First reef: Nano 25G reef (Picture Heavy?)

BitFix

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Background: So about 2 years ago, I got my first ever aquarium, a 100 liter (~25 gallon) planted tank that I bought from my LFS. After about half an year I decided to research about saltwater tanks, really I didn't plan on setting up one since I had always heard it was very very expensive and almost impossible to care for (especially since I live in Brazil and aquariums aren’t that common here), but I thought it would be cool to learn how to care for one either way.
After a lot of research, I realized that it would still be super expensive, but nowhere as difficult as I had imagined; so I decided to research some more and set up a reef tank for myself.


Plan: Unfortunately, I don’t have that much space, so getting another tank was out of question, also the one I had fit perfectly where it was, and the stand look nice, so I decided to sacrifice my planted tank for a reef tank. The tank was already quite, so to add more water volume without taking away from the display, I decided to add a sump (with a refugium for the natural filtration and to increase in micro fauna), and therefore I needed an overflow. I didn’t want to add that many fish, maybe four max, so filtration wouldn’t be a big issue.
Since the tank is small I wanted an ATO, but I did not have enough space outside my cabinet for a pump-style ATO, so I decided on a gravity float valve ATO, that sits on top of the sump. In addition, a RODI Unit was on my list and a quarantine tank was necessary.



Process: I live in Brazil, so reef tank related products are kinda rare and very expensive, and since I would travel to the US in the end of last year, I decided to buy the expensive stuff (lighting and test kits) there and the rest here.
Also the tank is in my bedroom, so I had to remember that things needed to be quite, so that I can sleep at night.
The first thing I bought in my trip was the light, I bought a Viparspectra 165W light (looking back I should have gone with a AI Prime HD, but I didn’t understand much about reef lighting at the time and just bought the cheapest with the best par I could find). I also bought a kit with every Salifert test kit I needed (Ca, KH, Mg, pH, PO4, NH3, No2 and NO3)
While researching, I started buying the equipment I needed, like the RODI unit, the return pump, wave maker, Quarantine tank…


Set up: The first thing to be set up was the QT, it is a 5 gallon tank (since I don’t have that much space and am only housing small fish like clownfish) with a heater, air pump and small HOB filter. I will also buy medication as needed.
Then I started the Display itself. I purchased a HOB overflow, I really wanted a drilled overflow, because of the risks of a HOB one, but I couldn’t find anybody around me who was willing to drill an aquarium, and since I didn’t have any skill with drilling glass, I decided to go with a HOB overflow, so as not to destroy my really expensive aquarium.
In Brazil we don’t really have standard size aquarium, each manufacturer makes their own size, so for the sump I needed a custom made one. Since the prices were quite high, I chose to build my own sump with glass and silicone. The results were quite good for my first job with silicone, some of the dividers aren’t straight, but it doesn’t affect the functionality of the sump. I choose to leave the first area of the sump empty, in case I decided to add a protein skimmer.
I decided not to go with a skimmer right now for a few reasons, firstly, I couldn’t find any unit for a small tank for a decent price, also all the ones I found were quite noisy, and since the tank is in my bedroom, that want an option)
I also build the ATO reservoir from scratch, just like the sump, since I needed it to fit in the shelf of my stand. I also built the plumbing and painted it gray (the plumbing sold here is an ugly brown color.
After about a month of setting up, the display was ready to be filled. I prepared the RODI water, mixed it with the saltand filled the tank on the spam of about 3 days. I also bought about 20 pounds of dry live rock and 15 pounds of aragonite (shallow sand bed)
Right now the both the display and Quarantine are already cycled (I used Seachem stability and pure ammonia to cycle it), I will be travelling next week, so as soon as I get back I will be buying a pair of clownfish as the first inhabitants of the quarantine tank.


Equipment:
*Wave maker: Sun Sun Jvp 101a (to be honest I wanted a Jebao Ow-10, but the only place I can buy them from is China, and products take a really long time to get here when they’re ordered from China, that is, if they arrive at all. I will probably upgrade to it later down the line)
*Return Pump: Sarlo Better Sb2000 (Sarlo Better is a national aquarium brand in Brazil, it’s a quality brand and trusted by many, so I decided to go with a national pump)
*Salt: Instant Ocean Reef Crystals (It was the easiest and best quality salt I found, so that’s what I went with)
*Lighting: Viparspectra 165w (Kind of an impulsive buy, wish I had gone with the AI Prime HD)


Stocking Plan:
*Clownfish Pair
*Midas Blenny
*Cardinal Bangai
* Bubble tip anemone
* Rock Flower Anemone
* Tisbe Copepods, Amphipods and Chaeto (Refugium)
* Mainly Soft coral and LPS coral, but a few easy SPS

Food:
*New Life Spectrum Marine Formula
*Poytara Marine Micro (Poytara is a decent national aquarium food)
*Homemade frozen food (frozen food isn’t common in Brazil, so I’ll just prepare my own frozen food)

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them on the comments.

Photos:

The beginning of my planted tank



Building the Sump:


The RODI unit:


The tank being setup:



The light:
upload_2019-7-5_15-3-57.png


The quarantine (I've made some changes):


The plumbing:


The empty tank:


Before I bough enough Live rock:


The tank right now:


My failed attempt at aquascaping:
 
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BitFix

BitFix

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Updates so far:
Changed the aquascape a few times, but ended up settling with this (07/06):
1567729616491.png


Added some more barnacles I got a while back (I sterilized them before adding) and some shells from my LFS so as to seed my tank with coralline algae (08/07):
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Bristle Worm that came with the shells, seems to be the good kind (potato quality photo):
1567729962905.png


Coralline started to spread (08/18):
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Added Chaeto to the refugium, but it arrived in pieces:
1567730273269.png


Clownfish were introduced to MD after 1 month in quarantine + Diatom bloom started + Changed wavemaker to Jebao OW-10 (08/27):
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Diatoms started to lower and die + added the rest of the Chaeto to the tank in a breeding box (09/05):
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So far so good, all parameters are great (expect for alkalinity, which is lower than I would like,6.1, but I'll be dosing baking soda to get it in the 8's). Will be getting CUC, the first corals and new fish soon.
 
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BitFix

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It's been a while. I have not had much time to update the tank, but here it goes.

Got some corals from a friend of mine. Some GSP, a rock with papaya cloves and a green candy cane coral colony. They were all were pretty beat up, but thankfully they recovered well (dinos are still strong). (09/06)
1571258825342.png


Next day I went to my LFS and my third fish, a cardinal bangai, some new corals and a CUC crew. Also the dinos started going away and cyano started blooming. (09/07)

My zoanthus colony (eagle eye and radio eagle eye zoanthus, half of them had a white border around the polyp)
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A small frag of brown toadstool, I really like the amount of movement it adds.
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My CUC consisted of 3 hermits and 4 trochus snails.
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I Also rubber banded the GSP to a rock (don't ask me why it came as a sheet)
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Released the bangai in the DT after a month in quarantine, later in the same day I went to my LFS, unfortunately they didn't have the peppermint shrimp I wanted nor any coral I really liked, so I bought some flake food I was locking for and the two final fish, a Orchid dotty back and a bicolor blenny, both went to the quarantine and will stay for a month. (10/06)

Most corals had opened up (even tough I accidentally broke my candy cane colony) and the dinos started disappearing, although cyano was still blooming. I also messed up the rockwork while trying to clean the tank, so the already planned rescape is a must now. (10/08)
1571264547948.png


Removed the GSP rubber band now that it had attached, corals were looking really nice, opened and growing, especially my candy cane. Since the algae seemed to be annoying some of the corals I decided to do a blackout for 3 days and see if it helps. I will be posting the results. Also started getting some more coralline algae growth, hope it continues after the blackout. (10/14)
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A closeup of the corals (potato quality photos):
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BitFix

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Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures after the blackout was done, but most of the cyano and dinos went away. Hair algae and bryopsis however have started spreading more, some red bubble algae and red hair algae also started to pop up. (10/17)

Did maintancen on the tank and decided to dose fluconazole to kill the bryopsis (about 1 gram, 7mg per liter) and maybe some other algaes. I also changed the aquascape a little, since I wasn't too happy with how it looked and moved the candy cane and clove coral.(10/20)

A little bit of bryopsis
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FTS (21/10)
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The clove polyps and its hitchhikers, like a small ball anemone and tiny red feather dusters
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GSP and Toadstool, plus clownish photo bombing
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Small Zoanthus garden + Aiptaisa (I'm trying to get a peppermint shrimp ASAP)
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BitFix

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White sand! Looks great, bet youre happy.
Keeping the sand white has been a real journey. Apparently nobody keeps nassarius snails in their tanks here, so I basically have to clean it manually. I'm in the look for cerith snails and maybe a fighting conch, other than that I'm very proud of my tank so far. Thanks!
 
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Added the Bicolor Blenny and Orchid Dottyback, also glued some corals and rocks together (04/11)
1573498791280.png


Instead of choosing one of the caves in the rock, the blenny decided to dig his own cave and cover my zoanthus in substrate.
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Things started heating up, and as expected I unfortunately had to get a chiller. Coolers would be a much cheaper alternative, but summer here gets to upwards of 104 Fahrenheit, so it was almos inevitable. (07/11)
1573499023525.png


Got 2 new zoa frags for my zoa garden, one super pretty red zoa and one yellowish eagle eye zoa (looked much prettier under LFS lights) (10/11)
1573499143155.png
 
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Just got a peppermint shrimp to help with some aiptasia that have been popping up. According to some photos it looks to be a L. Ankeri, not a L. Wurdemanni (the known aiptasia eater), so I jost got to hope it decides to go after some of them. I plan on getting another one soon. (12/11)
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