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Seadragon posted a topic in Aquarium JournalsMy Dream Nano Reef Tank: Simplicity Meets Super Low Maintenance WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?! For many years, I have been enjoying my three maintenance free, heavily planted freshwater tanks; my favorite being my Dream Blue Velvet Shrimp tank that is also home to my Bamboo Shrimp, Mini Golden Rabbit Snails, and a Salt and Pepper Pygmy Cory Catfish. For the past year, the wife really wanted a nano reef tank for her classroom to be viewed by hundreds of students, their parents, and her co-teachers. Not to be out done, I then wanted a nano reef tank for the home office. And thus, the Office Nano Reef Tank was born on 9/10/2019. (A week later, the School Nano Reef was born on 9/17/2019 which can be viewed here.) MY PRIMARY GOALS I have 3 primary goals for this nano reef: 1. Very low maintenance (almost self sustaining with little involvement from me. Think pseudo Triton method.) 2. To have Pom Pom Xenia cover the majority of the rocks with various corals scattered throughout to add diversity and color. 3. To have clear water with no odor. EL CHEAPO 10 GALLON AQUEON AQUARIUM FROM PETCO FEATURES ◕ Price: $14.99 (I missed the dollar per gallon sale, but the dream must move forward!) ◕ Tank Length: 20.25" ◕ Tank Width: 10.5" ◕ Tank Height: 12.625" ◕ Material: Glass TANK HIGH LEVEL CHARACTERISTICS ⇨ Aquascape : Nature's Ocean 12-Inch Coral Base Rocks (they gave me 2 gigantic aragonite rocks so I spent hours trying to break them apart by throwing them against the concrete. I was a madman on a mission!) ⇨ Sand : 10 pounds of Nature's Ocean Natural White No.0 Bio-Activ Aragonite Live Sand ⇨ Heater : Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater, 50 Watt ⇨ Lighting : NICREW ClassicLED Aquarium Light & Finnex 10" FugeRay Ultra Slim Aquarium LED Light; Current USA Orbit Marine IC PRO Dual LED with Bluetooth ⇨ Powerheads : Hydor Koralia Nano 240 (2) + Custom Prefilters ⇨ Wave Controller : Hydor Smart Wave Circulation Pump Controller ⇨ Filtration : Zoo Med's 318 Submersible Filter (TC-20) (Filled it with Activated Carbon Media Pads cut to size.) ⇨ UV Sterilizer System : AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 3 Watt ⇨ Coralline Algae Starter : Pink Fusion Strain & Purple Helix Strain Coralline Algae in a Bottle + Nitrifying Bacteria ⇨ Tank Lid: 20-Inch Aqueon Aquarium AAG29020 Versa Top ⇨ Natural sea water: Imagitarium Pacific Ocean Water, 5 gallons (2) MAINTENANCE ◕ Daily Dosing of Reef Fusion 1 and Reef Fusion 2 to maintain the critical levels of calcium, alkalinity, and other elements and trace minerals. ◕ Top off with Distilled Water with Instant Ocean's Marine Conditioner that adds protective fish coating and eliminates chlorine, chloramine & heavy metals. ◕ When the water's surface develops an oily film, skim it off with paper towels as needed. Then re-add filtered natural sea water for any water that was removed. ◕ Clean the Prefilters on the Circulation Pumps whenever they become overly clogged. ◕ Replace the Activated Carbon Media Pads (cut to size) for the submersible filter whenever the need arises. ◕ Clean the sponge filter for the UV Sterilizer whenever the need arises. MY CORAL CHOICES Pom Pom Xenia (ORA) I LOVE pulsing Xenia and find myself hypnotized every time I see it. I know others may hate it, but I find it as one of the coolest corals. They have no stinging tentacles and little to no toxins. It may try to colonize the tank and possibly fly around if it runs out of space on the rock it’s on, and may try to smother other corals if left unchecked, but the easy solution for that may be to just pull out any Xenia that gets too close to my other corals. I really love the Pom Pom Xenia (ORA) variation due to the pinkish color and larger pulsing effect. 2 Duncanopsammia Corals I bought two Duncans online and as far as I know, they may have short stingers, but they basically don’t really sting anything and are pretty safe in that department as far as I know. And they have no toxins that I’m aware of. They’re so cool looking too! I had two additional ones also, but the first one succame to Brown Jelly disease after a great fall onto the rocks and the sand. I believe its tentacles may have gotten injured and infected during this fall. The second one slowly perished from a similar fate including the occasional cyanobacteria bothering it. Candy Cane Coral (ORA) I really wanted the Neon Green Trumpet Coral, but they were sold out at the time. Hopefully, this one will turn out to be cool too. Purple Australian Big Polyp Blastomussa Coral & Red Australian Big Polyp Blastomussa Coral The Blastomussa Wellsi corals seem like the perfect addition to add to an open area that I have at the bottom of my tank. Acropora echinata Coral I received a tiny frag of what looks like Acropora echinata by accident in with my online order. I placed the small frag on the highest point of my rocks to try to give it the most light and current possible. I feed it Reef-Roids a few times a week and it seems to be quite happy so far with a multitude of polyps open most of the time. I like getting expensive corals for free! 🙂 Neon Green Trumpet Coral I almost gave up on trying to find this stunning coral, but when I least expected it, not only did I find it, but was given an offer I couldn't refuse. It was Cyber Monday, but the LFS told me that I could get the 50% Off Black Friday deal on this coral if I want it. Welcome home Neon Green Trumpet Coral -- my collection is finally complete! MACROALGAE Chaetomorpha Macroalgae One of the best, hardest working, and hardiest macroalgaes that you can find although if used for the display tank, small bits and pieces can easily get into every nook and cranny. I attempted to replace it with the much prettier looking Red Ogo Macroalgae, however that melted due to poor shipping conditions and possibly other factors. Fortunately, I kept the Chaeto on stand-by in a sealed zip lock bag and it survived without being in water for 24 hours! Red Dragon's Breath (Gracilaria Hayi) Macroalgae [EATEN by Mexican Turbo Snails] Simply beautiful to put into the display tank. Seems to work best if you can find a way to anchor it down. Red Ogo (Gracilaria Parvispora) Macroalgae [DEAD: Melted in 24 hours] Normally a beautiful bright red & burgundy color and is fast growing, this macroalgae did not survive a 4-day journey through the mail in cold weather conditions to my home. The temperature inside the package felt a bit cold due to the heat pack not holding up for the entirety of the trip. Upon opening the bag, a really foul stench permeated the room. The macroalgae arrived orange and after acclimating to my tank, almost immediately began to cloud the water and became mostly transparent within 24 hours. Needless to say, I had to remove all of the Red Ogo from the tank, but I was fortunate to have kept the very hardy Chaeto on stand-by in case an emergency such as this arises. LIVESTOCK 2 Ocellaris Clownfish The thing that started it all! Nemo and Marlin make their debut in our new nano reef tank that is situated between our desks in the home office. I selected the smallest ones available at the LFS and they should remain relatively small compared to other types of clownfish. I love their vibrant colors, overall peacefulness, and their wacky movements! 1 Tailspot Blenny A HUGE Personality stuck inside a tiny little body. Blenny is always there to stare back at me with a smile as I debate life's choices. 1 Yellow Watchman Goby I've read so much about this fascinating fish that I just had to experience one. Pretty, funny personality, grumpy at times which adds to the flavor, and a cool duo if you already have a blenny in the tank. I'm excited to watch all of its future antics. 1 Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp from Sri Lanka I love watching the shrimp hang upside down on my "rock bridge" and search the tank in the evening for leftover food. I also get to witness it cleaning the fish every now and then. I was reading that you could keep two Skunk Cleaner Shrimp in a tank, but no more than two otherwise the mated pair will kill off the others! 2 Porcelain Anemone Crabs My fierce little Samurai that help filter and clean the water. Don't let their peaceful demeanor fool you, that one on the right (nicknamed Alpha crab) ripped off two of the legs of the other one (nicknamed Captain Hook because his one side only has 1 leg)! Although at this time, they're both doing well and are still alive. Alpha crab molted on 12/14/19 and I actually thought he killed Captain Hook, lol. Crab molts look so real! 4 Stocky Cerith Snails These snails are hard workers and they even clean on the edge where the sand meets the glass. I hear they are usually hard to reproduce due to their eggs being eaten by fish and such. I don't mind as long as they don't reproduce out of control. 3 Banded Trochus Snails They are excellent algae eaters and do a great job cleaning the brown diatoms off the glass. They also like to keep the heater and the surrounding areas sparkling clean. 4 Mexican Turbo Snails I got these snails to take care of some cotton candy algae that may have hitchhiked onto the Chaeto that I bought off eBay. I confirmed that the larger snails that are 2"+ do indeed consume the cotton candy algae. 2 Tiger Sand Conchs (Strombus sp.) I got the initial conch because I read that it eats cyanobacteria and also algae & detritus. It keeps the sandbed well stirred up and doesn't deplete it of microfauna. And it's amazing to watch it hop around on its powerful foot. After observing it eating cyanobacteria at a snails pace and doing a good job at the areas it was at, I decided to get one more to keep entire sand bed looking great since my particular system could use it. 1 Feather Duster (Sabellastarte sp.) I've been fascinated by my tiny little fan worm hitchhikers found on two of my corals. I do not feed them, yet they continue to grow and thrive possibly due to me spot feeding Reef-Roids to my corals every now and then. I've been curious of the much larger feather dusters and wanted to give it a try to see if their care level is similar to the tiny hitchhiker variety. Although, I may spot feed it Reef-Roids at the same time I do my normal coral feeding just to make sure it gets some nutrition besides what is found in the water. There is also a thriving Tisbe copepod population in the tank as well. a ton of Tisbe Copepods Our unseen clean up crew behind the scenes. They sometimes sacrifice themselves as lunch for any hungry fish waiting for their next daily meal. HITCHHIKERS Fan worms I have a few of these tiny little feather dusters that hitchhiked onto some corals that I purchased online from LA. I believe it adds more diversity to my tank and gives me one more interesting thing to stare at. Branching Coralline algae I first noticed this purplish, tiny twig that was attached to my Candy Cane coral when I initially added it to my tank. At first I didn't know what it was, but once I did, it's been a welcome addition to the reef. I'm happy to see it continue to grow over time. Cotton Candy Algae [PENDING DEAD: Mostly Eaten by Mexican Turbo Snails or Removed via Mechanical Filtration] Commonly referred to as a nuisance algae, this pretty pink & fluffy algae was first seen attached to my Chaeto that I purchased off eBay. True Mexican Turbo Snails (Turbo fluctuosa) of the larger variety (2"+) can help reduce the amount of cotton candy algae within a tank. I found acquiring these snails to be more difficult than I expected. My LFS sold me some Zebra Turbo Snails that they called Mexican Turbo Snails and they did not eat any of the cotton candy algae because it's the wrong kind of snail. As the weeks go on, I've grown more fonder of the pink color that this algae exhibits and I may change my mind on how bad it may be. It helps to export excess nutrients along with the chaeto while looking more aesthetically pleasing. My only real concern is if it can cause chaeto and corals to die over time by growing over them and preventing light from getting to them. I will keep a close eye on this nuisance algae and hopefully acquire some large Mexican Turbo Snails in the future. Aiptasia anemone [DEAD] I noticed a tiny little Aiptasia anemone on the rockwork. I don't know where it came from, but it must've hitchhiked from one of the recent corals that I added to the tank. Not wanting to wait, I blasted it with some pure lemon juice. I then dug it all out with my tweezers and siphoned out any residue. That was the very last time I've ever seen an Aiptasia anemone in any of my reef tanks. Flatworms [DEAD] I've noticed flatworms on two different occasions and only on my Xenia coral. For the longest time, I thought these little brown spots were just part of the Xenia dying or rotting away -- UNTIL I noticed it moving one day! I then took the piece of Xenia out, dipped it into tank water with Seachem Reef Dip, rinsed it off with new tank water, and flushed the flatworms out of existence. The second time I noticed it was on a different Xenia (one that I didn't dip); I was able to siphon it off the Xenia, it floated in the water and to my surprise, my Clownfish ATE it! I was both surprised and proud that my Clownfish was helping me rid the tank of this pest. So Death by Flushing and Death by Clownfish. Make your Choice. Spirorbid Worms and/or Vermetid snails [Thought they were all DEAD, but I believe I saw some on the Mexican Turbo Snail shell still!] I added 6 Turbo Snails a few days ago, and the 2 largest of the pack had some noticeable hitchhikers on their shells. I would've swore I saw a worm-like thing quickly enter a calcified burrow on one of the shells. As I observed more closely, I noticed a bunch of mucus strands or slime trail that floats in the water so I may also have Vermetid snails possibly (pretty possible there are multiple types of pests on the shell). When I read up on Vermetid snails and finding out that the mucus strands irritates corals and can even cause them to die, I quickly got to work and removed the 2 large snails from the tank. I took a tooth brush and used the end to try to crush the calcium burrows and remove them from the large snail shells. I rinsed with tap water and brushed the shells hoping it may aid in killing anything else on the shells. Update: I've since transferred the 2 large Turbo Snails to the School Nano Reef. Pineapple sponges I didn't know it at the time, but there was a Pineapple sponge hiding within the Chaeto that I purchased off eBay. Fast forward to today, now there's countless Pineapple sponges all over the underside of rockwork and in dark areas of the tank such as behind the heater. Based on my research, these should decline in population over time as the food supply lessens within the water. I tend to like filter feeders overall so at this time, they're a welcome addition to the biodiversity within my tank. Bubble Algae [PENDING DEAD] I noticed Bubble Algae on both of the Blastomussa corals that I got from LA. After doing much research, I did not want to get an Emerald crab because based off other hobbyists' experiences, they're 50/50 on whether or not they'll even consume the Bubble Algae. And on top of that, it's 50/50 if they may pick at & eat your corals in the tank. And when they get big, they may even go after your small fish. So, no thanks. Then I was reading about hobbyists' popping the Bubble Algae with tweezers. For the ones that have, they claim the Bubble Algae never came back after they were popped and removed. On top of that, when various hobbyists watched their Emerald crabs eat the Bubble Algae, the Emerald crabs themselves pop the Bubble Algae! For the hobbyists that did not want to pop the Bubble Algae, they were scared if spores would spread. But, others mentioned it may only spread if the Bubble Algae is mature and large. Either way, I went with popping the Bubble Algae with tweezers and I will update this if I notice any coming back. PICTURES Day 16 (9/26/2019) since starting the Office Nano Reef: Day 43 (10/23/2019): Day 60 (11/9/2019): Day 81 (11/30/2019): Day 112 (12/31/2019):
Amphrites posted a topic in Aquarium JournalsWell, it's a little late to start a build thread now seeing as the tank is mostly put together, if anything I suppose this will be more of a "polishing up" stocking and grow-out... thing... I do have some pictures I've taken of the process though and some little stories about how one thing or another got thrown together, but at this point I like the scape and stock enough I wanted to share it. Hope you enjoy! About 8 months ago I bumped into the opportunity to purchase a used Nuvo Atoll and AI prime light for $150 and I just couldn't say no. I'd been really wanting to get back into the hobby after moving off the big island of hawaii for ongoing health-reasons after a bout of myocarditis. It came in pretty scratched but I polished it up within an inch of the factory using the three-step Novus polish kit and some microfiber towels. Unfortunately I no longer really have any before and after pictures of the 6 or so hour process of getting everything nice a bright again, but I definitely learned I never want to deal with an acrylic tank again. I can't believe how easily these tanks scratch and how deeply at that... Next up was grabbing some rocks, I didn't want to deal with all the pests and unknowns which can hitchhike on live rock so I went with dry, instead figuring I would cycle the tank using ammonia, bottled Tim's, and some time. I couldn't really think of a fantastic scape Idea and had too many plans laid out, so I just ended up walking out of the LFS with a 30lb or so pile of Dry rock. I figured I could do some kind of really vertical scape to take advantage of the cylinder-shape of the tank, and I grabbed enough flat pieces that I felt like I could easily make a cove or island layout if I wanted to down-the-road. I replaced the stock pump with a Sicc nano 120 gph and bought a Sicc Voyager 240 for circulation alongside Brightwell N03 cubes, about "50 gallons worth" of Matrix and No3-out media, some chemi-pure blue nano satchels, phosguard, carbon, and egg-crate to hold it all in the AIO section. Underneath the overflow is filter-floss, carbon/phosguard, and then a chemipure satchel, to the right of it in the section which gets essentially no-flow is the NO3 seachem media, then in the large-middle section is half-a container of the brightwell NO3Out media and the Seachem Matrix. I also fashioned a little DIY lid out of Lowes scrap acrylic to keep evaporation down, though I really should have used some rods to keep it from warping, I still can't say I'm unhappy with the results. Bought a continuous power-supply UAC, which doubles as a backup for the nebulizer-compressor... And a Finnex 100W heater. Next-up the protoscaping while the tank cycled, I really wanted to try to maximize the amount of space I had for corals and livestock, while working with keeping a kind of full-tank-gyre action going. I was never really happy with the initial-concepts but couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to do, shy of keeping things bare-bottom, either. I managed to skip any huge algae or cyano breakouts and ended up with a 0-ammonia 10-nitrate tank within two moths, though I did get a few diatom blooms they always cleared up as fast as they came on. (That said I still get the occasional bloom after playing with my rockwork >_>) After two months wet, and about 1 month of feeding an empty tank, I decided to test the waters with a small clean-up crew, four nerite snails and a dwarf cerith. I never really took any pictures of them, but my wife and I both love watching the nerites zip all over the tank despite supposedly being "nocturnal", and have enjoyed trying to figure out where on earth the cerith is hiding during the day. Shortly thereafter we decided to grab a maxima from a local LFS, at the time it looked almost opal-white and was barely two or three inches across. I placed it towards the top of my rockwork and woke up the next morning to find that the little bugger had jumped into a hole and quite-firmly attached itself, prompting a "quick" re-working of the tank. Unfortunately working in the tank and scaping is much less pleasant than I had expected, certainly nowhere near as enjoyable as it used to be for me. Because of my various conditions I've lost most of my postural muscles over-time and have swinging electrolyte-imbalances which can cause shaking, spasms, and pain at just about any angle or weight. Needless to say working in the tank can at times be incredibly frustrating and physically-unpleasant, that said I still love aquascaping dearly and will probably end up with a planted bookshelf-tank or jar in the future. A shot of the clam and a Photo-bombing pair of nerites a few weeks-in. About a month later I decided it was time to start adding some corals when I chanced upon a bunch of indo euphyllia about to run out its' timer on Ebay, I picked up an unknown piece which I think is Baliensis, a bi-color frogspawn, and a yellow-ish hammer; plus a Florida-ricordea, chalice, and blasto-merletti colony for about $15 a piece after-shipping. Here's a grumpy shot of everyone after shipping, dipping, and dropping into the tank: And everyone a few days later: After an ongoing, impressively-successful, feeding regimen of sera-marin-granules (once a week) and 1/4 the recommended dose of RedSea AB I decided to order some plastic-coated neodimium magnets to replace the frag plugs, with the plan of epoxying and gluing their pairs into the rockwork, this way I can remove, swap, and frag the colonies without tearing apart my scape or worrying about much of anything. Unfortunately I think I went overkill on their strength as I can pretty much pick my rocks up by the corals XD Shot of the Maxima and Pink-green chalice after about a month settling-in and my dialing in the two-part dosing to keep alk and cal stable. The longer I had the scape up the more I realized the flow levels just weren't working out for the euphyllia or the chalice. The water coming off the voyager was getting deflected down directly onto the colonies and buffeting them, so I bought a timer to turn the powerhead off a few times a day as a temporary-solution until I felt ready to begin more re-scaping. After a week or so I decided breaking up the rock the Maxima was attached to was a great starting place as its' size and awkward shape left itself and the entire scape unsteady and prone to constantly coming apart while I tried to work with the coral. A few days ago my wife fell in love with this dark black-purple and rich-green anchor coral we found at a LFS, it reminds me of a truffula tree or some goofy fairytale-plant. Which leads me to the current iteration of the scape, overnight the new anchor coral decided to go cliff-diving and fell off its' plug entirely, to fish it out I pretty much had to tear apart the whole tank. With that said it did give me the opportunity and excuse I needed to completely-redesign my rockwork into something that would work better for my animals and for me. Four hours and a very sore back/core later and we have this beautiful little lagoon/cove which keeps the euphyllia sheltered from harsh flow and light, keeps the clam high-and center toward the Prime-puck, and the chalice in highish-flow and medium-ish light. The plan from here is to get a Lobo/Favia/Acan colony for the center and some bubblegum Digitata for the back-right of the wall (to be suspended by magnets) and decide on a small fish which won't harass the clam (No clown gobies, no damsels, I've heard clownfish can be mean...) maybe an assessor? I would love to try a yellow-stripe clingfish, but I know you're not supposed to keep pipefish with clams and am not sure if there's a similar rule. On top of that they're very difficult to keep and, while I would be willing to make it a little-feeding dish and shelter and go the extra-mile, even those who seem to do everything right tend to have their fish die within 3 years... Since there's no real information about their actual lifespan in the wild, I don't know how comfortable I am with the idea of potentially doing that to an animal when other species seem to adapt or even thrive in captivity by contrast. Anyway, that's pretty much the whole process of setting up this 13g nano, it has been a really long time since I've been able to play around with this hobby and honestly this tank has been jumping back into the deep-end for me. I'd love to hear any suggestions on livestock, but I want to keep it light and 10% every-other week or even monthly water-changes in the realm of possibility because of my condition (I test every three days to make sure nitrates are undetectable). Hope you enjoyed the read as much as I've loved browsing around the community and admiring all of your tanks and projects, hope you have a great day!
Hello! So, I've been interested in biology in general from a pretty young age, I've had and still have various freshwater tanks since before middle school or so, and I'm going into my senior year of college now in San Diego(pretty moderate climate). A half a year ago or so I got the saltwater bug, and have been lurking on a bunch of forums and such learning about corals specifically. The final straw was when my boss, who has a 300 gallon reef tank at my work, told me that he would give me frags for free from pretty much any coral in his tank. So, I decided to make a reef tank, with the goal in mind that I'm a broke ass college student and so I'm going to spend as little money as possible. I've read all over the place about how the bigger the saltwater the tank, the easier it is to maintain, but that's obviously not 100% true as evidenced by everyone's experiences here. I decided to go for a challenge for my first saltwater tank by using a 2.5 gallon vase, and Maritza the Vase Reef was some of my primary inspiration. The only equipment running in it are an airline and a heater(and a battery powered thermometer to check the heaters not fritzing), as well as the light which is a I think 10watt compact flourescent 50/50 bulb. My phone's super crappy right now, so I'm going to try and borrow someone else's for a little and then I will upload pictures. It has been running for probably four months or so now. The first month was rough but I attribute that to the fact that I used an old heater, it malfunctioned and basically turned everything to soup. Since then though I've been steadily adding more and more corals, sometimes 3 a week, sometimes I won't add any for a month. The only not coral livestock I put in there that didn't come with the live rock is a small hermit crab and a bumpy red crab I took from the tidepools(sshhhhhhh). The only coral deaths I've had have been mushrooms which weren't able to attach high enough and were pulled into the bumpy crabs lair and eaten, and a small stock of pulsing Xenia which shriveled up over the course of a month or so. All the corals I have now are growing or at least static in their growth and don't seem unhealthy. I've heard that pulsing Xenia actually like slightly higher nitrate and phosphate levels, and so that's why I think they died, because my maintenance consists of weekly 90-100% water changes/glass scrubbing as well as taking the main rock out and scrubbing algae and detritus off with a toothbrush. I do the huge water changes because the tank is so small, and I also put quite a bit of reef roids into the tank the day before I clean it and change the water. Another thing which is fairly unconventional, but I haven't tested my water in any way since starting the tank. I rely on the fact that I buy premixed water from a reputable store and change basically all my water out with fresh water with the right parameters. Yes I still top off with RO/DI water from evaporation, I just keep the water level consistent though instead of using a refractometer. Only reason I don't test is because I'm on a tight budget. I have a feather worm in there and I've heard that they are VERY sensitive to water conditions and so I just make sure he's doing good and all is well. I'll try and upload pictures later today!