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Tony Bologna

Tony's 10 Gallon Reef Journal

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Zer0
1 hour ago, Tony Bologna said:

This update isn't  particularly  interesting. I did a 20% water change this weekend and tested for nitrate today. It is just over 10 ppm. I'll test again just prior to the next waterchange this weekend. But it appears  to be leveling out. Diatioms intensified  for a few days but are receding at this time. 

Diatoms are getting comfy in my tank at the moment as well lol.

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Tony Bologna

I picked up a current marine orbit (non Bluetooth)on sale, but it is going to stay in the box for now. I'm still watching diatoms bloom and receed in what appears to be a diminishing cycle. Nitrates are lower this week just over 5ppm. I'm still daydreaming about corals. The diatoms are actually more pronounced the flash washed them out a bit.

20210329_104832_HDR.jpg

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Firefish15

Hey, good looking start! 
You were smart when you painted the back. I just did a vinyl sheet on my first tank, now three years later it’s peeling and looks awful.

 

Any more thoughts on corals?

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Tony Bologna

Thanks Firefish. There isn't much real estate in this tank so I'm thinking about about focussing on a single type of coral. The easiest option being add 3 types of polyps and watch them battle for space. I also like the idea of ricordea only, or if I'm up for the extra work, candy canes or acans only. I also have a crazy idea to find an interesting sinularia and let it take over the entire island. I know I'm all over the place. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

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Firefish15

Have you thought about rock flower anemones? You can get a wide variety of colors, so focusing just on that species wouldn’t limit you too much. You also have a lot of horizontal space that should work well for them.

Not entirely sure on their care requirements though, that would definitely warrant some research.

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Tony Bologna

Thanks for the suggestion Firefish. I love the looks of the RFAs. I don't  know much about them.... yet. If they don't  get too big and don't have a habit of eating fish and cleanup crew they may be an excellent option. It looks like I have some reading to do.

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Firefish15

Your damsel should be fine with them. Small perching gobies, maybe not so much.

Glad you like them!

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Tony Bologna

It has been about a month since I set up my nano tank! This is a good time to reflect on the plan so far and look to the future.

I took advantage of a huge sale at petco and started with a tank, heater, filter, sand, lighted hood ( not nearly reef ready but I knew this going in) IO salt mix, a hydrometer,  and stand for about 90 bucks. I purchased some dry rock from Amazon for about 30 bucks and had the makings of a little salt water aquarium for undern 125 dollars. I knew there would be upgrade costs along the way but I was in the game and it fit the plan to take things slow.  Since then I've  added a small powerhead and got a great deal on a current orbit LED.

The stock hood will be replaced when I add coral but it has been great so far. Evaporation is limited to about 1/2 cup per day and the light lacks the energy to grow anything fast. There were only 3 days that the brown phase looked like it might outpace my 4 cerith snails. As of now they are keeping up. Every morning it looks like a tiny monster truck did doughnuts all over the sand bed. My big nessarius snail is active after the lights go out. I didn't  expect him to stir the sand bed so well! I'm also pretty sure that any uneaten fish food is not getting past this beast. 

I saw a hint of green on the sandbed this morning so it looks like the ugly brown phase is giving way to the ugly green phase.

We'll  see if the low light level and low bio load continue to keep the ugliness  down to a minimum going forward.

The yellowtail damsel is doing well. He had taken a beating from several clown fish more than twice his size at the LFS. He is all healed up, swimming well, eating, and growing!

I do 20% water changes weekly and change the filter cartridge (yes I am using the stock aqueon cartridges) every other week. Nitrate is hovering just above or below 5ppm.

Overall, I'm pleased with the setup so far. The hardest part is deciding what kind of corals to add next month.

Thanks to everyone following along and helping out with suggestions and advice. 

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Zer0

You could probably cut your water changes to bi-weekly, especially since you have no coral yet eating up trace elements and calcium. Just a suggestion though. 
 

Do you have an idea of what you want as your first coral?

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Tony Bologna

I've given corals a lot of thought lately. I want to keep this reef very simple. I like toadstool leathers and

Sinularias but I'm afraid they will get way too big for this tank rather quickly.  I also like cespitularia and some other polyp corals but they may spread too quickly. I keep coming back to Florida  Ricordea and Rhodactis. I feel like mushrooms could be perfect for this small space. Maybe a couple photosynthetic  gorgonian corals could add a vertical  element and a little movement. The whole economy of space in a nano tank is baffling. I've never aquascaped an aquarium less than 4 ft long before. Do you have any suggestions?  I'm also researching  rock flower anemone.

I'm a huge fan of duncans, candy canes, and acans but it just feels like keeping them would be too much hassle. I'm  pretty sure trying to manage alk calcium and mag in 8.75 gallons of water is beyond my ability at this time.

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Zer0

Toadstool leathers do get huge, but are apparently easy to frag/trim. 
 

I think mushrooms are always a good choice for nano tanks, same with ricordea. They’re colorful, there are lots of inexpensive ones, and they are pretty hardy. I also like your idea of some ps gorgs, they’re fascinating to me.

 

Also, duncans are one of my favorite coral so they always get a thumbs up from me lol. 

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Tony Bologna

Boring post just for my records. Pre-water change nitrates between  5 and 10ppm. Holding steady all week. 

It may be boring but I'm happy about it all the same.

 

 

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Tony Bologna

Another boring post with an equally boring image.  I guess boring is good at this stage. Diatoms have basically faded to the point of adding contrast and shading to the rockwork and lower flow areas of the sandbed. Bright green algea is spreading but has remained close to the rock it is not fuzzy, hairy, or stringy. I am also happy to see the damsel nibbling at algea from time to time. I'm still changing 2 gallons weekly and changing the filter cartridge every other week. The only measurable parameter is Nitrate wich read 2 to 5 ppm before and after the water change. I am not testing calcium, alk, or mag at this time. I haven't changed any equipment. I'm still pleased with the progress so far.

20210413_110750_HDR~2.jpg

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Tony Bologna

Just a quick update. Things are less brown and more green. One of the reasons I kept the aqueon quietflow filter from the starter kit was my curiosity about the optional phosphate removing sponge.  I used it as directed and it immediately released a large amount of tiny metalic looking particles into the water. I immediately removed the sponge and scooped as much of the contaminant as i could out with my net while the filter sucked up the rest. I'm pretty sure that was a bust. Oh well. I didn't appear to harm the damsel or snails. I'm pretty sure it is a good thing I don't have any corals yet. Now that the experiment is over, I guess it is time to order that seachem tidal. The only question is which size. I have about 1/2 inch of sand in the tank. I think a 55 will just barely fit. If anyone has used the tidal55 on their standard 10 gallon aquarium, please let me know how it worked out for you. As always, thanks for following along.

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Zer0

Did you rinse the sponge before putting it in the filter? I would imagine that like most filter media, you need to rinse it first before using it.

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Tony Bologna

Today was waterchange day. The tank is a little greener, but nitrates are falling. The pre waterchange nitrate test read 2ppm.

I have a feeling the declining nitrate trend will continue and algae may begin to die off within the next couple of weeks. I purchased an aquajet 400 powerhead this week and assembled it in the 500 gph prop configuration. The pump is noisy and I'm  pretty sure I would not want it in a display tank but it is cheap and great for mixing salt water in a 2 gallon bucket. I'm thinking about adding a trochus snail or two to the cleanup crew now that they'd have something to eat. 

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Tony Bologna

Things are getting a little ugly.

20210421_170251~2.jpg

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Zer0

Lol i always preferred some color over the bone white rock, but it’s all good. 

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Tony Bologna

Thanks Zer0. The ugly green phase is ramping up. It will get worse before it gets better. I don't mind the green but I can't wait to see some purple.

 

I wanted to like the Quietflow filter that was included in the Aqueon 10 gallon starter set. However, it was rattling so loudly last night that I was annoyed down the hall in another room. I ordered a new Seachem Tidal 55 from Amazon just after midnight. The new filter arrived at 7:30 tonight! I had to install it right away. The good news is the intake tube is far enough off the sandbed not to suck up any sand. The bad news is the opening for the filter in the stock hood was to narrow to accommodate this beast. The best news is that my wife is a huge fan of the near silent operation. I am also impressed with the improved flow and the enormous capacity of the media basket. The water level in the tank dropped 1/2 inch when I plugged the filter into the power srtip. Since the stock hood had to go, I installed the Current USA Orbit LED and glass lid that I purchased last month. By the time I had the new light set up we were in the moonlight portion of the light cycle. It looks like I'm reef ready!

 

 

20210421_212827~2.jpg

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Tony Bologna

Just a quick update to show the new equipment in the light of day. I forgot to pull that suction cup out of there...

20210422_111823_HDR~2.jpg

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Tony Bologna

Green algea has been on the rise and I'm anticipating increased growth with the reef lighting. I went to the LFS today and they were out of trochus snails. I picked up a couple astrea snails instead. I'll se how the clean up crew is doing in a couple weeks and revisit adding a trochus or 2. The current clean up crew includes 4 cerith snails, 1 big nessarius snail, and 2 astrea snails.

20210423_150706_HDR~3.jpg

20210423_150645~2.jpg

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Firefish15

That's probably sufficient for now. Keep in mind that as your tank matures, you will probably get past the initial ugly bloom. After that, if you've added too many snails, they will slowly starve.

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Tony Bologna

Thanks Firefish. I think you are absolutely  correct. The  snails are doing a great job. They have cleaned up about 25% of the rock already. Algea is still growing faster than they eat it but the recent increase in light caused a bit of a bloom which bottomed out my nitrates. I had to test twice because  I thought I did something  wrong. Nitrates were well under 2ppm and barely detectable with my salifert test. Thanks again. I appreciate your help. 

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Tony Bologna

Today was water change day.  Prechange nitrates measured less than 2ppm. The salifert test was so clear I thought I must have done something wrong. I ran a second test to confirm nitrates were less than 2ppm and barely detectable. The new lights have accelerated algae growth which I believe acelerated nutrient consumption. 

 

This was a busy week. I replaced the filter and light ahead of schedule because the noise  from the quietflow  filter was driving me crazy. Algea surged immediately under the increased par of the orbit marine LED so I added 2 astrea snails. Nutrients are at an all time low and the astrea and cerith snails are feasting. Once again, it is time for patience. I'm  going to monitor the aquarium for the next 3 weeks. If all goes well and I can find a decent first coral locally, I might have coral in the aquarium by mid May. If anyone can suggest a good place to purchase an interesting mushroom coral in the Greenville SC area that would be amazing. Thanks again to everyone following along and helping out.

 

I just noticed that all 4 cerith snails are out on the sandbed by the front glass. I hadn't seen more than 3 at once since they went into the tank. I was starting to think the nessarius snail may have eaten one.

 

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debbeach13

Just wanted to say I think your doing great with this set up. Taking your time and testing as you go. Your tank is coming up on 2 months and seems right on track. Hopefully some one local will help you find a good LFS. Have you tried to find a local reef club? When you have a new set up members from a local club will often help you get some corals at a discount compared to the store. 

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