AyeNick's University EVO 13.5 Build Thread - College Show Tank Progress!

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ISFNick

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Hi, everyone!

This is the build thread for my EVO 13.5.
As of right now, the plan is to make this an LPS-dominant reef tank, and my goal is to focus on water quality and coral colors to produce a show-caliber nano tank on a college budget and a college time commitment.

Follow my build also on Instagram! (https://www.instagram.com/ayenickreef/)

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Dec. 3, 2021

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Dec. 20, 2021
 
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ISFNick

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This is the aquascape! I decided to try out some RealReefRock from my main LFS, Neptune Aquatics in San Jose.

I'm extremely happy with how it turned out and there will be a lot of great potential for coral placement.
 
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I wanted to make a separate post to talk about my plans for the tank. There are certain things I want to pay particular attention to while this build progresses.

(1) I want this build to be easy to maintain.
- I have studies and classes to attend, friends to spend time with, and things to do. I need this tank to not require 24/7 attention. This is why LPS corals are attractive to me for this build, because they fit the bill.
- I will be most likely away from the tank for extended periods of time for vacations, trips, etc. The corals need to be able to do well if I'm not home.
(2) I'm on a budget.
- Reef tanks are expensive, but I am a college student. I need to balance my budget with my desire to provide the best environment for corals to thrive. I will be generally buying used equipment.
(3) I care about aesthetics.
- I want to be able to create a show-quality tank that can impress guests with coral colors, movement, clean sand, clear water, and transparent glass.

With these things in mind, here is my general plan for the tank:
I will be saving money for equipment.
Equipment will include an AI Prime, Nero 3, and other goods I need for the tank and its maintenance.
My AI Prime 16HD will follow the BRS recommended LPS settings.
I will follow a four-month cycle schedule before I add corals. During the intial stage of the cycle, I will add my livestock: Clownfish pair, 2 trochus snails, and 3 hermit crabs. Not sure if this is enough CUC. I don't have a lot of rock. I will feed TDO Chroma Boost pellets and Mysis Shrimp.
The reason for the length of the cycle is that it is important to me that I establish as much stability as possible before adding corals to the tank. I will run the tank with the light off until the 3-month mark, in order to avoid spreading algae too much early on. I also will add coralline algae a couple times during the cycle to gauge the quality of the environment for coral growth. At the 4-month mark, I will add test corals. If by 5 months the corals are doing great, I will begin gradually populating the rock with corals.

Like I said, LPS corals will be great for the tank as they are easier than SPS, but look better than softies (in my opinion). I will also be adding numerous zoas and some mushrooms. LPS corals that I like and may add are acans, blastos, torches, hammers, favias, scolys, gonis, etc.
I will try out dosing Tropic Marin's All For Reef as a single, easy additive. Many reefers have found success with it.
My number one priority is water. A wise reefer once said, "Don't keep corals, keep water. The corals will follow."
Therefore, my goal is to focus on my water providing the most optimal environment possible for coral growth. Stability is more important than parameters in this respect.

That's all for now!
 
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I got the tank! I also Picked up some Arag-Alive Special Grade, Bio-Spira, Frozen Mysis, and a Red Sea Marine Care Kit.
I have the Hanna Alk, Red Sea Calcium, Red Sea Magnesium, Hanna Salinity Checker, and Hanna Phosphate test kits left over from my last build.
At this point in time, all I REALLY need to start to cycle the tank is some salt. I will be also getting a 20-gallon brute trash can to mix my saltwater in. With that I'll get a pump to mix the saltwater, dolly for the trash can to wheel it next to the tank, and water change pump from Hygger.
All this will allow me to begin the tank cycle. A month or so from then, I'll be getting a pair of DaVinci clowns from an LFS in Fresno (Aquatic Pets and Reptiles). The prices are great there, plus clownfish pairs are 20% off!
 
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I'm gonna try to keep updates roughly weekly, I think.

I've gone head and bought EVERYTHING I need for my build! The only thing really missing is the AI Prime, which I should be picking up around christmas if all goes well. I will be making modifications to my aquascape to make it viewable from 3 sides! That's right, I'm going with a peninsula setup, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I'm waiting for everything to be delivered. All I really need at this point is my order from BulkReefSupply to get everything started. Everything should be here by the 17th.

Additionally, I ordered Live Reef Rubble from AquaBiomics. It's like Live Rock that's in bits, and it's meant to go in a sump. I will be putting it in the third compartment of my InTank Media Basket. This Live Rock Rubble is tested and monitored for parasites and hitchhikers and is aquacultured and cleaned by peppermint shrimp. This will hopefully help me establish a biome in the tank very quickly. Insta-tank.

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At this point it looks like my cycle will be started by the 18th. With the addition of live rubble in the sump, live sand, and bio-spira, I believe my tank will likely be ready for fish by the time I get back to Merced from the Bay Area for the holiday break. I'll turn on the AI Prime on acclimation mode around February 18th or so. and then by the beginning of spring I'll test out adding some corals.

Whether I get corals will highly depend on whether I get an internship over the summer. If I end up having an internship to go to, I may refrain from adding corals at all--I would not want to risk coral mortalities for the 8-10 weeks I would be away. It will be hard to resist buying corals, that's for sure.
 
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Great build ! It takes courage to get into this hobby while in college, I must say.

I might have missed it but are you making your own rodi water ?
Great question! Yes, I will be making my own RODI water. Unfortunately there are no stores nearby that sell 0 TDS water.
BRS RODI units are a bit out of my price range so I spent around $120 on a 100gpd Aquatic Life 4-stage RODI unit. I’ve heard good things about it. I will get a handheld TDS meter soon, too. I’ve heard that people get 0 tds with this unit, though.
 

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Following - I’m a few months over a year into the reefing hobby as a college student. The first few months were challenging for sure, but definitely doable once you get in the hang of things… People will always love coming to your place!
 
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Following - I’m a few months over a year into the reefing hobby as a college student. The first few months were challenging for sure, but definitely doable once you get in the hang of things… People will always love coming to your place!
Would love to see a build thread! What and where do you study?

I'm happy that I've had a good couple years of prior experience before starting this new build. As long as I'm taking my time and focusing on stability and low-maintenance stocking, I feel that I can be successful. I'm going without SPS, except perhaps one monti cap. I'm going to try to have a maintenance rhythm that is easy for someone else to follow if I'm away from my tank for a long period of time, such as in the event of a 10-week internship. This is why I bought a 20-gallon mixing container and I'm using Neptune CD Crossover Diet Pellets.
 
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I spent around $120 on a 100gpd Aquatic Life 4-stage RODI unit. I’ve heard good things about it. I will get a handheld TDS meter soon, too. I’ve heard that people get 0 tds with this unit, though.
That’s what I have an it’s just perfect ! I got it after seeing this Youtuber in college that was using it. I wanted something light and portable.
 
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Go for it! I have only had a nano, so I can’t comment by comparison, but it really isn’t too hard as long as you don’t do anything stupid.
been thinking about starting one for my kids since they always want to help with my tank. but your talking to the king of doing stupid stuff hahahaha
 
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That’s what I have an it’s just perfect ! I got it after seeing this Youtuber in college that was using it. I wanted something light and portable.
Ah, yes, CoralFish12G. My inspiration! Followed him first before anyone else and I've come a long way, and have grown out of a lot of what he's said on his channel. I still watch his videos and look to him as inspiration a lot. He's had his clownfish pair for a LONG time and I want to be the same as him in that sense.
@coralfish12g

Looking good! Can’t wait to see it all filled up!
Thank you!

this really makes me want to build a nano tank lol.
Do it! I will of course recommend my Fluval Evo or a Red Sea Max Nano for a higher end option

been thinking about starting one for my kids since they always want to help with my tank. but your talking to the king of doing stupid stuff hahahaha
I think that would be a great thing! Your kids can make a build thread! :)
 
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Looks like a great plan and a great start!

Did you put the rubble in the 3rd compartment of the intank media basket yet? Are you finding that the little acrylic groove catches on the rubble when you push it back in?
I haven't been able to put the rubble in the tank.
I was planning to get water in the tank but I needed my salt for that, which was supposed to arrive Friday. It arrives later today, 3 days later, but the rubble arrived friday. I tested the water that the rubble came in, and I'll let the test result speak for itself.

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The ammonia indicates a massive bacteria population dieoff, and ever since I brought this up to AquaBiomics they have been unresponsive.

I do imagine that the rubble will catch on the groove you're talking about. I didn't think of that before. I may yet still end up buying another batch if this batch has gone bad, as I really would like to make the cycle as easy as possible.
 
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