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PoorBigBlue

The Girlfriend's Pico

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This tank was upgraded into a 5.5 after a week! Read down a bit to find that update.

 

Hello all!

 

I've recently gotten back into the hobby after quite a long time out of it. I was scrolling through Craigslist, and found a cheap 10 gallon reef setup that someone had let go bad. It still had some inverts and some macroalgae, but it was covered in nuisance algae. It needed to be started over, and I kinda wanted to use the 10 gallon for something else anyway. It's becoming a planted betta community! However, I did want to get back into reefing, and since I had all the equipment on hand, I decided to try my hand at a pico reef.

 

I went to Walmart and found one of the 3 gallon glass cookie jars that seems to get used for this quite a bit. I threw in a cheap "powerhead" from Petsmart (it's an internal filter without any media) and a preset heater. I went to the nearest saltwater shop, and bought some truly cured Live Rock, got some old aragonite out of my storage, and bought some salt. Here we are! I set the tank up today, and I'm loving it so far. I'm planning on doing a pretty simple mixed reef. I'll probably stick with softies, macros, and LPS, with one centerpiece invert, plus all the snails and the hermit crab from the 10 gallon.

 

Equipment List:

Walmart 3 Gallon Jar

Top FIn 10 Internal Filter (no media)

Tetra 50W Preset Heater (may replace soon with an adjustable one)

50W Walmart Desk Lamp

EBAY PAR 30 LED (may replace with an ABI bulb I have on hand)

 

Stocking List:

 

Inverts:

1 Scarlet Hermit

10-15 Dwarf Cerith Snails

1 Florida Cerith

 

Macros:

Codium

Dragon's Breath

Caulerpa Prolifera (not certain that it's prolifera)

 

For now, I've got the macros sitting in a tub of water until tomorrow when I can get them glued down onto rocks and such. The Codium seems to be doing okay, but the Dragon's Breath is just tiny pieces and the Prolifera is just stems with "roots" shooting out of it. We'll see how they handle things.

 

In the future, I'm considering adding an RFA as the "main attraction" of the tank, along with something along the lines of a Blood Shrimp as the centerpiece.

 

Maintenance will include weekly 80-90% WCs, along with a 100% every few months. 

 

Here's a cloudy FTS. I'll update with another pic tomorrow, once the macros have been added.

2094971615_FTS1.thumb.jpg.4d88b25263968ac63c4544b7522574b8.jpg

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Welcome! I used one of those jars last year for my Creative Container contest pico. If you're wanting an adjustable heater, I highly recommend the 25w Archea heater offered by Aqua Forest Aquariums. It's tiny and has an external thermostat for control. I posted pics last year in the Creative Container contest thread. 

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I'd make sure to add a little bit of nutrient source so the macros have some and don't fade from too low nutrients. 

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Okay, so the girlfriend thinks that Sexy Shrimp are the way to go... So I guess that's what we're gonna do 😅 It'll make her happy.

 

Parameters in the tank have been great. No ammonia, no nitrite, and between 1-2 PPM of Nitrate with a nearly full CUC. SG has only come up by 0.0005, so I'm not too worried about evaporation anymore.

 

So, the Codium has begun to show signs of... melting? I'm not sure. It appears that some of the branches of the algae are disintegrating. It's extremely difficult to capture with a camera, so I'm not sure I can get a picture. It's turning a bit translucent, almost. Does anyone have any idea what that means? Is it just a sign of it adjusting to the tank/lighting? Any help is appreciated.

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I find sometimes new macro will do a little of that but too much is no good. When it's turning clear, the clear bits are dying. Rather than chunks of mysis that may foul the water, I'd suggest something like a coral food in small amounts, for example Reef Roids. Once you get the sexies, feed them so they stay away from your corals. Pellets will probably work fine. 

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Well, that most definitely didn't last too long.

 

I ended up moving all of this into a 5.5 as a project with my girlfriend (who's majoring in biochemistry). She's taken a huge interest in the hobby, and wanted a tank for herself, but doesn't have room for it in her dorm. So, I offered to let her take over the 3 gallon, but she sorta wanted fish. So, we went out, got a 5.5, and set it up. The plan is for her to take over most of the maintenance over the next few weeks, and for her to pick out any fish, corals, or macros that go in here. I'll guide her through what will and won't be alright for the tank, and I think she's mostly interested in gobies and smaller free-swimming fish, anyway.

 

I'll update this tomorrow with pics of the tank, and pics of whatever we pick up from the LFS.

 

Equipment:

 

Aqueon 5.5 Gallon

Top Fin Internal Filter (loaded with carbon)

Tetra 50W Preset Heater

2-3 lbs of rock (will be adding a few more hunks of cured dry rock)

5 lbs of live sand

 

Livestock:

 

Fish:

 

Inverts:

 

15 Dwarf Ceriths

1 Florida Cerith

1 Scarlet Hermit

 

Corals:

 

Macros:

 

Codium

Dragon's Breath

Caulerpa Prolifera

 

 

 

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That's one of my favorite tank sizes. A couple fish I recommend are green banded gobies and bimaculatus blennies. Tail spot blennies are also often recommended. Great little fish, all. 

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I've always loved green spot blennies! However, their cost ($15-20 around me) plus their need for a small group makes them a bit more than I want to spend right now. The Two Spot blennies however... holy crap! That's the cutest thing ever! I'm trying to avoid ordering something online, but I'm going to need one of these guys eventually. Tail spots are gorgeous, too, especially the more orange variations. Thanks for the suggestions!

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46 minutes ago, PoorBigBlue said:

I've always loved green spot blennies! However, their cost ($15-20 around me) plus their need for a small group makes them a bit more than I want to spend right now. The Two Spot blennies however... holy crap! That's the cutest thing ever! I'm trying to avoid ordering something online, but I'm going to need one of these guys eventually. Tail spots are gorgeous, too, especially the more orange variations. Thanks for the suggestions!

I had the two spot bimaculatus blenny in my reef jar and loved him to bits. I did have a tailspot but lost him. I suspect the clownfish lol. 

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8 hours ago, Lula_Mae said:

I had the two spot bimaculatus blenny in my reef jar and loved him to bits. I did have a tailspot but lost him. I suspect the clownfish lol. 

Sadly, my LFS couldn't get in two spots 😞 I'd have to order one online, and it's not quite worth the shipping by itself. No tailspots in either.

 

Funny you mention a clown... we ended up getting a little false perc! He's maybe an inch long or so, and is just the standard-bred variety, bred locally.

 

I realize that she'll eventually outgrow the 5.5, and I'm prepared to set up a larger tank once I have the room (by this summer). This'll be temporary!

 

Pics to come 😉

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6 minutes ago, PoorBigBlue said:

Sadly, my LFS couldn't get in two spots 😞 I'd have to order one online, and it's not quite worth the shipping by itself. No tailspots in either.

 

Funny you mention a clown... we ended up getting a little false perc! He's maybe an inch long or so, and is just the standard-bred variety, bred locally.

 

I realize that she'll eventually outgrow the 5.5, and I'm prepared to set up a larger tank once I have the room (by this summer). This'll be temporary!

 

Pics to come 😉

Yeah I got mine from LiveAquaria along with some inverts.

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Alright, so I got the clown through my new arrival routine. FW dip to check for flukes and other nasties, then acclimation into QT. She's doing great so far.

 

The tank itself is looking nice too, other than some salt on the front glass that I'm a bit too lazy to wipe off tonight. The pictures are WAY bluer than they actually are. I have no idea how to get decent pics!

 

Pics!

 

 

Clown in acclimation container:

\Clown.thumb.jpg.c617e7797edc71cc60034e86dbc3b9b1.jpg

 

I'll get some pics of the tank once I figure out how to make them look decent.

FTS.jpg

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You can try a photo editing app or one of those orange or yellow filters to help cut the blueness. 

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So, looks like I've got a bacterial bloom going on in the tank. If I had to guess, it has to do with how I cleaned the new rock of dead biomatter. I used a weak muratic acid (or a strong white vinegar, it's sold as both) to make it easier to get rid of all of the stuff on the outside and reveal "clean" rock beneath. Well, looks like I didn't soak the rock in water for long enough afterwards. I think I essentially overdosed my tank on vinegar. It's possible, considering that about 0.3 mL of the stuff I used would be the recommended dosage. Oops. Daily WC's are on the way, along with the rock soaking in water for a few days.

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So, after I removed the rock that I soaked in vinegar and did a large WC, the bloom cleared up nearly immediately. I soaked the rock in freshwater for a while longer, put it back into the tank, and so far so good. I'll keep that in mind in the future - wouldn't want to make that mistake with a lot of rock, as I can't imagine what it could do to your PH!

 

All is well, so far. The macroalgae in the DT have settled in well, and the Dragon's Breath has begun pearling quite a bit - which is interesting, since I thought most red macros struggled to grow fast enough to pearl. But, I'm not complaining, for sure. I was almost positive I had lost the Caulerpa, but it's beginning to finally grow back in as well. I'm excited to see how this stuff grows in and colors up in the next month or two - I think macroalgae are some of the most overlooked display specimens in the hobby. I'd love to have a tank dedicated to them someday!

 

Besides that, the only thing that's going on in the DT is algae. Mostly diatoms, from the looks of it. The Ceriths are keeping the rock and the sandbed pretty clean, so I'm not too bothered by it. Nitrates are pretty low (2-3 PPM), but phosphate is running a bit high (0.1 PPM). I think the rock might be leeching a bit of phosphate, since my source water tests 0. Once the fish get added into the tank, I'll get onto my water change schedule, too, which should help.

 

Speaking of fish, the clown is doing amazing in QT. She's become a pretty aggressive eater, is super active, and have been grazing on the algae in the tank quite a bit. Interesting little fish - I've missed having a clown!

 

This tank will be getting an upgrade into a 10 gallon AIO in the relatively near future, so the 5.5 is definitely not her forever home.

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20 hours ago, PoorBigBlue said:

So, after I removed the rock that I soaked in vinegar and did a large WC, the bloom cleared up nearly immediately. I soaked the rock in freshwater for a while longer, put it back into the tank, and so far so good. I'll keep that in mind in the future - wouldn't want to make that mistake with a lot of rock, as I can't imagine what it could do to your PH!

 

All is well, so far. The macroalgae in the DT have settled in well, and the Dragon's Breath has begun pearling quite a bit - which is interesting, since I thought most red macros struggled to grow fast enough to pearl. But, I'm not complaining, for sure. I was almost positive I had lost the Caulerpa, but it's beginning to finally grow back in as well. I'm excited to see how this stuff grows in and colors up in the next month or two - I think macroalgae are some of the most overlooked display specimens in the hobby. I'd love to have a tank dedicated to them someday!

 

Besides that, the only thing that's going on in the DT is algae. Mostly diatoms, from the looks of it. The Ceriths are keeping the rock and the sandbed pretty clean, so I'm not too bothered by it. Nitrates are pretty low (2-3 PPM), but phosphate is running a bit high (0.1 PPM). I think the rock might be leeching a bit of phosphate, since my source water tests 0. Once the fish get added into the tank, I'll get onto my water change schedule, too, which should help.

 

Speaking of fish, the clown is doing amazing in QT. She's become a pretty aggressive eater, is super active, and have been grazing on the algae in the tank quite a bit. Interesting little fish - I've missed having a clown!

 

This tank will be getting an upgrade into a 10 gallon AIO in the relatively near future, so the 5.5 is definitely not her forever home.

A macro-centered tank would be awesome!  Check out yoshii's 10 gallon, gena's 10 gallon, weetabix's 4 gallon and there are others I'm not thinking of at the moment, for inspiration.

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I've read through yoshii's thread about a million times - that tank is one of my favorites, along with your 15 long and a few other nanos on reef2reef. I'll definitely check out the other two tanks you listed!

 

I'm not sure I want to do a macro-only tank, but I'd definitely be open to a macro-oriented tank - keep some zoas, maybe some assorted softies, LPS, and maybe a few SPS, then fill the rest of the tank in with macros. I actually love that idea! I'll see what the girlfriend thinks of it.

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