First attempt at a saltwater tank

Daiemon

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This is my first time setting up a saltwater tank. Technically, I did attempt this about 20 years ago but failed due to a bunch of factors. I want to take it slow and get it right this time.

I recently purchased the RedSea MaxE-170 (45 gallons). I am purchasing the following items for it this week:

2x Hydor Koralia 3G 1350gph
1x Eheim Jager 150w thermostat heater
1x Inkbird ITC-306A WiFi temp controller

I am thinking about buying live rock this weekend and getting my tank running. Any tips or advice?
 
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Daiemon

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Did you plan a stocking list yet?
Not yet. I don't want anything too complicated for my first tank. I want to start with utilitarian fish first, then start introducing coral a few months down the road. I read that a yellow tang is good for algae control. I also want a clownfish. That's about as far as I've gone with a list.
 

Neros503

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welcome!
Are you going to use some type of live sand, or is this going to be a bare bottom tank? my favorite easy to keep fish are clownfish pairs, and pistol shrimp and goby pairs. Also, having a tang in that size tank is very controversial and most recommend at least twice as large a tank as you have.
 
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Goodair

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I agree with Neros503, Tomini tangs are the smallest tangs and they will outgrow the tank. You COULD start with a baby one and trade it out when its bigger. Blennies. gobies, firefish, cardinals are a popular pairing with clowns. Even down the road you can get an anemone for the clowns, but thats an animal that should only be attempted down the road once the tank matures and water is stable. Other inverts are urchins with are amazing algae eaters and theres some pretty nice looking shrimp.

Reason I asked for stocking is for a few reasons:
-compatibility and order of addition
-looking up their habitat needs, and can mess around with the tank w/o worry of stressing anything out.
-look into their diets and see if its something simple or finiecky eaters
-fish prone to disease, at min you should observe the fish at the store and check up on it a couple days later. Ideally you should quarantine yourself but its not an option for everybody. Just be patient with purchases.
 
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Daiemon

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@Neros503 and @Goodair thanks for the advice! Believe it or not, I have done some research but it is overwhelming. The hardest part is not knowing what to ask. It seems that if I read 10 articles about something I will have 10 different answers/suggestions. Seems like it's 50% science and 50% art/experience. This is very different than say a college course where there is one right answer.

I am going to purchase some live rock from my LFS today and prepare the aquascape. I know 45gal is less forgiving than say a 180gal tank so I really want to be careful and go with the easiest/simplest fish and corals out there. I'm not going for fancy or even the 'prettiest'. I just want to have a successful tank for my first couple of years and gain experience.

After setting up my tank today with live rock, sand, powerheads, right temperature, and skimmer, how long should I wait before adding 1 fish. Which fish do you recommend? Also, how long before adding my first coral? Which coral do you recommend? I saw one video from reef builders that said you don't need to cycle the tank if you are only adding corals and that blew my mind. I have zero experience whatsoever with corals so I think that will be something for me down the road, maybe 4 months from now but I just don't know when is the right time. Any thoughts?
 

Neros503

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@Neros503 and @Goodair thanks for the advice! Believe it or not, I have done some research but it is overwhelming. The hardest part is not knowing what to ask. It seems that if I read 10 articles about something I will have 10 different answers/suggestions. Seems like it's 50% science and 50% art/experience. This is very different than say a college course where there is one right answer.

I am going to purchase some live rock from my LFS today and prepare the aquascape. I know 45gal is less forgiving than say a 180gal tank so I really want to be careful and go with the easiest/simplest fish and corals out there. I'm not going for fancy or even the 'prettiest'. I just want to have a successful tank for my first couple of years and gain experience.

After setting up my tank today with live rock, sand, powerheads, right temperature, and skimmer, how long should I wait before adding 1 fish. Which fish do you recommend? Also, how long before adding my first coral? Which coral do you recommend? I saw one video from reef builders that said you don't need to cycle the tank if you are only adding corals and that blew my mind. I have zero experience whatsoever with corals so I think that will be something for me down the road, maybe 4 months from now but I just don't know when is the right time. Any thoughts?
How soon you add fish depends on how you cycle the tank. For the cycle to happen, you'll need a source of ammonia. some people use hardy fish as a source of ammonia for the cycle, but it can be harmful for the fish. My favorite way, and probably the quickest is to use some type of nitrifying bacteria like turbo start or dr. tims one and only, in combination with dr. tim's ammonium chloride as a source of ammonia rather than a living creature. I cycled my current tank in around 2 weeks using dr. tims one and only, and ammonium chloride. this method is called a fishless cycle if you want to do more research on it.

also I don't think you would need to wait that long to add corals unless you want to. Here's a picture of my tank when it was around 2 months old.
biocube 29.jpg
 

Goodair

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You can start adding soft corals rather early, as long as your parameters are fairly stable, since they tend to he on the more forgiving side. On top of that, for the fishless coral tank, you need dose the tank to feed the corals, which replaces the fish waste. It's better off having fish first, since feeding the fish will feed the corals at the same time.
 
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jphilip813

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This is my first time setting up a saltwater tank. Technically, I did attempt this about 20 years ago but failed due to a bunch of factors. I want to take it slow and get it right this time.

I recently purchased the RedSea MaxE-170 (45 gallons). I am purchasing the following items for it this week:

2x Hydor Koralia 3G 1350gph
1x Eheim Jager 150w thermostat heater
1x Inkbird ITC-306A WiFi temp controller

I am thinking about buying live rock this weekend and getting my tank running. Any tips or advice?
Take it slow and take your time...plan out what type of tank (reef or fish only), think long term if you plan to add other items which would amount to the size of your equipment (tank, sump, lights etc..long term planning) and follow the thoughtful advice of some on this forum. I do not know if you plan on getting a protein skimmer, ATO and Doser (nice to have if you are reefing) for later installation, but it wouldn't hurt. But take your time and continue to do your research.
 
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Daiemon

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Hello again everyone! My tank has been up and running for 1 week today. I am posting a few pictures of the setup and then with a couple of little clownfish. On or around day 4 we started to notice some brown stuff growing on the sand bed. Day 5 it was on the live rock. This morning it was almost everywhere (powerheads, glass, etc.). I think (hope) it's diatoms but I just don't know. I've taken pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Salinity readings each day.

4/19/21 - pH 8.2, Ammonia 0.50, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40, Salinity 31/1.023
4/20/21 - pH 8.2, Ammonia 0.50, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40, Salinity 33/1.024
4/21/21 - pH 8.2, Ammonia 0.50, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 40, Salinity 31/1.023
4/22/21 - pH 8.2, Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0, Nitrate <40 (between 40 and 20 based on color), Salinity 31/1.023
4/23/21 - pH 8.2, Ammonia 0.25, Nitrite 0.25, Nitrate 40, Salinity 32/1.024

These readings were based off the color chart from API Marine testing kit and hydrometer. I know my salinity is a bit low. I did not want to start altering the water within a couple days of just starting the tank. I feed a small amount of frozen brine shrimp 1/day and the fish eat it all. The two clownfish appear to be healthy and swimming all over the place; very active with no signs of discomfort.

This is the first day (Day 0 for me) of setup. 40lbs of live rock from LFS, CaribSea live sand, and water.
Day Zero 1.jpg


This is Day 1:
Day One 1.jpg


This is today:
4-24-21 (13).jpg

4-24-21 (12).jpg

4-24-21 (5).jpg

4-24-21 (4).jpg
 
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Daiemon

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The brown stuff went away on it's own. I didn't add anything. I just reduced the light by half. I lowered it to 50% blue and 10% white. It was gone within a week.

I now have what I believe is cyanobacteria growing in my tank in various spots. I read this is normal in the Supreme Guide to a Reef Aquarium. There also appears to be some green algae starting to grow in a few spots.

Aside from the first three days, my ammonia has been fluctuating between 0 and 0.25. Nitrites have been 0, for the most part. I've only seen 1 positive nitrite reading and it was 0.25. Nitrates have dropped from 40 to slightly under 20.

In week two, I added 5 astrea snails. 1 of them just died a couple days ago. Everything else in the tank seems very healthy and active.
 
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Willbiker

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When i set up my tank 14 months ago it went through cycles of algae and diatoms and dino flagulates and then more algae. I tried this tactic and that tactic trying to overcome all these annoying new tank symptoms. I wish i had just chilled and left it to mature. My advice would be keep on top of your water changes and simply leave it to mature. My tank is now 14 months mature and clean as a whistle. It just takes time :) you tank looks great
 
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Daiemon

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You using API test kits? Also how have your nitrates been dropping, water changes?
Yes, API. Would not purchase API test kits again.

So.....I made a rookie mistake. I used my well water at first. Turns out my well water has nitrates, according to API. Not only did my initial fill start off with about 40ppm nitrates, but I was adding more every time I topped off. No wonder it wasn't dropping. I did a water change (about 5 gallons) and have been topping off with purified water. I tested the purified water before adding since I'm now paranoid and it had 0 nitrates. I think the biggest change has been switching from well water to purified water.
 
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Daiemon

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When i set up my tank 14 months ago it went through cycles of algae and diatoms and dino flagulates and then more algae. I tried this tactic and that tactic trying to overcome all these annoying new tank symptoms. I wish i had just chilled and left it to mature. My advice would be keep on top of your water changes and simply leave it to mature. My tank is now 14 months mature and clean as a whistle. It just takes time :) you tank looks great
Thanks, Willbiker. Patience is the toughest part for me, especially when I have time off from work. Idle hands and all that...

It vaguely reminds me of when I became a parent. Every little bump, rash, or hiccup was an "emergency" simply because we just didn't have experience.
 

Goodair

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Only asking for api as 0 or .25 ammonia is pretty much the same. test kit is not super accurate but give a ballpark number where that's all you need atm. Same for 0 and the next marker for nitrates.

So far your off to a good start, cyano come and goes with my tank. I just siphon it out when I do water changes. As for algae, snails will eat it if it's small. Once it starts to get hairy, nothing really eats it so ur gonna have to manually remove the big chunks.
 
Maxout

What temperature do you think it too high for your reef tank?

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