Fishy's first reef tank - IM 25 Lagoon

Fishy Guy

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I'm a long-time freshwater planted guy that is finally making the dive into reef tanks. I've been on the fence about starting for a long time and a buddy of mine recently offered me a tank and some of his spare equipment at a great price which was the final push I needed.

I plan to use this thread to document not only my build, but my journey of learning this side of the hobby, and as a new guy I'm hoping to get lots of advice and suggestions (so please fire away!). I'm also excited to share this experience with my two daughters who are 3 and 5.

Here is what I have so far; items marked with an * are what I'm getting from my buddy, the rest I've purchased separately:

Equipment:
Tank - IM 25g Lagoon AIO*
Filtration - IM CustomCaddy* (haven't decided on media yet) and Auqu Shield UV
Pump - stock Mighty Jet* with 2x Auqa Spin Stream nozzles
Powerhead - Current USA eFlux Wave Pump (660 GPH, already owned this from a previous freshwater build)
Light - AI Prime 16HD*
Heater - Hygger titanium w/ controller*
ATO - Duetto Dual-Sensor*
Controller - Kasa Smart Plug power strip (if that counts ha)
Stand - building my own, will be a knockoff of an ADA stand out of 3/4" maple ply (Aqua Design Amano for those not familiar with freshwater aquascaping)

Aquascape:
Rock - Marco Rock (30lbs)
Sand - Caribsea Special Grade Arag-Alive (20lb)

Testing:
API Saltwater Master Kit (Ammonia, Nitrite, pH)
Salifert kH/Alk
Hanna Nitrate HR
Hanna Phosphate ULR
SunGrow Refractometer

Misc:
RO/DI - Aquatic Life 4-Stage (100 GPD)*
Salt - Instant Ocean Sea Salt
Water storage - 3 x 5g Hedpak
I already have tons of algae scrubbers, siphons, nets, buckets, etc from my freshwater tanks unless I absolutely can't mix between fresh and reef tanks.

I'm in for $876 so far including materials for stand (minus paint); not cheap but relatively speaking I think I've lucked out big time!


Beyond this I need a ton of help ha! I want to keep things simple to start and don't have any specific theme. I just want to have a healthy and (hopefully) peaceful community ecosystem.

For livestock I'm open to all suggestions, I've just listed out those that have caught my eye so far that seem like they would be mostly compatible. I know I won't be able to add them all in a 25g but would like to have as much variation as possible.

Livestock:
Pair of Percula Clowns (local breeder, these are the only non-negotiable on the list as the whole family is excited about them)
Yellow Watchman Goby/Pistol Shrimp
Tailspot Blenny
Pink Streaked Wrasse
Royal Gramma
Court Jester Goby
Yellowtail Damsel

CUC:
Cleaner Shrimp (not 100% non-negotiable but I really want one ha)
Snails (unsure of specific varieties and numbers, need advice)
Hermits (unsure of specific varieties and numbers, need advice)


I'm really excited about corals but have yet to really go down the rabbit hole yet. To start I want to stick with hardy varieties of softies and LPS.

Corals:
Zoa garden (looking at corals for the first time not knowing anything about them I was immediately drawn to the zoas)
Beyond that I have no idea, I want a variety of colors and textures. Suggestions please!


Next step: Get my stand built and in place.
 
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kevgib67

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Your fish list looks good and in harmony. You’ll need to trim it down to about 5 of any of those fish. I would recommend a couple Mexican Turbo snails, five trochus snails, 5 cerith snails and 4 nassarius snails (for the sand bed). Add them slowly as food starts becoming available so they don’t starve. I prefer the dwarf red and blue legged hermits. I would suggest getting your pod population started early. I’m a clown guy as well and couldn’t imagine having a reef tank without a pair. Best of luck.
 
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Fishy Guy

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Your fish list looks good and in harmony. You’ll need to trim it down to about 5 of any of those fish. I would recommend a couple Mexican Turbo snails, five trochus snails, 5 cerith snails and 4 nassarius snails (for the sand bed). Add them slowly as food starts becoming available so they don’t starve. I prefer the dwarf red and blue legged hermits. I would suggest getting your pod population started early. I’m a clown guy as well and couldn’t imagine having a reef tank without a pair. Best of luck.
Thanks for the suggestion!

I really like Turbo snails (we use their shells for land hermits we have) but wasn't sure if 25g was large enough to have them.

How many of the dwarf hermits would/could I support?

Probably a silly question but when trimming down the fish list to 5 does the pistol shrimp count as 1?
 
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Another question, can/should I add pods while I cycle? Where is the best place to order them from and do I need to dose phytoplankton or something else to feed them in the early stages when the tank is fairly sterile?
 
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It's slow but we have progress.

Did my stand build today. I'm jealous of any of you that have a real shop. Probably takes me longer to drag all the kids stuff out of the garage to access my workbench than it does to do the actual build.

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I kept it fairly simple and it only took a single sheet of plywood. Now it just needs some paint. I'm most likely going to do white or a light gray.

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I'm playing around with my scape today and have a general idea of what I want but don't really know what to expect for flow and coral needs.

I want lots of caves/arches/overhangs for fish and get as much sense of depth as possible. Main viewing angles will be from the front and left sides so want to have the largest part of the structure in the back right corner but tank will be viewable from the right side as well.

Any thoughts on this setup or how to improve it? The cardboard under it is just slightly smaller than the display dimensions of the tank.

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I got all of my equipment mounted in the stand last night and wires mostly organized and out of the way.

My rockscape is epoxied/glued together and in the tank; I decided to go with a two island approach and closed in the cave more on the larger island. I let a few touch up areas finish curing overnight.

I will add sand and water today, fire her up, and get this cycle going!

Wires.jpeg


Setup.jpeg


Scape.jpeg
 
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The cycle is moving along. I tested last night and still had 2ppm ammonia and 0 nitrites; tested again a little while ago and ammonia was down to 0.25 and nitrites at 0.5.

Trying to decide which fish I'm going to add first. Clowns would probably be easiest but I'm concerned they could potentially be more aggressive if added first... The only other fish on my definite list that I know my LFS has is a Tailspot Blenny.
 
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I must've checked my ammonia prematurely yesterday. When I tested today it was showing 1ppm. Cycle is still moving along as nitrites are up to 2 now.

Also got my RODI plumbed in under our half bath sink. System is rated at 100gpd but took right at 2 hours to make a little over 5g.

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Still waiting on the cycle. Why is being patient so hard?! Ha

Tested more parameters for the first time today out of curiosity.

SG - 1.026
Ammonia - 0.5 (API)
Nitrites - 5+ (API)
Nitrates - 15.5 (Hanna)
Phosphate - 0.02 (Hanna)
pH - 8.0 (API)
dKH - 8.3 (Salifert)
 

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