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DevilDuck

Fluval Evo 13.5 - Somewhat Budget First Reef

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DevilDuck

I've been lurking on the forum for a long time and finally gained the courage to start my first reef tank after decades in the high tech freshwater planted world. I learned a lot from everyone's journals and I wanted to give back to others also researching their first reef tank or thinking of starting with the Fluval Evo 13.5 AIO.

 

Display:

Fluval Evo 13.5g AIO

~ 20 lbs of CarribSea Special Grade Reef "Live Sand"

~ 14 lbs of live rock (which came already painted coralline purple/pink)

 

Lighting:

Stock Fluval Evo lighting on a manual dimmer

Two 12in 21LEDUSA.com Reef Bar attached via double stick automotive tape

 

Filtration:

Chamber 1: InTank Media Basket with Intank floss, generic plastic bio-balls, generic ceramic rings

Chamber 2: macroalgae refugium, 12w LED grow light, Bag of carbon, Inkbird Heater Controller Temperature probe

Chamber 3: Cobalt NeoTherm 50w heater, Sicce Silent .5 pump

Removed the stock output nozzle and added 2 segments 1/2 in Loc-Line and 1/2 in VCA RFG Nozzle

 

Heating:

Cobalt NeoTherm 50w heater on a Inkbird temp controller set at 78F

 

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Water Parameters:

 

Quote

Tested on 03/26/2021

alk: 8.0 dkh

cal: 410 ppm

mg: 1500 ppm

salinity: 1.026 sg

po4: 0.07 ppm

no3: 10 ppm

 

Feeding:

Ocean Nutrition Formula One flakes

Ocean Nutrition Formula Two pellets

New Life Spectrum Thera A+A mini 

Benepets BeneReef (2x a week)

Hikari Crab Cuisine 

Live hatched baby brine shrimp (2x a week)

 

Dosing:

I do bi-weekly 15 percent water changes 

1.0 ml daily of Tropic Marin CarboCalcium via Kamoer X1 dosing pump

Tropic Marin All-For-Reef as needed

RODI water via RO Buddie and Fritz Reef Pro salt (blue box)

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Fish:

2x - Juvenile Percula Clownfish ("Barcello" & "Atami")

 

Invertebrates:

4 - Astrea Snails

1 - Red Banded Trochus Snail ("Turbo")

1 - Stomatella snail (hitchhiker)

3 - Marginella snails

4 - Red and Blue Leg Hermit crabs

1 - Rose Bubble Tip Anemone

6 - Rock Flower Anemones

1- Mini Maxi Carpet Anemone

1 - Fire Shrimp

1 - Tiger Sand conch ("Larry")

2 - Sexy Shrimp

 

Corals:

Green hammer coral

GSP

Pulsing Xenia

Bam Bam, King Midas, Lazer Lemon, Blue Alien Orgasm Zoas, Super Saiyan (best guess of these names)

Blue spotted Red mushroom attach to a seashell

Green Favia Coral

Black Torch (Lost to brown jelly disease)

Green Frog Spawn

Galaxea coral

Green long polyp purple toadstool

Blue Ricordea mushroom

Rainbow Lobophyllia

Sunset Montipora

Tan Candelabra gorgonian (Eunicea sp.)

ACC Neon Icon Micromussa Lordhowensis (Acan Lord)

ACC Bubblegum Alveopora

ACC Green & Gold Goniopora

Pink Flamingo Micromussa Lordhowensis (Acan Lord)

Valentine Micromussa Lordhowensis (Acan Lord)

Pink Alveopora

Red Blasto

 

Macroalgae:

Chaeto (In Chamber 2)

Red Gracilaria (In Chamber 2)

Halimeda Incrassata

Caulerpa Prolifera 

 

04/05/2021

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03/28/2021

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03/22/2021

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03/15/2021

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02/07/2021

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02/03/2021

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01/22/2021

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01/15/2021

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1/06/2021

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Tank Journal

 

Spoiler

12/04/2020 - Tank Started with live rock, "live" sand, and pieces of seafood for ammonia. I left for vacation for a month and let it be. 

01/04/2021 - Cycle Complete per API test,  weird algae with trapped air bubbles everywhere, CUC Inverts Added

01/06/2021 - Hammer, GSP, Xenia, and Zoa frags added

01/15/2021 -

 

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01/15/2021 -- Added favia coral and black torch

 

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01/22/2021 - Torch not doing so hot move to lower light area, glued down some zoa plugs, moved favia to lower light/flow area

01/23/2021 - Torch melted away

01/25/2021 - Started dosing Tropic Marin All-For-Reef 2ml

01/31/2021 - Added mini maxi carpet anemone

02/3/2021 - Added Rose Bubble Tip Anemone

02/07/2021 - Added Tiger Conch, Fire Shrimp, 3 Rock Flower Anemones, more live rock

02/08/2021 - Discovered some tissue recession on hammer coral, removed 5 hermit shrimp, added 1 Galaxea coral frag

 

 

 

 

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Edited by DevilDuck
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geekreef_05

very nice! I like the open aquascape & your tank looks clean.  I started my 13.5 a little after your's! 

 

Could you drop a link to the 12in 21LEDUSA Reef Bar? That looks like a sweet addition. 

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billygoat

Hello @DevilDuck and welcome to N-R! :welcome: Looks like you're off to a pretty good start here! I like your decision to mod the stock lights on the Evo 13.5; many people seem to end up ditching the lid and caving for an AI Prime (or similar light) instead, but this is a creative solution that lets you keep the tank's aesthetic together.

 

I hope you end up liking the saltwater side of the hobby. I'll be following along to see where the journey takes you! 😁

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paulsz

Looks good! 

 

In my opinion, you can ditch the bioballs and the purigen. No need for that in this tank. Also, unlike in freshwater, you don't want Nitrates to be as low as possible. Try to keep them between 5-10. Even if they're higher than 10ppm, no big deal. Just don't let them get too high (like 40ppm). It's better at 5-10 than at 0. 0 ppm nitrates can cause problems.

 

Also, I'd have a back up light handy.  My fluval Evo light died on me after 3 days or so. Others had theirs die after a couple months. And some people had them running for a few years. It's kinda hit or miss it seems. So always better to have a backup plan.

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DevilDuck
19 hours ago, billygoat said:

Hello @DevilDuck and welcome to N-R! :welcome: Looks like you're off to a pretty good start here! I like your decision to mod the stock lights on the Evo 13.5; many people seem to end up ditching the lid and caving for an AI Prime (or similar light) instead, but this is a creative solution that lets you keep the tank's aesthetic together.

 

I hope you end up liking the saltwater side of the hobby. I'll be following along to see where the journey takes you! 😁

That is high praise coming from you @billygoat! Thank you so much, I'm happy to finally be part of the community! 

 

I have a AI Prime HD Freshwater on my other tank and I love it. I was strongly considering going with the reef version, but it would have lead to a upgrade cascade, after adding the AI Prime I would need a new lid or screen, and a ATO to keep up with the evaporation etc. Since this was my first foray into reef tank I wanted to keep it simple, at least for now.

 

 

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DevilDuck
12 hours ago, paulsz said:

Looks good! 

 

In my opinion, you can ditch the bioballs and the purigen. No need for that in this tank. Also, unlike in freshwater, you don't want Nitrates to be as low as possible. Try to keep them between 5-10. Even if they're higher than 10ppm, no big deal. Just don't let them get too high (like 40ppm). It's better at 5-10 than at 0. 0 ppm nitrates can cause problems.

 

Also, I'd have a back up light handy.  My fluval Evo light died on me after 3 days or so. Others had theirs die after a couple months. And some people had them running for a few years. It's kinda hit or miss it seems. So always better to have a backup plan.

 

Thanks for the suggestions! I normally keep my freshwater tank around 10 ppm of nitrates. I've been reading that for reefs it should be a 0ppm, it good to hear from someone with actual experience. I guess there are also multiple schools of thought on what is an "acceptable" level of nitrate in reefing also. For now I'll take your suggestion and remove the purigen.

 

What are the drawbacks of the plastic bioballs? I added them for extra surface area for the beneficial bacteria.

 

I have a few extra white lights I used for freshwater in my spare equipment stash to hold me over if ever the stock light fails.  

 

 

 

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paulsz
26 minutes ago, DevilDuck said:

reading that for reefs it should be a 0ppm

When I first started about 3 years ago, I read the same. But it looks like no nitrates and no phosphates cause more issues (like dinos. Which can be a big headache). With nitrates and phosphates, you'll get algae. But that's easier to manage (pick it out by hand, add snails, get fish that eat it, etc). 

 

As for the bio balls, there's no need for extra surface area. Your rock holds the bacteria and you've got enough rock in your tank. The issue people seem to get with bio balls is that food or other detritus can get stuck in it if the first filter doesn't get it and that makes the water "dirtier". I've never tried bio balls in my reef tank, so I can't tell you for sure. Just based off what I've read. 

 

 

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DevilDuck
4 hours ago, paulsz said:

When I first started about 3 years ago, I read the same. But it looks like no nitrates and no phosphates cause more issues (like dinos. Which can be a big headache). With nitrates and phosphates, you'll get algae. But that's easier to manage (pick it out by hand, add snails, get fish that eat it, etc). 

 

As for the bio balls, there's no need for extra surface area. Your rock holds the bacteria and you've got enough rock in your tank. The issue people seem to get with bio balls is that food or other detritus can get stuck in it if the first filter doesn't get it and that makes the water "dirtier". I've never tried bio balls in my reef tank, so I can't tell you for sure. Just based off what I've read. 

 

 

 

Thanks @paulsz I'll remove the bio balls during my water change tomorrow! 

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DevilDuck

Couple of new coral editions today!

 

New favia coral that I won from an auction. My fiancee surprised me with a black torch coral for my birthday!20210116_172902_DxO.thumb.jpg.82a9ad69a1a8e3ef1fb53eec841fca13.jpg

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geekreef_05

Torch is looking good! She's a keeper. 

Your reef is really coming along! 

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freestylejunki32

Looks really good 👍I have 2 of the same lights added to my hood. Makes the color soooo much better. You should ditch the xenia while you still can. That stuff spreads like weeds and will take over entire tank. 

 

FYI, I used hot glue to attach my lights to the hood as well as to coat the ends to prevent rust on screw heads and further waterproof the light

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DevilDuck
2 hours ago, freestylejunki32 said:

Looks really good 👍I have 2 of the same lights added to my hood. Makes the color soooo much better. You should ditch the xenia while you still can. That stuff spreads like weeds and will take over entire tank. 

 

FYI, I used hot glue to attach my lights to the hood as well as to coat the ends to prevent rust on screw heads and further waterproof the light

20210118_105539.jpg

20210118_105523.jpg

Very nice! How long have you had them? Do you run both at 100%?

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freestylejunki32
2 minutes ago, DevilDuck said:

Very nice! How long have you had them? Do you run both at 100%?

I just setup my tank a few weeks ago. They are at 100%. I have them on a Kasa Smart power strip where I can set timers and schedules for each item on the power strip. The main led is in about 8hrs a day and the two blue. Strips stay on about 12hrs a day

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DevilDuck
3 hours ago, freestylejunki32 said:

I just setup my tank a few weeks ago. They are at 100%. I have them on a Kasa Smart power strip where I can set timers and schedules for each item on the power strip. The main led is in about 8hrs a day and the two blue. Strips stay on about 12hrs a day

Good to know. I have my 2nd Reefbar on the way along with a cheap basic ramp up timer that ill put on one of the lights. 

 

My fiancee loves the pulsing xenia, so they'll have to stay for now. I have them on its own island, so far its tripled in size. I also have gsp I'm trying to get to encrust the rock on the left but the hermits like to trample on them.

 

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Lloydpancakes
11 hours ago, DevilDuck said:

 

 I also have gsp I'm trying to get to encrust the rock on the left but the hermits like to trample on them.

 

My gsp was moody until like last week. It would stay closed up for just about nothing. Your torch is amazing.

 

Are you still running the purigen? How’s it working for you? I had to add some this past weekend and have never used it before.

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05XRunner

i like the open scape. I was going to do the same light setup but I couldn't find the 14" blue current lights anywhere for sale so I went with the Aquaknight and created the mesh top

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DevilDuck
16 minutes ago, Lloydpancakes said:

My gsp was moody until like last week. It would stay closed up for just about nothing. Your torch is amazing.

 

Are you still running the purigen? How’s it working for you? I had to add some this past weekend and have never used it before.

I love purigen in all my tanks. It makes the water crystal clear! 

I removed the purigen on the suggestion that my nitrates are currently below the detectable levels on the API test kit (< 5 ppm). I'll leave it out until I get a nitrate reading around 10 ppm. I've started feeding a little more to see if I can increase the nitrates.

 

 

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DevilDuck

Tiny mushroom hitchhiker finally attached to the seashell. So I can finally remove the shot glass from the tank.

Anyone id this mushroom?

 

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Are these snail eggs on my glass?

 

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paulsz
14 minutes ago, DevilDuck said:

Anyone id this mushroom?

looks like just a standard red or orange mushroom. But could be a superman discosoma, which has blue dots on red mushroom. Very cool! just note that once they get going and multiplying, they multiply quick. so if you don't want the chance of it taking over, just get rid of it now. 

 

 

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geekreef_05

I wouldnt worry about the mushroom taking over, its pretty small right now! 

Those are probably snail eggs, yes! All good!  

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DevilDuck

I've increase feeding trying to get some measureable nitrates in the tank. I've removed both the purigen and the chemi-pure elite now to see if I get can my tank water "dirtier" with more nutrients.

 

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DevilDuck

My the bulk of my test kits arrived.  Here are the results:

 

alk: 8.3 dkh
cal: 370 ppm
mg 1320 ppm

Salinity: 1.024 sg

 

Still waiting on the API phosphate kit. 

 

I think I made my first amateur mistake after noticing some issues with the torch coral. I fear it maybe a goner. You can read about it in this thread:

 

 

 

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ajmckay

 

Nice tank!   I'm a fan of the EVO 13.  It just looks nice and if you set it up right can be viewed from 3 sides. 

 

I also like your simple approach to making the lighting better.  It looks nice.

 

As your corals grow out I think it will look awesome - how is the torch doing? 

 

Finally - for small zoa frags I like to either break off the end of the frag plug or pop the polyps off and glue them to a small rock instead.  Not that it makes a huge difference as they grow in - but I think that it makes things look nicer until that happens. 

 

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DevilDuck

Black torch didn't make it. Completely melted away into jelly. My first coral loss.

 

Now that I have all my salifert test kits, I will work on stabilizing water chemistry.

 

I noticed that my hermit crabs have started fighting over shells. I witnessed one hermit literally jump out of its shell as two other hermits battled over it. 

I ended up intervening and moving the other hermits across the tank to give the naked hermit time to reclaim his home.

 

Later that evening, my fiancee said she saw two hermits try unsuccessfully to tip over the trochus snail that was crawling over the sandbed. 

 

I anticipated this and had ordered some extra shells which will hopefully arrive tonight, but USPS shipping has been unreliable as of late.

  

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