My dive into reefing - first saltwater tank (Fluval Flex Sea 32.5)

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Hi everyone! I'm starting my 1st foray into saltwater and I hear this is the place to document the journey. ;)
I will try to add to this as I go, as I plan to refer back to this as a historical record:

Current Equipment
Display Tank: Fluval Flex Sea 32.5 gal
Heater: Fluval M150
Lights: Fluval Marine 3.0 (included with tank - will upgrade down the road if needed)
Filtration: Fluval pump (included with tank), InTank media baskets (2)
Filter Media: filter floss, Seachem Purigen, MarinePure 1.5" biospheres
Jebao SCP WiFi wave maker with controller (SCP-70M)

Quarantine Tank: Aqueon 10 gal rimless
Heather: Fluval M50
Lights: none currently
Filtration: Fluval HOB filter
Filter Media: sponge and biomedia included w/ filter (removed carbon)

Other
Salt: Tropic Marin Classic
Substrate: Tropic Eden tonga special pink on top of CaribSea Arag-alive Fiji pink
Rock: CaribSea LifeRock (20 lbs) & LifeRock 21" shelf (created ledge out of this with E-Marco 400 purple mortar)
AquaticHI Refractometer
Capetsma LCD aquarium thermometer (LOVE this thing)
Two Little Fishies MagFeeder magnetic feeding ring
Hygger 360 gph electric gravel cleaner (UPDATE: pump works great, but the tubing that came with this is AWFUL - sprung a leak while filling my tank!)
Hygger Smart ATO (haven't installed this yet)

Planned Fish & Inverts to Start (not all at once - starting with just clowns & CUC)
2 Clownfish (Sustainable Aquatics "frozen frostbite" bonded pair)
1 Yellow Watchman Goby + 1 Pistol Shrimp
1 Orchid Dottyback
CUC: Trochus snails, Bumblebee snails (for my son), maybe a couple cleaner shrimp, DEFINITELY an urchin later on (and yes, it must wear hats!)
Rainbow BTA (from a local reefer who has one that keeps splitting like crazy)

Possible Fish for Later:
* Flame Hawkfish
* Blue Spot Jawfish
* Lemon Peel Angelfish or Bi-color Angelfish
* Green Spotted Mandarin Dragonet

Corals
None yet... but I like:
* Galaxy Coral (Galaxea fascicularis) (The Reef Farm)
* Scroll Coral (Turbinaria reniformis)
* Purple & Green Finger Leather (Sinularia mollis)
* Finger Leather (Sinularia polydactyla)
* Pulsing "Pom Pom" Xenia (Xenia sp.)
* "Hulk" Lepto (Leptoseris foliosa)
* "Splatter" Frogspawn (Fimbriaphyllia paradivisa)
* "Frammer" (Fimbriaphyllia paranchora/paradivisa)
* Green Hairy Mushroom (Rhodactis indosinensis)
* Weeping Willow Toadstool *Sarcophyton sp.)
* Encrusting Gorgonian (Erythropodium caribaeorum)
* Indo Green Torch (Euphyllia glabrescens)
* German Blue Digi
* "Fruity Pebbles" Discosoma Mushroom (Tidal Gardens)
* Koji Wada Pink Nepthea (Tidal Gardens)



That's it for now - will update as things progress!
 
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Welcome to the hobby. I have been addicted for 50yrs and am as “old school” as they come.

Your fish stocking list is excessive. Too crowded for peaceful social order, plus forget tangs in anything less than 75G.

After you cycle nitrification bacteria from a bottle with ammonia, I suggest you seed your tank with maximum biodiversity of micro fauna & fana to build a living ecosystem that uses the microbial loop to move live food up the food chain.

Before you start adding fish & coral, I suggest you get diver collected live sand and live rock.


Eight months ago, Two ornamental seaweed tanks were set up using diver collected live rock: 30G & 55
 

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Welcome to the hobby. I have been addicted for 50yrs and am as “old school” as they come.

Your fish stocking list is excessive. Too crowded for peaceful social order, plus forget tangs in anything less than 75G.

After you cycle nitrification bacteria from a bottle with ammonia, I suggest you seed your tank with maximum biodiversity of micro fauna & fana to build a living ecosystem that uses the microbial loop to move live food up the food chain.

Before you start adding fish & coral, I suggest you get diver collected live sand and live rock.


Eight months ago, Two ornamental seaweed tanks were set up using diver collected live rock: 30G & 55
Thank you! Yes you're absolutely right on the fish... going back and re-reading my list, I was being a little crazy, lol. I will save my "fish I want to have someday list" for a future (hopefully much larger) tank. ;) Don't plan on adding fish until the tank is cycled, but once ready, will just start with a pair of clowns and clean up crew.
Those tanks look great! I have checked out that gulfliverock website - would love to support them, but I have to admit, not knowing what "hitchhikers" might arrive on that rock kind of scares me... They do have a "17 lb nano special" for $89 + shipping currently though, and that may work well to mix in some smaller pieces like that with the CS LifeRock I already have. Still, I'm thinking there would be much less chance of some nasty stuff living in/on the rock if I were to buy a few pieces from my LFS? I know it's not the same as straight from the ocean, but still good as far as coming from an established tank? I'm actually really hoping I can convince my boss to let me have a small piece or two from one of his tanks, lol.
Oh, also - what do you do when you end up with hitchhikers that you have no idea how to care for, or don't want? I'm kind of a control freak I guess... don't want to kill anything I didn't plan on having in the first place!
 
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Thank you! Yes you're absolutely right on the fish... going back and re-reading my list, I was being a little crazy, lol. I will save my "fish I want to have someday list" for a future (hopefully much larger) tank. ;) Don't plan on adding fish until the tank is cycled, but once ready, will just start with a pair of clowns and clean up crew.
Those tanks look great! I have checked out that gulfliverock website - would love to support them, but I have to admit, not knowing what "hitchhikers" might arrive on that rock kind of scares me... They do have a "17 lb nano special" for $89 + shipping currently though, and that may work well to mix in some smaller pieces like that with the CS LifeRock I already have. Still, I'm thinking there would be much less chance of some nasty stuff living in/on the rock if I were to buy a few pieces from my LFS? I know it's not the same as straight from the ocean, but still good as far as coming from an established tank? I'm actually really hoping I can convince my boss to let me have a small piece or two from one of his tanks, lol.

You will get over culling hitchhikers. I see an inordinate paranoia about hitchhikers.

Do what you are comfortable with. Make a plan and stick to it. I recommend you read The Natural Reef Aquarium by John Tullock.
If I saw some of the things crawling around in my tank that people have posted here asking to be ID'd, I'm not 100% sure I'd be brave enough to ever stick my hand in the tank again, lol. But some of those hitchhikers would be a very welcome addition! I'm still a bit torn, but I think for my first time trying this, my OCD will probably not allow me to relinquish any tiny bit of control I'd have to give up when adding true LIVE rock. I will definitely read that book by the way - thank you for the recommendation! :)
 

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Because I believe in emulating nature, this is what I say to control freaks,

“As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey”

Enjoy the passion.
Patrick
 
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Because I believe in emulating nature, this is what I say to control freaks,

“As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey”

Enjoy the passion.
Patrick
Sincere kudos to you for that! I told my fiance last night that one day I would actually like to set up a tank where I go totally natural with it from day 1, and just let whatever happens, and whatever critters arrive on rock, etc, to happen. That would be very, very cool in my opinion. I may have said this before but I grew up on the MS gulf coast, and spent most of my time at the beach and out on my dad's boat fishing and exploring the little islands, watching the horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, birds, and all the other ocean life. Still my "happy place" when I go visit family. :)
 

Subsea

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As a teenager in Lafayette, Louisiana, during the summer time, my father took the boys fishing twice a week. Depending on weather, we would go 30-70 miles offshore into blue water. Because I would often get seasick, as we tied off to production platforms to fish the bottom, I would transfer to stable platform. As I looked down into the water, I was amazed at the variety & diversity of fish in the network of artificial steel reef covered in barnacles &. urchins. Twenty years later, as a subsea engineer in deepwater drilling, I worked 28 days on and 28 days off in blue water for 30 yrs. On one drillship, I even set up a reef aquarium with water that we floated in. The Exxon company man had an environmental engineer as an assistant who agreed with me that it would be a bold statement of environmental quality assurance to show a thriving reef tank as our proof of our environmental impact. I was given a $50K budget and did I have fun with someone else’s money. A 120G tank was set up in our ships dining hall in a section seldom occupied. After several months, it became very occupied. It was a real conversation piece when I intervened in hermit crab squabble with brittle starfish. Because the crab eat one of the five arms on starfish, I amputated one of its claws. Less than a week later a second arm was eaten with a second amputee. Crew members decided that I was a real “iron butt”.

Once, when we brought the BOP Stack to the surface, I collected urchins and a small octopus. When the rough necks asked what I was going to do with them urchins. I told them the Urchins were an aphrodisiac better than “love potion number nine”.

Enough rambling. Enjoy the passion and seize the day.
 

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Sincere kudos to you for that! I told my fiance last night that one day I would actually like to set up a tank where I go totally natural with it from day 1, and just let whatever happens, and whatever critters arrive on rock, etc, to happen. That would be very, very cool in my opinion. I may have said this before but I grew up on the MS gulf coast, and spent most of my time at the beach and out on my dad's boat fishing and exploring the little islands, watching the horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, birds, and all the other ocean life. Still my "happy place" when I go visit family. :)

As a 10 yr old, our family vacationed at Bay St. Lewis for two weeks during the summer. I remember gigging flounder at night and crabbing with a string & a net.

with respect to going natural with diver collected rock, I agree allowing things to grow on their own up to a certain point. As the curator of the tank, I prune & cull accordingly, otherwise Entropy enters the picture:

ENTROPY
PHYSICS
1. a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
"the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time"

2. lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
 
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As a teenager in Lafayette, Louisiana, during the summer time, my father took the boys fishing twice a week. Depending on weather, we would go 30-70 miles offshore into blue water. Because I would often get seasick, as we tied off to production platforms to fish the bottom, I would transfer to stable platform. As I looked down into the water, I was amazed at the variety & diversity of fish in the network of artificial steel reef covered in barnacles &. urchins. Twenty years later, as a subsea engineer in deepwater drilling, I worked 28 days on and 28 days off in blue water for 30 yrs. On one drillship, I even set up a reef aquarium with water that we floated in. The Exxon company man had an environmental engineer as an assistant who agreed with me that it would be a bold statement of environmental quality assurance to show a thriving reef tank as our proof of our environmental impact. I was given a $50K budget and did I have fun with someone else’s money. A 120G tank was set up in our ships dining hall in a section seldom occupied. After several months, it became very occupied. It was a real conversation piece when I intervened in hermit crab squabble with brittle starfish. Because the crab eat one of the five arms on starfish, I amputated one of its claws. Less than a week later a second arm was eaten with a second amputee. Crew members decided that I was a real “iron butt”.

Once, when we brought the BOP Stack to the surface, I collected urchins and a small octopus. When the rough necks asked what I was going to do with them urchins. I told them the Urchins were an aphrodisiac better than “love potion number nine”.

Enough rambling. Enjoy the passion and seize the day.
What an awesome career! I'm sure you had tons of amazing experiences. That is so cool that you got to set up that tank to share with everyone. :)
 
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First fish added last night! 2 "SA iced mocha special" clownfish from my favorite LFS. They are around a year old from what he could tell. I've watched the group of 4 of them for a couple weeks now, and these two seemed the most docile. Hopefully they bond - so far they have stuck together most of the time since added to the tank. Didn't feed last night, but this morning they were at the glass looking hungry. Gave a small pinch of Rod's Food... they just watched it fly all over the tank and swam around like it was nothing... hmm. Maybe still getting used to their new surroundings.
 

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darling little fishes and you seem to have established and great plan, now here's to the willpower to stick to it and not over react to surprises

as to the live rock, I have "seeded" each of my startups with a softball or 2 sized collected rocks and attest to the stabilities they bring to the tanks. There are ways to drive crabs/shrimp (hypertonic SW) from their hideys and decide what to do with them, i.e., the LFS will take any mantids.

I do it as much for the bacteria and the quality of the ramp up as the natural clean up crew.

Best of luck to you and happy to follow your journey
 
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darling little fishes and you seem to have established and great plan, now here's to the willpower to stick to it and not over react to surprises

as to the live rock, I have "seeded" each of my startups with a softball or 2 sized collected rocks and attest to the stabilities they bring to the tanks. There are ways to drive crabs/shrimp (hypertonic SW) from their hideys and decide what to do with them, i.e., the LFS will take any mantids.

I do it as much for the bacteria and the quality of the ramp up as the natural clean up crew.

Best of luck to you and happy to follow your journey
Thank you so much! :) The fish are doing really well - they've settled in nicely. My son named them Flippy and Chomper, lol! Going to wait a bit and then I'm thinking about ordering quarantined yellow watchman goby and pistol shrimp and a barnacle blenny, from Dr. Reef. I have a QT cycling but honestly I have been so busy with work and studying that I may just buy fish pre-quarantined for now and try it myself in the future. I'm super worried I'd mess up QT meds and hurt something.
Good idea with the live rock, I may go ahead and pick up a couple pieces from my LFS where I got the clownfish.
 
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If you are going to keep the fish count low buying QTd fish is not a bad idea, but get your system up and running just to be safe!
That's what I figured - I don't mind paying extra for a couple quarantined fish. :) Thinking I will keep the QT set up for a while in case any issues arise where I may need to use it for a hospital tank or something. Keeping it cycled without fish may get annoying, but I'd rather have it than not.
 
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