13.5 Fluval Evo - First Saltwater Tank

St4rving_4rtist

Hello everyone, I have been an avid freshwater fish-keeper for a while now, and I decided that it was time to try to jump into saltwater with another Craigslist purchase. I'm starting with a Fluval Evo 13.5g that I got with a small heater and 2 chunks of live rock for $70. It is pretty much the exact tank out-of box, with the original hood and light as well. Because I didn't realize I was getting cured live rock with the tank (I thought it was gonna be dry), I had to pretty much set it all up today. Anyways, 15 gallons of RO Saltwater from the LFS and one bag of CaribSea Argonite sand later, I was business. I had done a ton of research on the Fluval 13.5g and how to set it up (There's a lot of helpful YouTube tutorials out there), but I was really going to try and do a dry-start and not use Live rock. The end-goal for this tank for me will probably be a pair of clownfish, some cleaner inverts, and some super easy corals (I don't really have a good Idea of what corals I want yet, it will really all depend on what my LFS is stocking). I did have a question about something the LFS said though. The guy there said that if its cured live rock, then I won't have to do any cycling and it will be ready for fish in 24-48 hours. Coming from the freshwater side, this does make sense as you can essentially do the same thing in a freshwater tank by just putting filter media into a new tank from an established one to get the Nitrifying bacteria instantly in the tank, but I wanted to make sure this actually works. Another question is that I have it kinda next to a window, so should I block off the back to not let sunlight in? Helpful tips would be appreciated.

Maintenance Plan: I plan on toping the tank off with RO freshwater as I need to during the week and then doing a 40% (5g) water change every Wednesday along with my freshwater tanks.

Here's what I just ordered today on Amazon, and my future Wishlist:
- an attachable random flow generator for the output pipe to replace the two duckbills it comes with.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077LBWFJV/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?smid=A14IZ8JAGKKH3G&psc=1

Wishlist:
-Powerhead, probably the Hydor Koralia Nano 240
- Either setting up a refugium in the back chamber or putting a surface skimmer
-Possibly an airstone? I've seen people say these are helpful when put next to the pump.
-Refractometer: I'm not making any of my own water, I'm just going to buy it from the LFS so I don't have to worry about correctly mixing water or making RO water.

I'm sure there's some stuff I'm missing that I should definitely get ASAP, and if there's something you think I should add please tell me! The whole reason i'm making this is so you guys can help me make sure I'm not doing something utterly stupid (which I have been know to do). Thanks!
 

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jkkgron2

I’m actually going to get that tank for my first SW setup! From what I’ve read, I think you still should add ammonia until 1ppm can be consumed in 24 hours. After that you’re safe to add fish. If you plan on getting corals I would order some food for them. HarrisonAquatics might know more
 

Jesterrace

Glad to see you have done your research and not made the classic newbie mistake of trying to use tapwater.

So I will try to answer your questions in order:

1) Unfortunately the terms Cured and Cycled often get used interchangeably and they are 2 different and distinct things. CURED ROCK= Rock that has been scrubbed down and stripped the dead matter off of it. Generally you see this process done more with dry rock as it prevents phosphate leeching issues. Cured Rock however IS NOT cycled. It still needs the biofilter to be established on it. CYCLED ROCK=Rock that already has a healthy biofilter established (basically it's the saltwater answer to established filter media in a freshwater tank). If the rock spent little to no time out of water and it was already cycled then there should be little to no die off on it and it is generally good to go (although I always recommend giving it about a week for good measure just to make sure things are stable). So honestly it all depends on how long that rock was out of water and exposed to the air.

2) Maintenance plan looks good, although I generally don't recommend anything more than about 30% weekly with a saltwater tank. Big water changes tend to destabilize things in a saltwater tank and if you want corals STABILITY IS CRUCIAL.

3) Of the equipment list I would say your two biggest priorities are the powerhead and the refractometer. Skip the Airstone as they are problematic with saltwater tanks (ie crazy salt creep residue from the splashing water at the surface) and the Powerhead creates the flow you want without the mess. Even if you are getting the water premixed from the store and topping up based on water level in the tank you still want a refractometer for verification purposes just to make sure things are on par. The good news is that an ATC refractometer is pretty accurate and costs a whopping $20 from Amazon. So not an expensive purchase at all. Beyond that I would say you shouldn't need much else. I will say that a clean food source (ie LRS Reef Frenzy) goes a long way to helping to maintain a healthy tank. Clowns are ominvores so supplementing Seaweed/Nori in their diet would be good.

As for corals, the soft corals are generally considered the easiest, although personally I have had the best luck with easier to keep LPS (Long Polyp Stony) Corals (ie Branching Hammer and Frogspawns, Blastos). Above all you want to avoid SPS (Short Polyp Stony) Corals as they are generally the most demanding for lighting, flow, dosing of trace elements and water parameters.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Wow, thanks for the help! I went ahead and added the refractometer and powerhead to the cart, so those should get here soon. I will also take your advice and lower water change percent to probably %20 or two gallons. Does saltwater ever "spoil" or can I keep a 5g bucket of water to use for changes for 3 weeks? I'm also leaving soon for Christmas and so I probably won't add any fish till probably January, which should also give me a good idea if the tank is stable and ready. Will I need to start supplementing ammonia since I'm not adding fish? I know with freshwater we usually "feed" the tank with food, but will this method work on saltwater (or is it even necessary?). Thanks!
 

St4rving_4rtist

Hey guys, here's todays update: Went back to the LFS and got 5 gallons of RO Freshwater, so I now have 5g of Fresh RO for water top-offs and 5g of RO Saltwater for water changes! I also decided to pickup an Aquatop MaxFlow MCP-1 powerhead to add some extra circulation. I have used many Aquatop products in the past and have never had problems with them, so it seemed like a good $25 pick up. It is really pushing some water around, and I have it set up in the back right corner, but if you think it would be better placed somewhere else please speak up (As you can see in the pic below, its causing the sand in the front left corner to get displaced!)

I also bought a Serra Ammonia test kit for saltwater as well, so I can check how my cycle is going. I had them test my water there, and like I expected, everything was at 0 and pH was 8.0. I'm going to start feeding the tank frozen brine shrimp to get some ammonia going, and if I see it disappear quickly or never form, I'll know for sure if the rock is live and cycled or if I have to start hard cycling it, at which point I'll probably look into getting Dr. Tims one-and-only or FritzZyme 9 to help.

They had some nice tank-raised clownfish there and the LFS said I could do a fish-in cycle if I wanted, but I really would rather do a fishless, that way if I make a mistake it won't be as devastating. Otherwise, its just a waiting game now! On a side note, I have run out of outlets in my room, even with 4 different outlet extenders ! I guess running 6 different aquariums in one tiny room will do that. The new pics are below!
 

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Fishproblem

Hey guys, here's todays update: Went back to the LFS and got 5 gallons of RO Freshwater, so I now have 5g of Fresh RO for water top-offs and 5g of RO Saltwater for water changes! I also decided to pickup an Aquatop MaxFlow MCP-1 powerhead to add some extra circulation. I have used many Aquatop products in the past and have never had problems with them, so it seemed like a good $25 pick up. It is really pushing some water around, and I have it set up in the back right corner, but if you think it would be better placed somewhere else please speak up (As you can see in the pic below, its causing the sand in the front left corner to get displaced!)

I also bought a Serra Ammonia test kit for saltwater as well, so I can check how my cycle is going. I had them test my water there, and like I expected, everything was at 0 and pH was 8.0. I'm going to start feeding the tank frozen brine shrimp to get some ammonia going, and if I see it disappear quickly or never form, I'll know for sure if the rock is live and cycled or if I have to start hard cycling it, at which point I'll probably look into getting Dr. Tims one-and-only or FritzZyme 9 to help.

They had some nice tank-raised clownfish there and the LFS said I could do a fish-in cycle if I wanted, but I really would rather do a fishless, that way if I make a mistake it won't be as devastating. Otherwise, its just a waiting game now! On a side note, I have run out of outlets in my room, even with 4 different outlet extenders ! I guess running 6 different aquariums in one tiny room will do that. The new pics are below!
Looks great already! I love the hole in that rock. I saw the most gorgeous clown of my life yesterday, a bullethole clownfish. Idk what your clownfish budget is, but wow that's a cool one.

Welcome to the fishless cycle club! Our slogan is: "Waiting is Fun! Really!"

One note on the refractometer - I learned the hard way to calibrate using calibration fluid with the cheapo ATC refractometers. They do the trick for sure, but they're intended to measure sugar content, and so there's a slight discrepancy when used to measure saltwater that becomes more evident when you calibrate to 1.000 using distilled than when you calibrate to 1.026 using calibration fluid. It's another $8 but well worth it. Don't trust it if it arrives with paperwork that says it's precalibrated, either.

I just bought a new surge protector specifically for my reef tank. It was well worth it. Now I've got ten outlets just for the one build, and my cords are neat and organized. 11/10 would recommend.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Well Boys, Girls, and everything in between, here's todays update, #3: I checked my water this morning with the ammonia test kit and found that, sure enough, 0.5ppm of ammonia had formed from my feeding yesterday. Now I'm convinced I've got cured, but uncycled rock and a whole bunch of cycling to do. I guess I'm gonna start feeding some more ammonia to get the levels higher, and I'll probably order a "quick start" marine product on amazon tomorrow. As I have stated before, I'm leaning towards Dr. Tims but if anyone has a brand they SUPER recommend, I'd love to hear it!

In other news, I found a spot for the powerhead, aimed at a piece of rock, hat doesn't blow my sand around! I might (will) have to change it in the future as algae forms and I find out where dead-spots are, and when I introduce corals and need some direct flow. Speaking of corals, **** they are expensive! The cheapest my LFS had was ONE $10 leather coral (don't remember the exact one), but after that the next lowest was $50! Most of the corals are actually around $100-250 range. Most of these guys cost more than I make in a week! Not really sure how I'm gonna afford the corals for this thing lol. The most I ever spent on an aquatic animal/plant was $15 on a king beta...

On another note, I definitely want to upgrade the back chambers soon. If you've seen the Fluval 13.5 sump layout, its chamber one it empty and is supposed to fit a skimmer, but inTank sells a plastic basket you can slide in to fit more "stuff". However, this peice of plastic costs a whopping $64 on amazon! So, i'm gonna start looking into making a DIY basket modeled off their product. When I do make it, though, what should I put in it? I've seen other people put things like ChemiPure, more biological filtration, more carbon, and even a mini cheato (?) farm-thing in the slot. I'm still unsure of what I would really need besides more biological media

Finally, I'm gonna round this LONG update off with another question: Is my light being really hot normal? As I have looked though various coral lights, I have noticed that many use fans on the top to, theoretically, cool off the LEDs. My LED strip that came with the Fluval 13.5 is always SUPER HOT to the touch! Its honestly kinda scaring me, I feel like at any second it might catch fire and burn my house down. Should I be worried? Its not really in the budget to upgrade to a good light (yet), but if this is a legitimate hazard then I will find the money to do so (somehow.)

Wow. That was long. And I've only had the tank running for 3 days! Again, any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and I'm sorry if you read this entire thing. Thanks!
 

Fishproblem

Well Boys, Girls, and everything in between, here's todays update, #3: I checked my water this morning with the ammonia test kit and found that, sure enough, 0.5ppm of ammonia had formed from my feeding yesterday. Now I'm convinced I've got cured, but uncycled rock and a whole bunch of cycling to do. I guess I'm gonna start feeding some more ammonia to get the levels higher, and I'll probably order a "quick start" marine product on amazon tomorrow. As I have stated before, I'm leaning towards Dr. Tims but if anyone has a brand they SUPER recommend, I'd love to hear it!

In other news, I found a spot for the powerhead, aimed at a piece of rock, hat doesn't blow my sand around! I might (will) have to change it in the future as algae forms and I find out where dead-spots are, and when I introduce corals and need some direct flow. Speaking of corals, **** they are expensive! The cheapest my LFS had was ONE $10 leather coral (don't remember the exact one), but after that the next lowest was $50! Most of the corals are actually around $100-250 range. Most of these guys cost more than I make in a week! Not really sure how I'm gonna afford the corals for this thing lol. The most I ever spent on an aquatic animal/plant was $15 on a king beta...

On another note, I definitely want to upgrade the back chambers soon. If you've seen the Fluval 13.5 sump layout, its chamber one it empty and is supposed to fit a skimmer, but inTank sells a plastic basket you can slide in to fit more "stuff". However, this peice of plastic costs a whopping $64 on amazon! So, i'm gonna start looking into making a DIY basket modeled off their product. When I do make it, though, what should I put in it? I've seen other people put things like ChemiPure, more biological filtration, more carbon, and even a mini cheato (?) farm-thing in the slot. I'm still unsure of what I would really need besides more biological media

Finally, I'm gonna round this LONG update off with another question: Is my light being really hot normal? As I have looked though various coral lights, I have noticed that many use fans on the top to, theoretically, cool off the LEDs. My LED strip that came with the Fluval 13.5 is always SUPER HOT to the touch! Its honestly kinda scaring me, I feel like at any second it might catch fire and burn my house down. Should I be worried? Its not really in the budget to upgrade to a good light (yet), but if this is a legitimate hazard then I will find the money to do so (somehow.)

Wow. That was long. And I've only had the tank running for 3 days! Again, any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and I'm sorry if you read this entire thing. Thanks!
I'm using seachem's Aquavitro seed, but that was something of an impulse buy. It's only available in brick and mortar stores, but when my salifert nitrate kit comes in tomorrow or wednesday, I'll be able to tell you how it's been working. Everyone and their mother has recommended Dr. Tim's to me, so I imagine that's your best bet!

Coals are expensive af, aren't they? My lfs in NY sells single polyp frags for $45 minimum... and they're not even that nice. Are there any reef clubs around you? You can always post on craigslist, or maybe even the BSFT forum on here to see if anyone's got affordable frags for sale.

I've got no input for you on the filtration, but I'm curious to see what others say.

My Nicrew LED runs pretty stinkin' hot, too. Not sure if that's a comfort, but you're definitely not alone.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Guess I'm doing daily updates, so here's todays (#4): Nothing has changed! My Dr. Tims is coming tomorrow, so once I'll get that I'm in business, but for now not a lot is happening. I DID have two questions though (I know, I'm sorry - I love questions...)

1.) On Saturday (Dec. 12), a new reef-saltwater fish store is having its grand opening, and the local facebook reef group seems to be planning to have a meet there. From what Ive seen, it looks like people will be personally trading/selling their own frags, which may be my only chance to nab some good corals at a price I can afford. My question is, will the tank be ready? From what I've seen, most people say that the Dr. Tims stuff essentially instantly cycles the tank, so if I dose it tomorrow then monitor the tank and make sure ammonia + nitrites go to 0, would it be OK to try some corals? I really don't want to rush things, so I may just go and see what the deal is with the meet, so I guess i'll just play it by ear.

2.) Can someone ID this? (attached Pic), its like a white hair-like growth that's been on my rocks and even my glass, but its been there since I filled it. I think it might just be dead algae that has died and turned white, but remained attached to the rocks and glass, but if its not please tell me! Thanks!
 

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stoneef22

I'm just along for the ride. I am in the market for this tank. The coral meetup is a great place to meet new hobbyists and they may even help you out with some coral since this is your first saltwater tank and that is what hobbyists love to do. Good luck!
 

Fishproblem

Guess I'm doing daily updates, so here's todays (#4): Nothing has changed! My Dr. Tims is coming tomorrow, so once I'll get that I'm in business, but for now not a lot is happening. I DID have two questions though (I know, I'm sorry - I love questions...)

1.) On Saturday (Dec. 12), a new reef-saltwater fish store is having its grand opening, and the local facebook reef group seems to be planning to have a meet there. From what Ive seen, it looks like people will be personally trading/selling their own frags, which may be my only chance to nab some good corals at a price I can afford. My question is, will the tank be ready? From what I've seen, most people say that the Dr. Tims stuff essentially instantly cycles the tank, so if I dose it tomorrow then monitor the tank and make sure ammonia + nitrites go to 0, would it be OK to try some corals? I really don't want to rush things, so I may just go and see what the deal is with the meet, so I guess i'll just play it by ear.

2.) Can someone ID this? (attached Pic), its like a white hair-like growth that's been on my rocks and even my glass, but its been there since I filled it. I think it might just be dead algae that has died and turned white, but remained attached to the rocks and glass, but if its not please tell me! Thanks!
I love daily updates! Keep 'em coming!

I've heard from some people who have had delayed or zero success with Dr. Tims, even though it's the go-to. I'd be wary of setting up a tank and buying corals for it the next day, ESCPECIALLY if you're on a budget. You'll risk flushing that money (and the corals) down the drain if the Dr. Tims doesn't work as intended, or if you make a beginner mistake early on in setting up. I would go to the meetup and get to know people/ask about their corals and their setups. They're always going to have coral to frag, and if you see something you love, just ask if you can stay in touch so you can get a frag next time it's available! That said, I'm sure there are people who have tossed in some bottled bacteria, added coral, and had no problems. But if you're looking for a deal/to save money on frags, from a beginner perspective I personally don't think it's the safest bet. I'm sure one of our more experienced reefers will chime in with their perspective too!

No clue what the growth on the rocks is, but I'm curious!
 

St4rving_4rtist

Daily Update Day 5 (Has it really only been 5 days?): As expected, the Dr. Tim's One and Only arrived today (4oz), and I dosed about half the bottle into the tank. I have heard that it is possible to overdose and kill fish as the bacteria suck up all the available oxygen while establishing, but since there is nothing in there I just went ahead and dumped it. With the tank, sand, Ammonia Kit, powerhead, RO Salt and RO freshwater, and now Dr. Tims, I've spent around $176.96 total - so pretty much the price of the tank new, out of box.

I'm gonna wait 24 hours and test for ammonia tomorrow, to see how much its lowered, then probably have the LFS do a full check (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate) on Sat. If everything looks good then, I MAY choose to buy fish then and there, but most likely I won't. I think the plan is going to be just monitoring it for the next 20 days. As I explained before, I'm leaving for a week during Christmas from the 22 to the 29, and I don't want to leave a new nanotank running with new fish unattended for a whole week. Probably just gonna suck it up, wait 20 more days and keep feeding the tank ammonia, and start stocking around January. If I start getting Algae buildup, I will probably introduce some hermits or small shrimp in the meantime, but otherwise I feel it best to just wait. Which pains me greatly. Thanks, and shoutout to Fishproblem for consistently helping out so far, its been nice having someone to answer my questions !
 

Fishproblem

Daily Update Day 5 (Has it really only been 5 days?): As expected, the Dr. Tim's One and Only arrived today (4oz), and I dosed about half the bottle into the tank. I have heard that it is possible to overdose and kill fish as the bacteria suck up all the available oxygen while establishing, but since there is nothing in there I just went ahead and dumped it. With the tank, sand, Ammonia Kit, powerhead, RO Salt and RO freshwater, and now Dr. Tims, I've spent around $176.96 total - so pretty much the price of the tank new, out of box.

I'm gonna wait 24 hours and test for ammonia tomorrow, to see how much its lowered, then probably have the LFS do a full check (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphate) on Sat. If everything looks good then, I MAY choose to buy fish then and there, but most likely I won't. I think the plan is going to be just monitoring it for the next 20 days. As I explained before, I'm leaving for a week during Christmas from the 22 to the 29, and I don't want to leave a new nanotank running with new fish unattended for a whole week. Probably just gonna suck it up, wait 20 more days and keep feeding the tank ammonia, and start stocking around January. If I start getting Algae buildup, I will probably introduce some hermits or small shrimp in the meantime, but otherwise I feel it best to just wait. Which pains me greatly. Thanks, and shoutout to Fishproblem for consistently helping out so far, its been nice having someone to answer my questions !
You're reminding me that I need to get a phosphate test kit...
Way to keep it inexpensive so far! I'm impressed! I've handily outspent you already and I've got 11 less gallons to work with.

Very curious to see what your readings are when you get to the LFS.

Waiting hurts, but I hear it's worth it! And thank you warmly for the shoutout. I'm just making mistakes a few steps ahead of you, but I'm glad it's appreciated. I'm happy to not be the only one setting up a new reef. Now we just have to get jkkgron2 moving!
 

jkkgron2

You're reminding me that I need to get a phosphate test kit...
Way to keep it inexpensive so far! I'm impressed! I've handily outspent you already and I've got 11 less gallons to work with.

Very curious to see what your readings are when you get to the LFS.

Waiting hurts, but I hear it's worth it! And thank you warmly for the shoutout. I'm just making mistakes a few steps ahead of you, but I'm glad it's appreciated. I'm happy to not be the only one setting up a new reef. Now we just have to get jkkgron2 moving!
Tank should be arriving tomorrow or the next day!!!
 

St4rving_4rtist

Tank should be arriving tomorrow or the next day!!!
Oooo, exciting! You'll have to make a build journal as well, I'd love to see how your turns out !
 

St4rving_4rtist

Daily Update Number 6!: Its been around 30 hours since I dosed the Dr. Tims one and only, and so far the results seem solid. I tested this morning at around 8:00 when I woke up for school, and the ammonia was still pretty high. But I just retested it when I got back from work, and the levels are lower than this morning, so it is going down. According to the chart, its down to about 0.5mg/l, down from the 2mg/l it was this morning. SO FAR, my review of Dr. Tims would be "yeah, it looks like it works". Lets see if it keeps working...
 

St4rving_4rtist

DAY 7 BABYYYYYYYY!!!: Wow, its been a full week and people are still watching this - crazy! I was GOING to go the reef thing today, but the boss made me come in early, so all I had time to do was drive to my normal LFS to test my water. Turns out, the ammonia is actually pretty low (pretty much trace) and there have been nitrites forming, so it is working! I also paid extra for a phosphate test, and everything was good there, but my KH was a little low, so I bought some Seachem ReefBuilder to raise the KH and pH, although I haven't used it yet. Wanted tp know where you guys kept your KH at before I start dosing.

I also ended up buying a large chunk of cycled live rock, as my tank has been looking a little empty. I also wanted to maybe get some sponges or just get some different media in there and fill out the space. I swear, I go in for a water test and I leave with a bag in each hand lol.

Anyways, thought I'd go ahead and post my parameters while I have the sheet on me, just for future reference: pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0.25, KH: 7, Salinity: 1.026, Phosphate: 0.

Guess I'll stick with my original plan and start feeding some ammonia, then checking to see how fast it can be cycled through. Hopefully this will be done by January. My LFS has some pretty plain but tank-bred clowns that are affordable (like 2/$36), but I guess I just keep waiting... my FAVORITE thing in the world...
 

Fishproblem

DAY 7 BABYYYYYYYY!!!: Wow, its been a full week and people are still watching this - crazy! I was GOING to go the reef thing today, but the boss made me come in early, so all I had time to do was drive to my normal LFS to test my water. Turns out, the ammonia is actually pretty low (pretty much trace) and there have been nitrites forming, so it is working! I also paid extra for a phosphate test, and everything was good there, but my KH was a little low, so I bought some Seachem ReefBuilder to raise the KH and pH, although I haven't used it yet. Wanted tp know where you guys kept your KH at before I start dosing.

I also ended up buying a large chunk of cycled live rock, as my tank has been looking a little empty. I also wanted to maybe get some sponges or just get some different media in there and fill out the space. I swear, I go in for a water test and I leave with a bag in each hand lol.

Anyways, thought I'd go ahead and post my parameters while I have the sheet on me, just for future reference: pH: 8.0, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: 0.25, KH: 7, Salinity: 1.026, Phosphate: 0.

Guess I'll stick with my original plan and start feeding some ammonia, then checking to see how fast it can be cycled through. Hopefully this will be done by January. My LFS has some pretty plain but tank-bred clowns that are affordable (like 2/$36), but I guess I just keep waiting... my FAVORITE thing in the world...
I can't WAIT to see clowns in this tank! I'm pretty sure an RODI system would save you untold dollars in impulse purchases at your LFS, haha.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Not much to say today, but I have noticed some rust-colored algae forming on the sand and rock in spots. I guess most people would see this as an annoyance or problem, but honestly I'm just glad to see that something has actually starting growing in there. It could also mean Nitrates have started to form, so that's pretty rad.

On a side note, the trip was cancelled (which I think was a good call, because of the, you know...global pandemic), so I may be able to add fish sooner than I thought, depending on if I'm confident it can handle the bioload. We'll see!
 

Fishproblem

Not much to say today, but I have noticed some rust-colored algae forming on the sand and rock in spots. I guess most people would see this as an annoyance or problem, but honestly I'm just glad to see that something has actually starting growing in there. It could also mean Nitrates have started to form, so that's pretty rad.

On a side note, the trip was cancelled (which I think was a good call, because of the, you know...global pandemic), so I may be able to add fish sooner than I thought, depending on if I'm confident it can handle the bioload. We'll see!
I've been feeling the same way about my new algae lol. Glad you're staying safe - I was wondering if you'd still be traveling given these *unprecedented times*. My family just cancelled christmas in favor of mailing gifts and hanging out on zoom. The right call, but such a bummer. But also glad there's a silver lining! Maybe you'll get clownfish for the holidays
 

St4rving_4rtist

Allright, been a hot minute since an update so here goes: Haven't really done anything at all to it, honestly. The one thing that's changed is that I've added 2 Blue-Legged hermits to both keep producing ammonia and eat the leftover food I'd been ghost-feeding the tank. My levels are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 Nitrates, so I felt pretty safe with the cycle to add them. They're doing great right now, mostly just moving and grazing. I've also got some greenish algae building up on the glass and sand, I'll probably scrub it off when I do the next water change. Besides that, I'll probably wait another week with the Blue-Legs and if they do fine, I'll look at adding fish then.

Separate Question: I was looking at the benefits of just ditching corals and doing a FOWLR tank. For one, I could keep some cool crustaceans that are normally not reef-safe, and I don't have to worry about trying to keep the water perfect for the corals in a nano-tank. It'll also just be easier and cheaper overall... so I'm actually kinda leaning towards that now. If I DID, what are some cool inverts you guys like I should be on the look for?

Anyways, here's a current pic of the tank. Sorry for the camera quality again! Happy Holidays!
 

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St4rving_4rtist

Fish Update!:

So I did a 20% water change today, and wanted to go get my water checked at the LFS to make sure my salinity was still the same, and to test my parameters. I have had the Blue Legged Hermits in the tank for a week now, and they have been pooping up a storm, and I've even been supplementing with sinking seaweed, so I wanted to see if the tank was handling it. The parameters were all still pretty much 0, and my guy at the store told me I was probably ready to add fish.

After assessing my options, I kinda fell in love with a tiny 6-line wrasse, and although I said I was going to do clowns, I couldn't resist. He/She's currently acclimating, so I can't get a good picture as all of the lights are off, but I'll attach pics when they get settled.

He's really tiny right now, so there will be plenty of swimming room, but I am planning on selling him in the future when he (or if he) ever gets too big.

Im planning on feeding him frozen brine shrimp and mysis shrimp around 2 times a day, but if you have a food suggestion you really like, I'd love to hear it.

Anyways, in other tank news I did some light algae scrubbing to get it off the front pane, cleaned out the sponge filter, ran some ROF over my powerhead, and added a bag of purigen to the filter.

Anyways, sorry for the long post, ill update with pics soon!
 

Jesterrace

YIKES. Is the 6 line going to be the only fish in the tank? They often turn into pescacidal maniacs as they mature.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Yeah, its gonna be the only fish. I'm not trying to do a community tank in a 13.5. It was also one of the only guys in my price range they had. They said they were gonna be a little aggressive, but I hoped it be fine since he'd be alone with some inverts.
 

Jesterrace

Yeah, its gonna be the only fish. I'm not trying to do a community tank in a 13.5. It was also one of the only guys in my price range they had. They said they were gonna be a little aggressive, but I hoped it be fine since he'd be alone with some inverts.

He should be fine as the only fish. There are some rare cases of them going after inverts, but the biggest concern with them by far is as community fish. On the bright side they will help perform pest removal services for your corals. Just be sure to keep the lid firmly on since Wrasses can jump.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Here's a picture of him like promised - He is so cool! I swear he has already shown more personality then almost all the freshwater fish I've kept. He's also already eating the frozen brine-shrimp i piped in for him!
 

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Jesterrace

Here's a picture of him like promised - He is so cool! I swear he has already shown more personality then almost all the freshwater fish I've kept. He's also already eating the frozen brine-shrimp i piped in for him!

Wrasses of any kind have among the most amazing personalities of any fish out there. Being a Wrasse enthusiast myself (I have a Melanurus and a Blue Star Leopard in my 90), I get it. As a matter of fact I just did a vid naming Wrasses as the most underrated Family in the Hobby.
 

St4rving_4rtist

Quick question this morning, may have a problem, when I woke up and started feeding the 6-line today I noticed that his left eye has what looks like a whitish-blue tint or sheen to it, almost like a cataract but really unnoticeable unless you're looking strait at it. I've been looking online to try to figure out what it was, and it seems to either be bacterial or actual cataracts. I'm just not sure what to do about it...
 

Jesterrace

Quick question this morning, may have a problem, when I woke up and started feeding the 6-line today I noticed that his left eye has what looks like a whitish-blue tint or sheen to it, almost like a cataract but really unnoticeable unless you're looking strait at it. I've been looking online to try to figure out what it was, and it seems to either be bacterial or actual cataracts. I'm just not sure what to do about it...

My Pajama Cardinalfish had something similar for a while and it honestly went away on it's own. It is possible it's the start of popeye disease.
 

St4rving_4rtist

My Pajama Cardinalfish had something similar for a while and it honestly went away on it's own. It is possible it's the start of popeye disease.

Ok thanks, I'm hoping it will just go away on its own but I'll monitor to see if it turns into popeye. I don't want to dose medication strait into my main tank, so I'll have to figure out how to set up a quarantine tank if it starts noticeably popping out.

Edit: Looked at some more info, I'm hoping that since its just one eye it might have been because he was getting picked on in his old tank. He was in a pretty small case with some more wrasse's and other fish, and since he's so small I would probably think bullying might of been the cause.
 

Jesterrace

Ok thanks, I'm hoping it will just go away on its own but I'll monitor to see if it turns into popeye. I don't want to dose medication strait into my main tank, so I'll have to figure out how to set up a quarantine tank if it starts noticeably popping out.

Edit: Looked at some more info, I'm hoping that since its just one eye it might have been because he was getting picked on in his old tank. He was in a pretty small case with some more wrasse's and other fish, and since he's so small I would probably think bullying might of been the cause.

Definitely possible.
 

Fishproblem

Here's a picture of him like promised - He is so cool! I swear he has already shown more personality then almost all the freshwater fish I've kept. He's also already eating the frozen brine-shrimp i piped in for him!
what a beautiful fish! I hope you're enjoying him
I bet the eye will clear up with clean water, just keep watch over it. I hope he's settling in well!
 

St4rving_4rtist

Hey guys, been about a week since an update, so I'll go ahead and make one:

My little 6-line wrasse is doing great, he comes out and hides a lot less than when I first got him. Unfortunately, the whiteish spot on his eye hasn't gone away, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him - he is still swimming normally and has a big appetite.

The hermits are also fine, although they seem to hide a lot more now. I'm not sure if the wrasse is picking on them, as I have never seen him show interest in the crabs as far as I can see.

I've also gotten quite a bit of algae growth on the glass of the tank, mostly towards the side by the window but its still a little annoying. I have an algae scraper brush I use to keep it down, but I think I'm going to look into getting some snails to help out. I just don't know if I have enough to keep them from starving.

I trying to figure out what I want to continue stocking this with, and so far I think I'm probably just going to do 1 fire shrimp and 2-3 emerald crabs. I also kinda wanted to do a symbiotic goby-pistol shrimp setup, which seems really cool, but if they choose a back corner of the tank I feel like I'd never see them. Also worried about the wrasse bullying the goby...

Anyways, I'm going to the LFS to get fresh saltwater, a water test, and possibly a critter, so I'll update with water parameters and tank shots once I get the algae scrubbed off the front. Hope you guys had a great holiday!
 

Jesterrace

In that tank the Wrasse will have to be your only fish as it is very likely to bully a goby in a tank that small and given that the Wrasse was added first. As mentioned above, once you add a 6 line to a nano you are generally done with stocking fish unless you remove it. I wouldn't do a fire shrimp as it's not likely to get enough to eat in a tank that size. I would look at something like a sexy shrimp as it would be better suited to that size of tank. Emerald Crabs can be opportunists for corals, so if you have any plans for corals (particularly for Zoanthids) I would eliminate them from the list. Look into a left handed hermit crab as they are unique in color and appearance (orange and blue legs and antennae and a larger left claw) , are better behaved in reef tanks and cost less to boot.

Here is an example of a decent sized lefty I used to have:

 

St4rving_4rtist

In that tank the Wrasse will have to be your only fish as it is very likely to bully a goby in a tank that small and given that the Wrasse was added first. As mentioned above, once you add a 6 line to a nano you are generally done with stocking fish unless you remove it. I wouldn't do a fire shrimp as it's not likely to get enough to eat in a tank that size. I would look at something like a sexy shrimp as it would be better suited to that size of tank. Emerald Crabs can be opportunists for corals, so if you have any plans for corals (particularly for Zoanthids) I would eliminate them from the list. Look into a left handed hermit crab as they are unique in color and appearance (orange and blue legs and antennae and a larger left claw) , are better behaved in reef tanks and cost less to boot.

Thanks for the advice, the more I look into corals and caring for them the less I want to keep them. They look so cool in huge tanks when they've been growing for years, but I'm gonna be going to college soon anyways, and will probably have to tear down my stuff, so I don't want to start growing a whole reef just to tear it down. I think i'm just gonna go full FOWLR and ditch corals altogether, maybe add some peppermint shrimp or even a chocolate chip starfish, although I read they eat other inverts...

I also just got back with 3 turban snails and 2 emerald crabs for extra algae control (and they look cool). I'll supplement both of them with some dried seaweed as well, just for good measure. They seem to all be doing fine, the wrasse keeps coming to inspect the crabs, but he seems chill with them. Side note, water parameters are all good, just had to buffer the pH and KH a little. The current temp. is 76 degrees, as Its pretty cold in my room. Might crank the heater up a little.

Important Question!!!:
My wrasse needs a NAME! I can't just keep calling him "the wrasse". Would love some name suggestions from ya'll!
 

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Jesterrace

No starfish (barring the little pest asterina ones) is well suited for a nano tank. They simply can't get enough to eat and get too big (Chocolate Chip Starfish get around a foot in size). I would say your tank is pretty well stocked as is. Not sure if the peppermints will become emerald crab food or not and generally people get them to help out with aiptasia problems. You could also look into sexy shrimp as they are fun to watch and have a more unique color pattern.

As for the Wrasse, many former 6 line owners are partial to the "Spawn Of Satan" name.
 

St4rving_4rtist

No starfish (barring the little pest asterina ones) is well suited for a nano tank. They simply can't get enough to eat and get too big (Chocolate Chip Starfish get around a foot in size). I would say your tank is pretty well stocked as is. Not sure if the peppermints will become emerald crab food or not and generally people get them to help out with aiptasia problems. You could also look into sexy shrimp as they are fun to watch and have a more unique color pattern.

I really love how the sexy shrimp look, but no-where nearby carries them! After I was first recommended them early on I looked around, but both of the LFS near me didn't have them and said they weren't likely to get any. The closest looking was a Harlequin Clown Shrimp, which is a mantis shrimp, but they looked really cool (and had a hefty $60 price tag)

But I think you're right about stocking limit, I've only had them a couple hours and there is already a TON of poop on the ground. I'm gonna check my water again to make sure I don't overload the bio-filter.
 

St4rving_4rtist

The Final Update (probably) - 1 Month Edition: It's a long one...

Hey guys
, since today marks the 30th day since I started this build journal/rant thread and a new year has began, I feel that today works as a pretty good ending point. At the moment, I'm happy with where my tank is at and its current occupants, so as long as everything stays stable there won't be a need for more updates, So I'm gonna do one big conclusion, including a price breakdown and my own thoughts/feelings. (TL;DR at bottom )

First off, it was surprisingly easy to get this tank up and rolling. Sure, it took a good bit of research and a few necessary purchases, but all-in-all it wasn't that bad. I had always seen and been told saltwater aquariums are the devil incarnate in fish keeping, but it really wasn't as hard as it was cracked up to be (it did help that because of COVID i'm doing completely online school, so I had plenty of time to devote to it.) The current maintenance is pretty easy, just changing out 30% of the water and vacing the sand once a week, rinsing off the filter sponge and carbon in the old saltwater, and doing a single weekly freshwater top-off. I also go get my water checked after every water change, just to keep weekly tabs on the levels and make sure the salinity isn't too high/low. But that's really it, I used to scrub off algae, but the turban snails have done a great job of cleaning it off the glass, so I leave it for them to eat.

In terms of livestock, I've got a pretty effective COC and the 6-line wrasse is a personal favorite fish now. I sit with the tank on my desk, so she (I found out its a she) constantly comes up to the glass to check me out or beg for food (I feed her a squirt of frozen brine-shrimp twice a day). She used to hide all the time when I first got her, but she is now constantly flitting around the tank and checking things out. She does still have the white eye-thing, but since it hasn't gotten better or worse, I'm still just keeping an eye on it. The emerald crabs are super effective at cleaning the rock, though - the one rock was completely covered in green algae, but after 2 days it was almost all gone. My two original hermits are also still hanging out, but I rarely see them.

Equipment-wsie, I feel the current setup is fine. Since I have forgone the temptation of corals, the basic lights on the Fluval Evo work great and are nice and bright, while also allowing me to have a lid to keep wrasse from jumping and it keeps evaporation low. I've seen people suggesting upgrading the pump, but it also seems to move water fine enough, along with my cheap powerhead. All-in-all, everything I have bought for the current setup (tank, livestock, extras) has cost me around $270, which is pretty good all-around. Here's the price breakdown:

-Used Tank, Pump, Heater, Lighting, Rock: $70
-Caribsea Aragonite Dry Sand: $23
-Aquatop MaxFlow MCP-1 Powerhead: $25
-RO Salt and Freshwater (20g Salt, 5g Fresh): $36
-1 Chunk Live Rock: $20
- Bag Purigen: $8
- All Livestock: $60
- Saltwater Ammonia Kit: $21
-Seachem Reef Builder: $13
Total: $276

Sorry for how lengthy this was, just wanted to make sure everything was included. I think it's been an informative and enjoyable process, especially since I haven't had any unfortunate deaths or big setbacks - everything has gone pretty smoothly. In the future, once I get my own place and a lot more space, I think I'll definitely put some money aside and try to do a large reef set-up with an actual refugium and RO system, but for now this scratches that salty itch I've had for a while. Thanks to everyone whos helped out so far!

TL;DR: Setting up and researching this tank was an enjoyable experience, great introduction to saltwater keeping. All the livestock are doing well, but may change it out in the future. It cost me $270 total (roughly), and I feel that the small FOWLR setup is nice, but may want to do a large scale reef in the future.
 

Jesterrace

The funny thing is that the people who talk about them being incredibly hard to keep usually fit into one of the following groups:

1) They have no experience keeping saltwater and just regurgitating bad information that they have heard

2) They jumped into saltwater both feet first without doing any research and literally followed the noob's blueprint for failure (ie tried to set it up like a freshwater tank and just add salt)

3) They tried doing SPS Corals right off the bat and failed miserably when they couldn't keep up with the demands of most demanding corals out there.

It's a non-stop battle for me to convince all of the aforementioned folks that FOWLR or the easier to keep corals really isn't that hard if you take the time to research it and do it right. I would gladly take most Saltwater FOWLR setups over the likes of a Freshwater CO2 infused planted setup.
 

Fishproblem

Wow! I hope you don't leave this thread completely, I'd love to see updates in a couple of months. I'm glad you're enjoying the tank!
 

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