Fluval Evo 13.5 journal (salt water beginner)

Dechi

After doing much research, but with hundred times more to learn, I have decided to make the plunge. I just bought an Evo 13.5 and should receive it in the next 2 days or so.

I will be writing about my set-up here, and costs. Since I have no idea if I will like it or not, I am going with a simple setup : Evo kit, koralia wavemaker, live sand and dry rocks (or live, if I can find some). Then, when cycled, I want a pair of clown fish, a few inverts to be determined and lots of easy corals. I like the soft corals with the « long hair » a lot (sorry, I know very little about them).

Oh, and I have decided to try tap water with a sea salt mix before going with RO/Di. I’ve seen many videos of people doing it for years and years who had very nice tanks. I want to see for myself, because I can’t get into my head why saltwater fish couldn’t do well in tap water while fragile freshwater fish and inverts thrive.

Costs so far (CAD)
Evo 13.5 : 229$
 

LeafY4life77

After doing much research, but with hundred times more to learn, I have decided to make the plunge. I just bought an Evo 13.5 and should receive it in the next 2 days or so.

I will be writing about my set-up here, and costs. Since I have no idea if I will like it or not, I went with a simple setup : Evo kit, koralia wavemaker, live sand and dry rocks (or live, if I can find some). Then, when cycled, I want a pair of clown fish, a few inverts to be determined and lots of easy corals. I like the soft corals with the « long hair » a lot (sorry, I know very little about them).

Costs so far (CAD)
Evo 13.5 : 229$
you know i have been hoping to get a pair of clown fish as well. I am hoping to breed them, how about you?
 
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Dechi

you know i have been hoping to get a pair of clown fish as well. I am hoping to breed them, how about you?

I was editing my post when you answered. Since I will be testing using tap water, I don’t know if they would breed.

Honestly I haven’t thought about that but maybe when the tank has been running for a while, if it’s going well and I like it, why not ? I don’t know if marine fish reproduce in such small volumes but it will be interesting to research.
 
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LouPey

I am looking to buy the same tank so I shall keep an eye on this one!

Did you get the skimmer with it? Here you can buy it with and without.

In my LFS they have this tank set up but the skimmer is always clogged. I don't know if its because they don't have time to clean it out every day or if it is just a design fault.
 
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Dechi

I am looking to buy the same tank so I shall keep an eye on this one!

Did you get the skimmer with it? Here you can buy it with and without.

In my LFS they have this tank set up but the skimmer is always clogged. I don't know if its because they don't have time to clean it out every day or if it is just a design fault.

I don’t think we have it with a skimmer version. Hagen is a Canadian company, its head office is driving distance from here but we don’t always have everything they sell elsewhere. Go figure...

A skimmer doesn’t seem to be a necessity. Lots of people don’t have one in nano tanks. I’m starting without one but I might get the Fluval skimmer if need be. It has to be bought separately and I believe it’s about 80$-90$.
 
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Tallen78

After doing much research, but with hundred times more to learn, I have decided to make the plunge. I just bought an Evo 13.5 and should receive it in the next 2 days or so.

I will be writing about my set-up here, and costs. Since I have no idea if I will like it or not, I am going with a simple setup : Evo kit, koralia wavemaker, live sand and dry rocks (or live, if I can find some). Then, when cycled, I want a pair of clown fish, a few inverts to be determined and lots of easy corals. I like the soft corals with the « long hair » a lot (sorry, I know very little about them).

Oh, and I have decided to try tap water with a sea salt mix before going with RO/Di. I’ve seen many videos of people doing it for years and years who had very nice tanks. I want to see for myself, because I can’t get into my head why saltwater fish couldn’t do well in tap water while fragile freshwater fish and inverts thrive.

Costs so far (CAD)
Evo 13.5 : 229$
Great choice on the tank I have one got it for Christmas the setup out of the box is good for two maybe three fish and the light can grow a nice range of corals depending on placement but there are a few upgrades that I made and make a world of difference first the flow u have a wave maker but I would get a bigger pump I went with the ehiem 1000 exact replacement second the filtration I removed the sponge and purchased the in tank media baskets 1&2 great investment so I do not use the skimmer (fluval ps2 mini ) which I have worked ok when I did run it and lastly the light I went with the ai prime 16hd and the tank never looked better in all it’s about another 350-400 dollars but the tank will then be able to support any corals and house more fish
 
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jkkgron2

After doing much research, but with hundred times more to learn, I have decided to make the plunge. I just bought an Evo 13.5 and should receive it in the next 2 days or so.

I will be writing about my set-up here, and costs. Since I have no idea if I will like it or not, I am going with a simple setup : Evo kit, koralia wavemaker, live sand and dry rocks (or live, if I can find some). Then, when cycled, I want a pair of clown fish, a few inverts to be determined and lots of easy corals. I like the soft corals with the « long hair » a lot (sorry, I know very little about them).

Oh, and I have decided to try tap water with a sea salt mix before going with RO/Di. I’ve seen many videos of people doing it for years and years who had very nice tanks. I want to see for myself, because I can’t get into my head why saltwater fish couldn’t do well in tap water while fragile freshwater fish and inverts thrive.

Costs so far (CAD)
Evo 13.5 : 229$
Nice choice! I’ve really been enjoying my evo so far.
I agree with above about replacing the media. You don’t need to buy media baskets though, there’s some good videos on how to make cheap DIY media baskets.

One issue with tap water is adding the salt. Because it’s designed to add all nutrients needed for the tank (well.. it depends on the mix but usually) sometimes using tap water can cause issues with getting the right pH or stable parameters.

IME In SW everything needs more stability than freshwater, so even though some very sensitive fish in FW can thrive in tap, the bigger issue for SW is they need more specific parameters, and sometimes tap water can cause fluctuations.
 
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Dechi

One issue with tap water is adding the salt. Because it’s designed to add all nutrients needed for the tank (well.. it depends on the mix but usually) sometimes using tap water can cause issues with getting the right pH or stable parameters.

Thanks for that.

I change my mind often so I’ve decided to at least start the tank with pre-mixed salt water and also buy a 5 gallons of RO/Di for top offs. I’ll take it from there.
 
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Dechi

Ok. Here’s where I am today. The project will take longer than I hoped because I have to do some repairs on the house and that has a higher priority (water damage).

I had 12.5 lbs left of Caribsea Aragonite special grade sand so I put it in the tank. I also had some black window film left from my cichlids tank so I also used that for background.

There is no water in it yet but having sand and a background makes me feel the project is getting done, even if slowly.


8D158AF0-4575-475A-85D2-EF61F6F1364F.jpeg

Here’s what I’ll be buying when I can :

- Instant Ocean hydrometer (will be replaced by a Sybon auto-adjusting refractometer eventually)
- Hydor Koralia nano 240 gph
- live rocks (15-20 lbs) or mix of live and dry
- Api saltwater test
- TDS meter
- 50 watts heater (I only have a 25 watts heater)
- Cycling bacteria (don’t know which one yet)
- Red sea coral pro salt mix (55 gallons)
- 2 x 5 gallons buckets with lids for water storage (already bought 18,35$)

This should cost me 380$ so it will bring the total to
about 600$ for a basic set-up.
 
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Dechi

I’ve ordered the following items that will allow me to start cycling the tank. Hopefully I will receive everything by next sunday.

- Hydrometer (18$)
- Red sea coral pro mixing salt (46$)
- TDS meter (13$)
- cheap power head to mix the salt (21$)
- Dr Tim’s ammonium (15$)

If anyone from Canada is looking for Dr Tim’s ammonium, they have it at Aquarium depot for 5$ plus shipping.
 
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Dechi

I bought 12 lbs of rocks : 62$
Aquaforest BioS nitrifying bacteria : 36$

I have added mixed salt water (using tap water for now) to the tank, and then added the rocks. I made several attempts to finally get the look I was semi-satisfied with.

I put the SunSun power head in the tank to help with water movement. I adjusted the temperature to about 78F (25.6C)

I received Dr Tim’s ammonia and dosed 4 drops per gallon as per the instructions on the bottle. It turned out to be way too much, the ammonia test reads between 4ppm and 8ppm.

I looked online and it seems to be a common problem that following the instructions will give 4 times the target amount of 2 ppm.

I added 1 drop of BioS, hoping it will help clear all this ammonia.

Today I will be measuring my levels again and if still above 4 ppm, I will do a 50% water change to bring it down. I will save the water to be used as an ammonia source (I am trying not to waste any salt water).

Here is the tank yesterday (it was still a little cloudy from playing with the rocks and adding BioS)


C1A5865F-9F3B-4307-A247-FA802ED2CBE8.jpeg
 
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fish 321

Nice tank! Have you figured out what kind corals you want to get yet?
 
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Dechi

Nice tank! Have you figured out what kind corals you want to get yet?

Thank you ! I still can’t remember any names of what I like. It’s like a foreign language to me, lol !

I like the soft corals with « long hair ». I almost fainted when I saw a medium sized one at the store, just what I wanted, being sold for... 600$ !

I guess I’ll have to start with the small ones at 45$. And since they’re so expensive, I’ll probably only get one or two, see how they do, and if I don’t kill them I’ll get more...
 
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fish 321

Thank you ! I still can’t remember any names of what I like. It’s like a foreign language to me, lol !

I like the soft corals with « long hair ». I almost fainted when I saw a medium sized one at the store, just what I wanted, being sold for... 600$ !

I guess I’ll have to start with the small ones at 45$. And since they’re so expensive, I’ll probably only get one or two, see how they do, and if I don’t kill them I’ll get more...
Hmm are ypu talking about a hairy mushroom?
 
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fish 321

I’m not sure what it was. It looked exactly like what you see on this link, but green.

Soft corals in the reef tank
That looks like a torch coral which is a LPS or large polyp stony coral, they are a little bit more tricky to take care of than a soft coral.
 
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Dechi

That looks like a torch coral which is a LPS or large polyp stony coral, they are a little bit more tricky to take care of than a soft coral.

Thanks ! Do you know any soft corals with «long hair » as I like that are good for beginners and more forgiving?
 
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fish 321

Thanks ! Do you know any soft corals with «long hair » as I like that are good for beginners and more forgiving?
Soem easy beginner corals are zoas, greens star polyps, xenia, clove polyps, and leather corals. Just keep in mind green star polyps and xenai can take over a tank. Corals with "hair" as you like are usualy lps corals.
 
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Jesterrace

After doing much research, but with hundred times more to learn, I have decided to make the plunge. I just bought an Evo 13.5 and should receive it in the next 2 days or so.

I will be writing about my set-up here, and costs. Since I have no idea if I will like it or not, I am going with a simple setup : Evo kit, koralia wavemaker, live sand and dry rocks (or live, if I can find some). Then, when cycled, I want a pair of clown fish, a few inverts to be determined and lots of easy corals. I like the soft corals with the « long hair » a lot (sorry, I know very little about them).

Oh, and I have decided to try tap water with a sea salt mix before going with RO/Di. I’ve seen many videos of people doing it for years and years who had very nice tanks. I want to see for myself, because I can’t get into my head why saltwater fish couldn’t do well in tap water while fragile freshwater fish and inverts thrive.

Costs so far (CAD)
Evo 13.5 : 229$

Here's the thing that people miss about tapwater between freshwater and saltwater. In freshwater you are simply using the minerals as is in the tapwater and mitigating the harmful elements with a water treatment (ie Seachem Prime). In saltwater you are combining whatever random minerals and solids (not to mention nitrates and phosphates) with highly mineralized salt crystals. The salt crystals already have everything you need for a healthy tank in them and when you mix them with whatever random solids and minerals are in your tap it often creates the perfect storm for unwanted algae growth (ie hair algae, cyanobacteria aka red slime algae) at best and things that are harmful for your tank at worst. Are there people who run their tanks with tapwater with little issue? Sure. Are there quite a few more who find themselves in a horrible uphill battle with the aforementioned and giving up in disgust and frustration? Absolutely. The problem is that there are no two water systems that are the same. Some have near RO Water quality and some have water that is barely potable let alone usable for an aquarium, so you can't treat tapwater as a constant. There are even cases where folks use tapwater just fine for years and then move to another part of the same town and then have all their fish die because the tapwater turns out to have a high ammonia content in that area. One other thing to note is that tapwater tanks have a murkier/cloudier display than an RODI tank. It's actually pronounced enough that 9 times out of 10 when someone posts a picture or vid that I can tell if they are using tapwater simply by looking. Bottom line your display rarely looks as good as you don't get the clarity.

Add in the fact that the vast majority of freshwater critters these days are captive bred while just the opposite is true of saltwater.

Bottom line the odds are not in favor of success with tapwater in a saltwater tank. It falls under the "penny wise, pound foolish" wisdom more often than not.
 
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Dechi

Are there people who run their tanks with tapwater with little issue? Sure. Are there quite a few more who find themselves in a horrible uphill battle with the aforementioned and giving up in disgust and frustration? Absolutely.

I agree with you and I’m well aware of that. Let’s just say having a saltwater tank for me is pushing it, because personal challenges I don’t necessarily want to get into. This is what is making me avoid the burden of RO/DI water. It’s not a money issue or a lack of will or laziness.

A saltwater tank has been my dream for a long time so I figure it’s worth a try. My tapwater GH is 50 ppm, which isn’t enormous and my TDS is 100. My KH is also 100 ppm. It’s very clear in my mind that if it doesn’t work, I will just transform the tank into freshwater.

So why not ? What do I have to lose besides money ? I’ve seem many very beautiful tanks with tap water, so it can be done. Many not in my case, but I can‘t know if I don’t try it.
 
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Jesterrace

Do you have a local fish store? Many of them sell RODI Water if you don't want to deal with the hassle of your own system. Admittedly this is the route I go because my LFS does it for free and pre-mix for 75 cents a gallon. I just pick up 10 gallons on a set day each week and every other week fill up a 5 gallon RODI water jug for my 90 gallon tank and it works great. Just offering an alternative for you that might be less hassle for you that would give you greater odds of success. I always look at anything in this hobby in terms of odds of success (since there are no guarantees).
 
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Dechi

Do you have a local fish store? Many of them sell RODI Water if you don't want to deal with the hassle of your own system. Admittedly this is the route I go because my LFS does it for free and pre-mix for 75 cents a gallon. I just pick up 10 gallons on a set day each week and every other week fill up a 5 gallon RODI water jug for my 90 gallon tank and it works great. Just offering an alternative for you that might be less hassle for you that would give you greater odds of success. I always look at anything in this hobby in terms of odds of success (since there are no guarantees).

Thanks for trying to help. I do have a store 30 minutes away but I’m not physically capable of carrying the jugs. It’s way too heavy for me and I have nobody to help.

The only way would be to find a water delivery company. There’s also the fact that I don’t have room to store water upstairs and going up and down the stairs to get the water is not doable long term.

As I said, it’s complicated.

I’m happy as it is though. Even if it doesn’t work, at least I will have tried and that’s what matters to me.
 
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Tallen78

Thanks for trying to help. I do have a store 30 minutes away but I’m not physically capable of carrying the jugs. It’s way too heavy for me and I have nobody to help.

The only way would be to find a water delivery company. There’s also the fact that I don’t have room to store water upstairs and going up and down the stairs to get the water is not doable long term.

As I said, it’s complicated.

I’m happy as it is though. Even if it doesn’t work, at least I will have tried and that’s what matters to me.
Try this it works very well 0 tds from my kitchen sink hook it up let it run for about an half hour or so and then start filling ur bucket when ur done unscrew it and put it away I have the same tank and keep 5g salt and 5g rodi on hand but one of the more important pieces of equipment u should look into is an ato (auto top off ) I get a lot of evaporation in mine although I have no lid due to the fact I run an ai 16hd on my tank there’s a pic of the gsp a lot of movement and also my small golden torch it’s new to my tank and hasn’t opened up all the way still looking for the best spot to put it
 

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Jesterrace

Thanks for trying to help. I do have a store 30 minutes away but I’m not physically capable of carrying the jugs. It’s way too heavy for me and I have nobody to help.

The only way would be to find a water delivery company. There’s also the fact that I don’t have room to store water upstairs and going up and down the stairs to get the water is not doable long term.

As I said, it’s complicated.

I’m happy as it is though. Even if it doesn’t work, at least I will have tried and that’s what matters to me.

I understand.
 
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Dechi

I’m on day 7 of a fish less cycle with Dr Tim’s ammonia.

It’s my first time doing a fish less cycle. I’ll be as patient as need be but I’m anxious to get the fish and coral !
 
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Jesterrace

I’m on day 7 of a fish less cycle with Dr Tim’s ammonia.

It’s my first time doing a fish less cycle. I’ll be as patient as need be but I’m anxious to get the fish and coral !

If you are doing tap I would stick to fish only, but if you are dead set on coral pick a single small softy frag to do as a test when you your tank is ready. That way you minimize your losses if it turns out there is something in the tap that isn't good for the corals. Small fragments are a great way to save money in the hobby as they are generally much cheaper than a good size colony, that and they are easier to track growth and easier to spot potential pests earlier before they become a major problem.

For example. A year and a half ago I bought this little guy for $20 from my LFS. This was about a week after I added it to my tank:


After about a year here is what it looked like (it's even bigger now):

 
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Dechi

f you are doing tap I would stick to fish only, but if you are dead set on coral pick a single small softy frag to do as a test when you your tank is ready. That way you minimize your losses if it turns out there is something in the tap that isn't good for the corals.

Yeah, I’m dead set on corals. My plan is to get only the easiest and hardiest soft corals. Your Frogspawn is beautiful and it’s exactly what I like in a coral.

Those little ones here in Canada cost 45$ so I plan to start with only one and see how it does. If it’s doing okay, then I’ll add more.

How big is your tank and how long has it been running?
 
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Jesterrace

Yeah, I’m dead set on corals. My plan is to get only the easiest and hardiest soft corals. Your Frogspawn is beautiful and it’s exactly what I like in a coral.

Those little ones here in Canada cost 45$ so I plan to start with only one and see how it does. If it’s doing okay, then I’ll add more.

How big is your tank and how long has it been running?


My current tank is 90 gallons with a 29 gallon sump and it's been running for just over 3 years. I upgraded/transferred from my first tank which was a 36 gallon bowfront.
 
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Dechi

And.... I think we’re cycled ! 21 days after putting the first drop of Dr Tim’s ammonia in the tank, there is a nice sky blue color on the nitrite test !

I still added ammonia today and will be expecting the same result tomorrow. I can see nice little clowns coming soon ! :)
 
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