My 40 gallon recife build

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Hello everyone I'm John from South Mississippi and I'm finally making the jump into this wonderful hobby. I'm only new to reefing and corals, as I've had numerous successful freshwater and fowlr tanks in the past. This spring I purchased a 40 gallon recife cube AIO. (It remains to be seen whether or not that was a great idea). I was going to use it as a planted freshwater aquarium, but I've always wanted to keep corals, so here I go. My lfs basically told me to scrap the filtration media and the skimmer that it came with and now I'm unsure if this was my best option. Also, the water levels involving evaporation and adding water is a bit puzzling. But I'm going to keep it positive and keep asking questions. I will begin my build thread immediately. I already have my live rock, sand, and one pajama cardinal in the tank. I'm ready to move to the next step but I have a little more research left to do. Thanks for hanging in there with me and I can't wait to hear from everyone!

Here are a few pics. This is the default aquatop skyaqua light that came with the tank. It was fun to find out that it may not be the best light ever for LPS corals lol. At least the glass seems to be sufficient for holding water :)

Let me tell you all a little bit about my goals/plans for this build. I will try my hand at a few of the "lower risk" corals and work my way into LPS. Blastos, favites, leptastrea, euphyllia, trumpet, and a few others intrigue me the most. I plan to take it slow and respect the wildlife. I don't want anything to die because I failed to be a good steward of the hobby. That's what led me here. I'll humbly ask for your advice and suggestions while still being diligent on my end, continuing to learn and grow.

Equipment
40 gallon recife aio cube
Aquatop nano skimmer
The media containers filled with various filter media
Aquatop skyaqua led light
Powerhead that came with aquarium
Live rock about 30 to 35 lbs
40lbs fiji pink live sand
The aio area contains 4 vertical chambers behind a wall. Chamber one contained a long black sponge that ran a significant portion of the length of the chamber it was in. It is very long. LFS said to trash it and use filter floss to catch solids. Chamber two is for the protein skimmer. Told not to use it because it was no good. Lol.
Chamber three held 3 stacked plastic boxes filled with various media (nitrate and phosphate removing sponges, ceramic rings, and carbon infused sponges. (Also told to scrap it)
If I'm getting rid of all this, I wonder how I'll keep my tank stable. I'll definitely have to stay right on top of it
I plan on getting a new light and a filter media basket with filter floss to replace the large black sponge that came with the system.

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Love the aquascape in your tank!
 

PicassoClown04

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I really appreciate you taking the time to say that. It took me several tries because I kept knocking it over lol. I hope I can come up with something to put on that top rock!
Elegance coral! Maybe a Duncan as a placeholder, elegance can be a little touchy in a brand new tank :)
 
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kingranch2003

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Elegance coral! Maybe a Duncan as a placeholder, elegance can be a little touchy in a brand new tank :)
Those are great ideas!! Honestly, I wanted a duncan, but wasn't sure where to put it. I think elegance are absolutely stunning. It sounds like the elegance may prefer a little more stability? Great ideas. And once again, I appreciate you.
 

PicassoClown04

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Those are great ideas!! Honestly, I wanted a duncan, but wasn't sure where to put it. I think elegance are absolutely stunning. It sounds like the elegance may prefer a little more stability? Great ideas. And once again, I appreciate you.
No prob! Elegance will definitely do better in a tank 6 months or older to avoid the “settling” stages. Anemones should also wait until at least the 6 month mark :)
 
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kingranch2003

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No prob! Elegance will definitely do better in a tank 6 months or older to avoid the “settling” stages. Anemones should also wait until at least the 6 month mark

No prob! Elegance will definitely do better in a tank 6 months or older to avoid the “settling” stages. Anemones should also wait until at least the 6 month mark :)
I'll never be able to look at that rock again without picturing an elegance up there lol. If you have any experience with rock flower anemones, do you think the 6 month idea applies to them as well? I'm really glad you brought this up.
 
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This is just an update for all my friends that care about this goofy southern new guy (ME) throwing a big ole pile of effort at reefing.

I've set my scape and even though the FOWLR man in me said, "This scape makes no sense"!, I've tried to build this water box to grow Corals. I'll be honest, as I've talked with all of you guys, I've realized I had a lot to learn. I have also realized that you are all willing to help.

I went into my LFS today with a water sample and was about as proud as I could be to give it to them.

They said, "Nitrates present! I said, "dangit". Well, it makes sense. I have one pajama cardinal, and he looks so sad and lonely in there that he gets whatever he wants. He wants and wishes for nothing lol, but I still give him way too many flakes, apparently.

So here I sit with one pj cardinal and 5 new hermit crabs that were brought in to eat the flakes left over by his majesty. I cannot yet add corals and probably shouldn't add another fish. It's a good thing it's baseball/fishing season. (Go Braves).

Maybe in a week I can get it all together and turn a Nitrite into something positive. That poor ole bare arch begs for a euphyllia garden and I cannot wait to work my way into a big beautiful Galaxea sitting on that high rock. I'm not even sure I should have that high rock. But I'm sure of this.... I'm going to try to be a good steward of these living creatures. I appreciate everyone that has been so helpful. I feel like I owe you all a good show.
 

luis angel

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patience and you will see that everything will come, I recommend that you make a list of more or less the first corals that you want to put in the tank, then take a photo of your aquascape, edit it and put markers where more or less you want each coral and thus you will have an idea of how it might look and if you have to move something
 
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kingranch2003

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patience and you will see that everything will come, I recommend that you make a list of more or less the first corals that you want to put in the tank, then take a photo of your aquascape, edit it and put markers where more or less you want each coral and thus you will have an idea of how it might look and if you have to move something
Man, that is a fantastic idea! I honestly didn't think of that. I sit and stare at it all the time lol. Almost everywhere I look needs a hammer or candy cane imo. Thanks Luis
 

PicassoClown04

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I'll never be able to look at that rock again without picturing an elegance up there lol. If you have any experience with rock flower anemones, do you think the 6 month idea applies to them as well? I'm really glad you brought this up.
I do! I actually had mine breed a while back. They’re definitely more tolerant than BTAs but I would still wait until you’re testing stable :) Probably 3 months or until a hammer coral is doing well
 
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kingranch2003

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Following along, I wanted to see if you got your answer for a light and what you chose.
Thanks Kevin. Yeah, these folks know their lighting. There's not a bad choice here. Everyone is so selective in their choices that I really couldn't go wrong. I'll keep everyone posted on which way I go.
 

kevgib67

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Thanks Kevin. Yeah, these folks know their lighting. There's not a bad choice here. Everyone is so selective in their choices that I really couldn't go wrong. I'll keep everyone posted on which way I go.
Glad you got your answer and sorry I was unable to help. I will still be following.
 

luis angel

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Glad you got your answer and sorry I was unable to help. I will still be following.
You can help him a lot my friend, you have without a doubt the most beautiful biocube 32 of all R2R, in addition to all the knowledge that comes with the tank ;)
 

kevgib67

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You can help him a lot my friend, you have without a doubt the most beautiful biocube 32 of all R2R, in addition to all the knowledge that comes with the tank ;)
I appreciate it Luis. I’m not sure you were hanging with us yet but there are two topics I don’t chime in on because it’s not in my wheelhouse. 1 fish disease and 2 equipment. I can’t provide any useful info on equipment unless it is equipment used for a BioCube.
 
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Hello friends, it's good to be back, and I do have some updates. Sorry for the hiatus, but I decided that I was going to take everyone's advice and do this slowly. I really wanted to sit down with all of your comments and the information out there and just build my brain lol. These beautiful corals are so much more than just decorations, and definitely deserve my best. (I'm already pretty good with fish and inverts because I've been into salt and freshwater aquariums for about 25 years. I'm just new to reef keeping.
I made a post asking for your help on choosing a light. Before I could go with the Noopsyche k7 3, my wife bought me an Eotech xr15 g6 pro for my birthday. I'd mentioned wanting one way back, so she went with that. So that's the light I'll be using.

So here's the fun part. I've added my complete fish stock of:
1 Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse
1 Blue Sapphire Damsel
1 Yellow Damsel (he's a jerk)
1 Tailspot Blenny (maybe the coolest water critter I've ever kept)
1 Pajama Cardinal that was already in the tank

My Cleanup Crew:
5 small blue/red legged hermits
1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp
1 Halloween Hermit
1 Blue Knuckle Crabs
2 Huge Turbo Snails

The best part has been adding corals! I started with a small kryptonite candy cane. It did well in my tank for a couple of weeks so I added a small blue tip hammer. My big empty box of water now has color, movement, and life. Ill be slowly adding some more corals and maybe a few rock flower anemones. I'm pretty sure that's all I'll stock as far as fish goes. This is a 40 gallon cube, so feel free to let me know what you think about the fish and cuc. I want to add more to the cuc, so I'm very open to good suggestions for that top layer of substrate algae. I probably won't add a sand sifter goby just due to the size of my aquarium.

Thanks so much for everyone that is following along and giving such great advice. Keep watching as I slowly add new corals and hear your suggestions!
 

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