My first saltwater tank 20g mixed reef

Digitalfirex

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So back over the summer I decided to start my first saltwater tank. I've had freshwater (60g) community planted tank for about 12 years now. Then built a 125g chiclid tank (2 oscar, 6 electric blue acara, 2 parrot fish and a convict)... the tank was free and I was going to make it a saltwater tank. Then I decided based on budget and inexperience with saltwater, maybe I should start smaller. So monster fish it became. I decided on a 20g tall for the first saltwater, originally the intention was FOWLR, low tech budget build.

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Digitalfirex

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Right off the start ill apologize for my rambles...

Anyway my 20g tall build:
Aqueon 20g Tall tank (dollar per gallon sale)
20 lbs CaribSea live sand, fiji pink (on sale at petsmart)
10 lbs dry rock (sale at petsmart)
Aquaclear 50 hob filter (already had from older tank)
Nicrew reef ready led light bar ($40 amazon)
Tetra 50w heater ($15 amazon)
Some Chinese no brand wave maker
 

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Digitalfirex

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I used instant ocean salt to make my water mix, and a raw shrimp to start the cycle. Yes I got a bacteria bloom like 2 days in. I panicked. Didnt know what to do. Joined R2R forums. (Thank you all the helpful people here, specifically @Brew12 for his detailed write up)

I added Seachem bottles bacteria. Didn't seem to do anything. Then added Biospira and eventually Dr. TIMS. By this time raw shrimp was gone. One of the bottles definitely helped my cycle. Started seen algea on my dry rock.

Yes I made many mistakes. Definitely learned from then and have improved for next time or a future tank.

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Digitalfirex

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Eventually I added 2 clown fish. A purple dotty back. A firefish. And a yellow watchmen goby. I added the clown fish first then waited a week to added the rest. 1 week between each. Lastly I added a fancy brittle sea star, (starfish?) A coral banded shrimp. An of course blue legged hermit crabs, snails (dwarf ceriths etc..)

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Digitalfirex

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Update: my yellow watchmen Goby died. Water parameters in check... I suspect my dotty back was picking on him. Further research, purple dotty back is pretty aggressive...
Additional update: I got rid of the Tetra heater. Mostly because it was temperature locked...(preset at 78, unable to change) and also amazon had an vivaAqua? 300w heater on sale for $17.99. Vs the 50w i had originally purchased for $15... great reviews, it was a no brainer. I also figured if I eventually upgrade 300w will be usable in a larger tank. Then I had the 50w as a spare for a quarantine tank etc.
 

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Update 2: after the yellow watchmen i decided to replace with a different goby. Figured it might just have been me or something. Everyone else looked happy in the tank. Also had to do my first critter ID check. Apstasia on a snail shell and a snail i didnt put in!
 

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Digitalfirex

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Update:
After many visits to LFS ect... I bought my first corals. Tank has been stable and healthy. I got a zoa frag, green mushroom and green star polyp... to start relatively easy.
 

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Update:
After many visits to LFS ect... I bought my first corals. Tank has been stable and healthy. I got a zoa frag, green mushroom and green star polyp... to start relatively easy.
Nice. Those are really easy corals to start with. Just make sure you have a proper light, some flow and you’ll be mostly set. You can also use this as a build thread. It’ll be your very own space to write as many updates and put pictures to document everything.

Click your profile pic > account details > scroll down and find “R2R Tank Thread Link” and put this URL into it. You’ll get a badge and you can click the badge to update your build thread.
 
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Update:
With the idea of creating a mixed reef at somepoint, I decided to upgrade my lighting. After much research, budge ect.. I narrowed down to wanting something that would work in a future tank (if I ever upgrade), easy to set via app, and reliable for corals... imo that narrowed my choices to AI prime or Red Sea 50... I ended up grabbing a like new AI Hydra 32HD from the sell forum at a decent price!
I had to jerry rig a mount to start the acclimation mode while I found the official AI mount for it... used a broken camera Tripod.
 

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Digitalfirex

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Nice. Those are really easy corals to start with. Just make sure you have a proper light, some flow and you’ll be mostly set. You can also use this as a build thread. It’ll be your very own space to write as many updates and put pictures to document everything.

Click your profile pic > account details > scroll down and find “R2R Tank Thread Link” and put this URL into it. You’ll get a badge and you can click the badge to update your build thread.

Wow thank you, I didnt know how to do that.
 

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Quite a collection you have now, and what an opening trial by fire regards cycling! :) The important thing is that you were patient and made it through the tough beginning stages. Nice aquascaping! Welcome to the money pit, er hobby! ;)

Money pit for sure! Don't let the bug bite you too hard!


I would add a controller (if you haven't already) with that heater in the event that the heater has an issue and overheats your tank. Many (including myself) use something like the InkBird ITC-308S. This one is dual stage so you can set your heating and cooling point (heater and chiller/fan plugged into separate outlets) and stay within a desired range. Set the InkBird at your desired temperature and then set your heater a degree or two above that. I calibrated mine with a bath of ice water and it's right in line with the temperature read on my Hanna Salinity tester.

GSP and zoas were my first corals as well and pretty bulletproof. Good luck! I'll be following along.
 
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Update:
I did a thing... ordered a bunch of corals from ARC from their holiday sale lol

I also decided to remove the purple dotty back. My firefish was looking rough. Traded the dotty at LFS for a blue green chromi. I wanted something a bit more active in the water column. Maybe eventually I might do a goby again for the sandbed... but for now just have 2 clown fish, 1 firefish, 1 blue green chromi.

I also purchased more dry rock to add to my aquascape. Did a water change, left some of the old tank water in a 5g bucket, new dry rock, spare heater and cheap powerhead/filter to cycle.
 

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As pretty as those purple dotty backs are (and the diadema/two color ones) they have teeth and the attitude to use them. I had one in a 75 gallon tank and had to remove it for lack of being a good citizen. In a smaller nano they can be catastrophic (seems to be the word of the year).
 
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Digitalfirex

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As pretty as those purple dotty backs are (and the diadema/two color ones) they have teeth and the attitude to use them. I had one in a 75 gallon tank and had to remove it for lack of being a good citizen. In a smaller nano they can be catastrophic (seems to be the word of the year).
Yes, beautiful fish, really wanted to keep that purple color but can't add anything else in there lol... originally wanted the less aggressive orchid dotty back, didn't notice I got a purple instead.
Funny, in the bit of time since the dotty has been gone all the fish seem happier. The firefish has healed nicely.
 

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Update:

Re-did aquascape to increase rock lbs in tank (for filter purposes). Also redid scape to seperate green star polyp to own rock.
Received new coral frags from ARC. Admittedly I probably got too many :D
I temp acclimated, coral dip each frag and quarantined temporarily in a larger flat Tupperware.

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Update:

Everything In tank is doing well. Green star polyp only coral so far that has visible growth... other corals looks happy, opened up nicely but I can't tell if they have grown. About 1 week left on hydra acclimation mode, running Saxby schedule.
Have been feeding twice a week reef roids mixed with sachem reef plus. Also added chemi pure blue to HOB filter just incase.

Not sure if I previously mentioned... I did add a HOB skimmer. Rated for 50g, seems to work quite nicely. Moved powerhead to backwall, experimenting with flow right now.

Lastly, got pods 5080 and some oceanmagik from algeabarn. Currently dosing 5ml daily of the phyto.

Got hanna dkh checker and saliferts test kits to replace my current API.

Salinity 1.27
Temp 78
Nitrate 0 - .2 (2 salifert tests done)
Mg 1480 -1500 (salifert)
Ca 460
dKh 8.5 (hanna)
 

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Coral and fish seem happy and healthy. A few corals seems to be growing a bit. Nice colors. Feeding 2x a week cyclops ez w/ seachem reef. Also 5ml ocean magik daily.

Got a bit of bubble algea and hair? Algea. Been trying to manually remove and hydrogen peroxide spot treatment seems to be keeping it in check?
 

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