Setting Up the First Build:

Alaeriel

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I have a 20 gallon high tank with live sand, dry rock (epoxied and curing), reef crystal saltwater (has been mixing via pump for ~20 hours), HOB filter and heater both rated for 30 gallons, two small powerheads, a bacterial colony, a secondhand RO/DI unit, refractometer (specific gravity is listed at 1.024) and the parameter test kit will be here on Saturday. Once the rock is secure, I'd like to start cycling and eventually get a single firefish goby. I'm planning on a 5 gallon water change per week with daily DI top ups, and hopefully will someday be able to keep a colony of zoas and potentially something flowy that likely won't outgrow the tank before we can get the 200 gallon set up and cycled next year. Any and all advice, recommendations, warnings, and experiences are greatly appreciated! We're looking into lighting options, but since we're cycling we don't need them immediately :3
 
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Cstar_BC

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Hey that sounds like a great start !

You didn’t mention what kind of light you were thinking about but for a 20 I would say your options are pretty open since it’s not overly deep or wide so you should get good coverage no matter what your decision.

Also I love my firefish but he was very shy until I got more fish but most days he’s at the back of the tank and I see him for feed time .

As for flowy just remember that BTA will move around and potentially sit right on top of your zoas (first hand experience on that one) so Duncan’s May be a good flowy option .

What are your thoughts on clean up crew ?
 
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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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Hey that sounds like a great start !

You didn’t mention what kind of light you were thinking about but for a 20 I would say your options are pretty open since it’s not overly deep or wide so you should get good coverage no matter what your decision.

Also I love my firefish but he was very shy until I got more fish but most days he’s at the back of the tank and I see him for feed time .

As for flowy just remember that BTA will move around and potentially sit right on top of your zoas (first hand experience on that one) so Duncan’s May be a good flowy option .

What are your thoughts on clean up crew ?
So far we don't have a light, but I love the idea of the Current-USA Orbit LED that's programmable and dimmable with powerhead control built in. If anyone has experience with that (whether its brilliant or a rip-off) I'd love to hear it. For clean-up crew, I'd love a tuxedo urchin, blue leg hermits, and some species of small snail. Definitely open to recommendations here too. Once the tank is cycled, I'd also like to add a colony of copepods and frag of Codium macroalgae
 
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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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I would recommend not buying too many hermit crabs - they seem to fight and whittle down to 1-2

I find a couple different snails are beneficial as some work on the rocks, some in the sand and some never get off the glass . Lol
I was only looking for about 2 of the hermits, do you have any species recommendations for the snails? :)
 
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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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Enjoying the murk of the new sand settling in the water :3 This was my first attempt aquascaping, and the epoxy collapsed after curing for 24 hours. Scraped it off and tried again, this morning it was *rock* solid (heh, I'll show myself the door...) added the rock and sand, and the water that was mixing for about 48 hours. Dosed with a colony of bacteria and added some ammonia. Six hours later, ammonia was down to .5 ppm, Nitrites were 1 ppm, and Nitrates are still at 0.
 

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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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Day 7 of cycling complete and nothing has exploded yet! Hooray!
We're looking to add some Codium macroalgae to absorb some of the excess nutrients from the cycling process. I've read that this species doesn't "go sexual" like some other macros, but I'd love to hear from folks who have used this in their display.
Definitely looking to keep the algae alongside the future corals, but I rarely see macros in the display if its not a fowlr tank. Can this be done well since we don't have a 'fuge?

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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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We have two firefish in quarantine. The plan was for one, but the second one they had was getting its tail systematically shredded by the clownfish it was stocked with, so we brought him home too and observed with caution. So far, they seem to be getting along ~swimmingly~ heh. We have a tank divider and second QT on standby, but we may have lucked out and gotten a pair! Ammonia and Nitrite readings in the DT are both 0 and Nitrates are 4. Salinity is 1.024 in both QT and DT to help with the eventual transfer. Drip acclimated them yesterday evening for two hours then added. This morning, both ate like pigs, roamed around for a bit, then nested back into their shared bolthole. Neither fish likes their own reflection, but they seem just fine with each other for now! Still keeping careful watch.

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Alaeriel

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The DT has its first inhabitant! The tiniest blue-leg hermit I've ever seen. It's been cleaning the detritus that settled on the codium, but will also receive a single tiny pellet of shrimp food daily (same Bug Bites we feed the neocaridina in the freshwater paludarium) and a tiny shred of nori as well. Full tank photo taken before the addition of shells for the hermit to grow into :3

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Alaeriel

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Forgot to update last week:
The snails have arrived!
We've got two margarita snails, two glowing marginella, and a star astraea :)
They sent an extra hermit crab, so we now have a total of 4 and plenty of extra shells! Two have opted for some of the lovely new homes available to them, and the tiny guy we had originally has been trying on new looks as well, though might be trying to upsize too quickly!
My husband and I are looking at new houses today, too! Hopefully we can find something perfect to fit the small menagerie and have a floor suitable to start up the 200 gallon monstrosity!
Also: Day 10 of therapeutic levels of copper in the QT! The firefish are eating voraciously and are still sharing the same hides :3
 
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Alaeriel

Alaeriel

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My first piece of coral! It was extremely expensive (free with the trochus snails I picked up). I've been told it's a humble watermelon mushroom. And may take over my entire aquascape someday. I did a Revive then a CoralRx dip, then poked the frag plug in a hole in the rock. Budget reefing for the win! I was hoping to let the tank keep maturing until at least December before placing any corals, so hopefully this guy lives, multiplies, and makes a good test coral!

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