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Broke student's 6gal shallow pico


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I've had this UltumNatureSystems 8x8x24 (6gal ish) set up for about a month now - got it as a birthday gift. Lost my previous pico to dinos and was only able to save some of my old coral... plan is starting an acan garden next week! I have like zero money because I am a full time student so some local alumni are hooking me up with corals to get this thing going again


Current stock:

Jason fox orange rainbow zoa,

Pink diamond zoa,

small hammer coral,

gonzos golden dragons,

orange ricordeas,


Green Zoas,

Green palys,

Red and yellow palys,

robust clean up crew and some very mature live rock, no algae issues so far... 


I have been unable to get the orange rainbow or pink diamond zoas to grow in a loooong time so if anyone has some tricks lmk!

Follow along as I try to grow this thing in! It's not my first pico (last one was a 5gal sps dominiant) but any advice is appreciated... last schedule was 70% water change every week. 




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Update #1! 

Got a whole bunch of frags. I don't expect to keep them all but we will see what thrives... chalices, monti cap, some acans, lobphyllia, ciphastrea, forest fire digi, duncans, meteor shower cyphastrea, etc...


Now that everything is planted I'm going to target feed mysis and reef roids every 2 days and 50% wc every week. Minimal hands in the tank is the only way pico reefs see success. All for now!

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4 hours ago, debbeach13 said:

Looking good in there. Did you get all the new coral from a local fish store or place an on line order? 

neither, some local reefers hooked me up with a bunch of "extra" frags they had. Community out here in CO is pretty awesome!

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  • 1 month later...


I have done tons of work on this tank since my last post. 

Worked on cable management, new lighting solutions, lots of new coral, and saw some awesome growth!


School has been busy so I haven't been able to document as much as I'd like. Anyway, here are some pics!IMG_8069.thumb.jpg.e5815671f65098905847ea57bbe7cae8.jpgIMG_8067.thumb.PNG.6addaf656538944770073e0391f3df8b.PNGIMG_8068.thumb.jpg.5443a79f153e6183b5198488f34ede89.jpgIMG_8070.thumb.jpg.8a0c44072bb80cde5243795ad90eba7b.jpg


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  • 2 weeks later...



A full tank shot, blasting tons of flow has caused my zoas to swell and take off! Monti is spreading nicelt as well, my micro lord is about to swell up it's baby polyps... so many good things!spacer.pngspacer.png


Also pulled this MONSTROUS bristle worm out of a hole in the rock. More than 6in long and as big around as a pencil. ZERO idea how I never saw it before this... WOW

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They normally come at night in my tank. I have pulled one this size in my 20H that came out in the open but normally just leave them alone as part of my cleanup crew. I had another huge one like that but haven't seen it in weeks.

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I chose to remove this one... Given that it was almost 1/4 the length of my front panel, I decided a creature that big had the potential to dominate my ecosystem... I also have a bare bottom so there was only rockwork (close to my corals) for it to hide in, so at some point it was going to get real cozy with some of my colonies. 


Ironically later that night, I saw something weird squirming on one of my zoa heads so I siphoned it out - upon inspection it was a bristle worm in the larval stage! It promptly went right back in the tank.


life....uh....finds a way

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  • 4 weeks later...

Near DISASTER - Boulder Winds/Fires + Vacation


I have not had a very easy month with the tank... I left for a 5 day vacation around Christmas, had my roommate look after the tank (he is very competent), and all was well. 


THEN, the hurricane winds in Boulder CO knocked out power to my home, and diversion of resources to the fires in Louisville (my Mom's home - it survived) meant I was without power for 48 hours. For the first 8, I ran my car with a power inverter to keep the tank going for 8hrs, then I had to go to bed... I decided to hope it would come on soon, so I wrapped the tank in tons of blankets and hoped. The temp in my house was 48 deg.


40 HOURS later, the power kicked on and my temp controller read... 65! I was shocked, and things looked pissed, and it smelled off, but not completely dead. Fast forward a day, and things looked pretty okay. Here is a pic 16 Hrs. Post - power on. I am shocked and relieved! All of my snails and inverts survived as well.


As I write this, it has been a few days since the incident and things are only looking better!


Thanks for reading! Happy new year!

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Update: Everything looks back to normal, except for my Micro Lord, which looks like it has sustained some physical damage and is having a hard time recovering. I also did some RAD cable management to keep my space clean!


Enjoy some pics!


Also, I have started a new tank (20cm^3) tank with a pistol shrimp and some simple corals, so keep an eye out for that thread in the coming days!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Photo time! I took these like last week, though...


Currently battling dinos but I think I am getting the hang of them. Famous last words...


I seem to have this problem in all of my pico tanks! Call it "suffering from success." My nitrates in this tank sit about 5-10 consistently. Doesn't take any work or special care on my part... it just works... yet Dinos are caused by a nitrate free fall where the microbiome that exists on your rocks cannot outcompete them. I noticed the first beginnings of dinos and started pitting a pinch of reef roids in every time I walked by the tank. Now, 5 days on, and they haven't grown much... but things are still pissed off. Nitrates are still below 5 but that just means *other* things are using the nutrients... hopefully. 



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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Photo dump from the past few days - enjoy the long weekend everyone!


Both the micromussa and favia photographed have grown out in my tank from single polyps and they are really taking off now...



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/7/2022 at 3:23 PM, greenerdayz said:

This tank is so awesome- what are you using for the flow?

sorry for the late reply, I have been away from the forum for awhile. My only flow is two little surface skimmer/powerhead thingys with a chamber for some media. They're like $20 on amazon and are worth every penny. Can provide a link if anyone is interested.


I have them both positioned pointing straight out from the right side of the tank across the surface to create one big (powerful) circular flow...

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