Rebooting the 29g AIO

burningbaal

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I had a 90g+55sump in Oregon and had to let it go when I moved to near Seattle. I had an old 29g sitting around and had this idea to make my own little peninsula AIO with it. some 1/4" black acrylic and silicone led me to this:
29g reef.jpg

display is the bottom of the image, note the long wall is notched so the overflow goes to 'fuge' section.
top left is the 'fuge', or really, algae scrubber (some craftmat and a submersible bar light). water goes over and under (didn't have room for more)
top right is the 'return' I've stuffed the JBJ ATO sensors, heater, and a tiny hydor pico 100 in there. the pico just friction fits into a perfectly-sized hole in the bottom right of the main wall, pushing around 100gph out into the display area.
Add some filter floss draped over the baffles and you get this:
20160501_084049.jpg

turns out the egg crate isn't enough, so I'm working on adding some screen to keep little guys in the display section.

I bought 50lbs of dry marco rock, made this with putty before sand:
20160507_175336.jpg
20160507_175311.jpg


and poured in a bag of live sand.

I tried to get this going a couple years ago, but was having trouble keeping it maintained and I had a rash of deaths as it was getting going so I gave up and just turned everything off as it evaporated.

A couple weeks ago my 4 yo daughter wanted to watch some horribly cheesy show on PBS kids that was about reef fish and I got reinspired. The little water that was left was 1.075 salinity on my refractometer! I sucked out everything I could and started refilling, then did a 50% water change and now I have it going again, but with totally wacked-out dKH, Ca, and Mg, I assume that's either my expired test kits or my ancient kent salt...I'm buying new kits to find out.

I picked up a very pretty little yellowtail damsel and a tiny rock from her cubby at the store and she came out swimming happily within an hour. later that night, she was as dead as can be...I was stumped.

Turns out I have electricity in the water, if I leave my meter in, it spikes as high as 120mA! I'm pretty sure the return was part of it (spikes were with the heaters off, otherwise I would assume it was them), so I just put in a new one and I'm looking for other problems in the evening...tough since it's not constant. Once I have that under control, I'll get a new swimmer and see how it goes for a couple weeks.

The idea is to build this out and use it to seed a dream tank next year. I'm hoping to get some small fish (wrasse, probably a clarkii clown or two), and then load up with some stonies and snails.

hardware:
Heat:
two small eheim heaters, I found I didn't have enough return flow and the one in the return section just cooked that water hot and the display was struggling to hold temp, so I added a second one to the display
Return: hydor pico 100 (was 70, but upgraded when replaced)
Flow: jaboe PP-4 wavemaker and two koralia nanos (240 and 425), probably around 60x total turnover (assuming 25g display)
Light: cheap ebay LED, 40W actinic + 40W 10k, but one of the PSUs is dead, so this needs some work. also about 36W from 'ReefBar' strip lights, but I need to look into these as well. Also, I've always just left the lights on the egg crate and want to change this.
Fuge light: cheap nicrew submersible led bar, I think about 8watts
ATO: JBJ sensor setup with some little pump I forgot the name of. the aqualifter didn't have the head height for it. my acrylic-fabricating buddy gave me a little tank for it, probably around 10g. Set to fill around 2" at a time, which should be around 32 oz per fill, or about 0.1% of the tank volume...ish
20160507_175311.jpg 20160507_175336.jpg
 
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burningbaal

burningbaal

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Reposting from my meet&greet thread:
well...I had news today. I got a new batch of NH3, NO2, NO3, pH tests and saw what I'm thinking are probably dinos on the sand bed and rocks. also, it might be some green coralline algae on the highest rocks? that bright green is only there on the highest rocks right next to the light.

20190814_194137.jpg
20190814_201130.jpg


I suck at these colormetric things, but it kinda looks like:
pH definitely above 8.0, maybe even 8.4?
Ammonia I think is zero, but it looks more like white than yellow.
Nitrite is an obvious zero
Around 5 nitrate probably?
20190814_200650.jpg

Other pictures of the test results are: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/getting-back-into-it.639688/post-6387769

Also, I found that damsel :/ probably about 50% of the body mass gone, I flushed the remainder, but the fact that there are only nitrates tells me I must have some good bacteria in those rocks and sand. If I can get the electricity under control, I should be ready for some swimmers! I'll try to look for electricity in the tank tonight, if I can't find anything substantive, I'll probably find a damsel this weekend.

20190814_194137.jpg 20190814_201130.jpg 20190814_200650.jpg
 
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burningbaal

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more of the brown fuzz today, but no sign of electricity, so I think I'm safe to get a fish this weekend.

the brown fuzz comes off super easy, I don't even notice when I touch it, it just poofs away. also, I think that green isn't coralline since it also comes right off when I rub it.

Oh well, I'll pick up a few snails and hermits with my first fish this weekend. We'll see what the LFS has, I may get another yellowtail or something, or I might spring for a clarkii or a trio of chromis
 
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burningbaal

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Well, I got to the LFS and they only had paired clowns, ugly blennies (maybe later, but not now), damsels, and wrasses. I'm a serious sucker for a good fairy or flasher wrasse.

I picked up a beautiful little fairy wrasse and glued some plastic window screen to my egg crate while the little guy acclimated so he can't get out. He spent the night tucked in a rock and most of the day (lights out) under a rock against the sand. Now that the lights are on... No idea... Hiding I guess Didn't come out for food, I'll try a different kind tomorrow.
I didn't get any inverts because my Ca, Mg, dKH kits aren't here yet, so I need to test them first. More new-tank syndrome (see pics), but hopefully the fish ended up ok. I'm thinking a royal gramma and firefish, maybe a blenny and cleaner shrimp and that'll be it for motiles except CUC.
Corals are higher TBD, but I'm thinking easy stonies.

Also, I was inspired by @melev method for hanging his fuge light. My lights have just been sitting on the egg crate, which is super irritating for every action (feeding, water changes, tests). We all know easy maintenance is there maintenance that shortly happened. So I added another layer of egg crate, zip-tied the lights to it, hung the egg crate from 30lb test fishing line (4 corners, no way or weighs 120lbs :) ) through 4 eye hooks, to an s hook which can for sit on either of two more eye hooks.

Thoughts?

15661029928331138801728861186792.jpg 1566103013463996884070526600758.jpg 20190817_200930.jpg 20190817_200938.jpg 20190817_200945.jpg 20190817_073952.jpg 20190817_165236.jpg
 

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Is that a pink streak fairy wrasse?
 
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burningbaal

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Ya know, it was just labeled as a generic fairy wrasse, but it really like like a mccoskers flasher, or maybe a carpenter flasher.

Still hiding this AM I can see it, but it's hiding... Starting to worry :/
 
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burningbaal

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Tldr: And the wrasse is dead.
I bought a trio of pajama cardinals Sunday cause the wrasse was hiding (alive, but hiding). I thought seeing others might help him come out.
They died as I put them in after a 2hr drip and a safety stop treatment (ok during treatment, but quick death in tank).
But the wrasse are a little, so I was heartened. But tonight I find him dead.
Did my test again, brand new all around
Api:
pH 8.2
NO3 3 (approx)
Amm/NO2 zero/non-detect

Salifert
Ca off the charts, maybe around 750
Mg off the charts, maybe 2200?
dKH about 6.8...ish
PO4 about 0.05

I tested some leftover IO new saltwater I made Sunday that's been in a bucket, and also got Ca over 500.

I think my refractometer might be wrong, so I'm waiting for the call solution to ship before I do much except topoff this tank
I'm wondering if
 
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burningbaal

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REFRACTOMETER WAS THE PROBLEM! I got my 35ppt cal solution and it read about 1.014 :eek:

so my salinity was probably more like 1.032, no wonder the poor guys didn't make it. I did about a 90% water change yesterday, I might be a tad high now, so I'll swap a couple gallons for RO, then I'll get another 'first fish'.

My Ca was still just under 500 and the Mg was almost 1500, I think there's just a bunch of ions that had been at saturation/etc, so it may take a few water changes to get that number down. I think if I bring the salinity down to around 1.024 it'll help drop those ions a bit, and I can get it back to 1.026 for corals later. Between slightly lower salinity and a few large water changes, it should get just fine. Funny side effects, now that it's as low as 1.027, the water is more clear...I didn't realize it was hazy before, but NOW it's clear :) I think I'm finally on the mend.

I think I'll wait for a trio of chromis to start it off. maybe another trio of PJ cardinals, we'll see.

fish stocking plan:
1) small schol (chromis/cardinal)
2) wrasse
3) blenny or clown...tbd

once those are in, I'll try out some corals. probably a euphylia, a couple sandbed LPS, a monticap, maybe monti digitata, birdsnest, etc. I'm saving things like acro echinata and chalice for the bigger tank that will be more stable

Ya know, I thought I couldn't get the tank going before because of some problem with dust or paint in the air or something (lots of reno's going on), I had multiple fish die and a hammer died pretty quickly. I finally had enough and just gave up. Now I was re-inspired, decided to reboot the tank, and had multiple immediate deaths...very disheartening, but now I think I know why all along! Sad I killed so many things along the way, but hopefully those sad times are behind me now!
 
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burningbaal

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Ok, I went again to the LFS and am really dissapointed. They have almost exclusively clowns, wrasses, and large fish (including puffers, rabbitfish, etc). most tanks are so encrusted with coralline and film algae you can't really see what's in there and there was a clown rotting on the bottom of one tank (it was a tank up high, so most customers couldn't see it, but I'm tall).
Anyways, I went to a different petco, actually closer than the one I've been to before, and closer than that LFS that was sad. This place was impressive! a small frag rack with some LPS and SPS, a couple tiny tangs, a beautiful dottyback, cardinals, clowns, dartfish, chromis, it was great! Very helpful and knowledgeable guy, apparently two other employees are better than him (according to him).
So I came up with a new refractometer (since my old one apparently got dropped or something and won't give real numbers), have a chromis in a good-neighbor box for a couple hours and he seems very happy, three nass snails are dripping as I type this. hope this works out better :/

20190831_184546.jpg 20190831_184546.jpg
 
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burningbaal

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okee! I spent a couple hours watching melev on youtube (autoplay, so it picked the things) while I dripped the snails. My phone's too low on batteries to have a flash and the tank is blue, so I can't really picture it, but I think the chromis is happy, though a bit surprised by my 40x flow...I might turn the jebao to night mode for the poor guy.
The snails dug into the oolitic sand so fast I couldn't really picture them, but one of them is basically albino which is fun. One of three took longer to dig in than the others; the albino looking one didn't even pull in while he dropped into the corner I put them in, he dug in fully within probably 10 seconds...I guess he was hungry?

anyways, hopefully this gets going soon. If this week goes well, I'll probably pick up a firefish or cardinal next weekened
 
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Picked up a bangaii Cardinal and firefish along with a trochus snail to get started on the scraps of algae that started, all from a local pet store I didn't know about, but was recommended to me. For good reason, it was pretty nice! Certainly the best reef selection I've ever seen at a general pet store.
I had a fiasco Saturday while acclimating the snail because I forgot to turn off the top off pump (ATO is broken, so I click it on once a day), but I got the floor cleaned up and salinity back from 1.020 to 1.025 within a couple hours of when I turned on that pump, and to 1.026 yesterday.

I'll watch the algae and might get some trochus or some hermits, and in a few weeks I want to add a hawkfish our royal Gramma, maybe both.

Eventually I want to add a green polyp toadstool frag or colorful gorgonian frag to start becoming a reef :)

Firefish is still hiding, but visible occasionally. Bangaii is out and about most of the time, as is the chromis. All three nassarius snails in view this weekend, so I think we're in pretty good shape

20190908_221224.jpg
 
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burningbaal

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Just a quick update, the new inhabitants are all doing fine 4 days in. The firefish is hiding under a rock, but is venturing slightly further with each evening's feeding. The bangaii is now out all the time and of course the chromis is as well. The three nass snails all pop out as soon as food hits the water, and the trochus is hard at work on the algae I didn't realize I had.

So, what's next...
I want to make sure I've got some pods for a continuous food source and some coralline algae (mainly so I know the stonies will be able to build skeletons), so I'll keep my eye out at the stores to see if I can get some scrapings and maybe a few live tisbe or something. If anyone local is reading, let me know, I'll come do a pickup :)

For fish/inverts:
I am thinking about a six-line wrasse, but I think it's not a great choice for the nano. Maybe a molly miller blenny, maybe an ocellaris or clarkii clown, royal gramma, maybe a different wrasse.
 
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burningbaal

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Some pictures. not the best, but it gives the idea.
First...I think this might be coralline starting? not sure. it doesn't blow off like cyano, doesn't even rub off with my finger:
20190912_210555.jpg


And the bangaii who's out quite a bit now. Seems pretty happy
20190912_210649.jpg


The chromis ran away while I was trying to show them, that's the Koralia 425 in the foreground
20190912_210935.jpg

And the firefish is still a little scared and hides in this corner by the 'return', but he's doing ok:
20190912_210954.jpg


He comes out sometimes:
20190912_212057.jpg


And a FTS (with the new BRS video in the reflection):
20190912_220415.jpg

Koralia 425 on the left, a Jebao PP-4 on the top right (it's a peninsula, so it's not really on the back), the 4" smooth overflow is above that PP-4.
The little nub in the foreground low-right is a hydor pico 100, it's the 'return' for my DIY AIO.
The PP-4 is set to pulse and not at full speed, so it's probably averaging around 750gph, plus the 425 should be about 1175gph (the pico is turned all the way down on the input restrictor, so it's pretty low). The display half of this is about 24 gallons, so it's around 50X turnover.

I've been dosing Brightwell's Microbacter 7 and Reefbrite's live rock enhance. Both are sort of per the package, but a bit lazy and skipping some when I lose track of if I dosed or not. no big deal since they're not about chemistry. It looked like the NO3 and PO4 were coming up a bit last week, I'll see how it is on #WaterTestSaturday. I'm hoping I'll get some turf algae growing in the back; behind that dark return section is a lit section with some latch-hook crafting screen I hope will concentrate the algae there for disposal.

Oh, and I have too much rock. It's 50lbs of marcorock plus a few little pieces I've picked up over the years. I'm planning a 180g and as soon as I get the rock in, I plan to cure the new rock with all the lose rock and the top-rock from this 29g.
The red-labeled rocks are what I'll remove, plus a few pieces of rubble back with the 'algae scrubber' and a small piece behind the far-left (low) piece:
20190912_220415.jpg
 
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burningbaal

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Picked up a green polyp toadstool at the LFS today. Heard the employee telling another customer about @trido while I was looking around :)

I was thinking fish, but they had both a green polyp toadstool and neon green cabbage, which I'd already decided would be great first corals got the tank, so I had to get one. My 4yo daughter picked the toadstool.
After drip acclimation I found (and blasted) an aiptasia in the frag and plucked a valonia bubble off of it too. Found a baby brittle star I kept :)
15 minutes in revive and it was angry, but later on it is opening nicely!
Also picked up 5 trochus that are all hard at work

20190914_220821.jpg
 
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burningbaal

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for a new (ish) setup, it's been a while since I updated :)
All three fish are doing wonderfully, out swimming most of the day, even the firefish. I've been giving them cyclopeeze (frozen copepods) about 5 days per week, skipping occasionally to control some nutrient buildup.
I got some macroalgae from @phixman yesterday so hopefully the nutrients are less of an issue soon. I've had nitrates up to about 10 or 15 and phosphates seem to be around 0.25 (I had one test at 0.7, but I think it probably wasn't real. I did no water changes before it was back to 0.25).

He also offered up a great frag of Montipora spongodes which is super awesome, plus it had some zoas on the frag (I moved them to a new plug as I was dipping). I've been thinking of setting up a teeny 'tank' (vase with HOB filter and tiny light) for my desk at work with some hardy zoas, maybe these can go there :)

In other news, I bought a roll of filter fleece for a rollermat and am manually rolling it every day or so to cut down on DOC and suspended particles. I don't really think I'll get much out of a nano skimmer, but this and the macro should help.

Also, I had a pretty serious bacterial bloom on 17Sep. I stuck an airstone in the back to keep it oxygenated and I found an old HOB filter with water polishing pleated filter. I soaked/ran that setup in vinegar for a few hours, rinsed/ran in freshwater for about 45 minutes, and stuck it on the back of the tank hoping it might pull some of the bacteria out of the tank. It was horrendously loud, so I only ran it a few hours a day; figured I wouldn't get much from it. Bloom cleared up about 50% after about 36-48 hours and was totally done in 72-96 hours. When I cleaned up the HOB filter it was super murky, so I think it probably did catch quite a bit of the bacteria.

The toadstool has nearly zero polyp extension, trying a couple different places (heights) in the tank, trying each one for a couple days. I think I'll leave it in the low spot it's in now for quite a while. Zoas are partially open and the spongodes is slightly extended (not really all the way). hopefully everything's on track!

I've got a bead on a few more corals from another local hobbiest, but want to see these settle in for a week or two first. Maybe mid-October I'll have some new additions
 

Katrina71

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Have you considered a gyre vertically on the left side? The CP-25 actually fits better than the 1k.
 
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