Classroom Pico Reef

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Laniac103

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This is my second saltwater tank, I didn't take many pictures when setting up the first one so never bothered doing a build thread. For this one I figured I'd do it right and document everything. Hopefully if/when I run in to issues with it that'll make it easier for all you smart people here to help me solve them. Without further ado:

The Tank:
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Its a 6 gallon cube from aqueon, fits perfectly on my desk at school and hopefully will give the students something to look at when they're zoning out from listening to me lecture .

I'm lucky enough to work at a school with a robotics program so I convinced the teacher there to let me commandeer his laser cutter and 3d printer one afternoon and made myself a panel and some baffles for a sump/filter compartment in the back of the tank. As well as a nozzle for my return pump to hopefully spread the flow out some. I just used superglue to attach everything together so it won't be completely water tight from the rest of the tank but I don't think that will really matter?
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Here they are in the tank, worked out perfectly with just enough room for my pump down in the bottom left.
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Kinda ugly looking but it's the back of the tank so who cares.

I'm starting this one off with dry rock and live sand, might throw in an extra piece of live rock from my home tank if I have room, well see.
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I don't have a great eye for aquascape or anything like that but I'm pretty happy with how this one looks, hoping the coral eventually will grow on it and give it some character. And finally here it is with water in it, I'm just waiting for everything to settle down so I can start ghost feeding and get the cycle going.
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I've got a small 50W preset heater in the back and I ordered a par38 LED bulb for the lamp that I'm hoping will provide some decent lighting. Is there anything else I'm forgetting or that yall think I should add?
 
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Laniac103

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Couple of quick questions for anyone reading this. How long does it usually take for the water to settle down and stop being so cloudy? I figured in a tank this small it would happen pretty quick but its been a few hours now and it seems like it hasn't changed at all. Secondly, are there any fish you think would be possible to eventually keep in a tank this small? I'd like to rehome my clown from my home tank here since he's recently become a bit of a bully towards my pajama cardinals but I've read mixed things about keeping them in anything smaller than a 10g tank. If that doesn't work I was thinking maybe a goby of some kind or just sticking with coral and a few inverts, what do y'all think?
 

FjordReef

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Looks great! As far as the water clearing up, it appears you have very fine sand which I've heard from several people takes forever to settle out of the water and also gets stirred up very easily. It will settle eventually I'm sure.

For stocking, I have a pair of clowns in a 10 gallon cube and I feel guilt about it every day. I'll be moving them to a 20 gallon soon. I would personally stick with some of the cool inverts there are available for your 6 gallon. It really is up to you and what you're comfortable with. For myself, I just couldn't put a fish in anything less than 10 gallons.

Looking forward to seeing the progress with this build! Excellent job with the DIY AIO as well. :)
 
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Laniac103

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I would personally stick with some of the cool inverts there are available for your 6 gallon.
Thats kind of what I was leaning towards as well. Snails and maybe a sexy shrimp or two, I'm not sure yet. I'll just have to find some other way to curb my clowns aggression in my home tank.

And thanks! I was pretty pleased with how the AIO compartment turned out, I think I'm eventually gonna try and get an extra light and grow chaeto back there, I'll keep this updated if I make any changes.
 

Rtaylor

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Looks like fun! If you want to hide the back, you could always paint it black or put black vinyl on it. I think a barnacle blenny or two would work in the tank. They are tiny and spend most of their time with their head sticking out of a hole in the rock, so they don’t need much swimming space. I think pulsing Xenia would be fun for kids to watch. Good luck! Here are a few pics of my barnacle blennies:
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Laniac103

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Looks like fun! If you want to hide the back, you could always paint it black or put black vinyl on it. I think a barnacle blenny or two would work in the tank. They are tiny and spend most of their time with their head sticking out of a hole in the rock, so they don’t need much swimming space. I think pulsing Xenia would be fun for kids to watch. Good luck! Here are a few pics of my barnacle blennies:
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Those guys are pretty adorable, I'll look in to them for sure! I have a rock in my home tank thats absolutely covered in pulsing xenia, I was thinking of just moving it up to this tank once it gets cycled.
 
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Laniac103

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One of my Yashas.
I actually have a yasha/pistol shrimp pair in my tank at home already. They've been super fun to watch dart in and out of their little burrow at feeding time but I kinda want to stay away from just making this tank a mini version of my home one so I was looking for some different fish. Great picture though!
 
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Laniac103

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The water has cleared up and my bulb for the light came in, I don't have a par meter but it looks plenty bright to me. I also threw a hermit crab in there from my home tank. I figured he would be a nice tough source of ammonia/waste to start the cycle with. I was planning on just feeding him 1 or 2 mysis shrimp a day until I saw ammonia start to appear, does that seem like too much?

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DeniseAndy

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I keep a 6g and have lots of fish in it. Crazy I know, but @Biota_Marine captive breeds many of the Eviota and Trimma species. Perfect for our tiny tanks. Sexy shrimp are great too. I also love a small conch and scarlet hermits. A pom pom crab would work too.
My white spotted dwarf gobies and black bellied are so cute and even interesting to watch.

Man, Live wild rock would have been great for that tank. Good time to watch all the critters that come with it come out. May not even need to buy any livestock. It could have tons on it. Just a thought.

Good luck! Looks great so far!
 
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Laniac103

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1 month update: I've been feeding the hermit crab mysis shrimp and haven't done a water change yet. I'm starting to see some small green spots appear on the rocks, mostly in the low light areas so I'm assuming that means my nitrogen cycle is complete at least. I will be testing the water tomorrow to confirm ammonia is at zero and nitrates are present. Last week I took a small frag of xenia out of my main tank as a tester coral and it didn't survive. I'm not sure why but it dissolved away and all thats left is a bare plug, so I'm a little nervous to try and add anything else to the tank.
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New tanks will not have the parameters that softies like. They like more nutrients and judging by the tank looks, it is not yet elevated enough to feed the softies. Have you tried an bacteria or add a live piece of rock. I never start picos/nanos cold. Meaning, I always use live rock so never see a cycle.
Looks good though. It will come to life, just takes some time. Good luck!
 
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Laniac103

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New tanks will not have the parameters that softies like. They like more nutrients and judging by the tank looks, it is not yet elevated enough to feed the softies. Have you tried an bacteria or add a live piece of rock. I never start picos/nanos cold. Meaning, I always use live rock so never see a cycle.
Looks good though. It will come to life, just takes some time. Good luck!
I'm currently battling what I think are Dinos in my tank at home, so I didn't want to introduce any live rock from that tank to my new one. I looked into bottled bacteria but from what I read with enough patience you don't really need to use it? I'm willing to get some if its necessary, but I tend to operate on the premise that the less additives and dosing I can do in my tank the better.
 
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Laniac103

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Just completed my testing, ammonia is at 0 ppm and nitrates are ~8 ppm so I think it's safe to say the tank is cycled. I think I've decided to go fishless since this tank is so small, do y'all have any advice on what my next step should be regarding adding corals or invertebrates? Do I need to wait out the ugly stage first?
 

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I am a huge proponent of buying some live rock (Tampa Bay, KP Aquatics, LiveRock) even if a tiny amount to get the good stuff in your system. Especially if you are going fishless. No worry about any disease transfer. I understand not wanting to transfer some of your rock if you have issues.

If you are cycled, I would start with a some macro algae or maybe a hermit or snails. They need food, so if you do not have the algae or gunk, you need to feed them. Only hermits I trust are scarlets, but if you do not mind buying snails all the time, blue legs are small too.

Begin with a nerite or cerith. These guys eat film algae, and that grows pretty quick. Any other snails will starve at this point.

Corals, what do you hope to keep? You can try some shrooms, but they may starve. Maybe a blasto, lepastrea, Cyphastrea or similar if you are looking at some lps. If sps, you can try a M. digitata, seriatopora, stylophora, porites.
 
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Laniac103

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I am a huge proponent of buying some live rock (Tampa Bay, KP Aquatics, LiveRock) even if a tiny amount to get the good stuff in your system. Especially if you are going fishless. No worry about any disease transfer. I understand not wanting to transfer some of your rock if you have issues.

If you are cycled, I would start with a some macro algae or maybe a hermit or snails. They need food, so if you do not have the algae or gunk, you need to feed them. Only hermits I trust are scarlets, but if you do not mind buying snails all the time, blue legs are small too.

Begin with a nerite or cerith. These guys eat film algae, and that grows pretty quick. Any other snails will starve at this point.

Corals, what do you hope to keep? You can try some shrooms, but they may starve. Maybe a blasto, lepastrea, Cyphastrea or similar if you are looking at some lps. If sps, you can try a M. digitata, seriatopora, stylophora, porites.
Great advice thanks! I'll look to grab a cerith snail or two the next time I order something. I think I've decided that I want to focus on Rock Flower Anemones and Sexy Shrimp in this tank, so any corals I add will probably be softies or LPS corals since I've hear keeping SPS and anemones in the same tank can be difficult.
 
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Laniac103

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My lfs was nice enough to give me a free little piece of what I think is Kenya Tree coral as a tester. Its been in there overnight and still seems happy. I'm gonna do a water change today, and then leave it all alone for about a week and see how it does. I'm excited to start stocking the rest of the tank if it does well!
 

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