DCJ's Fluval Spec III pico build

DCJ

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Hallo!

I'm going to try documenting the process as I set up 4 different reef tanks at the sameish time.

Apart from this Fluval Spec iii, I'm also setting up, and will do separate build threads for:

- a Fluval Evo 13.5 (remember when they came out?)
- a weird shaped ex-LFS 26 gallon "cube"
- a Red Sea Reefer 350 classic (73 gal, 90 display), my first big reef tank

A little background: I'm in the UK and don't work due to disability, which limits my mobility, but mostly my energy and strength. I live at home with my parents and my mum is my carer; they're wonderful and supportive of my hobbies. I'm on benefits so I have a really limited amount of money after bills go out, so I'm going to try to spend as little money as possible without compromising too much on quality, and keeping things manageable for me as a disabled reefer.

I've got a lot more experience with freshwater tanks than I do marine, but I have had reef tanks before, so I'm not starting from scratch. I did have to take all my tanks down a few years ago when we moved up North, and now I'm trying to set them back up again.

I had this little Fluval Spec iii tank set up previously with rock flower nems, sexy shrimp, a bumblebee snail (I had vermetid worms on the live rock I used, and he removed them)

I want to do something similar with this build.

Here's the tank, sitting on the low bookshelf beside my bed:

fluvalspeciii2.jpg

Really cropped so that you're not visually assaulted by the mess of my room. I'm still putting up shelves and storage two years after moving, but I'm getting there!

The tank at the moment houses some debris from times past, and I've just filled it with tap water for the time being. I never upgraded the stock pump from the first time, and I'm going to see how I go with it this time around too.

I have a AquaEl 75W flat heater in the back, which did pretty well for me last time.

The light, that looks hilariously huge on this tiny tank, is the 30W NICREW Reef light.
Honestly, I've been spoiled by the FW hobby, lights for the SW side are SO expensive.

I lost the stock light for the fluval somewhere in the move, so had to find a new one, and is it me, or is there a niche in the market for a small, afforable pico tank reef light? I didn't want to spend over £100 on a Kessil that comes without a stand, and the much lauded AI Prime is even worse.

The thing about the light, though, is...
fluvalspeciii.jpg

...it's clipped on janky.

As you can see from the first pic, it's aligned way to the left, and that's because the stock light socket gets in the way.

Has anyone else with this tank managed to remove the socket without damaging the tank at all? Otherwise, I might have to put some padding between the clamp and the back of the tank to make up the difference - I tried just mounting it over the socket, but there's considerable difference in thickness to one side so the light doesn't stay stable.

Other than that, I need a new lid. The stock one doesn't fit around the new light, and I want to put one of those little bottle-fed ATO units beside it. That, and the hole in the lid. I'm planning on replacing it with a piece of clear plastic sheet cut to size to reduce evaporation as much as I can.

I'm leaving the pump in the last little sump chamber, and will probably end up putting the heater in there too.

As for the rest of it, I'm thinking a little bag of GFO or something, and a filter sponge at the comb that I can just throw out and replace.

I'm considering chaeto, but I don't know if it's worth it in a sump area that size. Maybe extra rock for more filtration?

The rock I'm planning to scape with has been bleach-cured, rinsed with dechlorinated water, and is currently drying so that anything left gasses off.

I don't have any sand yet, but I'm going with Aragonite around 1mm, like the rest of my tanks. Saltwise, I settled on Instant Ocean. Probably going to rely on water changes to keep my calcalkmag levels maintained, depending on testing.

STOCKING!
I might try a couple of rock flower nems, and a crop of clove polyps in the middle, but otherwise it's going to be all mushrooms. I think the stock pump should be okay for them? The stock light did fine too, if anything I think this light might need tuning down?

Critter-wise, I've been looking around the online reef shops (I don't have an LFS, and it's hard for me to travel further afield than maybe an hour because, disabled) to see what they have to offer, and I'm building a list based on that.

I know I want:
- a pom-pom crab (lybia sp.)
- 3? sexy shrimp (thor amboinensis)

And after that, maybe another bumblebee snail, a squat lobters, and possible anemone shrimp (the carid type). Also considering a porcelain crab, but I've yet to do my deep research and see if it'd cause problems for the pom-pom crab.

I've also been going back and forth on the idea of putting fish in this tank. It's like 2.6 gallons, which is really small.

I'm trying to be sensible about my options. I'm looking at a trimma goby, green-lined/christmas goby (Elacatinus multifasciatus), green or yellow clown goby, or one of the smaller shrimp gobies.

There's also a fish available claiming to be Tryssogobius colini, that looks more like Tryssogobius flavolineatus, commonly called the 'blue eye fairy goby', but I have as of yet been unable to find much about them.

My concerns about keeping a fish in this tank are if the RFA might pose a danger to them as they're so small, but also if they'll prey on my CUC.

Least sure about the clown gobies. I've seen a lot of people keeping shrimp gobies in a tank like this, but I'm leaning towards the trimma. I've seen them in a former LFS, they are truly tiny. But it is a 2.6 gal tank...

I hope to update as soon as possible, maybe when I get the salt, can make up the water and get the rock in? I'm going to be slow on this process, but luckily, this is the right kind of hobby when you can only do things slowly!

Thank you for anyone who managed to read this far! I'd love to hear input, especially on:

- mounting the light and the stock light socket situation
- compatability/experiences with the critters
- experience re: putting one of those fish in this tank
- compatability re: the critters and whichever fish
- anything from any other disabled reefers!
 
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therootcause

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Hello. I have a very "species specific" idea for you and this pico tank that I will divulge later in my reply.

You mention setting up several tanks and I recall responding to you the other day regarding your large wrasse stocking list for your large tank. If I were you I would do the following:

Look around your room and "Marie Kondo" it. This is a type of organization and cleaning that will pay off dividends as you set up your systems. Clear out an area, or the entire room aside from bed and furniture, and then only put back into the room items that you want to keep. Hold an item, and if that item brings you joy then keep it. If it no longer brings you joy, box it up, donate, or discard it. I'm sure you have plenty of things given to you over the years that no longer hold a place in your heart. As you do this, be considerate to others as some items may be sentimental to them (your parents) as well.

Once cleaning is complete, determine the end goal. Which system will be your pride and joy? Are you considering setting up the pico now because you aren't quite ready to set up the larger system? Is everything being set up this weekend at all once? Determine what you REALLY want. Maybe it's the larger tank as a mixed reef and these smaller systems as species specific tanks, or a pest tank (which is awesome and easy), or something completely different like a place to grow copepods.

Once you are well organized and have a goal in mind you can begin the fun part. Tank and room layout! Take out a piece of sketch paper and draw out the shape of your space. Note where you have electrical outlets, windows (maybe you'll want to run a skimmer line outside) etc. Where will you keep a shelf of extra materials or a cabinet with chemicals and supplies? What will provide you excellent aesthetics and also be functional? Place the tanks in these areas. Wait a day and take another look at it. Now, start with your GOAL system first. Get rock cycling in a bucket or begin leveling and filling the system with water. Now you know you are headed toward something that you really want, and not an impulse to set up what is convenient today.

Now, as promised. My idea for the pico. This World Wide Corals video with Coral Morphologic is awe-inspiring. Watch it, then watch it three more times. You will see the most amazing carpet anemone with porcelain crab pair. If I chad your pico this is what I would personally set up. Additionally, I would add some redundancy by adding a second heater and using an Inkbird to ensure that if a heater failed it would not cook the inhabitants.

Carpet anemone at 11:00 minute mark.
 
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DCJ

DCJ

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@therootcause

Hallo! It's lovely to see you again on another one of my rambling posts!

Yes! My RSR350 is going to have the wrasses, as you can see, the size of my other tanks don't allow for those larger, more common, reef fish.

I love Kondo-ing, and I really need to do it on my clothes. I actually Kondo'd a lot of stuff before the move, but there's always room for more, I can definitely do that.

So, lol, I've got the Fluval Spec on my bookshelf, as in the pic, I've got the 26 gal on a unit in it's own little alcove (I'll post pics of it, and the rest, when I put up their own build threads and link them back to this one)

The Evo is in it's box on a shelf at the end of my bed at the moment because I'm waiting for my dad to cut down some shelving for my fish tank rack, where the Evo will live.

The boards that came with the shelving bowed, so I want to replace them with something thicker. That unit will also house a FW channa andrao tank, and an axolotl tank on the bottom.

The RSR350 is in the living room atm, set up dry. I need to put all the pipes together and get some water running through to check levels and whatnot, as well as run some citric acid or vinegar through the skimmer and pump to get them clean, and clean the tank itself. Previous owner clearly had an asterina starfish plague, there's little dead starfish all over the place.

As soon as we bought the house I started sketching out where everything was going to go! (Same mind!) My room is actually huge, it used to be for the previous owner's two little grandchildren to stay in, and after I removed the built in wardrobe it's massive.

BUT, my last longest bedroom was maybe a foot longer than a single bed and twice as wide, so I brought over all my space saving tricks from that room into here, to really maximise my space.

Re: the use of the tanks. I wanted to put larger fish that I really couldn't have in my smaller tanks in the RSR, and those to be onces I really liked, but I also wanted it to be as harmonious as possible, and not too fiddly. I'm going mostly LPS and softies and I'm going to try some easier SPS too, because I'll have the space and the light and whatnot.

The 26 gal was a fight - it's going to be setup for a frogfish first (with a complimentary brackish 45gal on a stand in my room for feeder mollies), and when the frogfish passes on (1 year is average, but I'm going to try for as long as possible) I'm going to go for softies, but mainly a BTA with clownfish and a couple of 'meaner' fish (a damsel and a dottyback)

The star of the Evo is going to be barnacle blennies - I have a lovely cluster of barnacles, and I've kept them before when I previously had the tank set up, they're fantastic. I'll keep some other nano fish in there, a firefish (also love) and I'm considering a pink-streaked wrasse/green clown goby/shrimp goby and shrimp pair, I'm not sure yet.

I couldn't do this fast if I wanted to, lol. I have to wait to buy the sand, then the salt, and I still have to set up and test my RODI unit (I suspect I'll have to buy new resin and membrane for it) which I haven't been able to do as of yet. Stupid body.

I bleach-cured all the rock I had previously (and some that came with the RSR350) but I think I might need to get some more, for the RSR at least. I've got plenty to fill the 26 gal, the Evo and this pico though.

I'm going to do a nice slow cycle by dosing ammonia in all the tanks. It's actually one of my favourite parts, lol. I might use bacteria in a bottle, but only to seed the tank with different bacteria, not to speed the cycle. Add copepods early, that kind of thing.

I think that, given that I want to QT everything going in the tank thoroughly, most of the tanks will be cycling for A WHILE. Which, you know, I don't mind.

I'll use those plastic bioballs in net bags and pop them in a couple of sumps while the main tanks are cycling, and then use the cycled media for the observation period in QT after I TTM them. I can sterilise them after use and then pop them back into the sump to re-populate with bacteria, and just switch them out if I have a couple bags.

I'm wary of a carpet anemone in the pico, they get huge like that, don't they? I kinda want that in miniature with the sexy shrimp and the RFA but I'm even unsure about the RFA with the other inhabitants.

(I'm absolutely NOT going to encourage you to set up a pico with a carpet nem and porcelain crabs though.... not at all. You don't have a little space for a pico, no, it wouldn't be SO EASY to set one up.. Shh.

I'm enabling.)

Oh, those ricordeas on the 3D printed buildings! I'm actually really excited to just have so many mushrooms, all different colours mushing together.

If I had the number of tanks he does, I'd definitely go really specific for each one.

I had some ideas: a reef tank that looks like a FW tank. So I'd use only green shades of corals, to mimic plant growth, and then stock with as large a group of orange striped cardinals, or the like, that I can get. A grey/black/muted blenny as substitute for a pleco, and then once 'centerpiece' fish.

Also thought about using mostly tan/pale soft corals, but dotting a single non-aggressive bright coloured LPS coral in among them (with mind to allowing them space to avoid stinging) so that the colour REALLY pops in contrast.

I'd do a cold water reef with catalina gobies. I'd love to do a 'native' tank, but I don't think that's possible here in the UK without fishing things out of rockpools.

I WANT more fish and coral than I can fit into the tanks I have (I'm pretty much maxed out between these 4 reefs and the FW tanks) so I'm really conscious of having to balance things so I can maximise the fish I want with the space I have and the compatibility between the fish, necessitating some sacrifices of what I want.

I think after I get the variety of fish out of my system I might be in a better position to try something more species-specific. That happened with me with the FW, I had a load of community tanks with your average community fish, and now I'm narrowing my scope down in the tanks to biotopes and species-specific in the nanos. I think it helps for me to get a taste of what's out there, and then focus down on what I end up liking - with the reef side, I'm still in the 'taste things' stage.

You are seriously the sweetest, your feedback is so thoughtful and detailed and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you took the time out of what I'm sure is a very busy day to leave a comment.

I'm looking forward to updating his build thread and seeing what you think! :)
 
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DCJ

DCJ

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I've just seen how small those eviota gobies are and I feel much less worried about keeping a fish in this 2.6 gal, my goodness! I thought the trimma cana were small when I saw them, this is ridiculous! I'm eyeing the brahm's nano goby or the black belly nano goby - eviota smackdown.

On the other hand, dangerous. @Biota_Marine I demand that you take responsibility for introducing me to so many new little gobies and implanting new ideas.

Already think I could round out the stocking on my eventual Fluval Evo 13.5 with a plate coral and a couple of those cosmic nano gobies (eviota lachdeberei)

 

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