2.5 Gallon Pico Reef - Page 4

BadisBadis

I have a question about my nitrite test. If the nitrites are so high that it's hard to read the color, can I dilute it with distilled water to get a "half reading" that's easier to discern? Or should I dilute it with new saltwater? The API Nitrite kit has the same color key for fresh and salt, so I imagine cutting the tank water with distilled would be okay.
I dont know if you would get accurate results with dilution, you'd have to know the proper ratio, you could honestly email API if they have a dilution ratio for the kits. I know for red sea it only has instructions for nitrate dilution. Its 1ml of tank water and 4 ml of ro water.
 

Fishproblem

I dont know if you would get accurate results with dilution, you'd have to know the proper ratio, you could honestly email API if they have a dilution ratio for the kits. I know for red sea it only has instructions for nitrate dilution. Its 1ml of tank water and 4 ml of ro water.
Interesting! So just testing a mix of half tank water and half new nitrite free water wouldn't give me a reading for half the nitrite that's in the tank? I'll have to to some googling to see if anyone's put the answer out there already.
 

jkkgron2

Cool! Are you ordering soon, or waiting until after the holidays? I thought you said the tank wasn't coming back out for a bit, but now I can't remember.

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Im going to be setting up the tank on Christmas, and I hope to get the live rock in the tank around a week after that. I’m not sure when the rock would be shipped because of the holidays, so it might be a couple weeks before the rock actually arrives.
 

BadisBadis

Interesting! So just testing a mix of half tank water and half new nitrite free water wouldn't give me a reading for half the nitrite that's in the tank? I'll have to to some googling to see if anyone's put the answer out there already.
Yeah do some research first. It definitely won't be accurate if you just do half and half (unless the company specifically says thats the right way) but just as a guesstimate its probably not. Ratios are extremely important when working with chemical readings
 

Fishproblem

Hey everyone! The tank and I are doing okay after a little Christmas break (but geez am I wiped). I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and spent it happily, whether or not you were able to be with loved ones in person. I spent the day isolating in my apartment with my girlfriend, but we did gifts and celebrations on Zoom with all our families. There was a surprising amount of Christmas cheer!

Not much new to report on the tank, but I got a BUNCH of pico reef-related gifts.

I got the ATO I've been looking at, along with a year subscription to coral magazine, $30 to Marine Depot, $50 to WWC, and another $50 to Ocean State Aquatics... and $100 VISA Gift Card that's only gonna go toward this tank lol. Clearly my family was excited to have an easy gift theme.

The Marine Depot money has already been spent on a salifert nitrite test, coral RX, and a drip acclimator for corals/shrimp.

I'm super excited and am about to set up my ATO. Pics later!
 

Fishproblem

I got my ato set up! I’m using a gallon jug as a reservoir right now but I’d like to swap it for something more streamlined eventually, as it’s a bit visible. Set up was painless! Now let’s see how it works.

still dying to get my glass intake in the mail so I can get the gear out of the display. After that I have to make the heater inline, and then the only ugly bit is the ato.

it’s looking a little green in the tank right now, but not too much. just a little patina of algae.

finally, a shot of the ato controller mounted next to the light controller. I like my little glowing display. Gonna clean up the wires a bit tomorrow. Cant wait to mount the inkbird next to them. Ordering that tonight!


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LadyS

One of my ATOs is the duetta! Works like a charm. It moves about 10 gallons a week of top-off water, and hasn’t given me any issue.

Welcome to the other side of Christmas!

Would all of those survive being shipped in wet paper towels? Asking because I’m considering getting the same rock as the OP

It’s hit/miss. Lots of things sort of survive the shipping, assuming they stay wet enough. Sponges are guaranteed to end up dying, though. With all the die off, the ensuing ammonia spike takes out a lot of already stressed out animals.

The added effort of manually removing all visible sponges, and preventing them from rotting in the aquarium would certainly help.

If you want maximum survival of inverts, your budget allows, and the seller will comply, shipping them in water will go a long way. You’ll still have to remove all sponges, but any encrusting corals will stand a merger chance at surviving. I *think* KP Aquatics offers freight shipping for wet shipped live rock, and only door-to-door for dry shipped live rock
 

Fishproblem

One of my ATOs is the duetta! Works like a charm. It moves about 10 gallons a week of top-off water, and hasn’t given me any issue.
I'm loving it! Super easy to set up, and last night I was up late reading in bed and heard it top off the tank at 1am. So great to know the water level is always being kept consistent. And it really doesn't take up much space in the display at all. The only problem is that now I want one for all my tanks!

It’s hit/miss. Lots of things sort of survive the shipping, assuming they stay wet enough. Sponges are guaranteed to end up dying, though. With all the die off, the ensuing ammonia spike takes out a lot of already stressed out animals.

The added effort of manually removing all visible sponges, and preventing them from rotting in the aquarium would certainly help.

If you want maximum survival of inverts, your budget allows, and the seller will comply, shipping them in water will go a long way. You’ll still have to remove all sponges, but any encrusting corals will stand a merger chance at surviving. I *think* KP Aquatics offers freight shipping for wet shipped live rock, and only door-to-door for dry shipped live rock
I've seen that a lot of the most successful stories of keeping live rock hitch hikers alive all include daily+ 100% water changes. Woof.

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No dice so far trying to find someone to split the rock with me. I really want to get it asap, but I just don't know what I'm gonna do with it all. If anyone has thoughts on where I can look for someone to split with that'd be great. Otherwise I'll give the local LFS a ring and see if they'd give me credit for it.

I got my bettamag and had a blast cleaning the glass with it yesterday. The magnet is so low profile it fits behind everything in the tank, and can reach all the glass that isn't under a suction cup. I also set up my inkbird controller! The inkbird probe was EXACTLY accurate based off my traditional thermometer I've got in the display. So I'm pleased about that. I'm digging my little side of the dresser command center. The cord management is.... okay. It's organized enough and I can tell what goes where, though it isn't gorgeous. I'm going to buy or make little labels for each cord too.


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I've learned a great deal about nutrients and water chemistry from The Nano Reef Handbook, and it's really made me confident in the decision to go with a quality salt mix from the start. I will be switching to Tropic Marin Classic, but I'll hold onto the Pro for now to cure the live rock in.

I'm watching folks like jkkgron2 and St4rving_4rtist catching up to and cruising past me with the progress on their builds, and it's making me more impatient than ever. But I know that 2.5 gallons is VERY different from 13 gallons, and I'm trying to stay patient. I'm trying to do as much research as I can, and take my time assembling the build so that it's something I'm proud of, and something that's long term sustainable. I just have also have my eye on this Tropicana Ricordea Mushroom at WWC...

I've been dosing seed and feeding the tank, and NOT testing until I get the salifert nitrite kit in. It should be here by Thursday, and then I'll update on where my cycle is at. The algae seems to have plateaued.

My filter intake cleared customs two days ago, so that's something! Eager to get the pretty glass into the tank.
 

jkkgron2

I'm loving it! Super easy to set up, and last night I was up late reading in bed and heard it top off the tank at 1am. So great to know the water level is always being kept consistent. And it really doesn't take up much space in the display at all. The only problem is that now I want one for all my tanks!


I've seen that a lot of the most successful stories of keeping live rock hitch hikers alive all include daily+ 100% water changes. Woof.

_________________________________

No dice so far trying to find someone to split the rock with me. I really want to get it asap, but I just don't know what I'm gonna do with it all. If anyone has thoughts on where I can look for someone to split with that'd be great. Otherwise I'll give the local LFS a ring and see if they'd give me credit for it.

I got my bettamag and had a blast cleaning the glass with it yesterday. The magnet is so low profile it fits behind everything in the tank, and can reach all the glass that isn't under a suction cup. I also set up my inkbird controller! The inkbird probe was EXACTLY accurate based off my traditional thermometer I've got in the display. So I'm pleased about that. I'm digging my little side of the dresser command center. The cord management is.... okay. It's organized enough and I can tell what goes where, though it isn't gorgeous. I'm going to buy or make little labels for each cord too.


Screen Shot 2020-12-29 at 8.06.30 PM.png

I've learned a great deal about nutrients and water chemistry from The Nano Reef Handbook, and it's really made me confident in the decision to go with a quality salt mix from the start. I will be switching to Tropic Marin Classic, but I'll hold onto the Pro for now to cure the live rock in.

I'm watching folks like jkkgron2 and St4rving_4rtist catching up to and cruising past me with the progress on their builds, and it's making me more impatient than ever. But I know that 2.5 gallons is VERY different from 13 gallons, and I'm trying to stay patient. I'm trying to do as much research as I can, and take my time assembling the build so that it's something I'm proud of, and something that's long term sustainable. I just have also have my eye on this Tropicana Ricordea Mushroom at WWC...

I've been dosing seed and feeding the tank, and NOT testing until I get the salifert nitrite kit in. It should be here by Thursday, and then I'll update on where my cycle is at. The algae seems to have plateaued.

My filter intake cleared customs two days ago, so that's something! Eager to get the pretty glass into the tank.
Maybe you could make a thread on here asking if someone would want to split the rock? I haven’t even really started cycling my tank, so you’re definitely ahead of me in that case, at least. Are you dosing with pure ammonia, or fish food?
 

Fishproblem

Maybe you could make a thread on here asking if someone would want to split the rock? I haven’t even really started cycling my tank, so you’re definitely ahead of me in that case, at least. Are you dosing with pure ammonia, or fish food?
I'm thinking I might, even though there isn't a ton of action here on the salty side.
Ah, but you've already ordered your rock! I think that'll get you far in the cycle. I've been using fish food and brine shrimp to feed the tank, and dosing with Aquavitro Seed bottled bacteria. Ammonia isn't really the issue. It spiked and then dropped, and my nitrates are rising continually, but I'm still getting a high nitrite reading. Or was the last I checked. I decided to go ahead and stop testing until I get the salifert nitrite test cause I'm having a lot of trouble reading the API one, and can't even be sure it's working right.

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Unrelated update - I just ordered Aiptasia X and the Red Sea Phospate kit (plus a free sample of reef roids), so when that comes in I'll be all ready for live rock and. eventually, coral frags.
 

Fishproblem

HA! My Marine Depot Christmas order came in yesterday, with my salifert nitrite kit!

GUESS WHAT. I've been aggressively feeding the tank every day. And:

Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0-1ppm
Nitrate 50ppm

HOLY FLAPPING FLAMINGOS, EVERYONE. My Nitrite appears to be at 0 when looking from above as directed, but the super faint purple tint I can see from the side of the vial makes me want to wait another week of feeding and testing before I add life. But it's finally happened! I have fishless cycled this tank! I cross referenced with the API nitrite test to see if it had been working right, and it was after all - the nitrite reading on API shows 0ppm. It just took FOREVER.

I got excited and filled my cart up on ReefCleaners, but then I chickened out because I still want to get live rock first. Sooooo I ordered that today! I couldn't get any interest from anyone before I ordered it, so we'll see how it goes getting rid of the extra now. I think I've got a forum I can list it on.

The rock ships out on the 11th. Can't wait! I might need to get a larger bucket, but I have a heater and water pump for quarantining/curing the rock, and just ordered a par38 bulb and socket extension that should be more than enough to keep things alive before it goes in the tank.

I am seeking input on my CUC. I'm thinking of 5 dwarf ceriths, three virgin nerites, and one scarlet hermit crab. I've been told that might be conservative, but it's such a small tank, I'd hate to overstock with the cleanup crew. I know the virgin nerites aren't the best cleaners, but they help and I mostly want them because they're gorgeous. Just for fun, I'd also like to try a limpet, and/or some cross barred venus clams. The clams are allegedly hardy, and given that I don't have mechanical filtration, I think they'll be able to feed out of the water column with no trouble. All this said, I still want to be able to leave space for my future sexy shrimp trio. And maybe a tiny goby or blenny. Someone on another forum just gave me a heads up on the roughhead blenny and it seems like a potentially awesome fit.

I've received my coral rX and drip acclimator from marine depot, and should have aiptasia x, reef roids, and a red sea phosphate test kit from saltwateraquarium dot com any minute now. I'll be prepared to qt my rock, and add a cuc and corals as soon as I decide I'm ready.

So that's what's going on right now! While I wait for my rock, I'll continue to feed my tank and dose with seed. Otherwise, I'll just be looking for someone to buy the extra rock, and window shopping for critters online.
 

BadisBadis

HA! My Marine Depot Christmas order came in yesterday, with my salifert nitrite kit!

GUESS WHAT. I've been aggressively feeding the tank every day. And:

Ammonia 0ppm
Nitrite 0-1ppm
Nitrate 50ppm

HOLY FLAPPING FLAMINGOS, EVERYONE. My Nitrite appears to be at 0 when looking from above as directed, but the super faint purple tint I can see from the side of the vial makes me want to wait another week of feeding and testing before I add life. But it's finally happened! I have fishless cycled this tank! I cross referenced with the API nitrite test to see if it had been working right, and it was after all - the nitrite reading on API shows 0ppm. It just took FOREVER.

I got excited and filled my cart up on ReefCleaners, but then I chickened out because I still want to get live rock first. Sooooo I ordered that today! I couldn't get any interest from anyone before I ordered it, so we'll see how it goes getting rid of the extra now. I think I've got a forum I can list it on.

The rock ships out on the 11th. Can't wait! I might need to get a larger bucket, but I have a heater and water pump for quarantining/curing the rock, and just ordered a par38 bulb and socket extension that should be more than enough to keep things alive before it goes in the tank.

I am seeking input on my CUC. I'm thinking of 5 dwarf ceriths, three virgin nerites, and one scarlet hermit crab. I've been told that might be conservative, but it's such a small tank, I'd hate to overstock with the cleanup crew. I know the virgin nerites aren't the best cleaners, but they help and I mostly want them because they're gorgeous. Just for fun, I'd also like to try a limpet, and/or some cross barred venus clams. The clams are allegedly hardy, and given that I don't have mechanical filtration, I think they'll be able to feed out of the water column with no trouble. All this said, I still want to be able to leave space for my future sexy shrimp trio. And maybe a tiny goby or blenny. Someone on another forum just gave me a heads up on the roughhead blenny and it seems like a potentially awesome fit.

I've received my coral rX and drip acclimator from marine depot, and should have aiptasia x, reef roids, and a red sea phosphate test kit from saltwateraquarium dot com any minute now. I'll be prepared to qt my rock, and add a cuc and corals as soon as I decide I'm ready.

So that's what's going on right now! While I wait for my rock, I'll continue to feed my tank and dose with seed. Otherwise, I'll just be looking for someone to buy the extra rock, and window shopping for critters online.
Yay!:cool: just wait until you get that live rock in, you'll really start to see things blossoming and things appearing here and there. So glad you finally bought it hahaha
I would add 1 or 2 sandsifting snails. They help clean up and shift sand and are just really cool to watch (esp if you have like 50 in a tank and you put a piece of food in and they all rise from the dead out of the sand at the same time, its great lol)
Other than that sounds good. Limpets are pretty cool, ive always liked them. Just cause they are differnt.
Are you going to add any macro algaes?
 

Fishproblem

Yay!:cool: just wait until you get that live rock in, you'll really start to see things blossoming and things appearing here and there. So glad you finally bought it hahaha
I would add 1 or 2 sandsifting snails. They help clean up and shift sand and are just really cool to watch (esp if you have like 50 in a tank and you put a piece of food in and they all rise from the dead out of the sand at the same time, its great lol)
Other than that sounds good. Limpets are pretty cool, ive always liked them. Just cause they are differnt.
Are you going to add any macro algaes?
I can't believe I waffled on it for so long haha. I just hated the idea of spending that money on rock I don't even have a place to put, but you know what? C'est la vie. My first $100 set on fire for a reef tank.

I wondered about those. I like the look of the dwarf planaxis snails on reefcleaners, but he says they're not really efficient cleaners. I imagine I don't really need them to be that effective at consuming detritus though so long as they're moving sand around. I intend on disturbing my sand bed pretty often. Otherwise my option is nassarius, right? I'm not sure there's going to be enough food to go around for them! What do you think?

I definitely want to add macroalgae! I'm looking at a few different kinds right now, but I definitely have my heart set on blue hypnea (of course) and red gracilaria of some kind. I like codium a lot too. This reminds me I have to get the tropic marin classic soon, because I don't think the pro salt has enough calcium to support the macros I like. I'll definitely get one of the easier macros when I put in an order for my cuc, cause I have to hit a $25 minimum lol.
 

Fishproblem

I'm adding the lily pipes to the tank today! I'll still have to work out an inline situation for the heater, but I'm excited to have a good amount of the gear in the display looking more streamlined.

Also there's a girl near me selling 3 polyp utter chaos frags for $10. I really want to get one this weekend, but is that a little irresponsible if I don't have a cuc yet? Or would it be fine if I also pick up a couple of cleaner snails around the same time?
 

AcornTheBetta

I'm adding the lily pipes to the tank today! I'll still have to work out an inline situation for the heater, but I'm excited to have a good amount of the gear in the display looking more streamlined.

Also there's a girl near me selling 3 polyp utter chaos frags for $10. I really want to get one this weekend, but is that a little irresponsible if I don't have a cuc yet? Or would it be fine if I also pick up a couple of cleaner snails around the same time?
DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! What do you want your cuc to be? If you want it to be cleaner snails then do it.
 

jkkgron2

I'm adding the lily pipes to the tank today! I'll still have to work out an inline situation for the heater, but I'm excited to have a good amount of the gear in the display looking more streamlined.

Also there's a girl near me selling 3 polyp utter chaos frags for $10. I really want to get one this weekend, but is that a little irresponsible if I don't have a cuc yet? Or would it be fine if I also pick up a couple of cleaner snails around the same time?
I wouldn’t. You’re getting some of the gulf live rock, right? If you are you’ll have a lot of die off (even if you put it in a bucket at the start) so you might have issues keeping the coral alive, unless you keep the rock in a bucket for a couple weeks.
 

Fishproblem

I wouldn’t. You’re getting some of the gulf live rock, right? If you are you’ll have a lot of die off (even if you put it in a bucket at the start) so you might have issues keeping the coral alive, unless you keep the rock in a bucket for a couple weeks.
The gulf rock is going to live in a Rubbermaid bin for a while before I add it to the tank. I’m not going to move it into the display until it’s been under observation for at least two weeks and has bounced back from its journey.

DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! What do you want your cuc to be? If you want it to be cleaner snails then do it.
Hahah I'm trying to take my time! cuc for sure will include virgin nerites, dwarf ceriths, and a scarlet hermit. per BadisBadis 's suggestion, I'm looking into sand sifting snail species too. If I can find dwarf ceriths nearby, I'd like to get those before or when I get the zoas, if that's what I do.

I still haven't texted her to confirm that I want to buy them yet, but I think I'm gonna. plenty of people add corals after fishless cycling, so I think adding the live rock is really gravy. That's more to encourage diversity for the long haul. I thiiink a month or two without it won't be harmful to the zoa frag.
 

Fishproblem

man i have been trying to find the cuc I need locally and coming up short.
might have to go into manhattan.
 

Fishproblem

Lily pipes are on the tank! And I'm going to see if I can pick up that utter chaos frag tomorrow or Sunday!

I haven't tracked down my clean up crew yet. Going to do some LFS visiting tomorrow to see what I can find. Otherwise, I found an ebay seller who sells a 25 snail mix of ceriths and virgin nerites for like $21 and free shipping, so I'll just order those and fork over the extra to my LFS.

In other news, I still haven't had a charge go through on my card for the live rock... I emailed Dan to follow up on that yesterday, but he hasn't answered yet. I'm a liiiiittle worried about it not shipping to me by the 11th now.

Before lily pipes:


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And After lily pipes:


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Looks way cleaner, and it'll only look better when I build the inline heater housing. I should probably order the materials for that this weekend...

I'm gonna test the parameters in the am, and if all is well do a water change!

I also got my light for the live rock QT. It's a Luxbird par38 coral bulb. We'll see how it does, but I have no reason to expect it won't get the job done. Stuff's happening!

I need a turkey baster.
 

Fishproblem

Alright alright. I tested my parameters and they’re 0, 0, 25. Is it ok to do a 100% wc to get the salinity where I want it?

Found ceriths in Manhattan and ordered for pickup so I’m going to go get them today. Picking up utter chaos frag tomorrow evening.

And this is set to arrive at my apartment on Feb 2


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I said I wanted to start with ricordea, and meant it! But I haven’t been able to find any locally. I think I’ll do a decent order from reef cleaners when theirs are back in stock. In the meantime, I had the WWC gift card so I used it!
 

AcornTheBetta

Alright alright. I tested my parameters and they’re 0, 0, 25. Is it ok to do a 100% wc to get the salinity where I want it?

Found ceriths in Manhattan and ordered for pickup so I’m going to go get them today. Picking up utter chaos frag tomorrow evening.

And this is set to arrive at my apartment on Feb 2


715B6B20-7994-4000-9F89-F6497E5382FF.jpeg


I said I wanted to start with ricordea, and meant it! But I haven’t been able to find any locally. I think I’ll do a decent order from reef cleaners when theirs are back in stock. In the meantime, I had the WWC gift card so I used it!
Woah those are so pretty!
 

Fishproblem

Woah those are so pretty!
Right? I love them! I think they're gonna look really good with the utter chaos, but I also wanna get some yellows and greens in the tank too.

And I found a scarlet hermit at Petco after I picked up the ceriths from Manhattan Aquarium! It's adorable and I love it.

I've located ricordea! Manhattan Aquarium had a ton of pretty ricordea frags for $40 and I almost bought one but then just didn't? That was dumb! But I'll go back later this week to pick one up. Their place is really cool and I wish I had time to explore more, but I had parked illegally to run into the store for the snails so I was feeling a little pressed for time. I'm picking up my FIRST CORAL tomorrow! Getting the utter chaos sometime after 3pm.

I did a 2 gallon wc on the tank to get the salinity up to 1.025 SG before I added the new critters. The hermit is super cute and I'm in love. I placed it in the tank right on a rock and it started nibbling on algae immediately. The ceriths seem grumpier about the move, but I'm sure they'll get over it.

I have to do a bit of reading about coral acclimation. I just used my drip acclimator to add the hermit crab and the ceriths, and it works like a dream, so that's great. I just have to work out how I'll dip with the coralRX and acclimate the coral to the tank. Do I dip after I acclimate, or before? I do not know.

I am wondering about acclimation to new lighting, too. Should I keep the lights as they are and the corals will adjust fine?

Pics to come!
 

Fishproblem

A lot has happened in the last few days. I owe fishlore a big, well organized update. In the meantime, have this!


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Fishproblem

Alright, I think it's about time I got myself and this thread fully up to speed. It's been a fun and sorta hectic few days of adding life to the tank, and I'm ready to sit back, process what I've done, and plan for the future!

For the skimmers, a table of contents:
1. Water Chemistry: Salt, Cycling, Chemistry, and Water Changes
2. Stocking and Current CUC: Current Corals, Future Plans, and a Stocking Mistake
3. Macroalgae: I want macroalgae. That's it.
4. Acclimation: Acclimating the CUC and the Utter Chaos Zoas
5: Live Rock: The QT Plan

Water Chemistry

Salt:
I'm happy with my initial plan to go with a premium brand of salt. Given that it's the source of all nutrients and the basis for life in the tank, it's not somewhere I feel bad about splurging. Additionally, the fact that I don't want to dose and will rely on water changes only means that a good salt is necessary to make that sustainable in the long term. Tropic Marin Pro is a good salt, but I have learned that if I'm not dosing or using a calcium reactor, it's not going to be right for me. Tropic Marin Classic mixes to a higher alk/ca and will be much better for me. I'm going to use up the Pro with my water changes when I cure my live rock so it doesn't go entirely to waste, then switch to Classic.

Cycling:
The fishless cycle sucked, but I got the job done eventually. Overall, it feels like the aquavitro seed accomplished nothing. I don't think I'd recommend it, as my cycle took as long as many do without any bottled bacteria at all. But now that it is cycled, I'm very happy!

Chemistry:
I need to learn a lot more about the chemical relationships in seawater. So far, the nano reef handbook has been really illuminating, and I'm pretty sure that if I keep up with many water changes I won't have a problem. But I want to know more so I can really understand what's happening in the tank.

Water changes:
Mixing up salt is still a bit of a pain. I'm not great at measuring out salt yet, but I've only done it twice now. It seems like my refractometer drifts off course, too, so I have to recalibrate every time I use it.

Stocking Thoughts + A Minor CUC Disaster

Corals:
So I had grand plans to start off as easy as possible with ricordea, but then those utter chaos were available, and then the WWC gift card I got for christmas was way better served covering the full cost of the Blue Eyed Girls + shipping, than putting toward one of the $70+ ricordea on WWC + another $25 to ship. I still want to get the ricordea from Manhattan reefs, though I am worried about spending $40 on a frag and killing it. I want to get the utter chaos zoas off the frag plug before I get another coral.

I am still really into sun corals, in addition to the zoa/paly/ricordea/rfa plan. I really think I can manage them, but I will wait until I've got a good handle on feeding and keeping the water clean. Pacific Aquarium had a tiiiiny sun coral frag that I had to drag myself away from...

I'm pretty confident in keeping zoas and ricordea. RFAs too, but I've been told they need a more established tank. That was actually a huge driving force behind my going for live rock in the end. So, my coral plan is still pretty much on target. Start with Zoas and Ricordea, then RFAs, thennn maybe a sun coral. Photosynthetic gorgonians are on the list too!

I have a small concern - my biotope. I realize that some zoas are pacific, and that doesn't really fit into my plans. Utter chaos are apparently of two sibling species, separated when the oceans were split by Panama's isthmus: Zoanthus pulchellus and Zoanthus vietnamensis. Right now, they can't be distinguished from one another genetically - only from the collection location. So I feel like it's appropriate enough to use zoas from the Caribbean, or from any of the sibling species, (there are four pairs) but does anyone have thoughts on that? I might make this question its own thread. [source website site cited below] I haven't looked into what species my blue eyed girls are, but my fingers are crossed! I think that given there are only like ten identified species of zoa and eight of them are among the sibling species, I'll be good. Maybe the other two are only found in the Caribbean... that'd be great.

Animals (motile invertebrates and vertebrates):
I'm still in it to win it for the sexy shrimp. Mahattan Aquarium has them for $14 each, which is really not bad. Not going to add them any time soon - I want to let my zoas establish themselves before I risk nibbling, though I'll make every effort to keep the shrimp well fed and docile.

The pico people have won me over to fish. I'm looking at the roughhead blenny, but again. Not for a long time. Now that I've seen more of the way these fish behave, and also just how small they are, I feel fine keeping them in a small space. I think the reefing community largely plays it really fast and loose with letting bigger species "grow out" in small tanks, but for species like this, a tiny tank really will do the job nicely. In my opinion, at least.

Most importantly though, what about the animals I have now!? I'm loving my little cleanup crew so far, with one unfortunately large caveat that I'll get to in a bit. I found the ceriths on Manhattan Aquariums' website, and ordered them online to pick up. While I was out, I stopped at Pacific Aquarium and then Petco to look for a scarlet hermit too. Found it at Petco in Union Square. Their aquatic section is stellar. I drip acclimated them all with my Innovative Marine AccuDrip acclimator, which is a total game changer. It makes it so easy.

The hermit crab is adorable, and has some coralline on the tip of its shell and what looks like a sponge/algae/something red and encrusting on the bottom. It has decided it lives under one specific ledge, and though I've seen it in other parts of the tank, it always goes back there. Super charming. The beat up white shell is such good camouflage too. It looks just like a piece of the rock.


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.52.01 PM.png

The ceriths have been a big surprise! I got six, and thought to myself when I got them that they're a bit large to have six of them all over the tank. But then they buried themselves in the sand and I realized I was only ever going to see three at once, max. When I got them I also thought they were larger than I thought they were gonna be, too. Unfortunately, I was right. Though the image on Manhattan Reefs' website was of the ceriths I was looking for, these are not the ceriths pictured. Instead, they appear to be a Mexican species and not a Caribbean one. I'm bummed about it. They're not even an Atlantic species as far as I can tell. They're from the wrong side of Mexico entirely!

I'm guessing that Manhattan Reefs gave me the switcheroo because most reefers genuinely do not care about what specific cerith species they get, but for me it's actually a pretty big deal. The snails are about twice as large as I'd anticipated, and don't suit the biotope at all. But - my girlfriend loves them already. So this means my tentative plan for a tiny reef bowl for the live rock I'm using to seed the tank is now a very real plan. They can move in there, and then I'll get the right species. Such a bummer, but now I know better. I should have just ordered them direct from Florida with Virgin Nerites, too, but I was impatient and didn't know enough to realize immediately on pickup they weren't the snails I'd ordered. Bummer.

Snails I ordered:

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 7.21.22 PM.png
Snails I got:

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 7.22.05 PM.png

Aside from that, I'm considering a second scarlet hermit, and looking for good shells for them. If anyone from Florida wants to mail me some empty shells from the beach that scarlet hermits would love, I'd be indebted lol. Otherwise I'm going to email ReefCleaners and see if he'll send me some despite the $25 order minimum. The ones scarlets like are not easy to find!

Ceriths as soon as they got added to the tank:


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.53.24 PM.png

And in the process of burrowing in:


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.52.45 PM.png

Macroalgae
Not a lot to say here. I want macroalgae! I'm considering an order with live-plants .com soon. I'm thinking of getting two types of macroalgae, a red and a green to start. Maybe I'll get the nerites and the RIGHT ceriths from them, and order a couple wild ricordea while I'm at it to spread around the shipping fee a little.


Adding My Critters and Coral Acclimation
Adding the snails and the hermit crab was pretty easy! The big issue for me was mixing the salt to the right SG for the water change immediately prior, but I worked it out. I'm sure it'll get easier! I drip acclimated them and then dumped them and the water into the tank, because I realized scooping them in without the water would have left me with too little water in the tank. And I didn't have extra saltwater. Rookie mistake! Hope I didn't dump anything bad in there!

The coral was tougher, mostly because they're zoas, and I was unprepared to handle them safely. I used my planted tank tweezers to move them form container to container and eventually place them on the rockwork. I wore one of my reusable covid masks and my glasses, and was just really careful not to touch them or the water. I drip acclimated, then used some of that water to mix up a cup dosed with Coral RX (1.25mg to a cup of water). Rinsed it in some non -coral RX dosed acclimation water, and then placed it in the tank. Looked like the only thing to fall off it was copepods.

The coral was very angry and closed up tight, but as soon as I put it in the Coral RX, it started to open a little. That was pretty cool. All the polyps opened up really happily today but one, that stayed half closed. I think it'll get over itself soon. My only issue now, I think, is that I don't know how to get it off the frag plug! Advice there would be appreciated. The plug is comically large compared to my rockwork and just doesn't fit. I don't know how to get it off though? Can I really pop it off with a sharp knife? Then how do I attach to the rockwork? Superglue?

I was lucky that my utter chaos frag came from a tank with similar lighting to mine, but I am worried about overexposing corals to too much light in the future. I need to really look into what the best practice is there. Here again, advice appreciated.

Live Rock
My live rock is a little delayed, but should be shipping tomorrow or the next! I'm going to Target to pick up a food safe sterilite bin to cure/qt it in. Already got the heater, pump, and light! It'll look a little janky, but oh well!

My plan is to do frequent tests and water changes as needed for the first couple days, and then as the die off stops, monitor closely for aiptasia. I'm gonna put a couple bottle traps in, too, to see if I can catch any creepy crawlies. Doubtful I'll get anything good outta 2lbs of rock, but we'll see! I'm using an old 100 watt adjustable heater I have for this, with the Luxbird LAP-301B 18W PAR38 and a little water pump I have from an old filter. It'll look janky, but should get the job done. Then, I'll add it to the tank for a month at least to let the good stuff start spreading into the tank. When I think it's been in long enough, I'll move it out to the bowl and give myself my space back in the pico!


Source:
Ferry, M. (2018, September 26). Zoanthus conundrum: Myriads of colour patterns but few species! Retrieved January 11, 2021, from Hundreds of Zoanthid color morphs but only a few species! - Coral Biome
 

AcornTheBetta

Alright, I think it's about time I got myself and this thread fully up to speed. It's been a fun and sorta hectic few days of adding life to the tank, and I'm ready to sit back, process what I've done, and plan for the future!

For the skimmers, a table of contents:
1. Water Chemistry: Salt, Cycling, Chemistry, and Water Changes
2. Stocking and Current CUC: Current Corals, Future Plans, and a Stocking Mistake
3. Macroalgae: I want macroalgae. That's it.
4. Acclimation: Acclimating the CUC and the Utter Chaos Zoas
5: Live Rock: The QT Plan

Water Chemistry

Salt:
I'm happy with my initial plan to go with a premium brand of salt. Given that it's the source of all nutrients and the basis for life in the tank, it's not somewhere I feel bad about splurging. Additionally, the fact that I don't want to dose and will rely on water changes only means that a good salt is necessary to make that sustainable in the long term. Tropic Marin Pro is a good salt, but I have learned that if I'm not dosing or using a calcium reactor, it's not going to be right for me. Tropic Marin Classic mixes to a higher alk/ca and will be much better for me. I'm going to use up the Pro with my water changes when I cure my live rock so it doesn't go entirely to waste, then switch to Classic.

Cycling:
The fishless cycle sucked, but I got the job done eventually. Overall, it feels like the aquavitro seed accomplished nothing. I don't think I'd recommend it, as my cycle took as long as many do without any bottled bacteria at all. But now that it is cycled, I'm very happy!

Chemistry:
I need to learn a lot more about the chemical relationships in seawater. So far, the nano reef handbook has been really illuminating, and I'm pretty sure that if I keep up with many water changes I won't have a problem. But I want to know more so I can really understand what's happening in the tank.

Water changes:
Mixing up salt is still a bit of a pain. I'm not great at measuring out salt yet, but I've only done it twice now. It seems like my refractometer drifts off course, too, so I have to recalibrate every time I use it.

Stocking Thoughts + A Minor CUC Disaster

Corals:
So I had grand plans to start off as easy as possible with ricordea, but then those utter chaos were available, and then the WWC gift card I got for christmas was way better served covering the full cost of the Blue Eyed Girls + shipping, than putting toward one of the $70+ ricordea on WWC + another $25 to ship. I still want to get the ricordea from Manhattan reefs, though I am worried about spending $40 on a frag and killing it. I want to get the utter chaos zoas off the frag plug before I get another coral.

I am still really into sun corals, in addition to the zoa/paly/ricordea/rfa plan. I really think I can manage them, but I will wait until I've got a good handle on feeding and keeping the water clean. Pacific Aquarium had a tiiiiny sun coral frag that I had to drag myself away from...

I'm pretty confident in keeping zoas and ricordea. RFAs too, but I've been told they need a more established tank. That was actually a huge driving force behind my going for live rock in the end. So, my coral plan is still pretty much on target. Start with Zoas and Ricordea, then RFAs, thennn maybe a sun coral. Photosynthetic gorgonians are on the list too!

I have a small concern - my biotope. I realize that some zoas are pacific, and that doesn't really fit into my plans. Utter chaos are apparently of two sibling species, separated when the oceans were split by Panama's isthmus: Zoanthus pulchellus and Zoanthus vietnamensis. Right now, they can't be distinguished from one another genetically - only from the collection location. So I feel like it's appropriate enough to use zoas from the Caribbean, or from any of the sibling species, (there are four pairs) but does anyone have thoughts on that? I might make this question its own thread. [source website site cited below] I haven't looked into what species my blue eyed girls are, but my fingers are crossed! I think that given there are only like ten identified species of zoa and eight of them are among the sibling species, I'll be good. Maybe the other two are only found in the Caribbean... that'd be great.

Animals (motile invertebrates and vertebrates):
I'm still in it to win it for the sexy shrimp. Mahattan Aquarium has them for $14 each, which is really not bad. Not going to add them any time soon - I want to let my zoas establish themselves before I risk nibbling, though I'll make every effort to keep the shrimp well fed and docile.

The pico people have won me over to fish. I'm looking at the roughhead blenny, but again. Not for a long time. Now that I've seen more of the way these fish behave, and also just how small they are, I feel fine keeping them in a small space. I think the reefing community largely plays it really fast and loose with letting bigger species "grow out" in small tanks, but for species like this, a tiny tank really will do the job nicely. In my opinion, at least.

Most importantly though, what about the animals I have now!? I'm loving my little cleanup crew so far, with one unfortunately large caveat that I'll get to in a bit. I found the ceriths on Manhattan Aquariums' website, and ordered them online to pick up. While I was out, I stopped at Pacific Aquarium and then Petco to look for a scarlet hermit too. Found it at Petco in Union Square. Their aquatic section is stellar. I drip acclimated them all with my Innovative Marine AccuDrip acclimator, which is a total game changer. It makes it so easy.

The hermit crab is adorable, and has some coralline on the tip of its shell and what looks like a sponge/algae/something red and encrusting on the bottom. It has decided it lives under one specific ledge, and though I've seen it in other parts of the tank, it always goes back there. Super charming. The beat up white shell is such good camouflage too. It looks just like a piece of the rock.


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.52.01 PM.png

The ceriths have been a big surprise! I got six, and thought to myself when I got them that they're a bit large to have six of them all over the tank. But then they buried themselves in the sand and I realized I was only ever going to see three at once, max. When I got them I also thought they were larger than I thought they were gonna be, too. Unfortunately, I was right. Though the image on Manhattan Reefs' website was of the ceriths I was looking for, these are not the ceriths pictured. Instead, they appear to be a Mexican species and not a Caribbean one. I'm bummed about it. They're not even an Atlantic species as far as I can tell. They're from the wrong side of Mexico entirely!

I'm guessing that Manhattan Reefs gave me the switcheroo because most reefers genuinely do not care about what specific cerith species they get, but for me it's actually a pretty big deal. The snails are about twice as large as I'd anticipated, and don't suit the biotope at all. But - my girlfriend loves them already. So this means my tentative plan for a tiny reef bowl for the live rock I'm using to seed the tank is now a very real plan. They can move in there, and then I'll get the right species. Such a bummer, but now I know better. I should have just ordered them direct from Florida with Virgin Nerites, too, but I was impatient and didn't know enough to realize immediately on pickup they weren't the snails I'd ordered. Bummer.

Snails I ordered:

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 7.21.22 PM.png
Snails I got:

Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 7.22.05 PM.png

Aside from that, I'm considering a second scarlet hermit, and looking for good shells for them. If anyone from Florida wants to mail me some empty shells from the beach that scarlet hermits would love, I'd be indebted lol. Otherwise I'm going to email ReefCleaners and see if he'll send me some despite the $25 order minimum. The ones scarlets like are not easy to find!

Ceriths as soon as they got added to the tank:


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.53.24 PM.png

And in the process of burrowing in:


Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 10.52.45 PM.png

Macroalgae
Not a lot to say here. I want macroalgae! I'm considering an order with live-plants .com soon. I'm thinking of getting two types of macroalgae, a red and a green to start. Maybe I'll get the nerites and the RIGHT ceriths from them, and order a couple wild ricordea while I'm at it to spread around the shipping fee a little.


Adding My Critters and Coral Acclimation
Adding the snails and the hermit crab was pretty easy! The big issue for me was mixing the salt to the right SG for the water change immediately prior, but I worked it out. I'm sure it'll get easier! I drip acclimated them and then dumped them and the water into the tank, because I realized scooping them in without the water would have left me with too little water in the tank. And I didn't have extra saltwater. Rookie mistake! Hope I didn't dump anything bad in there!

The coral was tougher, mostly because they're zoas, and I was unprepared to handle them safely. I used my planted tank tweezers to move them form container to container and eventually place them on the rockwork. I wore one of my reusable covid masks and my glasses, and was just really careful not to touch them or the water. I drip acclimated, then used some of that water to mix up a cup dosed with Coral RX (1.25mg to a cup of water). Rinsed it in some non -coral RX dosed acclimation water, and then placed it in the tank. Looked like the only thing to fall off it was copepods.

The coral was very angry and closed up tight, but as soon as I put it in the Coral RX, it started to open a little. That was pretty cool. All the polyps opened up really happily today but one, that stayed half closed. I think it'll get over itself soon. My only issue now, I think, is that I don't know how to get it off the frag plug! Advice there would be appreciated. The plug is comically large compared to my rockwork and just doesn't fit. I don't know how to get it off though? Can I really pop it off with a sharp knife? Then how do I attach to the rockwork? Superglue?

I was lucky that my utter chaos frag came from a tank with similar lighting to mine, but I am worried about overexposing corals to too much light in the future. I need to really look into what the best practice is there. Here again, advice appreciated.

Live Rock
My live rock is a little delayed, but should be shipping tomorrow or the next! I'm going to Target to pick up a food safe sterilite bin to cure/qt it in. Already got the heater, pump, and light! It'll look a little janky, but oh well!

My plan is to do frequent tests and water changes as needed for the first couple days, and then as the die off stops, monitor closely for aiptasia. I'm gonna put a couple bottle traps in, too, to see if I can catch any creepy crawlies. Doubtful I'll get anything good outta 2lbs of rock, but we'll see! I'm using an old 100 watt adjustable heater I have for this, with the Luxbird LAP-301B 18W PAR38 and a little water pump I have from an old filter. It'll look janky, but should get the job done. Then, I'll add it to the tank for a month at least to let the good stuff start spreading into the tank. When I think it's been in long enough, I'll move it out to the bowl and give myself my space back in the pico!


Source:
Ferry, M. (2018, September 26). Zoanthus conundrum: Myriads of colour patterns but few species! Retrieved January 11, 2021, from Hundreds of Zoanthid color morphs but only a few species! - Coral Biome
I would like to pay off my cerith snails with some simple payments of $0.24/month lol.
 

Fishproblem

I would like to pay off my cerith snails with some simple payments of $0.24/month lol.
Hahahaha that tickled me so much when I saw it too! Then again, if I were a more patient person maybe I'd pay off some cool corals in installments...
 

AcornTheBetta

Hahahaha that tickled me so much when I saw it too! Then again, if I were a more patient person maybe I'd pay off some cool corals in installments...
Just 20 easy payments of $0.25!
 

YellowGuppy

There's no way they're
Just 20 easy payments of $0.25!
There's no way they're letting you finance without interest. You've gotta be looking at like 24 payments of $0.24. Consumer debt is a slippery slope!
 

LadyS

It begins!

Once you’ve started adding animals, it sort of starts to snowball. Exciting times are ridgemont high!
 

Fishproblem

It begins!

Once you’ve started adding animals, it sort of starts to snowball. Exciting times are ridgemont high!
It sure does! I think I just found a guy in chinatown who's selling ricordea frags for $5-15. I'll make myself wait a while before I visit but I'm wicked excited. He's got macros too, so I'll definitely take a look at those.

I really really hope I do all this right! Fingers crossed!
 

LadyS

Get you some ricordea!

I’ve always found them slow to settle in, and taking 8-9 months before they start dividing. Once they start, it’s like fire! I have one from November 2018 that was basically just being a dope until about October 2020, but since then has divided into 3 separate caps.

if you’ve got the patience, they will eat pellets, which seems to help
 

Fishproblem

Get you some ricordea!

I’ve always found them slow to settle in, and taking 8-9 months before they start dividing. Once they start, it’s like fire! I have one from November 2018 that was basically just being a dope until about October 2020, but since then has divided into 3 separate caps.

if you’ve got the patience, they will eat pellets, which seems to help
I'm gonna! Gotta make sure I'm making this zoa happy first though lol.

That's awesome! I've got a free sample of reef roids, but are there any coral foods you recommend for softies?
 

LadyS

They have LPS soft food pellets.

You can also make the reef roids into a paste, and feed with a syringe. Zoas will still grab it out of the water column, so no big whoop.
 

Fishproblem

They have LPS soft food pellets.

You can also make the reef roids into a paste, and feed with a syringe. Zoas will still grab it out of the water column, so no big whoop.
That's right, I'd seen somebody making it into a paste in a youtube video once! I'll try that when I'm ready to try feeding.

I had mixed up saltwater to do a WC today. I haven't done one since the 2 gallon change I did on Saturday right before I added the CUC. I didn't test afterwards because I'm lazy! But also because I had tested immediately prior and knew that a 2 gallon change was going to get me in a very low nitrate area.

I tested before I doing the WC today, and... 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 2-5ppm nitrate. I'm not sure I want to change the water now! I've heard that zoas prefer it when the nitrates are around 10ppm, but there are a lot of mixed messages out there about it. Do they actually prefer high nitrates, or do they just like having nutrients in the water, and "dirty" tanks usually have both higher nutrients AND high nitrates?

Maybe I'll do a wc and feed some reef roids to get stuff into the water column for them?

The one polyp is closed up tighter than it was before, but I also might see a new one growing beside it. Could that be why it's grumpy?

There's a lot of snail poop accumulating in some places on the rocks. I still need a turkey baster! I should grab one at the supermarket today.
 

Fishproblem

Still haven't gotten any shipping confirmation from Gulf Live Rock, and still no charge on my card... I don't want to call again and be a pain, but I do want to know when my rock is showing up. jkkgron2 when you ordered, did they email you when the rock shipped?
 

LadyS

I’m not so smart-like with zoas. I’ve never noticed them closing up while budding off. At least mine don’t seem to do that

Have you dipped it? Looked closely for aiptasia/ball anemone?
 

Fishproblem

I’m not so smart-like with zoas. I’ve never noticed them closing up while budding off. At least mine don’t seem to do that

Have you dipped it? Looked closely for aiptasia/ball anemone?
Hmmm me neither lol

I dipped in Coral RX for about 8 minutes, but not iodine. Salinity is at 1.025 SG. I've looked really closely at it and don't see anything that I can identify as not part of the zoa. A couple people have said to wait it out for over a week before I start to worry, so I guess I'll do that!
 

LadyS

I definitely second the waiting a week!

I have yet to have a goniopora that took less than 5 days to settle in, and look normal. I can imagine that some zoa are just as big a prima donna
 

Fishproblem

Got some good advice about the zoa, so I figured I'd share here! Under whites, it looks like there's algae growing on it, but some more zoa savvy folks have said the other polyps look healthy. I'm going to take their advice and try to blow the algae off it with a pipette and see what happens.

Meanwhile, I've also been advised to keep nitrates and phosphate well above 0 for these guys, so I'm considering my feeding schedule. I fed reef roids once a few days ago, but I might have to start feeding every other day or so. If I keep doing water changes and don't change anything else, I'll never get those readings up.

I'm setting up my live rock QT tonight. Already started, actually. It's an 11 quart clear food bin from IKEA with an airtight lid. I've drilled holes all around the lid, and have to cut a little notch in it to let the power cords for the heater and water pump pass through. My pump for it will be here tomorrow. It's just a cheapo one from amazon that was $9. It's rated for 60-120GPH so I'm sure it'll move enough water around. Now I just have to figure out where I'm gonna put it while the rock is in QT. It's not awfully pretty, but I haven't really got anywhere to hide it away. Hm.

Now I just have to keep obsessively checking my tracking for the rock. Fedex says it's scheduled for Wednesday. I can't wait. It looks like the weather won't be tooooo cold, so fingers crossed for any critters!
 

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