Reefguy's Treasure Trove


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May 23, 2023
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Hello all, a bit late to the build thread party, as I have now been up, running, and fully stocked for a few months now, but I wanted to share my foray back into the hobby. I had multiple reef aquariums from 2007 until 2011. I moved from the west coast to the east coast and left the hobby as a result, but eventually moved back here to the west coast. A close friend of mine opened an LFS and during a visit to congratulate him, I grabbed a nano tank to dip my toe back in before I really dive in. So here is my build, a little 15-gallon AIO. Some of the equipment I am running is overkill for a tank this size, but I am also in the process of building a 150 gallon aquarium and figured I’d spread out some of the cost by purchasing equipment I can use now, with the intention of transferring some of it to the larger tank. Once the 150 is up and running, this tank, minus most (or all) of the coral, will be moved to my classroom for my students to have a classroom pet(s).


Aquarium: Innovative Marine Fusion 15-gallon AIO.
Lid: Innovative Marine Fusion Mesch Screen Lid
Lighting: Started out with a Kessil A80 Tuna, but quickly changed my mind and went with a Radion XR15 G6 mounted using the RMS mount.
Protein Skimmer: AquaMaxx Bullet-1 HoB Protein Skimmer
Heating and Cooling: Started with a cheapy 50W heater off Amazon hooked up to an Inkbird but swapped it out for a 100W BRS titanium heater (rarely runs, its hot here!). For cooling I purchased a dual fan off Amazon.
Pump: Started with the stock return pump. I upgraded it at one point but ran into some issues I couldn’t seem to resolve, so I ended up going back to the stock pump, with the SpinStream nozzle.
Circulation: In addition to the return, I was running a Hygger Mini Wavemaker, but my LFS buddy gave me a great deal on a used Vortech MP10, so I switched over to that.
ATO: Random Amazon ATO system.
Controller & Monitor: Neptune Apex with a DOS and Trident, and an additional Drew's Doser.


Here are some photos of the progress and changes the tank has undergone in the months since I set it up.

Day One:


This was right after the dust settled. I knew I would be adding more rock, but initially I began with just a CaribSea Liferock Nano Arch. In the days following I got some MarcoRock, small live rock pieces from my buddy’s LFS to seed the tank, and a magnetic rock from Reefing Art. About half the water I used came out of my LFS buddy’s SPS frag system. Additionally, I added some Sera Siporax bio filter media to one of the rear chambers of the AIO.

One month in:


I purchased a couple Clowns and grabbed my first couple pieces of coral, Rainbow Zoas and Fruit Loops Zoas.


The clowns were a couple Black Storms (more on them in a sec). I also began adding more coral.

A couple weeks later:


As you can see, those clowns are not Black Storms. The Black Storms I had purchased were in a small holding tank together, so I figured they’d be fine together going into a larger (albeit not much) home. Over the next couple weeks, one of them was just destroying the other, to the point I had to separate them as it was beginning to look like one was going to kill the other. Tried putting the bully in timeout for a few days, but the moment she returned she went right back to incessantly harming the other. I decided to swap them out for these Platinum’s. The weird thing is I took the Black Storms back to my LFS buddy and he separated them to let the one heal, but they are now in a shop tank together and are coexisting without issue. These Platinum’s were already paired when I got them and I have had zero issues with them.

Two months in:



Over the course of the second month, I added more and more coral, a Cleaner Shrimp, Peppermint Shrimp, and a Yasha Goby.


Progress update on the first coral I had added.

Three months in:


I’ve added more and more coral to the tank, including this Cotton Candy Torch.

Four months in:


I went a little crazy at Reefapalooza. This is basically what the aquarium looks like right now, with a couple minor differences. While at the convention, I stopped by a booth for another LFS and randomly won a coral frag, It was a “Golden Ticket” drawing. I simply had to drive out to their shop afterwards and pick it up. I finally went yesterday to claim my prize and check out the shop. Turns out I won a five head Aussie Gold Torch, a very pleasant surprise. It’s beautiful! As a result, I removed that first Torch (pictured above next to the Cotton Candy Torch) and will be replacing it with the Aussie Gold.

While browsing the shop I also grabbed:

…and they had a Candy Cane Pistol Shrimp. This was great news for me as I had been unsuccessfully searching for one locally to pair with the Yasha. I purchased it with enthusiasm.

Livestock and Cleanup Crew:

All the coral pictured
Pair of Platinum Perc’s
Yasha Goby and (hopefully soon to be paired with) the:
Candy Cane Pistol Shrimp
Cleaner Shrimp
8x Nerite Snails
6x Astrea Snails
2x Nassarius Snails

I have only had two issues thus far. I purchased a chalice frag that I just can't seem to get happy. I finally put it on another frag plug and placed it down in the sand bed. Figured I'd keep an eye on it down there. The other issue could have been catastrophic, but I think I dodged a bullet. Maybe this can serve as a PSA for someone. When I set up my build I also purchased Hanna Colorimeters for Nitrate, Phosphate, and Alkalinity. Once I had some coral in the aquarium, I began dosing two part and doing regular tests until I could get it dialed in (this was before I got the DOS and Trident). My Alk tests were consistently low. 4.6 dKH one day, so I'd slowly up the dose. a handful of days later the next test would read around 5.2 dKH. I continued to gradually increase the dosage, but over the next couple months the results were all over the place but never tested over 7 dKH. I ran my first ICP test a couple weeks ago and the results were...alarming. 13.84 dKH! On top of that, over the 12 or so days it took to get the results, I had continued slowly increasing the amount of Alk I was dosing. Right when I saw the results, I went and did an Alk test. The results? 3.9 dKH. Figuring something was off at this point, I took some water and went to my LFS buddy and did a test using his Hanna Alk Colorimeter which returned 15.8 dKH. We then did another test using mine, only about 30 minutes after the 3.9 dKH results, and this next test showed 6.1 dKH. I immediately stopped dosing Alk, temporarily, and contacted Hanna Instruments. They said it was probably a bad reagent and shipped me off a new bottle. It was the reagent, and I am glad to say my Alk gradually returned to healthy levels. Fortunately, the damage was minimal, a small burn on my Oregon Tort, and the Tubbs Stellata took a bit of a hit health-wise. Lesson learned perhaps, I'm thinking it may be a good idea to have a second method for testing some of these things occasionally just to make sure everything is in line.

More pics to come as the aquarium progresses!
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Algae around the edges: Do you need to get rid of every bit of unwanted algae in your tank?

  • Yes, there is no place for algae in my tank.

    Votes: 9 9.1%
  • Maybe not, but it prompts me to take action.

    Votes: 24 24.2%
  • No, if it doesn’t get out of control.

    Votes: 61 61.6%
  • There are no such thing as unwanted algae, all algae are welcomed.

    Votes: 4 4.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 1 1.0%