View Full Version : labnjab's 10 gallon softie tank

07-06-2010, 03:49 PM
Our newest project has begun. We bought the live rock last night and its now cycling. Its going to be a 10 gallon low maintence, low budget tank.

Heres the list of what we have so far

12 lbs live rock
15 lbs or so aragonite sand
100 watt jager heater on a controller
Koralia 1 power head
10 gallon tank

We are going skimmerless since it will be a softie tank. The softies will be part of the filtration.

We are undecided on lighting. We are either going t5 or diy led, currently we are leaning towards led. We have a month or so to decide and save up


Small cuc and possibly a small goby. We are moving almost all soft coral from our 75 gallon to this tank and also plan on adding colorful zoas, mushrooms, and other softies.

Thats it for now pics will come when it clears up. So far we only have $40 invested and plan to keep it under $150 not including stock

07-07-2010, 11:16 AM


Starting to show .25 ammoniathumbs2: Hopefully it will be a short cycle since the rock was in a cycled tank when we got it and transported wet.

We've decided on lighting, DIY LED. I ordered the sockets and just need to save a little more to buy the bulbs. Were going with 5 blue and 5 white gu10 3 watt bulbs. Each light has 3, 1 watt bulbs and have a built in ballast so all I need to do is wire them to a power cord and build a mount. Someone locally built a similar LED set-up over a 5 gallon nano and sps grow very well, similar to being under halides, so it should be more then enough for softies and a few lps.

07-09-2010, 04:43 PM
We are ordering our CUC soon. Here's what I'm thinking about going with

10 blue legged hermits
3 scarlet hermits
5 small nassuris snails
5 cerith snails
5 astrea snails

Will will adjust as needed ones its running.

We just ordered everything needed to set-up our DIY led lighting. The total for the build will be $100 even not including building the housing. It should be more then enough light for the softies, and even be good enough for most sps

We went gu10 bulbs which have a built in ballast. 5 white and 5 blue

Heres the link to the bulbs



and the sockets

I'll write a step-by-step build for them. Everything is coming from Hong Kong so we won't have it for 2-4 weeks which gives the tank plenty of time to cycle and me plenty of time to build a housing

07-09-2010, 05:29 PM
Looking good, can't wait to see if up and running. thumbs2:

07-12-2010, 11:25 AM
Thank you:ssmile:

The tank completed the cycle over the weekend. Short and sweet like I thought it would be. My next step is to order the CUC. I'm also starting to build the housing for the LED lights. A friend gave me a couple of pieces of diamond plate aluminum that I'm going to try. It should look pretty cool when done and be saltwater resistant

R2 Ranch
07-12-2010, 11:47 AM
Sounds awesome. Can't wait to see updated pictures with the softies and livestock.thumbs2:

07-23-2010, 04:51 PM
We have the light about 75% complete. I received the last 2 sockets this afternoon so I will wire them in tonight. Then I just need to wire in the fan and wait on the bulbs.

Here's the housing and sockets. The wiring is all soldered and heat shrunk and will be cleaned up once I get the last 2 sockets installed. We are going to have 3 plugs, once for the blue and one for the white, and one for the fan.



The tank is cycled and we've adding a few hermits and snails from our 75. Hopefully the bulbs will be in soon. We also traded the koralia 1 for a koralia nano.

07-24-2010, 12:37 PM
Taggin along.. did one of your sockets get broken?

Far right on the bottom looks broken.

I hope it's an optical illusion.

07-25-2010, 12:48 AM
Taggin along.. did one of your sockets get broken?

Far right on the bottom looks broken.

I hope it's an optical illusion.
Its broken but doesnt affect how the bulb fits. I took the socket to home depot to help find the correct hardware and i dropped it. Oops, lol. If it causes any problems ill order another, their only a few dollars each shipped

07-28-2010, 04:09 PM

Half the bulbs came in so we installed them and moved a few of the hardier corals in. The bulbs are a little more yellow then I like, but I'll see if there is an improvement when we add the blue. If we still don't like them then I'll switch them to a higher spectrum.

Heres the fts, its more yellow in person. The lights just kicked on so the coral are still "sleeping"


and the lights


We took the optics off, which reduces par, but gets ridof the spot light look. We will have some par readings once we meet up with a friend to borrow a par meter. Hopefully the last 5 bulbs will show up soon.

08-02-2010, 04:14 PM
Update time

We have all the bulbs installed and it looks awesome. We moved a lot of the softies from our 75 gallon over to this tank as well as an open brain and candy cane colony. Things are doing great so far. We plan on adding the cuc soon. As of now we are almost fully stocked as far as coral goes. We want the zoas to have plenty of room to grow. We will be adding a few more different zoas but other then that just the cuc and a fish or 2.



The 2 LPS


Some zoas and the one sps, some type of acro


Armor of god and electric pink zoas


08-02-2010, 04:15 PM
More zoas and a green mushroom

Long Polyp Leather


08-02-2010, 04:21 PM
We also added a HOB filter for more aeration and to catch loose particles. The media will be cleaned in hot water weekly to kill off any nitrate that may build up.

08-02-2010, 06:27 PM
Hmm, does the temp of the water matter for rinsing nitrates out of the media? I have an HOB on mine as well, and I rinse one week and replace the next - but I've never rinsed in hot water.

Looking very good!

08-02-2010, 07:01 PM
Thank you:ssmile:

I've always rinsed the sponge on the return pump in our 75 in very hot water. Our tap water gets 150 degrees or more. Weather it makes a difference or not I'm not sure, but I've never seen nitrates in any of our reef tanks so I'm going to keep doing it, lol

08-04-2010, 11:14 AM
We added 4 more zoa frags to the tank last night. They were tubbs blue, metallic blue, nuclear green, and cats eye. Each frag had at least 5 polyps and we got all of them for $25:hmm3grin2orange:

So far we are almost 100% happy with the light. I was a little disappointed with the par levels on the sand bed. I'm going to add 8 more bulbs which will bring the par just where we want it. I forgot to mention that this lights gives a shimmer just like halides, plus the bulbs are good for 10+ years

08-04-2010, 03:07 PM
Great looking tank!

08-05-2010, 11:11 AM
Thank you:) Lat night I ordered 8 more bulbs, 4 blue and 4 cool white. Hopefully that will give me the par I want on the sand, and improve the color a little more

08-20-2010, 11:10 AM
The tank is doing awesome and we are getting some great growth on the zoas and our long polyp leather. At least 5 heads each on a few of the colonies. You should see the amount of pods in this tank :hmm3grin2orange: . When I turn the lights on their all over the glass. I do have a few aptasia I need to take care off. We ordered 8 more bulbs which will hopefully be here soon and they will fine tune the color. The tanks been running less then 2 months and were already having to clean coralline off the front glass

Pics to hopefully come this afternoon or this weekend

08-30-2010, 04:32 PM
Update time. The tank is approaching the 2 month mark and all is well. We added the CUC last week. 10 blue legged hermits, 5 cerith snails, 3 peppermint shrimps, and 5 nassuris snails. I ordered the only fish for the tank and it should be in in 2 weeks. We decided on a flasher goby which has some dramatic changes in color. heres a vid I found of it on you tube.

We also added 8 more bulbs for a total of 18 and it really made the color great. Here are some pics



08-30-2010, 05:16 PM
Love the little caves in the rock looks like a mini mountain I'm sure the tank will look awesome when your done

08-30-2010, 11:23 PM
Killer little tank, looks awesome!

09-08-2010, 11:09 AM
Thank you everyone. I'm hoping our flasher goby comes in today. The LFS said it would be 2-3 weeks and today makes week 3

09-08-2010, 04:10 PM
I am very impressed. From everything Iíve researched, a 10 reef can be extremely difficult if you donít have very strong knowledge.

Your tank looks great.

09-08-2010, 04:34 PM
Thank you cliff. Its actually been fairly maintence free. I clean the filter in very hot tap water weekly to kill any nitrate that may build up and do a 20% water change every other week with water from our 75 gallon. So far its had very little algae and its been running almost 2 months.

I have been thinking about adding a skimmer, or at least a surface skimmer. The water is clear, parameters are great and coral is growing, but I'm not liking the film on the surface. I had my hand in the tank yesterday cleaning the glass and had a yellowish ring around my arm. I'll probably buy the next cheap, used one I see.

10-18-2010, 04:29 PM
The tanks been running 3 and a half months and all is great. I've been impressed with the growth. Coraline is really picking up and all coral is happy. It seemed to skip the algae stages. It had a little hair algae which went away by it self. We do a water change every week to 2 weeks with water from our 75 and that's it besides top offs. I tested the par with all 18 bulbs and I'm getting over 100 on the sand and it goes up from there.

We are still fishless but it is home to a CUC and 2 pepermint shrimp. We hope to add a fish or 2 soon. I plan on adding a few more pieces of rock from the 75's sump so that I can place some of the frags

FTS, I just turned the lights on so everything isn't fully open yet


This acro impresses me the most. Nice growth and color and its not directly under the lights


10-18-2010, 04:35 PM
Look'n great.

Thx for taking some time to post a few pics

What;s your secret to avoid all the nasty algae stages ???

10-18-2010, 04:52 PM
thank you:ssmile:

I'm not sure about avoiding the algae. I got lucky, lol. I used cured rock from an established tank, had a short cycle, didn't feed for a month and kept the lights off during the cycle. I'm also wondering if the leds have something to do with it. I only have to scrape the front glass every few weeks. Guess its turning out to be as low maintance as I hoped it would be

10-18-2010, 08:14 PM
What happened with the Flasher Goby? That is one stunning fish!


10-18-2010, 08:20 PM
Fantastic tank labnjab!! Looks pretty awesome you just need to get that Goby in there now

10-18-2010, 10:48 PM
Thank you:ssmile:

What happened with the Flasher Goby? That is one stunning fish!

Sark The guy that as going to get me one ended up going out of business but i have another source looking for one so hopefully we will get him soon. They are pretty hard to come by.

10-19-2010, 03:48 AM
Looks great! Tank looks much larger than 10g.

11-05-2010, 04:27 AM
Looks great! Tank looks much larger than 10g.

Thank you:) I wish it was larger, its already feeling cramped, lol

This "experiment" is working out great. I'm starting to notice more benefits of using these LED's besides low heat, low energy use, and no bulb replacement.
- Great coral growth and color, all the softies look much better and are growing faster then they did under our halides in our 75
- No bad algae. I think the spectrum is so pure that the bad algae wont grow. We had hair algae on the rocks when we purchased them and it went away on its own shortly after adding the LED's. A friend is using the same bulbs on a 5 gallon which has been running 7 or 8 months and he too has never experienced any bad algae. We are also getting awesome coraline growth, and we don't dose anything and we only use water from the 75 for water changes.
-The shimmer effect. Just like halides, but without costly bulb replacement and heat.

I'll probably notice more benefits as the tank matures.

We decided against the flasher goby. It is a bad shipper, a jumper and is very delicate. Instead we ordered an ORA Orchid Dottyback which is very colorful.

I plan on adding another 3-4 lbs of dry rock soon. I moved the large candy cane colony back to the 75 and have a huge empty place. Its a softie tank so I only want softies in it. I want to add more softies to fill it in. Anything unique or colorful

11-05-2010, 01:16 PM
Can we get a pic update?

So labnjab is it really that much of a difference due to the lighting or have you been doing something else different as well?

11-05-2010, 02:14 PM
I'll take some today.

I'm not doing anything else different. I actually don't much as far as maintenance goes so its living up to its low maintenance, low tech name. The tank is skimmerless, no carbon, no gfo, I feed a few pellets every few days so the cuc has something to eat and I do a small water change every other week.

In my 75, if I so much as go without gfo for a week I get cyno or hair algae, yet this one has no skimmer, carbon or gfo and very little waterchanges and I have 0 algae

11-05-2010, 03:39 PM
The tank also has low nutrients, but even with low nutrients you still usually get diatoms on the glass every 2-3 day. With this tank I don't have to scrape the glass for 3-4 weeks

11-05-2010, 04:02 PM
Tank looks great. I had huge issues with my frag tank that I had specially made...so I dismantled it...

I just should have set up a 10g like you did.

11-05-2010, 04:11 PM
Thank you. At one point I was going to use it for frags because it has plenty of light for sps, but then I would need a skimmer and to dose calcium and alk, which I don't really want to do, so its going to stay just a softie tank.

In the future I may set another one up tied into our 75 with the same lighting and use it for frags.

12-08-2010, 05:54 PM
The tank just hit 6 months. Everything is doing awesome. I am very impressed with the coraline growth. It seems to love the LED's. Still no nuisance algae, no dosing, and we only do a 2 gallon water change every week or 2 using water from our 75

Here are some pics. Our leather is still doing great, but the lights just came on so its closed in the pictures


Mowhawk Zoas

Some Pallys a friend gave us, it started as a small frag a few months ago and is growing like a weed


The next few are just random shots of the coraline growth


12-08-2010, 05:54 PM

12-08-2010, 06:00 PM
I have a fight going on with my coraline growth...it's winning...

12-08-2010, 06:03 PM
I love coraline, except on the front glass. Our darn pencil urchin is eating all of it in our 75

12-08-2010, 06:04 PM
Can I borrow your urchin?

12-08-2010, 06:07 PM
Sure, lol, If I could find him

Wait I just saw it, on the ceiling of a cave, how he got in there I don't know, the cave opening is half his size

12-08-2010, 06:10 PM
LOL...seriously...I wish my all-in-one was bigger.

I like the all-in-one concept since I'm not inclined to DIY...but a larger tank that I could clean easier, etc. would be much appreciated.

12-08-2010, 06:42 PM
Nice FTS labnjab... you really have some colors that pop in that tank!

12-09-2010, 11:16 PM
LOL...seriously...I wish my all-in-one was bigger.

I like the all-in-one concept since I'm not inclined to DIY...but a larger tank that I could clean easier, etc. would be much appreciated.

I think I'll always want a bigger tank, lol. When we upgraded to the 75 I thought, boy it will take us a few years to fill it up, but by the 6 month mark it was already fully stocked, lol. When we get a house we want a 200+ gallon and I bet we'll have that full of coral in no time as well, lol

Thank you hockeyhead:ssmile: I'm very happy with color from leds, although I will probably change the lower K rated bulbs with the 7000K's when I get some extra cash to enhance the color even more.

12-10-2010, 12:30 PM
We rescaped the tank last night. Added around 4 or 5 lbs of rock and moved stuff around. It came out great. I'll try to get some pictures this afternoon.

I'm also changing the koralia nano to a koralia 1 soon. The nano doesn't put out nearly enough flow and were getting a few dead spots so the 1 should work great

12-10-2010, 01:25 PM
Nice I'm lookin forward to the pics!

12-13-2010, 05:10 PM
Rescaped the tank over the weekend and added 4 lbs of rock. The glass is a little dirty and that darn leather must be camera shy, lol. He's open all day except when its time for a picture. Just a FTS for now.


12-13-2010, 05:14 PM
Cool! It looks great!

12-13-2010, 11:50 PM
Nice looking tank !!!

01-06-2011, 10:36 AM
Nice Tank!

01-06-2011, 02:37 PM
Very nice pic so how many different corals do you have in there? Just outta curiosity

01-06-2011, 11:21 PM
Thank you everyone. We are up to 21+ coral now. Its starting to fill in nicely. I am getting a little hair algae on the glass now, but I've been slacking on water changes so it should go away once I pick back up. At least its not on the rocks or sand

01-07-2011, 05:27 PM
Here is the newest fts. Still no fish. We did recently add some macros that are loving the LEDs


01-07-2011, 05:47 PM
Pretty! Such cool colours.:1luvu:

I miss my corals...:scry:

01-07-2011, 06:03 PM
Thank you:) How long before you try coral again?

01-07-2011, 06:38 PM
No idea. I should do a bunch of maintenance to the RSM first...which would involve dismantling it...getting a new built in powerhead to replace the one 'iffy' one...getting a new fan...changing the timer for the lights out (it turns itself off and on for a few minutes here and there)...getting new bulbs...etc.

...and I find the idea daunting...

However...when I get all that done...kill more anemones...and tackle algae again...maybe...:help:

If I had a spare SW set-up to move everything into I'd be more inclined to fix things up. I could use the frag tank (since it's sitting there empty)...but I'd have to get a stand it, find someplace to move it to...etc.

So I'm just demotivating myself at the moment.

But if anyone out there is bored...come on over! I'll even feed you and keep you company while you solve my problems for me...:l19:


01-07-2011, 06:41 PM
Rue, I'm willing to help, just let me know !!!

The least I could do for all the help you have given me

01-07-2011, 06:48 PM
Thanks! I may just take you up on that!:shappy:

How are you with tight spaces and bleeding knuckles?:sconfused:

01-25-2011, 10:31 PM
We finally got a fish for this tank. A darwin clown. I know we werent gonna do a clown for this tank but the darwins are pretty unique. We traded 2 acro frags for him, well by now its a girl.


Shes pretty friendly and active and greets you at the glass and she loves nls pellets. The black looks great under the leds

01-25-2011, 10:46 PM
Nice pic man... congrats on the new addition!

01-26-2011, 02:53 AM
Nice clown! I never heard of the Darwin's before.

Awesome leather coral as well!

01-26-2011, 12:20 PM
Thank you. I've wanted a darwin for a while, but they usually go for $50 or $60 each locally. When I saw this deal I had to take it :hmm3grin2orange: I may eventually get it a male since they stay on the small side, but I'm not sure.

That leather is getting huge. It loves the LED's. I'm going to have to trim it down before too long. Either that or I'll clear out the sand and just let it grow as big as it can

01-26-2011, 12:38 PM
Great looking clown fish

02-02-2011, 05:28 PM
Thank you :)

We've been debating on upgrading the leds to a higher quality LED. I'm just not happy with the color of the cheap ones we have on it now. We've been looking at this kit http://www.rapidled.com/servlet/the-59/12-Ultra-Premium-LED/Detail and the price isn't too bad. I'll keep you updated on what we decide to do

02-02-2011, 10:12 PM
Definitely looks like a good bang for the buck... out of curiosity what makes the difference between a high end led and a low end?

FTS? pwease? lol

02-04-2011, 12:30 PM
I think the higher end have better color temperature and better par. The ones we have now are actually make for track lighting in the house while the ones we will be getting are built for saltwater aquariums. It official, we are going to do the upgrade. A friend is building a canopy for us so bye, bye diamond plate canopy, lol. All we need is the kit that I showed a link for, a heat sink, and some hardware. Should cost us under $200 for everything

02-14-2011, 05:28 AM
The new clown started hosting the toadstool leather today :) Saw him sleeping in it after lights out

02-14-2011, 05:45 AM
Pics or it didn't happen. :hmm3grin2orange:

02-14-2011, 12:10 PM
It was after lights out, but I'll try to get some today

04-22-2011, 06:56 PM
We decided to change things up on this tank. Were gonna start trading the high end zoas for shrooms and ricordia. The zoas just aren't grow in fast and we've never really had any shroms or ricordia so we thought we'd give them a try

04-22-2011, 07:24 PM
Looking forward to it! How many WPG are you running on this tank from the lighting?

04-23-2011, 04:40 PM
I'm running about 3.6 wpg, but its with 12, 3 watt cree XR-E high output leds with 80 degree optics, which are similar to a 150 watt metal halide. Its actually way to much light and I've had to move stuff to the sand because they were starting to get burned

Actually I haven't put up a FTS with the new LED's

Here they are with the old, ebay leds


And here it is with the new ones


04-23-2011, 06:59 PM
Looking good

The new LEDs seam to really have a lot brighter of a blue tone to them

04-23-2011, 11:24 PM
I definitely like the new LED's man! They look so much brighter lol and personally I like a blue hue to the tank so I think that the new ones look fantastic!

04-27-2011, 11:15 AM
Thank you everyone :) It actually looks a lot bluer in person then the pic shows. I'm actually waiting to get a 2nd ballast back from repair so I can brighten the whites up a little, not much, but just enough.

We found someone that wants to trade us some ricordia for some of our zoas :) He has a huge selection of ricordia and all are brightly colored. The only downside is he's 4 hours away, but he's going to meet us halfway so it will make for a good roadtrip:hmm3grin2orange: We hope to meet him Saturday and I'll be sure to post pics when we get them.

04-27-2011, 03:18 PM
Well, I don't know. I think I prefer the warmer tones over the bluer tones...

But either way, the corals look great!thumbs2:

I luv roadtrips...thumbs2:

04-27-2011, 04:51 PM
The blue gives it a more oceanic view, I like it! Very very cool!:22:

04-29-2011, 12:56 AM
Just a thought - from my recent experience with shrooms, I'd stay away from them unless you don't mind population controlling them once they get going. They are very invasive.
I love my rics tho! I have green and orange.

04-29-2011, 11:21 AM
I want them to grow like weeds, lol. Propagating coral helps us pay for the tanks so if I can start selling softies as well as the sps we usually sell then maybe the tank will pay for itself and other bills :hmm3grin2orange:, but that being said, softies grow really slow for us. I've had a mushroom in this tank for 6+ months and it hasn't grown at all. Same with most of the soft coral in this tank. They live and look great, but are slow to grow

04-29-2011, 08:54 PM
Corals are odd critter's aren't they. My zoas just plain don't grow, but shrooms, rics, frogspawn grow like weeds...Xenia is dying...flame scallop appears to be doing great. No rhyme or reason to what does well and what doesn't...

05-08-2011, 06:06 AM
We picked up the ricordia earlier today. We got 5 of them and they look awesome. I'll post some pics this week when the start to open up. I'm hopeing they will grow quicker then the zoas did.

I also got the dimmable driver wired in and added 4 more leds for a total of 16 made up of 8 cool while and 8 royal blue. It looks much better now that I can brighten the white a little more

05-09-2011, 04:44 PM
We actually had 6 rics. Here's a fts and some pictures around the tank, including the new rics. They haven't fully opened yet, the lights just turned on, and I know I need to clean the powerhead, lol





05-09-2011, 04:45 PM
and our clown


05-09-2011, 10:11 PM
very nice little tank!

05-09-2011, 10:55 PM
Your tank is looking good

Love the clownfish too !

05-09-2011, 11:00 PM
Awesome tank! Very clean for a nano! What kind of coral is that behind the clown in the last picture?

05-11-2011, 11:23 AM
Thank you everyone one? Which coral hockeyhead, the one up higher near the back, or the big one in the sand? The one higher is some type of acan and the yellow one on the sand is a todastool leather that the clown host

05-11-2011, 10:39 PM
Cool and yea I was talking about the toadstool that's sitting in the sand. Thanks!

07-22-2011, 11:04 AM
I've decided that we are going to try and sell this tank. We're just trying to cut back on maintenance and really don't need 2 reefs, plus I could use the cash. I will be keeping the darwin clown and a few of the coral in the tank but the rest will be going

07-23-2011, 03:02 AM
Wish I was close by...
That tank was more in the way of an experiment, wasn't it?

07-25-2011, 11:16 AM
yeah, just to see how things did under the leds. Its doing great but I'd like to cut back on tanks so its going to be the 1st to go. Eventually were going to just have the 75 gallon reef, frag tank and 75 gallon goldfish tank

07-25-2011, 12:34 PM
lol - "just" the three tanks eh.

I hope to eventually downsize to just two at home, and the 10g at work.

08-22-2011, 01:32 AM
This tank has now been taken down. We moved the rock and fish to our frag tank, so now our frag tank is half display tank and half frag tank.