View Full Version : 29 gal FOWLR, eventual reef

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01-01-2012, 01:34 AM
I am preparing to set up a 29 gallon FOWLR aquarium, which is my first salt tank, and I read The New Marine Aquarium by Michael S. Paletta on the advice of fish savvy friends. It suggests that after waiting 24 hours for the salt to settle to wait for a further few days before adding the live rock to avoid die off.

I'm planning on getting cured live rock from the pet store, stuff that's been running in their tanks for a year, so I want to be very careful.

My question is, exactly how long precisely I should wait after the salt has settled?

01-01-2012, 01:39 AM
If you mix your saltwater to the correct salinity (1.023 to 1.026 ) you should not have any salt on the bottom of your tank

I would suggest mixing your SW before adding it to your aquarium so you can control your salinity and aviod this all together

01-01-2012, 01:41 AM
Mix the salt and water outside the tank and make sure it is stable at the desired sg before adding it to the tank. You will get some die off witb the live rock no matter what but don't worry about tbat as that die off is what will cycle your tank.

01-01-2012, 02:10 AM
I should have said that I have not purchased any rock yet. There is nothing in my tank presently but twenty gallons of R/O water, a heater, and a powerhead.

And yes, the author said there would be die off, but that if the water is aged, the cycle is completed more swiftly.

01-01-2012, 02:37 AM
There should be no "settling" of the salt. If there is, there's something wrong with the amount or the salt itself.
The water will not be sitting in your tank uncirculated, so the salt will not settle out. There is no "precise" measurement for the timing of anything in this hobby, but 24 hours to age is fine.

I also leave a powerhead running in my premixed saltwater (for water changes), so it doesn't have a chance to settle.

01-01-2012, 02:42 AM
I mix my water and use it within a few hours. Once the water is clear the salt is fully mixed,salt does not come out of solution once mixed unless by evaporation.

01-01-2012, 02:49 AM
Ah. Well, to be fair, the word I used is settled, but looking back in the book, what he said was more 'once the water has aged.' But thanks for the feedback

01-02-2012, 01:03 AM
Ok, so after letting the tank sit for a day with my 110 gph powerhead and heater running (it's between 76-77 atm), I added from a five gallon bucket of instant ocean salt, about 9 cups, as the instructions said half a cup per gallon, so I wanted to add less.

Came back half a day later and the salt level is through the roof. Hydrometer goes clear up to 1.30, near the top of it's range. Now, I think my powerhead might be both underpowered and I'm not sure the venturi is working right, so I popped another powerhead in, 160 gph with a venturi I'm reasonably sure worked.

Any ideas? Did I put too much in or does the water need more aeration/time?

01-02-2012, 01:07 AM
Should have mixed it in a an outside container in smaller batches.Get a refractometer as hydrometers arent the most accurate and are temperature dependant.No way the number should be that high.

01-02-2012, 01:11 AM
Any ideas? Did I put too much in or does the water need more aeration/time?

+1 Smaug

If your salinity is ar 1.030, it will still be at 1.030 reguardless of the aeration time.

I would also suggest getting a refactormeter so you know for sure what your salinity is at before changing anything.

Also, the flow in the DT should be at about 10 X the tank volume at the least. Both of my reef tanks are between 30 and 40 Xs

01-02-2012, 01:13 AM
I think it may have been the aeration. The number has already gone down to 1.28.

As for a refractometer, I'd really like to, but I'm already approaching the end of my budget, and cheapest one I can find on Amazon is 50 bucks.

01-02-2012, 01:15 AM
When I mix my water I do it in 5 gal buckets. I start with 2 cups per 5 gals. That usually gives me about 1.020. When I have gone with the usual recomendation of half cup per gallon ,or 2.5 cups per 5 gal I end up around 1.027. Your number of 1.03 cannot possibly be correct.

01-02-2012, 01:18 AM
Hydrometers have been known to give you a 0.005 to 0.002 variance with the same water sample. At least that has been my experiance using one of the cheaper hydrometers.

01-02-2012, 01:28 AM
Ok, rinsed it off with R/O water and tried it again a few times, and now it's consistently giving me a reading between 1.023 and 1.024

You guys were right, though. Should have done it outside my tank. Feel kinda dumb now.

01-02-2012, 01:33 AM
Thats cool.Ive done ALL sorts of dumb things with my sw tank. This one for you was harmless.

01-02-2012, 01:47 AM
So, now that it's stable and seems to be at the perfect salinity level, I'm thinking if in the morning it's still reading 1.23-4 I should go into the pet store with a water sample, have them test to make sure it's ok, then get my live rock and live sand.

But I just wanna make sure that sounds safe. Don't wanna make any more dumb mistakes.

(I do have a master test kit, just fyi, but I wanna be double safe)

01-02-2012, 02:07 AM
Is it the so called live sand sold in bags? If so save the money and just get normal dry sand as the bagged live sand adds nothing to the system but xtra dirt.

01-02-2012, 02:08 AM
No, it's in a tank.

01-02-2012, 02:11 AM
That should be good then.Do they keep fish in this tank?

01-02-2012, 02:13 AM
I haven't seen the tank, so I'm not sure. They do keep fish with some of the live rock, though.

01-02-2012, 02:16 AM
Im a bit paranoid about getting live rock from a system that had fish in it. If any parasitic infestation is present then you just introduced a vector into your system. The live sand would worry me even more if there were fish in the system. If I trusted the shop very much then I suppose my fears would be assuaged .
I do wish to qualify my statements as coming from a newbie to sw keeping. Im a bit paranoid from my first few months of the experiance battling ich and or velvet.

01-02-2012, 02:38 AM
Hmm, I'm not sure how much to trust them, as I'm p new to this region. I'll do what I can with the liverock, but I'm not sure how much choice I'll have in the matter. Nearest place with liverock is three hours away. :/

01-02-2012, 07:42 PM
Best you can do - no matter where you get your live rock from - is to examine each piece while still in the water, for bad critters. If you take them out to look, things like aiptasia shrink to nothing and you can't see them.

I got a coral from a trusted source - by gawd his tank is gorgeous - but even so I got aiptasia and bristleworms from it. The rock I got from Big Als tho, was clean...the reverse of what you'd think...

01-02-2012, 08:14 PM
Yeah, my fish friend told me as much. Unfortunately, I was wrong, they didn't have any live sand at all, but they did give me a net full of sand from an established reef tank. Also, all the live rock was from a tank with fish. I got 7 pieces, four medium sized ones and three smallish, but not tiny, rocks. Once the water clears from the crushed coral, I'll post pics, see if it looks right

01-02-2012, 08:19 PM
Well, I'm thinking sand from an established tank IS live sand. I'm with smaug on that bagged stuff - waste of coin.

Do you know how much weight of rock you purchased? For a 29 gal, you'll be wanting 45-60 lbs of rock. 7 pieces doesn't quite sound like enough, unless you are going to add dry rock later.

Waiting for pics...

01-02-2012, 08:38 PM
I think maybe 35? They sold it by size, not weight.

I could go back later this week and buy maybe two or three more.

edit: to be honest, I'm a little uneasy about stacking the rocks which I'd need to do even more with more rocks, any advice there?

01-02-2012, 08:40 PM
At this point

01-02-2012, 08:55 PM
Mine are just stacked, against the back and not attached or glued or anything. I do have eggcrate on the bottom. Also, place rock first then sand, so the rocks don't shift if sand gets washed or moved from under the rocks.

You can check out other peoples marine tank journals as everyone has done their own thing concerning setting up the rock.

01-03-2012, 12:00 AM
I did place the live rock on the glass before putting in the crushed coral.

The water has cleared enough that you can kinda see the rock. Taking a bit to fully clear, cause of crushed coral (which I washed 3 times) Most of it is Atlantic, Fiji rock.

I apologize for the quality, my normal camera is on loan and I just have my camera phone.

Also, it's kinda of hazy, but there is a rock to the right of the red one to the right.


This pic kinda hides on of the rocks on the left side


Namely this one.

Keep in mind, they're also partially buried under 20 pounds of crushed gravel.

01-03-2012, 12:16 AM
Out of curiosity, would adding a bunch of deadrock obtained out of town work if I wanted to convert it to a reef in the future? (which I'm not considering any time soon, mind)

01-03-2012, 12:24 AM
Yes you can use dry rock added into an established system to create live rock. You do need more rock then you have right now if you want a decent amount of fish.

01-03-2012, 12:53 AM
Alright, I'll try to pick some more up this week. One medium and two small be enough?

Also, my protein skimmer is noisy as hell, is it alright if I turn it off when I sleep until I can fix it? (I've read about a fix to it, but don't have the materials for it right now.)

01-03-2012, 02:06 AM
yeah, a skimmer is almost counter productive on a cycling tank, tho you might get differing opinions on that.

01-03-2012, 02:18 AM
Btw, thank you all for your advice, I tend to get a bit OCD and worry a lot every time I set up a new tank.

01-03-2012, 02:20 AM
lol we're all a bit OCD here about our fish! Obviously you are in the right place!

01-03-2012, 03:17 PM
Water has become crystal clear today. Has a mild odor, so I did an ammonia test (using an API master SW test kit) Ammonia's at .25 according to it, so I guess the cycling is started well.

My T5 lighting is supposed to be delivered tomorrow, so I'll try to get my camera back then and get better pictures.

I'm wondering, should this thread now be moved to the journal forum perhaps?

01-03-2012, 04:29 PM
You can start a jorunal, or I can move this thread for you.

Just let me know

01-03-2012, 04:47 PM
Why not move it for economy sake? And maybe change the title to 29 gal FOWLR, eventual reef, if you wouldn't mind?

In a couple of weeks, I'm going to go out of town and the pet store where I'm going sells dry rock for 2.50 a pound, so I might pick a bit up, there.

Also, my last tank was a sixty gallon discus tank, and I didn't like using the carbon in my HOB filter, is it ok to not use it in this tank? So far I haven't, but I still have the carbon. (I'm using an aquaclear)

01-03-2012, 04:52 PM
Done and done

That carbon should be OK for a FOWLR

01-03-2012, 05:02 PM
Thank you very much! You've all been so helpful. I'll post more updates as things come along.

01-05-2012, 12:53 AM
Lights and camera are here! And I bought three more rocks. Two were normal, one was kinda smallish.



I'll be testing for ammonia and possibly nitrate later tonight. Have no idea how fast it'll cycle with these rocks and net of sand I got from the store, but I've no intention of rushing things, either.

01-05-2012, 01:24 AM
No nitrate, but maybe a bit more ammonia, not sure. Color cards are so vague.

01-05-2012, 03:30 AM
Ok, I hate to quadruple post, but it seems a small snail has hitchiked into my tank. Is it gonna be alright? Can inverts handle the cycling process?

01-05-2012, 03:44 AM
Many hitch hiking inverts, usually the kinds you can't purchase (e.g., small snails, pods, micro-sea stars, crabs, pest anemone's, bristleworms, fanworms, etc), can withstand the cycling process, though some die-off may occur.

Nice start, by the way!

01-05-2012, 08:52 PM

I don't think I'll bother testing again until the weekend.

I have two questions: one, does this seem like enough live rock now? And two, when and how should one introduce inverts? My book talks a lot about introducing fish, but little about inverts.

01-05-2012, 10:34 PM
It doesn't look like quite enough rock to me. I had 2 29 gallons until I merged them into a 75 gallon 2 years ago. I'll post a picture of each with the amount of rock each had

Here is one of them with roughly 35 lbs of rock.


and the other with around 50 lbs of rock


01-05-2012, 10:58 PM
I think you need more but actual weight of rock can be deceiving. This is my 58 gal and despite the looks like I have alot of rock it is barely 45lbs in there. Your rocks seems pretty dense whereas mine is very lacey and lightweight.

01-06-2012, 12:32 AM
Well, is it enough to cycle the tank in a reasonable amount of time with (considering this all came from established tanks, plus the net full of sand from a reef tank), at least?

I can get a good bit of dry rock for much cheaper the weekend after next.

I'm pretty sure these rocks way at least 40 pounds altogether, for what it's worth. They're sturdy Fiji rocks, mostly.

01-06-2012, 12:48 AM
You could add some more dry rock to improve your tank's filtration once it becomes live. You will have to stock your fish very slowly to make sure your bactria can keep up with the demands.

When you pick out your dry rock, look for rock that is very porous, almost looking like there is holes part way through it. The more porous it is the better filtration it will provide. Also, look for a uniform almost off- white color. A little discoloration from that is OK.

Example below


01-06-2012, 01:01 AM
Yes, I've been reading up on dry rock. For what it's worth, I've been researching for about a year. Reread that book more than once.

Anyhow, I can either get more fully cured rock now and a little dry rock next weekend or get a bunch of dried rock next weekend. I just don't want to sabotage my cycle.

01-06-2012, 02:07 AM
Also, what is the likelihood the tank would be cycled by then? I happen to very much trust that fish store as it's where I was the last five years and was hoping to get a Green Chromis there, if the tank was ready for it.

01-06-2012, 11:29 AM
Your test numbers will dictate when its cycled but in 2 weeks if the rock did not have a lot of die off you very well may be cycled.

01-06-2012, 05:55 PM

Yes, I've no intention of putting anything in the tank till ammonia and nitrite are zero and I've done a water change to get rid of nitrate; I was just hopeful as I really love and trust this pet store and won't have a chance to go back for a while. Plus, this local place would have to order Chromis and Fire Shrimp, whereas that place always has them on hand.

I haven't seen too much die off, physically. The rocks actually look great and ammonia didn't seem or smell too bad.

01-06-2012, 10:45 PM
Well, as I somewhat feared would happen, I have got bristleworms in this live rock, I'm positive.

There are invertebrates that consume them, aren't there? What all are my options?

01-06-2012, 10:50 PM
IMO, do nothing

Bristleworms can be a valued part of any CUC. They can be found in almost every single marine tank. Having some bristle worms is normal and OK. To be honest with you, I have never looked into what may eat them.

However, if you are over run with bristal worms, then that would be a indecation there is something wrong in the tank, like overfeeding for example.

Without a constant food supply for them in you tank right now, at least some of them are likely to die off.

I would not be worried

01-06-2012, 10:54 PM
I hate to sound like an uninformed boob, but for what does CUC stand?

01-06-2012, 10:56 PM
I'm sorry about that, CUC = Clean Up Crew.

I use too many acronyms some times

01-06-2012, 10:58 PM
Ah, no worries.

On that note, actually, I was wondering if I could get some recommendations for reading materials both online and in text to study up on reef stuff?

I have no intention of putting anything reefy in until the tank matures, but I wanna take my time and research it in the mean time.

01-07-2012, 04:41 PM
Well, nitrite and nitrate are both still at 0. I take it that means it probably won't be cycled by next weekend?

01-07-2012, 04:45 PM
What is your ammonia at ?

01-07-2012, 04:55 PM
It has not moved at ALL. .25 Although, I realized that turning of my protein skimmer without removing the skimmate was a mistake. It had putrefied. Smelled awful. So, I dumped that and just turned it back on for now.

01-07-2012, 06:16 PM
I'm a bit surprised I don't at least have nitrite yet. I mean, moving this much material from a freshwater tank would have sped up the cycling immensely.

01-07-2012, 06:22 PM
LOL its a common saying when you're into saltwater
"Nothing good happens fast."

01-07-2012, 08:36 PM
Yeah, I know.

I suppose I could just get the Chromis next weekend and keep them in the QT tank until it's finished cycling.

01-07-2012, 09:41 PM
That sounds like a great idea

It is always best to QT new fish before adding them to your main tank and this will give you something to focus on while waiting for your tank to cycle. At least this as worked for me. I hate waiting as well :hmm3grin2orange:

01-07-2012, 09:45 PM
Well, I was gonna QT them anyways, but I mean, I can always do a water change if it's not cycled by then.

Anyhow, any recommendations on reef books and websites? That'd be a productive way to use the waiting time.

01-07-2012, 09:53 PM
The stickies here are really good, I would suggest reading through them

Also, there's a few on-line articels that helped me a lot (links below). I'm a little old school in the fact that I prefer books over on-line info. I guess I just like to know more about the person offering the info. Reef keeping Magazine (on-line) is pretty good tho. One of the better SW books out there (IMO) is The New Marine Aquarium; Step-by-Step Setup and Stocking Guide, by Michael S. Paletta, TFH Publications

I hope this helps


01-07-2012, 10:05 PM
Yeah, I have The New Marine Aquarium. Read it back to back more than once lol

01-07-2012, 10:12 PM
Check out the links that I sent you

Lots of good info there along with our stickies

01-07-2012, 11:05 PM
Will do.

I'll post updates on cycling and pics after I get back from my trip with the dry rock. Should be able to buy 25 pounds of it at least.

01-08-2012, 12:13 AM
Well, my skimmer seems to have broken now.

It's this one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001V95TZA/ref=oh_o02_s00_i00_details

I guess I'll get another. Any recommendations in a decent price range?

01-08-2012, 02:40 AM
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GB0NX8/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details This one looks promising.

01-08-2012, 02:47 AM
The one you have posted a link for should be OK. I don't know anything about them but the company that makes them dose make a lot of quality products IMO

I have just bought the below skimmer. I had read a lot of good reviews about it a know a few people currently using them and they really like them

This might be another skimmer to consider


01-09-2012, 04:49 PM
I ordered the one I linked. Should be here tuesday.

Also, I've been researching reef lighting a bit. Currently I'm just using a dual T5, which I know is inadequate for my needs. I've looked at a few alternatives:


This is probably the best for my budget, but it's only got 4 light fixtures and I'm not sure it'll fit over my skimmer's skimmate cup as it's 13 inches wide.

I also looked at LEDs, but most are sold 24-36 inch, but my tank is 30 inches. I'd also heard they have trouble penetrated deeper tanks like mine, dunno how true that is. And honestly, I don't entirely understand them. A lot of them look woefully inadequate in terms of wattage or they're sold by strip.

I could just get three of these: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=3578+3733+23753&pcatid=23753 but that goes a bit over the budget I've set, which is roughly 300 bucks

I haven't really decided on corals yet. I don't know enough. Started reading some of those links and ordered a book from amazon, so I'll know more later. Only coral I know for sure I want are polyps like these: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=597+1464+3092&pcatid=3092

Sorry for a long and convoluted post.

01-09-2012, 05:30 PM
If its in your budget I highly recommend 1 of these led fixtures. http://apolloreefled.com/shop/solarblast-ultra/ It doesn't have all the fancy programmable features of the more expensive led fixtures, but it is bright and coral loves it

I use 2 on our 75 gallon and 1 on our 20 long frag tank (30 inch long)and I have no complaints. 1 will be plenty for you tank. They get great par even in deep tanks and are equal to a 250 watt metal halide but only use 120 watts

01-09-2012, 05:34 PM
With tax, that really does go over, sadly. :/ I do appreciate the advice, nonetheless! Thanks.

01-09-2012, 05:53 PM
Just as a note when the LED units are sold with the description of 24-36 they'll fit your 30" tank. They give that range because the LED fixture comes with a center unit (containing the lights and any programming screen) and then has extendable legs so that you can pull them out or push them in to fit a tank in the range of 24"-30"

01-09-2012, 06:00 PM
Thanks! I feel dumb, but that clears things up. What if I got several of these? http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23688 Or maybe mix and match with T5's to provide penetration to the deeper parts of the tank?

Though, the wattage on those looks low. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=23687 I could afford to get one of these and one dual T5, though

01-09-2012, 06:56 PM
If those won't work, I'm wondering what corals and inverts would I NOT be able to keep if I just got that quad T5 with moonlight LEDs?

01-09-2012, 10:37 PM
I wouldn't do either of those LED lights. I don't think either would do well on a reef.

With a 4 bulb t-5 you can do all softies and lps, and some lower light sps, like montipora caps and birdsnest, although the sps colors may not be as bright as they would be under metal halide or led, they should grow well.

01-09-2012, 11:03 PM
Yeah. Hmm. If only I could supplement lighting through the side of the tank. I could get those halide lights on Craigslist super cheap, but I really don't want to use halide for the sake of my energy bill.

01-10-2012, 12:32 AM
I'm considering caving and saving up for the LED labnjab recommended.

If I did, it'd be all I need to keep any kind of coral, right? Also, would I need to purchase an addition system to mount it?

01-10-2012, 12:35 PM
Not sure on the additional mounting system but yes that LED fixture would be fantastic for any type of coral you wanted. I know that labnjab has a bunch of sps that are doing very well under the LEDs and softies alike

01-10-2012, 01:43 PM
You can have any coral with the lights we have, just make sure to acclimate them to it as they are very bright. We had a few bleach after switching to the lights because we didnt properly acclimate them.

You will need a way to hang them. i built a quicker hanger out of scrap wood and attached it to our stand. If i didnt rent i would probably hang them from the ceiling

01-10-2012, 02:24 PM
If you don't hang them, check the vendor's website for mounting rails. When I bought the mounting kit for my LEDs, (the metal rail the lighting sections are mounted to) they also came with a set of mounting legs

If I did not have a canopy, I could have attached the legs to rails and just let it sit on the top of the tank. It would have put the LEDs at about 4" above the top of the tank


01-10-2012, 02:32 PM
That is an absolutely gorgeous set up you have, Labnjab.

But yeah, I have to say, in thinking more and more about it, I am really heavily leaning towards those LEDs you linked.

I appreciate the advice, and the pic. I might try a DIY project, if I can enlist the help of a friend who's any good at carpentry.

01-10-2012, 04:23 PM
Oh, I completely forgot, I did a reading yesterday around noon, and found no ammonia, no nitrite, but a good bit of nitrate. And after doing the tests again, I did a 4 gallon water change and still no amm or nit. As such, I talked to the one guy at this pet store who actually keeps saltwater himself and he felt a couple crabs would be fine, so I bought an emerald crab and a hermit crab.

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/393396_10100520515973779_16828737_51723161_6771565 53_n.jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/394188_10100520852958459_16828737_51724063_4140446 71_n.jpg

I was only able to get the emerald by turning on the lights in the morning and taking a quick pic before he darted back to the crevasses of the rock. I've heard they can get less nocturnal, but he's still small. Half an inch, maybe

01-10-2012, 05:16 PM
They will get less nocturnal but they'll still take off with a sudden movement and creep back out once they think the coast is clear lol cool pics!

01-10-2012, 08:58 PM
Still getting zero ammonia. The petstore has a tank born clownfish available that's basically been quarantined for almost 3 months now, nothing else in its tank; thinking of putting it in the tank.

The guy seemed to think it'd be perfectly fine, but I hesitated, because I wanted to make sure my readings continued to stay steady.

01-10-2012, 09:15 PM
That's a really good plan to wait a few days and test, just to play it safe and make sure

Ar you planning on using a QT tank for your clown fish when you get him ?

01-10-2012, 09:53 PM
I was thinking of putting him straight in, given the circumstances, but haven't made up my mind. I have a QT tank set up and all, but he seems pretty good to go, especially being tank born.

01-10-2012, 10:21 PM
I would suggest using a QT tank just to be on the safe side. You have to keep in mind, if this fish does have ick (I'm not saying he does, just what if) the ick will also leave the fish and can live in your rock for a few weeks to a few months and infect any other fish you might add to the tank during that period of time. There are a lot of things like ick that could put you in the same situation.

If you do QT, there are a lot of good threads and info here on the topic

Just a suggestion

01-10-2012, 11:05 PM
Yeah, I appreciate it.

Also, labnjab, I was hoping I could have more pictures of your DIY hood? Maybe from the top, so I can see how the railing mounts and how the light fixture mounts to the rails.

01-11-2012, 12:17 PM
Cliff was the one who actually posted the picture of his canopy and tank. His hanging system looks a lot better then mine, lol

Here is our tank


And our thrown together hanger.


01-11-2012, 03:27 PM
Oh, sorry. Yesterday, I was totally out of it; spent all day helping a friend with a huge house and a ton of furniture move on too little sleep.

Yours does look good, too, though!

01-11-2012, 03:29 PM
Also, the new protein skimmer came. It seems to be working fine, but it was MASSIVELY frustrated getting set up. The mounting chassis kept falling off and the air tube isn't very securely placed. Been thinking of taking it out and just using aquarium silicone to secure them both.

01-11-2012, 06:28 PM
Well, as this morning I was reading zero nitrate zero ammonia and zero nitrite, so I just got that clownfish...I went ahead and put him in the tank, but now that I have a fish in there, I intend to put every other fish through quarantine.

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/390428_10100520046529549_16828737_51720353_2963796 56_n.jpg

He seems to be acclimating pretty well.

I have a question regarding the Chromis. I know they're a schooling fish and as such, I thought I should get three, but I'm unsure given the youth of the tank. What procedure would you recommend?

01-11-2012, 07:31 PM
given the size of chromis I don't think it'd be too much of an additional bio-load on your tank but I'd wait a week or two probably and then you should be ok if you add 3 small ones... but that's just me haha some people are much more cautious when adding livestock and understanable so

01-11-2012, 07:36 PM
Well, I have no idea how big these chromis will be. They may only have adults in, they may have young ones.

And yeah, like I said, I'll quarantine these guys for a bit before I introduce them. I remember well enough that the biofiltration needs time to adjust.

01-12-2012, 05:23 PM
So, I was looking at my aquarium earlier and I saw what looked a bit like the shed skin of a small shrimp (I'm fairly familiar with this, kept dozens of Amanos with my Discus) and the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a mantis shrimp. I'm not totally sure, though.

Anything I can do to confirm? And if it is in there, what can I do about it?

01-13-2012, 12:19 AM
post a pic. Some folks on here own mantis, and other shrimp, so they'd be able to tell you...

01-13-2012, 12:25 AM
Unfortunately, in trying to get a better look by adjusting the rock, it became dislodged and got lost in the current.

01-14-2012, 12:44 AM
Just thought I'd do an update.

Read up a bit on mantis shrimp, haven't heard any popping noises at night and all my animals are well accounted for, indeed, thriving.

My stats are extremely stable. 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrate, 0 Nitrite and the PH hasn't moved from around 8.1 or 2.

In fact, algae growth has been phenomenal. It's spread over most of the crush coral and I can see tons of little algae blooms on the aquarium glass. As such, I added a peppermint shrimp. Are there any other animals I can add to combat Algae? Something like the equivalent of a Bristlenose Pleco would be great. I had one keeping my discus tank algae free.

01-14-2012, 12:57 AM
mexican turbo snails are fantastic at controlling algae, grab two or three of them and you'll be good to go

01-14-2012, 12:58 AM
lawnmower blennies are supposed to be good with algae. Snails too. I prefer astreas.

It would be far better tho, to fix whats causing the algae. How are your phosphates?

01-14-2012, 01:08 AM
My API Saltwater kit doesn't have a phosphate mix, I'm afraid. Wasn't planning on getting a reef test kit till the tank was more established.

I was thinking of getting some astrea and banded trochus when I go out of town. As for the Blenny, that looks a bit big for my tank.

01-14-2012, 01:12 AM
good thinkin.

01-14-2012, 11:39 PM
Well, I BELIEVE I have enough rock now.


The Chromis are in the quarantine tank now, they seem healthy. The store has considerably changed since I was last there. Even had nudibranches (which, no, I didn't buy)

01-15-2012, 12:21 AM
Yeah,you got plenty o rock now!:hmm3grin2orange:
Good thought on the lm blenny. They are too lrg for your tank and are in no way suited to a new tank anyway. They need large amounts of algae to stay healthy.Dont add any algae cleaners for awhile,you have nothing for them to stay healthy on.

01-15-2012, 02:21 PM
Ok, so one of the Chromis definitely seems ill already. The other two are swimming together quite happily, but he slinks off behind the powerhead, I guess to avoid expending energy, and had what looks like a little white bump on its head.

I'm thinking fungal infection?

(also, I'm ashamed to admit that I was so overwhelmed by how much the shop had changed that I didn't actually look at the Chromis they picked out)

01-15-2012, 02:33 PM
Try and grab a pic. Fish disease are hard to diagnose, pics help.

01-15-2012, 02:53 PM
The good camera's batteries are charging and the pics I took with my phone don't really show anything (v poor lighting in the QT)

I'll try to get better pics when the battery is charged

01-15-2012, 03:40 PM

I know it sorta looks like there are spots on his fins, but I don't see those when I look at it normally.

01-15-2012, 05:46 PM
Okay, a few more diagnostic bits. Fed them a small bit of frozen mysis shrimp today. The other two chromis attacked it with the fury of the gods, but the sick one didn't move from his spot, even when a piece floated by.

Its breathing isn't even a little bit labored; if anything, it breaths more slowly than the others. Looking closer at the dorsal fin, there still aren't spots, but there are what appear to be gaps or bites or something. Perhaps it was bullied somewhat.

01-15-2012, 07:34 PM
So, I just went to the LFS and got API Pimafix. I haven't dosed it yet, but figured that I might as well have it.

01-15-2012, 10:23 PM
Could very well be bullying. A school of three isn't really a school, two generally gang up and pick on one when you get three of a schooling fish. I had three chromis as well, and 2 of the three ended up carpet surfing. I think they just chase each other til one tries a jump and ends up on the floor. I've had a single chromis now for weeks with no darting or jumps.

Can't really see the lump on the head you were referring to earlier, as the spots on the fins look the same as the mark on the head.

Maybe someone more disease-savvy will chime in.

01-16-2012, 12:41 AM
I'm so used to taking pics in iso mode without flash, I forgot I had flash and I think got a better pic with it.


Could it be Marine Ich?

01-16-2012, 04:14 PM
I'm less inclined to believe it's ich today. The spot haven't spread. It's moved from the side of the powerhead to first the bottom right then left corner of the tank. I'd also swear the fins are getting worse (and not from bullying, I put a divider in the QT, the others can't get to him)

Maybe something bacterial? Sorry, in my years of freshwater, all I ever encountered were Ich, fungus, and dropsy and then only rarely, so I don't know much at all about diseases.

01-16-2012, 04:39 PM
Sorry to keep posting on and on, but I get really super worried when a fish is sick


01-17-2012, 12:16 AM
Update: It got much better for a bit, became completely active and normal, but now has declined again. Right now it's swimming along the very bottom gulping very heavily for air and there's a red spot on one side right next to the back fin.

Looks a bit like Hemorrhagic Septicemia. I don't really have another tank I can put it in, just the QT, should I separate him from the others?

01-17-2012, 01:46 PM
Well, I realize I'm going into ridiculous levels of continuous posts but the fish is still somehow alive. After it was so sick yesterday it recovered again to where it was swimming healthily and actively, but crashed back to where it was as of this morning.

It's twice been so weak it got stuck in the powerhead intake and I had to turn it off. Poor guy seems to be suffering. :(

Also, I went ahead and dosed the tank yesterday, since the bottle said it also treated Bacteria

01-17-2012, 05:22 PM
If you have a quarantine tank, then I'd be using it, especially if you are dosing meds.

01-17-2012, 05:30 PM
Yes, it and the other two are in a 10 gallon QT tank right now. I have a divider separating the sick one from the other two, but I'm worried they'll get it too

01-17-2012, 05:42 PM
Ah, I forgot they were all still in QT. I

wouldn't move the others - moving fish is stressful, and its stress that leaves them open to infection. If you move them to the main tank and they have been exposed to the problem, the stress of the move may weaken them enough to get sick - then you have it in your main tank. The whole point of QT is to avoid that. Fish can carry a sickness but not suffer from it, so you don't want them to carry anything to your display tank.

If they are not suffering from it now, chances are they will be ok, but they are still potential carriers.

01-17-2012, 06:00 PM
I'm afraid it's at death's door.... his condition has deteriorated immensely.


This doesn't even begin to show the deterioration. Its anal fin is white and shredded.

I honestly don't know what more I can do for it right now. It won't eat, so I can't give it internal meds. It's kind of heartbreaking to watch.

Yeah, I didn't mean move it to the main tank, but maybe moving the sick one to a bucket or something, I dunno.

01-17-2012, 07:04 PM
It's dead. :(

I removed it. The other two are still fine.

When the quarantine is up, I presume I should clean the tank? What methods would you recommend me?

01-17-2012, 10:26 PM
Sorry to hear about the little guy, on a side note you might want to keep an eye on the two others to make sure they don't begin to pick on eachother since I assume that's what the cause of death was in this case for whatever reason.

As far as cleaning the tank you should be ok since the other two haven't gotten sick while in the same tank (if it was a type of disease they'd almost surely be sick as well) but if you are nervous use soap and warm water and make sure to rinse thoroughly. DON'T USE ANY CHEMICALS!! It's not worth the risk of hurting future livestock just in case lol

01-19-2012, 03:51 PM
So, I have a question regarding powerheads. Currently, I'm using two of these:


Though the other is a 110/500 model. Currently, they're in powerhead mode, but my question is if I put the 295 model into circulation mode, would that be enough for my reef tank?

Presently I'm looking at mostly Zoanthids and maybe later an SPS like a Montipora.

01-19-2012, 04:14 PM
I guess it would depend on your set-up. They might be fine. As long as you can get about 20 to 30X flow inside the tank with no (or minimal) deadsposts you should be fine

01-19-2012, 04:17 PM
Well, 1300 gph on a 29 (honestly 28) is definitely there.

Any tips on minimizing said dead spots in terms of placement? I had considered moving it more towards the top of the tank.

01-19-2012, 04:19 PM
Getting rid of dead spot (for the most part) is trial and error.

You just have to keep trying different power head potions and maybe even move your rocks a little.

01-19-2012, 04:21 PM
How can I check for deadspots? (sorry, hate asking all these questions (blush) )

01-19-2012, 04:55 PM
I just changed it to circ mode btw and it keeps sucking air from the surface into little whirlpools. Is that normal?

01-19-2012, 05:00 PM
How can I check for deadspots? (sorry, hate asking all these questions (blush) )

You will see stuff building up in the deadspots

01-19-2012, 05:01 PM
Like detritus and fish feces?

01-19-2012, 05:03 PM
You got it, stuff like that and any uneaten food. You typically see algae start in the low flow spots as well.

01-19-2012, 05:14 PM
Ok, thanks. Changing the pump certainly stirred up my tank. I'll check to see where things settle in a few hours.

My clownfish is terrified of all the whirlpools, though, lol.

01-19-2012, 05:17 PM
Yup, fish will do that.

I recently up-graded a few powerheads in my 120 which changed the flow in the tank. It took the fish a day or two to get used to the changes in the flow, but once they did they were back to normal in no time.

01-19-2012, 05:50 PM
I also discovered what I believe to be my first visible amphipod. Hard to say, considering how tiny it was, but it was definitely alive.

01-20-2012, 03:12 AM

Any idea what this thing to the left of the snail is? I've got several in the tank, some with white tips at the end. I'm not worried, just curious.

01-20-2012, 02:15 PM
Looks like maybe a feather duster but I'm not sure

01-20-2012, 03:27 PM
So, I got a fire shrimp the other day and it is the most sociable little guy. And yesterday when I was adjusting my powerhead, I made a discovery about it and filmed it:


It loves to nibble on my fingers! It usually hangs out in caves, peaking out here and there, but anytime my fingers come into the tank now for any appreciable time, it starts to nibble on them.

01-20-2012, 05:31 PM
So cool! Probably wants to clean you I guess?

01-20-2012, 05:44 PM
Yeah, it was nibbling my hairs and the cleaner shrimp was nibbling under my finger nails. It tickled.

01-22-2012, 04:39 AM
So, I've been reading and planning a bit in the way of corals and I think what I want to do when the tank is more mature and I have lighting and whatnot is start with mostly zoanthids (probably more than anything else) then perhaps pipe organ coral and once I feel a bit more confident a montipora sps.

What do you guys think?

01-22-2012, 04:44 AM
The zoas sound like a great idea. They can take up a lot of nitrates as well.

Some monties can grow really big so I would carefull look into that.

01-22-2012, 04:48 AM
I was thinking specifically Montipora verrucosa. http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=597+322+3081&pcatid=3081

If it gets too large, can it not be fragged?

01-22-2012, 04:52 AM
Yup, you can frag it as well

01-22-2012, 05:41 PM
Zoas are great b/c they're just about indestructible haha and the monti is a really good starter SPS since they're pretty tough as far as SPS go.

01-22-2012, 08:51 PM
How about the pipe organ coral?

http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=597+599+480&pcatid=480 I REALLY love the look of this one.

01-22-2012, 09:00 PM
That sounds like a pretty good choice. I don't have any personal experiance with them tho, that is just what I have read about them

There is some info in the below stickie about them as well. I can't remember if you had found this stickie or not yet


01-22-2012, 11:18 PM
Also, question about food for these guys. And my future plans include a dottyback, flasher or fairy wrasse or anthias. So far I have frozen mysis and brine shrimp, frozen saltwater multipack dry NLS small fish pellets and freeze dried Omega One Tubifex worms and a few sheets of Nori.

I'm wondering what kind of food should I get next to balance things out more?

Also, I really don't like using flake food if I can avoid it.

01-23-2012, 11:30 PM
How about the pipe organ coral?

They're a good coral to add after the tank has been stabilized, matured somewhat and running for quite a while. A hardy coral when conditions are ideal, though not quite in the starter coral catergory in my opinion.

01-23-2012, 11:48 PM
Yeah, wasn't thinking of them till the Zoanthids were established.

01-24-2012, 08:25 PM
So, a minor issue I'm noticing is my protein skimmer, which is producing yellow skimmate presently, has a tendency to occassionally bubble over and I sometimes notice a small bit of bubbling film on the top, which usually goes away as I replace evaporated water.

Is this anything to be concerned about? It hasn't affected readings or anything yet.

01-24-2012, 08:34 PM
You just need to empty it quicker then so the liquid level doesn't fill up enough of the cup for it to bubble over. Also do you have your sump compartmentalized? If not the change in water height will mess with your skimmer settings

01-24-2012, 08:49 PM
I don't yet have a sump, lol.

I just have this on an old (but v sturdy) chest of drawers. Was thinking of setting up a sump if I could do it on the cheap without drilling later.

01-24-2012, 11:04 PM
Skimmers do funny things if the water level isn't consistent, I would top off more often which should help keep the bubbling over down

01-24-2012, 11:16 PM
Skimmers do funny things if the water level isn't consistent, I would top off more often which should help keep the bubbling over down

+1 to the above

Skimmers need a consitant water level

Also, if I remember correctly, your skimmer is still pretty new. Some times skimmers need a brake-in period of 1 to 2 weeks. Untill it is broken in, it may not work as well as normal

01-24-2012, 11:30 PM
Hmm. I top the water up first thing in the morning and when I go to bed. Maybe an auto top off system, but those are expensive.

01-24-2012, 11:36 PM
I have to say, apart from the bubbling, my tank is doing so great. Algae has calmed down, chemicals are steady (just ordered a phophate, calcium, dkH test kit so I'll let ya know how those are when they arrive) and my clown fish has REALLY colored up. I think he's much healthier than when he was in the store.

And coralline is starting to grow on the dry rock.

01-25-2012, 12:12 AM
Always nice to see coralline start coming in on the new rock lol

Glad to hear the clown is doing well also!!

01-27-2012, 12:59 AM
My test kits got here today.

Calcium was 460 ppm
dKH was 10 or 11
I wasn't totally sure on Phosphate. It was either not there or at the lowest possible reading, but couldn't be quite sure.

01-27-2012, 01:52 AM
Phosphate is like that. I have a tough time getting clear results for phosphate too. But any reading is less than optimal.

Thats a decent reading for calcium, perhaps a touch high. Your coraline will continue to spread if you maintain that.

01-27-2012, 04:29 AM
Yeah, I was pretty pleasantly surprised. I guess I just need to wait for the tank to mature now...and save up for those lights.

01-27-2012, 09:10 PM
So, I came across a product on Amazon and was wondering if anyone had any experience with it: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0009YD766/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

I kinda doubt it'd do anything to accelerate my coralline growth, but it does supplement calcium, strontium, magnesium and iodine all at once, which seems potentially like a good combo, but I'm always wary of new products.

Any thoughts?

01-27-2012, 09:19 PM
Save your money and pass on it.

IMO and IME, It is nothing more that a overpriced calcium supplement.

IMO, there are better products out there

01-27-2012, 09:27 PM
Are there any other supplements you'd recommend?

Also, vis-a-vis tank maturation, is there any way of telling when a tank has matured or is it just something that always happens after a certain amount of time? I was just curious.

01-27-2012, 09:36 PM
There are a lot of good brands out there. The below is the brand I use as it is available locally for me and I have found it to be a really good quality product.


With my tanks, they establish (matured) at slightly different times, one around 6 to 7 months one around 9 to 10 months. below were the signs that I picked up on that they were matured:
A) all of the parameters were establish and stablized (dKH, Cal, Mag, PH)
B) I had to dose a lot less to keep all parameters stable,
C) My nitrate was rarely above 0 ppm,
D) good coraline growth
E) the rate of growth in all of my corals increased greatly

Every tank is different tho, so your experience will vary

01-28-2012, 04:46 PM
My fire shrimp just had its first molt! Also, I think the emerald crab is getting ready too. He's been less shy and still pretty peaceable too. I added the porcelain anemone crab, and it's actually proven far more shy than any other creature in the tank. I don't think the emerald's had a chance to harass it because he can't find it!

01-28-2012, 04:59 PM
Personally, I wouldn't supplement or dose anything to the tank unless testing showed a deficiency. If everything is growing and doing well there's no need to risk upsetting the balance...

01-28-2012, 08:08 PM
Alright, I suppose there's no immediate need for it. Really, things seem near perfect in the tank. Getting ready to introduce the Chromis from QT in a couple of days. They seem quite healthy.

01-29-2012, 02:58 AM
You know, I'm dubious I'd need more than cursory supplementation at all given that I do weekly water changes. Which makes me wonder, are reef crystals really that much better a purchase than normal salt?

01-29-2012, 02:01 PM
For a fish only tank, supplementation and "normal" salt mix are all that's required.

Its corals that deplete the water as they absorb more from the water than fish do. When you start keeping corals, then premium salt mix and/or supplements are a given.

01-30-2012, 08:05 PM
Fun little update. The other night, I was going to bed and noticed a very funny phenomenon. My hermit crab was riding one of my snails!


He rode him for about five minutes, eating up some algae that was growing on the glass as he did. I even got video of it!


Apologies for the quality, but it didn't occur to me to turn on the lights. Also, as to the riding dirty comment, he had some fish feces lingering on his shell.

02-01-2012, 03:06 AM
Ok, so one of my old friends came through town today and gave me a surprise gift for my tank (I won't shut up about it :hmm3grin2orange: ) : a marble sea star and a small thing of blue mushroom coral

I put them in my tank for now, as I dunno what else to do with them. It's actually better here than giving them to the LFS, as they use two T-8s for lighting as opposed to my two t-5's and the LED system arrives thursday.

Actually, I'm pretty disgusted with my LFS, resolved never to buy their again. They were keeping a grouper and some kind of moray eel in a tank with a vicious grouper that was attacking the eel, taking literal BITES out of it and the eel looked on the verge of death. I told them several times about it, but they didn't do anything.

Anyhow, the mushroom is doing well, as is the star, but I'm open to advice.

02-01-2012, 03:36 AM


Here they are. Just put them in this morning.

02-01-2012, 03:54 AM
Congrats. Looks like a Fromia species starfish. Hard to tell the species with it up on the glass, but most are detrivores and are reef safe. Just don't keep any giant clam species with it, since star fish can't seem to resist them.


02-01-2012, 04:22 AM
Yeah, but I'm a bit worried about the mushroom, given the youth of my tank. I mean, I've been monitoring the chemistry of this tank obsessively since I got it and I've never noticed any nitrates after it cycled or ammonia or anything although my nitrate test kit only measures to .5 ppm. Still need to get a salifert. I had a slight amount of phosphate, but a water change solved
that and I ordered a phos-zorb thingy for the future.

I think the tank stays so incredibly stable because I'm replacing about a half gallon's worth a day due to evaporation (open top lighting) but I worry that might deplete my calcium a bit.

Oh, also, I'm now saving up for that Deionization unit you showed me, Dave. It'll take a while as those LEDs draaaiiined me, but I'll get it.

02-01-2012, 05:15 PM
As of this morning, however, the corals have opened nicely:


02-01-2012, 07:26 PM
I think the tank stays so incredibly stable because I'm replacing about a half gallon's worth a day due to evaporation (open top lighting) but I worry that might deplete my calcium a bit.

It won't deplete your Calcium, since when water evaporates, just the pure water does. The minerals, including the salinity, are left behind.

You should get a hinged glass top for your tank, would cut down on the amount of top-off water you'll have to do daily.

Of course, if you have a furniture-style stand . . . (http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=13959)


02-01-2012, 07:44 PM
Oh, duh. I knew that the salt didn't evaporate, didn't even think about the calcium. (blush)

I'm actually quite happy to replace the water, but even so, I'm planning to try to build my own hood to accomodate my LEDs after the one Cliff made. That one should make evaporation less of an issue.

Either way, the mushroom keeps getting fuller every minute. Seems to be acclimating well, though I know it's waaay too early to celebrate.

02-01-2012, 08:06 PM
I've never kept any star fish and I only know what I have read about them

I did find some information that suggests they need a well established and mature tank because they feed on the organisms found in detritus. He may not be able to find enough food in your tank and I have read these guys can be difficult to feed.

Just a concern tho.

Might be a good idea to look into it a little more.


02-01-2012, 09:05 PM
It's definitely Fromia monilis.

And I'll see what I can find out. I got some phytoplankton for the coral, dunno if that'll help. As for the star, so far it seems to want to eat the algae of my tank walls. I could certainly supplement cut up shrimp and mussels for it, though.

02-02-2012, 12:02 AM
...the mushroom keeps getting fuller every minute. Seems to be acclimating well, though I know it's waaay too early to celebrate.

Good to hear. Mushrooms are very hardy and should fare well.

02-02-2012, 08:14 PM
My LEDs just arrived! I tested them and I think I might have temporarily blinded myself. Thanks for the recommendation, Labnjab

Anyhow, I hope to start picking up the wood tomorrow and putting the hood together.

02-03-2012, 11:58 PM
How far above your tank are the lights mounted, Labnjab?

Also, what should I do with these mushrooms? I'm not sure if they can take this lighting even with acclimation. Although, the light is very narrow, so perhaps I could move them to a corner?

02-05-2012, 03:40 AM
Ok, sorry to add to the questions, but I just realized this hood won't work with my HOB filter, so I'm gonna need to replace it with a canister filter.

Any recommendations for a good CHEAP filter? I mean, cheapest so as to still be reliable. Are the cascade's any good?

02-05-2012, 04:57 PM
lot of threads on here concerning canisters...run a search and you will have some pretty solid recommendations.

Given enough Live Rock and flow, you don't really need a filter. If you want to run some kind of media in the future, you can get the mixer/doser set up at that time...?

02-09-2012, 09:28 PM
Well, I went ahead and bought this canister filter: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002DJIQW/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

I know I don't need one, but it just would make me feel more comfortable to have one.

02-09-2012, 10:50 PM
Extra filtration is always a good thing, Ash.


02-09-2012, 11:54 PM
What are you planning on putting in it?

Filters with sponges/floss have the reputation of being a nitrate reservoir, and corals don't do so hot with nitrates. Depending on what media you load your filter with, you're going to want to be pretty anal about cleaning it.

02-10-2012, 12:03 AM
I haven't really decided. For now, the only thing I know I want in it is the phos-zorb pouch I got.

02-10-2012, 12:19 AM
How about bio balls?

02-10-2012, 12:21 AM
I would suggest a phosphate remover and some good quality carbon

02-10-2012, 12:25 AM
I wouldn't put any bio-media in it, as bio-media means nitrates...
The phos-zorb is all good, and +1 on carbon that Cliff suggested.

I used to have rock rubble in my filter to act as more live rock...but got confused as that seems to be the same as bio-media and took it out as well, lol.

All I run in my HOB is carbon, purigen, and phos remover.

02-10-2012, 12:29 AM
I've been running my current HOB with no carbon at all, but I suppose I could put some in when I set up the cascade.

02-10-2012, 12:19 PM
I've been noticing more and more dots of coralline growth lately. Usually only a millimeter or two across. There are even a few patches of pinkish looking algae on the glass. I think the diatom bloom has halted, though I'm not sure if it's receding any yet.

02-10-2012, 01:26 PM
Sounds like thing are coming along nicely

Both the coraline developing and the diatoms slowing down are signs your tank might be starting the process of become mature / stable. In about 4 to 6 months from now you should have a lot of coraline in the tank

02-10-2012, 03:03 PM
Thanks. It's satisfying to see things going so well.

So, since I haven't drilled the tank and can't really safely put in a sump (to my knowledge, I mean this place gets power outages every month or so, and I don't want a disaster) I've been thinking of getting a hang on back refugium. Anyone have any experience with those?

02-10-2012, 05:48 PM
How far above your tank are the lights mounted, Labnjab?

Also, what should I do with these mushrooms? I'm not sure if they can take this lighting even with acclimation. Although, the light is very narrow, so perhaps I could move them to a corner?

Sorry I just saw this post. Glad you like them. I blinded myself the 1st time I fired ours up, lol. We have ours around 9.5 inches above the water which seems to give it the best spread. As far as acclimating things, you can put a section of eggcrate above the tank which cuts the light back significantly, or you can always mount them way higher and drop them down a few inches every week or so until they are at the right height. I made the mistake of not acclimating to the light since I was coming from halides, and had a few frags and colonies bleach

02-11-2012, 02:23 AM
Alright. Dunno yet how high above the water the lights will be atm.

And my filter came, put the phoszorb and carbon it came with (which looks pretty good) in. Ordered some purigen too. Will be here monday.

So, has anyone got experience with HOB refugiums? I found a decent priced one:


The one negative review seems to be off, but I dunno

02-11-2012, 03:15 AM
Yes, I have experience with refugiums, since have several connected to my tanks. The brand I use is here (http://www.cpraquatic.com/products/index.html). Keep in mind you'd need both a pump and a light for that 25 dollar one you linked to.

Always remember you get what you pay for. Buy cheap, you get cheap.


02-11-2012, 03:22 AM
Yeah, fair point. I had thought of getting just the HOB tank from this pet store in wichita and just trying a DIY project to build the rest.

Apart from a pump and a light, what would I need?

02-11-2012, 03:28 AM
Marine sand and live rock rubble. The sand and rubble will process nutrients and generate lots of 'pods' for your fishes and corals to eat.

You can also plant marine macro algae in a refugium. When you trim it, you'll be removing excess nutrients from your aquarium.


02-11-2012, 03:34 AM
What about refugium mud? I keep hearing about that.

02-11-2012, 04:17 AM
Really no point in it, since the sand and live rock rubble will be as nutrient rich for pod production as that refugium mud.

If I was going to grow mangrove shoots I'd use the mud.


02-11-2012, 04:29 AM
Thanks for the info. That actually shouldn't be too difficult to put together, I think.

02-11-2012, 11:58 PM
Well, I set up my canister filter last night. It works wonderfully. It took out a full gallon and a half of water, so now I'm running at least 30 gallons worth of water through the tank between the filter and the tank itself.

Also, I picked up a few hermit crabs the other day. A halloween, electric blue (haven't got pics yet) and a plain one:



Those barnacles are quite alive, I've seen them moving and even opening up a bit and probably feeding.

02-12-2012, 12:23 AM
Barnacles rarely if ever survive in aquariums, because there simply isn't enough nor a constant flow of suitable micro-food, like Rotifers and phytoplankton. Though not impossible to keep barnacles fed, it does take some work by the keeper.


02-12-2012, 12:26 AM
Well, I don't wanna set up a plankton drip in an aquarium this small, but I could dose a bit more plankton, I suppose.

Do they prefer phyto or zooplankton?

02-12-2012, 12:44 AM
Phyto, and they need it 24/7. You'll get Rotifers (aka zooplankton) if you drip that commercial phyto.

Don't know if preserved phyto would work with barnacles, but it's worth a shot. They will starve to death otherwise, so it's good you're making an effort to feed them.


02-12-2012, 12:51 AM
How about 2 ml a day?

And is there an alternative to preserved phyto? Like maybe something I could order on Liveaquaria or at a really nice fish store?

02-12-2012, 04:07 AM
You can buy live phyto here (http://dtplankton.com/phytoplankton.html). I don't believe private people can buy it from that site, but your local fish store can order it for you.

I have to say it's easier and cheaper to culture it yourself, but the best commercial phyto product is DT's.


02-12-2012, 05:45 PM
This is a good live phyto and most local fish stores carry it http://reefnutrition.com/phyto_feast_live.html I used the non-live version and the fish loved it, but it wasn't cheap and I kept forgetting to put it back in the fridge which made it unusable, lol

02-12-2012, 08:27 PM
Thanks! I'll look into those.

In other news, the starfish looks even worse this morning. And some of the corals aren't looking great either.

I think what happened was either that I started using carbon for the first time in the tank's filtration or that I didn't clean my water changing bucket for the water I added well enough after using it to rinse said carbon.

02-14-2012, 04:04 PM
Well, the starfish has passed on, but the corals are still ok. The white spots aren't rubbing off, so I dunno what those might be, maybe dead coralline?


Took this pic last night.

There might have been a nitrate spike, but it wasn't detectable by my nitrate kit. I have ordered a Salifert nitrate kit though.

I've been thinking about nitrate control and was wondering, has anyone here tried Kelp before? Apart from zoanthids, I haven't heard of other things that would eat nitrates.

02-15-2012, 12:07 AM
There are some nice macro algaes out there that look more like plants than the kelp

I've been wanting to try ordering some of there nicer ones (like red or blue) but my tangs would just eat it.

This might a cool option for you to look into as well

Edit, like the below pic


02-15-2012, 12:48 AM
Wow, those are STUNNING.

I don't think anything I'm planning on keeping would eat them, either. Certainly this tank is too small for tangs.

02-15-2012, 12:56 AM
...Apart from zoanthids, I haven't heard of other things that would eat nitrates.

I know that zoanthids can be found in areas with significant nitrate levels, but I didn't think they actual uptake nitrate (but rather the co-existing dissolved organics in those environs).

Xenia is said to be a coral that can uptake nitrate (I've heard of hobbyists constructing 'xenia scrubbers' to that affect). While not corals, clams can uptake nitrate, though shouldn't be acquired for that purpose.

Common nitrate reducing methods in the reef hobby: water changes, algae-scrubbers, macroalgae (either in a refugium or in the display tank), deep sand beds (sugar grain sized sand , 3"-4"+ in depth), lots of very porous live rock, protein skimmers, carbon sourcing (e.g., vodka-dosing, sugar-dosing, 'bio-pellets') or combination of the any of the above, etc.

In my reef tank a 4" DSB, live rock and assisting protein skimmer keep nitrates at 0ppm.

02-15-2012, 01:37 AM
Well, I'm mostly just wanting a back up system in CASE of nitrate spikes. I haven't detected any nitrates in over a month, but I am paranoid, especially given the youth of the tank.

I'm gonna look into setting up a refugium in a month or two, though. The carbon sourcing I hadn't heard of, though. Any more info on that?

02-15-2012, 01:43 AM
There is no real reason to expect a nitrate spike if you are being concientious with water changes and feeding regimens. Keep your rocks turkey basted and a proper flow and trates stay a constant. Macro algaes are not the simplest things to keep and can be on par with coral keeping. They require the correct balance of nutrients and elements as well or many of them can go sexual and cause all sorts of hell.

02-15-2012, 01:43 AM
Here's some info that might help


02-16-2012, 07:31 AM
Well, I just put purigen in the filter, so hopefully that'll help.

I think between that and a refugium, nitrates won't really be a problem.

Though I dunno when I'll get one set up.

02-16-2012, 02:24 PM
Well, I mounted the lights and everything. It's quite different, and the light's a bit narrow, which I was worried about. It's about eight inches from the water. I will say that when the fish are under the light, they're quite stunning.

Here's a video of it: http://s221.photobucket.com/albums/dd310/Archilocos/?action=view&current=MOV01206.mp4

Labnjab, is this about what my tank should look like? I have the lights about eight inches above the water.

I wanna be sure this is enough lighting for whatever kind of coral I decide to put in, including SPS

It almost feels like the actinic lights are overpowering the others.

02-16-2012, 02:35 PM
I love the color, you do have a spotlight effect going on though but that's to each their own, some people dig that I'm personally not a fan but like I said to each their own.

02-16-2012, 02:39 PM
Well, the spotlight effect was not on purpose. I'm not a fan, either. However, I dunno what I can do to change it. Maybe supplement some power compacts?

Also, do you think it'll work for SPS corals?

02-17-2012, 02:34 AM
Raise the light higher so it reaches all of the tank. SPS demand constant perfect NSW levels of minerals and a rock solid temperature. I strongly suggest you be a success with soft corals for some time before you try SPS.


02-17-2012, 02:37 AM
+1 to the above.

SPS are very demanding when compared with soft corals. It might be best to wait until your tank has matured before trying them. It would be a lot easier that way if you want to have some SPS

02-17-2012, 04:19 AM
A. I don't at all intend to start SPS for a good while, I just want to make SURE that when the time comes, the lights I just spent 400 bucks on works.

B. As for raising it, I tried raising it in the testing phase and it really didn't do much. And even so, I'm kinda stuck with it where it is.

02-17-2012, 04:23 AM
From what I have read about those LEDs, they should be good enough lighting for SPS should you choice to add some to your tank. You may have to place them a little higher on the rocks tho.

I might have missed this in your thread, but did you get a controller with your lights ?

02-17-2012, 04:30 AM
Nope, this one was the cheapest model. Has no controller.

But yeah, I intend to start with Zoanthids, and probably even do a few LPS corals before I introduce ANY SPS. I intend to wait till I KNOW my tank is mature and ready for it. Sorry I didn't make that clear!

02-17-2012, 04:35 AM

Here's the link. I dunno, I really think the actinic lights just massively overpower the whites here, cause when I just have the whites and moonlights on, it looks pretty normal. So I'm thinking maybe put some power compacts or just cheap petstore incandescents in next to it.

02-17-2012, 11:59 AM
I'm actually thinking of picking up some zoas this weekend. Going back to the good pet shop. I'm guessing the egg crate will be enough to acclimate them?

02-17-2012, 12:17 PM
That looks different then mine, I wonder if they changed something since I bought ours. I would send them the video and ask them what they think and tell them you are unhappy, they are usually pretty helpful. I keep them at 10 inches above the tank and get a nice even spread on both our 75 and 20 long with no spotlighting on either tank. I also keep sps on the sand as well as higher up

Here is our 20 long which is the same footprint as you tank and the light is offset to the right by 3-4 inches since we keep the frags on the right half of the tank. This is the 20,000K fixture


and here's the display with 2 15,000k fixtures mounted 10 inches above the tank. No spotlights anywhere. Its not that purple though, this spectrum doesn't photograph well


02-17-2012, 12:24 PM
Well, the version I bought was 15000k but I didn't see a 20 at the time of purchase.

The weird thing is my tank DOES look about like your frag tank when I turn the actinics off. I really think that either the actinics are over powered or the whites are under powered. (also, I checked their website and they recommend it at eight inches above the water, which is where mine was)

I did send them an email, though. Haven't heard back yet.

02-17-2012, 12:29 PM
I go the 20k by mistake, I ordered 3 15000K and they sent 2 15000K and a 20000K, but I kept the 20,000k for the frag tank. Its a little more colorful but I don't get quite the growth as the 15000K.

It seems really odd to me though, that yours doesn't look similar to my display when their the same spectrum. You should have even color throughout with no spotlight. They must have changed them because the site said 10-12 inches when I bought ours, lol

The frag tank has both the blues and whites on.

02-17-2012, 12:39 PM

"How high off the water do you recommend the light be mounted?
Our testing has all been done with the light 8″ off the water surface. You can raise the light higher to fit your needs. Our new hanging kits extend to 39″ to reach the ceilings in most homes though hanging your light more than 14″ is not recommended"

That's what I found, anyways.

I tested the lights out a bit before I started construction to see how height would affect it and I didn't really notice a difference in color.

I dunno, I'll try fiddling a bit more and then email them the video today if I can't get anywhere.

02-17-2012, 12:50 PM
For what it's worth, here's how they're mounted in the hood:



The two by twos are just on the metal part on the side, they don't obscure any of the glass between the LEDs and the water. I don't think the mounting has really affected it, as it looks about the same as when I held it over the water to test it.

02-17-2012, 05:24 PM
Get the right lps corals and sps are boring in comparison. Your tank is lookin good.

02-17-2012, 07:14 PM
Thanks, Smaug! I hope to have a good combo of softies, LPS and SPS when I'm done.

Also, I really think that the issue I'm having with this is that the actinic lights on my LEDs just MASSIVELY outnumber the whites. There are about two times as many actinics as there are whites.

02-18-2012, 05:09 PM
So, I'm kind of planning my refugium a bit now, and I'm wondering, after I've pumped the water into it, would it be possible to just return the water to the tank with a siphon or some kinda tube as opposed to just letting it return as though it were an HOB filter?

I ask cause there's not really any non-sloppy way to do it in my current set up.

02-18-2012, 05:57 PM
Just a though, but I think the boards resting on the tank are part of the problem with the light. The beam on these fixture is wide and I think the boards are blocking some of the light. We have our lights dead center in the tank and we get full light throughout the 18 inch width of our tank,. Just to test this I put a board in a similar position on our tank, and it looks similar to your video, with shadows and spotlighting

02-18-2012, 06:44 PM
Wow, that was nice of you to test out, I appreciate it.

02-20-2012, 12:25 AM
Just got back from the fish store. They oddly had no zoas in stock, but had a lovely Lobophyllia which I got instead as well as a longfin fairy wrasse (in QT)

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/420261_10100610609216199_16828737_52011048_1818947 870_n.jpg

It looks even better than it did in the store. They had it under halides. Also, I adjusted the lights as much as I could and I think that they're better, though still more blue than I am used to.

02-21-2012, 03:16 PM
Well, I just got my Salifert nitrate test kit in. I believe it's showing my nitrate at 1 ppm.

So this makes my desire for a refugium even greater.

I'm really having my doubts on my idea for a DIY HOB and now I'm wondering about an in tank refugium:


Anyone got any opinions on this?

02-21-2012, 04:09 PM
You'd probably have to cover it up with eggcrate or something to keep the fish from getting in there... and just out of curiosity what are you hoping to accomplish with the fug? Live food breeding or what?

02-21-2012, 04:27 PM
I could do that, or move it high enough that the fish just can't get in.

As for that, I am hoping primarily to keep my nitrates down. I'm very regular with water changes. Do about 15% every week, but I'd like my nitrate either undetectable or nearly so.

Also, would my own crushed coral from this tank work as a substrate for a refugium?

02-21-2012, 04:56 PM
Also, the other stuff is good, too. Was thinking of starting a colony of live feeder shrimp, pods and maybe some algae for a starry blenny (which I'm considering getting in the future)

02-21-2012, 05:24 PM
Just keep in mind that in tank fuge is small... much to small to really eat any trates IMO... if you really want to have zero trates go with an algae scrubber or just let your tank continue to mature. 1ppm of trates isn't bad at all especially for a young tank. Just something to think about

If you do go the route of having live food in the fuge it'd probably be better suited for that, get some algae growing and just somewhere safe for pods to hide and possibly shrimp to hide (although I can't imagine them staying there but who knows lol)