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29g - First Tank Build - Starting at Zero

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I would probably remove the top rock myself. I know exactly the pain you're feeling there with fit and trying to have room around for glass cleaning. 

For sand, your 1.5" seems pretty common... I was shooting for that on mine, but I think I'm going to be at 2" with my two bags. (think you have same as me, so let me know how much is left? lol)

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The tank looks good but that is a lot of rock. Doesn't leave you much space for corals or cleaning.


In a 29g 20- 25lbs would be enough.

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We are officially wet!



This was last night. I am more than likely going to take off that top right rock. It definitely sticks out of the water. I like the look if it more with it, but it opens up the tank without it.




And this is what I am looking at this morning. Much more clear! About to run to the grocery store and grab a jumbo shrimp the bacteria can feed off of. Happy!


Edit: This is 12 hours in and right before I placed in my jumbo shrimp as a food source:




Going to double check on all this so I know how to track it better!


"..want to start testing your aquarium almost every day for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. This will help you understand if the cycle is underway and when it is safe to start adding livestock. 

After a week or ten days, you should see a spike in ammonia concentration, jumping from zero to a higher number. This is followed by a spike in nitrite, follow by a spike in nitrate."


Going to be following this information. Watching for that spike in Ammonia first!

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Looks great! A couple months back I went from an IM Lagoon 25 into a 29g. Being fairly new I was having a hard time dialing in light and flow which caused me to lose a ton of coral in the Lagoon. I do miss the foot print of the IM tank, but love the extra height/length of the 29g. My scape looks like yours, other than my rock isn't as thick and isn't built up as tall. So keeping the glass clean is easy, but being able to really clean the sand has been rough, which I think is very important in a new tank.


Everything seemed to just come together perfectly for me with 29g, even lighting and flow. Haven't had any problems other than my aiptasia eating filefish is more of a zoa eating filefish 🤦🏽‍♂️

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Day 2! Super confused, but going with it. Haha! Did my daily test. Ordered a Magnetic cleaner, ammonia, and calibration fluid for my Refractometer. 

On 3/8/2020 at 8:13 AM, 5*Chris said:

My scape looks like yours, other than my rock isn't as thick and isn't built up as tall. So keeping the glass clean is easy, but being able to really clean the sand has been rough, which I think is very important in a new tank.

I ended up taking out one rock, but probably should have made more space. I reeeaaalllly liked how it looked, though. Once I get my siphon in, I will to some "fake" cleaning to see how it is. If real bad, maybe I will readjust the scape a little. I should have time during the cycle. Maybe. We will see.


Instead of making a new post daily for my tests, I am going to edit this post.

Day 1



Day 2



Day 3





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Wife and I didn't  like how the front part if my half-DIY stand looked. Tackled a new approach today. Turned out much better! Not finished, but happy so far  



I just have it held in place right now (you can see magnets stopping it from falling forward).


As for the sides, I glued on plywood to the decorative pieces today. Tomorrow they should slide right in. After that, makeshift some simple shelves! 


Edit: got the sides on!




Day3 of waiting for cycle finished.

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4 hours ago, Hasted said:

Wife and I didn't  like how the front part if my half-DIY stand looked. Tackled a new approach today. Turned out much better! Not finished, but happy so far  

Seriously man... stop taking my ideas!!  😉

Looking good.


My son and I are still drawing up a more built in stand with attached opening hood, but I'm thinking again about going with the same type stand idea as you (since I was planning on it before) to get things rolling. I think it will be a decent compromise that my wife can live with for now. We'll have to completely drain the tank to do the stand swap but I'm also going to plan on picking up another 29g tank and prepping it just in case. I figure if I have one already it will be like a spare tire... never need it unless I don't have it.

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Dosed Ammonia to 2 ppm (these kits aren't the easiest to read). Here is before and 10m after adding ammonia. 



Tested it when I woke up in the morning. Ammonia was dropping and Nitrite was up.



Then the today (30 hours after last test):




It looks cycled to me! 


So, water change to drop Nitrates and add a small CUC is next, right?



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Welt to the LFS and picked up a small CUC to get things started. I was told that starting with a CUC over a fish is the safer, bit longer way. So, I am taking that route!


If I remember correctly, this is what I picked up:


3x Nassarius Snail

2x Bumble Bee Snail (a little iffy on this?)

2x Turbo Snail

2x Hermit Crab


Watching my levels over the next few days to see if these guys change anything. 



Immediately did his thing and burrowed in the sand. The other two are still chilling.




Wife is happy that there is something to look at. "Find the Snail" is popular in this house now. The other snail keeps overturning himself. I have righted him a few times in different ways and still no luck attaching to the glass.


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A few thing has happened! 


CUC lived and water stayed stable. 


Made an egg crate lid to keep things safe. Temporary and want to upgrade later.




Used some side cutters and my Dremel to make it "almost" perfect. 


And then...




They have been exploring the tank for the last 4 hours.


I am super happy.

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Great idea build fish tank!
This isn't an issue, but more my personal preference: I used Aqualexs Aquarium Ohko Dragon Stone Rock for my fish tank. I’m following along and excited to see how yours turn out!

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Tested waters and all looks great still! Clowns have eaten with no issues when fed. They like to hang out at the very corner if the tank. I thought it was due to powerheads being too strong for their little bodies, but they seem to hang out there even with just the filter on. (Any opinions on if I should run both my 425 gph Koralias all day with them being somewhat small?)


Keeping an eye on everything and going to ride this for a while. Great way to spend my 4 week quarantine!

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Two things:



Trying to figure out powerhead placements and flow.



2x Koralia 425 gph x2 - white circles

Tidal 55 HOB - Green top right 

Heater - Red square with H

Flow - Arrows


My original set up:




Green is my HOB pushing water out, slightly down.


Orange went behind rocks. Was able to keep the whole back wall clean of debris (pellets mostly). End of stream hit heater to keep water moving around it.


Yellow went upwards to chop of the surface water. Read that this could be important, but now not sure of my HOB fulfils that role with it's flow adequately instead?


Small red x in front left shows a dead zone where most food ended up. Snails loved going into that little cove after a feeding. Was easy to target when doing water changes.


Another test set up:




Green is same.


Orange is now in front of the rocks pushing debris all through the front. 


Yellow is now downward behind rocks. Hits heater.


The dead spot front left seems to be a lot better. The whole surface area of the sand seems to have more flow. I am sure there is a new dead spot somewhere, but haven't spotted it yet.




Anyway! Anyone have any suggestions on this? Currently only two small Clownfish, so not sure how that effects things. I have been turning a powerhead off for a bit each day to give the little guys a little more relaxing waters. Is this fine?



You can see the little guys in the pic on the left side of the tank.


(Not that it matters, but top middle rock will be removed eventually. To create more space. Keeping it in there to give more surface area for bacteria)

SECOND! Still, related to flow...

I have been eyeballing a KORALIA SMART WAVE CONTROLLER to add to my system. Especially once I get corals in there so they aren't getting flow the same way all day, every day. This unit is around 60-70 dollars.

Does anyone have experience with this is small tanks? Looks like it can handle multiple Powerheads on each of the two cables. 



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Not much is happening with the "shelter in place" going on. Just enjoying my clownfish pair and happy.


First sign of algae. Turned off all red and greens to my light and toned the strength down a lot.




Here is Saxby present for AI, but killed all red and green. I then took this and reduced the power by 50% or so of this.




Still messing with my powerhead placement. Not satisfied mainly because this:




Clear where the head is pointed. Need to try to get my head pointed up just a little. 


Also! Got my wave controller today. Going to set it up and see what happens. Not sure what setting I want, but probably going to be 10m-1h rotating. Don't want to have my PHs cycle too many times a day and kill their lifespan that quickly. 

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This is still growing, but much slower now that I adjusted my lights. I keep reading about how new tanks always hit this, so not worrying too much yet? My crab is up there munching away. Nothing has shown up on sand bed yet.


Other than that, loving everything at the moment. I am stalled due to quarantine, which is fine. Only issue is getting RODI water (all of BRS is sold out, wanted one of their units). I have a buddy going to drop off a couple 5g buckets full from his RODI system, so that's going to be a non issue very soon! 


I adjusted my back powerhead slightly today. Front one is now in a good place to not explode the sand. A couple pebbles here and there overturned, and that's it. Back one is a bit trickier, but looks a bit better. We shall see how much it moves in a day or so.


Hope everyone is able to enjoy their tanks as much as my wife and I am during this time. Stay safe. 

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Lost my hermit crab today. 😞


He has been in my rocks cleaning away. I checked on him yesterday and he "looked" like he was cleaning inside a hole in my rock.


Pretty sure he got his shell stuck in the hole and couldn't get out. Found him in the sand bed with his shell wedged in the rock up top.


Moved his shell next to him, bumped him with it, but no reaction. 


My CUC is super low. So, it is time to stock my CUC a bit more, especially since I am getting algae this week.


My question to you. What would ideal CUC members and numbers be? 


Only additional info other than 29g tank size is that I do have Algae wafers I can feed. I could go a bit heavier and support them with that weekly.


Edit: Doing some research and finding "packages". I am going to use this as a base idea of what is suggested by stores. I am assuming they look at the CUC as disposable and losing some in shipping is inevitable. Which means some probably add more than what I would need at the moment? The numbers vary wildly. Anyway, here are a few examples:

7 Astraea Snails
4 Nass. Snails

1 Emerald Crab

8 Red Leg Hermit


RC: (there are a few options on this site)

29 Dwarf Cerith
9 Nass. Snail

11 Florida Cerith

8 Nerites

8 Assorted Hermits

1 Emerald or Ruby Mithrax Crab


10 Nass Snail

10 Astraea / Chestnut Snail

10 Cerith Snail

15 Blue Leg Hermit

5 White or Red Leg Hermit

2 Peppermint Shrimp

2 Emerald Crab



And I have 3 other stores packages written down.



HOLY CRAP the numbers are all over the place! The last one is way too much for my little aquarium I feel like. The entire thing would be over run with just CUC. I do REALLY like watching my crabs (RIP) and snails move around, but that would be too much I feel. 


I definitely want variety. I don't just want 50 Nass. Snails with their cute little tubes popping out. 

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Looking for help/ confirmation on a few things. 




New tank ugly period? Right? I read that this happens to most tanks. (Lights are just white for picture purposes)

I adjusted my lights (reduced intensity, removed all red and green, and tried to find slightly shorter on time schedule) a week ago. See above schedule and reduce that by a lot. I knew this wouldn't stop the algae spread, but hoped to slow it / control it a bit. It definitely seems to be feeding off the lights as shaded areas aren't covered. As you can somewhat see here:




Other than "waiting it out", what other ways can I help with this?




All of the rock is the same color except right here. There is a very, very small red spot (middle bottom), a red shade (top left), and a little green shade (top right/middle). Any worry about those extra colors?


Still looking at bolstering my clean up crew. Is there anything specific I could / should look for that will target this a bit? It is almost entirely on the rocks at the moment. Just now got down to the sand bed yesterday. My current crew is only like 5 strong with Bumblebee, 2 Nass, Turbo... and something else I can't remember? Going to try to sneak to the LFS this coming week to pick up some more members. 






On to normal activities. Did a water change today. 

Quarantine makes it a lot harder. I had a friend drop of 10g of RODI water for me. I was getting a 5g RODI and a 5g of mixed from the LFS. Mixing myself (which I am ok with) with friends water now. 


Got a small preset heater that actually fits down in 1g jugs. Has a clamp that auctions to the bottom of my 5g. Super easy to move around.


Got another powerhead to mixing. Same ones I have in my current tank. 425gph Koralia. Was cheaper than the 240 or what ever. 


Hooked both Phead and heater in my bucket. Dumped salt. Checked salinity after a bit. Repeated to get the right levels. Couldn't be easier. 


While I was working on the WC, replaced my carbon today. Will wait a few more days and replace my filter floss, also. 


For my top offs, I have a 1g jug filled. I just drop that heater down in it. Once the indicator light shuts off, in it goes. Refill for next time.


Getting pretty good with this easy, regular maintenance. 


I am checking PH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite,  Salinity, weekly (and prior to WCs). Visually inspect things daily (Temp, scrape glass) and weekly (powerhead, filter).


Should I be testing, checking, dosing other things now that things are actually happening? My plan is to have corals... but this whole lockdown thing is gonna halt that for a bit probably. I see people check for alkalinity and a few other things. Is that ONLY when you have corals? I assume I don't need to be dosing, since everything I see about that is related to coral health...



All in all, loving my time with this tank. Wish the world wasn't in a weird spot, though. I was so close to pulling the trigger on a few things (like a BRS RODI). I am just glad we got our fish right as soon as all this happened.


Again, would really love any and all input. I am doing research left and right, but a lot of the info is to completely different from one source to another...


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Ventured out today to the LFS and picked up some CUC members to help out!


4 - 5 Bumblebee
3 Astraea
4 - 5 Cerith
2 Turbo Snail
1 Sand Conch
1 Unknown Snail?
1 Unknown Conch?




I am pretty sure I labeled things right. I don't know what these larger ones are that are circled, though. 


Within minutes you can tell they were working hard.




Their trails are popping with the light. 


This puts me up to a total of about 20 CUC members. 





On other news, I also picked up some frozen food for my Lona and Konos (the Clowns). I plan to feed them a little once a week or so to help out their diet. 


I plan to add an algae wafer in for the CUC each week also. I don't want to starve them if I happened to get too many.


That's all for now. Things are progressing nicely. 


Looking into test kits (Alk, Calc, Phosph) that I will need for my jump into corals once lock down ends. No rush on my end, but want to be ready.

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Looks like my little clown is missing a little bit on his back fin.


Do you think it is aggression from the larger one?


I was under the impression that aggression wouldn't really happen at a young age. They are still really small.








Monitoring them for the possible aggression. Ordered a clear floating breeder box thing to separate them temporarily IF it comes to that. 



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Nothing new from this perspective, but everything seems to be happy. Did a 5g water change. Took the opportunity to use a turkey baster for the first time to clean the rocks. Did a wonderful job of it! 


On a weekly water change schedule. Then 2 days after that I replace half my filter floss. 





In other news, I went ahead and bought the BRS 5 Stage RODI system. My water pressure is only 54-58, so I went for the 75gpd model.


Super excited about that. Not having to rely on anyone for water is going to make this much less stressful for me.




The little Clown seems to be healing up. We have noticed the larger one dart at him. It "seems" as though he is being submissive, but it is hard to tell. No more damage is good news though. 


I also bought a box that I could separate the two if it ever comes down to it. Better to have it and not need it...




I want to thank everyone who has helped in any capacity. I really so appreciate it. I absolutely love my tank. I have my eyes on a few coral for color and maybe one more fish / shrimp. That's not going to happen for a while, though. Going to sit back and watch the tank as is for now. 

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Looking pretty good so far.


I "splurged" on a BRS 4-stage (for now) 200gph unit and though it's probably overkill right now, I'm planning on eventually set it up to also supply RO water for drinking, so that helped me justify. I do need to get a booster pump still.

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A quick picture.


I set a budget for setting up my tank from the start. 

Nailed it!


Then in the last 2 weeks spent that much money again (all good!). Updates coming soon!


Also, we have something besides fish!  Updates coming soon!

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Quarantine got me. In an effort to stay in, I picked up an RODI system. Went with the 5 Stage, 75gpd due to a few factors. Unfortunately, the fitting I want I thought came with the unit. It does not... ordering it tomorrow. I may use the hose adapter for some water tomorrow if it is nice outside. I have a nice spot right outside I can set it all up in temporarily. Going to be tight under here, but I think it will work. Also, not a huge issue if I want to move it later. (Am I able to tap into copper pipes for this for future setting?)




As you saw in previous post, I officially have some color! I picked up a Rainbow Infusion (two large single heads on left / middle) and a Rainbow Incinerator (small 3 heads together top right) Zoas. 


I placed them in a spot that I "should" be able to move them/ get to them. They are approximately 12 inches under water with low/medium flow. They opened up within 30 minutes and the colors pop so much. You spot them across the room even though they are small and only 5 total heads. LOVE


I am super excited about these little guys. So, that means I need to test more stuff! I decided to spend money and I picked up:




I heard the Calcium kit can be a pain, but I am sure it is better than what I have. Which is nothing...


One giant leap towards my goal. 


I now have my next $500 or so budget planned out. Going to spread it out a bit. 


Also have my livestock plans mapped out. That's a ways away, so don't expect an update on that for a while. 


I will end with a picture of my weird sand conch being weird and a FTS.







I appreciate you stopping by! 


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Enjoying the pop of color as I wait for two shipments of fittings, tests, and a few other goodies to come in.



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I am in love already. The Salinity tester itself is worth it! I haven't touched Calcium tester yet, but have watched like 10 videos on how NOT to mess it up. I plan to do that test soon once I have time.


Here are my numbers:


Temp: 77.1 (Hanna)

pH: 8.2 (API)

Ammonia: 0 (API)

Nitrite: 0 (API)

Nitrate: ~15 (API)

Phosphate: 0 (Hanna ULR)

Salinity: 1.0235 (Hanna)

Alkalinity: 8.8 (Hanna)


I will update with Calcium once I go down that path. 


Zoas were doing great until my last water change on Saturday. Right after the last picture of them. They have been closed up most of the time, and barely open to see color inside the rest. Haven't seen them fully open. They almost seem to be browning on the side where the light hits them now. If they keep this up, I am going to move them further from the light? Or turn down the intensity of the light? Edit: apparently TOO much light isn't usually an issue for Zoas?




Still running Saxby, but turned down ever so slightly. 


Also, got my fittings in with my RODI unit. Going to set it up under the sink.

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