Nano Tank Start - Step by Step Journey

Danroo

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1) Yep, have strict instructions on what to do for feeding, how often, etc. And I have an ATO, so that should help with salinity, etc.
2) My Phosphates have always been at 0, so should I start dosing? I have some NeoPhos from Brightwell.
3) Will definitely get a test kit for Mg and start testing that too.

Thanks!
Don’t rinse your food to increase phosphates. I was having high phosphates due to not rinsing mysis shrimps.
 
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rhpmiller

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Don’t rinse your food to increase phosphates. I was having high phosphates due to not rinsing mysis shrimps.
I use the Hikari frozen Spriulina + Mysis Shrimp, and never rinse it, but I also only feed it 2-3x week and use pellets or flakes for other feedings. So maybe i'm not using it as frequent—or as much of it—as others.

Either way, I started with a very mild dose of NeoPhos, will do that tomorrow too, and test on Wednesday. Hopefully will see a bit of movement.
 
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rhpmiller

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Day 30 (10/18)
Put that small dose of NeoPhos into my tank, fed my fish, did a little cleaning, and upped the intensity of my lights to 65% blue and 30% white.

Toadstool is starting its shedding process, as polyps retracted and a shiny coat appeared over most of the flesh. This is the first time it's done that, so assuming that's the case, according to what i've found online.

Day 31 (10/19)
My toadstool leather finished its shed today (only have some "after" pics below) and is back to looking like its old self.

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Tested some parts of my water this AM, to see how the NeoPhos I added yesterday, and some of the baking soda I added the other day impacted things, and here were the changes:
  • Phosphate: 0.03 (Up from 0.0)
  • Alkalinity: 9 (Up from 8.3)
  • Calcium: 507 (Down from 531) *Still a little concerned about this, but it is slowly dropping*
  • pH: 8.2 (up from 8.0)

Will do a 20% water change tomorrow, and might need to turn down the intensity of my lights a bit, as I'm starting to see some algae come back. However, I'm also trying to be understanding that it's part of the process and will have some blooms here and there.

Additionally, fed my Zoas and Duncan some Reef Roids for the first time. Learned a valuable lesson that a little goes a long way (i.e. I made too much mixture)
 
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rhpmiller

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Day 32 (10/20)
Did a 20% water change. Starting to see algae get a bit stronger, so will keep monitoring. Going to skip feeding my fish tonight.

Got an AI Nero 3 and put that in the back, lower, right of my tank—will flow across the back, shooting from right to left—and put it on a random setting and will fluctuate between 10% and 30% power. Hoping it helps with some detritus and general tinkering with preparing for corals that will need more flow, when I get them.

Also decided to turn on my protein skimmer for the first time, to see if that helps with some of the debris, leftover food, etc.

Will test my parameters tomorrow to see how I need to adjust after the water change.

Day 33 (10/21)
Tested my water this AM, and here's what I've got:
  • Salinity: 1.026 (same)
  • Ammonia: 0.05 (Down from 0.1)
  • Nitrite: 0.05 (Down from 0.2)
  • Nitrate: 25 (Up from 10)
  • Phosphate: 0.9 (Up from 0.03) ***
  • Alkalinity: 9.5 (Up from 9)
  • Calcium: 526 (Up from 515) ***
  • Magnesium: 1520 (First time testing)***
  • pH: 8.2 (same)
So, I think my Phosphate and Nitrate are both up, because I'm seeing waste in my tank (i.e. poop on the sand). I have nassarius and trochus snails, 4 blue-legged hermits, and a tiger conch, and none of them seem to be eating it.

Any idea on how to bring those levels down? I can definitely do another water change and vacuum my sand, but I feel like the poop is heavier than the sand, so I'd need to replace my sand. I can definitely add more sand, but worried I would lose all the good bacteria that is in there currently.
 
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Danroo

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Day 32 (10/20)
Did a 20% water change. Starting to see algae get a bit stronger, so will keep monitoring. Going to skip feeding my fish tonight.

Got an AI Nero 3 and put that in the back, lower, right of my tank—will flow across the back, shooting from right to left—and put it on a random setting and will fluctuate between 10% and 30% power. Hoping it helps with some detritus and general tinkering with preparing for corals that will need more flow, when I get them.

Also decided to turn on my protein skimmer for the first time, to see if that helps with some of the debris, leftover food, etc.

Will test my parameters tomorrow to see how I need to adjust after the water change.

Day 33 (10/21)
Tested my water this AM, and here's what I've got:
  • Salinity: 1.026 (same)
  • Ammonia: 0.05 (Down from 0.1)
  • Nitrite: 0.05 (Down from 0.2)
  • Nitrate: 25 (Up from 10)
  • Phosphate: 0.9 (Up from 0.03) ***
  • Alkalinity: 9.5 (Up from 9)
  • Calcium: 526 (Up from 515) ***
  • Magnesium: 1520 (First time testing)***
  • pH: 8.2 (same)
So, I think my Phosphate and Nitrate are both up, because I'm seeing waste in my tank (i.e. poop on the sand). I have nassarius and trochus snails, 4 blue-legged hermits, and a tiger conch, and none of them seem to be eating it.

Any idea on how to bring those levels down? I can definitely do another water change and vacuum my sand, but I feel like the poop is heavier than the sand, so I'd need to replace my sand. I can definitely add more sand, but worried I would lose all the good bacteria that is in there currently.
Everything is going great no need to feed your cleanup crew. Detritus will be gone once they have nothing to eat. Keep vacuuming the sand bed if you want to keep your sand white, but don’t do too much or that’ll make you lose your clean up crew.
 

Evo R

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Your tank is doing good. But stop dosing the neo phos and the coralline stuff. And the Soda ash for now.
Day 31 results are perfect (minus the Calcium test.) As it will come down once you stop the calcium based dosing to force the coralline.
Your Po4 shot up too high because you are going the natural route to maintain your parameters.

If this was my tank, i would stop the dosing of the above mentioned additives for now.
And leave the tank alone and just test every day for three days or so. Get a pattern of what your tank is doing and then based on that info work out a game plan going forward.

As yo yo ing your tank with this and then that especially in the beginning is a waste of time and money.

Few things to accept;
1. The uglies are coming. Rather get it over with and ride it out instead of prolonging it by trying to dodge it. As i have yet to come across some one who was able to dodge it completely and never ever experience some form of algae in their tanks.
2.Patiance. You are adding to much to fast. Your tank is still in infancy stage. Let it settle and get into a rhythm and balance it self out.
3. Natural is always better...Fact. Upping your nutrients by feeding both your fish and corals is way better than adding a band aid in a bottle aka neo phos in your case. Don't get me wrong the soda ash is a valid additive to dose...but only when your tank is depleting it faster than what you can replace it naturally...via water changes. As now you are upping your Alk and Calcium to dangerous levels if you keep on dosing constantly and don't have the coral bio load yet to consume it.

I know as i made the same mistakes too with my very first tank of trying to be too much in control and chasing numbers ect. But relax, let things take there course and settle. As no two tanks are the same, so no two fixed sets of parameters will work for both tanks.

Plus a wise reefer told me once, if ever you are scared of crashing your tank and or wiping out everything as all beginners are very scared of doing that by not letting things ride out and balance out, just remember you will need just enough time to either make enough fresh salt water to do either a 100% water change or just enough for a clean bucket to be filled to put your live stock in if ever things should go horribly south.

So relax....
 
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rhpmiller

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Your tank is doing good. But stop dosing the neo phos and the coralline stuff. And the Soda ash for now.
Day 31 results are perfect (minus the Calcium test.) As it will come down once you stop the calcium based dosing to force the coralline.
Your Po4 shot up too high because you are going the natural route to maintain your parameters.

If this was my tank, i would stop the dosing of the above mentioned additives for now.
And leave the tank alone and just test every day for three days or so. Get a pattern of what your tank is doing and then based on that info work out a game plan going forward.

As yo yo ing your tank with this and then that especially in the beginning is a waste of time and money.

Few things to accept;
1. The uglies are coming. Rather get it over with and ride it out instead of prolonging it by trying to dodge it. As i have yet to come across some one who was able to dodge it completely and never ever experience some form of algae in their tanks.
2.Patiance. You are adding to much to fast. Your tank is still in infancy stage. Let it settle and get into a rhythm and balance it self out.
3. Natural is always better...Fact. Upping your nutrients by feeding both your fish and corals is way better than adding a band aid in a bottle aka neo phos in your case. Don't get me wrong the soda ash is a valid additive to dose...but only when your tank is depleting it faster than what you can replace it naturally...via water changes. As now you are upping your Alk and Calcium to dangerous levels if you keep on dosing constantly and don't have the coral bio load yet to consume it.

I know as i made the same mistakes too with my very first tank of trying to be too much in control and chasing numbers ect. But relax, let things take there course and settle. As no two tanks are the same, so no two fixed sets of parameters will work for both tanks.

Plus a wise reefer told me once, if ever you are scared of crashing your tank and or wiping out everything as all beginners are very scared of doing that by not letting things ride out and balance out, just remember you will need just enough time to either make enough fresh salt water to do either a 100% water change or just enough for a clean bucket to be filled to put your live stock in if ever things should go horribly south.

So relax....
Very wise words, thank you for the advice!

Yep, stopped the corralline dosing after that initial dose, so no worries there. Will back away from the NeoPhos. Ha. And will only resort to baking soda, when necessary.

And yes, I have now placed a post-it note on my tank cabinet to remind myself to stop analyzing and just let things happen. Will monitor—not react—and see how things play out.

Appreciate all of the support, tips, and wisdom from folks in this thread!
 
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rhpmiller

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Day 34 (10/22)
Purchased and received my own RODI 4-stage filter from BRS and made my first batch of RODI water. It was getting to be too much of a pain to go to the LFS with a 5g jug and either take a Lyft or Uber to/from, or lug it onto the subway (pains of living in NYC and no longer having a car). While I won't be able to mount the system, or store large volumes of it, it is convenient enough to put in my closet and pull out whenever I need it.

Also been monitoring my water daily to try and see how it fluctuates over the course of a week, and plan against that.

Day 35 (10/23)
I've had a couple of my blue-legged hermits die over the past 3-4 days. I've found their bodies in the sandbed, but with no sign of their shells. I have dry rock in my aquascape, that is pretty porous and has some holes they can fit into. Wondering if they're getting stuck in there and starving, or that they just have a short life span and need to be replenished from time to time.

Any suggestions on hermits that are reef safe, but might be a bit larger? Maybe just get an Emerald Crab too?

Day 36 (10/24)

Nothing too crazy. Just topped off tank with some RODI.

Day 37 (10/25)
Tested my water this AM, and most things are pretty stable. Starting to see my trace elements go down, which hopefully means my coral is using them to grow. Ammonia and Nitrite are having mild upticks, but wondering if that has to do with the dead hermit bodies in the tank the past couple days (they were removed, but didn't see them for like 24 hrs).

Screen Shot 2021-10-25 at 11.51.26 AM.png


Biggest things are my phosphates. UGH. Any thoughts on phosphate test kits? The Hanna checker gives me weird readings. I've gone from 0.0 > 0.03 > 0.09 > 0.0 > 0.08 > 0.0—all over the course of 6 days, using the same test kit, the same steps, and roughly the same time of day. Am I crazy?
 

Danroo

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Looking great. Don’t worry about the hermits its probably is their molt. Hanna checker is the best out there . Personally I use salifert test kit. Never had any problems with them. Don’t worry much about phosphates I also had them fluctuate from time to time. Once your dry rock turns brown the parameters will stabilize. This will be the time coralline will start forming naturally with the help of your snails and hermit crabs. If you’re planning on tuxedo urchin they’ll eat the coralline as well. Which I feel like would be great for your corals. You don’t have to dose a lot cause of that. Personally I like coralline but not
Too much where the tank is covered in it.
 
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rhpmiller

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Day 38 (10/26)
Stopped the daily testing after 6 days—getting an idea of how my tank fluctuated daily (not a ton)—and will test again in a few days to see any changes there.

Added a bit of NeoPhos to see if I could even raise the phosphates, or if my Hanna checker was just busted. Additionally, I added a duncan colony and small frag of Captain Jerk palys. Yes, I'm aware it is still too much too soon. I'm monitoring and taking care where and when I can, and have yet to see any negative effects on my tank (see posts over next few days). Yes, I'm also aware I said I wouldn't add anything else about a week ago. Will take the good and the bad with the approach i've taken.

Day 39 (10/27)
Broadcast "fed" Reef Energy AB+ and target fed some Reef Roids. Refilled my ATO with RODI.

Day 40 (10/28)
Monthly does of copepods (Algae Barn's 5280) and 5mL of phytoplankton (will dose this daily for next week to try and establish pod population)

Day 41 (10/29)
Tested water parameters today and here's where we're at. Over the 4 day gap, pretty good levels; I finally saw phosphate, so thinking that NeoPhos did something and trace elements continue to be used.

Screen Shot 2021-10-29 at 11.43.54 AM.png


Will change out filter sock, scrub sponges, empty skimmer, and do a 20% water change today/tomorrow to replace elements and stabilize anything else.

Anyway, here's what the tank looks like today, some of my corals, and my makeshift RODI setup in my Brooklyn apartment bathtub. haha

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The faucets in kitchen/bathroom and detachable showerhead all don't seal super well, so takes a couple of hours to get 5g.
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rhpmiller

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Day 42 (10/30)
Did a 20% water change, added my normal 5mL of Ocean Magik phyto—feed my pod population—and fed fish pellets

Day 43 (10/31)
Tested water, added 0.5mL of NeoPhos, since phosphates remained on 0, broadcast dosed Reef Energy AB+, target fed Reef Roids, and added 5mL of Ocean Magik phyto.

Tank water is a little cloudier than usual, especially after a water change, and noticing that my walled frogspawn and hammer aren't super happy—deflated and receding.

Frogspawn normally vs. today
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Day 44 (11/1)
Tank water is a little cloudier than usual, especially after a water change. Think it's because my pod population is finally kicking up, can actually see them on the glass now. However, didn't think that would cause my water to be cloudier. I replaced my carbon media, as it's been ~3 weeks since I last did.

Unfortunately, the frogspawn has receded even more—skeleton showing pretty overtly—and hammer is still deflated. I gave them both a dip in Coral Rx to try and help revive/clean them.

Day 45 (11/2)
Tested phosphates and it's up to 0.05, so seems like the NeoPhos kicked in a bit. Hammer looks much better—still not fully extended, but arms looking "fluffier". Unfortunately, I think the frogspawn is doing worse—further receded, and looks like some of the arms are dying and have tissue necrosis. I don't see any brown jelly around it, but debating on trying to put it in a QT bucket and try to revive it there.

Has anyone had any issues with Euphyllias and what may have caused these sudden deflations or recessions? I can't really identify a catalyst for what may have caused this, as my other corals are doing just fine.
 

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