Fluval Evo 13.5 build - My first saltwater tank/transition from freshwater

valley

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Intro:
Hello, this Fluval evo 13.5 has been set up since October 17th, 2023. I set this up with about 15lbs of live rock from my lfs and natures ocean live sand. It had its stock parts for a month and have so far upgraded the return pump, the lighting, the lid, and the filtration.

Upgrades:
* AI Axis Return Pump
* VCA Random Flow Generator return nozzles
* AI Prime w/ diffuser and 12 inch gooseneck arm
*Mesh lid

Filtration:
*Chamber one: InTank chamber 1 basket w/ filter floss, chemipure elite, and marinepure gems

* Chamber two: More marinepure gems, seachem matrix, carbon, and Fluval m50 heater

*Chamber three: Return pump

Lighting:
I have the light 8 inches above the water line and I am using a schedule that I found in the Facebook group for ai prime lighting schedules. It runs for 12 hours+2 hours of moonlight.
IMG_3153.jpeg


Flow:
I am running my AI Axis 40 on 55% (220 GPH). I am still tweaking this.

Future upgrades:
I’m considering getting an ato to put into chamber three alongside my return pump.

Clean up crew:
*3 Electric Blue Hermit Crabs
*1 Trochus Snail
*1 Tuxedo Urchin

Clean up crew problems:
I used to have three nassarius snails, a turbo snail, and three trochus snails. I am sure that the nassarius snails’ death were my fault entirely because I was under the impression that they ate algae as told by my lfs but later found out that they only eat detritus and leftover food. However, the turbo snail and trochus snails died mysteriously. The turbo snail died within 2 weeks of being in my tank; it was never really active and just sort of randomly died. I was told it may just have been due to old age. The trochus snails have recently died to unknown reasons. About a month ago, I noticed that they have been very inactive and soon found one upside down not trying to right itself at all. I helped it and stuck it to the glass but it died the next day. The other trochus snail simply died and I found it on the sand being picked on by my hermit crabs. The last trochus snail is the one that is still alive but also still very inactive.

Coral stocking:
*6 Zoanthid frags
* 2 mushroom frags (one Rhodactis and one Ricordea Florida)
*Small Toadstool leather frag
*Candy cane frag
*Very small blasto frag
*Micromussa frag
*Scoly Button frag
*2 torch coral frags

Additional coral info:
*Zoanthids: Wolverine, Tangerine Dreams, Jupiter, Fruit Loops, Magician, Kung Fu Fighter (Tidal Gardens)

*Candy cane: Kryptonite

*Torch: Gold, Cotton Candy

Other Stocking:
* WWC Hawaiian Punch BTA

Future Stocking:
*Ocellaris Clownfish pair
*White Belly Wrasse
*Emerald Crab
*Nassarius Snails
*Trochus Snails (maybe)

Good experiences:
Stability: Throughout the entire time that the tank has been setup I have always had parameter stability within the ideal range. I have never lost a single coral in this tank and everything I currently have looks happy.

Copepods:A single copepod appeared three months in and have now exploded in population. I hear this is a good thing as copepods will only live in stable waters.

Bad experiences:
Algae: I have always had a pretty ugly tank. Within a week of setting up the tank it exploded with algae during the cycle. There was algae on the glass and sand, rocks were green, and the water was very green as well! I heard that it was actually rare for water to be that green during the cycle. I was advised that I maybe got some really “live” rock and possibly had a major die off of bacteria. The type of algae I had from October- December is gone now and from December-Now, I have had a big gha problem. Green hair algae started to grow very long on the rock on top and wouldn’t go away. I found out it could be due to my phosphate levels which were an out of range value. I used chemipure elite to lower it down to a solid .13 value now because it has GFO. This did help shorten the length of the hair algae but the issue still persists and I’m noticing growth on lower rocks and on the sand bed. I am currently working on this using manual removals and nutrient exports through 10% weekly water changes. Upgrading my CUC with inverts such as the ones stated above would help as well. I am also considering using waste away.

Fish deaths: Once my cycle was done I instantly stocked my tank with inverts because of the algae. After about a week, I went ahead and bought a pair of clownfish. What went wrong here was that they were not paired and came from different tanks. The lfs told me that they would be fine and pair instantly inside the tank. After a day of being in my tank; one of the clownfish beat the other to death. I was now stuck with this one clownfish and now had to wait for it to grow into a female in order to add the smaller male clownfish. After about a month I decided to add a bi color blenny to help with the algae. It did well for the first three days and got along with the clownfish but it mysteriously died that same week. The blennys mood completely changed overnight. It seemed well the night before and was very active but the next day it looked pale and died that afternoon. Then the next day after the blennys death my clownfish started to act weird and then died the next day. Wow! I am actually not sure if they died to velvet or ich but I have waited a shallow period and plan on adding a pre quarantined pair of clownfish soon.
 

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Sorry that you lost your fish like that. What are your water parameters at this moment? All I can say is be patient it can definitely be a pain setting up a new reef tank on the beginning but well worth it in the long run. Also you may have mentioned it above but what type of what are you using for water changes? Definitely don’t use tap water if you have been.
 
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valley

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Sorry that you lost your fish like that. What are your water parameters at this moment? All I can say is be patient it can definitely be a pain setting up a new reef tank on the beginning but well worth it in the long run. Also you may have mentioned it above but what type of what are you using for water changes? Definitely don’t use tap water if you have been.
As of 2 weeks ago my parameters are:
0 ammonia
.2 nitrate
.13 phosphate
1200 magnesium
440 calcium
11.1 alk
7.8 pH

I’m not sure if algae affects ph like it does in freshwater tanks. I used pre made salt water on day 1 but later started using my own rodi water.
 

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Which salt are you using? Alk is quite high and Mg a bit on the low side (from what I am used to--although Mg tests are meant to be unreliable).

Nitrate is also extremely low. Is your test showing up with no color at all? If not, maybe your scale is off. What test are you using? If you have a lot of algae, it might be that there is plenty of nitrates but they are getting sucked up rather quickly.

I like to load up on corals rather quickly. They help with sucking up nutrients that would be otherwise consumed by algae. Macroalgae is also great for this.

In my Evo, I had massive GHA problems (and everything else except cyano). What worked for me was cleaning off the rocks completely and adding two turbos and an urchin. They kept it clean from there forward, although my macroalgae was toast.
 

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As of 2 weeks ago my parameters are:
0 ammonia
.2 nitrate
.13 phosphate
1200 magnesium
440 calcium
11.1 alk
7.8 pH

I’m not sure if algae affects ph like it does in freshwater tanks. I used pre made salt water on day 1 but later started using my own rodi water
As of 2 weeks ago my parameters are:
0 ammonia
.2 nitrate
.13 phosphate
1200 magnesium
440 calcium
11.1 alk
7.8 pH

I’m not sure if algae affects ph like it does in freshwater tanks. I used pre made salt water on day 1 but later started using my own rodi water.
Hmm, how are your corals looking? Also what is the temp in your tank and salinity? Temperature in small tanks can be really hard to dial in at first.
 
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valley

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Which salt are you using? Alk is quite high and Mg a bit on the low side (from what I am used to--although Mg tests are meant to be unreliable).

Nitrate is also extremely low. Is your test showing up with no color at all? If not, maybe your scale is off. What test are you using? If you have a lot of algae, it might be that there is plenty of nitrates but they are getting sucked up rather quickly.

I like to load up on corals rather quickly. They help with sucking up nutrients that would be otherwise consumed by algae. Macroalgae is also great for this.

In my Evo, I had massive GHA problems (and everything else except cyano). What worked for me was cleaning off the rocks completely and adding two turbos and an urchin. They kept it clean from there forward, although my macroalgae was toast.
I’m using instant ocean salt for water changes. I’m pretty sure that the green hair algae is sucking up some nitrates because I remember them being higher when there wasn’t any gha. I’m using a Salifert nitrate test and it’s showing a very light pink. I also heard that urchins will quickly eat any algae but haven’t really noticed that. Mine is pretty small though so maybe it’ll eat a lot more once it grows?
Hmm, how are your corals looking? Also what is the temp in your tank and salinity? Temperature in small tanks can be really hard to dial in at first.
All of my corals are looking good. I always try to keep my salinity at 35 ppt and I’ve had my temperature up to 80° for 2 1/2 months now since I heard I it helps with the shallow period. When I kept it at 78° it didn’t swing much though.
 

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I’m using instant ocean salt for water changes. I’m pretty sure that the green hair algae is sucking up some nitrates because I remember them being higher when there wasn’t any gha. I’m using a Salifert nitrate test and it’s showing a very light pink. I also heard that urchins will quickly eat any algae but haven’t really noticed that. Mine is pretty small though so maybe it’ll eat a lot more once it grows?

All of my corals are looking good. I always try to keep my salinity at 35 ppt and I’ve had my temperature up to 80° for 2 1/2 months now since I heard I it helps with the shallow period. When I kept it at 78° it didn’t swing much though.
You have some longish wispy GHA on the top rock. I usually see the urchins ignore that and stick to the very short GHA. That's why I only saw significant removal and control after I took the water level down in the tank, ripped out as much GHA as possible (I used paper towels to grab more and toss it) and then give the surface of the rock a spritz with H2O2--not enough to saturate into the rock, just the surface. GHA died off, and the turbos/urchins were quite aggressive to whatever started coming back. Got to where I was feeding the turbos pieces of nori and the urchin algae tablets to keep them fed!
 
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valley

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You have some longish wispy GHA on the top rock. I usually see the urchins ignore that and stick to the very short GHA. That's why I only saw significant removal and control after I took the water level down in the tank, ripped out as much GHA as possible (I used paper towels to grab more and toss it) and then give the surface of the rock a spritz with H2O2--not enough to saturate into the rock, just the surface. GHA died off, and the turbos/urchins were quite aggressive to whatever started coming back. Got to where I was feeding the turbos pieces of nori and the urchin algae tablets to keep them fed!
Hmm that sounds like a really good idea. Does the rock have to be out of the water or could I just get the water line below where all the algae is and spray it there? Are there no side effects to having H202 in the tank? Someone on the algae forum also said that waste away could help make the algae weaker and easier to pull out. I think this H202 thing would probably work better though because I see that people use H202 dips on coral frags to get rid of any algae.
 

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Hmm that sounds like a really good idea. Does the rock have to be out of the water or could I just get the water line below where all the algae is and spray it there? Are there no side effects to having H202 in the tank? Someone on the algae forum also said that waste away could help make the algae weaker and easier to pull out. I think this H202 thing would probably work better though because I see that people use H202 dips on coral frags to get rid of any algae.
I do it like a big water change. Rocks stay in the tank. H2O2 is fine. Some people like to dose it int heir tanks. And he amount you will use is relatively small.

1. Drain water to desired level, e.g., where most GHA is located
2. Have dropper/pipette on hand; use this to keep the corals wet by periodically dropping tank water on them
3. Start ripping off GHA using preferred methos; I use paper towels, which giver better purchase on the GHA down to the root and you can get more pulls; surely other ways that work great
4. Use spray bottle of H2O2 and squirt top of rocks where GHA was; try not to squirt on corals, just around them
5. Wait a couple of minutes; keep coral hydrated
6. Refill tank; I usually return about half tank water half new saltwater because I don't want to do a 70-80% water change

That's it. Over the next few days, any remaining GHA will turn white and die. It will start to grow back, but the turbos/urchins will have a much easier time keeping it at bay. I like a mixe of turbos and urchins as I think they complement each other. So a massive # of dwarf ceriths because they get into the smallest cracks. Like 100 of them is not a problem.

This worked well for me and minimal "product" introduced.
 
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I do it like a big water change. Rocks stay in the tank. H2O2 is fine. Some people like to dose it int heir tanks. And he amount you will use is relatively small.

1. Drain water to desired level, e.g., where most GHA is located
2. Have dropper/pipette on hand; use this to keep the corals wet by periodically dropping tank water on them
3. Start ripping off GHA using preferred methos; I use paper towels, which giver better purchase on the GHA down to the root and you can get more pulls; surely other ways that work great
4. Use spray bottle of H2O2 and squirt top of rocks where GHA was; try not to squirt on corals, just around them
5. Wait a couple of minutes; keep coral hydrated
6. Refill tank; I usually return about half tank water half new saltwater because I don't want to do a 70-80% water change

That's it. Over the next few days, any remaining GHA will turn white and die. It will start to grow back, but the turbos/urchins will have a much easier time keeping it at bay. I like a mixe of turbos and urchins as I think they complement each other. So a massive # of dwarf ceriths because they get into the smallest cracks. Like 100 of them is not a problem.

This worked well for me and minimal "product" introduced.
Alright I’ll try that today. Thanks a lot for the help! I just use regular 3% hydrogen peroxide right? Do I just use it straight or do I have to dilute it with tank water?
 

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Alright I’ll try that today. Thanks a lot for the help! I just use regular 3% hydrogen peroxide right? Do I just use it straight or do I have to dilute it with tank water?
I use it straight, but important to use a spray bottle. You don't want too much of it going into your rocks.
 
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I use it straight, but important to use a spray bottle. You don't want too much of it going into your rocks.
Alright just went ahead and did it. Some of the mist and some drops did fall into the water though. This won’t impact any of my corals and other livestock right? Some of my corals closed up but it’s probably because I did a 50% water change.
 

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Alright just went ahead and did it. Some of the mist and some drops did fall into the water though. This won’t impact any of my corals and other livestock right? Some of my corals closed up but it’s probably because I did a 50% water change.
Some people put it directly into their water. I did once for dinos before I knew anything about dinos. Just make sure with that large of a water change that the new water is closely salinity and temp matched. Urchins don't like change.
 
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Some people put it directly into their water. I did once for dinos before I knew anything about dinos. Just make sure with that large of a water change that the new water is closely salinity and temp matched. Urchins don't like change.
Salinity and temperature are the same so that’s good. Corals are still half open so I think they’re just a little mad about the H202. The BTA and the inverts looks the same. The algae actually looks like it’s a lighter color now! I’ll see how things progress. Thanks for the help!
 

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Salinity and temperature are the same so that’s good. Corals are still half open so I think they’re just a little mad about the H202. The BTA and the inverts looks the same. The algae actually looks like it’s a lighter color now! I’ll see how things progress. Thanks for the help!
Hope it works out!
 
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