New Reefer needs some advice before getting started

micahsoft

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I need advice and help from some reefers who have some experience. I want to start my first saltwater tank. In the past I’ve had freshwater and planted tanks, but never saltwater and certainly not with live corals. I have been interested and done some research over the past four years. My friend had a Coralife Biocube 32 LED tank and stand that he had used for less than a year before upgrading to a 90 gallon tank. He also gave me a bunch of other assorted items to use. I’ll list them farther down with photos. I don’t mind doing DYI projects and upgrades if people suggest them and say their worth it, but I do want to keep the cover and basic appearance the same. I have a small 3D printer so I can make small parts I might need. I’ll probably build an aquarium monitor with Reef Pi in the near future. I’d love any advice or tips people are willing to give me, whether on the whole post or just on part. Thanks.

The Stocking Plan: I’m planning on using live rock and live sand in my tank. I don’t want to stock it heavily with fish. I want a pair of ocellaris clowns and a blue mandarin dragonet (I have a LFS that only sells these once they have been accepting frozen Piscine Energetics Mysis Shrimp for at least a week, though I’ll have backup food options).

I want a varied cleanup crew, with at least some snails, hermit crabs, and at least 1 cleaner shrimp. Not exactly decided on all quantities/types yet.

I’d like to do live corals. I figure it will mostly be softies.

I’d really like to do a bubble tip anemone.

A couple other invertebrates I thought might be neat (but by no means a definite) are a fighting conch, a tuxedo urchin, and perhaps a reef safe star fish (maybe banded brittle star?).

The Equipment: The first piece is the tank. It’s a 32 gallon Biocube with LED lights and timer. It came with the stand. I also have the media basket, refugium basket, and water director (looks 3D printed).
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The tank seems to be in good shape. A little bit of salt creep and some algae (any tips on cleaning this off in a way that won’t damage the tank or harm it’s future inhabitants?). I’m going to put chaeto in the refugium. For the media basket I wasn’t sure what to put in. I just have a couple pieces of filter floss and some small bio balls. Any suggestions?

Next I have a return pump. Not sure if I’ll need a new different one or not. It’s rated for 550 GPH
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A UV sterilizer that fits between the pump and return
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Coralife protein skimmer and extra air stones (looks like wood?)
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Coralife thermometer and two others of a different brand
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100W Heater
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Looks like an air pump, but when he was pointing things out he called it a dosser. I think he just made a mistake.
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A drip acclimator
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An algae scrubber and biocube mag scrubber
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Some lights. I’ll probably use the LED strip for the refugium. There’s also a gooseneck for a Kessel light
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New API test kits, and open API stress coat, microbe-lift, and micro bacteria. The dates on everything are still good.
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A couple other odds and ends, including a substrate cleaner, a seaweed clip, tubing, connectors, and a stick of epoxy putty. I also have some stuff left over from my freshwater tanks, including gravel siphons, air pumps, and breeding baskets.
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So other than filter media (any tips there?), sand, live rock, and reef crystals salt, what do I need to get? I have my own well. Do I still need to get a RO filter?
I’m pretty sure I want more flow, so I’ll probably get a wave maker. Has anyone found one they really like for the Biocube?

Thanks for any and all help or advice you can give me.
 
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ks2509

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Personally I would still use an RO, never know what's in there. Be careful with hermits and snails in the same tank. Hermit shells don't grow with them and they will eventually kill the snails and take their shells if you don't keep enough empty ones for them in the tank. Go slow and ask questions.
 
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micahsoft

micahsoft

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Personally I would still use an RO, never know what's in there. Be careful with hermits and snails in the same tank. Hermit shells don't grow with them and they will eventually kill the snails and take their shells if you don't keep enough empty ones for them in the tank. Go slow and ask questions.
Thanks for that advice. Was planning on only a couple hermit crabs, and making sure there were plenty of empty shells. I use to have large land hermit crabs as a kid so I figured I’d need more shells. Is there a certain type of hermit that you find to be more peaceful with its fellow shelled neighbors? I’m really exited to get started, but and going to take it slow. Make sure I get everything planned out, cycle the tank for a couple weeks, then slowly add things a little bit at a time. And as always, change the plan when things go wrong.
 

bark1ngspider

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Looks good to me but definitely use rodi water and imo I wouldn’t have a dragonet as a beginner because they require a very mature tank with lots of pods and will probably deplet your population anyway unless they are pellet fed which is very rare. Also as long as you provide shells bigger than the ones the hermits have aggression should be lower.....I also would recommend dr Tim’s nitrifying bacteria and the ammonia drops that come with it as this can shorten the cycle
 
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mdb_talon

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To answer question on cleaning. Vinegar then bleach is how you do it(rinsing with water between you dont want to mix those). Rinsed and left to dry completely and it is perfectly safe.

Use rodi for sure. Well water can have metals and minerals you probably do not want in addition to possibly having things like phosphates/nitrates/etc.
 
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micahsoft

micahsoft

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Looks good to me but definitely use rodi water and imo I wouldn’t have a dragonet as a beginner because they require a very mature tank with lots of pods and will probably deplet your population anyway unless they are pellet fed which is very rare. Also as long as you provide shells bigger than the ones the hermits have aggression should be lower.....I also would recommend dr Tim’s nitrifying bacteria and the ammonia drops that come with it as this can shorten the cycle
Thanks for the tip with the crab shells and bacteria. For the dragonet, I was definitely going to wait for quite a while to establish my tank and make sure I had the basics down. the Supplier i know takes care to train any dragonets to take prepared foods before selling them. i was also thinking of installing a refugium in the stand with an overflow box or culturing pods just in case. Perhaps both options.
Welcome to R2R. Check out/search for ReefPi in the controller forum. @Ranjib is a member here and he and other developers often post info and answer questions.
Thanks for the tip. I‘ll definitely check that out. I love doing projects like that, especially if I can use it for something I’ll use often. I have a couple PI boards in my shop table i Was planning to use to check out his software later in the week.
To answer question on cleaning. Vinegar then bleach is how you do it(rinsing with water between you dont want to mix those). Rinsed and left to dry completely and it is perfectly safe.

Use rodi for sure. Well water can have metals and minerals you probably do not want in addition to possibly having things like phosphates/nitrates/etc.
Thanks for the tip. I do comercial cleaning but most of the chemicals I use would not be reef safe at all. Which reminds me, I need to buy new 5 gallon pails. None of mine are in any way ”food safe.”

I’ll definitely get a rodi unit then. Seems like most people here recommend it. What didnt hurt a goldfish or betta, might still be detrimental to my marine friends health.

thank you all for all this good info. I’m going to take it slow to learn as I go, but I’m really exited to start with a reef tank. Even when I had a medium sized freshwater tank I wanted to do a reef tank, but I couldn’t swing it then. Please keep any new advice coming. I’ve read 10 different books and visited countless forums to see what others have done, but it really Helps to have more focused advice on the type of tank I’m starting.
 
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bark1ngspider

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Thanks for the tip with the crab shells and bacteria. For the dragonet, I was definitely going to wait for quite a while to establish my tank and make sure I had the basics down. the Supplier i know takes care to train any dragonets to take prepared foods before selling them. i was also thinking of installing a refugium in the stand with an overflow box or culturing pods just in case. Perhaps both options.

Thanks for the tip. I‘ll definitely check that out. I love doing projects like that, especially if I can use it for something I’ll use often. I have a couple PI boards in my shop table i Was planning to use to check out his software later in the week.

Thanks for the tip. I do comercial cleaning but most of the chemicals I use would not be reef safe at all. Which reminds me, I need to buy new 5 gallon pails. None of mine are in any way ”food safe.”

I’ll definitely get a rodi unit then. Seems like most people here recommend it. What didnt hurt a goldfish or betta, might still be detrimental to my marine friends health.

thank you all for all this good info. I’m going to take it slow to learn as I go, but I’m really exited to start with a reef tank. Even when I had a medium sized freshwater tank I wanted to do a reef tank, but I couldn’t swing it then. Please keep any new advice coming. I’ve read 10 different books and visited countless forums to see what others have done, but it really Helps to have more focused advice on the type of tank I’m starting.
You could also try a hob diy aqua Lear that what I have on my pico and it works rlly good with chaeto
 
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micahsoft

micahsoft

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Just got an email reply from reefcleaners.org
The cleanup crew they suggested for the tank I’m planning was:

30 Dwarf Ceriths - tiny cleaners, for the tight spots the others can't reach
9 Nassarius vibex
12 Florida Ceriths
11 Nerites

I’m hoping 2 scarlet hermits and maybe 1 blue leg hermit would be compatible as long as I added plenty of shells for them to grow into.
 
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micahsoft

micahsoft

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You could also try a hob diy aqua Lear that what I have on my pico and it works rlly good with chaeto
That could work too. Though if I put chateo in the refugium basket in the back I’m hoping that could do it. If I needed more, I’d probably go the in stand refugium to add another 10 gallons water volume or so and have plenty of refugium space For pods to grow.
 
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micahsoft

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I was looking at doing the large sized cultures I saw here to make sure I had enough pods. or maybe a couple smaller ones.
I need to do a little more research on it before I’d make any decisions. And I wouldn’t start that till I was getting closer to adding a dragonet.
 
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micahsoft

micahsoft

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I had a dragonet but after a very mature tank he completely depleted the population I do not recommend for a beginner(including myself) because they will go through ur population very fast and they are other fish that are similar and cool like flame hawk fish
Even if you’ve confirmed that they accept prepared foods? I‘ve been planning it as the last big addition to the tank so I’d have time to possibly talk myself out of it. It’s probably my favorite looking fish other than the peacock mantis shrimp. But that one seems a bad Idea. I’d probably stick my hand in there to move a piece of rock and get my thumb destroyed.
the guy who gave me the tank had a mandarin that was healthy in the biocube until he eventually upgraded to a 90 gallon and moved it in there. He still has it. I think he said he’s had that tank a year now.
 
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