28g Cube Build

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Builds' started by penguin02, Apr 7, 2018.

  1. penguin02

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    I am finally venturing into the world of saltwater! I have three freshwater tanks and I thought that was all my dad would ever allow. But a saltwater tank has been his dream since he was a kid, so he finally impulse bought a 28g Cube Kit at our LFS. I know absolutely zero information about saltwater, so I sat up until 2 am doing research :p

    Today I'm going to add live sand and figure out how to set up our RO unit. Then I'll fill the tank. Today or tomorrow we'll go to the LFS and pick up the live rock and start cycling the tank. While we're at the LFS, I'm going to show my dad all of the fish and have him write down his favorites so I can post them here and figure out stocking. So far we definitely want:

    -a clownfish (main reason we bought the tank)
    -a puffer of some kind
    -some sort of goby (I've always wanted one of these guys)

    I'll be posting our progress here, but in the meantime, can someone help us come up with some interesting stocking ideas? Even just listing compatible fish would be okay so I can show them to my dad and see what he likes.

    EDIT: How is this as a stocking? This is definitely not final, but I am okay with slightly overstocking since I have the time to do frequent water changes.

    1x Royal Gramma
    1x Clownfish of some kind
    1x Firefish
    1x Six Line Wrasse
    1x Cardinalfish
    1x Yellow Watchman Goby
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  2. Coradee

    CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

    Sounds like an exciting project, hope our salty members can help you today
  3. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    I think we've decided on:
    2x Ocellaris clownfish (probably two varieties)
    1x bangaii cardinal
    1x royal gramma
    1x yellow clown goby

    This seems like a reasonable stocking, and Aqadvisor approves as well. My dad also wants a chromis or firefish, which would definitely make us overstocked (we are borderline as is) so I'll see if I can talk him out of it. Worst case scenario I do extra water changes. The filtration is pretty good and they're all peaceful fish.

    I need a lot of help if anyone is out there. We're trying to figure out what to feed our fish, what corals to get and when to start getting them, what invertebrates can get along, and more.

    Right now the tank is cycling with some mollies the store will take back for credit. I'll try to post a picture soon.
  4. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    We are adding a firefish to the list. Not entirely comfortable with that, but I'm willing to put in extra work to keep it clean and safe for the fish. I might do water changes twice a week.

    I've noticed that the salty side of the forum is much quieter :p
  5. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    I shall continue talking to myself to keep this thread updated in case anyone ever replies. Today we tested the water parameters (9 days since setup).

    pH: around 8.2-8.4
    Ammonia: .25
    Nitrite: 0
    Nitrate: 0

    I'm a little disappointed because my first freshwater tank cycled in 10 days with bacteria in a bottle, and I thought saltwater would cycle faster because of the live rock/sand. But oh well, this hobby requires patience.

    Since I have a while before I can return the mollies and get fish we actually want, I've been researching a lot. It seems like mysis shrimp is a universal food for most of the fish on my stocking list? Mixed with flakes and some sort of pellets, I think that will be the main diet for our fish. My dad wants something easy so he can help feed them himself. Now I'm moving on to invertebrates and corals, but if anyone has flake/pellet suggestions I'd be glad to hear them.
  6. Esimm03

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    Hi, welcome to the marine side of fishkeeping , the saltwater area is most definitely much quieter than the freshwater . Marine does take much longer than freshwater to cycle, my one has been going for 3 weeks and ammonia still is high, the best thing you can do is research and wait.

    I'm not too sure on stocking but I'll tag a few people that may be able to help (by tagging they'll be able to see this thread as they will be alerted);


    Sorry I can't help much, but hopefully these guys can , they helped me when I started a while back.

  7. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    Thanks a ton! It's definitely a lot different than freshwater and I hope I do everything right!

    EDIT: (here's my compiled stocking plan)
    2x Ocellaris clownfish
    1x royal gramma
    1x firefish
    1x bangaii cardinalfish
    1x yellow clown goby
  8. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Oh my gosh! How did this one slip by me for so long??? I watch the forum, but today is the first I've seen this. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting so long, and much thanks to @Xbox62 for tagging me in. Congratulations and welcome to the dark (salty)side!!!:D:D:D

    I'll have lots of info for you soon, but don't have time to write it out right now. I'll come back and edit or post more tonight, but for now, I'd like to know how you're mixing saltwater, which salt you're using, and how you're measuring salinity. :)

    Stocking looks ok, but please do take it slow. I'll expand on this later, but please know that you have some timid fish along with some semi-aggressive fish, so stocking the tank will take time and care. The first thing you'll want to stock anyhow is your clean-up crew or CUC. :) I don't trust crabs with corals, and for that matter inverts, in general, can be very difficult to remove from an established tank. If you're planning on going reef, make sure all of your critters are reef safe. :)
  9. Esimm03

    Esimm03Well Known MemberMember

    I've kept hermits and emerald with coral and it's all fine, I haven't had any issues yet...

    I agree in the fact you should add slowly, to let the bioload adjust, as adding them all at once will cause a tank crash, I'd add a fish every other day or every week depending on your biological filtration .


    No problem, I can help a bit, but as I've only been keeping saltwater for about 6 months, I'll help where I can, the people I tagged are really helpful, there are quite a few more on this forum such as @Culprit and @Nanologist , and many others but I can't remember off the top of my head.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2018
  10. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    Thank you both so much! I do plan on taking it slow, even though it's difficult.

    I know CUC should come first, but I really want to exchange my mollies once the tank is cycled so I don't have time to get attached and convert them to freshwater. Mollies are my weakness :p . I'll probably get the firefish first since it's very timid and will need time to get adjusted. That should keep the cycle going while I add CUC, and if not I can add the cardinal at the same time.

    Okay. Salt. We've had a bad experience with it and it's kind of driving me insane. My LFS friend who has helped a TON and I trust recommended Brightwell Aquatics salt. The back of the bag said 1/2 a cup per gallon of water. I put about 2 and a third cups of salt since the 5g bucket wasn't filled to the top. I mixed it by putting an airstone in the bucket of R/O water and pouring the salt in. The I filled the 28g with about 5.5 buckets of the water. But right from the get-go our hydrometer was all wacky even after leaving sit with saltwater for 48 hours. We took the water to the LFS and they tested it with a fancy electronic thing and our salinity was high. Came home and the hydrometer finally stabilized and gave a high reading as well. This weekend the electric ones are in stock, so we're gonna get one of those to make my life easier (I HATE this inconsistent thing). But salinity is apparently still high and I'm trying to get it down, but I don't want to bring it down too much so I'm afraid to do anything. The mollies are troopers though and haven't really been affected.

    We also had an ick issue with the mollies that I noticed 2 hours after they were put in the tank. I don't think it had time to progress. I gave them a freshwater dip and monitored them in a bucket + airstone for the night, and in the morning I couldn't see any more dots. They've been back in the tank all week and no more ick. Hopefully it doesn't spring up again... :( My dad called our LFS dude and alerted him since they have 60+ mollies in that tank.

    Sorry for that and I hope it half makes sense.

    Also, my dad is struggling to understand cycling no matter how many times I explain it to him. Does anyone know where I can find an in-depth description of why I can't just "add beneficial bacteria and nitrates" and have fish right away?
  11. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hermits and emeralds are fine, sometimes for a year or so, then suddenly they may not be fine at all... it hasn't happened to me either because I do not stock them, but look no further than one or two of the others that you've tagged to read about crabs either stealing food from or eventually even eating the corals themselves. It's a personal choice, but my reef stays clean with careful feeding, a strict maintenance schedule, a simple DIY refugium, and snails. :)

    Also, stocking slowly isn't just to let the bioload adjust, but also to make sure mild-mannered and/or younger fish are well established and comfortably eating before a potential aggressor is added. ;) For this reason, I like to give new fish at least 2-3 weeks in the tank before another new fish is added. @LyssahBlue can tell you how difficult it is to feed young cardinalfish when a feisty clown is in the tank. So, with the stocking example above, I would follow this schedule.

    First fish added should be either the goby or firefish. Add one or the other, wait a week or two to be sure it's established a safe zone and is eating, then add the other and give both fish a little time.

    3rd fish can be the cardinal. Give it a week or two to feel safe and begin eating well. You may need to pause longer here, because we're about to get into your aggressors. :) If any of these first three fish are babies, are not eating well, or are showing any signs of stress, remain patient and allow them to grow or resolve any issues before adding the...

    Clown! Finally! :D I know this is the standard fish and we all want one, but these guys are damsels, and can become unholy terrors, especially on timid fish that are not already well established. For example, if your dartfish, (the firefish) is not comfortable and a clown is added, it may dart into hiding and almost never come out. Nobody wants to invest time, love and money in a fish they'll never see.

    Last would be the Royal Gramma Basslet. These guys are sometimes confused with another fish, the very aggressive Royal Dottyback. Be sure you get the gramma.;)

    Royal Dottyback

    The fancy thing you need to measure salinity is a refractometer.:) They aren't digital but are much more accurate than a hydrometer. You can pick up a refractometer on Amazon for about $20. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2018
  12. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    My brother really wants hermits and an emerald crab, and I thought they were reef safe. Now I'm kind of worried. Do you have any articles that talk about them damaging corals that I can read?

    Will the clown goby be okay without corals to perch on? I was under the impression that I needed to replicate its natural habitat, so I was prepared to add it close to last when I have some corals in the tank. Other than the goby, that's the exact order I had picked out already! :D

    I'm pretty much done with food for the fish. I plan to feed mysis, frozen brine shrimp, and high quality pellet and flake foods. Any brand suggestions?

    On to inverts. Here are my questions, and I apologize in advance for the sheer amount of them.

    1) Can multiple types of shrimp live together, or is it best to pick one species and stick with it?

    2) Will emerald crabs hurt my fish? A fear of crabs has been ingrained in me because you're not supposed to mix freshwater fish and crabs. Also is there any evidence that crabs will hurt corals?

    3) How many hermits and snails would you suggest? I'm thinking 4 hermits and 2 of a few different types of snails, but I may be over or undershooting it.

    4) Do clownfish do better with an anemone? Are there any that are easy to keep (dad doesn't want any crazy foods)? Can I pick where to place them, or do they choose where to settle?

    5) https://fthmb.tqn.com/0oOfSFmoAJuzt...okicymbalbubble1-56a81ac93df78cf7729c2473.JPG What is this snail? I found it in an article and it is adorable.

    6) What are fanworms? I saw feather dusters on liveaquaria and they are fascinating. Would I choose where to place them?

    7) My mom wants a starfish, but I know they can be sensitive and hard to care for. Which species would be the easiest, and at what point should I add it to the tank?

    8) Finally, how the heck do I feed inverts? Do I just use tongs to place the food on the bottom? What if the shrimps/starfish are hiding in the rocks? How am I supposed to make sure everyone is eating?

    Feel free to answer any amount of these questions. I am sorry for overwhelming you.

    Ohhh. I think he did use a refractometer. The store said we could return the hydrometer for credit since it isn't working, so we'll make sure to buy one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2018
  13. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    No, I don't know of any articles, and I'm sorry.... please don't let me scare you away from having crabs. Like I said, it's only my personal preference and I prefer not to have to worry about them. There are reef safe hermit crabs, and there are those that are not. Generally speaking, you want to stay away from hermits that have hairy legs, but also do your research so you know you'll get the right species. :)

    Emeralds... I've heard so many reports of them being model citizens for months and months only to find them one day munching on coral polyps. This is why you will sometimes see them labeled as "reef safe with caution."

    Plenty of people love keeping crabs, so I would say try it if you like them, just keep an eye on things. :)

    I'm happy with New Life Spectrum pellets, though I have no basis for comparison. As far as frozen shrimp, feed mysis much more often than brine as mysis are protein heavy but brine are very fatty and contain little nutrition. Also, I prefer to get gut loaded shrimp... so perhaps mysis gut loaded with phytoplankton, or spirulina (very healthy marine algae... this stuff is a superfood.:) )

    1) Not sure... some shrimp get quite large though.

    2) No, you don't have to worry about emerald crabs and your fish. Yes, there is evidence of emeralds harming coral... but I don't have it at hand. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding reports of this on multiple forums though.

    3) There are different schools of thought on this. Some believe in stocking a large CUC from the get-go, but this could lead to die off of some of them if your tank doesn't support them all. I'd start with 3-4 hermits and 3-4 algae eating snails. Nassarius snails are cool little sand dwellers but are carnivorous, so best not to get them right away as your sand will not have a lot of leftovers in the beginning.

    4) Clowns are fine without an anemone. This is because most captive bred clowns have never been introduced to one. In fact, folks often have to put some effort into pairing clowns with 'nems.

    5) Sorry, no clue.

    6) Here ya go.;) https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co...-fanworms-and-feather-dusters-in-the-aquarium Common types will end up in your tank whether you want them to or not. They come in as hitchhikers on live rock and corals. I have a couple that I find quite beautiful. :)

    7) Brittle stars are easy peasy, so much so that some consider them pests, though they are CUC too as they eat detritus. They hide a lot, so aren't seen often and may also find their way into your tank without your knowledge. Other, more decorative sea stars can be difficult to keep alive, but I want to try it one day too. Look into Fromia stars. :)

    8) You can use tongs or a pipette to squirt a little food at just about anything in your tank, be it fish, inverts or coral. Healthy critters will want to eat, so you shouldn't have too much trouble. New guys might be scared for a while though. When I first got my firefish, he darted into a hole and I didn't see him again for days. I don't know how much it helped, but I used a small plastic pipette to squirt a few shrimp in his hole during that time. And here is where I'll say to be careful with feeding. Corals, as well as some inverts, are pretty sensitive to excess nutrients being in the tank.
  14. Coradee

    CoradeeModeratorModerator Member

  15. HarryPotter

    HarryPotterValued MemberMember

  16. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    Wow, thanks for all the help and advice! I have today and tomorrow off school because of testing (eek) so I have a lot of time to get research done. Hopefully, I'll have a list of inverts ready for you to approve by this weekend. I'm sure I'll have a million more questions but I'll try to contain myself and not overwhelm you.

    A trip to the LFS this weekend is looking less and less likely, so I might end up ordering the refractometer online. Which is a shame, because I like supporting my LFS even if the prices are a little high.

    One of the mollies appears to have a white bottom lip. It looks fuzzy. They're too fast for me to get a picture, but does anyone have ideas on what it could be? It's been breathing rather heavily, and didn't come out to feed with the others.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  17. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    The molly ate a little but still looks to be struggling. I can't find any answers online, so hopefully, someone will know. Today it looked a little better.

    I am definitely going to the LFS this weekend, and I have a ton of questions for the guy that's been helping us. Hopefully I can bring back some pictures of their corals to show you so I can start planning that.

    Also, do any of you use supplements for corals and inverts? Which ones make the most sense financially are are the most beneficial? I’m thinking calcium and iodine, but that’s based off liveaquaria info.

    I might place a large order on liveaquaria to get my inverts since I need freshwater stuff anyways (getting killifish!!). I might order the clown goby as well since my LFS didn’t have one last time. If I order this weekend, the inverts will be here late next week. Are they hardy enough to survive if the tank isn’t cycled by then? I’d like to place the order now since my killifish are on sale, but it’s pointless if the inverts will be in danger once in the tank.

    I keep getting more and more excited now that this tank is becoming a reality!
  18. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Inverts are quite sensitive as far as I know, and I would not put them through a cycle.

    Reef tanks full of growing coral colonies often need dosing, but you do not need to worry about this in the beginning. ;) A good rule of dosing is not to dose anything you're not testing for. Our reef tank is almost a year old and has more than 40 growing corals in it, including some large LPS pieces as well as some SPS. I've been testing weekly for the big 3, (Calc/Alk/Mag), since my last big coral purchase a few months ago. If I found any of these values falling out of the recommended ranges, I would know that the coral's uptake is more than my salt is providing. However, even with a lot of growing coral, my numbers never fall below the appropriate levels, so I still have never dosed my tank. :)
  19. OP

    penguin02Well Known MemberMember

    I might not need to worry about the inverts. Petvalu tested our water and we have nitrates! Just a bit of ammonia. I’ll test with my own kit tonight just to make sure. The inverts won’t be here until Tuesday if I do decide to order them, so it should be finished cycling by then.

    Just checked the water. Ammonia is .25, Nitrite is 0, and nitrate is baaaarely orange. It's more canary yellow than the light yellow listed as 0, so at least that's something. We might exchange the mollies for a firefish tomorrow and hold off on ordering the inverts unless the LFS I trust shows different readings.

    I'll make sure to take lots of coral pics since the names don't usually line up with the individual corals.

    List of supplies I'll be buying. Anything else that I need?
    -more salt
    -more R/O cartridges
    -frozen mysis and brine shrimp
    -other foods the LFS recommends

    Here's the saltwater order so far. I don't know when I'll be ordering it yet.
    1x Yellow Clown Goby
    1x Blood Red Fire Shrimp
    3x Scarlet Reef Hermit Crabs
    3x Margarita Snails

    I stayed up late drooling at Liveaquaria corals, and I'm very tempted to buy a cheap one just to see how it does. But that would probably be dumb. :D How long would you suggest waiting before starting to add some beginner corals? Here's the one I was particularly interested in:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2018
  20. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Hi! :) I didn't stay up late last night so allow me to catch up a bit...

    For your supplies order, I am unsure of what you have, but here are a few little things that I find to be invaluable for the reef tank.

    Turkey Baster - Used bi-weekly for blowing off rocks and into nooks and crannies. You won't believe the amount of snail poo you'll have while the tank goes through it's algae stages and your CUC is having a feast. :) Blowing stuff around regularly lets mechanical filtration pick up more detritus, and doing this just before a water change means you'll be removing more. ;)

    Soft toothbrush & stiffer brush, (I have the OXO grout scrubbing set for stiff brushes) - the soft brush is for cleaning algae that may/will appear on and around corals, the stiffer brush is for hard to remove stuff on the rocks.

    Dedicated small bucket or larger Tupperware - this is used to soak dirty equipment, (mostly powerheads) in a vinegar/water solution. Pumps underperform when their dirty and vinegar works against the toughest algae/calcium deposits. Using a smaller container means you'll use less vinegar than you would if you did this in a 5g bucket.

    Speaking of buckets, don't forget the buckets and hoses you'll need for wc's, and you'll also want a spare heater and pump if you'll be mixing your own water. The pump is also handy for putting water back into the display. Get hosing that will fit the output and you won't have to lift so many buckets or worry about a mess from pouring water in.

    Just be sure you're cycled before getting the livestock. ;) Acclimate the shrimp very slowly as well.

    For coral, I waited a month after my first fish and tested regularly to make sure nitrates/phosphates/pH/calcium & alkalinity were stabilized before adding my first coral. This is also a good time to practice with the refractometer and to develop a good feeding plan that will support the stock but won't bring up nitrates and phosphates. Don't overfeed.;)

    I usually recommend starting with soft coral and did so myself. I waited about a month to see that Xenia and GSP would survive before getting my first LPS... a Duncan just like you've linked above.:) They are very hardy and it will be a fast grower for you provided it has good stable conditions. :)