Culprit's Journey Into The Dark Side

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Builds' started by Culprit, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Culprit

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    Finally finally finally I get to start this thread. I can't tell you guys how excited I am right now. I couldn't be starting this thread without wonderful people like @KristaD @Nart @stella1979 @Nanologist @Tragic13 @grantm91 @LJC6780 and @thesoulpatch . These guys are absolutely amazing!

    I got my mom to take me to PetCo today and got my tank. Don't have any pictures right now because I didn't have time to get it out of the car before she left haha. There's a few small lumps in the silicon, I'm sure @Nanologist wouldn't approve ;). But other then that it looks great! No bubbles or anything. I'm going to be building an aquarium workbench since I'm also going to be building a tank for my neighbor at the same time, so this is going on the bottom shelf and I'll cure my live rock while I gather the equipment. Then I will build a stand and set everything up once the rock is cured and I have all the necessary equipment!

    Right now my shopping list for what I need is:
    1 - Brute
    3 - 5 gallon buckets with lids - one for dirty water, one for mixing sw and the other for acclimating!
    1 - Jebao SW 2 Powerhead
    1 - Cobalt Aquatics Neotherm 75 or 100 watt heater
    20 gallons of saltwater from my LFS
    Mixing Powerhead for the stored saltwater from my LFS.

    I'm going to be using water from my LFS to start. I figure I'll cure the rock in the tank with 10 gallons of water, and change out 5 gallons twice a week or whenever its needed. Will I need to add ammonia once the LR stops putting off ammonia?

    Shopping list for all I need for the tank:
    ATC Refractometer
    Instant Ocean Salt (Will switch to reef crystals when I start getting more/harder corals)
    Mixing Heater
    Carib-Sea Arag-Alive Bimini Pink Special Grade Reef Sand

    I'll post pictures of the tank when she gets back! I think I will still mix my salt - but mabye not for a little while. Its only an extra $50 a year to buy saltwater instead of make it myself. However, I definitely want the peace of mind and the knowledge I can change my salinity if I want, so eventually I will get the salt and mixing heater. But for now, I'll buy from them. I'll start with 20 gallons, put 10 in the tank with the rock, keep the other ten in the brute, next week get 10-20 gallons and keep the brute filled up so I can do a wc whenever I need to.

    Thank you so much everyone :happy::D!!
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  2. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    Happy for you culprit, I'll enjoy this build I'm sure it's going to be a great creation.
  3. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Sounds perfect! Happy, happy day!!! :D

    To answer your single question... yes, add ammonia when you need to. Give the rock some time to start leaching, but keep an eye on parameters. Then add ammonia to ensure you're cycled, or to bump up the cycle if you need to.;)
  4. KristaD

    KristaDValued MemberMember

  5. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    Haha, it’s funny you say that, because I was pretty unhappy with the Aqueon silicone job on the 29g I bought from this summers $1 per gallon sale. They obviously don’t use tape for a nice straight line and the silicone isn’t as clear as the kind I use. I noticed this because the 10g I resealed myself looks better than the brand new 29g! Glad my seal job is on the saltwater tank.

    For the ammonia question, yes to keep the cycle going until it finishes or until you get fish after it finishes cycling. In my case I started with only dry rock so I had to add ammonia to start the cycle once the rock was done curing.

    LR varies in die-off and how much elements/chemicals it excretes when curing and cycling, so testing the water will let you know when and how much.
  6. Nart

    NartWell Known MemberMember

    About time Colin.
    Hey - jsut a note. You might want to buy one little 2.5 gallon bucket instead for acclimating.
    The reason: when you try to acclimate say.... a fish, invert, or coral in a 5 gallon bucket sometimes you simply don't get enough water bagged from the store. So when you dump the bag of fish, invert, or coral into a 5 gallon bucket... you'll barely have just enough water to keep them submersed. In a 2.5 gallon bucket there's less floor space, so it'll fill up a lot higher. Just a thought.

    Since we're talking about acclimating. I was just talking to one of my private sellers about his acclimation method of when he gets corals shipped in.
    He told me, "usually its a waste of time drip acclimating corals. I temp float the bags, take the corals right out, dip bath, and into the frag tank. The only time you really want to drip acclimate something is like fishes, when the salinity is way off." Which kind of surprised me he didn't drip acclimate the corals he gets in since, lots of them are collector pieces. Any who, as we talked more... it made sense. Lots of corals are a lot hardier than we think. Even SPS corals. Quite a few reef systems out in the ocean are subjected to low-tides during the day without water for quite some time.

    I remember when I first started... I was so cautious with every little thing. Water acclimating. If my coral didn't look happy I'll turn it this way. Place it over here or there. Take it out for dip. Now? I just stopped sweating over every little thing, so as long as my parameters were in check, it'll be A-Okay.

    Anyways, thought I pass on a little information to you.
    Welcome to the saltwater club :)
  7. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Good advice there from Nart Culprit. :)

    I use a 2g dark blue container for acclimation... I felt like the fishes would prefer a dark environment. Also, only for fish, not coral.

    I'm also learning not to sweat the small stuff...
  8. thesoulpatch

    thesoulpatchWell Known MemberMember

    I'm just ready to see some pictures!! super excited
  9. Tragic13

    Tragic13Valued MemberMember

    Awesome news!!!! :D!
  10. OP

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    I have about a 1 gallon big plastic tupperware I use to acclimate fish and inverts I get. I usually use that. Thats interesting on the corals. Ya know, I've been doing some reading on corals, ect. and there are so many mainly sps corals that get absolutely abused. At low tide they are sitting in the air, with tons of super harmful UV rays beaming upon them, and they thrive! Softies can also be abused in tide pools with really hot water, super high salinity, ect. It really made me wonder if we baby our corals too much...

    Haha definitely about time though. All I need to cure the live rock is a heater, thermometer, powerhead, and my two brutes for RO/DI water for top offs and the other for salt right? I won't need a refractometer just to cure it - I can trust my LFS on this one for salinity since its just LR. And if I really want to I could just ask them to double check the salinity with their refractometer.

    Then I can start getting stuff like my salt and mixing stuff, refractomter, and substrate while I wait for the LR to cure/cycle. I should be building the working stand (not for in the house, its the stand I'll be working on stuff on) sometime this week.

    Thanks guys I'm super excited!!! Only thing is... the LFS I was planning on getting my water from closed down... So I've got to drive an extra 15 minutes to get it. Parent's won't be too happy, but I'm going to counteract that by getting a big brute and filling it as full as I can with RO/DI water, then I can just top it off every 2 weeks or month or so.

    I'm going to call my Lowes and Home Depot and see how much it will cost to buy two strips of glass for euro bracing. The more I think about it the better I think it will look rimless. I think I will do a 2 1/2 inch strip of 3/16" thickness on both sides... I could go with one single brace from front to back but I'd rather play it safe and euro brace it. Plus it will stop any inverts or escaping heehee.
  11. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Sounds good... I think you'll be fine holding off on the refractometer for now. I would ask the LFS to double check it in my presence.

    Can't wait to see how that euro brace turns out. You're an inspiring guy Culprit!

    Got any pictures for us yet?:p
  12. grantm91

    grantm91Fishlore VIPMember

    What a clever dude, had to google the euro brace thing, will this hinder having hang on kit ? Also you are correct about the coral, if people seen the way I handle my coral I think they would cringe, especially the softies lol.
  13. Nanologist

    NanologistWell Known MemberMember

    I would suggest asking the LFS, instead of double checking the salinity, to teach you how to use a refractometer by testing the water your buying when you go in each time. Explain to them that you’re eventually going to mix it yourself and purchase your own refractometer so it help if they showed you how to properly use one. Maybe they’ll even show you how to calibrate one if you ask nice enough!

    This way, not only will you be double checking, you’ll get to see for yourself and get some experience.
  14. OP

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    Coming right up Stella!!

    Lol grant I'm gonna try to be stand offish/not baby everything because I've read its best to just leave your tank alone and keep your hands out. They will adapt!

    Thats really smart! For sure, and that way it won't seem like I'm being rude asking to double check them, and I get to find out how to use it.

    So I temporarily set it up to take pictures. Just for you guys :D! It looks really good. I will have to screw the screws in a lot harder to keep it horizantal, but I didn't want to go to all that work lol.

    As you guys can see, a bit of a sloppy silicone job but not too bad seeing as its a 20 gallon tank. P1050259.JPG

    I'm getting ready to order my Jebao powerhead and heater, but I have a question on the heater. Will 75 watts be enough? Sometimes I feel like my 75 watt eheim jager struggles a bit on my 20 high tech. This house can get down to about 65 in the fall when we open our windows - doesn't happen often though. So I'm wondering whether to spend $10 more and get the 100 watt or ifthe 100 watt will be too much and not worth the extra $10. Nart do you use the Cobalt neotherm 75 watt on your IM25 and does it keep it plenty warm? Cheers :woot:!
  15. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    I have 100W on both of my 20gL. The house is pretty consistently 73° and the heaters don't actually turn on a whole lot. Doesn't help much does it? Yeah, wait for Nart to chime in.:)

    There's another $30 that I happily spent on temp control though. It's not really necessary, but it gives me peace of mind, so I thought I'd let you know in case you want something like this one day.

    Heaters will never be able to cook my tank as long as this thing is working. It maintains temp within 0.2 degrees too, and puts less wear on the thermostat in the heater itself. It's also nice to see the temp from across the room.;) Now, if the heater breaks in the 'off' position, well, that's another story. Only a 2nd heater can help with that I think.
  16. Nart

    NartWell Known MemberMember

    Equipment list is listed in my builds!! Haha. Messing. I know my threads are all over the place.

    I use the 100W Cobalt Neo-therm in my IM25 and 50W neo-therm in the IM10. My apartment is usually 72 during the day and 69 at night. Keeps temperature perfectly stable and with ease. No issues at all. I've had my apartment dropped to the low 60s, with no issues keeping my tank warm.

    So, back when I was newbie and tried different heaters, Aqueon, Fluval, and Eheim heaters.. did not perform consistently to the way I wanted to. Eheim was okay. But it's just too big for what it is. Maybe if you had a real sump below to place the big heaters in it'll be okay. But in AIO tanks you want slim, just so you can fit more things in, make as much space as possible for everything else.

    If I were you. Go with the Cobalt Neo-therm 100W on Amazon. I think it's like $33. One of the best $ you'll ever spend on equipment. The heater is sooo slim. It's awesome. Kind of overkill, but you'll be able to reuse that heater in a bigger setup.

    Aww... I just checked. Prices on Cobalt went up a bit. 75W should work in a 20gallon. But up to you. I've had no issues with my Cobalt. I love em.

    I will say... stay away from Aqueon. It's too inconsistent. Unless you have what Stella mentions, with the temp control, eventually you'll want a nice temp control. But Cobalt is more than enough to handle the tank and your needs for now.

    Oh. One more thing. There's no guessing with the neo-therm. It's a digital setup. So you choose like 76,78,80,82, etc..., it's in increments of twos. I hate those heaters where you have to adjust the little dial.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  17. OP

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    I'll probably go ahead and get the 100 watt. I definitely want to be on the safe side. I feel like 75 watts is not quite high powered enough. I was planning on the Cobal neotherm for sure. I like the jager - I have it in my high tech tank but its soooo long and obvious. It stands out so much. Kind of hard to get the right temp. Not super great about keeping a steady temp either.

    That's great. I hate messing with the little dials too. I'll place the order today or tomorrow, and when it comes I'll fill the tank up with freshwater and put the equipment in. Leak test, equipment test, ect. Then once I know everything is good I'll get my live rock!!
  18. LJC6780

    LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    That’s exactly what I do with my corals too. I usually add dip to the water it comes in, rinse in a cup of tank water then in the tank it goes ... did that with a club gonipora I got this morning!

    Also Culprit, if you are relying on someone else to mix your water, be sure to check SG before using the water ... people make mistakes and you just want to be sure you are getting what you think you are.
  19. OP

    CulpritFishlore VIPMember

    Sounds like you've got the process all smoothed out! Plenty of experince with plenty of corals :D.

    I'm only going to be until I get the rest of the stuff. But yes, nanologist gave the genius idea of me asking how to use a refractometer so I can check the SG and learn how to use one!
  20. LJC6780

    LJC6780Well Known MemberMember

    Yeah ... saw that after I’d already replied! Lol that is a good idea! Hands on experience is great!