29g w/ 20g sump mixed reef tank | The journey begins...

Astromatix

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Hi fellow reefers!

I'm new here and thought I'd get a builder thread going to track and share my journey through this hobby. I had a 55G FOWLR about 14 years ago, and wow, have things ever changed!

Now that we are all spending so much more time at home I got re-inspired to start up this hobby...I wonder how many others are starting in this hobby due to COVID.

Anyway, I have this weird built-in cabinet area I always wanted to do something with and figured that a tank and sump might work in there. My aim is a mixed reef tank for endless gazing while I contemplate the meaning of life. I digress - but the intention is important, right?

At first, I wanted to do everything DIY and custom build my own tank to fit perfectly but I ended up buying a cheap 29G tank kit plus another 20G tank from Petsmart during the holiday sales to get me going.

So here is where I'm at today...

Equipment:
  • 29G display tank (30" L X 12" W X 18" H) w/ DIY drilled overflow (Eshopp Prodigy M) and return
  • 20G sump with (30" L X 12" W X 12" H) w/ DIY FijiCube Sump Baffle Kit (20G long)
  • AI Nero 3 powerhead
  • AI Prime 16HD lighting
  • Current USA eFlux 1050 return pump
  • Inkbird Wifi Controller and 1x BRS 200W heater, 1x 100W backup heater (the one that came with the PetSmart kit)
  • DIY glass top which I cut from some old glass shelving
Livestock and Other mentions:
  • 30lbs of Marco Rock which I aquascaped dry with Marco Rock Cement (this took me forever but I was very inspired by negative space aquascaping and loved every minute of it - let me know what you think!)
  • 20lbs Caribsea Special Grade sand (live)
  • 2 Black Photon Clowns (Yes, I cycled with them and MacroBacter XLM - no issues)
  • 1 Cleaner Skunk Shrimp
  • Clean up crew (1 Red Scarlet Hermit, 3 Blue Hermits, 5 Astrea, 4 Trochus, 4 Nassarius)
I'm using Jan 1, 2021 as the official tank start date. Water was in Dec 30th, 2020 but I don't need any more references to 2020 - ha!

Next steps...

Test, monitor, go slow, save money, enjoy the process, refugium light & macro algae, protein skimmer (height is an issue for my clearance), add more fish, and add some easy starter corals. Very interested in stocking ideas for fish, inverts, and corals to get me to a breathtaking slice of the ocean in this little 29G. Comments, suggestions, questions, and chit-chat welcome.

I look forward to growing and learning in this hobby by tapping into the knowledge and experience of this awesome community.

And here are some pictures to document the journey so far...

Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 4.17.13 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 4.17.39 PM.png

Screen Shot 2021-01-27 at 4.18.05 PM.png
 
Fritz

Peace River

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It looks like you're off to a great start! Cheering for you! :)
 

Bepis

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What corals are you planning on keeping that single ai prime may not suffice.

Here are more stocking options other than what I posted in the welcome thread

A.
2 Clowns (something nice like mocha storms or snowflakes)
1 Royal Gramma
1 Blenny

B.
3 Blue reef chromis
1 Swissgaurd basslet
1 Goby and shrimp pair

C.
2 Firefish
1 Clownfish
1 Blackcap basslet

What I’m doing for my 29g:
1 Pink streak wrasse
1 Yellow Head Jawfish
1 Royal Gramma
 

P-Dub

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Sweet build so far and I like the aquascape you have chosen for the tank dimensions.
 

JoshH

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So, first of all, welcome to R2R! Always enjoy seeing new Canadians join up.

Secondly, I do sincerely hope that that shelf isn't resting on just those four shelf clips.... hard to tell in the pics but it looks like that shelf is sagging significantly (you can see the height difference on the top edge of the doors in your last picture).

Personally I feel that the tank itself needs some more support for long-term sake :)
 
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Astromatix

Astromatix

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What corals are you planning on keeping that single ai prime may not suffice.

Here are more stocking options other than what I posted in the welcome thread

A.
2 Clowns (something nice like mocha storms or snowflakes)
1 Royal Gramma
1 Blenny

B.
3 Blue reef chromis
1 Swissgaurd basslet
1 Goby and shrimp pair

C.
2 Firefish
1 Clownfish
1 Blackcap basslet

What I’m doing for my 29g:
1 Pink streak wrasse
1 Yellow Head Jawfish
1 Royal Gramma
Nice suggestions. The swissguard basslet is a new one for me. I’ve set a bit of a limitation on myself and trying to go tank raised as much as possible, leaving me with a lot of the usual suspects.

As for corals, not sure yet. I plan to start slow with easy LPS, especially with the single AI. I think you are right with the one being limiting and I do intend to add another to support more light intensive corals. Do you have any good started suggestions based on where I’m at now and plan to on the future with this tank and lighting?
 
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Astromatix

Astromatix

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So, first of all, welcome to R2R! Always enjoy seeing new Canadians join up.

Secondly, I do sincerely hope that that shelf isn't resting on just those four shelf clips.... hard to tell in the pics but it looks like that shelf is sagging significantly (you can see the height difference on the top edge of the doors in your last picture).

Personally I feel that the tank itself needs some more support for long-term sake :)
You noticed that eh? Eagle eye - love it!

No, the clips are gone and it’s been reinforced properly. The sag remains though which isn’t an structural integrity issue - based on the calculations of sag, span and the plywood I’m using - but aesthetically it bugs me a lot. I might have to jack it up and reinforce it if people keep noticing, ha!
 
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NotASpammerDude

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Nice dude! I have a 23gallon display with a similar footprint to yours (30"x10"x18");
One thing I will say is that you want to be careful about having too "vertical" of rockwork because corals will shade over each other. That's not to say "redo your whole thing" because I know first hand, that footprint of tank kind of requires a vertical aquascape. Just be mindful and enjoy going slow. Good luck!
 

Drew1600

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Beautiful rockscape! Welcome to Reef2Reef! I also have a 29g DT w/ 20g sump.

For starters, lets talk protien skimmers. Like you, I was relitively new to the reefing world, having been a freshwater hobbiest for years. I never quite understood the importance of a quality skimmer until operating multiple tanks, with and without skimmers, as well as multiple skimmer models on those tanks. First and foremost, do not skimp out on a skimmer! I just purchased a Bubble Magus Curve 5 last week. Largest investment I have made for the reef (at $200), but once its broken in, I feel it will be totally worth it. Anyways, point is just save up and buy a good skimmer, can't stress this enough. :)

As far as stocking, I recently added a Blueside Fairy Wrasse and I am completely in love, definitely check out some of the Fairy Wrasse species! So beutiful/so much personality!

Not sure if you have one or not but I would also highly, highly suggest an auto top off unit. (of equal importance as the skimmer imo) These tanks drop quick under our high-quality LEDs.

Anyways, hopes this helps a bit & happy reefing :)
 
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Astromatix

Astromatix

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Nice dude! I have a 23gallon display with a similar footprint to yours (30"x10"x18");
One thing I will say is that you want to be careful about having too "vertical" of rockwork because corals will shade over each other. That's not to say "redo your whole thing" because I know first hand, that footprint of tank kind of requires a vertical aquascape. Just be mindful and enjoy going slow. Good luck!
Thanks! You make a good point and something I admittedly didn’t think about enough at the time. I was keen to make the aquascape look good right away without having to wait for things to fill in. I don’t have enough experience yet to know exactly how different corals grow in...I think the top is also too close to the waterline and doesn’t leave enough room for growth. That said, I did design it as three different pieces which I could break down if needed. I’m also hoping that adding another AI prime (which I plan to do) will allow more light to reach the currently shadowed places created by the ledges.
 
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Astromatix

Astromatix

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Beautiful rockscape! Welcome to Reef2Reef! I also have a 29g DT w/ 20g sump.

For starters, lets talk protien skimmers. Like you, I was relitively new to the reefing world, having been a freshwater hobbiest for years. I never quite understood the importance of a quality skimmer until operating multiple tanks, with and without skimmers, as well as multiple skimmer models on those tanks. First and foremost, do not skimp out on a skimmer! I just purchased a Bubble Magus Curve 5 last week. Largest investment I have made for the reef (at $200), but once its broken in, I feel it will be totally worth it. Anyways, point is just save up and buy a good skimmer, can't stress this enough. :)

As far as stocking, I recently added a Blueside Fairy Wrasse and I am completely in love, definitely check out some of the Fairy Wrasse species! So beutiful/so much personality!

Not sure if you have one or not but I would also highly, highly suggest an auto top off unit. (of equal importance as the skimmer imo) These tanks drop quick under our high-quality LEDs.

Anyways, hopes this helps a bit & happy reefing :)
Thanks for posting! Do you have a build thread? I’d be keen to see your tank and setup.

I haven’t pulled the trigger on the protein skimmer yet because I have a serious cabinet height issue. I have 19” exactly to work with and no wiggle room, which is extremely annoying. I’ve been thinking about the bubble magus 5 myself. Did you go with the elite? What made you settle on this skimmer? Is it overkill for the 29gl? How silent is it? I read the height is 18.5” but I can’t find any mention of what height I need to clear the cup. If you could let me know you’d be a hero!

My other option is the bubble magus 3.5 but this seems dated and not as silent. I’m really trying to find a solid protein skimmer that’s quite and under 19” in overall height clearance. Any thoughts are very appreciated.
 

NotASpammerDude

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I was keen to make the aquascape look good right away without having to wait for things to fill in. I don’t have enough experience yet to know exactly how different corals grow in...I think the top is also too close to the waterline and doesn’t leave enough room for growth.
I've had the same general aquascape for the past 2 years but I modify it about twice a year, just to try to optimize flow/growth/placement--I'll move a rock or two, or epoxy a rock in a different place. Right now I'm dealing with the "make it look good fast" by putting encrusting corals on the highest rock, notably psammocora, that way I won't have to worry too much about overgrowth shadows or growing too close to the water surface.

It's just something to consider, encrusting corals. They will make your rocks colorful and pretty, but also, importantly, they will cut down on algae growth by covering up the rock. Psammocora, leptastrea, pavona, some montipora, most SPS encrust but they are harder for new reefers to get them growing optimally, cyphastrea (can take over so be sure you like the coloration) but they are also great for encrusting.

Oh yeah and you can always go the Zoa route. Fast growing soft corals with tons of species/colorations and wide availability. I just don't like them because I think they can grow too fast for a nano and I have a puffer so I don't want the puffer to eat any zoas/palys and die by accident (poisons).
 
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Drew1600

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Thread 'New 29 Gallon Build' https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/new-29-gallon-build.799367/
My thread.. :)

I decided on the Curve 5 because of the price to performace ratio. Seemed like other skimmers in its "class" were $300-$400, so I figured spend the extra $ and get this over something smaller like the Tunze DOC. My only complaint is that it is quite tall, literally have to tip it over to get the cup off because its even with the top of my stand underneath. Mine has also yet to quit overflowing but I'm hoping in time. Definitely not overkill. :)
 
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Astromatix

Astromatix

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I've had the same general aquascape for the past 2 years but I modify it about twice a year, just to try to optimize flow/growth/placement--I'll move a rock or two, or epoxy a rock in a different place. Right now I'm dealing with the "make it look good fast" by putting encrusting corals on the highest rock, notably psammocora, that way I won't have to worry too much about overgrowth shadows or growing too close to the water surface.

It's just something to consider, encrusting corals. They will make your rocks colorful and pretty, but also, importantly, they will cut down on algae growth by covering up the rock. Psammocora, leptastrea, pavona, some montipora, most SPS encrust but they are harder for new reefers to get them growing optimally, cyphastrea (can take over so be sure you like the coloration) but they are also great for encrusting.

Oh yeah and you can always go the Zoa route. Fast growing soft corals with tons of species/colorations and wide availability. I just don't like them because I think they can grow too fast for a nano and I have a puffer so I don't want the puffer to eat any zoas/palys and die by accident (poisons).
Great tips. I’ll check out those suggested encrusting. Anything that you’d suggest for the top shelves of my aquascape that could take the light blasting on them?
 
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Astromatix

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Thread 'New 29 Gallon Build' https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/new-29-gallon-build.799367/
My thread.. :)

I decided on the Curve 5 because of the price to performace ratio. Seemed like other skimmers in its "class" were $300-$400, so I figured spend the extra $ and get this over something smaller like the Tunze DOC. My only complaint is that it is quite tall, literally have to tip it over to get the cup off because its even with the top of my stand underneath. Mine has also yet to quit overflowing but I'm hoping in time. Definitely not overkill. :)
Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll be following your journey. So would you say I could fit the bubble magus 5 under my restrictive 19” cabinet height? May have to tip it though?
 
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