JC's Fluval 13.5 Evo Build!

JCCook07

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Hello All!

After rambling about saltwater tanks and watching a ton of YouTube videos on reef keeping, my wife surprised me with a Fluval 13.5g tank on August 18th. (Early birthday present) So we jumped right into getting some dry rock and Carribsea live sand from the local petco. After getting the tank scaped the way we wanted it we dropped in some imagitarium pre-mixed saltwater to get the cycle rolling.

Hardware I installed in the beginning was a Fluval Sea Skimmer, Fluval CP1 wave maker, Fluval M50 heater, a small digital thermometer, stock pump, stock pump duckbill outlets.

Starting August 19th I started a fish-less cycle using fritz ammonium chloride (powder), and started with the API Quickstart. I noticed a few days in the API wasn't doing a whole lot in moving the ammonia down, so I went to my LFS and picked up fritz zyme 9 and put the amount recommended on the back of the bottle into the tank. The ammonia started to creep down and nitrites went sky high within 2 days or so. The tank was producing nitrates but the nitrites were pegged at the top level of the API test kit. I went back to the LFS and picked up a Red Sea test kit, and some fritz turbo start. The Red Sea test kit showed the same numbers as the API kit. I put in the 1oz bottle of turbo start. After doing some looking around this forum, reading @brandon429's stuck cycle thread, I did a 90% water change. Dropped nitrites to 0, ammonia remained at 0, and the nitrates dropped to less than 5ppm. After the 90% water change and parameter check, I started adding my first livestock.

I picked up a green chromis, and 2 hermit crabs to see how they would do in my freshly cycled tank. We added those on August 29th. 10 days after the start of the cycle.

A week after adding the chromis and hermits, we added a Wyoming white clownfish pair, 3 turbo snails to clean off the rocks and glass (algae was getting wild), also added 2 more hermits.

After adding the Clownfish pair, I upgraded my regular fluval filtration sponge to an Intank 2nd chamber media basket. Top of the media basket has 2 pouches of Chemipure blue nano, Middle of the basket has the original fluval biomedia bag and more marine pure biomedia gems. The bottom chamber is full of filter floss.

Since adding the fish and CUC my water parameters have stayed pretty consistent.
0 Ammonia
0 Nitrite
2-5 ppm Nitrate
8 dkH Alk
8.0 pH
1.025 Salinity

Completed roughly a 20% water change last weekend to clean out some of the fish poop in the sand and mixed up some instant ocean reef crystals.

Over this weekend I added the first coral to the tank, GSP on the black back wall of the tank. Hoping to see it grow out and cover the back wall.

Fish are happy, we did have one hermit die on us. The others are pretty active and running around the sand bed and rock.

Heres a few pics from the beginning to now.

IMG_6635.jpeg IMG_6638.jpeg IMG_6639.jpeg IMG_6644.jpeg IMG_6789.jpeg IMG_6836.jpeg IMG_6890.jpeg IMG_6904.jpeg IMG_6909.jpeg IMG_6911.jpeg
 
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JCCook07

JCCook07

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@Johnb65 I figured my cycle would have taken more than 10 days but after reading the un-stuck cycle thread, everything has been rolling nicely since then. Really enjoying the hobby!

 
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JCCook07

JCCook07

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2 month update.

Tank seems to be running smooth. Upgraded the stock fluval lighting to an AI Prime 16 HD running professor polyp settings. Adjusted light schedule to start at 6am from 8am so the fish can be fed before the work day starts. I also added a Red Sea diy lid to keep the fish in the tank.

Realized the fluval PS2 skimmer isn't the greatest. It does pull nasty stuff out of the water but such a hassle to continuously adjust water level/air valve and find a balance. My wife hated it. Upgraded all of my filtration in the back chambers.

Chamber 1 Intank media basket. (filter floss up top, chemipure blue nano in the middle, bio media in the bottom)
Chamber 2 Icecap K1 Nano skimmer. (Much better adjustability than the PS2 skimmer)
Chamber 3 Upgraded the stock return pump for a sicce 1.0 (250gph)

I'm having to change filter floss out daily right now due to the previous filtration setup not sucking stuff out very well. This setup has the water polished and clear.

I upgraded the wave maker from a fluval CP1 to an AI Nero 3. I really like AI's products and the ease of use with the app. I do have the Nero turned down quite a bit (its overkill for this tank) but the flow is great and its helping get the nasty stuff through the filtration.

I've also added some new coral frags that I dose Red Sea reef energy to daily 1.5-2mL

2 separate Zoanthids one green/purple and one pink/yellow
1 neon green Candy cane
1 orange/blue Acan
1 purple/pink tipped hammer
1 Duncan with 4 heads on it
1 Galaxea
1 Green favia

The ugly stages have set in on my sand, I think a lot of it had to do with lack of flow/proper filtration. I have added in some copepods from my LFS to see if they can take care of my sandbed diatoms for me.

Parameters have been pretty stable not much fluctuation in them.

9dkh
8.0 pH
2-4ppm no3
.02 po4
1480mag
450cal

I had added a cleaner shrimp roughly 2 weeks ago from petco. He ended up dying over the weekend. He was molting once a week, it looked like he was attempting to molt again over the weekend but Sunday morning I found him in the sandbed dead. RIP.

Aside from that casualty everything else is doing well. The clowns and the chromis are very happy. Cleanup crew seems to be handling their jobs. Its really amazing what a quality light can do for an aquarium. Ever since I put the prime on the tank I can't stop looking at it. Worth every penny!
 

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FjordReef

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2 month update.

Tank seems to be running smooth. Upgraded the stock fluval lighting to an AI Prime 16 HD running professor polyp settings. Adjusted light schedule to start at 6am from 8am so the fish can be fed before the work day starts. I also added a Red Sea diy lid to keep the fish in the tank.

Realized the fluval PS2 skimmer isn't the greatest. It does pull nasty stuff out of the water but such a hassle to continuously adjust water level/air valve and find a balance. My wife hated it. Upgraded all of my filtration in the back chambers.

Chamber 1 Intank media basket. (filter floss up top, chemipure blue nano in the middle, bio media in the bottom)
Chamber 2 Icecap K1 Nano skimmer. (Much better adjustability than the PS2 skimmer)
Chamber 3 Upgraded the stock return pump for a sicce 1.0 (250gph)

I'm having to change filter floss out daily right now due to the previous filtration setup not sucking stuff out very well. This setup has the water polished and clear.

I upgraded the wave maker from a fluval CP1 to an AI Nero 3. I really like AI's products and the ease of use with the app. I do have the Nero turned down quite a bit (its overkill for this tank) but the flow is great and its helping get the nasty stuff through the filtration.

I've also added some new coral frags that I dose Red Sea reef energy to daily 1.5-2mL

2 separate Zoanthids one green/purple and one pink/yellow
1 neon green Candy cane
1 orange/blue Acan
1 purple/pink tipped hammer
1 Duncan with 4 heads on it
1 Galaxea
1 Green favia

The ugly stages have set in on my sand, I think a lot of it had to do with lack of flow/proper filtration. I have added in some copepods from my LFS to see if they can take care of my sandbed diatoms for me.

Parameters have been pretty stable not much fluctuation in them.

9dkh
8.0 pH
2-4ppm no3
.02 po4
1480mag
450cal

I had added a cleaner shrimp roughly 2 weeks ago from petco. He ended up dying over the weekend. He was molting once a week, it looked like he was attempting to molt again over the weekend but Sunday morning I found him in the sandbed dead. RIP.

Aside from that casualty everything else is doing well. The clowns and the chromis are very happy. Cleanup crew seems to be handling their jobs. Its really amazing what a quality light can do for an aquarium. Ever since I put the prime on the tank I can't stop looking at it. Worth every penny!
Those green and purple zoas are amazing!!!
 

Hairyteeth

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Big updates! Congrats… watch that galaxea… they can throw out crazy long sweepers, I have one in my evo too…
I keep it on my back wall where it gets smashed with flow so the sweepers seem to lay low, but when I do water changes or the flow is off they start to sneak out (in my other tank where the flow was in its favor it would throw out 12” sweepers lol
 
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JCCook07

JCCook07

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Big updates! Congrats… watch that galaxea… they can throw out crazy long sweepers, I have one in my evo too…
I keep it on my back wall where it gets smashed with flow so the sweepers seem to lay low, but when I do water changes or the flow is off they start to sneak out (in my other tank where the flow was in its favor it would throw out 12” sweepers lol

Yeah I've got him where the strong flow won't touch any corals if he throws out long sweepers. I was worried about that after I picked it up and did some research on it. I thought it was some kind of torch. I haven't seen it throw anything super long yet maybe 2 inches max so far but I'm sure as it grows I'll have to keep an eye on it.
 

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