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Jigsaw's 10G Coldwater Build!


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Testing the levels today! I decided to test for most of the "cycling" chemicals, so I opted out of Calcium/Magnesium since I don't really have any corals in here that depend on it yet. Anyway, here's your update 😊


Date Ammonia Nitrates Phosphates pH Alkalinity Calcium Magnesium SG/Salinity Temperature
10/4/2018 0.5 < 10 0.25-.50 7.4-7.7 9.8 n/a n/a 1.025



One thing to note here is that 1) pH is a little low, which I hear is a common thing in coldwater tanks and 2) Since I added salt weeks ago, there has been absolutely NO evaporation. It's amazing. It's running at a consistent 57-58 degrees. I considered monitoring how often the chiller runs, but I'm not exactly sure how to tell when it "kicks on," other than maybe measuring decibels and recording that somehow...Any thoughts?



So it's somewhat clear it's cycling. I just hope that anemone survives ok! He's eating fine, so no issue there. I figure he essentially lives inside of a protein skimmer on the shore with all those white caps crashing into the beach, that he's used to less-than-ideal params... But I'll update this in a week to see where we are at.


My other question to everyone is: Do you do water changes while cycling? 


Also, here's a pic



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Water changes during cycling defeats the purpose unless you are trying to maintain as much wildlife as possible.  If the nem is doing ok so far, I would not change any water.


As for monitoring the chiller, perhaps something that you plug the plug into like a "Kill A Watt".




You would just have to do the math about how much wattage the chiller pulls per hour or minute of usage and then extrapolate out how long it ran based on the wattage shown on the meter.  It would not tell you frequency of use or how long it kicked on each time, but would tell you essentially "total time on" for whatever range you wanted.

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Super cool build! Looks great so far and well designed. I've been following Steve Weast's tank for years and have always wanted to set up a CA coast temperate nano so I'm excited to see how this turns out!

Those black turban snails are inter-tidal, so will probably climb out of the water pretty regularly. I collected a handful of them many years ago and raised them in a small tank with some live rock. I found that they did well even at 78 degrees -- and they bred somewhat rapidly in captivity. At the time I used the babies as a regular live food source for a porcupine pufferfish. 

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Micro-Reefs Aquariums

There is a level of reward when a reefer achieves a replica in the realm of the Pacific coast!  Starring at an aquarium that holds 55F degrees of Coolness is just well, let us just say it's Coolness!  I look into your setup and see the sparkle of the cold and it makes me shiver with awhh!  

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Looks fantastic.... I can't remember if I did water changes but I do remember the cycle took foreverrrr for me... Cold water bacteria multiplying so slow... I had hitchiker nems in it and they pulled through fine. 

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@Tamberav Hopefully I got enough stuff from the ocean to make those bacteria spread faster 😉.


Just a couple of minor updates since I last posted!


  • The water has STILL NOT EVAPORATED. I am amazed by this and check the sump daily just to make sure. 
  • I'm seeing growth; there is some weird red algae/dinoflagelleate looking stuff on my rocks and a bit of brown algae as well. 
  • I'm also seeing some little "pellet" things that I suspect are snail eggs or something. Although I cannot confirm that whatsoever. 
  • The anemone eats Reef Roids and Mysis daily. One or the other, but not both. I feed my reef the same thing.
  • I have not done any water changes or anything and plan to test this week to check on the cycle.


Anyway, here are a few photos: 


Topdown. I love this coralline algae... hoping it grows. I might superglue it to a rock so it stands up better.


That red algae is visible in this photo. Anyone know what it is?



More red stuff:




Here are the "pellets" that I found mostly in the corner. Note that the "substrate" was bought dry from ebay.





Super close up of . the Nem!





And this is totally off topic, but here's a FTS of my reef tank!





Happy Thursday 😄 


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I have that coralline algae too, its awesome stuff! I have never once topped off my cold water tank in all the years I have had it.


Not sure about the red stuff? Is it slimey? Maybe some cold water cyano?

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@Tamberav I hope it lives! I haven't tested the CA levels in the tank, but they should be close to 420PPM according to the salt bucket :).


As for the red algae, I'll have to check, my first guess was cyano as well, but I'll keep an eye on it. BTW, where did you acquire those jewel anems!? I LOVE those!

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14 minutes ago, Jigsaw said:

@Tamberav I hope it lives! I haven't tested the CA levels in the tank, but they should be close to 420PPM according to the salt bucket :).


As for the red algae, I'll have to check, my first guess was cyano as well, but I'll keep an eye on it. BTW, where did you acquire those jewel anems!? I LOVE those!

I got them frmo cold water marine aquatics which sadly isn't importing anymore. I keep telling myself I will increase feedings and breed them to share but its been hard with my job hours. There is a cold water facebook group you should check out. 


I think the algae will do fine, I never test CA or anything at all really.... 

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Almoooost theeeere....Kinda. For ammonia anyway. Been about a month into the cycle (hence lack of updates lol). Anemone is still doing great! So are the snails 🙂



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3 minutes ago, paneubert said:

Man, 1.5 ammonia after a month would make me pull my hair out.  Haha. 

It might be taking longer because of the surface area of the tank. Hard, smooth stones don't have nearly as much real estate for bacteria as coral rock and sand.

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@paneubert YEAH, it's been a tad brutal, but I expected this. Everything in the CW world moves so much slower haha. 



Yes! I agree with both of you; I have a ton of bio balls and filter floss in the sump, but there's not a lot of porous rock at all (which is what I wanted, aesthetically). So I'm patiently waiting :). I have my reef tank to play with, so it's not all boring 🙂 

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Why, hello there! I am interested in coldwater marine setups myself...I like how your setup is turning out 🙂 Coldwater stuff is so interesting...I am a sucker for Catalina gobies. Can you suggest a chiller for a small tank - say, 5 or 10 gallons?

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