View Full Version : Joseph's 37gal FOWLR

03-06-2014, 03:38 AM
Hey everyone! I'm super excited to announce that, after five years of having it, I'll be switching my freshwater community over to a FOWLR setup. Here's a link to the journal for that tank in case you'd like to have a look: http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aqua...d.php?t=116054. I know it's barely been any time at all since I came up with a plan for what I'd like to do in that tank, but I had a brainwave a few days ago on how I could change over to saltwater without it being really expensive (the cost has been the main reason why I haven't switched over already), and I'm going to give it a try (I got Cliff's approval so if he's confident then I'm confident). Fair warning, though, the next few months of this journal are just going to be planning; I won't be able to really do anything major until after school finishes at the end of April.

To be honest, I'm sad that I'll have to lose my freshwater community to set up this tank. I don't view saltwater as better than freshwater; I enjoy them both equally, and each has its merits. The reason I'm switching is because, after five years, I'd like a change of scenery.

Here's the basic premise of what I'm doing:

The majority of my filtration will be live rock and sand. I plan on having enough to completely cover the biological filtration.
I'll use my AC50 for mechanical and chemical filtration, and I'll be setting up an HOB refugium in an AC 110 to help keep the nitrates and phosphates down.
With a suitable water-change schedule, I'm hoping that the above filtration scheme and the fact that I'm not keeping any corals will allow me to run the tank comfortably without a sump or skimmer. As well, because of the flow generated by the two filters, I don't think I'll need to purchase any additional powerheads.

Since I'm not growing any corals, I'll be able to use the stock light fixture that came with the tank, and I obviously don't need a new heater. As you can see, with this scheme I won't have to spend very much to modify the setup (I really just need live rock, sand, and the AC110), and I'll sell as much as I can of what I don't need from my current setup to help offset the costs even further. I know the operating costs on a marine aquarium are a little higher, but I'll be pricing it out in the next few weeks; I don't think that'll be a problem.

I haven't done much research on stocking yet, as I'll honestly be happy just having marine fish, but I hope that I'll be able to keep blue/green chromis (my favourites) and some type of anthias. Hopefully I can put in a flame angel, too, but I think I've read that those need big tanks.

Anyways, that's enough rambling for one day. Wish me luck and I can't wait to share this journey with you!

03-08-2014, 11:46 PM
May it all come together for you. Sounds like your as excited about changing a freshwater tank over to a saltwater tank as I was a year and a bit ago. You'll enjoy it I'm sure. The live rock will probably be your most expensive investment. Look around and see if someone is selling used rock before going to the LFS. They also have man made rock which works thats about half the price. Or you can make your own rock, video's on u-tube show what you need and how to do it.

03-09-2014, 01:23 AM
You might want to consider adding a small powerhead or two. With only have flow coming from one single direction, you will have dead spots. Dead spots can lead to a build up of crud which can also effect your water quality.

Keep an eye on Kajiji as you can typically find some great deals on used equipment. Big Als usually has some good sales every once in a while as well.

03-09-2014, 07:47 AM
What if I put the 110 refugium on the back and the 50 on one of the sides? Would that be better?

03-09-2014, 10:23 AM
A powerhead or two would be best

03-10-2014, 03:26 PM
Ok, the project has hit a bit of a wall. I called the city to try and get a report containing the exact chemical analysis of the tap water to see if I could use it straight from the tap or if an RO unit will be necessary, and they directed me to the city's water website. After two hours of searching, all I was able to find is a page stating that our water contains chlorine and chloramines, dissolved solids, and fluoride. Big whoop. Before calling back, since it took half an hour just to get in touch with an answering machine on Friday, I did a search online to see if any independent tests have been done and their results published.

I was able to find a document published by the Government of Canada in 1991 about TDS levels across the country. In 1988, TDS levels in the water leaving the 31 treatment plants in Ontario ranged between 91mg/L and 470mg/L. Now this figure can't be relied on too heavily, since water filtration techniques at those plants are probably quite different today from 25 years ago. However, a better indicator is that, in 1970, the TDS level of Lake Ontario, our only water water source, was 60mg/L. Since the lake isn't filtered, this reading probably hasn't changed much since then - if anything, it's gone up.

I thought our water would be a lot cleaner than this, and was hoping I'd be able to do this with straight tap water. I have to do some more research on the water quality, but it's looking like using tap water is not going to be an option, and I don't think my current circumstances or budget allow for either getting an RO unit or buying water.

I'll do more research and see if I can work the solution to this into my plan. I really hope I won't have to put this off for another few years.

03-13-2014, 07:06 PM
After much searching and phone-calling, I was finally able to find a full chemical analysis of my tap water. I was shocked at how many things, other than pure water, are in there - the report was seven pages long (and those are only the compounds they test for)! At this point, if I do set up this tank, I'm thinking of getting an RO/DI whether I need it or not just because of how much stuff is in there. Coralife makes a 50gpd 4-stage unit (probably more than I need for my size tank, but the 4-sage only comes in 50gpd) for $149, which isn't that bad.

Here are all relevant parameters that are in the report (given is the average of all readings taken daily throughout the year):
-Fluoride - 0.59mg/L
-Alkalinity - 89mg/L
-Hardness (as CaCo3) - 122mg/L
-pH - 7.7
-Total Solids - 194mg/L
-Calcium - 34.6mg/L
-Magnesium - 8.7mg/L
-Nitrate - 0.43mg/L
-Nitrite - 0.0018mg/L

Based on these numbers (I can also give the ranges of these values as well as any other readings given if you think that's necessary), do you think the DI stage is necessary or can I get away with a 3-stage unit (only because it's $40 cheaper)?

I'm currently testing the heater that I bought when I got my tank five years ago and never used (surprisingly, my house is warm enough to keep my tank at 76F with only 0.5F variation) to see if it works well because not having to buy a new heater would definitely allow me to buy an RO unit. I'm planning on testing at 78F because my tank never gets that high on its own, but I'm still bringing my tank up to that temperature. I'll post my results once the test is concluded.

03-14-2014, 01:28 AM
I am only using an R/O unit which I bought at Home Depot. I would have preferred an R/O DI unit but it wasn't in my budget at the time. I think you'll be safe starting with an R/O unit.
Remember your lighting will give off some heat which you may want to consider. You will not want the tank to change temperature too much during that 24 hour period.
A heater is a necessary item in my opinion. You cant beat a consistent temperature.
Have you found a couple of powerheads yet? BigAls have the Hydor ones in various sizes for a good price.

03-14-2014, 01:33 AM
Tbh I'm scared of looking at power heads. I don't like the Koralias for my tank since it's already pretty small and those take up a lot of space. I really like how small and compact the Vortechs are (and the fact that the cord is on the outside) but I know those are probably WAY out of my price range - which is why I'm terrified to look in the first place.

03-14-2014, 01:45 AM
I know what you mean about price! The small 425 Koralias with a magnetic mount ( dont use suction cups), do not take up alot of room. I have 2 425's and 2 850's in my 55 gallon and they just kind of blend in after awhile. Water flow is very important in a saltwater tank as is just about everything. Years ago (we are talking back in the '80's) I had a saltwater tank which I ran with normal freshwater filtration. It did really well for about 8 months. It crashed hard and I was devastated.

03-14-2014, 01:46 AM
check out the Jebao wavemaker. I just bought 2 wp25's for my 120g you would probably just need one 25 or 2 wp10's. I bought mine on ebay. they are pretty compact too.

On the RODI unit there is a difference in the type of unit if you have chloramines over the one for chlorine.

03-14-2014, 12:23 PM
I have to disagree with the above.

An RO unit is as good as the filters and the number of filters in the unit. This is the same principle as using a aquarium filter to keep water parameters in a aquarium in line

A RO membrane will remove both chlorine and chloramines. The molecules are too large to pass through. However, it you have chloramines in your water than it will shorten the life span of your membrane. By using a good quality catalytic activated carbon, it will help to break down the chloramines and remove some of those elements before it reaches your membrane.

I used a very simple RO unit with good quality carbon and a good quality membrane for a year or two before adding a DI cartridge. I got water with 2ppm of TDS from a simple 4 stage unit and our water quality seems to be very similar to yours.

I would suggest a simple 4 stage unit with three stages of catalytic carbon followed by your membrane. Try that for a while and see what type of TDS you get. You can easily add a DI cartridge unit latter on if needed.

03-17-2014, 02:43 AM
The heater experiment was a terrible failure. I'm not surprised since, when I bought it used, it looked to be about ten years old and even had some unidentified dead insects inside of it. After slowly bringing my tank up to 78F, I had it on without changing the setting for about 48 hours. In that time period, the temperature fluctuated between 76.9 and 80.2F, staying closer to the top end of that range. Tonight I decided to turn it down a little bit and realized that it was hardly on at all! The other thing I don't like about this heater is that, even though it has a thermostat and is designed to keep the tank at one temperature, there's no temperature scale on the dial, so setting it is a pain. I'm currently bringing my tank back down to 76F and I'm going to take the heater off because I don't want the huge fluctuations to stress my fish anymore than they already have.

I'm thinking of purchasing the Eheim Jager Thermostat Heater (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23726) in either 100W or 125W because the price is pretty good and I really trust Eheim. Which size do you think is better for 37gal?

03-23-2014, 12:40 PM
Here is my recommendation and what l did on my 120. I bought a finnex titanium heater tube and an external stc-1000 temperature controller. They are really nice and I found it to be spot on. It is fully programmable in that I can set my desired set point and the amount of variance in temp. I have mine set at .6 degrees Celsius for the variance bit it is set at 79.6 degrees Fahrenheit . You can see it in my build journal around page 15 - http://www.aquaticcommunity.com/aquariumforum/showthread.php?p=1216566 . It can fit into a double gang outlet box but mine is part of my control panel.

03-23-2014, 01:34 PM
You could also get a new and good quality heater as well. I would recommend looking into any of the below brands / style of heaters:



http://www.marinedepot.com/Hydor_ETH_200_In_Line_Heater_Inline_Specialty_Aqua rium_Heaters-Hydor_USA-HD08103-FIHTIH-vi.html

03-24-2014, 12:14 AM
Good news! My mom's friend's dad used to keep eight aquariums when he was younger and now he has a bunch of extra equipment lying around since he downsized to only two freshwater tanks. Apparently he used to keep seahorses as well as other types of saltwater tanks, so I'm hoping that means he has some good saltwater equipment that he's not using. My mom's friend said they're starting to just throw that stuff away, and I've met him a few times so hopefully I'll be able to get some good stuff from him (and maybe even a larger tank!!) that I wasn't planning on getting because of cost. He'll probably also take most of my current freshwater stuff for his setups which is nice because I won't have to go through the hassle of selling it all.

04-13-2014, 06:47 PM
More good news! I had a brainwave last night and I realized that I can, in fact, set up a sump. I'm in exams right now so I won't go into too much detail, but I'm very excited because everything will be starting next week - lots of pictures to come, of course!! The main reason why I never considered a sump before is that I didn't think there was enough room in my stand, but I realized last night that there is enough room for a 10gal. Not only should this be cheaper than my other idea (since a 10gal tank is nowhere near the $90 of the AC110), but it'll also make it easier to upgrade equipment later if I need to do so (like adding a skimmer or something like that).

After doing a bunch of research, I found that my tank is Marineland - why don't they mark that anywhere on their tanks?? - which means that the sides aren't tempered. I'm planning on plumbing a gravity overflow but the logistics are still a little hazy, so we'll see about that.

Including mechanical and chemical filtration, a refugium, and all my equipment in a 10gal sump is probably going to be a little bit of a squeeze, but I think i can figure out how to do it.

04-13-2014, 07:35 PM
Another option to consider is drilling your sump for a bulk-head flange so you can have your return pump external to the sump freeing up a lot more room in the help a lessening the effects of evaporation in that last compartment.

05-08-2014, 01:48 AM
It's Finally time!!! :19: I went on a bunch of GTA forums last weekend and made a big list of the best aquarium stores in my area. This week after work, I've been visiting them all to scope them out and make a plan. I have a few more to visit (they're literally on opposite ends of the city) and I plan on starting to buy things on Friday night!! This post will be really long because it's going to be my entire plan for the setup. Here we go!

So, as you know, it'll be a 37gal + 10gal sump FOWLR. I haven't really nailed down a stocking list yet, but some of the fish I'm thinking of are blue-green reef chromis (I must have some of these - they're my favourites), a pair of Picasso clowns, a gramma basslet, a bicolour blenny. I can't keep anything too delicate because, as you'll know if you've read my freshwater journal, my tank is at my dad's and I'm only there every other week and he's not the best at taking care of them.

The back of the tank will be painted, but I'm not sure on the colour yet. I really like blue because I think it looks more natural but I'm having a really hard time finding a shade. I hate that blue they use in fish stores, but I don't want to go too light either because I'm scared it might pull focus from the fish.

On to the plumbing. I'm still working on the design of the overflow, as I want my weir to run the full length of the tank to skim as much of the surface as possible, but the tradeoff for that is valuable space (my tank is only a foot from front to back). I'm going with a Herbie drain and all the plumbing will either be hard or soft PVC (and I'm drilling the tank, of course). My return pump will sit about 3ft below the return nozzle, so I'm thinking of getting a 800gph pump (the next lower size is 530gph; too low IMO after you factor in head loss). I may even drill two holes for the return and use the pump to power two nozzles to create more opposing currents.

I think my sump is going to have 3 compartments: the first for mechanical and chemical filtration, the second for a refugium (this will be the majority of the sump), and the third for equipment like heater and return pump (my pump has to be internal because a 10gal tank takes up the entire volume of my stand. Yes, you've read that correctly - I won't be having a skimmer. I plan on using Ecosystem Miracle Mud in my refugium as well as macroalgae and some live rock rubble. I probably won't be able to fit the recommended amount of mud, but a skimmer's too expensive for right now and I don't plan on keeping a high bioload anyways. As for the sump itself, I'm buying a plain 10gal tank and having glass cut for the baffles and such. The sump design is still being finalized. I plan on using a hood on the sump to minimize evaporation, and I'll install a Plexiglas window over the refugium to shine light in for my macroalgae. I'll probably just end up using a desk lamp for that.

Since I'm not keeping corals in the near future, the stock hood and light are staying on my tank, and I'll just use a regular 18,000K T8 bulb.

For added circulation, I think I'll get either two Koralia Nanos or one larger Koralia.

And finally, the inside! I'll be doing about 40lbs of live rock, and most of it will be Real Reef because I want to contribute to preservation of the natural reefs. However, some will come from the ocean because I plan on buying rock from multiple stores to get as much biodiversity in terms of hitchhikers as possible, and some of the good stores in my area don't carry Real Reef. I also plan on having sand on the bottom; probably about an inch and a half or so. The design I have in mind is to do two islands near the centre with one a little bit larger than the other and having an outcrop towards the side of the tank, but I'm very flexible and will probably spend a few days aquascaping.

And there you have it! That's my plan. There will be a lot of updates and pictures to come as I start getting all my materials and setting everything up.

05-09-2014, 04:58 AM
Tonight I made a drawing of my planned layout. It'll be attached somewhere in this post (after almost two years on this forum, I still can't figure out how to post a picture the way I want to).


Here are some notes about the plan:

It's as viewed from the front
The design of the sump has not yet been finalized
I didn't include the size of the return tubing because that'll depend on the pump I go with
I'm not sure if I'll include the Secondary Return in the final design
The Return line will be soft PVC before the Check Valve and hard PVC after
If I include the Secondary Return in the final design, I'll pass it between the drain lines and the tank

Another option is to move the overflow box five inches to the right so that the drain lines can just go vertically into the sump. I would then put the Secondary Return Valve in the top left corner of the tank. However, I feel like this will be more of an eye sore and it'll create a dead spot between the overflow box and the left wall of the tank; also, having the Secondary Return Nozzle lower down makes sure that both the top and bottom sections of the tank have water flow.

Any comments/improvements are welcome!

05-09-2014, 01:00 PM
If you only have one drain line, then you will need to go with a duriso stand pipe and you will not want a valve on it (my preferred set-up). If you want two lines, then you can have either a either a duriso design or a herbie overflow design. If you do go with the herbie approach, then you certainly will need the valve on the main drain line and you will also have to make sure the diameter of both drain lines can handle the complete amount of flow (not just the main line)

The main difference here is the duriso approach controls airflow to make your drain noise free while the herbie approach controls the water flow to make the drain completely quite

Please keep in mind, you will also have to finalize the size of your drain line once you know the amount of flow you will have.

05-10-2014, 03:47 AM
I went shopping today! I only bought a few things, because I mostly wanted to take them home and test if the sump would fit before buying anything else. I bought a 10gal tank, a 100W Eheim Jaeger heater, and 500gph Supreme Classic pump.

When I put the sump in, I realized that I will have to take out everything in my stand except the load-bearing beams (I made it myself so I know that the parts I'll be taking out don't support any weight). Also, there's less than an inch of clearance between the top of the sump and the bottom of the top of my stand, so I'll have to re-build the shelf that the sump will sit on and make the sump stick out behind the stand (the back is already open) and have the pipes go vertically in and out instead of curving under the stand like I was originally thinking. I was originally planning to use a desk lamp for my refugium, but in light of (pun intended) the lack of space, I think I'll get an LED light strip (which will also be less of a load on the outlet that supports my tank) and stick it to the underside of the top of the stand.

I have a couple questions about the baffles in the sump. I think I'll make them out of Plexiglas because I can get it at Home Depot and cut it myself, so it'll end up costing me a lot less than getting glass cut at a glass shop. How much space should I leave between them, though?

The pump needs to be exchanged because the cord is partially damaged, but I think this is the one I'll end up sticking with. After considering head loss, I'll have about 375gph. The person I spoke to at my LFS said I should use a one inch pipe for my drain (I'm going with a Herbie drain, by the way) but I feel like that's unnecessary considering it won't even be 400gph. Any thoughts?

Also, I decided not to go with the Secondary Return because it'll make plumbing unnecessarily complicated. I'll just add an extra powerhead in the tank.

I'm very happy with my heater. I set it at 77F four hours ago and the temperature of the tank hasn't changed AT ALL since then.

05-10-2014, 12:48 PM
I have a couple questions about the baffles in the sump. I think I'll make them out of Plexiglas because I can get it at Home Depot and cut it myself, so it'll end up costing me a lot less than getting glass cut at a glass shop. How much space should I leave between them, though?

You won't be able to use a combination of plexiglass and glass. There is no glue or silicone that will hold both together long term. If you try it, at some point in time it will start to leak and the seal will fail

The spacing of the baffles really will depend on the flow going through your sump. As you are going for low flow, you could most likely get away with spacing the baffle about 3/4". I would suggest closer to one inch to help dissipate bubbles and to allow for more flow should you wish to up-grade your return pump later on. The below links should be of help



05-11-2014, 01:05 AM
Ok, so today the plan changed again; the sump is out. I recently found a new LFS that specializes in custom installations and I've been there a few times. After speaking to the owner - who really knows what he's doing - we decided that the sum is unnecessarily complicated considering it contains nothing that can't be kept in two HOB AquaClears (which will also be a lot easier and cheaper to set up). Basically, we're back to where we started.

If I go with the AC plan, I'll either get two AC110s or one AC110 and use my AC50 that I already have. Since it's going to be fish only and I don't need to worry about nutrients for corals, I'll use a BioCube skimmer rather than setting up a refugium with macro algae (which will require its own lights and a whole bunch of maintenance). However, because of the size of the AC110, my tank and stand need to move about an inch forward. Alas; this is not so easily done - two of the legs of my stand are 8.5in shorter than the other because they rest on my fireplace mantle rather than on the floor. So moving it forward would require me to take off one of the front legs and replace it with a longer one that can rest on the floor.

I got to thinking, and now I'm considering getting a BioCube 29. My major problem with doing that is that I'm going eight gallons smaller. However, it has better lights than the light I would otherwise be using, the proportions are better IMO (I hate the fact that my 37gal is only 12in deep but 30in wide and 22in tall), all the equipment is included and hidden away in the back, it has a surface skimmer, and it'll be a lot easier to set up than the other plan. Also, I'll be able to sell my tank as an entire unit, so it's more likely that someone will buy it and I can get more for it than if I was selling just the fish and decor. While this looks like the obvious choice on paper, I'm having a really tough time getting past the fact that I'm losing eight gallons.

But then, because the tank is so awkwardly shaped, I feel like I never had those eight gallons to work with in the first place. Anyways, I'm going back to my new LFS as well as another LFS about half an hour away. I'll get opinions from both of them before I go to Big Al's to return the stuff I bought for the sump setup. I'll also look at the BioCube and see ifI can choose which of these two setups to go with.

Which would you choose if you were in my place?

05-11-2014, 01:19 AM
If this is going to be a FOWLR tank, I would think the first place to start would be to decide what fish you want. That should provide more insight on which tank footprint would be better suited

Have you finalized your stocking plan yet ?

05-11-2014, 01:47 AM
Most likely I'll end up going with a gramma basslet, a pair of clowns and then as many blue-green chromis as can fit comfortably - and obviously a cleanup crew of some sort.

05-11-2014, 01:52 AM
Do you think you would want a anemone at some point ? Clown fish certainly do not need a anemone, but having a anemone would influence my recommendation.

05-11-2014, 01:59 AM
Because of the light requirements, right? I haven't really done very much research on how hard they are to care for but I believe I read somewhere that anemones are pretty hard to care for. Once I do start getting into corals, I definitely will get an anemone for my clowns but I feel like I'll be upgrading to a larger tank by that point.

But ok, assume that I'll be putting an anemone in - which would you recommend?

05-11-2014, 02:12 AM
All of the 29 gallon biocube set-ups that I am familiar with should come with good enough lighting for easy to care for anemone, like a bubble tip. That tank would give you enough room for a bubble tip, two ocellaris clowns , and either the gramma or one other fish that will not larger than 3 inches. You would also need a skimmer in the biocube and use the media chamber for GFO and carbon. You should also have enough room for smaller corals if you ever want to add a few, like mushrooms, glove polyps, zoas, and other smaller / easier to care for corals.

This might be your best option IMO. The square foot print would be better suited to having a smaller anemone. You would have to be very disciplined at keep up on your weekly water changes in such a small set-up, but would equally apply to either option

What make & model of 29 gallon biocube are you considering.

05-11-2014, 02:27 AM
Most likely the Coralife BioCube. I was just looking at the JBJ cubes and apparently they have a 45gal so I might get that if I can find it but I don't know if it's in my price range or if it will fit in the spot I want to put the tank.

If I were to either get the 45 or use my current 37, do you think I would be able to keep the clownfish, gramma and a blue-green chromis?

05-11-2014, 02:37 AM
That stocking in a 37 gallon with a anemone could work keeping only 2 or 3 chromis, but that would depend on the personality of the chromis. There would be a risk of some aggression between them in lower numbers. Don't forget they are from the damsel family. I once placed 5 chromis in my 40 gallon QT tank and I ended up with two left due to aggression. I personally would not try it, but it certainly could work.

05-11-2014, 02:46 AM
Ok I don't know if you have gotten live rock yet but I recommend getting some from tbsaltwater.com you can read about it on the site but it is awsome .

09-14-2014, 10:15 PM
A lot has happened since I posted in this journal! The plan has changed to are reef-capable 56gal column tank with a 20gal sump. However, since I didn't have enough time to set that up this summer, I'm now doing a bare bones set up in my 37gal to mature a bunch of dry rock, which will then be used in the 56gal when I set it up next summer.

I bought 37lbs of eco-friendly dry rock and seeded it with 8lbs of live rock I bought from my friend's reef specialty shop. I have two Koralia 425 power heads and an AC50 for circulation, and I'm running Seachem Matrix Carbon and PhosGuard in there as well. The heater is an Eheim Jäger and the light is just a 24" 18,000K T8 fluorescent in the stock hood.

I added a pair of ocellaris clowns at the same time as the live rock (on August 25th) as the ammonia source. I had a very minute cycle (ammonia and nitrite both peaked at 0.001ppm), but that was over in two days. I'm just starting to see some brown diatom algae now.

My friend who gave me the rock and fish keeps the non-coral tanks at 1.018 SG, so that's what my tank's at right now. I'm considering preparing some brine and slowly raising the salinity over a period of a month or so because I want to add a cleanup crew and I've read that inverts need water closer to 1.025. Any advice on this front?

My pH is stable, going from 8.04 in the morning to 8.1 at night and alkalinity is a constant 4meq/L. Temperature is 79F.

I named the fish Julio and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. They're so cute!! Here's a video:

09-14-2014, 10:35 PM
WOW, is all I can say. Brackish water has a salinity of 1.014 to 1.017. The vary low salinity level that you have right now would also explain the lower pH. The salinity of the average depth and temperature of our corals reefs (were the fish we keep come from) is 1.026. I don't see any good reason to keep your salinity any lower than that.

How are you currently testing your alkalinity and salinity ?

09-14-2014, 10:44 PM
I'm using the Seachem pH and Alkalinity Test kit for alkalinity and an Instant Ocean Hydrometer for salinity. I know a refractometer would be more accurate but I figured that keeping the salinity stable is more important than keeping the salinity at a specific value in my case so I think I'm doing fine with the hydrometer.

09-14-2014, 10:58 PM
I have tried 3 different Instant ocean swing-arm hydrometers and found they consistently gave me inaccurate readings by as much as 0.003 at times (as verified by both our SW LFS and a friend with a refractometer). I would never trust any swing arm hydrometer in any of my set-ups. I would suggest to have your readings from your hydrometer double checked to make sure you are getting the correct readings. And yes, stability of water parameters is very important, but not more important than keeping the correct parameters. You'll need to focus on both.

09-15-2014, 01:38 AM
Well in that case...

09-15-2014, 01:42 AM
I'm only trying to help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made, nothing more.

At the end of the day, it's your tank and your call

Good luck

10-08-2014, 03:34 AM
Just a brief update for you tonight...

The diatom algae is all gone
I've started to see some amphipods and a bunch of copepods
I also have something that looks like an asterina starfish, but instead of white, it's light blue around the outside and light pink around the centre with a red dot right in the middle. Any ideas as to what it could be?
I just put in an order for a royal gramma basslet with my friend who owns the LFS, so I should get that in a few weeks

Everything's going well so far! I'm really happy!!

10-25-2014, 01:22 AM
My royal gramma is all comfy in my QT and it's doing really well! When I was selling my freshwater fish, I had someone reply to me and offer a 12gal JBJ nano cube for free because they needed to get it off their hands. I picked it up (it had all the parts except the filter media), cleaned it up really well (I was scraping gunk off for three hours), and set it up as the QT. I started stewing some bio media in my main tank the day after I put the order in for the gramma, so the tank's already cycled.

I don't have any pictures yet because I brought it home two days ago and it's still hiding in it's PVC cave, but I can see that it's very healthy and it does come out to eat.

My friend who owns the LFS keeps all fish for at least a week before letting anyone take them home, but he called me the day it came in and I went in a few times that week to see how it was doing, so I'm only quarantining for two weeks at home since it was healthy for that one week in the store.

I decided to name it Donatella, because Lady Gaga has a song called Donatella (about Donatella Versace) where she says "I'm blonde, I'm skinny, I'm rich, and I'm a little bit of a b**ch," and I feel like those four traits encapsulate the royal gramma perfectly. Also, Versace is my favourite fashion house, so the name is perfect.

I'll have pics up as soon as she (I don't actually know the sex) starts coming out of hiding.

10-25-2014, 01:42 AM
Looking forward to it!

10-25-2014, 06:39 PM
I was able to get some pictures today! As everyone on here knows, getting true-to-colour pictures of our aquaria is a pretty hard thing to do, but the fish is somewhere in between the colours you can see in the pictures. Here they are:




10-25-2014, 07:47 PM
I got some more! This is actually so much fun. The first one is so hilarious to me for some reason... It would make a great reaction image on tumblr.



11-02-2014, 02:12 AM
Ok so I decided to cut the quarantine short and put Donatella in my main tank today. Iknow it was only two weeks, but I just know that she's really healthy and I didn't want to put her through any more stress than necessary. About an hour after I put her in, her and my two clowns were completely settled down and everything was good. She almost swallowed one of my clowns whole when he went too close to her cave, but other than that there are no problems thumbs2:.

Here's a picture. I also have a video of all three of my fish together but I'm still trying to figure out how to upload that, so it'll be coming soon.


11-20-2014, 01:46 PM
Such a beautiful fish!

12-08-2014, 08:31 PM
Just a little update - everything's doing fantastic!

I'm getting some really great coralline algae growth on my rock. This is the piece that I bought live from my LFS, so clearly it has the most growth. As you can see, I also have some lovely bubble algae that I'm working on eradicating.


I also have some really strange shades of algae on the rock that I bought dry. This one is like a fluorescent teal in real life. Any ideas what it could be?



I have some snails that hitchhiked in with the live rock that I've identified: one is a collonista snail and the other is a stomatella snail. I'm waiting to see what kinds of algaes and things pop up in the tank and in what quantities so I can figure out what my optimal cleanup crew is.

Also, I think I'm getting some good denitrifying bacteria growth (either that or I'm getting some mad algae growth): I haven't done a water change in a month and my nitrates have been steadily decreasing (today I tested with three different kits and they all read right around 0). I'm not one to advocate not doing water changes just because you don't have to, since I know they replace trace elements and such, but is it safe to continue on for a bit without changing the water just to see what happens? The coralline won't deplete the alkalinity on its own, will it?

12-09-2014, 01:29 AM
Google pics of Dinoflagellates and cyano. It looks like that could be either

01-24-2015, 05:36 AM
Recently, I've been thinking about whether or not to add sand to my tank. Originally I planned not to add it, since this setup was only supposed to be temporary and I didn't want to have to deal with it when transferring tanks. However, I really like this setup and I'm not in any hurry to set up the 56gal that I was/am planning, so I decided to go for it.

I got a 20lb bag of CaribSea Ocean Direct, rinsed it for about an hour before it was clear enough, and then put it in. It turned out to be just the right amount, and I'm really happy with how it looks. One of my power heads is too close to the sand and some of it is getting blown around, but I'm waiting until tomorrow morning to see just how much gets moved before I do something about it.

I'll post pictures tomorrow once it's clear.

01-24-2015, 01:48 PM
How deep of a sand bed did you get ?

01-24-2015, 05:09 PM
Not more than an inch. Here's a picture of the tank. That's brown hair algae on the back. I'm getting some snails next weekend for that. Ignore the bio media majestically perched on the rock lol.


01-24-2015, 07:27 PM
I would also suggest some nassarius snails to keep your substrate oxygenated and to help clean it as well

02-13-2015, 05:00 PM
I started putting together my cleanup crew yesterday. I got a blood red fire shrimp, a sand sifting starfish, and three ceriths. I wanted to get a couple nassarius snails for the sand bed, but my LFS doesn't stock them because he doesn't use them.

As for the algae on the back glass, the only things he stocks that would eat that are astraea snails. Since I hate shoving my arm into the tank, going in up to shoulder every day to right the toppled astraeas doesn't sound very appealing lol. I'll start looking for turbo snails or something at other fish stores; otherwise, I'll just leave it. I'm contemplating getting a small coral beauty or flame angel, so having a big algae patch for it to graze on would be nice.

And now for pictures:



02-13-2015, 10:28 PM
Since you have no corals or anything for turbos to knock over you gotta get turbos!!! Such a sweet presence in the tank.

03-01-2015, 07:22 PM
I caved in on Wednesday and decided to get some astraea snails. I have some cyano coming back, and I want to try and figure out where it's coming from, but I can't accurately determine what kind of nutrients are in my water with all that algae binding it up. The astraeas are already clearing it up, and in the meantime I've decided to leave my lights off to make it harder for the cyano to grow.

While I was at the LFS, I also picked up a little something extra that I wasn't planning for lol. He had just done a custom order, and there were three beautiful juvenile flame angels that weren't spoken for, and I just couldn't resist. I mean, I was already planning on getting one...

So I came home and did 12 hours of setting up my quarantine tank, doing water changes, mixing new water. My LFS keeps the tanks at 1.018 SG, so I decided to bring it up by 0.002/day so I would be at 1.025 by today. All his livestock is the healthiest in the city, and apparently most of these fish came directly from liveaquaria, and he had already treated with copper and PraziPro, so my "quarantine" was really only to observe for a few days and bring up the salinity slowly. I added Fiammetta - Italian for "little flame" :) - to my main tank this morning. Donatella, my royal gramma, was flashing up a storm, but Fiammetta didn't care at all - even seemed to be taunting her at times; they've settled down now and seem to be friends :).


Also, two of my ceriths have disappeared from their shells. I didn't realize until this morning that it's probably my fire shrimp! I never see him so I that never crossed my mind. Gotta do something about getting him some more food...

03-01-2015, 09:02 PM
Good plan with the salinity increase while in QT. That will certainly help avoid a lot of stress

How much flow do you have in your set-up ? Does the cyano seam to develop in low flow spots ?

03-01-2015, 10:17 PM
I have two Koralia 425s and an AC50 for flow. I managed to set it up so that there's good flow around all the rocks (I only have one real dead spot and it's a corner of the tank that I left open). The cyano is growing mostly near the top of the rocks, in spots with good flow.

I know that would probably suggest light as the culprit, but I only have one 20W T8 and it's only on for max 8 hours per day.

03-01-2015, 11:06 PM
What color temp is the bulb ?

03-01-2015, 11:07 PM
It's 18,000K