My New Endeavor!


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[FONT=&quot]My New Endeavor![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] So this is something I’ve been interested in doing for like the last 7-10 years(I’m only 23 >.<) Now that I have my own place I took the Aquarium that had been sitting in my mother’s house for all those years that was given to her by my uncle, she had intended to but never really did anything with it. So I told her I was taking it![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] This has become my new infatuation, I really love learning about new things that really interest me! This is a great new hobby and has replaced other addictions.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] So I get the (old) equipment moved in and I start researching… I have a buddy who works at a local pet store who has a 55g reef just like mine and agreed to help me out. I just want to add that the reason I am here and joined the community is b/c many of my google searched question answers were from this site! I’ve read many of hours on this site in the last month or so and there is so much good info here!![/FONT]:bowdown:
[FONT=&quot] Let me give you a little info on my equipment first. Like I said it’s my uncles equipment from over ~12 years ago… All I remember is that he had a Lionfish, Anenomies, and a few urchins (FOWLR). He ran it with this canister filter, and apparently a shop lighting fixture (which is weird considering how much I’ve heard you guys say how difficult anenomies are and he had like 2-3) After some research I have learned that the technology in saltwater aquariums has changed drastically since then.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] I am trying to work on a budget guys… I even have one drawn up in excel. So try to be a little understanding of some of my choices in products. I initially wanted to keep myself on a $500 budget but I am already breaking $700(including estimate of planned critters)[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Here is my plans for the tank, it’s pretty minimal so keep that in mind when suggesting what I need to do/upgrade to my tank.[/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]Live Rock (check)[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]CUC, Brittle Star, Cleaner Shrimp[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Clownfish, I even would like to try and have them breed and try to raise a batch (someday, far, far down the road) when they are ready and I am ready :sfish:[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Anenomies – NOT, I decided to go with a type of coral that my clowns might host in instead of having anenomies.[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Hardy Beginner Corals[FONT=&quot] to fill in my tank – Green Star Polyps, Zoas, a Frogspawn, maybe some mushrooms or leathers. ([/FONT][FONT=&quot]Echinophyllia ???)[/FONT][/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Royal Gramma[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Fire Fish Goby Red/Orange[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Fire Fish Goby Purple[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Possibly in the future (haven’t looked into it much) Urchin and Blue Starfish.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] So this is where my aquarium project begins…[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot](Sorry I didn’t post as I went but here it is to bring you guys up to speed)[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]First day Live Rock arrived: [FONT=&quot]Ultra Premium Fiji Live Rock 50lbs[/FONT][/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Lots of Dead stuff on this rock... I didn't clean any of it off. It kick started my cycle real quick

[FONT=&quot]Day 4, Brown Diatoms starting to form in patches on the rocks:[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Added Protein Skimmer and Power-Heads[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I FOUND LIFE! (lol, I’m sorry but it excited me =P)[/FONT]
First Sign of Creatures.jpg
[FONT=&quot]1 week with the Live Rock, My tank is BROWN![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Ammonia and Nitrites are 0! :)[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Finally Added some CUC (Clean up Crew)![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] Added 5x Astrea snails,[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] 5x Blue Leg Hermit Crab (but I found out it was only 1 and 4 shells! @_@'')[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot] Not much, but they are already mowing down on all the diatoms covering the rocks! And it should jump start my tank a lil :)[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Also added a hardy little Green Chromis kinda as a test dummie to break in the tank. Hope everything is ok![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot] Hes kinda scarred and pretty stressed. Spotty colors.. @_@[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]The rest of the Cleanup Crew (CUC) Added!!![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]1 week 5 days, tank has 1 fish, 10 Asteria Snails, 10 Cerith Snails, 15 Blue legged Hermit Crabs, All chowing down on the buttload of brown diatom Algae.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot](Water still testing good)[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Nemos' introduced(Mario & Luigi)! & Cleaner shrimp(Bowser) Who lives in Bowser's Castle(Pile of holy Lava rock)![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]lil guy didn't make it =([/FONT]

[FONT=&quot] From the start he had a tenancy to have to swim with his nose toward the surface... was pretty anti social & didn't eat... I figured it was from stress and after a day or 2 he would get better... well about 24 hrs and he started swimming funky I put him in a quarantine and about 10-15mins later he croaked =([/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Symptoms: His stomach was so small when I got him it looked like it had a wrinkle(caving inward), discoloration above his fin and behind his gills (looked like the scales were gone?), antisocial/abnormal personality(compared to other clown), swimming abnormally, some freying of his fins.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I ordered this batch through the local pet store(not saltwater store) so I did not get to examine my fish first :/[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I really hope it wasn’t my fault he died but given his symptoms when I got him and the fact that the other guys adapted really well I don’t think it was my fault…[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] R.I.P.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I now drive 20mins north to a LFS, pay a few dollars more, and pick my stuff out of their tanks![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]New Lights!!! FINALLY!!![/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]I went with an Odyssea 48" 216W (4x 54W) T5 HO Light Fixture for $134. (It had some bad reviews problems with bad switches and wires, 1 person ballast went early) but I’m handy with electronics so I figured I can handle it. AS LONG AS THE BALAST DOESN’T GO in the next 3-6 months I will be content with it! It is bright and a helluva upgrade from the shop lighting I had! Everything came in good working order so far.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] 3/30/10[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] After 19 days of crappy(shop) lights[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]replacement clown (who looks to be identical to the one in tank) and 2x $5 coral Frags.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Frag1(left) $5 Frag of Green Star Polyps, and Frag2(right) $5 Frag of green and orange Zoas, 4 Polyps.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]-I think it’s looking good with those adds I made tonight… within 15 mins of putting them in the tank (after about 5-6hrs acclimation in the bucket) I had 1 polyp open up already on the Zoas and the clownfish even had a bite to eat (I fed a tad since I quarantined the chromis for a while so they could eat and acclimate) The 2 two clowns stay fin-n-fin together lol.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot] So that gets you guys up to present with my tank. Now I am opening up this thread for comments/suggestions :D[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]A few that I have currently are:[/FONT]

  • [FONT=&quot]I have a cheap skimmer… how will that effect my tanks success? [/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Is there any way(practical/cheap) I can implement something to help control Nitrates? How I can get some Chateo implamented into my system? I already have stuff hanging all over the sides of my tank…(I have been reading the DIY forums I just don’t know if that’s for me and if so what one I should go with)[/FONT]
  • [FONT=&quot]Guy at the LFS said I can phase out my canister filter after tank has been up and running for a while that now a day’s all you need is LR and a Protein Skimmer. Is this True?[/FONT]
  • My canister filter is getting pretty brown from all the diatoms and detris its sucking up, but I’m afraid to clean it b/c I don’t want to lose my bacteria populations. What should I do?
    (Keep in mind my purpose, 5-6 Small fishies and beginner/hardy corals)
Hello and welcome!
You are off to a great start.

A good skimmer definitely increases your tank's chance of success. And I agree with your fish store guy that you can ditch the canister filter -- live rock and a skimmer is all you need. If you have a poor quality skimmer, you will have to do larger/more frequent water changes to keep up. An excellent brand of skimmer that's very affordable are Octopus skimmers. One for your size tank would run in the $100 to $200 range.

If you can, you should do a sump. Since your tank is not already drilled, you would need to buy an overflow box. A sump is a second tank that sits beneath the display tank and holds all the equipment. Most sumps also contain a compartment for chaeto (a refugium). Plus, a sump adds water volume to your system (diluting out any polution). Chaeto will go a long way towards keeping your nitrates low. I think a refugium is an invaluable part of a reef tank. When you are ready for chaeto, go here:

Keeping the canister filter will most likely also contribute to high nitrates -- canister filters just don't work well for saltwater tanks. You should have sufficient bacteria in your sand and rock, and you'll be safe removing the canister.
One for your size tank would run in the $100 to $200 range.

lol, and yeah I think I'll be looking into making myself a sump then, if that's the best way to go about it.

That will prolly be my next project over the next month...

My Nitrites are not too bad tho they have been sitting right around 5ppm

I'll prolly leave my tank run how it is for the next few weeks then look in to some more upgrades. (As long as everything stays under control as is)
Nitrites? Or nitrates? (They are different). It will do no harm to upgrade slowly. As long as you keep your bioload low (a few fish, easy corals), there's no need to rush.
My canister filter is getting pretty brown from all the diatoms and detris its sucking up, but I’m afraid to clean it b/c I don’t want to lose my bacteria populations. What should I do?

I say clean it. It will contribute to your nitrates like it is currently. Also Biff has you covered on everything, if you listen to just one person on this forum listen to her, she's been at it a while and if she doesn't have the answers for you, she sure as heck can find em.

P.S. Shameless plug on the Chaeto thread too I might add. :mrgreen:
Oh, I forgot to tell you guys about 1 mishap I did have.... when I put my new Power-Heads in (while there was still only just LR and water) the vibrations from the Power-Heads being too close to my heater caused it to be constantly on!!! My Tank was up to 95*! I threw my whole ice cube tray in there and took out the heater. lol, and it was back down to 80 by morning /phew
Good thing it was just LR in there or else that could have been bad!
Nitrites? Or nitrates? (They are different). It will do no harm to upgrade slowly. As long as you keep your bioload low (a few fish, easy corals), there's no need to rush.

Nitrates, sorry idk what I'm typing its late here I g2g to bed this post took too long to create! xD
Nitrates at 5 are fine. Certain animals do better with them at 0, but none that you have are really sensitive to nitrates. As long as you can keep them below 20, you'll be good. But that will be easier to do without the canister filter, and with a protein skimmer.
Oh, I have to show you guys... The clown and corals have only been in the tank as long as it took me to make this post.

And look:

They are getting along great and a polyp is already coming out on the Zoa! =D
I was lucky to get all this in 1 shot :mrgreen:
Congrats on the tank!

Kudos to you for researching before you started. Seems like it's all paid off for you. Your tank looks great so far.
So I got some new Additions to my tank:

- Added some more LR and DR.
- A really nice Frogspawn Coral
- A green Hairy Mushroom
- Some Orange Zoas
- A 'Pom Pom Xenia'? or 'Waving hand Coral'
- Hollywood Stunner Frag
- And I think its a Porites.

Nice to see another from MI in the forum. Even if you are half way up north. You guys got any decent LFS' up there? May hit one next time I'm at the Casino.:D
Nice to see another from MI in the forum. Even if you are half way up north. You guys got any decent LFS' up there? May hit one next time I'm at the Casino.:D

I brought that last stuff up with me from Pruess' in Lansing last weekend. Other than that there is a pretty nice little shop in Clare I go to often. :)
So after reading a very informative article on Alkalinity and all the other water parameters I decided to do a test on them and I was surprised of the outcome, not ever even trying to mess with water parameters (I have not added any kind of buffers what so ever to my tank) after over a month I have almost NSW (Natural Salt Water) parameters =D

Alk = 2.3 meq/L (milliequivalents per liter) = 6.44 dKH
pH = 8.2
Calcium = 400ppm
Phosphate = 0 - .1
Nitrate = 2-3 ppm
Specific Gravity = 1.025

Mind you I have done NOTHING to change them since I started ;)

NSW parameters are:
Alkalinity – 7 dKH
Ca – 420 ppm
Salinity – 34-36ppt
pH – 8.0-8.3
Magnesium – 1280

So as far as Alk, Ca, and pH goes I'm golden =D and pretty damn close to NSW (not bad for no buffers what so ever)

The only thing I can think is that I would like to give some credit to the salt I'm using to mix my water. "Reef Crystals" working well for me so far!
Also I wanted to update my build:

I got a Fire Fish Goby: Who in fact Jumped out of my tank and decided to carpet surf no more than FIVE SECONDS after I put him in!!!

And so I already had some eggcrate just had to stick him in and cover quick!


And in addition: