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FishProblem

2.5 Gallon Caribbean Pico

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FishProblem

Hi Nano Reefers! I'm new, but I've been lurking without an account for a while. Not much to add here yet, but I'm looking forward to sharing updates, and getting input.
With that, here's the canvas for my first ever saltwater tank. It's a Topfin Bettaflo Ease, 2.5 gallon tank. Can't wait to get water in it!

 

FTS January 2021:

IMG_6031.thumb.jpg.4f9b3a003ff099f9bfff89bc3ad27922.jpg

 


FTS December 2020:

 

IMG_5681.thumb.jpg.f577b480ee2fe6fadf4bb114be964880.jpg

 

FTS November 2020:
 

IMG_4815.jpg

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tk-it-ez

:welcome: and good luck.

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Frozen_Reef
6 hours ago, FishProblem said:

Hi Nano Reefers! I'm new, but I've been lurking without an account for a while. Not much to add here yet, but I'm looking forward to sharing updates, and getting input.
With that, here's the canvas for my first ever saltwater tank. It's a Topfin Bettaflo Ease, 2.5 gallon tank. Can't wait to get water in it!

 

IMG_4815.jpg

:haha: ANOTHER CARIBBEAN BIOTOPE:haha:

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FishProblem
17 hours ago, Frozen_Reef said:

:haha: ANOTHER CARIBBEAN BIOTOPE:haha:

I know they're "easy" corals, but I've been mooning over ricordea for years, and I'm a total beginner, and I love Florida, sooo... I'm gonna start there and then build on it with other shallow water corals from the Caribbean/Gulf area.
Do you have a Caribbean build? I'd love to check it out! I've been searching high and low for as many good examples as I can find

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Christopher Marks

That's a handsome little tank! Welcome to the community @FishProblem!

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debbeach13

Welcome to NR and reefing. The members here are very supportive so if you have any questions as things progress please do not be shy and ask as many questions as you want.

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sadie

welcome!  that tank looks bigger then a 2.5!  Can't wait to see what you put in it.

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FishProblem
8 hours ago, sadie said:

welcome!  that tank looks bigger then a 2.5!  Can't wait to see what you put in it.

Thank you! Are those sun corals in your icon? I've fallen absolutely in love with them! They're on the someday list!

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FishProblem

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome! I came over here from a forum that I love unconditionally, but is not so supportive of beginners to saltwater attempting anything outside of the cookie cutter first SW setup. And I refuse to take heed! So I guess we all have flaws. 😬

I suppose I'll kick this off with a question that I'll post in its own thread if I don't get enough attention here: I'm approaching this build from a very particular aesthetic, and want to use an empty canister filter (no media, no trays, no nothing) to add some water volume to the system and allow for glass lily pipes while creating flow.  Is this going to create the dreaded nitrate sink everyone's always talking about? My understanding is that's associated with the actual media more than the canister filter itself. If I clean it once a month will I be in the clear? Twice a month?

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I'm Batman

Tons of great reefers on here to help. It’s absolutely the most supportive community I’ve  ever been a part of. I’m no expert but I’d say that even with tanks that have HOB, it’s the same concept minus oxygen transfer. I figure if you put some porous rock or name brand bacterial populating media that might even be the way to go.

 

I’d almost rather go with a small hydor pump and then a glass protein skimmer if I ran a pico. 

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debbeach13

Canister filters with media are known as nitrate factory’s but an empty one just for flow and volume that is cleaned regularly should not be a problem. I have seen some people use them. Some use no mechanical filter and just rely on good flow and water changes. Live Rock is the main filter. 

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sadie
10 hours ago, FishProblem said:

Thank you! Are those sun corals in your icon? I've fallen absolutely in love with them! They're on the someday list!

yes, they were one of my first coral.  I was new and LFS said they were yellow polyps.  I asked him several times if they were sun corals, the kind you had to feed each head and he assured me they were not.  Posted a picture of my new "yellow polyps" and quickly found out they were sun!  I was able to feed them and take care of them and they did awesome, started having babies, but after about 2 or 3 yrs my tank crashed and I lost them.  😔  I want to get them again.

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FishProblem
10 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Canister filters with media are known as nitrate factory’s but an empty one just for flow and volume that is cleaned regularly should not be a problem. I have seen some people use them. Some use no mechanical filter and just rely on good flow and water changes. Live Rock is the main filter. 

That's exactly my plan! I want to keep it as simple as possibly, so I'll be doing regular 100% water changes to replenish nutrients and manage waste. The canister will be for flow (a little over 30x) and volume only 🙂

I've ordered 5lbs of Stax dry rock to cycle for my hardscape because I'm terrified of bad hitchhikers. Maybe I'm punishing myself by refusing to go with live rock to start, but it feels like a lot of variables right out the gates for someone like me who doesn't have any practical knowledge around reef keeping. Is this a mistake? I'm sure I can get a small piece of live rock from my lfs to seed the tank if you think so.

 

1 hour ago, sadie said:

yes, they were one of my first coral.  I was new and LFS said they were yellow polyps.  I asked him several times if they were sun corals, the kind you had to feed each head and he assured me they were not.  Posted a picture of my new "yellow polyps" and quickly found out they were sun!  I was able to feed them and take care of them and they did awesome, started having babies, but after about 2 or 3 yrs my tank crashed and I lost them.  😔  I want to get them again.

Oh wow! I'm sorry you lost them, but glad you got to enjoy them for a few years! I'm totally in love but I think I'll wait to see if I can keep some less hungry corals alive lol. I'll be coming to you for advice someday if I take some home.

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debbeach13

There are pro's and con's to almost every aspect of this hobby. It usually comes down to personal preference. The good news many reefers have had success using just dry rock, just live rock and a combination of both. 

Dry rock is less expensive, comes hitch hiker free and is a renewable source. It will probably need a bottled bacteria and ammonia source to jump start the cycle. I have no experience but there are many threads you can review about starting with dry rock only. Real live rock comes with beneficial bacteria and some bio diversity you just do not get on dry rock but you do risk getting unwanted items. Aiptasia, bubble or green hair algae being very common. Along with who knows what for critters some reef safe and some not so much.  Some people have even gotten fish with their rock.

A combination speaks for itself.

Also keep in mind that every time you purchase coral you may introduce algae or pests. Fish might introduce disease. The good news is there are dips for coral to help remove pests and if possible a QT tank will greatly reduce disease risk. In my opinion the QT tank is a must once you have a larger tank with rock, corals, and healthy fish already in it. I have started new tanks with new fish and since this is a pico you will probably only have 1 fish or none and just have inverts. 

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FishProblem
On 11/3/2020 at 12:23 PM, debbeach13 said:

There are pro's and con's to almost every aspect of this hobby. It usually comes down to personal preference. The good news many reefers have had success using just dry rock, just live rock and a combination of both. 

Dry rock is less expensive, comes hitch hiker free and is a renewable source. It will probably need a bottled bacteria and ammonia source to jump start the cycle. I have no experience but there are many threads you can review about starting with dry rock only. Real live rock comes with beneficial bacteria and some bio diversity you just do not get on dry rock but you do risk getting unwanted items. Aiptasia, bubble or green hair algae being very common. Along with who knows what for critters some reef safe and some not so much.  Some people have even gotten fish with their rock.

A combination speaks for itself.

Also keep in mind that every time you purchase coral you may introduce algae or pests. Fish might introduce disease. The good news is there are dips for coral to help remove pests and if possible a QT tank will greatly reduce disease risk. In my opinion the QT tank is a must once you have a larger tank with rock, corals, and healthy fish already in it. I have started new tanks with new fish and since this is a pico you will probably only have 1 fish or none and just have inverts. 

This has made me much more confident in the decision to go with the Stax rock from Two Little Fishies! From my higher tech nano freshwater projects, I'm learning that in setups this small, requiring so much attention and stability, that the variables associated with all that benthic life and incredible biodiversity isn't always ideal to start. I think I'm okay with letting this tank age slowly, and minimizing the risk as much as possible. That said...

The rocks arrived! And I got them arranged in what I think is a pretty passable scape for a beginner, based on island style tanks (if a little more crowded than most of those). The epoxy is cured and though I rinsed them, I have them in the tank filled with fw to let them leach out whatever they might leach out for a while before I add live sand and saltwater and start my cycle. (The light is just a spare cheap LED for show. I still haven't decided on what I'm doing for lighting.) 

 

Screen Shot 2020-11-06 at 10.52.27 PM.png

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debbeach13

That should be great for coral placement.

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FishProblem

So, I've ordered Tropic Marin Pro salt mix, and will be picking it up tomorrow. I also ordered a light - the NICREW 30W Reef LED Aquarium Light, with the dimmer/controller and timer. I was looking at the AI Prime, but I am trying to keep things within a reasonable budget, and from what I can tell this light will do just fine for the corals I intend to keep (especially in such a shallow tank), and is exactly the look I'm going for. I hope I'm right! It arrives tomorrow. Otherwise, I plan to use my freshwater API test kit during the cycle, but then I'll need to get a better kit for saltwater. Probably Salifert? 

That's all for now!

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FishProblem

Hello everybody! Can't believe I've been away this long. I've been mostly dragging my feet collecting the gear I need and posting about it incessantly on the other forum I'm a member of (you all seem very nice, but I don't think we know each other well enough to be quite that annoying). So I'll give a little recap here of what I've done with the build since early November. There are a few questions built in, so if you've got the answers, I'd love to hear!

 

Mixed my saltwater and got it in the tank! It took way more salt than was advertised on the box to get to 1.026 SG, which made me really nervous. As I was panic googling, I came across a couple threads on here that seem to say Tropic Marin Pro is designed for use with a ca reactor. I don't have one! Is that going to be a problem?

 

Added about 1/2" sand bed of Carib-Sea Arag Alive Special Grade. Looks awesome! I gave away the other 24 lbs so I didn't use the clarifier. Totally cleared up in 24 hours anyway, without any mechanical filtration.

 

Set up my Nicrew 30watt LED and its controller. Unpopular opinion maybe, but actinic blues really don't do it for me. Will I be able to grow ricordea florida and zoas using mostly full spectrum light? A hint of blue is nice to get some color out of the corals, I think. But (though my tastes may change) the blacklight poster look isn't my style right now.

 

Learned that the evaporation rate in this tank is insane without a lid. I can't get an ATO soon enough.

And finally, I started ghost feeding the tank to get a cycle going. So far I'm using my API freshwater test kit, and after three days of ghost feeding and one day of dosing Aquavitro Seed, I'm getting a .25ppm ammonia reading and 0 nitrates. My pH reading is 8.4. I think the pH is where it should be. I can't find any reliable info to support that seed actually works, so I'm curious to see if it speeds things up. Will continue dosing and testing. 

Visually, there's not much exciting going on, but I'll be on again tomorrow to post pics of the tank with sand in it!

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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IceParrot

I would be cautious about using a light with barely any blue/violet spectrum. Corals mainly use the bluer end of the spectrum. Here is some food for thought: 

 

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FishProblem
2 hours ago, IceParrot said:

I would be cautious about using a light with barely any blue/violet spectrum. Corals mainly use the bluer end of the spectrum. Here is some food for thought: 

 

Thank you! I love a good BRS vid. So basically, my main takeaway is that blues are important and not to mess with them. If I keep the blues ramped up and also ramp up the other colors in the light, will that affect the corals' ability to utilize the blue wavelengths? Or will it just make it more aesthetically pleasing to me? I think the video implies that I can do that without any ill effect.

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FishProblem

Here's how the tank is looking at the moment! I'm ghost feeding daily, and am seeing ammonia when I test. But as of yesterday, still no nitrate. I was morbidly curious about evaporation, which is why you see the water level so low in this pic. One week's evaporation takes about an inch off the water level, and brought the SG from 1.026 to 1.030. Curiosity sated! I topped the tank off last night, and feel great about my decision to get an ATO. I'd be being dishonest with myself to think I would be on top of top offs the way this tank needs.

 

IMG_5337.jpg

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SaltyGallon

Looking really good! Off to a great start. If you have trouble with the ghost feeding Dr Tims do some bottled ammonia that is cheap and an accurate way of kicking off the cycle 🙂

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FishProblem

Not the best photography (I really need to figure out how to capture/edit this blue light!) but a little FTS of my empty hardscape with a small update. I raised the light a bit, and removed the fake wood plastic base from the tank. I thought I could live with it, but it bugged me. I'm a sucker for all glass, truly. might have to fiddle with the light placement further. it looks pretty dire in this pic, but irl it's much more diffuse. looking for par meter rentals.

 

My cycle has been going, if not quickly. I'm reading 0 ammonia, 1ish nitrite, and about 75ppm nitrate. ammonia and nitrate are salifert test readings. Nitrite is API. I'm wondering if the API kit is total crap. I'd been feeding, dosing aquavitro seed and testing parameters daily. gonna stop making myself crazy and just feed and dose until the weekend. Then I'll test again to see if there's been a change in nitrite. I had absolutely messed up calibrating my refractometer, and turns out the salinity was over 1.030 SG for a couple of weeks. I did a gallon water change with distilled water that brought it down to 1.022, and almost immediately green algae popped up. There's some film algae, and some other stuff that's green and speckled all over the side of my rock. I'm sorta excited to see anything alive in there at all, tbh.

 

Been reading all I can and asking a lot of questions. I have a copy of The Nano Reef Handbook coming in the mail, and I know I'm getting some aquarium toys for Christmas (god bless my girlfriend and my family for being enablers), so I've got a lot to be excited about!

 

 

Screen Shot 2020-12-16 at 12.23.02 AM.png

 

 

Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 11.30.49 PM.png

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FishProblem

Well, it took me long enough, but the tank is cycled! I got a salifert nitrite test in yesterday and the reading is 0ppm. I've been waiting long enough! I ordered the salifert test because I was having a hell of a time making out the high readings on my API test, but it turns out I just had to wait. Cross referenced the API kit last night too, and it's also reading 0ppm.


Comically, today I also ordered gulf live rock, which would have really sped things up a month ago. All told, I don't mind having waited. I feel much better having gotten a variety of input and done a good deal of research. And if I get any critters with my live rock, they'll have a cycled home ready to go.

I'll be qt-ing the rock when it arrives (it'll ship out on the 11th) to handle aiptasia and also ensure dead or decaying organisms are cleaned out! To that end, I've ordered a par38 bulb and socket cord to lend some light and life support to the qt bucket. pump and heater are already waiting in the wings. Is there anything I should treat with, or will observation and aiptasia x (if needed) be enough?

I've also added some gear to the setup! I've got the XP Aqua Duetto ATO, and so far it's working perfectly. Setup was a breeze, too. Also got the Inkbird ITC-306T. It's awesome! The instructions weren't super clear, but now that I have it set up, it's definitely doing its job. Temp had been hovering at exactly 83F during the day with the light and the mini-therm heater, which is always on. Then it was dropping to the 70s at night. Now the temp has been consistently between 77.9 and 78.1 every time I look at it. And the temperature readings are perfectly consistent with my mercury thermometer. I couldn't be happier with it.

Wish I had good pics to post, but I'm still waiting for my lily pipes to get here from China, so no visible changes yet. Soon though!

 

 

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Tired

You don't need to worry about treating the rock. Observation is just fine. I'd set a couple bottle traps in there (with ventilation holes so the stuff in the traps doesn't die) in case there are any crabs or whatnot. 

 

API is not an accurate brand, having something else is generally better.

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