View Full Version : 38 Gallon Mixed Reef Cube Newbie

05-11-2017, 07:46 AM
Hi, I'm starting a new thread in the tank journal section.
I have many freshwater tanks and have decided to try a small reef cube.

Current setup
-28G glass cube, 3/4"bean animal overflow box
-10G sump, bubble magus 5 skimmer, sicce 3.0 return pump, large refuge, 12w led grow light, provisions for 3 reactors, 200w fluval digital heater
-165W dimmable china LED
-20lbs Fiji pink live sand, 17lbs marco dry rock/3lbs live tonga branch
-1 sailfin blenny
-1 Mexican turbo snail
-2 trocus snails
-2 red hermit crabs
-Salinity 1.025
-PH 7.9
-Ammonia 0
-Nitrite 0
-Nitrate 1-5ppm
-KH/Alk 8.1dkh, would like 10dkh
-Calcium 340ppm, would like 450
-Magnesium 1320ppm, would like 1450

I know some of the levels are a bit low I need some advice on what to start dosing. powders vs liquids, best brands, 2part, kalkwasser.... not really sure where to start.

I plan to add 2 clownfish, watchman goby/pistol shrimp, bicolor dottyback, feather duster worm, zoas, torch coral, encrusting monti, mushrooms, No plans for sps

Some advice/comments would be greatly appreciated.

05-16-2017, 01:25 AM
No comments or help at all..... ?

05-16-2017, 04:01 AM
I started dosing liquid to get my levels where they need to be.. i havent dosed powder yet. But i think best to use liquid to rise levels and then powder to maintain once you figure out your Consumtion rate of your calcium etc....

I got the seachum reef pack stage 1 and 2. Good starter kit forsure.

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05-19-2017, 08:24 PM
ya I was looking at the seachem stuff, I just got some SC calcium advantage that has mag in it also. I ordered a big thing of kalk I'm going to try also. just need to find something that works and stick with it.

05-19-2017, 10:57 PM
Which salt are you currently using? Alk and Mag levels are actually okay, calc could be higher but it's not that bad either.

Wouldn't start dosing for a while until you've actually added majority of the corals. If not planning to do SPS, kalk would probably be the easiest for a tank you size in the beginning.

I keep a mixed reef on 29 gallon personally and been using kalk with ATO. My tank needs no more than 1 spoon per gallon.

09-27-2017, 08:10 PM
Hi, quick update and a few questions.

My tank has been running for 6 months now and I'm having an issue with coral health.

Temp 77*F
Sal 1.025
PH 7.9-8.1
Alk 8-8.2
Cal 425
Mag 1300-1325
Nitrate 15-20ppm
Phos >>>0<<<

I am doing weekly 5 gallon water changes(reef crystals)
Dosing 1000ml Kalkwasser @ 50% strength with dosing pump at night(61ml/hr)

My Candycane, Frogspawn, War coral, 2 RBTA are all not doing well. Surviving but not growing or looking good. I have been testing and keeping my water very steady but I have tested phosphate with 3 different kits and it is dead 0 like not even a hint of color at all.(API,Salifert,Red Sea)

Is it possible that the Kalk is precipitating out ALL the phosphates and my oversized bubble magus curve 5 skimmer is removing too much?
There is almost no Algae in the tank and Cheato will not grow in sump(slowly dying)

09-27-2017, 09:51 PM
Your parameters seem pretty good. Still only the Sailfin Blenny in there? Do you feed heavy or only enough for the blenny? You could be right, maybe the system is starved for nutrients.

You've got a pretty small tank with a big skimmer (BM5 rated up to 140G) and a refugium, and the system is just being stripped of all the nutrients. 6 month old tank with no algae and the refugium dying off are pretty good indicators.

At this point it's almost like you're running an ULNS (Ultra Low Nutrient System). I don't have a lot of experience with these systems, but I know that the theory is to almost starve the system and then feed it only the nutrients you want. The Zeovit method is an ULNS and a good example.

You could go a couple of ways at this point to increase your nutrient levels:
-Add some fish to the system and start feeding heavier
-Start feeding the corals directly using Reef-Roids, Reef Snow, Red Sea Reef Energy, Aquavitro Reef Fuel Etc. Etc.
-Take the skimmer offline?

I'm not an expert and personally have never had an ULNS or a problem similar to this, so hopefully some who has direct experience can also chime in.

09-27-2017, 11:21 PM
Stock list

1 Sailfin Blenny(very fat)
4 small(1 1/2") Perc clownfish
1 yellow watchman goby(actually grey and female)
1 large tiger pistol shrimp
1 small yellow corris wrasse
1 skunk cleaner shrimp
3 trocus snails
3 hermit crabs
2 RBTA (anemone)

1 green birdsnest
1 candycane coral 7 heads
1 fathead dendro
1 frogspawn 3 heads
1 richordia mushroom
1 featherduster
2 orange plating monti
1 war coral
1 devils hand leather
1 pink gorgonian(small)
various zoas/palys, discosoma mushrooms & GSP

Feeding 1/2 cube mysis a day and reef roids/raw shrimp for coral 2x a week.

I believe the Kalk may be responsible cause I really slowly increased dose over 2 months from 1/2 tsp per 10L upto 3 tsp per 10L but always dosing 1000ml per night. At fist I had a lot of algae but it slowly went away as I increased the kalk.

At this point I'm not sure if I should stop Kalk and move to 2 part or start feeding a lot heavier and get a small amount of bio pellets going for the nitrate issue.....

09-28-2017, 01:50 AM
It could be a combination of things, higher nitrate and Kalkwasser. Zero phosphate is not good. I lost half of my corals a few months ago when I let my phosphate get to 0. I was dosing KNO3 at the time and as the KNO3 increased the corals, the algae, the coralline algae all starting using up the phosphate and it crashed. I was running GFO at the time which made it worse.

I need to add nitrate to colour up my corals. So I am now adding KPO4 to keep my phosphate at a readable level and adding KNO3 to keep my corals colourful.

09-28-2017, 03:31 AM
It could be a combination of things, higher nitrate and Kalkwasser. Zero phosphate is not good. I lost half of my corals a few months ago when I let my phosphate get to 0. I was dosing KNO3 at the time and as the KNO3 increased the corals, the algae, the coralline algae all starting using up the phosphate and it crashed. I was running GFO at the time which made it worse.

I need to add nitrate to colour up my corals. So I am now adding KPO4 to keep my phosphate at a readable level and adding KNO3 to keep my corals colourful.

What is your source for KPO4? Potassium phosphate correct?
I think I need to get some phosphate in my tank asap.I have shut down my skimmer and added 50ml of tumbling bio pellets I am also going to feed a full mysis cube until I get a phosphate reading. I have never ran bio pellets without a skimmer...... I wonder how this will turn out :) 2 garbage cans full of fresh SW ready to go if something goes bad....

09-28-2017, 05:00 AM
I purchased my bulk potassium phosphate from a local fresh water fish supply company.

You can also buy Seachem Flourish Phosphorus additive available from most fish stores. Be very careful with KPO4 a little goes a long way.

09-28-2017, 06:58 AM
Man just remember to take it slow. Don't shut off the Skimmer, that wasn't a great suggestion. I'd decrease the kalk dosage back to where you had it originally and then see if the bio pellets help bring down your nitrates.

09-28-2017, 09:20 PM
Before you add phosphates stop using Kalk and see what happens.

Try to balance the nitrates and phosphates with the foods you add. What type of foods are you feeding? Frozen foods (like mysis) tend to have a better nitrogen to phosphorus ratio than other prepared foods or flake or pellets ie foods that didn't come from the ocean or a lake.

In my case I have to add phosphates because I have to add nitrates. You don't need to add nitrates.

09-29-2017, 07:29 AM
I am feeding frozen mysis, reef roids, raw deli prawn(dendro).

I did a huge 50% water change and things have perked up except the 2 RBTA.I found some shitty saltwater fish pellets with lots of phosphate at petsmart so I am now feeding that junk to try and get some phosphates in there. I really don't want to stop the kalk as I just found the magic number to keep things balanced and I really like the PH+ properties of kalk.

I am currently building a 90 gallon display/30 gallon sump setup so hopefully I can keep everything alive until it is setup and cycled for 3 months. At that point I will probably switch to 2 part as I will be near a window that I can run my skimmer/air pump intakes through to keep the PH up.

I also just switched from hakari mysis to PE, I never realized the protein % difference was so major between brands. from 11% to 70% wow maybe everything is just hungry and nutrient deprived.

Thanks for your replies Frogger & Phil

10-14-2017, 02:36 AM
Well I think the bio pellets and huge water change have done the trick. everything is looking good again and water perams are rock solid.

Also added a skunk cleaner shrimp. he just hides behind a rock at the back and as weird as it sounds the 4 perc clowns are hosting the shrimp. wierd

10-14-2017, 04:26 AM

10-14-2017, 05:01 AM

10-14-2017, 11:46 AM
I see a sign of green algae :smile:. Also try feeding a cube of PE Mysis a day, I have found this to work well in my tank.

10-19-2017, 02:50 AM
Picked up a small spotted mandarin from a fellow reefer. Its eating mysis already. Can anyone tell me if its male or female?


10-19-2017, 04:35 AM
Female i believe, the males have larger front dorsal fins i think.

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10-19-2017, 04:37 AM
Ughhh how did you get her to eat mysis! I totally want one but scared that the copepod population won’t be big enough.

10-19-2017, 06:04 AM
Just got lucky as hell I guess..... was eating mysis when I got it. I still stocked the fuge with pods as I was doubtful.

The real question is if I get another one and keep them in the sump will it teach the new one to eat mysis too?

I'm thinking its female as it really doesn't have any spike at all.

10-19-2017, 07:18 AM
I’m thinking female as well. To be honest I’m not sure if it will be able to teach the there to eat mysis. I think some are just finicky and others take other foods. I really want to try again but was devastated when I lost my male mandarin and was stocking pods in the Refugium like crazy!

10-20-2017, 08:46 PM
So I have been peeking in on my tank after lights out with a flashlight and it seems that after my mandarin goes to sleep on the sand the skunk cleaner shrimp goes and collects her up and holds her with one of its many sets of legs.
Been trying to get a pic but its hard.

Anyone else seen or even heard of this happening? Some pretty bizzar stuff goes on when the lights go out..

10-22-2017, 05:49 PM
I agree, there are wierd things that happen when lights are out. I have this black sailfin that camouflages to whatever coral or rock he's resting against. He looks creepy sometimes when he turns greyish with lines on his face depicting a rock. Would love to see a picture of your mandarin being scooped up! :mrgreen:

10-28-2017, 03:42 AM
Just adding some new pix of the 38 while I have the DSLR out.
Still haven't caught the shrimp & mandarin on cam yet.....