56 gallon first reef build.


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Jun 29, 2019
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Started this build about 3 months ago. I've had help from a few locals, and quite a few members. So thank you R2R!

I bought the tank about 6 months ago, with plans to reef, responsibly and on a budget. I found a local woman, who had tried this hobby without cycling and just threw a few hundred bucks of fish in. They died within days, she gave up the tank for next to nothing. I then found a member selling his current usa marine ic loop for fairly cheap, so I grabbed it. And so it started...

Tank was started with 40lbs of live sand, 7lbs of base rock, and a Seaside Aquatics HOB skimmer. After the first week, I added about 50 or so more pounds of rock, and added a raw shrimp to the tank to kickstart my cycle.

3 weeks in, the hangar on the skimmer broke, and water was everywhere. I cleaned the floors and removed the bits of skimmer that made their way into the tank. Then went and bought a Tidal 110 HOB filter, purigen, and carbon.

Another month and a half, the first half of the cycle was through. I added my CUC. 2 weeks later, while looking at the LFS, my girlfriend found a "cute little Nemo playing in his anemone". She bought the Thunder Maroon clown, GBTA, and a smaller Lightning maroon clown...

I took to reading about the anemone. I found that my tank was MUCH too young for the nem, AND with a tank as deep as mine, (30 inches), there was no way the current USA light would be good enough to sustain it. LFS wouldn't take the nem back, so I bought a Mars Aqua 165w and had it hung from the ceiling the next day.

The GBTA survived, found it's home and settled in. The Thunder maroon (larger of the two), found her nem and settled in quite aggressively. The lightning maroon stayed in the upper backside corner. (To this day, she does not venture far from the nem, except to bite me. He does not venture far from his corner, except to eat. No fighting, a chase every now and then but very rarely.)

I knew I wanted a mandarin or goby or something eventually, so I then added copepods, from PODYOURREEF, (super cheap, super good, and the bags are absolutely PACKED with pods. Shipped quickly too). Also, I paid for a 20 oz bag of pods.... THEY SENT ME 2 FOR 20 BUCKS!!!

A few days later, my girlfriend, (again shopping at the lfs for our freshwater tank), comes home with an Elibi dwarf angelfish. I take one look at this thing and am taken aback by its beauty. Can't even be mad, I'd had done the same thing.

I monitor the tanks parameters 5 times per week at this point. Everything is still good to go: 0 ammonia, nitrites, and <10 nitrates, low phosphate, 1.025 holding steady at 8.0.

My GBTA, did this weird thing every night, where it would deflate for a few hours. Scaring me to death that i had lost it. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some days were longer than others, and I'd take PTO at work so I could monitor it. I knew they pooped, I knew they deflated for intake of new water, but I couldn't figure out why it did this every single day. I tried different lighting levels and nothing. The nem would never move from its spot, his foot never detached, so I was at a loss.

I wanted to get more surface agitation, and more flow throughout the tank. So I ditched the eflux powerheads and the loop system, for one 3k icecap gyre. Much fewer cords, and only needs 1 outlet, as opposed to the 3 for the LOOP. (Which is for sale if anyones interested )
Had to turn that baby way down to 20% in all modes my for tank, but it works and if I decide to move to a bigger tank, I've got it.
1st day of having this in my tank, the nem didn't deflate or close up. Happily waved in the (pretty low) current. It's been 3 weeks, and it seems very happy now.

I then decided I wanted to buy a couple of the things that I wanted. I'm a big fan of palys and zoas, but she found out about the palytoxin... ATM I'm banned from getting them. So, I grabbed a diamond watchman goby, and a skunk cleaner.

This was last week, tank parameters are all the same, with exception to the ph, which is now at 8.2 and holding steady.

My next aim, is to start adding some of the easier to care for coral. But... with the angelfish, it appears that will be harder to do than not. Any advice here?

Also, is it normal for the clowns to completely ignore one another 99.9998% of the time?

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