Pico tank build - Lifegard 3.8 with Side Filter

KK's Reef

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Joined the forum several weeks ago. Finally got all of the hardware in. I don't see a lot of threads for pico builds, or pico reefs in general, so I thought I'd add some content for those interested.


Tank: Lifegard 3.8 gallon with side filter - peninsula style. Got it at an LFS for a great price. I liked the peninsula style rather than the traditional style with the AIO sump in the back. This is a tiny tank, but it's exactly what I wanted so water changes can be a breeze.

Caddy: Bought an InTank media basket. Planning to put filter floss in the top chamber, Chemi-Pure Blue in the middle, and MarinePure Gems in the bottom. The InTank caddy was actually made for the Lifegard 4.1 with Back Filter. I emailed InTank and they had me verify the dimensions of my chamber. Turns out they are nearly identical so I ordered one. I asked for a discount since I basically gave them the info they needed - but no go. It's a good fit, but the cutout on the bottom of the caddy doesn't line up exactly with the drain hole on the Lifegard tank. I asked if they can modify it, but they just suggested how to DIY the mod myself.... which defeats the purpose of getting a non-DIY caddy... but whatever. Wasn't too pleased with their response.

Filtration media: Chemi-pure Blue Nano and Marinepure Gems. Should I wait to put the Chemi-Pure until after the cycle??

Flow: Replaced the stock pump with a Sicce Nano. The Sicce is supposed to get close to 110 GPH vs. the 70-80 GPH for the stock pump.

Lighting: picked up a Kessil A80 with Spectral controller from a guy on Craigslist who was breaking down his pico. He said his tank was only up for a year. The lights and controller were in great shape and I got it at a killer price. The only thing picking at my OCD is that I can't get it perfectly centered in the back, as the baffle of the chambers is in the way. Not too bad, though.

Heater: Going with a Hygger 50W heater for the display tank. It had good reviews on Amazon and small enough to fit in the rear chambers. I also bought another no-name 50W heater from Amazon for mixing saltwater.

Controller: Decided to get an Inkbird to regulate the heater, making sure it doesn't get too hot or too cold. I can also use the other outlet for a fan (might be needed in the summer).

Salinity Tester: Hanna... because it's easier.

Salt: Red Sea Coral Pro. The thinking here is that if alkalinity gets depleted and/or I happen to miss a water change, the levels won't dip too low.

Cycling: Dr. Tim's nitrifying bacteria and ammonium chloride.

Sand: 10 lbs Fiji Pink Sand by Carib-Sea.

Rock: 3 pieces of Real Reef Rock (dry and bought used from an LFS that had broken down a tank). Pieces are about 1.5 lbs each. I was going for a minimalist look, since there's not much space in the DT. I think the unique shape of each rock made the scape look OK. I definitely didn't want to stack a bunch of rocks in the back and have slope downward towards the front.

Maintenance: Fipper Nano for the glass and Python Pro-Clean for the siphon.


That's it for now. Hoping to get the tank wet this weekend.

Tank - Top.jpg Tank - Right.jpg Tank - Right Profile.jpg Tank - Left.jpg Tank - Front.jpg Tank - Drain Plug.jpg
 
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KK's Reef

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The equipment....
 

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zuri

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looking good love the scape lots of room! I never heard of Lifegard till this year my LFS has all the sizes I fell for 17g the seams are amazing glass is crystal clear. I can see these going up in price I got mine for a steal
 
Orphek OR3 reef aquarium LED lighting
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KK's Reef

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looking good love the scape lots of room! I never heard of Lifegard till this year my LFS has all the sizes I fell for 17g the seams are amazing glass is crystal clear. I can see these going up in price I got mine for a steal
Yup, got lucky that my LFS had them for about 35% lower than the online retailers.
 
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KK's Reef

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What are your thoughts on livestock?
My LFS has nano clowns, and they are tiny. Perfect for this pico. Not sure if they're bred to be small, or if they're just baby ocellaris clowns. Getting one of those for sure. Probably getting a tailspot goby for his tank mate. For inverts, maybe an arrow crab, a coral banded shrimp, or a sexy shrimp. For cleanup crew - one snail, one hermit.
 
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KK's Reef

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Finally got the tank wet yesterday. In the caddy, I have Marinepure Gems in the 2nd and 3rd chambers. The top chamber is a packet of Chemi-Pure Blue Nano with a pad of filter floss on top.

Should I leave the Chemi-Pure in (to remove any organics or toxins on the glass or whatever the rock might leach out), or will it slow the cycle down?

Caddy Ready.jpg
 
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KK's Reef

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05/24/2021 - Cycle started. Added Dr. Tim's One and only along with the Ammonium Chloride.

*** I didn't account for the rock and sand taking up some of the tank volume, so I ended up overdosing.

05/25/2021 - Ammonia 8.0 PPM
05/27/2021 - Ammonia 4.0 PPM
05/29/2021 - Ammonia 2.0 PPM
05/31/2021 - Ammonia 0.25 PPM, Nitrate 20 PPM

I figure ammonia will reach 0 PPM in a few days. Should I test for nitrate then, or feed it more ammonia and see if it drops to 0 PPM again within 24 - 48 hours?
 
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KK's Reef

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Hey, thanks! Yea, it’s a 360X on there. It’s definitely overkill, but I only have it at 65% about 7” above the water. The Kraken lid is highly recommended. Super high quality and fast lead times.
Hey Daniel, do you think KrakenReef will fab the covers without the mesh? Just a straight up cover?
 

jarviz

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My LFS has nano clowns, and they are tiny. Perfect for this pico. Not sure if they're bred to be small, or if they're just baby ocellaris clowns. Getting one of those for sure. Probably getting a tailspot goby for his tank mate. For inverts, maybe an arrow crab, a coral banded shrimp, or a sexy shrimp. For cleanup crew - one snail, one hermit.
wait are nano clowns a real thing? i still haven't seen or heard of these yet
 
Fritz

Do you prefer rubble rock, larger rocks or no rock in your sump and why?

  • Rubble

    Votes: 81 35.2%
  • Larger Rock

    Votes: 69 30.0%
  • Nothing

    Votes: 56 24.3%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 24 10.4%
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