New 29G Tank - Looking for Recommendations

tankman87

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Hello all,

Was bit of a long time aquarium hobbyist throughout my younger years. Had a 10G freshwater and then 20G tropical tank for many years. I've been out of the hobby for probably 15 years but I've always wanted to try my hand at a saltwater tank. I've been a lurker here for a few months reading tons and educating myself. One day I took the plunge and ordered a tank.

Here is where I'm at now.

Equipment:
New GFCI Receptacle to replace non GFI Receptacle (circuit traced back to a 20Amp Breaker)
29G Clear for Life Uniquarium Acrylic Tank
Aquatop MaxFlow SWP-480 Pump
2x50W 16G Eheim Heaters (undersized incase of fail on or off)
GBGS 40W 3600 GPH Smart Wave Circulation Pump and W-40 Controller
Caribsea Special Grade Reef Sand (~25-30 lbs)
Caribsea Life Rock (~30 lbs)
3 x 2" Brightwell Aquatics Xport BIO Blocks in the sump (rest filled with Bio Balls)
Aquaticlife 4-stage RO/DI 75GPD
ATC Refratometer
API Master Saltwater Test Kit
Cheapo Stick-On Thermometer
Instant Ocean 50lb Bag Salt
3 x 5gal buckets with lids
Gloves

I started up the tank for the first time on July 4 around 1am after making all the RO/DI water. I used Microbacter Start XLM and one frozen shrimp wrapped tightly in a coffee filter as soon as I got the tank running. I dosed more Microbacter Start XLM on 7/10 and 7/12. I added an additional two frozen shrimp wrapped in coffee filter on 7/12/21 to the original shrimp so 3 small shrimp total rotting in tank right now.

water parameters.JPG


Test on 7/14/21:
IMG-3684.jpg

I'm excited because today I finally am seeing Nitrite and Nitrates starting up.

Tank on 7/5/21

IMG-3184.jpg


Here's my tank on 7/10/21 with a cell phone light on it and re-arranged rocks (I have not bought a light yet).

IMG-3576.jpg




Here come the questions:
1. Even on the lowest setting, my wavemaker tends to blow the sand into mountains on the left side of the tank after a day. I suspect maybe my wavemaker is too powerful for this tank. Is this the case? If so, what are recommendations for a more properly sized wave maker? You can see in my first tank picture where there is build-up of sand - but it gets even higher than that.
2. Any comments on the cycling progress so far?
3. Any suggestions on lights? I want to start out with fish and shortly thereafter corals. My LFS which is awesome recommends an AI Prime 12" or 18" and a mount. I'd prefer one light if possible. Suggestions?
4. I did not cement my rocks together - I "friction fit" them all. However, after my new aquascape I notice I have sand issues where it builds up on the left side of the tank and then the rocks shift. Is there a way to cement or hold them together under water? I figure if I remove them from the tank and dry and then cement I'll ruin the bacteria already on them.
5. What are thoughts on protein skimmer? Due to my uniquarium it would have to be a venturi nano type. Are there any good ones to look at?
6. When do I get a CUC? Right now since I am cycling I do not have any light on so no algae yet.
7. How many fish can I eventually add to this tank? It is 30" long, 8" deep (rear chambers take 4" so it is 12" deep total) and 18" tall. I would like to add at least two mocha clownfish - would that be my limit at this tank size?
8. How long are the RO/DI filters good for and how do I tell when to replace?
9. What is best way to clean water-side of acrylic? I bought a Mag-Float Acrylic Cleaner - is this the best option to avoid scratching?

Any and all recommendations, advice and equipment recommendations would be much appreciated.

Thank you and I'm excited to be a part of this community.
 
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mrlavalamp

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1) your wavemaker is a bit oversized for your tank. I use a 4500gph on my 200 gallon (plus another korlia in supplement but only sometimes). My octopulse 4 will mound up the sand in my tank, and I have it point about 15degrees up toward the surface, so your results are not suprising even if the manufacturer is overestimating their actual gph output (which is very common these days). My octopulse 4 only pulls 32 watts but puts out 900gph more than your GBGS does at 40 watts? not likely, which manufacturer do you trust (im really not sure lol).
2) cycle progress looks good, I prefer ammonia in a bottle over rotting shrimp for the degree of control, but the shrimp will work just fine.
3) I really like my viparspectra lights. They aren't perfect, and they are NOT as fancy as the AI primes, but they save you a boatload of $$$. I plan to upgrade to some fancier lights in another year or so when I suspect mine will begin to reach end of life.
4)You can glue with superglue and some epoxies underwater. Not as easy but it can be done. Bacteria are hardy though, and you wont see a ton of die off from pulling them for a few minutes and then putting back under water. My largest recommendation here is to pull your rocks and get the sand out from under them, rocks directly on the bottom of the tank are MUCH more stable (just ask my engineer goby). If you do harm the bacteria by keeping them out of the water too long, then logically NOW is the time to do it because you are still cycling and they can re-establish.
5)sorry, not advice here.
6)Start your CUC slow and once you start introducing corals/fish (they need something to eat). The worst possible thing you can do here is go out and buy a CUC package based on your aquarium size, they are generally a massive waste of money because they overstock the cuc and then they all start dieing creating worse problems. With respect to CUC, I HIGHLY regret getting big turbo snails, they are bulldozers and I have had them knock almost every coral in my tank over, even those that are glued down take a beating. If one of those big turbos dies, TONS of nutrients released if you dont catch it quickly.
7)generally 1" of fish per gallon of system volume, you can go over this though if you increase your export and nutrient control methods (but without a sump this will be tough). Consider the fishes fully grown size when figuring this.
8) You should measure the TDS of water coming from your RO and also coming out of the DI section. Replace DI media when the TDS begins rising above 0, and watch the TDS coming out of your RO, it will increase if it starts to leak by or have a seal failure, and your gallons per hour will decrease if it starts to foul with scale. Generally RO membranes last at least a year or two depending on quality/usage, but I wouldn't push it past 2 just for peace of mind, the prefilters should be replaced at least annualy (more often if you have low quality tap water, mine measures around 700 tds at the tap so I replace my prefilters every 6 months).
9) the acrylic safe mag floats are what I have used, just watch out about trapping sand or other hard debris between the wall and the pad.

hope this helps and welcome to the club!
 
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tankman87

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1) your wavemaker is a bit oversized for your tank. I use a 4500gph on my 200 gallon (plus another korlia in supplement but only sometimes). My octopulse 4 will mound up the sand in my tank, and I have it point about 15degrees up toward the surface, so your results are not suprising even if the manufacturer is overestimating their actual gph output (which is very common these days). My octopulse 4 only pulls 32 watts but puts out 900gph more than your GBGS does at 40 watts? not likely, which manufacturer do you trust (im really not sure lol).
2) cycle progress looks good, I prefer ammonia in a bottle over rotting shrimp for the degree of control, but the shrimp will work just fine.
3) I really like my viparspectra lights. They aren't perfect, and they are NOT as fancy as the AI primes, but they save you a boatload of $$$. I plan to upgrade to some fancier lights in another year or so when I suspect mine will begin to reach end of life.
4)You can glue with superglue and some epoxies underwater. Not as easy but it can be done. Bacteria are hardy though, and you wont see a ton of die off from pulling them for a few minutes and then putting back under water. My largest recommendation here is to pull your rocks and get the sand out from under them, rocks directly on the bottom of the tank are MUCH more stable (just ask my engineer goby). If you do harm the bacteria by keeping them out of the water too long, then logically NOW is the time to do it because you are still cycling and they can re-establish.
5)sorry, not advice here.
6)Start your CUC slow and once you start introducing corals/fish (they need something to eat). The worst possible thing you can do here is go out and buy a CUC package based on your aquarium size, they are generally a massive waste of money because they overstock the cuc and then they all start dieing creating worse problems. With respect to CUC, I HIGHLY regret getting big turbo snails, they are bulldozers and I have had them knock almost every coral in my tank over, even those that are glued down take a beating. If one of those big turbos dies, TONS of nutrients released if you dont catch it quickly.
7)generally 1" of fish per gallon of system volume, you can go over this though if you increase your export and nutrient control methods (but without a sump this will be tough). Consider the fishes fully grown size when figuring this.
8) You should measure the TDS of water coming from your RO and also coming out of the DI section. Replace DI media when the TDS begins rising above 0, and watch the TDS coming out of your RO, it will increase if it starts to leak by or have a seal failure, and your gallons per hour will decrease if it starts to foul with scale. Generally RO membranes last at least a year or two depending on quality/usage, but I wouldn't push it past 2 just for peace of mind, the prefilters should be replaced at least annualy (more often if you have low quality tap water, mine measures around 700 tds at the tap so I replace my prefilters every 6 months).
9) the acrylic safe mag floats are what I have used, just watch out about trapping sand or other hard debris between the wall and the pad.

hope this helps and welcome to the club!

Thanks for the thorough reply! I adjusted my wave maker to a good location and have reduced the sand shifting issue. I bought an AI Prime 16HD Reef and it has been setup although I am not using the light to avoid algae while I complete my cycle. Thank you for the advice on the CUC. I will look into purchasing a TDS.

Here is an update to my cycling progress. Is the cycle coming to an end? I still have rotting shrimp in the tank and it seems that ammonia is staying nice and low - and even dropping. When should I do my first water change? Thank you.

1626819367118.png
 

andiesreef

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Thanks for the thorough reply! I adjusted my wave maker to a good location and have reduced the sand shifting issue. I bought an AI Prime 16HD Reef and it has been setup although I am not using the light to avoid algae while I complete my cycle. Thank you for the advice on the CUC. I will look into purchasing a TDS.

Here is an update to my cycling progress. Is the cycle coming to an end? I still have rotting shrimp in the tank and it seems that ammonia is staying nice and low - and even dropping. When should I do my first water change? Thank you.

1626819367118.png
chiming in: your cycle is done when your ammonia and nitrites have fallen to 0. you should be seeing nitrates by then. you can do your first wc to help the tail end of the cycle as your nitrite levels are falling :)
 
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tankman87

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chiming in: your cycle is done when your ammonia and nitrites have fallen to 0. you should be seeing nitrates by then. you can do your first wc to help the tail end of the cycle as your nitrite levels are falling :)

Thanks andiesreef. Right now my Ammonia is 0.25ppm, Nitrite is 5ppm and Nitrate is 40ppm. From what I've read API may show 0.25ppm Ammonia even when it is really 0ppm. So assuming my Ammonia is 0.25ppm (or 0ppm) and my Nitrites are at 0ppm and I'm left with just Nitrates then I am good to water change and then add a couple fish?

Here is a pic with the AI Prime 16 from yesterday - tempting to keep the light on but I only left it on to take a picture (really trying to avoid algae for now). Thank you.

IMG-3717.jpg
 

mrlavalamp

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With ammonia falling while you have a rotting shrimp in there I would think you are very close.

Pull the rotting shrimp out, give it a day or two and see if ammo and nitrite go down.

Theoretically ammo should 0 in less than 24 hours, if so you are ready for fish. But yes, api is known to have accuracy problems.

Nitrate is getting up there, but my tank runs steady at 50ppm or so, your water change will help that level go down. I would not wait for nitrate to go down as that is going to take forever and it is not toxic to fish until it gets way way higher, like several hundred ppm.


If it were my tank, I would pull the rotting shrimp like right now, plan a water change for tomorrow or Thursday, and the go shopping for a couple fish to add Friday or Saturday.
 

andiesreef

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Thanks andiesreef. Right now my Ammonia is 0.25ppm, Nitrite is 5ppm and Nitrate is 40ppm. From what I've read API may show 0.25ppm Ammonia even when it is really 0ppm. So assuming my Ammonia is 0.25ppm (or 0ppm) and my Nitrites are at 0ppm and I'm left with just Nitrates then I am good to water change and then add a couple fish?

Here is a pic with the AI Prime 16 from yesterday - tempting to keep the light on but I only left it on to take a picture (really trying to avoid algae for now). Thank you.

IMG-3717.jpg
yep! nitrates are fine to have in low amounts. anything up to 40ish ppm is probably ok for fish but for corals try to water change until it's about 20ppm. i would pull the shrimp as mrlavalamp says and wait for things to settle down. maybe think about your stocking plan soon.
 
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tankman87

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yep! nitrates are fine to have in low amounts. anything up to 40ish ppm is probably ok for fish but for corals try to water change until it's about 20ppm. i would pull the shrimp as mrlavalamp says and wait for things to settle down. maybe think about your stocking plan soon

Shrimps were pulled yesterday. What % of the water should I change out? 50% so nitrates go from 40ppm to 20ppm?

Also what are thoughts on running a light? Some say to hold off as long as possible to avoid algae and others say rip the bandaid off and run the light. Thoughts?

Thanks.
 
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andiesreef

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Shrimps were pulled yesterday. What % of the water should I change out? 50% so nitrates go from 40ppm to 20ppm?

Also what are thoughts on running a light? Some say to hold off as long as possible to avoid algae and others say rip the bandaid off and run the light. Thoughts?

Thanks.
50% seems ok to me.

and lighting can be run as soon as you have livestock in my opinion. when i got my first fish and corals i turned my lights on.

some more tips about livestock -

for a fish i would have a stocking plan. add your most aggressive fish last (in my case it was a rolland's damselfish). pick a peaceful addition first. ocellaris clowns, small gobies, basslets, firefish, a chromis, small blennies, or a cardinalfish. do you have any idea what kind of fish you want?

for clean up crew i would pick some stuff with variety and make sure you don't have any invert eaters in your fish plan. i'd go for a diverse selection of hermit crabs, snails, conchs, urchins, emerald crabs, and/or shrimp. for example, my 20g has
- 5 astrea turbo snails
- 5 blue legged hermit crabs
- 1 emerald crab
- 3 peppermint shrimp (mostly because i like the look of them haha. i wouldn't say you need this many. 1 or 2 shrimp is fine to start).
- 1 cleaner shrimp
- 1 fighting conch

and if you can get your nitrates down to under 20ppm, some easy corals that won't overrun your tank imo are green star polyps if they are isolated on an "island," leather corals, zoanthids, gorgonians (make sure they are photosynthetic :) ), ricordea and rhodactis mushrooms, and any of the pink clove polyps

i'm here if you have any questions or need more help! :)
 
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tankman87

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Clowns have been in the tank for nearly 2 weeks now. I've been doing weekly 8-10 gallon water changes so I'm changing out about 30% water changes each week (tank holds about 26G water). My nitrates generally drop to around 20ppm after a WC but after a week they creep back up to 40ppm. Is this normal for a tank that's been running for 34 days? Ammonia is staying at 0ppm and I still have some nitrites (about 5ppm).

Questions:
1. I removed filter floss from beneath the drip tray and it really doesn't seem to be doing too much. Could this be adding to nitrates?
2. I have never taken the mechanical filtration (sponges) out of the tank to clean. When I do a WC I do siphone the top of them to clean out any bits of detritus that stays on top of the sponges. Do I need to remove these if they look relatively clean and fully rinse them in RO water from time to time?
3. Is battling nitrates just part of a new tank and they should drop in time?
4. I've upped my lighting for the past week to ~4hrs/day. So far no algae blooms or anything. Should I turn the lights up more to let algae grow so it eats nitrates?

Thank you.
 

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