Agueybana's 29G First Tank Ever

agueybana81

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Hi everyone. I will use this thread to document the progress of my first tank ever. I was on a limited budget, so I acquire the equipment over a few months. I went with a 29 gallon because it was the biggest tank I could have with the amount of room that I had in the house. Since there are many users that find this forum looking for information before they even start the hobby (like me) I decided to include an image with everything that I put together (so far). Feel free to ask questions or post any suggestions or even let me know where I messed up. I am barely going through 2.5 months into the hobby so any feedback will be appreciated.

**I will be posting updates every time changes



Build.png
Starting Equipment
  • Tank: Aqueon 29 Gallon
  • Top: Aqueon Versa Top 30"
  • Stand: Imagitarium Brooklyn Metal Tank Stand
  • Filter: AquaClear 50 with sponge, carbon and ceramic media
  • Heater: Eheim 100w
  • Sand: CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink - 40lbs
  • Saltmix: Coralife
  • Dry rock: CaribSea South Seas Base Rock - 20lbs are in the tank
  • Lights: Nicrew Marine LED 30" - 36" 110 PAR at 12"
  • Wavemaker: Hygger Mini Wavemaker 1600GHP
  • RODI: Geekpure 4 Stage, 100GPD 2:1 ratio
  • Scrapper: Flipper Nano
  • Thermometer: No name/brand
  • Refractometer: No name/brand
  • Gravel Cleaner: No name/brand

Nitrogen Cycle
  • Ammonia: Dr Tim's Ammonia
  • Bacteria: Turbo Start 900

Water Testing
  • API Saltwater Master Test Kit
  • API Reef Master Test Kit

Aquascape
  • BSI Maxi Cure
  • BSI IC-Gel

Isolation
  • Fluval Breeding Box
  • USB Mini Pump

Future upgrades
  • Filter - will more than likely be a canister pre filtered since a sump will not be feasible for me - more research required.
    • As of 10/9/2021 the filter was changed to a fluval 207 canister filter. It is currently running with the stock foam and bio media along with seachem purigen and seachem phosguard. I plan on upgrading the bio media to seachem matrix and possibly replace seachem phosguard with chemi pure elite.
  • Protein skimmer - I need to research this more
  • Lights
  • Wavemaker
  • Thermometers
  • Test Kits - I need to research this more. Will be getting a Hanna for phosphates.
  • Paint the back wall black or use black poster - looking for ideas
  • In need of a small QT, so far everything was QT by my LFS.
    • No longer needed, my wife got me an inexpensive 8 gallon AIO. It is currently cycling. I will be using this one as a QT.
  • Need a way to introduce coralline algae

Inhabitants
Ocellaris Clownfish x2
Trochus Snails x3
Palys or Zoas x 2


10/18/2021 - Introduced a Royal Gramma along with a Duncan.


Notes
  • Heater: turned out to be overkill for the tank. Even at the farthest part from to the thermometer, it always reads 80 degrees even if the temperature is lower. I haven't rule out misread by the thermometer though.
  • Stand: not much to say here, it's built like a tank
  • Tank: its just a tank
  • Filter: it has definitely keep the water very clear. It does look huge for the tank though, but thats HOB filters for you
  • Sand: I really liked the sand, it also cleared up within a few hours
  • RODI: would never recommend it for a bigger tank size. In average it produced a bit over 4 gallons per hour. I would recommend this one over the Aqualife RO Buddie. The latter has a ratio of 4:1. So you would be wasting water like crazy. It is also a little more expensive
  • Saltmix: Could be better. It does dissolves quickly
  • Dry rock: Definitely like the rock. It's easy to cut and easy to attach within each other. Easy to attach frags as well
  • Lights: For sure they arent the greatest. They do look well, they dont feel cheap. The controller does what its suppose to. They dont emit a lot of heat nor do they hum. Very simple to configure the controller
  • Wavemaker: I kinda love this little guy. It's small enough to be neglected by the eye, but will definitely get the water moving. I am using it at half the power and I was able to see the water circulating throughout the entire tank. I have it placed 2.5 inches under water, and I cant hear it.
  • Scrapper: It has done it's job. Took care of algae on the walls, and calcium buildup without a problem.
  • Thermometer: It works, but the margin of error is too high at 1 to 2 degrees up/down.
  • Dr Tim's ammonia and Turbo Start 900: This combination worked well for me. Within 2 days the ammonia was at 0. More ammonia was dosed until the bacteria consume the ammonia over night.
  • BSI Maxi Cure and IC-Gel: The maxi cure with the accelerator did short work on attaching the dry rock. It really made the job easy. As far as the IC-Gel goes, I like that it even works under water.
  • Test kits: I definitely need better. Gauging the nitrite levels was a pain at times.
  • Breeding box and usb pump: so far it's only been used to isolate the clownfish. The dominant one was going hard on the smaller juvie. Using it did the trick. It can also be turned into a small refugium, not sure if it will be a keeper or not. Been considering adding some LEDs and place some chaeto
  • Clownfish: it took a month for them to start getting along better. The chasing stopped, currently they swim together from time to time. The smaller one is free to swim wherever he wants to. They also eat together.
  • Trochus snails: they are awesome. It's like they dont stop eating. Every day I see a part of the rocks cleaned
  • Frags: I am still not sure what they are palys or zoas. They do look more like palys to me. They were introduced to the tank this past saturday. They opened up within 15 minutes. They also open every day. No food has been provided. The light is currently placed on the far end of the tank with the frags placed towards the front of the tank. I will be feeding them reef roids once a week or once every 2 weeks.
  • Clean up crew: need something that would take care of the sand, will check my LFS this weekend
  • Parameters: currently taken every monday at 5pm
  • Tank maintenance: Every saturday at noon
  • Pictures: need to learn how to take them better, especially when the blue light is on

Parameters
Temperature: 80
pH: 8
NH3: 0
NO2: 0
NO3: 0
PO₄³: 0.25
Calcium: 340
KH: 10
Salinity: 1.025


And I guess now is time for some pictures. Also I theme the aquascape based on that "skull" in the middle. At short distance, the rocks resemble faces.

tank.jpg

frags 3.jpg
frags 2.jpeg
frags 1.jpg
 
Last edited:
Lazy's Coral House

Kan123

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Great start! Following along.

I’d definitely be working on those water parameters asap. The phosphates are really high and need to drop down. Water changes are great to bring them down and should be your solution to the symptom not the cause. Daily 20% water changes for a week should bring it down to a manageable level. As per the cause, my guess is over feeding or insufficient filtration. Adding a little bag of gfo in your HOB could be a simple long term treatment method.
 

ainswokp

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I manage a simple 29 gallon reef in my sisters house and it also has Hygges. I love these pumps, but also you are going to need more than one given the height of the tank. I have 3 in hers, could probably get by with 2, but my guess is you are going to have issues with nuisance algae / cyano long-term with the lack of flow.

Interested to follow. Nice scape.
 

Kan123

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I had assume that 0.25 it's ok since it's nearly 0. I guess I have some work to do. I'm doing a water change this weekend, so hopefully that'll help.

I will see if my LFS has GFO. Otherwise I'll have to look online. Any specific one that I should get.
It’s all about scale. Yes 0.25 is close to 0 but you’re looking for 0-0.03 for phosphates. That range gives a good amount of nutrients for corals to thrive without algae being an issue.

One water regular change won’t sufficiently reduce the phosphates. A 20% water change will reduce the nitrates by 20% to 0.2ppm (assuming 0 phosphates in your water). I’d look at doing 20% water changes every 2-3 days. unless you add GFO which will drastically and rapidly reduce your phosphate.
 
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agueybana81

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10/9/2021 - Maintenance day and filter upgrade

So I decided to upgrade the filter from an AquaClear50 to a Fluval 207. I did the switch during yesterday's WC and clean up. I also removed the isolation tank (for now) and positioned the heater horizontally.

Below is a picture taken Friday night, prior maintenance and upgrade. The trochus snails have been slowly cleaning up the rock. However I still don't have anything sifting the sand nor eating the diatoms from it. I know I can use a conch, but due to the tank size, I am adamant of getting one. I have also been cleaning the tank walls every morning, and by the night they are already brown.

PXL_20211005_115625698.jpg


Saturday: WC/maintenance and upgrade
The tank walls were craped followed by a 15% water change. From this I proceed with the filter Upgrade. The old filter was removed. I rinsed the old bio media with tank water which later I put inside the new filter.


Fluval 207 positioned right under the tank. I rinsed the stock media with tank water. I also added purigen and phosguard to the chemical bay. I am hoping that with this and feeding less the fish would help controlling the diatoms and algae.

PXL_20211009_201543210.jpg



Filter exhaust was positioned to the left side of the tank, almost completely submerge. I am using this to make the water ripple and hopefully help with oxygenation.

PXL_20211009_201538763.jpg




The filter intake was placed on the right side along with the wave maker. Having the wave maker on the opposite side of the filter exhaust created a nice water movement. I was able to see debris flow towards the intake and sucked in. I will keep monitoring this in case that I need to reposition the wave maker to the other side.

PXL_20211009_201535390.jpg



The heater is now all the way to the top horizontally. I don't love having a heater on display, but I guess it will have to do for now. Maybe an in-line heater would work, but I am still skeptical about those.

PXL_20211009_201528059.jpg




And this is how the tank looked after everything was setup, and almost fully cleaned. It's hard to appreciate on the picture, but the change is night and day.

PXL_20211009_201512813.jpg


Trochus snails: I put one on each rock formation. They've been doing their job. The smaller one seems to be the fastest one.
PXL_20211009_202237605.jpg
PXL_20211009_202244876.jpg PXL_20211009_202305929.jpg


Frags: One week later, and they are still alive and opening. The green one is having a slight algae problem. Some algae wrapped around it, so I expect to lose one polyp. Hopefully the water change and filter will help some.

PXL_20211009_201520140.jpg
PXL_20211010_001116693-01.jpeg PXL_20211010_001116693.jpg PXL_20211010_001105230-01.jpeg PXL_20211010_001105230.jpg



Clowns: lately they've been making holes around. It's driving me nuts. I know that they sift the sand from time to time, but they are literally digging now. Maybe they are telling me to get it together and get rid of the diatoms.

PXL_20211009_214339908.jpg PXL_20211009_214344747.jpg


10/10/2021 - Today: This is the first day that the tank walls aren't brown. They did were a little brown, but nothing compared to before. The water also looks crystal clear. If anything better than yesterday. As far as noise goes, this filter is way quieter than the aquaclear50 hob. If I were to place the exhaust deeper in the water, I wouldn't hear it at all.

10/11/2021 (Tomorrow) - parameter check day. I will be posting this update as well. Hopefully the numbers are better than the previous time.
 

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Kan123

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How did the parameter check go?

I’d be weary of using the Fluval . Canister filters are generally not the way to go when it comes to reef aquariums. I remember from my research years ago it had a lot to do with detritus build up and becomes a nitrate factory long term.

Aquaclear is honestly a fantastic filter, just need to adjust your choice of filtration within the aquaclear. what size aquarium is the 50 rated for? Is it 20 gallons? If so that needs to be upgraded.

I’d recommend this - make sure your aquaclear is rated for 30+ gallons. If not upgrade it to a larger aquaclear or the seachem tidal 35. Inside either filter you chose to proceed with, use marine pure hex or seachem matrix. Your choice but make sure you’re transitioning from ceramic (leave ceramic in too for 2-3 weeks until the matrix/Marine pure develops bacteria). Use Bonded filter pad instead of the sponge. And some chemipure elite or chemipure blue.

also, what is your lighting schedule?
 
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agueybana81

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Parameter check day

Parameters
Temperature: 80
pH: 8.1
NH3: 0.25
NO2: 0
NO3: 0
PO₄³: 0.00
Calcium: 360
KH: 10
Salinity: 1.025

The ammonia definitely needs to go down. I wonder if it has to do with the media change. I did transfer the old bio media to the new filter, but still, it went from 0 to 0.25. I guess I got used to seeing it on 0. The phosphates dropped to 0. I am using API phosphate test, so it might as well be higher than 0. The color is definitely like the 0 range, but the eye cant really measure decimals. Maybe is time to invest on a hanna tester.

How did the parameter check go?

I’d be weary of using the Fluval . Canister filters are generally not the way to go when it comes to reef aquariums. I remember from my research years ago it had a lot to do with detritus build up and becomes a nitrate factory long term.

Aquaclear is honestly a fantastic filter, just need to adjust your choice of filtration within the aquaclear. what size aquarium is the 50 rated for? Is it 20 gallons? If so that needs to be upgraded.

I’d recommend this - make sure your aquaclear is rated for 30+ gallons. If not upgrade it to a larger aquaclear or the seachem tidal 35. Inside either filter you chose to proceed with, use marine pure hex or seachem matrix. Your choice but make sure you’re transitioning from ceramic (leave ceramic in too for 2-3 weeks until the matrix/Marine pure develops bacteria). Use Bonded filter pad instead of the sponge. And some chemipure elite or chemipure blue.

also, what is your lighting schedule?

The aquaclear 50 is supposed to be rated for up to 50 gallons. I had read about the nitrate factory issues with canisters, so I will try to stay on top of it. I am going to start with cleaning it every week, and phase it into every 2 weeks based on how the water quality and diatoms are doing. The water definitely looks better with the canister, but maybe that's because a water change was done 2 days ago ?

I was planning on getting rid of the ceramic and switch to seachem matrix. As far as the bonded filter pad goes, is there a recommend one I should use?

For the chemi products. I can definitely give it a go once the seachem purigen and phosguard are reaching exhaustion.

Lights: They are ON from 7:15am thru 9pm.
7:15am to 5:45pm: on the white spectrum
5:45pm thru 9pm: blue

They are ON for over 14 hours, perhaps I should cut 2hours of the white light (until 3:45pm), and transition them to blue form 3:45pm thru 7pm.

----------------------------------------------

Other observations
The water is still looking very clear. I also noticed that the sand bed is starting to clear up. Like the diatoms are still there but I can see more of the sand color than the diatoms. I also noticed the dry rock is starting to lose the brown color on the areas that the snails haven't graze on. So I am hoping the ugly stage situation is improving.
 

Kan123

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Parameter check day

Parameters
Temperature: 80
pH: 8.1
NH3: 0.25
NO2: 0
NO3: 0
PO₄³: 0.00
Calcium: 360
KH: 10
Salinity: 1.025

The ammonia definitely needs to go down. I wonder if it has to do with the media change. I did transfer the old bio media to the new filter, but still, it went from 0 to 0.25. I guess I got used to seeing it on 0. The phosphates dropped to 0. I am using API phosphate test, so it might as well be higher than 0. The color is definitely like the 0 range, but the eye cant really measure decimals. Maybe is time to invest on a hanna tester.



The aquaclear 50 is supposed to be rated for up to 50 gallons. I had read about the nitrate factory issues with canisters, so I will try to stay on top of it. I am going to start with cleaning it every week, and phase it into every 2 weeks based on how the water quality and diatoms are doing. The water definitely looks better with the canister, but maybe that's because a water change was done 2 days ago ?

I was planning on getting rid of the ceramic and switch to seachem matrix. As far as the bonded filter pad goes, is there a recommend one I should use?

For the chemi products. I can definitely give it a go once the seachem purigen and phosguard are reaching exhaustion.

Lights: They are ON from 7:15am thru 9pm.
7:15am to 5:45pm: on the white spectrum
5:45pm thru 9pm: blue

They are ON for over 14 hours, perhaps I should cut 2hours of the white light (until 3:45pm), and transition them to blue form 3:45pm thru 7pm.

----------------------------------------------

Other observations
The water is still looking very clear. I also noticed that the sand bed is starting to clear up. Like the diatoms are still there but I can see more of the sand color than the diatoms. I also noticed the dry rock is starting to lose the brown color on the areas that the snails haven't graze on. So I am hoping the ugly stage situation is improving.
That ammonia is concerning, and phosphates seem unlikely. I would imagine 0.05 at the very least. If not the hanna checker, even the salifert is sufficient. As long as you can tell its less than and around 0.03, you'll be fine.

If there's a return policy, I would definitely return the canister filter. In my opinion, the best reefing philosphy is to get to a point where you don't have an exhaustive maintenance list because there will be a period of time where you just can't keep up and that's what makes/breaks your system. If the canister filter requires weekly/biweekly maintenance that takes 20 minutes each time, I see it as a point of failure.

My goal would be, once this is a sustainable ecosystem, all you have to do is feed your fish and dose whatever you need to. A water change every 1-2 weeks, and a few couple maintenance tasks. But most of all, enjoy your aquarium.

Bonded filter pad is just a cheap sponge-like filter. It will polish the water far more than the black sponges typical in filters and are inexpensive/can be thrown out without the fear of breaking the bank. Doesn't matter which you get.

I would also substantially reduce the photo period. Also, the blue light is what is most important when it comes to reefing. I would do blue from 8am-6pm, white AND blue from 9am-5pm. At least while your algae is such an issue.
 
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agueybana81

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10/23/2021 Update

It looks like things are turning for the better in the tank. For the past couple of weeks I noticed that the cyanobacteria wasn't growing how it used to and then it look like if it started dying. Then during water change day, it started coming off of the rocks. I also notice that the diatoms are starting to tone down as well. I really hope that this is a good sign and that the tank is slowly moving away from the ugly phase.

Water temperature: I replaced the thermometer. After doing a comparison with another thermometer that I have, it turned out that read temperature was off by 2.6 degrees, so instead of 80, the water was actually 77.4 degrees.

Parameters
Temperature: 80
pH: 8.1
NH3: 0.0
NO2: 0
NO3: 0
PO₄³: 0.00 according to API test
Calcium: 320 - this is way lower than where I would like it to be, maybe it's time to start dosing it. Locally I can find seachem calcium/reef complete/reef advance calcium. Not sure if using those would be ok or if I should shop for a different one online
KH: 8 - a little drop here as well. Not sure what would be the cause of this.
Salinity: 1.025


New livestock
Royal Gramma x 1
Duncan x 1

Sorry for the bad picture quality.


 
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