Proteus Reef: 10g SPS Nano Tank [As seen on YouTube!]

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I've been on the periphery of the hobby for over a year now. As soon as I stumbled into it I was hooked. The combination of science, art, and living pets inspired me deeply. I instantly went from not even knowing about the hobby to suddenly wanting to know everything! To make sure I didn't jump into anything to hastily I gave myself a solid year to seriously contemplate things and do my homework. I mean seriously doing my research.
Build a 10g Nano Reef for JUST $275
Then a few months ago I saw a YouTube video from Marine Depot that was something like, "Build a Nano Reef for just $275." They built a bare-bones system with an IM Nuvo 10 that would probably be fine for the easiest softies. I don't care for softies. I know everyone starts with them, but I'm just not even interested in bothering. My favorite corals are Montipora (digitata) and Acropora (vermiculata, tenuis). I like a lot of LPS too. Zoas are the closest thing to soft corals that I have any interest in, but even they would languish under their light.

But this Marine Depot build got me thinking about getting off the fence. I loved the form factor of the Nuvo 10, since that would fit perfectly next to my desk. So let's do it right, and start by adding a zero to the budget.

Build a 10g Nano Reef for JUST $2,750
I despise conspicuous consumption so please do not take me for some rich kid showing off. I'm a grown man who will make rational investments for personal edification. See that? I just used "edification" correctly in a sentence. Grown man!

If I want to learn to keep SPS, I need to make the investment in keeping these critters alive and healthy. So forget all that piddly nonsense Marine Depot was trying to sling, here is the package I put together:

haulsmall.jpg


Hardware
Tank: IM Fusion Nano 10
Lighting: Kessil A80
Skimmer: IM Ghost Skimmer
Return: Sicce Syncra Silent
Main Powerheaad: Aqamai KPS
Controller: Neptune Apex 2016

Hardware Regrets
The IM SpinStream nozzle was hugely unnecessary in this tank with a powerhead. And it's loud.

Hardware Extravagances
I wrestled for a solid week on whether or not I should get the Apex 2016; or any of the much cheaper options. I think it is over-priced by about $300, and I hate getting bilked. I want to keep this all as stress-free as possible, so I ultimately decided it would be an insurance policy for the tank and a sleep aid for me. The ORP is probably the only thing on here I won't use. I'm comfortable with coding and was instantly coming up with my own schemes in the controller. I also really like the features in the upgraded EB832 powerbar. With such a small water volume I need to know the second something fails. I really want to keep this hobby as stress free as possible.

First Month
I'm primarily going to be documenting my experiences on my YouTube channel, but I'll use this thread for supplemental stuff. If you like what you see, please subscribe! I'm nearing 5,000 subs and want to hit that milestone! Let's find out if a newbie can just show up and pull off a SPS Nano Tank if he's done his homework!


Second Month
August was a fairly rough start to my efforts in the hobby, with lots of ups and downs.

Third Month
Despite having no fish in my fish tank, I had a very eventful September in reefing! This video also includes reviews for the Aqamai KPS powerhead (an affordable programmable powerhead) as well the Seneye Reef ammonia & pH monitor.

Forth Month
Things are doing great in the tank this month! No coral deaths! I didn't even lose a single Zoa polyp! My parameters are all stabilizing nicely. In this month's video I complete my review for the Seneye Reef Monitor, and talk about how I supplement with Kalkwasser and Vodka.

Fifth Month
It's happening! It's all finally coming together for me. I've got the water chemistry stabilized to the point that I think I can start adding Acros to the tank!


January 2018:

The tank has been going for 6 months, and has managed to keep fish alive for the last 2 of those! I'm now out of the woods yet though and continue to have some challenges keeping the water chemistry stable in this 10 Gallon Nano!

 
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tdileo

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Holy crap man. My 46G is all SPS and softies (with a few LPS) and I didn't even spend that much.
Well if you have that much money to spend more power to ya. I could just never imagine that for a startup cost.
But that picture of all the boxes is really beautiful. So nice to look at
 

Mebeknob

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Ditto on the spin stream! So loud!
Looks like you've got a killer start. It's funny how many times the actual tank is the cheap part of a build.

I bet you will want to upgrade soon enough!
If I were you I would have started with the caribsea life rock though... just cause it gets you that coralline look out the gate. Also I have the A80 on my tank and I'm afraid to try sps... you'll have to keep me updated on how it goes.

Here was my Nuvo10 before we moved and I sold it. I couldn't really get SPS to grow well just cause it was a small tank... you might have better luck than me though.
 
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Also I have the A80 on my tank and I'm afraid to try sps... you'll have to keep me updated on how it goes.
There are a lot of people who claim you can do it, so I'm going for it. I've got a strategy for ramping up the lighting.

Stage 1: Low-Moderate Lighting Corals
I'm adding the Zoas, LPS, and less light-finicky SPS in stage 1. The A80 capping out at 30% Intensity. Last week I added a couple of montis and a birdsnest in there, and everyone seems to be doing fine.

Stage 2: Slow Ramp
Every other day I increment the A80 Int up by 1%. I've seen several suggestions that 5-10% increase over 2 weeks should be an acceptable acclimation, so doing 1% every other day puts me in the middle at 7% every 2 weeks. I'm going to continue with that until it gets to around 50%, paying close attention to how the zoas are acclimating. Keeping an eye on the zoas is tricky, because one of my snails has decided to do laps around the zoa garden and he's making them angry. I moved him to another rock on the other side of the tank last night and this morning he was back on the zoa garden.

Stage 3: Acros!
At that pace I'll be in the 50% range by September, and will be ready to start adding Acropora. I'm demonstrating a lot of willpower on this one. I nearly pulled the trigger on a Red Planet this morning just to bump my Live Aquaria cart up to free shipping... but I resisted the temptation! I can make it through August!

Stage 4: More Ramping
Continuing the 1% every other day climb, paying attention to how everything is reacting.

Stage 5: GLORY!
Bask in the glory of my thriving SPS Nano Tank!

That was a great looking tank! You're way braver than me with that bubble tip in there. I'd love to get one, but I'd never be able to sleep for fear of it deciding to wander off towards my overflow.
 
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Mebeknob

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Yes! This hobby requires lots of patience and will power to wait.
 
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And research! For this weekend's research, I've read just about everything @Randy Holmes-Farley has ever said about vinegar dosing.

I don't really have the space for elaborate dosing pumps. So to start off I'm trying to dose my carbon, calcium, and alk through vinegar in kalkwasser. My bioload is low, so I don't need a ton of carbon and I'm hoping his golden ratio of 45mL vinegar per gallon will suffice. If not, I still have half a bottle of Nopox from my Red Sea Reef Mature kit.
 
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Did you know zoas have sweeper tentacles? I was practicing macro photography when I found out!
20170805-0007lowres.jpg


Bonus: Happy Little Clouds... errr Polyps!
20170802-0001lowres.jpg
 

Slippin

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Hi Tim,

Its looking really great! I can't wait to see it packed with corals!
 
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I don't think you'll have to wait very long. My duncan is loving life and is already sprouting 5 new heads!

Now everyone's doing the Duncan Dance!

DuncanDance.gif
 
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reeferfoxx

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Just caught your video on youtube! Following! :D
 

reeferfoxx

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BTW, no upgrading allowed ;) I want to see a 10g nuvo SPS tank!!!

I do suggest you back off the carbon dosing for awhile and look into an auto doser.
 
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I like the idea of a doser... but here's just no room for any dosing hoses in the back with all these probes, the heater, and the return pump, ATO hose holder, light clamp, etc.

But I can assure you I have no plans to upgrade. In music there's an idea called "creative limitations." Basically if you open up a modern workstation program to start a new project you're completely overloaded with all of the options available to you. But if you limit yourself to a specific set of instruments, or even just a single all-in-one machine, the restriction focuses your creativity. "Be as awesome as you can with this limited set of tools. GO!"

I find I get a lot more done when I work like that and so after years of being creative in that mode, I want a similar creative experience with reefing; especially with regards to coral selection and their growth. Here is a limited area to work with. GO!

Plus I'm just so super happy with this little box of ocean sitting next to my desk all day. A larger tank wouldn't fit, and if I put another tank up somewhere in the house I wouldn't get to appreciate it nearly as much.
 

reeferfoxx

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;StopOne does not simply have a nano SPS tank without an auto doser.

Seriously, if it has to be retro fitted or in the display, it needs to happen. Those little sticks that everyone loves and cherishes are turbo consumers of alk and ca. Stable and accurate dosing will keep the tank flourishing. You will eventually regret it and hate yourself for never planning for one. The consumption will be exponential and will hinder any time away from the tank. However, If you plan on being near the tank 7 days a week, you could sacrifice the Apex for more space as remote monitoring won't be necessary. That said, if you insist on not adding one, the challenge will be greater and I will still support this thread and follow along. :)
 

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discchord

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;StopOne does not simply have a nano SPS tank without an auto doser.

Seriously, if it has to be retro fitted or in the display, it needs to happen. Those little sticks that everyone loves and cherishes are turbo consumers of alk and ca. Stable and accurate dosing will keep the tank flourishing. You will eventually regret it and hate yourself for never planning for one. The consumption will be exponential and will hinder any time away from the tank. However, If you plan on being near the tank 7 days a week, you could sacrifice the Apex for more space as remote monitoring won't be necessary. That said, if you insist on not adding one, the challenge will be greater and I will still support this thread and follow along. :)
LOL! I'm using Kalkwasser in my ATO so I'm not going without any Ca/dKH. It is really hard to know who to listen to in this hobby. I've seen people giving other people some really awful, or flat out irresponsible, advice. Typically they're just regurgitating folk lore, but sometimes they're stating things as facts when even I know they're 100% inaccurate.

The old timers all love Kalk. It has been around for 50 years. It benefits from being mixed with vinegar which also (hopefully) covers my minor carbon dosing needs. In my own limited experience it took my phosphates down from .12 to 0 in a week. I'm pretty pleased with it and hope my corals will like it too!

My adventures with Kalkwasser have started off a bit rough though. I checked my Ca/dKH before starting to make sure I didn't need to balance either out before starting. My Ca was 380, my dKH was 9. The Ca was on the low end of nominal, and I'm aiming for a dKH of 9 so all seemed well. I mixed it up at the minimum recommended amount of 1 tbsp. per gallon... And then watched my dKH skyrocket.

Fortunately I'm doing daily(ish) dKH tests so I caught it before it got too high. At 10.3 I dumped half the kalkwasser, added RODI, and did some thorough re-mixing. Still my dKH continues to rise! It's at 10.7 right now which is worrying me a bit. This afternoon I'm going to test it again and probably do a 25% water change. If it is really high still I'll stop the kalk for a while and try to balance out my Ca/dKH better before resuming.

Just so you know that's poop... not sweepers. I can't wait to see your success!
Those "sweepers" are actually excess zooxanthellae...
or colloquially known as poop

:D

Welcome to the hobby, it seems you have it figured out
It is weird, only that colony of zoas does it! It did it again yesterday so I put a camera on it to watch while I worked. At one point I looked over and all of the heads in the colony were doing it so I was sure it was in full on warfare mode.... but then the tendrils broke off. It was poop after all! Weird that the whole colony starts pooping at once.
 

reeferfoxx

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I'm using Kalkwasser in my ATO so I'm not going without any Ca/dKH. It is really hard to know who to listen to in this hobby. I've seen people giving other people some really awful, or flat out irresponsible, advice.
Fair enough. Keep in mind those old books are slightly outdated. Back in the 80s and 90s they were still learning how to keep coral alive. Also keep in mind that evaporation changes with seasons and humidity. Also the lack of po4 will inhibit calcium phosphate precipitation. Cheers
 

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Fortunately I'm doing daily(ish) dKH tests so I caught it before it got too high. At 10.3 I dumped half the kalkwasser, added RODI, and did some thorough re-mixing. Still my dKH continues to rise! It's at 10.7 right now which is worrying me a bit. This afternoon I'm going to test it again and probably do a 25% water change. If it is really high still I'll stop the kalk for a while and try to balance out my Ca/dKH better before resuming.
This is why people like dosing separately, instead of using Kalk. My tank currently uses Alk at a much faster rate than Calc. If I used Kalkwasser like I initially planned, my Calc levels would be insanely high. Thus, I only dose what my tank needs.
 
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This is why people like dosing separately, instead of using Kalk. My tank currently uses Alk at a much faster rate than Calc. If I used Kalkwasser like I initially planned, my Calc levels would be insanely high. Thus, I only dose what my tank needs.
I've got bottles for dKH and Ca for manual corrections, but I'm REALLY hoping the Kalk will even out as these frags start to develop. I don't mind manually dosing for the first few months... but I can see that getting old in a hurry.

Fair enough. Keep in mind those old books are slightly outdated. Back in the 80s and 90s they were still learning how to keep coral alive.
This is a really solid point. I should definitely keep that in mind. I'm afraid of chasing current trends... or I'd be sitting here wondering why my $700 bounce mushroom died in my Zeovit ULNS under Radion G4 XR30s.

But on the other hand, the old timers didn't necessarily know what they were doing either! I'm trying to look for examples from old timers that are still using their olde timee wayse. Like Julian Sprung still uses Kalkwasser. I forget off hand, but there was another reefer from Julian's generation that still uses it today. So that seems like a good place to start and then make my own observations.

In addition to my phosphate plummeting, my skimmer performance dramatically improved when I started using Kalk. The consistency of my skimmate went from weak-tea to foamy slime. I've been feeding my corals fairly heavy, trying to bring up nitrates from 0 for zooxanthellae to keep pace with the high dKH, but the skimmer only runs at night and is still keeping my water crystal clear.

I did a test this morning by opening up my drapes and putting a white piece of paper on the side of my glass to check for yellowing pigments. The yellow was barely perceptible. This is without GAC or ozone or any of the other elaborate ways people try to keep their tanks clean. I'm still thinking of using GAC for odor, but right now I'm happy to have clean water!

Edit: Is this site run by a pastor? I can't believe the strict censorship on a forum presumably populated by adults.

Edit 2: And the acronym for the Electronic Frontier Foundation is also prohibited.
 
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