.  

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1 hour ago, olig said:

Thanks for all the great advice! I like the idea of the torch as it has so much movement, but swapping it for a hammer will give a similar effect. Regarding corals, are there any of the flat plate type corals which would be suitable for this sort of tank, or are they all SPS? 

 

I got both of the intank media baskets for it with the tank (thank you eBay!) but at the moment I have the media basket in section 1 with some filter floss at the top for the water to poor through and nothing else. I have some of the carbon bags similar to the one which would have come with the tank originally which I plan to put in the middle chamber when I get some livestock in the tank and in the bottom chamber I will put some of the fluval biomax pellets in the bottom as soon as a media bag from amazon arrives.

 

I have my heater in the second chamber and then the pump in the 3rd at the moment as the heater didn't fit in the 3rd with the pump without having more sticking out of the top more than I would have liked. 

 

I am planning on getting a powerhead, something like the hydor koralia 900 for the tank before I get too many corals in - just hasn't happened yet. Do you think there is a big advantage of getting a wave controller for it with a tank this size to mix the flow up even more? 

 

Another thought I had today is as I used dry reef rock and dry sand do I need to add anything to feed the bottled bacteria that I have been adding? I am conscious there is nothing in there creating ammonia other than the dried bits of plant that were on the dry rock. 

 

My test kit arrived today so I get to have fun trying that out and seeing where things are this evening - I know the cycle will barely have started yet but the scientist in me wants try to try plot a graph of the parameters as they change. 

 

Thanks again for all the advice. 

Yes. If you used all dry rock then an ammonia source needs to be added so the cycle will begin. Check out Dr Tim's because it has clear directions on how to dose it. 

 

Your filter set up sounds good.

 

Floss should be changed frequently during cycling, if you didn't wash the sand before use, store it frequently during cycling.

 

After cycle floss should be changed twice a week, carbon every 2 - 3weeks.

 

You don't need the bio media, your liverock is plenty. 

 

As for a wave maker, it depends on what you want. You can go with something with a controller like aqamai, jebao, or mp10 which allows you to control the type of movement etc.

Or a simple hydor koralia, sicce, tunze powerhead will work.

 

 

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So I got crabs! 

 

I needed to nip back to the fish shop to return one of the water containers which I had borrowed when setting the tank up and with advice from the person there running there shop we decided that the tank is ready for a couple of clean up crew members so I left with two orange legged hermit crabs so my tank now has some life in it! 

 

I am a little worried they won't have enough to eat without there being any waste from fishes and their food in the tank and very little algae which has virtually all gone over night so might try find some food they can eat from a shop today for them. 

 

I've really enjoyed sitting watching them since adding them to the tank and really glad I have been able to add some life to it now. 

 

On an unrelated note I think my pump has started to get louder which is a little annoying in my living room, do you have any tips for keeping it quieter. Its hard to judge how much it has changed with any difference being very gradual but I notice it a lot more when sitting in the room watching tv. 

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This morning I found one of my hermit crabs climbing up the corner of the tank, is this normal and do I need to worry about the tank seal getting damaged if it does this a lot? 

 

Sorry for the bad quality photo the light wasn't great and I only had my phone camera

IMG_20180801_061951.jpg

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1 hour ago, olig said:

This morning I found one of my hermit crabs climbing up the corner of the tank, is this normal and do I need to worry about the tank seal getting damaged if it does this a lot? 

 

Sorry for the bad quality photo the light wasn't great and I only had my phone camera

IMG_20180801_061951.jpg

I don't know why they do this. I'll have snails go all the way to the top of the water line as well. Both snails and hermits will just sit there and then go back to their business.

I was running a 2.5 G to cycle some media and had a hermit climb the seal and escape when I was gone for the weekend (he didn't make it) but I haven't had any problems with the hermits in my evo

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So as its been nearly 4 weeks since I have set the tank up and and a week and a bit since I added the crabs I thought that I may be ready to be able to get myself some fish into the tank. With only 2 hermit crabs in it at the moment it still looks empty most of the time given that the crabs spend most of their time hiding and even when they are out they are small and hard to see. 

 

So I tested my water and got

 

PH 8.2

Ammonia 0

Nitrite 0 

Nitrate 5

 

So I headed over to my local fish shop who always seem to have small mocha clowns in which is what I have got my heart set on but also took some water over for me to get tested by them as I have been told the API test kits are not the best so its nice to have my numbers double checked. 

 

Unfortunatly for me when we tested my water at the shop it turned out my KH is low (6.2) so instead of a pair of clowns I ended up leaving with some Red Sea KH buffer and a salifort KH test kit. As I need to bring it up slowly it will be a week or so until I will have it ready for the fish. Its disappointing but I'd hate to get fish and kill them with bad water so we will see where I get in a week or so. 

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try doing a water change first. On that note, either look on your salt's bag for the KH level or test freshly mixed salt water. If the KH of new salt water is low, you may have to change salts or immediately add buffer when mixing new salt water

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