Starbuck88s Newbie Tank

starbuck88

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Hi All,

So a very short introduction. I am new to reefing that's for sure. Had freshwater fish tanks at the parents years ago when I was a kid but now I am grown up with a partner and a child I thought it'd be nice to have a tank. As often with me, I looked more into reef tanks and then it settled it, had to be reef or nothing! My other half is really keen with this too, she is absolutely loving reading up about corals and thinking about planning where to put them etc.

I am the scientist, she is the creative!

I know the way I have set this tank up isn't what is 100% recommended but I am hopeful and encouraged that others have had and have success. I also appreciate this means it may be harder to upkeep but I am willing to put in the effort.

In 2019 we got a used tank 110L (30US Gallon)-ish, stand and filter (fluval 406) that was essentially a gift. That month we had building work and they cracked the tank!

Fast forward a year, yes a year to 2020!! and we bought a new tank of the same size. We had already bought sand, heater, rock, salt, we were all ready to go! It gave us a year of researching, reading, I think we have watched every BRS video ever made.

The 406 is set up with course filters, then in the bottom tray, course, medium sponge and fine floss. Then the other 3 baskets are full of Biohome ultimate marine pellets which should be more than enough for full cycle chemical filtration.

We have Marco Dry Rock, Caribsea Fiji Pink Sand, Eheim Jager Heater. At the moment a cheap LED light from Amazon.

We used the old tank to figure out how we wanted the rock, we're still not totally happy but we may add more later or clever positioning of coral.

New tank:



Rock added, used D&D, hoping when coralline covers it will disappear!



flushed out the sand to remove all the fines.



Sand place in the tank..



Filled with Rodi Water. I mixed the salt and added a bucket in each time. My RODI filter is a 4 stage.



To start the cycle, I bought Seachem Stability and Dr Tims Ammonia.

However, weeks in and by weeks I mean 2 months. Nothing was happening. Ammonia still read on the test kit but no nitrites, no nitrates. Nothing. I dosed the stability as per the instructions and ended up putting in 2 whole bottles, with no results.

So then...I bought this.



Within 24 hours, I had lower ammonia, nitrite reading and nitrates! Woohoooooooooooooooooooooo.

Now 3 weeks down the line, it will remove 3ppm ammonia in 24 hours and nitrites are now slowly catching up. Hoping it won't be too much longer before I will be fully cycled.

Now however, we have some green algae starting to appear.





I assume that Nitrates are high, I had stopped testing because honestly I was testing only ammonia and nitrites to get the cycle stage info but I think with the light and nitrate levels this is what is causing the green algae. We are now keeping the light off and I am going to do a water change.

Another issue that I wasn't fond of, was detritus on the surface of the water, I was manually skimming it out with a jug but I thought there must be another way.



So I ordered an intake with surface skimmer...



As you can see I arranged the heater differently too so that it is horizontal instead of vertical, it hides it better. I also have used clear tubing for the inlet and will do the same when the lily outlet is delivered at some point.

With the new surface skimmer not only does it look better in the tank visually but the surface...wow.

Before:



After..




The water is now crystal clear in the column and surface :)


And that's where I am up to.

I am going to do a reasonably small water change tonight and to do that I am going to incorporate vac'ing the sand bed. Once that's done, I will then do a full test of all parameters to see where we're at and then dose with ammonia again.

We are thinking about buying Vibrant to help with the algae issue.

Thanks for reading. Please be gentle but any advice or recommendations are welcome.
 
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starbuck88

starbuck88

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Good news! Last nights tests showed Zero Ammonia and Zero Nitrites!

Just to be sure, I dosed 3ppm of ammonia again and will test tonight and then I can be 100% Sure.

So it looks like the tank is cycled and ready for fishies!!!!!

My other glass pipe came, so did a little tidy up etc and I think it looks a lot less cluttered now.



I can't run the Fluval 406 at full flow with the surface skimmer on, any tips?
 
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starbuck88

starbuck88

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So we've got a date for our first fish! Very Excited!!!!

Made a little order yesterday that will arrive today. I've ordered a Jecod wave maker, I will remove the TMC powerhead and use that to stir salt up exclusively and have it as a backup.

I currently have and you will all groan, an API test kit. I will use it until it runs out, it's certainly been good enough for testing whilst it's cycling but in my delivery today I have got some Salifert tests, phosphate, alkalinity and calcium tests. When the Api ones run out I will replace them with salifert too :)

Some pellet food, Hikari, some nets and some cupramine just so I have it in the cupboard waiting in case.

I haven't even really begun with this tank in the grand scheme of things and I am already thinking about getting a fluval evo 13.5 for my desk!
 

vetteguy53081

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Welcome to the R2R community. Your off to a good start. The ammonia and nitrate readings can change in a flash. Don’t assume yet cycled and be disappointed
 
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starbuck88

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Welcome to the R2R community. Your off to a good start. The ammonia and nitrate readings can change in a flash. Don’t assume yet cycled and be disappointed
Thank You :)

What should I do? I have continued to keep testing the Ammonia and Nitrites and dosing ammonia every 24 hours to keep feeding the bacteria.

The only thing I am seeing when testing is Nitrates, sky high. I read the thread about rethinking cycling and appears a lot who dose ammonia have that issue.

I want to get 2 clowns for the tank next week, so I will do a couple of big water changes to bring the nitrates right down over the course of a couple of days.

I have already done a couple of big water changes and it brought the nitrates down from over 160ppm (Max Reading), took 2 x 50 litre changes for it to get down to 40 - 80ppm, so I am assuming it was much higher than 160ppm. I will do more to get it down to what is considered a good range.

Am I right in thinking that 2 clowns won't cause as much nitrates over such a short amount of time as dosing the ammonia to 3ppm every 24 hours?
 
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Good news! Last nights tests showed Zero Ammonia and Zero Nitrites!

Just to be sure, I dosed 3ppm of ammonia again and will test tonight and then I can be 100% Sure.

So it looks like the tank is cycled and ready for fishies!!!!!

My other glass pipe came, so did a little tidy up etc and I think it looks a lot less cluttered now.



I can't run the Fluval 406 at full flow with the surface skimmer on, any tips?
Drop the Fluval inflow to the bottom of the tank same side as the surface skimmer. This will give you flow at the bottom/ mid height of the tank without the surface agitation on that side.

Put the Fluval return other side of the tank, and the wavemaker high up on the same side. This will give you surface agitation and flow across the top, but surface water will be alot calmer where the surface skimmer is.

Worth a try IMO
 
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starbuck88

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Drop the Fluval inflow to the bottom of the tank same side as the surface skimmer. This will give you flow at the bottom/ mid height of the tank without the surface agitation on that side.

Put the Fluval return other side of the tank, and the wavemaker high up on the same side. This will give you surface agitation and flow across the top, but surface water will be alot calmer where the surface skimmer is.

Worth a try IMO
Hi, thank you.

The surface skimmer is part of the inflow, in that picture that's one side and has the return/outflow the opposite side with the current power head, just as you have said.

What I meant is, when you run the filter at its max speed, it sucks the skimming part of the inflow down so that it doesn't float on the water and at any speed in between it just sucks in big air bubbles.

I have it dialled in to just over half flow which I think is OK as fluval don't recommend running below half flow.

I thought it was an issue that I wasn't running the filter quick enough but after more reading and research, is it actually better to have slower flow through the filter for better biological filtration and help the heterotrophicdeal with nitrates? And let the wave maker/powerheads create the 'turnover'?
 
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starbuck88

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OK so I've put the Juwel thermometer in andddd it's reading 2 degrees higher than the one in there already.

Granted the one I bought initially was a very cheap job off amazon, is the Juwel going to be more accurate as if so I need to reduce the temp.

I guess I now need a 3rd thermometer to confirm?
 

vetteguy53081

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Thank You :)

What should I do? I have continued to keep testing the Ammonia and Nitrites and dosing ammonia every 24 hours to keep feeding the bacteria.

The only thing I am seeing when testing is Nitrates, sky high. I read the thread about rethinking cycling and appears a lot who dose ammonia have that issue.

I want to get 2 clowns for the tank next week, so I will do a couple of big water changes to bring the nitrates right down over the course of a couple of days.

I have already done a couple of big water changes and it brought the nitrates down from over 160ppm (Max Reading), took 2 x 50 litre changes for it to get down to 40 - 80ppm, so I am assuming it was much higher than 160ppm. I will do more to get it down to what is considered a good range.

Am I right in thinking that 2 clowns won't cause as much nitrates over such a short amount of time as dosing the ammonia to 3ppm every 24 hours?
With little waste production, check every 48-72 hours with 72 hours really notating how the levels are doing under normal loads.
 
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Hi, thank you.

The surface skimmer is part of the inflow, in that picture that's one side and has the return/outflow the opposite side with the current power head, just as you have said.

What I meant is, when you run the filter at its max speed, it sucks the skimming part of the inflow down so that it doesn't float on the water and at any speed in between it just sucks in big air bubbles.

I have it dialled in to just over half flow which I think is OK as fluval don't recommend running below half flow.

I thought it was an issue that I wasn't running the filter quick enough but after more reading and research, is it actually better to have slower flow through the filter for better biological filtration and help the heterotrophicdeal with nitrates? And let the wave maker/powerheads create the 'turnover'?
Fair enough mate, looks good overall and good luck with ur new livestock
 
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starbuck88

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With little waste production, check every 48-72 hours with 72 hours really notating how the levels are doing under normal loads.
Thank you, will record it all down, thank you :)

Fair enough mate, looks good overall and good luck with ur new livestock
Thank you :)

On the temperature dilemma, the Juwel has settled down, I went into panic mode already *** and haven't even got any livestock or corals in there haha deary me.

So now both digital thermometers are reading within 0.1 of each other. 25.1 and 25.2 respectively.

I will dial down the temp a tad on the heater before adding the fish.
 
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starbuck88

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Tank looks great! I really like the aquascape.
Thank You :) It's difficult because we went through so many different designs and it got to a point where we just had to pick something we'd made and go with it. Neither of us are ever happy with stuff we make ourselves yet think everybody elses look amazing! So thank you for your nice comment.
 
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starbuck88

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The Jecod SOW-4 wave maker has now been in since Friday night. Very happy with it.

I just wanted to update a little bit on it because when I initially put it in, it was VERY noisy. I looked online and saw many people have sent these back and others have been silent from new.

I took it apart and put it back together and granted it was a bit quieter but it sounded like a mobile phone vibrating and as the tank is in the living room we couldn't put up with that.

I took it apart again and used Aqualube on the shaft, the shaft ends, the end of the propellor and magnet end and now it is totally totally silent!

I know this is an upgrade before we've even got our first fish but I really like it, love the 'waves' it's now making and I can use my TMC Sicce powerhead exclusively for mixing up fresh water :)

The next day or 2 is going to be big water changes to bring the Nitrates down and tonight will be the last dose of ammonia (Monday Night) so that we can collect the first fish on Wednesday :)
 
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starbuck88

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So yesterday was the day :D



Just for belt and braces, I also added another bottle of Fritz Turbostart900. Probably £15 wasted/un-needed but...I just wanted to be extra sure.



They seem to have paired nicely so far, touch wood it stays that way, the shop picked out a pair where one was slightly bigger than the other. In the hopes they pair off nicely. So far so good.

Can't believe how tiny they are! Very cute!



So happy that after 1 year and 5 months, we finally can start making our reef 'ours'.

I also bought and put together a D&D Jump Guard very late last night. I was going to make an acrylic lid but thought a jump guard will be better for light penetration and gaseous exchange. Not sure why the netting looks wonky in that photo it isn't in real life?



Thanks for reading! :)
 
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starbuck88

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The clowns have settled in a little bit more, they are hanging around the outflow lilly pipe, mostly behind it, I guess they feel safe there.

Hopefully after a week or two they will start exploring a little bit. Currently feeding them Hikari small pellets and we have some frozen Mysis to give them a bit of variety, they eat both no problem!

We aren't keen on the idea of an Anemone as we just don't have the right set up to cater for one at the moment and honestly the stories of them nuking tanks scares me.

What corals would be ideal to get in early that the Clowns will Host? Torches and Hammerheads I think I see mostly? Would they be ok to put in such a new tank?

I am testing parameters daily at the moment which might be overkill but I just want to make sure there's no Ammonia, Nitrite and keep eye on PH and DKH.

I think I will do a 10% water change this evening or tomorrow morning as the PH has dropped a little but, not much, nothing worrying but I want to get into a weekly routine with water changes.
 

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So yesterday was the day :D



Just for belt and braces, I also added another bottle of Fritz Turbostart900. Probably £15 wasted/un-needed but...I just wanted to be extra sure.



They seem to have paired nicely so far, touch wood it stays that way, the shop picked out a pair where one was slightly bigger than the other. In the hopes they pair off nicely. So far so good.

Can't believe how tiny they are! Very cute!



So happy that after 1 year and 5 months, we finally can start making our reef 'ours'.

I also bought and put together a D&D Jump Guard very late last night. I was going to make an acrylic lid but thought a jump guard will be better for light penetration and gaseous exchange. Not sure why the netting looks wonky in that photo it isn't in real life?



Thanks for reading! :)
Woot congrats! Looks like a great build so far!
 
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