First tank, Fluval evo 13.5

JoJosReef

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Hi all! As a project and potential hobby to share with my son Nico, turning 4 soon, we started our very first marine tank. Early on in the research, we considered the biocube 32g, scrapped the idea, then came back when my wife suggested the Fluval, which had a better footprint and entry price point. We are aiming for a small starting budget, but not shy about upgrades if Nico takes an interest (I am already interested).
IMG_20210922_191251980_MP.jpg

So now we are a week in on the Fluval and cycling seems to be going well.

Initial build -
Chamber 1: Intank media chamber (great) with filter floss on top shelf, chemi blue nano packets (will switch to bulk) in middle, generic bioballs divided into two media bags in the bottom
Chamber 2: big media bag full of bioballs
Chamber 3: stock pump and eheim e50 which touches the pump and barely stays at water line (annoying)
Display: Caribsea arag-alive 20lb sand, cheapest amazon power head (but magnetic!!), 1.024sg water from LFS, 100mL Bio-Spira, stock light
IMG_20210923_233606202.jpg

First mods -
1. Bioballs removed on advice from LFS, swapped with live rubble from LFS in bottom of chamber 1; added remaining rubble to display
2. Bioballs in chamber 2 dumped, moved eheim e50 to chamber 2, added filter floss at bottom of chamber 2
3. Tank water was running hot at 83+ during day, so rigged up bird netting open top with crossbars for stock light using door screen kit from Home Depot
4. Still worried about temp, so added an Inkbird and Zoo Med fan (still setting up... Cables!)
IMG_20210926_140043179_HDR.jpg

IMG_20210926_140100446_HDR.jpg

There was white sediment in all three chambers after initially adding sand, water and Bio-Spira. Changing and rinsing the filter floss every 2 days helped remove most of it. I wonder if all of the Bio-Spira went out with the dumped bioballs.

Not happy with the power head. It moves all of the bottom corner sand away, so trying to reposition, but also thinking of a mid-range upgrade like a hygger.

Yesterday, built the Caribsea LifeRock structure with Nico, which was fun and mostly his design. Added to tank and got a spike in nitrate and nitrite from dipstick test. Water is clear now and levels seemed to have dropped.
IMG_20210928_155836559.jpg

Will wait a bit, but planning to start with CUC once LFS gives the green light (they tested our water today and said maybe a few days to week).

Stocking plan:
1. 2x Nassussusaaserius (for turning sand, and I like the look) + 2x astrea + either 2x trochus or 2x more astrea + hermit crab(s) (electric blue desired, but maybe a few dwarfs instead) + supplemental feeding (?) [I read that ceriths have an egg-laying problem and can't right themselves if they turn over]
2. Wait
3. Nico gets to pick his clown
4. Wait
5. Royal Gramma + skunk or fire cleaner shrimp
6. (+ waiting) yellow watchman goby + pistol shrimp
7. Coral--Still learning a lot about these, but will start with soft and LPS. So much still to learn, but the world is our oyster--except we don't have a brackish tank, see the no oysters allowed sign.
 
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JoJosReef

JoJosReef

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Had to make some sort of cable management. Might need to swap out the fabric box for something plastic. I like how the floating effect of the fluval evo lets me run the cords from the sump side to the box underneath the tank edges.
IMG_20210928_235536763.jpg


IMG_20210928_235553706_HDR.jpg


IMG_20210928_235524259_HDR.jpg
 
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JoJosReef

JoJosReef

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Update: i have been making several modifications to the tank--wasn't satisfied with the DIY look and the light and wanted to make this tank the best I can make it.

New-
-Intank chamber 2 media basket
-Aqueon 100w preset heater (I expect to almost never use it, but it fits nicely above the pump)
-$15 Bottle ATO, found a good strong plastic water bottle from Whole Foods that fits perfectly, and it works great
-Current USA Orbit Marine IC light and bracket (bracket on, waiting on light)
-Vivosun 210gph pump
-10-18in LED tank light (flat) for making chaeto refugeum
-Seachem ammonia alert badge
-Kraken lid ordered

Fails-
-Accel Aquatics vortex flow accelerator (just way too big)
-2x usb fans to replace the ZooMed horrible fan that doesn't blow air--I have a third coming which will hopefully fit, and thank you very much Amazon free returns!
-3 different bottles of bacteria starter (more below)

Discussion-
I was worried about the tank's cycle and dosed some Dr. Tim's ammonium. Really confusing resukts with API test, learned a lot about free ammonia, and got the badge. I think the tank is basically cycled--this after adding Fritz, Dr. Tim's and daily Microbacter7. Probably was not necessary. I put in an order for CUC with Reef Cleaners for arrival next Thur/Fri. Might go ahead and get the clown on Monday.

Stock light wasn't doing it for me. Not performance or anything--I have nothing in the tank--but I don't like having to manually set it every day and I like the ones with programmable settings. Went with the Orbit IC with remote despite negative reviews because (1) I only plan to put softies and some easy LPS in this tank, and (2) I wanted a lengthwise profile, not a square raised up over the middle of the tank. And it comes with good settings for morning, day and night. Light arrives today, so we'll see if I keep liking it.

More to come, for sure.

IMG_20211007_003352982.jpg


IMG_20211006_211744918.jpg
 

Kobadinsky

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Update: i have been making several modifications to the tank--wasn't satisfied with the DIY look and the light and wanted to make this tank the best I can make it.

New-
-Intank chamber 2 media basket
-Aqueon 100w preset heater (I expect to almost never use it, but it fits nicely above the pump)
-$15 Bottle ATO, found a good strong plastic water bottle from Whole Foods that fits perfectly, and it works great
-Current USA Orbit Marine IC light and bracket (bracket on, waiting on light)
-Vivosun 210gph pump
-10-18in LED tank light (flat) for making chaeto refugeum
-Seachem ammonia alert badge
-Kraken lid ordered

Fails-
-Accel Aquatics vortex flow accelerator (just way too big)
-2x usb fans to replace the ZooMed horrible fan that doesn't blow air--I have a third coming which will hopefully fit, and thank you very much Amazon free returns!
-3 different bottles of bacteria starter (more below)

Discussion-
I was worried about the tank's cycle and dosed some Dr. Tim's ammonium. Really confusing resukts with API test, learned a lot about free ammonia, and got the badge. I think the tank is basically cycled--this after adding Fritz, Dr. Tim's and daily Microbacter7. Probably was not necessary. I put in an order for CUC with Reef Cleaners for arrival next Thur/Fri. Might go ahead and get the clown on Monday.

Stock light wasn't doing it for me. Not performance or anything--I have nothing in the tank--but I don't like having to manually set it every day and I like the ones with programmable settings. Went with the Orbit IC with remote despite negative reviews because (1) I only plan to put softies and some easy LPS in this tank, and (2) I wanted a lengthwise profile, not a square raised up over the middle of the tank. And it comes with good settings for morning, day and night. Light arrives today, so we'll see if I keep liking it.

More to come, for sure.

IMG_20211007_003352982.jpg


IMG_20211006_211744918.jpg
I saw the comment about the mixed API test results. Our LFS told us that those tests are not the most accurate and can vary the test results. We now use the Red Sea testing products and we absolutely love them. They are pretty easy to use as well which is a huge plus! A little pricy though I will say that!
 
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JoJosReef

JoJosReef

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Short but important update:
I took my son to the LFS and he got to pick out his Nemo. Regular Ocellaris and perfect to him in every way. I was quite stressed about ammonium spiking and double-dosed the Microbacter7. Nemo spent the first two days trailing his reflection non-stop and not eating, despite trying flake, pellets and frozen mini-mysis. So on Day 3, I went back to LFS and got him a friend (Marlin), which immediately calmed Nemo down. Now the two of them float around together--the first one is the bigger one, and he/she does boss the little one around occasionally, but I haven't seen them be truly aggressive. Now, I was really stressed after 2 days of essentially ghost feeding with a fish in-tank, so I also dumped in a whole new bottle of Fritz9 with the second Ocy.

Two_clowns.jpg


Only other news is that my Orbit IC light came in from Amazon and was in horrible condition--didn't even unpack it from the box. Was so upset I posted my first review of a product on Amazon, canceled the replacement and bought a Fluval Marine 3.0. I think I will be happy with that light for the softies I am planning for this tank. For my next tank, an IM Nuvo Fusion 10g for the office, I hope I win the Noopsyche. But in any case, I might go for a stronger light (maybe a Noopsyche!) to open up more coral possibilities.

Bad_light.jpg
 
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JoJosReef

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More updates:

1. Fluval light came in and swapped it out with the stock light--I really like the bluetooth/phone app for programming it. We'll see how it does with the corals--got a $5 GSP and $10 Zoa from local flash sale, going in this week.

2. CUC arrived from reefcleaners. Only one Nassarius out of two came, but more dwarf ceriths than expected. The Nassi is behaving super weird--he/she buried itself for 2 days and did nothing, not popping out to eat all of the food on the sandbed or anything, and tonight decided to go for a climb and is now near the top of the rock structure. I got 2 dwarf trochus and one regular sized trochus, but the regular one has not moved in 2 days, so I am giving him another day before calling time of death. Ceriths are all over the place but they are SO small--hard to believe they will make a dent on the rapidly expanding diatoms. 1/2 small blue leg hermits arrived, and it's been an entertaining little fella. Depending on how bad the sand bed gets, thinking of a conch, especially since Nassi is confused about what type of snail it is.

3. Speaking of diatoms. I am assuming the brown spotting covering the coraline algae on my rocks and on the sandbed are them. I added phosguard and a ball of chaeto in the intank media baskets. Hopefully that helps.
diatoms2.jpg


diatoms1.jpg


Chaeto.jpg


4. Resolved the ATO and fan situation. I love the bottle, even though it doesn't look the best. Trade-off between more wires/tubes though, and I'll take the bottle. Works like a charm. I'm finding velcro stickers are my best friends right now!
Fan_and_bottle.jpg


5. The two clowns are finally eating. And they come right up to me at the glass every time I pass by, presumably begging for food. They are getting fed twice a day, mix of flakes, pellets and frozen mysis--overfeeding now on purpose so that they get enough and the CUC get enough since not much algae yet.

6. Still waiting on the Kraken lid, but the only other modification I'm thinking of is a better, programable powerhead. Current powerhead is off, though, and only running return pump--I can't tell if the clowns like more flow or not.
 

jfoahs04

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Looking good!

the nassarius behavior is pretty normal for a new one. They can be relatively shy at first, and in an unestablished tank, you’ll occasionally see them patrolling for food on the sand bed, glass, and rocks. As your tank matures, you may rarely see it (mine mostly comes out at night).

Those definitely look like diatoms to me. I wouldn’t worry about the ceriths keeping them under control. Diatoms are a pretty normal part of the process and they’ll get worse before they get better, then they’ll go away in their own.

Im glad the clowns are eating! They can be pigs. They can tolerate more flow than you think. I have a controllable (Nero 3) powerhead in my tank and I run it pretty strong during the day and turn it down overnight. I think it’s the best of both works for the fish and my softer corals.
 
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JoJosReef

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Another big update:

1. Got my new Fluval Marine 3.0 light and Kraken Lid. Equip-wise, I think I'm where I want this tank to be.
2. Might have a dino problem--saw some bubbles coming out of the brown patches on top of rocks--so did 3-day blackout + H2O2 dosing. Looks like it tamed the problem, but I don't think it's all the way gone. So added a UV sterilizer in the display and plan to run it for a week per month or so.
3. Got our first corals! 1 GSP ($5) on a plug and 1 single polyp zoa ($10) on a plug from Reef Raft live sale. Local, so I met the RRstaff for a pick-up. I gave them a short 5-10 min dip in 2 Little Fishes ReVive Coral Cleaner.
4. New powerhead: MagTool ZKSJ Slim Pro bought on Amazon ($94.90). So far, I love it. Much smaller footprint, has bluetooth and an app to program it, and detaches from magnet inside of tank so easy to pull off and clean. Running it on low %, so I think this will work for anything planned in this tank.

FluvalEvo_Setup_10-28-2021.jpg


Here is the GSP, still closed up. I made a little hut on the sandbed out of some live rock rubble, and I hope the GSP grows over it all to cover it up like a hobbit hole. I will push this a bit down into the sand to make a potential hideaway for the goby/pistol pair coming soon (see Coming Soon).
GSP.jpg


And the zoa is also closed up for now. I don't remember what it looks like so will be a surprise if/when it opens up! I'm having difficulty keeping pH up (only 7.8 currently), so I might have to look into dosing something to bring it up to 8.0.
Zoa.jpg


5. Clowns are great. The big one appears to be aggressive at time, but I'm not sure if it's real aggression, a game or courtship. The little one darts away, but sometimes does a little shimmy dance move with his whole body. Big one doesn't seem to be out for blood in any case, so I'm not too worried. They are both pigs, now!!

Now for the fails:
1. Chaeto: I had it set up in the sump chamber one in the bottom of my InTank with an LED light velcroed to the outside shining in, but it started turning yellow and during my water change, it lost most of its consistency, so it's gone now. I might try macroalgae again sometime, but will leave that space open or transfer some rubble to the InTank.

2. Brown algae is causing some problems with buildup on the glass, sandbed and top of rocks (the latter had some bubbling action, which led me to believe dinos had arrived--Nitrate was near zero--so I did the 3-day blackout plus H2O2. Bit better, but the brown patches have come back daily--I blast them with a turkey baster and some of it goes off.

3. Cable management is becoming a problem again. I have extension cords on the extension cords to make more space for the big blocky power supplies. Planning to get a smart power strip to handle everything.

And Coming Soon:
Placed an order with Dr. Reef's Quarantined Fish for a Randall's pistol, High Fin Red Banded goby, conch, 5x Trochus and a fire shrimp. Hopefully will ship out next week.

P.s.'s:
- Nassie the Nasserius vibex is lazy. He/she does not surface even when food comes out. I dug around with my hands tonight just to find him/her to make sure he/she was alive. He/She was and promptly went back in the sand.
- I dumped a bunch of small shells in the tank, and the blue-leg already upgraded.
- The clownpigs have become very comfortable with me and come right to the feeding corner when I come near. They nip at the bulb pipette when I go in to take water samples. They are fun, and hopefully they will have some wavy corals to try out in the near future.
 
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JoJosReef

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Another exciting update:

I happened upon a thread by @Gedxin whose rainbow bubble tip anemone split and was giving away the new nem to anyone local--and I happened to have coworkers commuting in from his area. Many thanks to @Gedxin! The RBTA is settled nicely for the time being and bubbling up, so I'm hoping this means he's (Nico decided it's a boy) happy and can thrive.

I was on the fence about whether to go for a BTA or just stick to softies and some LPS, but this put me over the fence and I'm very happy it did. Now for pictures and the story:

Here he is acclimating in my lab/office! I brought in some water to get him started during work:
rbta acclimating.jpg


Placing him in the tank was a trip. Used nitrile gloves and it took a good 7-8 minutes to get his foot off of the plastic cup. I watched a youtube video of someone casually collecting their RBTA with a gloved hand and dropping it perfectly in the right spot in their tank. Well, that's not what happened here. I finally got him off the cup and scooped him in my gloved hand. When I went to place him, he had glued his foot to my glove at the base of my index and middle finger. In fact, it was difficult to spread my fingers apart--strong foot!! It was comical and perhap a bit traumatic (for both of us!) trying to get him to let go. I finally used a soft plastic kiddie spoon to gently push his foot and get him to release it, and he fell face/tentacle first onto a different part of the rock. I tried righting him and he ended up drifting away... almost right on top of the new GSP. So I got him again in my hand and brought him up to the rock, this time laying on his side and figured stop while not behind.

Placement fail:
rbta placing fail.jpg


Then he righted himself. Colors are amazing and the camera does not do it justice.
rbta fixing itself.jpg


Then he moved to the spot I originally wanted him to go for:
rbta.jpg


And here's another with the color enhanced for the GSP, which is also doing well now (wish I could say the same for the zoa, which is still closed up):
rbta and gsp.jpg


Clowns of course haven't done anything with the RBTA yet, although they did a lot of inspecting when he was first placed on the rock.

I currently have the powerhead moved up high and away from the rock, but I understand even that isn't safe. So I currently have it off with only the return pump running. I'm not sure about the best way to deal with the powerhead. Run it as normal when the RBTA looks a bit more settled (he might up and move again once the flow gets going!)? Make a DIY nem guard for the powerhead? We'll find out in the next thrilling episode of Clownfish in Spaaaaace!
 
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JoJosReef

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Been wanting to update but haven't had time, so here's a quick one:

New:
1. Made a DIY nem guard for the MagTool powerhead. Flow is very low now with the front cover, so I'm going to play with cutting sections of bigger holes in the front; sides and back should be OK.
IMG_20211104_003231442_HDR.jpg

IMG_20211104_005901851.jpg

IMG_20211104_073945766.jpg


2. RBTA seems to be doing well. Getting used to his daily behaviors, like how he closes up completely around dinnertime for about an hour or so and then reopens lazily. Had me very anxious the first few days he did this. But, so far he keeps opening up in the AM. It really is amazing watching these creatures.
IMG_20211103_224120557_HDR.jpg

IMG_20211104_085121117_HDR.jpg


3. Received my order from Dr. Reef's! All livestock arrived in great condition. Acclimated and introduced:
i. 6x Trochus snails that went straight to work and haven't stopped
ii. a fire cleaner shrimp--I go between fascination and horror watching him... he hid upside down under one of the rocks for the full first day until feeding time, and he came out attacking the mysis shrimp like a ravenous spider, but mostly he now lives to steal food from the anemone and clownpigs
iii. a quarter sized fighting conch; I think this guy might be my favorite. He's a workaholic and just vacuum's up everything on the sandbed. I was worried about lack of algae for the new CUC, but since increasing the light intensity for the RBTA, seems like plenty of brown stuff growing on the sandbed that he's cleaning.
iv. a very tiny Randall's pistol shrimp. I have not seen him since I put him inside. And I found what looked suspiciously like shrimp remains in the back of the tank, but it could have also been krill that the RBTA coughed up--I don't know what would leave that type of shell-less corpse, and I don't know if the dwarf blue-leg hermit has the power to do that... still, not promising...
v. a hi fin red banded goby; he was cool at first. Went right to the little cave I made for him under the GSP island. Stayed there until night time then left to explore and appears to have taken residence below the main DT rock structure from a hole in the back. I can sometimes see his reflection in the hole from the back glass. There has been a lot of excavating there, which also makes me wonder if the pistol shrimp is alive and helping. Either way, I am now anxious that the rock structure, which is sitting on 1 in of sand bed, is going to crash on top of him/them. I make sure to squirt mysis shrimp at the entrance to the hole, but I haven't seen him come out to eat so far--he's been in there now for about 3 days.

Happy with livestock now, and waiting on 4 new corals from AquaSD, which I'm supposed to pick up this week: 1 alveopora, 1 duncan, 2 acan lords. They have an acid wash BTA on clearance, so it's hard to resist adding it... you know, to make the most of the 1hr drive there and back... and I do so love our RBTA (my fav by far, and the bigger clownpig is starting to poke his/her nose down into the tentacles)...

Fails:
1. The zoa never opened up. Gave it an H202 dip based on R2R recommendations. Still didn't open. Was looking a bit scuzzy and the cleaner shrimp was giving it a good detailing, so out it went.

2. The amount of money wasted from poorly planned upgrades: DIY lid (Kraken is incomparably better), 210gph return pump (now thinking a mighty jet would have been better), potentially InTank Media Basket 2 (I switched the UV over to chamber 2, so had to remove the media basket), other consumables that ended up getting trashed or tossed into the garage tank box...
 

JoeinLA

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I just got a fluval 13.5 and am still in the “hardware” phase but your build thread is great and I look forward to further updates. Re: the wasted $, yeah, that’s a concern of mine as well which I why I started with a 13.5 instead of a 100g - the scale makes the inevitable learning curve more tolerable :)

FWIW I struggled (am struggling) with heater - I bought 2 that i returned bc the fit was too tight. I’m currently waiting for the hygger compact heater and hoping that + inkbird will do the trick. I also ordered the hygger wavemaker (no clue re brand but their reviews, features, price seem close enough).

Anyways looking forward to your further updates.
 

jfoahs04

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Been wanting to update but haven't had time, so here's a quick one:

New:
1. Made a DIY nem guard for the MagTool powerhead. Flow is very low now with the front cover, so I'm going to play with cutting sections of bigger holes in the front; sides and back should be OK.
IMG_20211104_003231442_HDR.jpg

IMG_20211104_005901851.jpg

IMG_20211104_073945766.jpg


2. RBTA seems to be doing well. Getting used to his daily behaviors, like how he closes up completely around dinnertime for about an hour or so and then reopens lazily. Had me very anxious the first few days he did this. But, so far he keeps opening up in the AM. It really is amazing watching these creatures.
IMG_20211103_224120557_HDR.jpg

IMG_20211104_085121117_HDR.jpg


3. Received my order from Dr. Reef's! All livestock arrived in great condition. Acclimated and introduced:
i. 6x Trochus snails that went straight to work and haven't stopped
ii. a fire cleaner shrimp--I go between fascination and horror watching him... he hid upside down under one of the rocks for the full first day until feeding time, and he came out attacking the mysis shrimp like a ravenous spider, but mostly he now lives to steal food from the anemone and clownpigs
iii. a quarter sized fighting conch; I think this guy might be my favorite. He's a workaholic and just vacuum's up everything on the sandbed. I was worried about lack of algae for the new CUC, but since increasing the light intensity for the RBTA, seems like plenty of brown stuff growing on the sandbed that he's cleaning.
iv. a very tiny Randall's pistol shrimp. I have not seen him since I put him inside. And I found what looked suspiciously like shrimp remains in the back of the tank, but it could have also been krill that the RBTA coughed up--I don't know what would leave that type of shell-less corpse, and I don't know if the dwarf blue-leg hermit has the power to do that... still, not promising...
v. a hi fin red banded goby; he was cool at first. Went right to the little cave I made for him under the GSP island. Stayed there until night time then left to explore and appears to have taken residence below the main DT rock structure from a hole in the back. I can sometimes see his reflection in the hole from the back glass. There has been a lot of excavating there, which also makes me wonder if the pistol shrimp is alive and helping. Either way, I am now anxious that the rock structure, which is sitting on 1 in of sand bed, is going to crash on top of him/them. I make sure to squirt mysis shrimp at the entrance to the hole, but I haven't seen him come out to eat so far--he's been in there now for about 3 days.

Happy with livestock now, and waiting on 4 new corals from AquaSD, which I'm supposed to pick up this week: 1 alveopora, 1 duncan, 2 acan lords. They have an acid wash BTA on clearance, so it's hard to resist adding it... you know, to make the most of the 1hr drive there and back... and I do so love our RBTA (my fav by far, and the bigger clownpig is starting to poke his/her nose down into the tentacles)...

Fails:
1. The zoa never opened up. Gave it an H202 dip based on R2R recommendations. Still didn't open. Was looking a bit scuzzy and the cleaner shrimp was giving it a good detailing, so out it went.

2. The amount of money wasted from poorly planned upgrades: DIY lid (Kraken is incomparably better), 210gph return pump (now thinking a mighty jet would have been better), potentially InTank Media Basket 2 (I switched the UV over to chamber 2, so had to remove the media basket), other consumables that ended up getting trashed or tossed into the garage tank box...

Congrats on the new livestock! It may be too early to tell on the pistol. Is it possible the remains were part of a molt from your fire shrimp? Or a hermit (often they separate from the shell when they die). Hopefully you find it.

I hear you on the upgrades. I learned a while ago that it's often better to go with the good stuff from the start. I went right for the Kraken Reef and prime on my tank (it came used with no lid and a Current USA LED). I also went with the Nero for flow. I think it's just sort of better to understand that it's spending money on entertainment, not an investment. Coral is even trickier - you don't want to start with delicate coral you're going to kill in a new system, but at the same time you don't want to fill it with stuff that's going to overrun the tank or bore you quickly. My first reef was a pit of xenia which I loved at first but 6 months in I couldn't stand and could never get rid of it. Personally, I go heavy on the zoas to start (literally cycled with some on my live rock) which I love even in a high end system, they sell well, and they're hardy enough to grow in a young tank.

I just got a fluval 13.5 and am still in the “hardware” phase but your build thread is great and I look forward to further updates. Re: the wasted $, yeah, that’s a concern of mine as well which I why I started with a 13.5 instead of a 100g - the scale makes the inevitable learning curve more tolerable :)

FWIW I struggled (am struggling) with heater - I bought 2 that i returned bc the fit was too tight. I’m currently waiting for the hygger compact heater and hoping that + inkbird will do the trick. I also ordered the hygger wavemaker (no clue re brand but their reviews, features, price seem close enough).

Anyways looking forward to your further updates.

The scale DEFINITELY makes it easier. My 13.5 EVO is the smallest reef I've ever run and while it's certainly harder to keep stable parameters, it's much more manageable in terms of cost (and losses generally aren't as crushing).

I'm generally an advocate for going for the nicer stuff, but I'm honestly running the Aqueon 100w preset (78 degree) heater. I bought 3 of them for $45 ($15/each) both for heating up seawater that I collect for water changes and so I have backups. I check the temp every morning and I throw a second heater in another chamber when I'm away to serve as a backup. I'll probably grab a probe/monitor at some point, but these little heaters are fine and fit easily in the EVO's rear chambers.
 
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JoJosReef

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I just got a fluval 13.5 and am still in the “hardware” phase but your build thread is great and I look forward to further updates. Re: the wasted $, yeah, that’s a concern of mine as well which I why I started with a 13.5 instead of a 100g - the scale makes the inevitable learning curve more tolerable :)

FWIW I struggled (am struggling) with heater - I bought 2 that i returned bc the fit was too tight. I’m currently waiting for the hygger compact heater and hoping that + inkbird will do the trick. I also ordered the hygger wavemaker (no clue re brand but their reviews, features, price seem close enough).

Anyways looking forward to your further updates.
I was on the fence about the hygger vs. the more expensive MagTool. Got the latter because of the phone app controller, but now I'm just using the button on the cord module anyway, so the hygger would have been just fine.

Note: I did read somewhere where people had rust issues if they used the sump wall to place the hygger since the outside magnet isn't meant to be submerged.
 

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I was on the fence about the hygger vs. the more expensive MagTool. Got the latter because of the phone app controller, but now I'm just using the button on the cord module anyway, so the hygger would have been just fine.

Note: I did read somewhere where people had rust issues if they used the sump wall to place the hygger since the outside magnet isn't meant to be submerged.
good tip re the magnet - thanks for the heads up. I’m supposed to get that and heater tonight so we’ll see how they fit/work. Looking forward to following your tank and piggybacking off of your experiences :)
 
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Another exciting update:

I picked up my frags from the @AquaSD sale I bought a couple of weeks ago. Great place and really impressive operation--they were really helpful too since I was hammering them with beginner questions. Also brought home a dragon eyes zoa to give zoas another shot. Total haul:
- Duncan
- Ultra alveopora
- Silver claw acan lord
- UFO acan lord
- Dragon eyes zoa

There was some sort of hitchhiker on the zoa, and I didn't know what it was. Maybe aiptasia? It kinda looked like a mini feather duster. I took the zoa out again and carefully snipped it off with the bone cutter I used for cutting the stalks off the plugs. Then dabbed some superglue over the spot. Hope it doesn't bother the polyp too much--it dod open back up quickly when I returned it.

IMG_20211110_173034659.jpg

IMG_20211110_173039880.jpg

IMG_20211110_173043505.jpg


Hitchhiker:
IMG_20211110_160208433.jpg


Pulled him out and chopped him off. Hope it doesn't spring up again or elsewhere.
IMG_20211110_170451022.jpg
 
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