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Phantomwerkz

Phantomwerkz - 29g v2.0

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Phantomwerkz

15 years ago or so I started my first foray into a salt water aquarium. First up, was a 29g standard glass FO setup that eventually transitioned to a FOWLR with a bunch of acquired LR. Equipment was pretty stock and basic though I ran a Skilter250 alongside an Aquaclear 20 (I think) along with a couple of small Powerheads. Call it beginners luck, though I had a couple of resources to help along the way, I didn’t have too much trouble with it. This tank was up for only 1-2 years along with a 15g Tall that we moved the LR into and then lost due to an exploding thermometer. Can’t recall why exactly it was broken down, I’m thinking I had a heater failure or possibly a crash but we also ended up moving and were unable to have a setup in the new rental.

 

Fast forward to being in our own home for a couple of years now and getting back to the point that we’d like to setup another Aquarium. A LOT seems to have changed and though I thought a 29g was small for a salt water tank before, I LOVE seeing all the Nano and Pico setups that seem to be possible now. I’m trying to be smart though and sticking with part of my philosophy that I “think” served me well last time. Go bigger on equipment in the sense of do not go with bare minimum specs for filtration and flow, aka tank turnover rate. Also, take it SLOW so that’s the plan as well this time and I’m doing more research than before and trying to get my game plan in order.

 

Still have the old 29g glass tank, stand and hood that I planned on using. Having thought about it sitting all this time as well as finding out about Petco’s $1/gal. tank sale, it seemed this would be a no brainer decision. So, on Black Friday checked in to find the $1 sale going on and one 29g tank in stock… SOLD. Went ahead and grabbed a glass top as well. Will still clean and test my old tank and glass top and either find another use or send it on it’s way for a few $’s.

 

The plan for now is basically a FOWLR tank setup again with similar stock featuring at least one pair of Clowns. My wife and I enjoyed our previous clowns and so that’s where we start. She would prefer a FO setup, but I think the health of the tank and maintaining it would be easier with biological filtration so LR created with our own clean dead coral pieces along with maybe 10 lbs of dry rock are my thoughts. I’d like to move towards a more reef setup at some point but I think it’s either a ways down the road on this setup or possibly I do something along the lines of a 10-20 setup for myself (when I can come up with a suitable location).

 

So, here’s what I’ve decided to start out with.

 

Starting Equipment:

Aqueon 29 Gal. Standard Glass Tank

Aqueon Versa Top Hinged Glass Top

Aquaclear 110 HOB Filter - 500 GPH 

Seachem | Tidal 110 HOB Filter

Current Orbit Marine 24"-36” LOOP LED (x2)

Current Pump Manifold

Current eFlux Wave Pump - 660 GPH (x2)

Inkbird ITC-306T Temperature Controller

IOAOI 100W Heater (x2)

Carib Sea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand - 30 lbs

ARC Reef Reef Stacker Dry Rock - 25 lbs

Various Dry Clean Coral Skeletons (x2)

Instant Ocean Sea Salt

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Sea Salt

Instant Ocean BIO-Spira
Instant Ocean Marine Conditioner

 

Planned Upgrade Equipment:

InTank Media Basket for 110

Skimmer (AQUATIC LIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer/Filter purchased but undetermined if using)

Current eFlux Wave Pump - 660 GPH

Instant Ocean Reef Crystals Sea Salt

 

Current Stock:

Ocellaris Clowns - x2

 

Planned Starter Stock:

CUC (Snails, Hermit Crabs, Peppermint Shrimp)

Yellow Watchman Goby - x1

Tail Spot Blenny - x1

Firefish - x1

Shrimp (Scarlet Skunk Cleaner?) - x1

 

Additional Starter Stock Choices:

Bangali Cardinal - x?

Blue/Green Chromis - x?

Dottyback - x1

 

 

Thoughts, Ideas and Suggestions are appreciated and I plan on combing through this site a TON as I gather more insight and inspiration.

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Phantomwerkz

Getting closer... got my ARC reef rock in today and decided to try getting an idea on setting it up. Very pleased with the variety of pieces. Got 25# and have this centered slope with a couple of old skeleton pieces on the low end. If I go with this I'm just worried about making it all stable.

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Phantomwerkz

Moved a couple pieces around to open up a couple more spots.  Even though center is higher, helps hide the equipment some and should be even better with the actual tank and it's black background (this is the stand in tank.) I'll probably try to set everything (rock wall) a little more towards the back as well.

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Seadragon
On 12/3/2019 at 12:48 PM, Phantomwerkz said:

Thoughts, Ideas and Suggestions are appreciated and I plan on combing through this site a TON as I gather more insight and inspiration.

 

Welcome back to the hobby!  Some suggestions for you as I look over your posts:

  • Try to keep around a 1.5" gap between the rockwork and the glass to provide good water circulation, ease of access when using cleaning tools to scrape the algae off of the glass, and for large snails to clean tight areas as well.
  • Going slow and researching a lot is the key to success in this hobby -- since you're researching things and are at the beginning stages of your tank, I would recommend looking into "Instant Ocean BIO-Spira" as a great source of starter bacteria and also "Coralline Algae in a Bottle + Nitrifying Bacteria for Saltwater Aquariums, Purple Helix Strain" if you'd like to seed your tank with a beautiful purple coralline algae that will later make those white rocks turn into a beautiful purple color and at the same time help control nuisance algae from growing on top of the coralline algae as well as provide additional nitrifying bacteria.
  • I would definitely look into getting some sort of Blenny at some point if you want a fish with an amazing personality that'll keep you coming back to the tank again and again just to see what it's up to next.
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Daan6661

That dead coral skeleton looks really cool in the scape !

I Second Seadragon's tip on keeping enough space between the rock and glass. Algae is gonna build up on the spots you can't reach and can become a real PITA later.

 

GL Cycling dude. Throw in some food and take your sweet time while cycling to research.

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Phantomwerkz

Definitely onboard with all of Seadragon's suggestions.

 

I'm definitely trying to leave room and around the rock. Will need to tighten up a little bit to open up the ends a little. I'm a little concerned maybe too much rock but I'm really liking this look and want the bio-filtration... might just be using up some extra volume that should be water though.

 

Looked at Purple Helix but already had grabbed some Bio-Spira to start with.

 

Anxious to get started but still have a few more items to sort out before we start getting wet. In no hurry for the cycle either... slow and steady wins the race and I'm good with that.

 

Thanks for the feedback!

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Phantomwerkz

Got my blackout completed finally. Thought about getting 0% tint put on (still think this is a nice option) but professional installation was going to run $40. I was a little worried about it scratching over time as well. Decided to go with latex paint but also worried about it holding up to scratching and peeling. Started out rolling on three coats of black latex. Looked pretty good but still allowed some bleed through back lighting and wanted to find a way to protect the paint while eliminating the light bleed. 

While thinking about putting a black vinyl backing, found this fabric backed black vinyl that looks like leather. Used 3M 77 Adhesive to glue the vinyl to the paint hoping it didn't react weird. For the most part, this was successful with one minor blem. Since I don't want any moisture to get in behind, I went ahead and used black Silicone Adhesive and masking tape to get as clean of lines as I could.  Could have been a bit better on the side edges but overall I'm pretty happy with it. If it stays sealed up and holds up for the long run, I'm going to be very pleased.

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Phantomwerkz

Working on glueing some scape together in sections to make it easier to maneuver yet gain stability. I think this is pretty close to where it's going to end up. Got one more piece for a small shelf on the left to glue in. Lowered the overall height, but still have several arches for pass through. Also septated the two skeletons to try and makes things a little more visually appealing.

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Phantomwerkz

Ok, down to just one last piece that I think will need to be glued. At this point, this is probably where my scape ends up. A little tighter on the edges than I'd like but I think it's going to work. Both heaters are temporarily placed for now, as well as my powerheads. Trying to figure out my best placement but this is what I'm thinking to start. Next up is getting power and controls mounted up.

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Phantomwerkz

OK... may have made a NOOB move here (no doubt will be more). I bought the Inkbird ITC-306T and now realize it's got the stainless probe and not the plastic "aquarium" one? I'm guessing hosed myself and need to get the Aquarium version?

 

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Phantomwerkz

Looks like I may have to go into a holding pattern... not completely happy with the current old stand that we were looking to reuse. I don't like the non-matching hood, so was going to run without but I'm also not totally happy with light mount configuration. My wife would prefer a hood setup, which I'm not opposed to if it looks good. I can't find what I really want but have enough ideas that I think I can get one built that we both will be happy with. The downside here of course is that means MORE waiting. I know, I know, patience is the game here but I've already pushed back a couple of months and not sure I want to wait another (or more).

 

I basically have three options:

  • Run the current setup as is. Old stand, glass top w/o hood and Current USA LED lights w/brackets.
  • Start w/current setup as above but get a new custom stand w/hood assembly built and then drain tank to move into new stand (assuming I can leave the sand alone in it? 30-40#? I figure all live rock would come out during transfer)
  • Wait... until new stand assembly is built and start everything fresh then.

I'm just worried mostly about disturbing the sand bed if I did a stand swap and messing up my tank stability (assuming everything is cycled and stable when the new stand is completed.)

 

What would you do? Suggestions and advice most appreciated.

Edited by Phantomwerkz
clarification

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Ratvan
On 2/25/2020 at 6:08 AM, Phantomwerkz said:

OK... may have made a NOOB move here (no doubt will be more). I bought the Inkbird ITC-306T and now realize it's got the stainless probe and not the plastic "aquarium" one? I'm guessing hosed myself and need to get the Aquarium version?

 

You should be able to purchase the aquarium sensor separately. Or you could water proof it if you fancy DIY

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Phantomwerkz
5 minutes ago, Ratvan said:

You should be able to purchase the aquarium sensor separately. Or you could water proof it if you fancy DIY

I don't believe mine has the replaceable probe... I will look to double check that, but pretty sure. 

I thought about trying to coat the sensor for water proofing but assumed I'd be affecting the accuracy?

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Phantomwerkz

Well... went ahead and got the tank wet finally, even though it's on the old stand. I started this process in November and have tried to be as cautious and patient as possible. I'll need to change the stand at some point, but am happy to start this up as is. Water is clearing up nicely and so far things seem to be setting up like I was hoping. I need to update my equipment list to reflect the current setup still. Salinity is currently at 1.023 so I need to bump that a bit.

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Phantomwerkz

Seems to have cleared up pretty well by this morning. Hopefully will be able to check and log water parameters on lunch break.

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Phantomwerkz

So we're just over two weeks in since getting the tank wet. Diatoms appeared and I was getting ready for the big ugly but it seems they settled in and possibly improved. Water parameters appear to be pretty stable. Started out with 1.023 salinity and have slowly gotten that up to between 1.024 and 1.025 currently with a 1.025-1.026 as the end goal. Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate all look to be at 0. Had some trouble reading the API colors but I feel like nothing ever was up more than one block on the charts. I started the tank with ARC reef dry rock, IO reef crystals salt and RODI with conditioner, caribsea pink Fiji sand and Bio-Spira. Water has been clear with no surface film for about 10 days. Temp is solid at 25.5 C and pH about 7.8 (API test kit). Glass has been quite clean, think I cleaned in last Saturday. Having not seen a pronounced spike in anything, either the tank hasn't cycled yet or it was very fast and flat in handling? Currently the only inhabitants are a pair of Clowns which seem happy and healthy so far. I'd been planning on starting on the CUC next but I'm afraid a reef crew is too much at this point. Thinking I may need to look local for just a couple of snails to start (though I'm slightly nervous about bringing in any pests). Also, I haven't done a water change yet as I was waiting for a Nitrate spike, but I feel like maybe a small 5gal. change may be in order? Trying to be slow and steady and to me things "look" good overall both visually and with what appears to be steady parameters.

 

First pic is tank on day 7 (04/05), second is day 13 (04/11) and third is today, day 18 (04/16).

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Phantomwerkz

Looks like we've got the herbivore garden starting to sprout... starting to find some little green dots popping up.

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banasophia

Looking really good, I like your scape.

On 4/16/2020 at 6:37 AM, Phantomwerkz said:

I'd been planning on starting on the CUC next but I'm afraid a reef crew is too much at this point. Thinking I may need to look local for just a couple of snails to start (though I'm slightly nervous about bringing in any pests).

By pests do you mean on the snails? I usually float the bag mine come in to temp acclimate, then pull them out of their bag and put them in a cup of tank water for a bit to get all the LFS water off of them before adding to the tank... not sure how much that helps but always seems better than just plopping them in the tank. 
 

If your nitrate is still really zero or close to zero, I would wait for the water change. But are you sure it’s really that low? If you’re using API, make sure you are shaking up the bottle according to the directions, and shaking the vial.

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Phantomwerkz

Thanks @banasophia! The scape went through a couple iterations but I'm pretty happy with it. I put a bit of work into making it movable as well if future needs require.

 

Sounds like a reasonable method on the snails.

 

I'm pretty confident that I'm doing the test kits correctly. I double checked the ammonia for instance against my RODI water yesterday and going to check the rest today again for reference.

 

I agree on waiting for the water change... I was a bit leery but I need to let the tank tell me when to change on this first one for sure.

 

I'm thinking about ordering my CUC with an eye on some supplemental food in case the buffet isn't quite loaded yet.

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banasophia
2 minutes ago, Phantomwerkz said:

Thanks @banasophia! The scape went through a couple iterations but I'm pretty happy with it. I put a bit of work into making it movable as well if future needs require.

 

Sounds like a reasonable method on the snails.

 

I'm pretty confident that I'm doing the test kits correctly. I double checked the ammonia for instance against my RODI water yesterday and going to check the rest today again for reference.

 

I agree on waiting for the water change... I was a bit leery but I need to let the tank tell me when to change on this first one for sure.

 

I'm thinking about ordering my CUC with an eye on some supplemental food in case the buffet isn't quite loaded yet.

Yeah I only mentioned about the testing because someone in a Facebook group I’m in recently reported to the group that she had read the directions more carefully on the API nitrate test and realized you have to shake bottle 2 for the 30 seconds before adding to the sample... she said she did it correctly for the first time after testing incorrectly for months and it turned out her nitrates were super high!

 

I figured you’re probably good, just thought I’d mention it just in case. 😊

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Phantomwerkz
3 hours ago, banasophia said:

Yeah I only mentioned about the testing because someone in a Facebook group I’m in recently reported to the group that she had read the directions more carefully on the API nitrate test and realized you have to shake bottle 2 for the 30 seconds before adding to the sample... she said she did it correctly for the first time after testing incorrectly for months and it turned out her nitrates were super high!

 

I figured you’re probably good, just thought I’d mention it just in case. 😊

Appreciate pointing this out and I was NOT following along EXACTLY to the instructions.  I had been making to sure to shake both bottles significantly before performing the tests though. I went through and made sure to test my Nitrate levels while following the instructions EXACTLY... and I reach the exact same level of zero. Was a good reminder though to be diligent.

 

The only thing I'm noticing really is that I think my pH level is on the low side... it seems to be stable between the 7.6 to 7.8 range based on the color card.

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banasophia
1 hour ago, Phantomwerkz said:

Appreciate pointing this out and I was NOT following along EXACTLY to the instructions.  I had been making to sure to shake both bottles significantly before performing the tests though. I went through and made sure to test my Nitrate levels while following the instructions EXACTLY... and I reach the exact same level of zero. Was a good reminder though to be diligent.

 

The only thing I'm noticing really is that I think my pH level is on the low side... it seems to be stable between the 7.6 to 7.8 range based on the color card.

Yeah I’d hold off on the water change then... you want to build up some nitrates in there. 
 

My pH usually runs 7.8. 

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Phantomwerkz

Quick update now that we've crossed the 4 week mark since the tank got wet. Water parameters still holding steady and since Nitrate hasn't gone up yet, I still haven't done a water change, just top offs. Getting a bit more brown on the rocks as well as seeing bunch more green spots popping. CUC snails added last week and keeping busy... my one small rock in front is almost completely white again. 

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banasophia

Looking good!

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Phantomwerkz
5 minutes ago, banasophia said:

Looking good!

Thanks... a bit plain looking but hopefully it's making slow and steady progress.

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