Andie's Beginner 20g Tank (Budget-Friendly)

andiesreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
477
Reaction score
456
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey

Andie's First Saltwater Aquarium

Hey everybody! Today I figured I'd start a build thread on the progression of my first reef tank. It is a tad late, as the tank is already 3 months old, but I reckoned I'd just start here. So, rewind to September 2020. I had just set up my first planted aquarium with the help of my dad. I learned so much from this tank, and it sparked my interest in the fish keeping hobby. I enjoyed this tank for a year and a few months before it started going downhill, and I relocated or sold all of my stock. This was what the tank looked like in the very beginning:

59329104516__F7331F8B-00EC-43D3-B22D-66931351245B.fullsizerender.jpeg


Kind of crude, but I loved it. After I sold the fish, I cleaned out the entire aquarium, filtration, and heating system with a vinegar/water mixture and filled the tank up with tap water, letting it run through the equipment for about 2-3 weeks to remove any lasting debris and vinegar.​

IMG_6375.jpeg


So, now I had to decide what to do with the tank. I'd had this little dream of having a saltwater tank for a few months now, so my dad and decided I set one up together. I had a few main criteria in mind.

Simple. This tank needed to be beginner-friendly, easy to maintain, and not contain anything difficult to care for. That knocked essentially all SPS and picky eaters off the list. Additionally, the tank needed to be able to hold up with a neighbor coming over and feeding it when we were on vacation. I decided not to try and install any kind of sump.

Affordable. While I already had the aquarium and some freshwater equipment set up, the new equipment would need to be affordable. I wasn't looking to break the bank to set up this tank.

Interesting. Finally, the tank needed to be unique! Sure, it was going to be beginner-friendly, but I wanted the ability to keep some colorful corals like zoanthids, ricordea, acans, duncans, and possibly even an anemone down the road. The fish also needed to be small, hardy, peaceful, and colorful. Nothing that would nip at corals or inverts, because I wanted a large and varied clean-up crew.

After I had my criteria all laid out, it was time to start planning. I decided I wanted to keep softies and LPS in this tank. I would use a simple HOB filter and freshwater heater to keep the water clean. I would use dry rock to minimize the introduction of pests, but live sand to introduce beneficial bacteria. I also decided on the following stocking plan.

Fish
  • One ocellaris clownfish (We ended up choosing a black snowflake clown)
  • One easy-care goby or blenny (We ended up with a yellow watchman goby)
  • One royal gramma (It sadly passed away due to ich)
  • One springer's damselfish (To be added)
Clean-Up Crew
  • 5 astrea snails (We ended up with 7, oh well)
  • 5 dwarf blue-legged hermits
  • 2 peppermint shrimp (We originally had 3, but one died in a filter malfunction)
  • 1 skunk cleaner shrimp
  • 1 emerald crab
  • 1 fighting conch
Coral Choices

An asterisk denotes a coral that I haven't added yet, I plan to add, or is a more difficult coral I want to work towards.
  • Discosoma, ricordea florida, or rhodactis mushrooms
  • Zoanthids + palythoas
  • Green star polyps
  • Clove polyps
  • Leather corals
  • Acans
  • Duncans
  • Candy-cane corals*
  • Euphyllia*
  • Rock flower anenome*
  • Favia/favites*
  • Goniopora
And all of a sudden, everything was ordered and the tank was cycling.
IMG_6503 2.jpeg

Equipment
  • 20lbs CaribSea live sand
  • Aqueon QuietFlow 20 HOB filter
  • Aqueon heater, rated up to 20 gallons
  • Fluval Sea CP2 powerhead
  • 20lbs dry rock
  • AquaTop ATP surface skimmer
  • Current USA Orbit Marine light
The tank took about a month to cycle. When the diatoms first arrived, 3 dwarf hermits, an emerald crab, a royal gramma and 3 astrea snails were added along with the first corals (yay!)

IMG_6756.jpeg
IMG_6904.jpeg
IMG_6813.jpeg


The gramma passed away about a month later after battling ich. I had attempted SeaChem ParaGuard in a 5g bucket for a week to cure it, but it didn't work. During this time, more corals, crabs, snails, and the goby were added. One frag died, an Acan, after being blasted with too much light. A few days ago, we purchased a goniopora frag along with a black snowflake clownfish. The Goni is stressing me out a bit, but seems ok so far. I hope I can keep it well-fed. This thread will be updated as the tank matures. You can check out my instagram @andiesaquatics for more frequent updates.

IMG_7109.jpg
IMG_7111.jpeg
IMG_7112.jpeg
IMG_7098.jpg


The tank 6 weeks ago:


IMG_6762.jpeg


The tank 1 week ago (corals were curled up for the night)


IMG_7010.jpeg
 
Zoanthids

KingTideCorals

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
2,618
Reaction score
6,508
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
AWESOME WRITE UP!

I really enjoyed this! I am all about a budget friendly system, and it is good to know what you are getting yourself into in this hobby! Being smart with your funds will help ya in the long run! Glad you decided to get a build thread up and running and I look forward to seeing updates and seeing how the tank progresses! Welcome!
 
OP
andiesreef

andiesreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
477
Reaction score
456
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey

Andie's First Saltwater Aquarium

Hey everybody! Today I figured I'd start a build thread on the progression of my first reef tank. It is a tad late, as the tank is already 3 months old, but I reckoned I'd just start here. So, rewind to September 2020. I had just set up my first planted aquarium with the help of my dad. I learned so much from this tank, and it sparked my interest in the fish keeping hobby. I enjoyed this tank for a year and a few months before it started going downhill, and I relocated or sold all of my stock. This was what the tank looked like in the very beginning:

59329104516__F7331F8B-00EC-43D3-B22D-66931351245B.fullsizerender.jpeg


Kind of crude, but I loved it. After I sold the fish, I cleaned out the entire aquarium, filtration, and heating system with a vinegar/water mixture and filled the tank up with tap water, letting it run through the equipment for about 2-3 weeks to remove any lasting debris and vinegar.​

IMG_6375.jpeg


So, now I had to decide what to do with the tank. I'd had this little dream of having a saltwater tank for a few months now, so my dad and decided I set one up together. I had a few main criteria in mind.

Simple. This tank needed to be beginner-friendly, easy to maintain, and not contain anything difficult to care for. That knocked essentially all SPS and picky eaters off the list. Additionally, the tank needed to be able to hold up with a neighbor coming over and feeding it when we were on vacation. I decided not to try and install any kind of sump.

Affordable. While I already had the aquarium and some freshwater equipment set up, the new equipment would need to be affordable. I wasn't looking to break the bank to set up this tank.

Interesting. Finally, the tank needed to be unique! Sure, it was going to be beginner-friendly, but I wanted the ability to keep some colorful corals like zoanthids, ricordea, acans, duncans, and possibly even an anemone down the road. The fish also needed to be small, hardy, peaceful, and colorful. Nothing that would nip at corals or inverts, because I wanted a large and varied clean-up crew.

After I had my criteria all laid out, it was time to start planning. I decided I wanted to keep softies and LPS in this tank. I would use a simple HOB filter and freshwater heater to keep the water clean. I would use dry rock to minimize the introduction of pests, but live sand to introduce beneficial bacteria. I also decided on the following stocking plan.

Fish
  • One ocellaris clownfish (We ended up choosing a black snowflake clown)
  • One easy-care goby or blenny (We ended up with a yellow watchman goby)
  • One royal gramma (It sadly passed away due to ich)
  • One springer's damselfish (To be added)
Clean-Up Crew
  • 5 astrea snails (We ended up with 7, oh well)
  • 5 dwarf blue-legged hermits
  • 2 peppermint shrimp (We originally had 3, but one died in a filter malfunction)
  • 1 skunk cleaner shrimp
  • 1 emerald crab
  • 1 fighting conch
Coral Choices

An asterisk denotes a coral that I haven't added yet, I plan to add, or is a more difficult coral I want to work towards.
  • Discosoma, ricordea florida, or rhodactis mushrooms
  • Zoanthids + palythoas
  • Green star polyps
  • Clove polyps
  • Leather corals
  • Acans
  • Duncans
  • Candy-cane corals*
  • Euphyllia*
  • Rock flower anenome*
  • Favia/favites*
  • Goniopora
And all of a sudden, everything was ordered and the tank was cycling.
IMG_6503 2.jpeg

Equipment
  • 20lbs CaribSea live sand
  • Aqueon QuietFlow 20 HOB filter
  • Aqueon heater, rated up to 20 gallons
  • Fluval Sea CP2 powerhead
  • 20lbs dry rock
  • AquaTop ATP surface skimmer
  • Current USA Orbit Marine light
The tank took about a month to cycle. When the diatoms first arrived, 3 dwarf hermits, an emerald crab, a royal gramma and 3 astrea snails were added along with the first corals (yay!)

IMG_6756.jpeg
IMG_6904.jpeg
IMG_6813.jpeg


The gramma passed away about a month later after battling ich. I had attempted SeaChem ParaGuard in a 5g bucket for a week to cure it, but it didn't work. During this time, more corals, crabs, snails, and the goby were added. One frag died, an Acan, after being blasted with too much light. A few days ago, we purchased a goniopora frag along with a black snowflake clownfish. The Goni is stressing me out a bit, but seems ok so far. I hope I can keep it well-fed. This thread will be updated as the tank matures. You can check out my instagram @andiesaquatics for more frequent updates.

IMG_7109.jpg
IMG_7111.jpeg
IMG_7112.jpeg
IMG_7098.jpg


The tank 6 weeks ago:

IMG_6762.jpeg


The tank 1 week ago (corals were curled up for the night)

IMG_7010.jpeg

edit: my first planted tank ran from september 2019-january 2021, not september 2020.
 
OP
andiesreef

andiesreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
477
Reaction score
456
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey
AWESOME WRITE UP!

I really enjoyed this! I am all about a budget friendly system, and it is good to know what you are getting yourself into in this hobby! Being smart with your funds will help ya in the long run! Glad you decided to get a build thread up and running and I look forward to seeing updates and seeing how the tank progresses! Welcome!
oh my goodness thank you for the kind words! i will make sure to keep this up to date. glad to know others are interested in my tank!!!
 
OP
andiesreef

andiesreef

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
477
Reaction score
456
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey
4/29/21 - My DT has broken out in ich after incorrect treatment of a previous fish and failure to quarantine new arrivals. I plan to dose for 3 weeks with SeaChem ParaGuard in my QT or another Ich medication, and then observe the fish until my planned 45-day fallow period is over.
 

revhtree

Owner Administrator
View Badges
Joined
May 8, 2006
Messages
43,464
Reaction score
67,684
Review score
+1 /0 /-0
AF9159EF-A90A-4E5A-A9B8-63D08923E26D.jpeg


Approaching the 6mo mark.

stocking -

pair of ocellaris clowns
rolland's damsel
yellow watchman goby
firefish

YAY! Congrats and it's looking great!
 

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 32 6.4%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 356 70.9%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 36 7.2%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 53 10.6%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 46 9.2%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 9 1.8%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 6 1.2%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 3 0.6%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 40 8.0%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 5 1.0%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 23 4.6%
  • (least) Nitrate

    Votes: 6 1.2%
  • (least) Nitrite

    Votes: 160 31.9%
  • (least) Ammonia

    Votes: 197 39.2%
RC
Top