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Innovative Marine Aquariums

Build thread - 5 gallon / 20 litre Pico reef - Kmart tank


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Hey everyone,

After spending the last 12 months researching reef tanks on and off, I've decided to dive in and get my toes wet as I just can't tide over the obsession any longer.

Within the next 12-18 months I am planning on getting a Cade 500 (30 gallon with sump), so this Pico tank needs to be low cost as any excess cash spent here only delays my Cade purchase.

I'm expecting this to be challenging due to the small size and lack of equipment, but that's fine as I think this will be a good learning experience before I make any real kind of investment into the hobby (i.e. the Cade).

I'll be thrilled if I can get this little ecosystem to the point where it has some healthy soft corals, some cool inverts and maybe 1 fish at most.

Equipment list:

1. K-mart tank (anko brand) - 5 gallons / 20 litres - $39 AUD
2. Anko 25w glass heater - $15 AUD
3. Aragonite sand (dry) 2.5kg - $30 AUD for 5kg
4. Carib Sea Life Rock approx 1kg - $16 AUD
5. Three pieces of live rock with GSP and coralline - $30 AUD
6. 50 litres of natural seawater and 10 litres of RODI - $15 AUD
7. Jebao sw-2 nano wavemaker - $75 AUD including shipping (arriving this week)
8. Lominie Asta20 Saltwater LED light - $58 AUD including shipping (arriving this week)

Total start up cost = $278 AUD

Tank was set up on 08/04/2023, plan is to wait until I start to see diatoms or other microalgae and then add phyto, copepods and a few snails.

No ATO as the tank comes with a plexiglass lid, so manual top ups should be manageable.

Going to take things slow for the first month before adding anything beyond a small cleanup crew.

Part of keeping this low budget will be ensuring minimal livestock deaths so I don't have to replace fish or corals image.gif.9be040a1fc71932de8ff903d96e9a56e.gif

Thanks for reading!

Full tank shot:

Pico 1.jpg

The 'GSP' (not sure what type of star polyp it actually is - and the polyps were closed when I took the photo):

Pico 2.jpg
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Well the Lominie  Asta20 light arrived today, and...it doesn't work. At all.


Sending it back to the seller on Amazon and requesting a full refund.


Quite frustrated, I guess the $58 price tag was too good to be true.


Not really sure what to do now for lighting. I'm leaning towards the smallest AI blade (12 inches) as that's the same price as a Kessil A80 but I get the impression the blade is more powerful.


Budget is looking like it will be blown on lighting... 😞

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  • 3 months later...



It's been 104 days since my last post when this pico tank was very much in the beginning stages.


Since then I've purchased a12 inch AI Blade Coral Grow for the light and upgraded the filter to a Seachem Tidal 35.


I've added some soft corals being Cespitularia, Zoanthids, Pulsing Xenia, Hairy Mushroom (Coralliamorph) and a Toadstool Leather.


I've also added some dragon's breath macroalgae that came attached to a really nice Goniopora (free coral!).


In terms of livestock I've got two Porcelain Anemone Crabs and two baby Ocellaris Clownfish.


Also have a clean up crew consisting of turbo and trochus snails.


For beneficial hitchhikers I have a Stromatella snail, brittle starfish, copepods, amphipods and tiny feather duster worms.


For undesirable hitchhikers / pests I have digitate hydroids, colonial hydroids, some tiny brown and white Palythoa looking things.


I had a huge outbreak of cyanobacteria in May and I caved in and used Chemiclean which thankfully got rid of all of it and the tank has looked great since for the most part, besides a hair algae outbreak but I'm not worried about that.













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