2.5 Gallon Pico Reef

Fishproblem

Hey Fishlore! As a freshwater hobbyist, this has been an incredible place to learn, talk, and experiment. As some of you my have noticed, I've lurked on the salty side for a while too. Culprit Lchi87 Nart and stella1979 have all been so informative and encouraging, just by sharing their journeys and being so involved with the forum community. I've been encouraged and inspired by all of you, and have learned so much. I've read and learned all I possibly can from you guys about reefing, and have read through countless websites and threads elsewhere, too. Though I may not be ready to run a reef tank (especially such a challenging size) I am ready to try! My best opportunity right now to start learning about reefs in a hands on way is with this little tank. I understand that a pico reef is ill-advised for a beginner, and that it will probably be totally consuming. But I want to try. I can learn a lot by reading and watching videos, and I have, but I'm pretty incapable of crystallizing the many facts I've learned into useful, practical knowledge, until I get hands on. And I'm dying to get hands on. Enter the pico reef.

I want to give back to Fishlore as much as Fishlore has given to me, so through all the trial and error and experimentation of this build, I want to comprehensively document it here in this thread. Maybe it will become a useful source of knowledge for beginners with the same questions as me! Maybe it will become a masterclass in what not to do, with the many reasons why carefully documented as I fail (I really hope not, but I'm aware it's not an unlikely outcome). Maybe this all sounds a bit lofty for a foolhardy endeavor. But I really hope that you guys will stick with me along the way as I plan the build, collect the gear, and learn as much as I can. I may be a pain in the behind about a few things - ideas that I've had that I really want to try, just to see what happens for myself. I hope you can bear with me even if I'm sometimes stubborn to the point of self destruction.

With allllll that said, here's a picture of an empty tank. It's tiny, but there's still an awful lot of potential there. Up next: lots of questions, and a basic plan.


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2.5 Gallon Pico: The Basic Plan

Alright folks, let's get into it. Beyond being able to tell me "you can't do a pico tank in general" now you get to ALSO tell me, "you can't do that specifically". I can't wait, can you?

My basic plan is to run an uncrowded tank with 1-3 species of beginner-friendly corals. I plan to create a relatively bare scape that allows for easy cleaning. Think more iwagumi rock garden than jam-packed coral extravaganza. I will absolutely include a sand substrate, because that's important to me aesthetically. I don't want a deep sand bed, and don't think it's realistic to have in a tank this size anyway (correct me if I'm wrong please!).

My visual cues and aesthetic trends toward the freshwater aquascaping world. Clean lines and concealed equipment is important to me. To that end, I want my inflow and outflow to be glass lily pipes. The gentle irregularity of flow caused by a spin outflow lily pipe is appealing to me, and I think would be good for some corals. I don't have space for a sump. I don't want a refugium hanging off the side of the tank like an ugly dialysis machine. I have come across some pico and nano builds that rely exclusively on a pump and water changes, and I appreciate that simplicity. However, I also like the idea of a chaeto reactor. I think I can diy a setup that acts as an external chaeto reactor that attaches inline to the inflow and outflow. I want to use a canister filter to do this. I know that those two words, "canister filter," are anathema in this side of the hobby. I understand that they can and do become nitrate sinks and crash tanks. However, I want to run this canister devoid of any media, as a glorified water pump. No media, no trays = nothing to trap nitrates, right? The specific canister that I'm looking at for this tank is the ZooMed Turtle Clean 15. With its (mostly) clear plastic canister, I'm thinking I should even be able to turn it into something of a diy chaeto reactor with lights against the exterior. I do fear the idea of the chaeto mechanically trapping more waste than it can process, but I do so badly want to try this idea, or a version of it. The beauty of a canister this small, and without media and trays, is that it's no longer a hassle to maintain, any more than a hob (in my opinion, and I own and maintain both). I wouldn't mind opening this thing up 2-4 times a month.

I want my corals to come from the same place, a habit I've picked up from my interest in biotope style aquariums. And now, for the big, far out reach goal: I would prefer for these corals to be from a region that sexy shrimp are also endemic to. Yeah, I do dream of stocking this tank with sexy shrimp. I have zero intention of doing so until I've built much more knowledge and experience, and have accomplished stability. If that never happens, shrimp never happen. But in the meantime, I'm planning for the tank I want, not the one that will be easiest not to kill in the first few weeks.

2.5 Gallon Pico: The Initial Questions
I am researching all of these questions, not just lazily posting them here, to you guys. I'll update with answers I find elsewhere. There are certainly many more questions to come. This is only the beginning!

What kind of light should I get? I'm working on a bit of a budget, and I'm feeling perfectly fine with lower light corals, provided they fit the sexy-shrimp-biotope-bill. I like the look and the reviews on the NICREW 30 Watt Reef LED, with the control. Has anyone used it? Does anyone have positive experiences with similar lights around that price range? ($75 for light and control)

Is live rock worth it? I've read a LOT about how for some successful nano and pico reefers, aged live rock and the benthic life it contains is absolute gospel. I can see the appeal, and my gut wants me to take that route. But what do you all think? Is really good live rock worth the risk? Are there sources that can be, within reason, truly trusted to not contain unwanted pests like aiptasia, or worse?

Chaeto? Or Chemipure Elite? Again, my gut trends toward nature, so chaeto appeals (especially as a planted tank person). Does it come down to personal preference? Are there studies on which is better at removing nitrate and phosphate from the water column?

How much light does chaeto need to grow?
 Can it thrive in light 24/7?

What sand is best for a tiny tank like this? I want something that doesn't blow all over, but I'm also not a uge fan of the really chunky stuff. Are there preferred brands? Does live sand make a meaningful difference?

I saw a lovely pico tank that uses Brightwell Aquatics NeoMarine salt mix with 2 100% water changes a week (3 a week in the initial months). I want to use that because I like the proof of concept. But is there a superior salt?

How much ventilation to add to my lid? I'm building a tight fitting glass lid for this tank to prevent salinity swings from evaporation. (I'll also be topping off daily.) I understand that this can negatively affect gas exchange. So I'll be drilling ventilation holes into the plastic parts of the lid. Are there examples of lids like this that work well that I can model the amount of ventilation after?

What kind of corals would be well-suited to this setup? I don't want a gsp takeover, and I love pulsing xenia (a LOT), but I fear the same there. Truly, any coral would have me pleased as punch. What do you all think would be beautiful and has a strong chance of success, without my regretting a fast growing nuisance down the line?

What Corals Will Work?

The first question I have to answer, I'm discovering, is what corals I want to keep in this tank. This feels a bit counter-intuitive, because it's not the first thing that will be going into the tank - not by a long shot. I thought that water was going to be the first issue, and that I'd be first deciding what salt mix was right for me. However, I've learned that the right salt mix (and so many other things) is very much dependent on the corals it will be sustaining. So, which corals will those be? I have a list of requirements for the corals I'll be stocking, and I'm going to do my best to choose coral that best satisfy them.
  1. These corals have to be from the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Madeira, or the Canary Islands - the same distribution as the sexy shrimp.
  2. The corals have to be as unfussy as is possible. I'm a beginner, so the more forgiving the better.
  3. These corals will (hopefully) not grow so quickly that fragging and removal won't become an awful chore.
  4. These corals will hopefully have potential as hosts for sexy shrimp, as the usual hosts - anemones - are not an option.

The article on Sexy Shrimp in Tropical Fishkeeper Magazine very helpfully states the following:

I’ve had them spend time within the polyps of Duncan’s coral (Duncanopsammia axifuga), and they are known to adopt green star polyps (Pachyclavularia sp.), clove polyps (Clavularia sp.), and even mushrooms (Discosoma sp.). [1]

I find it interesting that Aspinall said "even" mushrooms here, as the Wikipedia page on Thor amboinensis specifically mentions mushrooms and no other corals, and cites a research paper which includes information on this relationship as observed in the wild. The specific coral is Heliofungia actiniformis, which I guess is unsurprising given its anemone-like qualities.[2] Unfortunately, from what I'm reading, I think this is probably the least well-suited mushroom for a beginner, or for pico reef. Also, it's classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, so I'd only feel comfortable purchasing an expensive aquaculture. At 8" across, I don't think it'll do the trick for my tiny tank. Bummer. The Discosoma that Aspinall mentioned is less traditionally 'nem-like, but it is a cool coral (aren't they all?) and is apparently beginner friendly. Again, though, they get pretty big.

However, there are a few other sources that mention different options. Microcosm Aquarium Explorer apparently references the book "The 101 Best Marine Invertebrates: How to Choose & Keep Hardy, Beautiful, Fascinating Species That Will Thrive in Your Aquarium" when it says:

The Sexy Shrimp is fond of establishing residence on Bubble Corals and Euphyllia spp.[3]

But of all the Euphyllia spp., the only small one I've come across online is Euphyllia cristata, the Grape Cristata Coral. It seems to actually be a good fit for a nano tank, if not for an absolute newbie to reefing like me. LiveAquaria sells an aquacultured specimen. I'm not super certain I feel great about jumping into things with this guy, though I think it's super cool.

Ricordea florida is from regions where sexy shrimp also inhabit, and they're also gorgeous, and small - I think these guys are just so beautiful. And a good beginner coral! I think I may have to plan for these on the sand bed of this setup, with maybe one other coral on the rockwork. Ricordea florida and Euphylia cristata are from very different locales, so I can only have one. I think I might start my tiny reef with Ricordea florida, as the easier coral to succeed with (as much as I've read, at least!). I would love suggestions on another coral to pair with the Ricordea. In the meantime, I'll be doing more research.

I won't spam everybody, so that's all for today. I'll try to get to posting about thoughts on a second coral tomorrow. If any of this has sparked a thought, or you have advice or insights, I'd love to hear it.




1. Aspinall, R. (2012, August). Keeping Sexy Shrimp. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from Sexy Shrimp Care | Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine
2. Bos, Arthur & Hoeksema, Bert. (2015). Cryptobenthic fishes and co-inhabiting shrimps associated with the mushroom coral Heliofungia actiniformis (Fungiidae) in the Davao Gulf, Philippines. Environmental Biology of Fishes. 98. 1479-1489. 10.1007/s10641-014-0374-0.
3. MICROCOSM, Ltd., M. (2015, April 7). Sexy Shrimp. Retrieved October 27, 2020, from Sexy Shrimp - Microcosm Aquarium Explorer


What Corals Will Work?: A Brief Update

Didn't get to sit down for a lot of research yesterday, but I did manage a lot of daydreaming about corals... and I discovered Sun Corals, Tubastra aurea. Wow. So so beautiful, and absolutely fascinating. I'd love to have one in this tank. I spent some time thinking about building a cave just for one to have a place to live, but I think with my size constraints and the daily feeding, it would be a stretch. If anyone thinks it wouldn't be unreasonable to try keeping it though, please change my mind!

In the meantime, I've been looking for some resource where I can search for corals that are available in the aquarium hobby by region. I think I'm set on the Ricordea, but I'd really like to have another coral for the rockwork, especially something that has some nice movement. This limits me to corals native to the relatively small area pictured here:


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This distribution map is from the WoRMS Database for Thor amboinesis, and also perfectly lines up with their distribution map for Ricordea florida. I am not a scientist, and I really need to learn how to use the search functions on these databases to find the information I need.

For the time being, that's all. If you want to find me, I'll be learning to use databases and thinking about Zoanthids.

What Corals Will Work? Well, a few actually... (?)

WHOA. So I've been puttering around the internet trying to figure out what a reasonable, realistic coral neighbor would be for my future Ricordea. I love the look and idea of a happy, colorful little Zoa garden, and they're also native to the region Ricordea are from. Cool! I've so far been hitting a wall trying to find a good place to look for corals by region, but then I found an article on Reef Builder about Rics. And then, I searched their site for "Caribbean". What a success. Articles and videos about Caribbean corals and the natural reefs abound. Here is a list I've made of some Caribbean corals, with some relevant info regarding suitability for my pico reef.

Staghorn Coral Acropora cervicornis
Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmata
I've found these two to be described as "fast growing" at 2-4" annually. I feel like if that were the case in my tank, I'd be fragging twice a year. I don't think that sounds bad, but maybe it is? They're super cool but seem a bit hard to keep for a beginner, and I don't think I'll have high enough flow for them.

Great Star Coral Montastrea
Far too large? Not available anyway.

Smooth Flower Coral Eusmilia
I found one online vendor who had a single specimen. They don't seem to be very available, and care info is not readily available either. Not for me!

Cactus Coral Mycetophyllia
I can't really find a lot about these guys in aquariums and I do not think I'd be able to find one or maintain it.

Boulder Star Coral and Mountainous Star Coral Orbicella
Pretty much the same deal as the Great Star Coral.

Basically of these, Acros are the only ones that people really keep in aquariums as far as I can tell. I think Acros are very attractive, but I'm also not comfortable keeping them yet.

So, on to the more viable candidates. I think Zoas are it. They need higher flow, and I believe a bit more light than Ricordea, but I think that should fine so long as I keep the Zoa rock near the outflow and the Ricordea farther away.

Then there are the sun corals. I'm in love, I hate to say it. They're just so stinking cool. Maybe I will have to build a ledge for one to hide under anyway. I'm going to need to read more about their care, and how difficult it is to feed them. I understand that each polyp needs direct feeding every day. Maybe I'll just get a small one and frag as often as I need to... the OceanBox solo frag racks seem awesome to have for when I have to frag a coral and then find a home for the frag(s). If I'm lucky, this project will be successful enough that I'll need to put them on next year's Christmas list.

Finally, the non-coral contender... the Rock Flower Anemone. I'd love to have an anemone in here that the potential shrimp could host. Also, RFAs are super cool (who doesn't want an anemone!?), and I think pretty compatible with these other ideas. Of course, I'll look into compatibility further.

I've read plenty of accounts of RFAs moving around a bit before they settle down. So if I go for one, should I add it first, and see where it lands before adding anyone else? From what I can tell, I should actually start with Ricordea, then Zoas, thennnn probably RFA last? I don't know enough to be sure.

My heart tells me that I can't have all four. I know for certain that Ricordea are for me. That means either RFAs, Zoas, or Sun Coral is getting the axe. Realistically, I think I should probably go with Ricordea, Zoas, and a single RFA. Maybe if this all goes swimmingly and I somehow master the pico reef, I can take on the Sun Corals then. This is all pretty pedestrian beginner stuff as far as I can tell, but they fit together (I think) and also fit the bill for what I'm looking to do. Thanks for bearing with my incredibly long, multi-part journey to get here. I'm having fun doing the research now that it has a defined purpose, and like I said - I'm writing it all down for posterity.

So there it is. Now I have my stock, I can figure out what lighting and salt mix they'll need before I set up and cycle the tank, and choose my hardscape materials(!). Unless, that is, if any of you beautiful Fishloreans want to jump in and tell me that's a terrible plan. And naturally, I'll be researching this combination of corals again to be certain, but I don't think I'll come across any compatibility surprises.

I would so love to hear from anyone interested in sharing input. I'm happy to keep writing here in my diary, but Fishlore is for doing this with friends! Maybe pictures will help... I guess I'll have to choose my hardscape materials so I can get started on taking photos for you guys.

Tomorrow I'm going to work on picking substrate and rocks, and a heater. I'm eager to get that much closer to adding water!
 

Fishproblem

Hardscape Materials for the 2.5g Reef

If you thought I had a hard time choosing corals, buckle up and get ready for my waffling between live rock and dry rock! I really do love the idea of not going through a long and painful cycle. I haven't had to cycle a tank in years, as I've always got media to spare in my freshwater setups. However, I keep hearing that nothing good ever happens fast in saltwater, so I guess this might apply.

If I go with dry rock, I really like the look of the Stax rocks from Two Little Fishies. With such limited space, it would be really nice to have such a controllable rock for the hardscape design. And if there's anyone's business I want to support with my tiny little tank, it would be Julian Sprung. I got to ask him a few questions about mangroves last year at Reefapalooza NY and had no idea who I was talking to. I managed to see him speak, too. What an awesome, brilliant, insanely nice guy.

As I write, I realize I may already be leaning more and more toward dry rock, because I don't know that I'm confident enough to manage the countless variables that come with live. I've read a bit about dinoflagellates being an issue in tanks started with dry rock though, especially with low nutrients and low bioloads. As with freshwater planted tanks, the balance in a reef is clearly important so that the corals can outcompete the dinos. Is this the reason reefers don't turn the light on during the cycle? Because dinos are usually photosynthetic? And then, what happens in a fowlr tank? Do they rely on coralline to outcompete dinoflagellates? How common a problem is this really?

I feel like I want to do Stax rocks and live sand. I'm reading a build article on a 3 gallon pico reef that is just great, and he basically rip cleans the tank every month because his rockwork is one piece and the tank is bare bottomed. I feel like I can do this pretty easily even (or especially) with sand so that it doesn't become a nitrate sink, so long as I use the stax rocks and place them atop the sand. (I won't have any digging critters so this should be fine). I'm not sure if I'll do it monthly, but probably a few times a year along with regular substrate cleaning.

What kind of sand? For the corals I want that rest on the substrate, I need a medium sized grain. Apparently they don't do as well on fine sand. I'm gonna keep it simple and do a Caribsea live sand, and gosh I hope I can find a 10lb bag so I don't have to pay for a bunch of sand I don't need. Not likely tho - I can't find 10lb bags of the Caribsea Arag Alive Special Grade anywhere.

So I guess that's it! Stax rocks and Caribsea Arag Alive Special Grade for hardscape. I'll order those today! Up next, salt mix and a heater!

Salt and Odds and Ends

So I'm coming to the realization that salt really is just up to personal preference and the specific tank, and with the tank I'm setting up, dosing can be replaced entirely by large water replacements (probably). So, then, which salt? Honestly, I'm working without a lot of space, so the Brightwell Aquatics 16 gallon bag is looking prettyyyyy appealing. After watching the BRS 2019 Salt Mix reviews, I was really interested in getting the 40 gallon tub of Tropic Marin Pro Reef, but I couldn't seem to find it anywhere. Apparently the pandemic has caused some supply chain issues, since it's form Germany. However, I did realize that though they don't look the same (I guess there was a recent branding update?) there is a 4kg box available! I'm going with that, since it was BRS's overall best in show. I think I'm going to order it for pickup from Petswarehouse, since they're pretty close to a spot I go fishing a lot, and I'd rather do that than pay an extra $10 a box every time I order it. I'll hold off on actually doing so until I have the hardscape and all set up though. Speaking of hardscape! Just ordered the Stax Rocks 5lb box and epoxy to secure them once I have it laid out. I can't wait for it to show up! I'm waiting on the sand to see if they have smaller bags at my LFS.

As far as odds and ends go: I'm going to need a heater, and while the Cobalt Neotherm seems to be a huge favorite on Fishlore, I'm going to go with its smaller sibling, the Cobalt 10 watt Mini-Therm. I plan to also get an Inkbird controller to hook it up to. I like the Mini-Therm because I'll be able to diy an inline housing for it to keep it out of the display, which will be awesome. I also have to buy the ZooMed canister and test its actual GPH so I know what I'm working with. I think I'll cross both those off my list later today.

Cant believe I actually just bought something for a REEF TANK. I'm really stoked.
 

AcornTheBetta

Are you going to stock this with fish or inverts or just coral?
 

Fishproblem

Are you going to stock this with fish or inverts or just coral?

For now, my long term plan is corals first, then only a trio of sexy shrimp, and that's if I manage to keep the tank very stable for an extended period of time, probably around 6 months as proof of concept (unless a more experienced reefer or three tell me my tank is ready). I've read that feeding livestock can make it very tricky to keep things happy for corals in a tank this size, so I'm going to be as conservative as I can. There are some incredibly small gobies that I would consider in the future, or porcelain crabs, but they would have to suit the biotope and be able to thrive long term in the tank.

The Stax rocks and epoxy shipped today! Now I have a tracking number to obsessively monitor for updates and I LOVE it (the package was scanned in Gettysburg's UPS warehouse at 7:03 and should be here in TWO DAYS).

I also have an admission... I'm cheating on you fishlore. I made an account on a forum that I've been lurking on for a while now, that, to hopefully be vague enough, is geared toward this kinda thing. It's already been really helpful, and I've found some threads on builds just like the one I'm planning: nano tank with a canister filter chaeto reactor. So there's definitely proof of concept! I'm glad to have an active community to pose my questions to. But don't worry! I'll be asking all those questions here, too, and posting all the answers I find.
 

Fishproblem

Okay! My new bad influences from elsewhere on the internet have told me that the empty canister filter setup, if reasonably maintained, won't be a nitrate sink danger zone. Maybe I'm only listening to what I want to! We'll see! But I'm ordering the canister and the mini-therm today!

I've gotta check the tide charts to see what day this week is a good one to go fishing, and whatever day that is, I'll also pick up salt! What a thrill. (The striper run is HAPPENING right now, and I haven't been able to go out once. I'm gonna end up chasing them down to Maryland if I want a fair shot at catching a few...)

Also I'm literally about to burst the anticipation of getting my ROCKS is KILLING ME. Just look at this!


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I've been doing a lot of thinking, and looking at the open tab on my browser this week, and I think I know what I'm asking Santa for this year: The XP Aqua Duetto ATO System It's small enough that I'd gladly keep the sensor in my display, and I really just think that an ATO is going to be key. I'm definitely into the idea of a glass lid, and I'll still diy one if I don't get the ATO in time, but I really want an open top for looks, oxygen exchange, and to avoid reducing PAR from whatever budget light I go for (still feeling good about the Nicrew). I would DIY an ATO, but all that float switch in such a tiny display would cause me great emotional distress. I am my own worst enemy.

Now that this is all coming together, I really need to figure out my testing kit! I'll update on that soon!
 

Fishproblem

Oh wow! The ZooMed Canister filter was cheapest on Petsmart's site, and they're doing free same day shipping with Doordash right now. I thought the rock was going to the the first piece to arrive for this build, but apparently the canister will be here tonight at 6!
 

AcornTheBetta

Oh wow! The ZooMed Canister filter was cheapest on Petsmart's site, and they're doing free same day shipping with Doordash right now. I thought the rock was going to the the first piece to arrive for this build, but apparently the canister will be here tonight at 6!
Nice! Keep me updated.
 

Fishproblem

Nice! Keep me updated.
I will! I'm not going to be able to stop myself from running a test on it asap - I'll tag you when I post
 

AcornTheBetta

I will! I'm not going to be able to stop myself from running a test on it asap - I'll tag you when I post
Ok. Sounds good.
 

Fishproblem

Okay folks, the canister filter is set up!! AcornTheBetta get ready for a long one lol

ZooMed Turtle Clean 15 Setup


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The Box. Anyway, on to the good stuff.


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The filter comes with all necessary media. There’s a bag of bio-rings (which are pretty smooth and I would replace with something more porous if using for freshwater, but still better than any HOB out of the box), a LOT of activated charcoal that I’m glad to have on hand, and a sponge around the pump inflow inside the filter. I’m not using any of it.


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I removed the sponge and the barrier inside the filter. Both slide right out.


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Empty canister:


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So far, so good. The inflow and outflow are definitely “some assembly required.” Here are the parts for that:


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What you see above are the parts and suction cups/clips for the inflow and outflow. On to the assembly:


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Instructions say to cut the solid tubes for the inflow and spraybar to fit the tank. Pliers didn’t cut it (lololol) but a hacksaw was perfect.


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The suction cups are very strong, as are the clips!

Just hit the photo limit so this will be a two part post.
 

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Fishproblem


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I did NOT use the spray bar, because the strong outflow suits my purposes more.


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So the fill up for this is ingenious. There’s a little cap in the top for filling the water, and inside is a small air collection hose that sends trapped air to the top toward the outflow. No priming, no mess. It’s pretty spectacular. I measured how much water it contains, and it holds exactly 4 1/4 cups.


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I filled the tank with tap and plugged it all in to see how it runs. After shooting out bubbles for a little over half a minute, it runs strong and SILENTLY. So far, I’m impressed. The caveat here is that this is great for a nano tank, but I think 10 gallons freshwater is the absolute max it can support. And mind you, this flow is without any media slowing things down. Overall I think this is exactly what I wanted, and I’m happy with it!
I’ll post two videos of it in action soon.
 

Fishproblem

Working the bubbles out:



In this second vid, you can see the flow if you look carefully at the microbubbles that are slightly clouding the fresh tapwater. There's no sound on these vids (I figured you all didn't want my girlfriend's election commentary from the other room) but this might be the quietest filter I own.


I do intend to find lily pipes for these, if possible. The tubes are a very small diameter, so I might need to fabricate adaptors. I'll keep the outflow as it until I have corals to see if they like the jet. If not, I'll get a spin or poppy outflow. I love how much this looks like a legit setup right now, just in miniature.
 

AcornTheBetta

Working the bubbles out:



In this second vid, you can see the flow if you look carefully at the microbubbles that are slightly clouding the fresh tapwater. There's no sound on these vids (I figured you all didn't want my girlfriend's election commentary from the other room) but this might be the quietest filter I own.


I do intend to find lily pipes for these, if possible. The tubes are a very small diameter, so I might need to fabricate adaptors. I'll keep the outflow as it until I have corals to see if they like the jet. If not, I'll get a spin or poppy outflow. I love how much this looks like a legit setup right now, just in miniature.
Nice! I want it! Is it quiet? I was considering getting it for my 10g because the filter that is on there now is very loud.
 

Fishproblem

Nice! I want it! Is it quiet? I was considering getting it for my 10g because the filter that is on there now is very loud.
Very, very quiet! I'll caution that the tubing is surprisingly short, and the instructions warn against keeping it below the display, and instead say it should be next to it. You'd need to buy longer tubing to get it down to a lower shelf, and that would definitely reduce the GPH.
 

AcornTheBetta

Very, very quiet! I'll caution that the tubing is surprisingly short, and the instructions warn against keeping it below the display, and instead say it should be next to it. You'd need to buy longer tubing to get it down to a lower shelf, and that would definitely reduce the GPH.
Ok. Good to know. I have a two shelf thing so I think I could put it on the 2nd shelf.
 

PerfectSatyr683

I can't wait to see the finished version of it i love reef tanks but they seem really hard.
 

Fishproblem

I can't wait to see the finished version of it i love reef tanks but they seem really hard.
They do seem hard! Hopefully I can pull this one off.

Ok. Good to know. I have a two shelf thing so I think I could put it on the 2nd shelf.
Now that I've spent the night with it in my silent bedroom... less quiet than I thought! Not bad, but there's a definite buzz coming from the top that I think has something to do with the pump/impeller. Not sure if it needs to just run for a while, or what. I'll keep you updated.

I don't have a lot of time because I'm running to the PO right now, but guess what!!!


Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 1.35.20 PM.jpg

Time to start scaping as soon as I'm back from the post office!
 

AcornTheBetta

They do seem hard! Hopefully I can pull this one off.


Now that I've spent the night with it in my silent bedroom... less quiet than I thought! Not bad, but there's a definite buzz coming from the top that I think has something to do with the pump/impeller. Not sure if it needs to just run for a while, or what. I'll keep you updated.

I don't have a lot of time because I'm running to the PO right now, but guess what!!!

Time to start scaping as soon as I'm back from the post office!
Nice! Ok. Keep me updated.
 

PerfectSatyr683

yep me too
 

Fishproblem

Playing with rocks! I was so confident that I was going to do an iwagumi type rock scape buttttt im realizing why reefs are arranged the way they are. So far I’ve come up with these (beverage for scale):

A079FBA6-D3EF-4E62-BD13-7ED749D6FA32.jpeg

DA9823E9-CE31-445D-B021-380730B24428.jpeg

3C428445-0CD0-4549-808E-CC7816E48FCA.jpeg

54F311A6-D5D0-4A4A-879A-5491FBD65839.jpeg
What do you guys think? I’m going to try something a little more minimalist next.
 

AcornTheBetta

Playing with rocks! I was so confident that I was going to do an iwagumi type rock scape buttttt im realizing why reefs are arranged the way they are. So far I’ve come up with these (beverage for scale):

A079FBA6-D3EF-4E62-BD13-7ED749D6FA32.jpeg

DA9823E9-CE31-445D-B021-380730B24428.jpeg

3C428445-0CD0-4549-808E-CC7816E48FCA.jpeg

54F311A6-D5D0-4A4A-879A-5491FBD65839.jpeg
What do you guys think? I’m going to try something a little more minimalist next.
I like the 3+4 pic. How much noise if the filter making now?
 

Fishproblem

I like the 3+4 pic. How much noise if the filter making now?
I like those too! But I’m worried that so much rock up top is going to shade the lower areas of my tank too much for corals to grow happily. So then I came up with this:


D3446C2A-91F6-4167-BEB0-C8E5E9BD4944.jpeg


B91D840F-F286-471C-8BD9-B3030979549E.jpeg

it allows for more light to reach the floor, with more levels for corals, I think. I’m going to look as a lot of pictures of nano and pico reefs today to see if I can’t perfect this idea and then glue it all together.

(filter’s still a little rumbly. I wouldn’t notice during the day if I wasn’t looking to hear it, but if it was located beside me I would definitely hear it all day.)
 

AcornTheBetta

I like those too! But I’m worried that so much rock up top is going to shade the lower areas of my tank too much for corals to grow happily. So then I came up with this:


D3446C2A-91F6-4167-BEB0-C8E5E9BD4944.jpeg


B91D840F-F286-471C-8BD9-B3030979549E.jpeg

it allows for more light to reach the floor, with more levels for corals, I think. I’m going to look as a lot of pictures of nano and pico reefs today to see if I can’t perfect this idea and then glue it all together.

(filter’s still a little rumbly. I wouldn’t notice during the day if I wasn’t looking to hear it, but if it was located beside me I would definitely hear it all day.)
I also like those pics.
 

Fishproblem


3807C201-64CE-4C47-B5DA-FD7659531787.jpeg
Heater arrived today! Will unbox soon. If only I didn’t have to work to pay for aquarium gear. It’s getting in the way of my aquarium time! In the spirit of this thread being the best possible educational resource for anyone wanting to learn from my attempt, I’ll be sitting down later today for a big update post to describe what I’ve been up to, what I’m thinking, and things I’ve learned so far.

If you have any questions to that end, ask ‘em now!
 

AcornTheBetta

Heater arrived today! Will unbox soon. If only I didn’t have to work to pay for aquarium gear. It’s getting in the way of my aquarium time! In the spirit of this thread being the best possible educational resource for anyone wanting to learn from my attempt, I’ll be sitting down later today for a big update post to describe what I’ve been up to, what I’m thinking, and things I’ve learned so far.

If you have any questions to that end, ask ‘em now!
How much noise is the filter making now?
 

Fishproblem

Gear and Hardscape are Here: Thoughts So Far

I'm going to go over a few key things I've sort of breezed through and my reasoning for those decisions, while getting this thread comprehensively caught up on where I am, and what's next.

- Live Rock vs Dry Rock vs Dead Dry Rock
- Choosing Sand
- Heating
- Hardscape Requirements
- Salt
- What's Next

Live Rock vs Dry Rock vs Dead Dry Rock
So, now that the Stax Rock has arrived and I'm working on my scape, I wanted to go through again the reasons why I wanted to use totally dry rock that has never been live.

Mostly, it's an issue of control. Live Rock is incredible for the diversity it contains, and the fact that it effectively instant cycles a tank. But that diversity is a problem, too. Using Live Rock opens me up to a lot of risk from invading algaes, dinos, aiptasia, worms, and more. "Dead" Rock, as Live Rock that has dried out and "died" is a bit of a middle ground. The fact that it has been dormant for so long means less risk of things like aiptasia or invading invertebrates, while still having the potential to seed a tank with formerly dormant life, but it needs to be cured, which is a stinky and long process that I don't have the space or constitution for, and I'm not going to impose it on my girlfriend, either. Finally, the more alive rock is, the more expensive, and though I'm prepared to drop a significant amount of money on this build, it is nice to go with the cheapest option if it won't end up being a weak link later on.

It may be true that the added biodiversity makes for a more stable and healthy tank, but from what I've been told, taking it slow with dry rock is a totally viable plan. Corals and macroalgae and livestock all have the potential to introduce disease and hitchhiking horrors later on, but I plan to exercise extreme caution there as well, and I do think that minimized risk is better than throwing caution to the wind.

Of all the live rock out there, I chose Stax in small part because it was available with free shipping in a 5lb box (lol), but mostly because the uniformly sliced pieces allow for so much control over the hardscape build. In a tank with such an incredibly small footprint, I just can't afford to end up with chunks of rock that I can't maximize the use of, or place just exactly so. Finally, I trust the Two Little Fishies brand implicitly!

Choosing Sand
To start, I didn't have to choose sand at all. Especially in such a tiny tank, it's a bit of a hassle, as substrate holds on to waste and can cause problems. However, it can also aid biological filtration (not so important to me, especially as I'm not using a 4" deep "Deep Sand Bed") and makes for a much more natural look (very important to me). Finally, some of the corals I want grow on sand beds, and this is a biotope! The floor of Caribbean shallows isn't a clean pane of glass.

I want to use live sand to encourage the cycle, but I am a bit nervous about that. I've read that some folks have gotten flatworms from it! I don't think it's that common, and I figure that I'll observe carefully and treat the whole tank before adding coral if I must.

I learned by reading and watching care guides that r. florida prefers a medium or larger sized grain sand over fine grain, so that's why I chose medium sized Caribsea Arag Alive Special Grade (which I have yet to buy... soon! lol).

Heating
Reef's gotta stay warm! The Cobalt Neotherm seems to be the clear favorite in nano reef tanks for ease of use and total reliability, but this is a Pico, and I don't have space for a heater in my display, and I don't want something overpowered. Too warm is no good in a reef either! I went with the Cobalt Mini Therm (10 watt) because it's the right wattage for my water volume and is a small round cylinder that I can easily DIY an inline housing for to keep it out of the display. It was cheap too - only $10 on sale from Chewy when I qualified for free shipping with my dog's food. However, cheap isn't everything! I'll be getting an Inkbird controller to plug into this as a precautionary measure, and to control the temp, as the Mini-Therm is an "always on" design that doesn't self-regulate temperature. From the reviews I've read and the pico builds I've seen, it seems like this heater works great - provided you get one that works out of the box. The good news is there's a three year warranty and Chewy will replace it if it doesn't work. I'm testing mine now, so we'll see. If it doesn't heat the tank, I'll keep exchanging it for a new one until I get one that does! I'm hoping to keep this tank at 78F.

Hardscape Requirements
Well, I'd say the important thing about this rock it that it's the entire source of biological filtration for the tank. 1-2lbs of rock per gallon is recommended, so I think I'm in the clear if I cram as much of my 5lbs in here as possible, right? Jk. It looks like I'll end up using almost exactly half of the rock I've got. I said from the start that I wanted to design this hardscape with minimalism in mind, but that's becoming more difficult in practice now that I'm trying to make sure I use enough rock, with enough levels and platforms and variations for corals. The arch layout was cool because it really did look like an itty bitty version of the big stereotypical reef displays I'm used to. But I think it would make for difficult cleaning, and if I put a sun coral in there down the line, I'll have a lot of trouble target feeding around the arch. Also, I don't want this to be just a scaled down big reef tank. I want it to be carefully and thoughtfully planned out with the best scape for the tank (that I'm capable of as a total noob). So, I'm sticking with the final scape I showed you guys, inspired by "island" or "bommie" style tanks, though perhaps a bit more cramped. I'll perfect it a bit as I glue things down, but the broad strokes are there.

Salt
I didn't know until I started researching the best salt mixes that it takes 24 hours to fully mix a lot of salts. BRStv's videos "Which salt mix is best for my saltwater aquarium or reef tank?" and "Which Salt Mix is the BEST for our saltwater tanks?! We share our picks for Best of 2019!" answered all of my salt questions and more, and led me to ultimately choose Tropic Marin Pro for my setup. Armed with this info from BRS, I'm now prepared to mix this salt for a long time with a small pump and a cheap preset heater in a 2.5 gallon bucket, but I'm also confident that the salt WILL be mixed when I add it to the tank!

What's next:
I now have my tank, heater, water circulation, and rock. I know what I'm getting for salt and sand. I have to buy those! and secure my rock work, then add it to the tank. Next, I need to build a lid, and get a test kit so that I can track my cycle. Then, I get to add water! I was planning on using distilled, and remembered: I found a perfectly good RODI unit on the curb in January that's been collecting dust under a cabinet ever since. I think it's time to replace the media and fire that baby up! Finally, I need to choose a light. I have a bit more research to do on the Nicrew, but still feeling good about it. So, that's what's up for now. Getting closer to adding water every day. I'll update with pics of the heater in the tank, and updated hardscape shots, as soon as I can. Thank you for bearing with my wall of text, and I hope some of it was interesting or helpful!

(Most importantly: AcornTheBetta the filter seems a little quieter today. Still not super mega quiet. If you're used to that nice fluval canister, this will probably be louder. I still like it!)
 

AcornTheBetta

Gear and Hardscape are Here: Thoughts So Far

I'm going to go over a few key things I've sort of breezed through and my reasoning for those decisions, while getting this thread comprehensively caught up on where I am, and what's next.

- Live Rock vs Dry Rock vs Dead Dry Rock
- Choosing Sand
- Heating
- Hardscape Requirements
- Salt
- What's Next

Live Rock vs Dry Rock vs Dead Dry Rock
So, now that the Stax Rock has arrived and I'm working on my scape, I wanted to go through again the reasons why I wanted to use totally dry rock that has never been live.

Mostly, it's an issue of control. Live Rock is incredible for the diversity it contains, and the fact that it effectively instant cycles a tank. But that diversity is a problem, too. Using Live Rock opens me up to a lot of risk from invading algaes, dinos, aiptasia, worms, and more. "Dead" Rock, as Live Rock that has dried out and "died" is a bit of a middle ground. The fact that it has been dormant for so long means less risk of things like aiptasia or invading invertebrates, while still having the potential to seed a tank with formerly dormant life, but it needs to be cured, which is a stinky and long process that I don't have the space or constitution for, and I'm not going to impose it on my girlfriend, either. Finally, the more alive rock is, the more expensive, and though I'm prepared to drop a significant amount of money on this build, it is nice to go with the cheapest option if it won't end up being a weak link later on.

It may be true that the added biodiversity makes for a more stable and healthy tank, but from what I've been told, taking it slow with dry rock is a totally viable plan. Corals and macroalgae and livestock all have the potential to introduce disease and hitchhiking horrors later on, but I plan to exercise extreme caution there as well, and I do think that minimized risk is better than throwing caution to the wind.

Of all the live rock out there, I chose Stax in small part because it was available with free shipping in a 5lb box (lol), but mostly because the uniformly sliced pieces allow for so much control over the hardscape build. In a tank with such an incredibly small footprint, I just can't afford to end up with chunks of rock that I can't maximize the use of, or place just exactly so. Finally, I trust the Two Little Fishies brand implicitly!

Choosing Sand
To start, I didn't have to choose sand at all. Especially in such a tiny tank, it's a bit of a hassle, as substrate holds on to waste and can cause problems. However, it can also aid biological filtration (not so important to me, especially as I'm not using a 4" deep "Deep Sand Bed") and makes for a much more natural look (very important to me). Finally, some of the corals I want grow on sand beds, and this is a biotope! The floor of Caribbean shallows isn't a clean pane of glass.

I want to use live sand to encourage the cycle, but I am a bit nervous about that. I've read that some folks have gotten flatworms from it! I don't think it's that common, and I figure that I'll observe carefully and treat the whole tank before adding coral if I must.

I learned by reading and watching care guides that r. florida prefers a medium or larger sized grain sand over fine grain, so that's why I chose medium sized Caribsea Arag Alive Special Grade (which I have yet to buy... soon! lol).

Heating
Reef's gotta stay warm! The Cobalt Neotherm seems to be the clear favorite in nano reef tanks for ease of use and total reliability, but this is a Pico, and I don't have space for a heater in my display, and I don't want something overpowered. Too warm is no good in a reef either! I went with the Cobalt Mini Therm (10 watt) because it's the right wattage for my water volume and is a small round cylinder that I can easily DIY an inline housing for to keep it out of the display. It was cheap too - only $10 on sale from Chewy when I qualified for free shipping with my dog's food. However, cheap isn't everything! I'll be getting an Inkbird controller to plug into this as a precautionary measure, and to control the temp, as the Mini-Therm is an "always on" design that doesn't self-regulate temperature. From the reviews I've read and the pico builds I've seen, it seems like this heater works great - provided you get one that works out of the box. The good news is there's a three year warranty and Chewy will replace it if it doesn't work. I'm testing mine now, so we'll see. If it doesn't heat the tank, I'll keep exchanging it for a new one until I get one that does! I'm hoping to keep this tank at 78F.

Hardscape Requirements
Well, I'd say the important thing about this rock it that it's the entire source of biological filtration for the tank. 1-2lbs of rock per gallon is recommended, so I think I'm in the clear if I cram as much of my 5lbs in here as possible, right? Jk. It looks like I'll end up using almost exactly half of the rock I've got. I said from the start that I wanted to design this hardscape with minimalism in mind, but that's becoming more difficult in practice now that I'm trying to make sure I use enough rock, with enough levels and platforms and variations for corals. The arch layout was cool because it really did look like an itty bitty version of the big stereotypical reef displays I'm used to. But I think it would make for difficult cleaning, and if I put a sun coral in there down the line, I'll have a lot of trouble target feeding around the arch. Also, I don't want this to be just a scaled down big reef tank. I want it to be carefully and thoughtfully planned out with the best scape for the tank (that I'm capable of as a total noob). So, I'm sticking with the final scape I showed you guys, inspired by "island" or "bommie" style tanks, though perhaps a bit more cramped. I'll perfect it a bit as I glue things down, but the broad strokes are there.

Salt
I didn't know until I started researching the best salt mixes that it takes 24 hours to fully mix a lot of salts. BRStv's videos "Which salt mix is best for my saltwater aquarium or reef tank?" and "Which Salt Mix is the BEST for our saltwater tanks?! We share our picks for Best of 2019!" answered all of my salt questions and more, and led me to ultimately choose Tropic Marin Pro for my setup. Armed with this info from BRS, I'm now prepared to mix this salt for a long time with a small pump and a cheap preset heater in a 2.5 gallon bucket, but I'm also confident that the salt WILL be mixed when I add it to the tank!

What's next:
I now have my tank, heater, water circulation, and rock. I know what I'm getting for salt and sand. I have to buy those! and secure my rock work, then add it to the tank. Next, I need to build a lid, and get a test kit so that I can track my cycle. Then, I get to add water! I was planning on using distilled, and remembered: I found a perfectly good RODI unit on the curb in January that's been collecting dust under a cabinet ever since. I think it's time to replace the media and fire that baby up! Finally, I need to choose a light. I have a bit more research to do on the Nicrew, but still feeling good about it. So, that's what's up for now. Getting closer to adding water every day. I'll update with pics of the heater in the tank, and updated hardscape shots, as soon as I can. Thank you for bearing with my wall of text, and I hope some of it was interesting or helpful!

(Most importantly: AcornTheBetta the filter seems a little quieter today. Still not super mega quiet. If you're used to that nice fluval canister, this will probably be louder. I still like it!)
Nice! Thanks for all the info! Ok. The fluval is literally silent, but this one seems not to loud.
 

Fishproblem

On the work table:


080AD2D5-ED77-4898-BC1B-7CFA8072F01C.jpeg

Final Result:


E89388FC-80B8-4494-A392-7E16F13C5F24.jpeg

They fit in the tank, I promise! I’ll have to drain the tank tomorrow and get the hardscape in. The Mini-Therm seems to work! Tank was at 75°F and now it’s 78°F. I dont need the inkbird for the cycle, but I’ll get it soon anyway.

The Two Little Fishies epoxy worked perfectly. Any reviews to the contrary are the result of user error, I’m sure.

That’s all for now! First FTS with a hardscape tomorrow!
 

Fishproblem

Oh man guys. Putting the scape in the tank later this afternoon, but in the meantime I leave you with these four words: Hawaiian Ding Dang Palythoas

They're on The List.
 

Fishproblem

Oh man guys. Putting the scape in the tank later this afternoon, but in the meantime I leave you with these four words: Hawaiian Ding Dang Palythoas

They're on The List.
Okay they might not fit the biotope but whatever. They're on A List for Someday lol. This will not be my last saltwater build...
 

AcornTheBetta

Oh man guys. Putting the scape in the tank later this afternoon, but in the meantime I leave you with these four words: Hawaiian Ding Dang Palythoas

They're on The List.
They look amazing!
 

Fishproblem


4C006CB3-1260-4DBA-9D7E-2CCF99B930BE.jpeg
Ok I didn’t drain the tank because I wanted an idea of how this is going to look with water in it. I’m happy! I don’t think I made the rocks too tall, and I can reach any dead spots with a turkey baster no problem. The light is just a spare cheapo led I had laying around.

I don’t think anything about this scape is groundbreaking, but I do think I’ve got space for all the corals I’m interested in, and it looks ok!

(pray for me that this image isn’t too big... apparently I’ve been posting image files that are a little too beefy for the site :eek
 

AcornTheBetta

Ok I didn’t drain the tank because I wanted an idea of how this is going to look with water in it. I’m happy! I don’t think I made the rocks too tall, and I can reach any dead spots with a turkey baster no problem. The light is just a spare cheapo led I had laying around.

I don’t think anything about this scape is groundbreaking, but I do think I’ve got space for all the corals I’m interested in, and it looks ok!

(pray for me that this image isn’t too big... apparently I’ve been posting image files that are a little too beefy for the site :eek
I like that scape. Looks good!
 

Fishproblem

After a ton of researching all the other components of this build, I impulsively bought the Nicrew light. Reason: I have a good feeling. lol

This could be a total waste of $70, or a huge savings of $130+ if it turns out this works just fine for my purposes, and I don't need the AI Prime controller plus gooseneck. I have really high hopes for this thing, but we'll see!

It comes in on Wednesday! So I'll set it up just to see how it looks, of course. I bought the Tropic Marin Pro salt, as well. Hoping to pick it up tomorrow. In which case... cycle starts tomorrow afternoon! Geez I'm excited.
 

Fishproblem

Howdy fish pals! I have had an incredibly unsuccessful day in the hobby. My salt was waiting for me to pick it up at a store on Long Island that's about 15 minutes of highway driving out from the spot I go fishing. So I got up this am at 4:30 to get to the beach before sunrise to test out some new lures. Per usual, my fishing expedition was a total bust. That's okay though, because even when you're bad at fishing, you're still hanging out on the beach. It was a really nice morning. Then, I hopped in the car and drove home.

That's right. I turned on autopilot and completely forgot that half the purpose of this exercise was to pick up my salt. The dangers of ADHD, everyone. Now I have to go fishing again this week. I'm soooo upset.

My Nicrew light has arrived right on time. Compared to the tank, it's absolutely MASSIVE. I'll post pics later, but rest assured this will NOT be clamping onto the glass without snapping my tank. Later tonight I'm going to figure out how to set it up in a way that works and looks good.

That's all for now!
 

Fishproblem


FD60A729-1239-4146-B0F2-988FD46A367C.jpeg
Sooooo the light is big-ish. I was surprised at its weight, too. It definitely would crack the thin glass my tank is made from! I suppose I don’t have anything to complain about though. $70 for a bigger than anticipated light and controller feels like a win to me. The gooseneck is super strong, and the light comes with a hanging kit, two wrenches, and wire to suspend from a ceiling or bracket. It also comes with all the materials needed to run the power cord neatly down the gooseneck: even tiny black zip ties! I really appreciate the attention to detail. I don’t know anything about reef lights, but based on how it’s built, it seems high quality. And it seems bright!

I’m coming to terms with the fact that my best option for mounting does leave the gooseneck blocking our painting we’ve got above the tank. It’s somewhat frustrating, but we’re moving in the next 6 months so I’ll be able to arrange things more neatly then. I’m going to put the light back in the spot you see pictured below after I’m done with work for the day. It’s clamped to the much thicker glass on my peace lily/moss ball fountain next to the pico reef.

so far, here it is. What do you think?

5D041DAD-3155-419C-AFC3-134931D1FB8F.jpeg
 

AcornTheBetta

Sooooo the light is big-ish. I was surprised at its weight, too. It definitely would crack the thin glass my tank is made from! I suppose I don’t have anything to complain about though. $70 for a bigger than anticipated light and controller feels like a win to me. The gooseneck is super strong, and the light comes with a hanging kit, two wrenches, and wire to suspend from a ceiling or bracket. It also comes with all the materials needed to run the power cord neatly down the gooseneck: even tiny black zip ties! I really appreciate the attention to detail. I don’t know anything about reef lights, but based on how it’s built, it seems high quality. And it seems bright!

I’m coming to terms with the fact that my best option for mounting does leave the gooseneck blocking our painting we’ve got above the tank. It’s somewhat frustrating, but we’re moving in the next 6 months so I’ll be able to arrange things more neatly then. I’m going to put the light back in the spot you see pictured below after I’m done with work for the day. It’s clamped to the much thicker glass on my peace lily/moss ball fountain next to the pico reef.

so far, here it is. What do you think?
Nice! I think it looks great!
 

Fishproblem

Okay, I set the light up and have messed with it a bit. I zip tied the cord to the gooseneck and it looks super clean! It’s totally hidden behind the gooseneck. Just gotta clip the ends off the ties.

So this is what I’m working with! I took a few pics with the light on different settings with the room lights on, and edited them in my phone to look almost exactly true to life.

All Blue:


E65A650A-AFB1-4629-A1A3-20D0DF20D998.jpeg

All White:


5B3B12A7-FFBC-43AB-8E6B-F4C6A6F77503.jpeg

Mixed:


BED5DF53-8F10-4D81-B047-6BDF6B7AD350.jpeg

Aaaand a bonus top down shot with the blues on:


7566E796-D5E2-4AA9-8DB7-87F05074A6B5.jpeg

I’m really excited to get the sand and saltwater in. Like a fool, though, I forgot to order a refractometer! Hoping Amazon Prime comes through for me, or it’ll be another two days before I can start cycling.

I haven’t fishless cycled a tank in three and a half years, and that time I think it was more luck than knowledge that made it work. I’ve been able to seed media in all my tanks ever since... this’ll be fun! (Not lol)
 

Fishproblem

So I was looking at my setup yesterday and mulling over the horrifying reality that my canister filter is so small that the hoses are actually smaller than the standard "small" 13mm hose. I googled something like "tiny lily pipes" and guess what. Jardli came through! They have a mini lily pipe set designed specifically for the little ZooMed canisters. Thaaaank goodness. I have many other things to buy for this setup before I get the lily pipes, but I'm glad to know they exist!
 

Fishproblem

I've been a little quiet because I haven't done anything else with this tank yet! I'm trying to make sure I have all my freshwater tanks super squared away with updated gear and running as they should, and also just let life get in the way.

I haven't started cycling yet because I hadn't gotten sand. The Arag-Alive Special Grade live sand was surprisingly hard to find for a reasonable price online. But yesterday I found it on sale at petsmart, so I ordered it and it should be shipped by tomorrow. Looking forward to it!
 

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