36 Gallon Aquarium Build

tuggerlake26

I've been waiting to move to finally set up a third aquarium, this time a reef tank. It's been about eight years since I've had a reef tank, and wow have things changed. I felt really behind the last few months doing research. Finally, I think I am up to speed on the latest trends.

With my move coming up, and being under lock down, I've been patiently building out my plans. Here is where I am headed:

Tank
36 gallon bow front. Using this as I bought a 36 gallon stand about two years ago on sale for about half off at my local pet shop. I was toying with the idea of just bumping up to a 40 gallon, but I can't for the life of me find a non-breeder 40 gallon stand. I also am not handy or patient enough to build my own. I would love to bump it up to a 55/75 gallon, but living in an apartment I don't want to push it with my landlord. I won't be using a sump just given being in an apartment, but do understand this is now the norm.

Equipment
- Lighting: Current USA Orbit Marine IC PRO LED 4335 I think I'm going with this light given the customizations and reviews. I've only used metal halides in reefs before, but they were always so hot and the reason for the demise of my old tank (was gone for the weekend and forgot to turn on the AC...). The one thing I don't like about this is I'll have about 3" on each side without light.
- Skimmer: Reef Octopus Class 100 HOB I have used this brand in the past and really liked them. Without having a sump, using a HOB version. I was debating between this and the AquaMaxx
- Reactor: BRS GFO/Carbon Reactor I have used in the past and loved it.
- Wavemaker: My parents bought me one two years ago and it's in storage right now, so I can't remember what brand it was. However, it had been well recommended.
- Water: luckily my LFS is doing curbside so I can still get RO water from them.

Sand/Rock
Sand: Caribsea Sand 40 lbs
Rock: Caribsea Life Rock 45 lbs. This is my first time not using live rock. I like the idea of not bringing in pests, but it will be a bit of a bummer to not put the rock in my tank and spend hours spotting what's on it.

Livestock
- Corals: I just plan on keeping soft corals like mushrooms, leather and cloves. Without the sump, being out of the trade for years, and the light I'm using, I don't feel I could do SPS. I also want to get a tubastrea aurea. I had it before and it was by far my favorite.
- Fish: I'm still trying to decide. There are a few options I'm toying with:
Option 1- 3 pajama cardinalfish (I think this stocking is ok, but let me know if it's too much bio load)
Option 2- 1 royal gramma and 1 clownfish
Option 3: 1 firefish and 1 clownfish
Option 4: 1 neon goby and 2 clownfish

Anything I'm not considering or just general thoughts?
 

saltwater60

I’d do two clowns and two small gobies. That should be good. I like a pair of clowns. They have personality and will interact with you. Also always out and visible. You could also do a wrasse.
How about some LPS corals. I too love tubestreas. Yellow or black or one of each? I loved both mine.
 

tuggerlake26

I’d do two clowns and two small gobies. That should be good. I like a pair of clowns. They have personality and will interact with you. Also always out and visible. You could also do a wrasse.
How about some LPS corals. I too love tubestreas. Yellow or black or one of each? I loved both mine.

I've only had the yellow. I haven't seen the black one at my LFS, but will probably buy it online.

What type of wrasse do you think would be okay? A flasher wrasse? Or something like a six line?
 

saltwater60

I've only had the yellow. I haven't seen the black one at my LFS, but will probably buy it online.

What type of wrasse do you think would be okay? A flasher wrasse? Or something like a six line?
Either would be fine. Possum wrasse too.
 

tuggerlake26

Alright, things are finally moving on this tank.

My shipment of dry rock and live sand came this week, and now I'm just waiting for the tank itself. The shipping has been pretty backlogged for that. I'm hoping for it soon. I peeked at the rock (didn't want to break them) and got really excited!

I landed on doing on the 36 gallon bowfront. Since I had the existing stand and lights for that, I wanted to save some money versus starting completely from scratch.

I haven't decided on the corals yet. Once I have the rock in the tank, I'll make some plans for them. My lights can support soft and LPS corals. I for sure want to get a sun coral (tubastrea). I had one before and found it fascinating.

In terms of stocking, I'm still deciding. I also can't figure out the order I should place them. I'm currently toying with the idea of:

1 Orchid Dottyback
2 Red Sea Clownfish
1 Neon Goby

I'm thinking of doing the Red Sea Clownfish because I've had the Ocellaris clownfish, and would like something different. However, I've read they can get semi-aggressive, and if I include a dottyback (though one of the less aggressive ones), I'm worry I'd have a bad combo.

In place of the dottyback, I was thinking of a Royal Gramma. I am trying to get as many aquacultured fish though, which is my dilemma. I do, however, think it would do better with the Red Sea clowns.

Are there any other clowns I could be considering? I'm not a fan of the new "designs" for them, so would prefer to stick to something natural.

If the orchid dottyback and clown combo is possible, should I be putting the clowns in first?
 

tuggerlake26

After a VERY long and sometimes painful time with a store shipping my tank, it finally came this week! Ignore the mess on the floor.

It's much bigger looking than I expected, but I love it. I've already started planning around the height of it, since that will greatly impact coral placement.

Next step will be getting it level and then playing around with rock placement. I am a bit concerned that I'll need to break up some of the rock to fit it in the tank, but we will see.

Probably looking at setting up sometime next week just to make sure I have everything in place before adding water.


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tuggerlake26

Things are moving along! I set-up the skimmer and reactor. I might swap out the white tubing for some black tubing so it blends in a little more.


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I'm currently getting some water ready with RODI unit. I will actually work on the set up later this week.

I did finally unwrap the dry live rock I ordered. I'm pretty happy with it. There was a decent amount of rock breakup and dust, so I need to clean those off a bit. I likely won't need to use it all, but I'm glad I'll have some different sizes and shapes to pick from.
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Ash1176

Nice looking tank! Can’t wait to see the rock scape
 

tuggerlake26

The water and rocks are in, lights are on (for today, wanted to see what they'd look like), and skimmer has started.

I began a fishless cycling with Seachem about three days ago. There is nothing registering on my tests so, hoping for some ammonia tomorrow.

Ignore the thermometer cord in the pic, it's temporary. I'm trying to make sure my LOOP is registering the same temperature.


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tuggerlake26

My cycle has started to further progress. I'm hitting pretty high ammonia, which I hope means it will soon peak and move on to nitrite.

I had a friend over yesterday and she kept asking why I don't have fish in it yet. It was fun explaining and showing her the tests, but now she thinks I'm some crazy scientist.
 

kanzekatores

I had a friend over yesterday and she kept asking why I don't have fish in it yet. It was fun explaining and showing her the tests, but now she thinks I'm some crazy scientist.
Haha I can relate. Your tank looks really great!
 

Rcslade124

Haha we are totally freak scientist with our water test. Tank looks amazing! Exciting that's cycle has began but also annoying haha. Also things I have learned. Once ammonia is converted to nitrites in 24 hrs you can add saltwater fish. Nitrites don't effect saltwater fish from the sodium bicarbonate in the water. I waited until the nitrites disappeared before adding corals but fish went in as soon as ammonia cycled in 24hrs.
 

tuggerlake26

I finally got the first two inhabitants in the tank, Red Sea clowns. I really love them! I had no idea how much of a bob they had in their swim before now. The first pic is with the lights off, lights on in the second pic. The stuff around the top edge isn't salt, it's condensation. I haven't figured out if there is any way to prevent that. I've never had that on any of my tanks before.

I can't decide about moving the heater behind the rocks at the bottom of the tank. It's fully submergible, but I've had heaters fail me that way. It would look a lot nicer though. It bugs me how visible the skimmer is. Hoping corals can take away from it.

I've been following some advice from BRS on the cycle, and will keep the lights off for about another month and a half.

Once I start seeing some algae growth I'm going to order a few snails and an urchin to help control it. I've read that blue tuxedo urchins are the best for that, and ORA has some captive bred ones. Overall, I'm trying to stick with all captive bred inhabitants.

In the meantime, my goal is to grid out the tank on my computer this week and figure out coral placement. If I'm using the rule of thirds, should I be basing it off of the angle you'd see standing, or from straight on?


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tuggerlake26

Any opinions on adding an arch to either side? I wasn't able to do anything crazy with the original rock because the hole in the top of the tank is too small to pull through any rock glued together.

However, I found a thin arched rock yesterday that would fit in either place and would add some height.


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Jimjam82

The water and rocks are in, lights are on (for today, wanted to see what they'd look like), and skimmer has started.

I began a fishless cycling with Seachem about three days ago. There is nothing registering on my tests so, hoping for some ammonia tomorrow.

Ignore the thermometer cord in the pic, it's temporary. I'm trying to make sure my LOOP is registering the same temperature.


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Looks fabulous mate!
 

tuggerlake26

Tank update!

I turned on the lights and added a few frags. I added a sinularia, candy cane, pumping Xenia, and starburst So far so good. My water parameters are all where they need to be which is great.

My clowns have grown quite a bit since I got them. They are so fun to watch!

Edit: not sure why the pics posted so blurry. They look clear on my phone.


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tuggerlake26

Currenly experiencing a cyano outbreak. I found out that leaving RODI water in buckets from Home Depot was leaching TDS into the water. I have food grade buckets coming Thursday. I feel like such an idiot. Im guessing that's contributing to the cyano.

Added a coral beauty. It's captive bred from ORA. He's a bit finicky with food. Seems to like pellets more than frozen foods and is scared of them.


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tuggerlake26

Saturdays mean water changes! And someone is upset that I'm not paying attention to her.


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Rcslade124

Cyano seems to be clearing up some. I'm fighting the red cyano now. Had green cyano in the sand bed but it's clearing out for the red to move in. I am setup for a small water change. I'm adding a water change this week to clean sump up again to try to level out the nutrients. I'm thinking about doing a 1 sump cleaning a month until I can get cyano under control lol. Tank looks great!
 

tuggerlake26

Cyano seems to be clearing up some. I'm fighting the red cyano now. Had green cyano in the sand bed but it's clearing out for the red to move in. I am setup for a small water change. I'm adding a water change this week to clean sump up again to try to level out the nutrients. I'm thinking about doing a 1 sump cleaning a month until I can get cyano under control lol. Tank looks great!
Cyano really is the worst. I added Vibrant about two weeks ago and on to my second dose today. I think that's been helping.
 

Rcslade124

I'm trying to avoid vibrant or chemi clean for now. Just working on getting a balance of nutrients before I use chemical's.
 

fishkeepinginaisa

Currenly experiencing a cyano outbreak. I found out that leaving RODI water in buckets from Home Depot was leaching TDS into the water. I have food grade buckets coming Thursday. I feel like such an idiot. Im guessing that's contributing to the cyano.

Added a coral beauty. It's captive bred from ORA. He's a bit finicky with food. Seems to like pellets more than frozen foods and is scared of them.


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This is looking awesome man! I was reading through the thread and I saw how you were looking for a piece of rock for an arch to give it some height. I swapped out all of my liverock for a single piece of premolded rock. It's got little ledges for coral and it's got a really pleasing, airy, shape. I put all the live rock in the sump. I'm not sure if you can get this sort of thing in the states. I had never seen them before coming to China, but it's great because coral can grow on it. Sorry, it was still a little cloudy when I took this photo (I had just put it in), but you can get a general idea of how it looks.
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tuggerlake26

This is looking awesome man! I was reading through the thread and I saw how you were looking for a piece of rock for an arch to give it some height. I swapped out all of my liverock for a single piece of premolded rock. It's got little ledges for coral and it's got a really pleasing, airy, shape. I put all the live rock in the sump. I'm not sure if you can get this sort of thing in the states. I had never seen them before coming to China, but it's great because coral can grow on it. Sorry, it was still a little cloudy when I took this photo (I had just put it in), but you can get a general idea of how it looks.
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I like the look! Definitely is making me consider doing that at some point.

I had wanted to build my rock differently, but the top of the tank is closed off a bit with the acrylic.
 

tuggerlake26

My reef tank is looking the best it's ever looked. I think I finally got my nutrients in line. I stopped dosing microbacter7. I think that was causing slime.

My captive bred coral beauty has grown quite a bit. I can't wait to see him grow.

My neon goby sure does like having his picture taken!





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Jesterrace

Nicely done. A 36 bowfront was my first tank as well. Yours definitely looks better than mine did though, mainly because of that cheap Aqueon lightbar I had on it. Here was mine when I had it:

 

fish 321

My reef tank is looking the best it's ever looked. I think I finally got my nutrients in line. I stopped dosing microbacter7. I think that was causing slime.

My captive bred coral beauty has grown quite a bit. I can't wait to see him grow.

My neon goby sure does like having his picture taken!





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Nice clowns, what all corals do you have?
 

tuggerlake26

Nicely done. A 36 bowfront was my first tank as well. Yours definitely looks better than mine did though, mainly because of that cheap Aqueon lightbar I had on it. Here was mine when I had it:

Looks great! My only gripe about the 36 is how deep it is. Makes it tough to clean down by the sand. Really want to get a shrimp at some point.


Nice clowns, what all corals do you have?

I have:

- Short tentacle green star polyp
- Red sea pulsing xenia
- Galaxy astreopora coral
- Candy cane coral
- Fireworks favia
- Dragon soul favites
- Red cap montipora
- Hammer coral

Need round of corals will all be yellow/orange. I realized most of the ones I've added so far are blue and don't really pop.
 

tuggerlake26

I added some new frags earlier this week and my tank is really popping with color now.

However, my coral beauty is officially on the naughty list. I caught him picking at some SPS, and now the polyps have been closed for a few days.

I was hoping he'd be okay since he was captive bred. I originally had ordered an argi, but the store has sold out of them. I know they can be hit or miss, so guess I got the unlucky one. Ill keep an eye on him, but he might need to come out.


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Fishproblem

I began a fishless cycling with Seachem about three days ago. There is nothing registering on my tests so, hoping for some ammonia tomorrow.
This was a while back now, but which Seachem product did you use?

I added some new frags earlier this week and my tank is really popping with color now.

However, my coral beauty is officially on the naughty list. I caught him picking at some SPS, and now the polyps have been closed for a few days.

I was hoping he'd be okay since he was captive bred. I originally had ordered an argi, but the store has sold out of them. I know they can be hit or miss, so guess I got the unlucky one. Ill keep an eye on him, but he might need to come out.


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Sorry the fish is being a stinker! The tank looks really great though! Have you noticed any more misbehavior?
 

tuggerlake26

This was a while back now, but which Seachem product did you use?


Sorry the fish is being a stinker! The tank looks really great though! Have you noticed any more misbehavior?

I used Seachem stability. It seemed to work pretty well. I cycled within a few days.

I haven't seen him picking at anything lately, but haven't seen the polyps out during the day still. I have looked in the tank at night and they're open. So I guess that's good, but still makes me thing he's picking at it when I'm not around.
 

tuggerlake26

Sigh, I feel like it's always something.

Two days ago I noticed some corals closed up in the morning. I felt the tank water, and it felt really cold. Checked the thermometer and it was 62 degrees in the tank.

I quickly added an extra heater in the tank and got the temp slowly back to normal. I've since double upped on heaters. I usually put two in for larger tanks, but didn't for this one.

Two of my corals are showing some bleaching. Really hoping they turn around.

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Jesterrace

Which tank heaters are you using? Also what light do you have now? Seems like you gave the Current USA light the boot.
 

tuggerlake26

Which tank heaters are you using? Also what light do you have now? Seems like you gave the Current USA light the boot.

I had been using an Aqueon, and have an Eheim Jager in there now. We will see how that goes, I've read better things about them.

I really hated the Current lights. Honestly it was a waste of money to invest in them. Even with just soft and some LPS corals I could tell they weren't a good fit for coral growth.

I upgraded to a Radion XR 15 in October and am really happy with it. It's hard to tell with my phone's pics, but the colors of my corals have really improved and I'm getting much better growth. My candy cane has almost doubled in size.
 

tuggerlake26

Today is one of those days I remember why I've tried reef keeping three times and stopped.

Everything has been great up until the heater issue. Then today I was testing my water, and the alk had fallen to 6.8. I will slowly increase it back up to 8 the next few days.

My dragon soul and cup corals seem to be impacted. The dragon soul is crumpled up and the cup coral was shedding a piece of skin. Hoping things look better next week.

The good news is my anemone is looking great.


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tuggerlake26

Something is eating away at the algae on my montipora, which is great news (hopefully). If it is my coral beauty, hoping he doesn't get a taste for the coral.

I did some rearranging today to move some corals to lower flow areas of the tank. I also moved my chalices down to the sand because they've started sending out their stingers. I need to figure out where to place them.

My montipora digitata is looking really good. I've gotten about a half inch of growth on him. It looks like a third branch is starting to grow on the left side.

Coraline algae has started to grow everywhere. I have to clean the acrylic every day now because spots have been growing so quickly. My powerheads are almost completely pink now.

The only bad news this week: I'm a tad concerned because it looks like I'm getting dinos again. My nitrate and phosphate is really low, so I might adjust my skimmer the next week to keep in more nutrients.


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Fishproblem

Today is one of those days I remember why I've tried reef keeping three times and stopped.

Everything has been great up until the heater issue. Then today I was testing my water, and the alk had fallen to 6.8. I will slowly increase it back up to 8 the next few days.

My dragon soul and cup corals seem to be impacted. The dragon soul is crumpled up and the cup coral was shedding a piece of skin. Hoping things look better next week.

The good news is my anemone is looking great.


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Wow! Despite the alk trouble, that most fts is looking way more filled in! How are you going to raise the alk back up?
 

tuggerlake26

Wow! Despite the alk trouble, that most fts is looking way more filled in! How are you going to raise the alk back up?
I've been dosing a little bit of Red Sea alk supplement each morning. I've slowly gotten back up to just over 8. It seems I'm going to need to start dosing it daily now. Must be the coral growth. One of my favias has been growing a new band about every three weeks.
 

tuggerlake26

Things are going really well! I added a captive bred royal gramma and he seems to be doing really well. Hard to snag a pic of though.


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My hollywood stunner chalice is really starting to grow and color up. Today it started showing some orange around the neon green polyps.

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And finally, my clownfish is really beginning to enjoy her anemone. This one is definitely the female. She chases away the other one all the time. He has had to resort to sleeping in my pulsing xenia.

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tuggerlake26

Sad update today.

My coral beauty is missing.

I don't see any sign of him. No body on the floor. No body in any of the caves. Nothing in my skimmer.

I just saw him last night, but I'm going to assume the worse. I would guess if he died overnight my hermit crabs got to him already. Not sure what happened as he seemed healthy as ever.
 

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