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hello nano community, my name is amber and i'm excited [and a little nervous] to join this hobby! my background is an industrial designer, so to say we research can be a bit of an understatement. what's confusing here, is it seems the research can be misleading or confusing so i wanted to start a thread for the frafrillion-and-two questions i have. i know the first thing to kick off is what i've set up so far over the last 10 weeks: TANK: 12 gallon, low-lying 24" x 12" CYCLE: i let everything sit for nearly 5 weeks before adding my first coral and hermits, during that time what was odd is i never saw the water spike SUBSTRATE: 2" coarse sand (i've heard some refer to this as live sand?) ROCK: one huge, five mediums creating caves and nooks LIGHT: kessel 350x, hung about 9" above -> if anyone has a kessel it seems like there is so much conflicting debate on lights and what is the healthiest settings are, really aprpeciated; currently kept on for 12 hours/ day from 10am to 10pm CORAL: still working out the names on everything but this is what i've added and at what timelines 4 weeks in> - branching acropora lime green, - top of a rock all by himself i read it tends to sting others - hammer, light purple (i think it's a hammer, still trying to figure that one out it was sold to me by the LFS) 7 weeks in> - trumpet, red/purple green eye/center (3heads) - duncan (4heads), lime green - tiny frag of zoanthids, green- all by himself read he stings and grows a little aggressively, still unsure if i should not have gotten him - two mystic montipora, red with blue polyps - one psammacora, yellow 9 weeks in> - torch, highlighter yellow/green (insanely bright!) - another tiny frag of psammacora, yellow INVERTEBRATES: what added and what timeline 6 weeks in> - two blue hermits (who kept fighting then chilled, then would kick up again until finally one of them is dead now though body never found) - two snails (sadly don't know their names) - one fighting conch (who is friggin awesome) - one fireshrmp (who is also awesome) 9 weeks in> - 5 hermits, mixture blues and reds - 8 snails- 3 astreas/ 4 ceriths/ 2 bumblebee - one gorgeous little turquoise/ blue clam FISH: what added and what timeline 9 weeks in> - snowflake clown (very small he was the runt, i wanted him for that reason) - added 20mL API quick start when added the clown to ease transition and help keep the tank level so far everything has been pretty great except i have a brown algae problem i can't seem to resolve despite all the feeders- i've done one 30% water change and have been changing the filter every two weeks to try to help with the algae. i also moved from tap water to RO for all of my topoffs (would have used RO from the beginning if i'd known) and salt mixture changes. the conch pretty decently takes care of the substrate but the rocks keep growing it in excess to where i'm scrubbing it off with a toothbrush in the tank and then letting the filter suck it up. even with the addition of the extra hermits and snails i can't seem to get it sorted, and my light is on 12hrs/day cycle. I could reduce that to 10hrs and do another water change but i'm wondering what's up? my snails don't seem to want to eat off the rock. my water levels have been awesome for salt/ amonia/ nitrate/ nitrite with only my first elevation yesterday to 4ppm/ nitrate. i checked it early because my duncan closed up for 2 days and i started betting worried even though i've read they can be a little temperamental like that. i did turn the smaller rock over it came fragged onto and there was a weird white egg sack looking thing? it was tiny- size of the tip of a q tip- but it freaked me out so i popped it...? my concern is i have my last round of fish coming tomorrow and i'm worried about the algae. any recommendations is greatly appreciated! the only think i've been able to think of is friend told me that if there is a slight* chance the rock was with copper before the snails won't eat it (but I did scrub, rinse, and soak the rock before and i thought that would be odd since copper is supposed to be hugely damaging to invertebrates i thought i'd be seeing other problems if that was the case?) i've attached some pictures that are rough- it's clearly still very new and I have a few new rocks coming that I will be changing out the right hand side of the tank as it's so clunky. the file size limited me but the second one is a close-up of the algae that keeps growing back. i want my ecosystem to thrive, so any help/ advice is appreciated and happy to "meet" everyone here digitally! cheers, amber