Blue Damsel's 20 Gallon Budget Reef

BlueDamselReef

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What's up R2R!! Thanks for checking out my build thread! After a year and a half away from the hobby, I'm excited to be back and to get my new 20 gallon (long) reef tank started! ;Joyful I picked this size because I'll be moving again in about a year or two and wanted to get a good starter tank that was easy to move. I went with the long, because I've had a few tall or square shaped tanks and I've learned that I personally prefer a long, shallower tank for maintenance and coral placement.

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I'm not sure how, but I managed to fit 25 lbs of rock into the tank. I think the rock might be overcrowding the tank (for my taste) and I'll probably be removing a piece or two in the future. I always start with dry/base rock because I personally enjoy watching the coloration of the rock transform over time, and of course, it's cheaper. I've used live rock in the past and it was a headache dealing with all of the hitchhikers that come with live rock (mainly aiptasia!) ;Vamp

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I started this build with a lot of budget items for the sake of the video series on YouTube and for getting the 30+ day tank cycle started as soon as possible! I definitely do NOT recommend the $15 water heater that I purchased and showed in the video and I will be upgrading to the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater this week! I have no complaints from any of the other budget items and everything is working fine and going according to plan.

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My only other concern is the black bar across the center of the glass top lid. It creates a bit of a shadow/dark spot underneath and could possibly affect any corals placed under those shadow areas. I can easily slide the light to shine in front or behind this black bar and just place the corals where the light is directly shining, but I'm also looking at possible modifications to the glass top lid or maybe creating my own diy lid top. Any ideas for a diy lid top are greatly appreciate but I'm interested in full coverage only, not any mesh or egg crate options.

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I always jump start my tank's cycle with a grocery store (food grade) shrimp. I remove it after 3 days and it always works like a charm! So, I'll check back in three days with some water test results for you!

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Amboss72

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You can just pull the glass out of that black bar connecting the pieces of glass together. No more shadowing issues and you’ll still have full coverage.
 
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BlueDamselReef

BlueDamselReef

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You can just pull the glass out of that black bar connecting the pieces of glass together. No more shadowing issues and you’ll still have full coverage.
So simple and genius! I thought about it but wasn't sure it would work. I'll try it out tonight and let you know if I could manage it! Thanks!
 
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BlueDamselReef

BlueDamselReef

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You can just pull the glass out of that black bar connecting the pieces of glass together. No more shadowing issues and you’ll still have full coverage.


Took a little bit of work to get it off but we got it off! No more black bar in the middle blocking the light! I'll probably post a video at some point showing how we did it. Thanks again! :D

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Amboss72

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Oh boy! That looks like the ammonia reads I’d get from adding ammonia salts to water. However as inhuman as this sounds back in my very early saltwater aquarium days we used poor damsels to cycle a tank
 
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BlueDamselReef

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Oh boy! That looks like the ammonia reads I’d get from adding ammonia salts to water. However as inhuman as this sounds back in my very early saltwater aquarium days we used poor damsels to cycle a tank
I'm aware of the Damsel Cycle method. :p I've always used a table shrimp from the grocery store and it works great! :D
 
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A diatom bloom, several water changes, and a month later, and my tank is finally cycled and ready for some action! During that month, I've made several upgrades and updates to my 20 gallon long reef tank. I got rid of that cheap water heater and replaced it with a 100W Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater. I actually unplugged the the cheap heater during my cycle and cycled my tank without a heater because I was scared that it was going to short circuit and explode in my tank! ;Dead I didn't trust that cheap one at all!

I also upgraded the Aqua Clear-30 Filter to a Seachem Tidal-55 Filter and I am LOVING the new Seachem filter! It obviously added more flow to the tank as it is a larger and more powerful filter, rated at 250gph. But it also has a more premium look and feel with more premium features like a self priming pump, self cleaning impeller, adjustable intake pipe, maintenance alert, heater clip, and drip tray. This thing is amazing and I highly recommend if you are looking for an awesome HOB filter.

I noticed that I had too much flow in my tank, because of the extra flow from the filter. My little fish that I got was constantly hiding and only hanging out in the right hand corner, where I had a dead spot and all the food tend to settle. He only came out when I turned off the flow during feedings, so I downgraded my power head from the cheap 530gph Sunsun that I got on amazon to a Hydor Koralia Nano-240gph. Since lowering the flow, the fish now swims freely around the entire tank.

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Speaking of fish, my tank has its first fish!! ;Woot I got a Rainford's Goby aka Court Jester Goby because they are a great nano fish with nice colors, they sift through the sand in search for food, and even graze on filamentous algae. I got this little guy first because he's the smallest and most peaceful fish I'll be putting in my tank and I wanted him to get situated and comfortable in his new home, which he has. I seeded the tank with some live copepods to get him started and I feed a combination of LRS Reef Frenzy Nano, Reef Nutrition R.O.E. Real Oceanic Eggs, New Life Spectrum Fish Pellets, and Cobalt Aquatics Fish Flakes.

I also added a couple of Nassarius and Cerith Snails and I got my first 4 coral frags! I bought these right here during a Reef 2 Reef Live Sale and snagged a few easy to keep softies, to make sure my tank was stable enough to handle some coral. They've been in the tank for a couple of weeks now, and they're super happy and thriving!

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WWC Goldeneye Zoanthids and WWC Utter Peace Zoanthids

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Fat and Happy Grapelicious Aussie Lord

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Bright and Beautiful Rainbow Ricordea (who I thought was starting to split in this picture, but if you look closely, it's only curled up on the side. He's back to a perfectly rounded disc, BUT, I have noticed the past couple of days that his two mouths are much more far apart now, so hopefully he'll be splitting soon!)

The next fish I'm planning to get is hard to find, so I'll most likely have to order it online (which I'm dreading). ;Nailbiting I've seen a lot of comments recently about the water in the shipping bags having high levels of ammonia and the stress it can put on the fish and different acclimation methods for shipped fish which I'm not fully aware of. I usually buy all of my coral online, but I've never bought a fish online. But I guess there's a first time for everything, so fingers crossed that all goes smoothly.

I didn't mention the REAL first fish that I got...accidentally...because it's a LONG story, but you get caught up on that whole saga in the video attached below. Thanks for showing some love to my thread and I'll update you soon! ;Happy

 

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