Beginner Fluval Evo Build

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SubParReefer

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Hello Reefers!

Yet another Fluval Evo build here for all of you!

I got into this hobby just over a year ago during a long lockdown YouTube session where I somehow ended up in the saltwater recommended videos. After watching for hours I was hooked and wanted to gather as much information as possible about this weird and wonderful hobby. I was spending so much time doing so my better half bought me a saltwater fishkeeping book for my birthday (rock and roll huh? :D). I figured a Fluval Evo would be perfect for me to dip my toe in (without spending a fortune) to see if I did enjoy the practicality of the hobby. I also figured if I could keep up the stricter maintenance required for a nano reef, then I'd allow myself to indulge further down the line.

Due to moving I had to wait until we had some disposable income in order to gather all the necessary equipment and it wasn't until January of this year that I was able to start the build, and here is that thread:

Tank: Fluval Sea Evo 13.5g
Heater: Fluval M50
Return Pump: Eheim Compact 1000 + Random Flow Generator

Mechanical Filtration: Filter Floss
Biological Filtration: Marine Pure Biological Spheres
Nitrifying Bacteria: ATM Colony
Chemical Filtration: Fluval Activated Carbon and ChemiPure Blue
Filtration Chambers: inTank Media Baskets 1 and 2

Water Testing: API Saltwater Master and Seneye Reef

Rock: 5kg or 11lb of Real Reef Rock
Sand: Around 6kg or 13lb of CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Live Sand

Aquascaping Thoughts:
I wanted a scape that looked good from both the front and side glass panels. I've always loved archways in people's scapes as I feel it gives the fish a lot more character when they are darting in and around the arch. I wanted a gradual incline on the right side so when viewing the tank it will be "staircase" of corals leading up to the apex of the rockwork. I also had some excess rock after getting these two criteria correct so I created a small shelf on the left hand side which could potentially be home to a hammer/torch in the future.
I think the only thing missing that I would have liked would have been a cave of some sort, but unfortunately I ran out of space.

Current Livestock:
1x Ocellaris Clownfish (Bobby Firnemo). He's currently enjoying being hosted by a thermometer I've placed in the tank, I'd love him to be hosted by a 'nem/some coral one day.
1x Hermit Crab (Craby Keita). I'm unsure of which species this is as it appears to have brown legs rather than the classic scarlet/red/blue. Any suggestions would be great!
1x Nassarius Snail (Gary). This one appears quite shy and I only ever get to see his snorkel(?)/nose when feeding time happens.

The tank has been running for over a month now and I'm starting to see small brown bits on the sand which I believe are diatoms meaning the circle of life is nicely up and running. I plan on adding another fish friend and potentially some beginner coral at the end of this month. I understand nothing good comes quickly in this space so I think 2 months between fish purchases wouldn't stress my bioload too much.

Dream Stocklist:
1x Ocellaris Pair
1x Royal Gramma
1x Bicolor Blenny
1x Rainford (Court Jester) Goby
1x Diamond Goby (The other half loves their sand sifting)
1x Goby/Pistol Pairing
1x Purple FireFish
1x Flame Angel
1x Regal Tang
1x Yellow Tang
1x Copperband Butterfly
1x Yellow Boxfish
1x Leopard Wrasse
1x Naoko Wrasse
1x Anenome of sorts
Assorted Soft Corals
Some high movement LPS corals

I understand a lot of the species listed above are absolutely not suitable for a tank of my size, but if anyone has any suggestions for species that would be suitable for my next addition that would be great.

Also, is it okay to purchase a juvenile that, when fully grown, would not be suitable for the tank if you plan on upgrading to a tank that would be suitable for them? How long do fish usually take to reach maturity?
I plan on upgrading the tank around December 2023 after a planned family holiday to a 4ft, 288L tank.

Some photos(!):

Front View

Front 1 month.jpg


Side View
Side 1 month.jpg


Filtration
Filtration side 1 month.jpg


Bobby Firnemo
Ocellaris 1 month.jpg


Craby Keita
Hermit 1 month.jpg


Gary's Snorkel
Nassarius 1 month.jpg


Gary rising from the grave at feeding time

 
BRS

Sharkbait19

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Looking great!
I’d definitely up the crab and snail number, alone they don’t do much work but in swarms they are super effective. Nassarius are good for keeping the sand clean (I rarely see mine outside of feedings) and trochus for glass + rocks. Pistol shrimp also do great for sand.
Personally, I would stick to 3 fish in that size tank, 4 if you have only low waste guys like gobies.
Here are notes on each item of your list and why they would or wouldn’t be good for the tank:
1x Ocellaris Pair - good (though ideally 30 gallon minimum many, myself included, keep them in this size tank). Just be careful as they are quite mean when mature.
1x Royal Gramma - One of my favorite reef fish, I would always recommend for this tank.
1x Bicolor Blenny - I’d sub for a Tailspot blenny, bicolor get a bit too big.
1x Rainford (Court Jester) Goby - great for that size tank
1x Diamond Goby (The other half loves their sand sifting) - too big
1x Goby/Pistol Pairing - perfect fit for the 13.5, would make a good diamond goby substitute, orange spot goby (amblyeliotris guttata) has a similar look
1x Purple FireFish - perfect fit, I prefer the red ones but any firefish is a beautiful, elegant nano fish.
1x Flame Angel - too big
1x Regal Tang - too big, gets as big as the tank is wide, 150 gallon bare minimum
1x Yellow Tang - too big - needs at least a 75-90 gallon tank
1x Copperband Butterfly - too big
1x Yellow Boxfish - too big
1x Leopard Wrasse - too big
1x Naoko Wrasse - too big
1x Anenome of sorts - may or may not work depending on species and how much it moves. I’d stick with rock flower in this size tank (bubble tip spread fast and can hurt/kill coral)
Assorted Soft Corals - perfect
Some high movement LPS corals - perfect

Most fish that get too big for the 13.5 would already have outgrown it by the time the upgrade would occur, or be horribly stunted (and likely already died) by then.

As for stocking, I recommend splitting that by territory, as in not having a rock dweller, open water fish, and sand dweller. This reduces chances of aggression and makes for a much more dynamic display imo.
 

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Looking great!
I’d definitely up the crab and snail number, alone they don’t do much work but in swarms they are super effective. Nassarius are good for keeping the sand clean (I rarely see mine outside of feedings) and trochus for glass + rocks. Pistol shrimp also do great for sand.
Personally, I would stick to 3 fish in that size tank, 4 if you have only low waste guys like gobies.
Here are notes on each item of your list and why they would or wouldn’t be good for the tank:
1x Ocellaris Pair - good (though ideally 30 gallon minimum many, myself included, keep them in this size tank). Just be careful as they are quite mean when mature.
1x Royal Gramma - One of my favorite reef fish, I would always recommend for this tank.
1x Bicolor Blenny - I’d sub for a Tailspot blenny, bicolor get a bit too big.
1x Rainford (Court Jester) Goby - great for that size tank
1x Diamond Goby (The other half loves their sand sifting) - too big
1x Goby/Pistol Pairing - perfect fit for the 13.5, would make a good diamond goby substitute, orange spot goby (amblyeliotris guttata) has a similar look
1x Purple FireFish - perfect fit, I prefer the red ones but any firefish is a beautiful, elegant nano fish.
1x Flame Angel - too big
1x Regal Tang - too big, gets as big as the tank is wide, 150 gallon bare minimum
1x Yellow Tang - too big - needs at least a 75-90 gallon tank
1x Copperband Butterfly - too big
1x Yellow Boxfish - too big
1x Leopard Wrasse - too big
1x Naoko Wrasse - too big
1x Anenome of sorts - may or may not work depending on species and how much it moves. I’d stick with rock flower in this size tank (bubble tip spread fast and can hurt/kill coral)
Assorted Soft Corals - perfect
Some high movement LPS corals - perfect

Most fish that get too big for the 13.5 would already have outgrown it by the time the upgrade would occur, or be horribly stunted (and likely already died) by then.

As for stocking, I recommend splitting that by territory, as in not having a rock dweller, open water fish, and sand dweller. This reduces chances of aggression and makes for a much more dynamic display imo.

Meme Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon

That about covers all of it!
Following along! I have an Evo too. Super fun little tank.!
 
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SubParReefer

SubParReefer

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Looking great!
I’d definitely up the crab and snail number, alone they don’t do much work but in swarms they are super effective. Nassarius are good for keeping the sand clean (I rarely see mine outside of feedings) and trochus for glass + rocks. Pistol shrimp also do great for sand.
Personally, I would stick to 3 fish in that size tank, 4 if you have only low waste guys like gobies.
Here are notes on each item of your list and why they would or wouldn’t be good for the tank:
1x Ocellaris Pair - good (though ideally 30 gallon minimum many, myself included, keep them in this size tank). Just be careful as they are quite mean when mature.
1x Royal Gramma - One of my favorite reef fish, I would always recommend for this tank.
1x Bicolor Blenny - I’d sub for a Tailspot blenny, bicolor get a bit too big.
1x Rainford (Court Jester) Goby - great for that size tank
1x Diamond Goby (The other half loves their sand sifting) - too big
1x Goby/Pistol Pairing - perfect fit for the 13.5, would make a good diamond goby substitute, orange spot goby (amblyeliotris guttata) has a similar look
1x Purple FireFish - perfect fit, I prefer the red ones but any firefish is a beautiful, elegant nano fish.
1x Flame Angel - too big
1x Regal Tang - too big, gets as big as the tank is wide, 150 gallon bare minimum
1x Yellow Tang - too big - needs at least a 75-90 gallon tank
1x Copperband Butterfly - too big
1x Yellow Boxfish - too big
1x Leopard Wrasse - too big
1x Naoko Wrasse - too big
1x Anenome of sorts - may or may not work depending on species and how much it moves. I’d stick with rock flower in this size tank (bubble tip spread fast and can hurt/kill coral)
Assorted Soft Corals - perfect
Some high movement LPS corals - perfect

Most fish that get too big for the 13.5 would already have outgrown it by the time the upgrade would occur, or be horribly stunted (and likely already died) by then.

As for stocking, I recommend splitting that by territory, as in not having a rock dweller, open water fish, and sand dweller. This reduces chances of aggression and makes for a much more dynamic display imo.
Amazing reply, thank you! Think I'll take the advice of only get fish that can fit in this tank regardless of age. The larger will remain on the "dream stocklist" for when I have the room for the beauties.

Regarding the Royal Gramma, I've been told they're only really suitable for 30g+, could I actually get away with it in the 13.5?
 
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SubParReefer

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Purchased what I believe is a trochus today from the LFS. The sign said "Turbo snail" but also had the species description as "Trochus/Astrea" so I think the LFS may be a little confused :D. The specimen I got looks like a trochus due to it's 'turban' shaped shell and black body/head. I placed it on the sandbed near my diatom growth but it doesn't seem to have moved much. Would it be happier if I picked it up and placed it on the rock work?

Trochus 1 month.jpg
 

Sharkbait19

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Purchased what I believe is a trochus today from the LFS. The sign said "Turbo snail" but also had the species description as "Trochus/Astrea" so I think the LFS may be a little confused :D. The specimen I got looks like a trochus due to it's 'turban' shaped shell and black body/head. I placed it on the sandbed near my diatom growth but it doesn't seem to have moved much. Would it be happier if I picked it up and placed it on the rock work?

Trochus 1 month.jpg
Maybe a hybrid? I’m not sure honestly. Trochus will have tentacles all around them that astreas lack to my knowledge.
Amazing reply, thank you! Think I'll take the advice of only get fish that can fit in this tank regardless of age. The larger will remain on the "dream stocklist" for when I have the room for the beauties.

Regarding the Royal Gramma, I've been told they're only really suitable for 30g+, could I actually get away with it in the 13.5?
A lot of the fish that can go in a 13.5 are “20-30 minimum.” Bigger is always better, but royal gramma will hide a lot and isn’t too active so I’d say it could be done in a 13.5.
 
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Maybe a hybrid? I’m not sure honestly. Trochus will have tentacles all around them that astreas lack to my knowledge.

A lot of the fish that can go in a 13.5 are “20-30 minimum.” Bigger is always better, but royal gramma will hide a lot and isn’t too active so I’d say it could be done in a 13.5.

That's great! Royal Grammas were always one of the fish that caught my eye with their amazing colouration but wasn't convinced I could keep one. Think that will be added to the stock list!
 
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That's great! Royal Grammas were always one of the fish that caught my eye with their amazing colouration but wasn't convinced I could keep one. Think that will be added to the stock list!
Lots of people have grammas in the EVO (I’ve debated one for my EVO too), so you should be OK.

I wouldn’t worry about the snail yet, it sometimes takes them some time to adjust and get moving. If it’s not moving at all by tomorrow, it might be dead. It’ll likely move itself to your rocks or glass, they don’t spend much time on the sand.

congrats on the new setup!
 
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Lots of people have grammas in the EVO (I’ve debated one for my EVO too), so you should be OK.

I wouldn’t worry about the snail yet, it sometimes takes them some time to adjust and get moving. If it’s not moving at all by tomorrow, it might be dead. It’ll likely move itself to your rocks or glass, they don’t spend much time on the sand.

congrats on the new setup!

I've seen it move a small distance but not any further than an inch or so from the place I set it down at. If it's not found its way somewhere by tomorrow I'll give it a helping hand. Was hoping for a snail that would help eat the diatoms off of the sand (it's where the worst of the bloom is) but seems like this guy is best suited for rock work.
 
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How's the ugly phase going?
Not too bad so far. I had a slight diatom bloom in one corner of the tank but I'm scraping the glass/disrupting the sand every other day to try and keep the tank looking clean. I bought a trochus/astrea (not sure which) yesterday which doesn't seem too happy. Looks like I'll need to perform some manual gardening!
 
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Looks like the snail is fully retreated. Is this a bad sign or normal for new additions? My nassarius took to the tank very well but this trochus/Astrea isn’t at all happy.
1DEFB2D5-927E-44EC-9BFC-D09147CF1855.jpeg
Probably normal - should be fine but they also just die for no reason sometimes. Trochus are definitely the hardiest I’ve had so it should be good.
 

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Looks like the snail is fully retreated. Is this a bad sign or normal for new additions? My nassarius took to the tank very well but this trochus/Astrea isn’t at all happy.
1DEFB2D5-927E-44EC-9BFC-D09147CF1855.jpeg
Just keep an eye on it. They really do adjust slowly sometimes, especially if something like your salinity is different than the place you got it from. They're also more active at night and sometimes they'll just set up shop for a while in the same spot during the day. It's tough to tell from that picture, but it looks like it's still holding onto the rock. If it's still "stuck" to the rock, it's probably OK. If it isn't, you may have a problem.

As a last resort, you can try the smell test (take it out and smell it). It's not for the faint of heart. If it's dead, the smell will be pretty awful.
 
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Just keep an eye on it. They really do adjust slowly sometimes, especially if something like your salinity is different than the place you got it from. They're also more active at night and sometimes they'll just set up shop for a while in the same spot during the day. It's tough to tell from that picture, but it looks like it's still holding onto the rock. If it's still "stuck" to the rock, it's probably OK. If it isn't, you may have a problem.

As a last resort, you can try the smell test (take it out and smell it). It's not for the faint of heart. If it's dead, the smell will be pretty awful.
I gave it the sniff test earlier but there was no discernible odour however, there was no stickiness/resistance when picking it up from the rock. I’ll see how it gets on and if it’s not moved on a day or so I’ll give it another sniff, don’t want an ammonia bomb sitting in the tank
 
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Well the first tank death is confirmed. The Trochus/Astrea still hadn’t moved when I checked this morning so I gave it the sniff test again. My god that was an experience ;Vomit

Unsure as to why it didn’t do too well, parameters are:

Salinity: .026
Temp: 26C
Ammonia: 0.25ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 25ppm

The nutrient readings are estimates due to the inaccuracy of the API colour readings.
Going to perform a 20% water change today as I’m on holiday over the weekend.

Also had a shipment today, a new heater to help mix salt rather than juggling my tank heater between the bucket and return chamber :D and a 20kg box of Reef Crystals. I bought a 4kg tub of the Instant Ocean salt mix but didn’t realise
1) How quickly I’d use it up and
2) How it wasn’t super suitable for coral.
Hoping to get some softies in the coming weeks so will be moving salt.
 

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Very excited to follow you on your journey @SubParReefer ! I also have a 13.5 g fluval It's deffinatly an interesting hobby since I started I'm pretty addicted to it I love it so much! I currently have a watchmen goby in my tank right now his name is Mr. Wizzo. I did have a firefish but unfortunately lost him as he got scared and jumped out and I didn't notice till after very sad day but I have learned from it. Sometimes you win some Sometimes you loose some. I have two more fish on the way they have been in quarantine at my boyfriends in a coupe days they should be go I had gotten another firefish very beautiful and as well as a clownfish they've been observed and been medicated to makes sure there's not parasites or ich that could potentially effect my tank and kill my other fish; as I do have a fair amount going in my tank now i would hate to have to isolate and quarantine my fish and tank for 3 months to resolve it. It was a hard decision on what 3 fish to get as I had to do my research on which ones were compatable and safe to be together. I'm very excited. Even though you can only put 3 fish in the tank there's still so many other inverts you can put in your tank!! I did recently have a pom pom crab really cool looking crab but he recently passed as well he had lost his anenomes for a while and I think my watchmen was a bit of a bully to him. If you get a gobby you can get a pistol shrimp and hopefully they pair. Diffrent crabs i have a few red and blue legged crabs. Snails, astrea nassarius, cerith, bumblebee ect all do diffrent things great cleanup crew which is really important. As well as when the lights go out you might see some movements from stuff you didn't even know was in the tank like bristleworms spaghetti worms bunch of other stuff that's good for the tank. I've seen some pretty large bristleworms in my tank real gross looking haha! Very excited for you wish you good luck!
 
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