Lchi’s Saltwater Build- 10g To Im25 Lagoon!

Lchi87

I decided to FINALLY take the plunge and join the salty side of fish keeping! I’m super intimidated but I’m going to try my best and hopefully this doesn’t turn into a big costly mistake, haha!

I went the LFS this afternoon and came home with:
-10lbs of live rock
-Hydor koralia powerhead
-caribsea baminI pink sand
-a refractometer
-nite out
-seachem matrix
-10 gallons of sw
-5 gallons of RO

I decided to keep the AC30 running, but just switched out the stock biomedia for the Matrix. In terms of lighting, a Nicrew will do for now since this will start out as a FOWLR but the ultimate goal; a nano reef !

Here it is; cloudy but cycling.. I think?!

8d550753191e5832904e4c43eebf47ea.jpg

A few questions to start out with:
Test kit recommendations? Somehow I don’t think the standard API Saltwater kit is going to be good enough...

And am I dosing ammonia like I would FW?

grantm91 I’m really going to need your help, haha !
 

Oarngesi

I got my first 10 gallon sw Fowler cycling right now, what’s your power head rated at mine is blowing all the sand to one side. What fish do you plan to keep
 

stella1979

Yay, Yay, Yay!!! I am so glad to see this Lchi!

You may have quite a short cycle with all the live rock! Ooooh, what fish are you thinking?

You may have seen me say this before, but I will never forget one of the first Saltwater threads I read here. 14gal Nano Reef Build
A beautiful tank with a sad story early on. Trusted water from the LFS wasn't tested... turned out to be fresh. It killed everything. Always test salinity of new water! Still, a happy story in the end and some amazing photography on that thread. Check out the green slimer! I just got a frag.
 

shutterbug13

I don't know anything about saltwater but I definitely want to follow along!
 

Lchi87

I got my first 10 gallon sw Fowler cycling right now, what’s your power head rated at mine is blowing all the sand to one side. What fish do you plan to keep
My powerhead does 240GPH... not sure if I need more..?
I haven’t quite decided on stock but am intrigued by the goby/shrimp relationship and may want to try that!

Also tempted to try a pseudochromis like Nanologist ‘s lovely Petal

Yay, Yay, Yay!!! I am so glad to see this Lchi!

You may have quite a short cycle with all the live rock! Ooooh, what fish are you thinking?

You may have seen me say this before, but I will never forget one of the first Saltwater threads I read here. 14gal Nano Reef Build
A beautiful tank with a sad story early on. Trusted water from the LFS wasn't tested... turned out to be fresh. It killed everything. Always test salinity of new water! Still, a happy story in the end and some amazing photography on that thread. Check out the green slimer! I just got a frag.
I hope this cycles quickly, I can’t wait to get this going after seeing beautiful sw tanks from you and Grant, and GB and Nart .... such bad influences I surround myself with.
I did check salinity before adding the water; it was indeed saltwater. Me and my refractometer are going to be best buds from now on.
Slug’s got some of the best photography on fishlore hands down and truly breathtaking tanks! #goals
The green slimer is that green branchy looking one right? Sorry for my primitive terminology, just keep correcting me along the way and I’ll learn eventually.
I don't know anything about saltwater but I definitely want to follow along!
Thanks for following! I don’t know much either but am willing to learn.
 

AngelTheGypsy

How exciting! Someday I’ll stop reading “someone’s southwest tank build” in my head!
I’ll be following along as a spectator, but will have zero advice, since I still can’t translate sw to salt...
Doesn’t everyone have to have Nemo in their first sw tank?
 

tfreema

Following to learn along with you. I know one day I will take the plunge into sw, but not there yet.
 

vikingkirken

I'm following along of course! So excited to see the progress!
 

Lchi87

How exciting! Someday I’ll stop reading “someone’s southwest tank build” in my head!
I’ll be following along as a spectator, but will have zero advice, since I still can’t translate sw to salt...
Doesn’t everyone have to have Nemo in their first sw tank?
Lol!!! Clownfish can be aggressive apparently..? grantm91 has one that bites him!
Following to learn along with you. I know one day I will take the plunge into sw, but not there yet.
I was saying that to myself not too long ago and now look where I am lol. But I agree, you set up that 75 first.
I'm following along of course! So excited to see the progress!
Yay!!! How’s your little saltwater experiment going??
 

cadd

Following!! One day, I hope to be able to have a Saltwater tank. I'm just coming along for the ride trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible for now.
 

Wild Bill

Welcome to the dark side @Lchi, I myself have a little 20 that I’m using to prepare myself for my 75 gallon that I’m building now. I look foreword to seeing your tank grow into a bigger tank.
 

vikingkirken

My saltwater tank is pretty much the same. I realized I still have two Jonah crabs--what I thought was a dead crab was only a molt! So now I have TWO crabs that are going to get 5+ inches across the shell, in a 20 long. This is definitely not what I was planning--but what to do about it?? Can't put any fish with them, for sure. But at least they are cute! I'm keeping them for now, we'll cross the too-big bridge if/when we get there. I must say I am still, probably irrationally, intimidated by the water changes on SW!
 

Lchi87

So it's a little before 1am right now but I'm up watching my little tank much like a parent watches their newborn sleep the first night they are home. I wasn't expecting to feel this way about a build lol.

Anyway, I wanted to share this video. I think I'm in love, my heart was racing, haha!

Also, signs of life already!

bd466197c03b562866f59c770a65292d.jpg

I happened to be staring at his burrow when he dashed out, did a lap around the rock and went back in lol. Some sort of pod/scud ? Might be a tasty treat for a future inhabitant.
 

grantm91

Ahh man you made the Rocks and Sand look good already ! Looks like a amphipod to me, you will see more stuff with all that LR, to answer your questions from the first post, you can use API. The apI fw and apI sw are Identical apart from the sw ph test is high range, ive used it twice or something the ph that is. I used API the whole time but just bought my first salifert test last week, for kh, as I'm getting into more advanced corals and I just wanted a more accurate reading out of curiosity too. Also yes, dose ammonia as you would to cycle a fw tank, but with all that LR don’t be surprised if you never see nitrite. Your power head is adequate, Id have it on the other side so its aiming at your main rock feature, just preference though I guess, also I can't tell from the pic but in a sw tank its important to maintain good surface agitation.
9fd32c4fb1d1828659b26a1554be6d94.jpg I get mine by having the powerhead close to the surface. I think your more than ready for this, as for stock I want to say clown as mine are my favorites, even though one bites me rather ferociously, they are just so inquisitive of everything and love to hand feed.
 

Nanologist

OMG... YAY!!! All the nudging paid off!

Yeah, cycle the same as a Freshwater tank and the API tests are fine for a FOWLR. You won't need more accurate testing until you want to add coral. The amount of flow you have looks good for now as well.

I'm so happy to hear you're thinking of other options besides clownfish. They're cute but just as AngelTheGypsy said "Doesn't everyone have to have Nemo". This is why I refused to get them. A majority of Saltwater tanks have them, so I was already bored of them. I wanted something different. There's so many options in Saltwater even in a 10 gallon and personally I just wouldn't do a pair of clownfish in anything less than a 20g. Especially since I'd want a nice big RBTA(rainbow bubble tip anemone) to host them.

I'm so excited to see you taking the plunge into salty water!
 

JRS

Following. I like you are doing a 10G. That is a size I could find room for in the future if I decide to follow you all in. I guess I always assumed a Saltwater tank would have to be bigger. Good luck. Can't wait to see the progress.
 

Lchi87

Tank’s cleared up quite a bit overnight:

0140958475bc48db34af88909deea105.jpg
Saw the amphipod scuttling around too; can’t wait to see who else shows up!

Ahh man you made the Rocks and Sand look good already ! Looks like a amphipod to me, you will see more stuff with all that LR, to answer your questions from the first post, you can use API. The apI fw and apI sw are Identical apart from the sw ph test is high range, ive used it twice or something the ph that is. I used API the whole time but just bought my first salifert test last week, for kh, as I'm getting into more advanced corals and I just wanted a more accurate reading out of curiosity too. Also yes, dose ammonia as you would to cycle a fw tank, but with all that LR don’t be surprised if you never see nitrite. Your power head is adequate, Id have it on the other side so its aiming at your main rock feature, just preference though I guess, also I can't tell from the pic but in a sw tank its important to maintain good surface agitation.
9fd32c4fb1d1828659b26a1554be6d94.jpg I get mine by having the powerhead close to the surface. I think your more than ready for this, as for stock I want to say clown as mine are my favorites, even though one bites me rather ferociously, they are just so inquisitive of everything and love to hand feed.
Hah thanks, I wasn’t thinking it looked at that great. I was rushing to get the LR arranged quickly so I could get the sand in there and fill the thing with water already lol. ButI think I let the rock dry out too much with all the tinkering so I’m not sure how “live” it still is..
Noted on the test kit and powerhead placement, definitely need more surface agitation as my surface doesn’t ripple quite like yours.
OMG... YAY!!! All the nudging paid off!

Yeah, cycle the same as a Freshwater tank and the API tests are fine for a FOWLR. You won't need more accurate testing until you want to add coral. The amount of flow you have looks good for now as well.

I'm so happy to hear you're thinking of other options besides clownfish. They're cute but just as AngelTheGypsy said "Doesn't everyone have to have Nemo". This is why I refused to get them. A majority of Saltwater tanks have them, so I was already bored of them. I wanted something different. There's so many options in Saltwater even in a 10 gallon and personally I just wouldn't do a pair of clownfish in anything less than a 20g. Especially since I'd want a nice big RBTA(rainbow bubble tip anemone) to host them.

I'm so excited to see you taking the plunge into salty water!
Yes, I have all of you to blame. what are some other fun 10 gallon options? The clown piqued my interest as it seems like they act like cichlids but I would love to wait till I had enough room for a pair like you said. Thanks for spelling out your abbreviations, I’m still learning all the terms and you saved me a trip to google lol

Following. I like you are doing a 10G. That is a size I could find room for in the future if I decide to follow you all in. I guess I always assumed a Saltwater tank would have to be bigger. Good luck. Can't wait to see the progress.
I thought so too, but my sw people on this thread convinced me I could pull it off so I am giving it a shot. Thanks for following!
 

Jayd976

If the pod survived I’m sure the rock was kept wet enough. Looks great can’t wait to see how it progresses. I just finished an 8 week cycle finally started adding fish to my 75 yesterday. You got some nice pieces of LR looks like more than 10lbs too but hard to really tell size and density of rock from pics. Either way it looking great
 

grantm91

Lchi87 I think you’ll get an insta-cycle with all that rock, your 10 gallon is like a echo of my 16 !
41705786002669a3248a382080dc7bbc.jpg nicrew gang fo’ life haha, even kept some brown paly/zoa things under mine.
 

stella1979

I does look really great Lchi! I bet the rock is still very alive, and there may only be a little loss. No worries, it'll produce ammonia for your cycle. Let's just remember that live rock gets shipped! I agree with moving the powerhead into more open water, but I would also move the HOB so they remain opposite to each other. Can't wait to see what you come up with for the stocking and I also love the awesome Petal! I think I'll call on my favorite salty stocking guru, oh KinsKicks Got some more obscure 10 gallon stocking options for Lchi?

Edit: Oh yeah, the slimer is indeed the bright green branchy thing. It's an acropora coral that I am totally unprepared for, but I got a sweet deal and made a friend, so it's sure fun to try.
 

RedLoredAmazon

Ooooohhh! I'm following this build! Congrats on the new salty setup!
 

Nanologist

Almost any variation of pseudochromis like Petal. Could always do a goby/shrimp combo but they don't swim around as much and tend to just sit by their burrow. I was originally going to get an exquisite firefish before spotting Petal. A royal gramma would be nice too.
 

DioAquatics

I know I kinda late to the party but omg salt!!!!! Super excited to see how you do things
 

el337

Yay! Congrats on starting your salty build. I would love to start one myself some day but have zero knowledge on it. Will be watching!!
 

Reeferxbetta

Congrats on the new tank, saltwater is a lot of fun!
 

vikingkirken

I love nanologist's stock suggestions! Can't wait to see what you choose . Isn't it fun seeing what kind of live surprises show up with salt? That was the first thing that stood out with mine, too.
 

KinsKicks

I does look really great Lchi! I bet the rock is still very alive, and there may only be a little loss. No worries, it'll produce ammonia for your cycle. Let's just remember that live rock gets shipped! I agree with moving the powerhead into more open water, but I would also move the HOB so they remain opposite to each other. Can't wait to see what you come up with for the stocking and I also love the awesome Petal! I think I'll call on my favorite salty stocking guru, oh KinsKicks Got some more obscure 10 gallon stocking options for Lchi?

Edit: Oh yeah, the slimer is indeed the bright green branchy thing. It's an acropora coral that I am totally unprepared for, but I got a sweet deal and made a friend, so it's sure fun to try.
Omg congrats Lchi!! Can’t wait to see the tank in all its glory XD

As for fish and keeping the theme of “obscure” (haha) some bottom dwellers you might like:
-Eviota Gobies
-Neon blue goby (Elactinus oceanops)
- Green Banded Gobies
-Plectranthia (Plectranthia inermis)
- Hector’s Goby
- Two Spot Bimaculatus Blenny

Non-bottoms:
- Psuedochromis (Bicolor, Diadem, Purple, Springeri, Orchid)
- chalk basselet
- Talbot’s Damsel

Or the classics
- clown goby et.al
- tailspot blenny
- goby/ shrimp pair

- clowns (ocellaris, true perc)
- firefish
- royal grammas
- BangaiI Cardinal
- PJ Cardinal
- chromis et.al
- yellow tail damsel et.al

Just some off the top of my head
 

Lchi87

I changed the position of the powerhead and HOB and also tweaked the scape a bit. I’m still thinking I don’t have enough surface agitation though; the surface does have motion though.. hmm...


437f4b9800faffbe2b14cc65349f6001.jpg

I went to test my parameters with my freshwater kit since they’re supposed to be identical to the sw version and found my ammonia bottles perspiring with chunky looking fluid. Boo! A replacement is on the way. No nitrite or nitrate registering yet...

If the pod survived I’m sure the rock was kept wet enough. Looks great can’t wait to see how it progresses. I just finished an 8 week cycle finally started adding fish to my 75 yesterday. You got some nice pieces of LR looks like more than 10lbs too but hard to really tell size and density of rock from pics. Either way it looking great
Thank you for your kind words! Wow, 8 weeks to cycle, I admire your patience. A 75 gallon sw setup sounds amazing!
Lchi87 I think you’ll get an insta-cycle with all that rock, your 10 gallon is like a echo of my 16 !
41705786002669a3248a382080dc7bbc.jpg nicrew gang fo’ life haha, even kept some brown paly/zoa things under mine.
LOL I swear I’m not copying you!!! I think it might take me awhile considering no nitrates or nitrites are showing up yet but I’m dying to see if there’s any ammonia yet! I love my nicrew but I’m already looking at other lights.... eek!!
I does look really great Lchi! I bet the rock is still very alive, and there may only be a little loss. No worries, it'll produce ammonia for your cycle. Let's just remember that live rock gets shipped! I agree with moving the powerhead into more open water, but I would also move the HOB so they remain opposite to each other. Can't wait to see what you come up with for the stocking and I also love the awesome Petal! I think I'll call on my favorite salty stocking guru, oh KinsKicks Got some more obscure 10 gallon stocking options for Lchi?

Edit: Oh yeah, the slimer is indeed the bright green branchy thing. It's an acropora coral that I am totally unprepared for, but I got a sweet deal and made a friend, so it's sure fun to try.
Thanks for summoning more help lol! The slimer is so cool looking, I hope it thrives for you!!!
Ooooohhh! I'm following this build! Congrats on the new salty setup!

I know I kinda late to the party but omg salt!!!!! Super excited to see how you do things

Yay! Congrats on starting your salty build. I would love to start one myself some day but have zero knowledge on it. Will be watching!!

Congrats on the new tank, saltwater is a lot of fun!
Thanks guys!! I’m so excited
I love nanologist's stock suggestions! Can't wait to see what you choose . Isn't it fun seeing what kind of live surprises show up with salt? That was the first thing that stood out with mine, too.
I love seeing this come to life on its own! I wonder now what real live rock must look like; the variety must be crazy! This stuff I have is the aquacultured stuff which I feel better about using since it wasn’t taken from a real reef.
Omg congrats Lchi!! Can’t wait to see the tank in all its glory XD

As for fish and keeping the theme of “obscure” (haha) some bottom dwellers you might like:
-Eviota Gobies
-Neon blue goby (Elactinus oceanops)
- Green Banded Gobies
-Plectranthia (Plectranthia inermis)
- Hector’s Goby
- Two Spot Bimaculatus Blenny

Non-bottoms:
- Psuedochromis (Bicolor, Diadem, Purple, Springeri, Orchid)
- chalk basselet
- Talbot’s Damsel

Or the classics
- clown goby et.al
- tailspot blenny
- goby/ shrimp pair

- clowns (ocellaris, true perc)
- firefish
- royal grammas
- BangaiI Cardinal
- PJ Cardinal
- chromis et.al
- yellow tail damsel et.al

Just some off the top of my head
Thank you SO much!!! Googling these now.
Almost any variation of pseudochromis like Petal. Could always do a goby/shrimp combo but they don't swim around as much and tend to just sit by their burrow. I was originally going to get an exquisite firefish before spotting Petal. A royal gramma would be nice too.
Thanks for the suggestions!!!
 

Punkin

How fun! Looks great already!
 

Dawn Michele

Looks great!!!
 

vikingkirken

I think you should do a PINK fish. It would be like a little flower accessorizing your adorable new tank. I'm sure that fish store guy would agree.

Seriously though, those magenta saltwater fish are stunning! And that's one color I don't think you can get in freshwater!
 

stella1979

I love seeing this come to life on its own! I wonder now what real live rock must look like; the variety must be crazy! This stuff I have is the aquacultured stuff which I feel better about using since it wasn’t taken from a real reef.

Having grown up snorkeling and diving on real reefs, I can tell you that your aquacultured rock is prettier! In my area of the ocean, most of the rocks are hairy with algae or just have a layer of silt all over them, making them this color between light brown and grey. Aquacultured live rock is real live rock too, just a little cleaner than wild stuff. Quite a bit of the aquacultured supply in the US is from right here in FL.
 

Culprit

Ayyyy can't believe Iv've missed this so long! I love the scape and all the beautiful coralline!! I would tilt your powerhead up so it gets a really good ripple. I have a powerhead and AC30 going on my tank and I kind of want another powerhead haha. See the good ripple coming off mine? I do have it on wavemaker mode but I've got a good 1/4 inch or more of drop on each side where the waters coming back and forth LOL

P1050783.JPG

A fish i've seen and thought about working into my stocking is the yellow tailed damsel or royal gramma. I know Kins already told you but I thought those looked super cool. For me, I;m sticking with the clowns I'm looking forward to getting them in a few weeks. Super personable smart and funny and the symbiotic behaviour with the nem is super cool.

I can't wait to see what you stock with and eventually the beautiful reef I'm sure it'll turn into!!
 

Nanologist

I think you should do a PINK fish. It would be like a little flower accessorizing your adorable new tank. I'm sure that fish store guy would agree.

Seriously though, those magenta saltwater fish are stunning! And that's one color I don't think you can get in freshwater!
lol Yeah. I do love my Petal!
 

Nart

wuhhhhhhhh.... when did you get this going Lchi? hahaha...
Welcome to the dark side. When I saw your FTS.... I'm like hey, that looks like my first Saltwater tank too

You are off to a great start. Let us know if you have any questions!
If you are looking for some really cool non-aggressive Saltwater fishes and more on the rarer/unique side, look into these: helfrichI firefish, Rainford Jester Goby, Possum Wrasse, and sharknose goby
 

Lchi87

I think you should do a PINK fish. It would be like a little flower accessorizing your adorable new tank. I'm sure that fish store guy would agree.

Seriously though, those magenta saltwater fish are stunning! And that's one color I don't think you can get in freshwater!
Hah! If we end up stopping by fish hut on our little excursion, I’ll ask the guy to show me some pretty, girl appropriate sw fish, I’m sure he’ll be into that haha

If clowns came in magenta, I would be all over that...
Ayyyy can't believe Iv've missed this so long! I love the scape and all the beautiful coralline!! I would tilt your powerhead up so it gets a really good ripple. I have a powerhead and AC30 going on my tank and I kind of want another powerhead haha. See the good ripple coming off mine? I do have it on wavemaker mode but I've got a good 1/4 inch or more of drop on each side where the waters coming back and forth LOL

P1050783.JPG

A fish i've seen and thought about working into my stocking is the yellow tailed damsel or royal gramma. I know Kins already told you but I thought those looked super cool. For me, I;m sticking with the clowns I'm looking forward to getting them in a few weeks. Super personable smart and funny and the symbiotic behaviour with the nem is super cool.

I can't wait to see what you stock with and eventually the beautiful reef I'm sure it'll turn into!!
HI Culprit !! I’m glad you found this; thanks for all the kind words!!
I tilted my powerhead at the surface this morning actually and got a nice satisfying ripple going now but now I’m thinking I should have gotten a wavemaker like you. I think the flow will do for now though, there don’t seem to be dead areas. I love the personality of clowns too! So many stocking options!
wuhhhhhhhh.... when did you get this going Lchi? hahaha...
Welcome to the dark side. When I saw your FTS.... I'm like hey, that looks like my first Saltwater tank too

You are off to a great start. Let us know if you have any questions!
If you are looking for some really cool non-aggressive Saltwater fishes and more on the rarer/unique side, look into these: helfrichI firefish, Rainford Jester Goby, Possum Wrasse, and sharknose goby
LOL Saturday night!! I had to go to the LFS to pick up some more bamboo shrimp and ended up going home with some sw stuff too. I just couldn’t help myself, you guys make it look so fun. I’m definitely going to have a million questions going forward.. so many things to learn!

So I’m going to do my first wc Saturday of between 20-30%. Should I do more/less? Obviously going to top off with sw but won’t that cause my salinity to go up? Shooting to keep it at 1.023, too much? I hadn’t topped off with fw at all since I set up the tank and its still at 1.021. I was hoping salinity would go up if I didn’t add any fw. Hopefully my logic is sound and if not, someone correct me!!
 

Culprit

20-30% sounds good. Yes topping of with Saltwater will cause salinity to go up. 1.023 is actually a little on the low side. Just fine for a FOWLR though. If you get corals you'll want to up it to 1.025-1.026. If you want to raise salinity just take a cup of water out and put a cup of Saltwater back in.

I love my wavemaker! So glad everyone gave me such a great recommendation! I think the flow should be just fine with a FOWLR. There are pink clowns... Look up pink skunk clownfish. Not sure if it will fit in a 10 though but they look cool!
 

Nart

Is your tank cycled yet? I read your most recent one and you said no Nitrite or Nitrate registering yet. Treat the cycle the same as you would in FW.
I personally wouldn't do any water changes till the tank is completely cycled.

If I did miss something and your tank is cycled. Ball park of 25% water change is fine.
I'd personally would just start keeping your tank at 1.025 ppt. Sooner or later, you'll get inverts in. Inverts prefer the higher side on the salinity scale, 1.025-.026.
 

Nanologist

Have you added any ammonia to the tank yet? You won't need to change the water during the cycling process unless you need to lower nitrites or nitrates to keep it from stalling. Otherwise, 20-30% is good for a weekly water change amount.

The salinity doesn't change as much as you'd expect from evaporation, but you'll still want to keep it as stable as possible. In my 10 gallon I would just keep the water slightly above the bottom of the black rim. Mostly just for aesthetics because I liked having the water line hidden, but also because I knew if I could see the water line it meant I needed to top it off with some FW.

As Culprit said, you'll want it at 1.023-1.025 for your CUC and fish since many LFS keep their livestock tanks around that, so it helps with acclimation. Since you don't have livestock yet you can actually just pour some salt right in the tank and let it mix. I would just mix a half cup of IO salt into a cup of RODI water as best as possible and pour small bits at a time into the wavemaker/powerhead while testing the salinity each dose. Otherwise, adding 20-30% of 1.023-1.025 to the 1.021 will raise it but it will take quite a few weeks. That would be the correct way to raise it if you had livestock though.
 

grantm91

What Nart said ! Haha. 1.025 is good for us manual topper offers as it gives us that safety zone for evap when we are busy and also is good enough for corals/inverts as stated by nart. I stay near 1.026 lately, get something to mark your water line so you know where to top of with fresh up to, it makes it easier, but just always check The salinity to get you used to the new tool. Reefer. The rI'm thing Nanologist said is the best Idea, you will notice from a far too.

I think you secretly already know you want a little Clown fish .
 

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