Fluval Evo 13.5 Build Thread/ Progression [ShortyBiggie]

ShortyBiggie

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Hello everyone!

I am beginning a build thread for my Fluval Evo 13.5. I have had a variety of nano tanks before, namely a few IM Fusion 20’s, fusion 10, and a 55 gallon long ago.

While I have done a handful of reef tanks before, corals have always been my achilles heel. I have had mixed success with some corals, while others go nowhere. In the next few years, I know I will be upgrading to a 55-65 gallon aquarium, but for now I am hoping to really dive in with the fluval evo and get true experience. It is my hope this aquarium will serve as a deep learning experience to prepare me for the future upgrade.

With that being said, I am starting a build thread to really provide detailed descriptions of everything that goes on within the aquarium. I do not personally know anyone with a reef tank, therefore I have learned almost solely from the community on the forums. Therefore, I plan to use this thread not only to provide help to anyone who sees it, but also to get advice along my way. By providing great detail, I will hopefully give some members help seeing my progression, and will provide specific context with my aquarium to help those with more experience give the best advice possible.

Now for the tank (start date 5/27/21)

Equipment:
Tank: Fluval Evo 13.5
Heater: Ehiem Jager 75w
Flow: Stock Sicee Silent 0.5
Lighting: Stock AI Prime 16HD
Dry Rock: Carib Sea LifeRock (10 pounds)
Dry Sand: Carib Sea Fiji Pink (10 pounds)
Stand: Ikea Alex Drawer
Lid: Kraken Reef with feed cup
Filtration: Intank chamber one media basket (InTank floss and chemipure), InTank filtration cover, InTank false wall plug


Here are some current pictures, and more will follow as the tank grows.

—Pics current as of 6/1/21—
B7CB5257-2338-4EED-874A-D2CC63485773.jpeg 5DC029C4-CD3D-4A98-B714-03C6DE5B11C7.jpeg 85693605-5B9B-4320-875D-31A3D048E4B1.jpeg 946EC6CC-0F94-44BD-B3CA-6316820EA80C.jpeg 6FA1B7A8-B078-46B3-B2E0-3DF7103EB734.jpeg 81CFE953-5DEE-4976-903C-BDA08CAFEAF1.jpeg
 
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ShortyBiggie

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Cycle Post:
The aquarium is in its cycle. Because everything is dry, I am expecting the cycle to take some time, and I am going to let it. The tank was cycled using Ace Hardware pure ammonia, and supplemented with Bio-Spira. I dosed ammonia to 2ish PPM. Once the aquarium appears cycled, I am planning on doing at least 1 (maybe 2) more rounds of ammonia dosing to ensure it completed.

Word of advice to any who cycle using this method. I have used this method with great success in the past, it is my favorite method for dry rock. However, be careful dosing ammonia. Many of the online calculators that are posted to threads regarding this cycle method are not all that precise, and my lead you to overdose.

There are two main tips I have to follow:
1. When calculating proper ammonia amount to dose, ensure you are accounting for your actual tank volume (the water rock and sand has displaced).

2. You can always go back and add more ammonia if you don’t reach the desired PPM.

If you dose too high, you will be dealing with a good bit of nitrate come the end of the cycle. Most likely you will need to do a few water changes to bring ammonia down. Just go slow, add more if you need it. In a nano, a few drops of pure ammonia go a very long way. I have made this mistake with a previous aquarium.

Current parameters 1 week into cycle:
PH: 8.3
Ammonia: Between 1 and 2ppm
Nitrite: Between 0.5 and 1ppm
Nitrate: 0

I will update the params as they change, hopefully this will help any of you cycling to compare cycle process between my tank and yours. Also, hoping that keeping cycle detail updated will help anyone provide advice or insight should any future questions arise.
 
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ShortyBiggie

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I created an excel spreadsheet to track my tests each week. With that, I created a scatter-line graph to help visualize those numbers as the weeks go on, and hopefully to see where I seem to hit stability on the tank. These tests will be posted each week, however I will be testing ammonia and nitrite more frequently during the cycle, while only updating the tracker weekly. I am viewing the tracker as more of a long-term demonstration of the tank reaching stability.

I know most of these parameters are not important at this early stage of the tank, I have done most of these just to get myself in the habit of doing a big test each week, and I am also just interested on how these levels change.

My only real concern with the test at this stage is the alkalinity. The All is sitting at 12dKH, however I am not too concerned. I am using dry everything, so there is noting to consume Alc in the tank right now. The only thing I am wondering is I am using LFS RODI water, perhaps their water is not so great. Eventually I will be getting my own RODI filter. Right now, the only place the filter could go is outside on the hose hookup. I recently got a new dog who is a big chewer, so leaving the filter out there for long amounts of time will result in the filter being torn surely. Overall, not something I am concerned with very much at this stage, but will continue to keep an eye on and determine at a later date if it needs to be lowered.

With that being said, here is the current params of the tank, and the graphs. Because there is only 1 week of data, there are no lines on the graph, only points.

Hopefully this visualization will help some see how a cycle plays out!

*forgot to input nitrite, it is sitting at around 2ppm*

1.png 2.png 3.png 4.png 5.png 6.png 7.png 8.png
 
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ShortyBiggie

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Updated week 2 params.

Ammonia is dropping, Nitrites are very high. Ammonia was only dosed to 1.5-2 so i’m not sure why Nitrites seem disproportionately high, but maybe it’s just the API test kit being hard to read.

I have many upgrades which I will update later today, waiting on the ATO to come in this afternoon.
 

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ShortyBiggie

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Okay, did a big haul on upgrades to the tank, which I will detail below.

Light
I upgraded the light to the white AI Prime 16HD. So far really liking the light, I am impressed at the low fan noise which has been a constant problem in all my previous setups. Plus, the tank is right by my desk, so quiet is key. I attached the mount with the AI tank mount, I opted out of a gooseneck, I have previously used goosenecks, and once the stress of moving the mount while attached to the tank broke the glass. Using the mount will keep me from even trying. The mount has an impressive amount of flexibility with height and depth for a fixed mount. Right now, I am running the David Saxby profile, but am keeping the lights off during the cycle.

Filtration
I put in an InTank media basket in chamber 1, using InTank floss, chemipure elite and nothing in the bottom. In Chamber 2 I have just the Eheim 75w heater. I also bought the InTank filtration cover to accomadate the new light mount and cover up the new mess of chords.

Flow
I upgraded the return pump to the Sicce 0.5 pump, with it running at 100%. I bought a 1/2" VCA RFG, but took it off. The RFG was causing a lot of vibration on the Evo's plastic back wall, which caused a lot of noise, especially when the filtration cover was on. Also, for whatever reason when the pump was turned off it caused a lot of water rise in the 3rd chamber. This still happens with the stock fluvial return nozzles, but only about 1/2 what the RFG caused. So sticking with the stock for now.

Seriously contemplating a Nero 3 to put on the filtration wall, either under the return or under the overflow. Ideally I would put it on the far wall, however this is my main viewing angle and I ordered a custom lid and only thought to add cutouts to the sides of the back wall. If anyone has any input on the Nero 3 in this size tank please let me know, Im really looking for some type of confirmation that the addition would work.

ATO
Ordered a duetto ATO, but am going to return it. Never tried it so I can't speak to its quality. However, I have learned that the cheap stuff just makes the expensive thing more expensive. The only ATO I have 100% long term faith in in the Tunze 3155, So I ordered that and its running perfectly in chamber 3. Next tank upgrade I would only put the Tunze in, so spending the extra 100 bucks now saves me 100 bucks later. Might as well just get what you want up front. So, the Tunze is in the 3rd chamber, and the fill tube is in the second chamber, just because thats where it would fit.

Lid
I have an order in for Kraken reef. Ordered the feed cutout and the feed cup. Should be 1-3 more weeks for the lid to come in, so no lid right now.

So thats all for the update, here are some pics! Looking like im about 50% done with the cycle, just need the nitrites to fall, they seem disproportionately high compared to what I dosed ammonia, but apparently high nitrites can give false readings for the nitrates, so maybe some of what I see as nitrite is actually nitrate? Not sure.
 

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ShortyBiggie

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So I guess my ammonia is at zero. Thought it’s been at 0.25, I know color matching can be hard. I filled a vile with 1/2 tank water and 1/2 pure RO water and the color looks the same. The only real difference is in the opacity, but if you’ve ever tried to ammonia test pure fresh water with the API kit, the lack of salt makes the opacity and color way different.

So, considering the 1/2 tank 1/2 RO water vile was nearly the same color despite half the salinity, I take it as zero.

My nitrites are still very high, i’m not sure whether to do a WC to bring them down. I might give it another 4 days or so and if no sign of decline then drop them on my own.

Not really seeing any nitrates. The test looks a slight orange yellow, but it’s still very yellow So it could be between 0-10. Not sure. I hate these tests it’s far too hard to read. Going to get a hanna checker at some point.

Here are the pics of ammonia. the 1/2 tank 1/2 RO vile is on the left, and the 100% tank vile is on the right.

What do y’all think?
 

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RobbieMaynard

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Hello - looking good my friend. I am curious to hear if you like the eheim 75 watt heater? Assuming it’s the jager? Looking to dive back in after a 15 year hiatus and just ordered an Evo 13.5.
 
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ShortyBiggie

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Hello - looking good my friend. I am curious to hear if you like the eheim 75 watt heater? Assuming it’s the jager? Looking to dive back in after a 15 year hiatus and just ordered an Evo 13.5.
Yes it is the Jager. I think it’s alright, but probably not the best choice.

The heater itself (75w) does a pretty good job of heating the tank, although it gives about 1 and a half degree swings throughout the day. I have it set to 77, and it’ll go between 76.8 and 78.3 or so.

However, i’ve had to do a lot of adjusting with the heater to get it right. Out of the box, setting it to 77 would have the tank at like 82. The red ring on the heater can move and has an arrow. My advice would be to just put the heater in the tank and after a few days of seeing where the temperature of the tank sits, move the red ring to that temp.

My biggest gripe with the heater is it’s size. It’s really long. In your tank you’ll have either the intank media basket or keep it stock, but regardless you’ll have 1 chamber devoted to that. Especially with the upgraded return pump I have, the water level in chamber 3 is too low to keep above the minimum full line, so I have to keep it in chamber 2, which limits anything i may want to put in that chamber down the road. I’d say try to find something smaller size wise, if that’s out of budget then it’s a good heater.

If you have an ATO that’ll help with making sure the long heater always remains submerged.
 

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Greatly appreciate that insight. I was planning to put the heater in chamber 3 but I too purchased a Sicce .5 so looks like I’ll have to put it in chamber 1. I need to go back to the drawing board because I was planning on putting an intankaquatics basket in that first chamber.
 
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Greatly appreciate that insight. I was planning to put the heater in chamber 3 but I too purchased a Sicce .5 so looks like I’ll have to put it in chamber 1. I need to go back to the drawing board because I was planning on putting an intankaquatics basket in that first chamber.
yeah. it’ll fit in chamber 2, however i would recommend an ATO because there isn’t much wiggle room in that’s the case.

I will Say I have the water level adjusted to where 100% of the water coming into the back is running into the i tank basket. I’m gonna change that and raise the water level. This will mean some water will pass the sides, but now the water level in the back is low and loud. If you were to do it this way, i think the heater would maybe fit in chamber 3
 
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RobbieMaynard

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yeah. it’ll fit in chamber 2, however i would recommend an ATO because there isn’t much wiggle room in that’s the case.

I will Say I have the water level adjusted to where 100% of the water coming into the back is running into the i tank basket. I’m gonna change that and raise the water level. This will mean some water will pass the sides, but now the water level in the back is low and loud. If you were to do it this way, i think the heater would maybe fit in chamber 3
Any recommendations on an ATO for the evo?
 
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ShortyBiggie

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Any recommendations on an ATO for the evo?
using the tunze 3155 and i love it. I’ve used it before and it’s the one ATO that i’m 100% confident in. Worth the extra 100 bucks or so imo and can be used on a larger tank later.

I will say if you use the tunze 3155, you probably won’t be able to fit a heater in chamber 3. it’ll have to go in chamber 2, so depending on what filtration you plan to run consider that.

I’m using the intank basket in chamber 1, heater in 2, and ato/return in chamber 3
 
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So the tank will probably finish its cycle before the end of the day.

I dosed ammonia to about 3.0 ppm at the beginning, added bio-spira and let it sit. Ammonia came and went within about 10 days. The last 20 days or so has been dealing with nitrites, which were kind of a nightmare.

The nitrites (for some unknown reason) I believe went up to around 40ppm. No idea why they could have possibly gone this high with such a low ammonia dosage. At its peak, adding 2 drops of tank water to a tube of fresh saltwater would max the kit out at 5ppm.

I did nearly a 100% water change, and then added a few more drops of ammonia. I never saw that added ammonia show up on the test kit, so i think the ammonia conversion is good.

after doing the 100% water change and adding a bit of ammonia, nitrites again went up a bit above 5.0ppm. I then did about a 30-40% water change, which seemed to bring the nitrite between 2.0-5.0 ppm. from there, I added a bit more bio-spira and let it sit. Not much happened for about a week, but 2 days ago I noticed each time I tested nitrite it was a lower shade of purple. Yesterday it went down below 2.0 to a point I could actually read the difference in color on the test kit.

Yesterday morning it was at 1.0, last night at 0.5, and this morning at .25. My guess is i’ll get zero by the end of the day.

If this is the case, tomorrow I’m going to begin stocking. My plan is 1 azure damsel, 1 clown, and 1 blood red fire shrimp.

I’m first going to add the damsel. I’ve had great luck with azure damsels specifically, all others have been aggressive. They are also my favorite nano fish, can’t beat the price per color.

Around the same time I’m going to probably add 1 coral, just an isolated GSP. This is more to see how the light and water is and to give an indication of when more advanced corals are ready.

Since the light has been off, i don’t have algae yet. I’m going to put the damsel in, turn the lights on, and once I see some algae going to add a small clean up crew (probably just a few crabs) I don’t really want snails because they flip over too often and in this size tank, one dying will nuke the water.

last I’m going to add a premium gladiator clown from ORA on live aquaria. This guy is expensive so i want life in the tank for a bit to see how it goes before adding.

Question is, with this stocking plan, when should I add the fire shrimp? should I add him in lieu of the CUC, since they may compete for the same food??
 
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ShortyBiggie

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Update: The nitrite kept going down and down but never fully hit zero yesterday. Yesterday evening i decided to go ahead and do another ammonia dose to confirm it was cycled.

I dosed ammonia by the drop to what should have been 1.7. The issue I ran into was I added a bit of ammonia, waited about 30 minutes, and tested, then added more to make sure I didn’t overdose. In doing that, the ammonia was being processed in the time I was waiting for it to mix, so I never saw it get up to 2ppm. I would test ammonia and nitrite 30 mins after dosing and the ammonia never went above 1ppm on the test, but each time nitrite was rising.

This morning, ammonia is back to zero, but nitrite is high once again. For some reason, this tank has trouble processing nitrite. In every tank i’ve done, nitrite is high and then the next day zero. this tank tanks it’s sweet time to bring down nitrite. Weird thing is nitrate has gone up since dosing last night, but nitrite keeps rising. It does not look like it will hit zero within 24 hours, although it only took ammonia about 6-8
 
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ShortyBiggie

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So we are cycled.

Ammonia dosed to 1.7ppm gets to zero in about 7 hours or so. Nitrite still lags behind, and with that ammonia dose takes about 48 hours to drop. However, since nitrite is not harmful at the levels I am seeing, and because I can actively watch 5ppm nitrite convert to nitrate in a short period, I know the bacteria are there and working, just need to build up a bit. I think the best way to build the nitrite up is to get a small source of ammonia in there (fish) and let it keep converting all the time. I think this will help it more than me dosing ammonia and making it shoot up to 5ppm+ every few days.

Right now, after dosing 1.7ppm ammonia my levels are:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 1. 5
Nitrate: 20ppm
PH: 8.0

Going to do a water change to bring down nitrate and help get the salinity right, and get the first fish today. Will update later!
 
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Did a water change, and decided against the damsel. Typically, I don’t like taking things too fast. I would preferably like to add the first fish, and wait about 4-6 weeks for a second. However, with 2x clowns, there is a risk of aggression if you add at different times.

I ultimately decided the safest thing for the fish would be to add a pair at once, as I will be home often for the coming weeks to monitor any increase in ammonia. The tank can convert ammonia very well, so I feel aggression poses a greater risk than adding the two at once.

I hate the idea that the tank went from 0-100% stocked overnight, but I do feel it was the right move. Needless to say, no more fish will go in the tank. Down the road I’ll add a fire shrimp, then once the tank feels ready it’ll be on to corals!

So, here are the two new additions! They are ORA Gladiator Clowns, really excited about them, love the striping on the larger.
 

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