New with a small/nano tank setting up for saltwater? Get ready, because there is a lot to know!

40B Knasty

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I had to do this thread, because you wanted a tank. I already knew what I was getting into, because I have two great people in the hoby that cared and broke things down to common sense and walked me through it all. I am here to RUN you through it as best as I can.
First off. Trust is everything. If you don't trust me. It's cool. Go talk to someone that spent $2,000+ on a tank. That has a 120-1000g tank that maybe 3-50x the size of yours that never bought a hang off back(HOB) thing in their life at Petco. With that being said. You can see where I am going with this. Nothing against them. We all want a tank that could hold a great white shark, but here is the thing. They can't live in captivity. So no one knows. This is where you need to understand I am generalizing what you can and can't do.
3 of the Best quotes/tips I came across.
1) You don't take care of fish. You take care of water.
2) With lightning. Have you ever heard of an LED tanning bed? T5 bulbs are what they use in them. So replicating the sun with T5 for corals is your best option.(and don't say MH everyone please.. They are not cheap. That is why I put the two lower end options)
3) Clean up crews are the joke of the industry. We can sell so much of it, because it is a few dollars here and there. A clean up crew should be looked at like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. They start painting at one end. When they finish at the other end. It is time to start over again. This meaning so you do not have die off and bombing your tank with more nutrients. Which is way worse for your tank than a few tuffs of hair algae. Which I will cover.

Getting started. First off is a tank. INSPECT IT! Look at the seems. Look for air bubbles. Last thing you want is 5-40 gallons of water on your floor and everything is now going to be 100% dead. Now here is the things to think about. The space inside and outside of the tank, cleaning, tight lid, stand(nano tank stands from Petco are bad), protein skimmer, heater, powerhead(s), and HOB canister filter. I will cover the reasons for a point in the right direction now with experience.

SPACE OUTSIDE THE TANK: HOB, Lights, Cables, Stands, and PAINTING the back of your tank

PAINTING. Pick a color you would love to have on the BACK of YOUR tank. ONLY PAINT THE OUTSIDE. I will say Black pops colors best. Plus hides items that are in your tank. Go to Walmart or Michael's in the arts and crafts section. Pick up a latex non toxic paint. Use only a sponge roller. You can find a cheap sponge roller that comes with a paint tray at like a Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lot etc.. for like a few bucks that comes with a sponge brush to do trimming. Each layer takes about 30m-1hr to dry. Run a fan on it when you are waiting. You can do 3 layers minimum. I highly recommend 5. When you are moving things around on the back of your tank. You may scrape the paint. 5 coats I never had that problem. 3 I did. The reason I say paint it. It hides everything! All your chords and equipment. If you want to use the back lays at the store. Here is your reason not to with a saltwater tank. SALT CREEP. Salt when it comes out of your tank will go between the paper and the tank. Now you have an ugly salt line running down your tank, because you wanted a forest scene or a unicorn. Plus you can scrape the paint off with a razor. Boom change it if your don't like the color.

HOB PROTEIN SKIMMER. This is a must have. You would not believe the garbage in a tank. If you can do a sump, great. Just know that is another tank you have to clean. You can spend $2000 on a skimmer. Bottom line. It is micro bubbles in an chamber cleaning water. The longer the dwell time in this chamber. The better the skim. I will recommend the Reef Octopus BH 1000 HOB. BH 2000 has a better pump. All you do is take the screw. Twist it. Slide the canister off. Walk over to the faucet. Use the hose on it with hot water. Put it back on the skimmer. Easy everyday clean. DO NOT BUY A SKIMMER LIKE THE SEACLONE THAT HAS A PADDLE WHEEL. Needle wheel pumps only for your skimmer or Do not bother getting one. You can not replace a Colbalt MJ1200 aka Maxi Jet 1200 with a needle wheel. Clean it every 4 months. I say do it every 2 1/2 months. So much garbage is pulled from the tank through those pumps. You want to keep that clean so it chops water up as fine as possible and rotates smoothly not making it hard on the motor. Plus a longer life span. Make sure everything is hand tight for the plumping. Fill it with tank water or new saltwater. Then start it up. Do not run the pump dry.

HOB FILTER. Go bigger than what your tank is. Ex. 13g-FLUVAL 30, 20g-FLUVAL 50, 40B(breeder)-FLUVAL C4. DON'T BUY AN AQUION with just 1 carbon filter. The FLUVAL has 3-5 stages of filtration. When cleaning out your filter. Take the sponge out and rinse/squeeze it in used tank water when doing a water change. Do not use tap water! As far as carbon goes. It doesn't last long at all. I have heard 2 DAYS! You know what. That holds merit, because people change out their carbon activator canister every week and they have 500x the amount at least in those. You can add more C notes. Make sure they are porous. Not smooth. Porus holds beneficial bacteria. Another thing. Before you even put your filtration in. Rinse off all the medias. When rinsing the carbon. Do not press it. You will just be crushing the charcoal inside and causing fine particles. Plus sitting at the faucet longer waiting for the water to turn clear as it runs through it and off it.

INSIDE THE TANK & STAND. General rule of thumb is 1lb of live or dead rock(LR/DR) per gallon. I am going to start off saying look for pieces with arches and VERY porous to hold your beneficial bacteria. Fish love to have cover from light, to swim in and out of, fire & cleaner shrimp hang upside down under the arches, and provides cover when every one sleeps. Make a few caves for fish that naturally have that in their years of evolution dialed in. Now make sure you can run a magnet cleaner around the tank. Get one. Last thing you want is a spot you can not scrape w/ coralline algae, brown algae, hair algae, or that same spot where a fish could get stuck or scraped causing a disease, infections, bacteria. Same for cleanup crew members. (20g stands from Petco while scrubbing a tank wiggles causing major stress on the seems of the tank). Get a real stand IMHO. Stands can be hard to come by that are cheap and good quality or even fits the tanks size like a 40B. You would need to buy a 65g stand for a 40B. If you want to trust a 40B stand from Petco with 400lbs+ that wiggles every time you, an animal, or kid brushes it just a little bit. Be my guest. I will just say if it does come off. The danger of rocks, glass, water pressure, getting knocked out from it, and possibly drowning when it comes down. Is a danger you want to avoid. Make sure your stand is out far enough from the wall for HOB items and chords. Measure measure measure! Items online will give you the dimensions. Then give yourself another 2 inches to be safe. Trust me. Another last thing you want to do is setup a whole tank w/ a HOB BH1000 and want to upgrade to a BH2000 and need 2 more inches. Then you have to pretty much tear the whole thing down and pull all your aquascape, water, and stress the high heavens out of your fish just to move a tank 2 inches.

LID&LIGHTS. The hoods with LED or a florescent that come with a tank. They will not support a reef. Get a glass top. It is better for the least amount of evaporation. Little tip, because you will have to cut a plastic piece that covers the last 2 inches that comes with the glass tops. Form fit it as best as possible. Then drill holes in bigger spots that were not cut, but not big enough for fish to jump through. It is for gas exchange. All fish are jumpers if they get scared enough to. Gobies, Wrasse, and Dartfish are highly known for this aka carpet surfing. I lost a Randell's Prawn goby due to not knowing this. So upsetting! Plus $45 down the drain and beating myself up over it for a few weeks, because it was my mistake and I loved that fish. Now I have a new one that is kind of a jerk. LEDs I can't really say to much about, because I had the first useful tip that I gave back in the beginning. Yes they work. There is a shimmer effect in the tank you get from LEDs. T5s have better PAR and reflect off the sand bed better. Seen videos from BRS with an infrared. Plus a lot of corals do better under certain lights. T5s seem to me IMO the better chance of having that coral you could not resist. Now for bulbs on a T5. ATI! Blue Plus and Coral Plus is a great combo for health and the color popping of corals. I heard that acrylic tops and the cover guard for the bulbs. You have less light penetrating in the tank. Another reason to get a glass top. I did not mention metal halide (MH), because they are costly to run, run very hot(fire), there is no guard to protect the light, and can be pricey at times. A decent T5 is SolarMax T5 HO (H.O. stands for high output)

SAND BED. Okay this can be easy. Powerheads can blow sand around known as a sand storm in the tank IF the power head is to strong and the sand is to fine. A lot of people like the fiji pink. Seems to be a great choice. Me personally went with a mix. 20g 20lbs Black Hawaiian 5lbs crushed coral. For my 40B 40lbs of Black Hawaiian and 10lbs Aragonite. The 50lbs gave me nice height for a wrasse to sleep in. Some sleep in the sand. Do your research. Live sand comes with beneficial bacteria. DO NOT PUT FRESH WATER ON LIVE SAND. Make sure it is saltwater. Also sand gives live rocks a more set place to lay in.

HEATER. Don't get glass. The Aquian Pro 50W, 100W, 150W is perfect. Made of titanium(I think), black, and shatter proof. My tank has been at 78.7 degrees since the first day I put it in till this day. There is other brands with the digital temp control is up in $70-110 range with many bad reviews. The Pro is highly recommend, so accurate, $40ish, and you can buy a digital thermometer for $10. Glass thermometer can Shatter and I have heard of it happening. Beads all in the tank. Plus the chance of Mercury! Poison!

CYCLING YOUR TANK. This is not as hard as it seems. Buy a table shrimp for like .50 at the grocery store. Buy either the test strips or a test kit. API tests kits are okay. You want to basically want to follow the cycle. Ammonia goes up. Nitrates go up. Nitrites go up. Pull the rotting shrimp out. Let the Ammonia go back to zero. Nitrates come down. Nitrites go back to zero. NOW YOU CAN ADD WHATEVER YOU WANT, but not everything is right for a tank.

CORALS. Lighting, feeding, and time of light are major key factors. You can bleachout corals.
Aiptasia can be on the frag plugs. Always look for those in the tank. If they are. Walk away. It is something you do not want ever. Scan the frag for it. Learn the bugs that come along with these certain corals. DIP your new frags.

CLEAN UP CREW! Finally the life of the tank to talk about. Here is a touchy subject about what works. Hermit crabs, snails, urchins, shrimp(s), and sea hare I will cover. First I will say is. You have a small tank. Do not buy a big specimen of what you are looking to cleanup. Yes to small can be a problem to, because those tiny new horns are harder to acclimate. They are more sensitive to temp & water quality. To close of the max size means they are old and will be dying soon.
Here is the 2 100% things that I would recommend that you will never have a problem with.
1 Fighting conch can absolutely do a great job on new tank syndrome. Meaning brown algae.
Red tuxedo urchin. Great for anything it seems. Just understand they will take things like small pebbles & loose frags not glued down to put them on their butt(which is their top) to protect them self from UV and use as Camo. These guys can buff live rock very good.Both are reef safe.
Sea hare. Handle these guys with care. They are a slug. Let them do the crawling onto your fingers. I mean extra slowly pull them from the glass when it is time to return it. If you ever have a MAJOR hair algae outbreak. These guys kill it! Reef safe. I seen a zoanthid polyp covered with hair algae. The thing wrapped his mouth right around the polyp. Buffed that polyp clean! Now they are $30 to buy. Return it the day before it takes care all your problem. They have a purple dye like a squid and will bomb your tank a little. When starved or stressed. If that happens. Make sure you have a major water change ready. It will take a small one to clean a 20g with a really bad outbreak in 1 week. The store may give you $10 back for the return. So save your receipt.
Astrea snails. Everyone doesn't like that they can not flip themselves over. They do a decent job on the rocks and glass. I would give them a 3/10.
Turbo snails. Never had any luck with them. I have had 2. Neither one ate tiny tuffs of hair algae and died. They need to graze. What they graze on. Beats me! 1/10
Nerites. They cruzz the glass just below the sand line. I don't see anything else getting down there to clean. So yes 1 or 2 is a good choice. 5/10
Just keep something in mind. The Golden Gate. The snails that can't flip themselves over. If you put caution to how many you add. They might not fall over, because they are not starving and lacking strength. So always start with one or 2 at a time. Don't panic with blooms. If you add to many. You have die off. You just added more nutrients.
Peppermint shrimp. For aiptasia. Umm.. Yeah sure people say 50/50. I will say 1/99.
Cleaner/skunk shrimp. Awesome a must have.
Fire shrimp. Awesome as well. Mine actually does cleaning of the fishes gills and mouth.
With shrimp they molt. So you will see a shell of theirs when introduced to a tank. Even after water changes. When they are growing. I know $35-40 sounds a lot for just a shrimp (that you don't want to buy that is big/old/end of their life more). Do some math for yourself when looking at what you buy. $40÷36 months. That is a dollar and change per month to have something that is beneficial to a tank, fun to watch, and if you they want to clean your nails. Let them. Pretty funny.

FISH! When you see a fish and their price. How rare they are can come into play. The price mainly based off the cost to get them. If a fish is correctly captured at a deeper depth. They have to decompress also. So that could be a 4 stage prosses to get them to the surface. Gas there, gas back to land, go out to lunch, go back and bring them up 20 more feet. Then leave. Come back and do the same thing over and over till they can collect them at the surface. Rule of thumb. Don't ever get to excited when you see that fish of your dreams. There is a reality to them. Research their max size. 1 inch per gallon of your tank. So 5 fish x 4 inch fully grow in a 20g for example. There is to many fish in the sea. No joke. Just do your research. Cover their ways of living. Like pearching fish, hiding fish, cave fish, swimmer fish, pick at live rock fish, inverter eating fish, jumper, reef safe, w/ caution reef safe, not reef safe, the list goes on and on. With all that being said. While you are reading this. Would you want 5 people in the same room as you all the time. Look at the space around you. It would not be enjoyable for your whole life to be like that. So if you have two bottom fish like a grammica line dartfish and a prawn goby. Make sure you have 3-4 places on the bottom they can hangout in by them self or sleep. Able to eat food passing by. Some fish are scared to come out. Some fish are aggressive eaters. Some are jerks. Like damsels, dotty backs, and some clowns can get territorial. Find foods they like. Some fish when they are young you may need to target feed. Some dragonet which would be a dream fish for most will starve to death. You need a refugium with copepodes always making more. It takes a good year to make that kind of food resource. They can wipe a tank out of them in 2 weeks easy. To buy them in a bottle is like $20 a week. That's a ton of money! Cheap food tip. Buy a small scallop, table shrimp, or clam for less than a dollar at your grocery store. Cut the food up thin and tiny. 1 scallop can last you all week freezing it. Also with getting 2 of the same kind. WARNING! DO YOUR RESEARCH. Most fish will fight to the death.

.000 WATER TDS(Total dissolved solids). So they have RO/DI filtration units you can use an adapter to a hose or faucet. Me personally, I have cheated the system. ☺This is where people will take this whole right up and throw it out the window.
I took a 5g bucket. Drilled a hole in it. Took the guts of Zerowater 6 cup pitcher. Used Aquarium Sealant and covered the bottom of the piece. Put the hole where the filter would screw into. Flipped the bucket over. Sealed that. Now I can change that 5 stage filter with a new filter after every 60 gallons to always have .000 water that will read on my TDS meter and and anyone else's. Fill the filter bucket with 4 1/2 gallons of tap water. It filters into another 5g bucket. Take about an hour 15m. I can walk away from it and never have over flow.

SALT. Reef Crystals. Cheap, no nitrates or phosphates, and does 200 gallons.

READING SALINITY. Get a refractometer. You get what you pay for. The hydrometers have a flaw. If there is bubbles under the arrow. It will read incorrectly.

DO WATER CHANGES! Do not be lazy. You need to do this. Weekly 20-25%. 4 weekly 25% is 100%.

There is a million ways people will say what works. Trust the common sense part. Like where you buy your fish. Petco will sell you ANYTHING. They are the least experienced. The people that you think are jerks to buy from at a Local Fish Store(LFS). That is probably the person to buy from. They are mad, because they don't want to sell a fish to someone who has no clue. Tell them you have no clue, but would love to learn and avoid all mistakes even though they may happen. They care about where they get the fish from first. Which is a great start to the health of your fish to take home. Then they care where it is going. Show them you want to provide a healthy home. Not perfect. There will always be troubles.

Hope you learned a lot by reading it all. It is a lot. Sorry, I care ☺ Just so many peopl are misguided. I know, because I see it first hand. Keep in mind. Everyone's tank is different.
 
Fritz

amfreefer

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I had to do this thread, because you wanted a tank. I already knew what I was getting into, because I have two great people in the hoby that cared and broke things down to common sense and walked me through it all. I am here to RUN you through it as best as I can.
First off. Trust is everything. If you don't trust me. It's cool. Go talk to someone that spent $2,000+ on a tank. That has a 120-1000g tank that maybe 3-50x the size of yours that never bought a hang off back(HOB) thing in their life at Petco. With that being said. You can see where I am going with this. Nothing against them. We all want a tank that could hold a great white shark, but here is the thing. They can't live in captivity. So no one knows. This is where you need to understand I am generalizing what you can and can't do.
3 of the Best quotes/tips I came across.
1) You don't take care of fish. You take care of water.
2) With lightning. Have you ever heard of an LED tanning bed? T5 bulbs are what they use in them. So replicating the sun with T5 for corals is your best option.(and don't say MH everyone please.. They are not cheap. That is why I put the two lower end options)
3) Clean up crews are the joke of the industry. We can sell so much of it, because it is a few dollars here and there. A clean up crew should be looked at like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. They start painting at one end. When they finish at the other end. It is time to start over again. This meaning so you do not have die off and bombing your tank with more nutrients. Which is way worse for your tank than a few tuffs of hair algae. Which I will cover.

Getting started. First off is a tank. INSPECT IT! Look at the seems. Look for air bubbles. Last thing you want is 5-40 gallons of water on your floor and everything is now going to be 100% dead. Now here is the things to think about. The space inside and outside of the tank, cleaning, tight lid, stand(nano tank stands from Petco are bad), protein skimmer, heater, powerhead(s), and HOB canister filter. I will cover the reasons for a point in the right direction now with experience.

SPACE OUTSIDE THE TANK: HOB, Lights, Cables, Stands, and PAINTING the back of your tank

PAINTING. Pick a color you would love to have on the BACK of YOUR tank. ONLY PAINT THE OUTSIDE. I will say Black pops colors best. Plus hides items that are in your tank. Go to Walmart or Michael's in the arts and crafts section. Pick up a latex non toxic paint. Use only a sponge roller. You can find a cheap sponge roller that comes with a paint tray at like a Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lot etc.. for like a few bucks that comes with a sponge brush to do trimming. Each layer takes about 30m-1hr to dry. Run a fan on it when you are waiting. You can do 3 layers minimum. I highly recommend 5. When you are moving things around on the back of your tank. You may scrape the paint. 5 coats I never had that problem. 3 I did. The reason I say paint it. It hides everything! All your chords and equipment. If you want to use the back lays at the store. Here is your reason not to with a saltwater tank. SALT CREEP. Salt when it comes out of your tank will go between the paper and the tank. Now you have an ugly salt line running down your tank, because you wanted a forest scene or a unicorn. Plus you can scrape the paint off with a razor. Boom change it if your don't like the color.

HOB PROTEIN SKIMMER. This is a must have. You would not believe the garbage in a tank. If you can do a sump, great. Just know that is another tank you have to clean. You can spend $2000 on a skimmer. Bottom line. It is micro bubbles in an chamber cleaning water. The longer the dwell time in this chamber. The better the skim. I will recommend the Reef Octopus BH 1000 HOB. BH 2000 has a better pump. All you do is take the screw. Twist it. Slide the canister off. Walk over to the faucet. Use the hose on it with hot water. Put it back on the skimmer. Easy everyday clean. DO NOT BUY A SKIMMER LIKE THE SEACLONE THAT HAS A PADDLE WHEEL. Needle wheel pumps only for your skimmer or Do not bother getting one. You can not replace a Colbalt MJ1200 aka Maxi Jet 1200 with a needle wheel. Clean it every 4 months. I say do it every 2 1/2 months. So much garbage is pulled from the tank through those pumps. You want to keep that clean so it chops water up as fine as possible and rotates smoothly not making it hard on the motor. Plus a longer life span. Make sure everything is hand tight for the plumping. Fill it with tank water or new saltwater. Then start it up. Do not run the pump dry.

HOB FILTER. Go bigger than what your tank is. Ex. 13g-FLUVAL 30, 20g-FLUVAL 50, 40B(breeder)-FLUVAL C4. DON'T BUY AN AQUION with just 1 carbon filter. The FLUVAL has 3-5 stages of filtration. When cleaning out your filter. Take the sponge out and rinse/squeeze it in used tank water when doing a water change. Do not use tap water! As far as carbon goes. It doesn't last long at all. I have heard 2 DAYS! You know what. That holds merit, because people change out their carbon activator canister every week and they have 500x the amount at least in those. You can add more C notes. Make sure they are porous. Not smooth. Porus holds beneficial bacteria. Another thing. Before you even put your filtration in. Rinse off all the medias. When rinsing the carbon. Do not press it. You will just be crushing the charcoal inside and causing fine particles. Plus sitting at the faucet longer waiting for the water to turn clear as it runs through it and off it.

INSIDE THE TANK & STAND. General rule of thumb is 1lb of live or dead rock(LR/DR) per gallon. I am going to start off saying look for pieces with arches and VERY porous to hold your beneficial bacteria. Fish love to have cover from light, to swim in and out of, fire & cleaner shrimp hang upside down under the arches, and provides cover when every one sleeps. Make a few caves for fish that naturally have that in their years of evolution dialed in. Now make sure you can run a magnet cleaner around the tank. Get one. Last thing you want is a spot you can not scrape w/ coralline algae, brown algae, hair algae, or that same spot where a fish could get stuck or scraped causing a disease, infections, bacteria. Same for cleanup crew members. (20g stands from Petco while scrubbing a tank wiggles causing major stress on the seems of the tank). Get a real stand IMHO. Stands can be hard to come by that are cheap and good quality or even fits the tanks size like a 40B. You would need to buy a 65g stand for a 40B. If you want to trust a 40B stand from Petco with 400lbs+ that wiggles every time you, an animal, or kid brushes it just a little bit. Be my guest. I will just say if it does come off. The danger of rocks, glass, water pressure, getting knocked out from it, and possibly drowning when it comes down. Is a danger you want to avoid. Make sure your stand is out far enough from the wall for HOB items and chords. Measure measure measure! Items online will give you the dimensions. Then give yourself another 2 inches to be safe. Trust me. Another last thing you want to do is setup a whole tank w/ a HOB BH1000 and want to upgrade to a BH2000 and need 2 more inches. Then you have to pretty much tear the whole thing down and pull all your aquascape, water, and stress the high heavens out of your fish just to move a tank 2 inches.

LID&LIGHTS. The hoods with LED or a florescent that come with a tank. They will not support a reef. Get a glass top. It is better for the least amount of evaporation. Little tip, because you will have to cut a plastic piece that covers the last 2 inches that comes with the glass tops. Form fit it as best as possible. Then drill holes in bigger spots that were not cut, but not big enough for fish to jump through. It is for gas exchange. All fish are jumpers if they get scared enough to. Gobies, Wrasse, and Dartfish are highly known for this aka carpet surfing. I lost a Randell's Prawn goby due to not knowing this. So upsetting! Plus $45 down the drain and beating myself up over it for a few weeks, because it was my mistake and I loved that fish. Now I have a new one that is kind of a jerk. LEDs I can't really say to much about, because I had the first useful tip that I gave back in the beginning. Yes they work. There is a shimmer effect in the tank you get from LEDs. T5s have better PAR and reflect off the sand bed better. Seen videos from BRS with an infrared. Plus a lot of corals do better under certain lights. T5s seem to me IMO the better chance of having that coral you could not resist. Now for bulbs on a T5. ATI! Blue Plus and Coral Plus is a great combo for health and the color popping of corals. I heard that acrylic tops and the cover guard for the bulbs. You have less light penetrating in the tank. Another reason to get a glass top. I did not mention metal halide (MH), because they are costly to run, run very hot(fire), there is no guard to protect the light, and can be pricey at times. A decent T5 is SolarMax T5 HO (H.O. stands for high output)

SAND BED. Okay this can be easy. Powerheads can blow sand around known as a sand storm in the tank IF the power head is to strong and the sand is to fine. A lot of people like the fiji pink. Seems to be a great choice. Me personally went with a mix. 20g 20lbs Black Hawaiian 5lbs crushed coral. For my 40B 40lbs of Black Hawaiian and 10lbs Aragonite. The 50lbs gave me nice height for a wrasse to sleep in. Some sleep in the sand. Do your research. Live sand comes with beneficial bacteria. DO NOT PUT FRESH WATER ON LIVE SAND. Make sure it is saltwater. Also sand gives live rocks a more set place to lay in.

HEATER. Don't get glass. The Aquian Pro 50W, 100W, 150W is perfect. Made of titanium(I think), black, and shatter proof. My tank has been at 78.7 degrees since the first day I put it in till this day. There is other brands with the digital temp control is up in $70-110 range with many bad reviews. The Pro is highly recommend, so accurate, $40ish, and you can buy a digital thermometer for $10. Glass thermometer can Shatter and I have heard of it happening. Beads all in the tank. Plus the chance of Mercury! Poison!

CYCLING YOUR TANK. This is not as hard as it seems. Buy a table shrimp for like .50 at the grocery store. Buy either the test strips or a test kit. API tests kits are okay. You want to basically want to follow the cycle. Ammonia goes up. Nitrates go up. Nitrites go up. Pull the rotting shrimp out. Let the Ammonia go back to zero. Nitrates come down. Nitrites go back to zero. NOW YOU CAN ADD WHATEVER YOU WANT, but not everything is right for a tank.

CORALS. Lighting, feeding, and time of light are major key factors. You can bleachout corals.
Aiptasia can be on the frag plugs. Always look for those in the tank. If they are. Walk away. It is something you do not want ever. Scan the frag for it. Learn the bugs that come along with these certain corals. DIP your new frags.

CLEAN UP CREW! Finally the life of the tank to talk about. Here is a touchy subject about what works. Hermit crabs, snails, urchins, shrimp(s), and sea hare I will cover. First I will say is. You have a small tank. Do not buy a big specimen of what you are looking to cleanup. Yes to small can be a problem to, because those tiny new horns are harder to acclimate. They are more sensitive to temp & water quality. To close of the max size means they are old and will be dying soon.
Here is the 2 100% things that I would recommend that you will never have a problem with.
1 Fighting conch can absolutely do a great job on new tank syndrome. Meaning brown algae.
Red tuxedo urchin. Great for anything it seems. Just understand they will take things like small pebbles & loose frags not glued down to put them on their butt(which is their top) to protect them self from UV and use as Camo. These guys can buff live rock very good.Both are reef safe.
Sea hare. Handle these guys with care. They are a slug. Let them do the crawling onto your fingers. I mean extra slowly pull them from the glass when it is time to return it. If you ever have a MAJOR hair algae outbreak. These guys kill it! Reef safe. I seen a zoanthid polyp covered with hair algae. The thing wrapped his mouth right around the polyp. Buffed that polyp clean! Now they are $30 to buy. Return it the day before it takes care all your problem. They have a purple dye like a squid and will bomb your tank a little. When starved or stressed. If that happens. Make sure you have a major water change ready. It will take a small one to clean a 20g with a really bad outbreak in 1 week. The store may give you $10 back for the return. So save your receipt.
Astrea snails. Everyone doesn't like that they can not flip themselves over. They do a decent job on the rocks and glass. I would give them a 3/10.
Turbo snails. Never had any luck with them. I have had 2. Neither one ate tiny tuffs of hair algae and died. They need to graze. What they graze on. Beats me! 1/10
Nerites. They cruzz the glass just below the sand line. I don't see anything else getting down there to clean. So yes 1 or 2 is a good choice. 5/10
Just keep something in mind. The Golden Gate. The snails that can't flip themselves over. If you put caution to how many you add. They might not fall over, because they are not starving and lacking strength. So always start with one or 2 at a time. Don't panic with blooms. If you add to many. You have die off. You just added more nutrients.
Peppermint shrimp. For aiptasia. Umm.. Yeah sure people say 50/50. I will say 1/99.
Cleaner/skunk shrimp. Awesome a must have.
Fire shrimp. Awesome as well. Mine actually does cleaning of the fishes gills and mouth.
With shrimp they molt. So you will see a shell of theirs when introduced to a tank. Even after water changes. When they are growing. I know $35-40 sounds a lot for just a shrimp (that you don't want to buy that is big/old/end of their life more). Do some math for yourself when looking at what you buy. $40÷36 months. That is a dollar and change per month to have something that is beneficial to a tank, fun to watch, and if you they want to clean your nails. Let them. Pretty funny.

FISH! When you see a fish and their price. How rare they are can come into play. The price mainly based off the cost to get them. If a fish is correctly captured at a deeper depth. They have to decompress also. So that could be a 4 stage prosses to get them to the surface. Gas there, gas back to land, go out to lunch, go back and bring them up 20 more feet. Then leave. Come back and do the same thing over and over till they can collect them at the surface. Rule of thumb. Don't ever get to excited when you see that fish of your dreams. There is a reality to them. Research their max size. 1 inch per gallon of your tank. So 5 fish x 4 inch fully grow in a 20g for example. There is to many fish in the sea. No joke. Just do your research. Cover their ways of living. Like pearching fish, hiding fish, cave fish, swimmer fish, pick at live rock fish, inverter eating fish, jumper, reef safe, w/ caution reef safe, not reef safe, the list goes on and on. With all that being said. While you are reading this. Would you want 5 people in the same room as you all the time. Look at the space around you. It would not be enjoyable for your whole life to be like that. So if you have two bottom fish like a grammica line dartfish and a prawn goby. Make sure you have 3-4 places on the bottom they can hangout in by them self or sleep. Able to eat food passing by. Some fish are scared to come out. Some fish are aggressive eaters. Some are jerks. Like damsels, dotty backs, and some clowns can get territorial. Find foods they like. Some fish when they are young you may need to target feed. Some dragonet which would be a dream fish for most will starve to death. You need a refugium with copepodes always making more. It takes a good year to make that kind of food resource. They can wipe a tank out of them in 2 weeks easy. To buy them in a bottle is like $20 a week. That's a ton of money! Cheap food tip. Buy a small scallop, table shrimp, or clam for less than a dollar at your grocery store. Cut the food up thin and tiny. 1 scallop can last you all week freezing it. Also with getting 2 of the same kind. WARNING! DO YOUR RESEARCH. Most fish will fight to the death.

.000 WATER TDS(Total dissolved solids). So they have RO/DI filtration units you can use an adapter to a hose or faucet. Me personally, I have cheated the system. ☺This is where people will take this whole right up and throw it out the window.
I took a 5g bucket. Drilled a hole in it. Took the guts of Zerowater 6 cup pitcher. Used Aquarium Sealant and covered the bottom of the piece. Put the hole where the filter would screw into. Flipped the bucket over. Sealed that. Now I can change that 5 stage filter with a new filter after every 60 gallons to always have .000 water that will read on my TDS meter and and anyone else's. Fill the filter bucket with 4 1/2 gallons of tap water. It filters into another 5g bucket. Take about an hour 15m. I can walk away from it and never have over flow.

SALT. Reef Crystals. Cheap, no nitrates or phosphates, and does 200 gallons.

READING SALINITY. Get a refractometer. You get what you pay for. The hydrometers have a flaw. If there is bubbles under the arrow. It will read incorrectly.

DO WATER CHANGES! Do not be lazy. You need to do this. Weekly 20-25%. 4 weekly 25% is 100%.

There is a million ways people will say what works. Trust the common sense part. Like where you buy your fish. Petco will sell you ANYTHING. They are the least experienced. The people that you think are jerks to buy from at a Local Fish Store(LFS). That is probably the person to buy from. They are mad, because they don't want to sell a fish to someone who has no clue. Tell them you have no clue, but would love to learn and avoid all mistakes even though they may happen. They care about where they get the fish from first. Which is a great start to the health of your fish to take home. Then they care where it is going. Show them you want to provide a healthy home. Not perfect. There will always be troubles.

Hope you learned a lot by reading it all. It is a lot. Sorry, I care ☺ Just so many peopl are misguided. I know, because I see it first hand. Keep in mind. Everyone's tank is different.
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

White Hair

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I had to do this thread, because you wanted a tank. I already knew what I was getting into, because I have two great people in the hoby that cared and broke things down to common sense and walked me through it all. I am here to RUN you through it as best as I can.
First off. Trust is everything. If you don't trust me. It's cool. Go talk to someone that spent $2,000+ on a tank. That has a 120-1000g tank that maybe 3-50x the size of yours that never bought a hang off back(HOB) thing in their life at Petco. With that being said. You can see where I am going with this. Nothing against them. We all want a tank that could hold a great white shark, but here is the thing. They can't live in captivity. So no one knows. This is where you need to understand I am generalizing what you can and can't do.
3 of the Best quotes/tips I came across.
1) You don't take care of fish. You take care of water.
2) With lightning. Have you ever heard of an LED tanning bed? T5 bulbs are what they use in them. So replicating the sun with T5 for corals is your best option.(and don't say MH everyone please.. They are not cheap. That is why I put the two lower end options)
3) Clean up crews are the joke of the industry. We can sell so much of it, because it is a few dollars here and there. A clean up crew should be looked at like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. They start painting at one end. When they finish at the other end. It is time to start over again. This meaning so you do not have die off and bombing your tank with more nutrients. Which is way worse for your tank than a few tuffs of hair algae. Which I will cover.

Getting started. First off is a tank. INSPECT IT! Look at the seems. Look for air bubbles. Last thing you want is 5-40 gallons of water on your floor and everything is now going to be 100% dead. Now here is the things to think about. The space inside and outside of the tank, cleaning, tight lid, stand(nano tank stands from Petco are bad), protein skimmer, heater, powerhead(s), and HOB canister filter. I will cover the reasons for a point in the right direction now with experience.

SPACE OUTSIDE THE TANK: HOB, Lights, Cables, Stands, and PAINTING the back of your tank

PAINTING. Pick a color you would love to have on the BACK of YOUR tank. ONLY PAINT THE OUTSIDE. I will say Black pops colors best. Plus hides items that are in your tank. Go to Walmart or Michael's in the arts and crafts section. Pick up a latex non toxic paint. Use only a sponge roller. You can find a cheap sponge roller that comes with a paint tray at like a Big Lots, Ocean State Job Lot etc.. for like a few bucks that comes with a sponge brush to do trimming. Each layer takes about 30m-1hr to dry. Run a fan on it when you are waiting. You can do 3 layers minimum. I highly recommend 5. When you are moving things around on the back of your tank. You may scrape the paint. 5 coats I never had that problem. 3 I did. The reason I say paint it. It hides everything! All your chords and equipment. If you want to use the back lays at the store. Here is your reason not to with a saltwater tank. SALT CREEP. Salt when it comes out of your tank will go between the paper and the tank. Now you have an ugly salt line running down your tank, because you wanted a forest scene or a unicorn. Plus you can scrape the paint off with a razor. Boom change it if your don't like the color.

HOB PROTEIN SKIMMER. This is a must have. You would not believe the garbage in a tank. If you can do a sump, great. Just know that is another tank you have to clean. You can spend $2000 on a skimmer. Bottom line. It is micro bubbles in an chamber cleaning water. The longer the dwell time in this chamber. The better the skim. I will recommend the Reef Octopus BH 1000 HOB. BH 2000 has a better pump. All you do is take the screw. Twist it. Slide the canister off. Walk over to the faucet. Use the hose on it with hot water. Put it back on the skimmer. Easy everyday clean. DO NOT BUY A SKIMMER LIKE THE SEACLONE THAT HAS A PADDLE WHEEL. Needle wheel pumps only for your skimmer or Do not bother getting one. You can not replace a Colbalt MJ1200 aka Maxi Jet 1200 with a needle wheel. Clean it every 4 months. I say do it every 2 1/2 months. So much garbage is pulled from the tank through those pumps. You want to keep that clean so it chops water up as fine as possible and rotates smoothly not making it hard on the motor. Plus a longer life span. Make sure everything is hand tight for the plumping. Fill it with tank water or new saltwater. Then start it up. Do not run the pump dry.

HOB FILTER. Go bigger than what your tank is. Ex. 13g-FLUVAL 30, 20g-FLUVAL 50, 40B(breeder)-FLUVAL C4. DON'T BUY AN AQUION with just 1 carbon filter. The FLUVAL has 3-5 stages of filtration. When cleaning out your filter. Take the sponge out and rinse/squeeze it in used tank water when doing a water change. Do not use tap water! As far as carbon goes. It doesn't last long at all. I have heard 2 DAYS! You know what. That holds merit, because people change out their carbon activator canister every week and they have 500x the amount at least in those. You can add more C notes. Make sure they are porous. Not smooth. Porus holds beneficial bacteria. Another thing. Before you even put your filtration in. Rinse off all the medias. When rinsing the carbon. Do not press it. You will just be crushing the charcoal inside and causing fine particles. Plus sitting at the faucet longer waiting for the water to turn clear as it runs through it and off it.

INSIDE THE TANK & STAND. General rule of thumb is 1lb of live or dead rock(LR/DR) per gallon. I am going to start off saying look for pieces with arches and VERY porous to hold your beneficial bacteria. Fish love to have cover from light, to swim in and out of, fire & cleaner shrimp hang upside down under the arches, and provides cover when every one sleeps. Make a few caves for fish that naturally have that in their years of evolution dialed in. Now make sure you can run a magnet cleaner around the tank. Get one. Last thing you want is a spot you can not scrape w/ coralline algae, brown algae, hair algae, or that same spot where a fish could get stuck or scraped causing a disease, infections, bacteria. Same for cleanup crew members. (20g stands from Petco while scrubbing a tank wiggles causing major stress on the seems of the tank). Get a real stand IMHO. Stands can be hard to come by that are cheap and good quality or even fits the tanks size like a 40B. You would need to buy a 65g stand for a 40B. If you want to trust a 40B stand from Petco with 400lbs+ that wiggles every time you, an animal, or kid brushes it just a little bit. Be my guest. I will just say if it does come off. The danger of rocks, glass, water pressure, getting knocked out from it, and possibly drowning when it comes down. Is a danger you want to avoid. Make sure your stand is out far enough from the wall for HOB items and chords. Measure measure measure! Items online will give you the dimensions. Then give yourself another 2 inches to be safe. Trust me. Another last thing you want to do is setup a whole tank w/ a HOB BH1000 and want to upgrade to a BH2000 and need 2 more inches. Then you have to pretty much tear the whole thing down and pull all your aquascape, water, and stress the high heavens out of your fish just to move a tank 2 inches.

LID&LIGHTS. The hoods with LED or a florescent that come with a tank. They will not support a reef. Get a glass top. It is better for the least amount of evaporation. Little tip, because you will have to cut a plastic piece that covers the last 2 inches that comes with the glass tops. Form fit it as best as possible. Then drill holes in bigger spots that were not cut, but not big enough for fish to jump through. It is for gas exchange. All fish are jumpers if they get scared enough to. Gobies, Wrasse, and Dartfish are highly known for this aka carpet surfing. I lost a Randell's Prawn goby due to not knowing this. So upsetting! Plus $45 down the drain and beating myself up over it for a few weeks, because it was my mistake and I loved that fish. Now I have a new one that is kind of a jerk. LEDs I can't really say to much about, because I had the first useful tip that I gave back in the beginning. Yes they work. There is a shimmer effect in the tank you get from LEDs. T5s have better PAR and reflect off the sand bed better. Seen videos from BRS with an infrared. Plus a lot of corals do better under certain lights. T5s seem to me IMO the better chance of having that coral you could not resist. Now for bulbs on a T5. ATI! Blue Plus and Coral Plus is a great combo for health and the color popping of corals. I heard that acrylic tops and the cover guard for the bulbs. You have less light penetrating in the tank. Another reason to get a glass top. I did not mention metal halide (MH), because they are costly to run, run very hot(fire), there is no guard to protect the light, and can be pricey at times. A decent T5 is SolarMax T5 HO (H.O. stands for high output)

SAND BED. Okay this can be easy. Powerheads can blow sand around known as a sand storm in the tank IF the power head is to strong and the sand is to fine. A lot of people like the fiji pink. Seems to be a great choice. Me personally went with a mix. 20g 20lbs Black Hawaiian 5lbs crushed coral. For my 40B 40lbs of Black Hawaiian and 10lbs Aragonite. The 50lbs gave me nice height for a wrasse to sleep in. Some sleep in the sand. Do your research. Live sand comes with beneficial bacteria. DO NOT PUT FRESH WATER ON LIVE SAND. Make sure it is saltwater. Also sand gives live rocks a more set place to lay in.

HEATER. Don't get glass. The Aquian Pro 50W, 100W, 150W is perfect. Made of titanium(I think), black, and shatter proof. My tank has been at 78.7 degrees since the first day I put it in till this day. There is other brands with the digital temp control is up in $70-110 range with many bad reviews. The Pro is highly recommend, so accurate, $40ish, and you can buy a digital thermometer for $10. Glass thermometer can Shatter and I have heard of it happening. Beads all in the tank. Plus the chance of Mercury! Poison!

CYCLING YOUR TANK. This is not as hard as it seems. Buy a table shrimp for like .50 at the grocery store. Buy either the test strips or a test kit. API tests kits are okay. You want to basically want to follow the cycle. Ammonia goes up. Nitrates go up. Nitrites go up. Pull the rotting shrimp out. Let the Ammonia go back to zero. Nitrates come down. Nitrites go back to zero. NOW YOU CAN ADD WHATEVER YOU WANT, but not everything is right for a tank.

CORALS. Lighting, feeding, and time of light are major key factors. You can bleachout corals.
Aiptasia can be on the frag plugs. Always look for those in the tank. If they are. Walk away. It is something you do not want ever. Scan the frag for it. Learn the bugs that come along with these certain corals. DIP your new frags.

CLEAN UP CREW! Finally the life of the tank to talk about. Here is a touchy subject about what works. Hermit crabs, snails, urchins, shrimp(s), and sea hare I will cover. First I will say is. You have a small tank. Do not buy a big specimen of what you are looking to cleanup. Yes to small can be a problem to, because those tiny new horns are harder to acclimate. They are more sensitive to temp & water quality. To close of the max size means they are old and will be dying soon.
Here is the 2 100% things that I would recommend that you will never have a problem with.
1 Fighting conch can absolutely do a great job on new tank syndrome. Meaning brown algae.
Red tuxedo urchin. Great for anything it seems. Just understand they will take things like small pebbles & loose frags not glued down to put them on their butt(which is their top) to protect them self from UV and use as Camo. These guys can buff live rock very good.Both are reef safe.
Sea hare. Handle these guys with care. They are a slug. Let them do the crawling onto your fingers. I mean extra slowly pull them from the glass when it is time to return it. If you ever have a MAJOR hair algae outbreak. These guys kill it! Reef safe. I seen a zoanthid polyp covered with hair algae. The thing wrapped his mouth right around the polyp. Buffed that polyp clean! Now they are $30 to buy. Return it the day before it takes care all your problem. They have a purple dye like a squid and will bomb your tank a little. When starved or stressed. If that happens. Make sure you have a major water change ready. It will take a small one to clean a 20g with a really bad outbreak in 1 week. The store may give you $10 back for the return. So save your receipt.
Astrea snails. Everyone doesn't like that they can not flip themselves over. They do a decent job on the rocks and glass. I would give them a 3/10.
Turbo snails. Never had any luck with them. I have had 2. Neither one ate tiny tuffs of hair algae and died. They need to graze. What they graze on. Beats me! 1/10
Nerites. They cruzz the glass just below the sand line. I don't see anything else getting down there to clean. So yes 1 or 2 is a good choice. 5/10
Just keep something in mind. The Golden Gate. The snails that can't flip themselves over. If you put caution to how many you add. They might not fall over, because they are not starving and lacking strength. So always start with one or 2 at a time. Don't panic with blooms. If you add to many. You have die off. You just added more nutrients.
Peppermint shrimp. For aiptasia. Umm.. Yeah sure people say 50/50. I will say 1/99.
Cleaner/skunk shrimp. Awesome a must have.
Fire shrimp. Awesome as well. Mine actually does cleaning of the fishes gills and mouth.
With shrimp they molt. So you will see a shell of theirs when introduced to a tank. Even after water changes. When they are growing. I know $35-40 sounds a lot for just a shrimp (that you don't want to buy that is big/old/end of their life more). Do some math for yourself when looking at what you buy. $40÷36 months. That is a dollar and change per month to have something that is beneficial to a tank, fun to watch, and if you they want to clean your nails. Let them. Pretty funny.

FISH! When you see a fish and their price. How rare they are can come into play. The price mainly based off the cost to get them. If a fish is correctly captured at a deeper depth. They have to decompress also. So that could be a 4 stage prosses to get them to the surface. Gas there, gas back to land, go out to lunch, go back and bring them up 20 more feet. Then leave. Come back and do the same thing over and over till they can collect them at the surface. Rule of thumb. Don't ever get to excited when you see that fish of your dreams. There is a reality to them. Research their max size. 1 inch per gallon of your tank. So 5 fish x 4 inch fully grow in a 20g for example. There is to many fish in the sea. No joke. Just do your research. Cover their ways of living. Like pearching fish, hiding fish, cave fish, swimmer fish, pick at live rock fish, inverter eating fish, jumper, reef safe, w/ caution reef safe, not reef safe, the list goes on and on. With all that being said. While you are reading this. Would you want 5 people in the same room as you all the time. Look at the space around you. It would not be enjoyable for your whole life to be like that. So if you have two bottom fish like a grammica line dartfish and a prawn goby. Make sure you have 3-4 places on the bottom they can hangout in by them self or sleep. Able to eat food passing by. Some fish are scared to come out. Some fish are aggressive eaters. Some are jerks. Like damsels, dotty backs, and some clowns can get territorial. Find foods they like. Some fish when they are young you may need to target feed. Some dragonet which would be a dream fish for most will starve to death. You need a refugium with copepodes always making more. It takes a good year to make that kind of food resource. They can wipe a tank out of them in 2 weeks easy. To buy them in a bottle is like $20 a week. That's a ton of money! Cheap food tip. Buy a small scallop, table shrimp, or clam for less than a dollar at your grocery store. Cut the food up thin and tiny. 1 scallop can last you all week freezing it. Also with getting 2 of the same kind. WARNING! DO YOUR RESEARCH. Most fish will fight to the death.

.000 WATER TDS(Total dissolved solids). So they have RO/DI filtration units you can use an adapter to a hose or faucet. Me personally, I have cheated the system. ☺This is where people will take this whole right up and throw it out the window.
I took a 5g bucket. Drilled a hole in it. Took the guts of Zerowater 6 cup pitcher. Used Aquarium Sealant and covered the bottom of the piece. Put the hole where the filter would screw into. Flipped the bucket over. Sealed that. Now I can change that 5 stage filter with a new filter after every 60 gallons to always have .000 water that will read on my TDS meter and and anyone else's. Fill the filter bucket with 4 1/2 gallons of tap water. It filters into another 5g bucket. Take about an hour 15m. I can walk away from it and never have over flow.

SALT. Reef Crystals. Cheap, no nitrates or phosphates, and does 200 gallons.

READING SALINITY. Get a refractometer. You get what you pay for. The hydrometers have a flaw. If there is bubbles under the arrow. It will read incorrectly.

DO WATER CHANGES! Do not be lazy. You need to do this. Weekly 20-25%. 4 weekly 25% is 100%.

There is a million ways people will say what works. Trust the common sense part. Like where you buy your fish. Petco will sell you ANYTHING. They are the least experienced. The people that you think are jerks to buy from at a Local Fish Store(LFS). That is probably the person to buy from. They are mad, because they don't want to sell a fish to someone who has no clue. Tell them you have no clue, but would love to learn and avoid all mistakes even though they may happen. They care about where they get the fish from first. Which is a great start to the health of your fish to take home. Then they care where it is going. Show them you want to provide a healthy home. Not perfect. There will always be troubles.

Hope you learned a lot by reading it all. It is a lot. Sorry, I care ☺ Just so many peopl are misguided. I know, because I see it first hand. Keep in mind. Everyone's tank is different.
first your post is amazing, second would read my post and let me know what you think,thanks
 

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