Aaron's First Reef Tank - 40 Gallon, No Sump

ExoS

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This is really exciting for me. I have dreamed of having a reef tank for more than a decade. In fact, I have wanted a reef tank so long that I got interested when people used to buy books to learn instead of going to internet forums :oops:. Here is my collection.

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After so long, the time has come when I am semi-permanently settled into a house (instead of moving every few years) and have the financial resources to think I can afford this hobby. ;) I was really inspired by the BRS 5 minute guide and I finally decided to jump in. I have been buying a little bit of equipment every month and I have enough to get started now.

I am building a 40 gallon breeder. Here is a photo.

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I am not a carpenter at all but I built the stand myself. I am pretty happy with it. Its not professional quality if you look closely but its definitely passable if your not looking for problems. The people on the forums here who documented their stand builds were a great help for the design.

I also have a small quarantine tank. Its a converted fresh water tank/terrarium that hasn't been used for twenty years. I kept it because I always thought I would use it as a sump, but for this build I am going sumpless. Here is a photo of that.
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I really look forward to documenting my journey. I hope it will help some else as much as all of the build threads on this forum helped me.
 
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ExoS

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So here is my plan.

For the tank I am using dry rock and dry sand. I am seeding it using the MicroBacter Starter Kit.

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All the equipment will be hang-on back. This is primarily to save cost for me. I am planning to run a refugium as the main nutrient export. I will run carbon in that and I will add a skimmer later. I currently have an Eheim 100 watt heater in the tank but but I am going to add a BRS 100 watt heat and inkbird controller to that. I am hoping to put both heaters in the refugium if I can get one big enough.

For extra water flow, I am going to add an IceCap Gyre pump. Lighting will be 2 AI Primes. I am not that interested in SPS corals for the most part so the focus will be on LPS and softie corals.

If anyone is curious, my quarantine is a 20 gallon tank. It will run a tidal 35 powerfilter using Matrix media for biological filtration. It has a 75 watt Eheim heater and will use a small Koralia powerhead to give additional flow and gas exchange. For quarantine I am planning to run copper power with Metroplex and Api General Cure as outlined by Humble Fish. Hopefully everything goes well with this. You hear so many strong opinions that its hard to know what to do.

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ExoS

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I added the QuikCycl (ammonium chloride) up to 2 ppm of ammonia and then added the StartXLM today.

I am using a BRS 5 stage RODI for making water. Its working pretty well on our high mineral city water. 3 ppm of TDS into the DI and 0 ppm out.

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ExoS

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Well my cycle has been taking a little longer than I anticipated using the Microbacter Start. But I am finally seeing progress! My main tank is almost to zero ammonia. My quarantine tank is a little behind which I expected due to a lot less filter surface area. Still the ammonia has been cut in half from a week ago. Hopefully I can buy some fish is another week !!! :D


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ExoS

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What fish are you thinking about getting? A top is always recommended as well.
I am not sure. I am definitely going to start with an ocellaris clownfish pair. I think my next fish will be a tail-spot blenny. I don't know after that.

Its really hard to decide to be honest. I would like a fish that is colorful and moves around a lot and doesn't attack anything. I don't think that fish exists though. At least not that will fit in a 40 gallon tank. I have been thinking about a wrasse from the Cirrhilabrus family. Also my daughter really likes purple firefish.

I will have a top on my tank. My quarantine tank has a hood on it. For my display tank, I have bought all the parts to build a screen top. I am just waiting to build it until after I get my hang-on equipment on so I can see where any cutouts need to be. I also have some eggcrate to use short term if needed.

Overall I am going pretty slow; just buying a piece or two of equipment a month. Reefing is expensive :oops:. But I am excited. My display tank hit 0 ppm of ammonia yesterday so I am getting closer to having a fish :D. I just need to get the quarantine ammonia to zero and I will be ready for the first fish.
 
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ExoS

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So yesterday was a very exciting day. I got my fish saltwater fish!!! I was excited but also very nervous. I have read way too many horror stories and I have never done anything like this.

Before going to the store, I did a 50% water change on my QT. I have been cycling it with MicroBacter Start and ammonium chloride for three weeks. I am using a Tidal filter with Matrix in it as the biological filtration. I matched copper level with copper power. The LFS I bought from kept the clownfish at 1.7 ppm of copper. I also matched salinity which they keep at 1.025.

Here are a couple pictures of me acclimating them:

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They seemed fine last night. They were swimming around pretty confidently. This morning I fed them selcon soaked mysis shrimp which is what the LFS had been feeding. Both actively ate which is great. I am planning on alternating mysis and TDO pellets but I wanted to just make sure they were comfortable before I start changing food on them. I plan on starting to raise the coper up tomorrow.

Here are a couple more pics.

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Overall its a good start to my reef tank journey.
 

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You really did your homework and are off to a great start.

May I suggest a Royal Gramma as a potential fish? One of my favorites and very hardy. I lost my last one after about 4 years to jumping out of the tank so a lid/top as suggested above is a good idea.

I am in the process of getting my 40 breeder back to a respectable level. It has been neglected for long enough.

Good luck with the build and I look forward to your updates.
 
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You really did your homework and are off to a great start.

May I suggest a Royal Gramma as a potential fish? One of my favorites and very hardy. I lost my last one after about 4 years to jumping out of the tank so a lid/top as suggested above is a good idea.

I am in the process of getting my 40 breeder back to a respectable level. It has been neglected for long enough.

Good luck with the build and I look forward to your updates.
Thanks JRR. I was thinking about a Royal Gramma as a good option. Was your out a lot or did it hide? I have heard some like to hide away more but maybe its different personalities for different fish. The colors are certainly beautiful and its the right size and temperament. My oldest daughter recently decided that we should have no purple fish and only pink, so we will see where that goes :rolleyes:.

Good luck with restoring your 40 gallon tank. I guess its always a job to keep them nice. Hopefully I can keep up with it.
 
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ExoS

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Well today I added more copper and got up to 2.5 ppm. These clownfish adjusted incredibly fast. They have no fear. When I come to the tank, they come right up to greet me. They know where the food comes from. I wonder if it would be different if they weren't captive bred.

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JRR1285

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Thanks JRR. I was thinking about a Royal Gramma as a good option. Was your out a lot or did it hide? I have heard some like to hide away more but maybe its different personalities for different fish. The colors are certainly beautiful and its the right size and temperament. My oldest daughter recently decided that we should have no purple fish and only pink, so we will see where that goes :rolleyes:.

Good luck with restoring your 40 gallon tank. I guess its always a job to keep them nice. Hopefully I can keep up with it.

My Gramma was out all the time. Very active and responsive to my presence. I actually want to have a trio of them but they need to be bought very small and at the same time. Not the easiest thing to find but I'll be on the lookout.

My advice is it's always easier to maintain than to rebuild or redo. Sometimes other priorities make that hard but a reef tank is worth the effort if you can afford the time.
 
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Well, Today fish feeding took a little more preparation. It was time to do the first internal parasite treatment. I was guided by a recipe from HumbleFish. The recipe is:

1/8 tsp of API General Cure (about 1/2 a packet)
2 scoops of Seachem Focus
1/2 Tbsp of freeze-dried mysis
1/2 Tbsp of TDO pellets
4 drops of Selcon
More drops of tank water (I didn't count)

Directions: Stir until combined.

A picture of my creation is below. Wow I feel like Emeril. A little of this, a little of that and Bam. Looks yummy!!!!

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The fish seemed excited for it. I probably need to improve on my camera work though.

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Today I got another piece of equipment in for my display tank. I still have no filter since Marine Depot is out of the one I want.
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So I had to settle for buying a powerhead. I went with IceCap's gyre pump.

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It gave really nice flow throughout the tank. I am very happy with how its getting into the little nooks in the tank. The app was a little confusing and they have no directions, but I think its going to work well. The controller connects to WIFI and will allow adding another pump so its nicely expandable. When I get accumulate more funds, I am going to get the battery back-up that goes with the pump as well.
 
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Well today was a very exciting day. I finally got my filter in. Its an AquaMaxx HF-M which is a hang-on-back skimmer, filter, and refugium in one. It seems pretty nice out of the box. The skimmer is going a little crazy right now but its new so I think that is expected. I had a ton of trouble finding one and I finally found a company that sells open box items called @ATAquariums. I was really nervous about what I might get but the package came perfect. It all looked just like brand new and all the parts were there. I am so relieved to have a filter solution because my clownfish are going to be done with their quarantine on Monday!!!!
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Hopefully I will be posting about them in their new home soon.

Also I think I am going put the filter on the left side of my tank to give me more room and easier access. It barely doesn't fit right now so I am going to have to notch the rim, but I think it will be worth it long term because it will be easier to light the refugium and won't interfere with my main tank light placement then.
 
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Much like the triumph of humanity when we landed on the moon for the first time, today is a day where humanity has risen to new heights. After a decade of waiting, I finally say that I have a salt-water aquarium. The clownfish completed their quarantine with no issues so I put them in their permanent home today. I am very excited!!!
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I have also done some other work. I moved my filter around to the side of the tank. This will be better because I have more room behind the filter now and its new placement won't interfere with my lights once I get them. It was a little bit of a pain because the filter didn't perfectly fit. I used a dremel to cut part of the frame away to give clearance for the filter hanger. Overall though, I don't think its too bad a job for me. I was able to modify the tank, without destroying it which is what I was going for.

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I also put a temporary top on in case my clownfish get jumpy. I used eggcrate and it fits very well for now. Long term, I will use a window screen kit, but I don't want to bother with that until I have all my equipment so I know where to work around. The eggcrate was surprisingly easy to work with make into the shape I needed. The white is sort of ugly, but it will work for now.

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I lost my female snowflake to jumping, I would get a window screen (1/8th) on asap. I have one on now. Egg crate is too gappy IMO.

The screen is less then most fish. Unless you get the custom ones.
Ok I was worried a little about that. I went ahead and laid my screen material over the eggcrate for now. Its a pretty ugly solution so I will have to figure something out longer term. I appreciate the comment though. I would hate to have gone through all this effort of quarantining just to have a fish die from jumping.
 
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