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Docs Waterbox Classic 30

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So I have been an admirer of Nano Reefs and Salt Water tanks in general for a number of years. I have kept multiple tropical and planted tanks over the last 25 years and the time has finally come for me to start my Saltwater adventure.

My plan is to end up with a mixed reef system starting as FOWLR system while the tank establishes, then introducing some LPS and Invertebrates and finally maybe an SPS or two as well.



  • Waterbox Classic 30



  • ·Sicce Syncra SILENT 1.5
  • Eheim Jager Heater 100w
  • Aqua Illumination Prime 16 HD
  • Tunze Osmolator Nano 3152 Auto Top
  • ·Red Sea DIY Mesh Lid
  • Small 5.2 Gal Glass Tank for Auto Topoff storage
  • Pure Reef RO 50GAL PD Solution with a dual membrane


Sand and Substrate

  • 9 Kg Caribsea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Sand
  • 9 Kg Caribsea Life Rock Shapes
  • Aquaforest Stone Fix (Reef Cement)


Mixing Station and Change out Equipment

  • Fluval Sea CP1 Circulation Pump
  • Aqua One Maxi 103 
  • Aqua One Heater ThermoSafe 50W
  • 2 x 90Liter Drums



  • BlueLabs PH Meter/Pen 
  • Hanna Salinity & Temp Tester - HI98319
  • Red Sea Marine Care test kit
  • Seneye Reef Monitor


Future Hardware Plans

  • In-Tank Media Basket for my Right Overflow (For now I’m going to use the filter sock holder to hold up filter floss)
  • Second HD16 or Hydra (if required)
  • Upgrade to the Return Flow Nozzle (want to see what the included Waterbox one is like but it doesn’t look great if I’m honest and is only a single wide nozzle output)
  • Wavemaker/s (want to see what flow I get from the return nozzle upgrade first)
  • Some form of Monitor or Controller ( maybe Seneye Reef Monitor)



  • 2 x Clown Fish (at this point I have not picked a type, I am again limited by what we have here but I am considering Black Ice Ocellaris, and Divinci Ocellaris. I would absolutely love a Black Storm or Mocha Storm but they seem very rare in Australia)
  • 1 x Midas Blenny
  • 1 x Royal Gramma
  • 1 x Bubble Tip Anemone (eventually)

The above is kinda my golden list of fish, once I have those some fish in the maybe pile may come in depending on the ability to support the bio-load.


Clean Up Crew 

  • Still deciding on a final list ( will update later 😅)



  • Zoas
  • Hammer
  • Elegance


The rest to be decided 



  • To be Decided


The experience so far


Because it can be hard to source a lot of the great equipment I see in peoples tanks I have taken my time putting things together. I like to understand each piece of the puzzle as I’m putting things together and particularly get over focused on trying to not make the mistakes I see other people starting do. It’s taken me a month+ of trial and error for example putting my Aquascape just how I wanted it considering at all times what my plans are at least for year one and probably year two.


I have to be honest and say that I have without question blown my initial budget which has been a combination of a few things.


First and foremost because I live in Perth, Australia my access to really good LFS for equipment is fairly pitiful in comparison to other places in the world and even in comparison to what is available on the Eastern states. Little things like not being able to source RO/DI water from any LFS less than a 3 hour return trip meant I really needed to buy an RO/DI unit for myself. No one selling pre-mixed salt water was another factor that meant I needed a mixing station (I wanted to avoid NSW for my first tank).


Secondly, I wanted to try and foresee some things that I felt I’d likely want or need within the first year of the tank running prior to water going into the tank that would cause me a headache later to implement.


Lastly because I travel for work and don’t want to burden my partner with daily tank maintenance I wanted to make sure I had things like an ATO in from day one for simplicity and stability.


Anyway, the journey so far has been a long period of research, planning and getting things together but now it’s time to start. I didn’t want to jump in and do a Journal straight away because I knew the progress would be slow and boring but I’m finally days away from my tank finally getting wet J

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Aquascape at 90% completion. I'm just waiting on some rubble rocks to help hide some of the exposed reef cement which is on it's way at the moment 😊


RO/DI unit due for delivery today so hopefully will be getting things wet soon 😍






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Hello @Doc_ and welcome to N-R! 😁 Looks like you have done a whole lot of research and have a good plan to take things slow, so I have no doubt that your aquarium will come together beautifully. Planning is the most important part of the saltwater hobby, but it's also the most difficult! So kudos to you for starting off on the right foot. 🙏


I like the scape! Very nice use of the arch, plus it still leaves plenty of room for active fish to swim around in. 

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Just a quick disapointing update 


The LFS which I organised my RO/DI unit through recieved my unit on Friday of last week on schedule and by the time I got there on Saturday morning one of their part time staff had sold it to another customer 🙄 and unfortunately as the one I ordered was just the 50 Gallon per day unit which is smaller than they normally sell they didn't have any more.


They have ordered me in another and they have offered to give me a fairly nice discount on the unit because they sold the one reserved for me and the trip to the shop is about 1.5 hours round trip. But because I live in Perth I'm going to be stuck waiting till the unit travels 4,000 Kilometers


Hopefully it comes in before the weekend and I can get everything wet over the upcoming long weekend, otherwise it will be the following week sometime 😭


On a positive note the same shop started to stock the VCA random flow generators last week so now I just need to work out what addapters and bits of plumbing I need to add one and upgrade my return nozzle. 


Anyone who has done the upgrade to a Waterbox Classic or knows what I need I'd love the advice and anyone who's done the upgrade I'd love to know what you thought about it.


Unfortunately, because my tank is one of the Waterbox Aquariums that were released before the current AIO lines the one that Vivid label as their Waterbox addapter doesn't look like it will work. But the 90 Degree joint that runs from the pump to the existing return nozzel does look like a fairly standard threading that I can work with



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Delayed update from 21/02/2020 


Wanted to fix some of my rockwork as I wasn't happy with the cement being so obvious


First picture is where I started 





Broke up some of the spare life rock I had to conseal and have to say I am pretty happy with the results , I used CoralCreate expoxy and some gorrilla glue to secure the rubble 



Sorry for the shitty pictures the glare from outside was horrible 🙄 I did end up fixing up that last little bit as well just didn't grab any pictures


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So my R/O Unit came in on the 22nd , I spent the 23rd setting it up and running up my first batch of salt water and as of the 24th I finally have a wet tank ! 🙂 


24 hours later everything was all cleared up and I got to look at everything for the first time under water and under lighting 😍


I let the water settle and stabilise after getting the rockwork and sand wet for the first time and Dosed with Ammonia to 2ppm on Sunday the 26th then added Dr Tims One and Only on the 27th


I went with a full 4oz bottle even though that should be enough for double my water capacity. 


Now just waiting and testing till the cycle is complete 




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On 1/19/2020 at 5:12 PM, Doc_ said:

The LFS which I organised my RO/DI unit through recieved my unit on Friday of last week on schedule and by the time I got there on Saturday morning one of their part time staff had sold it to another customer 🙄

Man, that is miserable! Especially when you have to drive so far... I'm glad it all ended up working out in the end though! Congrats on your first fill, and here's hoping that your cycle goes quickly and smoothly.  😊


Also that's some handy work with the glue and rock fragments to conceal that cement. Little details like that really add up in the long run, and now's the time to take care of them (before you get the tank wet and stuff starts growing on your rocks). 👍

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Cycle is coming along fairly well on Day 10 now and ammonia has been converting from anywhere between 1-2 ppm down to what the Seneye is registering as 0.003 NH-3 inside a 24 hour period for the last few days.


Nitrites are still sitting somewhere between 2-5ppm but in the last few days started converting to Nitrates at a fairly constant rate. Based on what I’ve been reading it seems fairly common when you initially dose ammonia too high it’s expected for the Nitrites to take a little while to catch up even if you use a beneficial bacteria product to seed the bacteria initially. So far I have opted to not do any water change to bring them down but may over the weekend.


At this point I plan to starting dosing ammonia a little less until the Nitrites start to come down a little more steadily.


Just a point I felt worth noting to anyone new starting, regardless of their reputation I'd forget about Red Seas Marine Care Test Kit if you plan to cycle with ammonia dosing. The expected levels are simply too high for it to provide any reliability and I've ended up going back to my API kits as the charts allow for the higher levels to be identified. I do like that for the lower numbers it's easier to identify your levels than the API equipment has always been for me so long term it will be useful because you are really looking for zero on most of the things it tests once a tank is established and zero is an easy to identify pigment but for my Cycling purposes it's just been gathering dust ! lol 



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Scape is looking great, keep us updated! 👍

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On Day 23 now


Tank has been showing signs of being fully cycled since the 14th of Feb, it was a big weekend for me so I didn't do a water change or go to the LFS to pick up salt.

I have been ammonia dosing every 2 days still just to keep the bacteria fed and test conversion and Ammonia and Nitrites are happily converting 1-2ppm ammonia to zero inside of a 24 hour period.


Tomorrow I'm working from home so plan to run the RO unit overnight tonight and mix up a fresh batch of water to do a 90% water change, let it all settle and head to a few LFS's on the weekend. 


I plan on adding my first fish and my cleanup crew but am after a little advice and some opinions

The cleanup crew I have picked out for my 30G Waterbox is the following 

  • 3-4 Blue Leg Hermit Crabs
  • 3 Nassarius Snails
  • 3 Trochus Snails

I've selected these to give me a mixture of CUC members but I’m not sure on the numbers I have decided on. I didn’t want to go overboard with numbers given there is very little for them to eat at the moment but it’s my understanding most of these I can keep happy with left over fish food and waste is that right? Is there anything I should scrap off the list for now, lower numbers of or increase the numbers on?  


The hermit crabs I'm not actually sure how lucky I will be to find but one of my LFS's said to me that they could get in most things regularly available if I give them a heads up.

My hope with those is to head off the algae blooms I expect to come along so I’m not trying to reactively deal with it later.


I do plan to add a Cleaner Shrimp long term but given they cost between 100-200 dollars each here where I have seen them I’m in no rush on those.


As for the fish I’m umming and ahhing over what order to add them. I have been reading that clowns are a great first addition on a freshly cycled tank because they are very hardy but have also seen a lot of people say they add their clown pairs last because they can be aggressive to new tank members if they are added first. The other options from my original list are the Midas Blenny and the Royal Gramma.


Availability and the quality of what I see in the shop is of course going to play a big part in the decision but assuming all are available what would you recommend I add first?


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Also on the topic of availability of my fish of choice, this being my first salt water tank and first tank in a long time where the size is really putting such a low hard cap on what I can house long term what are my options if I don't find anything I want on the weekend?


Obviously I could just keep ammonia dosing the new water and buy myself time but I'd really rather not do that and basically waste a fresh batch of salt water. I've never been in a position where following a cycle I may not want to add a fish if none make the cut. I also really don't want to feel like I'm forced to settle for something that isn't on my list of highly desirable fish at this point just because I have a cycled tank that I don't want to ghost feed or add ammonia to. With freshwater I have never found myself in a situation where I have needed to consider leaving a tank empty after the cycle while I wait for the fish I really want to become available but how long will my bacteria continue to thrive without an ammonia source? 


What are my options if I don't find anything I want to add this week or even over the next few weeks ?  Should I hold off doing my 90% water change and keep dosing some ammonia until I find something and then put it on hold once I do to give myself time to do a water change ? 

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