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After so long..finally


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A year ago I was in Hawaii with my wife for our 10th aniversary. We visited the Waikiki Aquarium, took a submarine tour of some man made reefs, and snorkled. The absolute beauty of the marine life really struck a cord with me, and it awakened a long dormant desire, to create a thriving marine ecosystem in my home.


Well, I'm not one to rush into things, well most thing, especially things that involve the lives of other creatures. I didn't rush home, grab the wallet and spend spend spend...(ok..being broke after a vacation in Hawaii helped quell the spending too)


I sought out information.


I studied and read and eventually found this forum. And it turns out that, hey you crazy bunch - o - reefers really know what the heck your talkin about! (I mean that in the BEST possible way..HONEST!) :)


Through many searches, and many months of lurking I've learned quite a bit. More than I thought I could!


I've posted a few times...newbie questions of course, before I learned the real value of that wonderful Search Button.

I've piped in on a few threads my opinions and comments, humbly of course...the beginning of wisdom is to understand that DANG I've got alot more to learn!


But after all this time I've finally bought and built, (where needed) everything I need (for now) to dive into this hobby...well..some would say money sink, lifestyle, religion, etc etc...


A month or so ago I picked up a nice 20L tank...product of learning..talls can be set up beautifuly!, but with the lights I know I am getting to stay within my budget, a tank with a 30"x12"x12" profile will do much better than a deep, not to mention the great oxygen exchange with that much water surface area.


After that I hopped in the ole pickup, and drove down to the local Home Depot, where I purchased the lumber and various odds and ends I would need for a custom Stand and Hood.


Now the only thing I've ever built in my life, (that I wanted to show to other people!) is my back deck. It turned out pretty well, and so far so good...still out there! So...I was somewhat confident. It was more of a challenge that I thought it would be, but I think it turned out pretty good, and the tank fits in it nice and snug. (pics to come..dont worry..if you want them of course!)


This week, I ordered from Hellolight, my....you guessed it...lights!

30" coralife 2x65 50/50. I believe that Travis has them over his tank and they look great...good enough for me.


I also ordered my Powerheads, filter, heater, various test kits, thermometer, a 25 gallon tub to keep a fresh mix of saltwater handy, (actually got it from office max of all places...looks better than a trash can..and only 8 bucks) and a biowheel 170 ..removed the biowheel 1st thing. Keeping the filter media in for now...not running a skimmer yet.


So, I'm set.


The week after Christmas I will get my Live Rock and begin to cycle. I actually found a good LFS about 30 minutes away that has very nice cured LR for about 4.59 per lb. Its FIJI and has really great coraline growth on it.


Deciding on whether to get it...or order online and hope for some hitch-hickers.


Ok, after all this rambling on, I really just wanted to say thanks to everyone on here for your wisdom, entertainment, and advice. After a year or so of studying and reading and waiting, I'm finally ready to begin. Pretty dang excited I must say.


I'll post pictures later on this week of my set up thus far if you would like to see any...and of course pics as things progress.


Thanks again everyone! :)



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WOW, that was a masivly long post but a good one. Sounds Like you got it togther there tiepilot68, but conserning the filter media, you may have a problem with it being a "nitrate factory" if your not diligent with changeing the media out quite often.


Other than that, i can't wait to see the pics :)

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Very nice story. Glad you are part of the community to contribute your clear passion for the hobby.


On a side note, it was smart of you to remove the bio-wheel, which would have been the real nitrate factory for sure. Filter media should be okay as long as you replace with new media regularly (ideally not all at once tho).


Can't wait to see pictures as well. Sounds like it's going to be a great nano!

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Thanks for the advice, and compliments guys! Yah I tend to ramble on...write short stories in my spare time.


About the filter media. I'm thinking of just using the cartridges that are stock to the unit, and replacing them every 4 weeks per the directions.


Is there a better alternative? Trying to catch debris mainly with it due to the lack of a skimmer.

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Poly Filter pads - will also help w/ trapping debris, but will also help to remove phosphates, harmful organics, heavy metals, etc.


Throw in some Chemipure (activated carbon) inbetween the fold Poly filter and it will help w/ polishing your water and helping to also remove toxins and such.


So water should move thru poly filter first, then chemipure, then polyfilter again. Hope that makes sense. But there are other filter media you can use as well, that's just what I use for my reef.

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I don't have any kind of MAN MADE filter on my tank...for some reason, I think that seeing a small partical floating around now and then is more natural...BUt I will be adding a skimmer to my tank soon, I want to keep about 4 Fish and alot of corals :)

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Tigah, excellent..the cartridge filters I will be using have a poly filter pad and then an activated carbon layer...I'll just put another Poly and make a carbon sandwhich..hehe.


Travis, I'm with you there. I'll be getting only 3 fish...2 false percs and a royal gramma..and the rest of my coin will be diverted to corals. A little bit at a time of course! ( I get a quarterly profit share bonus at work so during a good season..I know I'll at least have enough for a frag or two every 3 months)


I'll start with easy things such as GSP and some zoos and shrooms...then a toad stool, then work my way up as far as my 130w of light will take me...I belive most LPS can do well in that light.....and I think I read that just maybe a couple of SPS also do well in that light.


And then some day....maaaybe I'll upgrade to MH.


They're so perty....heh

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Oky...will be getting pics developed tomorrow. Will post then or tuesday. Nothing in the tank yet, but I hope to have things up and running with the water, sand and rock the week after christmas.


I've decided on the rock from my LFS. Its got great coraline growth and is fully cured...shouldn't be that much die off during the 30 minute trip back to my house, so a cycle if any wont take that long. (hopefully)


Then, after I feel my parameters are stable I'll add a cleaning crew and some livestock.


Now....Fish 1st or some coral?


I'm thinking fish 1st. Adding them (three...two Ocellaris Clowns and a Royal Gramma) will probably cause a small cycle and I want to get everything stable again before adding the coral.


Am I correct on this?


Also...thinking of a 4th fish...goby of some sort perhaps....Open to suggestions though! :)


Too much of a bioload stress with 4 fish?


Am excited but also kinda nervous....getting to this stage means testing what I have learned.


Will post pics soon. :)



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Sounds good. I'd add the gramma first, and then the clowns second, 2 weeks to a month after the gramma. Adding too many fish too fast will cause them to die, because your biological filtration won't be able to handle the sudden jump in bio load. Everybody has made this mistake at least once, but I'll bet that most won't admit it. Good luck!

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Pretty cool! I'm actually headed to hawaii on thursday and I'll be sure to visit the Waikiki aquarium again. I was there in March and I just love their huge indo-pacific tank and the clownfish/merten's anemone tank!


Are you planning on going bare bottom or with a live sandbed?

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Oky doky... Here are some pics I promised.


Nothing alive in there yet..only equipment and such. I just wanted to show you what I had so far. The stand and hood are home made, and two of the paintings on the wall were painted by me, the Hawaiian one, and the ship off to the right of the tank.


Lemme know what you think!






Tank with lights on. No flash. Sorry so dark.






Full tank with flash...Note the paintings. Hoping to add to the whole office's atmosphere.






Finally inside of hood showing my Coralife 2x65 50/50






More pics to come as thing progress. Hope you enjoy the trip!



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Dark, Congrats on going back to Hawaii! Waikiki Aquarium is the BEST!


I plan on having about one and a half to two inches of live sand. Without it..you'd be able to see all the way down my stand! lol


Enjoy your trip!

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Hey thats a nice stand and canopy there! Since you have a 20L, you might need a fair amount of sand and depending on the budget, you might want to either go with seeded dead sand, or all live sand if you want to start sooner.

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Thanks Dark! My 1st attempt at a custom made canopy and stand.


Yup, I plan on putting two bags of the Agra-live Fiji pink sand in my tank too Travis. 30 bucks a pop where I live...cutting in to my Live Rock money! heh


I'll post more pics as things progress.

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There is about 18 inches of snow on the ground, and here I sit with christmas money!


I guess tomorrow after work...( I drive 65 miles to and from..yikes ) I'll stop into wal-mart and pick up my distilled water...then off to the LFS for the sand and salt.


Until then...here I sit in my office basking in the blue actinic light of my empty tank. lol

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I've got Live ROCK! :)


Purchased 26Lbs of various types from my LFS. Cost around $125.00...which isnt all that bad if you factor in what shipping would of run me if I had gotten it off the net.


Its a mix of what looks like fiji and marshal island and already has some great pink, red and green coraline growth on it. Lots of holes, nooks and crannies.


I've created about 4 decent caves/arches out of it...lots of great fishy hiding places.


I'll post picks as soon as I hit the store for me film!


P.S. I'd like to move this thread to the Member's Tanks section where it fits better. How do I do that?

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Thanks Travis.


Moderator, could you please move this thread to 'Member's Nano Reefs? Thanks! :)


Travis, I just took some pics...I had to save 6 frames for my wife this weekend...(her niece had a baby last night so their having a get together this weekend).


I'll get the pics up saturday night or sunday! :)


Cant wait to add a small clean up crew!

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Ok..are these readings for my 1st two days of cycling making sense?



Amonia 0.50 PPM

Nitrite .05 PPM

Nitrate 5.0 PPM



Amonia 0.25 PPM (decrease)

Nitrite 2.0 PPM (spike)

Nitrate 20 PPM (large spike)


Not seeing much amonia at all so far but trates are pretty high.

Give it a few more days (rock has been sittin in tubs at LFS for a week before I bought it) of testing before I think of adding a small salad shrimp to feed my bacteria some amonia?


Happy new years gang! :)



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i wouldnt add the shrimp ...let everything just run its course....hey i live an hr from you is there a lfs in marion? i tried doing a search of the yellow pages on the net but couldnt come up with anything btw nice stand and canopy

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