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Dan’s NUVO 20 First Timer Build

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Quick Background: This will be my first sw tank after wanting to build one for some time. My last tank was a community planted fw tank that ended abruptly back in February when I woke up to a mostly empty tank. Somehow the media basket in my HOB poped up and allowed 15+ gallons to trickle over the side. Ruined a wall, warped some hardwood flooring and ruined the ceiling in my finished basement. There we no casualties but we decided to donate the fish and break it down. Well its been about 6 months and I’ve gotten the itch again. A visit to Reefapalooza and my 2 year old loving nemo is all it took for me to break out the credit card.


I’ve spent the last month or so researching what type of tank I wanted and would work best for us. Preventing overflow potential was at the very top of the list after the last episode. After much back and fourth I decided on a IM Nuvo 20 AIO. It’s the best of both worlds with having an AIO and a nice “premium” looking rimless tank. 


I found someone local selling his setup and grabbed it this past weekend:

  • IM Nuvo 20 AIO (24” x 15” x 13”) w/ screen top
  • TopFin stand
  • Jeabo DC2000 return pump w/ controller and feed mode - 520gph max
  • (2) IM Spinstreams
  • (2) InTank media baskets
  • InTank refugium basket
  • Hydrofill ATO unit w/ 2gal eshopps reservoir
  • Gen 1 Current USA Marine PRO light w/ Ramp timer & controller
  • Aqueon 100w heater


The tank was running and he was offering it with the LR, sand, 2 clowns and a few frags but I passed on the livestock to have a complete fresh start. After bringing it home and cleaning everything Im glad I did this. The sump area, pump and plumbing had a good 1/2” of gunk buildup in some areas and was loaded with worms and other hitchhiker remnants. Because of the way my previous tank ended, I’ve decided to follow a strict QT process for anything that goes into this tank. 


Here she is waiting for the UPS guy after a nice deep clean:



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Plans for the tank:

Since its my first SW tank I'm probably going to be taking things slow. I'd like to this last long term and want to take the necessary precautions when introducing anything new as well as learning all the extra husbandry. 



Clown Pair

Purple Firefish

Maybe a red star down the road for my wife





I really like Euphyllia and zoa gardens



I have a bunch of things already ordered that ill post updates for

I'd like to upgrade the light to something newer/more powerful and move the Current to the qt/frag tank when that time comes

I'll probably keep an eye out for a new stand. The stand that came with it doesn't go with any of our furniture and doesn't have much hidden storage. I'd like something with a bigger footprint.

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First batch of goodies came in this weekend.


  • InTank filter floss
  • IO Salt
  • Refractometer w/ solution
  • Dr Tims one and only w/ ammonia 
  • CaribSea Arag-alive sand 20lbs
  • Powerstrip & GCFI outlet
  • Some new tubing for the ato pump
  • 10gal QT tank from $1/gal sale at petco
  • Hydor 425 pump (I've been reading some conflicting stuff regarding this. Some people are suggesting that the upgraded return pump w/ spinstreams its enough flow for a softie/lps tank. I guess my rockwork will determine alot but it wont hurt to have an extra powerhead laying around for mixing etc. if it’s not needed or too strong)


30lbs of ReefCleaners rock and my BRS RO/DI are scheduled to come on Tuesday. Looking forward to messing with the scape!





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My Reef Cleaners rock and BRS 4 stage both came in a day earlier than expected. Im super happy with the rock - which is way more than I need - but should allow me to play with some different aquaecapes. I told John what I had in mind and he sent a good variety of pieces for me to work with. 


Im leaving for vacation this weekend so unfortunately I don't plan on filling the tank until I'm back. This week I'll try to finalize the rock work and get the RO/DI hooked up and getting broken in.


This is the last of the major things I ordered other then some small odds and ends. Im hoping to score a new stand sometime between now and when I get back, this one really isnt doing it for me. Theres a local guy on craigslist selling an AI Prime HD with gooseneck. I got him down to $150 which I feel might be too good to pass up.




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