An apartment BioCube on a college budget - my build thread

hds4216

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Hi all! Just getting into the wonderful world of reefing. I've wanted a reef tank since I was genuinely 10 years old, and now it's finally happening. On a whim, I saw there was a solid sale on BioCubes and bought the basic 32 kit from MarineandReef: https://www.marineandreef.com/Coralife_Size_32_LED_BioCube_Aquarium_BASIC_Reef_Builder_s/1389.htm

I had kept freshwater tanks before, including planted tanks, so I was familiar with water chemistry, stocking, and lighting needs. However, I had never made the plunge into marine, mostly due to fear of failure and cost. I have a tendency to overthink things lol.

After I had bought the tank, I started getting some other stuff from Amazon, my LFS, and other sites, and heavily researching in order to formulate a plan. In terms of supplies, I eventually ended up with:

- 12 lbs of dry sand
- 15 lbs of CaribSea Life Rock
- 8 lbs of live rock from my local LFS
- Tunze 9001 skimmer
- InTank media basket running filter floss, ChemiPure elite, and Purigen
- InkBird temperature controller + Eheim Jager 125w heater
- Red Sea test kit for pH, alk, ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. Still need to find a test kit for other parameters (mag, ca, etc.) but don't have any coral yet so it's not super important. (Right?)
- Instant Ocean reef crystals
- RODI filter
- Jebao wavemaker
- Thermometers (at first a cheap digital one but it was trash so I bought a better one)
- Misc. equipment like siphons, buckets, a Brute can, cheap Chinese heater/powerhead for mixing salt, etc.

Still on the shopping list:
- A better wavemaker? (MP10?)
- An ATO?
- An autofeeder?
- Hanna checkers?

4ECC98AF-64F3-488A-AA1B-0CF9BD19E8FB.jpeg

Behold, my stuff.

Also, after researching some more but before I set up the tank, I decided that I really liked the look of SPS and acropora, and was underwhelmed by the BioCube stock light when I tested it, so I decided to invest in the STEVE LED light upgrade. Obviously I won't be keep SPS anytime soon, but I wanted to get the expense out of the way, and changing now seemed easier than changing later and having to acclimate other corals.

Next, I set up the tank: mixed water, got the stand, the STEVE's LEDS installed, the skimmer, the InTank media basket, and set up my scape. Waited for 6 weeks for the cycle to complete, tested parameters, then did a 20% water change when it was finished. It was time for the tank's first inhabitants.

C16B4EA9-E795-4BD7-814B-497DE61FB6C5.jpeg

My high tech mixing station. Apartment living at its finest.

Parameters upon first fish introduction: pH of 8.0, specific gravity of 1.025, temperature fluctuating between a narrow band of 78.5-79.5 F. Alk about 10.5, ammonia and nitrite 0, nitrates about 1-2. I was originally going to get a Firefish for the first one, but I live in a pretty small town and the only LFS within a 45 minute drive was fresh out. I eventually decided on pair of mated Ocellaris clowns.

1AE55C3C-2780-4679-80D2-F30C9893C4ED.jpeg

Pardon the snapchat image lol, and the reference to Nemo. Also, the API test kit is for my freshwater, where parameters don't really need to be super precise as there's nothing tricky to keep alive in it.


Clowns went in a week ago today and seem to be doing well! I feed them pellets and mysis, alternating so they get pellets twice a day and mysis once. I'm careful not to overfeed. I'm thinking of adding my third fish in two weeks, aiming for a firefish or maybe a tailspot blenny. I'll probably also add some snails. They amuse me.

DDC0F681-21AA-4E89-A06F-033B7C0B34E2.jpeg


My clowns staring at the camera, probably hoping to be fed. Ignore the feet.

I've decided I want my eventual list to be the following:
- Two clowns
- Goby + shrimp pair (leaning Yellow Watchman and tiger atm, lmk if you have any other recommendations)
- Tailspot blenny (though they're a ***** to find, I visited 13 LFS in one day once and didn't see any and all the online retailers are out of stock
- Royal Gramma
- Firefish

As for coral, I'm thinking of adding a Duncan or some Zoas in a few months or so, once I'm sure parameters are more stable. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of the "beginning" coral species that are recommended. I think a lot of the Xenias, palys, and others are too brown and too invasive to be worth it. I also still need to finetune my lights.

Here's how the tank looks today:
50AABB97-5145-48E1-9538-384EF2355285.jpeg

The tank as it looks today. I still need to fix the lights because they're not at their best in terms of color atm.

So far, everything has gone very smoothly for me. I know I'm still VERY early in the process, but I'm hopeful that I can find long terms success based a solid foundation of research, patience, and due diligence. Let me know if you all have any thoughts or recommendations!
 

Razorp

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If you have the money invest into a radion or kessil or you can get a AI prime light for half the price my friend has one and it is way better than the stock hood
I just did this very thing! The stock hood got me by with the schedule I posted above, but when you get enough saved up I would highly recommend the AI prime! The only downside I can see in the short time of having it, is you will then be doing daily top offs with RODI. Which I never had to top off with the hood on. I’m either going to make an acrylic top, or purchase an auto top off.
 

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Landers

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For the goby and shrimp pair, I was also going to get a yellow watchman and pistol but my LFS at the time already had a yellow rose goby and candy cane pistol pair so that’s what I ended up going with. I’ve had my pair for about a month and I love them! They can be a little skittish, but if their tank mates are pretty peaceful (which it sounds like they will be), then they’ll probably come out multiple times a day. I was also wanting to get a firefish and a tailspot(if I can find one!!). My tank is about the same size as yours(28g), so I’d love to know how the firefish and tailspot get along if you end up with both those fish!
 
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hds4216

hds4216

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For the goby and shrimp pair, I was also going to get a yellow watchman and pistol but my LFS at the time already had a yellow rose goby and candy cane pistol pair so that’s what I ended up going with. I’ve had my pair for about a month and I love them! They can be a little skittish, but if their tank mates are pretty peaceful (which it sounds like they will be), then they’ll probably come out multiple times a day. I was also wanting to get a firefish and a tailspot(if I can find one!!). My tank is about the same size as yours(28g), so I’d love to know how the firefish and tailspot get along if you end up with both those fish!
I did get both! They get along great. No trouble at all so far.
 

HAVE YOU EVER BUILT A NEW HOUSE "AROUND" A NEW DREAM REEF TANK SET UP?

  • Yes (tell us in the thread)

    Votes: 45 14.3%
  • NO, but I would like to

    Votes: 195 62.1%
  • NO, I would worry about the tank later

    Votes: 64 20.4%
  • Other (please explain)

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