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Rudee

Nano Reef - First Timer

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Rudee

Hey y'all. I'm new to salt water and looking to start my first nano reef. I have a standard 10g long glass tank. Before I make any purchasing decisions I figured I'd post what I was planning to do here and get some advice. I'm not 100% sold on even sticking with this tank. I've read a TON of the forums and library content on this site and found it to be immensely helpful and educational. So I'm off to my LFS with my oldest daughter to get excited and just gawk and all the beautiful stuff. I'll take a break for the Super Bowl and come back with some specifics. I don't know a lot about coral but I was born in Hawaii and spent a lot of time in VA/NC so I love coastal/tropical stuff. 

 

What I would like to accomplish...

 

This tank is for me to keep me company at my desk at home. I have PTSD from the Marine Corps so I think this would be really good for me as a method of therapy (both watching it and maintaining it).

 

Since I don't know much yet I figure it's perfect or the "patience game" because I can get my system set up and start the cycle while I figure out what direction I want to go. I want a lot of color and for the focus to be the reef. If I get one fish, that would probably be the max. I am very interested in the balance of the sand and rock with the coral and cleanup crew. That will definitely be my focus for now. 

 

I need to learn more about the different types of coral because I don't even know the abbreviations yet. I DO know that I really like Zoanthids.

 

I'm an IT Engineer by day so I plan to use my strengths in digital automation to help with my project. I'm thinking about connecting my nano reef to a raspberry pi and streaming the data to a zabbix or nagios server so I can trend the levels of various measurements. That's my secondary hobby so will no doubt bleed into each other (i.e. chatbot notifications and alert thresholds).

 

Things I'm looking at / researching...

 

Lights (fluorescent or LED), how much and what kind? T5HO necessary? Is 5-8w per gallon about right?

Electric filter or natural filter? Leaning toward natural...

Heater and controller... how much is a good investment for this? Looking for stability (set and forget). So far I am looking at a 50-75w Ebo Jager or equivalent. 

Pump. Recommendations? I've noted some that have been mentioned on the forums (i.e. mini-jet) but the time span is fairly large so maybe there are some good newer ones. 

 

Saltwater... DIY with mix or do you recommend buying it premixed?

 

Off to the store! I'll let you know if I decide on a tank.

 

 

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Clown79

Welcome to Nano

 

There is a lot of info out there and researching/planning on corals before purchasing is always recommended.

 

As for lighting, t5 is not necessary, many use LEDS now, what lighting you choose will play a part in the corals you choose to keep: softies, lps, sps, nps. 

Wattage per gallon isn't often mentioned much anymore. When you deal with LEDs, the wattage Isn't the same as with fluorescents and halides

The spectrum, coverage, and par is more of a focal point.

In the lighting section there are sticky threads that really are helpful

 

There are many options out there in various budgets. All depends on if you want plug n play or fully customizable lighting schedules.

 

For filtration, that is personal choice. I always like running filter floss and carbon which require an hob filter. 

There are a few members that run no filter, some just skimmers, some run alot of equipment. It all depends on the system and how its run.

 

 

Buying a good heater is important. Jagger and neotherm are what most seem to use. The inkbird controller is great for a budget controller.

 

Powerheads/wavemaker, there are a lot of options. Mp10's, aqamai kps, tunze, jebao. Some come with controllers to allow you to customize the glow settings while others are just designed to have the same constant flow. 

 

Mixing your own SW is always better. You have control over the salt used, consistency of parameters. 

Using a refractometer is highly recommended.

 

 

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karisma

Read your post and im happy to hear your choosing a reef tank to help with  your ptsd i really hope it works for you. This is a great forum and can find an answer for almost anything you want to know.

Cheers!

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Rudee

Thanks! I'm off to a good start in the research department but it's really slowing down my actual tank build. I read so many posts from members here with the many lessons learned so I want to make sure I'm starting off with "good mistakes" haha. 

 

In the interest of not going full-bore I decided to stick with my 10g standard. I'm gonna get the heater now cause that's a pretty easy decision. I'll think a bit more on the lights and filter.

 

As far as planning goes. I have the fish picked out now:

 

Royal Gramma Basslet

Blue/Gree Reef Chromis

Firefish Goby

(Thanks for @lgreen for the list)

 

Since this is my first tank I figure I would start with beginner fish with a peaceful temperament. 

 

Feedback is always welcome.

 

Thanks again!

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Seadragon
On 2/2/2020 at 5:55 PM, Rudee said:

This tank is for me to keep me company at my desk at home. I have PTSD from the Marine Corps so I think this would be really good for me as a method of therapy (both watching it and maintaining it).

 

I understand what you mean and I hope it helps you as much as it helps many of us to relax and enjoy the simpler things in life.

 

On 2/2/2020 at 5:55 PM, Rudee said:

I'm an IT Engineer by day so I plan to use my strengths in digital automation to help with my project. I'm thinking about connecting my nano reef to a raspberry pi and streaming the data to a zabbix or nagios server so I can trend the levels of various measurements. That's my secondary hobby so will no doubt bleed into each other (i.e. chatbot notifications and alert thresholds).

 

That's very interesting.  My real job is an iOS Mobile Developer which is one of the reasons I went with the "Current USA Orbit Marine IC PRO Dual LED with Bluetooth".  It syncs with an iOS App and allows me to easily manipulate the settings and automate different tasks with my LED light.  Keep us updated on the Raspberry Pi integration, I briefly looked into it, but I didn't really study it too hard after I noticed some users were having issues/getting errors with it.  I'm currently developing a personal app that I will use to keep track of my water parameters (which I currently manually log) and have the app automatically calculate the dosing regimen to maintain calcium and alkalinity within defined ranges that the user sets.  (Perhaps I'll add a notification reminder for weekly tests.)

 

On 2/2/2020 at 5:55 PM, Rudee said:

Electric filter or natural filter? Leaning toward natural...

 

I use both.  There's many benefits that both can provide that one alone cannot.  For mechanical filtration, I have prefilters on my circulation pumps, a sponge filter in my UV Sterilizer, and Activated Carbon Media Pads in my internal filter that at the same time provides chemical filtration to remove the toxins out of the water which many corals release into the water column whether due to chemical warfare with other corals or when they get cut or injured, they may release some.  I hear even GSP (Green Star Polyps) releases toxins to hinder the growth of other corals which complements their ability to smother corals by growing over top of them.  I have biological filtration with my live rock and all of the surfaces in my tank covered with beneficial bacteria.  I even have filter feeders working 24/7 such as my Porcelain Anemone Crabs, feather dusters, corals, and countless Pineapple sponges.  Having diverse methods of filtration and biodiversity in the tank really helps to maintain a healthy reef system.

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Rudee

So after I started shopping around for system components I came to the realization that it was cheaper for me to get what I wanted in an AIO so I got a cheap Top Fin 10 gallon tall tank that already had a filter, heater, thermometer, and lid with LEDs. I can build off it for sure. I got some  CaribSea Caribbean Oolite live sand and some random live rock from the LFS. I am waiting for the water conditioner right now and then adding the salt. Then starts the fun! Wait for life to start it’s thing! 

 

With the blue LED.

 

image.jpg

 

I have about 8.5 pounds of live rock and used about 10lbs of sand. I wanted a little more sand because I'm thinking of getting a Goby+Pistol Crab combo. I "decided" that I am not 100% decided on the fish but I'd like to have some more bacteria in here for sure so that's what I did! 

 

I also have these weird horizontal lines on the inside of the tank but my daughter said she had the same thing and it went away. We'll see. I did rinse the tank out in the bath tub with no cleaning agents. Other than that, I didn't clean anything.

 

After putting the tank up and getting all the stupid glue scraped out from the inside (components that came with the tank) I rinsed it out and staged it on this desk. Then I put the filer together and got that on the back. I stuck the sand in and then added the rock. After that I added 1 gallon of tap water at a time using a pitcher and poured it over the rock so as not to disturb that sand and make a mess. Then I added water conditioner and salt. I have the filter running for now and it's not as cloudy as I thought it would be so I will probably leave it on. It does have a sponge in it to promote growth of beneficial bacteria so we shall see. 

 

I finally got a tank with water in it lol! 

 

Here's a look with the white LED. 

 

 

image.jpg

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Seadragon
48 minutes ago, Rudee said:

I added 1 gallon of tap water at a time using a pitcher and poured it over the rock so as not to disturb that sand and make a mess. Then I added water conditioner and salt.


Just a word of caution, tap water may have silicates in it that promotes brown diatom algae and other issues.  Tap water can also contain varying amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS) as well as nitrates in some cases.

 

For starting a saltwater tank or doing water changes, I would have either used filtered ocean water, distilled water with salt mixed, or RODI water with salt mixed to prevent the silicate issue.

 

For top offs due to evaporation, either distilled water or RODI water.

 

I used to use tap water for top offs early on and noticed multiple brown diatom algae blooms during that time.  After switching to distilled water, I haven’t had such issues since.

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mcarroll

Nerd out on some reef books before you get too far into this tank....most folks who start out online-only seem to be missing a lot of the basics.

 

Check out this thread for book ideas:

Chime in with your reef-oriented reading list! 

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karisma

Nice looking setup you ģot going there! I like the deep look :)

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Clown79

Set up looks good.

 

What light are you running?

 

A word of caution, tap water is really not a good source, it's full of stuff you don't want in your tank that conditioner's can't remove.

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Dirté Sanchez

That's a nice little tall tank- I bet the free swimmers you want will like having a high column like that.

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Rudee

Thanks for the comments, advice, and encouragement! When the rest of my fresh-water family is adding plants and fish and doing this and that I'm just staring at my tank full of rock and sand. I'm actually really enjoying the slow pace of this. 

 

Changes: all I've done in the first week of this tank is babysit the temperature and specific gravity level and I did a single water top-off of about 1.5 liters (tap water again with a chlorine treatment). My heater is just the crappy one that came with the AIO. It's currently set to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm reading 79 degrees on my thermometer. So that's still an adjustment. I think the heater will be the first to get replaced. 

 

Constants: The filter is doing a great job moving the water and keeping the flow all the way down to the bottom. As for the lights, it's just a blue/white dual LED strip that came with the AIO that's built in to the lid, which I made sure to get to keep all the critters in without impeding the light path to as much of the tank as possible. I really wanted even coverage. I have a feeling I might have to upgrade that along the way but I can always build that myself pretty easily.

 

Recommendations I am taking to heart:

    1. I found a great LFS that has a good price on salt water so I'm going to use that from now on and stop using tap water.

    2. I've done a TON of salt-water life and hydrology reading and will continue to do so while my tank cycles.

    3. I found some schematics that I think I can use to make my own water quality monitoring system. I might actually get this in place before I add anything else to my tank. Yes, this is the super-slow approach but I'm pretty stoked to just have something with a two-tone light and a nice, deep tank with some good hiding rock structure and white sand. Sometimes I just stare at it looking for algae for half an hour.

    4. I'l post another update in a week and just check in periodically for comments or suggestions. I really appreciate it.

 

4D2ED770-E246-4F37-AA99-E6C47321783B.jpeg

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