2.5 Gallon Pico Reef - Page 2

Fishproblem

Fishproblem, after using the zoo med canister for a while, is it quiet or loud?
It actually seems a little bit quieter lately, even if it's not silent.
 

Fishproblem


E7BE3493-EB37-40BD-9CDA-CBD1ED7AC292.jpeg
I forgot to post this! We’ve got saltwater and sand, and I set up the controller for the light!
 

Jesterrace

With fishless other than nutrient import there shouldn't be much of an issue. I could see water changes being more of an issue if they kept a fish in there as they produce ammonia and require a food source that pollutes the water. Not saying you won't have to keep an eye on salinity and trace elements (ie Alk, Mag) but beyond that corals don't produce a whole lot of waste.
 

Fishproblem

With fishless other than nutrient import there shouldn't be much of an issue. I could see water changes being more of an issue if they kept a fish in there as they produce ammonia and require a food source that pollutes the water. Not saying you won't have to keep an eye on salinity and trace elements (ie Alk, Mag) but beyond that corals don't produce a whole lot of waste.
There was initially an anglerfish and one other fish in the 3 gallon I linked, and now they've got a clown in there. In the second video he describes how they do an almost 100% water change, leaving just enough to keep the fish in water when they drain the tank. I'm not awfully interested in keeping that kind of bioload in my tank, because I understand that it creates much more potential for disaster, and I'm just not experienced enough to justify it. That's also why the sexy shrimp are a distant goal.

If I feed the corals, that will definitely contribute to a greater bioload, right? I'm under the assumption that even zoas and ricordea need to be fed if there aren't fish in the tank, as there's no particulates in the water column for the corals left over from feeding any vertebrates? Or is that totally off base?
 

AcornTheBetta

There was initially an anglerfish and one other fish in the 3 gallon I linked, and now they've got a clown in there. In the second video he describes how they do an almost 100% water change, leaving just enough to keep the fish in water when they drain the tank. I'm not awfully interested in keeping that kind of bioload in my tank, because I understand that it creates much more potential for disaster, and I'm just not experienced enough to justify it. That's also why the sexy shrimp are a distant goal.

If I feed the corals, that will definitely contribute to a greater bioload, right? I'm under the assumption that even zoas and ricordea need to be fed if there aren't fish in the tank, as there's no particulates in the water column for the corals left over from feeding any vertebrates? Or is that totally off base?
IDK if I already asked this, but what are you going to stock with?
 

Fishproblem

IDK if I already asked this, but what are you going to stock with?
I mentioned it early on I think. I'm planning to go with just ricordea, zoas, and rock flower anemones to start. Once (and if) it's super established and I've really confidently got a handle on maintaining the tank, I'd like to get a trio of sexy shrimp. I've been told that there are some super tiny gobies that can do well in a pico this size, but I don't think I'm comfortable trying that any time soon.
 

Fishproblem

I've been away from home for the last few days for Thanksgiving (tested, isolated, and tested again before we went anywhere, unlike the other chumps in NYC who tried to get last minute tests and then traveled anyway after bailing on 4 hour lines at testing centers or not getting their results back from overloaded labs in time...).

But before we left on Thursday morning, I ghost fed the tank to try and start a cycle. Hopefully the BB from the sand is doing work, but I also bought a bottle of seed yesterday just in case. I'll admit, I'm a little impatient. I need to get an inkbird and make my diy heater housing, and we'll be in business! Very excited to test parameters tomorrow.

I went to my hometown salty LFS yesterday (where i got the seed) to poke around in anticipation of getting corals. Their frags look pretty clean, but the display tank had aiptasia in it.... they looked like they were thriving lol. But so did the corals! It does make me feel uneasy about buying there, though. I'm going to need to read up on coral dips and maybe QT. OSA is also close to my parents, so the next time I visit them I think a visit to OSA is in order too. I think I'll be getting the majority of my coral there. Photos of an API test kit to come tomorrow!

(GF and I went to poke around an empty house for sale in RI this am, and it's absolutely incredible, if a bit more expensive than we can budget for. We're trying to get a viewing tomorrow. 1890s victorian farmhouse with incredible details, on a 6.5 acre farm... this is all very impulsive, but it it works out I won't have a dime to spend on a tank for the next five years, so I better make this one something special!)
 

Fishproblem


A15E8E1C-1E2B-41C8-9705-E69169B9A162.jpeg
definitely some ammonia present, but no nitrate reading yet. should I continue to ghost feed if I dose aquavitro seed today? Jesterrace, any idea?

December 1, 2020

Happy December fishlore! I tested parameters again today after giving the tank its initial dose of aquavitro seed right after testing yesterday. Still no nitrate, same ammonia? Using my API Freshwater Master Test Kit for this, in case it wasn’t clear! Ghost feeding every day for the last three days and dosed seed again today. If I’m doing something wrong, speak now!


E558B0A1-59CB-4E92-8E96-A001EC582CBE.jpeg
 

Fishproblem

Some general updates about the build:

Aquavitro Seed and my Cycle:
I do not know too much about seed. I picked it up from an LFS because that was the bottled bacteria they had, and I was trying to support them on small business Saturday instead of pressing my nose up against every tank in the place for a half hour and then walking out emptyhanded. According to Seachem, it can cycle the tank in as little as a week. Who knows if that's true - there's not a lot of info on it out there, and what I've seen searching other forums doesn't imply that it's awfully reliable, or proven effective at all. I have a good deal of faith in Seachem though. Curious to see if nitrates start appearing in the next day or two. If they don't, I might double the amount I'm dosing. I followed the recommended amounts on the bottle, dosing a shade over 1.25ml yesterday and a little over .60ml today (Seachem says 1tsp per 10 gallons to start, then 1tsp per 20 gallons each day for the next 7). If it works, I'll be glad! If not, I'm only out $8 and I had planned on a long cycle anyway.

Parameters:
I tested my pH yesterday and the reading I got from my API kit was 8.4. How novel! I haven't got a single tank in my home that has a pH of over 7 - most are around 6.6-6.8. This, I presume, is why saltwater systems are said to be so much more sensitive to lower amounts of ammonia. The higher the pH, the faster ammonia becomes toxic in small amounts. From what I've been reading, the higher the pH, the better is the mantra for many reefers, and 8.4 is right at the high end of the average recommended range. I've seen people encourage even higher though, so I'm not entirely sure where I should be.

Heater:
The cobalt mini-therm is keeping the tank PERFECTLY at 78 degrees despite crazily fluctuating temps in my bedroom. Still going to get an inkbird controller as a failsafe, and cause I love that readable temp display. I'm going to mount a nice surge protector on the side of my dresser, and neatly organize the cables so they're mostly concealed, then mount the inkbird controller and light timer and controller next to it.

Salinity Swings:
Evaporation is WILD in this thing. Truly, there is no way I'd feel good about keeping life in here without a lid or an ATO. Manual top offs are just unfeasible. I hate the idea of waiting all the way until christmas for an ATO, so depending on when the cycle completes, I might toss a piece of glass on top of the tank for a bit as a temporary fix.

I'm so excited to be actually working toward a reef! Fishless cycles are boring af tho!
 

Fishproblem

Today's update includes the same API test results I've been posting for the last few days now, a picture of the tank with clear water and sand(!), and some musings on refractometers and lighting. God help me when I finally get a coral - having water in the tank is hard enough lol

Test results:
Looks about the same? I've been photographing them under my ONF light for accurate color in the pics I'm posting. I really don't see a difference, but I'm also comparing my test results against a computer screen and not a card. I honestly can't tell if this is reading .25 or 1.0ppm ammonia. Hoping someone has insights, but I'll keep chugging along either way. I'm going to double my dosage of seed starting today. I can't imagine it can hurt...


Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 7.56.42 PM.png

The Tank!
I think it looks nice. Of course, this is the closest I can edit the photo into a near approximation of the irl color. It's a bit whiter than it looks here with the full spectrum on. I like the more natural look a lot more than just the actinics. I've had about an inch of evaporation since the last top off, because I went away for a few days and didn't cover the tank. And because I've been curious about the evaporation rate and its effect on salinity. The tank is reading at an unacceptably high 1.030 SG right now, but I'm about to top it off. Typically it's full to about a half inch below the rim. Now that my curiosity is sated, I won't be letting it get that low again.


Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 7.56.52 PM.png

Refractometer & Salinity:
So, I've been thinking about salinity. In an earlier post, I mentioned my surprise that the salt mix took so much extra to get to 1.026 SG (I was shooting for 1.025 but it is what it is. I'll bring it down soon). I initially trusted my refractometer, but have had a nagging worry that maybe it's not totally accurate. It said it came precalibrated, but when I tested distilled water, the line fell well below 1.000 SG, so I recalibrated it using distilled water as the manual said I could. I've since learned that not all Brix refractometers are the same, and that some have a greater margin of error than others.

I've also confirmed a sneaking suspicion that seawater refracts light differently than the solutions most refractometers are designed to measure (jkkgron2 , this I think it relevant to the question you were asking on your thread). My understanding is that even for refractometers where the difference in refraction for intended solution vs seawater is relatively slight, the farther away from the calibration fluid's (whatever you used) measurement you get, the more dramatic the inaccuracy. That is why you want to calibrate using a fluid that is as close to the SG you're testing for, so for a reef tank a 35ppt calibration fluid (equivalent to 1.026 SG). I was concerned about the quality and accuracy of my refractometer, but when I went looking at the BRS refractometer options, it looks like mine is exactly the same as their budget one, so I'll keep it and just buy the calibration fluid. It's definitely not going to be as accurate as a higher end refractometer, but I don't have $100 to spend on one right now!

Especially in a system this small, I feel like measurements like this might be vital to long term success... so a more advanced refractometer is on the list for someday upgrades. For the time being, I'll be using calibration fluid and aiming for 1.025 SG to give myself a tad bit of leeway to make space for inaccuracy. I'm also working my way through this incredibly informative article* on the topic, but it's a bit dense for little old me. I'll get there though! http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-12/rhf/index.php#14

Lighting:
I hate the neon candy shop look that is super popular with most reefers. Maybe I'll change my mind down the line, but I much prefer a full spectrum plus some added blue for some color in the corals. There's one reefer, who goes by inland_reef on IG whose tanks I'm really enamored with. He lights his really incredible "coastal reef" with a Twinstar 900sp. So... growing corals with a full spectrum light that's not overloaded with actinics (or even designed for saltwater applications) can certainly be done. I imagine he's got some experience on me though, so I'm not about to abandon my blues. Especially because I'm learning that blue wavelengths are really important to zooxanthellae photosyntesis. That said, I do think that there's no harm in keeping the blues and adding other wavelengths as well, other than that the colors in the coral won't be as vibrant to human eyes. I might be wrong about that though? Doing more research on that front.

*Holmes-Farley, R. (2020, December). Refractometers and Salinity Measurement. Retrieved December 03, 2020, from http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2006-12/rhf/index.php
______________________________________
Update:

I just bought calibration fluid and a surge protector so I can manage my cords the way I want. It's a 10 outlet surge protector with three usb ports, so I think I'll be good to charge my devices and have all the electronics plugged into it that I need.

Currently, I have the canister filter, heater, and light plugged in for the tank, and I also need to power my google home and a water pump in the calla lily/mossball/shrimp vase . That leaves five extra outlets for my future ato and possible auto doser, plus three more things. And I can charge my phone! Very excited to set it up neatly and mount the light controller. I will feel Very Legit.

I got the Aqua Craft Standard Seawater 35 ppt calibration solution. It had good reviews on the SaltwaterAquarium website, so it's what I went with. HarrisonAquatics recommended the Aquatic Experts AccuBrate fluid, but it was super backordered on Amazon. I realize now that I could have gotten it from Walmart too, but too late! I think(hope) the Aqua Craft fluid should be just fine.
 

Fishproblem

The updates will continue to come later and later in the evening for as long as the 24 hour post merging exists! (Or until I skip a day and then post in the morning...idk)

Tested ammonia and nitrates again. Really honestly think that the ammonia test kit color has been fluctuating slightly, but can't be sure. This is not an easy process. I might buy the salifert tests sooner rather than later.

What do you all think? I guess I'm seeing some nitrates? And I just looked up a different image of the ammonia card and now I think it might actually be too high, at 2.00ppm? Why is it so much bluer than the card???


Screen Shot 2020-12-03 at 8.51.15 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-12-03 at 8.53.53 PM.png

That's my whole thrilling update today! Catch you guys tomorrow.
 

jkkgron2

I’m curious, are you using the freshwater or saltwater API test kit? Or a different test kit? If it’s the FW one then maybe it’s not working right or something.
 

Fishproblem

I’m curious, are you using the freshwater or saltwater API test kit? Or a different test kit? If it’s the FW one then maybe it’s not working right or something.
Freshwater! Apparently the only difference between the two is the colors they change depending on the readings, so I've been comparing my freshwater kit results to the saltwater color chart online. Clearly it's not going well though lol
 

jkkgron2

Freshwater! Apparently the only difference between the two is the colors they change depending on the readings, so I've been comparing my freshwater kit results to the saltwater color chart online. Clearly it's not going well though lol
Maybe ask your LFS to give you a SW color chart next time you visit them?
 

BadisBadis

Definitely get a salifert or red sea test kit. The ammonia is so hard to read on the api and you could have levels that aren't readable on the api, I had the same issue. Personally I got the red sea kit and that really helped pinpoint what my parameters actually were since api is very broad in the ppm readings. If your ammonia test is the blue tube then thats a faulty reading.
 

jkkgron2

It’s possible that the online chart just looks different in person. I agree with above about those test kits. API seem to be good for cycling, but not for general use because it’s not always accurate.
 

Fishproblem

Maybe ask your LFS to give you a SW color chart next time you visit them?
It’s possible that the online chart just looks different in person
I'm sure it does look a bit different in person, but it shouldn't be this far off. Not sure that just the chart is available, but per BadisBadis' advice, I'm not going to bother with the API kit anymore

Definitely get a salifert or red sea test kit. The ammonia is so hard to read on the api and you could have levels that aren't readable on the api, I had the same issue. Personally I got the red sea kit and that really helped pinpoint what my parameters actually were since api is very broad in the ppm readings. If your ammonia test is the blue tube then thats a faulty reading.
Have you used both? Salifert gets mentioned a lot on here, but I've heard good things about the Red Sea kit as well! if you've got input on which is better I'd love to hear it. I'd love to get a whole set of the hanna checkers, but that's gonna have to wait until I'm sure salt is my thing.

Either way, I think I'll be going to my lfs for some new testing supplies tomorrow.

I wonder what the implications of a faulty reading are for my freshwater test results, too...
 

emilymg

following!
 

BadisBadis

I'm sure it does look a bit different in person, but it shouldn't be this far off. Not sure that just the chart is available, but per BadisBadis' advice, I'm not going to bother with the API kit anymore


Have you used both? Salifert gets mentioned a lot on here, but I've heard good things about the Red Sea kit as well! if you've got input on which is better I'd love to hear it. I'd love to get a whole set of the hanna checkers, but that's gonna have to wait until I'm sure salt is my thing.

Either way, I think I'll be going to my lfs for some new testing supplies tomorrow.

I wonder what the implications of a faulty reading are for my freshwater test results, too...
I haven't used the salifert tests yet (I actually posted a thread about api vs red sea vs other test methods) and I'm real happy with the red sea. But I'm sure the salifert is good too. The PH in the api and red sea is the only one thats still accurate on both. The only other method thats more accurate for ammonia is a seneye control kit or an apex system. But I've also found out that those controllers aren't worth since you really don't need a controller once your tank is cycled or if you have thousands of thousands of dollars invested in your tank. I have hanna products also. they work well (only salinity and phos)
Also are you making sure you're rinsing out the test tubes and droppers with RO water In between testing?
 

Fishproblem

I haven't used the salifert tests yet (I actually posted a thread about api vs red sea vs other test methods) and I'm real happy with the red sea. But I'm sure the salifert is good too. The PH in the api and red sea is the only one thats still accurate on both. The only other method thats more accurate for ammonia is a seneye control kit or an apex system. But I've also found out that those controllers aren't worth since you really don't need a controller once your tank is cycled or if you have thousands of thousands of dollars invested in your tank. I have hanna products also. they work well (only salinity and phos)
Also are you making sure you're rinsing out the test tubes and droppers with RO water In between testing?
I'll go look for that thread! I think I'd like to go for the red sea tests if possible.
I've been rinsing in tap between use and then rinsing out in the tank prior to filling to test (test tubes and pipette). I'm using distilled right now. Should I rinse with that instead?
 

BadisBadis

I'll go look for that thread! I think I'd like to go for the red sea tests if possible.
I've been rinsing in tap between use and then rinsing out in the tank prior to filling to test (test tubes and pipette). I'm using distilled right now. Should I rinse with that instead?
Yeah use distilled, thats better than rinsing in the tap. Just less chance of contamination. And good job rinsing in the tank water before use too.
I just realized the thread was on another saltwater forum, not here lol
 

Fishproblem

Yeah use distilled, thats better than rinsing in the tap. Just less chance of contamination. And good job rinsing in the tank water before use too.
I just realized the thread was on another saltwater forum, not here lol
Haha, I try to be good, I really do!
Oooh traitor! (jk) i’m happy with your advice based on what you’ve learned and what I’ve been told, too!

And now, for a refractometer update... holy cow, is all I have to say. My measurements were WAY off. The calibration fluid just showed up at my doorstep and I couldn’t bear to wait. The results have been... informative. Remember how I was surprised by how much salt it took to get to 1.026 SG? well, keep that in mind.

This was my salinity reading that I took of my tank water a few hours after topping it back up with distilled water. This test was done with the refractometer still calibrated with distilled water. Reading is just as expected.


B2B72731-9BBB-4BCC-BC06-67B546A30FBC.jpeg

Then I took a reading of the calibration fluid that I know to be 1.026 SG. Uh oh:


0049E440-4A1A-4FE8-86AA-13A157A56D59.jpeg

I recalibrated my refractometer using the calibration fluid, and got the following reading of my tank water.


1A7E6D8B-7BBB-4D22-8E98-EFEB60F7C670.jpeg
Yikes. On. Bikes.

This, evidently, is why we use calibration fluid and not distilled water to calibrate refractometers.

Does anyone know what the effects are (if any) of this much salt on the cycle?

I’m going to drain some of the water and refill with distilled bit by bit until I’m at 1.025 SG. Jeepers.
 

Fishproblem

Welcome to Evening Thoughts on Pico Reefs with Fishproblem... make yourselves at home.

jk. but can you imagine the podcast? The following is purely rambling, so feel free to blithely disregard.

I've been scouring fishlore for small, successful reef tanks (yeah I'm on another forum for this but there's no place like home, right?). My search has brought me to the very beginning of time: 2006. I've been peeking at our first nano tank threads on record, and it's been really interesting. AnnaEA hasn't been around these parts since September of 2010, but the idea she had to do a saltwater shrimp-focused pico tank sure does sound familiar: Mini Tanks? | Nano Saltwater Tanks Forum | 7771 . I checked her other threads, but it looks like the idea never got off the ground. Brianna here got talked out of starting up a 3 gallon reef as her first SW tank in pretty short order: 3 gallon saltwater tank | Nano Saltwater Tanks Forum | 9166 . I wonder what kind of a setup mine would be if I were building it in 2007...

Didn't get a chance to pick up a test kit today, because it turns out my job is great but awful, in that pandemic related cuts have left me bearing the burden of a pretty wild workload. But now it's the weekend! I still have work to do, but I'll certainly have time to make it over to Pacific Aquarium. And looking at their frags will have never been so fun, now that I have a tank full of saltwater!

Still lowkey reeling over my terribly calibrated refractometer. Truly, the advice to go slow couldn't be better. What if I had blindly "instant cycled" with live rock and taken corals home? I'd have had no idea what was going on when I noticed a problem, too.

I got my surge protector in the mail with the calibration fluid today, too. Took a break from work midday to set it all up, and ended up rearranging my dresser entirely. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with it yet, but in the meantime, enjoy the last photo of the tank with the old surroundings. I'll post pics of what it looks like now tomorrow! (With a great before and after of my cord situation )


IMG_5365.jpg
 

Fishproblem

Aw man, I wrote out a whole update and then I accidentally closed the tab...

In any case, BIG NEWS! Something is growing in the pico reef! It's brown cyano algae, but whatever! Still something! There's the tiniest speck of it at the back of the tank with a single bubble, and about four other small spots on the rockwork and sand. What do I do? Suck it out with a turkey baster? Then what - do I stop running the lights through my cycle? Cyano + bubble:


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.29.28 PM.png

I'm loving the new orientation of the tank on my dresser because now I can see it from my bed! And my dresser is way less cluttered. Here's what it's looking like now:


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.41.42 PM.png

Ideally, I'll get new clear vinyl tube when I get the glass lily pipes so that I have the length to totally push the filter behind the vase. I cut the stock hoses too short for the new arrangement. Whoops!

And! The cord management before and after. What a difference! It's all on the side of my dresser that's easily accessible but we never see unless we're changing the rabbit's litter so that's perfect. (Yeah we have a free range house bunny. It makes power cords complicated.)


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.40.17 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.44.53 PM.png

The new placement of the light leaves a shady spot on the right hand side of the tank... perfect for a sun coral, and a great location to target feed polyps. What the heck, I'm gonna get one. I feed my fish every day, I can feed a coral every day too.

I haven't been able to get test kits yet. My LFS usually has Red Sea and Salifert, but yesterday all they had left was one Salifert Ammonia test. And was set to expire next month. I left it . But! huge props to Pacific Aquarium cause the employee noticed the expiry date as he was about to ring me out, and pointed it out to me. He told me they might or might not be getting more in on Wednesday, but that's too long for me to wait only to find out they didn't. Don't worry, I still didn't make it out without buying something lol.

So now I've ordered the Salifert Ammonia and Nitrate kits from Amazon. Ammonia will be here tomorrow, Nitrate by Wednesday. Fingers crossed they both show up tomorrow! I can't wait to get accurate readings. I went with Salifert because from what I can tell, they're both accurate, but Salifert is cheaper and more user friendly, and while Red Sea is a bit more accurate I felt like Salifert would do the trick for now.

Speaking of expense... did a little mental math today, and I've cruised past $250 for this build with my test kit purchase. $100/gallon so far, and I haven't touched a single coral! Still feels worth it.

Pacific Aquarium didn't have any ricordea yesterday, but they did have a few zoas and palys. They had a few zoa frags that were a dullish green with coral pink all around the edges. It was bright and beautiful but pretty subtle. I loved it, but not sure it's worth $45 for a single polyp? I'll keep it in mind though.

Otherwise, still ghost feeding, and still dosing seed. Wish me luck!
 

ChrissFishes01

Tank looks great! I'll be following along.
 

Fishproblem

Tank looks great! I'll be following along.
Thanks! Means a lot

Not much to write home about today. I've been ghost feeding and dosing aquavitro seed all but one day that I forgot to since the first dose. Salifert ammonia test arrived in the mail, and I got to it right away. Result came back with 0 ammonia. So now I have to twiddle my thumbs till the nitrate test arrives. Either I've got a cycle that's eaten all my ammonia, and I'll get a beautiful nitrate reading this week, or something has gone very awry and I have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrate. We'll see!

Been thinking about macroalgae a lot lately, too. The algaebarn website is just too tempting. Right now I'm really hoping to get some blue hypnea and pom pom gracilaria. Seems as though both are native to the caribbean, so fit the theme well. And well, that's it! I'll probably write quite a bit about my macroalgae hopes and dreams tomorrow.
 

ChrissFishes01

Thanks! Means a lot

Not much to write home about today. I've been ghost feeding and dosing aquavitro seed all but one day that I forgot to since the first dose. Salifert ammonia test arrived in the mail, and I got to it right away. Result came back with 0 ammonia. So now I have to twiddle my thumbs till the nitrate test arrives. Either I've got a cycle that's eaten all my ammonia, and I'll get a beautiful nitrate reading this week, or something has gone very awry and I have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrate. We'll see!

Been thinking about macroalgae a lot lately, too. The algaebarn website is just too tempting. Right now I'm really hoping to get some blue hypnea and pom pom gracilaria. Seems as though both are native to the caribbean, so fit the theme well. And well, that's it! I'll probably write quite a bit about my macroalgae hopes and dreams tomorrow.
I love macros! Very different from corals, and they add a lot of texture that you don't see in many tanks.

I've got some Gracilaria Hayi (pom pom) in my mantis tank and my reef tank, and it does well. Likes high light, for sure - flow doesn't seem to matter as much, although higher flow keeps detritus from settling on it. I've also got some carpeting Halimeda in my mantis tank that I like a lot. I've kept several different species of Caulerpa in the past, too, and they're all fun. I have a bit of red grape caulerpa in my reef now, and it's been a fairly slow grower in comparison to C. Prolifera. I'd recommend ordering from Live-Plants.com - Algaebarn is cool, but they tend to be expensive IMO.
 

Fishproblem

I love macros! Very different from corals, and they add a lot of texture that you don't see in many tanks.

I've got some Gracilaria Hayi (pom pom) in my mantis tank and my reef tank, and it does well. Likes high light, for sure - flow doesn't seem to matter as much, although higher flow keeps detritus from settling on it. I've also got some carpeting Halimeda in my mantis tank that I like a lot. I've kept several different species of Caulerpa in the past, too, and they're all fun. I have a bit of red grape caulerpa in my reef now, and it's been a fairly slow grower in comparison to C. Prolifera. I'd recommend ordering from Live-Plants.com - Algaebarn is cool, but they tend to be expensive IMO.
Yeah! They're awesome! I'm trying to consider how the tank looks with and without blues, so I'm thinking blue hypnea, a sun coral, and a red rhodophyte will make for awesome viewing regardless of the lighting. Also I'm a planted tank geek when it comes to freshwater, so why fight it? lol

I've definitely got enough flow to blow the dust off, but not enough for any "high flow" organisms, that's for sure. Thanks for the tip about live-plants.com! I didn't even know they exist.
 

ChrissFishes01

Yeah! They're awesome! I'm trying to consider how the tank looks with and without blues, so I'm thinking blue hypnea, a sun coral, and a red rhodophyte will make for awesome viewing regardless of the lighting. Also I'm a planted tank geek when it comes to freshwater, so why fight it? lol

I've definitely got enough flow to blow the dust off, but not enough for any "high flow" organisms, that's for sure. Thanks for the tip about live-plants.com! I didn't even know they exist.
Blue hypnea is nice, but I'd research specific requirements before pulling the trigger. I've never tried it myself, but I've heard it can be pretty picky on lighting conditions. I had actually never specifically heard of Rhodophyta, but I guess it's a relatively common macro. Dragon's Breath and Red Ogo would be similar ones to look into, if you can't find exactly what you're looking for.
 

Fishproblem

Blue hypnea is nice, but I'd research specific requirements before pulling the trigger. I've never tried it myself, but I've heard it can be pretty picky on lighting conditions. I had actually never specifically heard of Rhodophyta, but I guess it's a relatively common macro. Dragon's Breath and Red Ogo would be similar ones to look into, if you can't find exactly what you're looking for.
You're right, I do think I need to keep another macroalgae alive before I try the blue hypnea. Yeah, I think any "red algae" falls under the rhodophyte category. So long as it's native to the Caribbean and fits in my tank, I'll take it. Beginners can't be too picky, I think!
 

AcornTheBetta

Aw man, I wrote out a whole update and then I accidentally closed the tab...

In any case, BIG NEWS! Something is growing in the pico reef! It's brown cyano algae, but whatever! Still something! There's the tiniest speck of it at the back of the tank with a single bubble, and about four other small spots on the rockwork and sand. What do I do? Suck it out with a turkey baster? Then what - do I stop running the lights through my cycle? Cyano + bubble:


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.29.28 PM.png

I'm loving the new orientation of the tank on my dresser because now I can see it from my bed! And my dresser is way less cluttered. Here's what it's looking like now:


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.41.42 PM.png

Ideally, I'll get new clear vinyl tube when I get the glass lily pipes so that I have the length to totally push the filter behind the vase. I cut the stock hoses too short for the new arrangement. Whoops!

And! The cord management before and after. What a difference! It's all on the side of my dresser that's easily accessible but we never see unless we're changing the rabbit's litter so that's perfect. (Yeah we have a free range house bunny. It makes power cords complicated.)


Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.40.17 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-06 at 11.44.53 PM.png

The new placement of the light leaves a shady spot on the right hand side of the tank... perfect for a sun coral, and a great location to target feed polyps. What the heck, I'm gonna get one. I feed my fish every day, I can feed a coral every day too.

I haven't been able to get test kits yet. My LFS usually has Red Sea and Salifert, but yesterday all they had left was one Salifert Ammonia test. And was set to expire next month. I left it . But! huge props to Pacific Aquarium cause the employee noticed the expiry date as he was about to ring me out, and pointed it out to me. He told me they might or might not be getting more in on Wednesday, but that's too long for me to wait only to find out they didn't. Don't worry, I still didn't make it out without buying something lol.

So now I've ordered the Salifert Ammonia and Nitrate kits from Amazon. Ammonia will be here tomorrow, Nitrate by Wednesday. Fingers crossed they both show up tomorrow! I can't wait to get accurate readings. I went with Salifert because from what I can tell, they're both accurate, but Salifert is cheaper and more user friendly, and while Red Sea is a bit more accurate I felt like Salifert would do the trick for now.

Speaking of expense... did a little mental math today, and I've cruised past $250 for this build with my test kit purchase. $100/gallon so far, and I haven't touched a single coral! Still feels worth it.

Pacific Aquarium didn't have any ricordea yesterday, but they did have a few zoas and palys. They had a few zoa frags that were a dullish green with coral pink all around the edges. It was bright and beautiful but pretty subtle. I loved it, but not sure it's worth $45 for a single polyp? I'll keep it in mind though.

Otherwise, still ghost feeding, and still dosing seed. Wish me luck!
Lol if you have a video of you closing the tab after the long response, I would make you post it on r/WatchPeopleDieInside.
 

Fishproblem

Ahhh I said that was all but actually I just fed the tank some brine shrimp to see if that gives me an ammonia reading tomorrow.

Lol if you have a video of you closing the tab after the long response, I would make you post it on r/WatchPeopleDieInside.
It would actually be a pretty long, sad video because fishlore usually saves my responses when I leave a thread without posting, even though I never do that when I actually intend to post. So it was just me looking through all 52 of my tabs and then hitting the back button on my browser a lot before slowly coming to the realization that it was all gone. 6 stages of grief right there XD
 

Fishproblem

Okay! So my tank has been up since Nov 23rd with saltwater in, and started feeding the tank on the 26th. Started dosing seed on the 28th. So from "Day 1" it's been 16 days. My Salifert nitrate test has arrived, and I tested the tank for ammonia (salifert) nitrite (API) and nitrate (salifert). Parameters are 0 ammonia, 1.0 nitrite, and .5 nitrate. This is great! Ammonia is being processed, and the nitrite has started being broken down into nitrates. I'm thoroughly pleased and will be eagerly testing every day.

Because you aren't supposed to change the water while cycling, I haven't done a water change to reduce the salinity after my refractometer snafu. I don't think it will negatively affect the cycle too much though, so I intend to do that tomorrow.

The brown cyano is spreading a bit, which makes me a little nervous, but I'll look into it more to see if I should just cut the lights for now. It's not growing fast, but I'd hate to let it get out of control.

After HarrisonAquatics clued me in to live-plants.com, I've been thinking about using them for most of my stock. I have to do some thinking about whether I want wild-collected coral though. It's tough to balance because I love the idea of getting all wild varieties of true caribbean corals and macroalgae (and maybe a sponge someday!??) from them, but I am concerned about sustainability and had been thinking I'd do all aquacultured coral. That said, I suppose I need to look into Florida's regulations more and decide for myself if the legal collection fits into my personal code of ethics. I understand that people who make a living off the ocean are also some of its best stewards, so I haven't ruled out going the all natural wild collected route.

The above considerations also have me thinking about how to keep pests out of my tank. Aquacultured alage from algaebarn is more expensive, but there's less risk. Same goes for aquacultured coral. Of course, the two LFSs that I frequent have aiptasia in their tanks. OSA in Rhode Island has their own coral farm, which I'd love to support. I need to get there, but with covid numbers looking the way they do, it looks like that's not happening soon. So overall I'm thinking about how to treat coral before it enters the tank. I'm working to decide on what to use for dips, as I realistically won't be setting up a qt tank. Not sure if there's any way to kick aiptasia before it gets into the tank other than quarantining, but I'm researching and learning!

That's all for today! Off to watch a bunch of youtube videos about coral dips.
 

Fishproblem

I was wrong! I have 50ppm of nitrate. I misread the directions on the salifert test and thought that I had to divide any result, not just the lowest readings. So, my actual readings are:

0ppm ammonia, 1.0ppm nitrite, 50ppm nitrate.

I'm repeating myself a bit, having also posted this here: Fishless Cycle Advice | Saltwater Aquarium Setup Forum | 480560

But I wanted this info to be included in my build thread too.

The faux lightwood plastic base is really getting to me - I thought I could live with it, but apparently I can't. I think I'm going to drain the tank and remove the base today, then put most of the old water back in, mixed with distilled to get it to 1.025 SG.
 

Fishproblem

So I went all-in today on the other forum I'm on, and have been getting some really great, informative advice.

My tank will need to be well established for RFAs, so those will be added far down the line (6 months minimum). Until then, it'll be ricordea and zoas/palys, with a macroalgae or two to keep me busy. I saw a blue ricordea in someone's build today that was just gorgeous... sigh.

I have been advised against sun corals in a pico, so those are back to the wish list for someday. That said, let's see where I am a year from now. I might start feeling dangerous. Evidently the frequent feeding makes it hard for a pico to sustain stability, but I think there's a way or two around that. Again though, I am a noob and won't be risking it while I am still a noob.

I'm getting talked into a CUC. Admittedly, it's probably not hard to talk me into. I'm pretty much exclusively looking at the Virgin Nerites on ReefCleaners. Gorgeous little Florida natives, super tiny, something different, decent cleaners. I'm into it. Beyond those, the jury is out.

I also need a phosphate test kit! I've been advised that liquid phosphate tests are remarkably difficult to read, and the hanna checker is best. LadyS , HarrisonAquatics , and Jesterrace - can any of you speak to your own experience on that front? I'd been finding mixed reviews on the hanna tests' accuracy.

When I do get corals, I'm probably going to dip with coral RX and keep an eagle eye out for aiptaisia, with kalkwasser on hand to murder anything that pops up. Kalkwasser because it can pull double duty and if I need to add it to my ato reservoir or otherwise dose it down the line, I already have it.

Haven't tested parameters yet today, but I have dosed seed and fed the tank some brine shrimp. Will test params soon and post about them. Holding off on the big WC/base removal project until tomorrow. Figured it would be irresponsible to turn my living room/home office into a wet, salty workshop in the middle of the workday!
 

ChrissFishes01

I don't find the Phosphate Red Sea test kit difficult to read - no more than any other kit. The lower levels do all look similar, but they're good enough for me. I do own a few Hannah Checkers, and I do like them, but don't feel they're necessarily worth the high cost.
 

Fishproblem

I don't find the Phosphate Red Sea test kit difficult to read - no more than any other kit. The lower levels do all look similar, but they're good enough for me. I do own a few Hannah Checkers, and I do like them, but don't feel they're necessarily worth the high cost.
Good to know! I'd rather save the money for shipping on coral and livestock
Do you find that the low levels are too low anyway, so it's informative enough in that sense?
 

ChrissFishes01

Good to know! I'd rather save the money for shipping on coral and livestock
Do you find that the low levels are too low anyway, so it's informative enough in that sense?
I'm not one to really push for insanely low levels - I get them within range, and let the tank ride wherever it's comfortable. I actually end up using API Test strips more often than anything else - they let me know ballpark info on my tank, and if something looks a bit off, I pull out the liquid test kits and Hannahs.

I really only test PO4 every month or two, even on new tanks. I'm not necessarily recommending you run your tank this way, but it's worked so far for me.
 

LadyS

I can only second Harrison.

I have a Hanna alk test (HI755), and their salinity meter (HI98319). The salifert alk test kit is ridiculously stupid enough to make the Hanna kit worth the price. Saliferts calcium test kit requires the same “add drops until color changes, then compare reagent left over to determine calcium” ridiculousness that the ALK test does, so I feel that the Hanna calcium price is justified. The only snag is that, for ALK at least, the accuracy is +/- 1dkh. I don’t remember the calcium off han

The salinity meter is on par with quality refractometers in regards price, so I feel the digital readout, and ease of calibration made it worth the price

But $50 to test my pH?! Not happening. Same thing with nitrates. Saliferts nitrate test kit is easy enough, and includes instructions on determining lower concentrations visually.

As to maintaining levels in your pico: don’t worry about dosing kalk, just do water changes! RedSea blue bucket has sufficient levels of alk, calcium, and magnesium, and runs $28-$30 per 50g bucket. If you’re willing to order online, ReefCrystals can be had for less than $12 per 50g bag, and has sufficient levels.

Sun coral in a pico: don’t glue it down, and simply move it into a Tupperware container of tank water to target feed every polyp. That will give you a chance to reduce excess nutrients, and keep your CUC from stealing the food from the sun coral. A 1/4-1/2gal water change would more than sufficiently manage levels, and give you wiggle room.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say soon, but I’ve got 2 pages of comments to go through, so brace yourselves.
Okay, so that was a lot of reading, and I think that most of the questions got answered pretty well.

If you’re still in the cycle process, dropping the salinity down to 1.019 will SPEED UP the process. Additionally, don’t let the nitrite level exceed 5ppm, or it will inhibit the development of bacteria that break down the ammonia. Dr. Tim Hovanec (THE Dr. Tim) did a great presentation about this at MACNA.

Raise your light! You’ve got a massive hotspot in the center, and little coverage on the sides. Ideally, you should rent a PAR meter to determine appropriate height, as well as brightness, but taking it up to about 7-8” would probably work best for light spread.

I also despise the blue/purple that a lot of tanks are run at, but almost all of the corals metabolic needs are met with light in the 380-520nm range, which is all blue/purple. Using a PAR meter to set the intensity on the blue/purple spectrum (Probably between 100-150 PAR max), and then add in only enough white to get to the color spectrum you want will be best for the coral.

I had a group of sexy shrimp in my display, but the developed a taste for SPS coral, so they live in the sump now. They never hosted my carpet anemone, ricordea, Star polyps, Duncan, Goni, alvea, or any other corals. Super cool shrimp, though!

How are you planning to light your cheato reactor? Did you answer that, and I missed it?
 

Fishproblem

I can only second Harrison.

I have a Hanna alk test (HI755), and their salinity meter (HI98319). The salifert alk test kit is ridiculously stupid enough to make the Hanna kit worth the price. Saliferts calcium test kit requires the same “add drops until color changes, then compare reagent left over to determine calcium” ridiculousness that the ALK test does, so I feel that the Hanna calcium price is justified. The only snag is that, for ALK at least, the accuracy is +/- 1dkh. I don’t remember the calcium off han

The salinity meter is on par with quality refractometers in regards price, so I feel the digital readout, and ease of calibration made it worth the price

But $50 to test my pH?! Not happening. Same thing with nitrates. Saliferts nitrate test kit is easy enough, and includes instructions on determining lower concentrations visually.
Thank you so much for going through the whole thread! Wow! This is so great. So far I'm using API for pH and nitrite, and salifert for ammonia and nitrate. I think that phosphate is going to be the next test I buy - based on yours and Harrison's input, I'll probably go with Red Sea.

As to maintaining levels in your pico: don’t worry about dosing kalk, just do water changes! RedSea blue bucket has sufficient levels of alk, calcium, and magnesium, and runs $28-$30 per 50g bucket. If you’re willing to order online, ReefCrystals can be had for less than $12 per 50g bag, and has sufficient levels.
That was the general plan. I'm using Tropic Marin Pro, which I believe has sufficient trace elements to keep everything happy with water changes alone. My whole plan so far has been to use water changes to manage most things, rather than dosing, protein skimmer, etc. I just like the idea of having the kalk around becasue it's more generally useful than, say, aiptaisia X.

Sun coral in a pico: don’t glue it down, and simply move it into a Tupperware container of tank water to target feed every polyp. That will give you a chance to reduce excess nutrients, and keep your CUC from stealing the food from the sun coral. A 1/4-1/2gal water change would more than sufficiently manage levels, and give you wiggle room.
Ugh I want to go for the sun corals so badly. I do have a spot in the tank that I think would be great for placement to make for easy target feeding. When you say not to glue it down, does that mean I can just sit it on the sand bed and it'll stay put there? That would be great, and I imagine make fragging easier too.

If you’re still in the cycle process, dropping the salinity down to 1.019 will SPEED UP the process. Additionally, don’t let the nitrite level exceed 5ppm, or it will inhibit the development of bacteria that break down the ammonia. Dr. Tim Hovanec (THE Dr. Tim) did a great presentation about this at MACNA.
Wow! What a hot tip! I'm really glad I read this before I did my water changing today. Do you know anything about the science behind that?
I think I have little to worry about with the nitrite level, but I'll keep an eye on it. Hasn't gone above 1.0ppm yet. Is there by any chance a video of the presentation? I can look for it if you're not sure.

Raise your light! You’ve got a massive hotspot in the center, and little coverage on the sides. Ideally, you should rent a PAR meter to determine appropriate height, as well as brightness, but taking it up to about 7-8” would probably work best for light spread.

I also despise the blue/purple that a lot of tanks are run at, but almost all of the corals metabolic needs are met with light in the 380-520nm range, which is all blue/purple. Using a PAR meter to set the intensity on the blue/purple spectrum (Probably between 100-150 PAR max), and then add in only enough white to get to the color spectrum you want will be best for the coral.
omg I so appreciate this. I was wondering if the light was much too close. I guess I'll have to rig something with the cable to suspend it if I can't bully the gooseneck into doing what I need it to. I'll work on that today!

I'll look into renting a par meter, too. i think I saw rentals on the BRS site but it was like $60? I wonder if my LFS rents one out. Do you believe in the idea of having actinics only in the beginning/end of the light period? It seems to me like it's up in the air as to whether it's actually beneficial.

I had a group of sexy shrimp in my display, but the developed a taste for SPS coral, so they live in the sump now. They never hosted my carpet anemone, ricordea, Star polyps, Duncan, Goni, alvea, or any other corals. Super cool shrimp, though!
Yeahhhhhh I've read that they can develop a taste for coral, but I'm willing to take a shot at keeping them fat enough to behave. Fingers crossed that they host my future RFAs!

How are you planning to light your cheato reactor? Did you answer that, and I missed it?
Ugh. The idea of putting something in a canister filter on this tank has been so controversial. I'm not sure I'll be using chaeto in the canister at all, in favor of including macroalgae in the display. I'm definitely not going to add chaeto in until after I've got more nutrients going on, but if I do put it in the canister, I planned on lighting it with an LED grow light strip wrapped around it. The plastic is transparent grey and the canister is small enough that the light penetration would be more than enough. And I'd be able to totally cover the light so I don't have to deal with a pink glow in my bedroom at night lol
 

LadyS

Red Sea or Salifert. Whichever is easier for you to get your hands on. Those ammonia alert plastic things that hang in the aquarium are also very popular for monitoring free ammonia levels. The test kits will indicate all sources of ammonia, the little alert thing only warns you of the levels of free ammonia.

Yep! You can just set the sun coral somewhere on the substrate, or on a rock. You won’t have any fish to knock it over.

I really like the idea of tropic Marin, and their use of pharmaceutical grade ingredients, it just seems that there are regular supply interruptions, which added with the cost, has kept me on RedSea.

the Dr. Tim MACNA presentation is available on YouTube! Just google “dr Tim havonec MACNA”. It’s about a 30 minute video.

Your LFS May have a PAR meter to rent, or your local reef group on FB. Just enter your city name, and “reef club”. I’m sure you have one, and the larger groups usually have communal equipment like PAR meters for use. I ramp my lights at almost equal levels, except for a 20-30 minute period where the blues come on first. I like a crisp, 12k-16k light temp look, so I ramp my lights in the color that I like. I think people got hooked on using actinic bulbs as a sunrise/sunset from back in th day when actinic was paired with metal halides, and the actinic came on first. I haven’t looked for information that says using blue to ramp up/down is better, but I haven’t seen it preached, either.

Nix the cheato reactor. It’s a form ofnutrient export meant to help reduce the need for water changes. Trying to reduce water changes in a system where water changes are your main way to stabilize calc/alk/mag would just be goofy. Use it as a way to move water, and call it a day k
Found it on MACNA.org

Video Category
 

Fishproblem

Red Sea or Salifert. Whichever is easier for you to get your hands on. Those ammonia alert plastic things that hang in the aquarium are also very popular for monitoring free ammonia levels. The test kits will indicate all sources of ammonia, the little alert thing only warns you of the levels of free ammonia.
Super dope, I'll see what the LFS has on my next pilgrimage.
Oh, but I so hate anything stuck to my glass lol. Think I can get away without the Ammonia Alert if I'm testing regularly?

Yep! You can just set the sun coral somewhere on the substrate, or on a rock. You won’t have any fish to knock it over.
Very cool, now I'm back on the Sun Coral Express. I just love them so much.
While we're talking corals, any gorgonian tips? You mentioned them on your thread and tbh I'd love to have some in this tank eventually. Are they tough to care for?

I really like the idea of tropic Marin, and their use of pharmaceutical grade ingredients, it just seems that there are regular supply interruptions, which added with the cost, has kept me on RedSea.
Same reason I was drawn to it! I found that the tiny box of Tropic Marin was really easy to find despite the supply issues. I guess most folks who are paying for it are buying in more bulk. Hopefully the covid vaccine works and Germany gets to start shipping things outside of the country again. Apparently their national covid response has been a huge part of the supply issue, which I suppose I can't complain too much about!

the Dr. Tim MACNA presentation is available on YouTube! Just google “dr Tim havonec MACNA”. It’s about a 30 minute video.

Found it on MACNA.org

Video Category
WELL then. What a helpful video. It looks like I have definitely been stalling my cycle by not doing a water change as soon as I realized my salinity was up above 1.030 SG. I had a hunch that it could be problematic, and this definitely confirmed! I've changed out a gallon of tank water for distilled water, which has gotten my salinity down to 1.022 SG, but I need to get to 1.015 before I'm in Dr. Tim's recommended range for growing bacteria quickly. I'll change a bit more water out tomorrow to get there.

Your LFS May have a PAR meter to rent, or your local reef group on FB. Just enter your city name, and “reef club”. I’m sure you have one, and the larger groups usually have communal equipment like PAR meters for use. I ramp my lights at almost equal levels, except for a 20-30 minute period where the blues come on first. I like a crisp, 12k-16k light temp look, so I ramp my lights in the color that I like. I think people got hooked on using actinic bulbs as a sunrise/sunset from back in th day when actinic was paired with metal halides, and the actinic came on first. I haven’t looked for information that says using blue to ramp up/down is better, but I haven’t seen it preached, either.
I'll poke around for a PAR meter and see where I can find a loaner most easily. Interesting about the older bulb setups... we really are creatures of habit, who rapidly let habit become superstition!

Nix the cheato reactor. It’s a form ofnutrient export meant to help reduce the need for water changes. Trying to reduce water changes in a system where water changes are your main way to stabilize calc/alk/mag would just be goofy. Use it as a way to move water, and call it a day k
I see the irony there now. Driving with one foot on the gas and one on the brakes. Sounds good! Simple. I like it.

________________________________________________________________

General Update

As for my update for today, my parameters pre water change tested at 0 ammonia, 2.0ppm nitrite, and about 75ppm nitrate, if I'm reading the tests right. The color of the nitrate test looks to be right between the shades for 50ppm and 100ppm. The higher level nitrite readings for the API test are functionally useless, but good enough for getting the idea, I think. I don't believe my nitrite should ever approach this high again once the tank's cycled.

My new friends from the other forum are talking me out of my blind fear of aiptasia and live rock, and I'm coming around to the idea of seeding my tank with some very established rubble, if I can get my hands on it. Ocean rock has been recommended, but I don't think we like the idea of taking rocks from the ocean anymore... not terribly sustainable, is it?

Aside from these issues, I'm mostly just impatiently waiting for a cycle, and mooning over some blue and green ricordea I'm seeing for sale online. ReefCleaners has some pretty ones! I'm probably going to get three Virgin Nerites and five or six dwarf ceriths. Thinking about hermit crabs. It feels like a lot of critters for a tiny tank.

I've gotta tell you all, I am just about desperate to try that bottled coralline algae from ARC Reef. Specifically the pink. I don't love the really purple look, but the pink is so light and just, idk. Nice? I know I've gotta have the right stuff in the tank to support coralline for it to work though. But I'm still thinking about it!

OH, and how could I forget? I took the tank apart and removed the base today. All glass now, very slick! Pics tomorrow. I raised the light some, so that'll be an exciting change to my otherwise empty tank as well XD
 

LadyS

You can absolutely keep testing, instead! I don’t like testing water, so any viable shortcut is preferred.

I am SO READY for a vaccine. I will take all the vaccines. I would like life back to normal, and fish stuff to not be in short supply.

Dr. Tim definitely shook up a lot of preconceived notions about cycling. I’m glad I didnt miss it. Im not so glad it happened in the middle of a hurricane. It sounds like your cycle is basically over, if you’ve gotten to zero ammonia/nitrite, and high nitrates. I don’t think the system is stable, but the basics are there to level out.

I’m really only making a broad assumption on the use of blue lights for sunrise/sunset, but that’s when I remember it becoming popular, and carrying over to LEDs. My sunrise here on the Atlantic certainly isn’t purple.

The cheato reactor may be a good idea down the road, if you find your nitrates/phosphates creeping up even with water changes. I know I’ve said it a million times, but even with my daily 5%, and my prolifera in the sump, my nitrates hang around 2ppm. Anything below 5, and above 1 keeps me happy.

GORGONIANS! My only suggestion is to buy a bigger house, because I really think you’re going to love them! Stick to Caribbean gorgonians, as most of them are photosynthetic. The larger the polyp, the easier they are to feed. If they have a white polyp, and you don’t know the species, don’t buy it. There are photosynthetic gorgs with white polyps, but a lot of the non-photosynthetic gorgs have white polyps. Briareum is probably the easiest of them all. It’s not technically a gorgonian, it’s basically brown star polyps. However, it has that shape, so it’s a great, hearty starter that won’t need supplemental feeding. From there, in descending order of my favorite, to least favorite, are:
Plexaurella
Pterogorgia - *need very high light, and feeding for long term success
Muriceopsis
If you look at KP Aquatics, avoid what they call Orange Tree Gorgonian, and the yellow/red finger gorgonians. Those are NPS, and will require daily feedings to survive. On live-plants, stay away from their “purple fan”. All the rest on both sites are photosynthetic, and will be easier. They’ll all need a fair amount of water movement, as they shed to help keep algae off of themselves.

I bought a bottle from ARC reef in May of 2019, and was not impressed. I live 187 miles north of their facility, and it still sat for almost a week before USPS was finally passed the package. Their website states it’s bottled fresh the same day the shipping label is printed (which is when USPS is notified there’s a package, and the tracking begins on their site), so that means it sat for 6 days in ARC Reefs warehouse in that bottle. We had more days in May of 2019 that were over 95 degrees than all of 2016, 2017, and 2018, so I received a bottle of rotten water. They didn’t return any phone calls, or e-mails, and I didn’t have any coralline growth in that system until 9 months later, when I introduced scrapings from another tank. It was an absolute waste of $20 for me.

I like to wait until everything is covered in algae before adding my CUC. The stores around me keep their CUC in clean tanks by the hundreds, so they’re no doubt starving when I buy them. Lots of food, I think, helps them settle in.
 

Fishproblem

You can absolutely keep testing, instead! I don’t like testing water, so any viable shortcut is preferred.
hahah I hate testing water but I hate junk cluttering my tanks even more. I'm a slave to the #aesthetic

I am SO READY for a vaccine. I will take all the vaccines. I would like life back to normal, and fish stuff to not be in short supply.
I cannot WAIT. I've been lucky to keep work and have healthy friends and loved ones who have all stayed safe thus far, but being stuck at home without even an office to go into has really messed me up. Thank god I have fish tanks, tbh. Otherwise I would have started banging my head against the wall a loooong time ago!

It sounds like your cycle is basically over, if you’ve gotten to zero ammonia/nitrite, and high nitrates. I don’t think the system is stable, but the basics are there to level out.
I'm definitely at 0 ammonia. The tank seems to be processing it as quickly as it arises, so that's great. Nitrite is still a little iffy. It's getting processed into nitrate, but not quickly enough to get down to zero. I have yet to test today, but I'm eager to see where the numbers are.

I’m really only making a broad assumption on the use of blue lights for sunrise/sunset, but that’s when I remember it becoming popular, and carrying over to LEDs. My sunrise here on the Atlantic certainly isn’t purple.
I think you're onto something with that assumption though. I'm really fascinated by the lighting thing. Idk if you're familiar with his tanks, or saw me mention it earlier in this thread, but inland_reef on IG has an incredible reef with macroalgae, gorgonians, and a few other corals that are all growing under twinstar freshwater LED - no actinics at all.

I have to wonder, particularly with shallow water coral species, how necessary the actinics really are. My understanding is that the blues replicate the wavelengths that reach the corals in deeper water, but if we're talking as shallow as 50 feet and under, the full spectrum is still getting through - so in that case, for a lagoon style tank that's hosting shallow water species, why not just use a full spectrum light that includes but isn't preferential toward blues? If we're after the effect of sunlight passing through water to photosynthetic organisms, why shouldn't that be doable with lights that mimic the full spectrum of sunlight, shining through water? My knowledge of the way color wavelengths move through water comes from saltwater fishing with lures though, not reefkeeping, so I'm sure I'm missing info.

The cheato reactor may be a good idea down the road, if you find your nitrates/phosphates creeping up even with water changes. I know I’ve said it a million times, but even with my daily 5%, and my prolifera in the sump, my nitrates hang around 2ppm. Anything below 5, and above 1 keeps me happy.
I'm definitely keeping the idea in mind for down the line. Gonna work hard to keep this build as simple as possible and only add features as they become necessary.

GORGONIANS! My only suggestion is to buy a bigger house, because I really think you’re going to love them! Stick to Caribbean gorgonians, as most of them are photosynthetic. The larger the polyp, the easier they are to feed. If they have a white polyp, and you don’t know the species, don’t buy it. There are photosynthetic gorgs with white polyps, but a lot of the non-photosynthetic gorgs have white polyps. Briareum is probably the easiest of them all. It’s not technically a gorgonian, it’s basically brown star polyps. However, it has that shape, so it’s a great, hearty starter that won’t need supplemental feeding. From there, in descending order of my favorite, to least favorite, are:
Plexaurella
Pterogorgia - *need very high light, and feeding for long term success
Muriceopsis
If you look at KP Aquatics, avoid what they call Orange Tree Gorgonian, and the yellow/red finger gorgonians. Those are NPS, and will require daily feedings to survive. On live-plants, stay away from their “purple fan”. All the rest on both sites are photosynthetic, and will be easier. They’ll all need a fair amount of water movement, as they shed to help keep algae off of themselves.
Thank you for the guide to gorgonians! I'll be sure to refer back to this when it comes time to buy! They're so cool and after having seen some really awesome photos of a bunch of them growing off a dock with sun corals, I've had my heart so set on peppering a couple into the layout of this tank. Look at me. I started this saying I was planning on 1-3 species of coral, and now I have a list of 5 and counting. I'm going to add only the smallest frags possible and let them grow, but I have a feeling that if all goes well I'll be fragging pretty frequently. We'll be in a bigger place this time next year, so perhaps there will be more real estate for gorgonians soon

I bought a bottle from ARC reef in May of 2019, and was not impressed. I live 187 miles north of their facility, and it still sat for almost a week before USPS was finally passed the package. Their website states it’s bottled fresh the same day the shipping label is printed (which is when USPS is notified there’s a package, and the tracking begins on their site), so that means it sat for 6 days in ARC Reefs warehouse in that bottle. We had more days in May of 2019 that were over 95 degrees than all of 2016, 2017, and 2018, so I received a bottle of rotten water. They didn’t return any phone calls, or e-mails, and I didn’t have any coralline growth in that system until 9 months later, when I introduced scrapings from another tank. It was an absolute waste of $20 for me.
Really! That's so disappointing, I'd been seeing great reviews for it. Man, maybe if I order it in the dead of winter and after the holidays I'll have okay luck with it getting here in good condition. I'm not trying to buy stupid stuff, but I've definitely blown $20 on useless aquarium purchases before, so I think I'll live if it doesn't work. How big was the tank you dosed? I figure if I just dump the whole thing in a 2.5 gallon system, maybe the sheer abundance of spores per gallon will make it likelier to work. I hope.

I like to wait until everything is covered in algae before adding my CUC. The stores around me keep their CUC in clean tanks by the hundreds, so they’re no doubt starving when I buy them. Lots of food, I think, helps them settle in.
Oh yeah, the clean up critters are definitely going to wait until there's stuff to graze on. But I am glad to have the virgin nerites to look forward to, especially. they're so pretty! and I'm a huge dork for tiny tidal creatures, so even the prospect of a cuc is
thrilling.

Speaking of algae! I have this in the tank now! Green stuff has appeared within 24 hours of reducing the salinity to something not insane. Correlation? Causation? Who knows?! Check out the specks and some green film all over the side of this rock. I have no idea what it is, hoping it's okay!


Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 7.08.56 PM.png

Tank parameters today are: 0, 1.0, 50+ish
the API nitrite kit really is a PITA to read, but the purple is certainly more on the blue side of purple than the red side, so I'm reading it as 1.0 and not 2.0. thank god for art school i guess. I inherited near perfect color from my mother, who to this day gets invited to do press okays from print industry people she worked with decades ago. how do normal color perceiving people do this? how do colorblind people do this????

Otherwise, my only update is some FTSs, blues on, and lights off. Hoping the light is in a better spot now, but if not, I've been brainstorming mounts I can build. I've also been looking into PAR meter rentals. Found a cheap one, but they put a $500 hold on your card until you return it. Barf. For some reason I'm still balking at that, even though it's only a hold and it makes perfect sense for security. I'm sure I'll get over myself and do it if that's the best option.


Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 8.20.56 PM.png
lights off and messy testing stuff all over my dresser. i'm a disorganized, sloppy disaster, and have smashed three different API test vials this week as a result. I'm also a stupid meathead and those things to the left are my new jaw exercise balls. don't worry, god is already judging me so you're in good company.


Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 8.21.09 PM.png
anddd evening blues. I hope this doesn't look like so much of a hotspot anymore. my phone makes it look really blown out but irl the light looks much more diffuse. still. PAR meter needed.

I am getting really sick of waiting for my tank to cycle! i'm a patient woman, but like, not this patient.

hope you all enjoyed the update! stay tuned for tomorrow, where I'll post and bemoan the same exact parameter readings!
 

LadyS

First: how do you break down a whole post into multiple quotes?

Remember that the bacteria that break down nitrite replicate at a much slower rate, it’s something like once every 40 hours, so they’ll lag behind the ammonia bacteria.

Broad spectrum bulbs (Especially the 10-15k t5s) still have a high peak in the blue. The focus on using as much lower spectrum as possible, beyond being what the coral utilize the best, also helps with color. I run my tanks at between 12,000, and 15,000k. I’ve bought some zoa that looked like yellow sundials at the shop that are basically brown in my tank. Literally zero chance I’d have paid $60 for those brown turds, but under basically blue/UV, they looked like $60 stunners. This was years ago, and I still wake up sometimes mad about it. (They still look like brown turds, btw).

I used an entire ARC bottle in 12 gallons of water (it went into a 15 gallon tank), so I overdosed it, thinking it would help. Assuming it doesn’t freeze in shipping, ordering in Feb/March may work. You can also just get coralline scraped off of another aquariums glass, break it up, and sprinkle it in like magical fairie dust.

The photo showing the algae isn’t opening properly for me, but that light green film algae is a good sign!

the deposit on a PAR meter rental is jarring, but you’ll benefit in the long run.
 

Fishproblem

First: how do you break down a whole post into multiple quotes?
Well first you have to waste untold hours of your life on fishlore... jk. Highlight the relevant text in the post you're replying to and wait a second. A popup option appears allowing you to select "multi quote" or "reply". Multi quote has never worked for me. I just click reply in the popup and it adds just that text to the response. Type your response, rinse, and repeat as needed.

Remember that the bacteria that break down nitrite replicate at a much slower rate, it’s something like once every 40 hours, so they’ll lag behind the ammonia bacteria.
Thanks for the reminder. I'm getting a little impatient, but hoping to see a fully finished cycle and some stability in the tank relatively soon. I do have to say that I'm really glad I fishless cycled, and even that it's taking so long (to me. It hasn't been that long at all lol) because I'm getting a lot more practical understanding and literary education on the nitrogen cycle.

Broad spectrum bulbs (Especially the 10-15k t5s) still have a high peak in the blue. The focus on using as much lower spectrum as possible, beyond being what the coral utilize the best, also helps with color. I run my tanks at between 12,000, and 15,000k. I’ve bought some zoa that looked like yellow sundials at the shop that are basically brown in my tank. Literally zero chance I’d have paid $60 for those brown turds, but under basically blue/UV, they looked like $60 stunners. This was years ago, and I still wake up sometimes mad about it. (They still look like brown turds, btw).
Right right, I should have acknowleged the color, as well. I would be tossing and turning over that too! I'm actually not super averse to corals looking more natural (aka sad and brown), depending on the setup. Though if I paid a premium for a frag with a name that sounds like a powerful and expensive strain of indica, and it showed up in my tank looking like a piece of potato, I'd be pretty upset. So I guess I'm mostly talking about the fact that I'm not sure the heavy blues are necessary for healthy growth. For display purposes, I totally get it. This is all stuff I'll be thinking about for years and for future setups though, not this one.

I used an entire ARC bottle in 12 gallons of water (it went into a 15 gallon tank), so I overdosed it, thinking it would help. Assuming it doesn’t freeze in shipping, ordering in Feb/March may work. You can also just get coralline scraped off of another aquariums glass, break it up, and sprinkle it in like magical fairie dust.

The photo showing the algae isn’t opening properly for me, but that light green film algae is a good sign!
Hmmmmm. The fairy dust option is a good one but I don't have any friends irl who have reef tanks :/ I guess I'll try the sad lonely reefer option of the ARC bottle, and if that goes sideways I'll just wait till I can find some pink coralline somewhere nearby that I can harvest or buy on a frag or rock or whatever.

Hm. I'll post more algae pics later today, it's kinda cool looking. spots of green film are growing in a few places on the rock, and there's also a lot of pinhead dark specks of darker green algae all over the side of one. I hope it's all good/neutral stuff!
 

LadyS

Thanks for the reminder. I'm getting a little impatient, but hoping to see a fully finished cycle and some stability in the tank relatively soon. I do have to say that I'm really glad I fishless cycled, and even that it's taking so long (to me. It hasn't been that long at all lol) because I'm getting a lot more practical understanding and literary education on the nitrogen cycle

testing, testing. It’s easy to get impatient. You’re at the point where I would have started adding pods, and beginning to treat it like a fully functional tank. You’re at the point where I was with the 40b where I stocked the refugium, fired up the protein skimmer, and added tisbe pods.
Right right, I should have acknowleged the color, as well. I would be tossing and turning over that too! I'm actually not super averse to corals looking more natural (aka sad and brown), depending on the setup. Though if I paid a premium for a frag with a name that sounds like a powerful and expensive strain of indica, and it showed up in my tank looking like a piece of potato, I'd be pretty upset. So I guess I'm mostly talking about the fact that I'm not sure the heavy blues are necessary for healthy growth. For display purposes, I totally get it. This is all stuff I'll be thinking about for years and for future setups though, not this one.

So the heavy blues, in like the 380nm to 500nm range is, from all that I’ve read, where zooxanthelle gets all of its necessary photosynthetic radiation. So you can absolutely run a tank on just 6,500k lighting (which is natural sunlights kelvin temp), but I believe you’d need more wattage to meet the necessary amount of proper light spectrum. When wattage = heat, less is mobetter.
Hmmmmm. The fairy dust option is a good one but I don't have any friends irl who have reef tanks :/ I guess I'll try the sad lonely reefer option of the ARC bottle, and if that goes sideways I'll just wait till I can find some pink coralline somewhere nearby that I can harvest or buy on a frag or rock or whatever.

Does your LFS have lots of coralline on their frag tanks? They may be willing to scrape some off for pocket money.

ARC isn’t as pink as you would think for something called “pink”. In my bottle was a piece of rubble. ARC says it’s there to allow spores to settle while in the bottle, and it did eventually turn purple. But it was a bottle of pink, so I’m guessing this is their pink. Pick outside in sunlight, and in a tank, against Caribsea Purple life rock. Please excuse my calloused man hands.
 

Attachments

  • CE5F6CA0-833E-4D69-A90D-3AA373136625.jpeg
    CE5F6CA0-833E-4D69-A90D-3AA373136625.jpeg
    111 KB · Views: 25
  • 5BBE8195-1775-44EF-9A68-6E54B8500CFF.jpeg
    5BBE8195-1775-44EF-9A68-6E54B8500CFF.jpeg
    266.2 KB · Views: 25

Fishproblem

testing, testing. It’s easy to get impatient. You’re at the point where I would have started adding pods, and beginning to treat it like a fully functional tank. You’re at the point where I was with the 40b where I stocked the refugium, fired up the protein skimmer, and added tisbe pods.
but I don't haaaave a fuge or a protein skimmer! As far as seeding with little living things though... I've seen people adding pods and worms and stuff to their tanks and while I appreciate (and want to take) a holisitic approach to a well rounded ecosystem, what is the benefit of say, pods and spaghetti worms? I'm not planning on a fish in here for quite some time if ever, so do pods serve as a helpful addition to the CUC, or will they just sorta hang out?

So the heavy blues, in like the 380nm to 500nm range is, from all that I’ve read, where zooxanthelle gets all of its necessary photosynthetic radiation. So you can absolutely run a tank on just 6,500k lighting (which is natural sunlights kelvin temp), but I believe you’d need more wattage to meet the necessary amount of proper light spectrum. When wattage = heat, less is mobetter.
aha! that's the missing link I was looking for. interesting... I wonder if there's a way to rig a decent cooling system for LEDs that would do the trick. that's a build for a future home though!

Does your LFS have lots of coralline on their frag tanks? They may be willing to scrape some off for pocket money.

ARC isn’t as pink as you would think for something called “pink”. In my bottle was a piece of rubble. ARC says it’s there to allow spores to settle while in the bottle, and it did eventually turn purple. But it was a bottle of pink, so I’m guessing this is their pink. Pick outside in sunlight, and in a tank, against Caribsea Purple life rock. Please excuse my calloused man hands.
You know what? They really don't. But I go to Pacific Aquarium and while they do some corals and saltwater fish, they really specialize in freshwater planted. (Though they do have some incredible saltwater displays, including a few nano and pico ones that are so inspiring). I have yet to explore the saltier LFSs in NYC.

Huh. That's so weird, but also really helpful. I was definitely looking at pics that were pinker than that. And their product images on their site are very different. But, for $22 I'm gonna take the shot and buy it. Should I wait for the cycle to stabilize a bit more? I've read that it succeeds in stability, and that I need the right calcium, mag, and alkalinity for coralline to grow. Without anything else in the tank though, my salt mix should provide?
 

LadyS

but I don't haaaave a fuge or a protein skimmer! As far as seeding with little living things though... I've seen people adding pods and worms and stuff to their tanks and while I appreciate (and want to take) a holisitic approach to a well rounded ecosystem, what is the benefit of say, pods and spaghetti worms? I'm not planning on a fish in here for quite some time if ever, so do pods serve as a helpful addition to the CUC, or will they just sorta hang out?

If you choose the correct pods, they act as a part of the cleanup crew. Both spaghetti worms, and certain pods will eat detritus, and left over floaty bits. Plus, the pods are cool to watch flip around on the glass.
aha! that's the missing link I was looking for. interesting... I wonder if there's a way to rig a decent cooling system for LEDs that would do the trick. that's a build for a future home though!

I think you should snoop on Kessils! They have what they call “KessilLogic”, which basically prevents the user from changing the output of the LEDS that serve the blues, but allow you to adjust the red/green/white to make the light whatever color you want, without messing up the necessary light for coral. Much better than the infinite adjustability of many other LED manufacturers.
. I have yet to explore the saltier LFSs in NYC.

Huh. That's so weird, but also really helpful. I was definitely looking at pics that were pinker than that. And their product images on their site are very different. But, for $22 I'm gonna take the shot and buy it. Should I wait for the cycle to stabilize a bit more? I've read that it succeeds in stability, and that I need the right calcium, mag, and alkalinity for coralline to grow. Without anything else in the tank though, my salt mix should provide?

Well, vaccine, and then road trip!

also, yes. I expected like “pride Mohawk pink”, but their sample pebble definitely came in as “not as dark as purple, so we’ll call it pink” pink
 

Fishproblem

If you choose the correct pods, they act as a part of the cleanup crew. Both spaghetti worms, and certain pods will eat detritus, and left over floaty bits. Plus, the pods are cool to watch flip around on the glass.
cool! I guess I'll start looking into some creepier and crawlier potential members of the cuc.

I think you should snoop on Kessils! They have what they call “KessilLogic”, which basically prevents the user from changing the output of the LEDS that serve the blues, but allow you to adjust the red/green/white to make the light whatever color you want, without messing up the necessary light for coral. Much better than the infinite adjustability of many other LED manufacturers.
I learned about kessillogic from a BRS video about lighting! I've been looking at their lights a lot, actually. it seemed like a bit much for what I'm planning on for this build, but I'll end up with one sooner or later. i do really like how they lock you out of self-sabotage that way. i'm actually really tempted to try one of their freshwater lights too, the next time I go for a serious upgrade to one of my existing setups.

Well, vaccine, and then road trip!

also, yes. I expected like “pride Mohawk pink”, but their sample pebble definitely came in as “not as dark as purple, so we’ll call it pink” pink
allll the way into manhattan!
yeah i've seriously adjusted my expectations for pink fusion lol. i'll still try it once the cycle is through, but i won't be heartbroken if i flushed twenty bucks.

in general update news, i only bothered testing nitrites today, since that's what i really need to see move. i think they're decreasing ever so slightly, but i quite honestly can't get a solid read against the color chart. it's gonna need to be very evidently bluer before i'm confident the levels are moving the way i want: DOWN. i think i'm going to just keep feeding the tank and dosing seed for a few days and not test at all, then test over the weekend. otherwise it's like watching paint dry.

hopefully these are some clearer algae pics! it's definitely greener in here. first up, film and speckles.


Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 11.30.49 PM.png

and then more spots of subtle green film on this rockwork too.


Screen Shot 2020-12-15 at 11.31.18 PM.png

I'm getting really antsy about adding corals, but i'm trying to remain calm. in the meantime, i'm trying to find a small amount of ethically sourced ocean rock to seed the tank with. ARC actually sells it by the pound, but their collection is on hold until January 2021 due to damage caused by... Hurricane Irma(?). Sorta wild that it's three years on - the hurricane must have totally trashed their site. Although, if I'm being honest with myself, January isn't far off so maybe I can wait.

Christmas is coming, and we've decided to play it safe and not get together this year. That means boxes are arriving at my apartment from my family every day now. I know there's aquarium stuff in some of them and I am desperate to open them lol.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

Replies
26
Views
2K
Esimm03
Replies
5
Views
771
Amazoniantanklvr
Replies
24
Views
2K
xiholdtruex
Replies
20
Views
1K
Willj626
Replies
1
Views
498
Coradee

Random Great Thread!

Latest Aquarium Threads

Top Bottom