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R2R Username: @lilopop11
Build Thread:
6G Tank With Hang On Filter


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Ok, I would like to introduce myself, my name is Lulu Aulia Rachman (ID: Lilopop11). I'm from Indonesia. First, I want to tell you about the first time I became interested in this hobby. Having a reef aquarium was my dream since I was a teenager (of course, like most reefers). The Finding Nemo movie was the beginning of it all, but at that time (around 2004), everything seemed impossible, besides I had no knowledge of reef tanks. At that time I was still at college, so I didn't have time to have hobbies that required more attention (like reef tanks).

Time flew by until 2009, when I entered an aquarium shop. I saw a reef tank setup measuring 50-60 liters. The filtration was simple using a HOB (hang on the back) filter, 2 T8 bulb lighting and there were different types of gonio, alveopora and hammer corals in it. At that time, I saw it as something special. When I got home, the desire to have a reef tank was very strong in my mind. I kept thinking about it for around a week, until I finally decided to buy an aquarium setup and equipment. However, I was confused about where to start.

To overcome my confusion, I went to a fish market in my area. I asked some merchants there how to start the reef tank. I innocently followed what they suggested, but then I realized that the information that was given to me was just a scam. They told me a lot of wrong things: you can use dead sand & dead rock, no need for cycling, you can put in fish & coral from day one, etc... As one might expect, everything only lasted for 1 week.

After doing trial and error several times, I started looking for other information from the internet, and I started everything from scratch. Finally, I was able to have a better reef tank than before. Everything went smoothly until I finally stopped in 2017 due to being busy at work. However, the desire to make another reef tank was very strong, and I finally started this hobby again while there was a lockdown due to COVID in July 2020.

Actually, the tank featured in this article is not my main tank. I have a bigger tank than this, it's a 55G reef tank.

Main 55g reef tank
Another Main Tank - 55G.jpg

A previous tank
Old Tank 2013.jpg

My initial goal in building this tank was to prove to my fellow reefers here that building a reef tank is very simple. There is no need for sophisticated and expensive tools, and here are the specifications:

System Profile
  • Display tank: 40*24*24cm
  • Glass or Acrylic: Optic Clear Glass
  • Display Tank Volume: 23L
  • Sump: No sump - 2 HOB filters (Aquaclear 20 & Ista 180 )
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: Aquaforest Carbon, Aquaforest Zeomix & Phosguard
  • Water circulation: Only flow is from the HOB filters
  • Lighting (display): 2 LED fixtures;
    • 18W DIY LED Fixture from Local Brand by WinexLab with a LED arrangement like this: Winexlab LED DLX35 18W
      LED List :
      • White 18000K 1W x 4pc
      • Blue 465nm 1W x 3pc
      • Royal Blue 450nm 1W x 4pc
      • Amber 595nm 1W x 1pc
      • Pink 400-800nm 1W x 1pc
      • Green 520nm 1W x 1pc
      • Cyan 500nm 1W x 2pc
      • Violet 410nm 1W x 2pc
    • And 1 LED bar (Key Marine LED Bar) 10W
  • Auto Top-Off: I don't know what brand this is, but on top of this tool I store mineral water bottles filled with RO/ Di water to top up aquarium water
  • Heating/cooling: No heater

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Additional Tanks: 1) 200cm x 50cm x 30cm, 2) 130cm x 80cm x 40cm, and 3) 90cm x 40cm x 40cm
Lighting on additional tanks: 2 Radion XR30 G4 Pro, Maxspect R5-150, Maxspect R5-200 & 2 BlackBox Made in China LED 55*3W

The author's grow out tank
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Grow Out Tank.jpg

GOT 4.jpg

GOT 3.jpg

GOT 2.jpg

Water Circulation: At first I used Skimz 6.0 wavemaker, but it was too big and caused a storm in the aquarium, coral stress and flying sand. I finally took it offline, and for now waterflow is produced from the output of the HOB filters.

Water Parameters:

Many people are curious about my reef tank's water parameters because for almost 3 years, I have never done a parameter test (no big 3 dosing etc.). I only dose Aquaforest Micro E, to maintain the trace element levels in this tank..

This sounds most unusual for most reefers, but that's what I have done. I didn't do a parameter test because this tank is small (only 23ltr). I'm worried that if I add various additives, it will make drastic changes to the water parameters, and I don't want to panic if one day I test the tank and the numbers are not good... So my principle is, as long as the corals are in good condition, I won't make any corrections.

The main key to maintaining the water parameters is doing a water change once a week. I do a water change of about 10% (2 liters), and once a month I do 30-40% using Aquaforest Reef Salt. I do this to correct all the parameters in the tank (although I still don't know what the parameters are) :).


What salt mix do you use? Aquaforest Reef Salt

What kind of rock did you start with? Indo Deadrock

What is your substrate? Fishland Aquarium Gravel Marine

Are you dosing anything else for your reef health (carbon dosing, aminos, etc.)? Aquaforest Micro E ... It is perfect for replenishing the levels of trace elements in this tank

Lighting Summary and Objectives: For now, the light I'm using is enough to make the corals grow, but in the future I plan to do an upgrade. I will replace all the led points from 1W to 3W at first, initially a total of 18W to 54W, I hope there won't be any effect on the existing corals

Photoperiod: 9AM - 6PM

WinexLab 18W.jpg

Led Bar Cree 10W.jpg

Filtration and Water Quality Summary and Objectives:

For filtration, I use 2 hang on back filters, Aquaclear 20 & Ista 180. At the beginning of the setup I planned to make a sump, but after thinking about it, it would take too much space. Besides, as my initial goal of making this tank is, I want to make it look as simple as possible with the aim of not having too much maintenance in the future, so that it's easy for other reefers to follow.

For the filtration media in the AquaClear 20, I use a sponge to filter detritus, 10gr Zeomix & 10gr carbon Aquaforest to handle nitrate and purify water. Then for the phosphate, I use 10gr phosguard. Meanwhile, for the media content in the HOB Ista 180 filter, I filled it with live rock rubble and then covered the outside of the HOB filter with a black sticker so that it was dark and no light could enter so that it could form a mini Cryptic zone. There are a lot of white sponges in it. This makes my system more stable.

Aquaclear 20 - Zeomix, Carbon, Phosguard _ Sponge.jpg

Mini Cryptic - Ista 180.jpg

White Sponge.jpg

White Sponge 2.jpg

What is your export strategy? I do routine weekly 10% and monthly 30-40% water change

What is your maintenance routine?


  • Clean the glass
  • Blowing off detritus in live rock (If any)
  • Feed the fish & corals
  • 10% water change
  • Cleaning the hang on back filters of hair algae, especially at the output (it really likes to grow there).
  • Replace the filter media

Tank Inhabitants:


  1. Black Barred Convict Goby

Other Invertebrates:
  1. Turbo Snail
  2. Hermit Crab
  3. Nassarius Snail

  1. Sinularia
  2. Candy cane coral (Caulastrea)
  3. Brain Coral Trachyphyllia
  4. Cynarina Coral
  5. Sarcophyton Leather Coral
  6. Green Star Polyp
  7. Clove Polyp Clavularia
  8. Xenia Coral
  9. Blue Cespitularia
  10. Zoanthids
  11. Discosoma Mushroom
  12. Rhodactis Mushroom
  13. Fungia Plate Coral
  14. Mini Doughnut Coral





























Fish and Coral Feeding:

For fish food, I only give a little Frozen Mysis every day. Some floating frozen mysis are also eaten by corals. For fleshy corals, I give them very small pellets which are soaked in water for about 1-2 minutes and fed using a pipette.






How did you decide what to keep in your tank?

I have specialized this tank for soft corals. There are 1-2 types of LPS, but even then I have to choose the small ones so that they don't take up too much space in the aquarium.

Any stocking regrets?

GSP, I regret ever putting this coral into the aquarium because it spread left and right very quickly, stinging everything. This caused the corals that had been attached to the live rock to be suddenly driven away and separated from the rock. Some survived, but some died. For the next few months, I will be doing a mini-rescape to get the GSP out of this tank.






What do you love most about the hobby?

I'm the kind of person who easily gets bored and never sticks with one hobby for a long time, but when I explored this hobby, there was never a time when I've gotten bored because every day there's always something new...including new problems :) These, of course, must always be solved by looking for information through forums, especially Reef2Reef. This is a very addictive hobby, and makes me enjoy staying at home.

How long have you been doing this?

14 years and still going!


Who or what in the hobby most influences/inspires you?
  • The first time I searched a forum, I found a reefer named @Tigahboy (Dennis). I read the whole thread which is approximately 60 pages. The planning, execution, details and photos were extraordinary! Now he has become a macroalgae master with a myriad of macro algae tanks. He is indeed very talented in this hobby..
  • But what inspired this tank was a reefer with ID @parishilton. He made a very extraordinary xenia-dominant pico tank. My initial goal was to make a tank with the same theme as him, but because GSP has spread everywhere, in the end a lot of xenia got stung and died.
  • Finding Nemo Movie
If you could have any tank, what size would it be and why?

100cm x 100cm x 50cm, with full T5 and a few led bars for supplementation. Scaping would be done similar to the iwagumi concept. There used to be a reefer who made a tank concept like this with ID @Yano. He executed it very well and the results were amazing. Unfortunately now he has stopped doing reef tanks and returned to his old hobby in freshwater aquariums.

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Favorite fish? I always want to have Royal Gramma

Favorite coral? Acropora

Favorite Invert? Hermit, Turbo Snail & Sand Sea Star

How do you typically get over setbacks?

When I feel bored with this hobby, I start visiting other reefer friends. Seeing their setups & corals makes me excited again. Besides that, reading articles about Tank Of The Month in the forums is also very helpful to boost my passion!


Have you faced any major challenges with this particular tank, and if so, how did you overcome?

Starting everything with dead rock and dead sand in a small tank, is very difficult. The first 6 months were a nightmare, all the algaes were there... from brown, green, bryopsis to even cyano & dinoflagellates. By being patient enough to keep pulling out the bryopsis one by one, siphon the sand every week, change the water, etc. I finally got through it all, and after 6 months, everything got easier.

The second difficulty was when I caught Covid in July 2021. The whole family got Covid and no one could take care of this tank. In fact it was so bad, the top off water ran out and no one filled it up, then the water in the tank was reduced by 50%, many corals died. Luckily the pump in the HOB filter was still running, so it still provided an oxygen supply to the tank. If it had not, maybe the tank would've crashed and everything would've died.

1 year after Covid crash
1 Year-After Crash-Covid.jpg

What's the best thing you ever bought for your tank?

The simple ATO tool I mentioned at the beginning, which I don't even know the brand name.

ATO 3.jpg

ATO 2.jpg

What are your future plans for improvement/upgrade of the tank?

I want to make a bigger softy tank, but maybe not in the near future, because there are already 7 Reef tanks at home and my wife doesn't give permission to add more tanks...not even just one more. :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:

Any special tips for success or advice you'd like to share with other reefers?
  • I always advise new reefers, to search & research before buying either equipment, coral or fish. You don't want to ever regret after buying. It will be a waste of money for nothing.
  • Read a lot on forums. I always direct them to open Reef2reef. Even though our languages are different, it shouldn't be a problem because there is a translation function in the browser. There are lots of good build threads that we can learn from. Follow a number of journals that match what we are going to build, ask lot of questions, and, if possible, contextualize the system. Maybe it won't be 100% the same, but at least we can take a lot of lessons, and it will make it easier for us in this hobby in the future.
  • Patience is the key in this hobby. No need to rush; this is not a race. Enjoy every process. Trial and error will often occur, and the important thing is not to give up easily and keep trying.
  • Expensive tools are not a guarantee of success in this hobby. Everything is on you. Everything will be easier if you get the knowledge, and look for lots of information. Then, I guarantee everything will be easier. If you can't buy expensive tools, at least look for other tools that have the same function at a lower price. Today's Reefing is easier than 10-20 years ago where all tools & information were limited.
  • If there is a problem with your tank, don't add more problems by pouring all kinds of additives into the aquarium. The simple and effective way is to perform water changes. Do it regularly for 2-3 weeks and see the results.
  • For beginner reefers, start with a tank capacity according to your wallet. Large tanks do promise stability in parameters, but they can also burn your money quickly. So, decide wisely. Big Tank = Big Cost .. Small Tank = Small Cost (But a little more difficult)


Final Thoughts

Reefing is a very interesting hobby. It looks difficult at first, but if you try it, everything will get easier with time. Reef tanks can be a stress reliever when we are tired. I hope this article is useful for all my colleagues!

Greetings from Indonesia! Cheers!

- Lilo

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