Super low budget Pico; 5 gallon / 20 litres K-mart tank (new account)

1234lac

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Posting this again as I lost access to my previous account.

This tank was setup in April 2023 and it is my first saltwater aquarium, though I've also got a 230 litre high-tech freshwater.

The goal of this tank is to serve as a relatively low cost introduction to the hobby, so I can make a more informed decision later on as to whether I want to invest further with a larger tank and nicer equipment. I also wanted to challenge myself to keep coral in a pico sized tank to start with, as I figure if I can do that with minimal equipment, then a larger tank with better equipment should be a breeze.

Equipment list:

1. K-mart tank (anko brand) - 5 gallons / 20 litres - $39 AUD
2. Anko 25w glass heater - $15 AUD
3. Aragonite sand (dry) 2.5kg - $30 AUD for 5kg
4. Carib Sea Life Rock approx 1kg - $16 AUD
5. Three pieces of live rock that came with GSP and coralline - $30 AUD
6. 50 litres of natural seawater and 10 litres of RODI - $15 AUD
7. Jebao sw-2 nano wavemaker - $75 AUD including shipping
8. AI Blade Coral Grow 12inch - $232 AUD (ordered 12th April, still waiting on 2nd May)
9. Skemix ATO - gravity fed using a water bottle - $27 AUD
10. Seachem Tidal 35 - HOB filter - $92 AUD

Total start up cost = $571 AUD

Tank was set up on 08/04/2023, cleanup crew added about two weeks in after diatoms were growing, then corals added after about one month in.

Full tank shots at the very beginning:

Pico 1.jpg



The 'GSP' (not sure what type of star polyp it actually is - and the polyps were closed when I took the photo):

Pico 2.jpg




July 2023 updates, added Cespitularia, Zoanthids, Pulsing Xenia, Hairy Mushroom (Coralliamorph) and a Toadstool Leather.

Also got some dragon's breath macroalgae that came attached to a really nice Goniopora (free coral!).

A pair of porcelain anemone crabs added as well.

For beneficial hitchhikers I have a Stromatella snail, brittle starfish, copepods, amphipods and tiny feather duster worms.

For undesirable hitchhikers / pests I have digitate hydroids, colonial hydroids, some tiny brown and white Palythoa looking things.

Underwent a big outbreak of cyanobacteria around this time, which I ended up treating successfully with Chemiclean, however later on down the road I would then get the dreaded dinos. More on that later...


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shrimplover

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Hi, great job, your tank looks awesome! I have a similiar history... Planted tanks done and then on to saltwater. Started with 15 gallons and then a 4 gallon.

Like you I have a Tidal 35 HOB on my 15 gallon (and a Hygger nano wavemaker, but no heater). I'm hesitant to add a Tidal 35 to the pico tank since I might get too much flow from it. I have sexy shrimp and I don't want them to be in a thunderstorm all day long :grinning-face-with-sweat:

Sorry to hear bout the dinos. What did you end up doing about that?
 

shrimplover

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Also I have a gravity ATO ready for pico. And I have bougth a Tunze Osmolator for the nano. Right now it's fine to manually top off but I'm dreading the day I will go on holiday :eek:

Really so funny, it's funny how similar an approach we have..
 
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1234lac

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Hi, great job, your tank looks awesome! I have a similiar history... Planted tanks done and then on to saltwater. Started with 15 gallons and then a 4 gallon.

Like you I have a Tidal 35 HOB on my 15 gallon (and a Hygger nano wavemaker, but no heater). I'm hesitant to add a Tidal 35 to the pico tank since I might get too much flow from it. I have sexy shrimp and I don't want them to be in a thunderstorm all day long :grinning-face-with-sweat:

Sorry to hear bout the dinos. What did you end up doing about that?
Oh yeah, the dinos! So I had been doing weekly 50% water changes which caused my nutrients to be unmeasurable for a long time and I suspect the chemiclean also disturbed the balance of the tank. Along came the dreaded brown snot with bubbles, covering all of my sandbed and rocks.

I ended up doing a full 'rip clean' per those Brandon429 threads, which involved completely replacing the sand bed, thoroughly scrubbing and rinsing the rocks and doing a 100% water change. After the rip clean I made sure to bring the nutrient levels up by feeding the tank a bit more than usual and also delaying the next water change.

Thankfully that all worked perfectly, no dinos or cyano after that treatment. I just make sure to stir my sandbed and turkey baste the rocks when doing my water changes now, while also maintaining measurable nitrate and phosphate levels. If either nitrate or phosphate fall too low I increase the feedings and delay a water change.
 

shrimplover

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Ah yeah I have heard that after cyano sometimes follows dinos or other pests. I have read about the RIP clean by Brandon yes. Didn't know about it before reading his manual. That is also what I would choose to do in case I ever got those. That is the great thing about nanos and picos. You CAN actually tear them apart right! But I'm happy to hear that the RIP clean worked out for you.

Just noticed now your beautiful halymenia with orange dots. Do you know if it's halymenia stipata or dilata? I have been wanting to find some since I saw them with Tigahboy. I think he has the dilata. theKoralito has the Stipata. If you know these two guys from Instagram... Anyhow beautiful algaes. Are you planning on adding more macroalgae?
 
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1234lac

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Ah yeah I have heard that after cyano sometimes follows dinos or other pests. I have read about the RIP clean by Brandon yes. Didn't know about it before reading his manual. That is also what I would choose to do in case I ever got those. That is the great thing about nanos and picos. You CAN actually tear them apart right! But I'm happy to hear that the RIP clean worked out for you.

Just noticed now your beautiful halymenia with orange dots. Do you know if it's halymenia stipata or dilata? I have been wanting to find some since I saw them with Tigahboy. I think he has the dilata. theKoralito has the Stipata. If you know these two guys from Instagram... Anyhow beautiful algaes. Are you planning on adding more macroalgae?
Thanks, I'm not sure exactly what species the macro was but it was sold simply as dragon's breath. It must have been harvested from the wild as it was huge and came attached to a Goniopora coral which I still have.

Unfortunately it melted away after I treated the tank with bacter clean-m. Great product for eliminating bubble algae, but it also eliminates macro!

I am tempted to do a soft coral and macroalgae tank in the future, when I upgrade to a 38 gallon nano. I really like the full spectrum lighting look of macro tanks.
 

8six0Reefer

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I’m soon to be starting a pico and I’m curious. I have a tank running right now going through the “ugly” stage. I was thinking of using some of the rock from that tank. Is there anyone I can get the Dino/alge off of it without wiping the beneficial bacteria on it ?
 

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