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Reef rescue (long post)

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Thanks to a fellow member, I have discovered how to actually post a journal. To that member (you know who you are) Thank you a ton.


I wish I had stated this sooner and had taken before picture to show how things have progressed in just the last week. Better a week late starting than never! 


(Starting based off memory and what I have written down till I catch up with where I am now)



Like most of the people who jump into this great rabbit hole, I have keep FW ever since I was a kid. My amazing Mom introduced me, and indulged my hobby. Special thanks goes to her!


The previous owner had already started to drain out the tank prior to my arrival. We saved about 22g of the water that was in the tank because I was worried that if I had to add to much new to it a new cycle would start and destroy everything. Playing it safe till I get more experience. Found out later that I could have changed out a lot more water and been completely fine. Lesson learned! Rock was transported in a tote and covered in water. Sand bed left in the tank with the hermits and about 3 inches of water. Got everything set up and running. Want to clear the excess debris floating around and test water before I add the livestock back to their home. Water was looking really good as far as testing is concerned. Wish I would have written down the numbers to track it. 

Items that came with the setup:

29g tank

Fluval 110 HOB filter. Had filter floss and bio rings. Pretty sure I will be dumping the rings once I am sure the tank will be fine without them. I did add 2 small charcoal filters under the floss to polish the water since it was moved. I used 2 because they were actually designed for a small 10 filter system.

Eheim 150w heater. 

Current Ramp Timer Pro LED lights. No clue what the lights are rated at this point. (I did find the specs a few days later.)

2 unknown brand power heads. Previous owner said he did not use them because the Green Star Polyp would freak out. He told me the current generated by the HOB has been more than enough. May consider using them to see for myself. They do not have a base to attach them and with no idea the manufacture, no idea how to get something. I will figure it out if I do decide to give the a try.

Lastly, I received a box of various over misc supplies. Can't wait to get this thing in show quality!

I had to purchase a stand and some other misc accessories. Found a good thick metal stand at Petco. It was the wrong size so another trip to the store to exchange it. Got it together and it's perfect. Not exactly the look I was wanting, but its sturdy and I can dress it up a bit with a small curtain to stretch across the open front to hide the supply box stored underneath.



Water testing still looking really good so I have placed everyone back into the tank. Discovered that what I thought was just strange looking corals was actually Aptasia! It has to go!! Been researching what to do to kill it cause it's actually really ugly. 

Livestock are:

1 Frostbite clown

1 Fire Goby (he is really shy)

2 Cardinals

1 Cleaner shrimp

and several blue legged Hermits



Frostbite clown acting crazy and darting around tank mainly on front glass. Suspecting it was stress from the move, I have kept the lights off so he can get acclimated. Water still looking good. 



After much research, found that Peppermint shrimp should take care of the Aptasia issue as long as they are truly Pep's and not the impostors. Other options for my size tank are chemical warfare. Lesson here is when obtaining a second hand tank, if you see Aptasia, kill it before placing it back in the tank. Clown has finally settled down and seems a TON better. He even found a little spot he likes to host and I watched him as he wallowed out a pit to lay in to rest. He is really funny to watch.


Made the trip to Savannah to the Reef specialty store to get Peppermints. HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE is putting it nicely!! I will burn in the pits of H@*! before EVER spending another dime of my hard earned money in there again! Augusta, GA or Hilton Head, S.C. isn't much difference in drive time for me if there isn't any other shops in Savannah. Heck, I would even make the 2 hr trip to Jacksonville before ever shopping there again. Since they went under new ownership, that place now SUCKS!! 


2 Peppermints acclimated and added. They are small, but if they do the job, I will be happy. Debating on finding them a new home once the job is done or to keep them on the chance that Aptasia spores are in the tank and new weeds start up. If I keep them, I read that I need to keep an eye on corals. Right now all I have is a Green Star Polyp so that isn't really much of a concern for the moment.


Further reading and research this evening revealed something interesting about Peppermints. If the Aptasia is large, they will most likely not eat it. I have a few large ones and several small ones. Going to wait to see if the Peppermints do the job.



Went to Petco for a couple of supply items that Walmart did not carry. Normally I would not use a big box chain. The store here is actually really nice. The aquatics specialist manager actually has his own 55g reef at home and really cares about the animals they have. He does not order a lot of SW stuff, but can order whatever I want if I need it. He was telling me that it is better to place orders than to have over stocked tanks with animals that may or may not sell. He has been a sea of information and has helped me out more than I could have ever asked for. Took back my hydrometer I bought and got a refractometer instead. Best decision ever made. Swing arm was constantly moving up and down even with all bubbles removed making it a bit difficult to get exact measurements.


On impulse (yes I know, bad idea) I found a LTA that had just came today. I watched him be hand fed and he ate like a champ. He has amazing tan/light brown color to tentacles and purple tips. Thinking it would be awesome if my Clown would host him, I got it. I also added 2 Astrina snails to help with the algae left over from the initial cleaning when I first set up everything. LTA acclimated and added gently without introducing any air to him. He immediately found a spot he really likes and is slightly hiding under a cave I made so he can extend on either side. So far, so good!



Started getting everything ready for my first water change tomorrow. Had to purchase Distilled since I do not trust Walmart's RO kiosk station.  Can't wait to get the RO/DI system I am getting from a friend who got out of the hobby later this week. Will be so much cheaper than purchasing water. Water mixing and letting it heat up this morning. 


6PM and I think this little heater from Walmart is CRAP!! Purchased a 5 to 15 gallon heater just for warming new water in 15 gal tote. Temp will not go over 75. If it doesn't warm up by change day tomorrow, I will make take care of it then. 

Planning to do 50% change.


Pre-change water:

Temp: 78

No3: 20

No2: 0

Alk: 180-200

Ph: 8.1

Salinity: 1.025

Cal: 420


Will be getting a phosphate and Magnesium test kit. Was told Magnesium was low. Want to see it for myself. Phosphate testing suggested by forum member (Thank you) and will be done since I want to start keeping soft corals.


Picture is of set up after move. Contemplating doing some redecorating. Researching making the sand bed deeper as it is only about 1 to 1.5 inches deep. I really like the look of a DSB, but is it worth doing since I am contemplating upgrading the tank to a 40g later this week. Just have to research what I need to do to switch out tanks.







Tank 062019.jpg


Cleaner Shrimp.jpg


Green Star Polyp.jpg

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Here is a pretty decent picture of Mr. Bubbles the LTA. He decided he liked a place at the base of a rock.



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Welcome to NR. Tanks looks like it cleaned up very nice. Already upsizing to a 40! I love it. 

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Thank you for the kind words! It is a work in progress. I really want to move to a 40. If I had my way about it, the China Hutch would go and a 150g would replace it lol. When we decide to sell the house and build a new one the way I want, I am going to design it so that I can have wall mount tank of some sort in the living room. Love the look of a flush wall mount making it look like the tank is the wall.


1st really big water change today. Heater crapped out so to get the water warmer than 75 I sat the tote out on the porch with the lid on and the pump running in it. 3 hrs later I went to check the temp because I sort of forgot about it being outside due to getting other errands ran. Temp of the water WAYYYY to high. Damn GA heat!! Temp was reading at 97. Drug the tote back in to cool off for a few hours. Will do the water change when we get back from taking the troll child to swim lessons. 


Got back and temp had dropped to 80 which is fine. Cleaned thin film of algae off the glass and blew off the rock with a turkey baster and agitated the sand bed in one section. Let the filter clean it for about 30 mins while I got everything checked and ready for the change. Started with 8 gallons of water on the refill, and had to mix another 3 more. There has to be an easier way! I think for the next change, I am going to get a clear tote so I can take a sharpie to mark the gallon level on the outside. Also ordered my Phosphate, Mag, and Cal tests today. Oh, almost forgot! I did slightly move around some of the rock that I wasn't happy with. It seems more stable in place now. I really need to glue it. Water change was messy and too so long to do. Guess it took so long because it was the first one and I still have some kinks in my method that will have to be sorted out for next week. The Cardinals are none to thrilled about the cleaning. New water looking great. 


No3: 5 (it was less than 20 but not 0 so this is a rough guess)

No2: 0

Alk: 300

Ph: 8.0

Salinity: 1.025

Temp 80


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Ok guys and gals!! Now is time to start adding to the journal of my new reef rabbit hole journey. I did it! I took the plunge and got the larger 40 gal tank on 07/16/19 from a friend of mine that was moving and had it sitting in his storage with new tags still attached to it. He had intended on using it, but never got around to it. I even got a big approximately 5 lb piece of rock from him as well. I think it may be a bit heavier, but I haven't weighed it. Since it came from his large dismantled tank and been sitting outside in the sun and weather for only God knows how long, I have decided to cycle it by itself. Better to be safe than sorry.



Finally decided to move the new tank outside to clean it and let it dry for a little while. Horrible idea! 2 hrs later when I went to bring the dried, hot sun baked tank inside the cooled house, I hear the dreaded sound of glass cracking. The side of my new tank has spider webbed from the top to the bottom in what appears to look like 4 fingers of doom. Devastated is an understatement!



Noticed the tag on the tank says it has a 5 year warranty and got to thinking!!! I called my friend that I got it from and he helped me along with the store manager of the pet store. The pet store manager who was totally amazing said it was definitely something that does happen often due to sudden temp changes. He was able to look up the original receipt from when it was purchased (with my buddy's permission of course) and we warrantied it out. Come to find out, there was a defect in the frame too so this was a good thing that this happened now instead of after it was filled. I'm back in business and a happy girl again!!! The hubby even helped me since I am on a lift restriction and told me to go pick out a new fish or whatever I wanted to add to it for my up coming birthday next week. I have the best hubby EVER!!! Not going to add anything for a bit though lol.


LR still doing well, but no sign of starting to cycle. Not in any hurry. It will be done when it is done. 


Planning to start the move tomorrow morning when I am fresh rested. Got epoxy to glue the LR I have together since it is being moved. May as well. Even got a sheet of egg crate defuser to make a top on the new tank and to add cushion to the bottom. Also have 40 lbs of dry Aragonite that I need to start washing. Here is the plan:


Start making fresh water in the morning so it will be ready

Start washing new substrate

Start draining tank and moving LR to buckets with water

Move livestock

Clean existing sandbed in leftover tank water and transfer to clean bucket to rinse again

Remove equipment

Place new tank fill with some water to check for leaks and rinse. 

Place and level new tank

place egg crate pieces on bottom glass and arrange LR. Once LR is structured how I want it, it will be epoxied together. Do not want structures to be to big if possible so that they can be cleaned if needed.

Place new and old substrate

fill with existing tank water and top off with new water

Turn on filters

Final checks for dead spots or equipment placements

replace livestock 

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And so it begins! I have started washing the substrate. I decided to go with the Caribi Sea dry Aragonite since I like the consistency and it doesn't fly  around the tank, but oh my how dirty and cloudy the water is! It's a good thing I read the directions on washing it first. I do have a quick question. I am washing it out in tap water since my water is not chlorinated (community well). Do I need to do a final rinse in RO water before placing it in the tank, or will it be fine to just add and let my filter take over?

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