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Putting together a 20g

Guest JayDUBh11

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Guest JayDUBh11

I am new to the saltwater hobby and I plan on putting together a 20g tank. I am still trying to learn all I can so I can do it right and have a successful tank. I have already purchased the tank itself - a 20g regular size (24"x13"x16") from SeaClear made of acrylic. The tank will be in my bedroom, so I am aiming for as quiet as possible. I want something enjoyable and relatively easy to maintain.


For lighting I have chosen the "Orbit" made by Current USA and I am looking for a good timer to put it on (Coralife PowerCenter?). It comes with 2 SunPaq 65w's (10000K, actinic, and 2 lunars).


Filtration will be done through 20 pounds of Fiji Live Rock and 10-15 pounds of Live Sand (which I still need a recommendation on). I would also like to add a HOB Protein Skimmer. Right now I am choosing between the BakPak 2R+, SeaClone, and AquaC Remora. I am open to any other suggestions or recommendations. I am under the impression that a filter will not be necessary, please confirm this or correct me if I am wrong.


For circulation I plan on going with 2 MaxiJet 600's on each side of the tank. I have also looked at the AquaClear's because I like the idea of having something adjustable but I understand that they cannot be hooked up to wavemakers. I initially was getting a 100w Jager for my heater but it will not fit so I am thinking about going with something fully submersible like the VisiTherm Stealth.


I need to find some good test kits and cleaning utensils such as a scrubs for acrylic, nets, buckets, gloves, propagation tools, etc. I have been told that Salifert has the best test kits, so I think I will go with them for Ammonia/Nitrate/Nitrite testing. For specific gravity I will either go with a cheap refractometer or an Instant Ocean Hydrometer.


Now for the livestock. 1 or 2 Percula Clowns would be the highlight of my tank fish wise. Some Turbo Snails, Nassarius Snails, Margarita Snails, Cleaner Shrimp, a Clown Goby, a Blenny, and a Firefish. Mushrooms, Zoanthids, Leathers, and Xenias would make up my selection of corals. I could use some input on my combinations and what I should initially put in after the tank's first cycle for my "clean up crew".


Now for the water. I do not have access to a RO/DI filter and do not particularly want to shell out $200+ for one, so I plan on using distilled water combined with the Instant Ocean Reef Crystals. Is there a cheaper method of filtration I should apply to the distilled water before mixing?


So far I am under the impression to set up in the following manor:


1. Fill tank halfway with saltwater

2. Insert cured Live Sand

3. Insert cured Live Rock

4. Fill the tank and turn on powerheads and heater

5. Wait until tank has cycled and then add "clean up crew"

6. Turn on lights now?

7. Let tank cycle again?

8. Ready for fish?

9. Once tank is well established, add corals


I could definitely use some help on the initial set up and my options for filtration.


I really appreciate any insight you can provide. Reef Central has been a great source of information for my preparation!

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I like to run lights straight from the beginning. The tank will cycle on its won from live rock die off. After the cycle is complete and you get a diatom bloom you can add your cleanup crew. Wait a few weeks then add your first fish or two. Then wait two weeks between each new fish addition. I would just get standard timers for your light fixture. I would go with 2 fish, with 3 fish being the max. I think a percula pair and a blenny would be nice. That would still be a higher bioload and you would need to keep up on water changes. If you want to get a protein skimmer, which would really help with your bioload even though its not a neccessity, I would go with the remora or a nano remora skimmer. Like I said in the other posts Coralife Super Skimmers are still great skimmers for $70. With your lighting you could also do some lps corals. Good luck and happy reefing.

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You can cycle with or without lights. I would recommend getting a single PH and also an AC500 (coverts to fuge easily). The reason being is you can hide your heater in the ac500 and also you don't have to have two unsightly PH's in the tank. The more equipment you can hide the better.


Honestly you do not need a skimmer. Plan on doing regular water changes and you can save some money and noise by not adding one. You can get one and it won't hurt anything but it is definitely not necessary.


Your lighting sounds good. As for a timer do NOT get the coralife. I use it personally with no issue (I will be replacing it soon) but have read and seen too many horror stories about this strip that I do not recommend it. Stick with a basic timer from home depot and you can't go wrong.


I would not waste money on test kits. Keep up on regular maintenance, don't rush adding livestock, and you can save money on what I consider a fairly worthless piece of equipment in small tanks. I bought test kits and they are only gathering dust at this point.

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Guest JayDUBh11

I just got the tank set-up yesterday. This is what is looks like today:




The powerhead on the left is a Maxi-jet 600 and the one on the right is a Maxi-jet 400. The Remora is hooked up to a Maxi-jet 1200.


I have about 25 pounds of Fiji Live Rock and 25 pounds of Florida Live Sand. I purchased from Premium Aquatics, but if I had it to do over again I would probably just go with Dr. Foster & Smith.


I will be testing the parameters today. I haven't been getting very accurate readings on Specific Gravity (refractometer is still on the way) so I am a little concerned about that. I haven't seen much life out of the Live Rock, but then again I don't really know what to expect. And nothing has collected in the Remora collection cup so far except for steam.


Feedback and suggestions are still appreciated!

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The tank looks good. You made a good choice on going with the AquaC Remora as they are one of the best HOB skimmers you can buy. I have owned a AquaC Remora for 8-9 months now and it has worked great without any problems. I also run mine on a 20 gallon tank.

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Guest JayDUBh11

Any adjustments to make with the powerheads? I am thinking I have a little too much flow:


Maxijet 1200 (to Remora) = 295 gph

Maxijet 600 = 160 gph

Maxijet 400 = 106 gph


= 561 gph / 20 = 28.05x


I will eventually be keeping 2 small clowns so I am worried about having too strong of a current.


Advice is appreciated.

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I don't think that's too much flow, most people tend to shoot for around 30x turnover.


I just recently setup a 20L in which i have

2xMJ600 = 320gph

1x AC500 = ~400gph


720gph/20 = 36x turnover


I have two small clowns in the tank. They don't seem to mind the strong current, in fact, i think they enjoy it. At night they find the place with the lowest current and sleep there. I don't see you having any problems with your setup.

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I too thought that two mj900 would be to much flow with a 20l with a ac500 and aqua c but its just fine. Paint the back of tank maybe?? I did shave the impeller down on the ac500 to slow it down are others not doing this and just running the flow off the fuge with no power heads???? And your flow should be fine just adjust the power heads to point towards each other.

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Guest JayDUBh11

Thanks for the input. I think I will stick with the 400 and 600 and maybe just re-position them a little bit. Maybe put them closer to the surface and aim them more towards eachother. I don't want to put them on the side of the tank though, so it will be a little harder to face them directly at eachother.


Did you take your extensions off your Maxijets, nd12nc? I would like to do this just to make them a little less noticeable. Good to hear that the two clowns are doing well in your setup. I plan on getting 2 tank-bred Ocellaris at about 3/4". What corals do you have? Do any of them host the Clowns?

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Jay, at first i didn't have the extensions on the MJs but the AC500 was blowing my sand around, so i needed to direct the flow more. I also wanted to make them look as inconspicious as possible, but oh well.


I have two tank bred black false percs. as of yet they don't host anything, just the sand :P


I have a bunch of different things in my tank, if you want a picture, there's a link right under my signature.

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