IM 14g Peninsula SPS dominated mixed reef- Dipping back into the hobby

Quokka

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Hi everyone, I had a ADA mini-L I used as a nano reef about 6 years ago and decided it would be a good time to start a new tank using some of the items from my previous tank (hopefully this time with improved patience and wisdom). In this thread, I plan to document my journey including all of the successes and failures.

63184277258__061B8256-79B7-42FB-9674-169FFD6041DC.jpg
RODI water going in for the first time

Equipment (hyperlinks for my thoughts on each item)
Tank: IM Fusion Pro 14g Peninsula
Lighting: Aqua Illumination Sol Nano
Return pump: Innovative Marine MightyJet Desktop
Waterflow: Aqua Illumination Nero 3
Heater: Eheim Jager 100w
Auto Top-Off: JBJ ATO w/Toms Aqualifter
Dosing Pump: Kamoer X1 Pro 2 (Dosing TM all-for-reef)
Rock: ~10lbs of dry Bulk Reef Savers Pukani and Saver
Sand: 10lbs Arag Alive Fiji Pink
Stand: Ikea Kallax cube

Testing Equipment
Salinity testing: Hanna salinity meter
Nitrate: API nitrate test kit
Phosphate: N/A
Alkalinity: Hanna alkalinity meter
Ca: N/A
Mg: N/A

Livestock
Ocellaris clownfish (Kanye, 1/27/2021)
Azure damselfish (1/27/2021)
2 Blue porcelain crab (2/4/2021)
3 Sexy shrimp (2/4/2021)

Coral
GARF Bonsai (2/11/2021)


IMG_1869.jpg DSC06944.jpg
One of the early revisions of the scape before I built out the center platform and prow jutting from the top right corner

Milestones
Tank started (Dosing Microbacter7 daily): 1/8/2021
Nitrates detected: 1/17/2021
First fish/inverts: 1/27/2021
First corals added: 2/11/2021 (Garf Bonsai)

Current FTS (Day 35 - 2/12/2021)
DSC07011.jpg

Tank update quick links
Day 2 - Bacterial bloom and the cycle
Day 4 - The bacterial bloom is subsiding
Day 7 - Equipment Highlight - Nero 3 wavemaker + a dead shrimp!
Day 9 - Equipment Highlight - Hanna Salinity meter and some thoughts
Day 20 - Let there be life!
Day 35 - I have no self control and my "budget" plan is in shambles (Coral, equipment, testing - big update)
 
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Quokka

Quokka

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Tank Update 1/9/2021 (Day 2) - Bacterial bloom and the cycle

View from the side. Stacked Little Fishies LittleRox Limestone Rubble that made an interesting contrast to the dripping look of Pukani dry rock. Not sure what I'm going to put there yet, but it would be interesting with something encrusting that is low-light and low-flow tolerant.

I am cycling with Brightwell Microbacter7 and a little bit of fish food. It'll be some time before corals go in, but an Aqua Illumination Nero3 is on the way for wavemaking.

DSC06934.jpg
 
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Quokka

Quokka

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1/11/2021 (Day 4) - The bacterial bloom is subsiding

I've been running the tank with the lights off (and plan to for the entirety of the cycle) and using only filter floss. Microbial inoculation was done using Brightwell Microbacter7 supplemented with fish food for "ghost feeding". I'm testing out a SeaChem AmmoniaAlert badge, we'll see how well it works but I would assume that it isn't going to be too useful.

Here's a front tank shot that also shows a bit of the upper platform's perspective.
IMG_1889.jpg
 
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Quokka

Quokka

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I have this same tank and was eyeing the AI Nero 3 as well. Where do you envision placing it in the tank?
I will most likely place it under the return pump outlet and angle the return as far towards the back right. The Nero 3 arrives on Friday and I'll do some experimenting, feel free to shoot me any questions you had on it but I'll post an update.

I don't currently have a skimmer and have the option to use the middle chamber but I'm a bit concerned that it would blast my future placements a bit too aggressively/directly.

[edit] peeked at your tank - love the negative space in your rockscape! I think you won't really have issues placing it in under the return pump since your scape won't impede flow too much (which might result in dead spots).
 
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Quokka

Quokka

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Day 7 (1/15/2021) Equipment Highlight - Nero 3 wavemaker + a dead shrimp!

Fish food was taking forever to break down and decay, threw in a shelled and butterflied shrimp while continuing to dose Microbacter7 daily. Lights are still off.

I knew I was going to have SPS in this tank and my old Koralia Hydor Nano was dead. I've always wanted an MP10, but seeing something similar for $150 was a no brainer. The focus of this build is really about the fundamentals like lighting, flow, and stability - this ticks off flow. I'm not opposed to any of the other tech available but I threw everything but the kitchen sink (dosing/reactors/ect) in my last tank and never gave my self the time to understand how each of those variables are affecting my parameters. I'm hoping this time around is my chance to approach things a bit more informed.

Here it is, the Aqua Illumination Nero 3
Super simple set up. Plug it in, download the app and go.
DSC06939.jpg
This powerhead is total overkill for this tank size. Using Carribsea Fiji Pink substrate, I currently have it at capped at 30% to avoid sand movement. It's placed in the middle chamber somewhat in line with the center platform. We'll see if it's a bit much for the SPS that I end up placing there. Currently using the Random mode (700-1200gph) with a 5 minute flush (65% 1s on, 1s off) in the middle of the night to kick up detritus. I turned off the sine-wave flow on the stock IM Mightyjet since it's kind of noisy and have it on the highest stream mode that is essentially silent.

DSC06944.jpg
Front tank shot with the new wavemaker. I've spent more time than I care to admit staring at an empty aquarium watching a dead shrimp decay and it's only the first week of the cycle. Send help.
 
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Quokka

Quokka

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Overnight Update - The Nero 3 is awesome.
I was pretty concerned about detritus buildup behind my rockwork since it would probably be a dead zone for flow. Fortunately, the broad flow pattern from this wavemaker is doing a good job at keeping things suspended in the water column. I've never had a controllable powerhead and the ability to fine tune your flow rates is pretty awesome.

IMG_1896.jpg IMG_1898.jpg

Anyone know how to add more than one "block" of each mode into my program? I was trying to add two small 5 minute Pulse blocks to kick up detritus a bit but I can't split up my Random mode block or insert a new one in the middle.
 
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Quokka

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Day 9 (1/17/2021) Equipment Highlight - Hanna Salinity meter and some thoughts

DSC06952.jpg
My old refractometers diopter adjustment was broken somehow after years of storage. Again, in an attempt to prioritize stability in this build I decided that it would be worth the investment into tools that make it convenient as possible to keep track of my parameters.

The Hanna salinity meter comes with a nice hard case along with a couple satchels of calibration fluid. Initial startup and calibration is really easy. Rinse with DI, tear open a satchel of calibration fluid, dip the probe in, and it's ready to go.

DSC06954.jpg
Getting salinity readings is a real breeze as well. Just turn it on, dip it in your tank and rinse with DI - love the temperature readout. I was able to make out the readings from my old refractometer (which was calibrated using Brightwell Aquatics 25ppt calibration fluid) and the values are very close. Overall, worth $70? I think so, especially once I start mixing salt water semi regularly - I always hated doing my ballpark salt dosage, taking a reading, adjusting, and taking another reading with the refractometer.

Tank Update
I replaced the first shrimp I threw in because the water was starting to smell. It kept getting worse and I really don't want to upset my housemates so I added in a bag of activated carbon. I didn't plan to run any media through the duration of my cycle but I really don't want to deal with the odors coming out of my tank. I'm intending to keep my water as a dirty as possible to prime my tanks microbiome composition for worst case conditions once I add coral. My rational being that there are no sensitive corals or animals in the tank and these elevated nutrients will allow for the microbes to build up the different metabolites (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate) and flesh out the interspecies network/cooperativity between the microbes without risking livestock. Lights are off to reduce nutrient competition between microbes and algae.

FTS
DSC06955.jpg

Nitrates hit 5ppm so my cycle is progressing well/finished. I have an order of fish, inverts, and CUC scheduled to arrive 1/27 (day 19 of tank) from Blue Zoo Aquatics. I'm planning to do a 75-100% water change beforehand and turn my lights on and hope the uglies don't hit too hard.
 
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Quokka

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1/28/2021 (Day 20) - Let there be life!
Got my delivery from Blue Zoo Aquatics! I had ordered a ocellaris clownfish (who I named Kanye), a Kupang damselfish (unnamed), a small CUC, and a porcelain crab (that they called me about the night before and said they oversold - bummer!).

The Seachem Ammonia Alert is kind of awesome, I had my doubts but it was able to give me a sign when I had ammonia present. I don't expect it to be quantitatively useful in any way but it helps to know if there is any to be detected. My nitrates after the 2nd week were at 10ppm with trace amounts of ammonia just as I removed the dead shrimp. I let the ammonia drop down to undetectable levels, did a ~75% water change which dropped my nitrates to ~5ppm. I've had the lights on for nearly a week now running the full intensity (~30% white, 75% blue, 75% royal blue) and duration (12 hours).

Kupang damselfish - kinda a jerk like everyone said
DSC06980.jpg

Kanye is 1" long and starting to work on his breakthrough album, The College Dropout
DSC06997.jpg

CUC acclimating
DSC06962.jpg

...and last but not least, today's FTS. Please excuse the nori-rock, it's some food for the CUC since the tank is pretty void of much life right now. I also built out a floating ledge (attaches using suction cups on either side) on the left side of the aquarium since it was kinda blank. I'll probably grow GSP on it.
DSC06989.jpg
 
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Quokka

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2/12/2021 (Day 35) - I have no self control and my "budget" plan is in shambles
Lots has happened in the last few weeks. I had to remove the Kupang damsel. It was too aggressive with the clownfish and was a learning experience that recommended sizes for animals aren't only based on the maximum size of the inhabitants. I also ordered 3 sexy shrimp, 2 blue porcelain crabs, pods, and 2 bumblebee snails from Reefcleaners. They have all been very reclusive and I don't have any photos of them unfortunately. Pretty surprised the sexy shrimp are as shy as these ones to be honest.

Data Driven decision-making
I went crazy during the AquaSD live sale (more on this later) and in preparation, I've been tracking my tank parameters to dial in my weekly water change volumes and feeding. The Hanna alkalinity meter is awesome and so simple to use/interpret. I just started tracking my alk to get an idea of it's consumption to dial in my doser (if it's even necessary at this point). I'm currently trying to keep my nitrates from ~5-10ppm and basing the volume of my water changes on this parameter. Not checking for phosphate yet because I haven't purchased the kits. I am going to try my best not to try and dose things I can't test for and dose quantitatively instead of shots in the dark.

I purchased a Kamoer X1 Pro2 dosing pump to dose for Tropic Marin All-For-Reef since it seems like a convenient single part solution. It's not as cheap as two or three part solutions but works well for the small water volumes in a nano. We'll see how much my alk swings in the coming days/weeks.

I also switched over from Instant Ocean salt to Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt - my attempts at maintaining a budget reef tank is a complete failure. I'm starting the transition 2g/week at a time since I have coral to worry about parameter swings now. Here's the data from the last few weeks.

Parameters.JPG
Would you say a -1 degree change during a waterchange would be detrimental to my tank? I didn't mind when there weren't coral in the tank yet but could I get away with doing a 2g water change with pre-mixed room temperature water safely?
Graph.JPG
Ignore the dates on the x-axis, I haven't bothered to correct it.

New corals
Coral orders.JPG
I completely lost it during the @AquaSD livesale - what a freaking rush. These are arriving in a week. I also picked up a Garf Bonsai from a local reefer as an indicator of how much money I may have wasted if my tank is too unstable. Unless there's some secret parameter I'm not monitoring that isn't linked to the ones I already am, I hope I can keep these alive if I keep salinity, temperature, nitrate, and phosphate stable.

DSC07006.jpg
Some #polypporn
DSC07017.jpg
Last but not least, new FTS. Finally getting signs of algae growing on my rocks. Coralline algae on my snails are growing quickly after I initially scraped them to seed my tank, hopefully growth on my rock will take off.
DSC07011.jpg
 
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Quokka

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This Thursday will be an exciting day, big shipment from @AquaSD of these coral along with a fire shrimp.
Coral.JPG
Been toying around with figuring out a good layout for the coral, should be getting 250-350par near the top. The pedestal on the top right is kind of in a shadow and isn't blasted by high flow so the torch coral goes there, not sure if the tentacles will mess with surface skimming since it is next to the weir.
Layout.JPG
 

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Nice tank! Thanks for stopping by my build. I can see many similarities with mine, including the rationale behind some decisions on how to take care of the tank.

Status on your sexy shrimp? That's on my list to pair with some rock 'nems. Those shrimp are not easy to find right now.
 
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Quokka

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Nice tank! Thanks for stopping by my build. I can see many similarities with mine, including the rationale behind some decisions on how to take care of the tank.

Status on your sexy shrimp? That's on my list to pair with some rock 'nems. Those shrimp are not easy to find right now.
Thank you for the kind words! Seriously, they've sure gone up in price since I last had them! I purchased 3 from Reefcleaners, unfortunately I had to have my roommate take delivery since I had to be out of town because of an emergency. I saw two and suspect that one of them just didn't make it through shipping/acclimation. Fingers crossed the other two are still good when I return in a few days.
 

kev.2013

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2/12/2021 (Day 35) - I have no self control and my "budget" plan is in shambles
Lots has happened in the last few weeks. I had to remove the Kupang damsel. It was too aggressive with the clownfish and was a learning experience that recommended sizes for animals aren't only based on the maximum size of the inhabitants. I also ordered 3 sexy shrimp, 2 blue porcelain crabs, pods, and 2 bumblebee shrimp from Reefcleaners. They have all been very reclusive and I don't have any photos of them unfortunately. Pretty surprised the sexy shrimp are as shy as these ones to be honest.

Data Driven decision-making
I went crazy during the AquaSD live sale (more on this later) and in preparation, I've been tracking my tank parameters to dial in my weekly water change volumes and feeding. The Hanna alkalinity meter is awesome and so simple to use/interpret. I just started tracking my alk to get an idea of it's consumption to dial in my doser (if it's even necessary at this point). I'm currently trying to keep my nitrates from ~5-10ppm and basing the volume of my water changes on this parameter. Not checking for phosphate yet because I haven't purchased the kits. I am going to try my best not to try and dose things I can't test for and dose quantitatively instead of shots in the dark.

I purchased a Kamoer X1 Pro2 dosing pump to dose for Tropic Marin All-For-Reef since it seems like a convenient single part solution. It's not as cheap as two or three part solutions but works well for the small water volumes in a nano. We'll see how much my alk swings in the coming days/weeks.

I also switched over from Instant Ocean salt to Tropic Marin Pro Reef salt - my attempts at maintaining a budget reef tank is a complete failure. I'm starting the transition 2g/week at a time since I have coral to worry about parameter swings now. Here's the data from the last few weeks.

Parameters.JPG
Would you say a -1 degree change during a waterchange would be detrimental to my tank? I didn't mind when there weren't coral in the tank yet but could I get away with doing a 2g water change with pre-mixed room temperature water safely?
Graph.JPG
Ignore the dates on the x-axis, I haven't bothered to correct it.

New corals
Coral orders.JPG
I completely lost it during the @AquaSD livesale - what a freaking rush. These are arriving in a week. I also picked up a Garf Bonsai from a local reefer as an indicator of how much money I may have wasted if my tank is too unstable. Unless there's some secret parameter I'm not monitoring that isn't linked to the ones I already am, I hope I can keep these alive if I keep salinity, temperature, nitrate, and phosphate stable.

DSC07006.jpg
Some #polypporn
DSC07017.jpg
Last but not least, new FTS. Finally getting signs of algae growing on my rocks. Coralline algae on my snails are growing quickly after I initially scraped them to seed my tank, hopefully growth on my rock will take off.
DSC07011.jpg
Hopefully there won’t be any issue with both sexy shrimp and bumblebee shrimp; and you’re okay with their special feeding requirements.
 
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MONTANTK

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Overnight Update - The Nero 3 is awesome.
I was pretty concerned about detritus buildup behind my rockwork since it would probably be a dead zone for flow. Fortunately, the broad flow pattern from this wavemaker is doing a good job at keeping things suspended in the water column. I've never had a controllable powerhead and the ability to fine tune your flow rates is pretty awesome.

IMG_1896.jpg IMG_1898.jpg

Anyone know how to add more than one "block" of each mode into my program? I was trying to add two small 5 minute Pulse blocks to kick up detritus a bit but I can't split up my Random mode block or insert a new one in the middle.
Not sure if you fixed this yet but if you look closer at the bottom of the block it looks like there is a thin blue line which is the pulse block. Should be able to click on that and expand the time. I was able to drag a bunch of different blocks on my schedule.
 
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Quokka

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Not sure if you fixed this yet but if you look closer at the bottom of the block it looks like there is a thin blue line which is the pulse block. Should be able to click on that and expand the time. I was able to drag a bunch of different blocks on my schedule.
Thank you! Was able to add two blocks to kick up detritus twice a day
 
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