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Fisker

I'd like to plan it out this time...

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Fisker

Hello!

 

In the past, I've attempted a planted saltwater tank with little success. It wasn't even really planted - it was barebottom with some macros thrown in. The tank didn't last long, and while I did have good growth out of some codium and dragon's breath, it wasn't what I wanted from the tank. I tore it down, and have restarted from basically scratch. I'd love to get some experts to pitch in!

 

The tank is a standard 5.5 gallon, with a Top Fin internal filter for flow. It pushes around 80 GPH, which seems to be enough - unless I'm mistaken. For lighting, I'm using a daylight PAR 20 from lowes. It's 6000K, and is 500 lumens (I don't have PAR, sorry). I'm using one at the moment, but I think I might add a second soon. Intensity is okay, but it leaves a the sides of the tank dim, and when the bulb is raised, intensity gets a bit low.

 

I'm not using much live rock at the moment, as I wasn't sure if I really wanted much of a rockscape. I had considered maybe just getting a couple of mangrove shoots to serve as the "scape", and just planting macros in the sand and attaching them to surfaces around the tank. I do have a cycled sponge in the filter, and I'd assume the rock is well-seeded at this point. I'd also thought about using a couple of large dead coral skeletons with macro attached so that they resemble the large "chains" of seaweed you see in movies.

 

For stocking, I'm unsure of what to do with my CUC. Should I even get a conventional CUC? Or will they do more harm than good? Which snails are completely macro-safe? I assume no crabs are safe? Will shrimp cause issues? I do think I'd like to try a fish, although I'm unsure what I'd want. I'd considered a pair of Yellow Clown Gobies, perhaps a yasha goby/shrimp pair, or maybe a yellow striped clingfish. Anyone have suggestions?

 

I already have some macro in the tank, although I'm pretty sure I won't be keeping all of what I have. I have a TON of different Caulerpa (a guy at the LFS was very generous) that doesn't really fit into the tank, so I'll be thinning it out. Here's what I have so far:

 

Dragon's Breath

Codium

Caulerpa Prolifera

Feather Caulerpa

Caulerpa Racemosa Peltata

Caulerpa Racemosa Cylindracea

Mermaid's Fan

 

Lots of caulerpa, but I actually really like how all of it looks. I'd love to get a few more species, too. Here are some macros I'd like to try:

 

Mermaid's Wine Glass

Shaving Brush

Red Ogo

Green Ogo

Caulerpa Mexicana

Palm Caulerpa (love this macro)

Pink Galaxea (love it)

Branching Coraline

 

So, lots of stuff here. Can anyone give me pointers on stocking, maintenance, macro care, etc? I'd like to do it right this time!

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yoshii

I'd recommend having at least some live rock, as you will want something to attach your macros to, and if you want fish this will provide additional bio filtration.

I haven't used an internal filter on a saltwater tank, but if you are aiming for very low flow, then you can keep it. You would just have to watch for dead spots. Most people with a 5.5 use a larger HOB filter which will give you more flow across the tank. It will also give you more room inside the tank, I'd recommend it.

 

Lighting should be upgraded, a PAR20 is not enough for the tank, and most likely does not provide enough PAR for mid-high light macros you want. If you like ease of using a screw-in, look into PAR38s made for reef tanks or refugiums. The Nano-Reef sponsors section has some good companies with those products.

 

As far as sand goes, macros don't take up nutrients through roots, so mostly it just looks nice. Taller Caulerpa species are easy to trim and look very nice growing in the sand. Shaving brush and Halimeda also look nice in the sand. If you want to add mangroves, which do have roots, substrate can matter if you want to "plant" them in the sand/mud. However you can have them suspended and their roots will still grow out.

 

Most other macros you will want to "plant" (rubber and/glue) to your live rock. 

 

For your CUC, depending on how much you feed, you may not need many. If I had fish in my macro tanks, I would have a nassarius snail to pick up leftovers and stir the sand bed a little. Small hermits would work too. If you have enough macro, there's not usually much of a need for snails, but I would avoid Turbos. Astreas are a better choice. Shrimp are fine and won't touch your macros.

 

Fish-wise, just don't add herbivorous species, obviously, but luckily a tang won't fit in your tank anyway 😛

Goby pairs and goby-shrimp pairs are always fun to watch. I would avoid the yellow stripe clingfish, if you could even get your hands on one. They do not do well in captivity

 

Whew long post! Sorry if I missed any of your concerns!

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phobos2deimos

Post pics!

 

Two of those PAR20s ought to be good, although without any blues I think you'll get less color on certain macros.  Blue Scroll is drastically more colorful under intense blues, for example.

 

I typed up a huge response and then it got erased, but I agree with what Yoshii said.  Nassarius and Ceriths are great for the sandbed.  Nerites always get a go since they handle green spot algae well.  I don't think you'll need hermits, I'd do a tiny pistol shrimp pair and call it good.

 

Clown gobies are great for a tank this size.

 

With a macro heavy tank I think you can skimp on the live rock.

 

It's somewhat unconventional in the reef world, but I specifically dose nitrate, phosphate, and potassium in my macro tanks to keep nutrients in balance and encourage the growth of macros over microalgae.  You might consider that once you get a feel for how this tank behaves.

 

If you're willing to sell some dragon's breath (and C. Paspaloides if/when you get your hands on it) I'd be very interested.  All the places that are selling it right now want $35+ for a tiny chunk which is just silly!

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Fisker

First off, thank you so much! Yoshii, I loved your 5.5 macro tank. One of my favorites on NR. Phobos, your office tank is looking really good so far!
 

So, you're disagreeing on lighting. Can either of you point me to any lighting guides that might shed some light on the subject (dad jokes...)? Not that I don't trust either of your opinions, but if I could see studies done that says "Species X grew insanely well under just a T8 bulb, while Species Y didn't survive with high powered LEDs" it might make it easier to for me to decide whether to go for a full PAR 38. I can Google-fu it later, but if you know of any studies off the top of your head, it'd be a time-saver! I actually already own an ABI Tuna-Blue PAR 38 that I could throw on here for a while, but I'm definitely going for a daylight (or maybe 10000K) spectrum for this tank, for personal preference. I might experiment with a second bulb here in a few minutes, to see what I can get going.

 

I do plan to have some live rock, I'm just not sure what I want. I've been looking for some good rock, and I've had little luck so far. The stuff I'm using isn't very porous at all, so I'm trying to replace it. Maybe I'll do an "island" of rock in the middle, with some skeletons or large clumps of tall macros on either side? Or, have the island off to the right, with the tall macros all around the sand bed on the left.

 

I'm aiming for relatively low flow, as I don't think I really need a ton. I may eventually throw an AC on here, but I think the internal filter will suffice for now.

 

So, Nassarius and Ceriths? Maybe an astrea or two? Cool! I should be able to get those pretty easily. As for fish, I'm kinda torn between a pair of YCG's and a Yasha Goby/shrimp pair. I'll look around and see what I'm drawn to. Thanks for the warning on the clingfish. I had done basically no research on them, but knew they were tiny and would look good while the hung on some macro.

 

I actually have some potassium nitrate that I can mix up to dose both potassium and nitrate. I use it for my FW planted tanks on occasion, when I'm having an inbalance. I don't have any way to dose Phosphate, though - I'll look into it.

 

I'd love to sell you some! If I can get it growing, that is. At one point I had a baseball sized clump, and it didn't do to great in my reef tank. I think I had it in too high flow, and it just kinda fell apart slowly. It seems to be doing well so far, so if I get enough going, I'll definitely hit you up. Sharing is caring!

 

These pics aren't accurate on brightness. I did my best, but they all turned out far darker and warmer than it is in real life. The tank is also still a bit cloudy, and the macros need to be blown off - excuse that!

 

FTS.thumb.jpg.16c2274016a0b375475d4099461b6038.jpg

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1114552131_SideView.thumb.jpg.e941e92131357f9de4f80d03f773d1f9.jpg

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phobos2deimos

A used Kessill A/H 80 might be a really nice fit, but might be more money than you want to spend.  You could look at going to a single PAR38 6500k floodlight - I grew loads of macros under two of those in a ~40g sump/fuge.

There's no denying Yoshii's awesome macros, though!

I did find that IIRC C. Serrulata didn't do great under intense light, and I've always had a hard time with Codium and Halimeda sp., so who knows!

 

If you're coming from FW planted tanks then I follow pretty much the same idea as that regarding dosing - keeping N/P/K in reasonable balance and preventing the macros from becoming nutrient-limited.  Iron, too.  I get my ferts from greenleafaquatics.

 

b53XbkB7NT6om2sIN_1XZXMdtbXADc6_zhXTtl5E

 

a-HkYvjOmY4Ap7J3PopsO0NzBnGwBRpwiN-eGvtI

 

TnQFq3fLg35C6gpovmXkE5E7_zFs6ggE_W3gGv3z

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Fisker

Thanks! I added the second PAR 20, and am trying to decide whether or not it's going to be worth it to upgrade to a PAR 38. Maybe I'll leave it and upgrade it later, if I feel the need? Unless you all think there's no way that the 2 PAR 20s will cut it. 

 

I'm actually using mostly DIY ferts. Osmocote tabs, and potassium nitrate in the form of stump remover, mainly. 

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Subsea

Interesting to see such interest in seaweeds.

 

I am in process to be permitted as a zero discharge mariculture facility by the state of Texas and have 20 years hands on experience with outdoor aquaculture.  Seaweed is never limited by the most abundant nutrient but by the least abundant nutrient.  As a generalization , macro algae & coral combine carbon, nitrogen and phosphate in the ratio of 560::30:1.  I doubt your need to dose phosphate considering that every organic compound is held together with a phosphate molecule.

 

Lighting is not as important as nutrients.  

 

Good fortune on your macro tank.

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yoshii

If you have good light spread with 2 PAR20s, then it doesn't hurt to keep them! I was mostly commenting on the need to upgrade lighting since a single PAR20 doesn't even light up the whole tank

 

Do you have a tank build thread? I'd enjoy following along

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Fisker
12 hours ago, Subsea said:

Interesting to see such interest in seaweeds.

 

I am in process to be permitted as a zero discharge mariculture facility by the state of Texas and have 20 years hands on experience with outdoor aquaculture.  Seaweed is never limited by the most abundant nutrient but by the least abundant nutrient.  As a generalization , macro algae & coral combine carbon, nitrogen and phosphate in the ratio of 560::30:1.  I doubt your need to dose phosphate considering that every organic compound is held together with a phosphate molecule.

 

Lighting is not as important as nutrients.  

 

Good fortune on your macro tank.

Good to know! Sounds like you really know your stuff!

 

5 hours ago, yoshii said:

If you have good light spread with 2 PAR20s, then it doesn't hurt to keep them! I was mostly commenting on the need to upgrade lighting since a single PAR20 doesn't even light up the whole tank

 

Do you have a tank build thread? I'd enjoy following along

With the two, I cover the entire tank. 

 

I don't have a tank thread! I could make one, though.

 

Something interesting has been happening the past couple of days - bubbles. A lot of them. I'm not sure if it's a similar phenomenon to freshwater pearling, or if it's something normal, but the tank has been absolutely filled with bubbles for days now. Thoughts?

 

1474466428_FTS1.thumb.jpg.db5576d5bea9118a5a5a921a81d5677d.jpg

 

Excuse the algae - at least the bad stuff!

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Fisker

So, update! 

 

I ended up moving this into a 10 gallon I got for $5 in the middle of May. I've kept the lighting and equipment basically the same, with the exception of adding a small preset heater to keep the tank in the mid 70's. I got some pretty nice growth from the Dragon's Breath and Codium, and have had some pretty bad luck with the caulerpa. Perhaps due to low flow? Not sure, but it's been slowly dying back. The Mermaid's Fan died as well. There has been a new mystery macro that was growing in the sand, and it appears to be similar in make-up to the stem of the mermaid's fan, so perhaps this is related? I'll show some pics, as I'm not sure.

 

This tank's inhabitants are a few hermit crabs and a Valentini Puffer. The puffer is a new addition, and is basically serving his QT period out in this tank. I'm aware that this is a pretty small system for him, but I'm keeping a close eye on parameters, and will water change accordingly. He hasn't gone after the hermits (besides a few half-hearted attempts), but is a great eater. He's been going after pods on the glass (leading him to smash his beak against the glass), frozen foods, ramshorn and pond snails (although I have to crush the larger ones for him, which he eats shell and all), and even ghost shrimp. The ghost shrimp are gut-loaded from my FW planted tank. This particular puffer doesn't seem to be a big fan of hunting down live food like shrimp, and quickly loses interest as they dart away... He ate a few legs off of one and left it in there for a couple of days. I finally took it out and dunked it into hot distilled water, before throwing it back in for him to eat. It was dead from shock before it hit the tank water. So maybe live shrimp won't be a part of his diet, as I'm not a huge fan of murdering shrimp myself.

 

Without further ado; pics!

 

1054824692_FTS11.thumb.jpg.65ca9976d7fa6025bb9c7867be431c77.jpg

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352033211_MysteryMacro11.thumb.jpg.182ede89ef2ee0de760eb91a83b053e9.jpg

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1640631756_Side11.thumb.jpg.489b83c19e4ceb8c84c4cb40b37dd1e7.jpg

 

 

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