Reef in Progress

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Ocean’s Piece

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Here we go!
I started my saltwater journey in January and it has been thriving ever since. My switch to the Saltwater hobby was the result of an escaping turtle! Still unknown how he escaped without a trace. It was below freezing the day he escaped and then sleet the next day, so wherever he is, I hope he’s ok. But this has all been bittersweet, more sweet than bitter. I’m obviously disappointed in my turtle's escape skills and having to drain and sell my stuff (got to salvage some things for the saltwater so that’s a plus), but I feel the escape has triggered an amazing, far better chapter for maintains aquariums. This hobby has brought amazing experiences and challenges compared to freshwater. Anyways, I set up my Coralife Biocube 32 in January. Although I have very few pictures from that time, I will attach the one I do have.
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I mixed the water, let it run for a few days, and bought some live rock (and two dry rock pieces). I originally didn’t want to do this and get the live rock before I put water in but I’m glad that I didn’t because I feel like I increased the survivability of some of the invert hitchhikers that came on the rock.
The first month was most likely the most stressful time I have ever had with aquariums, not just because it was different and sometimes difficult, mainly because I was scared of doing something wrong (I still am for some things but I have overcome and gotten used to most things). All of the days of research I had done before getting this aquarium had made me think there’s only one way to do things and if you do it another, you’re done for (rarely the case). It took a while to realize this was not really the case.
After a lightless 2 weeks, my aquarium was starting to show some signs of slow maturity (obviously very little).
BA94B361-7142-46C2-B013-DC4149FA646A.jpeg

Sorry for the Smeary glass. As you can see, I have some hair algae starting to form on the rocks. I needed to start to fix this problem, so I got a singular snail (idiot move, especially for a 10 mile drive)
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Current profile picture, but I’m going to change it when I have something more interesting to show. He’s a trochus if you couldn’t tell. He hasn’t done much of a job if I’m being honest. Likes to sleep a lot. Doesn’t eat a ton on the rocks but for some reason, he loves the glass. He’s been in the tank for around 2 weeks and he seems to be doing great (you can never really tell with those snails though). I plan to get a bigger clean-up crew in the next few days. Tell me what you think.
 
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Ocean’s Piece

Ocean’s Piece

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Looks awesome great start! What parameters are you trying to keep? Any live stock ideas? Keep us updated!

Trochus are amazing cuc, I have 3 in my 13.5G and they keep my glass spot free. Cerith are a great snail to add also, they clean everything including turning the sand.

Current Parameters:
Salinity: 1.024
Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0-5ppm
Phosphate: 0.25
pH: I really don’t know the exact number because of those stupid API test kits (pH test is garbage to say the least).
image.jpg

Calcium: haven’t tested much because I switched salts (two little fishies to instant ocean, because salt is salt and that one is affordable. I’ll start testing for it soon for updates.
Alk: same as calcium situation

Only thing I’m fighting is phosphate. May rip open some phosguard that came with my tank if it doesn’t improve in the next few weeks.

Livestock ideas:
Ocellaris clownfish and Mocha Clownfish/might just go with black occy since mocha will darken to almost as dark as black occy as it matures
Royal gramma
Watchman Goby
Blood red fire shrimp
Azure Damsel
Sand sifting (most likely not and if so, not for another year or two)

Coral ideas: (decide means I’m debating, depends means I’m unsure if my lighting, flow, etc is going to be enough)
Green Hammer coral (and another maybe for they can touch/frogspawn)
Green tipped Purple Torch coral
Dragon soul torch
Indo rainbow torch
Holy grail torch
Long polyp flower pot
Elegance coral
Pulsing Xenia
Clove polyps (decide)
Bubble coral
Enchanted forests birdsnest coral (depends)
Orange Guttatus Birdsnest coral (depends)
Sinularia leather coral (decide)
Green star polyps (decide)

Anemone:
Rose BTA

Clean up crew recommendations from reef cleaners:
20 Dwarf Ceriths - tiny cleaners, for the tight spots the others can't reach
12 Nassarius vibex
12 Florida Ceriths
9 Assorted Hermits
9 Nerites
 
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Ocean’s Piece

Ocean’s Piece

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Looks awesome great start! What parameters are you trying to keep? Any live stock ideas? Keep us updated!

Trochus are amazing cuc, I have 3 in my 13.5G and they keep my glass spot free. Cerith are a great snail to add also, they clean everything including turning the sand.
I tested my Calcium and Alkalinity earlier today and I knew they have always been strange and they still are at the same spots
Alkalinity: 13 dKH
Calcium: 320 ppm
Very strange to see high alk low calcium. Typically the other way around.
just started seeing some coraline algae growth!
image.jpg
 
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Ocean’s Piece

Ocean’s Piece

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A much needed clean up crew in the acclimation process. I have 5 Trochus, 8 Astrea. My diatoms are going crazy. Added phosguard to the tank yesterday to start lowering silicates and move out of this diatoms bloom. It’s horrible to say the least. The picture is a day after a water change so just imagine.
image.jpg
 
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Ocean’s Piece

Ocean’s Piece

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Current Parameters for Hanna Contest:
Salinity: 1.024
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
Phosphate: 0
Calcium: 320
Alkalinity 11

I don’t have a nitrate source so I’m going to start adding some fish food to prevent Dinos until I get fish.
 
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Current Parameters for Hanna Contest:
Salinity: 1.024
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 3
Phosphate: 0.1
Calcium: 320
Alkalinity: 10-11

I plan to get an RO/DI unit in the next few days because I never got one in the beginning because of our “good” tap water. Ignorance and arrogance at its best. I have realized my diatoms are just being prolonged because I don’t have one of these systems. I plan on getting this one because it has been recommended to me by some of y’all:
 
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Ocean’s Piece

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3 MONTH UPDATE:
It’s been 3 months since I have set up my tank so I thought I would give an update.
Here is my tank at the 3 month mark:
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My tank has been in the ugly phase for about a month now and I can see that the decline is near. After a few attempts to eradicate the diatoms and cyano on the sandbed and rocks (and really everything), I realized what the problem was. Not using RO/DI water. The unit came in and I’m going to use it with my next water change. My city’s tap water is pretty good for all parameters except for phosphates which is around 0.5 which is kind of high and prolongs this algae. Before I realized that it was because I wasn’t using an RO/DI, I put in 8 Astraea snails and 5 trochus. This has helped control some of the algae on the rocks mostly but not every nook and cranny. I was also using Phosguard and turning the lights off which helped for a week and then it all came back. Also just bought a Jebao OW-10 to reduce the amount of dead spots I have. All I had to move water was the 265 gph return pump which is not enough. I plan to add a royal gramma in a week or so (if everything looks good) to start adding life to this aquarium. If everything after a few weeks looks good, I’ll add two clowns. Probably in a month or two, I’ll start adding some corals. I plan to add more rocks to give my Aquascape some more height and use some smaller rocks for dimension.

Parameters:
Salinity: 1.024
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate 5
Phosphate: 0.25 (phosguard water mixing with 0.5 tap water)
Calcium: 320
Alkalinity: 10-11

I may experiment changing salinity to 1.026 if Calcium and Alkalinity don’t get into normal range. This also could be because of the tap water I’m using and may change after going completely RO/DI water. If raising the salinity doesn’t work, I may start entering the world of dosing (which seems to be really inevitable). Not really worried about chasing numbers because I have seen wackier levels.
That’s my 3 Month update. I’ll be updating my build thread again soon.
 

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Pulsing Xenia stay away from this it'll over run your tank the clove polps can do the same depending on type I got a slow growing one and I have a few montiporas I'm trying with stock lights but I would not recommend any types of across they are alot more finicky other then those coral ideas you have the rest will grow with stock lights and have good color
 
Zoanthids
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Ocean’s Piece

Ocean’s Piece

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Pulsing Xenia stay away from this it'll over run your tank the clove polps can do the same depending on type I got a slow growing one and I have a few montiporas I'm trying with stock lights but I would not recommend any types of across they are alot more finicky other then those coral ideas you have the rest will grow with stock lights and have good color
I have heard many times about Xenia’s taking over. I have an island 3 or 4 inches away from the Aquascape. If I see that one has moved in the water column to another place on a rock, I’ll kill it immediately.
 
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We decided to move the tank before we got fish and corals. I have to move and glue the rocks back since the bonds were broken while lifting it out the water. Some snails are fine and some are stressed/sleeping. I plan to get more rocks soon along with fish and corals
image.jpg
 
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4 MONTH UPDATE:
F5F85233-3347-496D-A01D-1EB48C97F4AF.jpeg

So many things has happened to this tank in the last month. I bought an RODI since I was using tap water originally. Bought a Jebao OW-10 wave maker, moved my tank downstairs (previous post), and bought some better test kits. I plan to add more rock in the next coming days depending on if I have time to go to the LFS. Dropped quite a few hundred this month on foundational stuff I just didn’t buy in the beginning. Everything’s looking nicely and things are starting to progress. Coraline has started taking over the back wall
image.jpg

Diatoms and Cyano is starting to go away. Looks like hair algae is on the sandbed now instead of cyano. All part of the phase. Plan to get fish very soon. I know I have been waiting way too long but for certain reasons such as moving tank downstairs, not being able to go to LFS, etc has prevented me from getting fish. This summer will be much easier to be able to go to get fish and corals and stock this tank.
 
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First fish! I’d say it’s about time. 4 months of waiting and now I have my Royal Gramma hiding after I acclimated him. He was very active and out and about at the store so I was excited he wouldn’t be skittish. I bet he will but I hope I didn’t shock him too much from bringing him home, to acclimation, to putting him in.

I forgot to mention in my 4 month update that I have been raising the salinity from 1.024 ->1.026. I realized my alk and calcium levels were out of range and I realized it was because of my salt. The tank is at 1.025 right now and it should be at 1.026 in the next two or three water changes.
Current Parameters:
Salinity: 1.025
Calcium: 360
Alk: 9.2
Nitrate: 0 (about to go up now that I’ll be feeding fish)
Phosphate: 0.03
 
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Updated then profile pic to my latest addition. He’s doing great now. He’s less shy. Still needs to learn who I am (I am the person who gives him food) because when I go up to the tank he goes in his hiding place. When I’m away, he’s all over the tank which is nice.
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