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

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ExoS

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Well I had a very exciting weekend. I added a few more lives to my tank. The first and most exciting addition was a skunk cleaner shrimp. He has mostly been hiding on the back-side of my rockwork but I hope he'll get more confident as the days go on. A picture is below. Isn't he cute? :)

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I also added my first clean-up crew members. I don't have any lights on my tank so no algae yet, but I wanted to get something to clean-up detritus. I went with 5 nassarius snails. They have been coming out when I feed but this last feeding they didn't seem as interested so I didn't get a great picture. Below is a picture of one that was at least thinking about coming out for a snack before deciding against it. I will post a better picture when I can get one.

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Lastly, in a prelude to bigger and better things later in the week, I got my refugium lights. They are just cheap grow lights off of amazon but they have 30 watts of LEDs and my refugium will be pretty small so I think they will work. I have an order in at algae barn for some red ogo. Once I get that, I will turn the lights on (they were on below just for the picture). Hopefully that will give me some decent nutrient transport before I get my main tank lights. :cool:

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So overall a pretty good weekend for the reef tank. I can feel that its starting to come along now.
 
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Well today disaster struck...maybe. When I checked my tank this morning, I didn't see my cleaner shrimp in his usual place. I looked around and found his body at the opposite end of the tank. My nassarius snails were right there so I couldn't get a good look. Below is a picture of a snail on my shrimp.

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I pulled it out and there is nothing left but a husk. I am really hoping this was just a molt but I don't have high hopes. Its only been in the tank four days. I was carefully to drip acclimate him slowly and check salinity of that water vs the tank to make sure they matched. He was eating and moving around last night. But if it is a molt, he is hiding really well. I don't see him anywhere and its not that big a tank. Here's hoping that I see him back walking around in a few days.

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I got a new toy last week. An auto-top-off. I went with the XP Aqua Duetto. Its super tiny and the magnet was strong enough to work through the rim on my tank so I was pleasantly surprised. Its been working great and should add to my tank stability.

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Sadly my shrimp has not made an appearance. I have to conclude that he did die. I was really hoping it was just a molt but I knew that probably wasn't the case. I guess I just moved too fast or didn't have enough stability. The snails seem to be thriving though.

I have another concerning development though. My tank is leaking ;Jawdrop. It seems to have been leaking around the top rim where my filter is. I guess the pressure of the filter is warping the rim a little bit or something. So today I implemented my first shot at fixing the issue. For my water change, I took about 5 gallons out. Then I applied silicone to the inside of the rim. I only put back maybe 4 gallons of water so the rim is not exposed to any water. I am going to let the silicon cure and hopefully that will help when I put the filter back on. Cross your fingers.
 
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Well this is not going well. In addition to my tank leaking and my shrimp dyeing, now one of my clownfish has one eye that is cloudy. I am going on vacation so I don't have enough time to do the antibiotic treatment. She is otherwise healthy (active, eating well, etc) but I feel terrible. I am continuing to feed selcon soaked mysis and selcon soaked TDO pellets plus some Hichari algae pellets. I am hoping the diet is good enough to help her beat this eye infection.

Overall this is not going quite as smooth as I might have hoped. My water parameters are good at least. Algae barn has delayed my macro algae/phyto/pod order twice and I had to delay it further due to my vacation. I called customer service and told them I was concerned about nutrient export but they said my nitrate was too low to even grow macro well. I have 5 ppm of nitrate and 0.05 ppm pf PO4. If anyone has any thoughts on how much nutrient you need to start a refugium, I would love to hear. I was hoping the pod population would help with nutrition and overall diversity but I guess I am going to have to wait another couple of weeks on that.


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Well a lot has happened recently. I found out the source of the leak was my filter and I was able to seal it. I also received several new purchases. The first was an order from @AlgaeBarn. It didn't really go smoothly.

I ordered Red Ogo Macroalgae, their 5280 pods, and phytoplankton. The first issue was that they were redoing their phyto shipping so I received an email that my order was going to be a week late. No problem. Then the next week I get another email saying my order is going to be another week late. Now my order is scheduled to arrive during my vacation. So I call them and they tell me no problem, they will set the order to ship another week out so it will arrive after I am back.

Well you can probably guess what happened. I received an email two day before my trip that it had shipped. That was a pretty frustrating email for me. Fortunately it got to my house in the morning before we had left. So I took everything out and temperature acclimated it. Then I added the pods and algae. Below is a picture. Its more green than red but I think its supposed to redden up over time.


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Unfortunately it was mostly short strands and a lot of it got loose into my tank. You can see some threads on my rockwork and my filter intake.


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Hopefully it grows and everything works out. Not a great first experience dealing with AlgaeBarn though.
 
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Once I got back from vacation, I found that my auto feeder I bought hadn't fed anything. It was my fault. I set it up wrong, and it shouldn't have even been that hard to set up. Its really easy to use. Oh well, everything seemed fine anyway. I got some more new equipment in. The theme of this month's purchase was insurance.

The first thing I got was a battery backup for my Icecap gyre pump. The mounting hole are not ideal but it charged quickly and worked when tested. I think this is a really important addition as I add more fish and the risk of problems with power outages goes up.

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The next toy I got was a BRS heater. This will allow me to have two heaters in case one breaks.

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But more importantly, I got an Inkbird temperature controller. Its pretty nice. It connects to wifi for notifications and has dual temperature probes. So I feel pretty good about having done everything I can to make sure I have back-ups in place. This isn't exactly a bare-bones build but it is a budget build. Still spending a couple hundred bucks on some insurance is a good idea I think.

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My temperature controller said I was running the tank about 3 degrees too hot so now its dropped the temp into the proper range. I suspected my temp was too hot anyway because the temp on my Hanna salinity meter was reading the same thing.

Below is a pic of under my stand. The wiring is a mess and I am not one of those people who is good at organizing it all. Still I think it has come together pretty well and now all my in stand equipment is in place.

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Now I need to add some more fish and of course I need to add some tank lighting. The lighting may be a few months off depending on how fast I can build back my funds. It been a joy to watch my little clown fish though and my nassarius snails have been unexpectedly entertaining. You see their little noses sticking out of the sand. At almost every feeding, especially if I have added Selcon to the food, you see their noses start to stick out further and sniff around. Then they pop out of the sand and start searching. They are surprisingly very fast. Much faster than I expected snails to be. And every once in awhile one will be crawling on the glass and fall off. Watching them try to right themselves is pretty funny.

So overall, I am feeling much better about things than I did at the beginning of June when my shrimp died and my tank was leaking.
 
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Because of vacations and some home repairs, it’s been awhile since I got any new livestock. This weekend I got my second batch of fish. I bought a firefish and a tailspot blenny. The blenny has been hiding a lot so I don’t have any good pictures yet. I will post them later. They are both in quarantine now and I started dozing copper power today. Hopefully everything goes well. Both of these species are supposed to be tough but you never know. I am pretty excited though.

On another note, I accidentally overfilled my saltwater storage and got our basement pretty wet. That led to a very surprising first. My wife actually told me to buy something for my saltwater tank. That’s never happened before. Of course what she insisted I buy immediately was a float shutoff valve for the saltwater storage. I wish she was demeaning I buy a couple of lights. Oh well; it’s something at least.
 
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Well my Red Ogo experiment failed. It kept getting out of my refugium an into the main display until there was nothing left. So I got some Ulva instead. Its a little bit better because I was able to rubber band it to some dry rock. It seems to be staying in place reasonably. Its hard to get a good picture but below gives you a little idea what it looks like.

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The refugium light is making some brown algae grow on my filter media. I don't think it really matters. If anyone sees this and knows its a problem, please let me know. I figure for now its just nutrient transport.


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No sump? NO PROBLEM! Keep it up!
 
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No sump? NO PROBLEM! Keep it up!
Thanks for the encouragement Rev. It seems to be going pretty well over all. Hopefully my build can help someone else going sumpless. There are so many wonderful build threads of dream aquariums, but everyone has to start somewhere.
 

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I enjoy reading your thread. I am also building a sumpless tank soon.

I am wondering why you give your fish systematic medication when they have no sign of disease ? I’m new to saltwater but not to freshwater and I have never seen that done.

I haven’t done it to my 2 clowns and tailspot blenny and they are very healthy so far (4 months for the clowns and 6-8 weeks for the blenny).
 
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I enjoy reading your thread. I am also building a sumpless tank soon.

I am wondering why you give your fish systematic medication when they have no sign of disease ? I’m new to saltwater but not to freshwater and I have never seen that done.

I haven’t done it to my 2 clowns and tailspot blenny and they are very healthy so far (4 months for the clowns and 6-8 weeks for the blenny).
Thanks Idech. First of all I will say that prophylactic treatment is highly debated in the hobby. I will also say though that of the six reef stores near me, five treat with copper (for fish that tolerate it) and one with hyposalinity. So retailers seem to all agree with treatment before symptoms. The problem is that they are only treating enough to suppress parasites but not kill them.

I am a beginner so I don't really know anything. I have read a lot though and I have read too many stories of people losing their entire livestock to velvet or ich. Then they not only are out all that money, but they can't even restart for 75 days because the parasites can live without a host for 75 days or so. Even worse, some parasites don't need a host and will live in your tank forever once they get in. So to play it safe, I am treating all the fish for parasites. My impression is that this is what most people do if they have a proper quarantine. Most hobbyist though don't seem to quarantine because of the hassle, extra cost, etc.

So don't take my word for it. Just do some reading and decide for yourself. The flip side is that once you already have livestock in your display it may not matter as much because you may have already introduced parasites into the display where they really aren't treatable.
 
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I will also say though that of the six reef stores near me, five treat with copper (for fish that tolerate it) and one with hyposalinity. So retailers seem to all agree with treatment before symptoms. The problem is that they are only treating enough to suppress parasites but not kill them.
Thank you, I didn’t know that. For sure I’ll ask my LFS how they treat their fish before selling, next time. :)
 
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Well I am officially half way through quarantine. Today I added API General Cure. That should be the last addition of GC. I think I have a couple more metroplex treatments and one more internal parasite treatment and then it’s just waiting out the copper. I will feel better once I am to that point
 

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Great work so far and kudos on being so patient through this journey!

I suspect that if your temperature really was 3 degrees too high, that may have been what killed your shrimp. You're probably good to try another since you've got your temperature under check now. I love shrimp, I feel that they really add a lot to the tank.

The algea growing on your bio media shouldn't be an issue so long as it doesn't completely take it over. In all honesty though, the bio media really isn't needed and you'll be fine if you take it out.


Zip ties work wonders for cable management and their super cheap. Just fold up the extra wire into a neat little bundle and wrap a zip tie around it. It will do wonders. Just make sure that if you do multiple wires at a time that you can still get the pieces of equipment off the tank to do maintenance. For a few bucks you could also buy some of the cable wrap Velcro to make it even easier when it comes time to maintenance equipment.


I see you have no lights yet, any plans in that department yet?
 
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Great work so far and kudos on being so patient through this journey!

I suspect that if your temperature really was 3 degrees too high, that may have been what killed your shrimp. You're probably good to try another since you've got your temperature under check now. I love shrimp, I feel that they really add a lot to the tank.

The algea growing on your bio media shouldn't be an issue so long as it doesn't completely take it over. In all honesty though, the bio media really isn't needed and you'll be fine if you take it out.


Zip ties work wonders for cable management and their super cheap. Just fold up the extra wire into a neat little bundle and wrap a zip tie around it. It will do wonders. Just make sure that if you do multiple wires at a time that you can still get the pieces of equipment off the tank to do maintenance. For a few bucks you could also buy some of the cable wrap Velcro to make it even easier when it comes time to maintenance equipment.


I see you have no lights yet, any plans in that department yet?
Thanks for your encouragement. I would be really happy if the temperature was the problem because I think I have a good handle on that now. I didn't think 3 degree would kill it in a week but I hope you are right. I will definitely try again but probably not until after I get the firefish and the blenny out of quarantine.

As for the lights, I am going to do two AI primes. The main reason is that I don't want to spend too much money and I am more interested in softies and LPS than SPS coral. The AIs get good reviews and I can hang them on the back of the tank. I don't really want any lights suspended from the ceiling. I am open to other ideas. For me $500 is already a lot of money for lights and the AIs get pretty good reviews.
 

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Thanks for your encouragement. I would be really happy if the temperature was the problem because I think I have a good handle on that now. I didn't think 3 degree would kill it in a week but I hope you are right. I will definitely try again but probably not until after I get the firefish and the blenny out of quarantine.

As for the lights, I am going to do two AI primes. The main reason is that I don't want to spend too much money and I am more interested in softies and LPS than SPS coral. The AIs get good reviews and I can hang them on the back of the tank. I don't really want any lights suspended from the ceiling. I am open to other ideas. For me $500 is already a lot of money for lights and the AIs get pretty good reviews.
Some inverts, shrimp in particular, can be very sensitive to temperature. 3 degrees doesn't sound like a lot but if you keep your tank at 80 and it was at 83 that could defiantly stress and kill something.

I hear good things about the AI primes and for your budget that would probably be the best bet. You could proably even keep some easier SPS like a montipora capatata or digitata higher up on the rocks if you wanted to.
 
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