Starting my HelloReef adventure!

BAMslam93

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Hey everyone,

I'm excited to get started reefing with my HelloReef 15-gallon system! I've had experience keeping bettas and tropical freshwater community tanks but I'm up for this gray-hair-inducing hobby lol

Right now, I'm just getting out of my initial cycle and awaiting the ugly stage with:

-4 astrea snails
-4 nassarius snails
-1 Skunk Cleaner Shrimp aka Jacques

My upcoming additions will hopefully be:

-1 pincushion or pencil slate urchin
-A normal Ocellaris pair (maybe I can splurge for an ORA breed someday??)
-A bubbletip anemone (absolutely no experience here so this will be a few months down the line)

I had a not-so-fun experience running out of bottled drinking water to mix seawater one day so I got myself an AquaFX 4-stage Seahorse RO/DI system with a Moray de-chlorination system on the way.

I'm excited to have a little piece of the South Pacific in my room! I keep hearing about coldwater marine tanks and only rarely about ones with California marine species in a home setting; not that I'm planning to set up one (Catalina Gobies are so cool!).

IMG_5644.jpg
 

Manpeckz

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Algaebarn has a ton of those ORA species of clowns. It’s amazing to me how expensive some of them get! Best of luck with this build.
May The Fourth Be With You Do It GIF by Star Wars
 
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BAMslam93

BAMslam93

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Algaebarn has a ton of those ORA species of clowns. It’s amazing to me how expensive some of them get! Best of luck with this build.
May The Fourth Be With You Do It GIF by Star Wars
For sure, I was floored at the price for snowflakes and the long-finned breeds! I actually paid around $20 for my koi betta but I know there’s even rarer varieties that go for close to $50.
 

WalkerLoves_TheOcean

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Following along!

One thing for anemones:

If you want to put an anemone in, you really can't put corals in, unless you choose a rock flower an anemone, where those have a exception because they don't typically move around as much as other anemones do. You said that you were going to wait to get anemones, which is a really good idea for a beginner. Anemones need stable water conditions, so it's possible to put one in at the 6 month mark, but for begginers we really recommend putting them in at the 1 to 2 year mark, to really make sure you have figured out your tank, and learned how to keep stable water parameters.

This hobby has its ups and downs, but it's so rewarding! Best of luck for whatever you do!
 
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BAMslam93

BAMslam93

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Following along!

One thing for anemones:

If you want to put an anemone in, you really can't put corals in, unless you choose a rock flower an anemone, where those have a exception because they don't typically move around as much as other anemones do. You said that you were going to wait to get anemones, which is a really good idea for a beginner. Anemones need stable water conditions, so it's possible to put one in at the 6 month mark, but for begginers we really recommend putting them in at the 1 to 2 year mark, to really make sure you have figured out your tank, and learned how to keep stable water parameters.

This hobby has its ups and downs, but it's so rewarding! Best of luck for whatever you do!
Oh wow, I wasn’t aware of that! I knew anemones moved if they didn’t like a certain place you put them but didn’t know most were coral-incompatible.

For sure, I’m slowly doing this in stages but I’d really like for some more color to make the tank pop a little. Can’t wait for the clowns next week if all goes well!
 

WalkerLoves_TheOcean

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Oh wow, I wasn’t aware of that! I knew anemones moved if they didn’t like a certain place you put them but didn’t know most were coral-incompatible.

For sure, I’m slowly doing this in stages but I’d really like for some more color to make the tank pop a little. Can’t wait for the clowns next week if all goes well!
I will be following along, and can't wait for you to get fish!
 
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BAMslam93

BAMslam93

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I will be following along, and can't wait for you to get fish!
Haha I just visited my LFS to get an urchin and they tried so hard to remove a pencil that caught my eye that I was considering just getting the clowns instead to save them the trouble

Little guy is just getting settled!
 

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WalkerLoves_TheOcean

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Haha I just visited my LFS to get an urchin and they tried so hard to remove a pencil that caught my eye that I was considering just getting the clowns instead to save them the trouble

Little guy is just getting settled!
Aww, that's a really cool addition to your tank!
 

JoJosReef

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Following along!

One thing for anemones:

If you want to put an anemone in, you really can't put corals in, unless you choose a rock flower an anemone, where those have a exception because they don't typically move around as much as other anemones do. You said that you were going to wait to get anemones, which is a really good idea for a beginner. Anemones need stable water conditions, so it's possible to put one in at the 6 month mark, but for begginers we really recommend putting them in at the 1 to 2 year mark, to really make sure you have figured out your tank, and learned how to keep stable water parameters.

This hobby has its ups and downs, but it's so rewarding! Best of luck for whatever you do!
That is not exactly true. Anemones can wander, yes, for sure. But there are many many tanks on here that are quite successful mixing nems and corals.

My advice is to plan from the beginning for Nems:
1. Provide more than adequate light
2. Make a dedicated Nem island out of comfortable live rock--good footholds and such
3. Design flow around the Nem island so that they get proper flow, enough to be wavy, not blown over.
4. Pick a number of nems and stick to it, e.g., create a space for 2 BTAs, when one of the two splits, remove the third and donate or sell it.

These will help keep the Nems in place. They do what they want and can of course leave their island, but I find a comfy island is best for them.
PXL_20240217_023811217.jpg

PXL_20240217_023811217~2.jpg
 

JoJosReef

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Haha I just visited my LFS to get an urchin and they tried so hard to remove a pencil that caught my eye that I was considering just getting the clowns instead to save them the trouble

Little guy is just getting settled!
Advice for the urchin, get some nori sheets and/or algae tablets to supplement its diet. You don't have enough algae yet for that pencil urchin to stay well fed. Although if that is Caribsea "Life" rock, my experience with pencil urchins is that they are also happy to eat the purple paint off the rocks.

One other thing about urchins. They are sensitive to swings in your water chemistry, particularly salinity. So if you don't have an ATO set up yet, good thing to get. My experience is that pencils seem a bit more resilient than tuxedos though, so there's that.

Greetings from south OC!
 
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BAMslam93

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Advice for the urchin, get some nori sheets and/or algae tablets to supplement its diet. You don't have enough algae yet for that pencil urchin to stay well fed. Although if that is Caribsea "Life" rock, my experience with pencil urchins is that they are also happy to eat the purple paint off the rocks.

One other thing about urchins. They are sensitive to swings in your water chemistry, particularly salinity. So if you don't have an ATO set up yet, good thing to get. My experience is that pencils seem a bit more resilient than tuxedos though, so there's that.

Greetings from south OC!

I'm a bit ashamed to say this, but I accidentally did a fish-in cycle and it looks like I just finished up. I made sure to grab some nori and a feeding clip so I can help out my glass-surfing astreas until I get to the ugly stage (surprisingly, I'm looking forward to it lol). When I got the kit, the sand was Caribsea so the live rock may be also the same brand. I have a couple of astreas that have been hanging there since I got them and there's been plenty of bare white leftover (no clue why they keep missing the algae wafer even when I put it right next to them on the rock). I was thinking of going to Home Depot tomorrow to get some PVC pipe to rubberband a sheet for them and the urchin.

This is the most amount of inverts I've had since I started keeping aquariums so I'm a little nervous. I've been checking salinity every day (average 35-36 ppt), keeping tabs on my nitrogen cycle parameters, and topping off every other day. Once I get my RO/DI set up, no more trips to the market for bottled water! Good idea, I'll def put an ATO on my wishlist.

Greetings from the Riverside area!
 

JoJosReef

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I'm a bit ashamed to say this, but I accidentally did a fish-in cycle and it looks like I just finished up. I made sure to grab some nori and a feeding clip so I can help out my glass-surfing astreas until I get to the ugly stage (surprisingly, I'm looking forward to it lol). When I got the kit, the sand was Caribsea so the live rock may be also the same brand. I have a couple of astreas that have been hanging there since I got them and there's been plenty of bare white leftover (no clue why they keep missing the algae wafer even when I put it right next to them on the rock). I was thinking of going to Home Depot tomorrow to get some PVC pipe to rubberband a sheet for them and the urchin.

This is the most amount of inverts I've had since I started keeping aquariums so I'm a little nervous. I've been checking salinity every day (average 35-36 ppt), keeping tabs on my nitrogen cycle parameters, and topping off every other day. Once I get my RO/DI set up, no more trips to the market for bottled water! Good idea, I'll def put an ATO on my wishlist.

Greetings from the Riverside area!
You're moving right along, keep it up!

I'm my experience, Astraeas, Trochus, and ceriths don't attack nori like the bigger inverts. Algae tabs even less. They seem to love film algae on the glass and very short GHA on the rocks--if it gets long, they ignore it. My conches will munch both a bit. I use the algae tabs broken into pellet size pieces to feed the urchins when I had them, just dropped right on top of them. My turbo snails would go to town on Nori. Rubber banding a bit of nori is probably a good idea at the stage you're at.

Sounds like your kit started with seeded dry rock "life rock". There's a lot to read when it comes to dry and "live" rock, so may be worthwhile to have a look at some opinions. Lots of approaches to this, some more taxing than others, some scarier than others (hello worm from Tremors!), and some a bit frustrating. Don't hesitate to post and ask. Everyone is here to help each other.
 

WalkerLoves_TheOcean

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That is not exactly true. Anemones can wander, yes, for sure. But there are many many tanks on here that are quite successful mixing nems and corals.

My advice is to plan from the beginning for Nems:
1. Provide more than adequate light
2. Make a dedicated Nem island out of comfortable live rock--good footholds and such
3. Design flow around the Nem island so that they get proper flow, enough to be wavy, not blown over.
4. Pick a number of nems and stick to it, e.g., create a space for 2 BTAs, when one of the two splits, remove the third and donate or sell it.

These will help keep the Nems in place. They do what they want and can of course leave their island, but I find a comfy island is best for them.
PXL_20240217_023811217.jpg

PXL_20240217_023811217~2.jpg
This is true for  your  big tank, but theirs is only 15g, so the chances that the anemones move around the  entire  tank is very high. It will be much more difficult to do that in a 15g.
 

JoJosReef

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This is true for  your  big tank, but theirs is only 15g, so the chances that the anemones move around the  entire  tank is very high. It will be much more difficult to do that in a 15g.
Yes, I agree with that. It does become more difficult, and when your BTA becomes a dinner plate, not much room for other things. Still think it comes down to proper planning. I wouldn't put acros in that tank with a BTA. Probably not any sticks except expendables like stylos and birdsnests -- worst case, you pick their spot after BTA has settled, it takes a walk, you lose some of the colony and have to regrow it, which it does fairly easily. Also, other corals can do fine with occasional, even frequent stings. One of my gorgs is right next to my black widow and gets brushed against daily. It is due for a trim due to growth. Below the widow are palys and zoas. They get brushed daily when the pumps die down for feeding and the BTA's tentacles fall to rest on them. They're angry for a bit and then reopen when flow is back up. In OP's tank I would probably plan a couple of showcase sand bed corals that don't break the bank like a nice trachy, a plate and maybe a leather attached to a big piece of rubble. Less likely that they get stung and the leather would just pout a bit. I'd also eventually swap out one of OP's rocks for something more like this:
PXL_20230315_184746012.jpg

And have a really good quality light over it. Then there's always the possibility, if a BTA is really wanted in a mixed reef, of using a nem cup. I've never had a BTA leave a nem cup except when they split, and a split nem on a nem cup is super easy to get off if you catch it on the glass:
PXL_20230327_011921569.MP.jpg

That one is in an Evo 13.5g.

In any case, harder in a nano, absolutely, but not impossible. Plan accordingly and be ready to make changes with nems. Hardy, resistant corals or fast easy growers. Coral placement where nems are less likely to wander. Etc, etc.

Also, OP, you can't plan on your clowns taking residence in a nem. They seem equally likely to ignore the nem for years. I don't know if there is a break point where it becomes more likely that they learn that a nem is natural for them. Mine were "hosted" by a dual RFG nozzle for almost 2 years and now seem to be taking residence in a large toadstool, while there's been BTAs present for most of their lives. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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BAMslam93

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You're moving right along, keep it up!

I'm my experience, Astraeas, Trochus, and ceriths don't attack nori like the bigger inverts. Algae tabs even less. They seem to love film algae on the glass and very short GHA on the rocks--if it gets long, they ignore it. My conches will munch both a bit. I use the algae tabs broken into pellet size pieces to feed the urchins when I had them, just dropped right on top of them. My turbo snails would go to town on Nori. Rubber banding a bit of nori is probably a good idea at the stage you're at.

Sounds like your kit started with seeded dry rock "life rock". There's a lot to read when it comes to dry and "live" rock, so may be worthwhile to have a look at some opinions. Lots of approaches to this, some more taxing than others, some scarier than others (hello worm from Tremors!), and some a bit frustrating. Don't hesitate to post and ask. Everyone is here to help each other.

I clipped a sheet of nori to the glass and two of my astreas went to town on it lol. For my other astreas and the urchin, I rubber banded a sheet to some pvc pipe and wedged it in between the rocks; hopefully they get to it soon.

For my urchin, is it normal for them to be sluggish the first few days? They’re responsive to my shrimp cleaning it but not much in terms of looking for food (maybe they were full from living in the frag tank at my lfs). It did drop a small spine overnight as it moved to the other side of the right rock but I figured it was accidental or just stressed a bit.

IMG_5652.jpeg
 

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