College Dorm Reef Tank!

_cpate3_

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After posting some questions and finally getting the tank running, I’ve decided to use this thread to document my progress!

I got a great deal off Facebook Marketplace with:
Fluval Evo 13.5
Ai Prime
Sicce silent pump
Aqamai KPS powerhead
Intank media baskets
And more!

When aquascaping I went with a main arch design (I know the putty is rough it was my first time) and then an island. For this, I used Caribsea life rock and live sand about 1.5 inches deep.

IMG_3012.jpeg


The cycling process was weird. I used turbo start and ammonia but was not seeing levels drop even in the slightest, but I did @brandon429 testless cycling method and my ammonia and
nitrite hit 0 in no time! After a few more days I did a large 75% water change it was time to add my first fish! I figured a small shrimp/goby pair would be nice to watch and get used to feeding and tank maintenance without being too much of a hassle. I went to 2 LFS and found this beautiful wheeler goby at one and a tiger pistol shrimp at the other. I drip-acclimated them and then added them to my tank as my first-ever saltwater fish. To my surprise (and luck) they ended up pairing less than 5 min after hitting the water and have already started to dig and make a den in the back of my tank! I couldn't be happier!

goby on rock.jpg
goby.jpg





I am going to let these guys settle in for a week or 2 before I add my clownfish pair and then after I will add my first softies and LPS coral. I hope you enjoy the build as this is my first ever reef tank and so far it is going amazing. Can't wait for the ugly stage LOL. Thank you to all who helped with advice on my other posts, I hope you come back to see the upgrades and updates in due time!
 

TripFamAZ

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Looks great!! Newbie to salt too! I took @brandon429 ’s advice as well and just added our mantis shrimp today who seems totally NOT stressed in any way and is already eating. Great stuff.
Good luck on your new adventure I’ll be sure to come back to read up on the progress!
 

AyoItsRocco

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So I gotta ask, what's this testless cycling you stated? I always just did bacteria and Amonia them wait for weeks lol
 
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_cpate3_

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So I gotta ask, what's this testless cycling you stated? I always just did bacteria and Amonia them wait for weeks lol
Go check out @brandon429 he is a genius at this. Long story short it is a way to cycle your tank in 10 days without having to test parameters based off of new cycling science. Very enjoyable reading up on it and I would go check him out
 

AyoItsRocco

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Go check out @brandon429 he is a genius at this. Long story short it is a way to cycle your tank in 10 days without having to test parameters based off of new cycling science. Very enjoyable reading up on it and I would go check him out
Ha! I've been reading it for the past hour and my minds blown lol. I'm assuming your results were apot on correct? And were you fish added on the 10th day?
 
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Ha! I've been reading it for the past hour and my minds blown lol. I'm assuming your results were apot on correct? And were you fish added on the 10th day?
I cheated and did 8 days because my ammonia and nitrite were 0 by day 6 and never increased again. also, my nitrite levels were CRAZY high so that's why the water change was nice
 

AyoItsRocco

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I cheated and did 8 days because my ammonia and nitrite were 0 by day 6 and never increased again. also, my nitrite levels were CRAZY high so that's why the water change was nice
Very interesting, what bacteria did you use? Sorry for so many questions just very curious and fascinated by this lol

I see what you did by reading through iy again. Very cool to learn something new. Goodluck on the tank! Look forward to seeing it done!
 

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After posting some questions and finally getting the tank running, I’ve decided to use this thread to document my progress!

I got a great deal off Facebook Marketplace with:
Fluval Evo 13.5
Ai Prime
Sicce silent pump
Aqamai KPS powerhead
Intank media baskets
And more!

When aquascaping I went with a main arch design (I know the putty is rough it was my first time) and then an island. For this, I used Caribsea life rock and live sand about 1.5 inches deep.

IMG_3012.jpeg


The cycling process was weird. I used turbo start and ammonia but was not seeing levels drop even in the slightest, but I did @brandon429 testless cycling method and my ammonia and
nitrite hit 0 in no time! After a few more days I did a large 75% water change it was time to add my first fish! I figured a small shrimp/goby pair would be nice to watch and get used to feeding and tank maintenance without being too much of a hassle. I went to 2 LFS and found this beautiful wheeler goby at one and a tiger pistol shrimp at the other. I drip-acclimated them and then added them to my tank as my first-ever saltwater fish. To my surprise (and luck) they ended up pairing less than 5 min after hitting the water and have already started to dig and make a den in the back of my tank! I couldn't be happier!

goby on rock.jpg
goby.jpg





I am going to let these guys settle in for a week or 2 before I add my clownfish pair and then after I will add my first softies and LPS coral. I hope you enjoy the build as this is my first ever reef tank and so far it is going amazing. Can't wait for the ugly stage LOL. Thank you to all who helped with advice on my other posts, I hope you come back to see the upgrades and updates in due time!

Eventually you may not have the ugly stage!

it's not a rule I would say. If you control the diatoms right in the beginning with some crabs and snails and your water is ro-di.. changes of it are minimized.

Good luck and nice tank!
 
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Day 2 and they're both alive and made it through the night!!! Still won't eat and I've only seen his head as they made a hole in the back of my rockwork where it's hard to see them. It makes me stressed because never seeing your first-ever fish makes me think they're dead all the time lol! the goby swam out of the rockwork and my powerhead was blowing sand into their cave, so I had to readjust the powerhead and the goby was so cute swimming around the tank looking for his shrimp friend!!!

parameters are all still normal and I had the realization my ATO tubing was broken and leaking water so that's fun and my salinity was a little higher than normal today (makes sense because my ATO wasn't working).

They seemed to have figured out the tank last night and are roaming a little more, but still very timid and hiding most of the time, they did not come out when I fed so I'm hoping they'll go out when the lights turn off and scavenge some food so they don't starve.

Im figuring out a lot about myself that I'm very protective and paranoid about my poor fishies. I have to get used to the normal behavior and chill out a little bit. Still traumatized after the jumping incident from yesterday :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:

Wheeler's goby named - Escapé (after how dory pronounces the word escape and because he escaped last night)
Pistol Shrimp - name TBD (debating on Phillipe or Guido)
 

AyoItsRocco

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Day 2 and they're both alive and made it through the night!!! Still won't eat and I've only seen his head as they made a hole in the back of my rockwork where it's hard to see them. It makes me stressed because never seeing your first-ever fish makes me think they're dead all the time lol! the goby swam out of the rockwork and my powerhead was blowing sand into their cave, so I had to readjust the powerhead and the goby was so cute swimming around the tank looking for his shrimp friend!!!

parameters are all still normal and I had the realization my ATO tubing was broken and leaking water so that's fun and my salinity was a little higher than normal today (makes sense because my ATO wasn't working).

They seemed to have figured out the tank last night and are roaming a little more, but still very timid and hiding most of the time, they did not come out when I fed so I'm hoping they'll go out when the lights turn off and scavenge some food so they don't starve.

Im figuring out a lot about myself that I'm very protective and paranoid about my poor fishies. I have to get used to the normal behavior and chill out a little bit. Still traumatized after the jumping incident from yesterday :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:

Wheeler's goby named - Escapé (after how dory pronounces the word escape and because he escaped last night)
Pistol Shrimp - name TBD (debating on Phillipe or Guido)
Glad to hear they sirvived the night and I'm the same way with my fish. Currently waiting for my Royal Gramma to start coming out because he's been hiding in my rock work since Monday. They will come around though.
 
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Day 4 update: they’ve found their place in the tank and have stayed there keeping watch for a day or 2 now! I watched the goby eat some food today and he’s not darting away too much when I walk in the room so hopefully he’s getting comfy.

My salinity and PH are normal, however my ammonia I believe is creeping up (or I’m paranoid and remembering the colors differently). Does anyone have any input as to what I should do if it does increase? Hopefully it’s just the tank getting used to the fish poop and food rather than bottled ammonia, but of course I am nervous and wondering what precautions I should take going forward.

On a lighter note, because this is my tank for the next 3-4 years, I am debating about a clownfish pair or 1 clown and 1 royal gramma. If anyone would like the put some input on that as well that would be great!
 
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Day 5:

ammonia alert turned light green so I did a 20% water change and added 2 very small nassarius snails to combat my over feeding issue and to prevent detritus because I have such a deep sand bed. They’re in the tank and went to work right away (after a quick make out session).

IMG_3200.jpeg

70881946440__86F681F8-EE4E-4B6F-9ECB-E72C4E0BEDF9.jpeg
 
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Today is day 8 of having my tank:

After I added the snails my ammonia went back down to 0, and the next day I heard my pistol shrimp clicking, and haven’t seen 1 of the snails in 2 days now while I see the other all the time so I’m assuming the other one unfortunately died…

The goby is looking healthy and is starting to come out of its cave to eat as well as not run away from me. They seem to have settled in nicely!

BIG NEWS: just ordered my mocha Vinci clownfish pair from cultivated reef and they will be here tomorrow morning!!! Does anyone have any advice for clownfish care especially when trying to pair them in a nano. I’m finally getting my dream fish, and then it’s onto corals!!!
 

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Hey nice to hear everything is fine.
Cuc definitely come and go like deer. Some will die, some will live... and later die. It's really like that.

Fish.. it's a whole different story.
Don't rush acclimating those guys once they arrive. I recommend to read about this subject before introducing them.

Pairing... at least in my case, it was always somehow automatic. They will start to swing together most of the time. I don't think there is much to do in this case.

Good luck and don't rush! 8 days is still a brand new tank.
Once fish are in, keep an eye on the amnonia levels and Salinity.
 
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Hey nice to hear everything is fine.
Cuc definitely come and go like deer. Some will die, some will live... and later die. It's really like that.

Fish.. it's a whole different story.
Don't rush acclimating those guys once they arrive. I recommend to read about this subject before introducing them.

Pairing... at least in my case, it was always somehow automatic. They will start to swing together most of the time. I don't think there is much to do in this case.

Good luck and don't rush! 8 days is still a brand new tank.
Once fish are in, keep an eye on the amnonia levels and Salinity.
I drip acclimated my Goby and pistol shrimp, and they got to work and paired up instantly! Unfortunately I haven’t gotten time to fix my ATO so once a day I’ll pour some fresh water in to offset the evaporation
 
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The time has come!!!! The clownfish arrived this morning from @Cultivated Reef and I couldn’t be happier! They are settling in nicely, very timid from the truck ride here but they are already eating and swimming!

Stocking:

2x mochavinci clownfish
1x wheelers goby
1x tiger pistol shrimp
2/1x nassarius snail

I did my weekly water change before adding the fish in so I’m going to monitor my ammonia levels carefully and make sure they thrive in this tank! My next step is to get some algae growing so I can add a real CUC, definitely thinking about a strawberry conch soon because my sandbed is getting gross. Wish me luck with these guys, it’s all I’ll be adding until September when I’m going to get into softies and LPS corals!

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Day 19 (I think?) update:

the clownfish survived the night and seemed to pair up nicely and are not being aggressive towards my shrimp and goby! Haven’t seen the goby at all today, but the clownfish are a little more explorative.

I’ve named them Phoebe and Sebastian and have grown very fond of them. I’m at work all day and really hope I don’t come home to somehow ammonia poisoned fish…

Right now I’m researching how to make good flow in a tank, and I’m planning on adding my first corals in late august because moving a tank without corals is fine, but with it’s a pain in the butt.

I am waiting on some algae growth in order to add some snails but so far I’ve had 0 algae in almost 20 days of having a tank so I’m not sure what’s going on. I’m thinking about:

3 trochus snails
3 nerite snails
1 strawberry conch
1 more Nassarius snail

I want to go hermitless because I’ve heard of how mean they can be. Also was thinking about either a tuxedo urchin or an emerald crab for mass algae control but I don’t know how plausible that is in a tank my size and with my bio load
 
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I can’t believe it’s already been 3 weeks since I’ve set my tank up!!! My clownfish were pacing, found a spot in the tank, and were chill for about 2 days, then I added a small CUC of 4 blue legged hermits, 1 large nassarius snail, and a blood red fire shrimp. My tank is officially fully stocked which makes me sad but now I can get to corals in a few weeks/months! This hobby keeps me so enthralled in the amount of work it takes and research needed.

Haven’t settled on a name for the fire shrimp yet but it is not shy whatsoever and is out all the time!

Phoebe my female clownfish is super chill and just drifts in the current and occasionally pecks at the male when he spazzes out too much. It’s so fun watching their dynamic and seeing them rest together at night.

The scariest thing is thinking that I could go to work, or fall asleep, and when I check on the tank everything could be dead… I’m watching my parameters closely and switched to frozen food a few days a week and the tank just comes alive when it’s feeding time.

The pistol shrimp and goby I see occasionally and I heard the shrimp clicking away last night so I know he’s alive too!

Everyone seems to be getting along, coexisting, and finding their place in the tank nicely. I’m starting to get cocky and arrogant because nothing has gone wrong yet! Everyone’s still alive, no algae in the tank, stable parameters, and this is my first ever fish tank. Must be doing something right! Thank you all for the support and I hope you’ve been enjoying this journey with me

Current stock:
2x mochavinci clownfish (Phoebe and Sebastian)
1x Wheelers goby (Escapé)
1x tiger pistol shrimp (Guido)
1x blood red fire shrimp (name TBD)
3x Nassarius snails
4x blue legged hermit crabs


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