First Time Reef Tank 17g

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Builds' started by scotty81, Jul 24, 2019.

  1. scotty81

    scotty81New MemberMember

    After quite a few years keeping fresh water fish on and off I’ve decided to give a salt water tank a go. I thought I’d start a thread for progress and questions I likely will have. So far I have the following.

    Tank: Blue planet 65L (17G) it’s 24Lx12Wx15H, I plan to paint the backing black.
    Heater: Ocean Free Shogun heater 50 Watt
    Power head: Jebao ow-10
    Substrate: Argonite Coral sand.

    Plan is to grab some live rock and run and cycle the tank like this then add other components. Not sure if this is the best way though..

    Eventually want to stock some corals so I’m after some budget lighting ideas?

    Also plan on adding either a tidal 55 or AC-50, from what I’ve read they both have there admirers.

    Any suggestions welcome.
  2. watermelon46

    watermelon46Valued MemberMember

    Make sure you save up to get the best light you can! In the meantime before you get your corals, any light will do, though. I would recommend an 100W heater, they are more powerful and effective. Good choice on substrate. What fish do you plan to keep?
    If you plan to keep corals, make sure you keep a skimmer or refugium in your budget.
    @stella1979 is a real help
  3. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Agreed, good call on the substrate and... good call on the powerhead. I too use Jebaos and though they are not the 'best' (I've had one die on my after about 18 months), I do believe they are the best budget option. This is because they are a less expensive controllable pump. :) It's the control that I'm after because I ran non-controllable pumps for the first few months of reefing so... I saw the improved extension and growth of corals (aka, coral happiness), after switching from constant directional flow to a more random flow pattern offering the push and pull, back and forth sway that corals get in the wild. Just consider the tides moving in and out and you'll realize why corals prefer multidirectional movement.;)

    Yes, yes, yes... save, save, save because the one thing you do not want to cheap out on for a reef tank is lighting. I'll try to keep it short... we also started the reef tank under not inexpensive, but still imperfect lighting, and ran that way for a year. Things were okay but not great and we knew things would be better with a new light. So, we upgraded about 13 months in. Soooo, we bought lighting twice:banghead: and two lights always cost more than one.;) For your tank, there isn't a light I'd recommend more than an AI Prime HD, which is totally worth its price tag. Find reef tank threads by @Nart and @Lchi87 if you'd like to see proof of how happily corals grow and how incredibly awesome they look under AI lighting.:D

    Live rock will help you cycle... as long as it's kept wet during transfer. If it dries, life dies, and that leads to ammonia and phosphate spikes, which in turn, lead to algae woes. Live rock is great because it can give you an instant cycle and it brings all kinds of beneficial microfauna with it. It's that kind of life that we're after for a mature and stable tank. However... live rock can also bring pests with it. For that reason, I chose to stick with dry rock and did a fishless cycle using pure ammonia and a bacterial starter. That rock cycled in 29 (not 30:p) days and copepods and such just kinda showed up around the 6-month mark. So, eventually, a tank started with dry rock will make that rock live, and the microfauna will still come. It takes longer but dry rock is guaranteed pest free and cheap! The choice of live or dry is up to you my friend.;)

    Hope this helps a little.:) If you'd like, check out the link in my signature to find my own salty thread. Yes, it's more than 70 pages long,:rolleyes: but right there in the first post, you'll see the tank's details along with equipment and stock lists. This could be of some help to you but even more... check out the stickies in the Saltwater Beginner's section.;)

    Lastly... CONGRATULATIONS:D:D:D and welcome to the Dark (salty) Side.:vamp::smuggrin::smuggrin::smuggrin:
  4. Jesterrace

    JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    One of the recommendations I make is that folks start with learning the differences between freshwater and saltwater as there are a number of bad habits that you will need to shed before switching over if you want the transition to go more smoothly:

  5. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Thanks very much for the replies. I don’t mind waiting a little longer and getting the right light. I live in Australia so will check availability of some of those things.

    I have been doing quite a bit of reading back you threads on this site over the past few weeks but I’ll continue to do so.

    I’ll see if my local aquarium stores have dry rock. I’m guessing they will. Sounds like it might be the safer option to start. I’ll also look at a better heater.
  6. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    I like the Lominie led marine aquarium light as a budget option. I have a birsdnest which was growing well, a monti , favia, duncan and frogspawn growing well under it.

    If I planed to go with t5s I would use the aquatic life outfits since they have the option to mix leds in it at a later date. after seeing the brs videos on it solidified my opinion on it.

    The jebao power heads are good budget options. I currently use the hydor nano at 180gph, It has been in use for 10 years and is still running. 8 years by my boss and 2 with me. Just make sure to do yearly maintence on you pumps and power heads and you should be good.

    As long as the heater works it will be fine.

    Any sand is far as the sand I recommend rinsing it till its clear prior to use to avoid any unwanted nutrients in the sand in the future. Had a battle with sand leeching nutrients into my water and causing nasty cyano.

    I would recommend starting with dry rock and using ammonia to cycle. You could use dr tims one and only or biospira and have it cycled quick with no pests.

    For lighting for leds I use the Lominie led marine aquarium light.
  7. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Thanks for the further replies, I’ve now read quite a few articles in the beginner thread.

    I’ve since purchased a 100watt heater Eheim Jaeger and a Tidal 55 Hob filter, (some bact-rox media, chemi pure blue and plenty of filter wool) for post cycled tank.

    While I wait for all this to arrive I’ll get to work on making a stand for the tank.

    Stand/Cabinet will be made of pine and stained satin black, I’ll have a solid wood top with a 12mm sheet of foam on top. Not something I’ve attempted before so should be fun. I’ll post pics of the progress as I go.

    I thought I’d post some progress pictures of the stand. Still a way to go yet.

    Base stand assembled, likely way overkill for the weight of the tank.

    And with the top as well as the exterior slowly being added
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2019
  8. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    looks good! hope to make something similar for my biocube 29
  9. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

  10. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Ok for some reason the edit button isn’t showing up on my phone, so for this reason it’s a new reply.

    Anyway stand has been completed
    I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

    So my wife is a regional sales manager and visits quite a few different areas and one of them is where the best reef shop in my area is, she offered to grab some dry rock for me whilst in the area which saves an hour drive which was great ( she’s doing the aquascape) guy at the shop said live rock is better so she grabbed that............issue being our tank is completely empty at present and we had no salt or RODI water, the heater and power head ive ordered is not here yet either hahahahaha.

    So today was hectic after work running around grabbing bits and pieces to keep this live rock going.

    Needless to say we have salt supply for the next 12 months, spare heaters an additional powerhead, a hydrometer (I had a refractometer on order). It’ll all come in handy down the track I’m sure hahaha.

    So quick pic of her aquascape.....sorry for the bad picture. Looks great in person.

    So after getting this all together and up and running we have a hitchhiker (little starfish). Will it be a pain or all good?
    I’ll get some better pictures when it all settles in.
  11. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    Asterina star fish they can be good and bad
  12. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    I've had asterina stars for pretty much the life of my 2 1/2 year old 20g reef and they have been harmless. Like so many things in the ocean, there is more than one species to concern ourselves with. Idk how to ID one asterina from another, but some of these species are said to eat coral, and that, of course, is no bueno. I'd let yours ride for now though, and if they become troublesome, well, there's a pretty cool solution.:D Harlequin shrimp are obligate eaters of seastars. :D So, if you end up with a problem, they'll take care of it. The trouble arises when the asterina's population is wiped out because then your Harley shrimp will starve with nothing to eat. The simple solution here is to re-home the Harley. Some reefers I follow have been playing pass the Harley for a while now... each using the shrimp until it runs out of food, then passing it along to the next who needs it... and even eventually back to the first (the buyer) as asterinas were reintroduced to his tank.:p

    The tank looks great! :) Ehh, live rock and dry rock... either has its benefits and drawbacks, so either works out just fine. Hope your live rock is still... live.;)

    Would you like to post your photos to the forum so they'll appear here on your thread, (as opposed to posting links)? If so, I'll be glad to assist.;)
  13. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    There appears to be a shrimp or small crab in the tank as well. Only just caught a glimpse of the small nippers as it was hiding in a crevice. Been doing top ups and testing salinity daily however the hydrometer is all over the place, can do three tests in a row and get all different readings. Refractometer should be here tomorrow though as well as my master test kit.

    Yes I’d like for the pictures to show up instead of link thanks @stella1979 how do I do that?
  14. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Ok so I thought I’d post an update picture of the tank

    It’s been up and running for a week now. I’m still awaiting my master test kit to test all the parameters but salinity and temperature are stable. I ended up cheaping out on the lighting and purchased a lumina pixie. It will do the job for now, will see in time if I need to upgrade or not or if it’s suitable for corals I add.

    Hoping to be able to add some inverts in the next couple of weeks.

    As I’m going away for three days in the next month I’ve just purchased an ATO, it’s a ripple nano. It’s an Australian product but seems to be reasonably popular here with good reviews. I’ll see how it goes
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  15. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    Looking good!
  16. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  17. xiholdtruex

    xiholdtruexWell Known MemberMember

    Thats just brown diatoms that is normal in new stages of the tank it goes away once other bacteria begin to populate
  18. SeanyBaggs123

    SeanyBaggs123Well Known MemberMember

    Do you have a clean up crew?

    I'm vicariously living through you until I can finish building my reef tank haha
  19. OP

    scotty81New MemberMember

    Haha, no clean up crew yet. My local reef store has told me hardy corals, fish, them clean up crew......kinda goes against what I have read however they have some pretty amazing tanks in their store, one of which would be 2000 gallon
  20. SeanyBaggs123

    SeanyBaggs123Well Known MemberMember

    Now I'm hoping you live in NE Ohio! haha