14gal Nano Reef Build

  • #1
I'm making this post the official journal of this tank and will update it as often as possible. This first post will expand as the tank grows and as I add livestock, it will also contain the most recent FTS of the tank so you won't have to scroll through the entire thread.

  • Tank: PicO Aquariums 15x15" low iron cube
  • Filtration: Small Aquafuge 2 HOB Refugium
  • Heater: Cobalt Neotherm 50W (Inside of Aquafuge)
  • Water movement: Vortech MP10
  • Lighting: Radion XR15w Pro
  • Skimmer: Eshopps PSK-75H
  • ATO: Tunze Nano ATO
  • Substrate: Bare bottom
  • Live Rock: Of course
  • Fish: 2 Onyx Clownfish
  • Coral: SPS dominated, 2 LPS brains and a frag of Zoas

Current FTS:



Past FTS and humble beginnings:



Stay tuned for more!
  • #2
Looking forward to following along Slug!
  • #3
Can not wait to see it process
Tigress Hill
  • #4
  • #5
I'll be following this thread.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Nothing really to report. I've been scrounging the house looking for all sorts of parts to use, even if it saves me $1 lol. Found a power cord and some rocker switches. Also found some unused substrate from my last Saltwater tank years ago. Its been bagged up and looks to be a perfect grain size, so I've decided to use that.....will save me $20+ in the long run.

Busy week ahead with work, and then drill on the weekend.....doesn't look like I'll get much done tank wise.
I keep fish
  • #7
Cant wait to see this when its done!

  • #8
will you be getting a nano chiller for it?
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  • #9
No chiller, useless expense IMO.
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  • #10
Light supplies are ordered, few other things like filter/heater etc will be ordered tonight probably. Then next week (next pay check) I'll order the rest of the stuff. Trying to do this the responsible way for once, instead of saying oh....$600 sure, boom, drop it and be dead in the water for a while. Spread it out!

This is real now!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Looks like this may be more slow developing then I originally thought. It will probably be late April/early May before the tank even sees water in it. My very last (finally!) Annual training for the Marines goes in April (2 weeks) and I figure it would be smart for me to wait until after that to start the tank so I can be there and not start it and leave for 2 weeks. I'm going to build the light as soon as I can though, the parts should come in this week and next week however I have drill next weekend and no idea when a day off will come to build it. So hang tight!

By the time the tank is ready to go I should have a good budget for some frags/livestock when that time comes.
Tigress Hill
  • #12
Good luck with your training!
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
I'd love to update everyone on this, but days off are a myth and don't really exist so I haven't done anything else so far. I think I need a new job.....
  • #14
Haha poor slug it will get better I swear!!!
  • #15
Looks like some sort of time traveling device.
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  • #16
If I had that Mike I wouldn't have to worry about days off.....I'd be insanely rich and retired! Lol
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  • #17
So I finally found some time to finish building the lights. I must say, LED fixtures can hurt your eyes they are so bright but this fixture is on another level. All of the colors are so crisp that it literally Hurts to look at it lol the blues and violets especially, going to make the tank look great. Unfortunately the video I wanted to make showing how didn't turn out the way I wanted so for now it's scrapped. The next thing on the to do list is to get a mat for the tank to sit on and build a way to hang the light without drilling the wall or the ceiling. I have some ideas but we shall see.

Also, been contemplating upgrading to a 15x15x15 tank which would double the gallons of this current tank. So that's a decision to come soon as well.

  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Just wanted to update. Pulled the trigger on the 15x15x15 cube. Rimless and all sides low iron glass. It's being built right now, should have the tank in a matter of weeks. I've updated the first post to reflect the changes to the tank.

Going to stick with the light I built, don't think the 3" extra will cause me any problems. If it does I will just add more LEDs to the heat sink.
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Here are some photos of where its going....at least until I get a PicO stand for it, which are currently in development.

Thinking about putting 5% window tint on the back of the tank, not full black but not going to show wires or the filter either. Its easily removable and won't leave any residue on the glass as well. Don't worry about the hand prints on the glass, will get those off before I fill it up! DIY full spectrum LED above it, bent conduit light hanger screwed to the stand. Still have to do some wire management but this is it so far. Got it sitting on some black neoprene cut to size ontop of the wood. Same stuff I used for my 100gal rimless from Miracles
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  • #20
Picked up a nice piece of live rock from a local shop that a local club cookout was held at, was a good size and shape for my tank. Came with some polyps and mushrooms attached and found 3 snails that snuck in. Using it to get my tank going, had the mindset that if everything lives great. So far everything is doing well even through tank startup/cycle. Snails are always out foraging, polyps opening up a bit, and mushrooms seem to be enjoying themselves.
  • #21
I like the simplicity of it.
Can't wait for more pics.
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Thanks. It will get more complex lol, just needed some rock to get it going. I plan to add a bit more rock soon, and I'm installing my auto top off either today or tomorrow.
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  • #23
Set up my auto top off today. I'm so giddy about it. I've always had to top off the tank myself but for $100 I've now automated that process. And a 5gal bucket reservoir should last me quite a while. Perfect timing to because I'm headed to the beach on Sunday for a couple of days. This thing is awesome for a small tank like this where a little evaporation could cause trouble with the pumps, filters, powerheads, etc.
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  • #24
Just wanted to update this. My full clean up crew should be here either tomorrow or more likely Friday. Coming from Reef Cleaners. Had a big hair algae outbreak during the cycle but its dying down now....very quickly actually. Things are looking really good, water is clear, hitchhiking coral is open and doing well. I'm happy with it so far. I still want to add some more rock, and that will come soon as well.

I hate having expensive hobbies. So many things I want but can only get so many at one time. Do I want new wheels for the car or more reef/discus first??
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  • #25
Picked up a few more pieces of rock today. Found some more coral hitch hikers and a ruby mithrax crab. Heres what the tank looks like currently. All the coral you see cam attached to the rocks.

Only livestock right now is inverts. Snails, ruby mithrax crab, and what looked like a small urchin attached to one of the rocks....we'll see if that makes it. Not sure which rock it was under.
  • #26
Hey Slug.. any new updates/pictures on the next level of updates?
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Took some pictures yesterday, I'll try and get them uploaded tonight! I need more frags! Everything is going good though. Had a bit of a hair algae problem, pulled it out last WC so lets hope the CUC can handle the rest. Surprisingly my SPS coral is doing better than my softies (Zoas).

  • #28
This is exactly what I wanted to build in my 8 gal..... looks amazing without fish or anything!
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
Thanks, I have tons of snails and have an awesome urchin that I got as a hitchhiker. That's really the only moving life in there. I wouldn't mind having some shrimp at some point....cleaners maybe? Maybe some Sexy Shrimp.

If I do get fish the first one I'd get is a tailspot blenny.
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
Heres my latest updated photos. Sorry they are so bad, its SO hard to take pictures under LEDs. You can see my MontI cap really doing well, I have a green slimer on the bottom that I will eventually move up. Acans are behind the slimer on the bottom against the rock. Zoas all over the rocks and 2 frags of purple death palys beside the slimer. I have a brain that hitch hiked on my rock that I nursed back to health on the smaller front rocks, doing VERY well. Also on that front rock is my GSP that is not open as this was just after a WC. Couple of mushrooms on the rock and you can see my urchin in those photos, probably the coolest part of my tank atm lol.

Still a lot of growing to do but doing well.




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  • #31
Very nice - looks great!
  • #32
Nice job Slug
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
I'll have to get an updated shot soon. I've decided to go SPS dominated with this tank....make things as easy as possibly ya know....nano tank, sps coral..... LOL Anyway I have started dosing Bionic two part and have a order of coral frags coming in tomorrow morning from a well known guy on a large reef forum. I have coming tomorrow:

Copps’ Aussie Azure stag
Copps’ Hulk milli
Tyree LE BalI Tricolor Acro
Copps’ purple slimer formosa stag
Copps’ Bright Green Efflo
CITR Red Dragon

In addition to my current SPS coral list:

BalI Green Slimer
Orange MontI Cap
Purple Polyp Green MontI Cap
BonsaI Acro
  • Thread Starter
  • #34
Total loss of life. So much for those corals listed above. I'm sick to my stomach. I got careless and the LFS screwed me hardcore.

Went to get Saltwater last Tuesday as I have such a small tank premixed is so much easier. Well turns out what I really got was Freshwater instead. I got careless and didn't check, had no reason to since its never happened before. Did my WC and went to eat/relax for a bit. Came back and the tank was already dying. Crashed all my params and sent the tank into shock.

Fast forward to today, most of the coral is dead/bleached and it looks like a complete loss of life. I've got the tank running now on Saltwater I've mixed myself, if something pulls through great, if not then I've already accepted that fact. I should of tested the water before, that's my fault. But what kind of idiot LFS gives me freshwater after I ask for saltwater.

I'll be restarting this after Christmas, and not stepping foot in that LFS.

With that all said, Lessons cost money, good ones cost a lot. I just got a dang good lesson. Thankful to have my health and the ability to spend money on this hobby though when a lot of people are struggling out there. I'm now going to go enjoy Christmas with the family and deal with the tank at a later date. The tank can always be restarted. Merry Christmas all!
  • #35
Aw man sorry to hear that. Yeah don't worry about any of it over the holidays. Spend time with the fam.
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
Thanks Mike. The good thing is this will give me an excuse to finally move the tank onto its own stand like I've wanted to and possibly add in a sump and other goodies. Some tweaks and upgrades if you will.

Also the good news is what I was doing before this was working perfectly as the coral was growing, the SPS was looking great, I had a good system going so I now know I can do it again just better.
  • #37
Dang Slug! Sorry to hear.

Enjoy the time with the family.
  • #38
Oh Slug, that's just terrible!
  • #39
Reopening thread
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
Thanks Mike!

This tank is back up and running, fairly restocked with coral and doing great. Gotta get a FTS soon, for now heres a coral macro of one of my stonys.


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