Looking for setup assistance on a 5g AIO (Top Fin)

Karen00

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Hello fellow saltines,

I finally purchased the tank that will be my first true saltwater setup (I currently have a brackish tank running). I don't have much room so went with a 5g AIO. This will be a fish only setup to start but I hope to develop it into a reef tank if everything goes well with the fish. I know the pitfalls of a pico so the reef portion may or may not happen in this tank depending on the outcome of the fish setup. I will be buying an ATO for stability.

So about the tank... It is a PetSmart Top Fin Dazzle (https://www.petsmart.ca/fish/starte...--5-gallon-7-color-changing-leds-5295564.html). I thought it had a proper three chamber sump area but I just opened it up and it appears to have just two. There is the section for the pump and the second chamber has a hokey partial divider which in no way makes it a full second and third chamber. It is entirely possible I misunderstood the sump area when looking at the website pics so that's on me. It also has seven light settings which include white and blue.

If anyone has experience with this tank (or it's 3g and 8g siblings) please provide your feedback. I'm also looking for modifications that can be done or whether I should return it because it's garbage. So my questions are:
1. It comes with a simple carbon media pack that seems to fit in the chamber with the pump so are there good recommendations for something in the second chamber like Seachem Pond Matrix or maybe I can stack two different media packs in that chamber. There is also the option of ditching the carbon pack in the pump chamber and put one media type there and a second media type in the second chamber. When I say media that also includes things like bio balls, etc. I kind of get the feeling that the second chamber is supposed to be left empty afterall this was designed as a freshwater tank. I have attached a pic of the sump. The divider between the pump chamber (left) is a proper divider but the second divider you see to the right of that makes it look like three chambers when in fact it only goes about a quarter of the way down. I don't even know why it's there. The only thing I can think is that maybe it moderates the flow of the return water given that second chamber is the return.
2. Has anyone modified the second chamber to make it a proper three chambers? This would mean blocking some of the grill opening that returns the water in that chamber.
3. Is there a way to find out if the blue light is the proper blue for coral when I'm ready to add them? Do I need a spectrometer for this or has someone already found the answer? I'm sure the white light is fine for the fish only portion of this setup.
4. A while ago I purchased a bag of CaribSea Aragonite. I thought I might need it for my brackish setup but so far I haven't had to open the bag. Can I use this as a complete substrate for my SW tank or is meant to be mixed with sand? I was going to mix it with the pool filter sand in my brackish setup but as mentioned I haven't needed it so I'm sitting here wondering how to use it in my SW tank.

I would be bummed if I had to return this tank because the consensus is it's not worth attempting a SW setup but rather return it if it will be more trouble than it's worth.

This thread is a precursor to my build thread (hopefully). :)

Thanks all!

20210626_164227.jpg
 
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Uncle99

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Your going to need to add surface area in the back chamber maybe some marine pure spheres in a stocking. You could pre seed these spheres with bottled bacteria which would decrease your cycle down to maybe a week to be safe.
You put them in a stocking, put that in a bucket, dump in your bottled bacteria with some flow for 24 hours then put the stocking, balls, and the water into your chamber and fill.
These tiny balls provide a huge area for your bacteria to live.
 
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Karen00

Karen00

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Your going to need to add surface area in the back chamber maybe some marine pure spheres in a stocking. You could pre seed these spheres with bottled bacteria which would decrease your cycle down to maybe a week to be safe.
You put them in a stocking, put that in a bucket, dump in your bottled bacteria with some flow for 24 hours then put the stocking, balls, and the water into your chamber and fill.
These tiny balls provide a huge area for your bacteria to live.
Thanks for the speedy reply. This is great! It gives me hope I don't have to return it. :) It took me forever to pick a tank that would work in my limited space. Having said that I wanted to get this community's opinion before I started the build.
 

dedragon

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Your going to need to add surface area in the back chamber maybe some marine pure spheres in a stocking. You could pre seed these spheres with bottled bacteria which would decrease your cycle down to maybe a week to be safe.
You put them in a stocking, put that in a bucket, dump in your bottled bacteria with some flow for 24 hours then put the stocking, balls, and the water into your chamber and fill.
These tiny balls provide a huge area for your bacteria to live.
I think the marinepure might not even fit back there, seachem matrix is a good alternative in a mesh bag like uncle said if the marinepure balls are too big. I was gonna say to just use live rock but that matters if they have access to good porous rock, i use primarily pukani but that is impossible to get now. Fiji and manmade just arent very porous.

The light in the tank is terrible and will not grow any corals though. In a 5 gallon tank, either 1-2 fish tops.
 

dedragon

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dont modify the filter as the area is way too small and it will mess with proper flow and channeling back there.
Caribsea aragonite works just fine, i have found some metallic pieces in it that get caught on a magnetic glass cleaner, so just watch for that
 
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Karen00

Karen00

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dont modify the filter as the area is way too small and it will mess with proper flow and channeling back there.
Caribsea aragonite works just fine, i have found some metallic pieces in it that get caught on a magnetic glass cleaner, so just watch for that
Thanks for both of your replies!! Yes, only a couple fish. I'm a goby lover so maybe just one or two of those guys or a goby/shrimp pair and maybe a couple other CUC residents. Of all went well then a few corals but I guess the light will have to be changed. I figured that might be the case given this is a freshwater tank so the lighting is decorative, not functional. I read about the metallic bits. I purchased this long before I read those threads and was sitting here hoping that was just in the sand. I guess I should run a magnet over it first.

Is the coarseness of the aragonite safe for gobies and their soft bellies? I know people have had problems with coarse sand/gravel with freshwater gobies and their bellies being cut. It took me forever to find the pool filter sand I use with my freshwater gobies. Nice round grains.
 

dedragon

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Mine is mixed with fiji pink, so its hard to say. My twinspot goby does fine though (i do not recommend this species either they are very hard to keep alive and almost impossible in tanks smaller than 30 gallons)
 
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Karen00

Karen00

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Mine is mixed with fiji pink, so its hard to say. My twinspot goby does fine though (i do not recommend this species either they are very hard to keep alive and almost impossible in tanks smaller than 30 gallons)
Thanks. I will mix mine with sand as well. I absolutely won't keep anything that isn't suitable for a 5g but I'm glad to read the aragonite shouldn't be a problem for gobies especially if mixed with sand.
 
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Karen00

Karen00

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I'd add an ATO as soon as you can, will make things much easier with that little of water volume. Something small like the JBJ nano ATO would fit.
Excellent. Thank you!! I had that on the list to look at so I'm glad for the recommendation. My brackish is only about 7.5g with no ATO but
of course brackish is more tolerant of changes in parameters. I have to remember to do my top-ups so an ATO is a definite for the SW tank.
 
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Karen00

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Your going to need to add surface area in the back chamber maybe some marine pure spheres in a stocking. You could pre seed these spheres with bottled bacteria which would decrease your cycle down to maybe a week to be safe.
You put them in a stocking, put that in a bucket, dump in your bottled bacteria with some flow for 24 hours then put the stocking, balls, and the water into your chamber and fill.
These tiny balls provide a huge area for your bacteria to live.
Hey @Uncle99 ... You mentioned putting the marine pure spheres in a stocking. Is there a specific stocking I should buy or will a nylon mesh bag be fine? I have a fair number of fine mesh bags that I haven't opened that I use in my freshwater tanks for media. I'm creating my "to buy" list and want to make sure I get the right stocking. I also have old nylon pantyhose I cut-up that I also use for various tank needs which have a finer mesh than the nylon mesh bags I have. What type of flow should go through these spheres (low, medium, fast)? I did a search but an answer didn't jump out at me. Whenever I read that it controls nitrates I think low flow like denitrator reactors.
 

Uncle99

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Mesh bag great, I just like keeping the media together so I can pull it for maintenance. As long as it allows for flow through it will work.

I try to move 3-4 times tank volume for my return.
Internal flow from 10-30 times volume via wavemaker.
 
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Karen00

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Mesh bag great, I just like keeping the media together so I can pull it for maintenance. As long as it allows for flow through it will work.

I try to move 3-4 times tank volume for my return.
Internal flow from 10-30 times volume via wavemaker.
Thank you so much!!!! :)
 

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