Hi! New to saltwater, new 20L in progress

  • #1
I've planned this tank for years, and it is now in progress.

I've done my reading, and have actually had freshwater tanks for years. I bred Betta splendens, had a website, showed and sold them for 5 years. My mother bred, showed and sold freshwater angels for years while I grew up also. I've kept fish most of my life. So, I have my feet wet already!

I started this tank a week ago after the pre-start: Filled it, checked for leaks. There was one. Sealed it, refilled 3 days later. All good.

Went online and ordered 2-212 powerheads, an API Saltwater master test kit, and a hydrometer/thermometer that hangs in the tank. Forgot to add a heater, and even though I emailed them immediately, they couldn't catch the order before it left the warehouse.

Hit the local pet store, got instant ocean and aragonite sand. Rinsed the sand forever, little by little, and added it to the tank. Bought distilled water, 20 gallons. Added what was needed to the tank. Figured I'd have a bit left over, but it won't go to waste.

Added the instant ocean, 1 cup per gallon as the bag says. Was too salty after a couple hours. Removed water and put it in the empty 10 gallon saltwater quarantine, replacing with distilled until a good 1.021 was reached.

Was extremely cloudy!!! Have an old little tetra filter, added it to the tank. Waited 3 days until clear.

Searched online for prices on live rock. Then went to the local saltwater store, which is 1/2 hour away. I could get it online for $100, at the local store $350 for 35 lbs. Went home and ended up on Ebay where I got a good deal on cured Fiji.

Live rock arrived today. 3 nice pieces! Bought a heater from the LFS, since the generic one I had wasn't keeping a constant temperature. Note to self: Don't scrimp on the heater when the fish you plan to keep cost $20 each at least. I swear by Visi-Therm, and that's what I bought.

Rinsed the live rock and added it at 2:30p. My ammonia is now 0.5-1.0 at 9p. Heat is at a steady 80*f. And I've been staring at the rock for hours waiting for my first glimpse of a hitchhiker.

I'll be checking ammonia until it begins to drop, then start checking nitrites.

I worked at a fish store in Strongsville (just outside Cleveland) 2002-2003, and fell in love with this little Sailfin Blenny. It only grows 1", and I want one. I can't have it until my tank is 1 year old. And a Mandarin. So, I can get 2 fish this first year.

I intend to get a Decorator crab and a pom-pom crab. I saw that there are cleaner shrimp with blue bodies. Want one. And bumble bee snails. And possibly a slug. Other than that, a goby, blenny... 2 fish. They will most likely be things that hop on the bottom. My daughter likes yellow headed jawfish. Maybe one of them.

I don't know if I want corals, but plan to light the tank for that just in case. For now, I have an open top tank. I guess the live rock should be kept in the dark while it cycles anyhow.

Now I just sit out the cycle, and look for active forums. And here I am! Hiya!
  • #2
welcome to fishlore, sounds like you got a plan, did you check the ph levels should be around 8.3
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
My readings today show 8.0-8.2. Of course this is after adding live rock that was shipped and just showed up/was put in today. I plan to monitor this and the ammonia for a bit before doing anything.

Plus, I plan to buy a R/O unit before adding fish. Right now I'm buying distilled.
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
and now I read that I shouldn't have the tank temp that high... lowering the temp now...

Also, I plan to do weekly water changes rather than having a protein skimmer.
shih-tzu mom
  • #5
Hi; and Welcome to salty side-I too am just starting and it seems like your'e under control- Best of luck in your new endeavour-Bella
  • #6
Welcome to FL!

Sounds like you are off to a good start so far. Curious, do you have a Latin name for "sailfin blenny"? I'm unaware of any that grow to an inch. The only issue I see with your stock list is the Mandarin. IMHO they are not at all suited to a 20 gallon tank even if it is mature. For a mandarin, I'd say 75 gallons or more, and a refugium is a must. These fish graze on pods almost constantly, and can quickly decimate their population... then the fish starves. Most never accept prepared foods. ORA has started selling captive bred mandarins that eat prepared foods, but I still would not recommend it for a 20.

What are your plans for lighting this tank (since you mentioned you wanted to have the option of adding corals)?
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
No real plans for lighting yet. I have a while to wait, so I'll investigate those when the time draws nearer.

The sailfin blenny I want is Emblemaria pandionis. Link:

Too bad about the mandarin. I really like the red ones, they have so much color!

I hear the slugs release toxins when they die if you don't catch them right away too, so no slug either.

I'm confused about temperature now. I had read 80*f to cure live rock. I heard 79*f is a good temp. Now I'm reading 72-77*f?

Ammonia: 0.5-1.0, looking closer to 0.5 than last night
Nitrite: 1.0
Nitrate: 20ppm

Was very tempted to do a water change with that nitrate reading, but I'll let it go for now
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Was sitting here today looking at my cabinet that I refuse to drill into. Started thinking I could just put tubes through a door and let it stand open a bit. Then I opened a drawer, and I can run tubes under it and into the bottom. And I have 1-3 15 gallon tanks in the garage, I'm sure at least one doesn't have a leak.

So, now I'm going to start looking into plumbing this and building one of those algae screens. I wanted chaeto also, and now I'll be able to have it!

Now it's just a matter of making that, and getting the money for the R/O unit, and lighting. Sheesh. I didn't plan for it to get this involved!

Everyone thinks it's funny because I still don't really know what fish I want besides the 2 crabs, the shrimp and the blenny. Oh well. They'll be happy. lol

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