My name’s Mike and I’m new to this forum and reefing. I've been keeping a freshwater planted tank for ~6 years and have finally decided to switch over to the sea.
I've spent about 3 month scouring the internet for reefing tips, reading about the different types of setups, and visiting local aquarium shops. Below is my plan of action to start up my first saltwater tank, any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
To build a natural low-tech nano reef on a budget. Lots of corals and small fish bio-load.
My low-tech approach consists of using only live rock, live sand, plenty of water turnover, plus macro-algae and an air pump with diffuser in-tank. Picture of plan diagram attached. I've decided against a sump, overflow, protein skimmer, and any other reef gadgets.
I want to cut a clear piece of acrylic to cover the top to decrease evaporation, there will be a couple holes to let out extra air from the air pump. Weekly 10% water changes/top-off, macro-algae pruning, and sand bed cleaning.
The Big Questions
- Macro-algae in-tank as a nutrients exporter? Do you think a large amount of macro-algae planted at the back of the tank can keep nitrates low when pruned weekly with 10% water changes?
- Air pump + diffuser by plant bed? Do you think this will help regulate the amount of co2 in the tank even at night when the plants are expelling co2?
- Control macro algae spread? Maybe a clear piece of acrylic to separate the sand bed between the plants and rest of tank? I want them to grow up to be pruned, not out and all around the tank.
- Semi-sealing the top of the tank? Do you think a piece of clear acrylic over the top of the tank will dramatically minimize evaporation rates? There would be a couple holes drilled to let out air from the air pump.
Tank: Mr. Aqua Luminous 17.1 Gallon Frameless Glass Aquarium (Link)
Light: 50watt Led. 25w of white and 25w of blue. (Link)
Powerhead: Hydor Koralia Nano 425gph (Link)
Heater: ViaAqua Titanium 100 Watt Heater (Link)
Sand: Caribsea Arag-Alive Bahamas Oolite 10 lb (Link)
Rock: 25 Pound live coral from local shop.
Air Pump: Any suggestions for a very quiet air pump?
Diffuser: Won 12 Inch Flexible Air Diffuser (Link)
Valve: Marina Plastic Check Valve (Link)
Line: Tom Aquatics Flexible Air Line Tubing 8ft (Link)
Glass > Acrylic = I like the reduced weight of acrylic for when moving is needed, but have consistently read that glass aquariums are easier to clean and don't scratch like acrylic. To me the longevity for glass to keep looking good is worth the weight, especially in a nano.
Frameless > Framed = It just looks so freaking beautiful! I know that I’ll have to be extra careful when moving is needed.
Nano > Regular Size = I don’t have the money or space for a full size tank (Maybe in the future!). I was originally going to use a 5 gallon fluval spec V but the lack of water volume scares me that stability will be an issue. Also, we will be buying a house this next year and the tank will need to be moved. I think 17 gallons is the ideal size for me in regards to price/space/eight/stability.
Live Rock = 25 Pounds in 1 large porous rock. I like the look and stability of 1 large rock versus multiple smaller rocks glued together. I am going to make sure it is a very porous piece of coral with lots of nooks and crannies for the animals to hide in.
Live Sand = 2 Inches. It seems to be an good amount for biological filtration but not too deep so that it will start to look dark and nasty after a couple weeks. I've read a lot of deep sand beds but I’m not convinced it has added benefit.