Ive made so many threads over the post two weeks that I've lost track of all of my stuff so I'm making this thread to keep as a journal. Hopefully it will help me learn more and help other beginners with mistakes that I will eventually make/have probably already made (I'm going to be completely honest, even though some of my decisions weren't the smartest.) Feel free to tag along for the ride, hopefully this will encourage me to take more pictures and document it more. I have all of my receipts so I can include prices but I'm honestly very scared to see how much I've spent so I'm not going to do it unless anyone specifically requests it . Here is my first ever thread back in March when I got this idea https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/starting-salt.365377/ Here it goes to start... Fall semester started two weeks ago and I just got my apartment so I immediately started getting ready for my tank. I brought a 20 gallon standard tank and stand for it from home so that I didn't have to buy it. 8/19/18 I bought the filter (Fluval Aquaclear 50), I also bought the 4 oz API quick start. I also went to my LFS and bout 20 lbs of live sand, RODI water and salt. I mixed the water to about 1.024, added it to the tank. Then I added the filter to start clearing up the water. I have no pictures because it was so cloudy (I didn't rinse the sand because it was live so that would take away everything that makes it "live".) The next day, 8/20/18 I bought 20 pounds of live rock. Here is a thread of the live rock and hitch hikers found on them. https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/a-few-hitchhikers.442451/ I put rock into the tank although I was unhappy with how it all looked because it looked extremely empty. The first picture is how it looked. Looking back on it I could've done a really cool minimalist scape but it didn't even cross my mind at the time. I realized I forgot a heater so I went to the store and bought the 100 watt Fluval heater and the API 5 in 1 test strips and API Ammonia test strips (it was buy one/get one free so I got them both for the price of one.) I wish I had spent the few extra $$ to get the master kit that everyone talks about. Day 3, 8/21/18 I have a friend in the hobby who mentioned using blue green chromis to help cycle my tank so I picked up 1 small blue green chromis and 3 astrea snails. I sadly have no pictures of the chromis but I have a picture with the snails and the Xenia that came with it. Day 4, 8/23/18 I pound another pound of live rock making it 16 lbs total. I sadly have no pictures (I should've started this thread a while ago to force me to take pictures. Day 9, 8/27/18 The chromis passed. I said in another thread that I returned it to the LFS but I apologized, I was extremely embarrassed because in my 10+ years of fishkeeping ive never had a fish die like that. It would occasionally swim but mostly stuck to the rock work and never ate the pellets I had for it. I left the body in there for the dwarf hermit (it came in on the live rock) to snack on and for the bacteria to have a source of ammonia. I took some water to the LFS to test because they do it for free and use better test kits (if I had known I wouldn't have even bought mine) and I don't remember the specific parameters but ammonia was 0, nitrite was 0, nitrate was I think 10, but it definitely wasn't in any danger zone. I think my problem was I couldn't get it to eat and it was a very small fish so 6 days without eating couldn't be healthy. Day 10, 8/28/18 I picked up 20 saltwater ghost shrimp to make sure my water was safe, I was feeling very discouraged because chromis are supposed to be extremely hardy and I couldn't keep it alive. Over the next few days The ghost shrimp were thriving, a few were berried. The mushroom corals that came in on the live rock were getting big. The Xenia I had attached to a rock and it had finally opened and was pulsing and looking awesome. The astrea snails were doing great and constantly grazing and my confidence was back up. I was still thinking about what kind of fish I wanted but also messing with the idea of something other than fish... Day x, 8/31/18 After doing some research I decided to check out my LFS and turns out they had one! I bought 4.5 lbs of dry base rock (small pieces for rubble), a clump of chaeto and a Neogonodactylus wennerae mantis shrimp. I also decided to try another coral and picked up a nice sized green star polyp frag. Here is a picture of him in the bag (it's the 3rd picture) I have no pictures of the green star polyps because of Langston, he is my mantis shrimp . After acclimating them here is the moment you've been waiting for... drum roll please... FTS (4th pic) As you can see there are lots of hiding places for Langston and looking back on it now (9/11/18) it's crazy because the tank doesn't have any of the holes and burrows it has now. He really has made it his home. 9/5/18 Langston started taking out the ghost shrimp (it was expected) but left the astrea snails alone (they are pretty big.) I decided to go to the LFS to see what inverts they have in stock. I ended up picking up 20 more ghost shrimp, they were extremely big and a lot were berried which is great. I also picked up 5 dwarf blue legged hermits, making the total count 6, and an emerald crab. I fully expected Langston to eventually eat them. After acclimation I plopped all of them in and Langston immediately started squaring up with the emerald crab. He hit it once and I could barely follow the strike but I heard the huge clack and the crab scurried away. It's carapace is completely unscathed and they haven't interacted sense and it's been almost a week now. I was able to watch Langston catch one of the big ghost shrimp and it was super crazy to watch because it was so fast. 9/6/18 I picked up 3 mollies to acclimate to saltwater to test how Langston does with fish. 9/8/18 (ish) I don't know the exact day but I noticed the green star polyps had all closed up and I was extremely worried about them. I didn't know if it was because the light was just a standard light I had back from my planted tank or maybe the water was bad or something but I decided to wait and see if they would open back up. 9/10/18 The green star polyps still hasn't opened back up so I decided to try and see if a water change would help and I went to the LFS to pick up 10 gallons of RODI water for a 50% water change. While there I picked up more salt and another Xenia frag because honestly I love the look of them. I also removed the mollies. Langston completely ignored them even though they would swim across him and all throughout the rock work and open spaces. He also ignores the emerald crab, hermits, and snails. He devours the ghost shrimp though, I think he knows they are easier prey because they don't have hard shells. The mollies are currently acclimating back to freshwater in a 5 gallon bucket and then I will sell them to the LFS for store credit. After the water change all of the corals closed up like they usually do at night so I figured they needed to acclimate because 50% is really big so I shut the lights off. I also switched a little bit of the rock around while the tank was half drained although I was extremely worried because of Langston so I made sure he was on the complete other side of the tank and I always kept an eye on him because I didn't want to get smacked (they are called thumb splitters for a reason.) 9/11/18 It's today. I switched a little bit of the rock around because I didn't like how low the scape was and because I plan on getting some clowns soon. Within this week actually. Langston is very docile and I have seen multiple other reports of active open swimmers like damsels and chromis successfully kept with mantis shrimp, but obviously fish such as gobies, etc that perch on the bottom would probably be on the menu eventually. I also want to pick up a little bit more coral and I ordered coralline in a bottle to try it because I'm impatient and don't like the look of the stark white base rock. Pics to come!