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Northwoodsreefer

A Crazy College Reef- $200 Stocking ideas?

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Northwoodsreefer

This tank was inspired mainly by @billygoat and some of the Caribbean dive books I got locally. I also got some of my stocking ideas from @el fabuloso

 

Equipment:

Tank: AGA column 5 gallon (12” x 12” x 16”)

Pump: VicTsing 80 gph submersible 

Filter: AZOO palm A60 filter

Light: AquaKnight (90% White intensity and 63% Blue intensity)

Heater: 50 watt hydor heater

Misc: ~ 8-10 Lbs Dry rock and .5"-1" Argonite/Oolite sand with rubble mixed in

College budget: <$400

 

Cycle Process:

Bacteria: Fritz Trubostart

Ammonia source: DrTims Pure Ammonium Chloride

 

Livestock:

(Will try to stay as up to date to reflect what is living in my tank)

Fish:

None for the next 6 to 7 months

 

Invertebrates:

CUC: Dwarf planaxis, Dwarf cerith, Fly speckled cerith, Micro brittle stars, pods

Coral/Similar creatures:

Note: Soft corals are Octocorallia, which means their polyp symmetry is divisible by 8; stony corals are Hexacorallia, which means the their polyp symmetry  is divisible by 6 

Wild florida zoanthids (Zoanthus sociatus)

Aiptasia

Grubes gorgonian

Purple ribbon gorgonian

Matting corky finger gorgonian

"Trash" palys

Yellow parazoanthus (MIA)

Purple plating sponge (MIA)

 

Macroalgae:

Gracilaria parvispora (melted 11/24/2019)

Chaeto

Dictyota

Rigid coralline 

Cotton candy algae

Gracilaria hayi

Green turf algae

Diatoms (Finally)

FTS: 

12/2/2019

 

IMG_9683.thumb.jpg.332ffae48c71efc834793eafaa03da51.jpg

Filled up: 7/25/2019

Restarted: 11/14/2019

Goals:

1. Make the system mobile/low maintenance (Ill be moving a few times for breaks)

2. Support a fish

3. Make this affordable

4. Display sump?

5. TOTM (lol)

 

Storytime:

So this is the dorm tank, it was packed up August 15th and I created my 20 long reef. On August 22nd the tank was cleaned and prepped for college, it wasn’t until August 27th when I re-set it up. The tank was setup as a freshwater tank for my betta, reason being is i thought saltwater was too expensive...and getting back into has confirmed this. But, I couldn’t stay away for too long. Seeing @Tigahboy with his 20 long, it got me hooked again. I found this tank at a thrift store for $12 and talked with some people about maybe going saltwater. I already had the salt, refractometer, heater, pump, rock and sand...so I’m coming back. I spent the last couple days making the rock work (used a whole tube of holdfast). Thinking about focusing on small inverts; porcelain crabs, micro decorator crab, anemone shrimp, snails, small hermit and maybe a cleaner goby. Well that’s all for now, I’ll try to keep this one up for a while...this one should be easier to move as it’s all one rock. Corals will be gorgs, Kenyan tree, mushrooms, zoas and some macros.

 

 

 

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Northwoodsreefer

FTS August, 2019:

5007B3E7-3084-4C7E-B026-6F46108EB916.thumb.jpeg.6ca09a1845a672f7e4f02cfe91d073ac.jpeg.cf01318426a8227b6ef2846f6bb52270.jpeg

First FTS with AquaKnight:

59538152136__EEB804D8-C6EE-4DD0-900A-9B61ED6A7A30.thumb.JPG.09d69b1ab9f754913b4f06775893dae0.JPG

Wet FTS:

IMG_9469.thumb.jpg.b981dc57168b1cead6e37f32b3a5a06e.jpg

11/2019 FTS:

IMG_9608.thumb.jpg.b0543a674d9f20f571413671df3dd290.jpg

 

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billygoat

Looking good over here! 5g seems like a good choice for a dorm aquarium, and I am sure that once you get it all moved and settled down it will end up being a great success. The tank looks great already with all the zoas and macros, and I know it'll look even better once you get it fully stocked! I'll be following along! ☺️

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Northwoodsreefer
1 hour ago, billygoat said:

Looking good over here! 5g seems like a good choice for a dorm aquarium, and I am sure that once you get it all moved and settled down it will end up being a great success. The tank looks great already with all the zoas and macros, and I know it'll look even better once you get it fully stocked! I'll be following along! ☺️

I can’t wait to watch it grow, getting some masked gobies from the LFS late this week. Also looking at rics for my garden idea. Possibly getting a section of purple ribbon gorg too from someone local

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Northwoodsreefer

So I said I’m moving to college soon. How soon? Only 26 days...so what do I do? I order fish from the LFS right before I move...smart move? Probably not, we will have to see. I’m getting

LFS ORDER:

1 masked goby 

1 green banded goby

1 anemone shrimp (don’t know speices I guess?)

1 purple ribbon gorgonian

So yeah, they should be here by Wednesday and I’ll pick them up Friday. Did I also mention I’ll be gone for a whole week...I need to plan things out more 😂

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Northwoodsreefer

Update:

The Green Banded Goby I ordered from my LFS was DOA today. Honestly it’s probably better to just have a single fish. Maybe I’ll get a sharknose goby at a later date if all goes well

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billygoat
5 minutes ago, Northwoodsreefer said:

Update:

The Green Banded Goby I ordered from my LFS was DOA today. Honestly it’s probably better to just have a single fish. Maybe I’ll get a sharknose goby at a later date if all goes well

Sad news! But like you said, perhaps it's for the best. That means a single masked goby will be your only fish for the time being, right? They are a good choice; mine have proven to be hardy and quite interesting. One even made a burrow under one of my rocks, which is a behavior I didn't know they were capable of before I had them in my tank.

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Northwoodsreefer
6 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Sad news! But like you said, perhaps it's for the best. That means a single masked goby will be your only fish for the time being, right? They are a good choice; mine have proven to be hardy and quite interesting. One even made a burrow under one of my rocks, which is a behavior I didn't know they were capable of before I had them in my tank.

Yes just a lone masked goby, oh and an anemone shrimp. I brought up an idea to @johnmaloney about maybe creating a mini halimeda field on the sand bed too. I’ll see if that works out. If not I still want clumps if halimeda to give the tank the Caribbean/Florida look

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Northwoodsreefer

Update number 2:

The wholesaler didn’t send the anemone shrimp or gorg either 😂

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billygoat

Man, sounds like things aren't exactly going according to plan. 😂 At least you have to move it soon anyway, so less livestock is better for the time being.

 

Halimeda opuntia (aka "carpeting Halimeda") will grow aggressively and cover your entire sandbed as long as it is provided with reasonably bright light. I dose 2-part to supplement Ca and Alk which greatly encourages its growth, but in such a small system that is probably not necessary as long as you stay on top of your water changes.

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Northwoodsreefer
8 minutes ago, billygoat said:

Man, sounds like things aren't exactly going according to plan. 😂 At least you have to move it soon anyway, so less livestock is better for the time being.

 

Halimeda opuntia (aka "carpeting Halimeda") will grow aggressively and cover your entire sandbed as long as it is provided with reasonably bright light. I dose 2-part to supplement Ca and Alk which greatly encourages its growth, but in such a small system that is probably not necessary as long as you stay on top of your water changes.

I agree on the livestock part, and I’m not spending a ton of money now either. This might let me do a KP Aquaitcs order for the deeper water zoas. I think that’s what’s going to do on the bottom rocks. Less light sounds perfect for deepwater zoas.

That’s the halimeda I was looking at making the “field” with. Was also thinking I  might try and get a rigid coralline piece to put at the top of the tank too. I’ll look into dosing if it’s not growing well. 

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Northwoodsreefer

Well today I thought I’d take an FTS as it’s the first of August. Just noticed one of the zoas on the sandbed...dang hermit. I’ve also noticed minor diatoms and weird clear slime build ups in areas. Besides those things the tank is overall doing great! I’m going to pick up the Maksed goby tomorrow so maybe then I’ll put the FTS on the first page. I’m also thinking about getting a filter so the pictures aren’t so blue. In other news I’m getting a logo made by @thepixelreef on Instagram which should be done in the next month or so...updates to come tomorrow 

5007B3E7-3084-4C7E-B026-6F46108EB916.jpeg

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Christopher Marks

Looks good @Northwoodsreefer!

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Wonderboy

I really like the rock work in here! Hope to see more soon  :]

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Northwoodsreefer

Im baaaack, sorry I kind of dropped off. I edited the first post to reflect what happened and the plans.

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Northwoodsreefer

November 9th, 2019:

After having freshwater tanks for the past three months, I was talking with some of my saltwater buddies in our Instagram group about maybe going back into saltwater....big mistake (JK). I had the tank as a freshwater but it was overrun with hydra, so I took it down and thought about doing a mangrove tank. After thinking more about it I instead went more for a gorgonian dominated tank with some macroalgae.

 

November 11th, 2019:

I started to make the rock structure, with my livestock idea I needed a lower structure to allow height for the gorgonains as well as a sloped right side for the addition of zoas and maybe ricordea too. Making the structure took a lot more time and epoxy putty that I thought it would, I used a whole tube of Instant Ocean holdfast to secure the main rocks as well as smaller pieces to hide old super glue spots. After noticing how the main rock was naturally forming a cave/ravine I decided to emphasizes it some more and add some rocks to make it look more cave like. Looking at how the epoxy putty created unsightly "bone white/gray" areas I took some argonite flakes and pressed them into the connection spots to smoothen the color and blend the rocks together more. Below is a before and after

adding the argonite flakes to the epoxy putty. After letting it set overnight, the tank was packed up for college and a blanket was added to reduce the chance of breakage. I also ordered my AquaKnight light that night.

IMG_9379.thumb.JPG.c1670a262604e007ebb53c778d2f43eb.JPGIMG_9380.thumb.JPG.951dbab16d7309386ceaa7a9afb0cfe6.JPG

 

November 12th, 2019:

One of the first I did after I returned to my dorm, after I acclimated my new freshwater fish, was unpacking my tank and making sure the rock was okay after the trip. The next thing I did was make the substrate mix, It is around 60-70% argonite flake and 30-40% Oolite with some rubble pieces added to give it a more natural look. I have the front depth around .5" with the back right corner sloped to 1"-1.5", in the cave area sand was excavated a bit for added depth. I am also looking to get some macroalgae from Gulf Coast Ecosystems very soon, hopefully my light gets here tonight.

 

November 13th, 2019

Well, it was my birthday about a week ago (Nov 6th), so for my birthday I spoiled my self with the AquaKnight light as well as some TurboStart and some macro/zoas from Gulf Ecosystem. I ordered some Rigid coralline, Gracilaria parvispora, and a cluster of wild zoas. The AquaKnight was very neatly packaged and arrived in perfect condition, the only problem was it was too long. I fixed this by ditching the extension bracket and just screwed in the light brace to the clamp brace(pic below).IMG_9438.thumb.jpg.375518c33241835c527d4b09434746a8.jpg 

I messed with the light intensity too as I like more of a light blue color, compared to a blue or dark blue color. I'm excited to get this tank up and running for the new macro/zoas.

IMG_9435.thumb.jpg.5815ddaa22d83b88336712b7101cc106.jpgIMG_9434.thumb.jpg.1a79c80b704b6a696479f5ffd7581647.jpg59538152136__EEB804D8-C6EE-4DD0-900A-9B61ED6A7A30.thumb.JPG.240765c572bd33ad4920b5e39f832677.JPG

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November 14th, 2019

I got good news! The tank was finally filled up with saltwater, and I got an email from AlgaeBarn saying my TurboStart will be here this weekend. This is good because my Gulf Coast Ecosystem order of Gracialira parvispora, rigid coralline, and a wild zoa cluster will have a theoretically cycled tank on arrival. Also, here's an FTS of the filled tank, it's a bit cloudy which is to be expected with a newer tank.IMG_9469.thumb.jpg.67b709a1816368f5c62465d904e6fe4a.jpg

Future Order plans:

Gulf Coast Ecosystems

  • Purple frilly gorg or Tan spiny gorg
  • Rock flower anemone

Reef Cleaners

  • 2 Green porcelain crabs
  • Blue porcelain crab
  • Dwarf cerith
  • Limpet
  • Florida cerith
  • Scarlet hermit crab
  • Nassarius vibex
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Northwoodsreefer

November 15th, 2019:

Not much to update on about the tank, except the two 10watt slim heaters combined with the AquaKnight rose the temp to 81.7 degrees :blink:. Needless to say, for now I removed one of the SLIM heaters and the tank is at 76.8-77.1 I just have to monitor it more closely before livestock goes in. Another thing that happened was the purchase of the PolypLab V2 lens kit, with this new accessory I hope to get improved pictures of my tank. Being a bored college freshmen, I had time on my hand last night and thought "why not see how much this tank would cost from scratch" and I made the list. 

Livestock

Live-Plants

- 1 x Purple frilly gorg or spiny gorg $12.00

- Assorted RFA $8.00

(ordered)

- Pint Gracilaria parivosa $8.00

- Rigid coralline $5.00

- Wild zoa mini colony $6.00

Total: $70 w/shipping ($31.00)

 

Reefcleaners

- 2 x Green porcelain crabs $8.00

- Blue porcelain crab $8.00

- Dwarf cerith $0.17

- Limpet $0.75

- Florida cerith $0.60

- Scarlet hermit $3.00

- Nassarius vibex $0.50

Total: $31.42 w/shipping ($12.50) and 10% off 

 

Midwest Aquarium Services (LFS)

- Pair sharknose gobies $14.00

- Anemone shrimp $25.00

Total: $39.00

 

Livestock grand total: $140.42

 

Equipment

Amazon

- 2 x 80 Gph pumps = $17.98

- Aquaknight 30watt LED = $62.98

- Dr.Tim's ammonium chloride= $8.99

Total: $89.965

 

PetCo

- 10lbs Argonite flakes = $4.89

- 10lbs Bahama Oolite sand = $5.49

- Refractometer= $24.99

- 2 x Instant Ocean holdfast = $31.98

- Instant Ocean salt = $14.81

Total: $82.16

 

Thrift store

- Aqueon SLIM 10watt heater= Free w/tank

- 5 gallon column tank= $12 (thrift store)

Total: $12.00

 

MidWest Aquarium Services (LFS)

-8 lbs dry rock @ $1.49lb = $11.92

Total: $11.92

 

AlgaeBarn

-Fritz TurboStart= $13.99

Total: $13.99

 

Equipment grand total: $210.02

 

GRAND TOTAL: $350.44

~ $70.09 per gallon

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banasophia

Looks like a great start!! Excited to follow along! 🙂

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Northwoodsreefer
7 minutes ago, banasophia said:

Looks like a great start!! Excited to follow along! 🙂

Thank you! I’m excited too!

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Northwoodsreefer

November 16th, 2019:

Well, I did some adjusting to the tank equipment today and did maintenance on my pea puffer tank as well. First thing I did was add a Tetra whisper 10i to help remove suspended particles and have some flow. I still kept the internal pump to create more flow for the gorgonain rock section. The flow is perfect, the pump on the right side pushes particles towards the filter inlet and the filter creates a circular flow pattern that corrals all the particles while also pushing them into the filter outlet. The picture below shows the flow patterns and where the filter inlet

is located.

IMG_9493.thumb.jpg.746c53fb6e3fc3f8561dfe2fd421e0d5.jpg

The filter has a coarse sponge at the bottom near the inlet, then some filter floss and a bag of carbon.

Packages:

My AlgaeBarn package arrived yesterday, so after reading the directions I could have added all 30 mL to my tank (directions read can be dosed up to 5x recommended) I chose to dose 15 mL. Dosing 1/2 of the bottle gives me the opportunity to down the road dose extra bacteria if needed. Tank is still a bit cloudy, but way better than it was yesterday or the day before that. Still have a few packages incoming for the tank, one is confirmed livestock and I might get another from ReefCleaners pending the custom clean up crew order. 

Amazon arrival 11/18/2019

I will be getting a second 80 Gph pump to mix up saltwater to make water changes after I decided to use the other 80 Gph pump for my tank.

Zazzel arrival 11/25/2019 - 11/27/2019

I have seen many of the popular/well received tanks have incorporated outside design elements, so I decided to do that same. I think I will keep what I ordered a secret until they arrive. 

Bulk Reef Supply arrival 11/18/2019

This one is the package I am looking forward to the most, I can't wait to take some (hopefully) decent pictures of my tank. I hope this allows better documentation of my tank and it's inhabitants.

Gulf Coast Ecosystem arrival 11/20/2019 - 11/22/2019

This package will be the first livestock to be added to my tank, I thought I knew exactly what I will be receiving, until I looked at the receipt. I knew I ordered some Graciliaira parvispora, a rigid coralline, and some wild zoas. What I didn't realize what I ordered 20+ polyps of zoas to go into a new tank...maybe not the best choice. These zoas will be the "test" subjects I guess, I have a feeling they will be mad for a week or two after being added to my tank. Being wild zoas, I feel like they will be more tolerant of changes in my smaller tank. There will be another order from Gulf Coast Ecosystem for the gorgonian and a rock flower anemone.

ReefCleaners arrival 11/21/2019 - 11/23/2019

Here comes what would be pretty much the majority of the livestock, a large sum of the tank will be snails with a few crabs and shrimp. This order will include 3 species of cerith (fly speckled, Florida, and dwarf), a limpet, and dwarf planaxis as well as a portion of Chlorodesmis. I will also being doing a second order from them for some green/blue porcelain crabs.

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Northwoodsreefer

Question for the followers:

I've been thinking more about possible "display" invertebrates as of late and about what I might get in the near future. Originally the idea was to have some micro decorator crabs and an anemone shrimp, but I don't know what I want anymore. I need lower maintenance inverts and semi-hard. I thought about a peppermint shrimp but I heard they can be terrors, same with the emerald crab and some hermits. I have a few ideas that I'll leave below and hopefully I can get some feedback.

 

Invertebrates

Option 1

Anemone shrimp

Scarlet hermit

Porcelain crabs

-maybe- micro decorator crab

 

Option 2

Peppermint shrimp

Dwarf blue hermit

 

Option 3

Sexy shrimp

Polka dot hermit

Micro decorators

 

Fish

Option 1 

Sharknose or cleaner goby pair

 

Option 2

Roughhead blenny

 

Option 3

yellowface pike blenny

 

Option 4

Rusty goby pair

 

Option 5

Caribbean black clingfish 

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billygoat

Honestly I'd just get some snails and hermits, not even a fish, and certainly not any shrimp. If you're going to be moving the system frequently you are going to want livestock that is both portable and indestructible. Personally I would not want to tangle with anything that isn't absolutely bulletproof.

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Northwoodsreefer
2 hours ago, billygoat said:

Honestly I'd just get some snails and hermits, not even a fish, and certainly not any shrimp. If you're going to be moving the system frequently you are going to want livestock that is both portable and indestructible. Personally I would not want to tangle with anything that isn't absolutely bulletproof.

So, stick with snails and crabs? Porcelain crabs and decorator crabs. My plans are slowly crumbling...probably no rock flowers then 

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Northwoodsreefer

November 17th, 2019:

The temperature of my tank was drifting around the high 78s to low 79s for a few days, I was trouble shooting and came to the conclusion that I might not need a heater. Today the tank was hanging around mid 77 range going into the 76s. Another think, the more I think about the logistics behind this tank, the more I realize that maybe right now a biotope is not the way to go. Right now, I should focus on hardy livestock/corals. This means the biotope might not stay a biotope for long. Maybe once I get a stable place to live I can do this biotope 100% accurate.

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