20G Long First Tank Build

C4ctus99

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Hey y'all, new to reefing/fish keeping. I am in NE Florida and everyone else in Florida is on the wrong side in the classifieds :face-with-tears-of-joy:. I got a 20L back in October and have learned a lot and read a lot since then but especially the last month.

Current setup:

Equipment:
Aqueon 20G Long tank
Approximately 15-20lbs live rock, 11lbs of which added last Friday (Thanks @sbreefco!)
20lbs CaribSea AragAlive sand
HOB homemade refugium w/Ulva, ceramic bio balls, and pods (converted ClearFlow)
Sicce wavemaker
Aqueon cover/light w/daylight LED (says only for fresh so I'm waiting to see how long till the salt rusts it out)
A blue clip on light from Aqueon for night time on one side of the tank
DIY protein skimmer (it needs some help right now)
Cheap $30 grow light from walmart (I don't trust it but we'll see)
Variety of shells and decorations my GF put in

Livestock:
Small mocha clown
Large (very large) thin stripe hermit crab from the intercoastal
Emerald crab
Amphipods (tons of them started popping up about 3 weeks ago)
Trochus snail
Red serpent starfish (hitchhiked on the rock from Salty Bottom Reef Co, pleasant surprise)
Various critters on liverock

The protein skimmer I built last Saturday and had to learn how it works, never had one so figuring parts of it out as I go. I need to make a new cup for it as I accidentally busted the silicone seal messing with it. It seems to work well, but I need to actually mount it and make a better cup to catch the skim mate. I have had 3 fish die on me since I got the tank, two were different Goby species (One I killed, the other never ate cause I had just changed out the sand) and the last fish was a springeri damsel I got with the live rock. It survived 2 days with symptoms similar to what I've seen @brandon429 talk about in several threads; heavy breathing, sitting on the bottom of the tank. I moved the rock around 3 times after putting it in the tank and kicked up some dust and it was hiding around the rocks while I moved them. Lesson learned to not move rocks all over the place while the fish is already stressed as well as about how the dust stirred up can kill things.

I would like to eventually add and do the following with my tank:
Install reverse under gravel filter (like what I've seen @Paul B discuss)
Get better growing light for refugium (I'll probably have to sell a kidney to cover the cost)
Perfect my DIY skimmer
Get a sump going
Get good test kits for coral water parameters

Livestock wise I am planning on the following:
Bubble tip anemone
coral (need to do more research, start easy)
Diamond Goby
Copper Band Butterfly
Valentini Puffer
Naso Tang

I know it is only a 20G tank so having all of that livestock may not work, I will be adding one thing at a time and hopefully getting advice from all y'all on the forum. A couple of questions I know I have already:

The sand has only been in the tank for 6 weeks, is that old enough for a Goby to get nutrients? Will he eat amphipods/Copepods? The first Goby I had ate the same food I dropped for the hermit crab.
@brandon429 if the springeri damsel I got did die from disturbing the sand, will a Goby kicking up sand and sifting it hurt the Goby? should I be concerned about the other creatures? My mocha clown was fine but he swam way up toward the top and was not stressed.
How many fish is too many for a 20L and are any of the fish I mentioned above aggresive and/or incompatible with eachother?

Thanks! Pics to follow
 
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C4ctus99

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Hercules the Thinstripe Hermit Crab
IMG_0913.jpg

Marquito the Mocha Clownfish
IMG_0917.jpg

Fish Bait the Emerald Crab (wasn't certain if Hercules would merc him or not... Hence fishbait)
IMG_0919.jpg

Uber the Trochus Snail
IMG_0987.jpg

Starlord the Red Serpent Starfish (he's kinda sliding back into the rock under the coralline)
IMG_0966.jpg

Day light
IMG_1014.jpg

Night light
IMG_1018.jpg

DIY Refugium
IMG_1015.jpg

DIY Protein Skimmer
IMG_1016.jpg
 
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C4ctus99

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I am also ashamed to say that I have not fully figured out the whole feeding thing yet. To date I have only had luck with sinking pellets. I have a variety of floating foods, but the clownfish isn't interested in any of them and I can't figure out how to get them down to the invertabrae. Are sinking pellets fine for the clownfish as a regular diet? They are hikari Marine Carnivore I believe.

In general though, do fish normally go for floating food? I just don't want to get a fish that's more on the picky side and starve him cause I don't know how to feed. I also don't want my clownfish to be eating the macdonalds of fish food for the rest of his existence. Any tips or advice would be welcome.
 
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C4ctus99

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Update:
I got an anemone today, got home, and completely forgot everything about acclimation. I dumped him in a bucket and set a siphon to pull water from my tank into the bucket. Its some spare air hose and filled up faster than it should have and no temp acclimation *facepalm*... whoops

Probably a little early to get an anemone for the tank, and I may have screwed this one up too much, so we'll see how it goes. Got it from a local fish store with new owners. The previous owner apparently ran it into the ground so they are just trying to get it running and somewhat profitable. Got a rainbow anemone for $50 so not too bad hopefully
 
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C4ctus99

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After reading through some other threads, editing OP to "20G Long" instead of "20L" cause apparently it can cause confusion with liters vs gallons.

Also considering trading or selling the red serpent star to my LFS or someone local cause after reading up on stars it has a good chance of not doing the best in my (newer tank) and wasn't something I asked for anyway... I'd have to hunt it down in the rocks. Last time I saw it was I think Saturday or Sunday under a shell, so it was still alive as of then. If it lasted over a week already, what are the odds it will continue staying alive for an extended period of time? Plenty of amphipods everywhere, but I don't know if it eats those

I also was considering putting some raw fish in there for the hermit crab and starfish to eat if they want it. I need to do a lot more research into food prep, but I do not have a lot of free time right now so can't do anything fancy really. In a year things will be a lot less busy (will be done with secondary education until such a time as I want to pick it back up again)
 
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C4ctus99

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Also looking a lot into lighting, right now I just have cheap aqeuon LEDs and need to see what spectrum they cover and if I need to upgrade. Definitely not looking to spend a ton on lighting so may end up with some sort of DIY project to keep costs low. T5s seem to be good and I could probably build something inexpensive or maybe get LED chips and solder leads together. I work in electrical so Definitely something I can do.

(Edit): Although if anyone has any lighting recommendations for less than $100 I'm down to listen
 

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Hey bud. Nice start! Loving that you are on the real ocean live rock train! It’s the best. Anyways I noticed you want a copperband, Naso tang, and diamond goby, Just letting you know that none of them will work in a 20 gallon. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. You should stick with around 3 fish (depending on size). I would consider a stock list similar to this: 1 clownfish, 1 yellow watchman goby, 1 neon goby, 1 cherub angelfish, and a bunch of sexy shrimp. I have a Valentini puffer and while cool it does eat a ton of inverts, so keep that in mind.

That’s awesome you are going to Tampa! Check out some gorgonians while you’re there too, they are easy to take care of (photosynthetic ones only).

A light would definitely be a worthwhile upgrade. Pick up one of the used AIs or Kessils of band. Should be able to find one for less than $150. I think I saw an AI for $125 on there.
 

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Anyways I’m here to help you and ask me a question anytime and I’ll answer. I’ve been at this almost 2 decades now lol
 
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C4ctus99

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I have a new 75g and this 20L became the sump. Not going with a Naso tang till I get a bigger tank than this (plan on building one whenever I get my own house), need to do some research but think a Cbb would work in a 4’ tank.
 
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C4ctus99

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Also, here’s a picture from before I broke down the tank, got the t5 fixture for $75 locally and modified it. It will be a sump light for the new tank refugium

4839A248-8C26-400E-A721-6FB139BFD24F.jpeg
6703FDBB-4960-41F0-BF57-FACC6D7EF24B.jpeg
CD0E07A7-411F-424B-8701-5A385EA2A530.jpeg
 

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