PDA

View Full Version : 20g High setup - first saltwater tank


604reefer
01-15-2017, 07:46 AM
So...I started my first SW tank last weekend! Aside from bettas as a kid I've never had a tank, but I've always wanted one. I know it's not the best to skip fresh and go straight to SW, but I tested pool water as a summer job for 5 years in a row and know a fair bit about the need for proper water chemistry. Right now I am running:

- 20g tall, 24" x 12.5" x 17" (approx)
- 15lbs live rock
- 20lb Caribsea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Substrate
- Hydor koralia 425gph powerhead
- Aqueon pro 100W heater
- Hydor nano slim skim nano (23-35g)

I'm going to buy a light in the near future, 3-6 months, to add some softies and LPS.

Today I got a reading on the nitrates, but have yet to get any reading on ammonia or nitrites. I am going to add a shrimp tomorrow to see if I can get an ammonia reading.

I notice there is a dusty looking film on the surface of the water, and neither my protein skimmer or powerhead pointed at it will seem to dissipate it. I'm not sure what that is, but won't be adding livestock for a few weeks and not too worried about it right now.

I'll add some pictures as it progresses! It's been great reading all the posts as a lurker!

604reefer
01-18-2017, 01:53 AM
Well I added a Voyager Nano powerhead rated at 530 GPH to stimulate the surface and combined with some dialing in of the power head the surface is clear and the tank is looking great!

Here are two photos:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/Fish/IMG_0544.jpg

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/Fish/IMG_0542.jpg

Ammonia and Nitrites are 0, haven't seen a spike. Nitrates are starting to build and around 2.5.

604reefer
01-23-2017, 05:30 AM
I raised the protein skimmer so that the grates were just below the water line and it cleared up the surface overnight! :biggrin:

Today I added 3 cerith's, 3 nassarius and 3 hermits as I'm seeing some brown algae. I know it will go away eventually, but water params are great so I figured I would add them now. One of the snails doesn't seem to wanna move now that he's found a spot, so we'll see what happens. I am ghost feeding a little bit for the hermits too.

Will do a big WC before adding a blue/green chromis soon!

zhasan
01-23-2017, 03:13 PM
Great start. Looking forward to see your setup come alive.

It wont be long before you want to upgrade!! :smile:

tang daddy
01-23-2017, 05:07 PM
Ahh the joys of having the first reef, I remember way back when I saw my first sponge, pods and stuff sending feelers out the live rock....amazed with all the life, almost gives you that feeling of getting your drivers license and buying your first car to go for a spin. I couldn't wait I think it was about 3 days when I added some Zoas and it was a down hill snowball effect after that.

I was going to say if you added a hang on filter with surface skimmer attachment it would get rid of the nutrients on the surface but you already solved that problem.

There are many options for a led reef light on eBay, do some research but safe to say for around $100 you can get a decent one. Try to find an led with more blue than white, or if you are handy you can build your own light!

Small reef fish like bangai, chromis, clown, fire fish and even gobies would be really cool for this size tank.... once established 5g water changes per week would be ideal for this size tank.

What skimmer are you running again?

Dendromad
01-23-2017, 07:14 PM
Enjoy the hobby. As a noobie myself a year or two ago, I have to warn you it gets addictive!!

I have one of these lights over my tank http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Dimmable-165W-LED-Aquarium-Light-Full-Spectrum-Reef-Marine-Coral-Fish-Tank-Lamp-/171499045260?hash=item27ee23c18c:g:rzYAAOSwPCVX-Hik
I had it over a 10 gallon at first and it was way more than enough light to grow anything. Currently have it over my new set up and everything is growing well, sps, lps zoas etc...

604reefer
01-24-2017, 11:08 PM
I bought an RO/DI filter on the weekend - no more trips to wal-mart for RO water! What a joy I've had trying to figure out how to plumb it... finally got it figured out last night. Only flooded the space below my sink once LOL.

Turn's out I actually got 3 Astrea's and either 3 cerith's or nassarius' can't tell still a newb... the Astrea's keep trying to escape the tankhaha.

@zhasan: Ahhh, I already want to upgrade! But the 20 gallon is a great way to get my feet wet and I'm trying to buy with this in mind so that the same equipment can be for an upgrade.

@tang daddy: It was a trip to J&L aquatics in December that sealed my saltwater fate!! My fiancee was on board instantly when we saw the display tank and all the amazing fish and coral you can get. Obviously 20g limits this a lot, but even with a 20 there are awesome possibilities.

I'm planning on adding one orange and one black/white ocellaris clowns and a blue/green chromis, if the tank is running well a yellow watchman goby too. I'm running a hydor nano slim skim, seems to work pretty well.

I was thinking of doing 2.5G, but I just bought a RO/DI so 5g should work.

@dendromad: I was thinking of going with an AI prime because I like the idea that it hangs on the back and it's really compact. I will have to get on the google machine to see if there's a DIY for the one you've linked as I've seen lots of those on ebay, but all hanging from the ceiling or wall which isn't an option. Do you know of anything?

Dendromad
01-24-2017, 11:45 PM
Above my 10 gallon I had it hung from the ceiling but with this one I went with 3/4" bent electrical conduit to hang it from. I have mine attached to the wall but you could easily attach it to the stand.

gregzz4
01-25-2017, 03:08 AM
Hey Jason
Have fun with your new setup!

One thing I'd suggest is to raise your heater as high as possible. Bring it up to the water line on the housing. Nothing like having a heater fail because it filled up with water.

No matter how 'waterproof' they claim they are, they will eventually leak, and saltwater will destroy it in short order :surprise:

604reefer
02-01-2017, 02:02 AM
Hey Jason
Have fun with your new setup!

One thing I'd suggest is to raise your heater as high as possible. Bring it up to the water line on the housing. Nothing like having a heater fail because it filled up with water.

No matter how 'waterproof' they claim they are, they will eventually leak, and saltwater will destroy it in short order :surprise:

Thanks for the tip! I moved it up a bit, thinking of moving it over to closer to the protein skimmer so most of my equipment is in that corner for looks.

I added a Blue/Green Chromis, RALPH, on the weekend. He was really SCARED of me for the first 2 days, but now he finally let me take his picture as he's swimming everywhere.
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0615.jpg

I also added 5 more blue hermits for a total of 8 and 3 margarita snails. The astrea's are boring! They seem to only want to do their thing when I'm sleeping. One of the margarita's flipped and couldn't get back up and when I went to flip it I dunked the tank light into the tank. Luckily i caught it before the bulb hit the water (it's plugged into a GFCI, but still).

The surface seems to be all dusty again, my koralia powerhead sounds like a jet engine taking off so I have it out of the tank and only have the Voyager in there right now. Gotta return to the store and see if I have to go through Hydor for warranty or what.

Myka
02-01-2017, 02:46 PM
Your tank looks great!! I love that you used live rock instead of dry rock! Where did you find such nice live rock?

I think you're on the right road by planning bigger water changes. I own an aquarium servicing company, and the smaller the tank, the bigger (percent-wise) the water change depending on bio-load. Most nano tanks are overstocked compared to the equipment running them though. In-sump skimmers are vastly better than nano skimmers, so you are always limited. What the equipment can't do, you must do manually. On 10-gallon tanks I do 40-50% per week. In the beginning you don't have to, but as the tank progresses and you stock it more, larger water changes will definitely help.

With a nano tank, make sure you're topping it up EVERYDAY, better yet is top it up in the morning and in the evening. Fluctuating salinity makes all the parameters fluctuate (they concentrate with evaporation, then dilute when you add RO).

Which light are you using now? The Prime is a nice option, but at 24" you also have the option of using a T5 fixture which would be my first choice, especially someone new to the hobby. A 2-bulb fixture over that tank would be great. Aquatic Life makes one with a built-in timer. The included bulbs kinda suck - I'd replace them with ATI bulbs.

604reefer
02-01-2017, 10:43 PM
The live rock came from J&L aquatics in burnaby, I have purchased everything except the skimmer (used) there. I had read some negative reviews about the real reef rock, but figured I would try it out as the rock at King Ed and Aquariums west looked gross. I just grabbed 3 big pieces without thinking about how they may fit together... doh! Went back and picked up a couple pounds of small pieces to make a more "natural" look.

I did a 6g water change last week, but aiming for 4g weekly which is 20% and see how it goes.

I'd really like to keep frogspawn, torch, bubble, polyp, or brain coral - love the way the torch and frogspawn sway in the water. The tank has a POS aqueon light hood that came with the tank lol. I don't have any experience with T5. How does the look compare to an LED like the AI prime? I kind of like the idea of being able to customize the colors/look to my taste. With a T5 I know you can get different bulbs, but no idea how it would look. The aquatic life/ATI combo is really reasonable though!!


Your tank looks great!! I love that you used live rock instead of dry rock! Where did you find such nice live rock?

I think you're on the right road by planning bigger water changes. I own an aquarium servicing company, and the smaller the tank, the bigger (percent-wise) the water change depending on bio-load. Most nano tanks are overstocked compared to the equipment running them though. In-sump skimmers are vastly better than nano skimmers, so you are always limited. What the equipment can't do, you must do manually. On 10-gallon tanks I do 40-50% per week. In the beginning you don't have to, but as the tank progresses and you stock it more, larger water changes will definitely help.

With a nano tank, make sure you're topping it up EVERYDAY, better yet is top it up in the morning and in the evening. Fluctuating salinity makes all the parameters fluctuate (they concentrate with evaporation, then dilute when you add RO).

Which light are you using now? The Prime is a nice option, but at 24" you also have the option of using a T5 fixture which would be my first choice, especially someone new to the hobby. A 2-bulb fixture over that tank would be great. Aquatic Life makes one with a built-in timer. The included bulbs kinda suck - I'd replace them with ATI bulbs.

Northern Reefer
02-01-2017, 11:55 PM
Welcome to this fantastic.... and as others have said... wildly addicting hobby! Be prepared for some hick-ups along the way as the learning curve never ends....read read read and don't get discouraged when your get get different algae blooms! Its all part of it. Go slow and test regularly. Forums are a great place to see what equipment works best, how to solve issues and all the questions that arise! People are always supportive and helpful.

Side note.... I too decided on reel reef rock (J&L) in my new setup and have been extremely happy with it. Half regular and half shelf and trust me.... all those shelves fill quickly as tanks mature!

gregzz4
02-02-2017, 02:24 AM
Heya
When I suggested to raise the heater to the waterline on the heater, I was referring to the manufacturers water mark on the plastic body below the control knob. If there's no water mark, just raise it up so the waterline in your tank is about halfway between the top and bottom of the plastic on the heater control body.
Essentially you want to get the so-called 'sealed' plastic portion of the heater out of the water as much as possible, but without exposing the glass to a dry environment.
This will also make it easier to adjust as you're not putting your fingers in the tank.
Hopefully the suction cups allow you to do this and have the control knob clear the trim on your tank.

604reefer
02-08-2017, 05:49 AM
Update:

Here is a picture of my tank on Saturday a few hours after adding an ocellaris clownfish.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0658.jpg

It's still really good to me! There's two snails that aren't moving, but aren't dead. Parameters are all in check, pH 8.2, ammonia/nitrites 0, nitrates 10. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I also had another buildup of protein scum on the surface again and used a paper towel to remove most of it. Hoping my skimmer will do the rest, but definitely hard to find the sweet spot.

Going to try and take a picture every Saturday just to see the progress.

604reefer
02-16-2017, 12:16 AM
No tank shot update - it looks pretty much identical to last Saturday!

I lost 3 snails this weekend, one cerith, one astrea and one margarita. Two died of "natural causes" (I think me flicking them off the water line for fun might not have been a great idea) and one to murder! One of the hermits decided that, despite having many empty shells to trade up to, the black cerith shell looked best. So most of the day Saturday this guy was eating the snail and there is no trace!

The protein film on the surface comes and goes, but seems to be a lot better since I removed the koralia powerhead and just left the sicce at one end pointed towards the other.

I ordered a Radion xr15w PRO G3 off a US forum today. Ships tomorrow or Friday - really looking forward to this!!

604reefer
03-06-2017, 04:40 AM
Time for an update!!! Much has changed in the tank.

Another murder by the hermits of a snail this week! I have to feed these guys a bit more....

I added a Radion gen 3 XR15w Pro to the tank last weekend! It looks awesome, but makes it tough to take pictures!! The fish look really great under the light, especially the chromis. They still seem as happy as can be. My mom bought me a black clown today, JL finally got some in :). Also bought a bubble coral, but the lights are out to reduce SPIKE's stress. Looking forward to it tomorrow and will take a picture to update.

Still have the brown algae kickin around on the rocks, but have noticed coralline in a few spots slowly growing.

Thanks to "The_Reef_Man" for hooking me up a frogspawn frag and blue mushroom yesterday!! It's one head, but it exploded when I put it in the tank, same with the blue musroom.. Really excited to add these - no longer a coral virgin!

Here are some shots:

Tank before adding coral - barnacle now gone
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0741.jpg

(Lights out - just added)
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0770.jpg

Frogspawn
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0762.jpg

Blue Mushroom
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_0761.jpg

604reefer
07-18-2017, 04:35 AM
I guess it's time for a 6+ month update!

So far so good... (touches wood) everything seems to be getting along nicely. One thing that drives me a bit crazy are all the spirorbid worms, seem to come in on a hammer plug and really took off. It also seems if I keep salt mixed for more than a few days diatoms or algae grows in the bucket, annoying and not sure why. Tried vinegar bathing everything, but still happens. I'm wondering if my 5ish month old RO/DI has a bad filter? Diatoms flared up a ton about a month ago, was cleaning like crazy everyday. Now it just seems to flare up for a day or two then die down again.

Fish
My clowns still scrap each other and my black one Spike gets beat up from time to time. Fins don't look too bad though. The clowns are pooping long string again, going to feed some metroplex tonight. The blenny calmed down after a few weeks and just perches on top of the rocks all day. My chromis just surfs around the tank, loves to go down to the sand bed and weave between the coral and the glass, pretty interesting to watch.

Coral
Well I quickly fell in love with Euphyllia as you'll see. I'm up to 6 hammers, 2 torches, and the frogspawn! Something about the way it all sways mesmerizes me. The lime green hammer has almost finished splitting completely, the purple/green hammer has grown to 3 heads from 1 and the frogspawn and bleached hammer (bought like that lol) appear to be splitting right now as well. My "trophy piece" is supposed to be a "bright orange" hammer I bought online, but it's looking pretty peach - grrrr. The light green hammer has taken showstopper instead, it's gone from about 1" across to 3-4" across, I keep moving the lime green hammer right to give it more space!

My indo torch has completely branched off one head and in the process of branching into 3 total from the one when I got it. The tonga torch was getting rocked by the indo torch, so I finally moved it and it looks really happy. It's not got the greatest color until the blues turn on and then the streaks of orange really show.

I also picked up a hulk leptastrea? I don't know, it was 20 bucks and looked cool. It's grown a bit in the few weeks I had it.

I managed to nearly kill my favorite mushroom. I moved it and then I thought I saw worms crawling all over it. Scraped it off, THEN looked it up online and saw they're mesenterial filaments... oops. It's still alive but very very very unhappy. My 2 blue mushrooms have morphed into 6 and my orange one is now two.

There's an acan in the tank it aint lookin so hot, gonna have to give it a good feed.

I let my dumb inverts tip the bubble coral without picking it up quick enough, laying on the sand caused the tissue to start receding. It looks generally healthy now, but waiting to see if recession stops. Womp womp womp.

Inverts
My inverts are boring, except HOOVER the conch and my fire shrimp are sweetttttttttt.


Pictures


Tank at 6 months to the day (2 weeks ago):
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_1354.jpg

Green Hammers:
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_1426.jpg

"Orange" Hammer (5 days in my tank):
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/Attachment-1.jpeg

Feeding time!
http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y210/stockboy88/IMG_1406.jpg

604reefer
07-20-2017, 05:57 PM
Thanks photobucket for totally selling out to ads. Here are the photos re-uploaded from the last post.

Pictures

Tank at 6 months to the day (2 weeks ago):
http://i.imgur.com/1pfZtuP.jpg

Green Hammers:
http://i.imgur.com/HUJzGQo.jpg

"Orange" Hammer (5 days in my tank):
http://imgur.com/a/OCsMBhttp://i.imgur.com/j21dbxZ.jpg

Feeding time!
http://i.imgur.com/glpYBVF.jpg